Today we want to talk about Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and Sebastian Vettel. To be direct, the Sunday Afternoon Club doesn’t quite tally with the sentiment behind the penalties handed out to RoGros and the Monster from Maracay, but we’ll come to that.
Largely not part of the conversation yesterday — understandably — was the fact that Vettel has moved to within one win of Fernando Alonso. Eight races to go and what are you going to put your money on for the title? Alonso’s sublime talent, or Red Bull’s track record? Consider also that Red Bull have two cars in this, Ferrari only one.
Only last week, we were applauding Alonso and Ferrari’s ability to develop the car from a terrible starting point, but has that development now gone as far as it can? You can only polish something so much and, at the start of the second part of the season, the F2012 is slower than the McLaren, the Sauber, the Lotus and quite possibly the Williams. In the race, Red Bull is faster than you, Fernando.
Ferrari can no longer lean on Alonso alone to win another title, not with Vettel and Red Bull reeling them in. The Sunday Afternoon Club is wondering whether right now, avocati in Maranello are looking at driver’s contracts, both of its own Felipe Massa and those of other drivers currently employed elsewhere in F1. Stand by your phone Heikki, Paul, Sergio.
So, to those penalties. Though the Sunday Afternoon Club is, once again, impressed by the charm and grace with which Romain Grosjean has accepted his one-race ban, have the stewards got this one right? It is Pastor Maldonado who needs a race away from track to think about his driving, not Grosjean?
Yes the Frenchman/Swiss (we’re still not sure) absolutely needs a good talking to, and the risks he’s taking explained. He did after all endanger the lives of Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. But is Maldonado making the more reckless mistakes?
After the first of this weekend’s penalties — his three grid place demotion for blocking Nico Hulkenberg – was that lost third place on the grid front of Maldonado’s mind when he jumped the start? Maldonado’s arrival at Le Source, totally out of position, didn’t help the chaos at the first corner. Typically, he then went on to collide with Timo Glock, hence the double penalty; five for the jump, another five for the shunt.
Is Maldonado thinking he’s now wearing the same spurs as Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Raikkonen, Vettel and Schumacher (“I’ve won a race, so get out of my way. I’m coming through whether you like it or not”)? He’s fast alright, but this is only his second season. It is by comparison Grosjean’s first full season. Or maybe it’s just the sense of genuine wide-eyed wonder of the face of RoGros that’s got us charmed…
Thoughts below as usual. Still, what a race, and there’s no doubt the second half of the season could easily live up to the first. Onto Monza…