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Williams and two Schumachers on the Podium
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It has been a long time since Ralf managed to finish ahead of Montoya (unless Montoya retired) let alone win a race. It has been just as long since both Williams finished on the podium and ahead of a Ferrari.
Maybe fortunes are changing. Michael could have won this race if he was not involved in the incident at the start of the race, but I doubt it. Williams were just too fast.
The get together with Michael certainly cost Montoya a potential win. Why he had to be punished for the incident I just do not know. The touch was caused by Michael's car understeering - possibly because he left braking a tad too late. It was a normal racing incident and the places that both drivers lost was the penalty. Adding a "drive through" penalty for Montoya was absurd. Why Montoya? What did he do wrong?
Montoya was ahead of Michael Schumacher at the approach to the first corner. He must have realised that he was not far ahead enough to be able to fully apex the corner (as he had to leave space for Michael) but on the other hand was not going to drop back and give the corner to Michael. The only other option for Montoya would be to take the corner wide on the dirty side of the track which would have slowed him to the extent that several cars could have shot past.
What did the marshals expect him to do? He left enough space for Michael. What more could he do?
If it was not Michael Schumacher and Ferrari that suffered damage, would the same penalty apply?
And then what is this "drive through" penalty after all? The penalty that you give a driver when you are not sure he should be penalised? Another way of making pit lane unnecessarily dangerous? Something we haven't tried before?
In the last couple of years I have not seen any consistency in the decisions made by the Marshals. Just when I think an accident is so big that they will stop the race it is continued behind the pace car and then a small accident that makes me wonder if the pace car will come out will suddenly stop the race. Sometimes the penalties are in my opinion unreasonably harsh and then other times I marvel at what the drivers can get away with. There is no pattern, no consistency and because of that no confidence that they will not destroy a perfectly good race with a stupid decision.
Maybe the rules have become too complex to be able to interpret them during a race. Maybe it is not always easy to determine exactly what happened or who is at fault. Maybe it is a hard job, but are we now going to have to add to the concerns of tyres going off, pit stops going wrong and engine failure the uncertainty of "The Marshal Factor"?
I was somewhat surprised to see that Barrichello had two failures over the weekend. I thought that the reason for using last year's car was that it was reliable. Strange.
It became very obvious in Malaysia that the 2001 Ferrari is not fast enough to stay ahead of Williams. They were patently slower in a straight line and the two Williams drivers traded fastest laps for most of the race.
I would not be surprised to see the 2002 Ferrari in Brazil. If not, I suspect that we will see both Williams ahead of them all weekend.
It certainly looks as if the Michelins are still very good on hot, dry tracks. They may not be as dominant as they were last year but they certainly still seemed to get better with more wear.
On the other hand if we look at the results, in the first 10 the mix was an even 5 Michelin, 5 Bridgestone.
If Michelin still have the upper hand in the heat it is marginal. After Brazil we will know for certain.
I rest my case. McLaren are in trouble. The two cars combined did not even manage to finish anywhere near race distance and what is worse when they were going they were not fast.
If they do not do something soon they will not have a chance of winning the championship - again.
Renault was fast (and it looks as if Button has found the right pedal again).
Sauber did very well, finishing both cars in the points.
Renault and Toyota must be the teams to watch. I expected Renault to get their act together rapidly (but my idea of rapid was that around mid season they will occasionally finish in the points). They very nearly finished on the podium on the second race of the season. Now that is rapid!
Toyota may not be doing well in overall terms but they are certainly doing a lot better than I expected. The car is fast in a straight line and reliable. Already a big achievement for their second race ever.
Agree or disagree ?