“It’s Perez. P.E.R.E.Z…Yes, with a ‘z’….” Those of you who didn’t screw up the switch to daylight saving this morning have probably only now got dressed, having spent the entire morning in front of the telly. Unless you watched it on the Beeb of course.
Yup, for those who were there live, the Malaysian Grand Prix was one of those loooooong ones thanks to a storm measuring ‘Biblical’ on the Beaufort scale. But what a race. And what a result. Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren in third place was possibly the only thing predictable about this one. And he started favourite.
When it comes to job applications they don’t come better than Sergio Perez’s drive this afternoon. Here on the Sunday Afternoon sofa we’re certain that, once we’ve finally got around to sitting down with a tea and a hot cross bun, we’ll find conspiracy theories that will say ‘Checo’ deliberately threw this one away and gifted Fernando Alonso an unlikely win; Sauber after all don’t have a lot of resource, so a dependable supply of Ferrari V8s is handy; Perez himself might well find himself team-mates to Alonso any day now (best not to ruffle the King of Spain’s feathers, you know how he can be). But the fact is had it not been for the little off, Sergio Perez, in only his second season of F1 and a team that’s only ever won once, could have and should have beaten Ferrari and Fernando Alonso.
The Sauber team’s early switch to full wets before the red flags came out, the race was stopped and the cars made to sit under makeshift tents on the grid for nearly an hour, was a strategic masterstroke, but don’t focus on that to the exclusion of Perez and the Sauber’s pace once the race had started again and the track died. The man, the car were fast. Alonso could do nothing about it except hope Checo fell off.
And when you are Fernando Alonso, things you hope for happen. Except maybe Ferrari making you a truly quick car. The FA2012 still clearly has problems, and to us ‘Nando got a tad lucky with the weather, and with others’ misfortune. But there’s nothing lucky about that talent. God help us when Ferrari ever design him a real winner.
Jenson Button and Sebastian each tangled with Narain Karathikeyan’s HRT which ran as high as tenth at one point after a late ‘why not?’ call had he and team mate Pedro de la Rossa starting on full wets. Button needed a new wing, Vettel a new left rear tyre. And neither could blame Karthikeyan. No points.
Michael Schumacher, who we confidently predicted would be among the thick of it, was tapped on the opening lap by Romain Grosjean and did well to grab the last point. Grosjean span out for good two laps later. Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes meanwhile was never really in it, the Mercedes proving if anything to be harder on its tyres in the wet than the dry. Of the others who might have troubled Alsono… Well, Hamilton’s third was undoubtedly compromised by some messy pit work, but, like Mark Webber (fourth) and Kimi Raikkonen (fifth) he just didn’t seem to be able to string it together in what was to say the least a challenging race environment. When the lightening is knocking out the power in the paddock, you do wonder whether there should be a race going on at all.
And if – Alonso aside – this was really more about reputations forged then a big Sunday Afternoon Club salute to Bruno Senna, sixth despite knocking the nose of his car off on the first lap and Jean Eric Vergne, who managed to get all the way to the stoppage on intermediate tyres, which put his Toro Rosso seventh at the re-start and eighth at the flag.
Force India would under normal circumstances be chuffed with seventh and ninth (di Resta again ahead at the flag). But these weren’t normal circumstances and Sauber, one of the teams it hoped to leave behind this year, almost won the race.
Formula One, eh? Well, you’ve been saying you didn’t want it predictable again…