Monday, April 06, 2009

Jenson proves Brawn success not just flash in the pan.

There's always an extra pang of guilt about the Malaysian Grand Prix. The nice shiny modern circuit being "on the edge of the rainforest" does make you worry about all the acres of ecosystem that might have been done away with to create a rich man's playground for his masterpieces of engineering.

That aside, the weekend was truly fabulous and full of drama. I'm loving the qualifying sessions which are going down to the wire this year and keeping us on the edge of our seats until the very last moment. Was it going be Toyota, Red Bull or Brawn which would emerge victorious? It was good to see Brawn show that their initial success in Australia wasn't a flash in the pan by Jenson nabbing poll and Rubens finishing 4th fastest (although he had to take a 5 place drop for having a new gearbox).

Somebody had clearly left the Ferrari crystal ball at home - they stuffed up badly twice during the weekend, most seriously when they didn't send Felipe Massa out to ensure his place in the top 15 at the end of Q1.

That endearing needle between DC and Eddie Jordan continues. There doesn't seem to be any nastiness about it but they are not afraid to speak their minds and contradict each other. I did laugh out loud when DC said at one point "I don't know whether that was rain or whether Eddie spat on me." They argued about Lewis Hamilton, the Vettel/Kubica incident in Australia which saw Vettel losing 10 places on the grid and much more. It's interesting to see the differences in perspective between a former driver and a former team principal, with DC describing how painful team orders can be at times.

Another DC gem came when he asked new Ferrari boss Stefano di Menicale if Kimi was as lazy as he had been when he had been his team-mate at McLaren, never turning up for de-briefs and the like.

The race itself was gripping, despite its premature end due to rain. So many good moments to mention - a brilliant start by Alonso in particular who powered up the field. Button lost ground and ended up in 4th - he spent too long trying to get round the outside of Mark Webber and lost more places as a result.

Mark Webber made some formidable and daring passing moves, most noticeably on Alonso during the race and is one of my stars of the show.

The race was plagued from the outset with the threat of rain with estimates of the deluge ranging from the start to 20 minutes into the race. It actually took nearer an hour for the rain to get completely going with many changes of tyres. Ferrari, bizarrely, put Raikkonen on full wets when the track was still bone dry. However, virtually everybody else got it wrong, coming in for intermediates and then skating around the track before coming in again for full wets on the next lap.

It doesn't rain in Malaysia, it RAINS and it didn't take long for the race to be red flagged just over an hour in as the track turned into a lake. We then were treated to 50 minutes of watching them lined up on the grid, waiting to see if they could get going again. At that point the top 3 were Button, Glock and Heidfeld. However, when they finally announced at the last minute that the race would not continue, that the order was in fact Button, Heidfeld, Glock as they had to go back to the last complete lap. Only half points were awarded, but it's still a satisfying result for Brawn.

Comedy moment of the weekend has to go to the Toyota mechanics, who showed all the pointless paranoia of a British Home Secretary looking for a potential terrorist, who stood round the rear end of their car as it sat on the grid to prevent others seeing their diffuser. It was very funny as they all clustered round to keep the prying eyes of Martin Brundle, doing his best Donal McIntyre impression, from seeing anything he shouldn't.

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