In just 3 short weeks qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix will be over and we’ll know who is kicking off the 2009 season in pole position.
I will of course be supporting Lewis Hamilton but I also want Kubica and Alonso to do well. It could be a very open season with the opportunity for a lot of drivers to score points.
It will also be interesting to see what difference KERS will make.
The latest good news is that team formerly known as Honda has been bought by Ross Brawn and we have Brawn GP, so we are back to 10 teams and 20 drivers again.
After a mistake in his penultimate lap of Q3 it looked like Hamilton could have some chasing to do at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow, but a lightning quick last lap saw him streak to his 7th pole position of the season, more than 3 tenths of a second ahead of closest rival Kimi Raikkonen.
However, things are not as rosy as they seem; Hamilton shares the front row of the grid with 2007 Champion and team-mate of Felipe Masa, Kimi Raikkonen. Sitting in the second row of the grid are Hamilton’s current Championship challenger and Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Masa as well as Hamilton’s ex-team-mate Fernando Alonso. Alonso said this week that he will try to help Masa win the Championship. In 5th place, and lining up in the 3rd row on the grid, is Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren and nearest ally, Heikki Kovalainen.
If Hamilton doesn’t get a good start tomorrow he could be in for the fight of his life and it’ll be time to truly test his mettle and rise to meet the expectations of his many fans, and shut the critics up. Hamilton can seek solace in the fact that Robert Kubica, who is currently 3rd in the Championship and statistically the only driver other than Masa who can beat Hamilton for the Championship, qualified in a lowly 11th place.
This picture of the podium in Japan shows Fernando Alonso as the winner, Robert Kubica in 2nd and Kimi Raikkenon in 3rd. Championship contender Felipe Masa gained 1 point with an 8th place finish while Championship leader Lewis Hamilton got no points finishing in 12th.
After being overtaken by Raikkenon at the start, Hamilton took a very aggressive strategy which led to him losing more places, colliding with Masa (well, Masa colliding with him!) and ending up at the back of the field. A drive through penalty for both Hamilton and Masa for separate incidents meant neither were going to add to their Championship totals by much.
Hamilton didn’t need to attack quite so vehemently and in doing so he probably cost himself a decent haul of points and an extension of his lead at the top of the Championship. Hamilton races with the head of a Champion at times, but at others, like in Japan today, he races with a hot head which leads to unnecessary mistakes which put his potential as the Champion at risk. Hamilton needs to learn that he doesn’t need to win every race to win the Championship and sometimes holding back a bit is better in the long run.
We look forward to China and Brazil with the Championship very much still up for grabs and a chasing Kubica even looking like an outside chance – remember Raikkenon last year?
UPDATE: Masa actually scored 2 points after Sébastien Bourdais got penalised post-race and relegated in the race positions, in what is a ridiculous call on the part of the stewards.