Sunday, 26 September 2010

Singapore Slings

Well there you go.

What have I always said about winning a Championship ? No, not “ that you need to pay Bernie a shed load of cash”. What I always say is that to win the F1 World Championship you have to be consistent and keep Lady Luck in an awful lot of champagne. She’s a game old lass and she knows a good racer when she see one. But get her a bit tipsy and she’s all yours and now, has got down off the pit wall and is cosying up to that rough old Ozzy chap in the Redbull garage. But in a rather sneaky way, she’s keeping her eye on her once favorites down at Ferrari.

So Alonso nails Singapore and takes the pole, the win and the fastest lap just for good measure. He took the pole on his first Q3 run on Saturday and then keeping it when Vettel brushed the wall on his final run, and never looked back from there really. Come Sunday and he “defended” the lead when the lights went out. If he had defended the line like that against Webber, chances are he’d have got a load of Webber up the back side. But Vettel knew what was best for him and backed out nice and early. Leaving Alonso to pretty much cruse up to the flag, Vettel kept him honest all race, but apart from a bit of traffic never looked like troubling Alonso for the win. That’s two on the bounce for the grumpy Spaniard and you would be a brave man to bet against him for the title. He won on the balls out speed circuit of Monza and now on the technical street circuit of Singapore. Given the circuits left to race, the Ferrari looks to be in good shape.

Vettel in 2nd then and he should have got pole and then lost the lead at the start before he’d even got it. Redbull tried to keep him out for as long as possible, but Ferrari had them covered all the way. It’s nice that he finished a race without hitting anyone or anything for a change and it’s done his championship no harm. But they had the car to win and but for a two foot section of Armco on Saturday, they would have. Are they faster then the Ferrari? yes, probably, maybe. We’ll see. But i still don’t think Vettel can win the championship.

3rd for Webber the luckiest man in South East Asia right now! He should be off down the casino right now to put all his money on the first number he sees. So after a rubbish qualifying left him down in 5th he prayed for a safety car and when that dully arrived he was in for the hard tires with an hour and 40 left on the clock. A couple of niffy passes saw him move him up the field, so that by the time the top six came in for tires he was right back in contention. When the second safety car came out he was almost jumped by a battling Hamilton. Now I’m going to be partisan because i like Hamilton and I think Webber is too ready to “strongly defend” his racing line. If there’s a 50/50 he’s not going to back out and that means he’ll hit the other car. Hamilton had taken advantage of Webber getting caught up with the Virgin of De Grassie , i’ll be fair and say that Webber had better track position coming into turn 5, but he could see Hamilton was ahead into the corner. Yes i know he’s chasing a world title. But he was lucky that Hamilton didn’t take them both out, Hamilton was ahead, turned in and gave Webber enough room “if” Webber had braked and moved over the rubble strip. But Webber being Webber never brakes early and “Strongly defended” the corner as usual from a driver than couldn’t see him. The Result Hamilton out and Webber with a wonky wheel.
You could argue that Hamilton, knowing Webber wouldn’t give him the room, should have given him more room, but you’re wrong and Webber is too ready to drive into other cars. And he needs a shave, Seriously. So he’s still leading the race for the chase for the cup for the thing. But it’s all starting to look a bit tight now.

Button in 4th get’s this weeks “was he there at all “ award. He got told that Webber was cruising on used hard tires and still didn’t get any closer.

Rosberg 5th, demonstrates that you don’t have to drive into other people to get a result here. Please take note Mr so called seven times world champion Schumacher. Who is rapidly turning into an arse as well as a smug German git.

Barrichello starts 6th and finishes 6th, another boring race for him.

Kubica has a barnstormer of a race. With a late puncture he ends up in 13th behind Algy, Petrov, Massa, Hulkenburg and Sutil, who he dully passes in the next 10 laps or so to record an excellent 7th place. I’ve been hard on Kubica over the years, never really believing that he has what it takes to go for the win and do something. Admittedly he was on new tires when the others were on very old tires, but you know he still had to get past the other guys who were all fighting for points.

Now, Adrian Sutil crossed the line ahead Hulkenburg and Massa in 8th. But the FIA have decided that he gained an advantage at the very start of the race on Lap 1. He Went off the circuit at turn 7 and therefore at the end of the race he should get a drive through penalty of 20 seconds, which moves him back down to 10th and Hulkenburg up to 8th.

Massa therefore crosses the line in 10th but is given 9th place which is a pretty good result for a driver that started at the back of the grid after the car gave up the ghost on it’s first qualifying lap. Not a bad result for a driver that has looked out of sorts all year long.

So Sutil ends up in 10th and is lucky or unlucky depending on how you did in the Prediction game.

There you go then, it’s all still tight at the top with 25 points still coving the top ten, and as Hamilton has shown it’s easy to get clunked by another driver and shoved into the armco. So it’s not all over just yet for Button and Vettel. But Hamilton needs to get a win or podium soon and. Whilst Alonso is on the move and Webber holds on by the skin of his teeth.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

It’s time for Singapore and the first night race of the season.

It’s still nip and tuck at the top of the table with Webber leading Hamilton 187 to 182 points, Alonso on a charge up to third and 16 points behind Hamilton on 166 points. Button did his chances no end of good with last weeks 2nd place and is only one point behind Alonso on 165 points. Vettel can still take the spoils with 163 points two points behind Button.

So 24 points cover the top five places. That’s just one win in new money and means none of the contenders can afford anymore slip ups.

For weeks now the feeling has been that Webber was the man with the momentum to carry him past the winning post. He’s the favourite for a lot of people. But Alonso is coming up on the inside rails fast. Ferrari would seem to have got the blown diffuser, wobbly wings and f-duck to work together and on top of a grunty engine that takes some beating in a straight line. Which means the pressure is on Webber to deliver a good result at a track expected to deliver a Redbull result, because if he doesn’t you can bet that Ferrari will have Alonso there to pick up the pieces.

Meanwhile Hamilton needs to put a frighteningly bad performance in Monza behind him and go and drive the cahonas off the car. Street circuits seem to be Hamiltons natural habitat. Both Monaco and Valencia have been happy hunting grounds over the years for Lewis and Singapore is no exception. Given a good run he has to be a podium contender this weekend.

Button showed in Monza that he’s not beaten yet. He went with a radical setup and almost kept the Tifosi quite, well those that hadn’t fallen asleep anyway. He was beaten in Italy by cold tires on an out lap and Alonso just nailing it when it counted. The feeling is that McLaren had talked themselves into loosing before the pits stop and where the first to blink. When the car is really working for him Button can be unbeatable, but the street circuits are not normally a place he excels. His smooth driving style never quite beats the aggressive drivers. Top five this weekend, if the others have trouble.

Vettel is having a tough time of it at the moment. He’s not really delivering, with two 3rd places a 15th and a 4th he’s getting results but not the podiums you need for a championship. A mistake at Spa earned him the nickname of the crash kid from McLarens boss. Then despite an engine glitch in Monza he still beat Webber. He’s 24 points off the lead, so not down and out by any means. But, well you just don’t feel he’s got it in him to win this year. Though he did do well in Valencia and Monaca, like Hamilton he really likes a street circuit, so this could be the race he turns things around. But ... well.... can he ?

There are some other drivers to watch this weekend. As ever the ever present Kubica was 8th in Monza after the podium at Spa. Further back and a 5th at Valencia and 3rd in Monaco would suggest a top 5 could be on the cards here. Renault have been talking this weekend up and have just signed some Russian ship yard or other up as a main sponsor for the rest of the season. So they’re riding high. The more adventurous pundits have been talking of a Renault win this weekend. But i have my doubts.

If Kubica can’t deliver than Rosberg will. He should have got a podium here last year but cocked up the pit exit and lost a hat full of points. He’s not shown well on the street circuits in the Merc thus far, but he has always gone well here were aggression and passion can get you a result. He’s comfortably beaten Schumacher so well that the word is the insufferably smug German seven times world champions is going to pack his toys away and hang up his helmet yet again at the end of the year. Whilst Rosberg will be given the head boy badge and told to get on with it. I like Rosberg and would love to see him get a result here. However, and it’s a big However, Ross and the boys have been talking about how much they’re looking forward to their 2011 car this week, which is usually code for, “they’ll be no more racing from us, don’t crash the car lads”

Other names to watch; Barrichello if the eye sight is up to it, this old lag knows a thing or two about street circuits. Petrov has almost done enough to keep his seat for another year, with Kimi asking for a fat pay check, Petrov’s Russian rubbles should see him safe. Kobayashi is joined by Nick Heidfeld from the rest of the season at Sauber after Pedro finally got the old heave ho for being slow and old and rubbish. I doubt Heidfeld will be on the pace here, but Krazy Koby could battle his way into the top ten.

At the back of the grid and it’s just a matter of time before HRT shut up shop and start selling the family silver off to the highest bidder, two rubbish drivers and a piss poor car to boot. What could Prodrive have delivered you wonder.
It’s looking increasingly likely that Branson is going to walk away any day now, just when Virgin are moving ahead of Lotus. This might be because Lotus has ditched the Cosworth engine for next year and are busy developing that car rather than patching this dog up. Virgin still feel there’s a reason to go racing for last place this year so are continuing to develop this years car, which means is might well beat the Lotus this time put.

But this is a street circuit people, at night and with lots of nasty walls and stuff, anything could happen.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

It's a full chat blat round Monza, Forza.

Rightyho then, it's off to Italy and the fastest race of the year.


It's about as fast as it gets theses days. A good old no holds bared, "what do you mean safety" full chat blat through the Italian countryside. Cleaver aero bits and flexible wings are not going to help too much here. It's all about just how fast can you go in a straight line. Grunt and plenty of it is what's required.
Based on what we saw in Belgium I'd say it could be a straight fight between the McLaren boys here. Yes i know Button didn't finish, but he managed to keep Vettel behind him, whilst driving with a broken front wing. Even with no front end grip through the twisty bit, he could hold Vettel off until the dopey German driver got it all wrong into the bus stop.

Also based on the result from Spa, you have to look at the Renaults as a possible winner here. They appear to have found some straight line speed from somewhere. It might have been their f-duct that kept them ahead of the Redbulls, but it was grunt that kept them close to the McLarens. I can see Kubica back on the podium this weekend. maybe, with a fair wind and a bit of luck he could win this. Maybe.

I'm also expecting the Force India's to be up there this weekend too. It's another low downforce track that seems to suit their car and both Sutil and Liuzzi scored in Spa, Liuzzi more by luck, but sometimes that's all it takes.

Ferrari always want to go well here, it's their home track after all. The Tifosi will be expecting Alonso to deliver something here, after a lot of whinging and not a lot of delivering. However, Ferrari have to face the music over the "team orders" storm in a teacup FIA trial today (Wednesday) and the FIA may feel the need to throw the book at Ferrari for no good reason other than they're cheating Italians. There has been a lot of "Rules interpretation" this year from the teams, with flexible wings and floors, ride heights that change in park ferme and suspension systems that do more than suspend. So the FIA may feel that it's time to swinging the FIA BAN HAMMER OF DOOM around to remind all the teams that pushing rules is one thing but blatant cheating in a real obvious way is quite another thing.
I don't think they'll get much more than a points deduction, but the FIA do take a dim view of teams getting bad press for not putting on a show and they might put the team on probation or ban them for a race. What bigger example of your power can you give then banning Ferrari from it's home race. It's unlikely I know. But this is the FIA we're talking about.

Anyway. Over at the Redbull garage the boys are looking at a damage limitation race. Both cars will have new engines but they just don't have the straight line speed of the over contenders. I don't even think they'll get pole this time out. Unless they can bring something very special to the party, i suspect they'll try to stay with the Ferrari, Mclaren Battle as long as possible and try to beat the Renaults. This race may very well decide which of the Redbull drivers is going to get the nod from Horner. A podium or top five for Webber would put Vettel pretty much out of the running with 5 races to go. If Vettel could win and Webber be back in the pack then his tilt at the title is still on. So both drivers are going to be looking around for each other, whoever is closest to Hamilton will be the favored son.

As for the rest, Williams have called time on this years car, but Barrichello could make up for Spa and get a top 10 here. The Torro Rosso boys could be top 10 is the Williams boys have an off day. Algy what's it had a 10th spot until the FIA intervened in Spa after all. Over at Sauber and Krazy Koby has been signed for another year and De La Rosa looks more and lore likely to be fired any day now. Koby is a feisty little racer and i wouldn't be surprised if he makes the top 10 if the Likes of Petrov and Barrichello make a mess of it. He's good enough, but the car can be temperamental at times.
Lotus and Virgin are both bringing new bits this weekend both teams want to beat each other and maybe Torro Rosso with a bit of luck. Points mean survival down this end of the pits. I think maybe Virgin will have the edge here. It's a speed track and the Virgin is faster than the Lotus, if it can hold together then i think Glock can beat Trulli and Kovalainen.