After watching the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, I have to raise a number of questions.
1 - Vettel's charge - luck or skill?
Well, I think it was a mix of both. Yes, the safety cars helped him close up, but lets not remember what happened with Senna (although that was his own fault) and the first safety car period didn't end up too well after a near collision with Ricciardo (although Vettel was lucky to not crash into either car or barrier, and it was also his fault). His move on Grosjean was pretty obviously 'off of the circuit' but he gave it back and sorted himself out. Lets not forget that, due to the second safety car, his tyres could probably have lasted the full 41 laps they were planning on before they pitted, and that would've put him ahead of Alonso and he wouldn't've had to fight past, and lose time to, Jenson Button. Also, comparing his luck with Alonso's this season - Vettel's alternator failures at both Valencia (costing him an obvious victory)and Monza (costing him some significant points), Vettel being penalised for his overake at Hockenheim, which will be dwelled on later, and Vettel's pit lane start for the Abu Dhabi GP yesterday, means that he hasn't just outdriven, he's outlucked Vettel.
2 - Perez's maturity - really good enough for a top team?
Before I start, I will say that I am a huge Perez fan, and his performances at Monaco, Monza, Malaysia, Montreal seem to suggest that, not only is he a class act, but that he also likes the letter M (unless you're Maldonado). Sadly for him though, despite a very good record (his only real driver error coming into Suzuka was Monaco 2011), he has been caught up in incidents at Marina Bay (racing incident), Suzuka (ignorance), Yeongam (over-optimistic) and Abu Dhabi, which was the worst act of driving that the Mexican has produced. Has the McLaren deal distracted him from the target of beating Mercedes in the contructors? Well, we'll have to wait until 2013 to find out for real.
3 - Run-off. Is it really safe?
Nico Rosberg has stated that his massive airborne crash with Narain Karthikeyan was unavoidable. Of course, there has been speculation about single seaters flying, and that increased following the tragic loss of Dan Wheldon through a similar incident, but my real concern is the run-off. The WTCC event at Shanghai ended up with several cars being given 30-second penalties after the race due to using the track run-off, even though they were avoiding an incident. Of course, in some cases it is necessary to avoid carnage (La Source at Spa) but in most cases, it is totally useless. If there was gravel there, Nico's crash wouldn't have been so brutal as he slammed the wall. So if it's not there for safety reasons, why is it there? Well, the FFSA GT event at Paul Ricard 2 weeks ago proved that you can overtake without the need of run-off, and of course Vettel had to concede a position to Romain Grosjean during the most recent Grand Prix. So what is it actually there for? Surely, if they don't want it to be used, then why spend the money paving out grass and gravel when the old ways are still the best? It is a question that there really is no answer to.
4 - Mark Webber
Well done if you've read this far, but there is still one more point to make. Poor Romain Grosjean had a great recovery drive ended by Perez being a total nutcase (there are many other words too, go ask Kimi or Seb for them...), but the other real victim was Mark Webber. But does he deserve sympathy? The answer is no. By the way he drove, he was going to end up with terminal damage at some point. He turned into Maldonado way too early, ending up by spinning himself. Stewards took no action, seemingly as Maldonado's car was undamaged despite what looked like Webber's best attempts. Then Webber, on a comeback 'charge' (it was nothing on Grosjean, Di Resta and Vettel) and then, suddenly, he found himself behind a Felipe Massa. What to do?! Well, overtake, thinks Mark, and he tries the exact same move that ended up with him spinning in the first place. Contact. Never mind, thinks Webber - I'll just cut the corner and then cut UP the Ferrari. So Felipe ends up spinning in a desperate attempt to avoid the Aussie, who's brain clearly was knocked out when he hit Maldonado. Stewards action: no penalty. I still wonder if they were watching the same race as me. They are either too harsh or too strict, and they seemed to turn overnight at Abu Dhabi. At least Mark eventually got what he deserved with his driving as he ploughed into a Grosjean, busy having an accident that wasn't actually his fault (yes, I really did write that), and ended up with a slightly mangled car.
I'll now leave you with this thought:
In a season where the first 7 races were won by 7 different drivers, could the last 7 be won just 2?
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