It was not the most entertaining of races, even though — somehow — I was kept interested in proceedings the whole way through. The race has produced little in the way of talking points though.
The Brawn rout continues, and Jenson Button looked more untouchable than ever. Yes, Sebastian Vettel took pole position, but yet again it was with a light fuel load. Matters were not helped at all when Vettel ran wide halfway through lap one, handing the lead to Jenson Button on a plate. From that point, the race was effectively won.
Increasingly, Red Bull look like a team not yet capable of winning races. After Vettel’s unforced driving error, the Red Bull’s tacticians failed to adapt and Vettel was kept on a three-stop strategy which was only ever going to drop him backwards. Time and again Red Bull have given Vettel an unworkable strategy, which is allowing Mark Webber to gain the upper hand by the end of the race. It’s difficult to know which to blame more between Vettel and the Red Bull team for their inability to take the fight to Brawn.
One possible explanation for keeping Vettel on a 3-stopper was that the Red Bull could not handle the softer tyres as well as the Brawn can. Mind you, Webber managed on a two-stopper.
One of the most disappointing aspects of Vettel’s race was the fact that he once again demonstrated an inability to overtake when it mattered. He got stuck behind Hamilton in Bahrain and Massa in Spain. This time in Turkey he failed to overtake Button despite having caught up with him quickly as a result of being on a lighter fuel load. Now we are told that the Red Bull car is bad in dirty air (so much for the FIA’s new aero regulations then). But I have to admit to losing a bit more faith in Sebastian Vettel every race now.
It’s not only Vettel who is managing to mess things up. Rubens Barrichello had an absolute nightmare of a race. The Brawn made another one of its occasional sluggish starts, and Barrichello found himself down in 12th at the end of lap 1, having started 3rd. He made a valiant effort at climbing back through the field, with some optimistic overtaking moves. This provided the main entertainment of the race.
He had a particularly brilliant battle against Heikki Kovalainen. But when Kovalainen “kersed” him back, Barrichello just got frustrated and ended up getting in a tangle a lap later. That only left him further behind.
Having dropped down in 17th, he tried to charge back through. He easily dispensed with Lewis Hamilton and totally spooked Nelsinho Piquet into making a mistake. But he was rather too optimistic against Adrian Sutil. I actually couldn’t believe that the most experienced F1 driver of all time thought that was even remotely a goer. Perhaps it goes to show how frustrating Rubens Barrichello is finding this season, despite the fact that he has the best car.
Perhaps it is a sign that Barrichello is past it. The picture that is emerging is one that is similar to what we saw with David Coulthard last season — an experienced driver whose mind is not quite as sharp and is unable to think on his feet as well as he used to.
Apart from that, it is difficult to know what to say about the race. The one other notable on-track battle was Piquet against Hamilton, where against the odds the Renault driver got the upper hand (albeit on a much lighter fuel load).
Ferrari’s resurgence has come to nothing, with Massa finishing 6th and Räikkönen 9th. Toyota looked better than they had done, but not enough to challenge at the front. And BMW also improved, but only to the midfield. Their pet project, kers, looks like it might be dropped for the remainder of the season.
Let’s hope that someone can make the British Grand Prix more of a challenge, but I don’t see it happening.