With Sébastien Buemi having started sixteenth on the grid after a difficult qualifying, you would think that finishing ninth and scoring two points would be cause for celebration in the Scuderia Toro Rosso garage.
Of course, it’s a good result and even though Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi picked up one point for tenth place today, it means we are still seventh in the Constructors’ Championship and have actually closed the gap to Sauber by a single point. However, in the final stages of the race, it did look as though Sébastien was going to be celebrating a great seventh spot, but it was not to be. In an action-packed race, he was gradually closed down by the two Renaults, with Heidfeld passing him with four laps to go and Petrov getting past on the very last of the 58 laps. Our Swiss driver did what he could but he could hardly hold the steering wheel, so bad were the vibrations coming through his tyres and his two opponents had much fresher rubber, after opting for a four stop strategy compared to Buemi’s three stopper.
Jaime Alguersuari started from seventeenth on the grid and although he got as high as fourteenth at one point, he always found it difficult to make significant headway, although dare we say, as usual, he did have a little duel with Michael Schumacher! Towards the end of the race, he was having trouble staying on the road and opted to head down the pit lane with just a handful of laps remaining, for a fourth and final tyre changing stop.
It would have been hard for this race to match the excitement of the event three weeks ago in Shanghai, but it was close. Sebastian Vettel won from pole position just for a change, making it three wins from four races and Red Bull Racing secured their first one-two of the season, as Mark Webber was next past the chequered flag. The Australian did not have it all his own way however, as he immediately lost position to Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. The Australian retook the position on lap 5 and after that, Fernando Alonso was the biggest threat to the Bull, proving that the Prancing Horse has indeed made some progress in the break. As for the McLaren duo, they scrapped among themselves for much of the race, with Lewis Hamilton eventually taking fourth place, ahead of Rosberg, with Jenson Button sixth. Everyone who finished the race made at least three pit stops and some made four, which added to the excitement, but certainly puts pressure on the mechanics who are not expected to be the stars of the show in F1. However, more than ever this season, their role is absolutely vital to the final outcome and it was interesting to see that many of the top teams got at least one of their pit stops wrong.