November 02, 2008

F1 UPDATE!: BRAZIL 2008!

One champion crowned, one challenger disappointed.  But who was who?  This is your extended format F1 UPDATE! for the Brazilian Grand Prix!

*SO IT BEGINS: The crowd at Interlagos was in good voice today when the cameras went live for today’s Grand Prix of Brazil, and fervently behind their favorite son, Felipe Massa.  Seven points behind in the Driver’s Championship and needing to win, the Ferrari driver was on pole and protected nicely by his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen. 

His opponent, Lewis Hamilton, was fourth on the grid, on the dirty side of the track, with his biggest threat, HWMNBN, right behind him.  The McLaren driver didn’t need to win the race, however, or even be on the podium.  He just needed to finish 5th or better and it wouldn’t matter what Massa did: he’d be the Driver’s Champion.  He’d been in this position before, though.  In 2007, he held a seven point lead over Kimi Raikkonen… and peed it down the leg of his firesuit.

On this day, for the premiere Championship in motor sports, nobody else on the grid mattered except how they’d hinder the progress of the two challengers on their way to the checkered flag.

The Gods of Auto Racing, though… they mattered.

*TIMING IS EVERYTHING:  Ten minutes before the race was to start, the Legendary Announce Team for SPEED Channel’s coverage threw it to commercial.  It was bright and sunny.  Three minutes later, when they came back from commercial, we were told that the start of the race would be aborted for ten minutes.  During the break, a massive cloudburst had drenched the Autodromo Juan Carlos Pace, and while it had stopped and didn’t look to start again anytime soon, it had been torrential enough to force the teams to change tires on the grid.  As tires had to be in place on the cars three minutes before the recon lap begins and the storm hit at about five minutes before, the race stewards called the aborted start in the name of safety.

This caused a flurry of activity amongst the teams and drivers as they tried to figure out what to do.  The track was wet, yes, but the sun was back out and shining brightly.  Throw in the thundering progress of twenty sets of tires over the asphalt, and a dry line would emerge very quickly… but would it be quickly enough to run drys, or should they put on Intermediates?  In the end, everybody chose to go safe and put on the Inters.

A good thing, too.  There was a small, swift river flowing from Turn 2 down towards Turn 3, and indeed, this part of the track would never truly dry out during the course of the race.  The rest of the circuit was soggy, but even after the recon lap you could see a definite dry line forming.  The 20 cars made the lap around uneventfully, but BMW’s Robert Kubica dove into the pits at the end, either for mechanical issues or a different set of tires.

*LIGHTS OUT:  From the start Felipe Massa, showing the mastery one would expect of a driver at his home track (literally; he lived 300 yards from the fence surrounding the circuit), rocketed off the line.  Indeed, it was a good start for everybody in the first few grid rows.  Renault’s HWMNBN gave Hamilton a brief scare, diving inside him into the first turn, but Lewis managed to keep him behind.  A clean start all around until you got towards the back of the pack. 

David Coulthard’s Chin, driving in his last race in F1, got bumped by the Williams of Nico Rosberg and spun out.  For a brief instant, it looked like he was going to get away with it without anything more than a few lost places.  Alas, he was then run over by the OTHER Williams of Kazoo Nakajima who had no place to go but into The Chin’s suspension.  His long career in F1 came to an end in the first turn of his last race.  He later said to Peter “Smarmy” Windsor “It’s fitting, I suppose.  I started my career driving for Williams, and it was ended by two Williams.”

Nelson Piquet Jr, driving in front of his home fans, wound up backwards in the gravel trap between Turns 1 and 2, his car broken in some manner that the cameras either didn’t catch or SPEED didn’t choose to replay.  Those two were the only retirees from the race.

Once the racing line dried enough to switch to dry tires, the racers began to make their way into the pits, beginning with Robert Kubica from 17th, and generally working its way up the field from there.  At the end of this round of pit stops, the order stood Massa, Trulli, Raikkonen, HWMNBN, Hamilton, and Hamilton’s teammate Heikki Kovaleininninnie.  Jarno Trulli eventually slipped back out of the way of the heavy hitters, sliding around on the wet pavement enough that he fell behind Hamilton and Heikki.  While there was still a lot of racing left to come, Hamilton had to be feeling good.  He was in fourth place, more than good enough to win the Driver’s Championship, and with his teammate behind him to run interference, it didn’t look like he was going to be challenged anytime soon.  Let Massa win the battle, Hamilton would win the war.

And that’s the way it stayed for the next hour and change.

*TIMING IS EVERYTHING, PART II:  With around 15 laps to go, we got to hear a snippet of radio communication from the pit wall to HWMNBN: “Rain expected in 10 minutes,” or about four laps remaining.  At that moment, the top of the field was Massa, HWMNBN, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Kovaleinninninnie, the wunderkind of the Toro Rosso team Sebastian Vettel, and Toyota’s Timo Glock.

The rain actually began to fall with six laps or so remaining.  Those at the back of the field again set the tone for the rest of the bunch, starting with BMW’s Grizzly Nick Heidfeld.  Being out of the points, they had nothing to lose by stopping and switching to wet-weather shoes.  With four laps remaining, everybody had stopped for rain tires… except for Timo Glock.  If the rain stopped, or stayed low-intensity, he was going to get a podium easily, perhaps as high as second.  When everybody was done getting galoshes, the standings were Massa, HWMNBN, Kimi, Glock, Hamilton, Vettel.  Lewis no longer had any places to give away as he had before the rain.  Being the best rain driver, however, he couldn’t have been too concerned.  But then something interesting happened.

Sebastian Vettel, winner of the wet race at Monza, quickly announced to the racing world that he, and not Hamilton, was Der Regenmeister, and with two laps remaining passed Hamilton cleanly.  A look in the Ferrari pits showed a jubilant group of mechanics and Massa family members; another look in the McLaren pits revealed the polar opposite: a shocked and sickened bunch of mechanics and Hamilton family members.

What was most amazing was that Vettel began to pull away from Hamilton.  While the McLaren would slowly make up ground on the straights, the Toro Rosso would actually pull away coming out of the turns.  There was nothing Lewis could do as his Driver’s Championship slipped away for the second straight year.  Felipe Massa, fully forty-five seconds or more and nearly three-quarters of a lap ahead of Vettel/Hamilton, crossed the line with a dominant victory.  His family exulted, his extended family of Brazilian race fans (that’s a lot of fans, and for once, that isn’t intended to be a joke) released a roar that could probably be heard in a stone-silent London.

Hamilton kept pushing and doing everything he could to get in touch with Vettel, frantically struggling to get close enough to the Toro Rosso to legitimately attempt a last desperate pass.  It was all in vain, however, as it seemed like all his trying served no purpose but to maybe drop him farther back.

And then the Gods of Auto Racing cleared their throats.

*THE END OF A DREAM:  In his Toyota, Timo Glock was having a miserable couple of laps.  Not known as a wet-weather warrior in the best of circumstances, the rain kept coming down and his dry tires just weren’t holding onto the pavement.  His hopes for a podium were long gone, but maybe fourth was still attainable.  He fought his balky car through every turn, sawing desperately at his steering wheel.  The Vettel/Hamilton struggle was closing in on him, but there were only three turns left… surely he’d be able to keep the car on track and bring home one of Toyota’s best finishes this season.

On Turn 14, the gentle high-speed left handed blow leading towards the Pit-In, all of Timo Glock’s efforts and flop sweat came to naught as he skidded and wobbled and nearly lost the car altogether.  What he did lose, however, was whatever momentum he may have had.

Vettel and Hamilton swept past his floundering Toyota like he was standing still.

Meanwhile, Felipe Massa was taking his victory lap and being told by his pit wall that he’d won the Driver’s Championship, unaware of the events occurring on the other side of the track.  The FIA’s cameras caught the exact moment in the jubilant Ferrari pits when Hamilton crossed the line in fifth place.  It looked like Death had walked in and asked “who had the fish?”

The 2008 Season had come to an incredible, unbelievable end.


*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Sebastian Vettel challenged the World Champion in an inferior car in wet weather... and beat him, nearly stripping the championship from his hands in the process.  Yeah, that gets a DotR award.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari gets a consolation prize by winning the Constructor's Championship and the race.  There's never been a team more crushed by a victory.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  It was the most important pass of Lewis Hamilton's young career, his pass of a wallowing Timo Glock.  It wasn't challenging in any way, but it was still the MotR.

*MOOOOOOO-OOOVE OF THE RACE:  Ferrari's celebration of their Driver's Championship before the race was over.  Wow, that's gotta hurt.

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:

"The hole is in front of the tree....the bunny comes up through the hole, around the tree and down the hole again." - Felipe Massa

"The pain, the shaaaaaame." - HWMNBN

"Our revels now are ended.  These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air.  And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind.  We are such stuff as dreams are made of on, and our little life is mrmrblm mrmrblrbrmm rmrlblrrmllb." - Kimi Raikkonen

"Great fun!" - Sebastian Vettel

"It's hard to put into words.  I'm speechless.  Sebastian got past me and I was told that I had to get back in front of him. I couldn’t believe it. Then at the very last corner I managed to get past Timo - it was just amazing. This was one of the toughest races of my life, if not the toughest. I was shouting, ‘Do I have it? Do I have it?’ on the radio. It was only when I took the chequered flag and got to Turn One that the team told me I was world champion. I was ecstatic." - Lewis Hamilton (note: real quote)

"I was on dry tyres at the end of the race when it was raining quite badly and it was just impossible on the last lap. I was fighting as hard as I could but it was so difficult to just keep the car on the track and I lost positions right at the end of the lap.  Now Ferrari is going to have me capped, I just know it." - Timo Glock (note: real quote, except for that bit at the end)

"Next year, maybe I'll be the champion!" - Heikki Kovaleininninnie

"I got stuck behind Fisichella after switching to dry tires.  Does that sound like a driver who qualified second to you?" - Jarno Trulli

"It's disappointing to finish ninth." - Mark Webber (note: real quote)

"Not a good race, but a good season.  Fair trade." - Grizzly Nick Heidfeld

"Easy for you to say.  YOU didn't lose third place in the Driver's Championship today, did you?" - Robert Kubica

"There's an angry Scotsman looking for a piece of my hide.  When's the first flight out of Sao Paolo?" - Nico Rosberg

"Well, that year sucked, didn't it?" - Jenson Button

"I can has contract next year?" - SeaBass  (note: no contract, not yours.  He deserves one, he actually drove quite well this year, but when your teammate smokes you the way Vettel did... well, it doesn't look good)

"Next year in Melbourne!" - Rubens Barrichello

"Good finish for the season... at least I saw the checkered flag!" - Adrian Sutil (note: real quote)

"It looks like it was a great championship fight between Hamilton and Massa, my congratulations to Lewis." - Kazoo Nakajima (note: real quote)

"Meh." - Giancarlo Fisichella

"AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" - Nelson Piquet Jr

"I’m pretty gutted, it’s not how I wanted to end my career. I took a cautious approach into Turn One and left plenty of space for the car on the inside, but unfortunately I think Rosberg hit me though Turn Two, which spun me round. I thought it would be okay, but then Nakajima ran into the front of my car and took off the front corner. I felt good on the warm up laps going to the grid, I had no problem with it being wet and I wanted to get to the chequered flag. I was going to do some donuts for the crowd, which is something you normally get fined for, but it didn’t work out. I can’t complain though, I’ve had a good career, so thank you to everyone who has supported me. Thank you also to the efforts of every member of the Red Bull Racing team for the last four years, which have been a lot of fun, I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. I’ve been overwhelmed by the level of support I’ve had from the paddock this weekend, it means a great deal to me that so many people have taken the time to say ‘nice career and good luck with the future’. And, in the absence of a world championship, I think if I can leave with that, then that’s a good ending. In conclusion, I'd just like to say 'Pants.'  Thank you.” - David Coulthard's Chin (note: real quote)

And so it ends... until next season.  Congrats to Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari, and thank you for reading F1U!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:38 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 2504 words, total size 19 kb.

1 Really, pants?

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at November 02, 2008 09:10 PM (pfysU)

2

That's really a pity about DCC. Not the way you'd want to remember your last race.

I think the single best thing about this season is the way BMW-Sauber performed. Now it's a three-team competition, which is much more fun than just two.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 02, 2008 09:24 PM (+rSRq)

3 Av, no, not really.

It's a tribute to my alltime favorite quote of his, where he called his entire race "pants, just bloody pants."

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 02, 2008 09:29 PM (hplPV)

4

First, BRAVO to Wonderduck for another outstanding season of F1 UPDATE!!!  You're the best!!!

As for the race...wow.  I felt so bad for Massa with victory snatched away the way it was.  That was the saddest podium I've ever seen. 

Was there any kind of ceremony at the track for Hamilton winning the championship? 

Posted by: Mallory at November 03, 2008 07:50 AM (WJ2qy)

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