Formula One back on the Beeb

_45613258_buttonind.jpgWhat a cracking start to the 2009 season. Brawn GP certainly kicked up a storm. Jenson put in a great performance with a pole and start to finish drive. Looks like his bright yellow helmet worked it’s magic…

Barrichello was pretty hap hazard and I’m amazed he managed to keep his second place, even with him lucking into it! He certainly had his fair share of shunts. The raw performance of his car, even with a dodgy front wing, kept him in it.

I’m particularly chuffed for them given the trouble they’ve gone through to get onto the grid. Whether their form will continue, it’s too early to say. I suspect the other teams will work on their own versions of the rear diffusers and so catch up on whatever performance gap there currently is.

The rest of the field was equally unexpected. Vettel and Kubica should have finished second and third had they not crashed into each other. I think Vettel was unfairly treated with a ten spot grid drop for the next race, given it looked to me to be a 50/50 incident.

Ferrari seemed to fall to bits as the race progressed and McLaren weren’t exactly on form. Lewis Hamilton snuck into third position after Trulli was given a 15 second penalty. But he did start 18th and would have finished top six without the last minute incidents. And it should noted Trulli, in his Toyota, started in pits, so did well to get up so high.

f1-ferrari-2009-diapo_105.jpgIt seems the new regs have caused chaos. The cars look particularly odd with their large front wings and dinky rear ones, but I like them. Much cleaner looking. There did seem to be a fair bit of overtaking, but I don’t think that was down to the aerodynamic changes, but more to do with the large differences they now have in the compounds of tires. The super soft tires seem to go off really quickly and that caused the disparity.  

That, and the KERS systems giving the drivers a power boosts on demand. It’s certainly an interesting addition but it’s disappointing that some teams aren’t running them (like Brawn!). It should be an all or nothing thing.

I must admit I had my reservations about F1 returning to the BBC (since the ITV coverage was better than what the BBC were previously doing), but I needn’t of worried! David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan did an excellent job as pundits. David’s knowledge of the sport really shone through and whilst Eddie was a tad waffly he put some good points across. Certainly better than the punditry on ITV and watching without adverts was ace.

Race commentary was also better than before, but I think Legard and Brundle need to work together more since they were interrupting each other a bit . The further added bonus is the new F1 website is top notch, much nicer than the increasingly advert strewn effort of ITV. Plus with iPlayer built in, its great for watching extra clips on.

So, all in all, a great start to season! Less than a week to Malaysia!

Like Father like Son…

Anthony Hamilton’s Porsche Carrera GT:


Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren at the Montreal Grand Prix today:




Had to do one better, didn’t he?

He’s not the first, nor probably the last, to crash into someone in the pit lane when red lights are showing. At first I was pissing myself laughing at his stupidity, but then it dawned on me that the plonker had taken Raikkonen out so kinda put a downer on things. Still, it was a cracking race with Robert Kubica taking not just his first F1 race win, but BMW Sauber’s too (and a one-two at that).

Alonso and McLaren split official

AlonsoAtMcLaren2007Looks like I missed this on Friday, but it’s pretty much everywhere now. After just one year at McLaren, Alonso has left (he was originally contracted for three). As to where he’ll go next year, well there are one or two options open… it all depends on what the exit clauses are in his contract with McLaren.

If, as seems widely speculated, he’s barred from going with a manufacturer team for a year, then that rules out Renault, BMW, Toyota and Honda, leaving Red Bull and Williams as possibles. However, Alonso’s manager, Luis Garcia Abad, says different and that he’s free to sign for with team.

Me, I haven’t the foggiest idea where he’ll end up. The news is full of conflicting reports and strangely for an F1 driver he tends to keep that sort of news very quiet but I’d like to see him go with a manufacturer team (say either Renault or BMW) so that he’ll at least be in with a shout next season.

James Allen has an excellent write up on how and when things started to crumble and as he points out, the problems seemed to start at the beginning of the season. McLaren took the wrong approach with not giving Alonso number one treatment which you’d expect as world champ.

AlonsoAndHamilton2007Instead they tried to be equal and ended up losing both championships, and further to that with the penalties they’ll have from the spy-gate saga next year, they’ll be at the arse end of the pit lane which won’t help. Not that I particularly care for them any more.

If you look at the investment they’ve put into Hamilton, you can, with hindsight say, it was a disaster waiting to happen. They weren’t going to give Alonso preferential treatment with Hamilton around.

I think also, going back to what James Allen was saying, the sign up to McLaren was done far too early (remember that he announced his move back in December 2005 before the 2006 season!) and that probably strained things further.

Flavio Briatore, boss of Renault F1 team, reckons Alonso’s future will become clear tomorrow. Quite how he knows that, I don’t know. Wait and see me thinks!

Say that again? Raikkonen won?!

He did indeed. It kind of dawned on me after qualifying that he was in with a very good chance of winning the championship, but when the race came round I forgotten about that was praying for a miracle (i.e. a Hamilton mishap and an Alonso race win). As it turns I got half of what I was after.


I suppose I should explain myself as I’m probably one of the very few in the country (England) who wasn’t behind Hamilton. I noticed this odd sort of support earlier in the year, people who previously never showed any interest in F1 or had watched a race in its entirety were now experts and were telling me things “Ooh isn’t that Hamilton a breath of fresh air”, “He makes the sport interesting”, “He’ll win it for sure”. Bah…

For some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, I just don’t like the guy and can’t get behind supporting him. I’ll not deny that he is a supreme talent who nearly blitzed the opposition, but it’s like having Schumacher back again, maybe he’s too good!


I was looking forward to a straight out fight between Alonso and Raikkonen, now that they’d finally made Schumacher retire (even if the man himself says otherwise). Now at the end of the season I’m left with a rather bitter taste in my mouth.

Hamilton should have won the championship, but it just looks like the pressure got to him in the end, that combined with a bizarre mechanical / electrical fault on his gear box.

Anyhoo, for a rookie he’s had an amazing season. He’s come joint second in the World Championship at his first time of trying, missing out by just one point and he led the championship from May through to the last race! He is going to a win a championship, it’s only a matter a time.


Alonso has had a rough season, mostly of his own making. At times I wondered why I was supporting him. Earlier in the season he was clearly rattled by Hamilton’s blistering start (see Canada as an example, Alonso was all over the place) and that prompted the whole spying scandal nonsense that didn’t do any of the protagonists involved any good. It just shouldn’t have come to light.

And that’s one of the reasons why I don’t think either Alonso or Hamilton particularly deserved the championship. The bitchiness and snide under hand comments between the two was a bit much, OK, so there’s no love lost, but at least try to be professional. Plus whole equality BS thing at McLaren, you can’t bring in the existing World Champ and not give him the star treatment, that’s just not how any of the other teams work.

Anyhoo, back to the point in hand, I was pretty stunned by the end result. I sat there in silence, mulling over what had just happened. Technically Raikkonen should have a championship under his belt already, since he has come very close twice before. But on raw numbers, he did have it. He won six races where as Alonso and Hamilton won four each. 


And there was something in the commentary that amused me, which was that in a three way tie for something, it’s usually the person you least expect who wins. And that’s certainly true in this case. To come back from 17 points behind in the last two races, to snick the championship is some achievement.

Now I’m left pondering who to support next year. I like Rakkionen but he’s too cold and quiet to get passionate about. I was amazed at the final press conference because he managed to utter more than five words in a row. And almost crack a smile.

I’m not keen on Masa, his consistency is getting better, but I think it’s mostly car and not driver. As I’ve said I’m bit fed up of Alonso and Hamilton. None of the other teams are front runners, although BMW are looking good, but really I’m stumped…


And that’s that, the 2007 season has come to end. I might do season summary of all the races this year, in a couple of parts, since my race coverage has gone a bit to pot :) But then again, maybe not! 

What does next year hold? Hopefully more racing and less politics.

Photos from F1–

For Sure It’s Formula 1

I don’t know what it is with F1 drivers, but “for sure” seems to be ingrained into their vocabulary. Let’s have a look at a few choice quotes from last weeks Belgium Grand:

Lewis Hamilton: I don’t know whether it has caught me out but, for sure, experience is always an advantage (link)

Kimi Raikkonen: The neck is OK, it’s not perfect but it’s definitely OK and for sure it’s going to be like normal in the next races, so that’s not a worry. (link)

Fernando Alonso: I tried quite hard in the first stint to keep pace with Felipe, just hoping around the pit stop time to make up a position but slowly they were disappearing and after the first stop, for sure, we didn’t see them anymore. We lack a little bit of pace in the race. We were quite OK in qualifying but for sure in the race we were off the pace by a couple of tenths today. (that’s just two sentences! link)

Kimi Raikkonen: For sure it’s nice. For sure it’s my favourite circuit, it was even before I came into Formula One, so it’s nothing to do with if I win or lose here. (link)

Felipe Massa: Well, for sure as Kimi said there is not a long way to go but we are still fighting. I will not give up until I see that the calculation is not there anymore. (link)

Who do you think started this trend? Who do you think!

Michael Schumacher: I feel I could win the race. I feel very good inside. For sure, in qualifying, I will be 100 per cent …

But for sure, he has asked me as well if there was any chance of me changing my mind, as have many people … 

And then step by step you come back and think that this season is finished, for sure, but then you regain your normal lifestyle and my normal lifestyle is being a racing driver; (link)

Michael Schumacher: For sure he will fight a lot and hopefully we can finish in the front and make a first and second. (link)

Michael Schumacher: We have found a good solution on this. It is for sure much safer to use it. We have just to see if it is comfortable for every driver to be used. …

Yes for sure. To me this is the most critical point on the new regulations. (link)

Actually I don’t think Schumi is really to blame, I just think it’s a strange quirk of the Formula 1 world. Next time you watch a driver interview see how many you can count.

As a further example, not only did Kimi win this weeks race but he also won the “for sure” contest in the press conference with six, Fernando had five and Felipe trailed badly with just the one.

2007 Spanish Grand Prix

Start-barcelona-z-03_130507Damnit, that annoying leprecon Felipe Massa won. Again! Still, credit where it’s due, he took pole with a cracking time, by just sneaking in front of Alonso and proceeded to keep the lead, knocking out the fastest lap along the way.

More interesting than that though is that thanks to Hamilton’s second place, he now leads the championship! A pretty amazing feat for rookie in just his fourth race.

Alonso on the other hand had a pretty poor weekend. Hamilton outclassed him again and even though he’d qualified ahead of him, he lost two places due to a risky over taking move at the first corner on Massa which didn’t pay off. Massa held his ground well, pushing Alonso off track and losing him two positions.

It looked like he’d stay fourth but Raikkonen’s reliability gremlin’s made a welcome return (for us Alonso fans) and chewed up his electrics. That made for a quick end to his weekend, and he was off the circuit before the race had even finished. Both the lead drivers for McLaren and Ferrari had poor weekends by their standards. The second drivers are giving them a real beating and as such, they’ve got to raise their games.

Strangely Michael Schumacher was back at Ferrari. Not driving, but in an advisor role. I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing. But that said, it’s nice to see he still has an active interest in the sport.

Coulthard-barcelona-z-21_120507As for the rest of the pack, well, Kubica came in fourth and pushed home just how well BMW are now doing since they split from Williams and bought out Sauber. It’s really good to see. I doubt they’ll be fighting for the championship this year, but I reckon they will be next year. Coulthard also did well coming home with fifth. The Red Bulls have really pushed on since Bahrain which is great news.

I’m not sure Renault will be happy with Honda’s second team, Super Aguri, beating Fisichella to eighth. It’s weird how Renault’s form has slipped so much. It is, however, making for a highly competitive mid-field.

Next up is Monaco in just under two weeks. Hamilton has an excellent record there from racing in GP3 and GP2 whilst for Alonso, it’s not a good circuit. Still, at least Schumacher wouldn’t be able to ruin everyones qualifying times this year by parking his car on the second to last corner… or will he?

Photos from www.F1–

2007 Bahrain Grand Prix

Ah fecksticks, clumsy pants Massa actually manages to win a race. I don’t think this win will end criticism of his driving, since if he was at any other team, he’d have no chance of winning. He just hasn’t got the talent and skill that Alonso and Raikkonen have. I rate him at the same level as Fisichella. He’s just not cut out to be champion.

Anyway, contradicting what I’ve just said, Massa romped away with it from the beginning. He seemed fired into action, most likely due to his incompetence the previous week, but it won’t last. The McLaren’s seemed off the pace and it didn’t help by running a long middle stint on the soft tyres. It was amusing to see that in the final stint on the hard tyres they ran the faster they had the entire race. If they’d have switched those tyres round things may have worked out differently. But as the great Murray Walker used to say: “If is a very long word in Formula One…”. 

However, it’s worth noting that McLaren have a stack of developments for the next race so that should even things back up again. It’s definitely going to be a tight season between McLaren and Ferrari.

And there is further good news for McLaren. Lewis Hamilton got another second place which is amazing for a rookie. He’s certainly sticking it to the seasoned campaigners of Raikkonen and Alonso, and well pretty much everyone else in the field.

Other teams did well too. BMW were well up there again and Heldfeld had his third 4th place in a row that came about due to a cracking move on Alonso. I’m hoping this level of form will continue because it would be good see a few teams at the top fighting it out.

The current points standing is a strange one with Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamliton all equal with 22 points, however Alonso leads due to count back. Massa is in fourth with 17.

So does this mean we have 4 championship contenders? Nope, as I said previously Massa is too inconsistent and volatile to prove any sort of threat to the championship. Alonso and Raikkonen are still my favourites with Hamilton perhaps causing an upset if his current form continues.

The next race is in Barcelona on the 13th of May.

2007 Malyasian Grand Prix

An unexpected result given the previous Grand Prix, but McLaren were back with a vengence. Alonso was on form, dominating from the first corner and Hamilton was simply stunning. Another cracking first corner manoeuvre to overtake both the Ferrari’s to take second position. To then hold them off for the reminder of the race simply cemented his standing.

It was thanks mainly to Hamilton that Alonso was able to build up such a lead and then keep it for the rest of the race. Because of that, Ferrari’s race strategy was ruined. Perhaps if Ross Brawn had been there they could have tweaked their tactics accordingly, but unfortunately not.

Massa again showed how much of inconsistent driver he still is. As was pointed out by Mark Blundell in the post race analysis, Massa is a vastly more experienced F1 competitor than Hamilton, so it should have been him making the bold moves and pushing ahead. Instead he made rookie mistakes with late braking and clumsy overtaking.

Jenson had a pretty horrid time but at least managed to finish in 12th place. Heldfeld on the other than did impress with 4th place. The BMW’s look surprisingly competitive compared to Renault and Williams.

The take away result from Sepang was McLaren’s strong showing against Ferrari. However it must be noted Raikkonen’s engine wasn’t running at full whack due to damage caused in Australia with a water leak. Having to run an engine over two meetings does have an effect and I’m not sure it’s one I like. The cost saving it brings is obviously a good idea, but it does make the races slightly uneven. They keep making tweaks to the rules to even things out, but it’s not quite there yet.

2007 Australian Grand Prix

Better late than never, right? So the Australian Grand Prix got the 2007 season off to a good start. It wasn’t a particularly eventful race but gave a good indication of things to come. Namely that McLaren finally seem to have sorted themselves out and put together a competitive car and that Ferrari is fast. Very fast.

Kimi efficiently had the win from the moment he got pole on the Saturday. But it was excellent race drive. For most of the it he was without radio contact to the pits, since it was broken, and given their incredible pace he was able to sandbag and conserve both fuel and the engine for the next race in Sepang. And that is worrying.

As an aside, one thing that bugs me with Kimi is that he doesn’t show a great deal of emotion. He thrashed everyone in qualifying but when he came into parc ferme he gave a limp wristed punch in the air. If Schumacher had got pole, he’d have been jumping around like a Mexican jumping bean. Perhaps with more wins we’ll see more passion from Kimi?

Anyhoo, it was good to see a return to form for McLaren. Alonso looked slightly taken aback by how well Lewis Hamilton had adjusted to Formula One, but not enough to stop him qualifying second. And due to team rules (he who qualifies first, gets first pick on race strategy, fuel loads, etc) Lewis was never going to be ahead of Alonso under normal race conditions. Yes, Hamilton did a superb overtaking manoeuvre on the first corner to get in front of Alonso, but you just knew that come the second pit stop this would be reversed, and it was.

That said, Hamilton looked amazing. He was showing an aggressive driving style and was really man-handling the McLaren. I’m hoping he’ll continue like that for the rest of the season and give the other Brit drivers a kick up the arse to do better (probably not in the latter case).

Renault on the other hand seemed to fallen off into an abyss, as I pretty much expected. Fissichella just won’t cut it as lead driver and I can see him being replaced before the end of the season. Kovalanien’s performance was awful, how he finished tenth I don’t know. He spent far too much time off the track and Briatore, rightly, ripped him a new one.

And I can’t fathom Honda’s performance either. I like Buttons honesty that basically the car is a load of shit, but why is that? Especially given the budget and expertise they have. Also how can the Super Aguris be faster when they’re using last years Honda (which admittedly Button got pole with)? Will they reverse things? I don’t really care any more since it’s been the same promises of improvement for the last few seasons, but little to show for it.

Heidfeld, in the BMW, was surprise with a good qualifying position and fourth at the race end. Perhaps we’ll see them fighting more up front, not with Ferrari and McLaren though, since they seem well ahead, but with the Renaults, Williams and Toyotas. Which would be a good thing.

The end result is promising. McLaren and Ferrari looked to be fighting early on and I can’t wait for more. Sepang is next up on the 8th of April.