Thursday, 13 October 2011

2011 Belgium GP: As exciting as sex!

Being a Formula One enthusiast, life is not easy. It comes with its fair share of problems. You see, there are 3 types of people in this world.

Type 1: They are the ones who think, F1 is only about a bunch of weird looking cars going round and round in circles. Well, they're certain wrong but they don't know it yet.
Type 2:  They are not anti-F1 but they don't really follow the sport either. They don't dislike Formula One, instead, they're curious to know more about it.
Type 3: They're the die hards (like yours truly), who love the sport and wouldn't shy away from cutting off your limb if you call F1 boring.

Type 1 thinks Formula One to be boring but watches golf from the edge of their seat. Hence, Type 1 & Type 3 have waged wars since the beginning of human civilization. Type 3 have also been entrusted with the responsibility of imparting Formula One wisdom to the Type 2 species, who ask questions that range from sane to downright ridiculous. I, being a Type 3 have heard questions ranging from "Who is your favorite driver?" to "Why the car doesn't have a roof?"

Among these, toughest question to answer is: "Which is the most exciting race you've seen till date?" This question always trumps me as it's difficult to determine the single most exciting race out of tens of dozens of races I've seen over the years.

Could it be 2007 Brazilian GP where Kimi Raikkonen came out of nowhere to win the Championship or the 2008 Brazilian GP where the championship was decided on the last  corner of the last lap of the last GP of 2008, when Timo Glock slowed down just meters before the finish line and Hamilton snatched championship from Massa? Or maybe the most exciting race should be 2010 Abu Dhabi GP when Ferrari's Fernando Alonso squandered 8 point advantage, and lost the title to Red Bull Racing's Sebastien Vettel.

I can go on and on, listing out all the races where the championship was decided but if you ask me, the most exciting race was one which squashed all the critics who questioned the 7 time Champion Micheal Schumacher's abilities and wrote him off saying, "He has past his prime, maybe he should go back to Germany and do fishing." 2011 Belgium GP also marked Michael Schumacher's 20th year in Formula One.

1st F1 drive, 1st F1 victory, surpassing Alain Prost's record of 51 wins & 7th Championship title, all have 2 things in common - Schumi & Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

This race also made Red Bull aware of the fact that despite Sebastien Vettel's lead, all is not in the bag, and that there are drivers who're ready to fight for the title till the very end.

When Red Bull landed in Belgium prior to the race, they had more than an in-form Button, a gutsy Alonso and an eccentric rain god against them; they had History professors against them. Out of last 10 races, Mclaren had won it 5 times & the Prancing Horse won remaining 5 times. Luckily though Vettel was going to start the race from pole while the German who had won Belgian GP highest number to times, 6 to be specific, and was celebrating his 20 years in Formula One, was starting the race from the wrong end of grid. Equally satisfying was knowing that one Mr. Raikkonen, who had won Belgian GP 4 times in last 6 years, twice each for Ferrari & McLaren, was busy racing his hatchback against some Ken guy who makes youtube gymkhana videos. Still, qualifying at the pole & P3 is one thing and crossing the chequered flag in 1-2 is totally different. And when the circuit in question is Spa, where rain god likes to gate crash your party, the task becomes doubly difficult.

At the end of first lap, Vettel had already lost his P1 start to Rosberg whose Mercedes seemed to be on Nitro boosters. Nico had an excellent start from P5 and was leading the race at the end of lap 1 but the reigning World Champion caught up with him in the very next lap and regained his position up ahead of the pack. From then on, he hardly faced any noteworthy issue in taking the chequered flag. On the other hand, Webber faced difficulties since beginning when he went down all the way to 8th place after starting from 3rd, but crawled all the way back up to finish the race behind his teammate in 2nd position. The highlights of Webber's drive was his overtaking maneuver over Fernando Alonso. The Gritty Australian's raw peace enabled him to go around the former champion and overtake him at the straight instead of barely scraping through at the edge of the corner.

Speaking of scraping through, that's exactly what Lewis Hamilton tried doing and paid a price for it. Hamilton started the race from P2 but couldn't hold his position and few laps down the line, found himself all the way behind Kobayashi. Hamilton tried to sneak towards the inside of Kobayashi but got nudged into the barriers,  in the end, getting a taste of his own medicine. The Brit, who has been criticized every now and then for his rash driving style once again successfully generated some controversy when he tried pushing around Kobayashi and turned right, when he actually had to turn left, and ended up in the barriers. Hence, attracted Stewards' ire and was reprimanded for the same.  

Reprimanding is exactly what Ferrari needs to do to themselves, of the “flawless Ferrari pit stop” for which they were famous for, during Schumacher days because, once again, they squandered an advantageous position to an ugly pit stop, which cost Alonso a possible podium place.

Maybe Ferrari needs to take a look at Schumacher's gutsy drive, who proved it once again that even on the eve of his 20th year in F1, he still has got it in him. Schumi who started from P24 after ending up in barriers in Q1, finished his momentous and remarkable race in 5th place.  The Mercedes driver looked like a man on a mission with a car on steroids as he gained 11 places and had moved up to 13 within just first 2 laps.

Equally unbelievable was Button's drive, who started the race from 7th row at P13 and finished on the 3rd step of the podium.

A Red Bull fan will surely be happy knowing the fact that RBR finished 1-2 but the drivers, RBR's as well as others, made sure that everyone, RBR fans or otherwise, have an at-the-edge-of-the-seat excitement throughout the race and not just half-giggles when Vettel & Webber sprays champagne on Adrian Newey.

Belgium GP broke the mould of being exciting only when rain men makes a splash. It didn't rain, yet the race was as exciting as any I've seen so far this season.

For those of you who belong to Type 1 & 2, and didn't understood the blog, just think of it this way: If Belgian GP was FIFA World Cup, Vettel would be lifting the cup for Red Bull Racing while Michael Schumacher & Jenson Button would get Golden Boot & Golden Ball respectively. Got it?

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