Saturday, March 24, 2012

McLaren Deliver Another 1-2 Punch

I usually love back-to-back race weekends. Not this time though, but only because I will be unable to watch the race live this weekend and thus, will likewise be unable to use my (non-existent) telekinetic powers to influence the race.

Familial Obligations- 1, Me- 1.

Consolation is I got to watch qualifying live. Yay.

McLaren notched up another 1-2 with Lewis again ahead of Jenson.

Don't burst this bubble.

It was kind of nice to see LewHam smile after he relived some of his teenage angst in front of live television last week. I think he became even more thrilled when the legendary Michael Schumacher joined him at his side after qualifying 3rd on the grid.

Yeah, Michael. Feel that Hammy love right there.

This is the Kaiser’s first appearance in the Top 3 since 2006. This is also the first time since 2006 that my mom tuned in for the presser. Happy woman, she was.

In other breaking news, a fire broke out in the Lotus hospitality unit due to a blown fuse from one of their refrigerators. This is what the team had to say:
“Our sympathy goes out to those who were first into the fire-damaged facility, as they will be rather smoke-fragranced for the remainder of the day. We may also see a few hungry looking Lotus F1 Team members wandering around the paddock, and possibly a certain driver hunting down alternative ice cream resources…”

Lotus says: "We Didn't Start the Fire." He did though.

The loss of all those MagnumTM ice cream bars and cans of CokeTM must have been more disheartening to Kimi than the five-place grid penalty he incurred for a gearbox change, which pushes him down to P10.

It's not too often that you see the Iceman show such a display of emotion.

Wait 'til he sees this:

Martin enjoying his loot.

The first of those to move up a place because of the Iceman’s penalty is reigning double world champion Sebastian Vettel. Seb V is two-for-two on P6 qualifying but will start the race 5th behind teammate Mark Webber.

Look at this gem. Not even photoshopped.

Seb is also the only driver in the top ten to qualify on hards. If he’s still got some luck leftover from Melbourne, it shouldn’t rain, at least not until he’s taken advantage of what should be a longer first stint.

At this moment, that looks unlikely. Then again, Malaysian weather is a shady she-dog and for all we know, the race could get cancelled altogether.

Onto the Ferrari camp, it was another dismal display from Felipe who qualified 12th whilst Fernando moves up to 8th.

You know something’s wrong when Rob Smedley praises a driver for being three to four tenths off his teammate’s pace. Either Rob is just really nice or he has already received orders to simply baby Felipe until he is abruptly let go in the not too distant future.

I wouldn’t bet against the latter especially when Sergio Perez, one of the candidates for the No. 2 seat at Ferrari, put in another good performance in his Sauber by qualifying right behind Fernando.

And as we reach the end of this post, we reach the end of the grid. Both HRT cars have made it inside the 107% window. Huzza!

That was quick. Not them obviously, but the life of my betting pool. I expected it to go on for longer. Alas, pay up bishes!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Tale of Six Champions— and Eighteen Other Drivers


That is the percentage of the grid made up of world champions. For the mathematically challenged, that’s six drivers out of twenty-four with at least one shiny star to their name.

Twenty-four is, of course, counting the HRTs who didn’t start the season-opener in Melbourne. When they will get to start a race remains a matter of mystery. Someone should start a betting pool for it.

I wouldn’t miss those (slow and sometimes stubborn) moving chicanes though, especially if we have races like today’s.

Jenson was on the button throughout the entire race. Good start, quick overtake of Lewis for the lead, skillful tire management throughout the race. Very Zen from Jenson.

In fact, it was quite Vettel-esque, right down to the celebratory finger-wagging.

"I tried to think of something new but I just can’t beat Seb’s finger."- Jenson 

Even with such a dominant victory however, there’s hope that the championship won’t be as one-sided as last year’s, especially since Lotus Renault and Mercedes didn’t really get to maximize both their qualifying and their race.

One team that did maximize its race was Red Bull, the defending champions.

Mark gave the Aussies something to cheer about as he challenged Lewis for the last step on the podium during the closing stages of the race. But If I were Lewis and I planned to sulk in public after finishing third in the first race of a 20-race season, I would rather have ceded the position to Mark for the following reasons:

  1. Mark can finally have a podium in a decade of racing in front of his home crowd (and they would love me for it),
  2. I can minimize the scrutinizing my facial expressions and body language will be subjected to (seriously, it gets analyzed far more than the Red Bull’s underside), and
  3. I can run straight to the loving arms of Nicole who, by the way, was looking very fresh… I noticed because the director was very generous with the WAGs coverage like I tuned in for them, but that’s F1.

There, there.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel looked high as a kite after bringing his RB8 up to 2nd after starting 6th. At times, he even looked happier than the race-winner. Conducted himself like one during the press conference too with answers approximately 150% longer than Jense’s (and 300% longer than Ham’s).

Some find it annoying. I find that, if you dig amongst the rubble, it’s a source of pure gold. Ones like:
“They said we were in the shit, then other people behind us, they were at the back of the shit.”

You know who found himself in the shiz, though? Michael Schumacher with a gearbox problem. Baby Schumi even touched on it, albeit erroneously:
“… he was very kind, he did exactly the same mistake I did a couple of laps earlier, so that was good.”

Déjà vu, I tell you. Didn’t Schumi bin it in Free Practice 3 a few minutes after Seb too? Only this time, Seb was lucky it wasn’t a race-ending excursion. He was likewise lucky with the Safety Car as he jumped the Hamster while avoiding what could have been a very, very messy tussle on-track. Can you imagine, Crash Kid 2010 vs. Crash Kid 2011 (one of them, at least)? Crash Kid 2012 nominee I’ll get back to later.

They're magically delicious!

But to be fair, champions make their own luck. He made what was arguably the overtake of the race. I know some people won’t believe that, so here’s the video:

In my best David Croft impression: NOTHING LUCKY ABOUT THAAAAAT!!!

Speaking of champions, two of the six made very commendable drives through the field.

First up is Fernando who showed again why he is considered one of, if not the best drivers on the grid by literally hauling his F2012 to 5th from 12th. El Nano put in a gutsy drive to save Ferrari’s face somewhat, unlike Felipe baby who just couldn’t stay cool. Instead, he opted for a steaming hot Brazilian tango with Bruno Senna that ended both of their races.

Next is Kimi Raikkonen who made up ten places to finish in 7th. I especially enjoyed the little Kimi vs. Kamui battle. Maybe Kimi should deliberately screw up qualifying in the following races so we can have more of that.

Didn’t I tell you Kimi’s fight back would be interesting? And that wasn’t the only interesting bit from him. See, unlike his Badminton buddy Vettel, the Iceman is a man of few words. The good thing about that is you don’t have to dig as hard to find gems like this one:

Or these from his NASCAR stint. Deciphering them must be a pain though, and on top of all the cuss words I would be getting, I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of that radio.

Now, on to the guys who haven’t been F1 champions, haven’t been close to being F1 champions, and perhaps, will never be F1 champions.

Harsh, I know, but not even four percent of drivers who make it to this level get their signatures engraved on the championship trophy. Doesn’t mean they can’t give us a good show. I mean, how crazy was that last lap?

Just with the two Toro Rosso drivers, it was already a battle, not just for track position, but already for Webber’s seat it seemed. Boy, those two are hungry. For a while, it looked like Jean-Éric Vergne, in his first-ever F1 race, was going to finish ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo. But Dan the Man, in front of his home fans, said yes he can. And he did put it in P9, two places ahead of his teammate.

Sauber was very solid as a team today with both drivers finishing in the points. Ferrari take note. Scratch that, I’m sure they already have seeing as the former outscored them by two points and is currently third in the standings. If this keeps happening, Ferrari might get tempted to supply them with B-grade engines.

Special mention to Sergio for a controlled drive to 8th after being handed that gearbox grid penalty that saw him start the race 22nd.

A Ferrari paycheck would be nice too, no?

Maybe the Ferrari Driver Academy member should already swap places with Felipe but I’m not sure Peter Sauber would agree to that arrangement; and as a Sauber fan, I say “Do not want!”

And finally, drum-roll please.

The first nominee for Crash Kid 2012 is…

Pastor Maldonado!

I know this may be a bit premature but yes, I am still bitter from RoGro’s early exit after I made up that cheer for him yesterday. I couldn’t even properly use it, except to will him out of the gravel trap.

And no, it’s not like Pastor crashed into Romain. In fact, Pastor raced very hard today and was on course towards a 6th place finish that would have earned him three points more than what Williams achieved throughout last year.

That was until he decided to bin it. On the last lap.

I imagine he had his angry face on afterwards.

That is NOT a good look.

To be frank, the entire Williams garage and everyone else back in the Grove factory must have looked like that too.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Four-Horse Race— Unless You’re The Prancing Kind

First off, congratulations to Lewis Hamilton for claiming the first pole of the 2012 season.

For a good chunk of Q3, I was actually going “WTF?!” at the seven-tenths advantage he had. I just thought that that was, to use one of the Hamster’s favorite adjectives, “massive.”

That did go down to a 0.152 by the end of the session thanks to Jenson’s efforts to give Macca their first front row lock-out since the 2009 European GP, but still, Lewis put the hammer down around Melbourne Park today.

U Can't Touch This

Go, go, RoGro, go!

That is to be my new cheer for this season. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Romain Grosjean was the surprise of the session for me today after putting his Renault/Lotus/Lotus-Renault(???) into P3.

I would have been more supportive from the get-go had he kept that awesome nest-hair he used to have.

The RoGro 'Fro

I mean, how awesome was that? He was like a non-knife-wielding Sideshow Bob!

Romain & His Evil Cartoon Counterpart

I suppose it added a couple of kilos too though, which probably explains his poor showing in 2009.

But this is 2012, and he is quickly showing that he is not to be overshadowed by his champion teammate, the ever-eloquent Kimi Raikkonen.

Speaking of which, remember how Kimi was asleep 30 minutes before his first race way back in 2001?

I honestly believe he was still asleep 30 minutes INTO today’s qualifying session to end up in 18th.

Look at all the flocks Kimi gives.

Remember also, however, Suzuka 2005, when the Iceman started 17th and fought his way to victory. I’m not saying he’ll do the same, but this should be very interesting.

As for the Bulls, a third row lock-out it is, with Mark ahead of the defending champ. Seb just wasn’t on it today, and I guess it must suck to not be on the front row, which was practically his home away from home last year.

I’m blaming it on the very plain-sounding name he gave his RB8. After the likes of Kate's Dirty Sister, Luscious Liz, Randy Mandy and Kinky Kylie, we have, wait for it…


Abbey?! It sounds nice, yeah, but given this year’s car with its beautifully sculpted nose, I’d have gone for Barbra, Buxom Barbra.

The BaRBra 

So, Seb, please consider that when a chassis change goes your way. If you do use it, I will accept donations in return (even a tour of the garage will do).

Finally, a time for reflection.

Back when I started watching F1 as a kid, I remember being exposed to countless Michael Schumacher victories. I could then already recognize the German and Italian national anthems because of it.

Oh how times have changed.

On the one hand, with Michael and Nico starting tomorrow in 4th and 7th respectively, I’m glad that Mercedes seems to have finally produced a car capable of challenging for wins. I was never really a Schumi fan (don’t tell my dad or it’ll break his heart), but I can’t deny how beautifully nostalgic it would be to see the old guy on the top step of the podium again.

On the other hand, Ferrari’s current state is just… unfortunate. And that’s putting it mildly for such a prestigious team. There’s Williams, yes… but that was a bit more gradual, like that Angela Bofill song, the one that goes:
Break it to me gently,
If ya have to, then tell me lies
Break it to me gently,
At least leave me with my pride"

Fernando qualified in 12th with Felipe a further four places down. So far this week too, both have already parked their cars’ shaky butts on the kitty litter; which is funny, because the F2012’s a dog. Get it?

Ok, bad joke aside. Would it be premature to suggest a new logo, like a 2012 special edition logo?

It's a dog, and not in a Randy Jackson kind of way.

And if those pictures still don’t make it obvious how frustrating it must be to drive the F2012, let Fred show you:

In fact, I reckon a swap of helmets is in order. Heikki’s for Fernando’s. It would go well with the Ferrari Red and what must be the general sentiment of the Tifosi at this moment.

Angry Alonso
See, even the thickness of their brows is the same.

Hello World!

You know you’re crazy for F1 when your body wakes up just in time for it.

That’s exactly what happened to me mere minutes before Free Practice 1 and then Free Practice 3. I should thank a higher being but to keep this blog PC, I’ll thank my body clock instead. See, I did not set any alarms. I just woke up.

Greetings from yours truly!
Then after Qualifying today, I had some familial obligations to get to that felt like they took forever because I would rather be checking out the forums. My mind was in Melbourne Park, mulling over the events of the day.

And that is how this blog began: as an act of whimsy, and perhaps a release too after being dragged away from F1 for several hours.

I also like long walks on the beach, candlelight dinners and manipulating people… in photos.