Sunday, 26 June 2011

Valencia .... bloody crap.

Well I suppose it couldn’t last. Eventually the real world had to return and the fantastic action packed racing had to be .... well packed away for another year.
Valencia is a dull, tedious, boring track in the middle of a dockyard with absolutely nothing to commend it what so ever. Even the drivers in the post race interviews complained about it being a dull race to take part in and no doubt a dull race to watch and they weren’t far wrong.

It comes to something when the most memorable thing about the race is the BBC endlessly banging on about how the pits used to be a fish market once upon a time. Come on, I’m sure Valencia has a lot to commend it, but its ex-fish market pit complex is not one of them.

Anyway there was a race and yet again yada yada yada Vettel blah blah won at a canter ho hum. This time it was Alonso keeping Vettel honest and the Spanish crowd happy. Webber tried to remind everyone that he still drives for the world champion team and to be fair he didn’t hit anyone for a change. But he drove a bit slow for a minute or two at some point or other and found that Alonso had gone from third place to second place whilst he was in the pits. Dullsville central.

The McLaren’s didn’t seem to be able to get their tires working all weekend. Hamilton started third and well, ended up forth after a lap or two. Button didn’t have much more to offer. Same for the Mercedes and Renault's, nice try ... no bananas chaps. Even Kobayashi, normally the sort of driver to keep up entertained with the odd random Banzai overtaking move, failed to do anything of any note.

For big chunks of the race we were watching the battle of 13th place!

Oh well, Silverstone next, let us pray to the Gods of Petrol that the action picks up again there. And dear Lord, let’s have a British winner for a change, not the bloody German and his bloody pointy finger please.

So then, Vettel won .... again. Lets play a game of stat watch shall we ..... Vettel has now over taken Michael Schumacher with the ‘Most consecutive starts from the front row’ Vettel now has 13 to Mickys 12. Our Nigel is next with 15 then Prost with 16. He has some way to go to beat Senna’s 24 though. Next ‘Most consecutive podiums from the first race of the season’ Vettel now has 8 just one behind Hamilton and Alonso, Mickey got 17 in 2002 and I think Vettel has a shot at that. Vettel now has 567 points from 70 starts, that’s an average of 8.10 points per entry, which is better than Hamilton’s 7.51 or Alonso’s 5.41. So far this season Vettel has got 186 points that 93% of the points available, in 2002 Mickey got 84.71% of the available points with 144 of a possible 170. Vettel now has 22 poles from 70 starts, that’s 31.4 % whilst Senna only managed 65 from 162 starts or 40.1%, can you see Vettel not blowing that away this year. Finally, Vettal has lead over 1000 laps this year. God I hate him.

Alonso in 2nd managed to give the home crowd something to cheer about.

Webber, yes he’s still driving 3rd.

Hamilton, driving as fast as he could, gets a 4th.

Massa 5th could do better. See Alonso for details.

Last week’s hero Jenson is this week’s 6th place loser.

Rosberg was 4th at one point, ends up 7th.

Alguersuari was quite good in 8th and may get to keep his seat for the second half of the season.

Sutil beats his better team mate to 9th, just ahead of.

Heidfeld in 10th who is fast going off the boil.

Finally Narain Karthikeyan was dead last and not a happy bunny. This weeks HRT watch makes rather depressing reading I’m afraid. Narain had this to say ;
“At the beginning I was trying to keep with the pack, with Liuzzi and D’Ambrosio, but after seven laps I locked the front and after that I had a lonely race. I finished the race but there aren’t many positives I can take away from it”.

Oh dear, I know how he felt.

There you go then. Valencia is apparently getting a five year extension on its contract. The FIA must love that old fish market because the racing sure isn’t up to much.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Valencia is crap.

I missed the Hamilton rage fest of Monaco and the boating regatta of Canada, so I'm looking forward to some speed freak F1 action.

Except it's Valencia next and it's utterly utterly dull. I fell asleep during the second qualifying event.

dull dull dull dull dull dull dull dull dull dull.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Break out the bucket and spade, it's Valencia

Welcome back race fans. After the exceptionally soggy Canada we return to Europe for the next round of races, starting off at Valencia.

Now I don’t really mind the track at Valencia. It has a few interesting touch, a bridge over the dock yard entrance, a fast run between the walls to test the brave. But there in lies the problem with this harbour side track, it's not Monaco. The track is wide enough for three cars pretty much everywhere, so there is no real sense of danger as in Monaco. And because it’s in a dockyard there are no punters for big sections on the track. No punters means no atmosphere what so ever, unless you have a thing for containers and cranes you weirdo.
On the wide shots of the track you can see miles of golden sandy beaches off in the distance, packed full of happy holiday makers who are totally oblivious to the grand prix taking place not more than 200 yards away.

The races over the years have lacked a certain something. Like Turkey and China there are interesting races out there, but very little to get the pulse racing. Last year the only memorable moment was Webber attempting to go for the long jump distance record after trying to roughly mount the back of a lotus.

This year with the tires, KERS, and floppy rear wing we have been getting some pretty exciting races. Even the race in Barcelona kept your attention to the end, so you never know there might be something on here.

Except ....... can you see anyone other than Vettel winning ? Another podium result for the young German here and its going to be all over as a championship by Hungary ! and yet people are already calling this a classic year?

Team wise there is very little grumbling from Redbull these days, as Webber comes to terms with being the far and away number two driver this year despite some of his best driving in years. He's had to drive from way back on the grid numerous times and demonstrated a commendable ability to not hit anyone else in the process. Yet his smug team mate is sticking it on the front of the grid and winning with ease from there.
However, the future isn't looking too rosy as the FIA seem determined to stop the teams for using the engine over run to power the diffuser in and out of corners. They've still not really explained just how they plan on policing this rule, but ban it they will from the British GP. This is going to affect Redbull more than most so they're complaining the most about it. Only that by the time the ban comes in Vettel will have all already cleared a space on the desk for the silverware. Oh well. However from this weekend, teams will not be able to run a “qualifying engine map” which means the likes of Redbull can’t run the engine turned all the way up to 11 on the fuel dial. Then turn it back to nine for the race. McLaren have been making a big song and dance over the Redbull having all this extra power for qualifying and how it’s not fair, so the FIA are banning qualifying engine settings. So far Redbull have locked out the front row in qualifying at every round, could we be about to see a new pole driver ?

In the next door pit, McLaren have one happy driver and one very out of sorts driver. The persistent rumours that Hamilton is going to Redbull next year refuse to go away. Whilst Button has or is about to sign an extension on his contract with McLaren.
The Woking team are the next best thing this year, being the only team other than Redbull to win a race. Yet it’s only been when Redbull have made a mistake that the McLaren driver have been able to capitalise. They can take the fight to Vettel, but they don't have the car to win on merit just yet. This, it would appear is what is frustrating Hamilton the most. He's over driving the car and making mistake after mistake. He did this last year in Monza after the second corner crash with Massa, the next 4 races saw Hamilton just throw caution to the wind and he went all Banzai all over the place. It’s as if he is so desperate to win that second championship that he forgets to win, first you have to finish. What he really needs right now is his father telling him to “calm it down son and stop being an arse”, but I think that bridge may have been burned for too long now.
To be fair though, I though Button chopped him in Canada. It was a touch unnecessary of button to come quite that far across the track after getting the chicane wrong. But, well Button was riding Lady Luck that weekend like she was a $400 hooker, he was having the ride of his life and there was no stopping him what so ever. So Hamilton was unlucky as far as I was concerned, but it is messing with his head.
Anyway, it could be worse, he could be driving for Ferrari where is appears it’s a whole road of wrong down that end of the pits. They don’t even look like getting a sniff of the top step at the moment. Alonso is ragging the arse of the car but it’s just not delivering the results for him. Two podiums in Monaco and Turkey have come as others have cocked it up and are scant reward for all the hard work he’s put in. Whilst Massa still doesn’t look like the driver that won the championship for 30 seconds in 2008, he’s had moment of brilliance but he’s not stringing a weekend together any more. Maybe there is some truth to the rumour that Button is going to Ferrari when Massa moves on, I certainly don’t see Massa getting a ride with the red horse next year.
Alonso has been talking up this weekend, it’s in Spain and he’s Spanish and all. The Ferrari might stand a chance here, especially if the Redbull qualifying engine is turned off. I don’t think a win is on the cards, but a podium is a possibility if Hamilton, button and Webber come unstuck.

As for the rest ? Well Mercedes appear to be getting their act together at last. Mickey has the bit between his teeth and could have bagged himself a podium in Canada, whilst Nico continues to be almost fantastic.
Renault, are having a bit of a moan about the engine over run ban. If you have a look at the footage from Canada you can see the side exit exhaust in front of the side pods blowing the water away. It’s a brilliant idea and in the hands of better drivers that car should be on the podium. Kubica is still making noises about coming back before the end of the year. But I think he’s done too much damage to his body and is just not going to have the flexibility he once had. Heidfeld hasn’t really made the grade and Petrov is just ….well … very Russian.

The rest are rubbish and I can’t be arsed to write anymore.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

It's all about the money..

Okay right then, errrrrrrrrrrrrr Canada errrrrrrrrrrr Vettel, okay or maybe Hamilton if he can keep his cool. Maybe the Mercs will go well here and I suppose Alonso has a good shout.

Canada is a couple of long fast flat out straight bits connected by silly little hairpins and other stuff to slow the cars down.
By rights it should be a McLaren walk over, but given Vettels inability to lose anything this year I guess you have to go with the cheeky German scamp yet again.

I suspect that a lot of the teams have already given up the championship. Williams have fired their manager and design chap. Ferrari has fired their design chap and now Virgin (Moruissia) have fired their owner! Well the chap that owns the design side of the company at any rate. Nick Wirth was told in no uncertain terms that he was no longer required on the pit wall or anywhere near the car after Monaco. What the Russians are planning to do for a car next year is anyone guess. Wirth has actually designed some of the more successful cars in endurance racing, working with Honda, Porsche, they’ve also built numerous Indy 500 winners so Mr Wirth and his team are not mugs. But when they designed the car last year with a fuel tank too small to last a race, the writing may well have been on the wall. Still I’m sure the Russians know what they’re doing.

Meanwhile if anyone in the world missed the Bahrain GP, AND IF YOU DID YOU ARE AN IDIOT. They will be ever so happy that the damn thing will now take place at the end of the year. Which means the season is now going to end on the 11th of December in India of all places !!!. Like the season wasn't long enough already.
This is after all the teams said, “No Bernie we are not going to finish the championship in December and no we are not comfortable going to Bahrain”.
To which Bernie replied “ Don’t worry lads ... it’s not about the money. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see some men about a camel full of cash”

Back to the Canadian GP... Vettel will win it ... no Hamilton .... Vettel .. probably.

Who cares about all that though? The FIA and the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO) have agreed to a joint WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP. Hurrah and back slaps all round. The big wigs have got round the table and thrashed out a deal ... about bloody time.

Vettel ... or ..... Hamilton ... button ... no not button ... Vettel, or, definably Hamilton.

The reason the FIA-ACO deal is important, is because of the real power in motorsport and the real power in motor sport is not F1.

Formula 1 is for the sharp suits and the hospitality boxed select few who schmooze and cruise big business for money. They like to think it’s them that make F1 what it is, without their money there would be no F1 they think. But they’re wrong so very very wrong.

The Real power in motorsport are the huddled muddy masses sitting on the banking, the ones that have stumped up £150 to be herded like sheep and treated like scum, the ones still on the banking watching the Renault sport race and the Fiesta Challenge long after the hospitality boxes have emptied of the slightly tipsy middle management on a jolly with the free tickets from the jolly nice cable rep chap.
The muddy masses watch with their eyes because it’s bright and easy and will do whatever it has to do to keep their attention, for the right price of course.
But their hearts are far away in a field in France, which will forever be hallowed ground. The names of Bentley, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ford and Porsche and now names like Audi, Peugeot, Corvette and Mazda are given heritage and substance there. This is where heroes are made and legends are forged in the dark hours before dawn.

The muddy masses return to give thanks and praise the name of Karl Benz for giving us the Internal Combustion Engine and Motor Sport.

The masses return for the greatest race on earth.

24 hours of the Circuit de la Sarthe

Le Mans.

The FIA knows this and it’s why they tried to shut the ACO out 20 years ago, but still the muddy masses came to prey to party to drink and to watch. The teams still came to prove they could beat everyone else, still the manufactures came to prove their car was better than the next guys. The FIA tried to create their own endurance series, but it failed without Le Mans.

Now the FIA is back at Le Mans accepting that the Automobile Club de L’Ouest knows what it is doing and that the power in motor sport comes from the muddy spectators paying for all of this to happen. Because if they left, there would be no one to pay for the rich boys to have fun. Turkey is finding out that it needs to have paying punters to have a race. China is spending more and more money to keep a race that no one goes to watch.
And now Bahrain is shooting its citizens, arresting its doctors and paying Bernie to come back with the circus so they can bring the punters back and their bright shiny coins.

Watch the race in Canada, if you’re happy for the circus to go back to Bahrain.

This weekend 250,000 souls will travel to France to prey at the altar of motorsport. The race will be seen around the world. On Saturday at 3pm CET all those petrol heads will turn to the Mecca to four stoke power and catch their breath for just a second as it starts again, as it has been starting for 79 races since 1923.

The Flag will drop and the petrol cars will try to catch the diesels cars. The exotic Audi and Peugeot prototypes will have four or five laps before they’re weaving past the Porsche, Ferrari and Lotus GT cars. For 24 hours the drivers will battle to be crowned the winner of the greatest race on earth.

Watch the race at Le Mans if you know that motor sport should be about passion, not money.