Tuesday, 1 July 2014

It's all about the spectacle apparently.

The British GP this weekend is going to have to be pretty special.

The Tour de France kicks off in Leeds on Saturday with Cav tipped to go for the stage win and take the yellow jersey around Britain, before the big boys start playing for keeps.
Murray ‘could’ be in the Wimbledon final on Sunday, well you never know.
Further afield, the World Cup hits the quarter final stages. Brazil aim to beat Columbia to keep the Samba party going. The Dutch look to step on the plucky Costa Ricans. Both should be exciting games.

Whilst over in France the Classic Le Mans 24 hours starts on Friday and that’s where I’m going to be.

For pretty much the price of admission to the British GP this year, I can go to France, eat and drink to excess and watch classic racing machinery being thrashed around. Imagine Glastonbury, but with more cars and about the same amount of mud. Whilst the Goodwood Classic Revival can certainly lay claim to being the absolute pinnacle of “po-faced old duffers looking under bonnets at the oily bits, and sneering at the lower classes”. The Le Mans Classic is now the largest classic car festival in Europe and takes a much more relaxed attitude to the like of me. Getting all sweaty under the collar looking at a 1929 Bentley speed 6 or a 1970 Porsche 917 in Gulf colours, is practically encouraged.

Le Mans does Classic racing so much better than Goodwood which wants you to dress like an effete Oxbridge undergrad, stuff teddy bear and all. You can’t move for Arran sweaters tide loosely around shoulders and battered straw boaters being lazily tipped to posh totty. Actual racing at Goodwood is reserved for the unwashed masses on the far side of the circuit, “The terrible oiks who don’t have a scrap of tweed between them!!!”

Le Mans doesn’t suffer from any of that corporate class snobbery; no, you can wander around, dress the way you want, taking pictures and drinking red wine to your heart’s content. And there is simply nothing better than watching the sort of machinery that would kill a man in the blink of an eye, that frisson of danger that comes from knowing some of these cars were considered the most dangerous ever made. These days it’s all a lot safer of course, far fewer things to hit and better fire protection but these are the turbo spitting, brake squalling “throw all the petrol in the world at the engine and give me MORE POWER mmmwwwahahahahahahaha” cars.

But enough having fun, we have a championship to follow.

So, back to Formula one and the circus rolls into Blighty. Home of the most knowledgeable fans etc etc.

It’s been a busy old time for some teams as they try to find that extra tenth to beat the teams around them. Whilst Mercedes sail off in to the distance Ferrari, Williams, Redbull and Force India are having a right ding dong battle to be the best of the rest.

The fight for the places just behind the podium is quite exciting, Redbull who had a bit of a stuttering start, finally got the ball in play but then seem to have dropped it spectacularly in Austria. Horner coming out with a tirade of abuse for Renault and their underpowered engine was pure pantomime. After four years of nothing but post-race Champagne for tea, they’re scratching around for points from their world champion driver as the new boy impresses everyone. That and Newey swapping his headphones for a captain’s cap and deck shoes, suddenly the Redbull management is getting visibly edgy. Even Dietrich Mateschitz the owner of Redbull racing had a pop at Renault in the following days “bad for Renault and bad for Redbull” he blasted. The sense of entitlement is astounding!
Williams meanwhile, are going from strength to strength. Not winning mind, but the days of a dangerous Venezuelan smearing the car down yet another wall/competitor seem to have gone. The car is fast on the straight stuff and out of corners, they lucked into a front row lockout in Austria when Mercedes fumbled the ball and had the measure of the silver cars until cold hard pragmatism got in the way of a good fight. They even have a super-sub in the wings that will get her first proper try out of the season at Silverstone.

At long last Susie Wolff will be taking part in the Friday free practice session this weekend and it will be interesting to see how she goes, the car is clearly top 5 material in the right hands so a result in the top ten is expected. Yes I know Friday really means nothing. But Mrs Wolff is the first women in 20 years to get a shot at playing with the big boys and Maldonado, you might argue this is all a sop to Toto, a good bit of PR, and you’d be right. But this isn’t some wet behind the ears F3 also ran with a shed full of cash and there is talk of maybe a full weekend of fun later in the season, a good result here might just seal the deal.

Force India has a bit of a problem, the hulk has lost his mojo and Perez is turning into a born again racer. He’s clearly put the failure of last year with McLaren behind him and is showing his much more fancied team mate a clean pair of Pirellis finest. The team is now in a three way fight with Ferrari and Williams for that third spot in the championship which is worth and awful lot of money. It’s taken them a long time to get to this stage and they need the Hulk to pull himself together and start to drive it like he stole it again.  Otherwise I’ll have to start liking Perez.... and that’s just not happening!

As predicted by pretty much everyone, Fernandez looks like he’s selling up his share of Caterham to some faceless corporate idiots. As usual they will try and make a fast buck out of the team, claim they are investing in the future, strip it of all its assets and disappear in six months or so. Faceless mega corps care nothing for the sport only the cash returns they think they’ll make. At this point in time there is no word from anyone as to what is happening, there are even a few ugly rumours going round that the boys and girls in green might not turn up to Silverstone, always a worrying development. Let’s be honest though, it has been a dismal failure from Caterham after pretty much skipping last year to concentrate on bringing a top ten car to the game in 2014. Yet they are now further behind than before. Testing had them knocking on the door of acceptability … almost half way through the season and they are now floundering around at the garden gate, trying to fight off the randy dog next door which is trying to hump their leg with a desperate rabid frenzy. Faces behind the windows stare out in pure contempt.

Things at McLaren are also not too rosy.  Big Bad Ron has told button to get his shit together and get on with being a racing driver, which seems a bit harsh seeing as he’s just lost his father! But if you want a shoulder to cry on and a manly hug to chase the dark clouds away Ron Dennis isn’t your man.

No, if you want love and cuddles you want to be down at Mercedes where Lauda has been wondering around telling everyone that “Lewis isn’t cracking up, he’s fine”. Despite no one suggesting he was or it even crossing their minds. Yeah sure he’s been beaten in the last three races and yeah sure he’s a win behind Nico now, but he’s not lost the plot. He’s regrouping, getting ready to blow Nico away ... any ... second .... nearly .... in ... a.... moment .... Okay no one is panicking yet ... okay.

"must win must win must win must don't listen to the voices must win must win"

The FIA have been quiet recently and that’s always a worry. So it is with very little surprise that they have popped up this week with another top draw “What the actually Baggins are they up to this time” shocker.
Apparently it’s too difficult for the “fans” to follow the restarts of races that have been following a safety car for any length of time. All that, “pace car peeling off and the drivers getting on with racing” was confusing the corporate suits in the hospitality units. One minute they were ordering another pink gin as the cars tooled around and the marshals cleared up Maldonado’s latest accident. And the next the cars were racing again and no one had told them. So from next year .... and you’re going to love this ... the cars will stop on the grid after the safety car has peeled off ... yes, line up on the grid, in the order they were in ... .and here’s the best bit ....... restart the race. Brilliant ... simply brilliant.


I have no idea why, either!

They claim it’s something to do with safety and making a show of it and some other irrelevant bollocks. Bearing in mind this is after all the back markers have been waved through, which is another two laps of dullness. But I'm sorry there is just no need for this is there? It’d a stupid pointless waste of time, all it’s going to do is increase the likelihood of yet another safety car when whatever remaining Caterham grenades itself into turn two. Or Massa drives into the back of Perez again.

Bunch of arse, it really is, double pointer finalise and standing restarts.

Credibility that way ... Morals that way.

Right okay enough. This weekend, well Lewis is all pumped up working himself into a lather of expectation.  After he was robbed of the win last year he’s out for revenge and he’s due a bit of luck, except Nico is absolutely on top of his game right now and doing a phenomenal job.  
But Austria showed, Mercedes aren’t quite so far ahead anymore. The Williams was there on pace and maybe if they’d pushed it a bit more might have sneaked the win. The Redbulls were right on their tale in Canada, a very similar circuit to Silverstone. It might not be quite so cut and dried this time.

Well the heart says Lewis, Nico and Button on the podium. The head says Nico, Lewis and either Williams.

Alonso and probably Perez followed by Danny boy and a McLaren, Button hopefully. Where will Vettel be I wonder, top ten or will something else happen to him?

At the back, Sauber and Lotus will struggle to beat the Marussia’s and Caterham, if they turn up, will be last.

Fastest lap; Hamilton, to either salvage pride or nail the point home in front of an adoring crowd.


The results will be a little late I'm afraid as I will be in France over the weekend so won’t see the race until Monday evening.  So until then good luck and enjoy the race.

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