You can tell it has been a while since i last posted on here when my last post is titled "Bahrain to take place in October"! The FIA took some criticism for the way the situation was handled, a situation that finished with Bahrain being cancelled for the season. Personally i think a lot of it was orchestrated, it was a case of going through the procedures for the FIA whilst always knowing the teams would be against things and in the end the race was removed without much face lost for all parties. It was a long winded process though
And then we had Canada. Wonderful Canada. It's hard not to love this grand prix, the drivers breathe in some Montreal air and it seems to bring out mistakes from most of them! It was just a mad day from all the rain to the drama of the final lap. It was a great win from Jenson Button and a very important one for McLaren. Since Spain they've had a very strong car in the races but it is going to need a big streak of points from Button or Hamilton to rein in Vettel in the championship. It's still very much possible but inroads need to be made into the 60 point gap soon.
So onwards to Valencia and stage 1 of 2 for new exhaust rules which some hope will see Vettel's dominance be halted. However it was normal service this afternoon as the German took his 7th pole of the season. Webber pulled out a late lap to join him on the front row ahead of Hamilton, Alonso, Massa and Button.
Whilst Red Bull have had the strangehold in qualifying, the races have been tighter. Coming back to the exhaust changes, this weekend see's the banning of using an engine map in qualifying and then changing it for the race. The only way you can is by plugging in a laptop at a pitstop and that would not be handy. The limit of 10% for off throttle blowing does not come into effect until Silverstone so what you need this weekend is an in between map. I don't know what amount the teams do it (Autosport did suggest Renault had a max of 95% and Red Bull 45%) In qualifying you can run it aggressively as it is just for 1 lap but doing it throughout the race would not be feasible due to fuel and overheating issues. So what the teams need to do is find a medium map, a constant one which will be usable for the whole race. Come Silverstone, things will be even more restricted.
Valencia races have been very processional. In 2009 there wasn't a single overtake. A depressing statistic which shouldn't be repeated tomorrow as we have 2 DRS zones with a combined length of over 1.5km. This should provide some action and i think we'll see the field staying closer than before. The field spread has been quite big in the opening laps in previous years. DRS zones have tended to be about 700-800 metres and i think they should be a bit shorter but for Valencia this sort of length may be what is needed.
This means we could actually have wheel to wheel racing in Valencia tomorrow, a big feature of the 2011 season. We've also seen many incidents. I think it's important to be appreciative of how good these drivers are. It can look so simple on TV but anyone who has been fortunate enough to see the cars in the flesh racing will have got that sensation of speed displayed in front of their eyes. Of course situations get analsyed because they have consequences during a race but we can all be too fickle about certain drivers and dismiss them when really the margins involved are so small and the skill level so high. I'm guilty of this too, i heavily criticised Vettel post race in Spa last year and even was arguing about his race on Twitter with people but that was an overreaction and undeserved. I thought things were getting away from him that day in the heat of the moment but ultimately he recovered to take the title and has driven at a very high level this season and been very impressive as an overall package. So let's not be dismissive of these drivers, they are fantastically talented and some of the racing this year has been excellent.
Tyres key again, the medium compound is proving to be quite a bit slower than the soft tyre so expect the prime tyre to be used as little as possible. A hot day expected tomorrow so may make the medium tyre easier to switch on. The changeover to it and getting it working may be key. In Barcelona, Alonso fell away when the hard tyre came into play and it turned into Vettel v Hamilton for the win. McLaren will hope to get in amongst the Red Bulls so Hamilton can attack for the lead. Lets just hope in a calmer manner for Lewis tomorrow! So Red Bull start as favourites but i think an enthralling race in prospect. Can Hamilton get his season back on track or will Alonso delight his local fans? Let's hope for a fun race