August 21, 2005
*TURKEY DAY: You gotta hand it to the guys in the funny hats, they've turned out a classic track already. If you took out the fiddlybits at the very end and replaced them with a hairpin, say, you'd have a contender for the title of "The Perfect Track." However, everything up to those fiddlybits is just right, and "The Quad," as turn 8 is already being named, is going to be one of those legendary turns, much like Variante Alta, The Senna Esses, Maggots/Becketts/Chapel, Lowes, or the granddaddy of them all (which we'll see next race), Parabolica. It's just that good. Bravo to the Autodrom!
*TEAM OF THE RACE: We suppose we have to give this to McLaren, but watching JP Montoya's struggles on the last couple of laps puts a bad taste in our mouths as we do so. A part of us (the feet and ankles) really wants to give this award to Red Bull, for getting both of their drivers in the points. Nobody wants to give it to Renault, who are clearly weaker than McLaren at this point... except their cars don't break unless you put them into the wall, unlike the MP40, which breaks if you sneeze on it.
*TEEM UV DA RAYCE: A new, special award, probably only given this one time. At one point, this team looked and felt like they were going to be able to give the Big Two headaches while they forced Ferrari to chew on clag. Now, however, Williams has completely fallen apart. Apparantly deciding to use the right-rear tires they were given at Indianapolis, both of their drivers had repeated blowouts, one of which almost bringing forth our earlier "Prediction Sure To Go Wrong," that of a car making the turn 8 blue kittylitter, at speed, maybe sideways. The only thing that prevented it was an asphalt access strip that cut thru the gravel. Throw in their disasterous falling out with BMW and other disasters, and suddenly Monte Carlo looks very very far back in the mirror.
*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Jensen Button, BAR-Honda. He started 14th. He ended up 5th. Just think what would have happened if he hadn't've pushed just a smidge too hard in The Quad, a place he predicted he'd have problems. Raikonnen, Alonso, Montoya and Fisichella had better cars, but nobody had a better race than Button. Sir Frank must be lovin' this...
*MOVE OF THE RACE: This is a first for F1 UPDATE!: we're giving the award to four drivers! Kimi, Fernando, The Pope, and Fisi win for their first lap of the race. Fisichella split Kimi and Alonso to take the lead, but all four of them stayed nigh on touching distance to each other for the rest of the lap, with attempted passes happening all over the track, culminating in Kimi managing to wrest the lead away on lap 2. Now THAT'S racing!
*MOOOOOOO-VE OF THE RACE: Oh, boy! We've got SO many to choose from, how can we pick just one? We've got Christian Klein showing us that yes, you can have a F1 car going sideways at 160mph while the tires keep spinning forward (and missing The Quad's blue kittylitter by mere inches), then set a F1 speed record for 'fastest car, backwards' at the end of it. We've got Takuma "Suicide" Sato's moving imitation of a chicane during Mark Webber's qualifying run. We've got Felipe Massa wanting to be in a Ferrari so badly that he threw his front wing at one. We've got Renault's crew telling Alonso to "save fuel," thereby letting Kimi run away. We've got The Pope giving himself a self-induced Jordan enema. We've got The Pope attempted murder of his refuling man by leaving before the tank was full. We've even got Kimi Raikkonen being caught by his wife with another lass, pre-race! But none of those compare to our actual winner: Mitchell Schumacher and his pointless attempt to block Mark Webber from passing him at turn 13. Not only did Webbo already have the pass made, not only did Webbo already have position of place on Die Weltmeister, but it wasn't even for a position; Webber was just trying to unlap himself! Still, Das Michael slammed the door on Webber... and Schumi got his hand caught in it as he did so. Both cars had to pit, Webber for a new nose, and Der FuhrerMichael for (essentially) a new car. [cue Basil Fawlty voice] Brilliant, simply brilliant!
*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES:
"I don't know who she was, or how she got there!!! I mean... er... the team had a good plan set up, and I'm happy to have won." - Kimi Raikkonnen.
"Thanks for the points, JP!" - Fernando Alonso.
"Hey, if I'm past him, it's his job to avoid ME. And they really should get fuel riggers with smaller feet." - JP Montoya.
"I led once. It made me think of Australia... and what's with the friggin' fuel hose getting stuck AGAIN???" - Giancarlo Fisichella.
"We're almost as good as the two teams." - Jensen Button (note: real quote).
"I lost my engineer cap. I couldn't play trains today." - Jarno Trulli.
"Well, that was a pretty good result. But why didn't they call me David Coulthard's Chin yesterday?" - David Coulthard's Chin, catching our mistake from 24 hours ago.
"Wheeeeeeeeeee!" - Christian Klein.
"It was a mixed weekend for me." - Suicide Sato (note: real quote. Additional note: no, Taku, it was a lousy weekend for you.)
"Why is there a nose wing coming at my head?" - Rubens Barrichello
"Unfortunately that put me behind the Jordans and the Minardis." - Jacques Villeneuve, master of the understatement.
"All in all an unlucky day, which is a pity for the team because the pace was there ..." - Cora Schumacher's Husband. (note: real quote. Additional note: what pace was he referring to? Ralf's Toyota had all the pace of a salted slug)
"What a race! I had a lot of fun and I finished it quite easily. What can I say? I'm a happy chappy." - Robert Doorknob (note: we can't make that up)
"See? You don't need to practice to... um... have a really crappy race." - Narain Karthekain.
"mblembble grmbll mmrhpfh shlruhth" - Tiago Montiero (translation: "I can't talk, I've still got a chunk of Montoya's butt in my mouth.")
"Once upon a time, being able to say 'I'm qualifying after Michael Schumacher next race' really meant something." - Christijan Albers.
"Damn that Webber anyways!!! Doesn't he know who I am? I'll have him boiled in oil for not getting out of my way!" - Mitchell Schumacher.
"The first lap was good fun. Then it all went to hell." - Nick Heidfeld.
"I'm 12 years old, and I'm going to drive for Ferrari next year!" - Felipe Massa
"Tire. SchumacherAIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!. Tire. I'm getting drunk now." - Mark Webber.
All in all, an absolutly fantastic debut for the Turkish Grand Prix. But now we're bound for Italy, and Monza. Monaco may be the most famous, but if you ask us, Monza is THE quintessential track on the calendar. Its got everything a track needs: speed, technical aspects, a famous turn (the Parabolica), and the history. And it's next on the calendar, in just under 14 days. We'll see you then with another F1 UPDATE!
August 02, 2005
More to follow...
Obviously this is big in a number of ways. First and foremost, Rubens leaving Ferrari is giant... the man many believe is the 2nd best driver in F1 (behind Mitchell, or Kimi, or Alonso) is now a free agent. Of course, one would think that Ferrari cut him loose for a specific reason, namely that he's signed with another team for next year already. BAR-Honda is the org that's been bandied about recently in relation to Rubino, and after hunting the net high and low, I've found no reason to think otherwise.
Secondly, Massa going to Ferrari is a huge step up for the young Brazilian. Sauber is going to be a team in disarray next year, what with the flip to BMW as a factory team (yes, I know BMW is throwing it's full weight behind the team, and yes, I know that most of the Sauber people are staying with the team. Doesn't matter; drop a new head coach into a football team, and there's going to be friction), and Ferrari is... well, they're FERRARI. Like 'em or hate 'em, they're the 200 pound rottweiler straining at the end of a VERY rusty chain, and it's just a matter of time before that weak link snaps. Massa has driven for Ferrari before, having been their tester in 2001, so he knows the team culture. All of F1 UPDATE's little jokes about him being as dull as untoasted toast aside, Massa is a good-to-very good driver, if young. Stick him in a good car, or at least a better car, and he's a star in the making.
Third, assuming that Barrichello HAS signed with them, this puts BAR-Honda in the position of having to pick from, potentially, FOUR talented drivers for 2006... but having to wait until the end of the season to know just whom they CAN choose from! Lets assume for the moment that Rubens isn't signed, but both sides want the other... I think that's a fair assessment, no? Okay, then as things stand, they only have two drivers under contract for next year: the talented rookie Ant Davidson (who drove for Sato in... Malaysia, was it? Either Malaysia or Bahrain... it was a dreadfully hot day, and Sato had a case of the ick.), and F1 UPDATE's Actively Driving Hero, Takuma "Banzai" Sato. Rubens is up in the air. And nobody is farther up in the air (or up their own fundament, for that matter) than Jensen Button. Pretty decent list to select from, eh?
Which brings us to Williams, the next team to be affected by Felipe going to Ferrari. Assuming that Barrichello DOES go to BAR-Honda, and Sir Frank holds fast to his ultimatum ("You're MINE, Button."), Williams has three drivers for two seats: Button, Mark Webber, and Nick Heidfeld. Which brings us to the NEXT team to be affected, and brings us full circle...
Sauber. They just lost Felipe Massa, and they'll be in a transitional season (to say the least!) with new German overlords. Nick Heidfeld drove for Sauber from 2001-2003, is talented, and.. he's German himself. A pair of drivers like Heidfeld and Villeneuve (like him or not, he's experienced) would be perfect for a one-year "cutting of teeth" season for the new team.
Certainly there are other things that could shake out, of course. Jensen might somehow stay with BAR. Sato might sign with BMW (not holding my breath... he's either driving for BAR or he's not in F1 next year, I predict). Renault might boot Fisichella and make a run at Barrichello themselves... the possibilities are endless.
But I think this is a pretty fair estimation of how things'll shake out:
Ferrari: Schumacher, Massa
BAR-Honda: Barrichello, Sato
Williams: Button, Webber
BMW/Sauber: Heidfeld, Villeneuve.
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