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Vettel's rivals given hope in Malaysia

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Andrew Benson | 14:51 UK time, Sunday, 10 April 2011

There was a point, shortly before half distance, when the Malaysian Grand Prix appeared to be turning into a microcosm of exactly what the 2011 Formula 1 season was expected to be.

The eventual winner Sebastian Vettel was leading in his Red Bull, from Lewis Hamilton's McLaren and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari. Hamilton was closing on Vettel, Alonso was closing on Hamilton and, not far behind them, Jenson Button in the second McLaren was keeping pace.

Four great drivers in the three top teams were all in contention, and it looked for all the world like a continuation of the fights that made last year into an all-time classic.

In the end, that fantastic battle for the lead ebbed away, but the race still went some way towards cooling fears that Red Bull are going to walk away with this championship.

In the end, Vettel may have driven to another relatively comfortable victory, but just like in Australia two weeks ago the Red Bull was not obviously that much faster than a McLaren or, this time, a Ferrari in the race.

And, surprisingly, Vettel had nowhere near the advantage in qualifying that he had in Melbourne. The battle for pole position was genuinely close between him and Hamilton - despite Sepang being exactly the sort of track that should emphasise the Red Bull's aerodynamic excellence, even if the car has a power handicap down Sepang's long straights.

The world champion was hampered during the race by a faltering Kers system. It seems it was not working when he was coming under pressure from his pursuers, and came back again a little later, when he pulled away again, before the team decided to stop using it altogether once the challenge from Hamilton had faded.

It may be that Red Bull have not yet had to show their full hand in a race - or that for reasons related to the new Pirelli tyres they are not able to.

Either way, the McLarens and Ferraris were much closer than many feared heading into this race. After Australia, you could have been forgiven for thinking 2011 was going to develop as a repeat of Michael Schumacher's dominant years in 2002 and 2004. After Malaysia, the prospects for an exciting season look considerably stronger.

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The race ebbed and flowed throughout its duration, providing a fascinating and gripping spectacle.

Vettel's afternoon was made easier than it might have been by Nick Heidfeld's lightning start in the Renault, which catapulted the German veteran into second place ahead of Hamilton.

There was therefore no chance to see a direct comparison between Vettel and Hamilton in the early laps - and that allowed Vettel to quickly build an advantage that meant he was in control mode as early as the first of his three pit stops.

Mid-race, Hamilton was Vettel's main threat, but as he dropped back, losing grip from his Pirelli tyres faster than his rivals, Button came increasingly into the picture.

The 2009 world champion struggled in the early stages after making a mistake on set-up going into the race. But once that was rectified by adding more front downforce at his pit stops, Button edged ever forward, and as Hamilton fell back with tyre problems, the older McLaren man emerged in second place.

In the closing laps, Button made a go of closing on Vettel, only to effectively be told by his engineer to settle for second because the team did not know whether his tyres would last.

Had things worked out differently, Button may have been forced to spend those closing laps watching his mirrors for a challenge by Alonso. As it was, the Spaniard wrecked what was looking like a certain podium when he misjudged a passing attempt on Hamilton with 10 laps to go.

With his moveable rear wing not working, Alonso was forced to look for other places to pass Hamilton than the end of the pit straight. He had a great run on the McLaren out of Turn Three, but he got too close before pulling out to try for the inside into Turn Four and he clipped his front wing against his old rival's right rear tyre.

That meant a stop for a new front wing, and a finish behind team-mate Felipe Massa in sixth place, which he retained despite a 20-second penalty for hitting Hamilton. It was a costly mistake, but if Alonso did not sound too down in his post-race interview, that was almost certainly because Ferrari certainly did not go into the race expecting to be challenging a McLaren for a place on the podium.

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The team were utterly dejected on Friday, when Alonso was 1.5 seconds off the pace, and not much more optimistic after qualifying on Saturday. But in race conditions the Ferrari looked pretty competitive.

With a massive internal inquiry going on at Maranello about these confusing signals, and the promise of significant upgrades to come, one suspects Alonso may well be a major contender again.

The same is undoubtedly true of Hamilton, even if he did not look like he believed it himself after the race. Starting the day expecting to fight for victory, he finished seventh after struggling increasingly with tyre wear as the race developed. And that was before a 20-second penalty for weaving while defending from Alonso cost him another place.

Hamilton's penalty was not for the collision itself - it was for an incident two minutes earlier, which was when he was defending his position from Alonso down the pit straight the previous lap.

If you watch the video closely, Hamilton does slightly change the trajectory of his car a number of times as the two men are heading towards the first corner.

He is heading to his left, towards the outside of the track, then he goes right a touch, then back left again. They are not big moves, but they are moves. And the stewards decided he had crossed the line and broken the rule that forbids drivers from making more than one change of line to defend a position.

It was, it has to be said, a marginal decision but it should be pointed out that Hamilton has been in trouble for this sort of thing before - in last year's Malaysia race, as it happens. Then, he was given a warning flag for unsportsmanlike driving while defending from Renault's Vitaly Petrov - and received heavy criticism from fellow drivers in the aftermath of the race.

This incident was not as dramatic as that, but Hamilton has nevertheless become the first man to be punished under new rules this season that give race stewards broader powers in such situations.

Hamilton was dejected after the race, obviously frustrated, and appearing to blame the team for stopping him too early for tyres throughout the race.

But the late stop with four laps to go that dropped him down from fourth place was his own decision, according to team boss Martin Whitmarsh. The team felt he could have stayed out - although Whitmarsh was quick to add that the driver has to be trusted in such situations.

Before the season, there was talk that Hamilton's more exuberant style compared to Button could lead him into problems with this year's Pirelli tyres, which have been deliberately designed to degrade relatively quickly. Hamilton has been quick to reject such suggestions, but was this an example of that? And, if so, how much of an impact on Hamilton's hopes will it have this season?

That is just one of the questions to which the Chinese Grand Prix next weekend may provide more answers. Among the others, the merits of the moveable rear wing, or DRS as F1 rather unhelpfully officially calls it, will remain under the spotlight.

At times during Sunday's race in Malaysia, it appeared to be working exactly as planned - it was putting drivers in a position to try to pass, but they were still having to work for it. At others, it appeared to be making things a little too easy. It will doubtless continue to provide a talking point throughout the season.

More pressingly, for those pursuing Vettel, there is the urgent need to turn promise into concrete results.

After two races, Vettel's position in the championship already looks comfortable. Two consecutive victories, with different drivers alongside him on the podium, have put Vettel into a commanding 24-point lead in the championship - after two races, he is already nearly a win clear of his closest pursuer, Button.

Unlike last year, Vettel has made the most of the fastest car in the first two races of the season. Like last year, Red Bull have had problems - this time, with the Kers system - but the German has won both races anyway, whereas at this stage in 2010, he had only a fourth place to his name.

Strong as the Red Bull is, it has weaknesses and it appears as if it is beatable, as long as a rival gets everything right. But they need to start doing that soon, or the already large gap Vettel has built up in the championship will begin to look unbridgeable.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Nothing like a fair FIA post race decision, Clear racing incident with Alonso, and clearly reposition by Hamilton for the corner. If it was as "clear" as the FIA maintain why was it not investigated in race, and if they wish to be consistent, why wasn't vettel penalised for more than a double movement into the first corner.

    I feel a repeat of the FIA of 2006-9 is on the cards, and just when we could be optimistic for some consistency.

  • Comment number 2.

    Very harsh decision by the FIA. Neither driver should have been punished. I hope the FIA aren't going to ruin races by interfering like they did in 2008.

    Andrew, I disagree about Hamilton's tyre management problems. When he put on the second set of hards (his third pitstop) he was very slow from the start. I think they were a used set of hards as I'm sure he used three sets of hards in qualifying unlike Vettel and Button who used two. So Hamilton would only have had one fresh set of hard tyres for the race, which he used and was lapping at a similar pace to Button who was on the soft tyres. I also think he was called in too early for his third pitstop as he would then have to complete the final 20 laps on the same tyres. If his pace was due to his poor tyre management, then his pace would have dropped gradually but he was slow right after he pitted.

  • Comment number 3.

    Andrew, any views on vettels changes of direction into turn 1? It does seem to be a rather inconsistent approach by the stewards.

  • Comment number 4.

    Was Hamilton slow because he was on used hard tyres? It's strange that he was very quick on his first set of hards but very slow on his second set.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is not even a biased comment as I'm not a Mclaren fan per se, but Hamilton got such a raw deal. The team's strategy is always awful and it costs him. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the final straw for him as Hamilton invariably gets the best out of the car but hardly gets the support. Whitmarsh said it was Hamilton's call 1)this shows the team lacks accountability in that context and 2) it seems Hamilton has lost confidence in the team for them to make decisions. The thing is, Hamilton could've consolidated a podium but the team somehow does try and make it difficult for him. I also agree they pit him way too early....and Button follows Hamiltons move to make an informed choice.

  • Comment number 6.

    Vettel (as Red Bull's number 1 driver) will continue to win with a reliable car.
    Webber will strangely either have a gremlin mid race or a dodgy pit stop and will then be used to take points off Ferrari and McLaren.
    The rest of the so called contenders will continue to take points off each other.

    A rather processional season with a scramble to see who can be runner up to Vettel who, by mid season, will have disappeared into the distance and have an almost unassailable lead.

    At what point will Schumacher lose interest in being a midfield non-entity and retire?

  • Comment number 7.

    Fantastic race, numerous of overtaking, confusing and Vettel, once again, proved he is the man to beat this season!

    Just before his 'sloppy' pit stop, Hamilton and perhaps Button, really put Vettel under pressure within 4 or less seconds gap. However there is no doubted that the pit crew had cost Hamilton's chance and therefore ruining his race. It seem to be that after the slow pit stop, Hamilton loses his confident and falling behind Button.

    Alonso made an stupid mistake! There was huge gap on the road so Alonso could move aside early rather than waiting close to Hamilton's car before being his overtakes. Silly job.

    But it wont changed anything at the moment, still long way to go!

  • Comment number 8.

    Have to agree with #1chargesofheresy and #3MustGetOutMore about the lack of consistency and race stewards "meddling" with result.

  • Comment number 9.

    any correct me please. on the run to the first corner did Vettel change direction to defend? Please comment.

  • Comment number 10.

    Just Lewis' luck, eh? I think the decision to penalise both of them is very harsh, but Lewis losing a position and Alonso not just adds to the pain really. Call me a Hamilton/Mclaren fanboy, but that's really frustrating. At least Button had a good race.

    Pleased that Massa finally got one over on Alonso. It's not huge, but surely it's something. One of Ferrari's pit stops for Massa and Alonso were both botched.

    Heidfeld did very well after a terrible weekend in Melbourne - his wise head coming to the fore here.

    Williams are having a shocker so far, they haven't finished a race yet. Di Resta once again in the points, good job. Another rookie error from Petrov? He is unlucky in a way, I don't think he would have known there was a bump there. He shouldn't have kept flat out, though.

    All in all it was a good race. Pleased that Mclaren aren't miles from Red Bull's pace. This might just be a one-off though...looking forward to China which is just a week away. :D

  • Comment number 11.

    Excellent drive by Vettel once more, he knows how to control his race even with a problem. It was remarkable to hear how calm he was when asking about the state of his KERS, he's maturing as a driver pretty well. Webber was excellent as well with no KERS, you've got to say he possibly put in the best performance of the race with his problems.

    Button was exceptional and it would be great to see both McLarens able to fight for the title this year instead of just one. Kobayashi was once again on form with entertainment from him and Schumacher.

    I agree about Hamilton's tyres, this has been a concern for a while but it's too early to tell as you mentioned. If it becomes a continual theme then maybe he might have to try and adjust it but he's got a good teammate to learn from should that be the case.

    I hope we remember the race for the action rather than the honestly ludicrous penalties handed out after the race. I thought Hamilton was hard but fair in the first turn and Alonso was caught out by his understeer, I don't see how they managed to apply a penalty to them both.

    As a final note Andrew, in your article you wrote:
    "With his moveable rear wing not working, Alonso was forced to look for other places to pass Hamilton than the end of the pit straight. He had a great run on the McLaren out of Turn Three, but he got too close before pulling out to try for the inside into Turn Four and he clipped his front wing against his old rival's left rear tyre.".
    I think you mean Hamilton's right rear.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Andrew, I'm a bit of a newbie to F1 (only started watching from Monza 2010, and am kicking myself for missing some of the earlier ones!) so forgive if I miss the point somewhat but I have a question.

    Everybody on the BBC F1 team has been going on about how it has been Pirellis job to 'replicate Canada'. Obviously I haven't seen a Canadian Grand Prix yet, but you and the team have already explained that that means that we want to tyres to be going off more often during a race (that's probably a generalisation, but hey)

    However, what on earth happens when we get to Canada itself? If these new tyres are meant to be bringing Canada-esque condition to all of the other tracks, then what are we going to see at Canada itself? Chaos?

    Cheers in advance, and thanks for the coverage, cuts or nay, I'm still certainly enjoying it!

  • Comment number 13.

    Is the one change of direction only enforcable under DRS regs? if so DRS is only useable after two laps, also if not just about every driver on the grid fell foul of the rule at the start not just Vettel?

  • Comment number 14.

    Hmmm...I hope you're right about Vettel/Red Bull not running away with it this year but your evidence for that seems a little thin. Red Bull have won both races at a canter without a fully working Kers system. When they get it working reliably they will be unstoppable in the race. The greatest evidence for this was Webber's performance today. With no functioning Kers, off the start he was swamped by the Kers equipped machines but still fought back to a well deserved 4th place on a track designed for Kers. Vettel was able to switch his system off and still match the pace of his pursuers. The reality of this situation is what caused Hamilton to be so dejected after the race and is causing the Ferrari brain trust to have sleepless nights trying to work out how they can compete. Hopeful talk of "further developments" from Ferrari or McLaren ignores the fact that in Newey, Red Bull have the best car designer in F1 and will not stand still either.

    A second faultless weekend from Vettel (to add to those at the end of last season that won him the championship), but of course he has not been put under real any pressure by anyone. He produces the really fast laps only when he needs them (Q3) or when the race is sewn up and he wants to play and beat the fastest lap. His only real pressure looks like coming from his team-mate, but Webber does not produce the outstanding qualifying laps needed to beat him often enough to mount a sustained challenge.

    As an F1 fan I hope I am proved wrong but this looks like being a walk in the park for Vettel this year.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    it was a pleasure to see the 3 top drivers showing no signs of displeasure & especially Vettel

  • Comment number 17.

    A quick point on why DRS is artificial, and how the whole turbo button and KERs is not the same thing as argued by Coulthard/Jordan etc.

    Kers can be used at any point of the circuit. A turbo boost mode can be activated at any point of the circuit. The defending car can activate it just as much as the attacking car. DRS, can only be activated if all the stars align at one point of the circuit. It isn't natural, e.g. use more boost = burn more fuel = have to pit sooner or carry more fuel.

    Personally I would have preferred that they remove the lesser artificial rules on KERs, and have it not limited to 80 BHP, for 7.3 seconds or whatever it is. It should be you can use as much harvested energy as you can harvest for as long as you have it, at whatever rate of BHP the team can get it to come out at or want it at.

    That way developing KERs would be highly beneficial and might lead to technologies or methods to make harvesting/storing/using energy more efficient which may have applications elsewhere.

    I don't mind boost buttons, but I do not think that being within X seconds at line A should allow you to DRS for XXX meters after line B. It is very similar to the shortcut idea which people scoffed at. i.e. if within 1 second of the driver in front before Z corner, you can take to the shorcut road skipping the corner and coming out ahead of him.

    Yes luckily DRS hasn't been dramatic in guaranteeing passes, and right now it is just assisting in setting them up, but it is not real overtaking, and it is not the same as the turbo era etc. It is far too convoluted. i.e. if all the FIA systems failed, turbo boost options could still be used, DRS could not.

    Perhaps people who disagree with me should consider it if the same system rather than activating an opening of the car behinds wing, it activated(lightly) the brakes of the car in front. Ultimately the same effect, but would that really be acceptable...I think not.

    As for Hamiltion/Alonso, disgusting on so many levels (only 1 actually getting an effective penalty, lots of others doing more than 1 movement and not getting penalised, interfering with a race result over something that wasn't that clear or obvious during the race).

    As for Brundle being trapped in his box again, nice one ignoring the fans, there are other ways of doing the analysis without excluding him from the post race discussions for 30mins.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re the Hamilton penalty for weaving. Sam Posey on the US Speed Channel has come up wit a great way to remove this contentious issue. Scrap the rule but remove the rear view mirrors from the car. Apparently in the "old days" the feeling was that they weren't needed by "real" drivers.

    I think it's a brilliantly simple idea. The driver in front cannot be blamed for blocking since he cannot see his opponent until his car is alongside and the car overtaking has to be aware of the fact that the car in front cannot see him making the move and make his decision to overtake accordingly.

  • Comment number 19.

    I can't agree with the stewards' decision to give Hamilton a 20-second penalty. The incident appeared to be Alonso's fault, and Hamilton will lose two points as a result of it - small margins that could be significant later in the season. Although not, it has to be said, if Vettel keeps going like he has been.

    Re #12 f0nz13, it will certainly be interesting at Canada! I think we may see some drivers doing five stops as the tyres degrade so badly, but the point about that is that teams only get a certain amount of tyres for race weekends anyway (I think it's six sets of each dry-weather compound). Perhaps we may see teams using partly worn tyres in qualifying to save sets for the race.

  • Comment number 20.

    Here we go again, Andrew and the media have started with Button's tyre nonsense again and implying Hamilton to be a tyre wreck based on one race. Was Button the only driver who did 3 stops today and kept his tyres well? Be sure to give us more insight mid season again; after all, you told us how Button's smooth style and tyre management was to be the difference after China last year. 26 points behind end of season puts that to bed.
    For the race itself, it was just about good. Vettle will dominate as long as rival cars don't close the speed gap. The Redbull is fast.

  • Comment number 21.

    However hard these F1 pundits try to talk up the race , the fact remains it was a boring race. As an F1 fan I want to see drivers fighting it out for a win not for 3 or 4th places. When asked about the highlight of the race Eddie J replied in F1 forum as eating his ice cream and soup .. and that sums it up.

  • Comment number 22.

    It's Vettel, not Vettle, how hard is it to spell his name right?

  • Comment number 23.

    DRS are fake just for the people on the grand stand to see cars overtaking.

  • Comment number 24.

    anyone how the race would turn out if drive made the own decisions without the support or bias from team

  • Comment number 25.

    anyone thought of race without taking to the team over the radio. that is what i would call racing

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't understand why Alonso was punished to be honest, it seems anything but intentional if that's the way FIA thought it was, how Lewis got punished is a completely different story, he didn't even cause the collision yet the penalty has left Lewis worse off since he was the one that lost two positions aswell as valuable points (How valuable they are, we won't know till November). As a McLaren fan though, its great to see Jensen up there on the podium. Won't be his best race by all means but its a good 18 points, no doubt he'll have better performances up his sleeve for the coming races. I was very surprised to see Heidfeld on the podium aswell and really benefited from that great start, and then he fell back a bit, but kept up the pace and thought he had a good weekend, and so did Renault in general. Bit of a familiar feeling seeing Vettel pull away so quickly though, but he can be caught, as both Lewis and Jensen seemed to be gaining on Vettel at different points during the race. This weekend has shown that Red Bull are not going to have it all their own way, as we all thought, you only have to watch the Q3. I don't know how different it would've been had Hamilton been a tenth faster on that last lap in Q3 but we won't know now. The gap is closing on Red Bull. And McLaren are slowly growing. Good luck for China guys. But Kudos to the lads from Milton Keynes (Y).

  • Comment number 27.

    I just wanted to say well done for the improvement in race commentary compared to Oz and congratulate the BBC F1 team on their efforts. I generally enjoyed the commentary in Oz but felt there were moments when DC & Marty were a bit uncomfortable, but Malaysia was a real quality showing from the pair (not forgetting the un-miked members of the team). Excellent work guys, and ignore what the Fleet Street bods say. Marty is already a legend and DC is shaping up very well indeed.

    Well done, and thank you!

  • Comment number 28.

    @Beawulff #15
    I've watched the video a few times over and I'm still not completely sold on it. He definitely moves more than once, I agree with you there, and to the letter of the law it was illegal but I think it's a bit harsh if that's the case. On a subjective note, I personally feel it wasn't excessive or dangerous and didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary. The thing for Hamilton is that he has form for it so it doesn't help his cause.

    I forgot to give a mention to Heidfeld in my last comment, it's great to see him back in the sport and performing well after his problems in Australia. He's certainly justifying Renault's choice for him as Kubica's replacement if he continues like this.

  • Comment number 29.

    What´s the rule on multiple changes in direction at the start, then?

    I can´t believe that there is one. The one time that drivers need their wits and full deck of options open is at the start. It´s surely a free for all? Not to allow a change of direction more than once would inevitably lead to massive accidents.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hamilton was punished for weaving or changing direction more than once. Why Alonso was punished is beyond me. Webber didn't exactly get any penalties for his exploits last season, remember Valencia and RB flying literally? But I am happy it didn't affect Alonso anyway.

    Good to see some pace from Ferrari and hope they continue the good work in China without any rotten pit-stops. Release the car early Ferrari, it will make a world of difference.

  • Comment number 31.

    OK OK OK!!! We some how can forced to understand the explanation of Hamilton's penalty!!! BUT BUT BUT why no Formula One GURUS or so called Pundits!!! have a courage to answer the following Question regarding Vettel moves at the start of the race,

    If Hamilton got penalised for his (still doubtfull) moving more than once then what about Vettel moving more than once against Hamilton at the start of the race which every one can clearly see with a naked eye?

    As I have noticed, everyone is asking this question but not only you but people like Martin and company have no answers? why?

    I admit Vettel is Great Champion but on both last races he breaks the new rules. Every fan of F1 have seen them but Stewards and you Guys just ignore it! why?

    Please answer.

  • Comment number 32.

    DRS has a serious flaw shown is this race and that was when Petrov, Heidfield and Massa were in line coming up to the DRS activation line, Petrov was ahead of both Heidfeld and Massa as he crossed the activation line; Heidfield then passed Petrov going around turn 15, then on the pit straight Petrov doesn't have DRS but Massa who was following Heidfield then Petrov would have DRS enabled, but Petrov now following Heidfield surely would not have DRS enabled due to the order crossing the activation line. Massa was able to overtake Petrov using the DRS. Is Petrov just unlucky in that situation or do the regulations need to be altered futher?

    Andrew as to the Hamilton and Alonso penalties, you say that Hamilton's so called double movement occurred two minutes before Alonso's crash, does that mean that Hamilton was already under investigation, nothing was shown on the television feed to bbc viewers to suggest that he was. So if Alonso didn't have his crash with Hamilton would that mean Hamilton would not have been penalised as the previous double movements were not under investigation.

    Something else that was not picked in the commentary was why was Bueimi given a 10 second stop and go penalty for speeding in the pit lane (according the FIA notice that appeared on the television feed), seemed a bit like overkill when the penalty is usually just a drive-through.

  • Comment number 33.

    The penalties are both fair. Hamilton definitely moved several times, albeit not dramatically. However if you're the following car and your chasing at 150 odd mph any move by the guy in front, no matter how subtle, must really knock your confidence in trying to pass - hence the rule.

    Alonso's was an equally fair penalty, he caused the accident therefor he gets a penalty.

    With regards the start I think common sense has to be applied. Vettel moves on Hamilton, but then Hamilton also moves obstructing Button, who also moves......and so on.

  • Comment number 34.

    @32 Regarding the Buemi incident, perhaps he significantly overshot the speed limit. I believe the actual figures can be found on the FIA website, as well as the Hamilton/Alonso documents.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hamilton getting a 20 second penalty rather adds insult to injury, particularly as the offence was marginal compared to Alonso's infringement.
    I'm far from convinced Lewis's title charge is going to be hampered by tyre wear issues as this concern has been highlighted last season and failed to materialise.
    We all know Andrew Benson is a Button fan but this assertion is pure fantasy as Lewis is Mclaren's star and the team should be cautious about losing him to Red Bull.
    I felt the commentary was a little dull today. Their commentary reminds me of two ex-drivers sitting in a pub rambling on about when they were F1 drivers.

  • Comment number 36.

    After reading about Alonso's problem with his moveable rear wing, I have a general question about DRS:
    Is the driver always instantaneously aware of how well the moveable rear wing is functioning? If not, could a malfunctioning wing result in a driver getting less downforce than expected at a corner, with potentially nasty results?

  • Comment number 37.

  • Comment number 38.

    I was surprised at the penalty given to Hamilton and Alonso. I agree with Martin Brundle that Hamilton did nothing wrong and Alonso's broken wing was sufficient penalty for his misjudgement. It was an exciting bit of racing, the sort of thing the organisers are supposed to be in favour of.

    I saw Vettel's many moves to defend position and it is somewhat surprising that the stewards didn't pick up on this but were quick to take action against Hamilton who dared to race. It doesn't do much for the FIA's reputation as "Ferrari International Assistance" does it?

    Hopefully we'll see good analysis of both incidents next week. Among all the spin and hype I am so glad we have Martin Brundle who is never afraid to speak the truth or be influenced by the teams' bullying PR people.

  • Comment number 39.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ Leeroy Jenkins, as per your own words, so, at the start everybody moves more than once to save their position against the driver behind them??? does these move break the law? or Just hamilton move on Alonso only breaks the law? And everybody can clearly see what Vettel did against Hamilto but Hamilton move on Alonso is still doubtfull as recongnised by most of the bloggers here.

  • Comment number 41.

    So Alonso was punished for causing a collision, but why after the race not during the race like they did with Rubens in Australia, then his punished would have been more meaningful so to say, he's probably laughing about it because the punishment has not hurt him, right???

  • Comment number 42.

    You have to remember that most in the F1 bbc team are anti Lewis,yeah i know it's extreme but it's blatantly obvious.

    Look at Australia when Lewis was checking his car and David i am red bull Coulthard when into a mini rant because who though Lewis was going to touch the bottom of his car.

    As for Mr Benson he might as well have a "I love Button" badge pinned on his shirt. Mr Benson is wishful and hoping Lewis suffers with tyres but it's not the case at all.

    Again Mr Benson will eat his word just like the rest of the "i love Button and redbull team" bbc f1 crew.

    If i was Lewis i wouldn't even give them the time of day.

  • Comment number 43.

    You have to remember that most in the F1 bbc team are anti Lewis,yeah i know it's extreme but it's blatantly obvious.

    Look at Australia when Lewis was checking his car and David "i am red bull" Coulthard went into a mini rant because he though Lewis was going to touch the bottom of his car.

    As for Mr Benson he might as well have a "I love Button" badge pinned on his shirt. Mr Benson is wishful and hoping Lewis suffers with tyres but it's not the case at all.

    Again Mr Benson will eat his word just like the rest of the "i love Button and redbull team" bbc f1 crew.

    If i was Lewis i wouldn't even give them the time of day.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    on the subject of bias that consistently comes across in reporting we also have M. Schumacher.

    Any time Rosberg is ahead it warrants a mention, however all and I do mean ALL, the times Schumacher finishes practices or anything else ahead it conveniently doesn't warrant a mention. So today Schumacher beats Rosberg in the race after starting behind him, which also makes him the first scorer for Mercedes, yes not an impressive position. But everyone on the finishing slots before and after him gets mentioned and covered, think of the points round up and end of the race, yet in both passes over points and positions, Mercedes/Schu were skipped.

    Can guarantee if it was Rosberg, it would have been a 3 minute discussion point on why Schumacher should quit.

  • Comment number 46.

    As I posted earlier its seems common sense that the DRS ruling is not enforced at the start of the Race as DRS usage is only allowed after 2 laps,watching the start again, Hamilton,Button, Alonso,Massa,Webber,Heidfeld,Petrov, plus some back markers all changed direction more than once in front of someone so are they not all guilty of rule breaking.. or maybe sour grapes from Hamilton fans!

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm afraid Red Bull are not beatable, certainly not Vettel. The closer other teams get the more they move away, and we have to remember that Vettel and Webber were carrying around 20 or 30 kilos of handicapping for most of the race. Vettel still set the fastest lap of the race when Hamilton looked like he was getting closer.

  • Comment number 48.

    3 overly harsh penalties today (Alonso, Buemi, Hamilton), but at least there are some signs of someone being able to stop the SebVet steamroller before too long.

    Re 22 above, good point. It's also HeidFELD and not HeidFIELD - how hard is it to pronounce his name right (DC)?

  • Comment number 49.

    I think certainly Hamilton was dealt a raw deal by the stewards, and I wonder how much of that was Alonso's doing as Hamilton went into the Stewards after Alonso. Again the stewards come into disrepute for inconsistency. - Remember Vettel overtaking Button in Australia and all four wheels over the edge demarcation line!

    Hamilton did have a peculiar race and I wonder what information we are lacking that would give a credible answer to Hamilton's performance decay.

    I'm seriously worried about the future of F1 as the races are now about tyre conservation not racing. I would of thought the flaw in this is painstaking obvious because anyone that is behind has to push harder to catch up and so will wear their tyres out faster than someone that starts at the front. In other words true racing is effectively stymied by high tyre degradation. The margins for tyre wear are cut far too fine for effective racing.

  • Comment number 50.

    The changing of direction more than once to block the following car rule applies anywhere on the track not just within the DRS activation zone, surely that must apply at the start of the race as well right???

  • Comment number 51.

    44. At 19:57pm 10th Apr 2011, Lyla wrote:
    @ 42, yep that is the impression the BBC constantly give. Does always make me wonder if Hamilton was a white British driver whether they wouldn't be so anti.

    Oh come off it, how does speculating that Hamilton's tyre wear might be higher than Button's have anything to do with race? That's a libellous allegation to make and totally unfounded. Have you ever considered that the BBC probably favour Button more because he's always willing to talk to them and always has time for an interview, while Hamilton only does this once in a blue moon. Do Hamilton fans watch the coverage and write down every negative comment made against him and assume that it must have some sort of ulterior motive? It's absolutely pathetic. And do Hamilton fans just conveniently not hear pro-Hamilton comments in the same way as Arsene Wenger 'doesn't see' contentious decisions? Brundle lavished praise on Hamilton after qualifying, or is that not good enough? It's just a load of pathetic fans getting withdrawal symptoms from the fact that the BBC don't embarrassingly brown nose Hamilton like ITV used to.

  • Comment number 52.

    Both these penalties are unneeded in our sport. An unwavering interpretation of the strict letter of the law, can justify both penalties, but, wasn’t this one of the most exiting periods of the whole Grand Prix. Should the FIA not be encouraging this type of racing? If a racer attempts an overtake, makes a slight miscalculation and causes a minor collision, is this not the very definition of a racing incident? I for one would rather see this, than the DRS manufactured overtakes that are all identical in their manner, and encourage the drivers to attempt to overtake at only one place on the circuit. The original idea for DRS was a good one, if a driver was within a second of his rival he could use it to attempt an overtake. You could be sure that his rival would then use it straight away to fight back, as he would now be within a second of the driver who has just overtaken him. Why they have to overcomplicate it I’ll never know.

    As for Hamilton, yes he was a little aggressive and weaved just a little, but I believe what he done was firm but fair. I suppose his previous at this very same track must have been a factor in his penalty. His driving style may well not suit the new tyres, we all know how he likes to hustle a car. This can work to his advantage on some tracks but may lead to an extra stop on the new Pirelli’s.

    As a Ferrari fan I take heart that we have some good race pace, but remain baffled at a) our poor quail performance and b) our poor starts. Let’s hope that by the time we get to Europe, both Ferrari and McLaren can take the fight straight to Red Bull.

    To the FIA, we don’t need a post mortem every time we have a bit of on track action. Penalties like these make no sense if you are truly trying to encourage an exciting spectacle for the fans. If you are however going to forensically analyse every single manoeuvre, why not take a look at F1’s new wonder kid, who if you apply the same strict letter of the law, may have been penalized at both races so far.

  • Comment number 53.

    I have to agree with the 1st comment, why oh why wasn't Vettel punished for double weaving when heading into the 1st corner at the start? When I was watching it live, I immediately thought it looked dubious?

  • Comment number 54.

    Absolutely ridiculous decision. For me, Hamilton moved off the racing line to defend his position, then at the end of the straight he moved back onto the racing line to take the corner as he normally would. He was ahead of Alonso at that point so therefore he was perfectly entitled to move back to the racing line.

    Maybe it's a flaw in the rule but surely the car in front can't be expected to take a corner coming off the dirty part of the track just because he has defended his position earlier in the race!?

    And when are you deemed to have made your move? Drivers will be scared to turn the wheel soon. Maybe the next race should just be in a straight line with drivers in separate lanes, just in case two drivers actually dare to race each other! I suggest the m1 from London to Leeds.

    And why was Alonso penalised? He came off worse from that collision. Why did the stewards no investigate Barichello in Australia? Presumeably, if Alonso had not have been dragged infront of the stewards they wouldn't have even thought about looking at Hamilton.

    This has made me angry.

    Now...I'm off to apply for a job as an FIA steward. I have almost perfect eyesight, an ounce of common sense and a history of being consistent. I'm not hopeful.

  • Comment number 55.

    re Kubica_for_Prancing_horse:

    Yes, I also think, given the circumstances, the penalty for Hamilton seems harsh. Maybe they both just needed a slap of the wrists afterwards and told to kiss and make up.

    Heidfeld has proven his own worth, as well as the worth of the car. And while Petrov was spectacular, in the wrong way, one question you and I, among many many others, will be asking again and again is... WHY ROBERT!!!!! WHY!!!! Guess he's kicking himself too, but such a shame for everyone... apart from Heidfeld, and I hope he has a really great season and an enjoyable time. Superb drive.

  • Comment number 56.

    @51 okay shall cover some points you raise.

    1) not libellous, it was a "i wonder" not a direct accusation, the reason for it plentiful and fact driven. I have in my 3+ decades of watching F1, never seen a British or Irish driver getting so much negativity from the British media, especially considering Hamilton has actually performed higher on so many measures compared to most British drivers, compared to teammates, initial seasons, practice/quali/race combined. I can't think of many reasons beyond the one I mentioned for this consistent difference in attitude from most of the British media towards Hamilton compared to the rest of the British drivers. If you can justify it all, go for it.

    Now I said this towards the BBC as a whole, not Martin Brundle, he is about the only presenter/reporter in the BBC camp who seems to not let any preferences interfere with his reporting, on virtually all incidents, dramas, he takes a very balanced evidence based view on the events and will even adapt his point of view as new evidence arrives which most don't. As you say he puts praise where it is due, do the rest /wink. As for tyre wear, we had more races last year where it actually showed Hamilton out of the 2 drivers in the same car to be kinder to them, than the opposite, yet it is BBC's mantra that Button is so so so much better..., I prefer evidence driven reporting not "fables and legends". All the drivers appreciate the difference in the tyres and know how to be kinder on tyres and how not to be, to have this silly black and white view that X is hard on tyres and Y is not is short sighted and silly, especially when there has been lots of occasions where Y's tyres gave out first. All the drivers are capable of ragging the car, and they are all capable of driving it smoothly, depending on what is needed. They all show a bit of both as appropriate. Yet the presentation of this is so set in stone, and not actually justified. And in the above blog just used as an excuse to not really find out what went wrong, if it was high tyre wear why was pace dramatically off right from the first lap, with no cars ahead. Now you may say, hard tyres are slower than the softs, but compare the pace of all the cars when they went onto hard, it was not a dramatic step back in performance, especially when comparing team mates in same equipment. Something went wrong on the car level, either with the tyres or mechanical. Yet media blame the driver.....really logical and interesting....not.

  • Comment number 57.

    Some members of the BBC F1 team are anti-Hamilton, no question.
    I thought DC sounded rather excited when he realised Lewis was falling back on his penultimate set of tyres.
    I'm not sure if it's an issue with Lewis's race or not but it's definately an issue of some kind.
    I also felt Brundle and Coulthard were very hard on Petrov at the end.
    It was by no means clear from the onboard camera that Petrov would have his car launched off the outside of the track when he rejoined.
    Brundle does have a very condescending tone with respect to the less successful drivers even though his F1 career was mired in mediocrity.
    I always get a sense he is carrying a chip on his shoulder.

  • Comment number 58.

    @56 Spot on! At the blogger....... I dare you to give us an equally reasoned answer??

  • Comment number 59.

    I am not sure which direction the FIA are going... In fact they probably don't know themselves. They claim to be trying to make the sport more 'entertaining' for the spectators? Perhaps the word "racing" has escaped their attention. Today the most entertaining part of the Malaysian GP was the tussle between Alonso and Hamilton, to me this was a great bit of racing, Alonso made and error and he paid for it, he had to pit and as a result lost time and position. Hamiltons manoevers were subtle (I had to watch this about three times) and did not directly effect Alsonso capability to overtake if he had been positioned to do so. So what was the point of the penalties other than to spoil a good race for participants and spectators. I like the comment by one of the posters earlier on.... do away with the rear view mirrors! And get the radios out of the cars... if the FIA want to imporve the sport then please lets race, lets put the driver back in the driving seat... next they will be suggesting that the circuit is sprayed with water!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Anyone know why Newey was so emotional after the race ?? He was sat on the pit wall taking his pat on the back from Horner whilst wiping tears away.
    I've noticed a few times, after races, that he seems to be crying or getting emotional.
    It's just another race ..... isn't it ?

    BTW i think Red Bull were checking/comparing their pace without kers. I don't believe there was a problem. Or maybe the research and developement of their kers is going to be going on during race. It all points out, to me, that Red Bull have a whole bag of time in their pockets. Every improvement by another manufacturer will be met by...phase 4 settings.....or code B. You all following me ?

    Red Bull are doing just enough to get the job done. They have plenty spare if they need it.
    You can get as excited as you like about how close the other cars were. I bet they don't get much closer. Red Bull are a slightly smug lot. They are clearly in the box seat for the whole season.

  • Comment number 61.

    An intriguing race today. I have to say Vettel was slighty lucky that bad fortune befell McLaren once again. The first nail in the coffin was Heidfeld's lightening start, which allowed the Red Bull man to escape. It was a downward spiral for the Woking lads from there.

    Ferrari seemed to up the ante in the race. As clumsy as Alonso's incident with Hamilton was, I don't think it warranted a penalty. The stewards were harsh today.

    I fully believe that McLaren can challenge Red Bull. They have the pace. They just need a solid race, with no upset.

    I am certain that Red Bull and McLaren will fill the front four slots of the grid in Shanghai, with Renault and Ferrari just behind, ready to catch the front four if they fall...

  • Comment number 62.

    Andrew, I too can't help but agree with other readers. Vettel Moved towards and away from the racing line on many occasions off the grid. And as many other people have contributed, Massa made similar (if not more aggressive) blocking moves in Melbourne. However inconsistency isn't the issue. Breaking a tow or forcing the following driver to try and maintain a slipstream shouldn't be banned. The one move rule was intended to stop people moving in or approaching breaking zones. This was yet another brilliant, entertaining exchange which has been ruined by steward intervention. How are we supposed to believe these people are acting impartially when time and time again these decisions go one way and always bring controversy?

  • Comment number 63.

    Never like the Stewards altering the race results hours after the race has finished, I personally only believe this should be done if there is a major breach of rules, like doctored fuel, rule breaking components. If it is being done on a race incident, I believe it should only be done if it occurs on the final laps, or at least has been properly notified that incident between X and Y on Z lap is under investigation, so the viewer can expect a change. I really think it is bad for the sport for the majority of the viewers to find out days later or at next race the results they were shown as final have infact changed especially over minor racing incidents that are either common place like Hamilton's, or just a racing incident that did infact punish the person who caused it like Alonso's. No one likes that.

    I also believe that if there is a clear breach of rules, it should be clear enough that it can be dealt with fast, within minutes, allowing the more preferable in race punishments, drive throughs etc. If an incident requires hours of umming and ahing over fractional bits of evidence, then perhaps it isn't a clear enough breach of the rules to warrant posthumously altering the race results, which in my view should only be done on a major purposeful breach of the rules, not minor racing incidents, or common place minor movements off and back on the racing lines especially when not actually moving into the other drivers space. Notice in Alonso's post race interview he didn't mention the evil weaving Hamilton. Not sure he even thought there was a case of broken rules and he was in the best place to know it. Hamilton's movements were very comparable to Massa's strong defending against Button at Australia. So there is an inconsistency and these over the top stewards do the sport a lot of harm.

  • Comment number 64.

    Just watched the race again, and there are several incidents that are similar to the Hamilton weaving incident, one of which that stands out because it occurs only a few laps before/after (can't remember which) which involves Massa and Petrov on the pit straight. Petrov clearly moves twice whilst defending his line, but is eventually passed under braking for turn 1. So surely eventhough Petrov crashed out should receive either a reprimand/fine/grid penalty for China. As of yet nothing has been heard of it, seems like the stewards have double standards for example Buemi overtaking in Australia whilst outside the white (yellow) lines that dictate the race track. The stewards need to be more consistent with handing out of these punishments not just highlighting one and not doing the rest who commit the same or similar type of infringement.

  • Comment number 65.

    forgt about the column, the way bbc pundittalk about vettal, it seems that his way better than senna lol, first of all lets just say this, red bull's car for the last three's have been the fastest car in f1, so it is not surprising them wining every game, lets start by saying his not even the best right now.

    alonso is the most complete driver voted by fellow drivers, and then there's lewis kubica and buttn along with vettal, lets say if lewis or alonso was in red bulls car it would be a different story, lewis would be unbeatble with button and alonso vettal just made to look in a good car just like pique in barcelona

  • Comment number 66.

    Great race and great promise of more to come.

    One gripe - and it's a biggie:

    The lap counter has to be relocated. It prevents us, the paying public, from seeing the action ahead of the car we are "on-board" with. Even without the countdown banner towards the end of the race it obscures too much of our view. It should be moved elsewhere. Forthwith.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 67.

    F1 is far too predictable. Hamilton needs to move on if he wants to add to his titles.

    Motihur Rahman

  • Comment number 68.

    @56 Lyla

    Tyres; 2010 Bridgestone - durable.
    2011 Pirelli - not so durable.
    No comparison can be made from last year to this year. Two totally different manufacturers of tyres. Plus the cars are using different methods of downforce. Double diffuser gone, blown exhaust system now used. And many more small differences added and taken away to change the way the cars perform.

    As to whether Lewis is or is not harder on his tyres? only time will tell.

    As far as the season has gone so far? well the two races were polar opposites to each other. Bahrain roastingly hot, where as the Australian GP was cold to say the least. Only the rest of the season will tell us who is kind to their tyres, and who is not.

    Let's not be like politician's here, and have a knee jerk reaction to the first two races of the year. For all we know, Renault win the manufacturers championship (pig's might fly).

    I do agree that SV has got this in the bag. And that the other teams had better pull their fingers out.

  • Comment number 69.

    @Andrew Benson, How pitty it is! here we all have placed our well thought point of view and particulary almost all of us have been putting the same Question till the time you have written this gracious column.

    Question, If Hamilton have been penalised for the reason you have mentioned then Why Not Vettel? and as well few other drivers? as well noticed and mentioned by other bloggers here Like for example Petrov on Massa?

    Its really a pitty that You have just ignored us. It not an enterprising act from your side. I have even put this question to the so called F1 Analyst Known as Martin Brundle and BBC F1 reporter Lee McKenzie but its look like either you people have no customs to reply or have no clue what we all here are talking about? Really disapointed act from BBC F1 Pundits.

  • Comment number 70.

    @68 I disagree. People are writing the season off way too early and there's a long way to go yet. Mclaren are very nearly there and will be in the very near future especially if Red Bull don't sort out their kers real soon. As for Mercedes I don't know what their definition of progress is but they'd better get their act together.

  • Comment number 71.

    so ounce again the F.I.A. stewards have blamed lewis Hamilton for Alonso's bad driving or a deliberat attempt to punture Hamilton's off rear tyre in a very poor attempt at overtaking. There was no way that move was ever going to work at that time, it was a move made out of pure frustration for which Hamilton paid a price but Alonso got away with by leaving Hamilton with a damaged car that couldn't be repaired by a quick stop in the pits. So ounce more do we see the biased face of formula 1

  • Comment number 72.

    Here's my unapologetically crude 2 pence worth, not that anybody wants to here it.... and no i didn't bother to read the article, i just came on for a rant.

    I want the count down timer for each race back on the website plse.

    to martin Brundle, good job mate your a legend, love your balanced views and post race analysis.

    Hope to see more of Murray Walker soon :)

    Eddie, plse try to keep your mouth from running to wild this season, take it easy with the Schumacher bashing your biased is disturbingly transparent. But otherwise you are good for the entertainment value. (thumbs up)

    Dave coulthard ....... errrm your a bit to self assured, it grates me.

    DRS = it sucks

    DRS + Kers just over complicates things and just means their is more things that can go wrong as we have seen happen already. I think MSC had a DRS issue that ruined his quali.

    I like the idea of bringing back ground effect and decreasing the size of the wings thus leveling off the down force but decreasing the wake. That is the effect it would have is it not?

    however i am enjoying this season none the less :)

  • Comment number 73.

    For all the action in the midfield, I still didn't consider this a particularly good race. One driver leading from start to finish is impressive, but does not make for great watching.

    As has been said, the penalties to Hamilton and Alonso were unwarranted. I'll admit I'm a Lewis-fan, but I felt there was minimal movement, and the final movement across the track was to take the racing line into the corner. Alonso's clip was a racing incident, and had barely any consequences except for Alonso himself. I agree that if Hamilton was penalised, then Vettel should have been as well at the start. Making multiple movements across the track is perfectly fine, in my eyes, if you are overtaking, but Vettel did exactly the same as Hamilton while defending.

    Hamilton's pace was strange. Very fast, perhaps even moreso than Vettel, once Heidfeld was out of the way, but the second he got on to the hard tyres, it just fell off a cliff, which isn't indicative of gradual tyre wear, but some underlying problem. I think tyre wear was also a factor, but the pretty much instant loss of pace was due to something else.

    Did anyone else think Vettel's message about the KERs was a bit strange? The first message seemed legitimate, but the second confirming it suggested to me that Vettel actually did have KERs, and that they were bluffing, especially given his subsequent pace. Then again, I'm probably reading too much into it.

  • Comment number 74.

    44. At 19:57pm 10th Apr 2011, Lyla wrote:

    @ 42, yep that is the impression the BBC constantly give. Does always make me wonder if Hamilton was a white British driver whether they wouldn't be so anti.

    The tyre thing is nonsense, just watching both Jenson and Hamilton on the qualifying(split screen), the movements are virtually identical when the car is identical, and also whose qualifying lap actually did get ruined by wear to tyres...Button's.

    Hamiltons pace was better than Buttons until he changed to the first set of hards, at that point it was a sharp change in relative performance, the car just wasn't working, possibly because the set was used, waiting for confirmation on that, or an anti-roll bar or similar failed. Don't try and sell it as Hamilton can't use or understand the harder compound, as he seems to everywhere else this season so far. And don't try and sell it as he wore them out through ludicrous driving as they were bad on lap 1 of their usage. More likely a bad layer in the tyre from manufacturing, or previously used tyres.

    But for the most part there really isn't much the drivers can do relatively to preserve tyres, if you do a 1min40 with minimum tyre spin/lockups, smooth steering, the same energies are going through car and tyres. As for spinning up the wheels and lock ups, that relates more to the current performance of the car and tyres than the individual drivers."


    What a load of rubbish.

    An Anti roll bar failed! roflmao.

    They were a used set of tyres that Hamilton had put on. A set that he had battered to death in a previous session.

    There's your answer as to why Hamilton didn't do so well on the hard compound.

    We've seen him time and time again locking wheels, whereas Button does not. As I recall he went so far on a set of tires in China one year he failed to finish the race because he couldn't steer the car into the pits when making a late stop. Never seen Button or anyone else do that.

    It is well known that Hamilton is hard on tyres.

    As for the criticism of Hamilton in the press and your perceived "anti-Hamilton" stance of the BBC - perhaps if he had more time for people, like doing interviews, instead of only doing them when it suits his PR team, then perhaps he wouldn't get such a bad press.

    Couple that with his sudden move to Switzerland as soon as he made a few million to avoid the UK Taxman and I can seriously understand why the press give him such a hard time.

    I'm assuming you're a Hamilton fan but I say this as not a fan of Hamilton or any other driver in particular - get over it. People don't like Hamilton for the reasons I've expressed above, it has nothing to do with his colour and making excuses for him like "an anti-roll bar or similar failed" is just lame.

    Anyhoo I'm more concerned with the bias towards Vettel the BBC are showing, he was blatantly weaving at the start, didn't get penalised for it and yet the BBC (including Andrew Benson) seem to just conveniently overlook evidence that is staring them right in the face, just like Charlie Whiting and co. have.

  • Comment number 75.

    Quite nasty that Ferrari legal team went straight for penalising Hamilton to help defend Alonso, as the legal team clearly suspected Alonso might get a 20 second penalty, so by ensuring Hamilton received the same they ensured Alonso did not lose a place. GG. Shame politics and over zealous stewards dominate this sport.

  • Comment number 76.

    "75. At 02:36am 11th Apr 2011, Lyla wrote:

    Quite nasty that Ferrari legal team went straight for penalising Hamilton to help defend Alonso, as the legal team clearly suspected Alonso might get a 20 second penalty, so by ensuring Hamilton received the same they ensured Alonso did not lose a place. GG. Shame politics and over zealous stewards dominate this sport."

    Interesting comment there. Do you have any proof of what you claim?

    Not that I disbelieve it, I wouldn't put it past Ferrari.

  • Comment number 77.

    Oh by the way Lyla - Alonso wouldn't have lost a place even if Hamilton had not been penalised, Hamilton dropped from 7th to 8th, Alonso finished 6th.

    So, er, as I said - do you have any proof of the Ferrari legal team being involved in the way you claim?

  • Comment number 78.

    oh dear maths is not your strong point here we go, if Alonso got a 20 second penalty and Hamilton did not, here are there finishing times

    L Hamilton 1:38:29.807 (without penalty)
    F Alonso 1:38:37.080 (with 20 second penalty)

    now in most people's book, that would mean Hamilton would move up to 6th and Alonso down to 7th.

    Now combine that fact with what M. Brundle tweeted about the reason Hamilton didn't show up as being investigated until post race.

    "Ferrari + Alonso raised the Hamilton blocking issue and subsequent penalty post race which is why we didn't hear about it before the flag."

    Which lets face it pretty much tells us this wouldn't have received a penalty at all, had Ferrari not pursued it, now combine it with the fact they knew there was a chance as they were under investigation they would get a post race drive through, and also with most drivers defending their positions they all pretty much make minor movements down the straight, it is not too hard to prove that someone else is due a penalty. Notice they didn't pursue the other 20 examples that can be found in every race, they aren't doing this out of a pursuit of justice like world F1 police, they are doing this with a motive, now considering the only motive to them is to ensure Alonso doesn't lose any points, which they succeeded in, why else would they do it.

  • Comment number 79.

    Usual nonsense from the BBC's impartial 'expert'. Getting very boring now about how Lewis is a tyre wrecker especially when Brundle made a point of how much he has adapted his style to be smooth and preserve the tyres when he needs to.

    The race itself was very intriguing, don't agree with either of the penalties which seem very selectively applied, but nice to know Alonso/Ferrari are still sore losers running to the FIA to complain about Hamilton when it was they who made a schoolboy error on the track (again). Hope they don't win the championship as they are not worthy as they lack moral fibre.

  • Comment number 80.

    I don't blame Robert for racing off-season, it's how he stays sharp and it's worked for him for years. It was unfortunate accident and I still hope along with you and all F1 fans that it won't have been a career ending one. We'll have been robbed of a great driver if it turns out that way.

    I think to the letter of law it was right and I agree that maybe a bit of context was needed with the punishment for them both. A reprimand was all it needed and nothing more. It's a shame it's now distracting from what was an entertaining race and seems to have become a slanging match between Ferrari and McLaren fans once again.

  • Comment number 81.

    Stewards anti-Hamilton? Maybe. Anti-Alonso? Freaking obvious. Discuss the weaving as much as you like, but penalizing Alonso in this case is freaking insane! I mean, this guy can hardly move on the track without the stewards stepping on his head. There was nothing intentional or outside the boundaries of pure racing. He got just a bit too close and pay the price. If Hamilton had been affected by the move, maybe the stewards could have stepped in. Were they just trying to make things "balance" and keep you all happy? It's nuts.

  • Comment number 82.

    Boring! Vettel did a 2 move 'defending' move on the first lap. Thought this was not allowed? Will someone at the BBC turn the F1 programme back to what it should be, and not the Red Bull Roadshow. Every week it's the same old thing. We have now lost interest, and will probably not bother to watch any more races. MotoGP is far more exciting!

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    Is anyone else concerned that this season is going to turn into an excercise in tyre preservasion?

    I for one would rather see the fastest man win as we have over the past few seasons. I understand the experiment with DRS but this tyre degredation is going to make the races confusing and I fear often resulting in the fastest driver coming well down the field!

  • Comment number 85.

    Adding to some comments made by other posters I felt that Alsonso and Hamilton were harshly treated by the stewards, Alonso hitting Hamiltons tyre was for me a racing accident, and Hamilton I struggle to see what he did wrong.

    Massive kudos to Button for managing his tyres for 19 laps, I believe his smooth driving style will ensure that he will be a title threat throughout the season.

    Vettel is still the benchmark, 5 wins in 6 races, truly amazing. Weber also managed to drag himself back into the race after a disater of a start to his race.

    Heidfeld showed that given the right car he can turn back the clock to be a true championship contender.

    It seems that everything is pointing to a classic F1 season!.

    On a final note: Why do so many Hamilton fans behave like school children?, just because Hamilton suffered some bad luck in a race does not proove that their is a conspiracy against him. It is frustrating to read the F1 HYS to see so many infantile comments, Lewis is an elite driver, who happens to be driving a championship winning vehicle for a team which is set up to give him the best possible chance of winning. For the posters who claim otherwise and see a conspiracy in any setback for Lewis, I ask that you stop your negative posts and reflect on the fact that with so many points still left to win Lewis is less than one win away from leading the championship.

  • Comment number 86.

    All though under the FIA rules you can see why both drivers where penalised. The FIA miss the point the fans want to see close racing not just overtaking. That's what made the sport great over the years. The fact that 2 drivers can challenge each other in the race and not just breeze past the car in front.

    If the FIA just want to have overtaking why do they not change the DRS rule to...When DRS is in place the driver in front is waved a Blue Flag to let the other car past. Then you can have the overtake and the sport would become even more of a joke.

    The best part of the race was those 3 laps, 2 great drivers trying there hardest to be in front of the other. That is what F1 is all about.

    Neither should have had a penalty in my opinion.

  • Comment number 87.

    Even as somebody who thoroughly dislikes Hamilton, I have to say his penalty is ridiculous. It was clearly Alonso's fault!

    KERS, DRS and these new tyres though - its all just too much to bring in for one season. When you've got the fans completely confused, it has the opposite effect to that they were looking for. KERS in particular is one of the worst introductions to Formula 1 since I've been a fan.

    DRS on the other hand, I'm willing to give a chance - the dirty air/insanely difficult to overtake problem had to be addressed if you ask me, as it was getting ridiculously impossible for cars to overtake - lets give this one more time.

  • Comment number 88.

    I looked at the race a few times . could not see any moveing around or blocking when hamilton and alonso were fighting for a place in the race .I thought the accident beteen hamilton and alonso was just that an accident .funny how alonso's penalty did not cost him anything and hamiltons did .is this a racial thing. the only blocking i witnessed in the race was vettel moveing 4 times in front of hamilton nothing said about that.

  • Comment number 89.

    Hi all,
    Thanks for all your responses. I am on leave for the next few days but we will look to address the queries we can in the course of the BBC coverage of the Chinese Grand Prix. We look forward to you joining us on this website and the tv and radio then. Remember there will be plenty of F1 material on the BBC Sport website between now and then.

  • Comment number 90.

    As a Ferrari supporter (always have been and always will be) I too think that Alsonso and Hamilton were harshly treated by the stewards. But this is not the point I want to make. If you add all lap times (exclude for this purpose the lap times when coming into pits to change tyres - Ferrari messed up yesterday) you will see that Ferrari has the better mean. To me one thing is clear: Ferrari treats the tyres better than the rest (this statistic was also observed in Melbourne). So, when the car carries a full load, Ferrari not only is competitive, but probably is the best. The problem is that they do not have (yet) qualifying pace. I understand that they may have now identified the reason behind this and things should already improve in China. I still feel that Ferrari will be much stronger and that Red Bull may not win the title this year. Other thing I wanted to mention is that should Alonso's DRS had worked, the incident with Lewis would not have happened and Alonso would have finished second.

  • Comment number 91.

    Andrew, I hope you read this because it really annoyed me how something quite so simple, in the form of an explanation for what happened to Hamilton, was not mentioned in any detail by the BBC.

    Saying "Hamilton is struggling to look after his tyres", is completely wrong. If you look at his first two stints on soft tyres, he looked after them just as well as any of the other front runners and when he pitted, he was the fastest car, but his team were clearly going for the undercut. I was most suprised when they switched him onto hard tyres, when it was obvious that his rivals would come out on a third set of softs. I didn't realise but it has since come out that he didn't have a 3rd set of usable soft tyres as they were damaged from qualifying. Either way, on his first stint on hard tyres, his pace was reasonable compared to Button and Vettel, seeming as the hards are much slower than the softs that the other 2 were on. The big mistake in my mind was putting him onto the final set of hard tyres after he'd only done a minimal amount of laps on the first set of hards. This meant he was left to do 20 or 21 laps on a used set of hard tyres, that clearly were not working for him as soon as he came out on them. Even after a lap or two, Jenson was miles ahead and everyone else behind was catching up.

    I still think he must have had some sort of issue or that set of hard tyres must have been worn fairly badly before he even put them on. Either way, losing rear downforce from the collision with Alonso, would further punish his tyre wear. All in all, it was not suprising his tyres ran out, and as Hamilton said, he pitted too early for every tyre change, especially the final one. It made no sense!

  • Comment number 92.

    If Martin Brundle's tweet is true, that it was Ferrari and Alonso who raised the blocking issue to get Hamilton a penalty, this is a sad state of affairs. It smacks of the big company putting pressure on race officials to make up for their own shortfalls.

    What has happened to common sense and the judging things in the 'spirit of the rules'? This also applies to Alonso's penalty for causing a collision: as there was no signficant effect on Hamilton and Alonso had to pit, there was no need to add a further penalty.

    If F1 continues on this route, we may as well be watching Scalextric.

  • Comment number 93.

    20 seconds for Alonso slamming into Hamilton, 20 seconds for Hamilton weaving to defend his position(slightly if at all), nothing for Vettel vigorously weaving more than 3 times to defend his position from Hamilton, WHAT A JOKE!!! The FIA is now back to popularity contests and nil consistency. FAIL.

  • Comment number 94.

    Here we go again, i have just watched the rerun of the incident between Hamilton and Alonso,and the only fault i can see is that Alonso was not looking where he was going, Hamilton made NO! move to block Alonso and should not have been penalized, it was all Alonso's fault, come on stewards have another look and put it right!!!.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think it was a bit unfair to penalise Hamilton the same (in time terms) as Alonso. Alonso could have caused an huge accident, whilst Hamilton blocked once too often.

    My main gripe however is with the commentary from the BBC. David Coulthard made a big issue when people pronounced his name "Coult-hard", insisting that it should be pronounced "Coul-thard". So why can't his give the same respect to Nick Heidfeld?

    DC, it's "Hide-Feld", not "Hide-Field". It's not as if he's new - he started in F1 in 2000 at Prost you've raced against him, surely by now you know his name? ;-)

    Otherwise - great commentry and excellent insights.

  • Comment number 96.

    Comment No 1 wrote; Nothing like a fair FIA post race decision. This was nothing like a fair race descision. Surely a penalty means a detriment. Where is the detriment for Alonso. If Alonso and Hamilton were in breach of the rules the penalty should have been calculated so that it resulted in loss for both drivers. This was either incompetence or this was calculated to benefit Ferrari. Been here before! It was a good race and I agree with the other comments in relation to Vettel and consistency. Where is his penalty?

  • Comment number 97.

    the penalty Lewis got was for changing the line more then once with 2 minutes before the contact with Alonso. Very harsh decission and they should just let them race.
    They should penalise drivers for changing DRAMATICALLY the line and when this is done SEVERAL times.

    My 2 cents..

  • Comment number 98.

    I'm glad that people are commenting on Vettel's first corner weaving. I was fuming watching the start when he did that as it complete comprimised Hamilton race, but the commentators never picked up on it.

  • Comment number 99.

    I don't think Hamilton's penalty had anything to do with Alonso hitting him when trying to overtake. More the interpreted weaving on the straight.

    Both penalties were unjustified. I didn't see anything wrong with Hamilton's defending of his position & Alonso made a mistake when trying to overtake that cost him at least 4th place (and judging by Hamilton's pace even before the incident, probably 3rd). For anyone to say that Alonso's penalty didn't cost him anything & how unfair it is on Hamilton must have forgotten Valencia 2010.

  • Comment number 100.

    Am I correct to understand that DRS does not work for the lead car it only works for the following car if its 1 sec or less behind.


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