The Drood Report

Nick Fry is a jerk.

What is a sheeps favourite race?

The Baa-rain Grand Prix. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

I think we’ve slipped into an alternate universe. Three entertaining races in a row? Curious if it’s just coincidence, or if driver aids really did make F1 crappy for all those years. Despite being yet another Tilke created monstrosity, Bahrain threw up yet another good race. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but it held my attention, which is more than a lot of races in recent years can claim, and I really enjoyed it.

it was disappointing to see Kubica squander his magnificent pole position, but then the lad is young, it was his first pole, and I can fully understand nerves getting to him. More intriguingly was Lewis making possibly the worst start of his entire career and dropping down to tenth, which set up his unlikely departure from active competition on lap two. Now this made me extremely angry. Not the incident itself. The fact that ITV started immediately accusing Alonso of brake testing Hamilton, and continued to do so all race long. 50 laps later they were still at it. They’d stop for a while, then Allen would bring it up again and Brundle would chime in again with the suspicion. “This incident will be talked about for some time.” said Allen. “Only by you bloody Lewis marks” I said to nobody in particular.

Now we know that it most definitely wasn’t a brake test, not that I believed for a second it was. Not saying Alonso wouldn’t do it. (I’m not stupid, and he’s done it before.) I’m saying it because he is a smart cookie and wouldn’t do it when he’s got 10 cars very close behind him, if only out of thoughts of self preservation. Renault released the telemetry to show no braking or even lifting from Alonso, and McLaren themselves have come out and given Lewis a “Get out of a jail free” card by blaming the front wing. Just like they tripped over themselves to make excuses for his championship winding up in a Chinese rock garden. Must be nice to have so many people willing to throw themselves on their swords for you.

This all prompted me to write to ITV yesterday and say that, given the accusations they hurled throughout the race at Alonso, I would hope they’d make a public apology to him on the next broadcast. I know they won’t, but it’s another example of how crushingly unprofessional ITV’s F1 presentation is. Can you imagine Murray Walker harping on for the entire race about it? No, because Murray was a RACING fan before being a fan of any particular driver, whereas ITV’s crew are clearly LEWIS fans before the racing these days.

Back to the plot though, on lap two as the field was starting to fan out, we saw Lewis ride up the back of Alonso. (Hope he took him to dinner first.) Supposedly a bit of the front wing broke in contact with Alonso at turn 4 on lap one (clever trick by Mclaren there. Still tacitly blame Alonso for the incident while defending their driver), and coincidentally just happened to fail right as Lewis was attempting to pass his rival from last year. This makes my spider sense tingle. While there may have been some front wing damage, I find it strange that it wouldn’t go until almost a lap later given the stresses the aerodynamics are put under.  Usually with wing failures, if they’re damaged, they go at the next time of great stress. Usually the main straight. I think more likely Lewis was in panic mode from botching his start so horribly and, once again, was trying to win the race in the opening laps, and McLaren had a convenient excuse to protect their boy once he mucked it up.

So Lewis had wing/brain failure and wound up in the pits. As did Jenson Button and David Coulthard. This setup something which made me chuckle. Four British drivers running 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th, with Anthony Davidson leading them all. GO ANT! I always knew he could do it!

One thing that went largely unremarked on race day was the somewhat incredible performance of Giancarlo Fisichella, hustling his pathetic Farce India around the track at the same speed as the Renaults. I’ve never especially rated Fisichella, but I was very impressed with him getting that dog of a car around the track in such an impressive fashion.

One thing Bahrain always brings home to me is how much I miss gravel traps. There’s all the blathering that having asphalt instead is safer. (I’ll be writing about this later in the week. Yes, an entire column ABOUT GRAVEL! Try to contain your excitement!) I say screw that. Gravel should be there to punish the drivers for making mistakes. Now if a driver goes wide it’s just “whoopsie daisy” and back on with the race. It’s like they go out of their way to make the sport easier these days when these guys are supposed to be the best in the world. It’s only game over if they hit anything. I’d rather have seen Lewis mired in gravel on Friday than smashing into a wall. Fairly certain the poor mechanics would prefer to pick gravel out the car rather than having to rebuild the entire damn car.

Kimi had a very curious weekend. I guess the phrase “off day” could be used, except he had three of them. Very strange performance, as Massa kicked him up and down the pitlane all weekend. Speaking of which, despite not thinking much of him, I have to say Massa was a star all weekend. He’s usually a one lap wonder during the lead up to the race, but come race day he falls apart. Not in Bahrain. He was on it all weekend, with Kubica providing the only hiccup by scoring pole. (Man, that was so utterly glorious. I’m still smiling now. I’m starting to really like Kubica.) Massa drove like a star all weekend, and I have to give him credit for that.

We had a NEW and EXCITING innovation in the track graphics this race… A track map SHOWING US WHERE THE DRIVERS WERE! WOO! Be still my beating heart, we’re in the 22nd century now! *sigh* It was very cool, but still makes me shake my head when other series have had stuff like that for years, and I seem to recall we may have had it back in the early 90’s, but I could be wrong. Still, anything new is a good thing, and it was great to actually see where other cars were given their penchant for not telling us the damn gaps. Showing us more than the top three drivers would have been nice though.

Not content with Lewis hogging the limelight as best British accident, Coulthard and Button decided to have a go. Really, you could see this accident coming at least one lap prior to where it happened. Apparently Coulthard and Button are great friends, going so far as to park their motorhomes next to each other. Well I’m quite sure there were tears before bedtime this past Sunday. Hard to tell who exactly was to blame, if anyone. Coulthard would be the obvious target given he’s already had a couple of incidents this season. Still, they collided, and there was much chuckling and shaking of head from me over the whole thing. As if their day wasn’t already bad enough they decided to try and make it a little bit worse, though I do think Honda parked Button’s car more down to ego damage than any damage to the actual car.

All the while Lewis was still bimbling around in an apparently mortally wounded car. He was fighting Fisichella FOR POSITION (I said the boy did good didn’t I!) and took a while to get past, then made some hand gesture at Giancarlo. Now drivers making gestures at each other is nothing new. Usually it’s when a lapped car won’t get out the damn way and it’s highly entertaining. Not sure WHAT Lewis was up to. It was a clean fight for position, and mortally wounded car or no, it was amusing to see the wunderkind struggle to get past Fisichella’s pile of parts masquerading as a racing car. To then have the audacity to make some ridiculous hand gesture at the guy… Lewis is certainly a conundrum.

While all around drivers were losing the heads, tyres and wings, Massa sailed on serenely in the lead, never once looking threatened or like the out of control maniac we saw in Australia and Malaysia, though of course the mere threat that he could throw the car at the scenery at any moment added spice. He didn’t though, and went to take his first win of the year. Raikkonen took second. Kubica took third. Driving around largely unremarked but putting in another great performance was Jarno Trulli in the Toyota, stomping Sutil into the dirt once again. Barely saw Trulli all race. Shame.

Raikkonen now leads the championship. More interesting than that, BMW leads the constructors championship by one point! There were already stories after Kubica got pole of him downplaying his championship chances, which led me to wonder what sort of cretin was playing UP his chances in the first place that led to him playing them down?! Now there is some debate of how much of a threat BMW are for the rest of the year. Ferrari think they’re a threat. McLaren don’t. Massa, given things I’ve read, does/doesn’t consider them a threat depending on who you believe.

I don’t believe for one second that Heidfeld or Kubica are a threat for the drivers title, though Kubica is clearly the most likely if there WAS a threat, which is a surprise as I figured it’d be Heidfeld. Don’t really mind though. As I said, I’m starting to really like Kubica as a driver.

The constructors title, on the other hand, is a realistic goal for BMW. This is quite fun for me as it means, for the first time ever, I might actually care about the constructors title.

So we leave Bahrain and head to Europe on the back of three good to great races. Sadly the next stop is Barcelona, which along with Magny Cours is one of the circuits that I feel would benefit greatly from a nearby nuclear detonation.

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April 9, 2008 - Posted by | f1

4 Comments »

  1. Good call on Fisichella’s performance. I always thought he just wasn’t that good, but he’s really sticking it to Sutil this year, and Bahrain was his best race yet.

    Comment by qbert72 | April 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’ve never really rated him. I mean Alonso stomped him into the dirt. But perhaps, rather like DC going to Red Bull, the change has invigorated him as he’s certainly making Sutil look rather ordinary. Now Sutil is reasonably well regarded I believe, so he’s not an amateur in the car, which makes Fisichella look all the better.

    Comment by Steve | April 14, 2008 | Reply

  3. Exactly. He’s making well-regarded prospect Sutil look bad, and himself look very good at the same time. Good on him.

    Comment by qbert72 | April 15, 2008 | Reply

  4. I really like it when I’m proven wrong, or my expectations regarding a driver are shattered. I had written off Fisichella, and thought it was quite sad he was slumming it.

    And now here he is matching pace with the Renaults.

    Keep it up I say!

    Comment by Steve | April 15, 2008 | Reply


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