BBC BLOGS - Andrew Benson

Archives for April 2012

Four different winners - now pick a champion

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Andrew Benson | 18:21 UK time, Wednesday, 25 April 2012

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh probably summed up the new Formula 1 season best in the wake of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

"Who's going to predict who's going to win the next race?" Whitmarsh pondered after Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel had become the fourth different driver, for the fourth different team, to win in the first four races. "It could be Red Bull, Lotus, Mercedes, Ferrari, us."

A Formula 1 season has not started in such an unpredictable fashion for 29 years.

Back in 1983, Brabham's Nelson Piquet, McLaren's John Watson, Renault's Alain Prost and Ferrari's Patrick Tambay were the men in question. Only Watson did not go on to be a major contender for the rest of the season, which featured a four-way title fight between Piquet, Prost, Tambay and the second Ferrari driver Rene Arnoux.

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Drivers' meeting 'promises to be very interesting'

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Andrew Benson | 18:37 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

Oh to be a fly on the wall at the drivers' briefing ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix next month.

The controversial decision not to penalise either Nico Rosberg for his aggressive defence against Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix or Hamilton for overtaking by going off the track has led to considerable debate within Formula 1.

So much so, that Alonso, a man who weighs his words carefully, has decided to speak out about it. After learning of the ruling, the Ferrari driver said to his 400,000-plus Twitter followers: "I think you are going to have fun in future races! You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track! Enjoy!"

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The right race in the wrong place?

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Andrew Benson | 16:09 UK time, Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sebastian Vettel gave this already fascinating Formula 1 world championship another huge twist at the Bahrain Grand Prix with his first victory of the season.

What looked for a while like it might turn into a carbon-copy of so many of the Red Bull driver's wins on his way to the title last year - pole, blitz the start, consolidate lead - turned into a fascinating battle with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn showed all his old skill and consistency as he climbed from 11th place on the grid to take second place. In so doing, Raikkonen finally delivered on the potential of a car that has looked capable of this sort of result since the start of the season and proved he has lost nothing in his two years away in rallying.

The result, and a nightmare race for McLaren, leaves the championship finely poised going into a three-week break before the Spanish Grand Prix, with Vettel leapfrogging from fifth overall to first and only a handful of points covering all the top five.

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How Webber turned tables on Vettel

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Andrew Benson | 20:49 UK time, Monday, 16 April 2012

The madcap conclusion to the Chinese Grand Prix, with 12 cars battling nose to tail for second place behind winner Nico Rosberg, was packed with some of the best racing Formula 1 could ever produce.

But among the wheel-to-wheel battles and overtaking moves, one incident stood out more than most.

With 20 laps to go, Mark Webber's Red Bull ran a little wide on the 170mph exit of Turn 13, caught the edge of the kerb, and its nose reared up into the air.

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Rosberg answers critics in emphatic style

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Andrew Benson | 14:02 UK time, Sunday, 15 April 2012

Nico Rosberg looks every inch the archetypal image of a grand prix driver - blonde, good looking, perfect smile, the lot. And in Shanghai on Sunday, at the 111th attempt, he finally delivered the most important part of the package - the perfect win.

It has been a long time coming.

This is the 26-year-old German's seventh season of F1 and while Lewis Hamilton, who was his team-mate when they were teenage karters 12 years ago, was a winner almost from the start of his Formula 1 career, Rosberg's route to the top step of the podium has been somewhat more torturous.

So torturous, in fact, that there have been times when some wondered whether he would ever follow his father Keke in becoming a race winner.

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