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Vettel derails the Mercedes steamroller

NEWS STORY
29/03/2015

Sadly, on a day there were so many positives, the (mainly British) media focussed on the negative, real or perceived.

On a day Sebastian Vettel demonstrated that Ferrari really is (almost) back in the game, when Marcus Ericsson made it out of Q1 for the first time in his (admittedly brief) F1 career, when Max Verstappen, in just his second race, equalled the best qualifying result achieved by his father Jos in 106 Grands Prix and also secured the best starting position by a teenager since Ricardo Rodriguez at Monza in 1961, the (mainly British) media focussed on a perceived spat between the Mercedes teammates, once again trying to build up the sort of jingoistic nonsense that belongs in Allo, Allo and Dad's Army.

Rather than trying to drive a wedge between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, if the (mainly British) media had focussed on the increasingly confusing saga that is Crashgate2, we could have understood. But sadly, not for the first time, it has opted for the easy option, bash Johnny Foreigner.

It's funny, but another thing we noticed yesterday was the praise for the Sepang circuit and its creator Hermann Tilke. Funny but we always thought that, other than Istanbul, his tracks were dire and weren't suitable, indeed prevented, real racing, but what do we know.

The mixed conditions in qualifying mean we have an interesting grid, and while there is no sign of rain at present we all know how quickly that can change.

Furthermore, in the wake of last year's tragedy at Suzuka, and mindful of the traditional weather patterns here, the race is an hour earlier than last year, and though we might still see rain there is also the problem caused by the higher temperatures encountered in the earlier start.

As expected the Silver Arrows are at the front, however, they are split by Sebastian Vettel, the German looking a lot happier than he did at this stage last year. Sadly, poor strategy from the Italian team leaves his teammate Kimi Raikkonen languishing in eleventh, although now he will start from the fifth row after Romain Grosjean's penalty.

That said, on Friday the red cars looked very strong on their longer runs in similar temperatures. Therefore, whilst most are contemplating three, possibly even four, stops, some believe the Maranello drivers could opt for just two.

Red Bull will hardly believe its luck, what with Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat starting fourth and fifth, however, we know its race pace isn't good and other than the intervention of the weather gods or some serious mistakes or reliability issues elsewhere, they will be fortunate to finish in the same positions.

Toro Rosso continues to improve and while Carlos Sainz made a mistake which meant he was unable to post a strong time before the rain hit, we fully expect him to get the STR10 into the points by the end of the afternoon.

Of course, the incredible Verstappen is getting all the media attention, and rightly so, his is clearly a special talent, but Sainz is also someone to keep an eye on.

Quite what Williams was doing in terms of its tyre choice in Q3 is a mystery to us all, and even when on the correct (new inter) rubber the FW37 wasn't impressive. Clearly, not only has the Grove outfit failed to pick up where it left off in Abu Dhabi 2014, it has been leapfrogged by Ferrari.

Another strong performance from Sauber, and how interesting to note, given certain issues in Melbourne, Peter Sauber is present, as he was in Australia. The C34 is an obvious improvement on its predecessor, not forgetting the improvements made by Ferrari, whilst Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are doing all that can be expected in the cockpit.

It's disappointing to see Grosjean lose two positions for a silly mistake in Q2, the Frenchman naturally eager to get out as soon as possible, however, the Enstone outfit look quietly confident. All we can hope is that Romain and Pastor Maldonado can survive the first lap unlike Melbourne.

Force India has made it clear that we will not see any serious progress until later in the season, so in the meantime Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will look to profit from the mistakes of others, no doubt hoping that the weather gods do play a part in today's race.

Ignoring the saga that is Crashgate2, McLaren is taking - or rather it is having to take - the 'softly, softly catchee monkey' approach. Like Ron Dennis, we have every reason to believe that things will improve, though not by the start of the European season, however, what really confuses us is Fernando Alonso's attitude, this new found positivity, loyalty and faith. Has he been cloned, does he still believe it is 1995? Anyway, like Force India, the Woking outfit will be looking for damage limitation today, maximum damage limitation.

Following the debacle of Melbourne, it's all systems go for Manor, and while Will Stevens was unable to post a time in qualifying and teammate Roberto Merhi was outside the 107% cut-off in Q1, both drivers have been given the all-clear to run.

However, less than an hour before the start of the race the team announced that "as we have not been able to get on top of the fuel system problem from yesterday, Will is unable to start today's race".

Nonetheless, the team, particularly its drivers, face a long, hot afternoon... and many more long afternoons.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 30/03/2015 10:18

"Great race from Kimi who drove a slightly wounded car through the pack to catch up with the front-runners.
It was a shame that Ferrari "did a Mercedes" and had by far the fastest tyres on the day, thus depriving us of any real competition for the lead. Hopefully future races will see a bit more racing between drivers & cars in slightly more normal temperatures.

The decline of RBR seems to proceed apace, with the chassis taking most of the credit for the lousy performance this time out. McLaren, on the other hand are showing some (feeble) signs of recovery: the chassis seems to have decent downforce and the Honda motor improved a little too. Catching-up over a year's testing & development was always going to be a tough ask....

After 2 races I'm looking forward to a third!"

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2. Posted by Editor, 30/03/2015 9:52

"@Dickiedoc

We do the laps completed in total basis... but not individual races

http://www.pitpass.com/src/seasons/2015/statistics/driverlapscompleted.php

http://www.pitpass.com/src/seasons/2015/statistics/teamlapscompleted.php

"

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3. Posted by Dickiedoc, 30/03/2015 9:39

"Where can I see a list of the race results?

Can anyone out there tell me how to give each driver a percentage of laps completed;
Example: (Malaysia 56=Laps) 56 laps=100%... 29-43 laps=75%... 14-28 laps=50%... under 14 laps=25%?
I've been trying to work out each circuit? If there is a website for this can you let me know... PLEASE."

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4. Posted by moonrover, 30/03/2015 8:57

"Very good one from pitpass, I mean tnis very article. Fair and square."

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5. Posted by scf1fan, 29/03/2015 21:30

"My "rhetorical" comment of the day . . . . ;-)

"Oh Bernie! Please save us from such a boring season!!!"

Now, let Renault "fix" their engine so H.Marko won't have so much to grouse about (well, that anyway) and let the fun continue!! (And please pay the back markers more! They are fun to watch and if they can run at 107% (basically on "chump change") they make me question the real value that the big spenders are bringing to the "sport.")

I also think that Lewis had better get his contract settled if he wants to stay at MB. He is certainly a talented driver, but I don't think he will be the team favorite with all his testy comments. (Perhaps that's why he and Niki get along so well. But I think Niki brought a lot more to his teams than just driving skills.) Put Lewis in any other car, and I think he wouldn't be at the top of the order.

Congrats to Ferrari (even though I'm not a big fan) and particularly to those that put them on their current path that are no longer there."

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6. Posted by Carugatese, 29/03/2015 16:09

"Well donne Williams? Who, Serena?"

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7. Posted by Hondawho?, 29/03/2015 12:35

"Alfa Romeo's record remains.

Bad luck Mercedes. lets see who LewisHam (don't talk to me when I am in a corner) ilton blames for this one!

Well done the red cars and Williams."

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8. Posted by Kkiirmki, 29/03/2015 11:48

"Firstly, great exciting race and a fantastic result, welcome back Ferrari. If it wasn't for Kimi's bad luck, in both qualifying and the race, we may well have seen a Ferrari 1-2. Hopefully, for the sake of F1, we can see more teams taking the fight to Mercedes.
Secondly, thanks Pitpass for telling it like it is (as always) concerning the media over this weekend. Some of them, spearheaded by the SKY TV commentary team, have really disgraced themselves with some ridiculous comments over the last couple of days. Trying to re-ignite the Hamilton/Rosberg issues from last season with ridiculous comments of Rosberg impeding Hamilton to their dismissal of Ferrari's/Vettel's achievement in wining the race.
Thirdly, can Eddie (look at me, look at me) Jordan please be bared from the F1 paddock? Totally cringe worthy as usual."

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