Thoughts on the 2011 F1 Grand Prix of China

What a race!  This was easily the best of the 3 F1 races so far in the 2011 season.  There was great racing throughout the field, passes for position and drama at the front.  Tire strategy and car problems caught up with Red Bull this week and Hamilton was able to come up with the win.  Webber drove a magnificent race after a poor qualifying effort and finished on the podium in third place.  Paul DiResta in the Force India finished in 11th, rounding out his impressive weekend.  The Grand Prix of China set the bar high for IndyCar and NASCAR, let’s see what they can do later today.

  • Bull**** – it’s a one off fuel delivery issue and you aren’t worried about it?  Hamilton came 30 seconds from missing the grid because his car was leaking fuel from the fuel rail in the garage.  McLaren frantically worked on it and got him out of the garage just in time.  Will Buxton interviewed McLaren’s Paddy Lowe on the grid and Lowe said they weren’t worried about it.  Even though it didn’t end up being a problem in the race and Hamilton won, you can’t tell me that it didn’t raise their blood pressure a bit.  Hamilton did an outstanding job of putting this in the back of his mind and ran a terrific race.
  • HA! That swerving crap on the start didn’t work for Vettel and it backfired on him!!  I hate this business of swerving over on other cars on the start of F1 races and it made my day to see it backfire on Vettel.  He tried to block out Button and Hamilton after he had a poor start and lost P1 and P2 in the process, almost ending up losing P3 to Rosberg.
  • Wha!? Did Button just almost stop in the wrong pit box???  I’ve been watching F1 races since the early 1990s and I can’t ever remember seeing this happen in an F1 race.  Button came down pit lane with Vettel right behind him and briefly came to a stop in the Red Bull pit box.  I’ve seen it happen in NASCAR races (and you can almost justify it in NASCAR because of how crowded the pit lane is) but I can’t ever recall seeing it in F1. It is time to cue the @pressdog circus music for Button!!  If IndyCar blogger pressdog would have been watching, it would have been time for his signature clown music indeed!
  • Heheheheheh >> RT @toomuchracing: Damage on Kobayashi’s nose / front wing.. or ‘front nose’ as IndyCar people laughably say.  I had to include this; this “front nose” terminology that the IndyCar broadcast team has been using this season has really gotten on my nerves.  It’s daft.  Is there any such thing as a “rear nose?”  It makes them sound stupid and laughable; the next time an open wheel fan throws Larry Mac’s butchering of the English language at NASCAR, I think NASCAR fans should fire back with “front nose.”
  • Sounds like Vettel is, in my profession’s terminology, “going digital” on the radio.  I can’t say for sure, but based on the sound of the audio being fed into the broadcast, it sounds like the F1 teams are using digital radios.  “Going Digital” refers to how a digital radio signal sounds when you aren’t receiving it well, it turns warbly (if that’s a word) and unintelligible as opposed to an analog radio signal in which you can still make out some of the speech. That is exactly what Vettel’s radio problem sounded like to me.  I’m wondering if there may have been a loose connection somewhere or maybe if the radio’s battery was dying?  Anyway, it definitely put him at a disadvantage and could have played into him eventually losing the race.
  • Wondeful race, best of the season so far! Hell of a drive by Webber and great job by Hamilton to put the fuel leak out of his mind.  It was great to see Webber put on such a great performance after his troubles in the first two races and in practice and qualifying this weekend.  It was also terrific to see Hamilton rise to the occasion and take the fight to Vettel.  Should also point out that Massa has outperformed Alonso for the 2nd race in a row. After the last season or two, who would have expected this? I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see a racy Massa ; let’s hope he can keep it up the rest of the season.

In closing, I have to think that Red Bull’s KERS problems are catching up with them.  Each weekend, they are slipping closer and closer back to McLaren, who clearly did their homework after horrible preseason testing.  The car is clearly the class of the field, but their KERS system is turning into nothing short of dead weight during the races.  If they get KERS sorted out, there is the potential for Red Bull to dominate the season.  That said, with McLaren’s current pace of development (perhaps somewhere that Red Bull hasn’t quite fully developed yet?) this season could very well turn out to be a Red Bull – McLaren slugging match.

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