Shock results and young tyro Sergio Perez have energised the F1 season, writes David KennedyWho could have predicted that the two opening races of the Formula 1 season in Australia and Malaysia would have produced such dramatic races with such diverse results, or that the top step of the podium would be occupied by someone other than the ubiquitous Sebastian Vettel, grinning like a Cheshire cat?
Instead we have Fernando Alonso leading the championship by five points in a car that frankly isn't in the zone. If that's a portent of things to come then we're in for a cracking season. Sure the rain in Malaysia resulted in a somewhat freak result. Still we were treated to several surprises.
Ferrari's win was the big shocker because the car is just not good enough to be a title contender in its current state. Come Barcelona it will incorporate several modifications which could make it more competitive, but the Malaysia result was thanks in part to the genius of Alonso, helped of course by precipitation. The Spaniard is under no illusion about the reality. He said that revolutionary change is needed. That could entail a re-design of the entire car.
Mexican Sergio Perez was making waves in Sepang. It's been 42 years since fellow countryman Pedro Rodriguez led/won a Grand Prix; that was in Spa driving a BRM.
Jackie Stewart, who is still very active around the F1 arena, will recall that particular race because he got pole position.
We know that as part of Ferrari's Driver Academy, Perez has his sights set firmly on replacing Felipe Massa and no better opportunity to make your mark than to challenge Ferrari's number one, Alonso.
There has been all sorts of speculation about whether Perez passed up a potential victory out of deference to his possible employers-in-waiting, or because Ferrari supply Sauber with their engine and all that implies. His team told him to be careful that 'we need this position' that's a coded message for exactly what it says -- be content with second. If Perez could have passed Alonso he most certainly would have, team orders, engine orders, pecking orders be damned. Finishing runner-up was a great reward and to see Peter Sauber shed a tear afterwards showed just what it meant to their struggling team.
Should Ferrari come a knocking and Perez is released by Sauber (which his academy contract supposedly permits), it would be devastating for Massa. So keep an eye on him driving to save his career, that's presuming he gets as far as China.
Now we know where Perez might be going, but where did he come from? Despite being 22 he has a lengthy CV. Starting out in single-seaters in the US, he moved to Europe for a couple of seasons of German Formula BMW. He represented Team Mexico in an A1 GP race, he raced British Formula Three, and then GP2 for a couple of seasons. He finished second in the championship behind Venezuelan and fellow F1 Williams driver, Pastor Maldonado.
In 2011, he made his F1 debut for Sauber. With sponsorship from Telemex, the Latin American telecommunications giant, which is owned by the world's richest man Carlos Slim, Perez was never going to experience a lack of finance. Now of course he's done enough to keep his currency buoyant for some races to come. At least he'll be able to speak Spanish with Alonso should he get the call from the boys in red, and Italian should be a doddle.
Seeing Michael Schumacher back on form and out-qualifying his team-mate Nico Rosberg is a sight to behold. He's waited a long time for this moment and tireless work by the seven-time world champion is paying off. His impressive qualifying may not have translated into a podium but if and when it does, he will do his customary jump as high as his now 43-year-old legs can take him.
Eddie Jordan, who celebrated his 64th birthday on Friday, got an early birthday present when he was told he's off to meet the Queen in June to pick up an OBE for his services to charity and motorsport. Needless to say, he's over the moon. It's been a long and fascinating road from Bray to the gates of Buckingham Palace and congratulations to the entire Jordan family who now have two months of him deliberating which shirt he should wear for his big day out. God help them.
This season, Australia and Malaysia both saw a McLaren front row lock-out, but only Button was able to translate his second-place on the grid into a win in Oz. Twice this year Hamilton has been on pole and twice he's finished third. You could understand Hamilton for thinking pole was jinxed.
In China last year, Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Button took the top four slots, although Vettel got pole and Hamilton started third on the grid.
That win was particularly special for the Brit; he ranked it one of his top three results, Silverstone and Monaco 2008 being the others. After the win, Hamilton was ecstatic. "I exist and I live and I breathe to win." With such fine memories to sustain him, could it be third time lucky for Lewis?
Today at Paul Ricard in France, two Irish teams are represented. Our own Status GP has diversified into Sportscars for a full programme in the European Le Mans Series. Status's GP3 driver from last season Alexander Sims -- who is test and development driver for the McLaren GT programme -- will partner Yelmer Buurman and Dean Stirling to drive the team's LMP2 Lola B12/80-Judd/BMW.
The other Irish team is Murphy Prototypes which was founded by Greg Murphy. They make their debut with a Nissan Oreca driven by Warren Hughes, Jody Firth and Luca Moro. Murphy Prototypes is involved in renewable energy, aerospace and automotive.
You can follow the teams on Twitter or www.statusgp.com and www.murphyprototypes.com
Sunday Indo Sport