Next weekend sees the return of the F1 roadshow for the second and deciding half of the season. Maybe its just me but I’ve found the rhythm of this season very disjointed. Partly its all these random 3 week gaps that they keep chucking into the calendar. 3 week gaps are totally understandable when jumping from the Argentinian GP to the Nürburgring (showing my age) but somewhat unfathomable when they are between the German GP and the Hungarian GP. The reasons are no doubt convoluted but ultimately something to do with £££.
And now we’ve all had to endure a four week break which has seemed like a freaking eternity. I get that drivers need downtime and all the teams need quality family time but everyone has their limit of how much Mister Maker they can withstand before they are found weeping and rocking themselves in a corner. I need a Grand Prix to watch and badly. I remember seeing an interview with Rocky (Vettel’s engineer) who said his three young children weren’t remotely interested in his job and that was how he relaxed. Well I bet after four weeks of Mr Tumble and non-stop fights over Absolutely Everything Under The Sun (or maybe its just my children), Rocky has his bag packed for Spa already. Its only through the perfect alignment of one child having a nap (after exhausting herself with an hour long tantrum because we weren’t having pasta for lunch) and the miraculous discovery of a Roald Dahl film on the Sky + box in our holiday cottage that I’ve even had the chance to dust off the old blogging shoes!
11 races done. 9 races to go. And 3 of those 9 races will be so death-defyingly dull that I will only be able to keep myself awake by mainlining coffee while ranting about the pointlessness of the Korean GP on Twitter. Unless of course Anyone But Vettel is winning in which case the race might be vaguely salvaged. But in that mix of remaining races we have the utterly glorious and phenomenal Belgian Grand Prix at the greatest track in the world followed by fast and furious Monza before ending off the reason with a return to the Circuit of The Americas (which put on such a blinding inaugural race last year) and the final showdown at Interlagos. That’ll do me nicely!
But before we gear up for Spa, lets look at how the class of 2013 is getting on so far…first up in this blog I’ll run my beady teacher eye over Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus and Mercedes.
Vettel: The 38 point lead speaks volumes. The Red Bull was much faster off the blocks this season compared to last year and Vettel has duly won 4 of the 10 races so far with an additional 3 podiums. Once again he has delivered brilliantly for his masters (despite the multi-21 naughtiness at the Malaysian GP). Grade awarded: A+
Webber: Poor old Mark. Saddled with the team-mate from hell and bosses who barely remember his existence. Not all his fault but 3 podiums are scant return from a car as superior as the Red Bull. Grade awarded: B
Alonso: Another driver who has barely put a wheel wrong but unlike Seb he is stuck in a deeply unimpressive Ferrari. I’m actually amazed to remind myself he has got 2 wins and 3 podiums. The last two races were considered to be total disasters by the world at large but he actually came home in 4th and 5th. Hardly abysmal but certainly not title-winning form hence the blood-letting at Ferrari (and they are so very good at blood-letting – see Pre-Schumacher Years). Grade awarded: A-
Massa: Oh dear. One podium in ten races is shocking. Granted the car is uncompetitive and he has had poor reliability but still. Grade awarded: C-
Button: Remember all those jokes and comments about Hamilton destroying his career by leaving McLaren for Mercedes. Ouch. Could anyone have really expected the McLaren to be THIS bad? What has happened? Button hasn’t even come within a sniff of a podium and has not seemed to be enjoying it all this season. Overall he has done better than his team-mate but they both must be hoping for a gargantuan leap in car performance come the second half of the season. Grade awarded: B-
Perez: Admittedly stuck in a rubbish McLaren it has been a big ask for him to show the flashes of potential and flair we saw last year. After a very shaky start he seemed to find his mojo in Monaco of all places where he drove like a demon enough for Kimi to declare he should be punched in the face. Praise of sorts in a way. The jury is still out. Grade awarded: C+
Raikkonen: After his sensational comeback the million dollar question was whether he could blow everyone away again. In a way he has in terms of consistency and his freakish ability to master the tyres better than anyone else. Just the 1 win in the opening race of the season but has notched up a mighty five 2nd places since then and lies 2nd in the championship. He has now broken Schumacher’s record of consecutive points finishes to boot. Lotus will be lucky to hang on to him for next season. Grade awarded: A
Grosjean: Two podium finishes (two more than Button and one more than Massa) and a never-ending stream of grid penalties, drive through penalties and time penalties (not all deserved). However, the last two races have seen a resurgence in form so much so Lotus have had to implement team orders. Grade awarded: B
Rosberg: Remember when Mercedes were rubbish. Well they aren’t any more. Many (but certainly not everyone) predicted that Nico would be left for dead by his new superstar team-mate, Lewis Hamilton. Boo sucks to them. Nico has had an excellent season in a car that is by no means the real deal yet. Two wins although some slightly erratic form in other races. Grade awarded: A-
Hamilton: New season, new car but Lewis is as volatile, mercurial and fast as ever. But hey who wants a dull driver? Certainly not Mercedes. Lewis has racked up 1 win, 3 podiums and only in one race (Spain) has he finished outside the top 5. For all the gnomic outpourings on Twitter, Lewis is doing the business at Mercedes and is an impressive 4th in the championship. Should Mercedes nail the issue with the tyres, Lewis could make the championship very interesting. Grade awarded: A-
So all hail the class swot, Sebastian Vettel. Next time round, a cold, hard look at the dunces in the class!