Monday, 31 August 2009

Spa, who is that !!!!!!??!?!?!?

Spa, race of champions!

Well that was pretty weird wasn’t it?
Force India, Toyota and BMW I’m sorry, but they have rubbish cars that are there to prop up the big boys aren’t they? They’re not supposed to be there to challenge the big boys and get points and look like winning teams and stuff. No they come last and are there for comedy value .!!!!
Except in Spa it would seem, the home of big fast grunty engine motor racing, with big balls out speed and danger and true honest to God racing ... they were there and they did take it to the big boys and they proved that racing is about being brave and committed to a sport that rewards the brave.

Okay so Alberkerky and Grosjean showed us that there is still a world of difference between a world champion, a world champion elect and couple of newbies with good PR. But still, there were a lot of drivers at Spa who reminded the paddock that they still existed and knew how to race.

Obviously I don’t mean Badoer here. Who, yet again, got in everyone way and was just plain embarrassing. After the driving into the back of the Force India in the pits at Valencia after the race had finished Badoer came to Spa vowing to show the world he wasn’t an also ran but a true red blooded Italian racer in a race winning Ferrari ...... except he didn’t.
I think Badoer demonstrates just why there should be no sentimentality in F1. Yes he’s worked hard for Ferrari for 10 years, but he should stick to testing and not racing.

Meanwhile over in the Renault pits. Alonso was busy showing off to his “alleged” new employers (Ferrari) that he can drive into a Force India just as well as Kimi of Massa or Badoer. Except it was Alonso that came off worst this time with another retirement due to a wheel spinner problem. Oh well only 5 more races to go lad.
So Kimi wakes up and wins a race. Hurrah for Kimi. He gave one side of the Ferrari garage something to smile about in their worst season in a gazillion years. It’s been 1993 since Ferrari last went through a season without a win. When Alesi and Berger failed to cross the line first and save some pride. This will be well received back in Italy, mostly because it goes a long way keeping Ferrari in hunt for third place in the constructors.
Next up in 2nd of all places appears to be Fisichella in a, of all things .... A Force India. Nope, I can’t believe it either. And it wasn’t because of freak weather conditions or carnage on the first lap. No, Fisi nailed Spa from lap one in practice one. The Force Indies were all over this place like a bad rash. Either Sutil or Fisi, one or other was in the top 5 all weekend.
In the race Fisi got jacked on the restart to a KERS running Ferrari, but then the Ferrari didn’t disappear off into the distance as we all expected. No, Fisi kept Kimi honest throughout the race. Never more than 4 seconds back. No, I have no idea where they found all that speed from. It also makes Monza in a couple of week’s time an interesting prospect doesn’t it.
3rd for Vettel who keeps the dream alive for a little bit longer. With Button and co having bad weekends, Vettel stays in the hunt. Redbull look to have a bit of an issue with their Renault engines at the moment. Webber had to change his on Saturday morning and Vettel has 2 engines left for the next 5 races. So for Vettel to pick up a 3rd here with the wick turned down it is a very good result indeed. Can he sustain this and really take the fight to Button. Good question. It’s Monza next and that really tests the engine.
4th For Kubica. This will have done nothing to harm his chance of a Renault seat for next year. A good solid drive with not winging at all. Maybe the BMW boys are starting to get their act together.
5th for Heidfeld too. Proving that BMW can set up the car for fast grunty circuits at least. Expect more of the same for Monza then.
6th Kovalainen has an uninteresting run, outside the top 5, which s what they were expecting apparently. With Hamilton being punted off, this result makes Kovy look good to perspective managers.
7th for Barrichello. Who will be a happy boy that Button fails to finsih, but he should have made more of this. Dragged the car home in the last two laps with an engine dumping oil out of the left hand side. The first Merc engine failure this year. A fact not lost on Redbull and their Renault tech boys.
8th and the last points paying spot for Rosberg. Who looked lost and slow all weekend. With not Button, Hamilton or Alonso in the top 8 he profits from their misfortune.
9th Webber, out of the points and never really looked like taking the fight to the Brawns. Suffered when he had to change the engine on Saturday, never really recovering from the loss of track time. Redbull will be asking Renault what they intend to do with its engines. If they keep going bang then they won’t be racing for the title come Abu Dhabi
Finally in 10th Glock. Toyota and rubbish and need to get their act together. They should have been all over this circuit and they weren’t. Yet again they fail. Force India is now officially better than them.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

What lap will it rain on then ?

It’s back to proper racing

Considering that Belgium is the most boring country on the planet, by some miracle it managed to build the second best circuit in the world. A circuit built by Men for Men to race on. Big, fast corners with long winding straights through the forest up the side of the only interesting bit of Belgium.
This place is all about speed and handerling, going fast and carrying the speed though the corners so that the ribbon of tarmac unfolds in front of the car. Speed, you have to have a big grunty engine that can propel the car like a missile through the forest or the Ardennes.

Which going on form so far, all adds up to the Redbulls after Webbers victory in Germany.

But, this is Belgium and that means rain. We got it last year in the result that never was. Hamilton chasing down the Ferrari of Kimi, until it starts to rain and Kimi’s going backwards suddenly. Then Hamilton cuts the corner, gives Kimi the lead back and then takes him into the next corner and keeps it on the island to take a brilliant victory. Or so we thought. Then the FIA pressed the Random Result Generator Button™ and Massa wins for some really bizarre reason.
The weather can be strange here. Rain on one side of the circuit and brilliant sunshine on the other side. Usually it just dumps a load of rain on the circuit and catches the great and good out.
So picking a winner is always tricky here. Redbull are the favourites because they won in Germany. Webber is still chasing Button hard and Vettel needs to shake the feeling that he’s stiffed when the chips are down. Redbull can still win the constructors cup if both of their drivers are up to speed
McLaren have got themselves a fast car at last and are trying to beat Ferrari to 3rd spot in the championship. So they will be going balls out for a win. Hamilton to wipe the memory of last year’s race, and Kovy to try and keep his seat for next year.
Brawn seems to have got the car sort of fixed and Button needs to stop haemorrhaging point to his rivals. Whilst Barrichello want to prove once and for all that he can win a championship if given the chance.
Ferrari meanwhile have given Badoer another shot at racing, after he clocked up the most number of pit lane fines in the history of motor racing. Kimi wants to prove that he can still drive a car fast, even win, after last year’s fiasco.

So there are lots of drivers with something to prove here and they have a proper circuit to do it on.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Barrichello wins somehow

Hurrah for the old boy.

There we go. Barrichello finally shuts up whinging and comes home first. From Qualification he looked to have the car under him to do it, and he delivers in some style. Having the pace to chase down the fast starting Hamilton and passing the McLaren when it got stuck in the pits waiting for tires.
After the race Witmarch claimed they were too slow and Barrichello was always going to win, if the tires had been there for Lewis it wouldn’t have made a difference. They were always going to loose. I think he’s right, Barrichello looked faster than Hamilton and they couldn’t pull out enough of a lead to make the difference. However, if the stop had been slick then Lewis would have been closer and maybe Barrichello would have made a mistake.

But , at the end of the day, all the major passes happened in the pit. The race, as a race, was pretty much over after the first lap. No one could pass unless the car in front (usually Badoer in the Ferrari) got out of the way. The circuit which should be ace, is too wide and too dusty. I think there were more people on the beach then watching the race.
So Barrichello wins, well done to him. He did a good job and chased down Hamilton for a well deserved win, He leapfrog Webber in the race for the chased for the cup for the thing behind Button. Can he go on put a run together as Button looks to have lost his nerve a bit ?
Hamilton, takes 2nd after a great pole, low on fuel as he was. He’d lost a lot of running after tagging the wall at the start of practice on Friday. So to come back take pole and almost take the win is pretty good I think. It again shows that McLaren have turned the corner and now have a car the if not the fastest, is defiantly fast enough to win. It was fast in Germany too before Webber tagged it. SO Spa next weekend might be another happy hunting ground.
3rd for Raikkonen again shows that the Ferrari too has a good car when they find the sweet spot. Like McLaren they’re also looking to salvage pride this season, but they continue to take points away from the Brawns and Redbulls. Kimi didn’t look like he was going to race anytime, he just got there with a long middle stint and being just fast enough. Will he be staying now that Massa is sitting at home for the rest of the season and maybe beyond.
4th Kovalainen, slower than Hamilton again, but did the best he could with a car that didn’t have much break disc left. He still needs to put a race weekend together and make some luck for himself. He’s not consistent enough, and may well still lose his ride if Rosberg can be bought out of his.
5th Rosberg again brings the car home in a points paying position. Doing a good solid job with the tools to hand, just how much longer can Frank keep him ?
6th Alonso, tried hard but never looked like trouble ling the top 5 really. Spent a lot of the race getting out the way of any Red cars.
7th Button, oooh it’s all starting to go wrong isn’t it. Okay so Vettel and Webber are out of the points. But his team mate is 35 seconds up the road and doing his stupid shuffles dance thing on the top step, Buttons rightful place. Maybe the pressure has got to him, maybe he’s trying too hard, or not hard enough. Whatever the problem, Brawn look to have sorted the car issue out to a large extent. Now Button needs to get his act together and go and do his thing. A rubbish start left him behind Webber for most of the race, and only a bit of traffic on Webbers in lap saves Button from a thrashing.
8th Kubica. I have no idea how this has happened. I guess the Toyotas being rubbish means there are no other cars to be ahead of the BMW. Everyone else left is either too old (Badoer), too new (Grojean and Alguersuari) or blew up. So Kubica gets a point in a season to forget.
9th Webber. Well that didn’t go to plan did it ......
10th Sutil turn to be the best Force India.
Quite randomly, Glock gets the fastest lap. No I have no idea how he did that either. Lap 55, why didn’t he do that all race and maybe get some points. I don’t know quite how, but I’m going to blame Trulli for no other reason than I dislike him.
This was supposed to be a Brawn circuit, and it was. Not the Brawn we were expecting, but Brawn did the best of the championship contenders. Once again it’s the McLaren’s and Ferraris who have taken points away from the leaders and this is going to be the shape of the rest of the season.
It’s Spa next which is a fast flowing circuit that sorts the men from the GP2 newbies. The Redbulls should be all over this place, but I think McLaren and Brawn will be closer than Redbull expect. Hamilton on shear bloody guts and Brawn on strategy.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

It feels like I'm destined to never write this !

I've started it 3 times now and have yet to get even half way.

Okay big breath, last go.

We're off to Spain and the sleepy little port of Valencia. It's a tight dusty circuit, first used last year and was devoid of any sort of soul or passion. Yes there are a gazillion Spaniards cheering on Alonso, but they're miles back and the tight street circuit isn't like Monaco with houses over looking the circuit from all angles. It's a harbor race but it's more like Portsmouth docks than the Cote D'azure. I've seen more spectators at the Chinese race.
Being tight and dusty means that it only has the one line around it. It's wide enough for three cars in places, but anyone going off line finds out how hard the wall is at the next turn. Last year Massa led Hamilton and Kubica home in a fairly dull race. The highlight being Massa taking his turn to try and drive a Ferrari into Sutil in the Force India. It's almost certainly not going to be a thrill a minute race ... I'm pretty sure.

However, this race is going to be important for all of the teams. It's the break point between, "We can still win something here lads" and "Okay, okay it's a Dog, time to fire up the PC and plan next years car chaps"

Brawn currently lead the championship, but the last three races have been dire, with 5th and 6th instead of romps home to win. they lead has been cut to 15.5 points and the car looks to be a right old handful on old/new/shiny blue/pink/or a spear set of radials off Ross's car. It over steers and under steers all over the show. For a car that once dominated, it's lost that winning feeling hasn't it. They thinks it's something they've bolted onto the car either at Turkey or Britain, the question is what is the bit that's gone wrong. Button can still win the championship. But not if continues to come 5th for the rest of the season. Barrichello will continue to complain until Brawn points out that he is slow, a nice guy .. but slow.

Redbull need to continue to beat Brawn to give their boys a chance at the title. They look focused these days, no longer the playboys in the paddock having a bit of a laugh and selling soft drinks to the punters. They can smell Bernie's cheap aftershave as he hands over the prize at the end of the season. However. Vettel looked very outclassed in Germany and lost in Hungary. After being the bright new thing that could stop the Brawn wagon, now he's casting around trying to find the edge that took him to victory in China and and Britain. Meanwhile Webber looks to have finally found a car that can deliver his potential. A good top 3 run since Turkey has seen him move in 2nd place behind Button.

Bizarrely Ferrari are currently 3rd in the championship. I have no idea how, Kimi is still on his sabbatical after winning the championship in 2007 and Massa, has had to retire home after Barrichello tried to brain him. Mickey Shoes almost got the nod for Valencia, but fell off his motor bike earlier in the year and the doctor told him to forget it. So Luca Badoer get's the nod from here on in. maybe to the end of the season if he doesn't hit anything. Ferrari 58 points behind Redbull are playing for pride now. But they'll still give it a go.

Toyota Have failed when they should be fighting for wins. They had a whizz bang car and a flash diffuser and they still contrived to cock it all up. Trulli has a nice vineyard ..... that is all. Glock has been unlucky with some good drives up the field from the back of the grid. He's running out of races to prove he isn't another Trulli.

McLaren, have staged one of the greatest turnarounds in modern formula one history, Spain onwards saw them floundering around racing Force Indies and Torro Rosso, Then in Germany but for a wild Ozzy move they 'could' Have won, then in Hungary .... a circuit not unlike Valencia ..... a blinding win with time 'for a cup of tea half way round. Hamilton, after a bit of a shaky start has got the team working in the right direction and has got them to build a winning car. Can he do it again ? I 'm not going to bet against it. Kovalainen has been told to buck his ideas up, i expect he'll get his P45 come the end of the season.

Williams ... see Toyota. Rosberg is doing what he can, but needs to put a whole GP weekend together to deliver some of this promise. Nakajima continues to trouble the armco more than the score board.

Renault, have finally fired Piquet for being utterly rubbish, and have now brought in some chap called Romain Grosjean. Part of the Renault young pups club, he did alright in F3 and is doing *cough* okay *cough* in GP2, although he does appear to be at the scene of a lot of accidents recently. Still give the chap a chance, he'll be nowhere near as fast as Alonso. Who is allowed to race at his home GP after the FIA realized that their stewards are idiots and they banning the only Spanish team at the next Spanish race would be stupid. If not very financially damaging to all and sundry. Alonso for pole ... it's a good bet i think.

BMW...... utter rubbish, soon to be gone, and can't even do the descent think and sell the team back to Sauber. What could have been.

Torro Rosso, have fired Bourdais, for no apparent reason and have employed Alguersuari. He didn't hit anything in Hungary (unlike Massa (sorry)), so let's see what he can do here. Buemi continues to be underwhelming.

Finally, Force India have looked almost racy at times. Who knows, they might do well this time and not get hit by a Ferrari.

There you go, I think the McLaren's and Ferrari, will be mixing it up with the Brawns and Redbull s again. I think the Brawns might just have the edge here, but only if they can fix the car. Throw Alonso into the mix and it has the makings of the good race. If only it wasn't at Valencia.