Lap 30 of 70. The rain threatened but never came. It was the only thing that could possibly take the victory away from Ferrari, but even so the red cars were too far ahead of the rest of the field. Kimi Raikkonen was leading Felipe Massa by 6 seconds, and everyone else was more than 20 seconds behind the latter. Felipe had already given up fighting for the win. Then disaster struck for Kimi. Part of the exhaust pipes on the right side of the car cracked, he started to lose power - which translated to a loss of 1 to 2 seconds a lap - and his side pod began to slowly burn.
The final result? A Ferrari 1-2, with Massa inheriting the victory at a track he is not known to be faster than Raikkonen. And yes, Raikkonen was second. What does it tell us? That Ferrari is so dominant at this point of the season that it is hard to predict them to lose the Constructor's Championship. One may claim that McLaren could challenge for the victory if they did not have to face penalties for both drivers - Heikki Kovalainen 5 grid positions for blocking in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton 10 grid positions for crashing into Raikkonen in the previous race and a drive-through for cutting a corner to go by Sebastian Vettel. I have to disagree. The two Ferrari drivers were certainly racing hard until the first pit stop, but I doubt that they were going for that last chunk of power that they could take from their engine mapping. If McLaren were closer, Ferrari would be even faster. Ok, a 1-2 would be difficult due to Kimi's problems, but Felipe would easily win.
I have seen it happening to pretty much every driver this year. At one point the guy simply makes a stupid mistake and throws away precious points. This time it was Lewis Hamilton. Actually, it was Hamilton for two weeks in a row. He was already starting 13th after the penalty for crashing into Raikkonen in Montreal. He started the race quite well, as did Sebastian Vettel just ahead of him. When both got to the Adelaide corner - the slowest turn of the track - Lewis had a better entrance and a much better exit. That put them side-by-side going into the Nurburgring chicane, a very fast right-left turn combination. Vettel braked before the turn. Hamilton braked deep into the turn, so deep that it was not enough for him to remain on the track. He basically cut the second leg through the tarmac escape area, and remained ahead of his STR rival. Until then, it was no big deal. Lewis should simply let Sebastian go by and he would get no advantage out of his off-road tour.
For some reason, Lewis thought that the move was legal and never let Vettel go by. The marshalls penalized him with a drive-through. After the race, Hamilton still thought he was right! This time he is the deserving winner of the 'Shame of the Race' award.
Once again, McLaren was blinded by the fact that they think their star British driver cannot make a mistake. It was clear on TV that he gained an advantage, so why not radio him and tell him to return the position? Lewis is a young driver and has a lot to learn! He needs coaching. The 'coaches' at McLaren do not seem very good, though. China 2007 is a good example: They allowed Lewis to stay on the track although his tyres were gone, and ultimately he slid out of the race. They trusted his inexperienced call that staying on the track was ok.
Trulli's Brilliant Performance
Is Toyota a car good enough to finish on the podium, fighting for position with a McLaren and a BMW? Certainly not. Yet, Jarno Trulli somehow managed to do just that, including a wheel-to-wheel fight with Heikki Kovalainen with less than 2 laps to go. As Toyota was mourning the death of one of their greatest team members - the guy who led the team during the golden rallying days, Ove Andersson - it seems like everyone gave it a little more. Hopefully they will learn something from this race, because they have one of the largest budgets of F1 and their results have never matched the investment.
- Fernando Alonso had a disappoint weekend. After qualifying third on a light-fuel load, reality struck hard as a bunch of drivers returned from their stops ahead of him. His demise was a wide turn going into Adelaide, when he lost 7th place to his teammate Nelsinho Piquet.
- Piquet had the strongest performance of his short F1 career. He qualified reasonably well - 11th, but started 9th due to McLaren's grid penalties - and drove a good, constant race. He was braking much earlier than in the previous races. That means he was braking where he was supposed to, because up to now he had the bad habit of braking too deep and too hard going. Maybe Renault found out that his driving style was the reason why his brakes vaporized in Montreal.
- Nick Heidfeld is having problems adapting to this year's BMW. He finished a lousy 13th, while his teammate was 5th. He should adapt quick, because there are a few drivers waiting for his spot. Bring on the Vettel and Alonso rumours once again.
Star of the Race
Shame of the Race
This is originally from my blog: Formula One Monday. Feel free to edit it here, especially if you find typos!