Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ok, I like Formula One again

This is a bit embarrassing.

A few weeks ago, I launched into a full-scale tirade at how the start to the 2012 Formula One season hadn't left me yearning for more. The BBC's decision to jettison the rights to all live races to Sky left me a little pissed off. Despite multiple promises to boycott viewing the highlights (like those people who constantly moan about paying licence fees), I persevered after an Australian Grand Prix which I found very tedious. Of course, Jake Humphrey and Eddie Jordan tried to sex it up a little (not that Eddie needs help sexing anything up, grrrrowl) by saying it was a great race with lots of action...for 7th place. But then again, the BBC tried to whet our appetites for this season by saying that last year was one of the best ever. No it wasn't. It was more boring than a rap-off between Kimi Raikkonen and Paul Di Resta.

Even Obama - who doesn't watch F1 - found
last year boring.
But, I made a mistake. Go on, mock me, I got it wrong. Are you reading Jenson (please)? I got it wrong. Not anyone else. Not the pit-crew, not my cold tyres or any other excuses: "yeah I got a bit of over steer at turn 7 because my usually perfect stubble (any tips? I only get random spurts of bum-fluff) was a bit out of place, so I lost grip and that's why I qualified 6th." My fault. But what a race!

I woke up at 7:55 for the race today. Trust me, that is super early for a guy like me. After a qualifying session which sprung further surprises after the shocks of previous Saturdays from this year, the race was beautifully set up. Carefully shifting my weight, I put in my earphones and watched the action on a laptop, laying in the exact same position for the duration of the race. It was that good, I couldn't move, which is a shame, because my left arm was dead until the evening.

Nico Rosberg started on pole from team-mate Michael Schumacher, with Button and Lewis Hamilton (the only drivers I really care about, except Charles Pic, because his name is awesome) in 5th and 7th place respectively. Rosberg got a great start and everyone else didn't, and that was almost a microcosm for the entire race. Rosberg dominated a race of his own while the others squabbled over the scraps, a bit like Stalin in 1930's Russia, but without the genocide. It's not often that great races involve no major battle for victory, but it was the case today. Yes, without a pit-stop error, Button could have got close. He was instead placed in heavy traffic, which ultimately cost him any sniff of victory. That said, such was Rosberg's metronomic, precise consistency (in short, German-ness), he always looked comfortable, claiming his first win at the 111th attempt, which equates to a strike-rate which makes Fernando Torres look prolific.

Charles Pic! He looks like he sounds!
I'm now going to say something I may later regret. I felt sorry for Michael Schumacher. Is that wrong? Should I feel a little bit dirty? Well, I still feel bad for the old fella. Three races gone, three incidents which were not his fault. All three moments of misfortune have compromised races which held more misplaced promise than a Lib Dem manifesto. Poor Michael has just one point from three races, which is worse than Nico Hulkenberg, who has enjoyed around 8 seconds of TV coverage this year, such has been his anonymity.

The race was a bit of a slow-burner, in that you knew something was going to happen. It all built up to a crazy climax, where about ten cars were lined up in an orderly queue, providing a little taste of Britain in the middle of Shanghai. McLaren's three-stop strategy meant the British drivers were forced to overtake the gain track position, and overtake they did, with Button finishing second with Hamilton fifth. The Red Bull's of  Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and fifth respectively, despite the pair of them not overtaking many cars. For Webber, his tried and tested tactic of "get close to them, wait till they pit/wait for someone to force them wide with their own overtaking manouvre" moved the Aussie up the field, culminating in a penultimate lap move on his team-mate for fourth place. As for Vettel, he had to settle for ten points when, with five or so laps to go, he looked likely to secure eighteen. However, decreasing grip left the German vulnerable to a dramatic (and pretty funny, sorry Seb) late raid.

I'm handsome but BOY AM I ANGRY.
Anyway, Lewis Hamilton now leads the championship. He has been very clinical this season, picking up three podiums, driving almost within himself to secure consistent points. Yes, this week, Andy Carroll scored twice, Rosberg won and Hamilton hasn't made a mistake; sport is broken. Close behind Hamilton is Button, who had a very good race today and he continues to look like a top driver, despite having limited driving skill in the eyes of many. If Jenson Button's driving is limited, I'm never going to pass my theory test. And third is - sigh - Fernando Alonso. I don't really like Alonso, that's about it.

OK, dim the lights. Serious point coming up. Next weekend, Formula One rolls on to Bahrain...maybe. Much controversy has surrounded the staging of the race, given the civil unrest in the country. The situation surprises me, not just because previous grid-walks with Martin Brundle (come back, you've made your money now!) had led me to believe that the Crown Prince of Bahrain was a jolly good bloke, a man so nice, I thought he was a Disney character. Again, I was wrong. It also surprises me because any suspicion of danger to the participants should lead to a postponement, as was the case last year. To be honest, the last race in Bahrain - in 2010 - was so bad, any postponement wouldn't be such a blow to my weekend viewing.

Sorry for nicking your poster ahead of time Mr Benson

Should a sport as elitist as Formula One be allowed to be staged in a country still going through so much strife? My view is no. Although it is nice having a good race to look forward to, a two hour gap in the endless monotony that is Sunday, I feel uneasy at the prospect of the world going on as normal in a region where so much has gone wrong in the past few months. I don't like making serious points, they give me a headache and make me look a bit serious when I'm not, I'm actually a decent bloke once you get past the constant stream of puns, sarcasm and yearning for laughter. I'm also pretty laid-back (like this morning...joke...please laugh), I had too much ice in my Orange Juice this morning, and I barely complained, but I felt the need to say something on this.

The powers that be have a decision to make about next weekend. The indications are that the race will go ahead, and my thought-about boycott - for moral reasons - will be boycotted - for entertainment reasons. Nonetheless, Bernie Eccelestone has to make the right choice. The political situation of Bahrain is not my strongest point unfortunately, so I am not best qualified to discuss the matter. But it didn't stop me trying.

In Bernie we trust. Lol.
As far as today was concerned though, I am happy to be proved wrong if it means I can watch another race like today. The boost to my Sundays will compensate for the blow to my pride. The coverage still needs tweaking, and my serious gripe from my last post remains strong, but as the football season reaches its climax, I am falling in love with this ridiculous, divisive sport again.


  1. Really enjoyed your review Doug
    For what it's worth, I agree with you about Bahrain, it should've been cancelled weeks ago. Just hope nobody gets hurt (apart from Vettels pride of course).
    Charles Pic...awesome name!! LOL

  2. are you a girl Doug?

  3. Amusing and entertaining blog. Loved the pithy humour.
    Keep going.

  4. Right, some replies!

    Unfortunately, I'm not sure you'll all see my reply to your reply, but my fingers are crossed.

    First reply - thanks very much for your comment, it means a lot! Hopefully Pic can Mix it up in Bahrain (sorry)

    Second reply - If my friends see that comment, then I'll be laughed at for all time! I'm actually a man...apparently. Do you say that because of my Eddie Jordan comment? Come on, the man has brilliant, raw, animal magnetism!

    Third reply - Thanks very much, I try my best! Thanks for the encouragement and - although I'm ashamed to admit it - giving me the chance to learn what "pithy" means! "Full of pith" said one online dictionary, which is good to know.

    Take care

  5. excellent blog. spot on humour. not sure i agree about bahrain. i'm of the opinion that sport should stay out of politics, and vice versa. i'll definately be coming back for more though. much better than andrew "chief bbc F1 driver critic" bensons diretribe.

    *facepalms: "pic can mix" ... are you taking the pith???

  6. Twin Pics?
    (what have you started!)

  7. Thanks Berty! You have a point about sport and politics, in the grand scheme of things, sport can become very irrelevant (hence the name of the blog I guess). However, I would suggest a postponement, not for political pressure, but for all-round safety. Won't stop me watching and cheering on Lewis...probably to another third place!

    Clare, I'm not going there! If you engage in pun warfare with me you'll be pun-ished

    1. OK, you win! Seriously though, hope you keep up the column - always appreciate a good blog, so have added you to Favourites.

    2. I am the 3rd comment and shall ever more consider you full of pith.
      Even so, your style is worth further study. I look forward to reading more.
      Always taking the pith , Ian

  8. And as an added bonus , you are now in my "favourites" section. Praise does not come higher. Your prose and historical asides have me rivetted.Keep it coming. The pith-taker Ian

  9. Thanks Ian, I'm trying my best to do something that is different to everything else out there, which is either a bit too technical or a bit too...well...serious.

    Thanks for the support and if you keep that up, I will keep up the pith!

    I've done a couple of F1 blogs before, but none with this much recognition, I did one in February about Felipe Massa if you want a cheap laugh/a view into a world which may have been...spooky!

    The Earl of pith.

  10. And thanks for favouriting Clare!

    The irrelevant train is gathering momentum!

  11. The Earl of Pith has demeaned himself by asking wherefore art thou?
    Virtually nothing on Fi -all that really matters in life.

    Would like your take on things.

  12. Ian!

    Unfortunately, I have had to spend the last month or so preparing for my final university exams, but I am now free to ramble again.

    Expect an F1 post in the next day or two, tomorrow I intend to write a football one.

    Stay strong Ian!