Thursday, April 14, 2011

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal (Malaysia Post Race Recap)

The angelic beauty of the Malaysian track.
 The second round of the 2011 F1 season was a pretty good time.  We were able to work out our schedule so the entire staff of F1-Geeks was able to watch the race at the same time.  Pizza, Mio, and Mountain Dew.  Damn Skippy folks... Damn Skippy.

Tim's Take:
Ok, I stand corrected.  I had predicted a pileup in the first corner.  I was certain that a quarter of the field would be lying in ruins after they got to the end of start/finish straight.  I guess the fact that the corner is 4 cars wide had something to do with it.  But holy crap!  If you like unexpected starts, that was the one for you.  Both of the Renaults sprinting up to Vettel's tail. Both of the Ferraris right on their tail, only to see Alonso drop back several spots after being squeezed out by Massa, of all people!  Webber dropping back from 4th to 28th spot on a 24 car grid.  What the hell happened to him?  Both Fred and I were sitting there shocked that there had been no accidents, and loving every minute of it.

The FIA set out to make the races more interesting and tried to induce more passing.  Boy did they succeed.  With the second race in the books, I think it's safe to say the switch to the newer grippy one minute, slippery the next, tires, KERS and the DRS system, they've succeeded in adding all the excitement they'd hoped for.

I've always been surprised that teams don't use code phrases more.  Well, perhaps they do.  Maybe they are so cleverly hidden in normal radio banter that they slip by unnoticed.  If that's the case, then Vettel's transmission that "we are now entering phase 2" seems pretty clumsy.  Which makes me think that they don't normally use code phrases.(1)  After all, that happened at a time when everyone else's tires were starting to give out, and by everyone's reckoning, had to mean the same thing for Sebastian.  The only thing we knew for sure is that he was on "plan b" and for at least a short time he was in "phase 2."  Webber on the other hand was using "plan a," which we figured had to mean "try not to openly cry as the race slips away from you."  In all fairness, he was handed some pretty bad lemons.

The impressiveness of Nick Heidfeld's drive was surpassed only by the enormity of his watch.  Seriously, did you see that thing in the interview!  The next logical step is for him to wear Flavor Flav's pendant on his arm.  Nick was out to show the world that he can drive and being taken out of contention in Melbourne by an errant Torro Rosso was all the motivation he needed.  After a fantastic start, rocketing from 6th to 2nd position, he stayed the course and drove a near flawless race.  But that's the thing about Nick.  He's always driven well when it's clear his job is on the line, or he has an ax to grind.  Without that motivation, he just seems to languish in the middle of the pack.  I hope he keeps the fire that propelled him to the front in this race going for the rest of the season.  I'd love to see Renault in contention again.  And if Petrov can avoid pretending he's in a Mig, they stand a chance.

Some of the newcomers are really looking impressive.  Sergio Perez, despite being DQ'd from the first race and failing to finish in Malaysia is driving like a veteran.  Pulling off some great overtaking maneuvers and going wheel to wheel with the sport's best.  I'm convinced Paul di Resta would have far more than the 2 points he has for the season, if he were in a better car.  He's out driving Sutil in many respects and I think he's going to be around for a while.

Decoration outside the course
Team wise, it's pretty impressive how McLaren have seemingly over come numerous problems to be competitive when it counts.  Of course we don't know what they have or haven't deployed during practice so the apparent jump in performance between practice and qualifying might not be all that great in reality.  It's weird to watch Ferrari struggle the way they are.  They always have good cars, but it seems so long since they've had a consistently great car.  Renault is perhaps the biggest surprise.  They've moved from the 5th or 6th place team to one that is battling right at the top.  If Nick hadn't been crippled in Melbourne, and Vitali hadn't tried to kiss the sky in Malaysia, they'd be much further up than the 4th place they are in now.  You watch, they're going to climb up the points ladder.  And then Flavio will take credit.  Somehow.

Fred's Take:
Let's start with qualifying. Everyone met the 107% rule. For those of you unfamiliar with the rule it can be translated to: "Your low budget, struggling team better make sure that the ultra rich, super sponsored, championship winning teams with the best drivers, aren't more than 7% faster than you or you can just sit there until you learn something, bitches!" rule(2).

Infiniti in front... again
There was the usual coolness around the the qualifying sessions but the last three minutes were exquisite. It looked like it was going to be a Hamilton/Webber battle and everyone was impressed with that fight and Hamilton's pole position.

I completely forgot Vettel was still out there. He hadn't really posted a top time. Then out of nowhere. Vettel on top. Take that boys.

I agree with Tim on Turn 1.  It's wide sure, but man, it's a pain.   And don't forget Webber's in there somewhere.  While we realize that these guys are very very good, we were still astonished with how everyone made it through turns 1 and 2.

Tim's got the Renault comments right.   Let's not forget I loves me some of that Black and Gold so I really was having a good time watching them put the squeeze on the Ferrari's.  I agree that were it not for Petrov's impression of the Duke Boys, they may have locked up the podium with Renault engines.  Although I'm not a Webber fan by any means, his pass on Massa was very cool to watch as well.

While I maintain Hamilton downshifted to mess with Alonso, the stewards didn't call it at the time and I figured business as usual and so Old Eyebrows had to go in to get his nose replaced.  Turns out the worst possible of all scenarios occurred.(3)   The stewards crawled out from behind their perpetually foggy corner of the darkest closet in the Basement of Eternal Myopia and decreed, "Drive Through...... drive..... through".

That has to stop.  I want the race to be finished at the end of the race.  I think that is not an unreasonable position.   To learn later that Hamilton is now 8th instead of 7th isn't Earth shattering.  It's just irritating.

Quote of the night: "I never thought I'd be rooting for Heidfeld" - Tim.

That last lap was riveting. Still, what does it say about Heidfeld that we get excited for him to reach third?
Button's drive although uneventful and unexciting got him to second. So very "Button," that.

The code phrase thing was a fun deal.  So far we've graphed it out and we hope to soon crack the code.

 Looking forward China.  Keep an eye out for our track analysis coming up soon.

  1. No code or hidden meaning in "Alonso is faster than you. Do you understand?"
  2. Yes. I know it's not exactly 7% more. I understand the math. Comedy rounds up, my friends. Never forget it.
  3. Technically, the worst possible scenario would be a clone army of Nelson Piquet Jrs all driving into the pit wall at the start/finish straight and crying, "Love me, daddy!!!"

No comments:

Post a Comment

F1 Passions run deep and strong. Vigorous but friendly discussion is something we're shooting for.

Don't be a jerk.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...