The biggest event of the weekend was of course F1. McLaren shone, taking a 1-2 on the front row and the first British 1-2 since Adelaide 1995. Romain Grosjean was brilliant and started third, while Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher was fourth. Webber and Vettel were only able to manage fifth and sixth.
The race began, and immediately Hamilton lost out to Button. From there, Button streaked away in a Vettel-esque fashion, with Hamilton close behind. Schumi remained third, while Grosjean lost out to Vettel. Webber dropped to 9th, tapping Hulkenberg by accident and making the German drop out. Grosjean dropped to sixth. Pastor Maldonado was behind the French driver, while Alonso was up to 8th from 12th.
Soon, however, Grosjean was out. The French driver was passed by Maldonado, but failed to drop back when he was in the Venezuelan’s blind spot. A while later, Schumacher had a gearbox failure.
Massa and Rosberg both had tyre troubles, while McLaren were apparently in major fuel saving mode due to a miscalculation – yet they still stayed ahead. The race passed without major incident until the second round of pit stops. The gap between the McLarens allowed them to pit both drivers on the same lap, and the team made a very slick job of it. Ferrari, however, did the five fastest stops of the race. As Button and Hamilton were on their out lap, Vitaly Petrov had a steering failure in his Caterham and pulled up on the pit straight. The safety car came out. Vettel pitted, and emerged between the McLarens.
The field bunched up, and unlapping took place except for Heikki Kovalainen, who was also having car trouble and pitted. He was too fast going onto the pit entry and overtook Vettel and Hamilton, so the Finn has a 5-place grid penalty in Malaysia.
There were more retirements after the safety car, with Senna and Massa having a clash. Massa was out, while Senna retired after a few laps. The other Williams of Maldonado was in sixth behind Alonso, while Perez, Rosberg, Kobayashi and Raikkonen were in another battle with Ricciardo, Di Resta and Vergne behind.
On the final lap, Maldonado crashed as Rosberg’s fuel tank came close to empty. The German fell back to 12th, and there was a big mix-up between the remaining drivers. Kobayashi took sixth, with Raikkonen seventh just ahead of Perez, Ricciardo, Di Resta and Vergne. Those four crossed the line right on top of each other.
McLaren now lead the constructors’ championship with Red Bull second and Sauber third. Jenson Button leads the drivers’ championship. Webber made his best ever finish in his home GP. Perez improved from 22nd to 8th, while Raikkonen went from 17th to 7th.
Formula Renault UK
Young British drivers have been really struggling to find funding for the 2012 season, and with only six entries by today, the organisers have been forced to cancel the series. This is a real disappointment for a series that has seen drivers like Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and even Pedro de la Rosa. There were 30 drivers in the winter series, but many of them are in the NEC and Eurocup. Many drivers were hoping to take part, but now they will have to look elsewhere to start their racing careers – if they can still find a space.
German driver Markus Pommer was today announced in the 2012 season, He finished well in the German F3 championship and was good in winter testing. However, he does have some dodgy sponsors.
Rapax have signed French driver Tom Dillmann and Angolan Ricardo Teixeira for 2012. Dillmann shone in GP3, driving the first weekend for Carlin where he got a podium. Despite this, Carlin dropped Dillmann and he missed the second weekend before returning with Addax. In the GP2 final he drove for iSport, qualifying 9th (best of the GP3 drivers) and finishing 6th in the feature race. In the sprint he finished second to James Calado.
By contrast, Teixeira has not had a good racing career. He drove in GP2 2009 for Trident, not qualifying for several races and scoring no points. In 2010 he drove in F2, taking fifth place at Marraketch but struggling otherwise. Last year he test drove for Team Lotus (now Caterham).
Venezuela GP Lazarus are yet to announce their second driver as the teams head to Malaysia for the first race of the season.