Well I was absolutely overjoyed to see Fernando Alonso win a second race in a row after such a torrid season. The Singapore GP win must have been nice for him, but it can’t have been satisfying. That was down to luck and the ridiculous Safety Car rules.
This one, though, was a proper win, achieved completely on merit. Okay, so he benefited from the slightly clown-like snafus (yet again!) of McLaren and Ferrari. But he was able to get past the hard-working Robert Kubica and genuinely had a better race than probably any other driver in the field.
Part of this must undoubtedly be down to the improvements made by Renault towards the end of this season. What had been a nightmare of a season so far has been salvaged. From nowhere, all of a sudden Alonso has as many wins this season as the reigning World Champion. Good work.
Renault’s enhanced form is underlined by the fact that Nelsinho Piquet finished 4th. Not to do the Brazilian down, but I think we can safely say that a lot of the improved performance comes down to his car.
Renault’s resurgence also underlines the problem that Red Bull face. Beforehand they could just blame the engine. Now that Renault have won two races on the trot, that is beginning to look like a poor excuse. Of course, Red Bull could still be stuck with the old engines, but I would have thought Renault might be up for playing the great Red Bull engine comparison PR game as well as Ferrari have.
You have to hand it to Robert Kubica as well. With two races still to go, he is still in the championship. And as good as the BMW car is, I doubt many other drivers would have been able to achieve that.
After the Italian Grand Prix I wanted to write a post pondering if Kubica still had a chance to win the title, but I didn’t have the time. After the Singapore GP, I thought Kubica really had dropped out of the hunt, so I didn’t post it. Now it seems as though my gut instinct was correct. It is, of course, a slim chance. His deficit is twelve points. But, as is well recorded, Kimi Räikkönen came back from a 17 point deficit in the final two races of the season.
If Ferrari and McLaren keep on screwing it up, anything can happen. There is absolutely no doubt that Hamilton completely screwed up in Fuji. Even the arrogant one himself put his hands up and admitted that he had made a mistake. And I have to say, he looked rather upset with himself in the post-race interview with ITV’s Louise Goodman.
This is ominous for Lewis Hamilton fans. He was meant to have sorted himself out. He had got rid of the childish “win or nothing” mentality, and now had the composure to time his moves correctly. In short, he was supposed to have ditched his impatience.
So much for that then. He had a bad start and then appeared to totally panic, getting the first corner completely wrong. After a tap from Massa he ended up at the back of the field. What was perhaps most worrying about Hamilton’s performance in Fuji was that he completely failed to make any progress after reaching the back — possibly because of a rushed strategy call from McLaren.
McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen also had a rare engine failure. It is worrying for reliability issues to appear at this stage of the season.
Felipe Massa found himself in a similar predicament to Hamilton. He is reputed to be bad at coming back through the field, but I actually think one of Massa’s strongest points is his ability to overtake. In 2007 he passed more cars than anyone else and he has produced my favourite move of the season so far in Canada.
The end result is that Massa salvaged two points from a disastrous race, while Hamilton got bogged down in the midfield. Hamilton should have made more of this race, and when you remember that he could have made do with a safe result in the points rather than a risky attempt for the win, this is not what his fans will want to see. Even more worrying is the fact that he promises to go all out for the win in China. This is not necessary. Did he not learn from last season?
Just like last year, it looks like it is beginning to all fall apart from Hamilton at the very end of the season. What should perhaps be worrying for Lewis Hamilton fans is that he appears to have hit the ‘self destruct’ button a whole race earlier than last season. Moreover, this year the gap to his nearest rival is just five points, and the gap to the outside bet is 12 points. Last year it was 17 points and he still lost.
Finally, spare a thought for Adrian Sutil. He had a storming first lap, avoiding the first corner carnage to hit the apex. He was running in an excellent 10th position when a puncture put paid to his race.