By Tamhas Woods at Motorsport24.com Any complacency that Mercedes might have felt at the close of the Melbourne event one month ago has now been expunged with considerable force. Sebastian Vettel’s victory – his...
Strategic thinking worthy of the Keystone Kops has ensured that we will have a fascinating grid for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mark Webber’s Red Bull will start on pole after making an inspired choice of intermediate tyres in Q3, ending up 1.3 seconds ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel. But a mass loss of intelligence has ensured that three world champions will start in the last eight.
After his frustrating time in Melbourne, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton seemed determined to take make an impression on the timesheets during the first day of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, grabbing the top spot in both sessions. Hamilton and his rivals reflect on their early progress in Sepang…
Here are the selected team and driver quotes after Friday…
After two back to back races in Melbourne and Sepang, it’s now clear that Ferrari is not the fastest car anymore. In fact they are not even a contender to win the races. But it seems they are still not aware of that. They continue to behave like they are the strongest team as they were before. Yesterday they destroyed Massa’s chances for race, in the first session of Qualifying by not leaving pits for the last time to save tires and today they put extreme wet tires on Raikkonen’s car, while its still bone dry. I cannot believe how Ferrari management came to this point. Even Force India would not do the same in similar conditions. It was clearly a gamble that didn’t work, but usually you gamble when your chances are poor. But it wasn’t the case at that moment. Raikkonen was fifth and he had a good chance of scoring some points or even be at podium with a good strategy call, if you think even Button did four pit stops and still won the race. I could understand if they put the intermediates but it was obvious that the extreme wets cannot survive more than a couple of laps in bone dry conditions. Massa’s case was also a big disappointment. He was on extreme wet tires while everybody was in a hurry to change to intermediates. Only 40 seconds after he changed his tires to intermediates the rain increased and he had to pit again for extreme wets. He would have been in a very strong position if he could wait one more lap. But it was again a wrong call by Ferrari’s pit wall.
This is not the first time that Ferrari doing strategic errors. It’s started to happen just after Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher left the team. Remember Fuji 2007, Silverstone 2008, Hungary 2007, etc. None of these errors were unavoidable and even small teams do not do this kind of basic errors at any time. But it seems like this is becoming a habit for Ferrari. When they find themselves to chose one of the ways in an unpredictable condition no matter what, they always chose the wrong way. This shouldn’t be the case in a team like Ferrari with very high standards.
After a very surprising start to the 2009 season at Melbourne, we are about to see second race of the season at Malaysia. This season the race will start two hours later than past years. There is a %80 chance of rain during the race and since the race will start late, it may be darker and this may cause visibility problems for the drivers.
At Friday during both practice sessions, teams were very closely matched and the competition was very high as expected. Ferrari seemed better than last race and both drivers managed to do very consistent and fast laps during their long stints. RedBull and Williams seemed to be in a good position too whereas Brawn’s and Toyota’s struggled with their cars balance a bit. One thing very clear is that the softer tires offer better durability and less performance drop during the long stints than Melbourne. For example almost all the fastest lap times came during the long stints (13 – 15 laps) with softer compounds. This was not the case at last weekend’s grand prix. Let’s look at the times deeper and try to analyze the practice lap times;