Sergio Who?

An interesting week in F1, Ferrari, generally regarded as lagging behind over the winter, managed to scoop the full 25 points, Jenson Button appeared to have caught whatever ailed Lewis hamilton last season, almost running into the back of his teammate before colliding with an HRT.
Michael Schumacher outqualified his younger compatriot, plonking his Mercedes on the second row of the grid, whilst both Lotuses, Loti? were in the top ten. Webber and Vettel were languishing, well for them, in fourth and seventh and it was all jolly topsy turvy.

Felipe Massa came to Malaysia under his own personal raincloud, an abysmal showing in Australia had brought the rumour mongers out in force, with stories about his impending replacement in the team, with various deadlines and various drivers having been approached to step into his cockpit.

Having qualified way down the field, he had several excursions off the track slipping further and further back from his charging teammate.

Michael Schumacher, once known as the rainmeister, once again showed that he probably is past it, as his and Grosjean’s Lotus spun and collided, pushing Schumi way down the field from where he was unable to make any impression whatsoever, but at least he was still running, unlike Grosjean who once again had qualified brilliantly only to fail to complete the first lap.

Hamilton managed to convert his pole to a lead, but alas the heaven’s opened, first the safety car came out and then the red flags.

Fifty one minutes later the race was restarted, but as everyone dived into the pits at the end of the first and second laps Hamilton emerged third behind Alonso and one Sergio Perez in the Sauber.

And then, the unthinkable. Button had his coming together with Karthikainen, Hamilton just couldn’t find the pace, Webber was holding his own but Vettel suffered a puncture and this chap Perez starts hauling in Alonso’s Ferrari, taking huge chunks out of his lead and consistently setting fastest laps.

The Sauber boys couldn’t believe their eyes. This is a team that is usually happy to sneak into the points and here was their driver battling for the lead.

Maybe nerves got the better of him, for with five laps to go and being right up Alonso’s exhaust, he slipped wide and lost 5 seconds and the race was Ferrari’s.

Interesting to note though that Sauber are powered by Ferrari, Sergio Perez is part of the Ferrari young drivers program and is also the hot tip to replace a certain Mr. Massa, perhaps as early as Monaco.

And after that performance who could say he doesn’t deserve it?

I Told You So

Silverstone hosted the British F1 GP this weekend and just as I predicted way back in March, things are really hotting up.

Lewis Hamilton is well pissed off with the McLaren team and has been for talks with rival Red Bull team boss Christian Horner. This time round he was battling for a podium finish until the team had to tell him to ease off as he was running out of fuel, allowing Vettel and Webber to pass and having to fight right to the last corner to hold of Felipe massa’s Ferrari to salvage fourth place.

Jenson Button could soon be sharing his team-mates frustration, pitting on lap 39 from a potential top three finishing position, the mechanics fluffed the pit stop and sent him on his way minus a wheel nut.

Mark Webber scented his chance to hunt down his all conquering team leader, ignoring calls from his team until the big white chief got hold of the radio and sternly told him to maintain position.
Should imagine there’ll be some fireworks between Webber and Vettel in the next few races.

Fernando Alonso, finally got the break he’s been desrving when Red Bull had a problem with Vettel’s pit stop, taking the lead and never looking back.

But best of all, on Friday Red Bull’s blown diffuser exhaust system was banned, on Saturday it was unbanned and on Sunday it seemed that people who hadn’t got it could have it, whilst those that had, couldn’t.

The best thing about F!, the clarity and consistencey of the rules.

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Come Back Murray Wanker

The Best Man Won

Well it all went down to the wire in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

Amid myriad mathematical permutations of who would finish where or what each driver and their rivals had to do:- finish higher than fourth with the closest rival x places behind; have your legs waxed to save nano seconds by minimising the aerodynamic drag, – or maybe that was just Alonso’s attempt to show how hard he is, who knows, but hey, Fernando, us girls do it all the time, it’s no big deal:) – only one man really had his eye on the ball.

Asked what he needed to do to win the championship, the Crash Kid replied, “Go out and win the race.” and that is exactly what he did.

Lewis Hamilton put up a typically dogged fight, but laps stuck behind Robert Kubica’s Renault took their toll.

Fernando was also struggling to pass the yellow peril in front of him, but Viktor Petrov was driving the race of his life, well his F1 career did depend on it, and no matter how hard Alonso tried he just couldn’t make that passing manoeuvre.
Perhaps once again he was falling foul of his own ego as on the slowing down lap he could be seen alongside Petrov, shaking his fist at him.

No Fernando, you weren’t lapping him, you were racing for position. Your team-mate may have to give way but nobody else does, capisc?

Interestingly the commentators for the BBC came out with probably the year’s best contradiction in terms, coming out with the words, Alonso and supercool in the same sentence.

Mark Webber languished behind Alonso, unable to make any impression at all, whilst Jensen Button came home third in the race after yet another canny drive.

But it was Vettel’s race. Leading from pole, and re-claiming the lead as the pit stops shook out, the young German didn’t put a foot wrong, just got his head down and did what a world champion has gotta do, go out there and win the race.

At the end of a long season, you have to say the best man won, well once he’d stopped crashing into his team-mate that is.

Vettel Trips Over Lip

The F1 World Sulking Championship moved along to Hungary this week, throwing up a new contender for the title on the way.

Poor old Fernando Alonso, having been sulking almost continually for the last two months was unfortunately unable to get in a strop about anything.

He managed a creditable third on the grid ahead of his teammate Massa and remained remarkably cool to force his way past Webber and up into second by the end of the second corner.

Pitting early on in the safety car controlled period he maintained his position behind Vettel, but dropped to third as Webber elected to keep going.

As the safety car prepared to pull over, Webber tucked up nice and close behind it, Vettel appeared to be backing up the field, ready for the re-start, falling foul of the regulation that states the cars should be within ten car’s lengths of the safety car, but not even that could make Fernando lose his rag.

Vettel was duly called into the pits for a drive through penalty, leaving Fernando in second with an unassailable gap to Webber up ahead, and a dramatically diminishing gap to the hard charging Vettel.

As we all learnt long ago, apart from Fernando that is, it isn’t enough to be the fastest man on the track, you’ve also got to be able to pass the man in front, and if he isn’t part of your team there is no way he can be made to move aside to let you through.

So Vettel, who set lots and lots of fastest laps during the race, was stuck behind Fernando, and as Fernando knows only too well, the Ferraris are a bugger to pass.

Having to settle for third when obviously he was expecting a win, Vettel looked like he’d been sucking on a lemon for the entire race.
That man could scowl for Germany.
He ranted and raved, stuck his bottom lip out, slouched in his chair like an angry teenager, blamed everyone else except himself and stormed through to take the full 25 points in the Sulking Championship.

Rubens Barrichello used to do sulking, when he was younger and partnered with Schumacher at Ferrari.
These days, as The Stig’s Faster Brazillian Cousin, he does affable, laid-back, grand-old-man-of-the-sport.

Having been harrassing his former team mate for several laps Rubens finally made his move on lap 65, lunging down the right of Schumacher as they screamed down the pit straight.
Schumacher, who still does the villain of the piece best of all, took a good look in his mirrors and then calmly moved to the right, squeezing Barrichello up to the wall.
Rubens held his breath and his ground until the pit wall ended and he was able to take advantage of the pit lane exit to surge past Schumi.
I was quite surprised that on completing the passing manoeuvre RB didn’t stick his hand up out of the cockpit and make the universal gesture to show Schumi what a wanker he was.

Interviewed later Schumacher claimed it was all Barrichello’s fault, Schumi had moved across to the right because he was leaving loads of room for Rubens to pass on the left…

Fernando Holds His Breath…

A dull and boring German Grands Prix exploded into controversy when the Ferrari team spoke to Fellipe Massa:

“Fernando is faster than you. Confirm you have received this.” Obviously the bit they didn’t need to say was, “so pull over and let him through.”

Sure enough two laps later Massa exited the hairpin very slowly allowing Alonso to glide through to the lead and first place at the flag.

Ferrari deny they were in contravention of the rules of the sport, but nothing new there, they got the one two and simply allowed thefaster man through.

Massa, not surprisingly, didn’t seem to share this opinion and interestingly when asked whether he was faster than Fellipe Alonso replied that in some places he was and in some places he wasn’t. Hmmmn.

Bogartblog however is able to bring you the real reason behind this blatant use of team orders.

A Ferrari source who wishes to remain anonymous told us,

“At the last Grands Prix Fernando threw all of his toys out of the cockpit. The only option left to him today was to hold his breath until his face turned blue whilst kicking his heels on the floor of the car.
We felt that such behaviour might lead to an accident and so in the interests of safety we indicated to Massa to let Fernando through.”

The FIA are looking into the incident and if found guilty Ferrari will have to sit on the naughty step.

A Beginner’s Course In Shooting Yourself In The Foot

What a brilliant British GP!

Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton were in the mire on Friday, their McLaren team having tried to imitate the Red Bulls’ “blown diffuser”, which directs exhaust gases onto the aerodynamic bodywork at the rear of the car thus increasing downforce and grip.
All McLaren succeeded in doing was setting their cars on fire.

On Saturday however, whilst Button languished in 14th place, Hamilton was able to drag out a quite spectacular qualifying lap to line up fourth.

Meanwhile Red Bull had developed a new front wing which was the bees knees. Unfortunately they only brought two, so when blue-eyed boy Sebastien Vettel damaged his in practice, they simply unscrewed Mark Webber’s and stuck it onto Vettel’s car, allowing Vettel to take pole and Webber to reach a good rolling boil, temper-wise.

Fernando Alonso, hoping for a good race, qualified 3rd behind the two Red Bulls and looked like he could be set to make this a very happy weekend for the Spanish (no Orange socks in my house).

As the red lights went out to start the race, the red mists descended.
Vettel lunged to the left to try and squeeze his team-mate out, but Webber kept his foot on the throttle and his car on the racing line, Vettel had to give way, running wide and then just clipping the front wing of the charging Lewis Hamilton as he rejoined the track, giving himself a puncture, another trip off the circuit and a slow limp back to the pits for a replacemant tyre.

With Webber off in front, hotly pursued by Hamilton, Jensen Button was busy scything through the field, making up six places in the first lap.

Alonso, however was rapidly going backwards. A dreadful start, it looked like something a 17 year old might manage on their first driving lesson, left him in the middle of the pack, where he managed to collide with team-mate Massa, causing the Brazillian’s car to shred a tyre and relegating him to the back of the field.

Not satisfied that he had ruined his team-mate’s race, Fernando went on the charge, battling Robert Kubica in the Renault for 6th place. After many laps in pursuit Alonso finally managed to force his way past, by leaving the track and cutting the corner at Vale.

This is a big No-no in F1. The rules clearly state that if you gain a place in this manner you have to give it back asap.
Not Fernando though, or his Ferrari team, who surely should have told him to give the place back. He continued charging on, to the dismay of the commentators and those of us watching at home.
I thought he might be trying to emulate Hamilton from Valencia two weeks previously, building up a big enough lead over the following cars to maintain his position despite being penalised with a drive through.

As it was Robert Kubica retired a few laps later and Fernando obviously thought he was safe, no car to hand the place back to.

But this is F1 and the stewards are rather like the Greek gods, you just can’t get one over on them.

The investigation into the manoeuvre resulted in Fernando being handed a drive through penalty.

But worse was to come. Instead of diving into the pits straight away there was a delay, by which time various bits of bodywork had parted company with Pedro de la Rosa’s Sauber, and strewn themselves along the start finish straight.

The safety car was deployed and Fernando had to wait until it was undeployed before he could take his penalty. The rest of the field had closed up behind the safety car so poor Fernando was relegated from 5th down to 15th.
He was so angry he refused to talk to his team on the radio for the remainder of the race, refused to talk to journalists after the race and went off in a sulk.

Meanwhile, crossing the line 1 second ahead of Hamilton to take the chequered flag, Webber was quite happy to use his radio to note to his team of his exemplary race, “It wasn’t bad for a number two driver.”

And as an object lesson in shooting yourself in the foot, McLaren and Red Bull made sterling efforts but the prize goes to Fernando Alonso and the Ferrari team.

What Goes around, Comes Around

Well, you have to admit there is a certain symmetry in life, even if you have to wait 44 years.

I thought it was quite ironic that England were denied a goal that clearly was over the line, (and yes the fans at the stadium were correct, the ref was a wanker… didn’t his mummy tell him it would make him go blind:)

However I’m sure some of the older German fans, who might have carried a bit of a grudge all these years after seeing Germany defeated by an England side inspired by a goal allowed that very definitely didn’t go over the line, had a nice little smirk to themselves.

What goes around, comes around as they say.

Fernando Alonso might do well to remember that one too.

Poor old Fernando was apopletic following Mark Webber’s spectacular example of Red Bull giving him wings, launching him over the back of the Lotus and flipping over before bouncing back onto its wheels and shunting into th tyre wall, thus causing the safety car to be deployed.

Lewis Hamilton encountered the safety car just as it was leaving the pit lane and decided to go for it, Fernando and team mate Massa duly tucked in behind it.

Ferrari complained and twenty minutes later Hamilton was handed a drive through penaly, but had built up such a gap that he maintained his second place.

Alonso complained, ” It’s a shame, not for us but for all the people who came here to watch a manipulated race. When you do the normal thing, which is respecting the rules, you finish ninth and the one who doesn’t respect them finishes second.”

Now then Fernando, just remind me how that sole victory in Malaysia in 2008 was brought about?

You were languishing down the field, you were called in for an unscheduled pit stop and what?

Two laps later your team-mate drove into a wall on the instructions of the team boss, bringing out the safety car and allowing you to leapfrog the rest of the field from your lowly 15th position and ultimately take the chequered flag.

Terrible to watch a manipulated race Fernando!