September 10, 2005
McLaren is 1-2 on the grid.
To make matters worse for everybody not in McLaren black&white, Jarno ("The Engineer") Trulli is third. I doubt that the McLaren boys could have picked someone worse for the other teams to deal with than the Man Who Leads The Train. If Fernando Alonso can't jump from the fourth spot on the grid and get past Jarno by the first couple of turns, this race'll be over fast, and the Constructor's Championship will be tighter than ever.
Oddly, it seemed like Renault and McLaren switched bodies this race. McLaren had the speed and reliability, and Renault had the breakdown, with Giancarlo Fisichella having to change out his engine before qualifying. He actually would have been 3rd, but is instead 13th, making it quite possible that the 8 point difference between Renault and McLaren in the CC race will be gone after Spa-Francopants.
The most interesting news of the day to me, however, wasn't the way the big boys were playing around, it was what happened down in the backmarker area. To whit, both Minardis beat both Jordans. Why is this important?
Both Jordans were the new EJ15b chassis that debuted at Monza last week... and that Tiago Montiero beat both Minardis in. Now, suddenly, both Albers and Doorknob trounced Montiero and Karthekeyan handily... how handily? Try almost TWO SECONDS. In fact, Minardi had a great qualifying run, ending up only around 3 seconds behind the polesitter.
But even THAT wasn't the big news of the day. No, the big news of the day was that the rumored purchase of Minardi by Red Bull took place today. Red Bull is going to set up the squad as a "rookie team," and it WILL compete against the "veteran team." Indeed, they'll be a wholly seperate entity entirely.
What does this mean for the world of F1? Well, lets take a look:
1) American driver Scott Speed will almost certainly have a race ride next year.
2) Paul (Guido Minardi) Stoddard will be out of F1, much to the relief of the Emperor Mosely and Darth Ecclestone.
3) As of right now, nobody is sure if one of the "old guard" teams is going to disappear from the F1 paddock. While the Red Bull Rookie team is going to be based in Italy, the name "Minardi" may well disappear entirely. If so, F1 Update! is going to be very sad.
4) While the two teams are supposed to be seperate *cough cough*, the chances of that happening are somewhere between "slim" and "you're kidding, right?" If so, the most interesting problem that's going to arise is the yowling from the tire manufacturers. See, RedBull is on Michelins, Minardi on Bridgestones. Think they won't swap tire data?
5) Who'll be providing engines? Minardi is scheduled to be Cosworth-powered, Red Bull by Ferrari. Would Ferrari even be able to PROVIDE engines for another team?
6) Will the Rookie team have the same sort of resurgence as the current Red Bull team did this year? Certainly there'll be more money available to the ex-Minardi team.
7) Is it good for the sport? Having two teams run by the same group leads to all sorts of possibilities, few of them good, during the race. Yes, they say the two teams will race as seperate entities, and the two Red Bull GP2 series teams do... but this is the Big Leagues.
8) Zsolt Baumgartner will never be in a F1 seat again. His final hope just went out the window.
If this is the last go-round for Minardi, it seems appropriate to note that it's possible that an ex-Minardi driver will clinch the Driver's Championship this weekend. Fernando Alonso got his start with Minardi back in 2001.
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