Sunday, 30 October 2011

Vettel .... who else

Well that’s made things a little trickier hasn’t it?

I thought Herman Tilke had finally cracked it. The Circuit looked impressive (despite looking a bit rough around the edges) the track had a load of potential we though, there are gradients and blind corners, a couple of long straights that aren’t dead flat and a lovely sweeping corner that goes on forever. Yet it still disappointed. There still wasn’t a race to be had.

Vettel and the Redbull are just too good. Not helped by drivers falling over each other yet again. But still, he was miles away from being challenged nailing the pole, fastest lap, win triumvirate just to rub it in.

Anyway, at 150mph according to F1 designer Garry Anderson, your average 2011 Formula One car will generate about 1200Kgs of down force. That’s about the same weight as all the celebrities from ‘strictly come dancing’ waltzing on top of the car. The old cliché goes; an F1 car could drive through a tunnel upside down if the driver was mad enough, with just the down force sticking him and the car to the roof.

 What this means in reality is that an F1 car comes alive at the sort of speeds that would put an EU finance meeting about face to shame. The tap dancing celebs mean your F1 car can change direction eye wateringly, mind bendingly fast. They dance through the corners flicking left and right in the blink of an eye; they glide like professional dancers waltzing from one end of the floor to the other with a cheeky wink to the judges half way through. A nod and a glint of white teeth maybe even glimpse of fake tan and it’s on to the next pirouette.

Sometimes, of course these whirling, twirling dances can come over all Ann Widdicombe rather than Margo Fonteyn, a lunge here a miss step there and a dangerous leap at the apex
Witness one Felipe Massa who, after Friday afternoon practice, said;
“It’s a very interesting track and there are corners where driving skill can make a difference.”
What he was obviously referring to there, was turns eight and nine in the middle section of the lap. Where, at the climax of qualifying he clouted the big, obvious, orange concrete block designed to stop cars cutting the corner at turn eight. But not contented with that, during the race he clouted the big, obvious, orange concrete block designed to stop cars cutting the corner at turn nine. Breaking the front suspension both times, thus demonstrating “where driving skill” can indeed “make the difference.” 

I’m not going to go into the Hamilton/Massa incident, you all know what I’m going to say anyway and I’m not changing my opinion of either Hamilton or Massa. Go and hunt around the web for various ex Formula one drivers and those that should know better to hear their knee jerk, agenda filled nonsense. It’s getting nasty between those two now, Ferrari and McLaren need to sort it out one way or the other, before we have to stand on the grid for another minutes silence for a dead driver.

I shall leave Mr Atkinson to have the final comment

So India then, I rather liked the track, thought it was exciting and I’ll never get tired of watching a driver dance through a high speed chicane as long as I live.  Was it dull because there was no race as such?
 It certainly wasn’t empty like Korea or China and that, I think, helped to put some of the shine back onto it. Maybe next year we’ll have a four way fight for the championship to spark it into life, this felt a bit too much like a test session at time. But I shall be looking forward to this race next year.

So then Vettel, has now lead more race laps in a season than anyone else, ever. Back in the day when facial hair was considered perfectly fine for an English driver Nigel Mansell lead 692 on his way to the title of world Champion. Vettel has managed to beat that target with two races to go, no other driver has led more than 100 laps! He gets yet another win; having cruised to an easy pole (added by Massa destruction testing his suspension in qualifying) then got the fastest lap at the end of the race for good measure. It’s all too easy for him isn’t it.

Button didn’t see much of him in second place, after passing Webber on the first lap, and then fooled himself into believing that he was somehow fighting for the lead. Still it’s another podium trophy to add to the collection. Keeps the pay check ticking over if nothing else.  

Third place for Alonso, see Jenson above. Passed Webber during the pit stop and collects another trophy.

 Personally I think the debate about Vettel being one of the greats might be over in reality. Just look at Webber in fourth, he’s achieving nothing of note this year, someone even suggested he would be allowed to win a race by Vettel now it’s all over. That’s got to be a kick in the nuts hasn’t it, to be smirked at so much that people suggest the only way he’s going to win is if his team mate gives him a win.  Yes Mark, you’re not too bad for a Number two driver you chump

Fifth for Schumacher, very almost got to have a race with Nico, but then didn’t

Nico, who was told he was free to race Mickey at the end, as long as they kept it clean, knew that was code for “Mercedes do not want you bending their cars when Mickey carves you up ‘defending’ fifth place. Give it up lad”. So he duly waited in line like a good boy.

Hamilton, another weekend to forget I’m afraid. Watching him in the post race interview, saying he tried to talk to Massa and getting no response after the minutes silence on the grid. You could see in his eyes he’s kind of lost and doesn’t understand where it’s all gone so wrong. You know what he needs is a father son chat in a quite boozer when this season is all over. He needs the rock that was his father back there helping him make sense of all the chaos. My biggest fear is that he walks away from motor sport at the end of the year. He is a phenomenal talent in the same way that Trulli isn’t, the most exciting British driver in a generation and we can’t lose that.
 We’ve lost too many British sports stars this year already.  

Alguersuari continues to do rather good things in the Torro Rosso, with yet another eighth place finish. I truly believe that we are seeing a driver build his stock up here. The Redbull driver program gradates normally get fired for being rubbish, But Algy looks like he might find himself with a seat next year if this keeps happening. Maybe he’s got his act together as the threat of being fired has caught up with him, or it might be Redbull spending a bit of money on the junior team for a change. But the result is Algy get the points whilst the like of Kobayashi fail to deliver.

Sutil bags a ninth, remember him? He used to be the next big thing, now it looks like he’s on the way to Williams, that’s if Kimi doesn’t get there first of course. He’s made the classic mistake of demanding that the team tell him if he’s got a seat next year at Force India. Liuzzi tried that last year and now he’s in an HRT, a salutary lesson for us all there.  

Finally Perez does his PR some good with a tenth place finish. Would you have “slow but steady” Perez or “scary and delusional” Massa in a Ferrari next year, a question important people are starting to ask at Ferrari. Once again the lack of any sort of support for Massa after the race was noticeable by its absence wasn’t it? Where was Dominicali calling for Hamilton to be banned back to the Stone Age? If Perez keeps this up he could be Alonso’s new whipping boy team mate very soon.
I still don’t like him, but that’s by the by.

Oh and finally our hero of poor power steering Trulli rumbles home five laps behind the leader dead, dead last. Almost 3 laps behind Karthikeyan who hasn’t even races this year, good old Trulli.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Will the circuit be finished by Sunday ?

Well then, it looks like everyone who needs to has finally arrived, so let us begin.

So India then and the inaugural Formula One race at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, New Delhi.  Narain Karthikeyan gets a ride in the HRT whilst Karun Chandhok gets told he’s not as good as Trulli and is relegated to Lotus pit lane tour guide for the weekend.

It’s a brand spanking new (Tilke) circuit that looks somewhat like Turkey, China and Korea. It’s more finished than Korea was last year, but it’s a bit slapped together in places with the BBC five live team questioning their commentary box having no windows earlier in the week.
 No doubt it was time to turn up in the world’s fifth largest economy and try and sell some cars to the locals that aren’t dirt poor. But as with a lot of things in India these days it would appear that a lot of time has been spent writing reports and shifting farmers off the land, and not much time spent finishing off buildings with tools such as a set squares or a spirit levels.

I know it’s not the done thing, but really .... this is the fifth largest economy in the world and it still can’t build a major sporting venue without bits of it falling down before the event takes place. I suppose it’s better than having a few floaters in the swimming pool and a pack of wild dogs hanging around the competitor’s accommodation.  But really, Abu Dhabi managed to build a new track without having to rebuild it the day after the first race finished.

Okay, so then this being a new track that as far as I know hasn’t been troubled by anything with an engine and sticky rubber running on it. It’s going to be extremely green and very dusty for the whole weekend; this makes it a lottery in terms of picking a finisher let alone a top ten.  

Tires then, it’s all going to be about the tires, the team that gets a handle on their tires and how they’re reacting to the new circuit as it rubbers in, and comes up to speed is going to have an advantage.   All the teams have topological and simulation data on the track, but no one has any experience of the surface and how it reacts to heat and the load of the tires. It’s going to be slippery and chew tires up to begin with, the question will be how long will the tires last when they get to the midpoint of the race.

 Given that none of this matters though, except for Force India who are running for pride, I don’t think any of the team will be trying all that hard. Other than Force India in fact I’m struggling to think of any teams that have India sponsorship to worry about, maybe the back end of the grid will pick up some local pin money. But Ferrari doesn’t sell too many cars east of Dubai, Redbull sell a few drinks but not as much as they do in Europe, whilst McLaren has two British drivers I suppose.  

Redbull then, though McLaren went very well in Korea last week, until the race when Vettel got back up to speed obviously.
Hey ... maybe Webber will finally get his act together and do something other than go backwards.

In other news New York ... sorry New Jersey USA will be getting a Grand Prix in 2013. Whoopty doo. Yet another circuit shoe horned into a city. Look Monaco is fine, we’ll have it because, well, we’ve always had it. Montreal doesn’t look like a city so that’s okay.
 But have they learnt nothing from Valencia? This year all the talk on the commentary was about the architecture and the fact that they have a race. Not about the race, because yet again there wasn’t really one, just the car running around an empty dockyard which on Monday morning would be turned back into a fish market.
America has some fantastic circuits that, whilst maybe not up to FIA speck, are superb circuits for actual racing on. Lime Rock, Laguna Seca, , Road America (Elkhart Lake) and Watkins Glen all have history and more importantly Herman Tilke has been nowhere near them. Why can’t we go to these circuits? No one in Texas gives a monkies about F1 they’re all NASCAR red necks through and through. Even Indy car struggles down south these days. New York is all about the money yet again.

But hey, as long as Bernie is getting paid, it’s all good isn’t it.

Talking of Bernie, the finger pointing and “it was him I gave the money too” backside coverage that has been going on in Bavaria over the past year, has finally arrived at the courts.  To recap, when CVC bought the rights to Formula one, it is alleged that Bernie paid former BayernLB bank executive Gerhard Gribkowshy just a whole shed load of cash for “advice” on selling F1. Now I don’t know about you, but if someone offered you $44 million dollars for advice, you’d expect more than a slap up meal and a round of brandies in the smoking room later.
Bernie has claimed it’s all above board and totally fine Guv’ner, whilst the Bavarian authorities continue to investigate his involvement.  Everyone knows he’s a shady character, but I doubt they’ll be able to pin anything on him this time.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Dan Weldon RIP.

Dan Weldon just got killed at the Last Vegas Indy car race . . 

It's a monster 15 car pile up at 200mph.

Very very sad ... Motor sport is still a dangerous sport, but you forget how dangerous it is until something like this happens.



Redbull rampage through the history books

Well there we go then. It only took one more race but Redbull has now managed to win not only the world drivers’ championship but the constructor too.

There isn't much left for the rest to pick up now. Second place I suppose, but who cares about that really?
 Who was second last year? .... See you don't care do you.
 And the feeling of not really giving a monkeys pervaded the paddock in Korea this weekend. When Hamilton drove a simply stunning lap to claim his first pole of the year, it was a very much muted Lewis that got out off the car.
 There were no high fives, no "nice work lads, and thanks for giving me a fast car". No, he got out and walker off to the press conference. It later emerged from the media that "words" may have been spoken in Japan along the lines of "get your act together and stop blaming everyone else Lewis". I have no idea of the validity of these claims. But given the muted reaction of the McLaren squad, I think everyone is looking forward to the end of the year.

Anyway, come race day and after a valiant 30 seconds of letting Hamilton lead, Vettel overtook the McLaren and drove off for yet another easy win. Hurrah!
Lewis and Webber, meanwhile where having a proper dingdong battle for second place behind him. With very little running in practice the teams had a bit of stab in the dark over set up, tire wear was thought to be a bit of an issue and it was a decision of long straight low down force or high down force twisty bits.  With no full tanks dry running they didn’t know how much wing to run to look after the tires.
Redbull went with more down force for the twisty bits and Webber was half a second faster than Lewis who had geared it long for the kilometer long straight. As the race moved into the final third, Webber behind Lewis would close up to the gearbox of the McLaren as they came out of the “street section” onto the start finish line, but coming out of turn one Lewis nailed the KERS and dragged the car far enough ahead to cover Webber as he came back at him.

It was stirring stuff. Trulli managed to get in the way (yet again) at one stage and Webber got the drop on Hamilton out of turn one. But Lewis got his KERS and DRS fired up and as they reached the end of the long straight he retook second, proper old school racing with no quarter given and no bits of carbon fiber flying off either.

Normally when Webber gets up behind someone it’s only a matter of time before it all goes horribly wrong and he punts them up the back side. Lewis this year too, seems to have been having a bit of brain fade when other drivers start invading his personal space. But not this time, both drivers behaved themselves and we had some classic dicing.  
And yet … well it still felt like the drivers were going through the motions for second place. It wasn’t all that exciting because it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Who wants to be second? Okay yes, Lewis is a born fighter who needed to at least finish to get his mojo working again. Whilst Webber, who has failed abysmally to achieve anything of note this year, was driving for pride if nothing else.
Still you know hmmmm.

Jenson joined to watch the fun from a respectable distance towards the end and Alonso joined for company.  Alonso had a race to forget and Jenson was never really in the hunt for anything. But then none of them really had a bats chance in the proverbial, as Vettel was out there making it look oh so easy.

So then Vettel, well you know the drill by now … Missed pole by about yay much for a change, but took the lead after 200 yards or so and then wondered where everyone else got too. Got the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, just to show how much better at this he and the car are.  Ho hum.

Hamilton second, we had flashes of the old Lewis during the race. But the swaggers gone, the ease and style are missing. He’s better than anyone when it’s all on the same song sheet. But a brilliant balls out watch me and eat the dust you suckers pole should have pointed the way to an easy victory. But he couldn’t catch Vettel and had to pull it all out of the bag to stay ahead of Webber. I pray to the Gods of four stroke and Pirelli rubber next year car is good enough for him.

Webber, took the fight to Hamilton, but just didn’t have enough oomph out of the first corner to worry Lewis till the end of the lap. It’s been a bad year for the Ozzy and that’s not going to change soon.

Jenson 4th, after last week’s lights to flag easy win he was off the pace this time around and couldn’t touch the faster boys.  Saving the tires and fuel weren’t enough this time around and he had to give best to his team mate for a change.

Alonso struggled to get the tires to work, as he has all season and struggled once again to beat Massa. Who has apparently out qualified him four out of the last six times? I suspect they’re testing bits for next year’s car; it’s the only logical explanation.

Massa 6th. And he didn’t hit Lewis or anyone else this time …. Hurrah.

Alguersuari has a barn stormer and hauls his sorry backside up to 7th. Okay Mickey Schumacher got broadsided by Petrov being an idiot. But Algy beat the faster Force India’s and Rosberg on merit in a straight fight. Give the lad his dues, he’s done well.

Rosberg, yes he was in the race and he got 8th

Buemi … yes I know, he’s still driving …. Who knew? And he gets 9th.

Paul Di Resta ups his stock again and drives it home to 10th, good job.

There you go then. We have a two week break until we should be going to India; there are a few question marks over money and customs letting stuff in and out of the country in time. The track looks to be mostly finished, there are some angry locals complaining they aren’t on the gravy train or seeing any of the money they were promised for their land (they’ll soon learn that was all a pack of lies). There are lots of Media types wondering if it’s worth the risk of dysentery to cover a race that means nothing.
So we’ll see what happens in the next week or so. Personally on the grounds Bernie complained about Silverstone being a third world track, I think they should go and see what an actual third world track is like.  Though I can’t believe there is as much mud in New Delhi in October, as there is at Silverstone in July.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The long blunt needle of speed nudges deeper into the upper reaches of the dial, gently caressing the soft redness where the engine stops murmuring and starts to purr and moan, growling with heightened desire. Eyes narrow as the driver feels the urgent throb building behind him, waiting for the howl and scream, the explosive trust of force propelling him into orbit.

Time slows as the heat rises, any second now and it will all be released in one huge detonation of noise and speed waiting for great gobs of torque to come hard and fast through the drive shaft to the wheels, which will rend and claw at the tarmac leaving their sticky residue in long thick lines.

The heartbeat quickens, sweat begins to prickle the skin of the driver, hot life giving fluid is pumped by machine. A rising crescendo of throbbing vibration and violent noise as first one then another light is sparks into life, the heart beats wait and then suddenly the lights are gone The cars are launched up the road in their haste to depart the scene before they are asked to pay for their ungentle manly manhandling of the pristine layer of tarmac.

Everywhere there is noise and movement. Flashing machines bark and snap left and right fighting to be freed from the grip of gravity and momentum. Twisting and turning driver and car wrestle each other for control, sweat stinging eyes, temperatures rising hot sticky rubber wearing thin with the strain of keeping everything planted on the edge of control, of adhesion and the short trip to the dark undergrowth and hard, hard wall. Quick precise fingers caress the gentle curves of the circuits, teasing the car to ever greater heights of desire to go faster and faster, building all the time.

Man and machine writhing together, faster and faster the cars pulsating around and around the track until finally the matador stands before the crowd and waves the flag in the face of the rampaging bulls and stallions, the crowd releases its breath in a wave of shouted exultation.

Then suddenly the champagne is being sprayed hard and fast high into the air and over the gently cooling bodies of the cars below. Fountains and fountains of sweet sticky fizz, eyes screwed shut against the jets of ice cold liquid. The media scrum a frenzy of flashlights blazing to capture the moments, the open eyed moment of glory as the victor, fist clenched, finger hard and pointing to the watching throng, demands their adulation and recognition.

I think Vettel will win.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Well all right ... well done lad.

Vettel and his finger of win Part two.

So he did it then.


Vettel has won his second championship, a back to back championship no less and he is the youngest driver to do so.

You can’t really argue with the results either, he’s beaten everyone without too much difficulty. Poles, podiums and enough wins to write a new chapter in the record books headed “The next generation”.

So why does it all feel like such and anticlimax? Where’s the Hullabaloo, the Pizzazz and razzamatazz?  Where are the bright lights, big fanfare and sparkly jackets, the dancing girls and fireworks of flashlight photography?

This is what happens when you win the title with four races to go. The circus has to be in Korea by Wednesday to set up for the next round of the now redundant championship. So there’s no time to get all worked up. And because this has been telegraphed for six months, it’s no big surprise. Not like last year when Vettel came from behind and snatched the prize from under noses of Alonso and Webber. This year it has felt like a foregone conclusion since pretty much the first round. Vettel has just had that aura around him that this is destined to happen, that this is as inevitable as the Sun rising tomorrow and a Conservative MP getting embroiled in a dirty little sex and nepotism scandal.

But despite the aura I’m still not convinced he’s the second coming either. Yes there is the pass on the outside of the Curva Grande, two wheels on the grass past a Ferrari on cold tires. But that was the highlight of an otherwise undemanding year!
I think the other drivers have dropped the ball and missed chances to take the fight to Vettel. Whilst he has undoubtedly performance as required all season as he is paid to do, go out and win every week lad. There hasn’t been a consistent challenge to him in reality

Hamilton has over driven a poor car and tripped over other, less talented, drivers. 

Webber has driven into far too many drivers again and made basic in qualifying and school boy errors off the line time and again.

Alonso has been hobbled by a Ferrari that couldn’t seem to get its tires to work at half the circuits and seemed to go backwards at half distance. 

Only Button has got his act together and the second half of the season has seen him get his mojo finally up to speed. But alas for the spectacle it has been too little too late.

Today’s win was another pretty good one in a year of pretty good drives. He seems to have grown in confidence and stature as the season has gone on and now it seems that McLaren are turning into the Jenson Button team.  More through a process of the team just following the success of a driver rather than an Alonso giving it all the “big I am”. This more than anything has probably contributed to Hamilton having a year to forget. The realisation that results are what a team need to gel it around a driver, rather than a feisty girlfriend and a few hip hop stars on the guest list. 

This race was another where Jenson just seemed to be on top of his game all weekend. He missed pole by the gnats proverbial left testicle, but if you need a driver to nail it lap after lap when the tires are not working, Jenson is your man. So as the Vettels and Hamilton's chewed through tires he just kept his head together and worked the car to win the race.  A good pit stop and being Mr Consistent left the other drivers to scrap for the second step. He didn’t look like he was going to lose all day. Even when Vettel tried to drive him off the circuit at the start of the race, the new improved calm Button just got his act together and drove the perfect race.

It was all rather dull in the end.

Hamilton and Massa reconvened their on circuit spats again. This time Massa attempted a very ambitious move around the outside of Hamilton into the chicane at the end of the lap. Oddly, this “avoidable contact” didn’t end with the (Ferrari) driver getting a drive through after he clouted a  car he was trying to overtake .... one rule for the, one rule for the rest.
Not that it made much difference to either Hamilton or Massa. Both look like they want the season to end so that can leave the media spotlight for a bit.

As for the rest, I don’t know. I was half asleep after watching the Bathurst race. 

Stuff like this.

Exciting stuff, i think you'll agree, anyway.

I think I fell asleep for the last few laps. Vettel got told to go for the points and leave Alonso and Button to it. Button was a bit touch and go on the fuel, but was far enough ahead at the end to protect his lead.

So a very creditable win for Button at what he called his other home race. He seemed pretty happy with the result and I think he deserves it. Vettel tried to put the frighteners on his at the start, squeezing him onto the grass as they all raced into turn one. Three or four years ago that sort of thing would have got the blood boiling and Jenson would have been all over the show. These days he gets his head down and wins. You can’t ask for much more than that, he even got the fastest lap for good measure.

Alonso got second, finally the ability of the Ferrari to not work its tires pays off and he gets a podium result for his troubles. Kept Button honest at the end, but didn’t look like he was going to catch and pass the plucky Brit in the remaining laps. Vettels was protecting his championship point so wasn’t going to try anything Banzi any time soon.

Vettel does what needs doing and rode lady luck all the way to third. Was a bit naughty with the squeeze on Jenson at the start, the fact is, that is the only time so far this year that you could say he has been naughty, gone is the “crash kid” tag it would seem. Anyway, had thoughts of going for the win, but an older wiser voice told him not to and he settled for the points and the championship.

Webber, who has been comprehensible beaten all year, fails to make the podium in the best car again. Gone is the posturing and the “it’s so unfair they all hate me” shtick. He’s being very quite these days, admitting his shot at the title was last year and he missed it.  Like Massa I don’t think he’ll take to being a number two driver very well. The truth can be just a cruel as Lady Luck.

Hamilton. Chewed his tires and hit Massa again for 5th. Like an England Rugby team, brilliant to watch when it all goes right, frustrating when the promise fails to deliver. But I still think he’s brilliant.

Schumacher was 6th apparently.

Massa was just as rubbish as normal in 7th

Perez with a head cold that would have felled lesser men was just as boring and tedious as usual and picked up more points for Sauber in 8th. I think he’s turning into my new Trulli. Just sort of annoyingly there and under the mistaken belief he’s actually good rather than extremely well sponsored.

Petrov .... yes .. remember him? Well he’s 9th for Renault as Senna who replaced an under performing Nick Heidfeld got 16th. It’s not just about the money remember, but it helps. Anyway Petrov got some points. He’ll know his fate in a week or two after Kubica gets into the simulator to see if his new bionic arms work.  

Rosberg does a cracking job coming from the back of the grid to 10th after he failed to set a qualifying time due to “technical” problems with the car on Saturday.

This week’s tail end Charlie is the ever reliable Liuzzi. Who spent most of the event sitting at the back of the pits watching mechanics take engines out and slot new engines into his HRT. I’m talking bets on how long it is before he gets fired for next years driver to get some miles under his belt.
So then, Vettel picks up where he left of last year, but does it with a lot more ease, less broken bits and no whinging from his team make. If it wasn’t for that bloody finger, I might actually like the man.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Japan, time to crown a champion...

Hello again.

It only seems like yesterday that we were all sitting around watching the flood lights of Singapore glinting off the carbon fibre. But suddenly the F1 teams have rocked up for the Japanese Grand prix at the Suzuka international racing circuit.

I love this circuit;
It’s got a whole load of motor racing history.
It has got balls out fast bits.
Grab you nuts and hold on corners
And there is a silly hairpin for Banzai overtaking moves from the likes of Kobayashi and Webber.

Now, you might ask, “what’s all the fuss about?” and the simple answer is its old school this place. It’s tight and needs controlled aggression down the long fast sweeping curves, twisting like sinew through the hills. You won’t find any girly runoff areas that don’t punish the Playstation generation. There are no resets here, get it wrong and there will be a lot of carbon bits to clear up. Just ask Timo Glock how hard the pit straight wall is.
  Winning here is something you can add to your CV, it has gravitas. It means something. The Figure of eight track winds through the countryside and the driver has to work the car, control and direct the power and speed. If the car has a mind of its own or the driver isn’t on top of his game he will tool around getting in front of the fast boys.  The 130R corner into the hair pin before the pit straight is a test of courage and set up. It’s lost some of its bite like Eau Rouge at Spa but it still demands a certain amount of respect. Last year Lucas Di  Grassi crashed his Virgin on the way to the grid at 130R.

To win here you need to have a car that can flow throw the corners, that can caress the rumble strips and hang out where only the angles  like to take cigarette breaks.

So what’s been happening in the little bubble of formula One these past weeks?

Well not a lot really. The Internet has gone into apoplectic rage over the Hamilton v Massa incident. Most normal people gave a tut when Hamilton grazed the rear tire of Massa’s Ferrari. Then rolled their eyes as the FIA gave him a drive through for the most minor of crimes. Finally some raised an eyebrow at Massa smacking Hamilton in the press pen after the show, there were a few words and that should have been and end of it all.

But then released a highlights package, which had an extra audio message from the Ferrari pit wall. The lap before Massa and Hamilton are due into the pits Rob Smedley says to Massa, “Hold Hamilton as much as we can. Destroy his race as much as we can, c’mon boy!” As the two protagonists exit the pits the Ferrari as usual suffers from not getting the heat into its tires so that Hamilton gets a run on Massa and then it all goes wrong for everyone. 
Massa limps back but goes nowhere fast after the safety car “spoils” his race. Hamilton just gets on with it and races back to a creditable 5th.  After the race Massa throws a bit of a tantrum, Hamilton ignores him and avoids the swinging rattle.  

After all of this there was suggestion that the drivers would like to have a chat about Hamilton and his “driving standards” during the next drivers meeting, the more astute of you will recognise the scarlet hand of fate attempting to deflect some awkward questions coming their way. Or maybe not, I couldn’t possible comment.

The teacups start to rattle when the Smedley message turns up.
This of course sets the internet off, a few tabloids followed and eventually Massa issued a statement 

“I don’t recall what Rob said. I don’t think there’s any value in stirring up trouble now and trying to link this with the subsequent contact with Hamilton: they are two separate moments and they have nothing to do with each other. I’m sure that Lewis and I will find a way to clear this up and put a lid on this story, as is only correct between two drivers. What happens on the track should remain on the track.”

Which is all very noble and a jolly fine statement until you start wading into the press pen at the end of a race waving you rattle around and giving someone a slap whilst they’re in the middle of an interview. The fact that Smedley has to motivate his boy by telling him to “destroy” another driver’s race is worrying enough. That they don’t have enough control over him when he goes off to give the interviews after the race should set alarm bells ringing.

He still seems to be under the impression he was robbed of a world championship by Hamilton. Forgetting that the FIA tried everything in the book to stop Hamilton winning that year, even going so far as to throw the book at him when he overtook Kim in Spa.  I suppose being world champion for only 15 seconds could be annoying, but he needs to leave this martyred routine back in the motor home, get his head down and start driving like he has a pair.

Oddly enough there hasn’t been much noise from the official Ferrari press off over all of this. If I was Massa I’d be looking for some back up and wondering where the troops were.

Hamilton meanwhile has kept his head down whilst the team has said it’s all a storm in a tea cup and maybe the results speak louder.

Right then.

Oh come on Vettel will win and clinch his second world championship here, I think (I’ve not checked) that Redbull can also wrap up the constructors here too. I don’t think you’ll find anyone betting against that.

Button has finally signed on the dotted line with McLaren for a few more years, he looks to be the best of the rest right now with a car that can take the fight to Vettel, Alonso and Webber are in close attendance, but Lady Luck has been avoiding them like the plague recently.
The only real fight left is for constructors points with Ferrari and McLaren going for second place, whilst the Force India are chasing Renaults fifth spot and the tail end mob are trying to look respectable for next year’s sponsorship money.  

There is a bit of fight out there, no one is going to risk it all for a handful of points anymore though.  

The smug bastard.

It’s time for some brighter news

This Monday sees the release of the Senna film on DVD and Blu-ray.

If you’ve not had a chance to see this on the big screen, why not?  

Now I think I may have mentioned before that I’m not Senna’s biggest fan. I find it difficult to respect someone who was prepared to driver another car off the track to win a championship. But I did respect his talent. I knew he was one of the best drivers I will ever see in a racing car.

The thing that I got from the film was that Senna was the last of the great analogue drivers. He was brilliant when it was him an engine and four wheels. When Electronics came in 1992 /1993 you could see his frustration. And the film shows the deteriorating relationship with McLaren, as he sees the Williams electronic packages start to surpass his pure talent. 
Senna in the wet in Monaco or on a pole lap at Silverstone was a demonstration in pure commitment. No one else I’ve ever seen could come out of the pits and just blow everyone else away with a stunning qualifying lap.  He did it time after time and he never tired of doing it. Vettel is talented, but he’s got the absolutely best car ever built to help him. When he takes a Toleman HRT to second at Monaco, then I’ll be impressed.
Once electronics came in his head and shoulders talent was no longer enough. Yes he could nail a pole lap, but if the traction control of the Williams launched them off the line like a rocket from 3rd, pole counted for nothing.
When he went to Williams in ’94 and realised that Benetton now had the better electronic package with Schumacher. He complains that he can’t stay with Schumacher through the high speed turns, and I think he realises that his talent isn’t enough anymore. 
The footage of Senna on the day he dies is very, very moving. You see a man haunted by the desire to win, but know his talent is no longer enough. He’s taking more risks than he’s comfortable with and you just want to step into the screen and tell him not to go out. Not to get into the car and to just walk away. 
I urge you to buy the film on your format of choice

Oh and finally, the Bathurst 1000km is on this weekend. 

with lots of this 

  plenty of this ....

but mostly a lot of this ....