Reflections on Malaysia 2011: Can things get any worse for Williams?

April 11, 2011

The general view seemed to be that once we got to Malaysia we’d begin to get a better idea of how the season will pan out, so who are the winners and losers thus far?

Winners

Sebastian Vettel: If Vettel keeps this up the drivers championship could be over well before the final race in Abu Dhabi, I’m almost reminded of Mansell at the start of the season in 1992. He is driving like a real champion.

McLaren: Despite many commentators having written of McLaren during pre-season testing they appear to have done a fantastic job in moving their car forward to compete with the Red Bull, either that or they did a great job of sand-bagging in testing! Their development pace is normally exceptional, so it looks like it will a close run thing regarding the best car of the year. What’s really great is that it looks totally different to the Red Bull – two different design approaches producing the best two cars, that’s what F1 is all about.

Renault: Great to see the Enstone team back on the podium, let’s not forget that even though they’ve had some changes in the senior management team and ownership these guys know how to produce championship winning cars.

Drivers as commentators: I have to admit to being sceptical about the Brundle/Coulthard pairing. I felt that Brundle needed to work with an enthusiastic, but less technically aware, professional commentator to bring out his strengths. I also wasn’t sure whether Coulthard could move beyond the bland statements and Eddie Jordan baiting of the paddock broadcasts. But I was wrong. I thought the Brundle/Couthard pairing worked well in Malaysia and took us to a level of insight into a live race that I hadn’t experienced before. It may have been due to the complex changes that we are trying to assimilate (Pirelli/KERS/DRS), but I thought they did a great job in drawing out the key issues and technical subtleties of the race. I only hope that the average TV punter agrees.

Losers

Mercedes: Mercedes did manage 9th place after a great start by Michael Schumacher, but they really do not look like being a front runner so far. It needs to remembered that despite their exceptional year as Brawn in 2009 the Mercedes team are based around the high spending, relatively poor performing Honda operation. Now they are spending a lot less and struggling to turn what they have into a competitive operation, far easier to start with a smaller operation and build it up, but Ross has been here before and so the long term prognosis must be good, it’s just a question of how long Daimler will have to wait, and whether they’ll have the patience to.

WilliamsF1: Two DNFs for both cars in succession is a pretty horrible start to Willliams’ 2011 season. Fortunately it doesn’t seem to have had a particularly dramatic effect on their share price which now stands at 19.5 Euro, a level it’s been close to over the last couple of weeks. However this will be small comfort to the good people at Grove who I am sure will be working flat-out to improve things. It can only get better.

Robert Kubica: Poor Robert, I hope his recuperation is going well, but, no disrespect to Nick Heidfeld, you can only imagine what could have happened if he had been in one of the Renault’s at KL.

Finally I think the Jury’s still out on DRS – the drag reduction system designed to improve aerodynamic performance for overtaking. The whole thing looked a bit too bureaucratic to me with the various criteria applied to its use, but in Malaysia it did seem to offer some potential for improving the ability of a car to get close to the one in front, let’s see what happens in China next weekend.

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2 Responses to “Reflections on Malaysia 2011: Can things get any worse for Williams?”

  1. BazL Says:

    Like you I was also very skeptical about the Brundle/Coulthard line up and like you I have to hold my hands up and admit that I was totally wrong. I figured that two ex-drivers, regardless of Brundles time in the commentary box, would be too technical and would miss out on the spectacle.

    Martin has shown an acute ability to adapt to the role of commentator from his previous tech role, while David continues to show that he puts a lot of hard work into his new job and is unafraid to say that he has to refer to notes/timing screens/other information. Fair play and kudos to both.

    On Williams it’s unfortunate that they have failed to finish both first races but I still believe that the season only starts in earnest when they return to Europe, so fingers crossed that Frank, Patrick, Sam & Co. can turn it around and make this car work. Almost reminiscent of the Walrus nose of 2006?

  2. jordan lo Says:

    also winners were the thousands of fans that were sitting on the sepang hills that enjoyed an interesting race (even though it was dry)… previous years I was there, I always got properly drenched!

    come to think of it.. i was freezing in the shanghai rain 2 years ago too.. we have yet to see how that element affects the races his season with the pirellis…

    and i agree, martin and david are building a great rapport with the viewers…


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