While still technically in the middle east, and despite having a very similar track layout, the snore-fest that was the Indian GP was a stark contrast to the absolutely crazy weekend that was the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi yesterday. The weekend started very well for Lewis Hamilton. Despite announcing his departure from McLaren and being on the verge of mathematical elimination from the championship, Lewis and his crew showed that they will continue pushing hard until the season is over. He was one of, if not the fastest car during practice and he put on a dominant performance during qualifying.
Speaking of qualifying, that was the point which the weekend got interesting. Sebastian Vettel, fighting downforce and braking issues managed to earn a P3 qualifying spot but once Q3 was over his team immediately ordered him to stop the car. Doing as he was told, Vettel pulled his Red Bull car over to the side of the front straight and hitched a ride in the safety car back to his pit. It is still unclear why his team asked him to shut the car down but it is against FIA regulation to not return a car to the pit under its own power after qualifying unless it has a certain amount of fuel left in its tank for independent analysis purposes. Vettel’s car was 150ml (or approximately 10 tablespoons) short of that required amount. As such officials disqualified him from the session and he woudl have to start the race on Sunday dead last, from the pit lane.
This was obviously horrible news for Red Bull Racing but awesome news for Ferrari. With Fernando Alonso qualifying 6th, he had a pretty good chance to take back the championship lead and maybe even build a points cushion for the last three races of 2012. However, things did not quite work out that way for Alonso. Despite starting in dead last, Sebastian Vettel clawed his way through the accident prone mid-field and fought his way to the front pack. For the most part that did not mean squat to Lewis Hamilton who was running away from the entire field; Until lap 20 when his car suffered some type of electrical malfunction and gave out, completely voiding his awesome performance all weekend up to that point.
From there it was Kimi Raikkonen who took over the lead in his Renault-powered Lotus. Great news for Kimi. Horrible news for Lewis, and completely indifferent to Fernando Alonso who just wanted to make sure he stayed in front of Vettel and that Vettel did not get any closer to him. Unfortunately for Alonso, Vettel who passed just about everyone else on the track after starting from pit lane was right behind him sitting in third place. Fernando’s only hope to leave the race ahead of Sebastian in the points was to win but the Spaniard could not catch Kimi “The Iceman” Raikkonen.
Lotus, not used to being in a winning position for quite sometime could not help but constantly remind Kimi what was at stake. A seasoned driver and former champion Kimi responded on the radio “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!” (true story!). The iceman knew what he was doing indeed as he kept both Fernando and Sebastian at bay to take his first win of the season and Lotus’ first win ever (in their current incarnation anyway).
Finishing in second place was Fernando Alonso who is still well in the fight for the championship, and rounding out the podium in third was Sebastian Vettel who would leave Abu Dhabi 10 points ahead of Fernando.
There are only two races left now: the return of F1 to the United States at the Circuit Of the America’s, and the final race in Brazil. Can Fernando come back in just two races and win his third career championship? Or will Sebastian stay on top to get his third consecutive title? The fight continues two weeks from now when Formula One finally returns to America at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
For a full post-race report check out the SPEED results show video.
[Photo: Tom Gandolfini/AFP/Getty Images]
Tags: · 2012AbuDhabiGrandPrix, 2012GrandPrixOfAbuDhabi, F1, FelipeMassa, FernandoAlonso, Formula1, FormulaOne, JensonButton, KimiRaikkonen, LewisHamilton, LotusF1Team, MarkWebber, Motorsports, News, RedBullRacing, ScuderiaFerrari, SebastianVettel, VodafoneMcLaren, YasMarinaCircuit
This year Formula 1 has been a bag full of shock and awe as so far up until the Spanish Grand Prix there has been a different winner from a different manufacturer for each race which was a nightmare for all the math geeks calculating points. The weekend of the Spanish Grand Prix had fans wondering if we would see yet another new winner or if one of the old pros would step up for a repeat win. For a while it looked like Lewis Hamilton was going to earn his first win of the season as he had a stellar performance during qualifying and earned the pole, for a few hours anyway. For some reason right after Q3 was over McLaren radioed into Lewis and had him stop his car while it was still on track. The reason why they did this is still unknown but leaving your car on track is a penalty so officials threw out Lewis’ fast lap and put him in the back of the field for the race.
With Lewis kicked off the front row, Williams driver Pastor Malonado inherited the pole which marked the first time a Venezuelan driver has ever held a pole position in Formula 1. While Pastor was happy with that I am sure he was worried when he came back to Earth and realized Fernando Alonso would be next to him! When the lights went out Pastor attempted to intimidate Fernando by nearly driving him off the track by defending his position going into turn 1. That turned out to be a rookie mistake since Fernando is not easily intimidated! The Spaniard held his ground and passed Pastor for the lead and immediately worked on building a sizable gap. Although, to everyone’s surprise Pastor did not fade away. The young Williams driver managed to stay with Fernando Alonso (granted at a distance) for the first half of the race.
Things took a turn during the close of the second stint as Fernando needed to come in for new tires and at first he had enough of a gap to swap rubber and still come out in front but those hopes were dashed when he got held up by lapped traffic, costing him valuable time. When Fernando came in for tires Pastor took over the lead but his tires were starting to go fast and he had Alonso’s hard-charging Ferrari right behind him on new tires. The crew at Williams pleaded with Pastor to do his best to maintain the lead but to also save the tires as coming in for new rubber would throw away all hopes of a win.
For about 15 torturous laps the Pastor held off the Spaniard with degrading tires and took the checkered flag, becoming the 5th different winner in 5 races and also becoming the first Venezuelan to win a Formula 1 race. Fernando Alonso took second place and Kimi Raikkonen nabbed third.
Everyone in the Williams camp was on top of the world but the celebration was literally burned out as their garage caught on fire! There were a few injuries to pit crew but nothing serious and everyone is ok. What a weekend huh?!
For a full race recap check out the SPEED trio talking it over.
[Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images]
Tags: · 2012SpanishGrandPrix, 2012SpanishGrandPrixResults, F1, FernandoAlonso, Formula1, FormulaOne, KimiRaikkonen, LotusF1Team, Motorsports, News, PastorMaldonado, ScuderiaFerrari, SpanishGrandPrixResults, WilliamsF1
In a weekend surrounded by controversy of the social political environment of Bahrain the FIA decided that the show would go on and the Bahrain Grand Prix went ahead as scheduled. Hacker group Anonymous attempted to hack the F1 website issuing a warning that if the organization went forward with the race further cyber attacks would ensue but it really seemed as if things went off without a hitch for the most part. When the lights went out on Sunday it was Red Bull who was back in old form with Sebastien Vettel taking the lead but towards the last half of the race he had to deal with major contention from Kimi “The Iceman” Raikkonen and Kimi’s teammate Romain Grosjean. As Seb was on the soft tire he fought degradation which helped Kimi (who was on mediums) close the gap even further as the race wound down. However, once Sebastien pulled into the pits and switched to medium tires Kimi could not close on the young German the way he did in previous laps.
When the Checkered flag dropped it was Sebastien Vettel taking his first victory of the year followed by Kimi with his first podium of the year in second place and his teammate Romain Grosjean capturing third. Sebastien’s win gives him a 4 point advantage over Lewis Hamilton in the championship battle. We will just have to see if Red Bull can hold onto that lead or if McLaren and Hamilton will come back with a vengeance.
For a post race wrap-up watch the SPEED trio talk it over.
[Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images]
Tags: · 2012BahrainGPResults, 2012BahrainGrandPrixResults, Bahrain, BahrainGP2012, BahrainGrandPrix2012, F1, Formula1, FormulaOne, GroupLotus, KimiRaikkonen, LotusF1Team, Motorsports, News, RedBullRacing, RomainGrosjean, SebastienVettel