Wednesday 21 March 2018

Motor Sport: Year of the Bull

Red Bulls left everyone standing as Sebastian Vettel continued to shine brightest, while former luminary Michael Schumacher lost more of his lustre, writes David Tremayne

After dominating the season from start to finish, Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were entitled to celebrate after yesterday's Brazil Grand Prix
After dominating the season from start to finish, Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were entitled to celebrate after yesterday's Brazil Grand Prix

This one had it all. First there was the terrible weather at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, then the crash between McLaren team-mates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, which put the latter out.

Then there was a drive-through penalty for Button for speeding behind the safety car.

As he fought back from last place after the restart, Button collided with Fernando Alonso, caught and passed a duelling Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher, and relentlessly pushed runaway leader Sebastian Vettel into a slide on the final lap which helped him to slither by to snatch an amazing win after one of the greatest wet-weather drives in history.

Best driver: Sebastian Vettel

The German made fantastic use of his skill and machinery. Time and again he took pole position -- beating Nigel Mansell's seasonal record of 14 in Brazil, and then lit off into the lead after judging exactly how hard he dared to push his tyres before they were fully war.

Races like Korea and India indicated just how beautifully he judged such things, as he had them won from the start. He made few mistakes in races, too, and showed that he is now a complete racer capable of getting the best from himself and his equipment every time out.

Best car: Red Bull RB7

If Vettel was the best driver, the Red Bull RB7 created by the genius of technical director, Adrian Newey, and attention to detail of chief designer, Roger Marshall, was the best car.

It lost out to the Ferrari once, and the McLarens several times, but it was inevitably the fastest in qualifying and the most competitive in races, as well as being phenomenally reliable.

Best rookie: Paul di Resta

He doesn't say an awful lot at the best of times, but the 25-year-old Scot let what he did at the wheel do all the talking for him.

Straight away he came into Force India and started to outqualify Adrian Sutil, himself one of the fastest men over a single lap.

His confident and mature performances made you wonder what he might have achieved in Michael Schumacher's Mercedes.

Best innovation:

Fast-Wearing Pirelli tyres

At the start of the season Pirelli took over from Bridgestone as the sole supplier of Formula One tyres. They had listened intently to everything that team bosses and drivers said to them and deliberately created fast-wearing tyres. As a result, drivers had to be careful how they used their rubber, knowing when to push and when to preserve it. Formula One races suddenly became a whole lot more interesting.

Most disappointing driver:

Michael Schumacher

When Michael Schumacher made his much-vaunted return to Formula One in 2010, people cut him a lot of slack.

However, as a seven-time champion and supposedly the greatest driver the sport had ever seen, he failed to perform the miracles that might reasonably have been expected. It would all be better in 2011, we were assure.

He failed to rekindle the magic and got blown away again by Nico Rosberg, himself a driver still difficult to assess with complete accuracy.

As disappointments go, Schuey was the biggest and most expensive. Again.

Luckiest driver:

pastor Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado caused an accident by not knowing when to surrender a corner to Lewis Hamilton in Monaco.

He then pulled a silly manoeuvre on him on the slowdown lap after qualifying at Spa. But it was his antics in Abu Dhabi that really sucked. He held up faster cars and got a drive-through penalty, then did exactly the same thing very shortly afterwards and was given a stop-and-go time penalty added to his race time afterwards.

He then got aggressive with the race stewards. Why lucky? If I were a steward I'd have banned him for a race.

Biggest farce:

he blown diffuser saga

At Silverstone there was wholesale confusion over the vexed question of whether teams were still allowed to blow exhaust gases over their cars' diffusers, to generate more downforce and thus grip.

Could they just do it when the driver had his foot on the throttle, or have a clever means of maintaining the downforce when he lifted off?

It was one of those arcane arguments that meant nothing to the man in the street, was ridiculously complex to explain, and ultimately meant little.

And there was so much confusion that the FIA reverted to the previous rules and are still arguing over them for next year. Enough!

Funniest moments:

Jordan's humble pie and

Button's Chinese pitstop

In Melbourne, Ron Dennis interrupts a live BBC broadcast to hand Eddie Jordan some humble pie, after the McLarens had qualified second and fourth.

Jordan had predicted the team were in for a terrible year after poor testing form.

Later, on the 14th lap of the Chinese GP, Button accidentally pulls into Vettel's Red Bull pit instead of his own.

"I lost out to Sebastian at the first pitstop when I mistakenly pulled into his box," he said sheepishly. "I was looking down at the steering wheel to adjust a switch; when I looked up, I saw the Red Bull pit crew in front of me!" (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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