Sep 23 2012

F1 2012: Marina Bay

During the boring parts today you can expect to hear lots of commentary about driver changes.  I’ve never been much of a believer in the ‘great man’ theory of history and I think most drivers with a Super License can be said to be reasonably competent while but a bare handful have any positive impact over and above the hardware they pilot and the management teams that support them.

There really is only one Alonso and he’s a perfect fit in Maranello where they can’t be bothered to produce a quick car because they’re so busy polishing their turds (Mythbusters have proven you can actually do this).

Hamilton is a good example of the other kind of driver, fearless and skilled, able to make fast hardware fast and not so fast hardware work at all, constantly thwarted and frustrated by decisions over which they have little control.

There has been a lot of talk about Hamilton changing teams that I’ve felt has been totally misguided.  Where would he go?  There are only 3 teams besides McLaren in the last 14 years that have produced a champion.

Scuderia Marlboro UPC might be interested in a Massa upgrade, but not necessarily in Hamilton.  Alonso doesn’t care much who he races with as long as they stay in the mirror which Hamilton would not.  Without Alonso, Maranello would have a tough time getting to Q3.  Why would Hamilton trade down hardware and put himself in an impossible situation?

Red Bull stands pat.  Why wouldn’t they?  Management and hardware is usually superior (not so much this year) and Vettel and Webber are good enough to win.

That leaves Lotus (Renault).  If Hamilton moves Grosjean is in his seat.

But it’s all mere speculation, Hamilton signed a 1 year extension yesterday.  Sinagapore also signed a 5 year extension of their race contract for a little more than $25 million a year.  While Bernie is being coy there is no doubt it’s a substantial discount compared to the $40 million charged Bahrain for the privilege.

And it has nothing at all to do with listing the now indefinitely postponed IPO on the Singapore exchange.  Nothing.

What about this race?

Twisty, bumpy, narrow, hard to pass… breakdowns, crashes, and tires otherwise they finish the way they start.  Fortunately for the entertainment value these are all likely to factor.  de la Rosa has already taken a gearbox penalty (to no effect since he was starting last anyway).  Vettel is complaining (with many others) about the curbing in the Turn 10 chicane launching cars and close wall encounters have been common.  Mercedes is taking a gamble with Softs (the harder of the 2 compounds this week) at the start instead of the 1 second a lap faster Super Softs.

Odds are it will be a soporific dronefest though not nearly as much as the Sunday Talking Heads.  It is the potential for excitement, change, and news that make it superior.

Pretty tables below.

Starting Grid

Grid Driver Team Q-Time Q-Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 01:46.4 14
2 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 01:46.8 17
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 01:46.9 14
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 01:46.9 15
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 01:47.2 14
6 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 01:47.2 18
7 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 01:47.5 17
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 01:47.8 16
9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 01:47.8 14
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 01:47.9 13
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 01:48.0 12
12 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 01:48.3 14
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari 01:48.3 12
14 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 01:48.5 14
15 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 01:48.8 13
16 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 01:48.8 14
17 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 01:49.8 10
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 01:49.9 8
19 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 01:50.8 6
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 01:51.1 6
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 01:51.4 8
22 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 01:51.8 8
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 01:52.4 7
24 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 01:53.4 7

Driver Standings

Rank Driver Team Points
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 179
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 142
3 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 141
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 140
5 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 132
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 101
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 83
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 76
9 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 65
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 47
11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 43
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 35
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 32
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 31
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 29
16 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 25
17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 8
18 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 4

Constructor Standings

Rank Team Points
1 Red Bull 272
2 McLaren 243
3 Ferrari 226
4 Lotus 217
5 Mercedes 126
6 Sauber 100
7 Force India 63
8 Williams 54
9 Toro Rosso 12

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