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F1 Ð JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS Ð PART 2

  And now it’s six from six as Mark Webber has joined the seasons growing list of winners after taking out the Monaco Grand Prix for the second time in three years. For the first time though, one team, Red Bull, has taken a second victory and we don’t have a new championship leader as King Fernando dragged the unwieldy Ferrari into places it should never have been and now sits on top of the pile. The ghosts and memories of seasons past continue to grow ever sharper this year. Just a few weeks ago we were celebrating (if that’s the right word) the tragically shortened life of the majestic Gilles Villeneuve who died some thirty years ago at Zolder while just one year earlier, at Jarama in 1981, we witnessed what was probably his greatest triumph, leading home a queue of five cars which were separated by just over a second.

 

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   Based on Red Bulls practice times Webber should never been in a position to win in the principality but a stonking effort in Q3 gave him the second best time of the session which, of course, became pole after Schumacher’s richly deserved five place penalty came into effect. Webber got his best start in years and led the charge through St Devote while Grosjean got it all very wrong and ruining his part of his team’s 500th Grand Prix. Not the 500th Grand Prix for Lotus, you understand, but the 500th Grand Prix for the team formally known as Renault, which was the team formally known as Benetton, which was the team formally known as Toleman, which, although failing to qualify at that race at Jarama, had it’s first Grand Prix start in 1981, at Monza. Racing against Lotus. Confused? Go to the back of the queue.

   Webber was not in the fastest car on the day, that particular pleasure fell to Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, but as often happens at Monaco, the faster car could not over-take the leader. Mark led all but 17 laps which were shared between the two Ferraris that stopped for tyres on the two laps following Webber, and Vettel who was on a different tyre strategy to make up for his poor qualifying position. In the 15 laps that Seb led he almost brought himself back into contention for victory as his harder tyres were still giving good grip while the others, on new harder tyres were struggling to get them up to the necessary temperatures. He emerged from his stop in the middle of the scrap between King Fernando and The Hoon and held on to fourth place, which was a fine recovery from his ninth place on the grid, which would have been tenth had it not been for Maldonado’s penalties. After all the maturity shown by Pastor at Catalunya he suffered multiple brain explosions at Monaco and so after clouting Perez in practice and then needing a gearbox change after smacking the barriers a lap later the Williams did not start in ninth place but right at the back of the field. He completed a wonderful weekend by then ploughing up the back of  Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT and not completing a single racing lap.

   When Webber regained the lead after Seb pitted he grimly defended his lead, not in any harsh or unfair manner, but going just fast enough to stay ahead, and just slow enough to not bugger his tyres. It was a superbly judged drive and produced a gaggle of cars all squabbling over the leading positions. At the flag the top four were covered by just 1.343 seconds and The Hoon was just another 2.8 seconds adrift as his tyres gave up towards the end. Felipe Massa had his first moderately competent weekend of the season and finished sixth, just six seconds down ahead of the two Force Indias, (di Resta and Hulkenberg), Raikkonen and Senna who rounded out the point scorers. 

  The parallels with Jarama in 1981 are numerous. The guy who won was not in the fastest car but drove beautifully to hold off a baying pack. The guy in the fastest car on the day came second. The Ferrari was, in the words of Gilles Villeneuve, a big red Cadillac and should have been nowhere near the podium but for a genius driver defying the odds. And in Gilles case, defying his supposed reputation. Many saw Gilles as a driver with just one speed, flat out. And yes that was how he often drove, but on many an occasion, he did so with a mechanical sympathy that belied that reputation. Through most of 1980 for example, in an utterly crap Ferrari 312T5, he was able to make his tyres last much longer than his reigning World Champion team mate while being well in front of him in the race. At Monaco, just two weeks earlier, he had let Alan Jones’s Williams past early in the race so as to preserve his tyres life, which meant that when Jones hit fuel feed problems late in the race, Gilles was there to take a most unlikely win.

 

 

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    At Jarama Gilles qualified only seventh but a storming start saw him up to third by the end of lap one, and second on lap two. When Jones ran off on lap 14 Villeneuve was into a lead that he would defend for the next 67 laps. Gilles had just one card up his sleave and he made the most of it. The Ferrari 126CK may have handled like a bucket of shit but the V6 turbo engine had plenty of grunt. So Villeneuve drove as slowly as possible through the twisty parts of the track, holding the following pack up, and then would plant it on the straight. This continued for lap after lap with, at first the Williams of Carlos Reutemann crawling all over the back of the Ferrari and then the Ligier-Matra of Jaques Laffite taking up the challenge. On numerous occasions both Reutemann and Laffite got alongside Gilles but always on the outside of a turn. Villeneuve always gave his opponents enough room to make the turn but never enough to make it past and would again pull out a gap down the main straight. 

  At the end he won by just 0.22 seconds from Laffite with John Watson’s McLaren another three tenths back. Reutemann was fourth, 1.01 seconds down with Elio de Angelis in the Lotus right up his duff just 1.24 seconds adrift of the winner in fifth place. The closest fifth place in history, barring races finishing under yellow flags. Webber’s drive was similar. To maintain his tyres life he drove slowly around the bulk of the lap but always managed to pull a small gap coming out of the final corner so that he was safe going through St Devote and up the hill to Massenet. By the time Rosberg could get back onto Mark’s tail it was too late to make a realistic attempt at the only other possible passing point on the shore-front chicane and Webber would be safe for another lap.

 

 

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    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Webber is as gifted as Villeneuve was or the Red Bull is as bad as that Ferrari was, but this drive was very similar, and right out of the top drawer.

 For full results go to;

 http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&dir=ASC&order=name&limit=5&limitstart=5 

Sam Snape 

29/05/2012 

F1 Ð JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS

  For the record, as most of you will know, Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix for Williams Grand Prix Engineering, heading home King Fernando’s Ferrari and Raikkonen in the Lotus. Some will know that this was the first win for Williams since Juan Pablo Montoya won the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix. Some, possibly fewer, will know that the last time five different drivers from five different teams won the first five races of a season was some twenty nine years ago in 1983. Coincidentally enough, the fifth winner that year was also sitting in a Williams as Keke Rosberg won at Monaco.

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  Two of the other winning teams back in ’83 were also Ferrari (Patrick Tambay – San Marino GP) and McLaren (John Watson – Long Beach GP) just as King Fernando and young Master Button have emulated this season. One of those five races was also won by a “factory” team (Alain Prost for Renault – French GP) – see Nico Rosberg – while the final one was won by a factory supported former world champion (Nelson Piquet for Brabham-BMW – Brazilian GP), Sebastian Vettel anyone?? Oh, and of course, one of those races was won by a Rosberg….

 

 

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   What makes this current season even more mixed up is that the have also been five different drivers and teams taking second place in each of the five races so far and only now have we had someone leading the title chase that has already led it this year. Well actually, make that two drivers leading the title chase that have led it before as both Sebastian Vettel and King Fernando sit at the top of the table with 61 points. In 1983 at this point there were just four drivers within one wins worth of points from the championship lead, this year that number is seven.

   The sixth race of 1983 was the Belgian Grand Prix, returning for the first time in thirteen years to the beautiful Spa Francorchamps. It was won by Alain Prost in the Renault breaking the run of different winners but had it not been for the hideous reliability of the Alfa Romeos of the time, then Andrea de Cesaris may well have made it six from six. There were two starts that day, due to a first lap pile up and Andrea made stunning starts to lead both versions and looked imperious until his V8 turbo started loosing grunt on lap 18. By lap 25 the smoking Alfa sat by the side of the track and the seasons run was at an end.

   Had Andrea won however, the run of different winners would have extended to eight as Michele Alboreto (Tyrrell) won the next race at Detroit and Rene Arnoux won in Canada for Ferrari before Prost took his third win in Britain. This kicked off a tit-for-tat run of wins as Arnoux won in Germany, Prost In Austria and Arnoux again in Holland. So Prost had four wins and Arnoux three, anyone else had no more than one so one would have thought that the title was to be decided between these two Frenchmen. But both Renault and Ferrari had dropped off their development programme while one other team was just ramping theirs up – massively. And some would say dubiously.

    In those, more innocent days, teams used fuel supplied by fuel companies. There may have been some reasonably exotic blends but nothing too extraordinary. That was until one German engineer discovered the mixture that had been only previously used by Werner von Braun in powering the V2 rockets of World War Two. Raymond Roche used a version of this mix to give the four cylinder BMW turbo engine an advantage that was beyond the other manufacturers to combat. Wins followed for Brabham-BMW in the final three Grand Prix as Nelson Piquet won at both Monza and Brands Hatch and Riccardo Patrese took out the season finale at Kyalami. Piquet pipped Prost for the title by just two points after an exciting season. Eight drivers from six teams had won races in the fifteen race series.

   If that sounds good these days, it was nothing out of the ordinary in the early Eighties. In 1982, in sixteen races, eleven drivers from seven teams won races with the World Champion – Keke Rosberg – winning just one race, the Swiss Grand Prix at Dijon-Prenois. No driver won more than twice. 1981 had seven different drivers from six different teams winning races.  

  So 2012 is just like those good old days where you had absolutely no idea, heading into a Grand Prix weekend who would come out on top. It is possibly more likely, than 1983, that we will get six different winners from the first six races of this year as the team that most expected to possibly win in Spain, finished only third. It appears only a matter of time before Lotus returns to the top of the podium with both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in superb form in a car that is as good as any in race trim.

 

 

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    The outstanding job Pirelli are doing in making their tyres hard to fathom for the teams is making for great, unpredictable racing, despite the moaning of some “Nigels” in the paddock. Most notable is the continually underperforming Herr Schumacher who must have just won the “Hypocritical Fuckwit of the Year” award with his whining about Bruno Senna “swerving” in the braking zone in Spain. Even if Bruno did swerve, Schumacher has no right to whinge. Just ask Rubens, or Felipe, or Ralf, or Mika, or Jacques. or Damon, etc etc etc. Fortunately the stewards saw the accident for what it was, a German balls-up, and have smacked Schumacher with a five spot penalty at Monaco.

     About time too.

  For full results go to;

 http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&dir=ASC&order=name&limit=5&limitstart=5 

Sam Snape

 16/05/2012 

F1 Ð AND THE MAGIC NUMBER IS 4

  Four races, four different winning drivers and cars, four different championship leaders, four different drivers and cars finishing second, four fourths in a row for Mark Webber and about four gazillion races since two Lotus’s finished on the podium in a Grand Prix. It may not seem like it just yet but are the stars aligning behind the Hoon in car 4? For the record, Sebastian Vettel left Bahrain as the fourth different winner and championship leader although he damned near didn’t. Kimi Raikkonen came within inches of pinching that victory in his John Playe…..errr….sorry, Lotus.

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  The Red Rags seem finally to have come to terms with their underperforming steed in qualifying, out-doing McLaren and Mercedes for the first time this year. Seb grabbed pole by just under a tenth from the Hoon with Webber another tenth back in third. Button was fourth with Chinese pole-man Rosberg next up, just beating out the surprising Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso. Just over half a second covered this top six in qualifying. Neither of the Lotus’s gave any indication of the pace that was to come while the Ferraris where, as usual, crap. Astonishingly, considering the one lap pace of the Mercedes so far, one M.Schumacher didn’t even get out of Q3, being knocked out by Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotu….err…sorry, Caterham.

   The first three got away reasonably well and held position while the second three had shockers. Button only lost a couple of spots to Grosjean and King Fernando, who has just about become this generation’s Gilles Villeneuve when it comes to demon starts, while Rosberg dropped to ninth on the first lap and had to henceforth take on the role of bar-room brawler in his slow climb back to fifth at the flag. To say that neither the Hoon nor King Fernando were overly impressed with Nico’s defensive tactics or the thought processes of the stewards is putting it mildly. One can only say that Nico seems to have learnt from his team-mate and seems to be being punished in just the same manner. Perhaps they thought it was Michael…..

   Young Dan buggered it up totally from his superb grid slot and after having his snout damaged ended the first lap down in sixteenth place and from there he would not recover. Still, he’s young and will learn how not to hit other cars on the opening lap. And when he does, good things will follow. Now speaking of good things, the Lotus in race trim certainly seems to fit the bill. Starting seventh (Grosjean) and eleventh (Kimi) they were fourth and seventh after the first lap and had both overtaken Webber and the Hoon and risen to second when they pitted. As the field settled down from the first series of tyre stops the Lotus twins emerged comfortably in second and third and were never pressured for the podium again. Indeed as the race progressed it became clear that they were the fastest things out there and Kimi steadily hauled in the Red Rag of Vettel. Kimi had one go at the lead, which was strongly defended, before he very slowly dropped back, having used the best of his tyres. Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus backed up his first points finish of a week ago with his first podium which included his first lap in the lead of a Grand Prix. 

  All in all a fine weekend for Lotus. It has been thirty three years since two Lotus’s were on a Grand Prix podium and whether or not you think the current Lotus has anything at all to do with Colin Chapman’s squad, it was still nice to see. Back then, at Jarama for the 1979 Spanish Grand Prix, Carlos Reutemann and Mario Andretti finished on the lower steps behind race winner Patrick Depailler in the erratically super-fast Ligier JS11. Carlos was still running the previous years 79 while Mario was giving the Lotus 80 it’s debut. The 79, which had dominated in 1978 was no longer a real front-runner and the 80 was supposed to take ground effects to a whole new level. Initially designed with no wings at all, the 80 was one big inverted wing with sliding skirts being used along the sides of the nose-cone as well as from the front of the side pods all the way to the very rear of the car. By the time the car arrived at Jarama it had sprouted wings and its podium scoring debut was promising.

 

 

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    The Lotus 80 was not to bother the scorers again though as several problems could not be overcome. The sliding skirts that were curved so that they were inboard of the rear wheels continually got stuck causing loss of down-force and when they were working, the chassis was not stiff enough to cope with the down-force generated and would flex. Not what you want in a Grand Prix car. The 80 only appeared in two further races, at Monaco and Dijon while being Mario’s spare car at Zolder and Silverstone before being cast aside for the aging 79. There arern’t many cars that spring to mind that have had such a promising debut, followed by such a short and unsuccessful racing life. In its Martini and Essex colours though, the Lotus 80 did give us one of the most striking, and I think, beautiful liveries seen, even to this day.

   Pity today’s cars are SO BLOODY UGLY!!! 

Sam Snape 

25/04/2012 

For full results go to; 

http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&dir=ASC&order=name&limit=5&limitstart=5

F1 - KING FERNANDO - WET WEATHER WIZARD

  King Fernando’s description “the most beautiful” applied only to his miraculous win in the Malaysian Grand Prix, certainly not to his Ferrari or its handling. Regarding the latter he would have been justified in quoting Keke Rosberg after his 1984 Dallas GP win in the evil Williams FW09 Honda. As the track fell apart and great drivers in good cars came unstuck due to the abnormally bad grip conditions Keke sailed through to an unlikely victory and said that the crumbling track “made no difference to me, my car always handles like shit.” Then again, he is driving for Ferrari and the last bloke to get away with lambasting a prancing horse was the sublime Gilles Villeneuve who described the 1981 126CK as being like “a big red Cadillac.” When Alain Prost tried to suggest something similar a decade later, he was summarily sacked. “Merde”

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  Yet again Alonso was faultless, getting the maximum speed out of the Ferrari which is probably only the fifth or sixth best car in the field. His timing for his tyre stops was perfect and in the final stint on slicks his performance under immense pressure from the startling Sergio’s Sauber was evidence, if any were needed, as to why many consider him to be the most complete Grand Prix driver of this generation. Given that he started in eighth only because of a gearbox change penalty to Raikkonen in the Lotus and he was over 1.3 seconds off the pace in qualifying this was, simply put, an absolutely stunning drive that will probably be the standout of the year. If anyone betters it, then they deserve to be world champion. 

 

  If it wasn’t for a momentary lapse with just a few laps to go, that performance may have gone to Sergio Perez in the Sauber. Starting ninth, Sergio pitted early for full wets and after the deluge hit and the rest of the field changed tyres the Sauber was sitting third behind the two McLarens. This was followed by fifty-one exciting minutes of watching the world’s best drivers in the most technologically advanced cars sitting under tents on the main straight. Finally the race restarted behind the safety car but once it pulled off the rest of the pack pitted and Perez spent two glorious laps leading a Grand Prix. It was generally thought the Sauber team had cocked it up at this point but to the surprise of all Sergio rejoined behind only King Fernando with the McLarens and Red Bulls dropping slowly away.

 

 

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  Sergio closed and closed on his prey until the Ferrari stopped for slicks on lap 39 and the Sauber led another two laps. Again his pit stop sequence was slower that that of the King but yet again he set about closing down the gap, often at over a second a lap. With a handful of laps to go the gap was down to under a second and then the game changed. A radio message came out telling Sergio to be careful as “we need these points”. A worse bit of timing cannot be imagined. Nor can anything less likely to break the intense focus of a young man gunning for his first win. Needless to say, that aforementioned lapse came just a lap later, Sergio ran wide and it was game over. Even so Perez was just 2.263 seconds adrift at the flag and a dozen or so seconds ahead of the battle for third place.

 

 

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    For the second week in succession it was Hamilton and Webber brawling over the final podium spot, and just like last week it was the Hoon that held out. Despite the McLaren not showing the same superiority in the wet conditions as it has so far in qualifying. Lewis was much happier with this third place than in Australia. Mostly because Jenson the Lion tamer was back in 14th place. Jenson was the first guy to change off the wets after the pace car and would have probably been fighting with his team-mate had he not ignored the fact that Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT was, not only up in tenth place, but in the bit of track that Jenson turned in to. The result was Button rejoining again down in 21st place and no hope of points.

   Oddly enough, on lap 46 Sebastian Vettel tried a similar manoeuvre while lapping the Indian and put himself out of fourth place with a punctured left rear. On neither occasion was Narain at fault despite the dubious 20 second penalty handed to him, and Seb did his reputation no favours with his petulant outburst after the race. He is a nice enough kid when all is going well, but he needs to remember that when he fucks up, he really should just keep his mouth well and truly shut. Remember Turkey 2010 anyone?

   Over at Lotus, Kimi Raikkonen again showed that the car is only just off podium pace with a fine drive to fifth place. He would have started fifth but for that gearbox change that dropped him back to tenth on the grid. Grosjean again failed to finish but this time he had no assistance when he speared off when the heavens opened. He is quick though so when he has some luck you can expect the points to flow. Mercedes repeated their Australian performance, great in qualifying but very hungry on the tyres in the race. Third and seventh on the grid became tenth and twelfth in the race.

   At Team Willy Pastor Maldonado again lost out on a point scoring result on the last lap. Unlike Grosjean though, this time it was not Pastor’s fault as his Renault engine did it’s best Puff the Magic Dragon impersonation. Bruno Senna put a smile on the teams faces though with an excellent sixth place, scoring more points in one hit than they scored all last year. Of the others Vergne showed good pace again and claimed eighth place while the Force India’s again picked up the crumbs as others faltered.

  For full results go to;

 http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&Itemid=38 

Sam Snape 

29/03/2012   

 

F1 Ð FIRST BLOOD TO BUTTON

  Or Daniel mauls the Lion again. Continuing his super form from 2011 Jenson Button again outraced Lewis (The Hoon) Hamilton to take victory in the Australian Grand Prix. Last year Jenson became the first driver in the same team to outscore Lewis over a championship and at Albert Park yesterday he continued that supremacy in convincing fashion. Since winning the championship with Brawn in 2009 and then “entering the Lion’s den” by joining the Hamilton dominated McLaren squad Button has proved just what an outstanding Grand Prix driver he really is. The Hoon still has the advantage over a single lap and displayed that on Saturday when he was the only driver in the 1m 24’s and beating Jenson to pole, but come race day over the last year Button has had the upper hand. The comparisons with Alain Prost do not end with his super smooth style. Neither may have dominated qualifying when up against a super fast team-mate, but both are bloody hard to beat come Sunday afternoon.

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  On a personally satisfying note I was delighted that the only car (except the real tail-end Charlies) that didn’t have one of those appalling stepped noses was by far the quickest and most stable throughout the weekend. It’s nice to see that the old adage, “if it looks right, it usually is” still pulls some weight. So much for Ferrari chief designer, Nikolas Tombazis’ prediction that if his car wins it will be beautiful. The Ferrari looks frightful and evidently handles in a similar descriptive manner. The Ferrari constantly looked like it was about to provide it’s drivers with a far too intimate introduction to the concrete barriers and both King Fernando and poor bloody Felipe were both lucky that when they were bitten, there was no concrete in the immediate vicinity. 12th and 16th on the grid was probably representative of where they currently stand as the McLarens, Red Bulls, Mercedes and Lotuses (Lotii?) are definitely quicker as are possibly the Williams cars. Their eventual fifth place was only due to the phenomenal skill of King Fernando, God alone knows what would have happened if he was in one of the McLarens, apart from a punch-up with Hamilton that is…

 

  While on the subject of Williams, it was also good to see them showing some form after the horror season they suffered in 2011. Pastor Maldonado had his FW34 in the top ten in all but one session and was set for a fine sixth place when, battling hard with King Fernando he made the one error of a fine weekend and planted the Williams very heavily into the concrete with just one lap to go. If you were going to place money on who, out of a Williams or a Ferrari, was going to have that accident this weekend, you wouldn’t have had your hard-earned on the car from Grove. In an interesting coincidence their respective team-mates took each other out of the race on lap 46 while squabbling with the recovering Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso.

 

 

  Apart from a spin in the wet on Friday afternoon and being assaulted from just about every direction at turn one Ricciardo had a debut with Toro Rosso to remember. Consistently in the top ten throughout practice and qualifying he brought his battered baby bull into the pits at the end of lap one and then proceeded to put in one of the drives of the day. By lap 20 he was battling with the Caterhams and by lap 40 was brawling with Senna and Massa. By lap 50 he was by Paul di Resta in the sole remaining Force India (who where a bit of a disappointment after their testing pace) and closing rapidly on the battle for the final point. Entering the last lap he was still in 12th place, right behind his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne when a) Maldonado bit the concrete, b) Rosberg and Perez bit each other and c) Vergne slowed to avoid being bitten by both. A ninth place finish and two points were well earned.

 

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  “I don't really know how that happened on the last lap. I saw blue flags and a lot of cars in front and I was sure I could make up at least one place because it was chaos. I was a bit lucky to be the last one in that group because I could have a clear picture of the other cars going off in front. Then I had a chance to attack Jean-Eric. He defended into Turn 13 and I thought I could make the switch back and I did, which put me in P9. The last few laps were crazy and I was pushing like hell. At the start, I got caught up in the accident and at the moment I don't understand how it happened or who was to blame. I made a decent start, I moved to the outside but there were too many of us there. I hit the left front quite hard against a Williams and had to come in to change the nose. I had to race with a bit of damage after that. It's good to finish ninth, but I think I could have done better because the car was very strong, given how fast it was even with the damage I had to carry through the whole race, with the car pulling to one side. It was not easy to come back, but I never gave up, pushing all the time. I'm extremely happy and it's great to score my first F1 points here at home in Australia, where the crowd has been just fantastic all weekend long.” 

  In the senior team, the Red Rags were the best of the “fuglies” with Seb finishing second after a nice aggressive drive and Mark having his best result at Albert Park in fourth. Vettel’s pass on Rosberg on lap two was possibly the highest “pucker factor” pass ever completed at Albert Park around the outside heading down to the right hander at turn 12. “I had a good start initially and was surprised by Nico, who had a very good start and got past. I passed him again, which was a great manoeuvre and on the edge. Behind Michael, I had a mistake and went off in the first corner; he then did exactly the same when I got close to him, which was good.” Yet another crap start saw Webber get caught up in some of the turn one mess and he completed the first lap in just ninth place but from that point he put in another good drive to close right onto the battle for second at the flag. The Red Rag was especially quick on the harder prime tyres and Mark emerged from the second pit stops in the fourth place that he would hold until the finish.

 

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    Of the rest? Lotus (formerly known as Renault, Benetton, Toleman etc) showed that it will be up amongst it this year with a great qualifying performance by Romain Grosjean who lined up third on the grid. Unfortunately for Romain he slipped to sixth after the start and was then nerfed off the track on lap 2 by Maldonado and ended his race with a broken right front suspension. Raikkonen made an error in his final qually run but drove well in the race to finish seventh from seventeenth on the grid. Promising signs. The Saubers again showed that they like Albert Park with Kamikaze Kamui entertaining everybody (except Kimi possibly) on his way to sixth and Perez putting in another excellent drive from the rear of the grid (placed there after a gearbox change) to eighth even after savaging Rosberg on that last lap.

   And of the Silver Slings. Well they flattered to deceive. Super quick in practice and qualifying but when it came to the race they were far too brutal on their tyres and both fell off towards the end of their, rather short, stints. On top of that Schumacher’s gearbox lunched itself after just ten laps and Rosberg also missed the points when he and Perez disagreed over a patch of track on the last lap. Rosberg had been dropping back all race though and was only eighth when said disagreement occurred anyway so they slunk off with no points.

   Paul di Resta took the final point for the second year in a row but was shaded by the returning Nico Hulkenberg all weekend. Unfortunately for Nico he was out on lap one, being damaged in the first corner chaos but the Force India was just not really on the pace here. Caterham (formerly Lotus, gets confusing doesn’t it) were closer to the midfield pack than recent seasons but still not there, they still need about another second to be in with a chance of points and the Marussia pair where about where you would expect a team that had no testing to be. At least they were better than the HRTs that for the second year in a row didn’t qualify in Australia. Again they were still building the cars at the track and even when they got going struggled with boiling hydraulics that robbed them of their DRS, power steering and any chance of racing at all.

 For full results go to;

 http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&Itemid=38 

Sam Snape 

19/03/2012          

FORMULA FUGLY Ð THE LAWS AND UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

  When the F1 rule makers wrote the new regulations regarding the height of the nose of a Formula 1 car for 2012, I’m sure that their main concern was the safety aspect, but I reckon that they also had in mind that the lower nose would make the cars more pleasant to the eye. Something along the lines of the McLaren MP4/27 whose nose slopes gently and gracefully and yet stays within the new parameters. Unfortunately the three other new cars that have been launched so far look as if they have been built using Lego blocks and have all the aesthetic appeal of a dog turd in a swimming pool. A couple of years back folk were dismayed by the appearance of the cars with the very wide front and the narrow rear wings. Sure, they were ugly but you sort of got used to them, they were just different from what we had previously been used to and so after a while you just stopped noticing them. They were just wings after all. But the cars launched by Ferrari, Force India and Caterham? Yee Gods, I have seen more attractive Soviet era apartment blocks.  Genital warts have more appeal.

 

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  One of the things that appeals to young boys, and these are the future F1 fans, (I mean, lets face it, motor sport is mostly followed by blokes – hence grid GIRLS), is that they can bung a picture of a beautiful car up on the wall of their bedroom and dream of racing one. For me, in the ‘70’s these were the Gulf Porsche 917, the JPS Lotus 79 but the one that really grabbed my balls was the 1975 Ferrari 312T. Maybe not your favourite, but as always beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that red car, with the high white airbox, silver wings & huge rear wheels was that ten year olds drool inducer. I simply cannot imagine anybody, any boy, any girl, any sane man or woman looking at the nose of the Ferrari F2012 and finding it any more attractive than the rotting face of a dead wart-hog. Maggots included.

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 Nikolas Tombazis, Ferrari’s chief designer has already had to defend the look of the car as the scorn of the public has poured in. His defence is, that he doesn’t care what the car looks like as long as it wins. Well Nik, old son, all I can say is that it bloody well better, ‘cause the rest of the F1 viewing public does care. And so to do the sponsors of the sport.  If no kid is going to pin a poster of their car on the wall then they know that they aren’t getting value for money either. After all, it is brand exposure that they are paying for and the most susceptible to this exposure are kids. How many of us that grew up in the 70’s have forgotten any of the main sponsors? Gulf Oil or ELF Petroleum. The fags packets on wheels, John Player Special, Marlboro, Gitanes etc. Martini. All of these adorned, and help make, beautiful cars. Not too many will recall LEC Refrigeration with any great excitement. And that’s the point. Some 30 to 40 years down the line we still remember the brands fondly, even if they were cancer tubes. Will any of today’s kids remember Acer or Santander in 30 years time?

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  But to be fair (sort of) it’s not just the Ferrari that has been belted with the ugly stick. The Force India and the Caterham are almost as hideous. Almost. I was, as I am sure you all were, looking forward to this coming weeks testing at Jerez. As much to see the new cars as get any idea who may have the right stuff this year. Now I’m almost dreading it. Hoping against hope that the other teams have not gone down this horrid path. Oh, and while we’re at it, stop insulting the poor bloody platypus. It may be a mildly strange looking creature but it’s not that damned ugly.

 

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   And while talking about Lego, the final few blocks were put in place this week with the announcement that Narain “I’m not a masochist” Karthikeyan has signed on for another year at HRC and that Giedo van der Garde has been named as Caterham’s test and reserve driver. That completes the race driver line-up for the Australian GP at least, barring any Kubica type disasters and sadly confirms that there is no longer a place for Rubens Barrichello on the F1 grid. He may have been getting a bit long in the tooth but would still have been a better bet than some that have secured a place. As one of the nicest guys around, the F1 paddock will be a much poorer place without his presence. I hope he enjoys success in Indycars where it seems he is now headed off to and the Indy 500 should now have an interesting story within a story, who will do better, Alesi or Barrichello?

Sam Snape

05/02/2012