by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 157
rotation point and then accelerating in Jenson-like fashion to a straight- line exit. It looked like Regular Lewis on a ‘banker’ lap; it was, on this day, a P2 time. And then there was Fernando, the ever-maturing, still superquick championship leader who is in perfect harmony with his Ferrari F2012 – and particularly with the vagaries of variable grip. Down at Turn Two, where the crowds were huge and the cheers were deafening, Fernando on his FP3, Q2 and Q3 ‘golden’ laps – the ones on the nicely- scuffed, brand new Pirelli SuperSofts – seemed to short-shift from his rotation point. Screaming revs ... and then ... baaaah – a low Ferrari grunt. Why? To minimise wheelspin and oversteer (of the type that engulfed Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, the two Sauber drivers and Jean-Eric Vergne when they were out there)? Or was there something else? I found Fernando late on Saturday afternoon, relaxing with friends in the Ferrari compound. The cars were in Parc Ferme. Fernando, after a difficult start to the year, had qualified his F2012 P3. He was happy. “Amazing that short-shifting. Why there on the quick laps?” He smiled. “Yes, I do that because on the quickest laps I prefer to use first at Turn Two rather than second. I can’t do it all the time because it’s very bad for fuel consumption.” I was perplexed, I have to confess. Why first on those laps only? Was it an acceleration thing nonetheless? Fernando saw my confusion. “I take first because for me it is the best way to move the rear of the car, to turn the car. I take first just before I turn the car and it helps, especially if the tyres are losing grip like this...I’m more able to get the cartodowhatIwantittodo.” Ah. I should have known. Fernando the latter-day Gilles Villeneuve – although Ferrari gearboxes, I dare say, are in 2012 even more brick-solid than were their late-70s counterparts. So Fernando, too, adapted impeccably to the conditions – as if you would have expected anything less. You get used to it. You almost take it for granted, so all-at-one with the car is ‘Ferdy’ (as Sir Frank Williams quaintly calls him). Yet his brilliance dazzles on days like this – on days when Felipe, still lapping commendably quickly on the back of his Monaco resurgence, flicks from understeer to oversteer in a millisecond, on corners that ‘go on for longer,’ broadcasting to the world at large just how difficult it is to drive an F2012 when the grip begins to change. Then Felipe, inevitably, makes a mistake. Fernando, alongside him, remains the constant: back in the Renault days, for Pete’s sake, it was as if he picked up the pace the more the car lost its barge boards, or its front wing end plates. The shame was that Ferrari kept him out for so long on his primes; he was a sitting duck in the closing stages (when it was too late anyway to stop). His driving deserved much more. Pastor Maldonado looked pretty good in qualifying with the Williams FW33, too – but that was before he took too much kerb at the last chicane in Q2, clouted the Wall of Champions with his right rear and then set up a what looked to be a tank-slapper of epic proportions, right in front of the pits. With smoothly co-ordinated foot- and handwork, though, Pastor managed to finish the whole dance in a straight line, pointing the correct way. You could say that it was a kind of impromptu tribute to Gilles Villeneuve ... except that Gilles would have gone on to finish the lap, Romain Grosjean made the one-stop strategy work ... Alonso – took the gamble on one stop, but it didn't pay off Maldonado – walled the Williams at the wrong time, in qualifying ... 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> CANADA