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GP Week : Issue 146
Fernando, in the distance, flicked out and filtered into the exit road.... Perez stopped a lap later, on lap 15. Fernando Alonso P1. Perez re-joined in second place. Lewis was third. Surely it couldn’t – wouldn’t – last? Surely Lewis, relishing the conditions, and fired-up by the pit stop debacle, would slice his way through to win? Surely the F2012 would savage its tyres and be beaten even by the Sauber? If you were lucky enough to see this race you were now lucky enough to witness some of the best driving you’ll see probably in a decade – to see Fernando, concentration intense, making a difficult car look like a dream. From the outside, from afar, the red car appeared more or less as if on rails. In the cockpit, you can be sure, Fernando’s footwork was a blur of subtle movement, matched only by the rapid inputs of wrists and hands. Not only did he maintain his lead: he began to pull away from both Sergio and Lewis. And Lewis, for his part, began to lose ground to Perez. And so it went on. The groove became drier. The worry about another stop became ever-greater. There was talk about more rain appearing in the area of Turn 6. Fernando began to feel the grip leaving his inters. A lead that had grown to around seven seconds quickly began to shrink to four and then to three. If the rain was going to come it needed to come now... It stayed away – but in so doing it opened the door to a different kind of motor race; for, in the still exhausting ambients, the track quickly dried enough for slicks. Fernando stopped on lap 40 (for used options), by which time Sergio was filling his mirrors. It would all come down to pit stops and then to speed-on- slicks. Lewis, in third place, was still an astonishing 14 seconds in arrears. Sergio stayed out for one lap more, gaining time. Fernando’s out-lap was a 2min 8.355. Sergio’s, two minutes later, for new primes, was 2min 8.281sec. It couldn’t be closer.... Fernando, though, found Timo Glock on his out-lap! It took him a lap to clear the Marussia driver – but Sergio, too, hit traffic. As they began lap 45, with 11 to go, Sergio was four seconds behind the Ferrari and catching him fast. Everywhere. On fast corners and slow. This wasn’t about the difference in compound. This was about the Sauber already being a great race car and the Ferrari still a difficult one. Fernando’s response? Head down. No mistakes. DRS or not, first he has to pass me... It seemed inevitable. Sergio tucked the Sauber right up behind the Ferrari’s rear wing and knew – knew – that all he had to do was run into the DRS detection zone and then flick down Fernando on pit straight, in full view of the teams and the grandstands. He could touch it. Taste it. And he had six laps or so in which to do it. Somehow, though, Fernando – and other great drivers like him – project an aura. The Sergio Perezes, still in the embryonic stages of their careers, know they are passing Alonso and not just some other driver. And if they know that it is for the win, the aura grows. For more of Windsor on F1 watch The Flying Lap live every week on http://smibs.tv THE AQUAPLANING WAS BAD; THE EXIT KERBS WERE TREACHEROUS; AND THE SPRAY SAT IN THE AIR LIKE A WINTER’S FOG. " F1 >>> MALAYSIA 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: