It´s been a while since I have done my usual reports the day after a race. For some time I simply couldn´t find the time for them, there are so many details needed to be correct and was it lap so or so, that this driver overtook that driver and so on. It´s not that I don´t revel in the work, I love it, it´s just so time consuming. I also used to do a HOT/NOT list, where I compressed most of the updates on the Day After article into easy-to-chew bits, where I name the best three and worst three drivers or teams on the day. I have instead deviced a cunning plan. Yes, I have!
Instead of giving the usual race report, complete with who did what on which lap and was it raining by the way – the answer to that is YES! – I am simply going to name the drivers I feel made a difference. It can be good, it can be bad. Let´s do this.
Best Team: Lotus
Romain Grosjean placed his car in sixth place on Saturday, Kimi Raikkonen went fifth fastest of all, but was penalised for changing the gearbox, so he started tenth. In the race, Grosjean retired on lap 3, just before he was about to pit for full wet tyres. He is coming back to F1 after a couple of years out, and never had a full season in which he could learn and develop. he is facing a steep learning curve in 2012, but the speed of Grosjean is there and so is the car. Kimi finished fifth, and could perhaps have done a little better, had he not been penalised. Very good effort from Lotus.
Best Performance: Sergio Perez.
No contest. Perez opted for one of his now famous one-stop strategies, and drove his backside out of those overalls. There are times you see glimpses of brilliance in some drivers, we saw that with Kobayashi in his first race and certainly in 2010. Also when Fisichella came second in Belgium or when Vettel won his first race in a Toro Rosso. But Perez is not only a real gem, he drove an almost perfect race, and more importantly, he breathed down Alonso´s neck for some time. is it a sign of things to come? Is the Sauber, running with a Ferrari engine, just better than the Maranello team? Is it a true picture of how the season will unfold? Am I asking too many questions…?
Almost There: Bruno Senna.
The Almost There award, goes not to a driver who almost won the race, but one who almost won the coveted Best Performance Award. Bruno Senna started 13th and drove a really good race in Malaysia. He started the race by going off, actually hitting team mate Pastor Maldonado, and personally I thought that we would see him go off again or crash into someone else pretty soon. After the re-start, Senna was now 11th, the started to line up the drivers in front of him. Hulkenberg, Massa, Vergne, di Resta, and finishing sixth in such a mad race as it were, is just a very big thumbs-up from me.
Worst Performance: Felipe Massa
There are many things you can say about Felipe Massa, many are true. I don´t think we can put his performance down to one single incident, the accident he had in Hungary in 2009, there has to be something more to it. It if is ‘just’ the accident, then we are talking about the fear a driver has. A boxer, a race driver, needs the fear to work around the contrasting feelings he get when he performs. Placing yourself in a tub going 320 kmh is not a very safe thing to do, and the fear exists in all of them. All drivers have that, but it seems it weighs too heavy with Massa. If that is the fact, of course. Massa´s performance in the race, was completely anonymous and is by far not a sign of what either he or Ferrari can do.
Best Post-race Comment: Sebastian Vettel on Narain Karthikeyan.
“Like on normal roads you have some idiots driving around and you have one here.”