The Emergence Of A Legend
F1 2006 is looking very good indeed after today's race. For the first time in a long time, watching the TV coverage made me want to be at the circuit. There's a real depth to the grid this year; lots of new teams, the leading drivers all seem to be at the top of their game, and we've still got comedy at the back despite the transformation of Minardi into Scuderia Toro Rosso…I'm so grateful for Super Aguri.
As for the race, it was excellent. Mostly because of the quality of the overtaking manoeuvres, they really were top class. Button, not driver that I especially rate, pulled off some classic textbook moves at the first corner. His move on Montoya (I think, excuse me if I'm wrong) particularly caught my eye. He got a good run out of the final corner, and stayed in Montoya's slipstream, all the way down the start/finish straight right up until the braking zone. Then, just before slamming on the anchors, he aimed the car to go just past Montoya's rear right wheel, and sailed past. However, Jense was not finished.
Montoya knows how to drive, so seeing Jense dive up the inside, he didn't panic. He stayed wide, so that he could turn in later, but get a better exit from the corner than Button and then reclaim the position at the next corner. He did not anticipate that Jense would go wide as well (seemingly intentionally) to block off his escape. Montoya had to wait for Jense to get out of his way before he could get the accelerator down, and by that time Jense was already up to speed and well away, managing to defend himself at the next corner. Credit to you, sir, that was definately a move.
Heidfeld and Couthard also had some notable battles at that first corner, highlighting it as one of the most entertaining overtaking places on the calendar (especially on a Tilke track ;–)). The right–left kink straight after the corner gives some great opportunities for some aggressive defensive/offensive driving, without the risk of hitting anything hard, except for whoever you are duelling with.
However, performer of the best overtaking move, and as Brundle pointed out, star of the show, was Nico Rosberg. Apart from his abberation in qually when he hit the wall (it happens to the best of us ;–)), he handled himself excellently thoughout the weekend; most unlike a rookie driver. Getting points on your F1 debut is quite an acheivement, getting fastest lap on your race debut is even more so (stats fans…who was the last guy to do that? Villeneuve?), and all in a car that is regarded as maybe the 5th/6th best on the grid. Legend.
I of course have to mention his brilliant move on Klien as well, again at that first corner. I loved the dummy he sold Klien, to make him think twice about shutting the door, excellent work indeed. He clearly knows what he is doing, despite his relative inexperience. If Rosberg can continue to race as well as he did today, then he's one for the future, if not the present. Williams are a team that can only improve, especially with that monsterous Cosworth engine in the back, so Rosberg is sitting pretty. Is he a one–race wonder though? Somehow, I don't think so.