Saturday, March 22, 2008

Qualifying - Round 2 Sepang, Malaysia

Good friday wishes to all and happy holi to all Indians around the world..

I missed the qualifying last night(1 AM again!!) due to lack of sleep and partial hysteria(LOL). But I did record it and watched it over and over again. Some of my comments -
* the format just sucks, particularly the time interval in the final part. Look what it did,

Remember Massa was handed a penalty of getting his best lap invalidated in a similar incident in Monaco, 06. Wonder what positions would the McLarans have been if this was again the case, but then, now Truli is 3rd and Hiedfeld, Kubica following the top 3, I am happy :)

* Truli again showed that he is a great qualifying driver, wonder if the new Toyota will run through the race and get the man some points,

* What happened to Nico Mr. Rosberg? I know he was keeping his fingers crossed because Williams were not so good in straights and it translated to his 16th place on the grid.

* Vettel proving his smooth driving (anyone watching his flying laps and last left hander turning would agree), and given a better car, he'd give the top drivers a run for money

* The scarlet bullets showing their anger from the dismal Aussie performance by hitting the top 2 spots

It was interesting one and I liked it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Live Blogging for Saturday Practice in Sepang

I am one of the producers of Keith's live blog.(

Hot, humid, tricky and unpredictable - all that Malaysia is

The first two Friday practices seemed to give a trailer to what could happen in Sepang the coming weekend. Earlier in the day when the track was fresh, the cars in the likes of Toyota, Renault and STR were all facing tough time in the last left hander before the finish straight. People ran wide, slid in tarmac and grass, and even broke the whole car. Yes, I am talking about David Coulthard. His RBR chassis is under scrutiny and the Stewards, having met with the team principal and technical representative of Red Bull Racing have requested a report verifying that the integrity of the suspension is such that the car should not be deemed ‘of dangerous constructions’ under Art 2.3 of the 2008 Formula One Technical Regulations. We all know Adrian Newey is aggressive in his design and never compromises for anyone. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a show stopper for the team, and probably it’s younger brother, Gerhard Berger’s Toro Rosso. Vettel’s brake failure is another act to be taken into consideration when forming the Fantasy teams.
I like Webber and I still think he can win races with his current form given a good car. His winter testing times were good and the hands of Mr.Newey have created a good competitor. But who can put money on this man who eats, sleeps and lives with ‘bad luck’?

The scarlet bullets of Kimi and Felipe were flexing their muscles really well, before the champion’s stopped. The initial comment was that his car couldn’t comprehend the wall and track (don’t have a clue of what it meant!), but Ferrari has come out and said that it was because it ran out of fuel. Second time in seven days and I am looking at the shade of Tifosi flag getting dimmer.
Renault had a better time than the previous week (13th and 19th) and ended up with Alonso’s 6th and Piquet’s 7th during the first stint and 14th and 15th during the second one. Is Piquet finally getting a grip of Formula 1 or is Flavio going to be owner of a one man team again, we’ll have to wait another day to tell.
I really like the young drivers in Vettel and Nico and the new Bourdais and Glock. Although Glock wasn’t fancy in his showoff, he showed he can be smooth and composed. Bourdais should be praised for his result in Albert Park, but 18th in FP1 and no time during FP2 will not fill one a smallest pinch of confidence. Nico was great with soft tires during the closing and cloudy stages of FP2, and was Vettel, who once placed himself 3rd, before being bumped down by a McLaran and Button. I wish Nico’s car was powerful enough to put a great performance like last week.
Where are the Bimmers? Mr. Theissen should be working on something special for allowing his cars run a lot lower than what the world (I included) expected. I will wait for qualifying to feel confident that they have closed their gap with front runners. 8 and 13 are not great ones, but we all know that BMW works on strategies and race techniques during Fridays and only in Saturday’s practice they work on the speed for qualifying. I’d be happy if Kubica could put a similar show here, placing his F1.08 between the McLarans, speaking of which I think has the best downforce and handling in the pack.
If Mr.Duesmann has done a good job with powertrain, he should aim to put the F1.08 in front of the McLarans and the Italian Rockets.
Italian cheer once again went to Fisichella, putting his Force on 9th in FP2. Ok, I am an Indian and so will support Force India. But I am also a realist and will be very happy if his or Adrian’s would be permitted to run in the 21st minute of qualifying.
Not much to speak about Super Aguri’s and the Jurassic ‘David Coulthard’, who just left the track and headed to his hotel posting no time. I think DC has lived way too long without stepping on the podium since his 3rd place finish last year in Monaco (remember the Superman picture folks?) Looking forward to Saturday’s practice and qualifying.

P.S., thank you Keith for letting us know of Grand Prix+ I just bought the subscription.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Albert Park - the weekend

What a weekend? F1 is better this time around and thank God for turning on some nerves in the brains of FIA. The whole weekend, starting from 1st practice session on Friday till the penultimate lap when Kovi slowed down allowing Alonso to get one more point, I enjoyed every bit of it.
Talking about the 1st 2 practices on Friday, I thought the 1st one was used by the teams to gauge their performance, and the 2nd was used to play around with fuel strategies. With Kimi and Lewis heading the times, the surprises were the high finish of Webber and bad performance by Nick ( I don’t know why I like ‘quick’ Nick still! I have him in my Fantasy F1 team). Fisichella was driving again for the same team after 1997, 2002,2003 (Jordan, Midland, Spyker and now Force India). This was their 50th start.
The cars were just sliding all over the chicanes, notably Adrian who spun more than once, Fisichella in the 2nd practice. Lewis himself slid his McLaran as though he was driving a street car.
Come Saturday and the last practice session was very surprising, the bimmers were on top. Kubica with 1.25.613, I was just thinking what’s gotten into him? I love the BMW street cars, albeit lower than the Ferraris and Porsches. Nothing would give me more pleasure if both them bimmer cars finished in podium. Nico and the two Red Bulls were also very strong. I was just waiting for the qualifying to start.

The following were my favorite qualifying scenes
• Kubica’s passionate driving that made BMW match McLaran, he’d have been on top if only he had not slid on the last turn
• Fuel pressure problems with Ferrari that made Kimi start from 16 (he would eventually go to 15th due to double penalty for Glock)
• Webber losing his right rear brake not allowing him to clock a time in Q2
• Vettel, Truli and Nico’s results (10, 6, 7)
• Nelson Piquet’s appalling driving
What was Piquet thinking? Did he purposefully do this so that he started from the same position as his dad, 30 years ago? I don’t think so. Flavio has to do something about this kid or else consider himself owner of a one-car team.

The build up to the race was excellent. Before I tuned to Speed TV, I was watching Australian Network 10 on SOPCast. The interviews with Ross Brawn , Barichello and the introductions by new drivers were good. I thought Brawn would be asked about his feelings on the color of the teams pants, no, the interviewer was not funny.
Barichello was asked about his reasons for jumping into Honda for which he quoted Senna telling him that Honda engines were the best he had driven. I thought this was one of the worst answers, coming from a man having his 251st F1 start. Brawn came into the team after the car’s design was over, even then, made good improvements with it. Barichello’s happiness was partly due to his experience in working with Brawn in Ferrari and partly because he knew the confusions with the team will lessen (he quoted that once last year he could hear the engineer on the radio asking him to come into the pits, and loud sounds behind the engineer asking him not to. I can understand the man, just tell the drivers exactly what he needs to hear, nothing more, nothing less).
Then the race coverage in Speed TV started.