Many questions remained after th Australian Grand PRix about Ferrari’s woes and reliablity but this weekend, Kimi sent a message.
The defense of his World Championship started Sunday with a dominant win that pitted him against his teammate, Felipe Massa, and BMW’s Robert Kubica for the victory. Felipe Massa ruined what otherwise would have been the perfect weekend for Ferrari when spun his F2008 on lap 30 and remained stuck in the gravel trap.
Most interesting was the lack of pace the McLaren cars displayed at Sepang although this track has been in favor of the Ferrari car for some years now. Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen struggled to finish 5th and 3rd respectively. Having been docked 5 grip positions for blocking Fernando Alonso and Nick Heidfeld during qualifying, Lewis Hamilton could not overtake the Red Bull of Mark Webber and only did so with pit strategy. The remainder of his race was spent trailing Jarno Trulli’s Toyota without passing him for the 4th position. Lewis struggled with a longer-than-normal pit stop to do a problem with his front right wheel that could have cost him 4th or possibly 3rd.
Heikki Kovalainen outshone his much vaunted temmate with a solid drive to a podium finish proving that perhaps Lewis-mania has more to do with a brilliantly young driver in the best car…I’m looking at you Heikki. Perhaps the idea of not repeating last years debacle at McLaren may just place Lewis in Fernando’s position last year while Heikki could prove to the world that Lewis is indeed special but given the same car, so is he.
The accolades must be heaped on Toyota for Jarno Trulli’s brilliant drive to a 4th place finish. A resurgent Toyota is such a relief and terrific story. Perhaps Robert Kubica’s 2nd place finish for BMW and Jarno’s 4th place signifies new contenders for the crown or at least will make Ferrari and McLaren’s run tot he title a little more challenging.
Further accolades have to go to the Red Bull team who placed both cars in the top ten and even scored points for Mark Webber. After last weeks debacle, Mark surely needed and deserved a good showing this weekend.
Fernando Alonso drove another terrific race in a car that has little business being in the parts to claim 8th. Fernando set up the pass of the race for BMW’s Nick Heidfeld who used Fernando’s attempt on DC to go three-wide, ala Mika Hakkinen at Spa, and pass both cars for position. A great move by Nick.
in the end, McLaren says they will bounce back in Spain and should be ready to take it to Ferrari. I don’t doubt that but what this weekend proved to me was that Lewis handled his slower car very well and made a race of it in the latter stages of the race. Known as a prolific passer, I saw none of the champion-like passing from Lewis that has been branded on him but given my druthers, I will reserve judgment as Lewis deserves time to prove he is accurately being mentioned in the same sentence as the greats. This weekend, Heikki is the person who should be quoted, interviewed and talked about. Sadly, that isn’t happening in the press. McLAren should be very proud of their new driver who kept McLAren’s title run on the podium as their other young star failed to impress.