Sunday, June 24, 2012

First Post : 2012 European Grand Prix

My first blog post.

The 2012 European Grand Prix Review :

A thrilling grand prix on a track which historically hasnt ever produced a good race. The previous grand prix's at the Valencia Street Circuit were all processional with hardly any excitement at all.
The man of the moment...Fernando Alonso stormed through the field starting at 11th on the grid to 1st , becoming the first double winner in the 2012 Formula One season. He did this by pulling off some great overtaking maneuvers throughout the race.The most important one was going round the outside of Romain Grosjean in the Lotus into turn 1 after the Safety Car came in. His race being exactly what as his Engineer described his driving style back in the Renault days “Fernando in the car is like a controlled nuclear explosion”.

Although Grosjean would retire a couple of laps later with an alternator problem , this was strategically important since it gave Alonso clear air, crucial this year in looking after your tires. Would Grosjean have overtaken Alonso later on the race if he had not retired ? We would never know , In my opinion he wouldn’t have. The DRS was very well judged by the FIA this time around giving only an advantage for someone who was hugely quicker than his opponent in front of him. This was usually the case when tire degradation came into play. As all the front four pitted for fresh Hard Tires on the same lap( when the Safety Car came in ) , tire conditions were to play with. Using the Hamilton – Raikkonen battle as a reference point , it did seem that the Lotus was clearly looking after its tires better towards the end of the race but Alonso did not let his tires fall off the cliff and I think Hamilton was pushing too hard towards the end (locking up in the final hairpin and missing the apex on 2 consecutive laps before his tires hit the wall ). With clear air in front of him and good pace ( he did build up a 1.3 seconds lead before Grosjean retired ) I don’t think Grosjean could have done it. As all things in motor-racing, we will never know. F1 is just if spelt backwards.

Overtaking move of the race:
Grosjean on Hamilton for the second place on lap 10.
This was those few moments where the DRS showed what it in reality was supposed to do . We usually associate it with a car trailing within a second behind flying past the car in front but this time the FIA got it just perfect. Letting the following car to use the DRS to get side-by-side going into the breaking point and then allowing driver skill and precision to finish the move.

Moment of the race:
Clearly the safety car. This cut – short Vettel’s lead at the front and allowed everyone in the top 5 except for Ricciardo to pit for new tires. Vettel later blamed the safety car for his alternator failure . Surprisingly it was the same failure as Grosjean , both using Renault engines. They’ll be a lot of worried faces back at Enstone . Vital points for both teams were squandered with what nowadays seems like an anomaly in Formula One, an mechanical problem .
Key Strategy of the Race: This race didn’t have as big a strategy involvement as the Canadian Grand Prix however , looking at the race data we can conclude that as a result of Alonso missing out on Q3 and having an extra set of Softs which he used after his 1st stint he managed to pass a lot of other drivers who switched to the Harder tires after their first stint. This enabled him to get into fourth place right behind Hamilton, closing the gap at .6 seconds a lap before the safety car. As a result he  was able to pass Hamilton after McLaren again had a horrendous pitstop.

Looking forward :
Having a 23 points margin to Hamilton and 26 to Vettel , Alonso’ nearest championship contender is Mark Webber. In the following races, Red Bull look strong after their revised their tunnel underneath the exhaust. Without sounding too technical the team basically changed the tunnel that goes underneath the exhaust ramp, making the inlet much larger than it was. Aerodynamic tests on track had shown that the tunnel was not acting as the team expected because airflow through the tunnel was much less than anticipated as a result there wasn’t a good steady flow of air to the diffuser which created problems with the balance of the car.

McLaren will be strong at Silverstone too , announcing that they would bring updates as well. The usually cooler temperatures of Silverstone might be advantageous for Mercedes GP as well , I’m hoping for a Schumacher win .

The Championship So Far : 

Random Stats :

  • This is Fernando Alonso's 20th consecutive race in which he has finished in the points.
  • The last time Sebastian Vettel retired due to an engine fault was the 2010 Korean Grand Prix and again the driver waiting to pounce for the win was Fernando Alonso
  • The last time a driver won his home race was 4 years ago when Felipe Massa won the Brazilian Grand Prix. 

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