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KIMI KILLS THE SILLY SEASON

  Prior to the summer break there was a silly season in full swing. Rumours abounded regarding who would replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari because he would DEFINATELY be on the way out. Most of them were complete nonsense of course as either the cost of paying out existing contracts would make the choice prohibitively expensive or the touted drivers were not, or not yet, of Ferrari quality.

 

 

  In the nonsense file could be placed Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Guttierez, Jean-Eric Vergne, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton but they all were mentioned as certainties by one publication or another. Ricciardo for several reasons, one being the cost involved in extracting him from his Red Bull contract and the other that Vettel would probably not have been too keen on the concept after his trampling by Daniel last year. Ricciardo did his best to dismiss the story but did admit it was nice to be considered a potential Ferrari driver. Williams also would have wanted a large swag of Euros to release Valtteri who was more likely to have been having discussions about a 2017 drive while Hamilton, give me a break. Why on God’s earth would he want to leave the team that is the current cream of the crop when he is currently cruising to a second consecutive title in a team that he has now moulded about him? Not unless he is on copious quantities of mind altering substances would he even remotely consider such a move.

 

  With all due respect to two very competent drivers, neither Guttierez or Vergne are really thought of as potential world champions and Verstappen, who is, does not have enough experience yet to have been a real candidate. In reality the only real, potential candidate was Nico Hulkenberg who’s current Force India contract is finished at season’s end. For some reason no front-running team has snapped up Hulkenberg despite a glittering junior career and a habit of transcending every F1 car he has parked his arse in. This is a guy that truly deserves a front running car and it will be a huge loss for all F1 fans if he doesn’t get one before he gets too old.

 

  However all this feverish speculation came to naught when Ferrari announced that Kimi would be staying on for at least another year and that effectively killed off the silly season. In the weeks following this there has been a series of announcements that have basically confirmed that everyone is pretty much staying where they are for next year. Mercedes – no change, Red Bull – no change, Ferrari – no change, Williams – no change, Force India – no change, Toro Rosso – no change and Sauber – no change. Sort of takes all the fun out of it.

 

  There are potentially just six places left, although that is only five if Button does not announce his retirement this weekend. Jenson dropped a couple of large hints in Singapore when he mentioned that he had made up his mind regarding his F1 future and that it had been an emotional decision. That usually means you are calling it quits and there are whispers that he may end up as one of Mark Webber’s team-mates next year. That is of course if VW’s current emissions scandal doesn’t bring the company to its knees as the cost of worldwide fines and law-suites could make any motorsport programmes too much for their bottom line. It would be just Jenson’s luck to have signed a contract with a team that may not exist in six months time. The repercussions of this could be disastrous for not just the World Endurance Championship (possibly losing Audi and Porsche) but also the World Rally Championship (VW and Skoda) and Formula 3 where most engines are supplied by VW. Let alone the rumoured future tie-up between Red Bull and VW.

 

  If Button does go, who will step up into the second McLaren seat? Most likely either Magnussen or Van Doorne obviously but Magnussen has also been linked with a move to the new Haas squad, as have many others. Amongst those (who are yet to sign up with their current teams) are Ferrari testing pair Esteban Guttierez and Jean-Eric Vergne, Romain Grosjean (who has become thoroughly fed up with Lotus’s continued financial woes) and Alexander Rossi, currently with Marussia. As the potential Haas list began with ten names the odds are getting better for these final five.

 

  No-one will know who Manor/Marussia will front up with until their finances for next year are sorted out but it is unfortunately likely to be who has the biggest cheque available so the only questions left to be asked are; Will Lotus be Renault and will Renault have Mercedes engines and who will slot in beside Maldonado whose Venezuelan petro-dollars have kept his place safe? If Renault don’t buy in, will the Enstone squad be around at all? Will Ferrari agree to supply Red Bull/Toro Rosso with engines now that the split with Renault has been all but finalised and announced. Will they get the latest versions of the Ferrari or will Maranello be unwilling to be beaten by a customer and only agree to supply year old ones? If Ferrari don’t supply them, and Mercedes have also said they won’t, and Renault aren’t, and Honda can’t, will we lose both teams? What would that mean to the newly reinstated Austrian Grand Prix at the “Red Bull Ring”?

 

  Ah jolly good, there are some things that we can still speculate about and enjoy the wild rumours that will be postulated. Did you hear the one about Stirling Moss coming out of retirement and rejoining Mercedes after 60 years to replace Hamilton who has accepted a place on the one way mission to Mars?

 

 

   I’ll keep you posted.

 

 Sam Snape

 

24/09/2015

DEATH!!! and other pleasant topics

 

  Motor Racing is Dangerous!  It must be. It says so on your admission ticket. And not just in these tedious Ëlf n Safety” ridden times. It used to declare this on the tabards of professional photographers in the days where to get the best shot you stood on the very edge of the track. Long sigh – the good old days…Despite a few close calls oddly enough very, very few of these guys were ever killed by an errant F1 car occupying a joint moment in space and time. However it just takes one tiny piece of crap luck to induce the most tragic of circumstances.

 

  And one tiny piece of crap luck was all it took to end the life of Justin Wilson last Sunday. It was such crap luck that the accident that claimed his life did not even involve him. Justin was many cars back from Sage Karem when the young American lost it and clouted the wall. It was such crap luck that the nose cone from Karem’s car took the one direction from that impact directly into Wilson’s path. It could have gone in any million other directions and posed no threat. We have all seen it hundreds of times as the following drivers fly through the scattering debris fields, whether on ovals or on road courses. Daniil Kyvat flying through the shotgun blast that just moments before had been Nico Hulkenberg’s front wing in Hungary a couple of weeks ago springs to mind. And we usually think, “Wow, that was lucky”. When in reality it’s not. The odds of any of those pieces being of a size to do any damage and being on the one degree of direction out of the millions it could go are akin to the odds of a Lotto win. 999,999 times out of a million there will be no problem. That poor Justin collected an entire nose cone, which would have arrived with the same devastating force as the fire extinguisher that killed Tom Pryce back in ’77, was now, just as it was then, just utterly crap luck.

 

  There are several things about crap luck. One is that it doesn’t discriminate. It is just as likely to happen to a really decent guy like Justin as an arse-hole. Although when I think back on it – it seems to happen more often to nice guys but maybe that’s just because we feel it more keenly when it does. Another is that you can’t legislate against it. Unless none of us ever leave the hospital we are born in, crap luck will occur, somewhere, sometime, somehow. You just have to cope with it as best you can and try not to over-react. I have noticed over the last few days the rehashing of the idea of having fighter-jet style cockpit canopies on open wheel racing cars to prevent any possibility of head strikes. Seems reasonable at first sight. Until you think about it. The car in front drops oil, or mud all over your canopy, how do you clean it at high speed? Bit dangerous that. Had a prang and your car is upside down and on fire, you can’t open the canopy. Bit dangerous that. You do an Ascari and head into the harbour at Monaco and can’t open the canopy… All to protect a driver from something that is extremely rare. In my memory in major categories just three other drivers have lost their lives to a head strike since the afore mentioned Tom Pryce in 1977. One was Ayrton Senna who was speared by his own suspension arm and the other was Henry Surtees who collected an entire wheel during a Formula 2 race in 2009.

 

  If the powers that be want to make motor racing a little less dangerous, and lets face it, it will never be entirely safe, there are a couple of areas that can be looked at, and really should have already been so. The first (not in any particular order of importance) is the level of marshalling standards in some countries and the pressure brought to bare on marshalling decisions by the evils of TV money. Generally the standard is very high but occasionally stupidity springs forth when under the pump from the almighty dollar. Example – an unfortunately to recent one – I don’t give a flying fuck what the FIA say, the act of having a 20 ton tractor on the same side of the barriers as racing cars, in the wet, with ever darkening and worsening visibility and NOT putting out a safety car was just plain STUPID.

 

And stupidity can be learned from, so long as you don’t bury your head in the sand and deny it. Of course if the race had been held earlier in the day as many requested due to the incoming weather pattern none of this would have happened and Jules would probably still be with us but the almighty TV dollar demanded no change to the schedule. Guys, learn to be a bit more pro-active and flexible, it’s a multi-billion dollar sport. You can afford to lose a few bucks here and there with the odd change, after all, if the race had happened a few hours earlier the TV companies could still have played their telecast at the programmed time. No one would have missed it. Except Jules.

 

  The second, and this is the one that pisses me off the most, is driving standards. The FIA seems to be just plain gutless when holding drivers to account for their actions. The real decline seems to have started with Senna – let’s be honest here – he did admit he intentionally rammed Prost at Suzuka in 1990 – and absolutely nothing was done about it. The HOLEY dollar spoke again. Michael Schumacher did it twice – in Adelaide 1994 and Jerez 1997 - and absolutely nothing was done about it. The HOLEY dollar spoke again.

 

If the FIA had any balls both of these guys would have been completely disqualified from the championships, loosing all placings, points and prize money and then given VERY lengthy suspensions. But all they got was a slap on the wrist. So we now have an entire generation of twerps who think that behaving like this is acceptable. Robin Frijns, for example, who intentionally took out Jules Bianchi at Barcelona to win the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 title. Just this weekend in the GP2 race at Spa, Pierre Gasly drove Daniel de Jong off the track going through the flat-out Blanchimont curve, whether through intent or stupidity is irrelevant, causing de Jong to have an almighty accident resulting in fractured vertebrae. De Jong is in hospital having had surgery and bloody lucky to not be paralysed. And what furious punishment did Gasly receive? A 10 second penalty. Wow. Give the prat six months to think about it and you might just change his behaviour. Ten seconds? Broken Vertebrae? You’ve got to be kidding. And while on the topic of GP2 standards, just how many accidents does Sergio Canamasas have to cause before he receives a substantial suspension?

 

  Rant over. For the time being. Not only is motor racing dangerous, so is that incurable disease – life. Although many of you wouldn’t have heard about it because there wasn’t any spectacular TV footage, two other ex Formula one drivers passed away this week simply because life ran out. Eric Thompson, who is one of very few drivers to score world championship points on debut, and has an even rarer distinction of scoring points in his only world championship appearance with a fifth place for Connaught in the 1952 British Grand Prix. Thompson was better known for his sports car exploits but also scored a pair of non-championship wins at Snetterton in 1953. Eric was 95, not a bad innings. Guy Ligier also departed the scene aged 85. Better known for his eponymous Grand Prix team of the 70’s and 80’s, Guy was also a former French Rugby international, motor cycle racer, sports car constructor and racer and Formula One driver, racing privately entered Cooper-Maseratis and Brabham-Repcos during 1966 and 67. Their luck was not so crap. Cést la Vie.  

 

Sam Snape

 

27-08-2015

 

THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WEEK THAT WAS..

 

The UPS logo on the FerrariThe dick butt cartoonBest racing I have seen in years  Well OK – two weeks – mostly ‘cause I’ve been a bit slack. I think I might have mentioned that Albert Park was a sodding awful circuit sometime in the past and so it was proven with two fine races at Sepang and Shanghai showing that the snoozefest that was the Australian decidedly un-grand Prix was not how the entire season was going to play out. OK so the racing for the lead in either race was not a thrill a minute dicing but there was some great action down through the field and at least one surprise result based on a perfect strategy for the stinking hot conditions that are prevalent in Malaysia at this time of year. And some weird shit in China just to give you a laugh if you start thinking this stuff is serious.

 

  We’ll start with the weird stuff first shall we? Not so much in Malaysia as it is just too damned hot but Shanghai threw all sorts of oddness in our direction. During Friday practice a spectator ran across the start/finish straight in front of Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India before diving head first through a gap in the fencing on the pit wall. Well OK, we’ve had mad monks and pissed off Mercedes employees doing similar craziness before but this idiot wasn’t protesting anything. Oh no…According to reports he just wanted to have a go in a Ferrari and thought that the admission price (which to the average Chinese worker is probably the same as a house or two) meant that he could have a drive. Was probably a bit pissed that the rozzers at the paddock gates wouldn’t let him in so he chose the most direct route. He was then prevented from entering the Ferrari pit by a couple of mechanics who handed him over to the always polite Chinese coppers who have undoubtedly sent him off for a brief bit of “re-education”. Needless to say security was a tad tighter come Saturday which briefly halted some of ITV’s commentary team from getting into the circuit. Shouldn’t have left your pass at the hotel Johnny.. Ah – isn’t it wonderful to visit lands with such a deep history and knowledge of motor sport. Can’t wait to see what happens in Azerbaijan…

  In hindsight the next bit of silliness was quite appropriate considering the now missing afore mentioned idiot. One of Ferrari’s sponsors, UPS, thought it would be a great wheeze to run a campaign in which they would create their logo on the car out of a collage of facebook home page pictures submitted by fans. One can only assume there was no actual person checking these before the creation went off to the printers or one doubts that a cartoon of “dick-butt” would have made it through. Nice to see some fans still have a sense of humour, even if UPS and Ferrari didn’t. Come Saturday Ferrari had blacked out dick-butt with a nice cheap permanent marker (I wonder if they are cheaper in China where they are made?) but that didn’t stop the wags who have access to this interweb thingy posting photos of proudly smiling drivers Seb and Kimi holding up the offending logo. And April fools days was ten days past. Perhaps it was submitted on April 1. More please, gave everyone a laugh.

 

 

  And now to the stuff that is all about the four black round rubbery things on the flat black tary stuff. Team by team may be easiest and we can match it with some of my pre-season prognostications to see just how much of a genius I am (not). Well I, like Nostradamus before me, correctly surmised that Mercedes would be crazy to change anything and they didn’t. Except perhaps how much quicker they are than last year. Utterly dominant in Oz they were heading in that direction again in Sepang until a bit of a strategy blunder on lap 4 saw both cars pit for a change of tyres under yellow flags while the Ferraris stayed out. This meant that Nigel – sorry – Lewis and Nico had to do 2 long stints on the harder and slower compound black round rubbery things while trying to catch the Ferrari of Vettel who’s car was very friendly to the softer and faster compound. Needless to say they didn’t and for the first time since 2013 2 healthy Mercs finished only second and third. Rosberg was particularly hampered by this pit decision as he had to wait in the pits while Hamilton’s tyres were changed losing loads of time and six positions before rejoining the race. While Mercedes was beaten it wasn’t for pace and it would have been much more interesting had they split their strategy and left Nico out, right behind Vettel and on basically the same plan. They weren’t beaten for pace at Shanghai either where normal service was resumed. Often a second quicker than their nearest rival they dominated the meeting, much as in Australia and the only time Ferrari really got close was when Nig…Lewis was intentionally backing Nico up. Funny how much quicker he became when he was told to hurry up or the team would give Nico a preferential pit strategy.

 

  Red Bull are having a shocker of a start to the year and despite what Mr Horner et al would like you to believe, it’s not all Renaults fault. OK the current power unit from Regie is a bit asthmatic and they are losing them quicker than an amoeba can divide, but Renault don’t provide the Red Rags brakes. They are suffering from currently incurable overheating of the brakes which was not rectified by a change in pad supplier between Sepang and Shanghai and it sort of helps through the twiddly bits if you can slow down before you get to them. Both the cars limped home in the last two points paying places in Sepang with great gouts of brake dust spurting from the cars and just like in Oz, they were a lap down. Shanghai wasn’t much better with continual cooling problems but at least Kvyat didn’t need to wait for his brakes to give up on him. His Renault went pop on just lap 15. Daniel meanwhile struggled after a dreadful start and only just scraped into ninth place. Seems a lot like what happened at Williams and McLaren when a certain Mr Newey stopped designing their cars. I wonder how long it will be before he is dragged back to his white board?.

 

  As to Williams they don’t seem to have made the strides they hoped for and have currently slipped back behind Ferrari in the battle for second best. Considering the respective budgets this should not be a huge surprise it is a bit of a disappointment to the chaps at Grove. They are currently well lodged in as the third fastest car as can be shown by the drivers finishing fifth and sixth in both races behind the Silver and Red fellows and never being any real threat. I have a feeling, despite Rob Smedley’s contention that we are seeing “the best ever Felipe Massa” that all may not be completely well with Bottas’s back after his injury in Oz. Having had a disc injury myself I can tell you that even with the greatest medical minds in history working on you, you are not going to recover fully from this type of injury in a couple of weeks and the fact that Felipe has out-qualified Valtteri three from three seems to support this hypothesis. Perhaps the break between Bahrain and Spain will help Valtteri but even then, Team Willi needs to find some time to get back to where it was last year.

 

  And here’s where I look like a bit of a prat. Having suggested that having the two least impressive drivers of 2014 join a team that had just sacked the best part of it’s design and management team may not lead to the best of all possible outcomes may not have been my finest prediction. Vettel has driven superbly and delivered all he could possibly have done with his win in Sepang and third in Shanghai following on from his similar result in Oz. Kimi has been equally impressive, if not more so, in the races but just needs to finds that extra tiny something in qualifying. If Kimi does find it, Seb will not be looking over his shoulder, he’ll be looking far down the road at the ever decreasing size of the second Ferrari. Raikkonen’s come-back drive after an early puncture in Sepang was mesmeric. Having being screwed by bad timing in his qualy 2 efforts he lined up 11th on the grid and had to pit at the end of lap 1 after damaging a tyre. After pitting for his second time (his first scheduled) on lap 15 Kimi was sitting 17th and second last. Within twelve laps he was third and trying to hold off Rosberg who had just stopped for new rubber. Fourth place was a fine result which he repeated in Shanghai. It might have been better but as he was closing on his team-mate near the end a safety car was called upon after yet another Renault went pop on the pit straight with a couple of laps to run.   

 

  To say that McLaren are getting more bang for their buck with the Honda engines is not as good as it sounds. Even with the power turned down the Honda units are detonating at an unpleasant rate. So much so that King Fernando may well be in line to cop his first grid place penalty for using too many engines by Spain. Not that he or Jenson can be sent too much further back on the grid as they are currently only ahead of Manor. Be that as it may it seems impossible that things will not improve, it’s just how long will that take? And in the mean-time two of the fastest guys out there will just have to trundle around and give us more of those wan smiles that Jenson seems to have perfected.

 

  Force India are only marginally ahead of McLaren and are waiting for their use of Toyota’s wind tunnel at Cologne to produce results. The team is saying the first upgraded parts should arrive in Austria and so again the drivers, Sergio Perez and Herr Hulkenberg will just need to stop sulking and get on with racing each other and enjoy being two of the twenty luckiest fellows on the planet. There are, after all, plenty of others who would be very happy to race a temporarily sluggish Force India.

 

  The Red Rag junior team is proving the absurdity of the recent rule change mandating a minimum age for Grand Prix drivers. With the youngest and least experienced driver pairing and the same explosive engine supplier as the senior team they are getting on with making the most of it and both their drivers finished ahead of Ricciardo/Kvyat in Malaysia. Both Verstappen and Sainz are proving if you are good enough you are old enough and have both looked confidant and assured in their three outings so far. Both more so that Kvyat who has been a bit ragged in the Red Bull and the Scuderia sit just one point behind Red Bull in the constructors standings at this juncture. Sure they will make some mistakes along the way, that’s what rookies do. But both look like potential race winners on their performances so far. Time I guess will tell how good that prediction is….

 

  Lotus are probably the current fourth fastest team about and about the least luckiest. You’ve got to wonder just how many Chinamen they ran over before they got to Shanghai, but finally Grosjean scored some points with a seventh place finish in China behind the big three. Pastor Maldonado retiring from three races on the trot would sometimes not be an unsurprising occurrence but on not one occasion so far this year has it been his fault. Even the two accidents. Shoved into the wall in Oz after Seb hit Kimi who hit Nasr hit him can hardly be construed as Pastors error. Brake failure in Sepang could have happened to anyone (see Red Bull for example). And when, just when, was the last time you can remember Jenson Button cocking up a simple braking zone as he did while ploughing up the arse of Maldonado at turn one in Shanghai? The battle with the resurgent Sauber team for the best of the midfield will be a good one but I suspect Lotus will prevail. Providing people stop running into Maldonado.

 

  We all knew that Manor/Marussia would be propping up the rear of the grid this year after getting out of administration just a few weeks before Oz and that is exactly what they are doing. And they are possibly doing it a lot better than some believed likely. With the usual dipshit nay-sayers coming out with ridiculous theories about their failure to get both cars into the race in Oz and Sepang – I particularly liked the one about then only having one steering wheel in Malaysia – who comes up with this crap? – it was good to see that both qualified, started and finished the Chinese Grand Prix. A difficult rebirth sure, but that was a better result than was had by Red Bull, Lotus, Toro Rosso and Force India. A plus for effort and determination.

 

  And finally Sauber. After the Van der Garde fiasco it has been onwards and upwards for the little Swiss team. Except for Ericsson’s spin in Malaysia both Marcus and Felipe Nasr have finished all the races in the points and they are currently sitting fourth in the championship. Both drivers were condemned by some as pay drivers not worthy of their place in this lofty championship but Nasr after some super races sits seventh in the drivers standings, behind only those from the big three, and Ericsson has scored points twice and qualified inside the top ten in both Sepang and Shanghai. Not something a muppet can do. Both are proving themselves very worthy of their place on the grid.

 

  For full results go to;

 

http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php/the-database/formula-1-races/2010-2019/2015-formula-1

 

 

  On a completely separate subject (sort of) if you want to see just how good motor racing can be without all this stupid engine standardisation bullshit we have to put up with in F1 check out the World Endurance Championship round from Silverstone. Spectacular racing between Porsche, Audi and Toyota with more overtaking (without DRS mind you) than your average Moto 3 GP. I’d say in the 45 minutes leading up to the half way mark there would have been at least 30 passing moves between Fassler’s Audi and Jani’s Porsche alone. So much so that there was a marvellous bit of film of the Audi boss laughing out loud in the pits. Exciting, exhilarating, dramatic and just bloody good fun to watch. Reminds me of why I loved the sport in the first place. Can’t wait for Spa…

 

  This link has the whole race – you can bounce forward to the really good bits and there are plenty of them.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VibdXK7X7o

 

Sam Snape

 

15/04/2015

 

AUSTRALIAN MEDIOCRE PRIX

 

This is as close as anyone got to Lewis  As I have said before, Albert Park is a great Grand Prix venue. Set in a park not far from Port Phillip Bay and around a pretty little natural lake with just a short stroll to plenty of bars and restaurants. The organizers go to extreme lengths to make sure there is plenty of entertainment on hand, both on and off the track to keep all amused with plenty of racing and a pretty good music gig on the Saturday afternoon so that those who show up feel they are getting good value for money. Many organizers around the world could do worse than to take note and lay on a bit more for the fans. I’ve been to Spa and Monza where apart from the GP, all you got was, at Spa a F3000 race and a Porsche Supercup race that was cancelled due to tyre problems, and at Monza there was a Lamborghini race. The rest of the time you sat in the sun, or in Spa’s case the rain, and waited.

 

 

  The problem with Albert Park is that as a RACE track it sucks, gags, and then blows chunks. It is as about as conducive to passing as a dehydrated kidney failure patient. When you left Spa or Monza you KNEW you had been to a Grand Prix and had usually seen a bloody good race. When you leave Albert Park you feel you’ve been to an amusement park that included a loud procession of colourful cars circulating for an hour and a half. And then there’s the price. For example, if like me you live in Sydney, it is cheaper to spend two weeks in Malaysia (including airfares) than it is to spend three nights in Melbourne. And Sepang always produces a vastly better race. But every year you keep hoping, vainly, for something better. I remember one year not long ago sitting there after about twenty laps thinking, “When’s this bloody thing going to end?”

 

  And so it was this year. OK we all knew after testing that the Silver Slings were unlikely to be troubled but the world of eagerly waiting fans were keen to see how the rest of the field would play out and hoped for a fierce battle for everything but the top two steps of the podium. If it was a better race track we may have even gotten that but as it was, once Lewis got the jump, Nico couldn’t get inside of two seconds because, well, that’s Albert Park. Third place was decided by a pit stop. With the exception of that change the top six was in exactly the same order on lap 58 as they were on lap 4. Snooooore. Even as I sit here now looking at the lap chart I’m finding it hard to spot any actual overtaking manoeuvres. There was a spirited 10 or so laps between Marcus Ericsson and Carlos Sainz for eighth place near the end and poor old Jenson displayed some fine elbows in his defence of second last place from the clearly quicker Perez but that was never going to last, what with the Honda engine barely turned on, let alone up, in the hope that Button would make the finish.

 

  And remarkably enough he did. In eleventh and last place. Two laps down. In a McLaren-Honda. But that was better than some. After a winter of discontent and swirling rumours of who would, or would not, have the readies to make it to Melbourne, ten teams with twenty cars showed up. Then Manor couldn’t get their IT set ups working on the cars as some burke in the administration company had wiped all the hard drives so we had eighteen cars for practice and qualifying. Then Valtteri hurt his back and we had seventeen for the race. Getting a bit thin this. But did we? No!! Magnussen’s Honda went pop in the most smokey and debris spewing fashion on the formation lap and we were at sixteen. No we weren’t. Kvyat’s debut for Red Rags also ended on his formation lap when his gearbox hydraulics gave up the ghost and just fifteen were about to take the start. Apart from the Indy tyre fiasco this was the lowest ebb for Formula 1 since the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola where, due to boycott by many teams just twelve cars started.

 

  Within fifty metres of the start it was clear that we would now only see fourteen as poor Romain Grosjeans Lotus refused to change gears and he would retire at the end of lap 1. Which was further than his team-mate Maldonado would get. Having not made the greatest start Vettel left his braking too late into turn one and virtually used Kimi as a turning aid. This pushed Kimi wide and onto the grass and he scrabbled back on just as Pastor was passing him. What neither Kimi or Pastor could know was that the very fast starting debutant Felipe Nasr was already between them. If two into one doesn’t work, then neither does three into one. They all bumped, not enough to cause real damage, but it did send Maldonado backwards into the wall. Scratch both Lotus’s and we now had just thirteen cars with 57 processional laps to sleep through. And apart from noting that all three debutants had very good weekends, not much else in that 57 laps is really worth wasting any writing or reading over so roll on Sepang next week. It’s where the season really starts anyway.

 

 

 

For full results go to;

 

http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php/the-database/formula-1-races/2010-2019/2015-formula-1

 

 

 

Sam Snape

 

19/03/2015

 

WHAT OH WHAT WILL SAUBER DO?

 

  Sauber’s appeal against the Victorian Supreme Court’s ruling that Giedo van der Garde must drive for the team in 2015 was dismissed late today. This leaves the team theoretically with three contracted race drivers. A bit of a conundrum that.

  So what will Sauber do? Try to buy him out with funds they can ill afford to lose? But dropping one of the other drivers will also breach their contracts and that would cost them, again funds they can ill afford to lose due to the money both Ericsson and Nasr are bringing to the team. Will they, as they hinted earlier in the week pull the whole team out of the event if he won. It’s not as if they can ignore the ruling and refuse to run him as the courts would almost certainly impound the teams equipment if they tried. The best hint as to an outcome is that the reports are that Van der Garde is now suing Sauber for breach of contract. It will be interesting to see what sort of deal is done in the next eighteen hours or so before first practice kicks off.

 

 Reuters report stated “Justice Simon Whelan upheld the Supreme Court's decision that Sauber's contract with van der Garde was valid, despite Sauber saying it had sacked the driver in November. The decision is the end of a drawn-out international battle between van der Garde and Sauber. In December, a Swiss court's arbitration tribunal deemed van der Garde's contract with the company to be valid. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court came to the same decision, which Sauber appealed.

 

  Sauber's barrister Rodney Garratt, QC, argued if van der Garde was reinstated, the team would be in breach of its contract with its drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson. He also pointed out that van der Garde had not practised since November and that as Sauber's Ferraris are custom-fitted for each driver, there would not be enough time to reconfigure one for the Dutch driver.

 

 But lawyers for van der Garde hit back, reminding the court that the contract had been deemed valid. His client would be "personally devastated" if he was not allowed to drive, Jim Peters, QC, said.”

 

 Interesting times…

 

 Sam Snape

 

 12/03/2015