Monday, April 23, 2012

Bahrain in Numbers

Bahrain, Sakhir. 4th race of the season and the 8th time Formula One was racing here. The 4th race of the season saw a new 2012 winner, making it 4 different winners (drivers and teams) in 4 races: Jenson Button (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull). This is the first time since 1983 that this happens.

So Sebastian had to wait 6 races (India 2011) before winning his first race of the season and his 22nd of his career. He is the 5th driver to win in Bahrain - Ferrari's Fernando and Felipe are the ones to have won the most here (3 and 2 wins respectively), while Jenson and Michael Schumacher have only won once. Vettel also achieved his 31st pole of his career and also did the fastest lap of the race, making it his 4th hat-trick in Formula One, and he also become the 4th driver to go on to win the race from pole (Schumacher 2004, Alonso 2005 and Massa 2007).

Red Bull haven't had the best of starts to the season, with McLaren and Mercedes taking the lead at first, but after the first 4 races they are now leading the Constructors Championship with 101 points (9 ahead of McLaren) and with Seb 1st (53 points, 4 ahead of Hamilton) and teammate Webber 3rd with 48.

It was another race of "firsts", as Romain Grosjean achieved his first ever podium in F1 after only 4 races this season. So there are now 14 drivers on the 2012 grid who have been on the podium. And talking about podiums, Kimi Raikkonen achieved his 63rd podium and his 1st since his comeback. A great weekend for Lotus F1 Team.

Force India´s Paul Di Resta equalled his best ever result in F1 after finishing 6th, while Mark Webber crossed the line in 4th position for the 4th time in a row this year. No podium for the Australian driver in 2012 yet, and the first time Lewis Hamilton didn't end up in the top 3. Felipe Massa finally achieved his first 2012 points after finishing 8th, while Schumacher added a single point again to his tally.

It was the first time this season that Marussia didn´t finish a race with both cars as Charles Pic wasn't able to finish the race. Timo Glock, together with Fernando Alonso and Paul Di Resta, are the only 3 drivers that have been able to beat their teammates in every race this season.

It's been an excellent start to the season: 4 races, 3 different pole sitters, 4 different winners, 8 different drivers have already been on the podium and 18 out of the 24 drivers have scored points. This is Formula One 2012.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

GP2: Bahrain, One by One

Nearly a month after the first two races of the season, GP2 was back for the second round of the Championship in Bahrain. And it was surely worth the wait, what extraordinary racing battles. Davide Valsecchi is the strongest at the moment after a perfect weekend. But this is only the start and there's still 20 races ahead of us. Luiz Razia is not going to make it easy for Davide. He's also got the experience and the talent. I would also add Esteban Gutierrez to the fight for the top and even though Giedo Van der Garde hasn't had the start we were all expecting, we can't rule him out of the fight this early in the season. But let's go one by one through the 5 big names of this weekend in Bahrain...

Davide Valsecchi. Total Domination. A perfect weekend for him, from start to finish: First in Practice, Pole Position and wins in Race 1 and 2. Unstoppable. He looked after his tyres perfectly, made no mistakes, had the pace, knew when to push and completed amazing overtakings. He is the new leader of the Championship with 70 points, 13 ahead of Luiz Razia.

Felipe Nasr. Raw Talent. He has absolutely amazed me. His debut in Malaysia was already a warning and this weekend in Bahrain he has shown his talent. Race 1 was disappointing as he had to retire after a collision with Johnny Cecotto on lap 16 for which he was penalised... Because of that, today he started from last, stalled during the installation lap and ended up starting from the pits. But the Brazilian never gave up and drove an absolutely amazing race all the way up to P6. He is now 6th in the Championship. Definitely one to watch.

Esteban Gutierrez. Podium Hunter. Two more races and two more podiums for the Mexican. The perfect way to end the weekend 3rd in the Championship. He was very close to winning today but Valsecchi caught him up in the last lap and even though he defended well the Italian was faster. A frustrating way to end the race, but a good amount of points in the bag.

Luiz Razia. In the Fight. He is one of the big names this season and is always at the top. But at the moment he is chasing Davide. He has the experience and the talent and I would say he is the only one that can stop the Italian from an easy drive to the Championship title.

Rio Haryanto. Indonesian Drive. I have to say I have always had an eye on him as he has talent and is a very good racer. This is his first season in GP2 after growing up in GP3 and even though he has a lot to learn, he's already scored his first 4 points in the Feeder Series and I'm sure that as the season goes on he will gain more confidence and demonstrate that he's ready to be at the top.

GP2 stay in Bahrain for another 2 races that will take place next weekend. In theory the perfect scenario for Davide to fly to another two wins but remember, this is GP2 and anything can happen. It's pure racing and whoever shines the most on track will be up there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

China in Numbers

China, Shanghai. 3rd race of the season and another race of 'firsts'. If last month in Malaysia we saw Checo Perez achieve his first ever podium, this time it was Nico Rosberg who finally ended up on pole for the 1st time on Saturday and then went on to win his first ever race on Sunday. He got off to an excellent start, looked after his tyres perfectly following a 2 stop strategy and, 111 F1 Grands Prix after his debut, he managed to cross the line first. Untouchable Rosberg. A deserved 1st win.

So Rosberg becomes the 5th driver to achieve the pole position and then go on to win the race in China (the 4 other drivers are Barrichello in 2004, Alonso in 2005, Hamilton in 2008 and Vettel in 2009). It was the German's first ever win and Mercedes' 1st win since 1955... When Ross Brawn was only 1 year old! Nico also becomes the 8th driver to win in China, joining Button, Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Schumacher, Barrichello and Hamilton (the only one to have won twice here), as well as the 4th to achieve a Chinese pole position (Vettel has the most with 3, followeed by Hamilton and Alonso with 2 and Barrichello with 1).

Still more about Nico. He becomes the 3rd son to have won a race after his father after Graham/Damon Hill and Gilles/Jacques Villeneuve. And with his first pole and win in China, he becomes the 11th driver on the 2012 grid to have achieved a pole and the10th to win a race.

So after 3 races in 2012 we already have 3 different winners (Button, Alonso and Rosberg) in 3 different teams (McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes). 17 out of the 24 drivers have already scored points and they all know what that feels like except for Marussia's Charles Pic who has never scored a point in F1. Lewis Hamilton is the only driver on the grid to have been on the podium on all 3 times this season, while Mark Webber has outqualified his team mate Sebastian Vettel every time this season and beat him in the last 2 races this season. Schumacher was on his way to his 1st podium since his comeback but in the end he became the only driver to not finish the race.

Williams have more than 3 times the total of points they achieved last year (18). McLaren is leading the Constructors Championship with 88 points, with its drivers Lewis and Jenson 1st and 2nd. Mercedes have jumped up to 5th after their 1st win of the season in China, while Ferrari in 3rd position rely totally on Fernando Alonso's talent as Felipe Massa still hasn't scored a single point yet.

Marussia is the most reliable of the bottom 3 teams, having finished all 3 races with both cars this season. Something Caterham only achieved for the first time this season here in China. Lotus still hasn't been able to finish a race with both their cars in the points, something that Williams achieved precisely this weekend in China, with Bruno 7th and Pastor 8th.

No break. Next we move on to Bahrain. The 4th race of the season and the 8th time the race will be held here. Ferrari is the team that curiously have won the most times in Bahrain, a total of 4, even though it doesn't look like they will make it 5, at least this year. Even though with Alonso, anything is possible!