Well, there you go. Could it be any more clear when they line up like they will tomorrow morning; two RB8s, two MP4-27s, two F2012s? Red Bull is faster than you McLaren, faster than you Fernando. If anyone out there thinks this year’s titles are going anywhere else than Milton Keynes, please let us know below. But to us, it’s clear; at the point at which it is reasonable to expect each and every team has got the best out of its car, Red Bull have a car that’s two-three tenths quicker than McLaren, half second quicker than Ferrari. Ho hum.
So they start like this; VET, WEB on the front row for the third race on the trot. Then HAM and BUT together, and ALO and MAS together. All very tidy, all very graphic. Then RAI, PER, MAL and ROS, but it’s those front three rows that are fascinating us on the Sunday Lunchtime Sofa.
Red Bull started the year with a car that wasn’t the fastest, not even close. That hadn’t happened in three years, and it clearly threw Sebastian Vettel who spent the first half of the season — especially having lost that certain win in Valencia — showing us the sulky side of his usually sunny personality. This, we are told by the Sunday Afternoon Club’s German friend, did not make him a popular boy at home and that only made it worse. So by the time Mark Webber won his second race of the season at Silverstone in July it looked like he was the one to challenge this year. What happened there?
And then McLaren. Yeah, yeah… we know; you lot think we are too pro-McLaren here but we really are not, and to prove it we once again ask how it is that McLaren are effectively out of the championship with four races to go, a championship they should have been controlling by now, their only worry being the potential in-fighting between its drivers? The MP4-27 was the best solution to the rules and the tyres available way back at race one. We are at race 17 now, and it’s gone backwards. McLaren, self-appointed kings of in-season development have blown it. Again.
Ferrari? We know the story. Fernando Alonso’s talent kept that car up there while others stumbled around in the dark of Pirelli’s 2012 compounds. As soon as they saw the light, Ferrari were in trouble. Especially with a one-man team. Felipe Massa was once again more competitive today, less than a tenth behind Alonso, but really is he good enough to drive one of the six best cars in F1?
The seventh, Kimi Raikonen’s Lotus, has been a mystery all season; always promising, never quite delivering. No wonder there is apparently gossip in the paddock that it’s up for sale. To Proton apparently, for which read DRB-Hircom, who have decided it makes sense to join together under one corporate structure the road and (licenced) racing arms of Lotus, if only to irritate Dany Bahar maybe.
Plenty of other gossip in the paddock too, though little of it about who drives what next year unless that driver comes with a briefcase full of folding. F1 it seems is suffering a big dose of not being able to afford itself. And just at the moment its CEO has sent out signals he’s looking for a way out. You wouldn’t leave F1 when it needs you most would you Bernie?
Anyhow, forget that for now. Gary Anderson is telling us the tyres have looked pretty indestructible today and so tomorrow’s race should be about pace and not strategy. Not, we fear, that will make any difference to the outcome.
The race starts at 9.30 on Sky. 14.05 on the Beeb. And don’t forget to put your clocks back tonight if you’re in the UK…