I have to say, the inaugural race at Valencia that transpired is a bit of a letdown. The track, albeit a street circuit, promised a lot more than it delivered in terms of racing. There were very little overtaking or wheel-to-wheel stuff. However, thanks to the Ferrari team, there were still plenty of controversies that will set tongues wagging.
At the end of the race, it was a dominant win for Felipe Massa who led from light to flag and never put a foot wrong in the 57-lap race. But he could have easily lost the race as in the second pitstop, Massa was released dangerously into the path of Adrian Sutil (Force India) in the pitlane. According to F1 regulations, this could have easily been a drive-through penalty but as usual for the Ferrari team, in the end, they were just fined 10,000 euros for the offence.
Championship standing: Lewis eked out another point in lead
Lewis Hamilton had a very quiet race and seemed happy to settle for second, giving him 70 points after 12 races, extending his lead to 6 points from 5. Massa has taken over second place from Kimi Raikkonen, with 64 points. Raikkonen, once again delivering a lacklustre performance, retired with a blown-up engine (second race in a row where a Ferrari engine went up in smoke) and stayed at 57 points with Robert Kubica closing in on 55 points after taking 3rd place.
Processional, processional and processional
I was switching between the race and the Olympics Closing Ceremony in Beijing and I have to say, the Olympics was actually more interesting with more excitement and life as the athletes from 204 nations celebrated their victories and hard work.
With such a wide track and many imposing sidewall barriers, I expected closer racing and incidents but the safety car didn’t even need to come out once. Guess, the drivers are still a bit sedated after the three-week summer break.
Ferrari woes: mistakes and controversies
The Ferrari team is just littered with mistakes and reliability issues and things seemed to be getting worse than better. Mistakes were made during the second pitstop of the two drivers and they seemed to be caused by Ferrari’s light system.
Kimi Raikkonen accelerated away while refuelling was still going on and injured a mechanic. It was probably because he misread the lights as he was eager to get away. Of course, ultimately his engine blew up and he lost 6th place.
Massa was also released by the semi-automatic light system and almost dangerously knocked into Sutil. If this had happened to another team, they would have probably been penalised but Ferrari being Ferrari, escaped only with the fine. I’m a Ferrari fan but sometimes, these things just seemed so unfair and make racing seemed so pointless.
Drivers punching above their weight
It’s not all doom and gloom though because two drivers really stood out during the race. Once again, Robert Kubica has outperformed his car and wrestled his BMW-Sauber across the line in 3rd. As I mentioned in my previous article, BMW-Sauber has probably pooled all its resources into 2009 but Kubica is still delivering the goods and securing 3rd in the drivers’ championship is quite a possibility with Kimi Raikkonen’s form still in the doldrums.
The other outstanding performance came from 21-year old Sebastian Vettel (Torro Rosso). After being confirmed of his promotion to sister team, Red Bull, Vettel has been going from strength to strength. Winning 6th place after qualifying 6th, Vettel has shaded his team-mate (multiple-time ChampCar champion Sebastian Bourdais) and more experienced sister team’s drivers Mark Webber and David Couthard. Mark my words, if his manager plots his career path properly, this is a definitely a future world-champion in the making.
Let’s just hope that in two weeks’ time, there’ll be closer racings amongst the driver especially since it’ll be at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, a favourite track for most drivers. The development race between Ferrari and Mclaren will definitely go full steam ahead. And there are so many questions to ponder as well. Will Massa continue his fine form or will Lewis Hamilton stamped his authority at the technical Spa track? Or will Kimi Raikkonen start an amazing fightback like what he did last season? Bring it on!