October 26, 2006

Ferrari Falls Apart

As expected, the departure of Slappy Schumacher was just the first part of the exodus at The House of the Mincing Pony. EVERY major figure in the domination of F1 by Ferrari has either left the team or has been booted upstairs.

Slappy, of course, has retired (rumors of him driving the two NASCAR road races in 2007 notwithstanding).

Jean Todt, he of the sweaters in 100 degree temps and bandaids on his fingertips, will leave the pit wall and become the team's Chief Executive Officer.

Ross Brawn, the team's hulking Technical Director, has left the team for a year long sabbatical.

Paolo Martinelli, head of the team's Engine Department, is taking a position higher-up in the Fiat Empire.

Mario Almondo, the man in charge of Ferrari's F1 development (a cross between chassis design, engine design oversight and whole car construction), is moving into the Technical Director slot.

Gilles Simon, the designer of the Ferrari V10 engine, takes over the Engine department, and Aldo Costa the Chassis department.

Basically, their entire F1 team (save the pit crew, Felipe Massa, and their testing group) will be different for 2007, and one suspects that it will NOT be for the better.

All because of Slappy.

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October 21, 2006

Brazillian Quals!

Wow, that's a lot of Quals!

I've been wondering when it was going to happen, and it finally did: the 2006 F1 cars, powered by V8 engines, with ~200hp LESS than the V10s used last year, have set a single-lap record for a track.

First, Felipe Massa set the lap record at Interlagos, followed quickly by Slappy Schumacher, who lowered it even farther.

Then, just minutes later, Schumi's Ferrari coughed up a gearbox and refused to shift out of a low gear, relegating him to 10th on the grid for his last race. Meanwhile, Massa took pole in his home race.

Kimi Raikkonen took 2nd on the grid in HIS last race for McLaren, followed by Jarno Trulli, who probably has enough fuel for at least two laps, in third.

Fernando Alonso, who has GOT to be lovin' Schumi's problems, is 4th, Rubens Barrichello 5th, and Fisichella in the other Renault is sixth. Ralf Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, and Robert Kubica, followed currently by Slappy, round out the top ten.

Now to find out if Schumi needs an engine change, and if Massa is going to be allowed to run free, or if he'll be trying to keep the pace slow so Michael can make up time and positions before the inevitable occurs and Alonso tries to get to the lead.

This is NOT how Schumi wanted to go out.

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October 18, 2006

F1 ON SPEED!: Brazillian GP

Brazillian GP? That's a lot of GPs!

*crickets*

Okay, I'm sorry.

Here's the lineup of SPEED!'s coverage for the Brazi... er... Grand Prix of Brazil, at my least favorite track of the series, Interlagos. Interlagos, of course, means "In The Lake*", and that's exactly where it needs to be: under about 50 feet of water, so we never have to race there again.

Alas, it is not to be this year. Maybe next year.

Anyway.

Friday, 1pm, we get live coverage of Practice. That's the one thing I DO like about Interlagos: here in the States, we get to watch the events at a decent time!

Saturday, 130am, brings us Inside Grand Prix, starring Snootyvoicedguy, and sponsored by Allianz. "Allianz: we're richer than God. Bow before our mightyness."
2am is the replay of Practice. Coffee anyone? They've got good brands in Brazil, I've heard.
230pm is live coverage of Quals. Just think: the last time we might see Michael Schumacher park his car so as to block the track. Good times, good times...
Immediately following Quals, we get Inside GP again. "Allianz: We're going to buy The Pond."

But the big thing happens on Sunday. 1130am brings us LIVE coverage of the Grand Prix of Brazil. Schumi's last race, and his last desperate hope to win his 8th Driver's Championship, not to mention Ferrari and Renault going at it with chainsaws and sledgehammers for the Constructor's Championship.

No replay, though. Watch it then, or miss Schumi's last drive in F1.

It should be an emotional thing, even if you don't like him.

*yes, we know "Interlagos" doesn't mean 'in the lake.'

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October 11, 2006

CAPTION CONTEST!!!

Commenter Pete found a great photo that fairly screams 'caption contest,' and far be it for me to not heed the ululating!

The picture in question is HERE.

Some captions that lept to mind:

"Boots? Or teeth? Boots? Teeth? Boots? Teeth? Decisions, decisions..."

"Worst. Grid. Costume. EVER."

"Why Nico starts poorly."

Put your captions in the comments! C'mon, it's fun!!!

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October 06, 2006

F1 Quals: Suzuka!

Quals have just ended and we've got an interesting layout for the grid:

Row One: Ferrari Ferrari (Massa Schumi)
Row Two: Toyota Toyota (Ralf Trulli)
Row Three: Renault Renault (Alonso Fisi)
Row Four: Honda Honda (Button Barrichello)

Massa's got his second career pole, but when was the last time we saw teams make up each row of the grid like this? Note the results of the tire wars. Bridgestone 1-4, then Michelins.

Another wild scramble to get out at the beginning of Q3, and if Massa could complain about being "blocked" by Alonso a few races back, then Alonso has an even better complaint, as Massa was within a few car-lengths for the first few minutes.

Then it started to drip rain a little bit, and everybody dove into the pits for new rubber earlier than normal, hoping to beat the heavier rain (that never came). Both Alonso and Massa were racing to get out of the pits, and 'Zo almost cut Massa off; could easily have been an accident if Felipe hadn't backed down.

Renault is feeling the pressure. They didn't even have Alonso's tires ready for him when he came in, and THAT is inexcusable.

Still and all, heck of a Quals session, and it's possible that tomorrow's race will crown Schumi champion. IF Schumi wins and Alonso DNFs, that'd give Mikey the championship, no matter what happens in Brazil.

Not likely, I admit, but... I wonder if Massa would wreck Alonso if that situation became possible? "Team Orders" y'know. Again, not bloody likely, but who knows? I don't put it past Ferrari to at least THINK such things.

See ya at Suzuka!

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The Pope Runs Fast

Six years ago, Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500.

Last year, he won three Formula One races.

Today, he finished third in his first stockcar race.

He'd never driven at a superspeedway, never driven a 6000lb stockcar with 41 other opponents, never really experienced drafting the way they do it in NASCAR-type cars, and he did a great job.

At one point, he got caught up in a wreck (he took a car hard in his right door). The way the hit came, he easily could have lost it all over the track. Nope, he gathered his #4 car up, straightened it back out, and continued on with nary a bobble. Truthfully, if a similar accident had happened in F1, his car would have be DOA, even if he kept it from wrecking.

He impressed the dickens out of me. At the end of the season last year, I said that he could be a dark-horse for 'best driver in F1', along with Alonso, Schumacher and Raikkonen (in no particular order). It's looking more and more like his driving skill is natural... put him in a car, and he can drive the heck out of it.

At least, in ARCA/REMAX. That means it's the minor leagues... lets see how he does at Daytona in... March, is it? Still, great job.

And one other thing: in the post-race interview, he looked positively giddy! "The most fun I've ever had racing." It sounds like his pit-radio conversations were hilarious, too... too bad they don't let you listen in. It would have been a laugh.

Finally, there's one last thing I've got to point out. Somewhere at Talledega Superspeedway, there's a track worker with a big bullseye painted on the front of his jumpsuit. There were big accidents in the race: the one that Juan Pablo was involved in, and The Big One that ended the event (it was getting dark, and 'Dega has no lights). In both cases, cars ended up hitting the inside wall about ten feet from where he was ducking for cover. Poor guy.

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October 04, 2006

Complete Renault Meltdown!!!

After reading THIS article at planetf1.com, it's official:

Michael Schumacher will win the Driver's Championship. Ferrari will win the Constructor's Championship.

Renault has cracked completely under the stress. Of course, the team has denied that they're 'sabotaging' Fernando's title bid, but what is life gonna be like in the Suzuka pits this weekend?

I'm actually quite bemused by Fernando Alonso's demeanor this season. Last year, everybody was praising the lad for his 'cool under fire.' Can you imagine him doing an Imola '05 this year? Holding back Schumi for 16 laps on dying tires and traffic staring him in the face? No chance in hell: this year he'd blow a gasket somehow.

Success has gone to his head. I'll come right out and say it... I'll be actively rooting against Fernando Alonso. I won't be cheering for The Evil One, don't get me wrong, but I WILL be anti-'Zo.

Sad, really.

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October 03, 2006

F1 On SPEED!: Japan

This week, we visit the wonderful Suzuka circuit, perhaps for the last time. Next year, Suzuka is off the schedule, replaced by the Mt. Fuji track. So lets settle in and enjoy this one, and wonder just which of the two big guys will be ahead afterwards!

On Thursday, at 1159pm, we get LIVE coverage of Practice.

Friday we get a little oddball entry on the F1 on SPEED! schedule, with Juan Pablo Montoya's debut in the ARCA/ReMax series at Talladega, live at 7pm. ARCA is basically two steps below NASCAR (with the Busch series in between), but still incredibly competitive, and 'Dega is far and away my favorite oval track, so this should be a ball to watch. Let's see if 'The Pope' can handle a car that weighs three times as much as a McLaren with another 40 of them bumper-to-bumper!

But then we get REAL racing at 1159pm, with Live coverage of Quals. Even more important than normally, he who ends up on pole (or highest on the grid) has got to be favored to win the championship.

Then, finally, we get the Grand Prix of Japan at 1130pm on Saturday night, LIVE. One of the few races we here in the US get to watch at a semi-decent hour. The replay is at 1230pm on Sunday.

Please note that there are NO replays for practice or quals... boo, SPEED!

All times, as usual, are central. Add one hour for the east coast, subtract two for San Francisco, add 12 hours for Kuala Lumpur.

And enjoy the saki and sushi!

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