Clip The Apex
F1 arrives in Europe at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Last year we had a Hamilton pole and a Hamilton win, I suspect we will see the same this weekend and if it is what hope is there for Rosberg in the title race? Beaten in to third in Bahrain, Nico's season appears to be being flushed around the U bend before it has even started. All the rhetoric in the press conferences and in the podium interviews don't seem to translate in to speed on the track. If I was advising Nico I suggest he do his talking on the track but he just doesn't appear to have the same pace as Lewis.
Ferrari seem to have found some pace but are still not able to challenge the lead Mercedes. It was nice to see Raikkonen back on the podium in Bahrain. A few uncharacteristic mistakes from Vettel, and his team mates better strategy, saw the German pushed back to fifth and his record in Barcelona isn't stellar so maybe Kimi will keep him honest this race too.
Williams will be next. Massa has started the season the better of the two but Bottas was faster in both qualifying and race in Bahrain and Williams have some upgrades for Spain so they might be closer to the Ferrari's.
The mid field battle is quite close with Toro Rosso, Sauber, Red Bull, Lotus and Force India all squabbling over the position from 6 to 16. All teams and drivers have scored points in races so far, with the exception of Pastor Maldonado, and no one team appears to want to take the Fourth Best on the grid position. Hopefully the TV coverage will let us see more the mid-field squabbles as the front running teams disappear in to the distance. Or maybe there will be a titanic struggle at the front and none of us will give a monkeys about who finishes 7th.
At the back will be Manor Marussia and McLaren. I wonder if McLaren will be able to get two cars to the grid for this race? Barcelona isn't traditionally a high attrition race so I suspect McLaren will continue in the same position in the WCC after Spain as a British Eurovison entry with Nul Point. Manor, well done for just being there and with Will Stevens showing some reasonable speed in a very slow car have we found Britain's next World Champion?
It's a paella and Rioja weekend, enjoy.
2004 famously started with Michael Schumacher's Ferrari in a position of total domination. His first five races had seen five front-row starts, and five wins. He would go on to win the next seven. However, Schumacher did not manage his run of 13 because of a defeat at that most atypical of circuits - the Circuit de Monaco.
Schumacher qualified in 5th place - half a second down. He started in 4th place after his brother was turfed off the front row and given a 10 place grid drop for changing his engine. It was Jarno Trulli, scoring the first of his four pole positions in F1, sitting on pole position. This was not considered the greatest advantage - only once in the previous nine visits had the pole sitter won!
Off the line, Trulli was joined at the front by his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, who'd got the jump on BAR's Jenson Button for 3rd. However, it was BAR's other car - driven by Takuma Sato - which shot off the line the best, making it from 7th up to 4th position. Alas, Sato would provide a moment of high farce just two laps in, when his Honda engine gave up the ghost - thus sending a thick fog down the circuit at Piscine. This being Monaco, the lack of visibility proved too much and eliminated a pair of Monaco specialists - Giancarlo Fisichella running clean into the back of David Coulthard.
Sato wouldn't be the only engine giving up - as was becoming a tradition Kimi Raikkonen would also lose one, although he managed to avoid causing anyone else to crash. Schumacher was doing what the F2004 did so often, meanwhile, and driving quickly; he was able to jump Button in the pit-stops to run 3rd behind the Renaults.
Seriously, today got me reflecting a little on the situation at McLaren.
4 races in to the season, and no points. Plenty of data, but no points. But that's ok, they are building for the future, after all, you have to be a works team to make it these days.
I have a rather large issue with McLaren Honda at the moment.
They left F1 at the end of 2008, and handed Brawn a world championship winning car, and much research on KERS which was never used, but was held on to by Honda. They failed to set the world on fire in their last tenure in F1, with only one race win, but this time will be different, right? we can hark back to those days in the late 80's where Honda were at the peak of their powers, sweeping all aside.
So much for that.
I know that me writing this is pretty much a guarantee that they will get everything sorted, but at the moment I am struggling to see when things are going to turn round.
Honda started PU development a year behind the other manufacturers, so you would expect a bit of catch up, however, they also had a target to aim at, which none of the other teams had. Additionally, they have a reputation for reliability and technical excellence in the road car sector which I am fairly sure they would seek to reinforce through their F1 involvement.
How can it be then, that 4 races in to the season they have used 3 of the 4 allocated PU's (mostly, details are available on another thread) they are significantly down on power, having had to keep things turned down to protect reliability (!!) and the ultimate indignity today of a D.N.S for Button?
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