April 15, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: Bahrain!

Good stuff today, so lets get to the crackin'!

*FELIPE MASTERS: Felipe Massa got the win today, but not without a lot of heat from Lewis Hamilton. The last two races have been runaways, but not this one, with the Ferrari being unable to pull away until after the final stint. Even then, the McLaren was able to hack away at the lead over the last few laps. This should be pretty tight all year.

*EVERYBODY LOVES A THREE-WAY: After today's results, we now have three people tied for the driver's championship lead; Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton all have 22 points. Remarkably, you would have to say that Hamilton has been the most consistent of all three, with two seconds and a third. Both Raikkonen and Alonso have wins, but they've also been all over the finishing grid. This is shaping up to be MUCH more interesting a battle than we've had the past few years, to say the least.

*RED BULL MAY GIVE YOU WINGS... ...but it sure didn't give their teams stability. None of the four cars running under the Red Bull banner finished the race: American Speed was out after three turns, Liuzzi some laps later, The Chin had a hydraulic fire around lap 30, and Mark Webber had a jammed fuel door that so badly ruined the aerodynamics of his car that the t-wing ripped off, which looked like it damaged the rear of his RB3. Bad news all around.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: We here at F1 UPDATE! really want to bend the unwritten rules and give this to David Coulthard's Chin. He started from the last row of the grid, and when his car gave out, was up to seventh or eighth... and it wasn't a fuel strategy thing, it was outdriving the others. However, the unwritten rules state that the DotR has to go to someone that actually finishes the race. So, instead, we'll give the award to Grizzly Nick Heidfeld for his 4th place finish (which included passing Fernando Alonso). Dr. Mario Theissen had a huge grin on his face after that one...

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Ferrari gets the award for finishing 1st/3rd, but we're not excited about it. There just really isn't any other team that deserves it, to be honest.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: On lap 31, Nick Heidfeld, who'd been dogging Fernando Alonso for a few laps, made a seemingly doomed move to the outside of the McLaren into a turn. Somehow, Grizzly Nick kept his BMW glued to the track, and just forced Alonso to make a decision: either relinquish the place, or wreck both cars. 'Nando gave up, and Heidfeld would finish ahead of Alonso when the checkered flag flew. Honorable mention goes to Giancarlo Fisichella's pass of Rubens Barrichello around lap 21 where he started outside in a turn, but tightened up and passed the Honda to the inside.

*MOOOOO-OVE OF THE RACE: All F1 drivers have their 'duh' moments, and the MOOOOO-OVE celebrates the worst of them, performed on the largest stage in motor racing. Today's award goes to Anthony Davidson, for his lapse of concentration in the closing laps of the race. The Honda engine in his SuperAguri began to tear itself apart without immediately dying, but the thin blue oil smoke trail coming out showed that it was just a matter of time. Instead of pulling off the driving line, Ant continued driving as if nothing was wrong, laying down an oil slick that extended over half the track. To make matters worse, Lewis Hamilton was right behind Ant, and that may have prevented him from making more of his charge at Massa. Lovely job, Ant, here's your Mooooo-ove! Dishonorable mention goes to the engine staff at Honda, for deciding that an ounce of C4 is a good way of cooling their engines this week (three of the four Honda-driven cars this weekend had engine failures; Button during practice , Sato around lap 40 [with a huge plume of smoke], and Ant, as mentioned).


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April 08, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: Malaysia

Three weeks since the last one, but we're back! Let's get right to the second race of the year!

*GAUNTLET THROWN...: McLaren announced in spades that they are back, and looking for a Championship. They qual'd second and fourth, were first and second by the second turn, and kept those spots for the rest of the race. Alonso's win puts him in the lead of the Drivers Championship, and Hamilton's second podium in his two-race career puts the team in the lead for the Constructors'.

*...TOES SMUSHED: Ferrari has got to be wondering just what they did wrong. When you qualify 1-3, and have the fastest car on the track, you've got to be expecting something more than finishing third and fifth. But yet, that's where they ended up after a repeated driver error and a worrisome engine. Jean Todt's Sweater must be concerned.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Lewis Hamilton drove like he was in his second decade of F1 racing, not his second race. He jumped from 4th to 2nd at the start, then forced a frantic Massa into making not one, but two errors on two consecutive laps at the SAME PLACE on the track, which killed any chance Massa had of being on the podium. He then drove a fast pace, made no errors, and didn't panic when Kimi Raikkonen made his last chance push in the final five laps. This guy's gooood. Honorable mention goes to Rubens Barrichello. He started from the pit lane, pushed his way through the field, and ended up 11th in the pathetic Honda car. Nicely done, lad.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: McLaren. As has been previously mentioned, McLaren had pretty much the perfect race. Alonso won going away, Hamilton played the role of wingman to perfection, there were no technical problems, even the tires worked well. What more could you ask for?

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Man-Mountain Wurz sold the proverbial dummy to David Coulthard's Chin on lap 12. Coming into the second-best passing spot on the track, turn 4, Wurz 'leaned' inside. DC'sC reacted by slamming the door on that line... which appears to be exactly what The Man They Call Man-Mountain wanted. Wurz calmly went to the outside and powered around DC'sC RB3 like it was standing still... showing exactly how to pass at turn 4. Sweet, but exactly what you'd expect from someone that's drive F1 cars for 10 years (okay, 8 of them as a tester, but still...).

*MOOOOOOOOO-OVE OF THE RACE: Even the best race drivers in the world have their cud-chewing moments, and the Moooooooo-ove 'rewards' those who make those mistakes on the biggest stage, a F1 race. Today's award goes to Felipe Massa. Knowing that he absolutely had to get past Lewis Hamilton lest Fernando Alonso go galloping off over the hills, on lap 3 Massa took a smidge too much speed into turn 4. He got past Hamilton, but wound up locking his brakes, falling victim to a pass-and-repass exchange. Jaw set, he grimly reeled the young McLaren driver back in and two laps later, he tried the same move again. This time, however, Massa peed the whole thing down the leg of his firesuit, winding up about four car-lengths into the grass. He also lost two positions and never came close to contending for a podium again. To add insult to injury, Man-Mountain Wurz showed exactly how to do it a few laps later with his pass on David Coulthard's Chin (see "Move of the Race"). Bravo, Felipe!


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