Okay, so we’d like to apologise for suggesting earlier that this afternoon’s might be the race of the year. It wasn’t. Well not for the first part anyhow. It got more interesting after the first of two safety cars, but not in a good way. It was all kind of scrappy, wasn’t it? Sorry about that.
Still, however enervating, it does open the championship, although not to Lewis Hamilton, who’s now starting to look too far behind Fernando Alonso. Alonso, third behind Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button this afternoon showed just why he continues to lead the championship — he’s just always there, driving his cojones off, picking up those points. Wow. Luck took out Hamilton and Maldonado, but you have to be there to take advantage of it. Fernando always is.
It could all turn around again in two weeks time in Japan, but like we said after Spa, it is Red Bull and Vettel who we fancy best to take the challenge to Ferrari and Alonso over the next six races. Vettel had looked focused all weekend, and though he did benefit from Hamilton’s retirement, he finally looks like he means to make it three titles on the trot.
Ah, Lewis’ retirement. A gearbox failure that may or may not have had its roots in the slight clout he gave the wall in qualifying yesterday; the team radio certainly suggested they knew it was on the cards? So why risk it? Would you not, if you were McLaren have gambled on a fired-up Lewis taking at least some points from a grid-penalised/gearbox optimised race-fit MP4-27?.
Will it be the final straw for what’s become a repeatedly impossible relationship over the summer? Certainly if he is minded to defect to Mercedes, then he’ll not be short of support from the board there, or whoever it is who signs the big cheques to Michael Schumacher. That’s the second time he’s done that this year and he does raise real concerns about his powers of perception. “What happened there? What happened there?” said the bloke on the radio. Lewis Hamilton could have said the same thing in three key strokes.
Paul di Resta will have done his chances of keeping his name in the musical chairs game with a career-best fourth place while his ‘rivals’ for a possible McLaren/Ferrari/Mercedes seat — Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg — got themselves tangled up in a crashy few laps with Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi, that, though exciting, was all a bit GP3. And all over 11th place.
They didn’t make it to 61 laps, the stewards bringing the flag down on it after two hours. Sorry to say this, but we were sort of grateful.