Sebastian Vettel has won the Championship. Lets face it, whilst it isn’t mathematically assured, only a miracle will see anyone else lift the trophy.
The racing has at least, been enthralling. And if you want an exciting battle there are two very tight ones going on. But while Mark Webber, Jenson Button and the rest of them fight it out over second in the Drivers Championship. An intriguing battle can be found over sixth place in the Constructors.
A few months ago Sauber were flying. Points were frequent, the performances were spectacular and memorable and everyone was happy. I may have even said that they might as well paint 11 and 12 on the C31 because 6th looked guaranteed.
Sometimes I wonder why I open my mouth.
In the last three races, zero points have been scored. That includes three retirements and Kobayashi and Perez hitting too many of the opposition. The 6th place that looked nailed on is now no longer theirs, with Force India leading the Swiss by a point. And there’s also Toro Rosso lurking in the background, being there mainly on the basis that their qualifying is bad enough the tyres are nice and fresh for the race.
Where has it all gone so wrong?
Of course, the Italian Grand Prix was a cruel piece of luck. Kobayashi was fighting for the last few points when his Ferrari gear box decided it didn’t want to function anymore. Then later on in the race, while Perez still hadn’t pitted and was looking good for a 7th or an 8th, his Ferrari gear box decided to pack up as well. It would have put to an end the horrible run that the team we’re going on but it only prolonged the issue to a track Sauber have never performed spectacularly well at in the past, Singapore. Last year, Michael Schumacher was seemingly attracted to the shiny white a little too much, being a major part of the retirements of both cars.
The bad run can be traced back to Hungary, both cars were sent out too long on the medium tyres, which culminated in the somewhat humiliating moment where Kobayashi was overtaken by four cars on the straight near to the end of the race. Belgium was just a crash-fest in reality, both Perez and Kobayashi being involved with Sebastian Buemi, and then most notably, where Lewis Hamilton cut off Kobayashi and found himself heading for the Armco. Although Kobayashi could continue (Perez would later retire), no points were to be scored.
And this bad run came at the same time Force India came to the fore. In Hungary, Paul di Resta finished in a career best 7th. This was followed by a 7th in Belgium by Adrian Sutil, and a further four points being scored for the Scot in Italy. In three races, Force India have scored sixteen points, which is just less than half of their entire total for the season.
Without doubt the impressive ability of Paul di Resta has been a crucial factor in their improvements. While Perez is struggling at times in the Sauber, di Resta has taken to Formula 1 like a duck to water, with a clear ability and the fact he is getting some really impressive results. It isn’t to say Perez has been poor, his 7th in Britain was fantastic, and a similar performance could have been on the cards in Italy. But his core performance isn’t at the same level as the Scot.
The key battle could though come down to how it fares between the supposed team leaders. While Kobayashi has put in performances which have shown him to be more than a crazy kid who has balls, Sutil has shown himself to be the average driver that he is. He’s been outqualified by di Resta, and he’s also only higher in the standings because of his ability to finish high. But in my eyes he isn’t performing brilliantly, and generally, isn’t the best option available to them. Granted he has got them the majority of the points, but I don’t think they have been enough for Sutil.
While Toro Rosso look unlikely to catch up to them, they have been in the points frequently of late. Most notably being the team that I like to put money on qualifying in 18th and shockingly getting in the points. At the weekend, the BBC gave Jaime Alguersuari his second Driver of the Day, both of those drives came from him when he started 18th and he got into the points. Granted it does require some race craft and ability, but it does feel like a loophole. So far this season, the drivers who have been knocked out in Q1, have improved in races in China (Mark Webber, qualified 18th, finished 3rd), Turkey (Kobayashi, 24th to 10th), Spain (Heidfeld, 24th to 8th), Canada (Alguersuari, pitlane to 8th), Europe (Alguersuari, 18th to 8th), Britain (Alguersuari, 18th to 10th), Germany (Kobayashi, 17th to 10th), Hungary (Buemi, 23rd to 9th), Belgium (Schumacher, 23rd to 5th) and Italy (Alguersuari, 18th to 8th). I think it might be more than a coincidence.
At the end of the day though, Toro Rosso are taking full advantage and are scoring points because of it. And that’s why they have an outside hope of finishing 6th.
The battle though could go down to the wire, both Sauber and Force India have positives and negatives. Assuming Sauber can get out of the slump and put pressure on Force India, it could be an intriguing battle, and it could be interesting to see how Toro Rosso fit themselves into the jigsaw.