24 Jun 2012

F1 - Valencia - race review

For those that haven't actually seen it yet (which I reckon to be roughly 0% of anyone reading this) the European GP at Valencia was one of the most action packed races of recent years. Dizzying action and plenty of twists and turns. In fact there was so much going on that I've had to refer to my twitter feed (@speedmonkeymatt) to remember what happened when.

 First piece of news was that Timo Glock, after withdrawing from qualifying with a stomach bug, was now withdrawing to the toilet for the duration of the race. Unless Marussia could fit a portapotty to the car he wasn't able to compete. So, with Massa cultivating a lovely mullet in honour of all his German fans, the race was ready.

 Vettel, on pole, was readying his one fingered salute and Lewis, in second, was hoping no-one was going to crash into him as, Jean Todt being in town, it would surely be his fault. Alonso, down in 11th, was just hoping he'd make it through the pack to grab a handful of points.

 And off they went. Like Timo Glock headed for the loo the pack squeezed into the first corner with no major dramas except for Massa pushing Button towards the wall. Jenson's long face got even longer as he dropped to 13th. The pack pushed and shoved over the next few laps. Todt was heard to comment that all the action was not very F1 and that surely it should be more like a game of chess. Raikonnen bravely tried to overtake Maldonado and didn't quite pull it off. A few laps ater he tried it again successfully. The DRS didn't really work very well here. More, bravery and skill accounted for the majority of overtakes. Alonso worked his way through the field whilst Button worked his way further down.

 At one point a straw hat was thrown onto the track. Maybe at the British GP it'll be a knotted handkerchief. Towards the end of his first stint David Croft commented that Kimi was challenging all over the back of Alonso's wing. Then, Michael Schumacher's tyres started going off ahead of schedule. He stayed out for as long as possible which built up a huge train of cars behind him all of whom started the most amazing mini-race. Senna was crashed into by a Torro Rosso, almost did a 360 and rejoined the race. Epic driving for which he was rewarded a drive through penalty.

 And so the action went on with too many moves to describe individually until Vergne and Kovalainen came together and covered the track with debris. The safety car was deployed and McLaren took their usual 14 seconds to change Lewis's tyres. When the race resumed it was Vettel in the lead followed by Grosjean and Alonso. Alonso pulled a mega move on Grosjean to take 2nd. Not long after that Vettel, then Grosjean, both stopped on track with alternator issues. Vettel stropped off and vowed he would show his finger to the crowd at Silverstone. We found ourselves in the closing laps with Alonso in the lead followed by Hamilton and Raikkonen. Lewis had driven a faultless race and was pushing hard to keep Kimi behind him. Then, Hamilton's tyres started to go off and he started to go backwards. By the time he reached Maldonado he was in real trouble but put up a good fight. Tragically Maldonado decided Lewis wasn't actually there so used the same piece of track which resulted in a crash, putting them both out. He's going to face a little bit of negative support from the grandstands at Silverstone for that move. A few laps later the race was over. Alonso, Raikonnen and, incredibly, Schumacher. At an average age of 35 we had our first oldie podium since Fangio retired.