October 06, 2007

F1 QUALS: Shanghai!

Over the course of this past season, I've come to dislike Fernando Alonso, forever to be known as "He Who Must Not Be Named" (or HWMNBN for short), intently.  It's a shame, as I was becoming quite the fan of the boy... anybody who can beat Slappy Schumacher in head-to-head racing is someone that's okay in my book.

There's no denying that he's a talented driver, however.  He didn't win those consecutive Driver's Championships by accident, after all.  However, his actions over the past year (and, for that matter, towards the end of last season) have done a fine job of turning me (and just about any F1 fan who doesn't hail from Spain, and probably some of them, too) against him.

Which means that there's a huge element of Schadenfreude contained in the joy I take in reporting the results of today's qualifying session for the Grand Prix of China. 

The one thing that HWMNBN needed to have today, to have any reasonable chance of beating his 'teammate' in the Driver's Championship, was to be on pole.  Considering that Typhoon Krosa is bearing down on the Chinese mainland, (it might cause some SERIOUS problems for the teams trying to leave after the race) the pole will be more important than ever for Sunday's race.

HWMNBN didn't get pole.  He didn't get on the first row.  He's not even going to be on the clean side of the track.  He qualified fourth, behind both Ferraris... and his 'teammate', Lewis Hamilton, who DID take pole.  Kimi Raikkonen, hanging on in the DC chase by his fingernails, is alongside him on the first row, with Massa third.

The big question now, of course, is fuel.  Did Hamilton short-fill his tank to get the extra speed?  Are the Ferraris heavy?  Is HWMNBN heavy?  Who's set up for the wet weather that's going to be present for the race?

David Coulthard's Chin pulled a fantastic qualifying performance out of his RedBull, coming in 5th.  There are a couple of reasons this might have occurred.  The first that leaps to mind is that the team set him up for dry weather instead of wet.  If so, he's certainly going to qual well, but will be in a world of hurt tomorrow.  The second is that he's got no gas in the tank, which in the rain won't hurt as much as in the dry, but it's still not good.

The third possibility is that the RedBull is, finally, coming alive.  That his teammate Mark Webber is 7th puts some weight behind that possibility... though the other two would have the same effect as the third.  We'll find out Sunday.

In between the two RedBulls is... Ralf "Dead Man Driving" Schumacher.  The Toyota probably had seven ounces of fuel in the tank.

Surprisingly, the BMWs of Grizzly Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were 8th and 9th.  A horrible performance for them, which suggests a lot of fuel, perhaps a one-stop strategy in the wet.  10th was the 'resurgent' Honda of Jenson Button, who's gotta be praying for a lot of rain.

The rest of the grid:

11. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.862
12. Sebastian Vettel Germany Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.891
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:36.959
14. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Renault 1:36.991
15. Anthony Davidson Britain Super Aguri-Honda 1:37.247
16. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1:37.483
17. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 1:37.251
18. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault 1:37.290
19. Alexander Wurz Austria Williams-Toyota 1:37.456
20. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri-Honda 1:38.218
21. Adrian Sutil Germany Spyker-Ferrari 1:38.668
22. Sakon Yamamoto Japan Spyker-Ferrari 1:39.336

All will be revealed Sunday... will Hamilton be the Champion afterwards, or will Brazil be the do-or-die race for HWMNBN and The Kimster?  Will we get a winner from someone OTHER than McLaren or Ferrari?  And can Dead Man Driving get on the podium?  Can DC'sC show that he's still got some juice in his bones, in his best shot at a victory in a couple of years?  And whither Canada?

Find out tomorrow!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 04:35 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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October 04, 2007

Oh For Pete's Sake...

...this is just getting ridiculous.

Lewis Hamilton is now under investigation by the FIA Stewards, allegedly for causing the accident that took out Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel during the Grand Prix of Japan.

Webber and Vettel both state that Hamilton was driving erratically behind the safety car, slowing down dramatically and the speeding up. 

Webber blames Hamilton completely:  "I think he did a s*** job behind the safety car.  He did a s*** job and that's it. He spoke in the driver's briefing about how good a job he was going to do and he did the opposite. But we know for next time.  It definitely contributed to Sebastian (Vettel) hitting me up the back. We were confused what the other car was doing because it wasn't doing what it was supposed to do, clearly.  You have to keep a sensible rhythm and obviously in the first safety car period and clearly in the second there was not a sensible rhythm."

The accident was missed by Fuji TV,  but a video has surfaced on YouTube, showing Hamilton coming close to passing the SC by sliding wide, then decellerating to keep behind it.  Webber then nearly passes Hamilton, slows down, and Vettel rams into him.

Well, look for yourself:

If the Stewards decide that he's at fault, he could be penalized 10 places on the grid... or he could be stripped of his win at Japan, and docked the 10 points he earned.

Is it any surprise at all that Fernando Alonso, his so-called teammate, has chimed in?  "I also overtook Lewis two or three times (during the 19 laps run behind the safety car at the beginning of the race - WD), so it seems that we all agree.  It's difficult to know what the car in front of you needs to do.  I didn't see the race on TV but, hearing the comments of the drivers, they seemed to overtake the car in front a couple of times and had to make some unnecessary manoeuvres to avoid the cars in front."

Need I mention that if Hamilton is stripped of his points, the Driver's Championship is down to 2 points again?  And that Alonso is the beneficiary?

Need I mention that F1 needs this like it needs a hole in the head?

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:08 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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October 03, 2007

F1 on SPEED: Shanghai!

With the stunning, devastating news that Ralf Schumacher won't be driving with Toyota in 2008 ringing in our ears, somehow we must carry on with our lives. 

For it will be good for all readers of The Pond to resume our daily activities, though with a heavy heart and tears in our eyes.  And, if at times during our day, we find ourselves feeling we can't go on, that F1 no longer is worth watching and life is no longer worth living, remember that he would not want us to mourn for long.  Instead, he would have us continue to love the sport that taught us so much about him... so lets do so, together.

Ralf would have wanted it that way.

Friday at 1am, SPEED Channel brings us LIVE coverage of P2.

Much later in the day, from 1159pm 'til 1am, we get F1 Debrief, SPEED's recap show... which will be covering, of course, the Japanese Grand Prix.  That'll be must-see TV, for sure!

Saturday, from 1am to 230a, we get live coverage of Quals.

Sunday brings us the penultimate race of the season, LIVE, from 1230a to 3am, with a replay from 330p to 6p.  Now you've got no excuse... watch, won't you?

All times central.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:48 PM | Comments (17) | Add Comment
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