• Karun Chandhok's ESPNF1 column

'Fernando is worth every cent'

Karun Chandhok July 15, 2011
Fernando Alonso took his first victory of the season at Silverstone © Getty Images

The British Grand Prix produced a result that was pretty unexpected, at least in terms of Fernando's victory. Based on previous form in Northamptonshire and the popular consensus that the RB7 is still the class of the field in the downforce stakes, the double world champion's victory is a real credit to his ability and also the progress that Ferrari has made this year.

I really enjoyed my weekend at Silverstone. The new pit complex looks impressive but has a few issues which I understand will get solved over time as this is just the first phase of the development process of the circuit. The crowd at Silverstone and the atmosphere they create is FANTASTIC! The weather over the weekend was crazy though, I live six minutes from the circuit so am pretty used to the windy and rainy weather we get in this area, but even by our normal standards this weekend was bizarre!

It was nice to finally do some laps in the Lotus T128 this season. I think it's fair to say I haven't had the best run of Friday practice sessions and once again the weather at Silverstone wasn't great, but it was still nice to drive more than one lap in a session and get a feel for the car and the Pirelli intermediate tyres which are both completely new to me. The team seemed quite happy with the job I did so onwards and upwards.

Overall, looking at the relative race pace of the cars, you have to say that the Ferrari's ability to look after the option tyres even late into a stint played a huge part in the end result. Fernando was able to do best sectors and laps at the end of a stint, when the Red Bulls and McLarens had pitted, which allowed him to maintain track position at crucial times in the race. You could argue the Red Bulls both had issues in their pitstops but overall I still don't think they would've beaten Fernando this weekend. At the end of the day, Seb Vettel came out just under 10 seconds behind Fernando after the pitstop and the gap actually grew to over 15 seconds which was a true testament to the pace of car No.5.

Karun Chandhok on track in the Lotus T128 © Sutton Images
I know I may sound repetitive in this column to regular readers, but I do think that once again Fernando proved that he is worth every cent. His one lap pace in qualifying was mighty - 0.6s ahead of Felipe Massa, who has been on very good form recently - and in the race his relentless push lap after lap was totally worthy of a race win against the odds. The fact that his fastest lap was nearly 0.6s faster than anyone else says one thing, but the ability to produce fastest sectors and laps on worn tyres at the end of a stint was what was most impressive this weekend.

As in Spa 2009, a race win for Ferrari after a long break takes a load of pressure away and will allow Stefano Domenicalli and the Scuderia to breathe a bit more freely. No other team in Formula One comes under the pressure and scrutiny of the fans and the media like Ferrari, but then again no other team earns the similar level of adoration from the same people either. The team have done a great job to bring themselves back into contention and take a genuine race win but they'll know that realistically they're being flattered a bit by the Spanish trump card behind the wheel. To take on Red Bull and turn over the points deficit to Seb, they need to keep winning and hope for some DNFs for the reigning World Champion.

Seb and Mark Webber went away from Silverstone with a healthy haul of points. Second and third at this stage of the year will do very nicely for the team and Seb in the championship. There was a lot of talk about the whole team orders thing towards the end of the race and I have to say I felt bad for Christian Horner and Mark as people kept hounding them to say what they really wanted to hear. Ultimately, from the team's point of view they want to make the safe call and take home 33 points and from Mark's point of view he's a racer that wants to race. Somewhere in between there's a balance and it's something for them to decide internally and not something for all of us on the outside to get involved with when we haven't invested time or money into the program.

Lewis Hamilton and McLaren had a tough weekend © Getty Images
Mclaren had a tough weekend for the two home stars. The midnight oil will be burning bright in Woking as usual and it will be a major concern to them that Ferrari have also managed to sneak ahead with Fernando getting a second place and a win in the last two races - plus the red cars qualified 2nd and 3rd in Canada don't forget. I thought Paul di Resta was one of the stars in qualifying. He did a fantastic job to get up to P6 on the grid and was running well until they had a mix up in the pits.

The next race at the Nurburgring should be interesting. The weather patterns are as crazy as Spa - think back to 1995 (Schumacher hunting down Alesi's 22 second lead in 18 laps), 1999 (Johnny Herbert winning for Stewart) or 2007 (Winklehock leading for Spyker) and the changing conditions we had then. The track is pretty interesting with a lot of camber and elevation changes that make the lines through the corners unconventional in some places. It's also a circuit which puts emphasis on engine power and drivability as you have a lot of slow/medium speed corners which lead onto long straights. The tyre situation will once again be interesting as the multiple traction zones will put a lot of emphasis on tyre wear which should be good for the fans. If you are heading out there, don't forget to do a lap around the magical Nordschleife - I know I will!