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 Australian Grand Prix report

Ah, Australia.  This is a great race.  I love this race.  It is usually the first race of the season (but not this year) and it has a great atmosphere.  It is definitely on The List of races to see live and in person.  But this year I had to settle for the TV as usual.  It was just as well really because it rained.  And I hate rainy races.  But it didn’t rain for very long so the story has a happy ending.  Sort of.

Sebastian Vettel was on pole again.  That makes two races in a row for those of you keeping score at home.  That Red Bull car is wicked fast, especially during qualifying.  His teammate and local favorite (he’s Australian) Mark Webber was second locking out the front row for Red Bull.  In Formula 1 this is considered a Good Thing.  Fernando Alonso was third for the second race in a row in his shiny red Ferrari.  Teammate Felipe Massa was fifth on the grid.  McLaren’s Jenson Button was fourth.  His teammate, that Lewis Hamilton started 11th.  Oops.  Meanwhile Nico Rosberg outqualified his 7-time world champion teammate Michael Schumacher for the second race in a row.  Way to go Nico.

It was raining ever so slightly at the start.  The lights went out and Vettel went galloping off into the distance.  Meanwhile there was trouble!  Alonso had wheel spin and Massa went by him for second place.  Poor Fernando found himself sandwiched between Button and Schumacher and there’s contact!  Alonso spins and ends up in 22nd place.  That is dead last people.  Dead.   Last.  I almost threw down the remote, said “screw this” and watched New Moon again.  But I persevered once I saw that Alonso had not, in fact, been knocked out of the race entirely and I am so glad I did.

There was rain (which I hate), there was dicing, there was tire strategy, there was a safety car period.  This race had it all.  It was very exciting.

After about six laps the rain had stopped and Jenson Button came into the pits to change his tires.  All the cars had started on the intermediate rain tires, Button was the first driver to go out on slicks.  Would it work?  Well, that first lap on the slick tires he looked like he was driving on a slip n’ slide but in the end it was the right decision.  He never looked back and made that one set of tires last the rest of the race.  That’s 50 laps.  That’s a long time.

Meanwhile, during all that drama Alonso was methodically making his way back to the front of the field.  He’s very good at that.  Once the engineers realized Button was actually racy on the slick tires everyone came into the pits.  It was a little party.  When all the dust settled Vettel was still in front, followed by Button Kubica, Rosberg and Massa.  Alonso had managed to haul himself up to tenth place at this point, but he wasn’t done yet.

And then on lap 33 Vettel went off.  He had a mechanical failure.  This is the second race he has started on pole and the second race he has failed to finish.  It reminds me of Kimi Raikonnen’s tenure at McLaren.   The car just keeps letting him down.  I have a helpful hint for the boys at Red Bull.  It’s great to qualify on pole and all, but if you can’t finish the race it doesn’t really do much good.

To make a long story short, or at least, less long after a lot more dicing and overtaking and all the things that were lacking in the Bahrain Grand Prix two weeks ago Jenson Button won!  How did that happen?  I highly recommend this  handy play by play of all the action.  Robert Kubica finished second in his ugly yellow Renault.  Nobody was expecting that!  Massa took the last spot on the podium with Alonso finishing just behind him in fourth place.  That is actually pretty amazing considering his craptacular start.

I think (and this may just be the fangirl in me talking) that Alonso could have overtaken Kubica and maybe even had a run at Button if he had been able to get by Massa.  But Alonso decided discretion was the better part of valor and opted to hold station in fourth and concentrate on holding off Hamilton and Webber who were right behind him.

That Lewis Hamilton and Webber got into it in the waning laps but despite knocking into each other they both managed to finish.

I have to give the drive of the race to Alonso. He did a fantastic job storming back through the field to get to fourth place, and then defended his position brilliantly.  He also wins the award for the best quote of the race.  When his race engineer was telling him on the radio that Hamilton was closing in on him Alonso’s response on the radio was “I don’t want to know”.  Priceless.

As usual please go to a reputable F1 new site for accurate information.

McLaren gets a suspended sentence

It’s a Formula 1 day today.  Sorry Mom.

So the World Motor Sport Council met today and handed down a suspended three race ban to McLaren over the whole lie-gate episode.

Source

I have been going back and forth about this whole thing.  On the one hand, they lied to the officials in an attempt to steal points away from another team (Toyota).  This is a very underhanded and crappy thing to do.  On the other hand, they have already been punished for that by being disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix and losing all their points from that race. 

There are a lot of things about this whole affair that still bother me.

For example, I still haven’t figured out why Lewis didn’t tell Dave Richards that the press already had the story that he had let Trulli pass.  And I don’t understand why he went along with what he knew was a lie when he went into the stewards hearing.

I have been trying to cut Lewis some slack on that one.  He only had an hour between the end of the race and the stewards meeting, and as we have already discussed, some of that time was spent talking to the press.  He probably didn’t have a lot of time to think over what the team was telling him to do, so he chose the path of least resistance and lied to the stewards.  I’m sure plenty of other people would have done the same thing.  And he did seem remorseful about it later.

They were DQ’ed from Australia for lying.  They were brought before the World Motor Sport Council for bringing the sport into disrepute because of it.  I thought this seemed like overkill at the time and I still do.  This is the second thing that bothers me.

But, none of that is important anymore.  The show’s over folks, nothing to see here.  The WMSC have declared that no further penalty is necessary right now.  However they aren’t done yet.  They also handed down a suspended three-race ban saying if anything further comes to light or if McLaren get caught lying or cheating again in the next 12 months they will be sitting out three races.

This bothers me too.  It implies that this isn’t over yet and it should be.  Either McLaren have been punished enough or they haven’t.  If the WMSC doesn’t think the original punishment was severe enough they should have had the cojones to ban them now instead of just saying “we’ll be watching so don’t do it again”.

It makes you wonder what the point was in the first place, and makes it look like Max Mosley really does have it in for McLaren*. 

*I don’t really believe that, but I know people will be thinking it.  Let’s not forget that McLaren did screw up.  Mosley may be holding the gun, but McLaren keeps giving him the bullets.

The Australian Grand Prix report – or Ball of Confusion

What the hell just happened?  I think Jenson Button just won the Australian Grand Prix.  Amazing.  More about that later.

It was an event filled race to say the least, and not in a good way.

But before I get stared with all that, let me just say way to go to Bernie Ecclestone, the toxic vampire in charge of the F1 money, for insisting that they stage the Australian Grand Prix at 5pm local time.  He did this so his precious European viewers would not have to get up and watch the race at 5am, but could instead have breakfast and racecars at the much more reasonable hour of 8am.  There was just one small catch.  The drivers couldn’t see because the sun was in their eyes.  Here’s what our race winner had to say

 

…But with the glare from the sun and the change in light from the trees it was so difficult. It was so easy to put a wheel wrong and the problem was the bad light was always on the most difficult corners, so it made it tough…

From the official post-race press conference.  So way to risk the drivers’ safety so your European viewers can sleep a few more hours.  Yeesh.

Alonso started from P10 on the grid.  He had qualified 12th but after both Toyota cars and Lewis Hamilton got slammed with grid penalties, he moved up.  Unfortunately it didn’t help him much as he got caught up in the traditional first-corner hijinks and dropped way back.  I hate when that happens.  He ended up finishing fifth, which was not the best, but after a bad start I was braced for worse.

At about lap 18 Kaz Nakajima crashed his Williams.  It looked bad, and there were bits of carbon fiber and tires all over the track, but Kaz thankfully was unharmed.  Cue the safety car! 

I had a scary moment a few laps later.  I had been fast-forwarding a commercial break and overshot the end of it.  All I saw was a Renault spinning in fast forward mode.  My heart stopped for a moment.  Then I hit rewind and watched it again at the normal speed only to discover it wasn’t Alonso, it was his teammate Nelson Piquet Junior.  Whew!

Meanwhile, while all this was going on it was a regular Sunday drive for Button up at the front in his Brawn GP cruiser.  This is an amazing story.  Brawn GP was the Honda factory team last year and they were terrible.  They were worse than terrible.  Then in December Honda announced the team was for sale and that if they didn’t find a buyer they were closing up shop.  Ross Brawn and Nick Fry pulled off a management buyout at the last minute, but it was a near thing.  So, Button went from driving for the doormat of F1 to spending the winter thinking he wouldn’t be driving at all this season to winning the season opener.  A real Cinderella story.

 

Now we are in the last laps of the race.  Oh this is so exciting.  BMW’s Robert Kubica and Red Bull’s Sebastien Vettel are duking it out for second place.  But wait!  Kersmash!  They take each other out instead!  Tragic.  Here comes the safety car again.  There were only three laps left so that is how the race finished, behind the safety car. 

The top three finishers were Jenson Button for Brawn GP, Rubens Barrichello for Brawn GP and Jarno Trulli for Toyota.

But wait, there’s more!  After the race Trulli was busted by the stewards for passing Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car.  That is a big no-no.  But, Lewis let Trulli pass.  The way I understand it (and I don’t understand it very well) Trulli had been running third and Hamilton was 4th.  But Trulli had an off-track excursion behind the safety car and came back onto the track behind Hamilton.  McLaren then told Lewis to let Trulli pass because they were afraid Lewis would be penalized for passing behind the safety car.  Then, they protested the result because Trulli passed Lewis behind the safety car because they let him.  Is any of this making sense to you?  Me either.  Toyota is appealing the penalty.  I hope they win.

So, that’s the race in a nutshell.  You really should look elsewhere for accurate, objective and fact-based reporting though. 

Next weekend is the Malaysian Grand Prix.  I love back-to-back races!