I was and wasn’t happy to see Lewis’ podium hopes getting blown up along with his Bridgestone tyre. I was, ‘coz he ended up with 2 more points less than what he would’ve garnered but for the tyre failure. I wasn’t, ‘coz I love and respect and admire the man Lewis Hamilton. He is a true champion in my eyes. Cynics argued that Lewis’ stunning performances early in the season were mainly thanks to the excellent McLaren. They kept on harping that his true talent would only emerge when he is put under real pressure. I guess Lewis has answered them all in this race. What more a pressure a driver can face than the task of defending his championship lead? That too when the rival closest to his points tally happens to be using the same car as he is? Lewis, coming into the race, faced just the same task. He had to defend his points lead over his much hyped team mate. He outpaced his team mate effortlessly over the weekend and had the legs on him in the race too, looking to fill the final place on the rostrum. But then what actually happened is history. Alonso through being more luckier than Hamilton just about managed to slot himself into third place after having seen himself shamelessly losing not one but two positions off the line to the two BMWs. Now, I hope the F1 world realises that Alonso is after all a normal racer – not a special guy that he used to see himself as, not a special guy that he is used to be seen. This, he amply has been demonstrating throught the 2007 season. You see, when he’s given a car that doesn’t have a rear-ward weight bias that favours a clean, great get-away (which the Renault he raced for the past two seasons, had), when he’s given a car whose engine has no extra torque low down it’s powerband (which again the Renault had) that gives it ballistic acceleration on the run-down to the first corner of a race track, he doesn’t make those incredible starts – that everyone said he made – anymore! He starts as normally (or even worser) as others around him do. No more a special guy, you see!
Getting back on what we should discuss, the Ferraris were on a different plane. They had the race all to themselves. When the MP4-22 chassis was susceptible to chewing the softer of the two Bridgestone compounds on race day a little too quick than what the McLaren engineers would’ve preferred, the F2007 chassis made beautiful work of it. The Ferrari chassis made superb use of the fantastic traction provided by the option tyres while nursing it at the same time. The Ferrari duo said that they found both the prime and option tyres to be pretty much the same. Albeit for them. This shows that the Ferrari chassis is brilliant at being so kind to its tyres. In fact, the Ferrari is so kind to its tyres, the Ferrari engineers and drivers are finding it to be kinder that what they would’ve liked. We can say that because, the team’s weak point so far this season when it comes to performance has been their one lap pace. They are finding the car to be faster in the race trim than it is in the qualifying trim. This is understandable as the Ferrari is putting less than optimal heat into its rear tyres in the first few laps that are so crucial in the pull-out-all-the-stops-in-this-lap sort of qualifying this year.
Great chassiss have always had this idiosyncracy. The F2002 had it. The MP4-20 had it. The F2007 has it.