Martin Brundle is thrilled by what he has seen so far of the 2011 Formula One season. In an interview with Autoblog UK after the race at Spa, he singled out Michael Schumacher for special praise.
That was an action-packed race with plenty of incidents. Did you enjoy it?
Martin Brundle: Yes, very much. There were so many changes in the leadership on the first few laps. Nico surged into the lead as the drivers in the top teams were worrying about the blistering on their tyres. And there were so many good overtaking moves, especially from Button who went on a charge up the field and from Schumacher who drove from 24th on the grid to finish fifth. There were also a few bumps along the way and a moment of madness on turn one, which wasn't at all impressive. But over the remainder of the race, we saw what I consider to be some outstanding performances. It was just a very exciting race. And Sebastian Vettel somehow manages to always avoid getting involved in the mayhem that is going on behind him.
Even though Vettel has further extended his lead, do you think that the championship and the remaining races can still generate excitement?
So which two races were a bit of a let-down?
I think Australia was rather dull, and I'm also thinking of Valencia. But the rest were all contested at the limit – both in terms of strategy and overtaking and also as regards the number of incidents. I think it's turned out to be a great Formula One season. Sebastian has already got one and a half hands on the championship trophy. But there's still a lot to look forward to, because the tracks that are yet to come are simply outstanding.
What about Michael Schumacher? Twenty years in Formula One, and today he showed that he's not ready to pick up his pension yet.
Absolutely. He's already had one P4 finish this year in Canada where he almost made it onto the podium. He's shown that he still has the speed, the courage and the strategic understanding to progress from the back of the grid to finish as one of the front-runners. That was impressive. He beat Rosberg by using a different strategy, and he kept out of all the aggro on the first lap. I've just watched his first lap from the on-board camera – phenomenal. He drove brilliantly and steered clear of trouble.
Someone missing from the grid today was Nick Heidfeld. Has he already lost his place for good?
Well, we need to look at his contract for the answer to that. However, the team claim that they were on a downwards spiral and had to do something drastic to turn their fortunes around. After all, he only came in as the replacement for Kubica in the first place. Even so, the whole business looks like a mess to me. I have to say, though, that if they were planning to put Nick back in the cockpit later in the year, why would they take him it out of it now? It either comes down to financial reasons, or else the team is just not satisfied with his performance. You obviously have to take that aspect seriously, I would say.
Nick has at least scored two points more than his team-mate...
Nick has done a solid job, but Petrov has raised his game. Let's be frank about this: Nick's been around for quite a few years now, and you know what you're going to get with him – a highly respectable performance. But he's not going to set the world on fire, and he's not the sort of man who gets to the front by taking risks. That's not his style. I think he's done a decent job, but apparently they had other reasons for putting Senna in the car.