F1: Valencia Podium Misleading
In order to finish first, first you must finish. Never was this statement more true than perhaps this past weekend in Valencia Spain. Before diving into this foggy portrait, let’s take a step back to the Saturday Qualifying session.
Q2 saw the top 15 separated by under one second. Stop, snap your fingers once…that’s about one second. Now digest this fact, Fernando Alonso missed out on Q3 by approximately 0.05 of one second. That’s how tight it was. On to Q3, where things begin to get hazy. With a nicely rubbered in track, the top 10 took to the circuit for one last chance at snagging pole position. Out of the mediterranean blue-tinted sky, Sebastian Vettel silenced, bemused and confused the entire grid with a lap time of 1:38:086. That time was three tenths of a second better than Lewis Hamilton’s second place. The same gap that covered the following SEVEN drivers.
Moving forward to my point now. Leaving behind the excitement and overtaking which is normally not associated with this circuit, a welcome surprise nonetheless, I want to direct your attention the final Podium. Winner, Fernando Alonso from 11th on the starting grid, fantastic race and home victory. Second, Kimi Raikkonen, strong drive, no question. Third, Michael Schumacher, strongest performance of the year and finally finishing a race. All very worthy former champions celebrating a hard-fought race…all somewhat misleading however.
What we must not forget is the performance of the Red Bull driven by Vettel that had scampered away from the rest of the field at a pace of two seconds per lap at the start. Astonishing performance that would have changed the podium picture and the tone of the weekend. Andrian Newey and Red Bull, are not going away. They suffered an unlikely electrical problem with a faulty Renault alternator, (the same issue experienced by Romain Grosjean in his Lotus-Renault who ran behind Vettel for most of the race). This failure is unlikely to happen again. Furthermore, once Formula One hits the predominantly more aerodynamic circuits where the Bulls are in their element, we will all realize that this past weekend’s podium does not quite paint a true picture of the current pecking order. Therefore, nothing has changed then in eight races other than the fact we’ve had a repeat winner for the first time this season.
Alonso may have finished third, Maldonado and Hamilton may have finished ahead of Raikkonen and Schumacher, who would have collected some points to add to the two that he had collected thus far. All “IF” scenarios as I like to call them. I like to stir the proverbial pot however from time to time and play the role of “Devil’s Advocate”.
Ceteris Paribus (All things being equal), Red Bull and Vettel were really the class of the field in Valencia and Romain Grosjean and Lotus-Renault outperformed all three podium place holders. However, as I started off…In order to finish first, first you must finish.
Author: Ernie Black