Well, there were 95 minutes that F1 racing needed. So a Vettel win might seem all too familiar, but let’s not forget that his win makes four races and four different winners. And how long until it is five? We’ve been saying the Lotus E20 was the second quickest car since Australia and Team Chipping Norton proved it today. Vettel — three-seconds — Kimi — seven more seconds — Grosjean.
As an atypically verbose Kimi Raikkonen said on the slow-down lap, but for strategic calls on his and the team’s behalf he could have won this race and hasn’t stopped since. And who’s to doubt him — he started 11th do not forget. And his car was damaged. And did you hear how quickly Red Bull got on the radio to tell Seb to stop or run out of gas? Red Bull are back on form, but only just. Massive Sunday Afternoon respect also to Romain Grosjean, he joins a long list of people who could win races this year.
Wow. It hasn’t been like this for a long, long time.
To confirm the sheer intensity of this year’s competition, just how hard the teams need to work for every single minute of every single practice session, stage of qualifying and of course the race, was made clear by the absence of McLaren and last week’s dominant winners Mercedes from the podium. There’s something about this rear’s regulations and the quite astonishing and complex nuances of the Pirelli tyres that’s meant having a Ferrari or a McLaren or a Red Bull mega-budget is no longer enough. That’s got to be a good thing.
McLaren will be disappointed by Lewis’s eight place and Jenson’s late retirement from sixth, but the team knows better than anyone that it’s all about the season, not the race. Still, four pit-stop cock-ups in four races — two for Lewis this afternoon — will need a little attention. But ‘Team GB’ is ten points or less adrift on Vettel and Red Bull in both Championships and that means very little this season. Ferrari, meanwhile, have to continue to bide their time until a significantly different FA2012 arrives, but they will be able to take some comfort from Felipe Massa trailing Alonso by just seven seconds this time, respectively in seventh and ninth.
It’s only a matter of minutes since the race finished on the Sunday Afternoon sofa, so we have no idea whether Nico Rosberg will keep his fifth place after two lurid moments racing Hamilton and Alonso, but we doubt he’ll get away scot-free after what will be a long session with the stewards. Michael Schumacher opted to take the extra pain of a gearbox-change penalty to drop his already lowly starting position of 18th to 22nd. Tenth place and the last point after a hard afternoon’s work once again reinforces just how competitive the midfield is. In other years, and in a car that fast, Michael would have expected even more.
Mark Webber brought the second Red Bull home fourth, which seems to be his role this year, but we might have expected more, considering Vettel’s pace. On Sky Anthony Davidson explained how he’d seen Adrian Newey working away on a flight home from Bahrain with — get this — pencils and rubbers. Martin Brundle meanwhile reckon it was tint changes to the rear deck, in combination with another change in exhaust position that made the difference. And the human shield of mechanics around the area of the car ahead of the front wheel would seem to confirm that.
Last word to Paul di Resta and Force India for a fantasic sixth place (pre-supposing Rosberg keeps fifth). Force India were of course the team that got closer to the troubles outside the Sakhir circuit than any other team. As a consequence, they went in to the race with less tyre data then the other teams having missed free practice two. That made it an even more brave decision to attempt at two-stop strategy. Hat doff to them and especially to young Paul for an heroic race.
Thank you F1 for proving that as a sport, as a spectacle, especially this year, you can really deliver. You make up your own minds as how well it plays politics. It’s good to be able to leave that behind now.