Mayhem

I have not been blogging about F1 much this year.  I don’t know why really.  I love it just as much as ever, but for whatever reason I am just not writing about it.  Not that I think anybody really cares.

This weekend’s race was at Spa in Belgium.  I hate this race.  It always rains and I hate that.  I worry there will be crashes and people will get hurt.  Well, the good news is, it didn’t rain.  But, see this?

Yeah, the cars are not supposed to look like that.  Four cars got taken out of the race in the first corner thanks to Roman Grosjean.  He tried to pass Lewis Hamilton, and was far too optimistic about his chances.  And as a result we get this:

Alonso was on the bottom of that pile in his Ferrari.  One car ran over the front of his car, another one almost ran over his head.  All I can say is thank goodness I was watching in the evening drinking a beer instead of in the morning drinking coffee.  I fear my heart might have burst right out of my chest.  It was only the Rolling Rock that saved me.

It took Alonso a while to get out of the car.  The medical staff was talking to him and everything.  That is not usually a good sign.  As an experiment during this time I thought I would see how many times I could say ohmygodohmygodohmygod with inhaling.  The answer is really a lot.

Of course the important things here are nobody got hurt, nobody got hurt, and nobody got hurt.

And it just goes to show you that even when it doesn’t rain you can get taken out of the race through no fault of your own.

But I still don’t like it when it rains, and I still hate this track.

 

 

The Canadian Grand Prix Report

I am currently watching a recording of the second practice session.  At home.  On my couch.  But at least it’s a red couch.  (Red for Ferrari, get it?)

No, I am not attending the race this year.  I have the kids for the month which is awesome, but they are not big Formula One fans.  They would not have enjoyed spending a weekend in Montreal doing nothing but circumnavigating a race track.

So, you will not be getting live reports from me about the race, or about Alonso’s hotel (I know where it is by the way) or delicious delicious Canadian food.

I miss poutine.  Maybe I should try to figure out how to make it.  But that would involve deep frying the french fries, because I don’t think Ore-Ida would cut it in a plate of poutine.  And deep frying things scares me so I don’t do it.  It’s a shame you can’t get poutine anywhere around here.  I want some.

Of course on the plus side I won’t get rained on or protested on watching from the couch.  Yes, there are protesters this year.  I also won’t have to wait in the massive queues for the subway or the very glamorous port-a-potties.

So, I will blog from the couch.  I hope you won’t be too disappointed.

The Malaysian Grand Prix Report

I do so love back to back races.  But before I can tell you about the race, I have one other important piece of news for you.  Fernando Alonso appears to have gotten himself tattooed.  See:

Mmmmm

But I digress.

Hamilton was on pole again, and Button was second.  Michael Schumacher started third, which was very exciting.  Alonso qualified ninth, but Kimi Raikkonen had a grid penalty so he actually started 8th.  This was an improvement over last weekend.  Last weekend he was much farther back.

Here is a quick geography lesson.  What happens in Malaysia late in the afternoon?  Yep, that’s right, it rains.  And yesterday was no exception.  About 8 laps in it started pouring buckets, and the safety car came out.  La la la, we did a few laps behind the safety car and then:  Red Flag.  So for an hour we sat and watched the drivers standing around.  This is not compelling television.  It is my humble opinion that they should change the start time back to it’s original, earlier start time so they can get the race finished before it starts raining.  But the muckety mucks at FOM do not listen to me.

It finally stopped raining and they restarted the race.  All the cars were on wet tires now, and this became tricky as the track dried out and the tires started to get chewed up.  More rain was in the forecast so all the engineers were telling the drivers to take care of the tires and make them last until it started raining again.  But the rain held off and everybody eventually came in for slicks.

Oh, look at that, lightening just beyond the circuit.  Dammit.  (sorry mom).  Well, fortunately the rain stayed away.  Alonso was winning at this point and I was about having a heart attack because Sergio Perez was slowly reeling Alonso in with his Sauber.  Then his engineer came on the radio and told him to preserve the position.  It has been a long time since a Sauber has come in second.

Of course that message has the tin hat brigade up in arms, saying it was team orders, and that Perez was told not to pass Fernando.  Sauber buys their engines from Ferrari, so the conspiracy theory du jour is that Sauber was told to back off.  Not bloody likely.  Reeling Alonso in and passing him are two different things, and as we know Alonso is not easy to pass.

Anyway, Alonso won and that’s the important thing.  He is currently leading the world championship.  Wow.

The next race is in China in three weeks.  That is the only bad part about back to back races. It usually means a long break before the next race.  Sigh.

The Australian Grand Prix Report

Or, The Ice Man Returneth.

It’s true.  The Ice Man, also known as Kimi Raikkonen has returned to Formula One after spending 2 years driving rally cars and drinking Red Bull or whatever it is Kimi does when he isn’t racing.  I am happy to see him back.  I like him.  Unfortunately he had to do his returnething from P18 during the race thanks to some sort of communication error or something during Qualifying.

Qually didn’t go much better for your hero and mine, the lovely and talented Fernando Alonso.  His Ferrari got away from him after only 2 laps in Q2 and he beached it.   He ended up starting 12th.  Massa was even further back  He started in 16th place.  The Ferrari’s are not looking all that great.

The Renault team is now called Team Lotus, and their other driver started the race from P3, right behind Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both from McLaren. Red Bull’s defending world champion Sebastian Vettel was up there too, starting from the 7th spot, behind Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber.

When the race started Button took off like he had been shot out of a cannon and it was basically all over from there.  He won handily, and should be pleased because he drove a very good race.  Vettel ended up coming in second, and Hamilton, who had started on pole, slipped back and finished third.  He didn’t look too happy about it either.

Alonso managed to finish fifth after struggling with the car all afternoon.  That thing looks like a pig to drive.  But it was better than I expected, and hopefully things will improve from here.  Massa was having an okay race until he got into with with Bruno Senna and ended up breaking his car.  That is a DNF for him.

Anyway, I didn’t blog about F1 last year, much to the dismay of my many fans (ha ha ha).  But this year I plan to get back into the habit.  This week’s report is a little short because I have a lot of stuff going on at work right now.  Hopefully I can be more in-depth next week after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

I know mom is counting down the minutes.

The (rest of the) Canadian Grand Prix Report

It's not raining yet...

Well, that was… interesting.  But before I can tell you about the race, I should tell you about Qualifying.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday.  So I made sure I had the rain ponchos and a towel in my backpack.  I also packed a spare sweatshirt because it was also supposed to be chilly.

When I arrived at the track it was actually sunny, and not that cold.  I settled in to watch the final practice session before qualifying.  I love this qualifying system.  It has been like this for a few years now, and it is tons of fun to watch.  First all 24 cars go out for 20 minutes.  At the end of the session, the 8 slowest cars are eliminated, and they take up the last eight spots on the grid.  Then we have a short break so we can all catch our breath and then the remaining cars go out again, for 15 minutes this time.  The six slowest cars are eliminated this time, leaving ten cars to go for pole in the last session.  It is very exciting.  I love it.

After practice the clouds started to roll in.  By the time qually started I was wearing a long sleeved shirt under my lucky Alonso t-shirt, a black hoodie, and another hoodie over all that.  I was actually warm enough, though my seatmate found my many layers amusing.  I also bought a t-shirt, and I will show you a picture of that later.

It didn’t rain and qualifying went well, and I am always surprised how much faster it all goes in person.  It’s like you blink and it’s over.  Vettel was on pole again, which is getting pretty boring, but Alonso was second so I was happy about that.  And they even showed the press conference on the Jumbo-trons.  I like that because they show the bit at the end that they never show on television where each of the top three drivers says a few words in his own language.  I can’t help it, I like to listen to Alonso speak Spanish.  Ooooh….

But I digress.  Saturday night I wandered around Boulevard. St. Laurent a little bit.  And I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Rue St. Arthur; this was the neighborhood we lived in last summer when we spent a month in Montreal, so I did a fair amount of tripping down memory lane.  It was fun.

Sunday morning it was grey and cold.  I put on three of my four layers of clothing and went back to the track.  It was rainy and cold and gross, and really the kind of racing conditions I hate.

I timed my arrival in the grandstands to be just before the driver’s parade.  I yelled hello to Alonso and waved, but he didn’t see me.  Oh well.

It started raining before the race and they decided to start behind the safety car.  I have never seen a safety car start before, at least not live and in person, so that was interesting, but it is not as exciting as the usual standing start.

Safety Car start - I've never seen this before

Conditions were pretty awful.  It did start to clear up a few laps after the safety car went in, and Alonso came in to change from the full wet tires to the inters, only to have the sky open up a lap later.  I spent the next few minutes holding my breath, hoping he would make it back around to the pits to get the appropriate tires.  He did.  Whew!  But then they red-flagged the race.  This is the equivalent of a rain delay.  It was cold, it was rainy, and I was not having a good time.

fellow race fans huddled braving the elements

At one point as I was sitting there huddled under my rain poncho my seatmate looked over and said “I think the red dye in your hat is running, I just saw a red drop run down your face”.  Oh great.  So I took the Ferrari hat off.  There were some red patches in my hair, but they didn’t last long in the rain, and on the plus side I finally feel like that hat is clean after the bus-sick incident of 2008.

So after an hour of sitting in the rain getting more and more soggy and shivering harder and harder, I made a very difficult decision.  I decided to bail.  I never thought I would do a think like that, but at that point, I was soaked to the skin and freezing.  And my seatmate said it would probably be at least another hour before they could start the race, even if it stopped raining right that minute, which it was not going to do.

I gave up.  I felt awful about it, but I was so cold, and I was not having fun.  And they stopped the race on lap 28, 7 laps before the halfway point.  I was kind of afraid I would sit there shivering for another hour just so they could all parade around the safety car for 7 laps so they could call the race official and stop it for good.

Of course that is not what happened, but I did manage to get back to my hotel, take a hot shower, change into dry clothes and crawl under the covers just in time to watch the restart on television.

Alonso had a crash, so he didn’t finish.  Hamilton had a crash so he didn’t finish (hah) and Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel on one of the final laps to win the race.  Pretty amazing considering he made six pit stops and at one point he was in 21st place.  Wow.

So, part of me regrets leaving early, but not a very big part of me. It was a great weekend in spite of the washout on Sunday, and who knows, maybe next year I will be going to the US Grand Prix in Austin, TX.  I hope so.

Forza Ferrari

 

 

The Canadian Grand Prix Report – Day One

I realize I have not been around much lately, and I also realize I owe some of my regular readers a full account of the family trip to Disney World, and I promise I will get to that.  Soon.  Really.

But now, I am in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix!  Woo hoo!  I love the Canadian Grand Prix. Well, really I love them all, but I love this one the best because I am here!  The man is not attending this year so I sold his ticket and came anyway.

I arrived yesterday, and I don’t know what it is with me, but every time I come to Montreal I seem to get the one cab driver in the city that does not know where my hotel is.  Every.  Stinking.  Time.  This time the guy actually asked me if I was sure about the hotel address.  I showed it to him in to confirmation on my iPhone.  Stupidhead.

And so, today I wandered over to the track just in time for the first practice.  The seats are at the end of the hairpin, and they are really good, see:

As usual the seats are up high (row P) well out of the way of any possible flying debris.

Also, the Grand Prix is very glamorous:

I think this is a lot of empties for one o’clock in the afternoon, don’t you:

Wow, that really is a lot of empties.  And I’m sure there are more where that came from.  The weather was beautiful.  It was the kind of day where a beer for lunch sounds pretty good, if you are the kind of person who can drink in the sun in the middle of the day.  I am not that kind of person though so I didn’t have one.

One of the people sitting near me has an air-horn.  I strongly believe if you fire an air-horn in a crowd the people sitting around you should be able to hit you with sticks.  Those things are seriously obnoxious.  I hope it runs out soon.

I did some window-shopping but I have not purchased anything yet.  I already have two Alonso/Ferrari t-shirts, that is probably enough.  Unless of course I see another one that really knocks my socks off.

And finally, what is the best way to end a fabulous day at the track?  A nice big bowl of poutine:

Ferrari 2011 launch

It’s almost time…time for Formula One.  I know my mother will be over the moon.

Well, Ferrari launched their new car last week, the Ferrari F150, and before you make any snarky smart-a$$ comments, no it does not have a Hemi.  It is called the Ferrari F150 to commemorate 150 year of Italian unification.  So there.

Anyway, here are just a couple pictures:

Isn't it pretty?

 

I love this rear wing

And finally, a picture of the Drivers

That’s Alonso on the right, Massa on the left.  I am really not loving the facial hair.

All the pictures are from Ferrari.com

*I have just been informed that Ford F150s do not have Hemi’s.  Well, neither does the Ferrari.  Hah.

 

The Korean Grand Prix Report

Well that was interesting.

 

This was the inaugural Korean Grand Prix and it was a near thing whether it would happen at all.  The track is brand spanking new and it missed deadline after deadline.  The race wasn’t a sure thing until about two weeks before the event.  That is cutting it a bit fine if you ask me, but of course nobody did.

It was pouring down rain when the race was supposed to start.  So they delayed the start by ten minutes and declared the race would start behind the safety car instead of the usual standing start.  Just a few laps later they red flagged the race.  That means they stopped everything, and sent everybody back to the starting grid.  Then they all sat there.  For an hour.  Oh yeah, that’s compelling television.

They did finally get it started again though.  But Red Bull’s Mark Webber probably wishes they hadn’t.  On the very first lap with the green flag (without the safety car) Mark lost control of his car and wrecked it.  That ended his afternoon, and most likely ended his shot at the world championship.  He had been leading the WDC when the race started.

It rained some more, then it stopped.  There was a lot of debate about whether or not the track was dry enough for the intermediate tires or if the full wets were better.  Lewis Hamilton seemed to be having some trouble with the inters but it didn’t seem to hurt him too much.

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel was leading the way in the other Red Bull with Ferrari’s lovely and talented Fernando Alonso in second place.  And then the racing gods smiled down on Fernando.  Vettel’s engine went kablammo with about 12 laps to go.  Alonso was winning!  AND not only that, but if he could hold on and win, he would be leading in the Driver’s Championship.  Oh.  My.  God!  It was all very nerve-wracking.  I did a lot of hand wringing, and fretting and yelled “be careful!” at the television a lot.  And you have to yell really loud when you are watching the race almost 24 hours after it took place.  I was exhausted by the end.

So Alonso won.  That is his third race win in a row for those of you keeping score at home.  Lewis Hamilton finished second, keeping his championship hopes alive for another race.  And Ferrari’s Felipe Massa came in third.

The next two races will be absolute torture to watch.  I hope I remember to breathe.

He looks pretty happy, don’t you think?

And no, it wasn’t a night race, it was just that dark when they finally finished.

The Japanese Grand Prix Report

The moment has kind of passed for this.  It has been a busy week, and I just never got around to it.  And now, since I don’t really feel like writing a full-on report which nobody wants to read anyway, I will just do a few quick thoughs, odds and ends style.

***

Vettel won, Webber came in second, and Alonso came in third.

***

Alonso is now a mere 14 points behind Webber in the World Drivers Championship with three races to go.  It’s a long shot, but not impossible.  I am trying not to get too excited about this.

***

They had to cancel qualifying because it was raining so hard on Saturday afternoon, they had it on Sunday morning before the race instead.  I love the Japanese Grand Prix, but it always rains.

***

Lewis Hamilton lost third gear on about lap 40.  Oops.  He did manage to finish the race though.

***

Do you think it would be harder to drive a car that didn’t have third gear on a high speed track, or to drive a car without a clutch?  Just wondering.

The Italian Grand Prix Report

Yes, I am late to the party.  But better late than never right?  So the Italian Grand Prix is held at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, or Monza for short.  It is the fastest track on the Formula One calendar.  Cars here top out at about 212 miles an hour.  212 miles an hour!  In one of these:

I know!  It’s crazy talk.  I love Monza, I really do, but it always makes me nervous.   They all make me nervous.

Fernando Alonso was on pole for Ferrari.  It was the first time a Ferrari had been on pole in a very long time, and Monza is Ferrari’s home race.  The track is not far from Milan, which is not far from Maranello, home of the Ferrari factory.

Tom and I watched qualifying on Saturday night while eating pasta with an excellent Bolognese sauce.  We figured that was close enough to Milanese cuisine.  After I watched Fernando put the car on pole I did the happy dance all night and waited for the race on Sunday.

Sunday dawned and there was no rain in the forecast.  Huzzah.  Alonso was first (as I mentioned) then Jenson Button’s McLaren and Felipe Massa’s Ferrari.  Mark Webber was fourth for Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton was fifth in his McLaren.  Sebastian Vettel, the newly christened Crash Kid was sixth.  I thought that if I were Lewis Hamilton I would be worried about starting next to Vettel because you just never know what he might do these days.

When the race started Alonso tried to move over on Button and squeeze him out of the way.  This was maybe not the smartest thing he could have done because it gave Button an opening to get by when Alonso had to lift to avoid a collision.  And then Massa, forgetting for a moment that he is supposed to be the wingman, tried to get past Alonso too.  Silly Massa.  Meanwhile Hamilton passed Webber and tried to make a move around Massa.  Massa moved over and kersmash.  Hamilton ended up with a broken suspension.  Game over.  It was kind of a shame.  I don’t like him much (okay, I don’t like him at all) but he sounded pretty gutted when he talked to the press.  If he ends up losing the World Driver’s Championship, that mistake could be the reason why.

Meanwhile Button was ahead of Alonso, but Alonso was sticking right with him, sometimes a second behind him, sometimes half a second.  It is very exciting to watch the cars following this closely.  I spent a lot of time yelling at Alonso to be careful.  I think he could hear me through the TV because nothing bad happened.

Finally Button pitted for fresh tires, and Alonso inherited the lead.  He pushed and pushed and pushed that car and then there was a miracle.  When Alonso pitted for fresh tires his pit crew managed to do it in less than four seconds.  Alonso came out of the pits just ahead of Button on the track.  For a minute there it looked like Button would pass him.  Alonso had cold tires, but Fernando managed to hold him off and that was all she wrote.

Alonso wins at Monza.  That is is third win of the year for those of you keeping score at home.  Awesome.

Jenson Button came in second and Massa was third.  A great result for Ferrari.  I was doing the happy dance all day.