Sunday, 25 March 2012

Alonso is faster than you .. do you understand.

Once again the old adage that, one should never count ones chickens until all the eggs have hatched is proved by a single Formula One race. Seven days ago everyone had Ferrari dead and buried, an impossible car to drive and no idea what to do with it, the media were calling for Domenicali’s head and Massa to be shot out of a cannon into the face of the sun.
This evening, okay the Italian press is still calling for Massa to be fired out of a cannon, but the car is perfect and their driver Alonso is the greatest driver ever to wear the red overalls. A brilliant win of a race that started in the rain, was delayed for an hour as the HSE threw a red flag, then a superb drive to hold off a hard charging Sauber to claim a very unexpected win at the a second event of the season
 And you can’t take anything away from that win either. It was a true old school Alonso victory, against the odds and with his back to the wall. When the moment presented itself, he nailed Perez into turn one and never looked back.

Unfortunately that isn’t the story of the weekend though. The tin foil hat brigade is incensed by a simple radio message seven laps from the end. This was sent, from the pit wall, to the Sauber of Perez who found himself in the unusual position of chasing Alonso down for the first win of his F1 career.
It said simply "Checo, be careful, we need this position, we need this position"
Which to any normal person means ....
“Look lad, you’re in a comfortable position, a guaranteed second place. We have no sponsors and we need the points. We would rather see you bring it home for the money than make a do or die move on a Ferrari driven by a man who is not going to give this one up ... do you understand”.
Now you may think that because the engine in the back of the Sauber is supplied by Ferrari, that maybe Ferrari had a word with its satellite team and maybe said, “Right lads, don’t louse this up or the engines you get next month might not be quite so pukka, know what I mean Guv’ner”
Or perhaps maybe, just maybe the fact that Perez is being linked to Ferrari as a replacement for Massa as soon as the start of the European leg of the championship. That Perez might think twice about stealing the win from a team he wishes to join and a team mate who would be his number one.

It all depends on how tight that tin foil hat is really. Oh I know in the past Ferrari have played fast and loose with their own team orders and threatened to throw their toys out of the pram for the most minor of reasons. But ordering another team, an engine customer team, to stop racing to keep that engine supply? I don’t think they would and Peter Sauber the owner of Sauber F1 is a straight up dyed in the wool racer. He’s been knocking around motor sport since the 80’s in sports cars. So he’s not some push over, some new boy with no history. He has integrity and a sense of honour. He rescued the Sauber team when BMW flounced off the DTM last year, the team has his name on it and I really don’t think he would throw a win away to keep an engine deal. When asked if there had been any talks with Ferrari during the race, Mr Sauber said "One hundred per cent nothing. We had no discussion about Checo and we had no discussion about the position."

It is all a moot point anyway as Perez managed to throw it away all on his own. Ahhh but the tin foil hat nay Sayers point to that and say “but look he was told to stop racing and he went off the road deliberately, look we are right look ... look, and that Bernie is a lizard that feeds on the blood of new born deer, he went off under Ferrari orders ” etc etc etc.

Now every racing driver I’ve ever met, and that is a few, would have rather cut their left foot off than throw a race. Remember Barrichello giving Schumacher the race in Austria all those years ago? If you recall Ferrari told its own driver to move over and let the team number one through after Barrichello had completely dominated the whole race. The Brazilian did as he was told 100 metres from the line and with a whole shed load of bad grace.
Then there’s Ferraris current whipping boy Massa being told to move over in Germany, who do so with real undisguised disgust, it was the start of the end for him, and he never challenged Alonso again. The bad PR was endless.

Racing drivers do not throw races to keep engines, even the ones about to be signed for the team ahead of them. Perez pushed and pushed and then made a mistake that took the momentum out of the attack. With rain forecast for the end of the race it was better to get the points on a day when the big boys had dropped the ball and he was about to deliver a hat full of points. You can’t get a Ferrari P45 slip between the midfield and if he had thrown away a second place, it would be him facing the cannon shot into the sun now.

  It may well have crossed his mind that he was about to challenge a Ferrari for the win and maybe he has already got his signature on a contract with prancing horse logo. So he may have thought “Good opportunity to show them I can race for every point” or he may have though, “better to show them I can do as I'm told”. Or how about “Best not take a car out I could potentially be driving next month”. Equally “I’ll show them I'm willing to fight for every point I’ll stick up the inside next time we reach the end of the pit straight”.
There are hundreds of thoughts he could have had. But the one first and foremost would have been “Don’t screw this up now”

Anyway there were some other drivers and teams.

McLaren had a bit of a nightmare after Hamilton nailed pole again on Saturday and failed again to turn it into a win. Whilst Jenson normally imperious in a changeable conditions race, clipped the back of the mobile chicane Karthikeyan and spent most of the afternoon complaining about his tires not gripping. No smug father and ditzy girlfriend flapping around the media this time around. Team Button was conspicuous by its absence post race.
Also a bit lost at sea was Mercedes. The car can obviously nail a single qualifying lap when its trick rear wing do dar can optimise the balance and deliver the silver car to the sharp end of the grid. But come Sunday and its literally chewing the tires up. Rosberg and Schumacher went south the moment the life was gone from the tires and no amount of weaving around can save them. Why anyone would want to protest that rear wing when it’s clearly not delivering any race performance what so ever, is beyond me. Let then go for pole and over take them on lap 15 like normal.

Anyway, rain made it a bit of a lottery, hence;

1st Alonso, I doubt many people went for that. It was a combination of luck and good old smarts. He passed Perez when he had the chance and used KERS to just about stay ahead. And like Last week the driver chasing him was the one that made the mistake.
This win now means he’s leading the championship, no I don’t believe it either!

2nd Perez. His stock has rocketed through the roof with this. I still don’t like him; one good result does not make for a world Champion after all. Petrov was third in Australia last year and the next big thing, now he’s tooling round in a Caterham.  So I'm going to hold judgement for now.  I will say that he drove a barn stormer of a race and really showed that given the right conditions he has what it takes to be a race winner. But then, Trulli was technically a race winner too.
He did a great job and could have won the race, if just finishing hadn’t been so important to Sauber. Was blindingly fast on used rubber and traded fastest laps with Alonso as they fought it out.
Let’s just see what he can do on a dry track when the big boys are there to play too.

3rd Hamilton. Bit of a smile this week, but poor pit work again and a lack of race pace left the boy wonder to run a quite race. Vettel and Webber tried to catch him at the end but Vettel clipped the HRT mobile chicane and punctured his rear tire.  The points are ticking over, just not enough of them. Bringing his mum to the races is obviously working, not so much the trophy girlfriend, who looks less and less comfortable whenever Mr Hamilton senior is there.  Still it’s a long old championship this year; there will be plenty of time for that relationship to thaw out.

4th Webber, did alright, didn’t hit anyone and did about all he can with a car that isn’t as good as last years. It’s suffering from a lack of rear grip as it goes into and through the apex of a corner ... what they need is some sort of way to energise the rear wing as the driver lifts off into a corner. Maybe with exhaust gasses too and the diffuser or something .. I don’t know, something like that.

5th Kimi. Changed the gearbox and got a 5 place penalty on Friday. Started 10th ended up here in 5th. Then he got the fastest lap just like the good old days. Missed a massive PR opportunity by not having Walls ice cream delivered to him as the teams sat under the gazebos waiting for the rain to stop.

6th Senna. The B spec Senna charged around like a thing possessed. Punted his team mate at the start and fought back from dead last to claim a hat full of points. Whisper it VERY quietly ... Williams might just have a handy little car this year, imagine what do proper drivers could do with it.

7th Di Resta. More luck and more points. The car still didn’t look all that fast and will need a lot of wind tunnel time for the next two weeks.   

8th Vergne. This was a pretty special drive from the Torro Rosso Rookie. Before the red flag came out he was tooling around in the top ten on inters as the rest of the rest of the grid slithered around on full on storm wets. That takes balls and a lot of skill. During the winter season the Torro Rosso would pop up now and then and deliver these great laps. It’s obviously a well sorted car and Vergne is proving to be quite a skilled driver.  Ricciardo was also driving like a man on a mission for a lot of the race, so I'm starting to think these boys might soon be regulars in the top ten.

9th Hulkenberg. Not bad, not brilliant but better than more notable names in red cars with far more experience.

10th Schumacher.  Salvaged some pride for Mercedes, but mostly looked to be holding up the pack. They need to figure out why it’s chewing the tires up so fast and do it before the rest of the midfield get a real handle on their own cars.  BMW and Toyota upped sticks and quite when they couldn’t show the board of directors the results ... will they soon do the same at Mercedes?

Finally our last placed driver would have been De La Rosa, but the FIA got so annoyed with Karthikeyan getting to tenth and then wondering around like he was a racing driver or something and trying to use his car to stop people over taking him. That then slapped him with a 20 second penalty at the end for hitting Vettel, which means he gets demoted to 22 and dead last.  Well done to him. In further HRT news Luis PĂ©rez-Sala, Team Principal writes: "Yesterday after qualifying we were satisfied and today, thankfully, we are again. We met another target which was to finish the race with both cars” Well done to them, crossing their fingers and hoping not one but both cars will finish just shows you they’re not here to make up the number at all.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Round 2 Malaysia

The dust has hardly settled and the last of the champagne is being washed from the overalls of the victors and we’re off to Malaysia for the Sepang GP.

This place is the first of the Tilk “Bernies barren wastelands circuits for the cash” this year so an easy one to catch up with on the BBC. It’s fast, wide and there isn’t too much of a challenge for the drivers. The circuit is extremely wide; in places they can go four abreast into a corner. But this being Formula one there is only one line and no one deviates from that unless they have too, or unless Massa is spinning back from hitting the wall perhaps.

McLaren are talking up this weekend and why shouldn’t they? Historically the Woking boys have always gone well here as it’s nice and fast with long sweeping high speed corners that suit the McLaren design ethos. They looked comfortable at the front of the field in Australia a circuit that shouldn’t have suited so i don’t see a reason why they shouldn’t be out front again.
With only three days from the drop of the flag in Australia to the start of practice in Malaysia the teams don’t have enough time to analyse the race data from the weekend and turn it into faster bits for the cars, so the pace of the cars isn’t going to be much different.


Ferrari is bringing a new chassis for Massa, just to prove his other one wasn’t the weak link in the weekend. Will this make much difference? .. I doubt it. The Italian papers are full of stores that Perez is going to be in the Ferrari before the season reaches Barcelona and soft hands Sutil will be back in the Sauber. Proving once again that being too slow is a far worse crime than glassing someone in the face!

HRT will be searching for better luck this weekend, with both cars way outside the 107% qualifying time they didn’t even get a couple of hours testing time on the Sunday. I doubt that’s going to change much this weekend. If they make it to the race they have to be firm favourites for last place driver, if they can complete enough race distance of course. Marussia are looking like being the last placed car of choice at the moment, with Glock my personal choice.

Other news of note is that Kovelinum was given a five place grid penalty, for over taking the safety car before it had crossed the safety car line at the entrance to the pit lane during the Oz GP. So if you were thinking of having a Caterham on pole position in Malaysia, think again.

Right then, update your predictions before midnight on Thursday please. Any changes after than will be for china in four weeks time.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Round one Australian

Right then, Button hits the ground running and gets the win as the McLaren’s looked nailed to the circuit. Whilst the Redbulls looked like they are really missing that rear blown diffuser and Ferrari looked like they’d forgotten how to design a car.

Hamilton got pole with a scintillating early Q3 run, Vettel once so peerless on a qualifying run complained about oversteer and unpredictable handling. The Mercedes of Rosberg and Schumacher had talked the talk all practice but when push came to positions they couldn’t quite walk the walk. The big hero of Q3 was the once silly haired Roman Grosjean in the evil black lotus. Who showed his vodka loving returning world champion team mate, Kimi “I’ll have a Cornetto and sit this one out chaps” Raikkonen, how it should be done with a fine third on the grid.

Better then Ferrari, who looked like someone had rebadged a 1974 Ford Capri with a prancing horse and sent that out to qualify, One minute it was understeer, the next oversteer. Just keeping it in a straight line looks to take some balls.

Massa, as ever, kept the press pack wondering why he still had a drive and for how long he would keep said drive. Numerous trips to the kitty litter and poor qualifying kept everyone amused. But you know, they’ve been asking when is the Latin hotshot going to get fired and year after year he’s still there. I think the crux of the matter might be that no one else wants to be the one making Alonso look great. The spaniard was thrashing the thing within an inch of its short shelf life and wowing the media until he too ended up pointing the wrong way in the sand trap.

So to the race, Hamilton got an okay start when the lights went out, Button simply got a better start. As the others banged into one another (Webber in the thick of things as usual) the two McLaren’s eased off into the distance.

Rosberg got a flier off the line (the software team will be happy with that on in Brackley) to snatch third briefly before Vettel made a blinding move up the inside and took it away from him, where he failed to get to grips with the McLarens.

Behind all of this Maldonado in the surprisingly good looking Williams “bumped” Grosjean off the circuit in a nice “welcome back to the piranha pool lad” move , before he started getting back into the swing of things with a trip through the sand traps a few laps later.

Alonso was like a man possessed, imagine Heathcliff standing astride a pair of wild sweaty stallions, his white shirt ripped open, jet black hair billowing around him as lighting flashes in the distance, as he, riding crop in hand beats the raging animals of death and bends them to his will. Three days of practice and qualifying had still not tamed the 2012 Ferrari. It was impressive to watch a man not know from one corner to the next which way the car was going to snap. Exciting stuff.

Oh, yeah and then there was Parez. Right we finally got rid of Trulli who was the most tedious driver i have ever seen. Great wine, does a lot for charity, boring driver. Well he got fired, but Perez seems to have taken it into his head that to win a race you have to be gormless and dull. He has that ‘I have no idea what you are saying so I’m just going to smile at you’ face. The extra big smile that pleads with you to like and understand him, that really under that placid stupid grin he has the heart of a dead sheep ready to savage anyone that crosses him.

I didn’t like his, “i’m going to do one stop and hope the others fail to finish” race tactic last year and sure as hell don’t like it this year. Alonso was charging around like a man on a mission to tame a car that was actively trying to kill him. Perez looked like he was off down the shops for a packet of value sausages (too much meat can be bad for you). Dull dull dull tedious dullness.

So it was all pretty static until Petrov got bored of driving the Caterham and abandoned it on the pit straight. This called out the safety car, just as the McLaren duo had pitted for their tires and just before Vettel pitted for his. Once it had all shaken out Vettel found himself between Button and Hamilton. Oh some things, do indeed, never change.

So we were robbed of a McLaren one two, but did get to see McLaren and Redbull parade around for 10 laps. KERS and DRS didn’t seem to make much of a difference as top boys all look to have the same sort of race pace. Give or take Massa careering into them

To spice things up at the end Maldonado crash tested the front of his Williams as he tried to overtake a tiring Heathcliff Alonso on the last lap. What would have been excellent points for Williams turned to carbon fibre smeared along an Australian wall. With Senna getting nailed by Massa it was all rather disappointing for the boys from Didcot. Still the car at least looks like it can go some. Maybe Senna will turn into a Senna , you never know. Imagine what a Koby or a Kimi could do with a car like that. That would be something to watch wouldn’t it.

So Hamilton got the Pole.

And Button won, made it look pretty easy too and seems to view this as the start of another championship winning season for himself. He got the fastest lap at the end just to rub it in a bit. This is Button really, drive it smooth and nothing dramatic, which is fine and he’s a Brit so that’s good …. But don’t you just wish Hamilton had got the reward for the hard work on Saturday. Well I do.

Vettel bagged more than he was expecting with a bit of Safety car luck for 2nd.

Hamilton had it all taken away from him and looked pretty upset with 3rd. But at least he didn’t have to go and see the stewards and explain why Massa was sitting in a broken Ferrari this time. He looked like he knew he could have won. Let’s hope it doesn’t affect the rest of the season for him. In reality I’d rather have a Lewis that was annoyed with third than happy to have finished.

Webber, gets his best ever result in Australian with 4th. I was taking bets on when he was going to crash into Hamilton at the end, but i think he’d got all that out of his system at the start.

Alonso 5th and that is far more than the car was worth. I don’t think anyone in red expected points let alone a top five finish. They have a serious amount of work ahead of them with that thing.

Kobayashi in 6th was taking part apparently.

Kimi actually had a pretty good race in 7th, the team cocked up qualifying so he got left down in 17th. So to drive up through the field and not collect Massa or crash test the tub after being away for two years, suggest that the evil black Lotus might just be the real deal. Oh and he’s still a very good driver etc etc.

Perez dull dull dull grin dull, His mouth has far too many teeth in it !dull dull dull 8th

Ricciardo gets to 9th ho hum.

Di Resta gets a very lucky 10th after Rosberg and Vergne got it all wrong on the last lap. To be honest Di Resta needs to up his game, the Hulk out qualified him and would have got points if he’d not crashed. Yes I know you have to finish to get the glory, but the Hulk looked to be the natural team leader all weekend and Di Resta the rookie. Anymore results like this and he won’t be going anywhere next year.

Right the last classified driver as declared by the FIA is Glock, who didn’t do enough laps to beat Maldonado at the end, but was still moving when the flag dropped. Yes I know Pic was still technically running at the end, but the FIA have his as a DNF (Did not finish) so he is thrown onto the scrap heap of rubbishness and Glock gets the points this time out. I know it’s complicated, I think Pic was outside of the minimum finishing rule, being as he was 4 laps behind Button.

So then, what have we learned this weekend ?

Well Redbull and McLaren are pretty much even on race pace, with the Woking boys faster in qualifying trim.

The Mercedes have a trick qualifying wing that isn’t helping them to race any better than last year.

Evil Black Lotus do have a good car under them, but the chaps on the pit perch need to step up to the game a bit.

Force India don’t look like they’ve changed the plan of building a car for the fast circuits and Di Resta has proper team mate on his hands now.

Williams have a handy car and two rubbish drivers. My pick for the team to fire its drivers first.

Sauber have another car that will look after its tires, mores the pity.

Marussia got to the end, but only just

HRT are just as crap as ever.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Even Bernie is getting excited ...... it's time for 

The Sidewaysbob 2012
Formula 1

All you have to do is:

Pick the top 10 drivers.
Pick the driver on pole.
Pick the driver with the fastest lap.

and finally, just who is the worst driver?
Pick the last classified driver each race

If you have even a passing interest in Formula one racing and think you know the difference between a Pasta Maldonado and a Webber Carburettor than this is definitely for you.

This is all free, just for fun and a bit of a laugh

The season starts in two weeks time so hurry and join up today.

If James was alive its the sort of thing he would have loved.