F1 – End of Season

What a brilliant race to end the season. Okay, the race wasn’t very exiting, but there was a lot of good stuff.

Massa finished first. What a brilliant drive. I think he’s got the potential to challenge for the Championship next year. I was very pleased to see him win in his home GP. Massa was happy, and so was the rest of Brazil.

Alonso second. A perfect drive to the Championship! Exactly what he needed to do. Almost eclipsed by Massa, Alonso wins a second Championship, and he deserves it. He’s done what he needed to do, and despite a few obstacles he’s Champion again. I can see me supporting him at McLaren next year, the first time I’ve really supported a non-Brit.

Button third (talking of Brits), a good drive (from ninth, I think) for Jenson. The Brits will always get my full support. I must have missed the discussions on Homologation (someone please explain), but if the ‘engine freeze’ freezes Jenson’s engine, he’ll do well next year.

Michael Schumacher fourth. What a brilliant drive from him too. Starting way back on the grid he made up lots of places then had a puncture, and still finished fourth. It’s no win, but it’s a drive he can be proud of to finish his F1 career – for now.

Kimi fifth. A nice result to finish his McLaren contract on. Did you see Martin’s grid-walk. Schumi gets his trophy from Pele, and Martin Brundle says to Kimi “You missed the presentation”. Kimi laughs “I was having a shit”!

Finally, Fisichella. Another driver I like, not because he’s particularly good, but he’s always cheerful and he’s a roll-model fitness-wise. His drive helped Renault secure the Constructors championship.

So, Massa and Ferrari are happy. Schumi and the fans are happy (and sad). Alonso and Renault are happy. The Brazilians are happy. What a season. Can’t wait until 2007!

“Schumacher hasn’t given up”, Hill warns Alonso

_42178345_hillpa203This article is pinched from ITV-F1.com, who pinched it from this BBC article.

Fernando Alonso would be unwise to assume that the 2006 world championship is in the bag – even though Michael Schumacher publicly conceded the title following his retirement at Suzuka.

That is the view of 1996 champion Damon Hill, who lost the ’94 title to Schumacher after a controversial collision with the German in the final round at Adelaide.

Alonso’s victory at Suzuka, coupled with Schumacher’s DNF, moved the Renault driver to the brink of a second consecutive drivers’ crown.

With 10 points now separating the protagonists heading into the season finale in Brazil, the only way Schumacher can beat Alonso is by winning at Interlagos with the Spaniard failing to score any points.

Although that scenario is improbable, it would only require a mirror image of events at Suzuka.

Hill dismissed the notion that Schumacher has written off his chances and warned Alonso not to drop his guard.

“Michael said he’s not thinking about the championship now – that’s baloney,” the Briton told the BBC.

“He never gives up. I would keep my armour on if I were Alonso until after the last race.”

Hill reckons Schumacher has not given up because it would be alien to his character to do so.

“Don’t ever write that guy off,” he said. “It’s not over until it’s over.

“He’s going to go into that last race thinking: ‘Now, how can I win this and Alonso not score anything?’

“That’s the way he’s going to approach it.

“Otherwise he’s not Michael Schumacher.”

Will Michael Schumacher bother to race in Brazil?

Well, that woke me up! Schumacher’s engine blows up, and I’m leaping around my living room trying not to wake the wife and neighbours.

Alonso wins, making up for his engine-blow last week, and Fisichella comes in third giving Renault a good chance of the Constructors’ Championship.

Will Michael bother to race in Brazil? Looking at him in his garage after his engine failure, he was going round hugging people like it was his last day at work.

Michael can still win the Championship if he wins at Brazil and Alonso doesn’t score a point (they’ll be level on points, but Michael will win by virtue of having more race-wins this year). A race like China and he’ll be Champion again. So why the long face? Perhaps he was just gutted at the fact that it looked like he was going to win the Championship today.

Quite a boring race really, but a good result for the podium finishers. I’m surprised that Ferrari didn’t run away with it, given their quali pace, although Michael was leading easily before his engine blew and Massa’s race strategy was compromised by a puncture.

Nice to see Fisichella up there (one of my favourite drivers), especially as his best friend died this week.

So, one race left in 2006. It will take something spectacular for Alonso not to win the Drivers’ Championship, but the Contructors’ Championship is still up for grabs.

Only three F1 races to go, and it’s neck and neck

I can’t believe it will all be over in four weeks!

The FIA and Bernie have their wish; the two best drivers this year with only a couple of points in it, slugging it out for the last three races. Let’s hope it’s going to be a fair fight to the end with all the competition taking place on the track.

I’m probably going to miss the qualifying (like last race), so I won’t be posting before the race in China on Sunday. If anyone wants to make some predictions (Kaz, anyone?), I’ll try to check my email and get the comment posted before the red lights go out Sunday.

My tip for a win – Alonso. Michael and Ferrari are not great in China. If nothing happens to bring back Alonso’s persecution complex before the race, I think he’ll be focused enough (and determined) to win.

Michael Schumacher will retire – this is my opinion of him

So, Michael Schumacher is retiring from racing at the end of the season. Only those closest to him know the full story, but I don’t think he ‘really’ wanted to retire; meaning he’s not now saying “Thank God I’m retiring”, more “Oh, I’m retiring”.

With Ferrari’s new contract with Kimi, John Todt looking to retire (perhaps), and Massa’s rise to fame, Ferrari didn’t want it to fizzle out as the team started to disintegrate. “Michael,” someone said, “now would be a convenient time. We can close the book on this wonderful story, and start a sequal with a fresh-looking team”. Incidentally (or parhaps coincidentally), Massa is managed by Jean Todt’s son, Nicolas Todt. Perhaps we’ll see another Ferrari/Todt success story.

Undoubtedly, it’s the end of an era. But, being a fan of the Brits, I’m not too sad to see Michael Schumacher retire. Back in the Hill Vs Schumacher days (mid 90s), Schumacher showed that he’s prepared to cheat to win, and he kept that attitude until the end of his F1 career. In my opinion, his career is tainted.

Don’t get me wrong… I was about to say he’s the best driver in my lifetime, but I’m not sure. Yes, he’s capable of going faster on average than anyone else, but his attitude is flawed. He’s developed the wrong instincts.

Maybe ‘instincts’ is the wrong word, can you develop insticts? When you’re in a race and something goes wrong, your race-brain makes the best out of the situation. Often you don’t have time to think about it, you just do it.

Here’s an example. As you approach a corner the car behind you goes up the inside of you. Without thinking, you know that you can’t take the normal line because you’ll hit the other car, so you take a wider line, apex later, and retake your competitor on the exit. You learn this, you don’t have to think about it (you don’t get time), it becomes an automatic response; instinctual. It’s even acceptable to force your oppontent onto the dirty part of the track to gain an advantage with grip.

But, there’s a world of difference between disadvantaging your opponent and deliberately causing a crash to get an advantage, as Michael has done on several occasions. Not least of which was turning in on Damon Hill to so they both failed to finish, handing Michael the Championship.

Another example, you’re off the track on lap one following a pile-up, but the engine is running. Your car is damaged so you know that you can’t get back in the action even if you get back to the pits. An honerable man would switch of the engine and get out of there, but the instincts Michael developed make him hit the gas and block the track to cause a restart, because if there’s a restart he’ll get to use the spare car. And when you understeer at Monacco, when there’s no time for rational thought, the wrong instincts tell you to park the car accross the track to spoil your rival’s lap.

Michael could have been the ‘best’ driver of all time; he just developed the wrong instints. Perhaps ethics is a better word, but that sounds too strong.

Martin Brundle summed it up, “Where Schumacher cannot draw the right line is on track. He cannot see when he crosses the line between tough but fair, and ruthless but foul.

“That is exacerbated by his total belief that he cannot be wrong. He has a default mode in the car: if you’re going to pass him, he will drive you off the road. He even did it to me as a team-mate.”

Perhaps a big change in the Ferrari team will allow F1 to draw a line under the unfortunate goings-on surrounding Michael, Ferrari, and the dubious FIA decisions of late. I hope next year will bring a new era in the sport, so we can concentrate its positive aspects.

Now I have a problem though; how do I support Kimi when he’s going to the F-word team?

Next up… Our All Welcome Karting Meeting

Lewis Hamilton TV Documentary – This Saturday

Wow, a lot has happened! Schumi’s retiring, the FIA is being sued, there was an F1 race, I’ve been on holiday for a week (the reason for no posts lately), Lewis Hamilton has been testing at McLaren F1, and the BowenRacing posse have been to Lakeside Karting. More about some of these later.

There’s a programme called ‘Lewis Hamilton: The Road to Formula 1’ that will be shown on ITV1 on Saturday September 23 at 1:45pm.

The thought of a British Driver racing for McLaren has me (almost) wetting my pants with excitement. Perhaps it’s a season too soon for him. On the other hand if he stays at GP2 and doesn’t win the Championship next year, he may not be the golden-boy anymore. Not to mention the chance to drive alongside Fernando Alonso. Personally, I’d rather take the risk and step up.

The Belgium GP is back for 2007!

Spa is back, and what a good name for this circuit. Wet races at Spa are some of my all time favourite races. Remember when Schumi retired (from the race, not F1) after running into the back of DC’s car on the way to Bus Stop? He drove, three-wheeled, back to the pits and proceeded to find DC to try to knock his block off in retaliation for his dangerous driving. Huh?

This year Jenson won a thrilling rain-affected race at Hungary. The more chance of a wet race, the better as far as I’m concerned. Spa’s a good circuit, even in the dry, so I’m glad it’s back.

On another topic, will you join me for Karting on Monday 18th September? See the post below for details. Everyone is welcome, regardless of karting experience.

Turkey Timings

Fisichella takes fourth 5/1000th of a second ahead of Ralph, and Heidfeld takes sixth 5/1000th of a second ahead of Button.

I think Jenson could do well again this race. His Q2 time was second quickest and he’s very smooth and consistent which helps at Turkey. My only worry is his engine, it’s its second race, and Turkey is a tough on engines.

Barrichello should be doing better, and DC too. Maybe DC is unsettled (or threatened) by the news that Webber is his team-mate next year.

So, what do I predict? Jenson will finish better than he starts if his car doesn’t die. Michael will pass Massa before or during the first pit stop. Raikkonen will pass Heidfeld and Ralph. Apart from those, the top ten will be in relative order.

Christian Albers made me laugh, sitting in the car in the pits after Q1. “Just a question, am I through or not; do I need to stay in the car or do I get out?”
His race engineer, “You are through. Position 16 always goes through.”
Albers, “I’m sorry,” nervous laughter, “I didn’t know.”