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GP Week : Issue 177a
Most exciting overtake – Sebastian Vettel vs Jenson Button, Abu Dhabi Vettel had to start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pitlane, putting his championship lead in doubt. With Fernando Alonso on course to finish second, he was in damage limitation mode and, when he came up to third-placed Button, took his chance three laps from the end, muscling Jenson around the outside at the end of the long straight. It stuck. The Red Bull garage erupted. Stood alongside Seb on the podium, Alonso just couldn’t believe it. It was a big psychological hit for the Spaniard. He couldn’t shake Vettel off. Most exciting non-overtake – Fernando Alonso vs Sergio Perez, Malaysia It’s often the anticipation of an overtaking move, rather than the move itself, which is most exciting. We were all on the edges of our seats as Perez – in only his second season in F1 and in a customer Ferrari-engined Sauber – honed in on leader Alonso’s scarlet car at Sepang and looked for a way past. Ultimately, Fernando’s ‘Aura’ got the better of Perez and he made a small mistake, losing the fight. Still, it was enough to highlight the Mexican’s potential. And guarantee Sauber’s engine supply! Scariest crash – Turn 1, Belgium Romain Grosjean had triggered so many first lap crashes this season that the FIA threw the book at him for this one, banning him from the following race. At the start he moved to the right to cover Lewis Hamilton and put the McLaren on the grass with nowhere to go. Hamilton was just a passenger as he tore through the Lotus’s rear wing, launching Grosjean over the top of Fernando Alonso. Replays show just how close the Ferrari driver came to being decapitated. Terrifying. Closest qualifying – India 0.044 seconds separated Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber in Q3 in India. It was Red Bull’s third consecutive front row lock-out, and proved that whatever Chief Technology Officer Adrian Newey had been up to that month was working ominously well. Bitterest rivalry – Red Bull v FOTA Having bailed from the Formula One Teams Association a year ago in order to “control our own destiny”, Red Bull have been a thorn in the side of their fellow constructors. By cosying up to Bernie Ecclestone, in whose interest it is to weaken FOTA, RBR landed a sweeter financial deal. Wound up the others by scuppering plans for a 12-team demo run through New York’s Times Square and US chat show blitz to do their own thing instead. The least popular kid at school. Biggest letdown – Mercedes In their third season, Mercedes planned to attack the championship. It was looking good when Nico Rosberg won his first GP, in China. Afterwards, the team clunked into reverse gear. Michael Schumacher suffered eight retirements and only one podium. It was his worst ever season. 26 GPWEEK.com // 26 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> FEATURE