British Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1st

And it could have all gone so dreadfully wrong... had the gravel on the outside of Brook lands not been so driveable (for a few seconds it looked like he might have bogged down) in qualifying on Saturday, Fernando Alonso could have been opening the race from P17. As it was he was able to show that the Ferrari 150 Italia is more like a Paris-Dakar machine and bounced his way to safety. And then claim P3.

He also took advantage of the latest F1 politics that have imperfect off-throttle gases. If indeed it was Ferrari and Sauber-Ferrari that have refused to go back to the Valencia engines arrangements, which was proposed by the FIA on Sunday morning, then that it is the copper-bottomed answer to the question: Who has been just about for a re-interpretation of the rules?

Ferrari were already making progress in their bid to nullify Red Bull's advantage and so it's a pity that Alonso's win will now be delayed in that debate. Because Alonso looked very strong regardless of Red Bull's race mistakes and failings. While he sailed past Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel could only follow. He may not have made a racing pass of Vettel and been handed the lead by Red Bull's rear jacking problems, but he looked able of grabbing it for himself if necessary.

He was also rational enough not to get fazed by Lewis Hamilton overtaking him. Fernando plays the long game so much enhanced than Lewis. I, for one, am more than happy not to hear the Austrian national anthem for a change on Sunday afternoon.

We've heard the Italian one second for so many years that it's like a familiar theme tune to Sunday afternoons and it's reassuring to have it back. Not for the rest of the season, mind.

Overtaking Move of the Race

Lap 15: Lewis Hamilton, McLaren on Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
For those of you who have stood on the external of Copse and watched F1 cars go through at 185mph, the overtaking moves that Lewis Hamilton pulled off on Alonso and Michael Schumacher did on Petrov were simply dramatic. On television they looked good, but not as stunning as they would have done in the grandstands.

Hamilton had the same tyres on as Alonso and the same tyre wear, no DRS but totally blitzed the Ferrari - going off the racing line on the turn-in to Copse and taking a wettish line through the turn, but still keeping control and observance in front.

Michael Schumacher did pretty much the same on his nemesis Vitaly Petrov (this race he was also busy seeking out a change-of-nemesis in Kobayashi) though that was only for P15 and I'm not sure if there was a tyre mismatch, Michael having stopped previous and been out of phase with most people. Both were the moves of inspired drivers.


Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 2nd

The great news as far as Sebastian Vettel is worried is that he now knows that Mark Webber will be acting as his domestique in future races. He also knows that in spite of the worst the FIA could throw at his blown floor he can pretty much keep pace with Ferrari. Even if the ban is upheld, Red Bull will find ways of getting back some of their misplaced time. Also, this was a race where Ferrari didn't have to go onto the reviled Pirelli hard tyre which they don't perform well on, and which will figure in future races. A third second place in 2011 isn't precisely slumming it.

What Seb detractors will probably seize upon is his inability to get past a wily Hamilton. That more than anything else ruined his race. He surely lost more seconds behind the Mclaren than he lost in the pits.

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 3rd

Hands up those who required to be in the Red Bull debrief...? Right, so that's all of you. Mark Webber had a good race and a poor start - the fourth pole place that he's failed to convert into a win. What was magnificent was that he didn't give up and pressured his team-mate correct till the end.

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