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19 Nov 2010

F1 Season Review 2010: Part 2

After that chaotic Monaco GP, the party moved to Istanbul for the weekend. And boy they did not disappoint. Providing one of the moments that defined 2010.

Red Bull yet again got a pole position, a running theme in 2010. Shortly after the start, Lewis Hamilton managed to get the jump on Sebastian Vettel into second spot. However a slow pit-stop at the wrong time cost him that place when Vettel emerged from his own stop ahead of Hamilton and promptly started to drive away towards leader Webber. Then the mayhem began. Vettel began to reel in his team-mate pretty quickly, and eventually he was right behind him which resulted in the single biggest talking point of the season:

Webber drives into Vettel? Vettel drives into Webber? You decide. The general belief is that Vettel caused the crash. Sebastian then went on to blame Mark Webber, a move that won him huge amounts of criticism from across the sport. He later retracted this statement but the damage had been done. This prevented Red Bull from collecting a certain 1-2 finish and gifted that to McLaren with Hamilton in first ahead of Button, but not without the two Brits having their own very tense and very nearly identical battle. Webber managed to recover and finish 3rd.

Canada came along next, and presented McLaren with their first real chance of stopping the Red Bull monopoly of pole position. And boy was qualifying a treat. Webber and Vettel were both right up there before Hamilton posted the fastest lap with the final lap of qualifying, running with so little fuel that he couldn't get his car back to the pitlane after his effort. The race itself was not totally spellbinding, but it gave the 2008 champ his second win in a row, and McLaren's second straight 1-2 finish.

Valencia held it's third F1 race in 2010, and it was slightly better than the previous two years' offerings. Albeit only a little. The major moment of the weekend was Mark Webber proving that Red Bull really can give you wings, he launched his car off the back of Heikki Kovalienen's Lotus before completing a full 360 degree flip through the air at over 190mph, taking out an advertising hoarding for good measure. IF this accident had happened in the 80's, we would have been burying the Australian in a matchbox. The scariest crash I have witnessed, and the first for a long time to seriously make me fear for a driver's life. After the Safety Car was deployed, Hamilton hesitated too long before overtaking it after the time he was allowed to do so. The FIA took fully 20 laps to decide to award him a drive-through penalty, by that time he had already pulled out a big enough gap over 3rd-placed Alonso to retain it after he served his penalty, enraging the Spaniard and Ferrari. Vettel would go on to win from Hamilton and Alonso.

Formula 1 returned to Silverstone, the home of F1. It held the first Formula 1 championship race way back in 1948, and has been a permanent feature on the calender since 1987. It did not disappoint. Even before qualifying, the Webber/Vettel argument had turned into a full-blown conflict between the two - not even on speaking terms according to some sources. During practice, Vettel and Webber ran brand new front-wings. Vettel's suffered a failure causing it irreparable damage. The usual solution is to do nothing, the other driver is equal and deserves his new parts. Red Bull decided not to follow the usual solution and took the sole remaining new wing and gave it to the young German. Vettel went on to take pole position using the wing, just ahead of his angry team-mate. Immediately after the start lights went out, Vettel tried to force Webber to the wall before turn 1 and make him back off, this failed and Vettel ended up being forced off the track, picking up a puncture in the process. Enraged Vettel then had to pit and managed to crawl back through the field to 7th following a decent series of overtakes. Alonso got himself into even more trouble with the stewards after he cut Club corner to pass Kubica and did not give the place back, winning a drive-through penalty for his troubles. This would leave Alonso 47 points behind the championship leader after this race. Webber coasted through to the win, with Hamilton and Rosberg completing the top 

Germany provided probably the second biggest talking point after the Turkey incident. Alonso stole ahead of the Red Bull of Vettel, showing again that he can't do starts, and Felipe Massa soon followed him and made his way past Alonso into the lead. Two thirds of the race had passed when Felipe's engineer, Rob Smedley, sent him the message: "Fernando is faster than you, do you understand the message?" Just a couple of laps later, Massa coasted out of the hairpin and appeared to let Fernando past, prompting Smedley to reply "Good lad, now stick with him. Sorry." The apology issued gave away the obvious team orders at work here. This resulted in the Team Orders scandal being dragged back to the present (last mentioned in detail: 2002) and earned Ferrari an official warning from the World MotorSport Council. Alonso would win the race, Massa second and Vettel third.

Part 3 will be available, right here, before Monday.


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