So often in the past, Vettel has used the safety car restart as another opportunity to show everyone else how good his car is. However, today he was not able to get the gap he wanted and, under pressure from Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean and other, his car inexplicably failed.
Out of the race went the German, out of the car went some pretty expensive gloves and out of my sofa went my backside. "HAVE SOME OF THAT YOU MUG! SHOVE THAT FINGER UP YOUR A**E!" I politely exclaimed. The realisation that Fernando Alonso had taken the lead was yet to sink in, but suddenly, a real race was building.
Suddenly, those still dormant fears in the back of the minds of F1 fans were receding - unlike last year, Vettel was not going to simply run away with the world championship.
The sight of Christian Horner's leg nervously shaking with no image of his top half always makes me feel a little uncomfortable and wonder which channel I am watching. It was nothing like the nervous excitement felt by Formula One fans around the world and the crowd in Valencia when the German walked away from a race which was far from finished.
Starting 11th on the grid, it appeared that today's race would be an opportunity for Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to stretch their leads over the dangerous Spaniard. As it happened, Alonso managed to gain 25 points on both men. What the hell.
Yes, Alonso's qualifying was poor but, as I remarked in a rare moment of insight and clarity, starting 11th is probably about the 7th best place to start. Ignoring the temptation to start on the harder, slower tyre, Alonso knew that he needed a good start to make his fresher tyres work. He did just that, climbing to seventh early on, a position which enabled him to take advantage of the huge slices of fortune he was to enjoy.
|Explains a lot...|
Another important retirement, this time for Grosjean, meant that Alonso was never going to be seriously threatened for victory.
With around thirty laps to go, Hamilton was in a comfortable enough third position and fifteen points would have been a respectable return from a difficult race. Hamilton was on the harder tyre while Alonso was closing in on softs. Had the safety car stayed out, Hamilton would possibly have been favourite to claim at least a podium place.
However, the safety car meant that Hamilton had to pit earlier. Which is not good.
As those around him pitted, Lewis decided the time was right to follow suit. Big mistake buddy. This time, a faulty jack contributed to a fourteen second pit-stop, which meant that Hamilton fell to sixth place, a position he improved to third, but to the detriment of his tyres, which would later fall away.
Surviving a stewards inquiry for speeding under yellow flags, Hamilton was in second with around five laps to go. He fought bravely to keep Raikkonen behind, but it was no use and soon Pastor Maldonado was behind him.
|At least he's good-looking...|
All biases aside, he then cut back into Hamilton and took him off the track. With Hamilton's tyres fading, Maldonado could have been more patient and Lewis more pragmatic. Both men could have taken twenty-seven points instead of one.
I haven't seen Hamilton's post-race interview, but another 'Ali-G' moment can't be discounted! Many observers were wondering if Hamilton could do a one-stop strategy. People think this is to save time. No, it's literally so that Lewis only has to pit once.
Parallel to this is the Martin Whitmarsh attempted cheer-up line. I am expecting "the jacks were fine, the mechanics are the best, and it is probably Lewis's fault for stopping too far forward. But he'll learn and we'll come back stronger."
Michael Schumacher finished third after a relatively anonymous race, but his podium was well reserved. A return of one podium in around forty races isn't tooo bad.