Notes taken during the SPEED broadcast of the 2012 F1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 25, 2012.
Welcome to Malaysia where it's always hot and it's either raining or about to. pressdog® DRINK, ye BASTARDS™ Beer of the Race is Cyclone American Ale, brewed by Olde Main Brewing Company, Ames, Iowa. Get your DRINK, ye BASTARDS drinkware HERE.
Starting lineup: Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Roman Grosjean, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez, Kimi Räikkönen, Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Kamui Kobayashi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Vitaly Petrov, Pedro de la Rosa, Narain Karthikeyan, Heikki Kovalainen
Räikkönen took a five-spot grid penalty for a changed gearbox. Kovalainen took a five-spot grid penalty for a passing violation at Australia. I think it was for passing during a safety car period, BUT DON'T QUOTE ME. The STEWARDS ARE CRACKING DOWN.
Festival of interviews in the pre-race (tune in next time!) including Räikkönen, who SLAYS me with his interviews. First, its the big cap with the flat brim, then add some HUGE sunglasses so basically all you can see is Kimi's chin and mouth. Then it's loooow volume and all one word monotone. "Wellthecarwasprettygoodandwegotagoodresult." Har. I think he works on his delivery to make it as flat as humanly possible.
Bob Varsha, Steve "SAFETY CAR!!" Matchett and David "Woo-woo-woooo" Hobbs are in the studio (insert tinkle of scotch on the rocks here) and Will Buxton is on the ground at Malaysia. Story lines: Hobbs -- who's the Mac Daddy? (which McLaren will rule today?), Matchett -- "Massa-vely Screwderia" (Massa could be screwed if his Scuderia Ferrari doesn't do well today.) HAR. I have to wonder of Steve writes his own material. Bob -- Malaysia. (Weather changes basically every five minutes in Malaysia.)
We got rain, so everyone will start on the intermediate wet tires. (F1 note: Two kinds of wet tires in F1, "intermediate" which are kind of for light rain and "full wet" tires which are for serious rain.)
Gridded. Let's light this candle. We're ... GREEN.
Circus musicians have warmed up for nothing. Not much nuttiness on the start. Schumacher goes ass around. Grosjean spins. Both get back underway. (They actually hit each other.) Raining harder. Senna spun somewhere and resumed. Perez dives into the pits, maybe for full wets, maybe for damage. Festival of Random Speculation as to why Perez pits. Whenever random speculation breaks out, my favorite is always "there could be snipers in the grandstands." Senna also pits.
Replays. The McLarens get MONSTER starts. Very Ashley Force Hood dragsterish. Onboard Shumacher replay. Tapped and around. Hip checked by Grosjean? Actually Grosjean went around too. Later Grosjean said Shumacher caused the contact.
Lap 3 -- Hamilton goes purple (fastest lap of the race so far). Hamilton, Button, Webber, Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg, Maldonado, Räikkönen, Kobayashi, Massa.
Lap 4 -- Massa pits. Going full wets, 'cause it's raining hard. Matchett will now fixate on lap times of full wets verses "inters." If full wets are faster, other teams will make the switch. Matchett Lap Time Vigil ... ENGAGED.
Grosjean is beached. SAFETY CAR? No. Most of the field is pitting for full wets. Insert Matchett opining about lap times here.
Button pits first for full wets. Hamilton, who leads, stays out. Booth guys say that's likely that Button went first because Hamilton didn't want to pit this lap. Generally the leading car of a team gets his choice of when to pit. (F1 Note: only ONE pit crew per two-car team, but pit crews can have seemingly 72 people if they want. So when cars pit they have to come in one after another. If right together on the track, one pits one lap, the other the next lap.) In fact the Red Bull cars illustrate this well as one pits SECONDS after the other gets done in the pit box.
Lap 6 -- Lewis reports a Festival of Aquaplaning so he will pit this lap for full wets. DID BUTTON GET AN ADVANTAGE PITTING EARLIER? Stay tuned. Lewis pits from the lead and comes out just ahead of button to keep the lead.
SAFETY CAR! Matchett loves the safety car, 'cause it creates all kinds of "strategy." Matchett huffs strategy. He probably does aSafety (car) Dance in the booth.
Sector 3 is a lake, so this safety car is for too much water on the track.
Red flag. Insert one-hour rain delay here. Buxton tells this story: 2009 was Kimi's most recent race at Malaysia. During that race there was also a red for rain, during which Kimi disappeared and was found (on camera) eating ice cream and having a Coke. So today, an hour before the race, the Renault PR people (Kimi's engine is Renault) gave ice cream to all the media with a note attached. "To my friends in the media, just wanted to give you some refreshment before this race started. With my best wishes, Kimi." HA. Awesome PR stunt there.
Malaysia has the longest grandstand in the world (per Bob) and there are plenty of good seats in it available today (per TV pictures). Seriously, crowd looks crappy. Can't really balme it on the rain because it ALWAYS rains at the Malyasian GP. Video of Räikkönen by his car today, but with no ice cream. Disappointing.
Lap 10 -- After an hour of rain delay, we're rolling again. Everyone starting on full wets BY LAW.
Lap 13 -- Safety car coming in ... Let's relight this candle. GREEN. de la Rosa gets a drive-through for mechanics not leaving the grid in a timely fashion when the field rolled again.
Festival of Five Wide into Turn 1. Insert many sonic utterances from Mr. Hobbs here ..wooo wwoooo wooo. Many drivers dive into the pits for intermediate tires. Everyone gets through 1, but Hamilton got INHALED on the start by Alonso at least, possibly Perez too.
Lap 14 -- Button on inters is .2 faster than Hamilton on full wets. Rest of the field and Hamilton pit for inters.
Lap 15 -- Hamilton has a slow stop. Much exclamation about the ramifications of that in the booth. After throwing the rear jack guy under the bus for causing the slow stop, replay eventually shows Hamilton had to hold for a Ferrari in front of him to pit before he could go out. Not sure if this slow stop cost him a spot to Perez of if Perez beat him on the restart.
Cue the circus music! Button bashes into a pig-slow HRT car while trying to overtake in a corner. Brain lock from Button. Could have easily inhaled him on the approaching straight. Button gets a TRASHED front wing for his efforts. Pits for a new nose. SCREWED race there. A tiny airplane lands on the track and 19 clowns jump out and rip the planes wings off.
Lap 16 -- Alonso leads. Hobbs says Alonso is good in wet conditions. Seems like EVERYONE is good in the wet, per Hobbs, or maybe he only mentions people who are good in wet conditions. Alonso, Perez, Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Räikkönen, Webber, Massa, di Resta, Vergne.
Lap 17 -- 'Nando (Alonso) goes purple. Matchett does a Fernando Dance. Many comments about how AMAZING it is for the Ferrari to be P1 after the shit race last week. Rain does that, which is why Bernie Eccelstone trots out his track sprinklers idea occasionally.
Lap 18 -- Button pit radios him that he's the fastest on the track and he does, in fact, go purple, but he's P20. MIRED in traffic. Screwed hard.
Lap 20 -- Matchett again does his Fernando Dance. Kimi is P6 after starting P10. Alonso, Perez, Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Räikkönen, Webber, Massa, di Resta.
Räikkönen stalking Vettel for P6. Hobbs says "half-assed" on air. I strongly believe I heard it, but I didn't bother replaying it nine times. Button radios that front tires are crap. No grip. Alonso now +4 sec. on Perez.
Lap 22 -- Rosberg, Vettel and Räikkönen battle for P4. Vettel into turn 1 and CLEAR. Overtakes Rosberg for P4. Räikkönen now all over Rosberg who may have an issue.
Räikkönen goes outside to inhale Rosberg for P5. Alonso goes purple
Lap 25 -- Alonso +6 sec. on Perez. Speculation that Rosberg's rear tires are crap. Maybe KERS is toast too. (Don't forget their might be snipers in the grandstands!)
(F1 Note: KERS stands for "Kinetic energy recovery systems." That's a system much like in hybrid passenger car that uses the turning of the drive components while coasting or braking to charge a battery that then can be used to deliver power to the car to supliment the gas engine. KERS boosts give F1 cars 80 hp bursts for 10-ish seconds at a time, then have to recharge. Generally one or two boosts available per lap.)
Webber next to inhale Rosberg who is clearly having issues. Button up to P19 on new tires.
Lap 27 -- Senna overtakes Schumacher. Renewed speculation that Mercedes Rosberg and Shumacher have no rear grip.
Senna gets a drive through penalty for having the number on his car too large and readable (KIDDING!!! The under is ENORMOUS by F1 standards, though. Most F1 cars have the numbers about the size of tennis balls somewhere inconspicuous.)
Button goes purple two laps in a row, but mired back in P19. Matchett again gives 'Nando major shout outs. Hamilton is in P3 and 15 seconds back of 'Nando.
Lap 29 -- Alonso, Perez, Hamilton, Vettel, Räikkönen, Webber, di Resta, Vergne, Senna, Hulkenberg.
Lap 30 -- Button purple again. Up to P18. Kobayshi shows some large attachments by inhaling Mike Shumacher on the outside. Räikkönen does rally sliding through a corner, keeps it under control. Pulse rate probably climbed to 23 bpm. Hobbs give Kimi a shout out.
Lap 32 -- Perez goes purple (fastest time of the race). Track is definitely drying and Matchett warns the intermediat tires will be shit (I am paraphrasing) on dry track. "TEAR THEMSELVES APART" is how I think Matchett put it.
Lap 36 -- Webber pit radio says "rain is coming" going to have to try and stretch the intermediate tires until rain gets here.
Lap 37 -- Perez gets massive shout outs from Matchett et al for the killer drive. Perez rumored to be the guy next in line for Ferrari if Massa can't pick it up.
Lap 38 -- Ricciardo pits and gets soft slicks. Gotta, because the line is dry on the track. Will have to pit again for rain tires if it rains.
Lap 39 -- Massa in for slicks. Festival of pitting here after Ricciardo goes purple on his soft slicks.
Alonso, Perez, Hamilton, Vettel, Räikkönen, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Webber, di Resta. Alonso dives in for tires.
Lap 41 -- Perez pits ... can he get out in front of Alonso .. NO. SPEED (the F1 feed, more precisely) shows a graphic for where Alonso is during the pit stop and he flashes by pit out comfortably in the lead. Perez comes out right behind Alonso, however.
Hamilton has an 8.1 second stop. That's like a day in F1 where 3 seconds is a long time. They couldn't get some tape off the brake vents.
Lap 44 -- Senna inhales di Resta.
Lap 45 -- Perez is freaking out. Rampaging up toward Alonoso in P1.
Lap 46 -- Perez position "We need this position." BEER SPEW. Sauber happens to be a Ferarri engine customer. Booth guys speculate as to if that is code (for "don't pass Massa.") Cue the 2010 German GP when Rob Smedley, came on the radio to tell Massa who was leading: “OK, so, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?” And later Fernando happened to overtake Massa. Ferarri got a $100K fine for "team orders" which are banned in F1. Which is goofy, becaues team orders exist if you ban them or not. You don't think ... with Sauber being a Ferarri engine customer and Perez next in line for Massa's Ferarri ride ... naaaah
It is just a coincidence that Perez almost immediately goes wide in a turn, up over the curbs, off the course and back on, still retaining P2, but screwing his chance to overtake Fernando. Happy coincidence for 'Nando there. Maybe yes, maybe no. I honestly don't know. Maybe Perez's pit was just warning him not to do anything stupid to overtake Alonso and thereby piss away P2. If Perez did intentionally give 'Nando a bigger lead, he did it in spectacular style by going off course, rather than just "missing a gear" or posting a pig lap time inexplicably. With that off by Perez, Fernando will win barring air strike.
Kimi goes purple!
Lap 55 -- Maldonado is BLOWN up, SIR! Sucks to be him because he had a good race going.
Lap 56 (white flag) -- Red Bull tells Vettel to "retire" pull in to the pit for good. Then they say, no, stay out. Then they say "Stop the car. Emergency." Why is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
Fernando wins. Perez P2. Hamilton, Webber, Räikkönen (finishes with fastest lap of the race), Senna, di Resta, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Schumacher, Vettel, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Button, Massa, Petrov, Glock, Kovalainen, Maldonando, Pic, Karthikeyan, de la Rosa, Kobayashi, Grosjean.
Podium. Anthem. Perez first Mexican on F1 podium since Pedro Rodriguez in 1971. Hamilton accepts P3 with way more enthusiasm than his "warm cup of piss" acceptance in Australia.
Drivers points ... Alonso 35, Hamilton 30, Button 25, Webber 24, Perez 22, Vettel 18, Räikkönen 16.
Constructors ... McLaren-Mercedes 55, Red Bull Racing-Renault 42, Ferrari 35, Sauber-Ferarri 35, Lotus-Renault 16.
That's it from Malaysia. Next up China. Sunday, April 15, 3 a.m. Eastern on SPEED.