I watch too much racing. What have I been watching over the last three weeks?
Before I answer that I’d like to note that I missed this blog’s 2nd birthday (or ‘blogaversary’) on August 5th, I’m very surprised I missed it as last year I had a birthday logo and everything. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and I hope you’re enjoying the blog. I’d also like to wish a happy 4th blogaversary to Alianora La Canta – apologies for not offering a question this year and I’ll make up for it on the 5th blogaversary!
Here are the races I watched between July 21st and August 6th – I’ll cover last week’s live races next time.
Formula 1 – German GP 2010 *live on BBC1*
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I thought Ferrari were good now. I thought now the Evil Axis of Todt/Brawn/Schumacher had moved on, the ‘New Ferrari’ of Domenicali & friends were all happy and smiley and open and ready to race fairly with the respect of their peers. Hah! Yeah right, how naïve of me. I’ve pictured the result as it should’ve been..
Aside from the team orders, the race was essentially decided on the first corner when Vettel tried to squeeze Alonso against the wall after a bad start, but turned it into a big push to the right and narrowly avoided collision. The delay to both allowed Massa into the lead. This race showed that Ferrari’s pace has improved significantly and they are now a factor for race wins, they managed to hold off the previously-dominant Red Bulls with apparent ease. Hamilton and Button finished well too, they haven’t been quite as fast all the time but they’ve posted good results all year.
Formula 1 – Hungarian GP 2010 *live on BBC1*
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I was at my Mum’s for this one, which was quite embarrassing because it was a crap race. When I watch with people who never usually see racing I want it to be a good one to show the sport in a good light – when they ask why I watch it I can point at the screen. Why did it have to be Hungary? Of course this meant I was without access to my usual online accoutrements for watching F1 in particular, and live racing in general. I’m referring to things like Tweetdeck, the Sidepodcast live comments, the F1.com live timing and the BBC’s live tracker which shows the position of each car in real time.
Webber’s strategy saw him stay out during the Safety Car period when many had pitted, and he put in a dominant performance to build a gap on the field. He was aided by Vettel’s strange behaviour behind the SC attracting a penalty, you have to wonder how close Seb would’ve run him but to me it seemed Mark had stepped up a gear that day and once he was ahead he was untouchable.
I reckon Mark is ‘doing a Jenson’ – that is, he’s been getting better as a driver for years in midfield cars almost unnoticed by many people, and now he’s able to exploit a good car to make a run for the title at the expense of a perhaps more-fancied team-mate. Jenson did it to Rubens, Mark looks like he’s starting to do it to Sebastian. Good on him, he’s got my backing.
I think the points battles and the drama and incidents mid-race are more interesting than the actual racing competition at the moment, though you can argue F1 has always been that way. It certainly is a tight points battle in both contests – remember in the winter when everyone said the Constructors’ fight would be settled by July? It could still go any of three ways!
Very little else happened in the race, the only other thing of note was Michael Schumacher attempting to kill Rubens Barrichello and the team personnel and marshalls stationed on the pitwall. Michael on very worn medium tyres was travelling several seconds per lap slower than a charging Rubens, who was on a fairly new set of soft tyres and trying to make up for ground lost with what turned out to be a poor strategy. Given the blood between them you can appreciate Rubens wasn’t going to back down – a facet I love about the modern Rubens, he’s still the same warm gentle guy but in a racing car against Schumacher he’ll keep his foot in to the last. Needless to say, Schumacher swerved violently to the right just as Barrichello was passing him on that side. Bully-boy tactics that have scared off many in the past, Rubens has had enough of the man and he wasn’t passing up the opportunity of having a superior car than Mikey. Rubens kept his foot down, moving to the pit exit rather than backing off, and was heading for the grass effectively saying to Michael, “if you don’t give me room I’m going to have an accident”. Michael backed off and gave him the room. Score one to Rubens. You can bet those old demons have been slain once and for all, and Michael now has that marker against him. That it was done in a Williams made it all the sweeter, for me at least and I believe many others (not least Sir Frank).
IndyCar Series – Edmonton *live on IndyCar.com*
One of the most uneventful races of the entire IndyCar year, or even the entire racing year. I am struggling to think of anything noteworthy that happened prior to the controversial incidents of the final laps, perhaps I should take notes!
On the final restart of the race just a few laps from the end – and I must say, this Safety Car for debris seemed like a ‘phantom yellow’ to bunch up the scattered field for the finish, we certainly weren’t shown any debris on the web feed – as the field took the green flag Helio Castroneves took the defensive inside line into the first corner, while most of the rest of the pack took the normal racing line on the outside (if not all of the pack – I can’t recall if someone lower in the order jinked out). All fine and dandy in every series on the planet, the leader has the choice of where to place his car and as long as he’s not weaving across the track, changing line or chopping across the nose of the guy behind he is entitled to do so. This is no longer the case if you’re in IndyCar. Helio was given a penalty for blocking, which he either refused to serve or didn’t have to time to do so while the point was being argued.
It later transpired that the officials draw an imaginary line through each corner and if you deviate from the racing line, you are deemed to be blocking. You’re only allowed to do it if you’re attempting a pass on the driver ahead. Absolutely crazy. It basically moves the leader to one side and waves the 2nd-placed car through. It prevents the chasing driver from trying to force the leader into an outbraking error, forcing him to go wide on the exit and then executing the classic switchback to take the lead. That’s one of the classic hallmark moves of racing and it is now banned in IndyCar. Just as the series looks like it is building solid foundations for the future, it goes and pulls a stunt like this. Instant loss of credibility.
MotoGP – Sachsenring 2010 *live on BBC2*
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Aside from a large accident involving Randy de Puniet I don’t remember much about this one either. Randy made an error in practice/qualifying, got patched up and started the race anyway, as these crazy motorbike riders like to do. The risk is that you crash again and make it worse. Randy crashed again – big time. Cue a red flag while he was recovered, hopefully he’ll get well again in time. This being several weeks ago now, he may well be already well on the way.
One thing I do remember is a damaged and recovering Valentino Rossi basically doing the same thing as Randy, in danger of crashing and making it worse – yet after initially falling behind the pace he somehow managed to catch and race hard a perfectly healthy Casey Stoner who was giving it the full beans. The two traded places for a few laps before Stoner came off best, but with those injuries Rossi should’ve been higher than 8th (in this depleted field) if he should’ve been riding at all. Dani Pedrosa won the race.
MotoGP – Laguna Seca 2010 *live on BBC2*
A couple of years ago this venue, Stoner and Rossi fought another epic battle and hopes were high of something similar, if not involving those two then perhaps Pedrosa and Lorenzo. It was not to be. Pedrosa led comfortably until he crashed, which left Lorenzo to take a relatively straightforward win from Stoner. There were a string of bikes up next and these swapped places but for some reason my attention was lost. Rossi won that battle and took the final podium spot. Lorenzo leads the points by a quite ridiculous margin.
GP2 Series – Istanbul Park 2009
I’m so far behind on GP2 it’s not funny. Okay, maybe it is.. I’d recently set the goal of at least completing the 2009 season before I saw the 2010 series for real at Spa at the end of the month, but it looks like I’m not going to achieve that aim.
The Feature race had a fair amount of action, there was a great moment when race leader Nico Hulkenberg was challenged by Luca Fillipi at the final sequence of corners, only for the pair to run wide and Vitaly Petrov drove around the pair of them. Meanwhile Andi Zuber took 3rd in the process – Petrov took saw it coming a mile off and took a wide line into the corner. Quite a lot of attrition in this race for some reason.
It’s funny watching a junior series when the participants are in F1 now.. Petrov ran Parente off the road briefly, and Chandhok had a very slow start from 5th to fall to the back where he set about running a string of fastest laps. Hulkenberg put a superb move on Villa near the end, really well executed – thought of course Nico had only dropped back due to a problem in the pits. A dominant performance from Petrov once he’d got in front.
The Sprint race started in complete madness with cars dicing everywhere on lap one, contact and spins in turn 1 and elsewhere, Chandhok’s car failed to start properly again, and Grosjean moving from 26th to 12th in two laps. Crazy stuff! Settled down somewhat after that until Grosjean and Nunes got into a battle for 11th, and Parente caught Mortara for 9th. Neither managed to make the pass though.