- Published on Friday, 30 March 2012 15:43
- Written by Dale Walker
A taste of F1 gives fans longing for more.
When I turned on the television last Sunday morning and tuned in to the race I knew we were in for a spectacle. The first image I saw was a panorama of the track – that, in itself, was not very interesting.
The massive dark storm cloud looming in the background, however, was. Rain, the impartial leveller of the playing field. It doesn't matter how much money your team has, how expensive your front wing is or how fancy the design on your helmet is.
If it rains, everyone is going to get wet and everyone is going to have to deal with it. It becomes a test of the individual driver's ability to control the volatile machine that encases him.
The strategist's choices become even more critical. The pit crew has to brace itself to be ready at a moment's call. The entire race stands on a knife-edge.
The 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix was a perfect example of the excitement that a splash of water can bring to F1. I don't think anybody could have correctly predicted the outcome of Sunday’s race. Lewis Hamilton repeated his incredible qualifying performance in Australia to take pole position with apparent ease.
Mercedes looked like they had decided to take the race to McLaren and Ferrari looked like they still hadn't decided whether they had built a racing car or an exceedingly ugly pair of trousers for Fernando Alonso in the off-season.
Within five laps most of the cars were on full wet tyres and, by the sixth, the race stewards had decided that they had had enough fun laughing at cars aquaplaning sideways through high-speed corners that they sent out the safety car to restore order on track.
The race was eventually red-flagged for fear that cars would become lost in the lakes forming at various points on the Sepang circuit.
After a substantial wait the race restarted with a vengeance. There were collisions, punctures, lost front-wings and far too many tyre changes to keep track of. Eventually two drivers emerged from the fray: Fernando Alonso, who had decided to stop admiring his carefully groomed beard in his wing-mirrors, and Sauber's Sergio Perez, the 22-year-old Mexican.
The remainder of the race was a battle between the two. Perez was eating into the gap between him and Alonso and looked certain to pass him when, in his eagerness, he forgot to turn into a corner and lost his opportunity.
Alonso went on to win the race with ease and Perez secured his best ever finish and first podium appearance. Hamilton rounded out the top three once again, though this time he seemed much happier about it.
We have a three-week break now to recover and prepare ourselves for the next event in China. It will be hard for the Chinese, or any other Grand Prix to match the excitement last weekend. With some time for cars to be improved and the drivers getting the bit between their teeth, it is sure to be yet another thrilling season.