Monday, 23 April 2012

The race, the whole race and nothing but the race.

It's Monday morning, but thank God the week is over.

After a long, tense and unpredictable few days, we finally got a race yesterday at the Bahrain Grand Prix. For four hours, I avoided as much Formula One information as I could as I (im)patiently waited for the highlights show to start on the BBC. As things turned out, I should have avoided all sports for the day, due to my football team (Manchester United)'s inability to beat bloody Everton. But this is a Formula One piece, so I will try to keep my grieving on the low. Anyway, after a successful wait, the highlights began and I was hoping a great race with a British winner would lift my spirits.

Felipe Massa had another successful race
I'm still trying to work out just how good yesterday's race was. While not as good as the preceding Malaysian and Chinese Grand Prix, it was better than the opening race in Australia and certainly better than the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix, a race so bad I want to find and burn every copy of it, a race so bad it would turn Medusa to stone.

Was the race worth all the hoo-ha that had gone on in the week leading up to it? Of course not. Should the race have gone on at all? I still think the race should have been postponed, not just because Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button picked up just four points between them, but because of politics and shit.

In a country where so much pain and suffering is going on as the fight to secure democracy continues, a sport as elitist and powerful as Formula One was probably as welcome a house guest as Mel Gibson in a synagogue. As I said in my last piece, I don't like making serious points, so I'll stop. As the title says, let's just cover the race, the whole race and nothing but the race.

Which is more than can be said for the BBC.

Screw you Bernie Ecclestone.
I know that there's contract stuff to sort out, but was I the only one who found the highlights very short?

Maybe the race was worse than we were made to believe, but every now and then, five or so laps would just be cut from the race and I found it extremely frustrating. Was I the also one who didn't see Grosjean pass Webber for third place early in the race? In mitigation, I may have missed that due to a combination of an inability to pay attention and my own myopia.

I don't want to always moan at the BBC. Their coverage is pretty good and is apparently better than Sky's, according to Lao from China (Youtube it). By the way, Lao has now been given an executive position in the BBC's marketing team. The BBC didn't have much choice in jettisoning much of the live races; when Rupert Murdoch comes knocking, there isn't much you can do except turn your phone off and pray. After all, the BBC also needs to satisfy their partisan Songs of Praise fanatics, and the Formula One was getting in the way. Oh well, at least the beeb have the rights to show the whole European Grand Prix from Valencia live. Oh goody.

Anyway, the race!

Vettel once again had a race of his own.
Apparently anyway.
I wasn't able to see it all

The race was like a throwback to last year as Sebastian Vettel led almost the entire Grand Prix. It was just like 2011 and merely served to confirm the worst of my most paranoid of fears: That Sebastian Vettel is faster than time.

Despite a rally (no pun intended...OK, it was intended) from Kimi Raikkonen midway through the race, Das Finger looked comfortable throughout and he took the win to give himself the chance to showcase the second worst hand gesture to come out of Germany.

And just like that, he leads the championship. How on earth did that happen?! This is precisely what wasn't meant to happen! Although only ten points separate the top five drivers, the sight of Vettel at the top of the championship makes me shiver just a little bit. As I may have said before, despite everything, I really like Vettel, which is a real shame.

As for the aforementioned Raikkonen, his Lotus team had a very good weekend, with Raikkonen second and team-mate Grosjean third. Both drivers had pretty quiet races in the end, which will be a relief to Lotus after Raikkonen's finish to the Chinese Grand Prix. Kimi has settled right back into Formula One, which is great because I really like him too...I think I just like everyone...except Maldonado, due to his freakishly small head. I don't know why I like Kimi because he is incredibly bland, but also a bit extrovert at the same time, two things that I am not...

Vettel's famous "finger" celebration

How it should be done

Further back, Mark Webber finished fourth. Again.

Right behind Webber was last week's race winner Nico Rosberg. Webber must have been breathing a sigh of relief as he finished ahead of Rosberg. This is because after getting his first taste of victory champagne the week before, Rosberg must have convinced himself he was his compatriot Michael Schumacher. Now only ninety race wins behind Michael, Nico took it upon himself to drive like him. First Hamilton and then Fernando Alonso were forced off the track to try and overtake him. The race stewards saw nothing untoward with Rosberg's racing, which leads me to believe that I must have been stewarding the race, due to their blindness. How on earth you can simply shove a car off the track and then complain they went off the track when overtaking is almost admirable. It isn't, but at least Rosberg has finally grown a pair, what do you think Nico?

Next was Paul Di Resta. That's right. Paul Di Resta. Paul drove a great race on a two-stop strategy he somehow made work. While the tyres of his rivals fell apart, he kept his together to secure a well-deserved sixth place. He fended off Rosberg for a few laps before, in true Scottish style, he was heroically defeated.
Later, still in true Scottish style, when Englishman Jenson Button was closing in, Di Resta held position long enough to force Button to have a problem. My theory is that Di Resta employed Dick Dastardly tactics and launched something sharp from the back of his car or just some good old-fashioned anti-Anglo feeling. On the day before St Georges day too. Brilliant!

Speaking of Button and the McLarens, they had a terrible race. Starting their cars second and fourth, there were high hopes for strong finishes, owing to an apparent focus on race-pace over qualifying performance. As it turned out, the McLarens burned out their rear tyres so quickly, any chance of a victory had long gone, even before the man operating the left rear tyre twice forced Hamilton into slow stops. It was also the left rear tyre man who scuppered Button's chances of victory last week. So who is left rear gun-man? Three options:

Any option from the right

Martin Whitmarsh: Seems determined to ruin McLaren after taking over from Ron Dennis
Fernando Alonso: Because it would be kind of funny
Paul Di Resta: The Scottish thing

McLaren, for the first time in years, have started the season with a car quick enough to challenge for race victories, yet find themselves behind the Red Bull - whose car is at it's most uncompetitive since 2008 - when David Coulthard drove it - in the constructors championship. One win from four races with arguably the fastest car is not the start the Woking team had in mind, but luckily, there are still 67 or so races to turn it around.

So, Formula One approaches another boredom-inducing break of three weeks. What are we going to do with our Sundays?! As Formula One fans, we are often a bit of a lonely bunch, and I don't want to have to follow Manchester United for the next few weeks due to the reasons mentioned in this - and other - pieces.

The next race is in Spain in Barcelona. Usually, this is a really, really boring race as no-one can overtake, but I have high hopes for it next time, mainly because I always have high hopes for races, hopes that are rarely justified. In the meantime, we face a wait more awkward than Coulthard and Jake Humphrey running into Martin Brundle on the F1 Forum...a meeting made more awkward by Humphrey's clear depression at not being invited to dinner with the big boys. Yeah, sorry Jake.

Anyway, the race that maybe shouldn't have gone ahead is finished, and I barely spoke about the bad stuff, I'd rather leave that to the people who pretend they know what is going on in Bahrain and the middle-east. As usual, I have done the bare minimum in terms of research and don't intend to change now.

With fifteen races to go, it's all to play for still.


  1. oi oi dougie. another good race report from you. however, just like last time, i dont completely agree with you. i still think it was the correct decision to race in bahrain. i know i said politics and sport should never mix, but whatever anyone says, it raised more awareness of whats going on in bahrain than anything anyone else has done since last years cancellation. this can only be a good thing, and something the protesters should have jumped on as a way of diplomatically and peacefully raising awareness. instead both sides made a complete hash of it. shame that.

    as for rosberg, although it was some dirty driving from him, the stewards decided that, as neither hamilton, nor alonso were alongside as rosberg made his moves, they werent impeded. at the end of the day, this is a fair comment. had they been alongside, and not behind, things would have been different. for di resta...erm....damn...i'm a scot. we've never been heroically defeated. we sold ourselves out to the english, and well, apart from a few glory years at rugby a looooong time ago, we're just shit at MOST sport...not very heroic lol. thank god for the existence of motorsport, where for some reason we usually do reasonably well, and whether he got beaten by button or not, to get that force india where it finished was in my opinion tantamount to a heroic victory....but i'm biased lol. to bore-celona next, and i await your next thread, where you shall rejoice in a McLaren one-two, and di resta on the third step.

    well....we can all live in hope eh???

  2. i knew i forgot something is still better than sky...when they show a full race. sky is typical over substance, and no one looks completely comfortable yet. oh, and wasnt rupert murdoch who went knocking on bbc's door. the beeb approached sky, a move which was illegal, seeing as they were a free to air broadcaster with (at the time) the monopoly on F1 in the uk. by law, they were obliged to offer F1 to the other free to air channels first. both 5 and channel 4 had expressed an interest, but they were ignored in favour of subscription service sky. there was an enquiry by the monopolies commission, and why no action was taken is beyond me. the law in this area is black and white, and the beeb broke it. the mind boggles.

  3. sorry to keep spamming..keep remembering stuff i meant to say.

    you are right...the highlights were indeed short. the whole programme was 80 mins....ten minutes less than the absolute minimum we were promised by them...technically, as it wasnt a european race it should have been 2 hours longs. had it been 90 mins as promised for euro races i could have forgiven them. feel VERY let down by the bbc

  4. Berty McJock, you're Scottish?!

    For what it's worth, I am more Scottish than English, but it's always worth a laugh at the Scots, regardless of whether you are one or not!

    Agree to disagree R.E Bahrain but I see what you mean and, to be honest, I don't think anyone has handled the situation well. I'm still kind of trying to not say more than I know about Bahraini (sp?!) politics, unlike Mr Benson. An opportunity from all sides missed yes, but still a continuation of a rich man's sport in a country where so few have so much. And there I go, pretending I know more than I do!

    Unfortunately, I have seen little of Sky's coverage but I reckon getting Damon Hill on board was to make Georgie Thompson appear to have a personality to go with her...mmm hmm...other attributes. I can totally see your point with style over substance, such is their exuberant marketing of anything sporty: "And on Wednesday night on Sky Sports 7, Leyton Orient take on Macclesfield for a place in the top fourteen".

    I had no idea about the legal goings on with that move, if what you say is correct, they've sold out, and they didn't even have the courtesy to lie through their teeth about it!


    As I said, I know there must be contractual constraints on the BBC, but the highlights were so, so bad. Of course, we are not privy to the circumstances that forced such shitty coverage, particularly as this weekend was a bit of an anomaly but some farfetched speculation would be nice.

    Bring on farcelona (I can make Catalan-based puns too) indeed!

  5. The reason for my lack of knowledge on...well, anything in this article is partially due to my stubborn insistence to research as little as I can into the matters at hand.

    Controversial yes, but it appears effective enough, so thanks for reading!

  6. Enjoyed that Doug. Strange old weekend, and a bit of an anticlimax to have Vettel back on top ('Das Finger' - like it!) Agree that the BBC coverage was shockingly poor which didn't help. Then Lewis and Jensons bad luck ( Martin W seemed more concerned about tyre-man than his driver...makes you wonder which car Lewis will be driving next season)
    The tyre thing is getting a bit, er, tiresome - am already sick of hearing about nursing them, cliffs, marbles, sweet spots, etc etc.
    To end on a positive, at least a great race for DiResta and a fabulous /opportunistic overtake by him.

    Keep up the good work Doug & congrats on passing the 2000 mark.

  7. Thank you Clare,

    I have opinions on Martin Whitmarsh which I probably shouldn't say in case he reads and was going to give me a job in McLaren media or marketing. Nah he's a twat.

    I'm with you on the tyres, and doubly with you on that awesome pun! But it is a balance that needs to be struck somehow, remember the 2000's with often one pit stop a race (albeit with refueling) Hopefully they can get it right!

    Thanks again, hope you continue to read!

    3,000 views next target, reaching my goals slower than my aunt...driving an HRT.

  8. Hi, I followed your link from the BBC blog and just wanted to say that I found that highly entertaining, good job! And I think we share a lot of the same opinions, which is nice. Talking of Schumacher (well, you did briefly), has he somehow inherited the Curse of Mark Webber (I'm talking about having terrible luck with mechanical failures and the like, not being a shit starter)?

  9. Thanks for giving it a chance, hope I didn't disappoint!

    I spoke a bit about Schumacher after the China race, too much of Schumy could kill a man, ask David Coulthard. But he is getting a hell of a lot of bad luck - as I alluded to last week if you want a few cheap laughs at the expense of people infinitely more talented than myself.

    And yes, Mark has turned his fortunes around but is honestly the worst starter on the grid, you have to add two places to his grid position! I would like to see Schumy competing again though...just not too much

  10. Oh Vettel.... Where do I begin really

    Kimi should have won. That Magnum eating, dump taking quiet man should have nailed Seb at the first corner, but because that German did what Bayern did today and block the whole road, Kimi had to ease off which meant he could never have gotten near him again.

    Although one thig to say about this season, is that it is very open. There is no single "I AM THE BEST" car like Brawn or RBR have been these past 3 years. 4 Different races, 4 Different winners. I call that, a success. Makes the sport more enjoyable and much more compelling to watch.

    Although for once can Mark Webber bloody win the championship?!? Mr consistent in 4th in every race, (but 3rd overall due to everyone finishing oddly), could end up winning the championship. This would be cool. I've always liked Mr multi-talented, and he actually seems like a sound guy. I could imagine walking up to Mark Webber in a bar (yeah right I know) and having a sound conversation about something cool. But Vettel, I could say going "I'm too important for you" and stroll off to something sponsored...

    ANYWAY, Spain should be good - Fernando's home race, so if there is rain there may be hope for him yet. As the popular saying goes; "The rain in spain, falls mainly on the Circuit de Catalunya".

  11. Lord Serunson, how nice of you to join!

    Kimi is the man...when he can be bothered, which is about as rare as a Lewis Hamilton joke.

    I kinda like the competitive nature of this year, with - as you say - no standout car, but you can see RedBull getting it together now after an average (by their standards) start!..McLaren should have stolen a march but rookie mistakes have cost them.

    I kinda hope so, as much as I despise Fernando, a wet race may be the only to liven up what is usually a pretty dull race. Let's see ey!

  12. "Speaking of Button and the McLaren's"....what? Oh, you meant "Speaking of Button and the McLarens". Presumably you also meant "As it turned out, the McLarens" later in the same paragraph?

    If you want to be a journalist you might want to check your grammar. Plural and possessive are different.

    Alternatively, apply for a job on the BBC website. Their editors never notice bad grammar, so you'll never have to worry.

  13. Ahhhh the possessive apostrophe, my nemesis.

    Thanks for pointing that out, I acknowledge that I have much to learn, so thanks for the advice.

    Mine would be to go easy on the sarcasm or type "condescending Wonka" into Google, it seems like it would be right up your street!