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GP Week : Issue 169
LEWIS’ POLE LAP AND EARLY COMMAND OF THE RACE Jenson Button was not backward in being forward about the McLaren’s shortcomings in Singapore: the back was unstable, particularly under braking from high speed. That being the case, Lewis’ pole lap was jaw-droppingly good. He didn’t look Grojean-ragged; he danced right on the razor-sharp edge of disaster, massaging with precise footwork the jinks and darts that for most drivers comprise ‘instability’. You couldn’t see this on the on-board TV shots; and FOM were concentrating on Jenson in Q3. To get a sense of it, you had to be somewhere like the braking area for Turn 6 or perhaps Turn 14, where Michael would on the next night crazily ram the STR of Jean-Eric Vergne. A bump would unsettle the McLaren; Lewis would ease the brakes slightly; the steering movement would be as soft as a feather landing. This was a genius at work, as Jenson’s wry smile kind-of suggested. The pole man’s start was copybook. Prompt reaction time. Perfect clutch bite point. Accurate braking into Turn One. With Pastor encountering some understeer at this point – tyres not up to temperature – Lewis was away. He would have seen Seb Vettel missing the Singapore Sling chicane a few laps later; he would have been comfortable. Then he would have felt third gear going away. He would have been both worried and disappointed. The end was nigh. It had all been for nothing. Five days later, Lewis announced that he would be leaving McLaren at the end of the year. PASTOR MALDONADO’S PACE I think it says much about the character of Pastor Maldondado that he’s been able to take a summer’s worth of penalties and criticism and emerge seemingly unscathed. Still he is quiet and unassuming; still he tells you that he just loves to drive F1 cars. There is no acidity to his demeanour, no bitterness. He just gets on with his work, keeps his mouth shut and smiles politely. His qualifying lap was no surprise. Pastor was quick from the start of FP1 on Friday. A red flag hurt his first, simulated Q-run in FP3 but Pastor thought it through and put it together when it mattered. Again the Lewis-like creation of straight lines. Again the lack of time-wasting, power-on oversteer. Early in the race, Pastor flicked right to pass Nico Hulkenberg’s SFI at Turn 5, through the flat-out kink. For a millisecond, the back end of the Williams stepped out of line. Pastor stayed flat in seventh, correcting the moment with svelte hands, perfectly balanced. The FW34 was pretty hard on its rear tyres, obliging the team to look at a three- stop strategy. This was complicated by the Safety Car on lap 33 – but it was academic anyway: an hydraulic leak that looked as though it might last the distance suddenly grew worse. Pastor was out. For a while, though, his driving was as bright as the Maoli lights. 24 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SPA 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: