THE BIGGER PICTURE:
The Nurburgring in Germany has often been the venue that witnesses a crucial change in momentum as far as the entire season is concerned. As a result, there is either a spectacle of a race that would put Pakistan’s test matches to shame OR a yawn-inducing psycho-drama that makes India-Sri Lanka games seem like the 100 meter dash. Luckily, 2011 has been an exciting year- and after an initial German burst, the inevitable has happened. Vettel has decided to forego his cape and wear his underwear back under his jumpers, and hence has successfully begun to dangle a carrot to numbers 2,3 and 4. Webber, Hamilton and Alonso are within 7 points of eachother- and as predicted, this nice little homely battle will go ‘right down to the wire’.
Italian Eye-Candy, anyone?
For the first time this season, Sebastian Vettel has not finished on the podium. Also, for the first time in 13 races, he has not managed to win for 2 consecutive races. Earth-shattering numbers those, no doubt, much like Sachin failing to get past his previous highest score of 37 at Lords. Eventually, the young German is now ONLY around 75 points clear of a tired-looking (as always) Webber and recent newborns Hamilton and Alonso. The rest of the pack including the ‘other’ ex-champion Button seem to be fading away- much to our delight. With 8 races to go, I might still be trying my best to make the overall standings sound exciting, and to my credit, I am not entirely wrong as of now.
After a cracking British GP, Germany will also go down as one of the most exciting and bizarre races of 2011- no thanks to Michael Schumacher. ‘He who must not be named (out of respect to senior citizens)’ has now clearly begun to resemble his younger brother Ralf in his best days. No podiums yet, after 1.5 years of ‘comeback’ racing. It will be interesting to see if Nico Rosberg, the promising young kid who keeps upstaging Schumacher, will join a top team like Ferrari next year- considering how Massa seems to be feeling lately.
My name is Chandhok and I am not a test-driver. Anymore.
THE SMALLER PICTURE:
Lewis Hamilton, who must surely be considering a degree in reverse psychology and ‘irritable symptoms that accompany constant moaning’, is walking the talk. For once. Inspite of all his cribbing and problems with his underperforming car off the course, he has managed to drive the race of the season (discounting 6 of Vettel’s races, of course) and has leapfrogged Alonso into third place in the Driver’s standings. He must also thank Alonso for acting ever so un-Spanish and backing off at the drop of a hat. If anything, Alonso drove a lot like the conservative warhorse Webber (read ‘lesser talent’) and made things easier for the suicidal Brit. Webber, meanwhile, did what he does best- he takes POLE in qualifying ever so often and refuses to back that up with a start-to-finish. We all need Webbers and Massas in the top 10, if anything, just to make things a bit more exciting for the real top dogs. Thanks to Mclaren’s superior straight-line speed and the very useful DRS, Button overperformed once again and crashed out a little too late. Surprisingly, Vettel found it extremely difficult to overtake Massa’s inferior car in race-play and had to depend on his efficient pit-crew on the penultimate lap- in the process, tricking the optimistic German crowd into celebrating an early World Cup win. Fourth place, they’re used to it. The third pitstop for both the cars was a sight to behold, with the Italian team choking once again and demonstrating their ever-declining technical prowess after the departure of Ross Brawn.
Cold War, Massa ji?
Apart from being one of the rare races where every car was forced to pit within the last 10 laps in order to accommodate the tyre-change rules, this was also a race where Force India stepped up in the form of Adrian Sutil. A solid 6th place must have Mallya smacking his lips at having to watch Branson and the others pole-dance in Virgin uniforms at his Napean Sea Road Bungalow at the end of the season. Also, Karun Chandhok, who finally landed a place at Lotus after a patient and frustrating 1.5 years- FINISHED the race. 4 laps down, maybe. Last, maybe- but it was good race time for the evergreen rookie driver. Why, he was neck to neck with the legend Schumacher himself at one point of time. So what if they were 2 laps apart?
THE REAL PICTURE:
Vettel still looks good for his second consecutive title. This is his championship to lose. And to top it all, he is not even British or Button- who might insist on taking it down to the last race by sensationally underperforming for the second half of the season (circa 2009). A few more podium positions for Vettel and all is well. But knowing that he is German and Proud, he will not settle for Bridesmade honours. Definitely not. He wants that elusive win after two disappointing (by his standards) races, and he has to wait only a week to illustrate his hunger at Hungary. Wonder if Hamilton and co. will have the time to celebrate, considering the fact that it takes exactly 4 days to dismantle, transport and assemble the cars to another venue. Phew.
Webber looks good to fade away and make way for the inferior cars to demonstrate their superior driving strength. It is surely between Hamilton and Alonso once again- old foes turned friends- and thankfully, none of them are close to leading the championship right now. Otherwise, we all know what can happen. Hot-blooded, over-enthusiastic, aggressive kids these days, I tell you. Mclaren may have regained their mojo, but expect it to be temporary- as are all things British these days.
Driving like a Royal Challenger
What’s interesting is that Lewis Hamilton is the only other driver to win more than a race this season, and he looks dangerously aggressive and might go to any extent to add a few more- irrespective of the shape, size or build of his car. Of course, expect some moaning and a lot of controversies to accompany his performances, but it all seems to be working. He may not be superstitious, but Mclaren seem to be a little…stitious.
While the English cricket team figure out new ways to add another period of World Domination to their CV, Red Bull are playing the wait-and-watch game, and it is only a matter of time before they are back to their wonderfully dominant ways. Unless Mahendra Singh Dhoni proves himself to be secret British spy and claim domination, in turn spurring on Button to make a move for Nicole and push Hamilton to the brink of madness while Alonso watches ‘Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara’ for the fourth time and thanks Mallya who in turn lets Siddharth lose on Massa, who crashes out to leave a free ride for….Michael Schumacher.
Onto the Hungarian Grand Prix, officially only 3 months away from the biggest date on this year’s Indian Calender (apart from the World Cup win and pending series win in England and…well, cricketing victories). Also, we are only two months away the ONLY night-race in the Motor Racing Calender- the Singapore Grand Prix. If you’re wondering why I’ve shamelessly plugged another Grand Prix, take a look at the ticketing section of the website and you will know more.