August 26, 2011

F1 Practice: Belgium 2011 (take two)

If it isn't raining at Spa, it's getting ready to.  It's a F1 cliche, but cliches get to be cliches by being repeated, usually because, well, they have basis in fact.  So guess what it did today during the two Friday practices?

If you guessed "rain", you win the no-prize.  There were about five minutes at the start of the first practice where it wasn't raining.  The track was slowly improving through the afternoon practice until, just as the teams put on dry tires, it began to pour again.  As a result, nobody got much data other than figuring out just exactly where the driver would stick the car in the wall.  So, short day on track all around.

However, there's a couple of big news items to discuss.  The first is that Renault has unceremoniously booted Grizzly Nick Heidfeld from his drive.  Team boss Eric Boullier said "I think it didn't work.  His leadership didn't work in the team and when you are sometimes slower than (Red Menace) Vitaly (Petrov), in fact most of the time slower than Vitaly, it is difficult for him to push the team and to settle himself as the team leader."  In reply, Grizzly Nick said "I have a valid contract, I want to drive," and filed suit in London's High Court to regain his seat.  There's something smelly coming from Renault, and it isn't the cheese.  I'm sure it's only a coincidence that the Bearded One was being paid €250000 per start and Renault is reportedly desperate for funds, not only for this season but for next.  Of course, The Red Menace brought a metric farkton of sponsorship money with him for his seat.  But who has replaced Grizzly Nick?

Ladies and gentlemen, may I reintroduce Bruno Senna, last seen driving for HRT in 2010.  Somewhere, Grizzly Nick Heidfeld was pointing at the monitor and laughing.

The other bit of news is that this weekend is a major moment in the career of one of the F1 legends, for this is the 20 year anniversary of Slappy Schumacher's debut in the sport.  In 1991, he was drafted into service for the Jordan team when their regular driver, Bertrand Gachot, was imprisoned for two months for spraying a taxi driver with teargas (and really, who amongst us hasn't wanted to do that?).  He proceeded to qualify the Jordan 191 7th for the Grand Prix of Belgium, making his more experienced teammate, Andrea de Cesaris, who qualified 11th, look awful.  Slappy would be forced to retire on the first lap of the race with a gearbox full of neutrals, but it was the start of one of the greatest careers ever.  This week, Slappy is wearing a special commemorative helmet.

Say what you want about Slappy, and believe me, I have, he's one of the best.  Was one of the best.  Something like that.  Whatever.

It's supposed to rain during Quals... that should be fun!  See you in the morning.

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