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GP Week : Issue 145
I can’t remember a season being more difficult to predict before the first qualifying session than this one. We had no real idea of the order of things until that moment and, now that the flag has fallen on Round 1 of 20, we can agree this has the makings of a vintage year. McLaren has the quickest car but in race trim the gap between them and Red Bull is negligible. Mercedes and Lotus are not far behind that. Nor are Ferrari as bad as we first thought. Earlier in the weekend the mood in the Scuderia’s pits was so depressing that staff were told to stay away from sharp objects. Fernando Alonso, typically, grabbed the car by the scruff of the neck and converted P12 to P5. Team-mate Felipe Massa, though, suffered a weekend of embarrassment, spending more time in the gravel during the sessions than an incontinent pet. How long will he remain at Ferrari? Without a doubt, this will be his last year but I wonder if the only reason he heads to Malaysia this week is because the team had already bought his ticket. Who could replace him? How about Jaime Alguersuari? He’s commentating for BBC Radio Five Live. In fact, he is sitting about eight metres from me right now, typing away like the rest of us Media Centre Joes. Bit of an odd sight, frankly. He looks more at home in an F1 car and he knows it. Plus he’s too pretty for radio. Jenson Button has scored a valuable psychological blow over Lewis Hamilton at the start. On Saturday, after his mighty qualifying performance, it really looked like it could be Lewis’ year. Nicole turned up on Sunday, looking hot. Lenny Kravitz gave him a hug. All seemed well in his world. But post-race, having been mugged by both Button and Vettel, Lewis looked broken. He really needs to toughen up. Button has now won three times in Melbourne, and has stayed in exactly the same hotel room on each of those occasions. This room could become as popular as John and Yoko’s at the Amsterdam Hilton. Vettel normally looks miffed if he’s not on the top step, but in the press conference after he was rather jolly. Obviously he’d had a better day on Sunday than earlier in the weekend: “Sixth is not a catastrophe,” he said of his grid position. “If that means we’re in the shit then everyone behind us is really in the shit.” Another team that surprised was Williams. Returning to Renault power seems to suit them, along with Mike Coughlan’s pencils. Pastor Maldonado was staving off the ‘pay driver’ barbs until, on the last lap, he dropped the FW-34 in spectacular fashion. Romain Grosjean was the star of qualifying, and it will be fascinating to see what he can do in Malaysia if he stays out of trouble. Kimi Raikkonen, in the sister Lotus, showed he has lost none of his fight. He traded paint and P18 for a very respectable seventh place. The Lotus E20 is definitely a contender. My Man Of The Match: Sergio Perez. The boy is smoother than Imperial Leather. Somehow he one-stopped his way from 22nd, after a gearbox penalty, to eighth. He’s so friendly to his Pirellis I reckon he wants to move in with them and introduce them to his mum. So, some questions answered but not all. There’s still lots more to be revealed next time, in Malaysia, and we only have to wait a few days. A FEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED – BUT NOT ALL OPINION ADAM HAY-NICHOLS F1 Editor “The mood in Ferrari’s pit was so depressing that staff were told to stay away from sharp objects.” 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION