What a brilliant British GP!
Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton were in the mire on Friday, their McLaren team having tried to imitate the Red Bulls’ “blown diffuser”, which directs exhaust gases onto the aerodynamic bodywork at the rear of the car thus increasing downforce and grip.
All McLaren succeeded in doing was setting their cars on fire.
On Saturday however, whilst Button languished in 14th place, Hamilton was able to drag out a quite spectacular qualifying lap to line up fourth.
Meanwhile Red Bull had developed a new front wing which was the bees knees. Unfortunately they only brought two, so when blue-eyed boy Sebastien Vettel damaged his in practice, they simply unscrewed Mark Webber’s and stuck it onto Vettel’s car, allowing Vettel to take pole and Webber to reach a good rolling boil, temper-wise.
Fernando Alonso, hoping for a good race, qualified 3rd behind the two Red Bulls and looked like he could be set to make this a very happy weekend for the Spanish (no Orange socks in my house).
As the red lights went out to start the race, the red mists descended.
Vettel lunged to the left to try and squeeze his team-mate out, but Webber kept his foot on the throttle and his car on the racing line, Vettel had to give way, running wide and then just clipping the front wing of the charging Lewis Hamilton as he rejoined the track, giving himself a puncture, another trip off the circuit and a slow limp back to the pits for a replacemant tyre.
With Webber off in front, hotly pursued by Hamilton, Jensen Button was busy scything through the field, making up six places in the first lap.
Alonso, however was rapidly going backwards. A dreadful start, it looked like something a 17 year old might manage on their first driving lesson, left him in the middle of the pack, where he managed to collide with team-mate Massa, causing the Brazillian’s car to shred a tyre and relegating him to the back of the field.
Not satisfied that he had ruined his team-mate’s race, Fernando went on the charge, battling Robert Kubica in the Renault for 6th place. After many laps in pursuit Alonso finally managed to force his way past, by leaving the track and cutting the corner at Vale.
This is a big No-no in F1. The rules clearly state that if you gain a place in this manner you have to give it back asap.
Not Fernando though, or his Ferrari team, who surely should have told him to give the place back. He continued charging on, to the dismay of the commentators and those of us watching at home.
I thought he might be trying to emulate Hamilton from Valencia two weeks previously, building up a big enough lead over the following cars to maintain his position despite being penalised with a drive through.
As it was Robert Kubica retired a few laps later and Fernando obviously thought he was safe, no car to hand the place back to.
But this is F1 and the stewards are rather like the Greek gods, you just can’t get one over on them.
The investigation into the manoeuvre resulted in Fernando being handed a drive through penalty.
But worse was to come. Instead of diving into the pits straight away there was a delay, by which time various bits of bodywork had parted company with Pedro de la Rosa’s Sauber, and strewn themselves along the start finish straight.
The safety car was deployed and Fernando had to wait until it was undeployed before he could take his penalty. The rest of the field had closed up behind the safety car so poor Fernando was relegated from 5th down to 15th.
He was so angry he refused to talk to his team on the radio for the remainder of the race, refused to talk to journalists after the race and went off in a sulk.
Meanwhile, crossing the line 1 second ahead of Hamilton to take the chequered flag, Webber was quite happy to use his radio to note to his team of his exemplary race, “It wasn’t bad for a number two driver.”
And as an object lesson in shooting yourself in the foot, McLaren and Red Bull made sterling efforts but the prize goes to Fernando Alonso and the Ferrari team.