Well, that turned out to be not a bad race! Yesterday’s Schumacher incident provided an interesting talking point to frame the race in, and the race did threaten to become a procession at one point.
In a way, it still was a procession, as Alonso led the race practically from start to finish. But what happened behind him was still thrilling — and when I mean behind him, I mean right behind him.
Drivers who really deserved better were harshly treated by luck today. Mark Webber had an amazing qualifying session yesterday, and he was driving well today before his Cosworth engine expired. The Williams car appears to be capable of scoring points, but that Cosworth engine is still a massive liability. I’m not a great fan of Webber, but he was impressive over the weekend, and a podium finish would have been a fair reward.
A pity too for Kimi Räikkönen, who at last was able to challenge Alonso at the front — and he was really threatening at one point. We haven’t really seen this all year. The McLaren car doesn’t have the pace of the Renault or the Ferrari, and Räikkönen seems to have lost a little bit of his drive, but he looked good for at least second place today. He was able to take advantage of Webber’s little error at Ste Devote in a thrilling, brave move. Unfortunately, during the safety car period caused by Webber’s failure, the McLaren’s reliability glitches kicked in again — the story of Räikkönen’s life.
By this time the pack seemed to have well and truly mixed up after the safety car, and Rubens Barrichello in the Honda was in third place! It truly is a remarkable reversal of fortunes at Honda. Button really is struggling at the moment. The Honda team keep on talking up their chances, yet the performance they really need never materialises. This is a weekend that Button will want to forget — Barrichello is now much more confident in the Honda. Unfortunately for the Brazilian, speeding in the pit lane isn’t the way to go about finishing in the podium.
After Barrichello’s drive-through penalty, it was Jarno Trulli in the Toyota which Martin Brundle said looked so bad it was like a pogo stick (!) during practice who was in line for a podium finish! But towards the end of the race, his car gave up as well, on the hill after Ste Devote. Clearly, third position was not a lucky place to be in today!
So when David Coulthard in the Red Bull inherited the podium position, he might well have been worried about Barrichello and Michael Schumacher catching up with him. Luckily for Coulthard, he only had to maintain his position for a few laps, and he scored a great podium finish — Red Bull’s first. It’s good for them as they have had a moderately disappointing season so far. I absolutely loved the Superman cape stunt! It might even beat last year’s pit crew of Star Wars stormtroopers. Fantastic.
Yes, Michael Schumacher was in fifth position. After yesterday’s scanda, Schumi went some of the way towards redeeming himself with some clean, impressive overtaking manoeuvres. He left his team mate Massa behind.
Who was second you ask? Juan Pablo Montoya with yet another anonymous race, quietly collecting a helpful handful of points.
Today’s troublemaker was Christijan Albers, who unwisely squeezed his team mate Monteiro into the wall at the otherwise unusually clean start. That was unnecessary enough, but then he decided to ram into a Super Aguri later on in the race. Come on Albers, this isn’t a computer game!
I have to say though, all of the drivers were largely impressive. There was little in the way of driver error or crashes — Nico Rosberg’s was apparently caused by his throttle being stuck open.
All-in-all, it was a good race, but even this early in the season it looks as though Alonso has the championship well and truly wrapped up. Silverstone next!