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Monday, 25 March 2013

Malaysian Grand Prix 2013, Sepang Circuit

Round 2:

The 15th edition of the Malaysian GP brought with it an air of nostalgia for many drivers. The 2003 race, dubbed as 'A race of firsts', saw racing greats being born as Kimi Raikkonen raised his trophy to celebrate his maiden race victory while Fernando Alonso, in 2nd place, became the youngest driver to secure a podium finish. 

Qualifying took place as scheduled on saturday and saw Vettel taking pole position. The two Ferraris took P2 and P3. With Massa out-qualifying his team mate Alonso 4th race in a row, the men in scarlet faced a rather new found dilemma this weekend of having two No.1 drivers. The qualifying results do not justify the robust performances of some drivers like Adrian Sutil (Force India) ,Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Paul Di Resta (Force India) who were nothing short of impressive over the course of the weekend. Rain helped Ferrari and Red Bull to end the qualifying session with expected results owing to their meticulous implementation of strategy. It was a clear display of what separates these guys from the rest of the pack. 

Qualifying: 1.VET 2.MAS 3.ALO 4.HAM 5.WEB 6.ROS 7.RAI* 8.BUT 9.SUT 10.PER

The Big Sunday:
The start of the race, horrendous if you were a Ferrai fan, saw Felipe Massa lose 4 places while Alonso made contact with the back of the RB9 of Vettel on turn 2. As a result of the damage, Alonso went on to lose his front wing on the second lap of the race on a straight while battling for 2nd place with Mark Webber. It brought the spaniard's weekend campaign to an abrupt halt as he lost control of his vehicle and drove off the track. Webber took the lead of the race after the second set of pit-stops in which he set the time for the fastest stop of the race, an astounding 2.3 seconds. A bad day in the box for the Force India team, who decided to tactically retire both cars after a series of disastrous pit-stops. Even Jenson Button fell victim to bad-luck in the the pit-lane and eventually retired for tactical reasons, leaving Checo to hold the McLaren fort. He finished 9th and scored his first points as a McLaren driver. Nico Hulkenberg did not fail to impress in the Sauber, sporting a new bad-ass look, when he finished the race in 8th place after qualifying 12th. Lewis Hamilton finished 3rd just in-front of team mate Nico Rosberg. Both drivers were given strict orders to stay in their respective positions till the end of the race, even though Hamilton's car was struggling with fuel issues and Nico had a lot more left in his car. The decision seemed controversial to say the least, but it was later explained that any steps taken otherwise could damage the engines and reduce their chances of favorable results in Shanghai. Teams are assigned only a limited number of engines every season (8 engines).

"This is silly, Seb, come on":
Just as everyone thought the race was over and we would get to see Mark winning the Malaysian GP for the first time, the three-time world champion went charging at his team mate. Both drivers were given orders to preserve their engines till the end of the race but Vettel claims that the communication did not reach him. Vettel overtook the leader in the closing moments of the race and went on to tie Jackie Stewart's record of 27 race wins. The Aussie did not try to hide his emotions after the race and, very rightly so, spoke his mind at the post-race press conference. Just a bad day to be the number 2 driver, I guess.

Result: 1. VET 2.WEB 3.HAM 4.ROS 5.MAS 6.GRO 7.RAI 8.HUL 9.PER 10.VER

*Raikkonen was a given a 3 place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg during qualifying.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Kimi knocks one out of the Park (Albert)

Time seemed to slow down last week. Every minute seemed to be extended. If you and I concur on this insight then its probably because you, just like me, eat, sleep and breathe F1!

Yes, its finally here! And it could not have taken any longer. The 2013 Formula1 season kicked-off at the Albert Park, Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix. The weekend was an unconventional one with Q2 and Q3 session of qualifying held on the morning before the race, due to rain playing spoilsport (seems to  be the case every where; check out India Vs Australia test series). At the end of qualifying many would have already written off the 2013 season as 'another red bull season' with the complete Red-Bull front row, but Australia had much more in store. Lewis Hamilton pulled off a very impressive P3 for his new team and was followed by the two Ferraris of Massa and Alonso (Yes! in that order!). Qualifying, just like the rest of the weekend, for the McLaren team was despicable. For full qualifying results visit

The start was rather uneventful, except for Mark Webber losing 5 places before the first turn. Massa gave his critics a little something to talk about when he exploded in the first few laps of the race. However his 'moment' was short lived as he had to give away his 2nd place to Alonso. The race provided the audiences with top quality racing from some of the world champions and other drivers such as Sutil. Adrian Sutil shocked most of us when we found him leading the race in front of Vettel and holding the position for a considerable amount of time (even with highly degraded tyres). Sutil showed F1 what they missed out on in the previous season. Nico Rosberg retired early in the race due to electrical problems in the car, and Lewis Hamilton fought very hard to maintain his spot with the top-runners. He finished 5th. Overall the Mercedes team looked much stronger this season and were able to provide good results all weekend long but failed to deliver when it mattered most. They seemed to have learnt well from their mistakes in the previous season, all they need is some fine tuning (pretty sure Ross Brawn would have plugged the leaks by next weekend). Tyre strategy played the biggest role in choosing the winner today, and Lotus got it just right. Kimi Raikonnen (on a two-stop strategy) pitted for the final time in the 34th lap and went on to win the race after 24 laps. The Lotus treats its tyres like a goddess and like Karun Chandok said, it looks like the top car to drive at Malaysia too. Fernando Alonso made the best move of the race when he out-witted Hamilton to steal a position but was just not good enough for the Lotus. He was satisfied with 2nd place finish (its been a while since he was on the Australian podium) but I'm sure he will have a bigger appetite going into the next weekend. Vettel completed the podium with his 3rd place but seemed pretty optimistic at the post-race interview. We certainly didn't get to see the 'Red-Bull' speed as expected and this is definitely going to keep Horner and Newey up at nights. Its back to the drawing board for the 3 time consecutive world champion and his team.