Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Hungary, pray Webber hits someone to liven this one up.

Just enough time to catch your breath and we’re off to Hungary for the next F1 race of the season. Though to be honest, given how usually dull the Hungarian GP is, don‘t get too worked up about this one.

Baring mechanical or Webber brain failure, whoever gets pole here (it’ll be a Redbull ... maybe a Ferrari) will win this one. They always do, there’s just nowhere to overtake. It’s dusty and tight off line and it’s a stupid noodley circuit with only one straight worth the name. Watch the qualifying and then catch the highlights, unless you want a couple of hour’s kip on Sunday afternoon.

McLaren have been waving the white flag this week, talk of “struggling to take the fight to Redbull and Ferrari”, it might be bluff, but I suspect they’re expecting a tough weekend. Redbull seem to have a reliable car now, and only mismanagement is keeping them from clean sweeping everything. Whilst Ferrari have got a fast enough car to beat the bench mark Redbull with ease it would seem. Alonso has been given the Head boy badge and Massa told to collect his bags then go and eat with the other servants at the back of the pits. No surly talk of “doing all right for a number two” here. It’s a straight forward “get out of the way lad, and know you place”. That’s how you do it Horner!

So really it’ll be the Redbulls and Alonso up front with the Woking boys looking to spoil the party. Hamilton can hustle the car better than Button, so I’d plump for him. Massa, well how much did Germany take out of him. Will he go for glory at the circuit that almost killed him a year ago, or retreat into his shell and fail to deliver? He’s come a long way in 12 months but last weekend probably didn’t help. You could say that just being here is a victory in its self however heart warming stories don’t put points on the table.

Kubica up next with a Rosberg, both of whom have been fighting for the 5th spot this year. Rosberg can make it further up the heap, but Mercedes appear to be switching development away from this year’s car. Having admitted that it’s not the Brawn of last year, they’re looking to get points where they can, but not at the cost of losing next year’s title. Kubica meanwhile has shut up and got on with things, consistently in the top 10 he’s doing a good job. Considering that the owner of Renault F1 went cap in hand to Bernie last week for an advance on next year’s money, you have to wonder just how long Kubica will be able to stay in the top 10. The Williams boys have finally got a good car under them and are looking to improve on a rubbish first half of the year.

Krazy Koby has also popped up on the mid season radar with good solid drivers in Valencia and Britain in a very rubbish car, his stock has defiantly risen in the last few weeks. With Kimi thumbing his nose at Renault and Petrov failing to deliver anything like the performance he was hyped too. Koby is starting to look like a shoe in for the soon to be available Renault seat. Hungary could be another good race for the likable Japanese chap.

Talking of rubbish cars, Bernie has been sticking his crazy old man oar into things and come up with “at least two teams won’t make the end of the season” That’ll be HRT obviously who have fired both of their original drivers once, rehired one and fired the other again. To replace them with a very much 4th rate driver, who doesn’t even have that much money with him? The car is utterly rubbish, it’s not even good enough to win a GP2 race, where is will undoubtedly end up next year in fact.

"they're all a shower of shits mate, nar'what I mean!"

Meanwhile the wolves are starting to circle the Virgin boys. Neither driver has been signed for next year so far and Glock is being linked to the Renault seat. Di Grassy is nothing special and will be no big loose. Glock I will always like, just because he gave Hamilton his first world championship. Seriously though, if a team turns up with a petrol tank too small to do the job, you have to ask how professional they are. Lotus have been good in patches, but always looked pretty professional. It’s not the fastest or most exciting car on the grid, but it’s not blown up after 5 laps of failed to make qualifying so far.

I dislike Branson who turned up last year, schmoozed around and won a Championship by luck after putting no money into it really. He then ditched Brawn “because I like to support the underdog” bollocks and set his own team up with some old mates. These old mates have turn out to be rubbish at running an F1 team and Branson has come to realise that F1 is pretty much the same as business, you can buy success, but it will cost you a lot of money. You don’t see his smug face and stupid goatee quite as often this year as you did last year do you.

Anyway yes Hungary. Well you pays your money and takes your chances. Bet on the percentages with Redbull and Webber, take a punt with Alonso or sweat like a desperate man with the McLarens. But don’t expect an interesting race, even the rain is staying away.

Monday, 26 July 2010

The dirty cheating Italians are at it again.

There you go then, a leopard never changes its spots does it. Alonso turns up, and a yeah okay Alonso is further up the championship table than Massa was, but there are a shed load of points left to play for. Why does Massa have to get out of the way so early in the championship? A win here and maybe the roll gets going and before you know it he’s hunting the McLaren and Redbulls down. The Ferrari is obviously a good car that can take the Redbull on for a win. Yet they still tell Massa to get out of the way to let the Spaniard through. Considering I though Massa was going to be nowhere near the sharp end, it was a cracking race by the Bionic Brazilian. He makes it past Vettel off the line and then drives away from the Redbull, keeps Alonso behind him when he struggles on the new hard tires, to then turn round and tell him to give the place back and claim to the worlds press that “he wasn’t as fast as Alonso” then Alonso to say with an absolute straight face “I don’t know why he slowed, it’s a narrow circuit and I took my chance to over take him” is just a kick in the teeth to Massa and two fingers up to the paying punters.

The other teams will tell drivers not to race and to keep it on the island. Ferrari will tell a driver to get out of the way and let the “team leader” through. He almost gets his brains turned to pulp and he still have to get out of the way.

Other than that .... It was pretty dull race. I spent the day at the Farnborough air show with my son and thank God I did, it meant I could fast forward the dull start, the dull middle bit and the dull end. Ferrari’s synchronized racing and McLarens “holding station, to defend the points” do not really make for a particularly exciting racing.

But Ferrari ... really. Do they still need to be doing that in this day and age? According to the FIA no they don’t, a $100,000 fine (a slap wrist of the loosest kind) and a “we’ll think about giving then a stiff talking to later” statement suggest the FIA are worried about bad publicity, but not a lot more. If they get the random ban hammer out to "adjust the result" I shall be very very surprised indeed.

Let’s see then if you fell asleep the result was:

1st Alonso, given the result, but was still there or there abouts all weekend.

2nd Massa got robbed of the win. A good result for driver whose struggled so far all weekend.

3rd Vettel, got pole by the width of a knats left tactical. Then failed yet again to convert it to a win

4th Hamilton still leads the points table. Damage limitation result

5th Button, lost out off the start line, made places in the pits. Didn’t drive into this team mate.

6th Webber was never going to get past the McLaren boys. Didn’t look like going for the win all weekend

7th Kubica never looked fast, best of the rest result again.

8th Rosberg, yet again beat the 7 time world champion.

9th Schumacher looked very smug when asked about Ferrari team orders, the happiest he was all weekend in fact

10th Petrov. Will still get fired any day now.

Vettel gets the fastest lap, further embarrassing Ferrari. Lotus drop the ball and Virgin come up with it this time, well done them.

the next race is this weekend an the utterly dull Hungarian GP. Who ever gets pole will win. i can guarantee it.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

I blame chpaman for this.

So Mr Lopez the new owner of Renault has gone cap in hand to Bernie to ask for a bit of up front cash.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. You can't go racing to further your business interests unless your going racing to win. F1 is not about glad handing punters to network your portfolio, it's about developing the nuts off the car so it beats the next sucker in the next garage along.
If you take your eye off the game to shake Mr Bladry De'blahs hand from the pink Elephant Corp, McLaren, Ferrari and Redbull will have redesigned their suspension and will be 2 seconds up the road.

Lopez is the same as Branson and Fernadez. Playing around for a few year, drink a little champers, make a few friends than high tail it the moment it all gets a bit expensive.

I fully expect Petrov to get fired before the end of the season for "not performing well enough". Whilst Branson will bring up some performance clause before the end of the year and sell up to to some other flyby nigh two bit wonder. Maybe he'll pay for next years car until that fails after 3 races.

To be Fair to Mr Fernadez, he does appear to be in this for the long term, well 3 years at any rate. After which point he will discover that being a jolly nice chap does not move you up the grid past similar jolly nice chaps like Peter Sauber.

It all started to go wrong when Chapman sold out to gold leaf.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Germany, ruthlessly efficient but cold.


Well where’s your money going to go this time then ?

Silverstone was supposed to be all about McLaren. But Redbull showed that they’re not ready to give up the championship just yet, yes they’re trying hard to stab each other in the back and sow discord and disharmony where ever possible. But the Redbull is still the fastest, most planted car on the grid today. Until McLaren or Ferrari can get their trick blown diffuser to work and not cook the rear suspension, I can‘t see either taking the Redbull in a straight fight.

In the Redbull camp, they’ve had yet another “clear the air” meeting and the drivers have once again agreed to “work together and deliver the championship as a team” blah blah. It’s all rubbish and if I was Horner I’d be hoping that it’s not a Redbull one – two after qualifying. It has to be said that Webber has had the better first half of the season, if he thinks he’s getting number two treatment there are many in the pit lane who’d like the same treatment. He’s had all the luck with the car and only retired when he’s hit other people. Vettel has had chassis break, spark plug fail and noses fall off randomly. Webber appears to be in one of those “right place right time right Luck” moment that odd drivers get. Like Nigel and Hill and even Button last year, he’s got the right car and his head is tuned into winning and believing he can win. He’s even got the right amount of paranoia that can make him think everyone is against him. That is always difficult to beat, whatever the driver thinks the team is doing behind his back

Bridgestone are bringing the super soft and super hard to the party this weekend. Just like in Canada, this is going to sort the men from the boys, more specifically the men who can nail a fast qualifying lap and keep their tires in good shape for the start of the race. Because the softest will grain up pretty fast and loose grip at the start of the race, whilst the hards will struggle to get up to temperature in the forecast cool conditions. You want a driver that can stroke the car for the first half then spank it to within an inch of its life in the second half (I don’t have to spell that out for you do?). The Mercedes boys will be delighted by this news, as they won’t have to explain why they’re rubbish, just shrug and point at the tires and then walk off. The same goes for Massa, another one that can’t get his hard tires to work these days.

Ferrari have been talking up their race this weekend, I think they’re rather hoping that Lady Luck finally stops flicking the V’s at the boys from Maranello and shows them a bit off love. I don’t think Massa will be anywhere near the sharp end this weekend, but providing Alonso can get his act together he should be there or there about. They have a car capable of mixing it with the McLarens and even the Redbulls with a bit of luck. Alonso just needs to calm down, stop blaming all and sundry for his bad luck and do a bit of racing.

McLaren will be trying the blown diffuser again in Germany, along side the regular diffuser in a back to back test which is a brave move.

It’s effectively writing off the Friday practice and banking on taking the Friday setting into qualifying on Saturday. The boys from Woking must feel confident that they’ve sorted the issues that plagued them at Silverstone.

So Germany, it’s back to Hockenheim this year, the rather neutered course used to be a flat out full chat race through the forests. High speed corners with silly little chicanes, into a grandstand stadium section that twisted and turned to give the fans something to watch. Now the Fast section has been cut in half and a stupid hairpin added at the top of the circuit. It’s still fast, but requires more downforce than it used to. As I’ve mentioned tires are going to be the critical feature of the race. Looking after soft tires on a green track and getting the hard tire up to temp. Hamilton won a barn stormer the last time they were here.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Ozzy bounces back, Vettel cocks it all up this time.

Well that was a pretty exciting race wasn’t it? We’ll not if you’re a Vettel fan, or a Ferrari fan for that matter. But as a Brit and an unashamed McLaren, Hamilton fan, I think that was a pretty good race.

It wasn’t the McLaren one – two I was hoping for, the much heralded blown diffuser turned out to be a bit of dud, so much of a dud in fact they took the thing off and bolted the old under floor back on. Giving the boys a couple of hours to get ready for qualifying, with pretty much new cars on Saturday. As a result Hamilton was lucky to make it to 4th and Button all at sea down in 14th. Meanwhile the Redbulls looked like they were in a race of their own. Alonso tried to make a fist of it but he was still miles away leaving yet another Redbull one two. The only interests came when it was revealed that the new nose the Webber had been taken off and given to Vettel before qualifying. A storm in a tea cup you might think, but apparently not and more than noses had been put out of joint by team orders.
Given that at that stage Webber had already said on Friday he didn’t really care about the new nose and Vettel was leading the championship. You’d think that Webber would have shrugged and gone, “oh sure no worries mate, stick another shrimp on the barby mate ... ripper” etc. But no, “boo hoo I’m not the number two it’s soooo unfair.. blah blah blah”.

Anyway Come Sunday and there is a certain simmering tension in the Redbull camp, whist the McLaren boys are thinking about the race and Alonso is eyeing up a win or a podium at least. Most people are looking at the Redbulls and wondering if Webber will take out Vettel off the line.

When the red lights went out, Webber nipped past Vettel, who attempted to drive him into the wall, Alonso forgot to engage first gear and got swamped by the top 6. Hamilton managed to get up behind the fast starting Webber, Vettel cut back in to stop Hamilton and looks to have clipped the front wing of Hamilton’s’ car with his right rear and punctured the tire. Game over and good night sweat heart. Vettel limped back to the pit, his chance of a victory up in smoke.

That was pretty much it in terms of the race for the win. Webber never looked like being challenged by Hamilton, who kept him honest but never got a sniff of the lead in two hours of racing. Webber felt it was just reward for being labelled the Number 2 at Redbull. It would have been a more interesting race if Vettel hadn’t lost the lead off the line. But it was only ever going to be a Redbull victory this one.

So Webber wins, after almost being killed last time out. Which is nice for him. He didn’t do anything wrong, was fast when it required it, dealt with the safety car well and keeps his chances of a title just about alive.

Hamilton gets second and did the best job he could do under the circumstances. Vettel hit him, he didn’t have anywhere to go when the German cut back in on him. Profited from Alonso forgetting to select first gear at the start and never really looked back. He tried to take the fight to Webber, but never really got anywhere near him. Considering they had to rebuild the car on Friday night and set the car up in a short practice before qualifying, I think he can thank the team for these points.

Rosberg avoids the fun and games and gets a very well deserved podium in 3rd spot. Once again beat his team mate in qualifying, the seven times world champions Mickey Schumacher don’t forget. Then showed that the car isn’t a dog and if you just shut up about the tires being different to what you’re used to, you can beat the others. There is definitely a bit of needle between the two Brawn drivers. Mostly because Rosberg isn’t following the script. But you know what, I like Rosberg and I think he’s having a storming season which a car that’s a bit pants.

4th for Button who drove the nuts off the car and made up six places off the line, stayed out when everyone ahead dived in to the pits and ended up in 4th. Once again a good result for him thanks mainly to the team and a bit of nifty driving. Whilst Redbull arse around telling everyone that the McLaren boys are going to have a fight any day now then stabs each other in the back. The McLaren boys just get on with it and pick up the points.

5th for Barrichello who shows that the updates they bolted on in Valencia were actually very good and it wasn’t just luck. The oldest man in the field battled hard and gets the reward. I do have a soft spot for the Williams boys, and in a week when Frank finally stepped down, it’s good to see them back in the two ten.

6th for Kobayashi. Based on driving ability this time, he stuck at it and didn’t need a safety car this time. He is starting to pop on the bigger teams’ radars now. A Japanese driver who isn’t here on Yen alone. I think we could be seeing more of Krazy Koby this year.

7th for Vettel who managed to pass the slower cars and then a few of the midfield until he got as far as Sutil and then he struggled. He should have won this really, ignore the smoke and mirrors of the nose issue and think about the fact that he clearly has the fastest car on the grid, and can qualify on the front row with ease, But then the red lights go out and he just can’t seem to dominate and pick up the points with any consistency. Rather than accept Webber had gone past him he had to fight. He needs to accept that there are two hours of racing and 19 races to the title. Not 100 yards to the first corner and victory. So points saved, but more points lost.

8th for Sutil who was unlucky to lose a place to Vettel at the end. He has the measure of the Redbull driver for lap after lap then got mugged as Vettel driven down the inside at Brooklands. Still, not too shabby from the midfield team. Importantly much better then Liuzzi yet again.

Sorry this is rather long .... The world cup final is dragging on. We’re into extra time now.

So yeah, Mickey shoes makes it to 9th, 1 place ahead of where he qualified. Those seven world titles.... it was definitely the car not the driver. He got mugged by Vettel and Sutil. This is more than just rusty, this is rubbish. And it’s not the car because Rosberg is on the podium.

10th for Hulkenberg who shows that the new Williams is a good car.

Still nil nil, oooh Spain have a corner.....pfft more rubbish

This week’s “What are you talking about Alonso?” moment. Whilst fighting Kubica for position, he managed to get up alongside the Pole into vale corner, then realised he’d run out of room and took to the run off area. Taking the position in the act. “Well that was pretty obvious, he’ll be giving that place back then” but no, instead he get on the radio with all his usual injured pride and claimed Kubica had driven him off the circuit. “Excuse me, I’m sorry? Do you not have any brakes young man?” Kubica blew his engine not long after that and Alonso thought he was safe. But the creeping hand of the FIA reached out and as the safety car got called out, decided that Alonso should have a drive through penalty after the safety car had been called back into the pits. Putting the whinging Spaniard at the back of the field, he had enough time to pass a few of the new boys and get the fastest lap. But that was all. 14th and out of the points after qualifying on the second row. He got bumped by his team mate and was made to look ordinary yet again. Get you act together, you’re worse than the Spanish team who have just ended the first half of extra time still goalless.

More extra time. Sorry if they’d scored this would be all over.

The New boys, Lotus take the spoils as Virgin lose one car and HRT fire a driver, then don’t fire him, then can’t decide if he’s going to be back for the next or just “more”. His replacement, Sakon Yamamoto was utterly rubbish when he drove for Jordan and Super Aguri and spyker and true to form was utterly rubbish here. He must have just a sack load of money … if not a small shed too.

Well the Dutch have just had a player sent off (at long last the dirty cheats) so it looks like it could be all over pretty soon. If not penalties and I don’t think I can be bothered with that.

So it’s the end of the first half of the F1 season and it’s a case of what should have been for Redbull and well done to McLaren. Ferrari, and more importantly their big summer signing Alonso have been a comedy of error and newbie mistakes. Whilst Brawn so dominate last year are casting around with a well below par old timer and young gun. It’s been a pretty good first half of the F1 season, five different winners in ten races.

Hurrah Spain has scored at last … about bloody time. It’s been a nasty vicious match with fouls aplenty. I don’t think Football is the winner with this game.
And that’s the world cup over. And I’ve written three pages here. Without a bottle of red anywhere near me either.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

It's coming home, not the world cup though. Unfortunatly

So it’s all back to the head quarters of the pink gin brigade of old duffers that run the BRDC and the British Grand Prix. Bernie might not like it, but it’s all he got to work with now. Donnington has gone bankrupt and had to give up its right to hold the British GP. So we’re all as we were and Northampton it is.

Well, not quite as we were, as half of Silverstone has been ripped up and some new corners added. The first half through Copse to the hanger straight then vale are all there. But Abbey and the super fast Bridge are gone, replaced with a new series of sweeping corners back towards Becketts and the new arena hairpin, then a long fast straight to the Brooklands complex and the old circuit. It was designed for the MotoGP boys, but they didn’t really like it. The biggest complaint was that it’s too bumpy and despite being three cars wide, there’s only the one racing line.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t designed by his Dullness Herr Tilke. But an English company, who still had to get the FIA to agree to it all, so it was a touched rushed in the end. The Pit complex after vale has only just been started and the grandstands will be very temporary this year. But it’s had some races on it and no one has hated it really, just no one has really loved it.

So once again the McLaren boys come here as favorites’. This time they are though, they’ll have their new trick rear exhaust diffuser thingybob and whilst Redbull have a couple of drivers who can nail a qualifying lap, they don’t have the race pace of Hamilton or Button. Either of who could win this one and win they will. Two British drivers in a British car in front of a vocal, passionate crowd that is not there to see a German or an Ozzy beat the home boys. No sir e bob.

Lewis and Jenson are not here to come second, as this will define the second half of the season for both of them. They’re one and two in the championship and would like be fighting each other for the big cup rather than Vettel or Alonso, so putting some daylight between them and the rest would be a good thing. It would also set the team up to start favoring one or other.

Meanwhile the Ferrari boys, for which read Alonso, have been making noises about not forgetting them and they would have been higher up the table if Hamilton hadn’t cheat etc etc etc blah blah blah. They’ve seemed a bit all at sea for most of this season, Alonso making rookie mistakes, getting wound up in Valencia yet he’s only 29 points behind. Slowly slowly catchy monkey as they used to say. You can never discount Alonso, he has the kind of luck and skill that wins world championship and now Ferrari are really going to put everything behind him. Massa is now the number two, he might have been given a new contract, but he’s having a very quite year.

Vettel and Webber have just failed to deliver really. They should be miles ahead, measuring up the cabinet for a nice big FIA 1st place cup. Yeah they’re 3rd and 4th in the championship, but unlike Alonso, you have to wonder how they’ve managed to get there. Neither driver can over take. Driving into your team mate is the worst possible crime, driving in to the back of other cars repeatedly is just as bad. Webber just seems to forget that other cars will break into corners and Vettel seems to run out of ideas when stuck behind anyone. Will they get pole ... probably, will they win, not a chance. But then I said Webber wouldn’t win in Monaco.

Williams seem to have found another gear from somewhere. They got both drivers into Q3 at the expense of the Mercedes boys, Barrichello eventually finished in 4th profiting from the safety car silliness to an extent, but you have to be in it to win it don’t you. If Mercedes continue to screw it up then I think we could see some more of the Didcot boys this weekend.

Also doing well last time out and talking their race up this weekend are Sauber. Krazy Koby showed that given a fair wind and a bit of luck, he’s not a bad little racer after all. It wasn’t just a Toyota that made him impressive. He’ll dine out on the Alonso overtake until he’s old and grey. Can they do the same again this weekend? Well you never know, would you bet against Webber hitting someone else again?

Not having a very happy time are the Merc Boys. Rosberg has come out this week all guns blazing asking why is the car behind the Williams, when it was supposed to be the mutt’s nuts, he was in a Williams last year and now he’s behind them in a supposedly better car. What gives! Brawn has attempted to calm the stormy waters, but the word on the street is that the Money men back in Stuttgart are counting the pennies and asking was it all worth the cost. If I were Mickey I’d be check the small print for performance clauses I had to hit.

Most of the teams have simulation of the new Silverstone circuit up and running now, so the drivers will know which way the track goes (let’s hope Webber was paying attention), what they won’t know is how the track reacts to the tires, how the tires wear out. Wing setting are going to be sorted before they even unpack the transporter. But how the tires physically interacts with the road, that’ll be a where the race is won or lost. And that what makes this race a lottery.