Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mark Webber Injured in Bike crash

The news of the day is that Red Bull racing driver Mark Webber was badly injured in a bicycle crash in Tasmania, Australia yesterday. The Australian collided head on with an SUV while running a charity bike tour of the island and suffered multiple fractures to his right leg and some minor scrapes. The event in question is the 250 km Mark Webber pure Tasmaia challenge, a multi-discipline sporting event. Webber underwent surgury to reset the leg and is expected to make a full recovery. It is unclear as to whether or not this will affect his upcoming season, but both Webber and the team are expecting him to be in the cockpit for the start of the new season, although he will miss a considerable amount of testing time.

Mark Webber is a spirited driver and I can't imagine him not being ready for the start of the season, unless there are complications. These things are freak accidents that can happen to anyone, and he was doing something for charity, which is admirable. He has been one of the most unfortunate drivers in F1 recently, having always managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, including a move to Williams as the team was in decline and missing out on a Renault seat just as they were in their prime. At 32 his odds of winning a world title appear to be slimming, and with young Hotshot Seb Vettel joining him at Red Bull he may just end up being number two driver should a championship challenge materialize.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The final nail in the coffin of the Canadian Grand prix

WARNING: The following blog entry contains mature subject matter and language that may not be appropriate for all readers, reader discretion advised.

Let's start right off with one sentence: Fuck you Bernie Ecclestone!

Now ha we know where this is going I need to get into the specifics. This week a group of representatives of the Montreal Grand Prix were in Europe to meet with the Fuhrer of Formula One Bernie Ecclestone to hammer out a deal. The figures were for an improved dollar amount for the next few years, ever increasing. Apparantly Mr. Wankerstone turned it down flatly, refusing to budge without a $175M bond to guarantee payment over the next five years and fees starting at $31M canadian increasing. The people representing Montreal had thought that there was going to be negotiation not just callous stonewalling by that cum sucking little 78 year old twatface but apparantly Bernard Echlestone didn't want anything to do with reason, instead he just wanted a way to either suck the Montreal organizers dry or take races to far away countries who don't give a fuck about formula one, all while denying some of the most fervent F1 fans in the world a chance to see their heroes in action. From what I understand the Montreal organizers put forward a fair package that was in line with most of the European races but Douchebag McAssmunch wanted no part of it.

What pisses me off the most about this is not that Dickhead Ecclestone wanted such a high dollar amount, it is that he refused to negotiate knowing that the Canadian GP organizers could not afford his demands, as if he intentionally wanted to cancel the Canadian GP. If he wants to shit on his best fans well then he can just go take his money and his greedy little ass and never come back. Notice to Canadian customs, flag this little twerp and never let him in the country for gross economic damages to the country. If he wants to be an asshole then he can be an asshole with other countries because it won't happen in our backyard.

Fuck You Bernie Ecclestone

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Franck Montagny

Former Renault F1 test driver and Super Aguri racer has been testing recently with Andretti-Green Racing's IRL team. While this may not mean anything in regards to their 2009 driver line-up, it could mean something about their testing and setup work. Montagny has alot of experience in many forms of motor racing, and most recently was racing sports cars in the ALMS and has lots of experience as a test driver. AGR is most likely using his testing expertise to work on setups and other data for the upcoming season as one of their main shortcomings this year was setup. TOny Kanaan cannot do all the setup work alone and although Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti are slowly learning, they still have a long way to go. Montagny appears to be a very good fit for them and he may be auditioning for a job at another IRL team with AGR backing, seeing as the silly season is far from over.

Montagny would be a very good fit for a smaller team, and with Ryan Hunter-Reay appearing to be the number one candidate to replace Helio Castroneves at Penske next year should Helio not be able to race due to his spot of legal bother, one could legitimately see Montagny move over to Rahal-Letterman Racing to replace Hunter-Reay. Montagny's setup abilities would be invaluable to a small team like Rahal-Letterman and he could score some very strong results, most likely on the road courses but you never know.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is it time to rethink F1's eastern shift?

As many of you know (and repeatedly gripe about), F1 has been adding more and more races in Asia. First came Malaysia in 1999, followed China and Bahrain in 2004, and this year Singapore. In the next few years we are expecting to see India and South Korea join the party, paying exorbitant fees that no European or North American promoter can afford to pay, all this for the privelege of dealing with Bernie Ecclestone's repeated demands for night races and later starting times for European television while taking away races held in that very market. Normally it would sound like daft business sense to keep doing this, but the Ecclemeister is pocketing the 50 million bucks per year and is generally happy. Unfortunately these promoters, usually governments, are nowhere near able to make any semblance of a profit, but they have thus far shut up and paid, leaving the bitching and moaning to the Europeans.

However things appear to be changing as the Chinese Authorities are starting to balk at having to pay Bernie so much money for a race that the locals don't care about. The empty grandstands this year are a testament to this indifference on the part of the Chinese people, even after the organizers gave away tons of free tickets and bussed them in for free just to save a little bit of face. Now they are grumbling about having to pay so much and are considering the possibility of letting their contract lapse at the end of 2010. The empty grandstands are a similar sight in Malaysia and Bahrain, and the novelty of the race in Singapore is sure to wear off in a couple of years. The Chinese GP has been a financial disaster for the city of Shanghai and I don't suspect that the city of Kuala Lumpur is reaping any great financial rewards for their race, unlike the Canadian GP which is huge for the city, these Grands Prix go largely ignored by the local populous.

If F1 is going to remain relevant in the places where the most ardent supporters live it will have to start bringing the races back to these fans, not taking them away and giving them to people who for the most part don't give two shits about it. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call to the FOM people that their asian expirement is not working and should be stopped before more cities waste hundreds of millions of dollars on race tracks that will not have any chance of making a profit.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Toro Rosso dreams and realities.

Scuderia Toro Rosso are in the process of deciding who their drivers are for 2009 and will be testing a bunch of them in the coming weeks. The most obvious two contenders are Sebastien Bourdais, who raced for the team this year to mixed results and up and coming Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi, but apparantly Gerhard Berger has contacted other drivers as well. Takuma Sato is the most notable of these drivers contacted to actually accept the offer after his old job at Super Aguri collapsed under a pile of non-paid sponsor obligations and could be a good fit, while the names of Bruno Senna and Rubens Barichello have been thrown into the mix, depending on which one Honda choses. One name that was apparantly contacted may surprise many is the name of Juan-Pablo Montoya.

JPM had a pretty good F1 career with Williams and McLaren before falling out with Ron Dennis and taking his toys and going to NASCAR, where he has wasted little time in criticizing F1 whenever possible. He has called F1 boring and he is much happier in NASCAR, depsite being a race winner in F1 and a midfielder in NASCAR. This it seems quite unrealistic that he would ever accept to return to Formula One with a midfield team and it seems surprising that anyone in F1 would actually want him, given that he had seemingly nuked the hell out of all bridges back to this class of motorsports. While one might praise Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost for their optimism of landing a big name like Montoya, one can't help but feel that it is just a lame attempt at scoring some cheap publicity in Latin America for Red Bull with the idea of seeing JPM in a Red Bull sponsored car as they must have known that there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell Montoya would agree to enter a shootout for a seat with an average team. Juan Pablo rather unpolitely said no thanks to the offer of a test and will continue to do waht he does in NASCAR and complain and moan the way he did in F1. I for one am not disappointed to hear that he won't be back as he is nothing more than a big (figuratively and more recently, literally) whiner.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What really happened to Roth Racing?

Roth Racing has been in the IRL in some capacity since 2004 as a rich toy for owner/"driver" Marty Roth to play race car driver with. At first it was an Indy only thing with Roth qualifying for both the 2004 and 2005 500's in 32nd and 29th respectively as essentially a field filler. He did not finish either year but it did not deter him and the determined, if not slightly delusional, Roth pressed on and ran a few selected ovals in both 2006 and 2007 with a best finish being 18th (in a 19 car field). Re-unification came at the same time that Roth decided to go full time with a two car effot and the influx of talent from Champ Car exposed Roth's shortcomings in a drastic way as the 50 year old Toronto native was well off the pace, especially on the road courses, and quickly became the ridicule of the paddock for his on-track antics. His on-track antics were quickly matched by off-track shuffles in his second car as he unmercilessly fired rookie Jay Howard before the Indy 500 and replaced him with veteran John Andretti. The move appeared to have worked as Andretti put in some very good performances in the next few races, all ovals, before he had a particularly lousy weekend at Richmond and he himself was canned by Roth. The firing of Andretti was also the end of the line for the second Car as ROth decided to focus on his own efforts, which were dismal at best. Apart from a brief return of Howard at Watkin's Glen, it was Roth all the way in a very painful way. Little sponsorship and shitty driving did not appear to deter Roth as he planned for his 2009 assault, but then something went wrong......

What actually happened is a bit of a mystery, but what we do know is that Roth decided to close his doors because he though that the IRL wanted to revoke his license and he said, in no uncertain terms, that he was unhappy at this decision in an interview with Norris McDonald of the Toronto Star. It appeared black and white, the IRL was fed up with Roth's driving and revoked his license, sounds logical right? Well as it turns out not exactly. Roth apparantly was not actually contacted by anyone at the IRL confirming his lost license, and there was no offer of him doing "a bunch of ovals" as Roth claimed they said they offered him. The story goes that he heard he had lost his racing license through a third party. This was confirm a few days ago when someone from the IRL contacted McDonald saying that they had never told Roth that they were taking his license and they wanted to work with him to get sponsors. This does not exactly sound like the IRL was trying to prevent Roth from racing now does it. Whatever did happen, Brian Barnhart or another top IRL official should come out and actually tell us what is going on. I don't necessarily want to see Marty back in a car, but it seems rather silly that he would have shut down his team over hearsay, Roth is not an idiot. Believe what you want about this, but it seems all rather bizarre and might be a convenient excuse for Roth to pull out of the IRL and keep his dignity by trying to play the victim card. I will be watching this story closely and will post anything else.

I know that it seems a little trivial compared to the bigger news of the week like the loss of surfers paradise and the speculation surrounding the future of Helio Castroneves, but someone has to talk about it right?

Oh, and by the way, I plan on posting more often, probably daily or every second day from now on unless I announce otherwise.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

News and Rumour roundup and analysis

Hi there folks, here is a quick roundup of the driver and team news and rumours from F1 and the IRL of the past couple of days.

We will start with F1 and the big piece of driver news was at Renault where after months of speculation as to potential trigger happy driver changes that Flavio Briatore likes, what happened.... Nothing!!! They have re-signed Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet for another year. The Alonso signing is not surprising but there were some eyebrows raised about Piquet. For all intents and purposes Nelsinho was blown out of the weeds by Alonso and his only result of note was a lucky second place at Hockenheim. The rest of the time he was off the pace of Alonso and very accident prone. He did show improvement as the season wore on, but not nearly to the level that Fernando did. I guess the Renault philosophy this time around was the better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

Honda has still yet to confirm their drivers but Nick Fry has hinted that Jenson Button at least will be back. Keep in mind that these days Fry has no authority in this matter, but he still is a bigwig at the team and knows alot. The team are also planning to test Bruno Senna as a possible replacement for one of the drivers, likely the aging Barichello. Barichello has been the better driver for much of the year, but he is 36 and not getting any younger. That team needs some youthful energy soon at unfortunately neither Rubens or Jenson have it.

Moving stateside for the IRL and there are plenty of rumours going around, some credible, some not so, here are the big three that I have heard thus far.

The first has to do with three time champ Sam Hornish Jr, who has had a dreadful season on the track in NASCAR this year. is reporting that he may return to the IRL for next year as he is unhappy in stock cars. This is unlikely to happen because for one he is making assloads of Money in NASCAR for finishing 20th while he could theoretically be a winner in the IRL again, the money would be significantly lower. Secondly is that there are no top drives available for 2009 unless someone runs a third car or Helio Castroneves can't drive, which does not appear to be the case. He will not return to the IRL for peanuts with a midfield team, and Roger Penske is not going to let him join Ganassi or AGR without a fight, especially as the captain has invested significant amounts of money in his stock car adventure. Chances of seeing Hornish in an Indycar fulltime next year are slim to none, but we were not expecting to see Dario Franchitti back either........

The second has to do with KV racing and their ever bleak future. An article on reports that Aussie Vinyards owner Craig Gore has decided to back out of motor racing for family reasons. This coincidentally comes at the same time the negotiations over the future of Surfers Paradise are happening. If this is true then it will be a big blow to KV racing, but not necessarily a fatal one. Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser are smart men and have a pretty good racing team with very good drivers, potentially an attractive proposition for any potential sponsors. Both men are also well connected and very wealthy and will probably have the funds to start the season sponsorless while courting sponsors. While this may not be a fatal blow to KV racing, it may be a fatal blow to the surfers paradise race. Here is the Link:

There are rumours floating around that Sarah Fisher is trying to get sponsorship for a full season next year and drive on the ovals herself and hire Darren Manning for the road and street courses plus a second car for Indy. If this happens it would be great, but I imagine that the odds of that are happening are quite slim, although not out of the question. Sarah is a charismatic woman and a pretty good race car driver and could very well convince Dollar General to fork out the cash for a full season. I will believe it when I see it, but I hope it happens.

That's all for now folks. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments section and I will answer them as soon as possible. I may look into getting a tagboard for Q & A, but I don't know if they are free and I don't know much about HTML, so if you can help me with that as well please do so in the comments!!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Race Report: It ain't over till it's over


The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix can be summed up by that one single word really as Lewis Hamilton pinched the world championship from Felipe Massa at literally the final corner of the final lap of the final race. It was heartbreaking for Massa who drove an absolutely brilliant race up front to comfortably win his home race in the wet, something Felipe is not supposed to be good at. It was sensational in the minor points as the changing weather threw everything for a loop all race and in the end, the world championship was effectively won by Toyota, not exactly the way the team from Cologne aspire to be in the championship headlines.

Interlagos is an interesting place. It is bumpy, it is twisty, it is a place where you can overtake, the facilities are considered to be the worst in F1, yet is has soul, it has character, and the fans just go nuts. The Brazilian fans have had a long dry spell of homegrown title contenders until now, as the last Brazilian champion was Ayrton Senna in 1991, but they are an optimistic lot and with Felipe Massa able to be competitive at home (something Rubens Barichello never managed in his six years at Ferrari) they really have something to celebrate. Even though the Brazilian GP usually features crappy weather they go out to the track and celebrate, it is an all-day party in Sao Paulo and that's why Mr. Ecclestone has extended the race's contract until 2014, although it may have to do with a tidy cheque being signed by the local governments..........

The race started in the wet as a downpour came literally two minutes before the scheduled start. This threw everyone for a loop and the start was delayed by ten minutes as the teams scrambled to get full wet tyres. When the lights finally did go out all the men at the front got through cleanly, there were no unsporting shenanigans going on but at the back there was trouble as Nico Rosberg rammed the back of the retiring David Coulthard, pitching the scot into a spin. Unfortunately for DC this spin put him right in the path of Kaz Nakajima who had no choice but to run into him. DC was out on the spot and Kaz had to pit for repairs and the safety car came out, not only for this little mess but for Nelson Piquet, who crashed of his own accord at the next corner.

The safety car came on lap four and we went racing again as the track dried out. Pitstops for dry tyres came around lap 10 with Massa maintaining his lead, despite a heart-stopping wobble on lap 13. Hamilton found himself stuck behind Jarno Trulli, who had a spin on his own and then rather cruelly punted Seb Bourdais into a spin, but due to pitstop sequence Lewis was still in the 5th-6th place range, with Massa motoring off into the distance at the front. It looked really touch and go and the naysayers were sharpening their knives at the prospect of seeing Hamilton lose a world title in the last race again.

The only man that looked really capable to catch Massa at the front was Fernando Alonso, whose second half to the season has been truly remarkable when you consider where they were at the start of the season. He could not hang on to Massa in the end and finished a credible second in the race. The order shuffled itself here and there throughout the race, with everything coming to a head with 10 laps to go, that's when the rain came back. This has been a season with numerous exciting wet races, making a wet finale a fitting end and on lap 62 the raindrops returned. At that point the order was Massa, Alonso, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Vettel. Everyone pitted between laps 65 and 67 with the exception of the Toyota team, who kept their drivers on dry tyres. The immediate effect of that decision was that Timo Glock was promoted to fourth with Hamilton and Vettel nose to tail in fifth and sixth. If the result held Hamilton would be champ, but there was more to come.

The drama really came with just two laps to go. That's when traffic held Hamilton up just enough to allow Vettel to get on his tail and then at the end of the lap Lewis ran wide, allowing Vettel to sneak through into fifth. It looked as though it was game over for Hamilton and McLaren. Hamilton was sixth, tied with Massa but set to lose again. The fanboys were weeping, the naysayers were rejoicing and the Brazilians were dancing, but it did not end there. Massa was cruising but Hamilton was desperately trying to pass Vettel. Unbeknown to Massa, the Toyotas were in trouble. They were 18 seconds off the pace on the final lap and the Vettel-Hamilton duel closed dramatically on Timo Glock. At the final corner they were right there with them and at the final corner Glock went wide allowing Vettel and Hamilton to sneak through. Massa was already celebrating, Ferrari assumed they had won the title and the Brazilians were in ecstasy. Not even Hamilton was sure he won and most of the commentators had announced Massa as champion until the timing boards flashed Hamilton in fifth. They had to look back on the video to realize that Glock had not been lapped he had been passed for position and Hamilton was world champion. The Ferrari team went from delerium to devastation in a few short seconds as reality sunk in, Felipe was second in the world championship.

You couldn't write a better script with the best writers Hollywood has and it was a fitting end to a controversial, an exciting and a topsy turvy world championship. In this race we did not have any political bullshit, we had two honourable competitors battling on the track, the way it is supposed to be. Felipe Massa was honourable in defeat, he took it like a man while Hamilton was respectful to the team and to Massa. This is what Formula One should be. It should not be about backroom dealing, about harsh penalties, about conspiracies, it is a sport and one that should be enjoyed as such, a concept that so many in formula one can't seem to grasp. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton, a worthy world champion if ever there was one. Had Massa won the title I would have said the exact same thing as he truly impressed me today and his class in the news conference and on the podium has been wonderful for the sport. If F1 can put aside the bickering and the political garbage for just one second we will realize just what an exciting time this can be for the sport. We have three world champions in the sport and a fourth driver who is championship Material right now, plus we have some exciting young drivers coming through. The days of the big Red Machine are over and we are back to the good old days of true competition and close title chases.

Three stars of the race
1. Felipe Massa
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Sebastien Vettel

Three Jean-Denis Deletraz's of the race (hard to pick because everyone was well behaved
1. Nico Rosberg
2. Nelson Piquet
3. Jarno Trulli