2012 Malaysian GP Thoughts
by Chris Hawkins @
Since I haven't posted in a while, here's a few quick thoughts after seeing the Malaysian GP this morning (delayed enough this shouldn't spoil for anyone!).
Firstly, the Mercedes has been fooling people since testing began. Everyone has been watching them set seriously quick times and thought with all their new personnel they'd be a force to be reckoned with. I did too. Unfortunately, they'd just been exceptionally clever and made an extremely effective "super DRS" which stalls the front wing when the DRS is activated. In qualifying and free practice, there are no DRS restrictions so this aero-stalling is active for a good portion of the lap. It allows them to look very quick. Unfortunately once a race hits, they're barely able to use DRS, therefore the "super DRS" on the front wing is barely active. Without the speed boost from this, they have no base pace. They will undoubtedly be quick in qualifying for a good while yet, but they are almost sitting ducks in races.
Lotus have done a good job with their car. Unfortunately Grosjean seems cursed and doesn't seem to want to finish a race, and Raikkonen keeps coming under duress for one reason or another. Once they get their initial issues sorted out, they're going to be challenging. Remember how many tests they topped the time charts in; that was no fluke.
Sauber were another team who were purpling it up in Q1 in Melbourne, which was largely overlooked because Mercedes has so much (artificial) pace. They were racing well again today, as shown by how quickly Perez was catching Alonso. They're going to be a force too.
If you read my site last year you'd be familiar with the 18th man theory. I'm glad to report it's still going strong so far this season. Jean-Eric Vergne went from "18th" to 8th today, and Kimi went from 18th to 7th last week. Going out in Q1 is almost beneficial still ;)
Finally, Ferrari really are awful at the moment. Alonso's win today is papering over the cracks. It was a great drive from him to bring it home, but circumstances played into their hands. Massa just cannot handle the car. It looks horrible, and it drives horrible. Hopefully this win will save Domenicali's job, because he does seem a decent bloke, but they look like they're gonna be hoping for wet races for the rest of the season. Maybe they should ask for a few more races in England!
Anyway, that's it until next time. See you in China.