Sunday, 9 May 2010

Webber has Cataluyna cruise as Vettel vents frustration

Mark Webber became the tenth consecutive pole sitter to take victory in Barcelona with a lights to flag victory. Fernando sent the home fans happy with second place while Sebastian Vettel's eventful afternoon finished with a 3rd place. Lewis Hamilton crashed out with a suspected mechancial failure with less than 2 laps to go. Team mate Jenson Button was 5th behind Michael Schumacher with Felipe Massa surviving slight contact with Karun Chandok to come home 6th. Adrian Sutil was 7th, fending off Robert Kubica who had a manic first lap where he squeezed Nico Rosberg and understeered into Kamui Kobayashi. Rubens Barichello and Jaime Alguersuari benefited from storming starts to get the final points positions. Alguersuari made a stunning pass on Nico Hulkenberg but blotted his copybook when he swept in front of Chandok while lapping the Indian which led to him getting a drive through penalty.

The front 4 cars were very close going into turn 1 but grid order was retained. Webber pulled away in the early stages by 2-3 tenths from Vettel who said afterwards he struggled with the balance of his car throughout. Hamilton stayed in touch with the German and when Vettel had a slow stop it gave Hamilton a chance but both he, and Button before him, had issues with wheel nuts and clutchs. Button emerged from the pits with Schumacher bearing down on him and the German made an opportunist move around the outside. Button appeared to be caught unaware and expressed frustration at the move afterwards but it had been a clean move by Schumacher. The next showdown into turn 1 was Hamilton v Vettel but a Virgin was also into a mix. It had slowed for Vettel but this was before realising that Hamilton was coming out of the pits so it ended up on the apex of turn 1. Hamilton jinked around it and Vettel went wide and ran across the tarmac run off before re-joining behind. Sebastien Buemi had ran across the same run off earlier and received a drive through penalty for rejoining in front of Jarno Trulli, causing the Italian to take avoiding action.

Button made numerous attempts to pass Schumacher but couldn't quite make it through, even with the aid of his F-Duct. The teams had agreed earlier in the day that the F-Duct will be banned from 2011. There was also a good battle between Hulkenberg, Petrov and Kobayashi for 12th and credit to the race director for giving lots of attentions to the closest battle's on track. The next major development was Vettel going across the gravel at turn 7 and then pitting. It soon transpired that he had brake problems. The team told him to come in and retire but Vettel wanted to get something from the race and continued on at a fast pace before slowing down after several plea's from his engineer. The drama hadn't ended there though, as Hamilton flew off the road at turn 3 on lap 65. The onboard coverage was similiar to what happened Heikki Kovalainen at the same circuit in 2008. McLaren are to investigate what happened back at HQ in Woking. Bridgestone don't believe that it was a tyre issue. Check out the interesting comparison between the two McLaren incidents from today and 2008.

It was a big blow for Hamilton who missed out on 18 points. Vettel was also frustrated post-race at seeing more points slip. He was fortunate to get 3rd in the end but he can't keep seeing these opportunities pass, having already had wins slip from his grasp in Bahrain and Australia. He now has his team mate as a key contender. Button retains his lead in the drivers championship but things are tight at the top. It was certainly a better race than many seen at the Circuit de Cataluyna but the F1 paddock now has to get itself to Monaco where practice begins in just 4 days. The Q1 traffic jam concern remains and today's race did show the potential trouble it can cause. As well as Alguersuari's collision with Chandok, which was no fault of the Indians, there was also contact with Massa when the Brazilian went too deep into turn 13 and tagged the HRT, damaging a small part of his front wing. Rob Smedley joked on the radio that it improved Massa's pace. Ferrari are concerned by Massa's struggles and have promised to investigate and try to find a solution to his problems. Onto Monaco then, with full build-up and analysis and views throughout the week as well as updates on Twitter. Early talk is of rain so I will keep an eye on the weather news as well

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