Winston D'Arcy is a good reporter but a touch unreliable, though to be fair he never knows when his line of business is going to take him away. He's gone AWOL again so it's fallen to the webteam to fill the gap. Since our last report there have been three GPs: Britain, Germany and Hungary. I didn't see any of them "live" preferring the Club's hillclimb at Loton Park and a Monoposto race at Mallory. I fell asleep during the Hungarian GP, emotionally exhausted after the website Editor's wedding the previous day.... Fortunately all were recorded.
Being called upon for GP scribbling duties has meant I've watched them pretty well back-to-back and this hasn't been as onerous as you might think. It has really brought home what an intense and fiendishly competitive thing F1 is. The BBC commentary team do a very good job, but can only make us aware of a small fraction of the decisions and actions that are going on in every team. For example did you know, until the radio message, that the Red Bulls have more than one oil tank and they pump the oil around? It hadn't occurred to me that none of the cars would go to the grid with sufficient fuel to run flat out throughout. They rely on a period of slow running e.g. under a Safety Car and switches to "lean" engine maps to get through to the end. Also becoming clearer is the teams' complete awareness of every.phpect of the race situation, how it affects them and what to do about it. However it's also clear that what we see and what we are told is just the tip of the iceberg and we diehard fans would just love more information.
This sort of thing does ensure that F1 stays in the headlines and the fact that these last three races have seen controversy over favouritism to one driver within teams, team tactics, technical legality questions and dubious driving can't have hurt either.This started at the British GP, back at Silverstone after the Donington fiasco, but on a new, longer "Arena" circuit. I am unconvinced about the new circuit but one corner, the new Abbey, gave you some idea of the awesome performance of modern F1 cars. This is a 100 (ish) degree right-hander and the cars were taking it flat - 190mph!
Red Bull produced a new front wing, well two of them. When the one on Vettel's car broke the team gave him Webber's on the grounds that the German was in front in the Championship. The Old Digger was not amused especially when his "team mate" took pole from him by a tenth - what the new wing was said to be worth. At the start Webber dived up the inside of Vettel who swerved towards him, pushing him towards the pit wall. Webber was having none of this and swerved back which allowed Hamilton to dive up the inside of Vettel. Webber pushed Vettel out wide at Copse but Vettel's right rear wheel had already touched Hamilton's front wing, puncturing the Red Bull's tyre and Vettel lost the best part of a lap. Massa too suffered a first lap puncture when the two Ferraris collided....signalling the poor result to come.
Webber then set off a blistering pace with only Hamilton remaining vaguely in touch. Alonso had qualified third, but after the first pit-stops was running in eighth, behind Kubica's Renault. He dived up the inside of him at Club, the pole moved him over and he had no alternative but to take to the run-off area, coming out ahead. Some time later he was awarded a drive-through penalty. To add insult to injury, not only had Kubica retired by then there was a Safety Car period before Alonso could serve the penalty. He ended up 15th. He was clearly furious and instructed the team no more radio. He then proceeded to drive the wheels off the F10 setting the two fastest laps of the race on laps 51 and 52. All this gained him just one place as he had a touch with Liuzzi and sustained a puncture. Still you have to admire him for making the effort - I doubt whether Raikkonen would have done so.
Massa had one of his hopeless races. After the incident with his team mate he had a spin late in the race, flat-spotted his tyres, pitted, catching the team totally unawares and finished 15th. As a race it was no stunner but there was some racing, notably by Vettel. He made his way up to seventh from being dead last with a particularly pushy last third of the race.
On his victory lap Webber said "Not bad for a number two driver", he has since said he said too much in public....
Click here for FIA lap chart.