Topics: Formula 1
March 27, 2008
Two races gone but F1 teams still don’t have any idea who’s going to bag the title this season. Does this mean F1 has revived its competitive nature after Schumi’s out of the big picture?
Scarlet Scuderia’s Kimi Raikkonen’s return to the top in the much-concluded Malaysian Grand Prix is expected. But Ferrari, third in the constructors’ championship, had trouble elsewhere. The Finn’s teammate Felipe Massa suffered retirement on lap 31, injuring Ferrari’s one-two finish goal.
After winning in Malaysia, Raikkonen was cautiously upbeat. "We never lost confidence in our team. Of course we had quite a difficult race in Australia [both cars had engine trouble], but the whole winter the car has been working well. It's been quick ... we didn't have any issues [in Malaysia] but you never know, we're still not 100 percent happy with things," Raikkonen told CNN.
Undeniably, Ferrari have the fastest cars at the Sepang circuit. But the fastest lap went to Nick Heidfeld from Sauber, the team sponsored by the maker of BMW parts. At Sunday’s race, Heidfeld finished sixth. Polish teammate Robert Kubica, finished second. Currently, BMW Sauber is second in the constructors’ championship.
"We are very pleased with the early days of the season -- two podiums in two races, 19 points to our account and 11 points one go is a new record for us. That's all very positive and good basis for the next races," said BMW Motorsports Director Mario Theissen. "It [Malaysia] was another fantastic race for us. Only the Ferrari was faster than Robert [Kubica]... we had no technical problems on either car. The performance was again very strong. Now highly motivated we... look forward to the coming races."
Notwithstanding grid penalties, McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen finished third and fifth making Woking team stay atop both the constructors’ and drivers’ tables.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis said Hamilton and Kovalainen had put in strong performances despite an "eventful weekend." "Heikki had a great race dealing well with the traffic and achieving a well-deserved first podium position with the team ... the true pace of our cars was masked by the inherent understeer that comes when driving in traffic. We now look forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix,” he added.
Toyota and Red Bull also gathered points. Renault’s Fernando Alonso battled hard to finish eighth. Williams, meanwhile, suffered when Nico Rosberg collided with Toyota's Timo Glock and Kazuki Nakajima.
So far, predictability is elusive in 2008 F1.