A picture can paint a thousand words – but it’s not always better

September 16, 2007

Whilst a picture can paint a thousand words, I have been struck recently by how it doesn’t always show things in their best light.

Exhibit A is the new 2008 XT crankset:
2008 XT chainset

The previous incarnation of the XT crankset was striking, not necessarily beautiful, but it certainly stood out from the crowd. When the 2007 XTR crankset emerged, it was a thing of beauty, so when a revamped XT was announced, particularly celebrating 25 years, my appetite was well and truly whetted, expectations were high. Then the first pictures started to emerge, and I have to say I was underwhelmed, it was beyond understated, it just didn’t look anywhere as nice as the model it replaced, in fact the chainrings were more interesting to look at – oh no, what had Shimano done? But then I got to see them in the flesh. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a moment of revelation, I still think the previous model was better looking, and yet there is a certain something. They do look better in the flesh, you can see the attention to detail, and they are rather tactile, so maybe Shimano are onto a winner after all. I want some now, and I’m sure once bought and fitted, I’ll come to love them just the same.

Exhibit B are the new Hayes Stroker disc brakes:
Hayes Stroker

It was a bit round the other way with these. I saw them in the store first, and really liked the look of them, the orientation of the lever body for the bladder reservoir, and the aluminium dial on the piston for adjusting reach, there’s just something quite sexy about these, and they felt rather good too. Shame the picture doesn’t live up to much then.

Finally, Exhibit C – the new 2008 XT disc brakes:

2008 XT disc lever

OK, a little bit cheeky this one. When I first saw the pictures I thought they looked the dogs danglies. now I’ve seen them in the flesh and they are even better than that, I almost made my decision on new brakes on site of them without even trying! Having actually tried them, I’m pleased to say that they live up to the looks.

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That FIA decision

September 16, 2007

So a few more details have come to light, and I’ve had a chance to think about it.

It just doesn’t feel right.  Let’s forget the seeming Ferrari bias in F1, Toyota employees that were found guilty with no FIA sanction, Honda’s 2 race ban for an illegal fuel tank etc.  ‘Cheating’, to some extent is a part of the of the sport, not in an out and out obvious way of course, but teams have always tried to get information about other teams, and I’m sure that in the past that has involved some idle chatting between engineers or whatever.  Cameramen with zoom lenses employed to look at competitors cars, into the cockpits (It’s not just to keep the drivers cool that there are umbrellas over the cockpits now).  It all seems a little odd that the FIA have decided to take such a hard stance with McLaren.

Looking at the information that was supposedly being made use of, well just as much could of been gleamed by an engineer that had moved teams, there must be a fair amount of IP that is transferred when engineers and designers swap teams, it’s no surprise that senior members have to take ‘gardening leave’ for a while, no doubt to ensure what knowledge they have is slightly out of date by the time another team can use it.

The other interesting aspect from the e-mail conversations involving Alonso and De La Rosa, is that it’s quite clear Alonso had some knowledge and was seeking an advantage.  Yet both drivers received no sanction.  Hamilton has not been implicated, but Alonso has shown a level of guilt and yet walks away a free man.
If the FIA believe that the team has benefited from it’s information, then surely so have the drivers.  Yes, I personally think it’s a good thing for the sport that the drivers were not sanctioned as the title battle involves a Brit, and is also one of the best we have had for years, so to tear it apart would of been disappointing and potentially damaging for the sport, but the FIA should perhaps of been a bit more honest or more consistent in the message it put out.  Max Mosley has been saying now that if Hamilton were to win it would be tainted and Hamilton wouldn’t feel satisfied, and talk that McLaren were minutes away from being thrown out of both 07 and 08 championships.  They are trying to make themselves sound tough after the event, after taking a more diplomatic line for the sport.  How could Hamilton’s or Alonso’s win be tainted?  If they genuinely had an advantage from the information they had available, how come the team have not made use of it to romp away with the championship winning every race?  Ferrari have won races too, and given McLaren a fair fight, which to my mind proves that McLaren have not made use of the information.  The one instance were Mclaren seem to of used information to an advantage is in identifying the ‘illegal’ rear wing and floor on the Ferrari, that’s a nice little merry-go-round, trying to argue who is really wrong there!

So what of the actual penalties?   The $100million fine isn’t going to be too painful (Despite being enough to run the likes of Spyker for a year), and Ron Dennis has already stated that this money will come from other revenue streams.  More worrying is the impact of the points loss, not on this year’s championship – but on 2008.  In effect, McLaren will finish 2007 last, which means they will be at the ‘wrong’ end of the pit lane for 2008, not next to Ferrari, but down at the Spyker end.  Will they be after Spyker?  Of course, they will probably end up next to the new entrants ProDrive, who are rumoured to be using McLaren chassis’, which will be a nice little perverse twist – not dissimilar to the fact that Honda and Super Aguri look likely to be next to each other next year.  in this move, they will no longer have 5 garages as they do now, but a meager 2.   It will be interesting to see how they handle that, and if it will have any effect, of course it could lead to some lean processes that will actually bolster the team.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to utilise ProDrive if they do indeed provide the chassis’ to somehow enhance their garage allocation.

Finally, what of Alonso?  The e-mail evidence from him can’t of helped what is already reputed to be a strained relationship between him and Ron Dennis.  His aggressive manoeuvre on Hamilton will of further strained that relationship too.  It has now emerged that Dennis found out about the e-mails at the Hungarian GP, which itself had it’s share of controversy.  It is also rumoured that this came out of a conversation where Alonso was pushing for driver preference within the team, but Dennis would not acquiesce.  None of this is the way for a driver to settle himself within a team, although Alonso’s manager has stated he will see out his contract, of course he has to say that if Alonso is in secret negotiations.  It’s interesting that Renault are still reluctant to announce their 2008 line-up, obviously Briatore feels that there is a chance Alonso will move, and is eager to pull him back into the fold.  Normally at this time of the year, contracts are being made and announced, but there a few outstanding now – so seemingly everyone is waiting to see what Alonso does.

Spa-Francorchamps – 16-09-07

September 16, 2007

Kimi

Formula 1 made a welcome return to Spa this year after it’s absence in 2006, requiring upgrades to the track and facilities. After testing earlier in the year, the teams and drivers seemed generally please, although there was some concern over the new pit entrance, which is rather tight and definitely does not have room for 2 cars, the possibility of someone going in hot and overcooking it loomed.

After recent events off track, it would of been nice to have an explosive race, but I suppose only something truly spectacular would of outshone the off track antics. For the predictable front 4, the main excitement came on the first lap. As Raikonnen roared off, and Massa tucked in behind, Alonso shot straight across the track towards Hamilton, and as they approached the first corner this manoeuvre was magnified as Alonso forced Hamilton wide, with the 2 almost touching until Hamilton had to resort to the run off, he maintained momentum so that he rejoined the track alongside Alonso and they drove side by side through Eau Rouge (Probably the best section on any track on the entire calendar for me). Alonso finally edged past as they climbed through Raidillon, and that settled the positions of the first 4 for the remainder of race.

Behind them Kovalainen had an excellent start, jumping from 9th to 6th, but with a heavy car was slow on the track, and soon fell into the clutches of those behind. With Webber climbing over his gearbox, it wasn’t long before he made a clean pass into Les Combes. Kubica showed amazing speed on the track, and it wasn’t long before he too had slipped past Kovy. Unfortunately in the middle stint of the race Kubica was slowed by heavier cars again, and missed out on what should of been a good result, suffering from his engine change penalty that had demoted him to 14th.

Amazingly after the first lap, Fisichella retired, yet again the poor cousin in the team as Kovy ultimately went on to finish 8th gaining another point. Meanwhile Sutil, in the Spyker, impressed with a cracking start that saw him passing, and ultimately hitting 12th and challenging Coulthard a number of times for 11th place, before finally finishing 14th. Admittedly he later started to make errors again, taking to the service roads, but is showing enough promise that a bigger team must take some interest in him soon.

With 15 laps to go, Coulthard suffered hydraulic failure and retired from the race, fortunately on a straight part of the track where he was able to recover and manoeuvre out of danger quickly. It was a real shame as DC had been going relatively well, although Webber still had the better drive and ultimately bought his car home in the points with a 7th place. Wurz retired 5 laps later, and then 2 laps later Button suffered hydraulic failure as well, and was out of the race.

Heidfeld took his now traditional ‘best of the rest’ position in 5th, and Rosberg rounded out the points finishers in 6th.

So 3 times in a row, Raikonnen took the win, showing some rare exuberance with a donut as he finished.

D-Day for McLaren – FIA Judgement on spygate

September 13, 2007

It took 9 hours of deliberation for the FIA World Motor Sport Council to decide McLaren’s fate at last, in light of ‘new evidence’ that had come to light. One surprise was that Ross Brawn came out of hiding from his sabbatical to attend as part of the Ferrari delegation.

Well, McLaren have now lost all points from the 2007 championship, and are no longer eligible to score any more for the remainder of the season. They have also received a $100million fine (£49.2 million), and have to submit their 2008 car with all technical data for a thorough examination prior to the 2008 season, the FIA will decide in their December 2007 meeting what sanctions, if any, will be imposed for 2008. However, both drivers will not be penalised, and retain all points.

Having not heard exactly what conclusions were drawn, other than McLaren being in possession of the Ferrari document, then at present the penalty dolled out is reasonable. The $100million fine is offset against the television income the team would of earned had it been eligible for points, so whilst the biggest penalty in the sport’s history it is somewhat diminished. The loss of constructor’s points serves as the biggest slap on the wrists and sends out a very clear message to all teams about the cost of breaking the sporting regulations.

I still can’t help but feel that there is a Ferrari bias frequently in the decisions made, and this whole spying incident has left me with a foul taste in my mouth about a sport that I love and am passionate about. But the FIA have at least had a moment of blinding clarity and common sense in not penalising the drivers. At this point, as far as we are aware the drivers are not involved and it leaves the driver’s championship intact to be fought fairly on the race track. With it already shaping up to be one of the best championships for many years, the damage caused had Hamilton and Alonso lost their points would of been devastating.

I really hope that this is an end to it now, and that no sanctions are taken against the team for 2008, there is nothing worse than thinking everything is over, only to have everything change again. I hope that McLaren go out and stuff Ferrari at all of the remaining races, obviously kicking their asses at the Italian GP was a good start.

One question remains for me, was it ominous that Alonso did not attend the hearing? He has recently stated that he is only concerned with the Driver’s championship, the Constructors title doesn’t mean anything to him, whilst Hamilton has come out saying both titles are important to him. I’m sure Ron Dennis was particularly pleased with Alonso’s statement. Could he be gearing up to depart early?

Aliens vs Predator – Requiem

September 11, 2007

I’m a huge fan of the Aliens films, and for me the first Trilogy were the defining films (Yes I even enjoyed the 3rd film). The Predator films weren’t such a big deal for me, but still enjoyable, and of course the hint of things to come in the trophy room in Predator 2 was nice. I also read the comics and of course therefore read Aliens Vs Predator.

When I first heard of the AvP film I was excited at the possibility of a film that might do the Aliens some justice again, alas it was not to be as the film played to a younger teen audience. It was enjoyable to a fashion, but not really enough. Rumours abounded of footage on the cutting room, that would make it’s way into an 18 certificate DVD release, but it never materialised.

Then the other day, my good friend Jimbo mentioned having seen the R rated trailer for Aliens Vs Predator – Requiem. Oh yes! My appetite has been well and truly whetted, this looks like what the first one should of been, proper gory deaths, and plenty of them by the looks, something to do the Alien series justice perhaps? Now I can’t wait until it’s released, this one will definitely have to be seen at the cinema and enjoyed properly.

Head over to www.avp-r.com to enjoy…

EDIT

Official site doesn’t seem to be showing it at the mo, re-directing to IGN

Monza

September 10, 2007

After recent testing, practice seemed to show that McLaren had indeed put their troubles behind them and upped the game, to put Ferrari into 2nd place. Again it was really a race of two teams, with the rest left to sort themselves out. There are still some interesting battles going on in the midfield. One of the most intersting things to come out of practice was Raikonnen’s high speed crash, with his car suddenly braking right into the barriers and doing considerable damage. What made it interesting, was the Ferrari press office immediately getting to work to say that a wheel locked under braking over the bumps, which seemed highly unlikely with the incident looking more like some sort of failure. It was during practice that Alonso also showed his true speed, putting Hamilton firmly in the shade.

Highlights of qualifying were Coulthard in 20th place after a spin seemingly caused by a gearbox seizure. Schumacher again qualified poorly, I really will be surprised to see him keep his seat. Davidson punching well again to take 14th, and Mark Webber just missing on Q3 in 11th, I’d like to see him do better having suffered so badly in the past with poor cars. Jenson Button managed to make Q3, although only making 10th in the end, it’s still a step in the right direction. Heidfeld and Kubica were the stars, taking 4th and 6th respectively, with Raikonnen in 5th. Alonso was on top form, giving a master class with a near faultless lap, to put Hamilton in 2nd and Massa 3rd.

Come the race, the start was fantastic. Hamilton lined up at an angle ready to defend his 2nd place, as he was on the harder tyres with Massa running the softer option tyre that would give him a clear edge off the start line. Alonso was away cleanly with Hamilton trying to pull in tight behind, giving Massa just enough room, which he unfortunately used to take 2nd approaching the 1st corner. However, always determined, Hamilton came back round the outside, with Massa making contact with his wheels on the apex as they took the 2nd corner, forcing Hamilton to cut it, the stewards investigated the incident, but nothing was to come of it. Having nipped back in front it was clear that Hamilton did not have the same initial pace as Massa who was crawling all over his gearbox and pushing hard, but with some almost unfair weaving Hamilton kept at bay until his car settled and he romped off with Alonso. In the 1st chicane chaos, Coulthard clashed with Fisichella damaging his front wing, which decided to brake free taking him off the track as it damaged his steering on the 2nd lap, after he had made up a number of place. He veered off into the hoardings at 170mph, but was soon jumping out of the car and walking away, unfortunately the incident brought out the safety car.

Once released from the safety car on lap 7, Hamilton made his only bid for 1st, feinting to the inside of Alonso approaching the first chicane. By lap 10 Massa seemed to be struggling, and retired on lap 11, while the McLarens contined to run away at the front with Hamilton closing the gap to Alonso, before pitting first. Alonso came in 2 laps later, but it then became clear that Raikonnen had planned a longer run, and the safety car period had allowed him to extend this, coming in on lap 26 after leading the race. Suddenly Raikonnen looked dangerous, how far ahead would the McLarens get before their second stops? Meanwhile BMW experienced some drama in their stops as Kubica’s car suffered problems with the jacks, with the mechanics having to manhandle the front of the car to get the jack in place, this led to the loss of 5th place to Rosberg, who had spent much of the first stint battling Jenson Button.

The danger became more apparent as Alonso continued to stretch his legs, whilst Hamilton seemed to drop off, a trait that seems to be becoming more prominent with Hamilton regularly showing weaker middle stints in his races. by the time the Mclarns made their stops, Hamilton was 6 seconds off Alonso, and sure enough Raikonnen slotted into 2nd place as Hamilton emerged from the pits, gaining a huge cheer from the Italian crowd. However, with Hamilton now on the softer compound tyres, he later admitted he knew he didn’t have long to make the best of the tyres, so made an impressive lunge down the inside of Raikonnen into the first chicane on lap 43 from some 50 metres back. Raikonnen had left just enough room, and Hamilton took it, a truly impressive piece of overtaking that surely surprised Raikonnen, both cars locked up slightly under braking, but other than that a completely clean pass, and Hamilton soon left Raikonnen behind, but could never get close to Alonso again. The three leaders seemed to settle for their places, and turn the revs down to save the engines for the next race. With 8 laps to go, a fired up Kubica passed Rosberg, to take fifth giving BMW a 4th and 5th place finish with his team mate Heidfeld. Kovalainen took 7th, and Button came home 8th, adding another point to the Honda tally which will surely help to motivate the team to keep pushing forward.

Unfortunately, there was a dark cloud over the race weekend, as the spy case continued to boil over. In the run up, it emerged that the FIA had approached the McLaren drivers, including test driver Pedro de la Rosa, for any information that they had relevant to the case. The FIA announced that it had new evidence, which some claim relates to an e-mail containing Ferrari set-up data, and has been linked to Alonso. The FIA have called an emergency meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on the 13th September in light of this new evidence. The potential sanctions being banded about, include expulsion from the 2007 championship, and indeed 2008 as well. I am growing concerned for where this will go, as it runs the risk of damaging the sport. No doubt, if McLaren are guilty, they must be punished, but excluding them may be the wrong way to go. This would no doubt lead to loss of interest from some fans, and loss of sponsors and advertising revenue, possibly losing sponsors that would then not come back. With the resurgence of interest that Hamilton has generated, what would happen when he finds himself without a team, and therefore no race seat for a year? Likewise Alonso. Of course, this is one area where it potentially becomes more interesting. If it is true that the information has come from Alonso, on the one hand you can put it down to the punitive penalty threatened by the FIA if the drivers did not comply, but you could also see it as a way for Alonso to release himself from a contract that some claim he is not happy with. It would be much easier to wriggle out of a contract that no longer allows him to race. This uncertainty about Alonso’s future also seems to be holding up driver negotiations as teams are not fully revealing their 2008 line-ups, waiting for the chance to snap up Alonso perhaps? If you really want to get carried away with conspiracy theories, how about an attempt to unsettle Hamilton, losing his race seat so that another team can try to offer him one? Ferrari and McLaren have a history of battling one another, and Ferrari have employed dirty tricks before. It was only a couple of years back that late in the championship Ferrari claimed the Michelin tyres used by other teams were illegal by being too wide, despite being fine through the rest of the season.

How much Ferrari are embroiled is uncertain, but on the Saturday evening, Italian magistrates informed McLaren that 5 senior team members were being investigated for sporting fraud and industrial espionage. This could be viewed as an attempt to unsettle the team before the race. I am now hoping that Thursday’s meeting will see the end of it all, but I can’t help feeling this may run and run, and we might not really know who has won the Driver’s and Constructor’s championships until some time after the end of the season as any proceedings come to a conclusion and any alterations to the standings are made.

Turkish GP

August 27, 2007

Well, it was somewhat of a shock to watch a normal race after the last couple, and i have to confess, somewhat boring because of it.

After all the controversy at McLaren over what happened in the pits, it was interesting to see that they had 2 pit boxes for the qualifying session. What I found particularly interesting about this, is that it was more a statement to the press, to be broadcast. The team would of had an idea from practice what tactics they were going to use for the drivers come the final session (And lets face it something disastrous would of had to happen for them not to both be there), so as they didn’t come in together, the team must of known they wouldn’t need them both. The Turkish circuit has a particularly big pit area so they could get away with it, let’s face it they won’t at other circuits, so was this genuine or just a message to the masses?

That aside there weren’t any huge surprises, the expected 4 battled for pole, with Massa taking the glory, Hamilton 2nd, then Raikonnen and Alonso. The Hondas were struggling again, and come the morning of the race they were both starting from the back of the grid. The one possible surprise was Anthony Davidson who pushed his Super Aguri up to 7th before he was pushed back to 11th as the final times were recorded. There are some financial problems apparently at Aguri which might be a problem for Davidson, but with Prodrive yet to announce it’s driver line up, who knows?

Unfortunately, I have to say, for the actual race the main excitement was off the line. Alonso slipped back by 2 places, and Raikonnen getting past Hamilton. It looked like that was going to be pretty much it from start to finish with Hamilton just about keeping the Ferraris honest, but Alonso struggling to keep the same pace. Heidfeld drove another superb race, as did Kovalainen, showing his now found his form. It was interesting that BMW had left it so long to announce there driver line up for next year when Heidfeld seemed certain of having secured his seat. I get the feeling they were waiting to see if Alonso would jump ship and could lure him away. Talking of which it is interesting that Toyota are also dragging their heels now, are they maybe waiting to lure Alonso with a big cheque if he does indeed look to leave his contract early? After all, with Ralf Schumacher’s 19th in qualifying (Back to form really) I can’t see them keeping him on.

Webber once again suffered a failure of his RedBull, I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy as he always seems to put in a sterling performance only to be let down by his car, the old Jaguar used to do the same. Let’s hope they can get some reliability and hopefully come 2008 we’ll see some more of Webber’s potential.

With 15 laps left to go, Hamilton suffered a right front tyre blow out, which left him to nurse the car back to the pits, and then after getting new boots, battling with the car to defend his now 5th place for damage limitation. In the process Alonso was gifted Hamilton’s 3rd place, but overall Hamilton only lost 2 points from the race.

Whilst it was disappointing to see Hamilton’s lead further eroded, I must also say as a race fan that it’s quite exciting. Massa and Raikonnen are now seperated by a single point, and trail Hamilton by 15 and 16 points. Meanwhile Alonso is just 5 points behind in the championship. With 5 races now left, things are tight, and potentially all 4 could still win the title, and with some of his recent bad luck, should Hamilton actually manage it, he won’t be accused of being gifted the title. The misfortune will mean he will of earnt the title.

Global warming myth and Y2K bug?

August 16, 2007

This could certainly explain a lot:

Y2K error?

Hungaroring – It’s War!

August 6, 2007

In the run up to race weekend, Spyker announced that Sakon Yamamoto would replace Markus Winkelhock who had stood in for Christijan Albers. It’s a shame that Winkelhcok didn’t get to finish the season, but no doubt Yamamoto is bringing some funding with him, so the motivation is clear. Somewhat more interesting was the changes at Torro Rosso, with relationships clearly strained between driver and management, Scott Speed found himself out on his ear with BMW test driver Sebastian Vettel coming in to replace him. Vettel has now been confirmed for the rest of this season, and into 2008. Well, that little shake up wasn’t particularly surprising, but none the less was quite interesting to watch going on, but then it was time for things to settle as the race weekend arrived… oops.

After showing some return to form, Honda managed to go backwards again, with Button qualifying 17th and Barrichello 18th. Then come the 2nd session, Ferrari made a most unexpected mistake. With Massa struggling with handling in his F2007, he came in for another shot at a flying lap, and set off down the pit lane only to stop at the end, and have to be dragged back. An error with the fueling rig meant he had taken on no fuel. By the time he got going reduced tyre pressure from hanging around no doubt ruined his chances, and he ended up a lowly 14th. Then the real fun and games begun. In the 3rd session Hamilton was due to let Alonso past him as Alonso had the lighter fuel load, but as they exited the pits he did not (Later claiming Alonso was not close enough and he did not want to risk Raikkonen coming past too by slowing excessively), clearly Alonso was not happy. In the dying minutes of the session, Alonso pitted for a tyre change to try and improve on his provisional pole, meanwhile Hamilton qued behind him, getting ready to go out and hopefully take pole back, but once Alonso was clear to go, he waited, and held Hamilton up just enough that he ran out of time to put in a flying lap. Later Alonso said that his engineer had been counting him down, but things didn’t quite seem right.

In the closing hours of the day, the FIA decided to penalise Alonso, and he was dropped 5 places down the grid to 6th, and McLaren were told that they would not score any championship points from the race. These were somewhat harsh judgements, after all, neither driver had impeded any other driver, they had not affected another team, I don’t think there should of been any sanction against the team, and at most Alonso should of been demoted to second – quite probably restoring the grid to the result it would of been anyway. Race fans lost out here, as 2 team mates, 2 points apart in the championship, lining up 1st and 2nd and racing each other into the first corner would of been a spectacular start to the race. As it was Alonso charged hard from the start and gained 4th before being squeezed into the inside and suffering cars coming round him, the right choice though as he needed to finish the race to limit any damage to his standing. Meanwhile both Hamilton and Raikkonen got away well, Raikkonen beating Heidfeld in the drag to the first corner, and that set the stage for the rest of the race. Hamilton drove his first flag to flag lead to win, with Raikkonen keeping him honest the whole way. At one point the lead was up to 4.5 seconds, but closed down to half a second at the closest. Raikkonen claimed his true pace wasn’t really shown as he wasn’t in clean air, whilst Hamilton has stated he was struggling with steering, I guess we’ll never really know without being behind the wheel ourselves, but it looked to me like they were pretty evenly matched.

Alonso raced hard and ultimately bought the car home in 4th, never quite managing to claim the last step of the podium, but nonetheless an impressive drive, having spent a lot of time behind Ralf Schumacher. Talking of Schumacher, a great result from him, but isn’t it funny how he’s improved now it’s time to negotiate a new contract? I’ll be surprised to still see him at Toyota for 2008, but then with his current form someone may just take him on. Part of me was glad Alonso didn’t take 3rd as it gave Heidfeld a well earned result, a good result from a great qualifying performance.

So with the race over, it appears that Alonso isn’t talking to Hamilton, and trouble could be brewing at McLaren. Ron Dennis wasn’t happy with what happened, and most of all I’m sure he wouldn’t of liked how it made the team look. However, I thought it was great to see two drivers in the same team, fighting one another, that impassioned about the sport and looking to not only win, but outdo each other. Now the press has rumours of Alonso being unhappy at McLaren, and maybe not even seeing his contract out. Pat Symonds of Renault has stated he would love to see Alonso return. Hamilton has already said he won’t race for any other team than McLaren unless things seriously change, and he still seems happy where he is, so if anyone was to move it looks like Alonso. Would Hamilton winning the Championship be enough to push Alonso over the edge and sign elsewhere, maybe seeing out his contract but signing early like he did when moving to McLaren in the first place? I’m beginning to think Hamilton winning could be a very good thing, obviously it would be great as he’s a Brit etc etc as I’ve said before – but it would no doubt make for an even more interesting pairing within the team, and set-up a great 2008 season! Still, it’s a long way to go yet and I’m sure there’s some great racing still to come.

UPDATE – 08-08-07

It would appear that Ron Dennis has said he expects both drivers to honour their contracts, in the same way that McLaren will, but if Alonso really can’t deal with both drivers having equal status and needs to go somewhere where he will be the No 1 driver then he is free to go at the end of the season. Interesting…

German Gp – Wacky Races

July 22, 2007

Wacky races

OK, I was shocked when Hamilton went off in qualifying, after being annoyed at Buttons poor performance when Honda had looked promising this came as a double blow. Personally I’m not convinced by the official line about the failing gun.

Come race day I admit I was hoping that Hamilton would be able to do something but couldn’t see how having tumbled to 10th, likewise I was hoping that Button would be able to hit the points again, and even Coulthard was showing some promise. As they barelled into the 1st corner, Hamilton flew up to 4th, only to then be pushed wide as the BMWs decided to try and take each other out – what were they playing at? BMW are still going well and really don’t need their drivers doing that sort of thing! Unfortunately Hamilton picked up a rear puncture at this point and had to limp round the lap, but that was nothing anyway as the heavens opened and the silliness began. In the wet conditions Raikonnen managed to misjudge his braking and miss the pit lane, meaning he had to gingerly find his way round another lap on dry tyres, effectively race over. The rest of the grid slapped on Intermediates, only to find the rain was worse than that. Button, Hamilton, Sutil and both Torro Rossos aquaplaned off the track at turn 1, while Liuzzi nearly hit the safety car. Amazingly after all of this, Markus Winkelhock took the lead on his first race, having had the advantage of starting from the pit lane on Inters.

The Red flags came out and the race was suspended with the dangerous conditions, and six cars in the run-off area. Amazingly Hamilton had kept his engine running, and with his car in a dangerous position was allowed a bump start back onto the track (Remember Schumacher doing the same?), and started from 17th for the re-start. As the race got going again behind the safety car, under the new regulations Hamilton was allowed to un-lap himself, and once ahead of the safety car pitted, gambling with dry tyres. It could of been a masterstroke, but alas was not, the track wasn’t ready yet and he struggle round, and spent the rest of the afternoon chasing the last of the points, and narrowly missing out.

Winkelhock fell down the placings and Massa took the lead, and looked certain to stay there, whilst Raikonnen regained some luck, pitting early for slicks and moving up to 3rd and chasing Alonso, both men putting in fastest laps. However, his luck didn’t last, as his car developed a fault at half way, and he ended up pulling off just as he was approaching the pits. Webber and Wurz’s battle for fourth now became a battle for 3rd.

As everything looked settled for the finish of the races, in the dying laps the heavens opened again briefly, although not as bad. Alonso was not much faster on the wet track, and incredibly brave as he caught Massa and then looked for a way past, finally taking him round the outside of turn 5. Think that was enough? As Webber came to complete the race he struggled in standing water and seemed to almost come to a standstill as Wurz closed on him, somehow Webber got it back together to take 3rd.