The most awkward F1 podium ever

So, the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix was run and won yesterday with Mark Webber Sebastian Vettel taking the chequered. flag.

Yep, it was pretty much Mark Webber’s race, with Vettel under orders not to overtake Webber in the closing stages and not to challenge for the lead. Webber was leading and on his way to the win. The team technicians advised he needed to conserve fuel and tyres, so he “dialed his car back” meaning he changed fuel and power settings and wasn’t as aggressive into corners.

But, on the 46th lap (5-6 laps remaining) Vettel launched a huge attack on Webber, ignoring team orders and overtook Webber to essentially steal the win.

Contrast to the Mercedes team of Hamilton and Rosberg in 3rd and 4th. Hamilton was in pretty dire circumstances with fuel and needed to coast for the last 8-10 laps. Rosberg was behind and repeatedly asked to overtake Hamilton so he could challenge the Red Bulls. He was repeatedly denied and ordered to keep his distance which, to his credit, he did and allowed Hamilton to step up to take third place on the podium.

This lead to one of the most awkward podiums in history.

There was very little celebrating happening. Webber was sore at Vettel who knew he messed up. And Hamilton knew that Rosberg should have been standing there instead of himself.

The interview after the race was equally painful. I thought Webber was going to punch Vettel in the throat at one point. It was painful to watch. Vettel did himself no favours in the team, and put pressure on an already strained relationship.

Some quotes:

“You’ve got some explaining to do” – Christian Horner to Vettel via the team radio after crossing the finish line

“The team made their decision. Seb made his own decision and he will have protection as usual” – Webber at the post-race press conference.

“Hai guise! Bye Guise!” – Hamilton, now racing for Mercedes, to the McLaren pit crew after pulling into the wrong garage for fresh tyres.

We also managed a Malaysian Seafood Laksa, with mine being washed down with a celebratory Red Bull beverage.

Our 2012 Indian Grand Prix meal

A pretty unimaginative, but tasty, Balti beef curry meal with some home made puppadoms and Narn bread.

It was a fairly sedate race on a very fast track. Tire play didn’t really come into play as the Pirellis didn’t have anywhere near the degradation they suffer on other tracks for some unknown reason. Vettel cruised to victory from Pole, while Mark Webber dropped second to Alonso about three quarters of the way through due to faulty KERS. It extends Vettel’s lead over Alonso to 13 points with three races remaining, which makes for a very exciting last few races!

Our 2012 Japanese Grand Prix meal

Obviously, Sushi.

F1 SushiGrosjean was up to his old tricks, taking out competitors on the first corner. This time it was poor Mark Webber who started 2nd behind Vettel. Further back in the field, but actually before Big John’s idiocy, Alonso got put into the kitty litter on turn one.

Vettel went on to win with Massa (of all people) coming second and Kamui Kobayashi picking up third in front of his home fans, the first Japanese podium since Aguri Suzuki in 1991. Good on him, I hope his success continues. The upshot is that Vettel is now only 4 points behind Alonso on the leader board and is gunning for three championships in a row.

Our 2012 British Grand Prix meal

How can you go past the traditional “Fish ‘n’ Chips”?

The English contribution to world cuisine: the chip.

Pretty simple, and didn’t require a lot of thought or preparation. Just some oven baked chips plus Fish and Squid.

After shocking conditions for Qualifying on Saturday, “He Who Must Not Be Named” led from Pole and shared the front row with Webber, who impressively managed to not drop any positions before the first corner and hung around in second for the whole race, and then pounced on around the fifth last lap to take a big win in Silverstone.

My photo was on that car! It turns out, so was “He Who Must Not Be Named”:

Shotgun with Webber and Vettel

Red Bull Racing have unveiled their special livery for this weekends Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone. It’s made up of a montage feature pictures of thousands of people who donated to their Wings For Life charity. So I’ll be doing laps with both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel on Sunday!

2012 F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain Red Bull Livery

The car

Detail

A very helpful lady points out my picture

 

Our 2012 Monaco Grand Prix meal

So Formula 1 visited Monaco on the weekend which allowed us to research and eat all things Monegasque. We learned that Monaco is a tiny country, less than 2 square kilometers making it about as big as our little suburb and just large enough to host a race track. Most workers come from neighbouring France and Italy, and so their cuisine is mostly of French and Italian influence. We went with a platter of exotic cheeses, meats, breads and dips plus some caviar. Perhaps what you’d expect to serve on your luxury yacht before hitting the casinos. We had this while watching the Eagles give the Dockers a lesson at Subiaco, as the race was a little late for the kids to stay up and watch.

Monegasque cuisine, in a pinchMark Webber was on pole, and raced perfectly to lead a train of 6 other contenders across the line for his first win of 2012. In doing so, he’s the sixth winner from the first six races which is something that hasn’t happened before. It gave him a bag of points and puts him right into contention for 2012, only a few points down on current leader Alonso.

Next up is the Grand Prix du Canada for which I plan on Poutine, a very evil but tasty dish.

Our Chinese Grand Prix meal

Tonight we had steamed Soy/Ginger chicken, steamed Bok Choy and fried rice to celebrate the Chinese Grand Prix as part of our Taste of the Race. Nico Rosberg had a blinder of a race, putting the Rosberg name on the podium for the first time since 1986 when his dad Keke came second at Monaco. It is also the first time a Mercedes chassis carried a Mercedes engine to a win since the great Juan Manuel Fangio in 1955.

Chinese Grand Prix meal

Mark Webber managed fourth, again beating team mate Vettel. He had a new strategy to preserve his tires later in the race

 

 

Mark Webber and Numerology: It all adds up to a win in Barcelona

Fifth in Australia, fourth in Malaysia, third in China, second in Turkey. Mark Webber hasn’t lead for a single lap this year (Vettel has lead for 184, Lewis Hamilton is next on 16 or so which shows how dominant Vettel has been this year), but he’s on Pole for the start of Gran Premio de Espana Santander 2011 at Catalunya. I know where I’ll be in about 2 hours: glued to One HD watching the race!


Brazil F1 GP was fantastic

It was Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend in Brazil yesterday. Due to the difference in time zones I wasn’t able to watch any of it live, but I did watch the qualification replay on Sunday afternoon and let me tell you it was one of the most entertaining and impressive qualifying battles I have ever seen.

Coming in to qualifying, we saw a mixed bag in practice with Robert Kubica posting the fastest Practice 3 time, but Vettel had the fastest time overall with a 1:12 in Practice 1. This is all pretty meaningless but can be a good indicator on driver mindsets and team improvements since the last race.

Q1 saw the usual suspects drop out, along with Adrian Sutil in the Force India. Sutil laid a lot of the blame on his teammate, Vitantonio Liuzzi who he accused of blocking him every inch of the way along the track. I’m not sure he was right and he probably should have found something else to blame in front of the cameras but at ultimately he found himself sitting out Q2.

The surprise of Q2 was defending world champion Jenson Button finding himself in P11, and watching another nail in his 2010 coffin being hammered into place. without a win this weekend he had no chance of remaining in contention for the championship.

And so the stage is set for the final showdown in Q3.  It had been wet all morning, but it was starting to dry up and Kubica was the first to fit slicks with 4 minutes to go and this is when qualifying just came alive. He suffered a little bit being the first, but everyone followed. Hulkenberg set a fast time and was mid range in P6 but as expected Vettel, Webber and Alonso bumped him down. Then Hulkenberg posted an amazing lap to take provisional pole. Everyone had at least one more lap and while they improved their own times, they were unable to beat Hulkenberg.  But Hulkenberg had one lap left and went round like a man possessed and managed to post an even faster time than his last hot lap. He just completely pasted everyone, and along the way did great things for his career and next years contract. It was amazing to watch.

All the other drivers (except Alonso, boo Alonso) congratulated him and you could tell it was all heartfelt and genuine. It was interesting and exciting, but Hulkenberg’s performance didn’t really have any bearing on the championship at this point and nobody lost out on anything because because he got pole and would get a clear track. One commentator said it was “a curve ball, but not a monkey wrench”.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be a fairytale for Hulkenberg, as duing the race he was overcome by Vettel and Webber before the end of the first lap. To his credit, though, he didn’t get lost in the moment and do something foolish like find the wall on the first corner. He succumbed to Hamilton and Alonso a few laps later and managed a respectable eigth.

Vettel ultimately won the race, with Webber second, Alonso third and Hamilton fourth. Button, who needed  a win to remain competitive, finished fifth. It was daylight to the also-rans with 20 seconds between Button and 6th place Rosberg.

Once the points were distributed, it still left Alonso in the lead but Webber took a small bite out of it. Vettel moved himself the third ahead of Hamilton:

That gives us a very exciting final round in Abu Dhabi next weekend as any one of these four can take it. It’s a long shot for Hamilton as he’d have to rely on a win and the other three not finishing but, as Hulkenberg showed in Brasil, anything is possible. For Webber to win the championship, he has to win Abu Dhabi and have Alonso finish no better than third. If Webber wins and Alonso is second, Alonso will win by one point. If Vettel wins, with Webber second and Alonso fourth or more then Webber will share the championship with Vettel which isn’t such a bad result. If anyone other than Vettel wins and Webber comes second, then he has to hope that Alonso finishes fifth (in which case Alonso and Webber share the championship) or worse (in which case Webber takes it).

Too bad Red Bull have no standing “team orders” like Alonso benefited from in Germany where Massa was told to let Alonso by with a few laps to go. The thing is he wasn’t told outright, but given an encoded message while leading along the lines of “Alonso is faster. Do you understand?” Nudge nudge, wink wink. This is illegal and shouldn’t happen and as we can see it becomes tremendously important towards the end of the season. So, here’s hoping for an Abu Dhabi win for Webber. In speaking to various fans it’s pretty obvious he’s the sentimental favourite. I’ll be glued to the TV next weekend from Practice right through to the chequered flag.