I love Sundays.
And it’s because we just get to lounge around all day long, but because Formula One is back in top form… and yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix was a shining example.
The Chinese Grand Prix -in fact, the 2012 F1 season so far- is just great to watch. All the drivers gave us a race like it was the first lap… 56 times over. There wasn’t much of a gap between all the cars as the midfield challenged for track position against the usual front runners. Everyone seemed well rested and had a go with everyone else. Simply put, everyone was full of piss and vinegar.
There was so much going on during the race that I found myself rooting for everyone. Drivers were battling each other at the front and in the midfield. The racing was so close all throughout that even if you pitted from the lead, you often found yourself in the middle of the pack.
Mercedes GP’s Rosberg had to fight to ensure his win from the (visibly faster) McLarens of Hamilton and Button, the latter taken out of contention from the top spot due to a slow pitstop. The other Mercedes of Schumacher retired from what could have been a podium position because the pitcrew were unable to secure the right-front wheel when he was sent out from his pits.
Reigning double world champion Vettel had to battle his way back to the front after a horrendous start in his Red Bull from 11th on the grid after a qualifying session that marked the first instance he missed Q3 in a very long time. Webber was a bit more consistent and was able to finish fourth despite the charge from Vettel, who subsequently took 5th.
Beyond them, everyone was fighting for something. Lotus was in fighting form, though too bad Kimi lost some positions after his tires gave out. The Saubers were fighting for their strong qualifying performance, but eventually lost out in the race with Kobayashi in 10th and Perez (who had a phenomenal Malaysian GP 2nd place finish) right behind. Ferrari, long accustomed to being in the front, again found themselves in the middle, with Alonso in 9th and Massa in 13th. Williams (who had a disastrous 2011) also had troubles in Shanghai after strong showings at Melbourne and Malaysia.
F1 hasn’t provided this much entertainment in a very, very long time. The season looks more like NASCAR than Formula One. Could it be because the midfield teams caught up in terms of car development? Maybe it’s because of DRS and KERS? Or is it because there are six World Champions in a grid with 24 cars? Whatever the reason, I hope they keep it up.
There were plenty of exciting seasons in the past with the championships going down the wire like in 2007, 2008 and 2010, but 2012 seems different; simply because you just don’t know what’s going to happen next. Melbourne and Malaysia were proof of that as both were indeed thrilling races. Backmarkers can even run into a frontrunner that’s about to lap him the way Vettel and Karthikeyan did at Sepang, ending in a rather amusing exchange of insults with the German calling the Indian “an idiot” with the latter responding to the “cry baby”. His words, not mine.
I’ve been an F1 fan since I was very young, and often you would find me glued to the TV every Sunday to watch guys like Senna, Prost, Mansell, Hill and a young Schumacher. Parents being parents, they had to pry me away to go to church, but whenever I got the chance -especially if races took place at non-church hours-, the TV was my home.
This year, just like back in the late 80s and 90s, in front of the tube is where you’ll find me every Sunday for 2 hour race, cheering on (insert name here) as he overtakes (insert name here) for the win.
Oh, and if Rosberg continues his top form, I do hope he wears a proper race suit instead of those awful “tights”.
Photo courtesy of Mercedes GP