Another early start this morning, with the third round of the 2011 Formula One World Championship.
The drama started before the warm-up lap even began, as Lewis Hamilton's McLaren failed to start in the garage. The mechanics frantically set to work removing the engine cover and air box, as it appeared the engine had been flooded. It was a race against time to get the car running, and Hamilton eventually took to the track, less than a minute before the deadline. Any later, and he would have had to start the race from the pitlane.
As the lights went green, pole-setter Sebastian Vettel got an uncharacteristically slow start, being passed by the McLaren's of Jenson Button and then Hamilton, and almost lost another position to Nico Rosberg's Mercedes.
Vettel managed to overtake Button in the first round of pitstops. As Button led the German into the pitlane, he mistakenly drove into Vettel's pit box which was situated directly before his own. The confusion didn't lose the Briton much time, but it was just enough for Vettel to get the jump on him.
Vettel's team mate Mark Webber, who had started in 18th after a poor qualifying session, started the race on the prime (hard compound) tyres. He didn't make as much ground as expected due to a lack of KERS once again, and at one point dropped as low as 20th. However, as he hadn't used any option (soft compound) tyres, he had three brand new sets in his garage. Eventually, once he had pitted and switched to the options, he started to feel more comfortable with the car and began to move up the order.
There was only one retirement in this race; the youngest driver on the grid, Jaime Alguersuari, had recorded his personal best qualifying result - 7th - but didn't get a great start and lost a few positions. Leaving the pits with a fresh set of tyres, it soon became clear his right-rear tyre was not properly attached, and it came off completely shortly afterwards. The Spaniard was unable to return to the pits and had to retire.
As the race entered the final stages, the drivers with fresher tyres began to gain a significant advantage. Vettel, who had regained the lead thanks to a two-stop strategy, began to lose time to those chasing him. Button, in fourth place, was at one point catching the leader by as much as three seconds a lap. Hamilton drove supremely well in the second half of the race, passing his team mate, Nico Rosberg and then, eventually, the leader Vettel.
Webber was continuing to move well up through the field, and managed to catch Button who was holding the final podium position. Using the DRS to the best of his advantage, Webber was able to catch and pass Button, meaning he had gained a highly impressive 15 places since the start!
This result shows that the pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull are not unbeatable, which is good news for the rival drivers and teams, and should make for a more exciting season.
Provisional race results:
1. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren - Prediction 3rd
2. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull - Prediction 1st
3. Mark Webber - Red Bull - Prediction 4th
4. Jenson Button - McLaren - Prediction 2nd
5. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - Prediction 11th
6. Felipe Massa - Ferrari - Prediction 7th
7. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - Prediction 5th
8. Michael Schumacher - Mercedes - Prediction 13th
9. Vitaly Petrov - Lotus-Renault - Prediction 6th
10. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber - Prediction 10th
11. Paul di Resta - Force India - Prediction 18th
12. Nick Heidfeld - Lotus-Renault - Prediction 8th
13. Rubens Barrichello - Williams - Prediction 9th
14. Sebastien Buemi - Toro Rosso - Prediction 12th
15. Adrian Sutil - Force India - Prediction 14th
16. Heikki Kovalainen - Team Lotus - Prediction 19th
17. Sergio Perez - Sauber - Prediction 15th
18. Pastor Maldonado - Williams - Prediction 17th
19. Jarno Trulli - Team Lotus - Prediction 21st
20. Jerome D'Ambrosio - Virgin - Prediction 22nd
21. Timo Glock - Virgin - Prediction 20th
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania - Prediction 23rd
23. Narain Karthikeyan - Hispania - Prediction 24th
DNF Jaime Alguersuari - Toro Rosso - Prediction 16th
A bit of a mixed result for the Formula One Results Predictor. Not too many results were spot on, but most results were there or thereabouts. It appears to have been the surprisingly strong showing from Mercedes GP which made the difference!