F1 Race Review: Spain 2011

I’ve delayed my F1 race review for a while because I haven’t been feeling so good. Now that I’ve had time to rest and think back on the race, here’s what I think:

It was a great race. The action at the front wasn’t so hectic that we couldn’t see what was going on further down in the field, although Liuzzi’s retirement got missed completely by everyone and Heikki Kovalainen’s accident came out of nowhere.
We had multiple race leaders, with Alonso coming out of nowhere to take the lead from the start. Then Vettel came back after a well-crafted pit stop that put him on fresh tyres, so he could carve through the others and got ahead when the leaders pitted. But he was never miles in the lead, as he has usually been. Hamilton was able to stick close, with McLaren showing more speed than most thought it had, and they battled all the way to the line. Despite KERS problems and not having DRS most of the time, Vettel was able to defend because the Spanish DRS zone was less useful than the Turkish one.
Perez finally got his first points, and we saw our first retirement of a Ferrari with gearbox troubles. Maldonado raced well, finishing ahead of his teammate though still lacking points. Heidfeld managed even better than Kobayashi had done, finishing ahead of Petrov and in the points. Schumacher beat Rosberg despite being slower, proving he can still hold back an opponent. Two McLarens finished on the podium.

Vettel has lost 7 points in total in 2011, from his second-place finish in China. That means he has 94% of all possible points so far this season. He has seven consecutive podium positions: one more and he will match Ayrton Senna’s total (but still a long way from Schumacher’s 19). He also has 5 consecutive from the start of the season: the same as Alonso in 2005 and Schumacher in 2004. One more and he will match Fittipaldi in 1973 and Mansell in 1992.
Lewis Hamilton has taken his 39th podium finish, totalling 51.32% of his race finishes – almost as many as Alberto Ascari, and creeping up as Schumacher’s percentage goes down. He has also finished 3/4 of the races he has entered in the points.
Sergio Perez has squeaked into the top 10 youngest drivers to score points – finally! He is older than Massa was when he came sixth at the 2002 Malaysian Grand Prix, but younger than Kimi Raikkonen was when he came sixth at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso has now led at least one lap of a race 62 times: the same number as BBC commentator and Red Bull man David Coulthard. He has now led 1,366 laps.

Alonso, Kovalainen, Liuzzi and Rosberg have outqualified their teammate in every race. Buemi and Vettel are the only drivers to finish ahead of their teammates in every race.
Alonso, Button, Hamilton, Massa, Petrov, Rosberg and Vettel have qualified in the top 10 for every race, and Alonso, Button, Hamilton, Kobayashi (excluding Australia), Vettel and Webber have finished in the top 10 for every race.
Thanks to bad qualification in Melbourne and his car fire in Spain, Nick Heidfeld has an average improvement of 6.2 positions per race. By contrast, Maldonado has an average fall of 4.2 positions per race despite qualifying badly everywhere except Spain. These are the best and worst of the drivers. Buemi, Button, Schumacher and Vettel each have an average different of 0 positions.
The craziest stat of all is that everyone was lapped by Vettel except Hamilton, Button and Webber, but Button and Webber were 30s behind the leaders. Even Alonso in fifth was lapped. This means that only the Red Bull and McLaren drivers have completed every race lap of 2011 so far.


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