Thursday, April 21, 2011

F1: 2011 Malaysian GP Highlights

(Sebastian Vettel + Nick Heidfeld; source:

Round 2 of 19
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: April 10, 2011)
Once again your humble scribe is running a Day late ‘N several dollars SHORT! As we’ve already completed Round 3 of this year’s vaunted Twenty-eleven Formula One season... Nevertheless, here’s some of my selected thoughts upon the first two rounds. (With ‘Qualie & Race positions from Malaysia...)

Top Ten Qualifiers - Malaysia
Pole: Sebastian Vettel; Red bull, 2nd: Lewis Hamilton; McLaren
Row 2
3rd: Mark Webber; Red Bull, P4) Jenson button; McLaren
Row 3
P5) Fernando Alonso; Ferrari, P6) Nick Heidfeld; Renault
Row 4
P7) Felipe Massa; Ferrari, P8) Vitaly Petrov; Renault
Row 5
P9) Nico Rosberg; Mercedes, P10) Kamui Kobayashi; Sauber

Top 3 Finishers - Malaysia
Winner: Sebastian Vettel; Red bull
2nd: Jenson Button; McLaren
3rd: Nick Heidfeld; Renault

Other Top Ten Finishers - Malaysia
P4) Mark Webber; Red Bull, P5) Felipe Massa; Ferrari, P6) Fernando Alonso; Ferrari, P7) Kamui Kobayashi; Sauber, P8) Lewis Hamilton; McLaren, P9) Michael Schumacher; Mercedes, P10) Paul di Resta; Force India.

Race Drive of Sepang
So long ago – that I’ve kinda forgotten this race - so I’ll give it to ‘Quick Nick (Heidfeld) who apparently took quite a-lotto grief in Melbourne for being outshone by his less experienced ‘ROOSKIE teammate Vitaly VO5 Petrov... Although apparently many were overlooking his unforeseen calamity, having been crashed into heavily by Sebastien Buemi in his Toro Rosso on lap-1 after having been mired in traffic during qualifying and forced to start from P18... But it all went up in carbon fibre shreds as Buemi smashed the fast approaching Heidfeld, who’d made his way up to 12th place before the collision.

 Thus it was refreshing to see Heidfeld slot into P2 at the end of lap-1 as I cheered for him to hold off the lurking ‘Aussie “Handlebarz” (Webber) for the final podium step at Malaysia...

Force India: VJM04-Mercedes Benz; No. 15) Paul di Resta
Australia: Q) 14th; R) 10th
Like I said earlier, I thought I’d heard the reigning DTM Champion being interviewed early on during the race after retiring. Thus, I was somewhat surprised to learn he’d not only finished the race; BUTT! With the Stewards assistance – vaulted from 12th to P10; joining the small group of Formula One debutants scoring points in their Grand Prix debuts...

Malaysia: Q) 14th; R) 10th
Cannot say I really remember anything ‘bout the Scot’s second race, albeit once again he netted a point for his troubles – although apparently in the closing laps he was nipped for ninth place by Herr Schumacher’s Mercedes, as the German apparently had fresher tyres then Di Resta did...

Sauber: C30-Ferrari; No. 17) Sergio Perez
Australia: Q) 13th; R) DSQ – Rear Wing (7th)
I was most pleasantly surprised by Perez’s exceptional performance over the weekend during his inaugural Grand Prix – as I’m assuming many thought he’d be overshadowed by both di Resta and Maldonado. Yet Sergio was the top qualifier of the rookie quartet and should have been the top point’s scorer with a most impressive seventh-place finish. Alas, it wasn’t to be as the team fell afoul of a somewhat minor, albeit illegal rear wing. Better luck in KL Dude!

Malaysia: Q) 16th; R) Retired: Damage
Just heard the news during Shanghai’s Saturday ‘Qualie show that reputedly the young Mexican’s Sauber was stricken by what at the time the team believed to be a piece of loose ballast discarded from one of the Scuderia Toro Rosso cars, which if true would be a big NO-NO, since said ballast is supposed to be completely secured... Thus after denying any such wrong doing, Toro Rosso asked Charlie Whiting to inquire with all F1 constructors over any missing ballast? As the chassis damage was unrepairable and a new Monocoque Tub needed to be shipped out to Shanghai for the season’s third “Flyaway” race...

Sauber still in the dark about Perez' Sepang incident

Virgin: MVR-02 Cosworth; No. 25) Jerome d'Ambrosio
Australia: Q) 22nd; R) 14th (-3 laps)
Although I never saw the Belgian Ontrack – he can take solace in knowing he completed his very first Grand Prix, being the last classified runner of the event in P14. Hey! When was the last time two (three) rookies finished ahead of DER TERMINATOR! (M. Schumacher)

Malaysia: Q) 22nd; R) Retired: Electronics
Like the Lotus Renault GP’s of both ‘Quick Nick & ‘VO5 – Jerome suffered a massive front upright suspension failure in FP1. And although the team feverishly scrambled to repair said chassis in time for the second Free Practice session, their efforts were to NO avail – just missing out by mere minutes.

Yet the Virgin crew had Jerome’s car Good-to-go for qualifying, albeit as typical, the Virgin’s remained mired down in the Q1 ‘Qualie session with it’s other two Newboyz brethren Lotus and Hispania, as d'Ambrosio managed to stay out of trouble during the race until it’s latter stages when he managed to hit a kerb so HARD that it immediately toggled the ignition switch to the OFF position, thereby ending the Belgian’s race...

Williams: FW33-Cosworth; No. 12) Pastor Maldonado
Australia: Q) 15th; R) Retired: Transmission
With both cars falling out from Transmission failures – with Pastor claiming the car simply died on lap-9, I’m still gonna assume these  recurring problems with Williams Drivetrain are related to its over-aggressive ultra “Lowline” driveshaft...

Malaysia: Q) 18th; R) Retired: Misfire
Don’t think I ever saw the Venezuelan Ontrack – as according to Pastor, he began experiencing an engine misfire on lap-3 before ultimately coming back into the pits and retiring on lap-9...

Hispania: F111-Cosworth; No. 23) Vitantonio Liuzzi
Australia: Q) 23rd; R) DNS
(Vettel’s Pole laptime = 1:23.529 – Liuzzi’s = 1:32.798)

Unfortunately, ‘Tonio will be hard pressed to drag the uncompetitive Hispania up-to-speed, as the team was basically giving the HRT-F111 its baptism under fire, having run ZERO laps in winter testing, along with the car’s initial 2011-spec front wing having failed the mandatory FIA crash test, hence having to run with it’s old nose, as both Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan were unable to crack the 107% time barrier and thus forced to sit on the sidelines...

Malaysia: Q) 23rd; R) Retired: Rear Wing
Although I seem to recall ‘Tonio getting very little Facetime, except for being lapped I believe, the days good news was that he, along with his teammate managed to qualify for their very first race of the season. The bad news; Vitantonio spent the majority of the race fighting a “Loose” car, as the rear was drifting all over the place, and sadly, Liuzzi was forced to retire just 8-laps shy of the finish as the team found a problem with the rear wing and decided it was safest to retire the F111 – especially since they probably DON’T have a lot of spare parts, eh?

Lotus: T-128 Renault; No. 21) Heikki Kovalainen
Australia: Q) 19th; R) Retired: Water leak
I was unawares ‘til watching Friday’s Malaysian GP FP2 (Free Practice) session that ‘KOVY had been knocked out of the OZ GP due to an inherently Buzz-saw like vibration which caused radiator to crack, with the impending water leak making Heikke’s “NOTUS” (What my Tour Guide Jake named them at Albert Park...) to pack-up!

Malaysia: Q) 19th; R) 15th (-1 lap)
And the weekend in KL didn’t start off too much better for the Finn – who suffered a Differential failure due once again to the cars overly Buzz-saw-like vibrations being transmitted thru le “Reggie’s” lump and Gearbox.

Yet ‘KOVY claimed it was a fairly straightforward race, apparently even potentially having rundown a Toro rosso in the races waning moments and giving Team Lotus a single-car finish... 

Virgin: MVR-02 Cosworth; No. 24) Timo Glock
Australia: Q) 21st; R) Retired: Unclassified
Timo claims to have gotten around Trulli Scrumptious’s (Jarno Trulli) Lotus before having to drive back into the pits when his left front wheel came loose – ultimately damaging the drive pegs; Hmm? Why does that make me assume that would imply the rear wheels which propel the car... As apparently the wheel was not properly installed during the first Pitstop – when Timo had to limp back to the pits and then after repairs, fought a wobbly Virgin the remainder of the race...

Malaysia: Q) 21st; R) 16th (-2 laps)
According to The Glockster – he had another  good tussle with Trulli Scrumptious’s Lotus, as the pair played Leapfrog at the start, with Glock passing Trulli before being overtaken by the Italian before repassing Trulli during the Pitstop, a la Melbourne, ultimately finishing ahead of  him...

Renault: R31-Renault; No. 10) Vitaly Petrov
Australia: Q) 6th; R) 3rd
What an absolutely amazing performance by this ‘ROOSKIE! Not only did Vitaly outperform his vastly more experienced teammate – ‘Quick Nick (Heidfeld) with 172-starts who’s been designated the team leader in The Krakow Kid’s (Robert Kubica) absence. But also made history by becoming the sports very first Russian to stand atop the podium... And oh yeah, he also finished ahead of You-know-who once again; Hmm? An almost carbon copy performance of last season’s Abu Dhabi finale, albeit NO report if Ferdi-the-Putz (Fernando Alonso) told Petrov he’s Numero Uno by flipping him The Byrd once again?

Malaysia: Q) 8th; R) 17th:DNF – Accident
All I recall from this race, along with the Russian steadily falling backwards was that massive crash he endured... As Vitaly’s ‘Agro-work saw him hitting the ground so hard that it clean-sheared two major bolts and broke the steering Colum! Which Professor (Steve) Matchett seemed most perplexed by... And then later I thought I caught wind of Petrov’s kerb hopping, agricultural grading, car damage being attributed to having found another pesky drainage cover hidden offcourse; Aye Karumba! As Bob Varsha waxed on ‘bout how it was shades of Timo Glock’s nasty accident at Suzuka – which also involved a drainage cover...

Sauber: C30-Ferrari; No. 16) Kamui Kobayashi
Australia: Q) 9th; R) DSQ – Rear Wing (8th)
Another excellent performance by “K-Squared,” who both outqualified and finished ahead of some seven time World Champion named Herr Schumacher. Unfortunately, Kobayashi, like his teammate fell afoul of a technical infringement which saw both Sauber’s DSQ’ed immediately after Post-race scrutineering. 

Malaysia: Q) 10th; R) 7th
I vaguely recall K-Squared having some good battles with DER TERMINATOR, nee Michael Schumacher, along with mixing it up with ‘Handlebarz (Webber) and overtaking both drivers with some good passing maneuvers. Kobayashi utilized a two-stop tyre strategy to help him secure his first points of the season, as the Japanese driver continues to shine in his sophomore season...

This season I’ll attempt to cover another slightly different angle – as we all know who the Heavy Hitters are, i.e.; Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes – thus, I won’t follow their individual preferences, instead focusing upon a talented rookie quartet, plus some other selected “Midpackers.” Also being keenly interested to see how Tonio turns around the continuously struggling Minnowesqe Hispania Racing outfits... fortunes...