Sunday, 14 November 2010

Vettel takes it, as Webber and Alonso cock it all up.

So there we go then. It all ends much as it started, with a dull race that promised so much.

It should have been fantastic. All five of this year’s title contenders where up the sharp end of the grid after qualifying three. Vettel putting in an electric performance to take the pole by the knats proverbial testical from Hamilton. Webber choked on the big occasion as he has done on so many occasions over the years and ended up behind Button AND Alonso. How could he win the championship from there?

When it came to the race we’d all forgotten that last year’s race was a horrible dull affair with cars in a long procession and precious little spectacle to be seen. And so it proved again this year. Off the line and Button got the drop on Alonso to take third whilst Webber despite previous history managed to avoid hitting anyone or anything to sit behind Alonso, something he was destined to do for a very long time.

Meanwhile, Rosberg made a move on Schumacher and so surprised the disappointing German seven times world Champion that he spun in the middle of the chicane and then Liuzzi with nowhere to go attempted to mount the stricken Mercedes in a very forceful way. The result was a lengthy pace car period whilst the work experience marshals watched each other dither around trying to get Liuzzi's car off the top of Schumacher’s car. There was a bit of half hearted pulling of pieces and comedy attempts to clean up with the only two brooms in Abu Dhabi, before racing was allowed to continue.

I say racing but what we actually got was almost an hour and a half of dull tedious chess. Webbers had cooked his tires behind Alonso so had to make a very early stop for new boots. Which prompted Ferrari to take their eyes off the main challenge of Vettel and follow Webber into the pits. After the usual slick pit work, Alonso dived out in the exhaust smoke of Petrov. Normally a reliable cove to crash before half distance but this time amazingly that, after also changing his tires early, was driving a fine race. Thus had no need what-so-ever to get out of Alonso’s way.

And that, as they say, was that. Hamilton and button tried to take the race to Vettel, but he was having none of it and pretty much cruised to the win. Leapfrogging both Webber and Alonso in the table and taking his first World F1 Drivers Championship. Redbull does indeed, it would appear, give you wings. (If you’re German and had been brought up on the stuff since birth).

An early pit stop was how it all ended. But we did get to see a Driver take the chequered flag and take the main prize for a change. It’s kind of nice when that happens. Rather than finishing in the middle of the pack and winning by default as so often happens.

So Vettels wins in Abu Dhabi. The thorny question of “does Vettel deserve the drivers’ championship” I’ll have to ponder for a few months. Was he the best driver of the year? No not really for me, he crashed too often in unforced situations and I still maintain that he can only win when he’s at the front of the field. Luckily for him the Redbull has been the class of the field and given him ten poles this year. Even Webber with five poles couldn’t fail to be a championship contender. So to win from yet another pole is kind of what Vettel has done all year. If he didn’t crash or hit someone, he won. This is pretty much what you have to do.

Lewis gets a deserved 2nd place with a car that was at best 5th best behind the Redbulls and Ferrari’s. He never gave up and has raced when all looked lost for him. Great wins in Spa, and Canada and a gifted win Turkey kept him up there and if he hadn’t got all Leary in Monza he would have had a better shot coming into Abu Dhabi. But this is only his 4th year in F1 and the 3rd time he’s been a title contender. The next few years are going to be fantastic as Vettel and Hamilton fight it out to be the best there is.

3rd for Button who’s retained his credibility with great wins in Australia and China when the changeable conditions played into his hands, he didn’t seem able to take the fight to the others with poor qualifying performances all year. But he didn’t disgrace himself with some storming runs to pick up points when all looked lost. Considering that the Media was planning the memorial service when Hamilton buried him, he’s done a good job to be nobody’s number two this year.

Rosberg grabs 4th with yet another good solid drive, much the same as he’s been doing all year. He showed Schumacher how to do it all year and hasn’t been phased by the ex world champions attempts at mind games. Jolly well done to him, Redbull would do well to grab him when Webber throws his final hissy fit and storms off.

Kubica in 5th had “problems” in qualifying and didn’t make it to Q3. The problem being he’s rubbish. The last of my top division drivers, okay he’s all right and in a better car would probably get podiums and stuff, but he’s like Boutsen all those years ago, fine now and again but he’s no world champion. If Massa flounces off I think he’d be mad to hide in Alonso’s shadow at Ferrari, but he may feel he has more of a chance to prove himself over there.

6th for Petrov who doesn’t hit anything for a change and made Alonso look very ordinary all evening. I don’t think he’ll be back next year because he’s not really achieved much this year. He’s got a bit of Russian money behind him, but not enough for a top team to bother with. He may well end up in a Force India or one of the tail end Charlies, but his Renault days are numbered I suspect.

7th for Alonso, oh what could have been, someone at Ferrari HQ is going to get the kicking of their life on Monday morning. They had to cover what Webber was up to, if he got ahead of Alonso they would lose the title and if Vettel won with Alonso lower the 4th he’d lose the title. Webber was the closest challenger so it made sense on paper to cover what Webber did to avoid that scenario and hope there was enough time to get back to 4th. Except they missed the fact that Petrov and Rosberg had already changed their tires and were not inclined to get out of the Ferraris way. Queue much forehead slapping as they realised Alonso was going to be stuck in the midfield.

I didn’t mind Alonso winning it all to be honest. I like Ferrari and had no problem with the team orders thing in Germany. All the other teams do it to a greater or lesser extent, it’s just Ferrari aren’t too sneaky about it. It’s a team game, it’s always been a team game and the tiny fine Ferrari got from the FIA is an admittance that it was a stupid rule anyway. In the end it didn’t matter, something Massa will no doubt point out in his resignation letter. Redbull didn’t seem to feel the need for blatant team orders and they had two drivers with a shout. Rather than one strong shout and a rather pissed off second driver. Oh wait hang on!

8th for Webber who hasn’t delivered since Hungary. Ultimately he hasn’t been the best all season and only took the points when Vettel got it wrong. He seemed to complain endlessly all season that he wasn’t being given the same equipment or a fair crack of the whip, whilst Vettel just kept quiet and got on with it. The remark in Silverstone about being a number two driver goes against the evidence I saw. The team has been pretty fair all season to both drivers. Yet Webber has felt the need to tell all and sundry that he’s having to do it all with a comedy eye patch, an arm tied behind his back with no food and only 5 cylinders and it’s all soooo unfair boo hoo. Truth is he made it difficult for himself and felt the need to blame others as he didn’t deliver. I’m sure he’s a really nice bloke, but he lost this all himself.

9th for Alguersuari, in a Torro Rosso of all things!

Finally 10th for Massa. The German win that was stolen from him didn’t matter in the end. Which isn’t going to make him feel any better is it? It’s been a long and difficult season for the likable Brazilian, but the fire wasn’t in the eyes after Germany, maybe even from China when Alonso carved him up into the pits. He must have seen the writing on the wall that Alonso had arrived and the team was no longer his. Which he must have suspected would happen all along. I don’t think he’ll stay for much longer, he must know that Alonso would never play second fiddle to a team mate, look how that turned out at McLaren. Alonso now owns Ferrari and that means Massa either goes back to being understudy as he was to Schumacher and Kimi or move on to ... I don’t know, Renault perhaps.

So that’s the season then.






These 5 have fought hard in what has been a tremendous season. The Redbulls have without doubt been the best car all year, I still question its legality, but we’ll never know what they were doing. Maybe it was all within the rules and in a few years I doubt any one will remember wobberly floors and suspicious ride heights. The racing has been at times exceptional and at others extremely dull. But you’ve not know from race to the next just who was going to take the ultimate prize. The FIA has managed to keep its oar out of things with the Drivers Steward being a great success and no stupid penalties getting in the way of the racing.

Next year see the return of KERS and Pirelli as the sole tire supplier after a 20 year absence. New for 2011 will be adjustable rear wings, although how they’re going to work has yet to be finalized.

But for now we can reflect on the youngest world F1 Champions and a new name on the Constructors cup. Redbull have finally arrived and put their mark on the sport we all love so much.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Yas Marine ... as last

Right I have an open bottle of red wine to help ... let’s go

It’s been a long hard road to reach the Yas marine in Abu Dhabi, 18 races spanning the globe from Europe, to America the Far East and now the Middle East to crown the 2010 Formula One world champion. There are three drivers in with a chance to take the spoils and lift the ultimate Cup in motorsport, Alonso, Webber and Vettel could take the title.

Alonso has had a blinding second half of the season out scoring all and sundry. But Ferrari got nailed for calling team orders in Germany before it was really acceptable. The FIA fined them and then ignored the howls of self-righteous indignation from the media. The other teams mostly shrugged and said, “We all do it ... just not so obviously” and got on with it. Redbull kept mentioning it now and again, generally when their boys weren’t leading the championship.

I don’t mind Alonso winning. When he’s good he’s a great driver to watch and you have to admire his ability to drive a team forward and make them work for him. But like Schumacher before him, his ruthlessness makes it hard to like the man.

Redbull have tried very very hard indeed to lose the Championship. But managed to sneak the constructors in Brazil last week, and might just take the drivers in Abu Dhabi. Depending on where Alonso is, Webber can ... or ... should take the title here. He has the fastest car and should be able to cruise it. But Vettel might yet throw a spanner into the works. If he’s leading and is required to move over to allow Webber to win and get enough points, do you think he would? The team say’s it’s up to the drivers to do the right thing. But Webber and Vettel dislike each other with a passion apparently. There’s no happy McLaren mateyness between drivers in this garage. After Webber basically claimed they all hate him at Redbull last week, I suspect they all now hate him. He’s been there since day one so to turn round and say they don’t want him was a bit disingenuous I though.

The thing with Redbull is you feel they should have won this month’s ago, yet have somehow missed every opportunity. Their drivers have hit people, the cars have had problems, engines have let them down but no more than Alonso’s Ferrari has.
Would I like to See Webber as the Champion? No not really, he’s done far too much whinging for my liking. He driven into other drivers and been overly aggressive when it wasn’t needed. Oh yeah he’s held his hands up when he was wrong, but then he’s whined that the team doesn’t like him and it’s all so unfair. Blah blah blah.

Vettel I don’t think is all that either. He ONLY seems to win when he’s on the front row of the grid. He’s not had a storming midfield run to claim a podium in a car that should on paper be able to cream the opposition. In Hamilton or Alonso’s hands that car would have been champion after Spa. And he waves his finger around when he wins a race. It’s only a small think and its ridicules to get annoyed by a German waving his finger around. But it get’s right on my tits.

There is also the sneaking suspicion that the Redbull car isn’t playing by the rules. Nothing has been proved, but after the floors and front wings of the cars started getting testing in Monza, Ferrari started winning more races. It might all be down to the blown diffuser and the rear end suspension, but at times they’ve been over a second faster than anyone else. That’s a country mile by today’s standards.

So Ferrari might have been really obvious about their “Cheating”, Redbull have been very clever about theirs.

Hamilton was undone by a single corner in Monza. If he’d not dived under Massa into the first chicane on the first lap, then he might be coming with a better chance of the win here. As it is, he’s going to need Webber to driver into Vettel (not unreasonable this year) and Alonso’s last engine to go bang before the final flag of the year. Which is not too farfetched, well okay it is. But it would make for a fantastic end to the season.

I’d love Hamilton to win the championship. I think he’s the only driver that just got on with it this year. Yeah he’s made mistakes, but he’s tried to win. He’s tried to overtake and make a race of it, but he’s also come up short and cocked it up. But just for telling Charlie in Korea that the track was fine and they should all be on inters as the rest of the Nancy drivers complained it was too scary, was the highlight of the year so far for me. He said in the BBC interview before the race in Brazil that motorsport should be dangerous, he is right. Motorsport is about speed and danger. Not parking it up when the track get’s a bit damp. I doubt he’ll win here. But I’d love it if he did.

Button hasn’t done too badly this year. A few good wins and safe comfortable year picking up points and not arsing around hasn’t set the world on fire. But he’s done the job McLaren wanted him to do. They needed a driver who could collect the points whilst their star driver went for the glory. Kovalinium couldn’t do that last year for them, and Button might just have sneaked the title if things had gone his way.
Considering almost everyone said he was going to get buried by Lewis, I think he’s come out of the year with his head held high and credibility intact. He’s still a pretty nice bloke and the fact both Lewis and Jenson are talking to each other still is probably down to Jenson more than Lewis. The team have harmony and two fast drivers. It’s just unfortunate that Lady Luck didn’t like their brand of Champagne.
So there you go.

That’ll be you top five, not necessarily in that order though.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Max says ......

Naaaah i don't want no jive ass FIA job brah. It be dope.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Brazil, falling down but still fun.

Here we go then, it’s make or break time for those wanting to take part in the Abu Dhabi race for the chase for the cup for the thing.

Brazil, it’s old, it’s tired and you’ll get mugged on the way to the circuit. But it has a raw passion this place, fuelled by fans every bit as vocal as the Tifosi and as informed as the British. Except they’re all whacked up on home brew and the samba beat. It’s doesn’t stop them having a good time and cheering anything that’s loud, fast and driven with some passion though, not even the predicted rain is going to put a dampener on this party.

Brazil is all about the big long run up the hill and the start/finish straight, Its foot flat to the floor from Juncao to the Senna S.

Alonso is in the driving seat and this weekend it’s going to be all about how close to The Spaniard you can get for the final race. More than 25 points adrift after Brazil and its goodnight sweetheart welcome to the tail gunner seat.
Now Alonso lucked into the win in Korean, Vettels Redbull had the measure of the Ferrari driver and had the Redbull not spewed bits of Renault engine all down the road, would have won easily. Alonso has used all of his engines up for the year, so can’t afford to blow his last one up. If he does he’ll get a grid penalty for Abu Dhabi and that’ll make things harder.
So he doesn’t need to win here, but he can’t afford to be much lower than 4th or 5th. A Third would be great and a win fantastic. He has an 11 point lead over Webber which isn’t comfortable, but it does give him breathing space, as long as Webber doesn’t beat him with wins. I think Ferrari will aim for 3rd and not stress the engine too hard. They have to hope that Massa will be on form to play tail gunner for Alonso.

Webber had a hard time of it in Korea with a school boy error into the wall in the rain. He needs to be ahead of Alonso to take the championship lead back. Something he should be able to do with his brand new engine. Realistically it’s a straight fight between these two now, but nerves, mechanical reliability and Lady Luck might yet decide this.

Hamilton is now 21 points behind Alonso and will need both the Ferrari and Redbull drivers to cock it up to stand a chance. He’s got nothing to lose so may as well just go for it and when they’re the odd Hamilton always goes for it. The hill and the first sector will suit the McLaren but the rest of the lap will see the Redbulls pull back any advantage. A win is unlikely but if it’s raining then you never know, personably I’d like to see him get a win so that the final race is more exciting.

Vettel, who is now 25 points behind Alonso, needs to win and all the other to hit trouble to stand a chance, that’s unlikely. What’s more likely is that Vettel is going to be leading and Webber will be behind him with Alonso in 3rd. THEN the question is going to be “will Vettel let Webber past to guarantee at least one championship for Redbull” place you bet.

Finally Button who is 42 points behind Alonso and whilst not mathematically out of it should not be making any plans for a big home coming bash any time soon. Oh yes he could still win the title, but he’ll need Lady luck to have an epiphany and come skipping down the road for that to happen.

Massa and Kubica are the drivers that could spoil the party here. Massa has always gone well here and despite a lack lustre season I see no reason why he shouldn’t be in the top five here. He needs to be ahead of Webber and Vettel to help Alonso out, and I suspect keep his job at Ferrari next year. Now would not be a good time to grow and pair and take the win ahead of Alonso.
Some people of my acquaintance are under the mistaken belief that Kubica is a better driver than Button ! But they are idiots and should be jeered whenever they turn up for work. If Jimmy McWrong of the Wrong people suddenly hit on the idea to use his head to nail the picture to the wrong wall, he would still be in a whole world of more right than to suggest that Kubica is better than Button.
“Oh, but it is the Reanult that has let him down with its mechanical frailty” they wail, bollocks he’s crap, get over yourselves.

Rosberg will beat him this time out. As long as Webber doesn’t hit the German again.

Mickey always used to like this place, if he can be arsed.

So really, Alonso could do with being ahead of Webber, but his engine is a bit suspect. Hamilton needs to win ahead of button and the other to not finish. Vettel and Button need a miracle. Rain could provide that. It’ll depend on where Lady Luck will be hiding from the downpour.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Bernie bigging up the slow boys

Bernie in "mindless bollocks yet again" shocker

In an astonishing outburst, F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has lambasted 2010 newcomers Lotus, Virgin and Hispania (HRT) as 'cripples' and 'an embarrassment' – and accused them of doing 'nothing' for the sport.

The British billionaire's remarks are even more extraordinary given that he played a leading role in trying to attract new entrants onto the grand prix grid this season by way of financial incentives. However, almost eight months on and the best of them – Lotus – is still languishing around 1.5 seconds adrift of its closest rival and some 3.5 seconds shy of the outright benchmark. HRT is regularly more than five seconds off the pace, and none of the three have come even close to scoring points.

Whilst acknowledging that with Red Bull gearboxes and hydraulic systems and a widely-anticipated engine-supply deal with Renault, the ambitious, Anglo/Malaysian Lotus effort deserves to remain in the top flight for a second consecutive campaign, Ecclestone criticises Sir Richard Branson for not investing more money into Virgin – and makes no mention at all of Hispania.

“They do nothing for us,” the recently-turned 80-year-old told the Financial Times. “They are an embarrassment. We need to get rid of a few of those cripples. Richard should put some money in there (Virgin), shouldn't he? He could do what (Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz) has done and put some money in.”

Ever the canny businessman himself, Ecclestone went on to confess that he would like to see one of Red Bull Racing pairing Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel clinch the drivers' crown this season, as there would then be five world champions in the field in 2011 – a factor that could only serve to boost F1's popularity.

Adding that there is 'no truth' in rumours that he is lining up disgraced former Renault F1 managing director and 'Singapore-gate' protagonist Flavio Briatore as his successor on the commercial front – with speculation that GP2 Series director Bruno Michel and Prodrive chairman David Richards are similarly in the running to eventually assume the helm – he explained that he has no intention to retire despite his advancing years, vowing to stay 'as long as I can deliver'.

“Somebody will emerge when I'm not there,” he mused. “I think two or three people may come out of the woodwork, but I don't think it could be carried on in the same way as it has.”

Finally, having attempted to float F1 on the stock market back in 1997 – only to be blocked by a number of teams' refusal to sign a long-term contract in the absence of a higher percentage of the sport's income, controlled by his Formula One Management (FOM) company – and again in 2000, when he was scuppered by an anti-trust investigation that had been launched by the European Commission the previous year, Ecclestone insisted he would never try to do so again.

“There's no way I would sit in front of a load of share-holders,” he urged. “It wouldn't float under me.”

F1's parent company Delta Topco is owned 5.3 per cent by Ecclestone, and 63.4 per cent by private equity investor CVC Capital Partners, who likewise are understood to be uninterested in selling a business that is worth in the region of £3.8-£4.4 billion.

It's not often that I'll agree with Bernie. But he is right about Virgin and Bransons actual interest in the racing. He was all over the paddock last year in his linen suits having a laugh with a cheeky smile and a ready bottle of champers.
This year I'm struggling to recall his gurning mug on the TV biging up his brand investment.

But what the heck,I've enjoyed the new young bloods at the back of the grid. It's given Trulli something to do without getting in everyone's way. Mr Fernandes has proved to be a jolly nice bloke and has tried very hard to be professional and not cock around too much with the Lotus name.

HRT, well yes, all rather embarrassing I'll admit. But you have to admire their pluck and it looks like they'll make the end of the season. A considerable achievement when you consider that the car is the very same car that started the season and is only held together with gaffer tape and a pair of Colin Kolles braces he left in the factory one night.

10 years ago Redbull were a rather rubbish Jaguar racing. Today they look set to win at least the constructors championship. Given time even the most stupid of ideas can bear fruit.