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GP Week : Issue 51
eat The window of opportunity > F1BRITAIN > Okay, let’s forget the off-track ego- wrestling that’s going on for the moment (actually, I wouldn’t mind a series where the current stars of F1 returned to Imola, Canada, Brands Hatch, Kyalami ...) and concentrate on the racing – you know, that couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon when the bullshit stops ... I’m in a season-long round-by- round F1 tipping competition at the moment, and was doing quite well (okay, winning) on the back of the Brawn team’s continued pace, but I dropped a big bundle of points at the weekend! I’d figured that the only time Brawn’s boys had been matched was in the wet. Two weeks ago, in Turkey, Jenson simply walked away after cruising through most of practice, ob- viously, with a fair bit of fuel on board. So yes, for Silverstone (no rain fore- cast) you had to go with the status quo, didn’t you? Red Bull updates or not – the margin in Turkey was ... huge. Well blow me, if the cool climate of the English Midlands didn’t prove to be the championship leader’s achil- les heel. Just shows how narrow the ‘sweet-spot’ window is on a modern GP car. That’s not to play down the obvious progress made by the crew at Red Bull. After all, Vettel gapped Barrichel- lo by a whole second a lap in that first stint. That’s huge. The race was over before the 20-lap mark. The guy I felt sorry for – and one way or another, we’ve been feeling sorry for for too long – was Mark Webber. This should have been his race, his first win. It was going perfectly until 1.59pm on Saturday ... It was Webber’s weekend for preferred in-team running order etc. Q1, one run, nailed it (Vettel needed two to better it); Q2, one run, nailed it (two again for Seb); Q3 first run, nailed it (four-tenths on the field); last run ... well, you all saw the frustrated arm-wave as the Red Bull honed in on a cruising, snoozing Raikkonen. From there, barring a miracle start, ChRIS LAMbdEN GPWeek Publisher the die was cast. Roll on Germany. There are people who have gone through entire F1 careers with luck going agaionst them – Chris Amon is the obvious Antipodean comparison – but I’m not alone in hoping that’s not going to be the case for Webber in this window of opportunity. That window, and its rather sudden transfer from the Establishment to the New Boys this year, is the stuff of nightmares for F1 journalists. Grab a handful of last year’s gloss- ies and read all about it – Hamilton, the Second Coming; Kimi and his $40m+ salary; Robert Kubica, the next BIG thing, leading the champin- ship ... headed to Ferrari? Jenson But- ton – waste of a grid spot ... embar- rassing ... Embarrassing alright! Especially now that things have, ahem, changed. This year we have a new line-up of Second Comers, literally, in the case of Button and Barrichello. Plodders have now become aces, in the space of a few weeks. And, look at that battle for 15th and 16th ... is that Lewis Hamilton and Alonso? Goodness gracious ... have aces become plodders? Legends become losers? Of course not. There couldn’t be a clearer illustra- tion of the answer to so many F1 fans’ question – is it the car or the driver? Just as there was, probably, a dozen drivers who could have stepped into Lewis’McLaren and won last year, the same goes this year at Brawn/Red Bull. Make the most of it guys. It’s your window. In the meantime, I need to be checking likely temperature patterns in Germany for July ... Pos # Driver FORMULA 1 Round 8 SILVERSTONE Team 1 15 Sebastian Vettel 2 14 Mark Webber 3 23 Rubens Barrichello 4 3 Felipe Massa 5 16 Nico Rosberg 6 22 Jenson Button 7 9 8 4 Jarno Trulli Kimi Räikkönen 9 10 Timo Glock Nelson Piquet Robert Kubica RBR-Renault RBR-Renault Brawn-Mercedes Ferrari Williams-Toyota Brawn-Mercedes Toyota Ferrari Toyota Renault Laps 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 60 10 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 60 11 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 12 8 13 5 14 7 Fernando Alonso 15 6 Nick Heidfeld 16 1 17 20 Adrian Sutil 18 12 Sebastien Buemi Lewis Hamilton BMW Sauber Renault BMW Sauber 60 59 59 59 59 McLaren-Mercedes 59 Force India-Mercedes 59 STR-Ferrari Ret 11 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari Ret 2 59 37 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 36 Time 1:22:49.328s +15.1s +41.1s +45.0s +45.9s +46.2s +68.3s +69.6s +69.8s +71.5s +74.0s +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap +1 Lap Accident Accident Grid 1 3 2 11 7 6 4 9 9 16 5 14 12 10 15 18 20 19 17 13 Points – Drivers: Button 64, Barrichello 41, Vettel 39, Webber 35.5, Trulli 21.5, Massa 16, Rosberg 16.5, Glock 13, Alonso 11, Raikkonen 10, Hamilton 9. Manufacturers: Brawn 105, Red Bull 74.5, Toyota 34.5, Ferrari 26, Williams- Toyota 15.5, McLaren 13, Renault 11, BMW Sauber 8, Toro Rosso 5. 31 opinion