Cucumber Castle

Cucumber Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the old saying goes, if you tangle with an HRT you’ll end up looking like a Marussia.

I have nothing but respect for Sebastian Vettel’s talent and achievements, but you have to wonder at the wisdom of him engaging in verbal jousting with Narain Karthikeyan.    Vettel might consider the Indian make-weight to be a “cucumber” following their Malaysian contretemps, but the World Champion is beginning to look like a prize turnip.

For the leading drivers, the likes of HRT are usually of no consequence, they are in a different race, if you could even call it that.  They are just the blur that you whiz past against a background of waved blue flags.  However, where the back and the front of the grid do come together, literally, history usually suggests that the best advice for the leading driver is to walk away and preserve his dignity.

Here are some “don’ts” for drivers at the sharp end who find themselves blunted by a slow coach:

Don’t threaten to end the other driver’s career.  Ron Dennis and Norbert Haug didn’t follow this advice after Enrique Bernoldi’s Arrows legitimately held up David Coulthard’s McLaren for lap after lap in the 2001 Monaco GP.  If a driver is no good he’ll disappear soon enough with no outside assistance from the likes of Dennis or Hough.  If he is any good he might just come back to bite you.

Don’t gesture to show your displeasure.  Andrea De Cesaris was leading the Long Beach GP in 1982 when he was held up by Raul Boesel’s March.  In the time it took him to shake his fist he missed a gear and Niki Lauda’s McLaren slipped past to win the race.

Don’t bring photographic proof of the other driver’s guilt to the next race.  Jarno Trulli did this following his crash with Adrian Sutil at the Spanish GP in 2009, achieving nothing but a big bill from the photo developers.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t leap out of your car and start trying to perform prostate surgery on the other driver using your racing boots.  It certainly didn’t add much to the prestige of his role as World Champion when Nelson Piquet set about the hapless Eliseo Salazar when a failed  attempt to lap the Chilean at the 1982 German GP resulted in both cars ending up in the tyre wall.

It’s much better to follow the example of Jenson Button, who owned up to his own crash with Karthikeyan, or Ayrton Senna.  At the Italian Grand prix in 1988, McLaren’s perfect record of victories was destroyed when the Brazilian tripped over one-hit blunder Jean-Louis Schlesser’s Williams.  After the race, when a tearful Schlesser apologised, Senna reportedly accepted it with good grace, although I doubt that Ron Dennis was quite so sanguine.




Can Lewis Hamilton turn thirds into first?

Formula One 2011 Rd.15 Japanese GP: Lewis Hami...

Formula One 2011 Rd.15 Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari) during race. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the first two races of the Formula One season a key question has emerged – can Lewis Hamilton become World Champion by finishing third in every race?  The Brit’s tactics are becoming increasingly clear.  He starts by qualifying on pole, thereby avoiding any potential trouble off of the start line.  He then works his way back down into third place in the race.  He places himself just far enough behind the leading drivers so as not to be tempted into anything rash and just far enough ahead of 4th place so as not to be under any threat.  By running in 3rd he also ensures that he is nowhere near his 2011 bête noire, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.  If, as happened in Malaysia, he finds himself inadvertently running too near the front, he wouldn’t want to just slow down and risk a possible tangle in being overtaken.  Instead, with a well orchestrated pit stop delay he can quickly and easily slot himself back into the appropriate 3rd place and run safely to the finish.

However, will third place finishes throughout the year be sufficient to secure him the champion’s crown?  The precedents are encouraging.  Using the points systems in place at the time, third spot on the podium in every race would have secured the McLaren driver the championship spoils in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

He would be the first driver to be Champion with no wins in the season, but after recent seasons, I doubt he’d mind.  So roll on China and another trip to the bottom of the podium and another step closer the end of season awards ceremony.


Close, but….

Sergio Perez’s run to second in the Malaysian GP has me thinking about other occasions when a great race has resulted in a finish off of the top step of the podium:Jim Clark, 3rd Monza 1967 – Following a puncture Clark made up an entire lost lap to retake the lead, only to fall back to 3rd with gearbox problems.

Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux, 2nd and 3rd  Dijon 1979 – Famous as the one occasion when two F1 cars actually raced against each other, with passes, re-passes, wheel banging and mutual respect.  Great stuff.

Ayrton Senna and Stefan Bellof, 2nd and 3rd Monaco 1984 – Senna’s Toleman was catching Prost’s McLaren when the red flag came out, but who remembers that Bellof’s Tyrell was catching them both?

Rene Arnoux, 2nd Dallas 1984 – On a day that Prost, Lauda and Piquet all crashed, with a track surface made of porridge, Rene raced his Ferrari from last to second and got to meet Sue Ellen on the podium.

Alain Prost, 2nd Mexico 1986 – Finished 2nd despite a car “as bent as a banana”.  The 6 points turned out to be handy come the Championship showdown race in Australia.

Michael Schumacher, 2nd Spain 1994 – In his first F1 incarnation with Benetton, the German finished 2nd despite being stuck in 5th gear for most of the race.

Damon Hill, 2nd Hungry 1997 – I was never a Hill fan, but you can’t deny the achievement of almost winning in an Arrows – something the team didn’t do on 367 other occasions.

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd Turkey GP2 race 2006 – Not an F1 race, but one of the best comeback drives you’ll ever see.  Look up the highlights on You Tube.

Michael Schumacher, 4th Brazil 2006 – What a great way to end an F1 career; after a puncture, ‘Schumi’ drove from 19th to 4th place, including putting his Ferrari replacement , Kimi Riakkonen, well and truly in his place.

Giancarlo Fisichella, 2nd Belgium 2009 – The last time, pre-Perez, when a middle-to-back ranking team almost won a race.


Tyred and Emotional

Used tyres (2) At a tyre dealer on Halbeath Ro...

After first practice, Hamilton is despondent to discover that his 220 sets of tyres allowance was supposed to last him all season.

Post the Australian GP, I have been thinking about Lewis Hamilton and tyres.  When Kenneth Branagh finally gets around to making the movie version of the Shakespearean drama that is Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One career, tyres will play a disproportionately prominent role.   Hamilton has had more unfortunate incidents involving rubber than a fire in an Ann Summers factory.

Take his first year in F1, 2007. It was Fernando Alonso’s initial inability to make the

adjustment from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres that destabilised the Spaniard relative to his young apprentice.  But for a delaminated tyre at the Chinese GP that year, Hamilton would have been the first ever rookie World Champion.

Arguably the Brit’s greatest victory, at Silverstone 2008, was at least in part assisted by an inexplicable tyre choice by Ferrari on Raikkonen’s car .  Had Timo Glock been able to maintain any kind of pace on slick tyres on the last of the 2008 Brazilian GP, I’d now have to be telling my children “Yes, that man mucking around at the back in the red car with the yellow helmet really was once World Champion.”

More recently, the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli, and the prominence of preservation over outright pace, has disadvantaged Hamilton relative to his McLaren teammate, Jenson Button.

How will the story end?  If Hamilton can address his own personal tyre war, then the others might need to watch out, if not, then like a set of 25 lap old options tyres, he may end up losing his marbles.


Predictions Time – That Was the F1 Year That Will Be

With the start of the Grand Prix season at hand it is time for Formula One Mum’s totally accurate predictions for Formula 1 2012.

Having performed reiki on a crystal sitting on top of a Tarot card, placed on a Ouija board and doused with homeopathic rescue remedy in the middle of Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice, I can reveal with certainty the shocking events that await Formula 1 in the months ahead:


At the start of their Melbourne coverage, Jake Humphrey, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard confirm that the BBC is more committed than ever to its F1 coverage.  Unfortunately, a technician then knocks over the Melbourne back screen behind them to reveal that they are actually in the BBC car park in Salford.


The Bahrain GP goes ahead but at Brands Hatch rather than Sakhir (see separate post).  Drivers complain about the sand blown onto the circuit from the drought parched surrounding desert, or Kent as its better known.


Mark Webber celebrates his victory in the Monaco GP by somersaulting into the Red Bull swimming pool, only to be informed that the Team have decided to dispense with the pool this year and he has in fact jumped into the motor home septic tank.


The future of the Spanish Grand Prix is assured when the Valencia and Barcelona circuits announce a major joint sponsorship deal with “Goodnight” sleeping tablets.


After a string of back-to-back poles and victories, Adrian Newey announces at Silverstone that he plans to “cut out the monkeys” and that he will drive the Red Bull himself for the remainder of the season.


HRT issue a press release stating that they remain fully committed to their current driver line up.  They promptly replace Karthikeyan with Chandock; Karthikeyan then replaces De La Rosa; Heidfeld replaces Chandock who is then replaced by Alguersuari, who is replaced by a pan of paella on the BBC coverage.  They all qualify last on the grid and finish just ahead of the Marussia drivers in the races.


Williams GP confirm that they are still focused on achieving race and championship winning success, when announcing their 2012 driver line up of Richie Rich and Tamara Ecclestone.


Vladimir Putin, with tears of joy running up his face lift, goes on Russian state television to announce Vitaly Petrov as World Drivers Champion and Marussia as constructors champs.


In a shock outcome, the ancient Mayans and the makers of the movie “2012” are proved correct when the entire world is destroyed by a massive series of improbable special effects.  From the safety of his orbiting giant survival space capsule, Bernie Ecclecstone announces that as far as he is concerned the 2013 GP season is going ahead and that it is for the circuit promoters to decide to cancel and face the financial penalties.


Races in places they don’t claim to be

After significant debate over the past few weeks a clear consensus has finally emerged on the issue of the Bahrain Grand Prix and the continuing concerns about political protests and the regime’s response to these.  The consensus is reflected in a decisive two point plan:

1.To avoid any suggestion of political interference, the Bahrain GP should definitely go ahead, providing a clear sign of unity and support for the people of Bahrain.

2.  Also to avoid any suggestion of political interference, the Bahrain GP should definitely not go ahead, which will provide a clear sign of unity and support for the people of Bahrain.

Implementing this plan to everyone’s satisfaction has so far proved tricky.  However, I think I have the solution.  The Bahrain GP should definitely go ahead, but not in Bahrain.

This is not an entirely novel idea.  Formula 1 has taken something of a low cost airline approach to GP locations for some time.   For many years the hilly principality of San Marino lent its name to a race held miles away at Imola in Italy.  Despite banning GP racing in the 1950s, Switzerland managed to deposited a GP at Dijon in France in 1982 and the German Nurburgring annexed the Luxemburg GP in 1997 and 1998.  From the TV pictures, the 1993 European GP was apparently held in Atlantis.

Of course, the alternative home for the Bahrain GP would have to be somewhere convenient for the majority of the teams, but with some connections with the Arab Kingdom.  Like Bahrain it should preferably be an island nation with an established monarchy.  The race should be held in an area that gets very little rainfall and should be somewhere that people tend to pass through when trying to get to their real destination.  So, who’s up for the Bahrain GP, April 22 2012, at Brands Hatch in Kent?


A post about Lewis and why everyone else should shut up about Lewis

So Bernie Ecclestone thinks that Lewis Hamilton should leave McLaren if he has another crash magnet year.  Mark Webber hopes that the Brit will find some form.  Martin Whitmarsh speculates that he has been destabilised by Jenson Button; Stirling Moss thinks he’s not sufficiently focused and Niki Lauda slams him as a risk to other drivers on track.  Here’s a radical idea for all those keen to offer the Stevenage flier advice, the best thing anyone (present company excepted) could do for Hamilton and his career is just shut up about all the peripheral issues.  Personally I couldn’t care less if Lewis is going out with a surviving member of the Andrews Sisters; has Jerry McGuire as his manager and Snoop Rascal and Dizzee Daddy on speed dial.  I don’t care for speculation about whether he’s in a good place, in a bad place, in a bubble, in the zone or out of sorts.  I’d just like him to drive like he can and clip Red Bull’s wings a little.  I don’t want him to change his style, just get involved in slightly fewer unnecessary kerfuffles.  His clashes with Massa last year were like an average Saturday night at midnight outside the local chip shop, with Nicole screeching “Leave it Lewis, he ain’t worth it.”

Anyway, that’s it, that’s the absolute last I’m going to say on the subject. That said, was Lewis looking a little peaky at the Barcelona test?