Regenmeisters: The winners and losers from Malaysia

April 6, 2010

 
 
 
 

The Red Bull Energy Station would have been the place to be after the Malaysian Grand Prix

Winners:

F1 – Malaysia produced an entertaining race, perhaps not on the same level of Melbourne, but certainly nowhere close to the soporific parade that was Bahrain. So far it looks like the new regulations are settling down to bring us some excellent racing – although here the rain did play its part in mixing up the grid in qualifying.

Toro Rosso: It should not go unnoticed that Toro Rosso were once the fabled Minardi team, whose prime objective was to get together enough money to make the next race, and so became the longest running low-budget team in the history of F1, quite a feat when all things are considered. It was therefore gratifying to see that the Toro Rosso cars look to be among the best of the midfield (ie not the top four: Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull or Mercedes, or the last three: Lotus, Virgin and HRT), with both their drivers: Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi putting in some great overtaking manoeuvres for the youngest pairing on the grid.

Nico Rosberg: Nico is steadily building up his credibility. I was among those who thought he was going to be outperformed by his illustrious team mate, and although he isn’t yet there as a serious contender from the world championship, he is certainly thereabouts.

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing: Well he’s finally taken the monkey off his shoulder and has done what he’s been threatening to do since the start of the season – dominate a Grand Prix. He also got one over on his team-mate, the eminently likeable Aussie, Mark Webber – and although it is early days yet – he could be settling into the undisputed number 1 role at RBR.

Virgin Racing: Not a good race for monkeys, as Virgin were also able to remove theirs and have now joined their two new entrant competitors in having finished a race, a situation worthy of celebration as it appeared unclear as to whether the cars could physically hold enough fuel to achieve this. The real race starts in Spain when we’ll get a better sense of how good the new teams are in developing their cars.

Vitaly Petrov: With Kubica moving himself up the Team Principal’s shopping lists in Australia, Petrov did much the same in Malaysia, demonstrating a mature, level headed approach to dealing with the 2008 world champion – one Lewis Hamilton, including multiple weaving on the main straight. Like Kubica he also demonstrated that although the new Renault is not particularly spectacular, in the right hands it is very competitive.  

Lewis Hamilton: Lewis didn’t seem to be in a great place after Australia (I’m talking mentally rather than physically!), but in Malaysia he produced a Sennaesque (Ayrton not Bruno) charge through the field, starting 20th and finishing 6th, like Nigel Mansell, Lewis only seems to know one approach – flat out and fighting for every inch of the track!

Losers

F1 weather forecasters: Both McLaren and Ferrari seemed to be too focused on what each other were doing and really dropped the ball in qualifying. They also (and they weren’t alone) seemed to be overly confident on their weather forecasting data, which meant that they stayed in the pits when they should have gone out and went out when they would have been better off staying in.

Williams: Being a bit of a Team Willy fan, these were exactly the kind of conditions that I was hoping could give them a real shot at a great result, unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and the car looked outclassed by the Renault, Force India and Toro Rosso, perhaps they just didn’t get the right breaks and hopefully things will come back to them in Europe.

Sauber: The rather ridiculously named BMW Sauber Ferrari team have been struggling, not only to find sponsors – as their virtually unblemished white livery suggests – but also to deliver on the race track. They are now in the same grouping as the three new entrants in having taken away no points from the first three races. The team had looked good in pre-season testing, but it seems this was an attempt to pull in the sponsors. It is also perhaps concerning for Ferrari that both the Saubers retired due to engine problems, as did Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari.

Undecided

Michael Schumacher: I’m really not sure how things are going to pan out with Michael. He doesn’t seem to be phased by being outperformed by this team-mate, and he doesn’t seem to have that extra edge, the will to win at all costs, that we associate with Schumacher. Maybe this will come, and he is steadily playing himself in, but I was disappointed that we didn’t see the Regenmeister come to the fore during wet qualifying, perhaps, at the end of the day, he is just happy to be out of retirement?

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