Monday, 29 August 2011

Spa, better than a 1000km drive from the Alps

Well then, after traveling 1000km from the foothill of the Alps I returned just in time to find Bruno Senna of all people on the grid for the Belgium GP. I have yet to find out why Heidfeld got the old heave ho, but i suspect it’s a money related issue. Oh they might well say they’re unhappy with the results that Heidfeld was getting and they want to build a future with a young driver etc. But at least Heidfeld can get the car round the first corner of the race without hitting anyone.

I didn’t see qualifying but it sounds like the weather played it’s usual roll in proceedings. leaving Schumacher and Button out of position and Vettel on his customary pole.

I understand there was a bit of a to do over the state of the tires after qualifying, with Redbull rather unhappy that they couldn’t change their tires on the grid and still have pole. Their tires were blistering on the inside of the fronts which could under load cause the tires to fail in some of the higher speed corners. The FIA considered this appeal from Redbull, then told them to “Man up and get on with it. If they wanted to change their tires they could have a 10 place grid drop like anyone else. Now stop whining and get on with the racing” Newey threw his hands in the air and
flounced around telling all and sundry that the end was nigh.

Once the race got started under clear blue skies, Webber forgot to engage first gear and got swallowed by the rest of the pack, Rosberg got a blinder off the line and lead the race by the time they got to La Source, then Senna tried to take out half the field with a Banzai move up the inside on locked up cold tires.

Once it was all sorted out Rosberg lead from Vettel and Massa of all people for a couple of laps, before the Merc ran out of puff and Vettel cruised past him. Not doing any cruising was Hamilton, normally a driver to spank this place, he was having trouble keeping up with the big boys on the long straights. McLaren had expected rain and stuck the big wing on the back rather than the tea tray like everyone else. He was doing alright but had to drive the nuts off the car in the twisty middle part of the circuit to keep up with big boys.

Vettel and Webber with the first to blink with tires that were blistering after 5 and 3 laps respectively. Newey gave everyone a knowing smug “i told you so” look, then scratched his head as Hamilton kept his tires until lap 10 when he pitted from the lead. This put him out behind Kobayashi in a Sauber that the McLaren would normally zip past. Through Eau Rouge and up the Kemmel Straight the McLaren just about had the legs to take the Sauber before the breaking point. Hamilton moved to the inside of the corner to cover the racing line, perfectly legal, then drifted back across the track to take the racing line. Except he didn’t see that Kobayashi was still right with him already on the racing line.
Now it’s easy to sit on a sofa and spit your tea across the room in abject rage as you point at the screen and curse Hamilton to the heavens. You can leap upon the sofa and call Hamilton all the names under the sun and swear you will have vengeance in this life or the next whilst smiling smugly that you always said he was a poor driver. But the fact is, at 180mph the drivers can’t see much over their left shoulder when they are coming into the chicane at Les Combes. It’s a snappy little right left right, that needs concentration, so Hamilton thought he was clear as he had made the pass before the breaking zone, he didn’t see Koby probably because he didn’t think the the Sauber would try to come up the outside of him into a corner that he was leading into.
You can argue until you are blue in the face, but Hamilton was ahead going into the corner and Koby was in the the blind spot and does have a duty to avoid the car in front. You can argue that Hamilton had made his one move to cover the corner and was moving back across the circuit and should have checked that he was clear to do so. I think he just didn’t think the Sauber would be there and he took his eyes off the Sauber at the wrong moment and missed the white car closing in on him. It’s a racing incident, Hamilton held his hands up afterwards and said;

"After watching the replay, I realise it was my fault today 100 per cent," said Hamilton via his Twitter feed. "I didn't give Kobayashi enough room though, I thought I was past”

The end result was a lengthy safety car period as they cleared the remains of Hamilton’s car off the track. Koby continued on and the internet went into overdrive with accusations that Hamilton is the Devil/God incarnate and should be Hung up by his testicals/made king of the world.

Meanwhile Vettel took over the lead, from Alonso who hadn’t pitted for new tires during the safety car period. And that was it for the race. Button made things interesting for a bit chasing the leaders down he got Alonso for 3rd but couldn’t quite reach Webber who had recovered from his woeful start with a fine drive to second. Webber got the fastest lap and the move of the race when he passed Alonso down the hill into Eau Rouge, a move that requires a lot of guts and Alonso to not cock around.

So Vettel wins, yadda yadda yadda, all be over by Singapore and the Constructors is pretty much a done deal now.

Webber Second, poor start, good recovery and a fine 1-2 for Redbull.

Button got third but could have won if not for a nose change and a rear wing that got broken in the first corner carnage.

Alonso brings it home 4th blaming the safety car for the Ferrari not being fast enough and not looking after it’s tires.

Schumacher a mistake in qualifying meant he didn’t qualify, during the race he looked after the fuel and tires and gets a well deserved 5th for his troubles.

Rosberg gets beaten by Schumacher for a change, he got a scorcher off the line and lead for a lap or two before normal service was resumed. the Merc is defiantly the next best thing after the top three teams now. Especially if Renault are going to fire perfectly acceptable drivers for the cash now.

Sutil, was apparently 7th.

Massa looked better then 8th, but wasn’t.

Petrov is now able to look better than his team mate in 9th and must be happy he has Russian money to back him up.

Finally Maldonado makes it to 10th after trying to kill himself and Hamilton in Qualifying.

Well done all

see you in two weeks time for the Italian GP, except I'm going to the Silverstone 1000km instead.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Button wins, the BBC losses.

What a weekend of disappointment that was then.

If you’ve not heard the terrible news than I suggest you sit down before I give it to you

Ready ?

Okay then, from next year you won’t be able to watch all 20 Grand Prix on the BBC. No, from next year you will be able to watch 10 GP’s on the BBC live and the other 10 will be either tape delay or extended highlight, the detail of which are to be worked out over the next few weeks.

If you want to watch all 20 races live and uninterrupted (ish) next year then you will have to pay Mr Murdoch (who is accused , lest we forget of employing people quite happy to hack the phone of a dead girl) and his Sky organisation, £600 pounds for Sky sports TV.

Now I’m not really annoyed, like some of the internet, at the BBC. Because they don’t have the money because the government has listened to the Sky whispering campaign about how the BBC had too much power and it was all so unfair that the BBC got state money and stuff. So the government didn’t increase the licence fee and told the BBC to move to Solford and fire all their managers and save money.

So they had to cut the budget somewhere and this is a high profile expensive sport which was costing the BBC £45 million a year to televise. They had to save money somewhere and so they appear to have sold the rights to sky and picked up 10 live races and the highlights package. To save Wimbledon, football highlights errrr and what little else sport is on the BBC these days.

No. I’m annoyed at Bernie for being a two faces lying bastard. In May he said that FOTA (the people that own the F1 TV rights) would “never” sell the rights to have F1 on pay TV ... never happen way amigo.

Two months later he’s sold the rights to Sky.

Okay i know that F1 costs money and that all this technology and entertainment has to be paid for somehow .... But screwing the money out of the audience, for less isn’t really on, in my opinion.

£600 a year for 10 live races which is all your paying for, as the other 10 will be live (from the studio in London I assume) for free on the BBC at the same time so why would you watch the Sky feed with its adverts every 20 minutes? Oh they’ve said, “We’ll not show any adverts during the race ... honest” but Mr Murdoch also says he knew nothing about the phone hacking and it was nothing to do with him.
Put it this way, if you saved £600 up you could just about afford a Sunday grandstand ticket at the British GP next year. Or you could fly to the Italian GP stay at a pretty reasonable hotel and see the race from a Grandstand. Or you could go to Spa and camp under the stars and see a brilliant race. Or have the time of your life at Le Mans for a week with food and beer and 24 hours of racing which is just fantastic. Not 10 races and busty beauties explaining how Alonso keeps his hair so shiny and other such guff.

And no, this does not mean people will go to the pub on a Sunday afternoon and watch the F1 race from Valencia because the bloody German or Spanish Bloody football on Sky will bloody well be on.

Personally ... i won’t be paying for my F1 next year. I will be watching the BBC live events and probably the highlights. I might be investigating the F1 steaming that are available if you hunt around the darker areas of the internet.
Anyway ... that’s politics and will no doubt play out over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile in Hungary

It wasn’t the most exciting race of the year but throw in a bit of rain and a slippery track and Button will show you how it’s supposed to be done. He almost lost to his team mate but a throttle peddle moved a fraction of a millimetre too soon and suddenly the back to back win was over for Hamilton.

But you know, motor racing is more often than not about “the Story” the feel good factor that gives a team a reason to try that little bit harder. At Le Mans this year the number two Audi had “the story” of losing its two sister cars in horrendous accidents as well as Britain's Leena Gade who became the first female race engineer to lead a team to victory. In the GT amateur class the third place car had a 50 year husband and wife team in a Ford GT making the podium on their wedding anniversary, Stories as are what gives motorsport it human element amongst all the machinery and petrol.

This year at Hungary was Button 200th GP and the place he first won a F1 race in 2006 which set him on the road to the title in 2009. There was a ready made story for the press to latch onto and he didn’t disappoint them. But then this was also the race the almost killed Massa back in 2009, a driver that has looked lack lustre and down ever since his accident.

I imagine it’s always hard for Massa to come back to the place that almost killed him. Yes drivers are made of strong stuff and most of them shrug off the danger with a wave of the hand and “it’s not that scary really” knowing smile. But Massa got pulled from the car with half his helmet missing and a 6 inch gash above his left eye, he was lucky to be alive let alone see.

It must mean something for Massa to go through that blind entry turn four every lap and know that he was 2 millimetres from death. So to come here as everyone is saying how poor he’s doing and how he’s not the racer he used to be, to then go out and out qualify Alonso must have been very, very satisfying indeed.

Anyway this has been quite long and rambling let’s get to the race.

Vettel on pole for a change, once again showed he can’t handle it when he’s under pressure. Meanwhile Hamilton showed him how it should be done and looked like the Hamilton of old. Tail in the air a tally ho and off he went to go and win the race. Except he was once again and bit too rough with the tires and whilst he had an extra set of super softs to play with, everyone else realised that the “harder” soft tires were the ones to be on as the track rubbered in toward the end of the race. He tried to nail it and pull out a nice big lead, but a smattering of rain on one corner and a heavy right foot spun the luckless Brit round.

As he spun the car back to point the right way for the race Paul Di Resta in the Force India, who was having a good weekend at last, had to take to the grass to avoid Hamilton and the race stewards pinged the McLaren driver with a drive through penalty dropping him back to 6th behind Webber and Alonso. He managed to pass Webber in the closing laps to take 4th whilst Button showed everyone once again that if you want to win in wet slippery conditions, do exactly as he does..

Button, didn’t do anything wrong and wins his second race of the season, in the wet .. on a slippery track. All credit to him he looked after his tires and did what had to be done. He knew how the car felt and lady luck was sitting on his shoulder as Hamilton and he fought for the win. Ignored the team when they said come in for inters and won comfortably in the end. Either of the McLaren could have won here and both could have got pole, does this mean they have passed Redbull as well as Ferrari, I don’t think so. I think the circuit just suited them and the cold weather hampered the Ferraris and Redbulls. If it had been a bone dry spankingly hot day I think it would have been a different story. But thems the breaks and you have to take them when they present themselves, not spin slowly and hand the victory to your team mate. After two DNF in Germany and Silverstone you could hear the relief in his voice at the end of the race.

Vettel is 2nd and was lucky to get that. But then again he doesn’t have to try too hard. It’s his to lose and I think he knows it too.

Alonso was 3rd and once again showed that the Ferrari does like to get it’s front tires up to temperature in its own good time thank you very much. Give it a hot track and it’ll be all over the top step. Put it on a wet track and it’s more picky than a 5 year in a sweet shop, it knows it’s supposed to make a quick choice, but it’s bloody well going to take it’s time over deciding to have the chocolate button over the curly whirly.

4th for Hamilton in the end and I think he was satisfied with that after all the drama. The post race interview we expected was Hamilton spitting blood about losing to his team mate and the stewards giving him unfair penalties. What we got was a Hamilton with his tail in the air and a “Well done Jenson I got beaten by the better driver today”, then amazingly he spent 5 minutes apologising to Di Resta and saying how sorry he was and yes that was a fair penalty. It’s like he’s had a load of media training in the last few weeks few or something.

5th for Webber who was miles away in qualifying and still hasn’t signed a Redbull contract yet. Time is running out you grumpy Ozzy.

6th For Massa who I like to think will see this weekend as a minor personal victory. He out qualified Alonso on pace and guts and looked like the old Massa again. Maybe not as feisty and balls out, but comfortable in the car at last. And he got the fastest lap, take that Grim Reaper.

An excellent 7th for Di Resta who’s had a tough time of it of late, so it’s good to see him back in the top ten. He’s a better driver than Sutil and I think people are starting to realise that now.

8th for Buemi who wins the “did he take part it he race” award.

9th for Rosberg who beats his team mate, because he didn’t finish, but that’s about the only positive thing to say about him this week. He’s now driven 100 Grand Prix and has yet to look like winning anything, I see challenging time ahead for the likable German.

Finally 10th for Algueruari who gets beaten by Buemi for a change.

This weeks last place fool is, Liuzzi who gets beaten by D’ambrosio and his rookie team mate Ricciardo. How many of those non Redbull sponsored drivers do you think will be racing next year?

This weeks HRT quote is another belter from Colin Kolles (Team Principal): “Hungary is traditionally a long race, this time even more tricky in changeable conditions. It was important to be on the track until the end”

Wise words indeed Colin. I think we can all take something from that.