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Formula One (F1) - and more...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

God's first name is ROGER!


As the famous William B Yeats once said: "How can we know the dancer from the dance?"

P.S -> I may be the laziest ass on earth, but the imperishable memories created by Roger Federer warrant a post, even on the lowliest and most unkempt blogs like mine!

Friday, November 17, 2006

L'Attitude 13'05

I believe that I've found a new reason to become a productive renegade for a while and bunk classes with full conscience. The next couple of months, a bunch of us from b-school are gonna spend our time in finding creative ways to sponsor the dhum(for the non-tanglized, its called smokes,ciggies,etc) bills, booze bills and funding for every other nonsensical activity that other b-schoolers would (or might, to be politically correct) indulge in. It's called b-school competition prize money. Bring out the brains and rake in the moolah. Then get wasted (if you wish to).... (again to be politi....whatever)

And who better to go for money than the corporate junkies who have been on the other side of the table at some point of time or the other? The spin machine shall set the ball rolling..

For those of you wondering why I've spelled Latitude wrongly and put an unnecessary apostrophe there and then uttered some nonsensical gibberish, it's the annual B'School fest of Great Lakes. Of course you can figure out the 13'05 even if you aren't a Great Laker.

End of hibernation

Well - I wouldn't exactly blame my b-school curriculum for having not blogged in something like 5 months. Not that a whole bunch of people have asked me why I haven't blogged (in fact, more people have asked me why I've stopped spamming them with my F1 reviews on Y! Messenger) !

Everything has a reason and mine is something credible, something that has been plaguing humanity for like a billion years or something - lethargy. And of course there are the vices that every other 23 year old is addicted to..

Ok. Back to business. Now that Schumacher is gone for good, I'm reflecting on the strange predicament I am going to be in from next season. For the better part of the last decade, I've fought for ages and pages on Forums, IRC's, Orkut, Y!M, my blog etc on why the seven time champion is to be loathed and sets a bad example for budding racers. Much that I dislike chewing cud over and over again, I've come to understand that I will have no new fodder from next season. Who would replace Schumacher as my symbol of evil and the Sultan of Satanic activities?

I do hate to say this, but with the likes of Montoya, Villeneuve and Schumacher gone, the genre of drivers who I'd call the 'messiahs of mayhem' would come to an end. I'd have to endure with only David Coulthard from the previous generation and then a few. A Kimi Raikkonen who prefers to drink from his champagne bottle before he sprays it on the crowd and an Alonso who'd give any stage monkey a run for his money with his stupid jumping act. And of course there is '1-in-120-odd-races-Button'. Not to mention that the British media will make Hamilton realize (without having a single F1 start) that he is the next Clark/Stewart. Famished!!

As an addendum, there's Schumacher, and now that his era is over, I do feel the necessity to agree that I did in fact love his racing style. Well, the liking started at Imola the season before last. The brilliant pit strategy and the Scuderia Ferrari racing out of the pit lane into an empty piece of tarmac with the air-horns of Tifosi blasting the air is the stuff of legends. A chain of thought triggered from there made me realize the unwavering f*ck-you-all-i'm-here-to-win attitude that this man had. It might sound disgusting to the cultured, but how many of us can do that with a conscience as clear as Schumachers? He did it, and as Roy of linksheaven said, in twenty years from now, kids will be asking me what it felt like watching Schumacher race the prancing horse. It's similar to what I used to do in the late 90's. Ask people how they felt watching Senna race.

I did pen down an article for Links, I call it "Magical Memories".

Watch out this space, the hibernation is more or less over!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Alonso wins the people's race.

One of the most amusing, entertaining and controversial weekends in F1 winded up with Fernando Alonso climbing up the red carpet to receive his trophy from Prince Albert II. Montoya ensured that McLaren would have reason to party at Monaco tonight. David Coulthard, that old war horse climbed the podium to take third, dressed in superman costume. Kimi Raikkonen blew up his engine following a safety car incident. Never mind, he would walk up, strip down and hit the yacht's in true Monaco style.
But..

Our hero of the day is one Mr. Michael Schumacher, who after having started last at Monaco rocketed his way past what were supposedly F1 cars to come fifth. If you call him a SATAN for his sportsmanship (Adelaide 1994, Jerez 1997, Austria 2002...the list continues), then call him GOD for the racing prowess he displays (I can't count those, can I?) He moved up sixteen places to come in fifth.

But offtrack, I loved what Sir Jackie had to say about Schu's misdemeanors.

"When I saw that, I said 'that wasn't an accident'.

"I have never seen anything like it before. I have never seen anyone have the presence of mind to do it."

"It might have been different if he had taken off the front wing."

On the teams :

Renault

Double Whammy for Fernando Alonso. Are we talking about the races (Catalunya and Monaco), or are we talking World Championships? He's still 24. Enough said! As for Renault, they won the Best Team of the Year award in Spain last weekend, so this is indeed a triple delight for the team. Fisi could have done better, but he atleast landed in the points, and that's that.

Ferrari

Michael was surely the 'man of the race' in my opinion. He took out four cars in the first three corners, and made neat work of Button at the Noveau chicane in the first half of the race. He's still obviously the finest, and it might have been a fine battle between Alonso and Schumacher had the latter not engaged in that godforsaken move. I feel angry because I was deprived of a Michael classic. Massa continues to impress and I believe that the Brazilian might have landed a podium had he not started dead last. But ofcourse, it was he who crashed into the barriers yesterday, isn't it?

McLaren

Montoya came in second, but that isn't the main story. Kimi Raikkonen drove what was perhaps his best race. To follow a high downforce Renault for close to fifty laps at half a second's distance was absolutely stunning. How could he handle such air turbulence, yet remain focussed on Alonso's exhaust pipe? It was clear that Raikkonen's engine blew up because he couldn't control the revs when the safety car came out. That's how fragile F1 engines are.

Red Bull

David Coulthard, Superman #1 came in third. Superman #2 couldn't do much, not without his car which failed to shift into gear. A great performance, certainly a lot better compared to last year when both drivers crashed out, and the Star Wars Pit Crew were wasted in the paddocks.

Honda

Rubens was a delight, he drove ever so well, and in the end did just about enough to keep his ex-team mate at bay. For poor old Jensie, he must have concentrated on something called 'the race' rather than give interviews to Star Sports.

BMW

A great race for quick Nick, but I would prefer to see him on the podium rather than just in the points. Jacques Villeneuve - I love him. Not for his racing (which I think has been poor for the past 9 years), but for being the most vocal driver yesterday (You know what I am talking!)

Toyota

Ralfie. Must have been on the lookout for his brother, after what happened last year at Monaco. He managed to salvage one point for the toyota team while the mobile chicane was out of action with hydraulic failures. Maybe Toyota spends more money on organizing F1 parties at Monaco than it does to develop cars?

Williams

Sad one for young Nico, he really ought to have finished the race. Mark, after qualifying second could do nothing but watch on while his exhaust exploded. Poor him, he would have landed a much needed podium for Sir Frank. Maybe Sir Frank must look for better engines to put under his wheelchair.

That's it for now!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Mayhem at Monaco

Schumachers time has been thrown out officially after the stewards came to the sane conclusion that we fans came to soon after the qualifying session where Schu conveniently parked his car at the La Racasse corner after having set the fastest time.

Schumacher locked up his brakes, but ensured that he released it early enough, then seemed to turn, but straightened out immediately, rolling his 248F1 to a stop. Some say that it was an executive decision that was communicated to him, but I believe that it was not, and it was Schumacher who took the call, since he very well knew that Alonso was just out of sector 1.

Apart from having deprived Alonso of a fast lap, this incident also meant that many drivers including Webber and Fisichella lost potential positions on the grid. So it was only fair that Schumacher be penalised for this, and he would now join his team mate Massa in an all-red back row.

"The driver deliberately stopped his car on the circuit in the last few minutes of qualifying at a time at which he had thus far set the fastest lap time " they said.

"Having compared all relevant data the stewards can find no justifiable reason for the driver to have braked with such undue, excessive and unusual pressure at this part of the circuit," they wrote, "and are left with no alternative but to conclude that the driver deliberately stopped his car on the circuit."

And I would doubly believe in the 'macher's evil intentions considering Ferrari's and Schumacher's own reputations when it comes to issues like this one. The incident also shows that the stewards have finally returned to their senses. Winning is one thing, but trying to win at all costs is something that cannot be tolerated.

Following the incident, there have been reports that Schumacher might be asked to resign fromthe post of board of director of the Grand Prix Driver's Association.

I have to add what David Coulthard once said, "Opinions are like assholes and everybody has one."


For more F1 news and related discussions, go here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bulls Eye

An interesting GP, though it is becoming so obviously true that we DO NEED more overtaking in F1. I did believe that Catalunya would yield more quality overtaking simply because the tracks are marginally broader and there are curves where drivers take so many different lines at every curve. But eventually, it was a multi-billion dollar F1 car parade and I had something else better to do for the evening...

Hence the late post...

Catalunya is one of those rare circuits which test a car so completely. Shaped like a bull's head, she's got elevations and high-speed corners which only the bravest of the brave can take on without stepping off the gas pedal.

We now obviously know that its a two way battle between Ferrari and Renault, no matter how much Ron Dennis prattles that he's got new engines and the best driver. Raikkonen was fast, but he just couldn't match the might of the Scuderia or the Les Blues. In the end, it was a couple of Ferrari and Renault sandwiches.

Alonso was great, it just did not dawn upon me that it was a 24 year old kid under the helmets and not Alain Prost. I find a similarity in their professor-like driving styles, though people would say that its way too early to compare.

Schumacher was brilliant as usual, and I'd say that he doesn't look or drive like he's a day over thirty. He's back, and last year's blip was evidently due to ageing on Ferrari's technology part rather than his part.

What did surprise me was Massa's consistency. At a super-fast track like Catalunya, little did I expect the Brazilian to finish the race, leave alone come fourth. Pretty impressive performances from both him and Fisichella, though I'd like to see them race for themselves rather than for their more illustrious team-mates.

On car performance, I would say that the Renault appeared a bit more faster than their Maranello rivals. Only slightly, and I wouldn't be surprised if Scuderia pull up by Renault's side in a couple of races after Monaco, considering the quality of their improvements from race to race.

Montoya was driving a paltry race, and his misery was put to an end when his traction control gave way and he beached himself on a chicane. A sad performance for the McLaren team, the team is obviously missing Adrian Newey.

Talking of Adrian, his presence at Red Bull does not seem to have improved their standard of racing. Too early, one might argue, but they atleast should be a notch better than their so called 'B' team - STR.

On to BAR - Button had yet another excuse for his performance. The excuse - 'Barrichello was too slow'. But if he was too slow, why couldn't Button overtake him? Or better, why couldn't he put himself ahead of Barrichello during qualifying?

Williams - they promised initially, but now I am sure that they're not up to the mark, and the dream of a privateer team competing with the manufacturer's for the top slot has gone kaput. But ofcourse, that doesn't mean that Webber and Rosberg haven't been driving well. They did well, though I believe that both of them are being wasted in a team that just wouldn't be able to compete (on money) in the long run. And to think that Nico's signed a five-year deal...

Toyota - the usual. Ralf qualified well, and so did Trulli (much to the anguish of those behind him). But they're one lap wonders who just can't keep a pace throught the race.

BMW had a decent race, though it was absolutely ridiculous that Jacques had to start at the back of the pack because of an engine-damage situation during transportation. Heidfeld was good, and I see no reason why the Bavarian team can't be title challengers in a few years time.

Midland, Aguri - I heard they raced, can someone confirm that for me?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Schu sizzles on home turf


"I'm an artist, the track is my canvas, and the car is my brush."

These immortal words of Graham Hill capture the crux of today's race where Michael the magnificient raced his cavallino rampante past the chequered flag in a race that was as much a joust between Ross Brawn and Pat Symonds as it was between the two title protagonists, Michael and Alonso. An impeccable display of speed and control by Felipe Massa ensured that it would be a Scuderia sandwich with Renault Stuffing. It is now crystal clear that Ferrari's dazzling performance at Imola (their home race) was not a 'flash-in-the-pan' as many had predicted. A perfect homecoming for Michael and a double delight for the Tifosi, considering that Nurburgring is a Michelin-friendly track.

Qualifying saw Alonso take pole position for the first time this year, but he would have hardly celebrated, considering that Michael Schumacher would share row one with him. Michael's newfound minion, Massa would start on P3, along side Rubens Barrichello who for the first time this season, has outqualified his more illustrious(laughs) team mate, Jensen (wrong) Button. The McLaren's had a tame qualifying session with Raikkonen starting fifth and Montoya starting a couple of rows behind him. The McLaren's were obviously heavier as usual, but would Ron Dennis's crew be able to leverage speed with strategy? As the onlooker settled for a nice cool afternoon atop the Hill, a storm was brewing in the paddocks, for it would as much be a battle of brains as of sheer driver brilliance, Nurburgring being one of those tracks with very few opportunities to pass.

The legendary Renault acceleration was evident at the very start and Fernando Alonso raced off into the Castrol-S curve, closely followed by Michael, Massa and Button. That said, we were in for a two-hour long, multi-billion dollar car parade at the Nurburgring. Tracks such as this put the onus on ace-strategists such as Ross Brawn and Pat Symonds who wage the battles from the pit-walls, their minds cranking out possible pit-strategies and reading the opposition's moves so carefully. But today would be one of those Michael-Todt-Brawn day's where the trio would so thoroughly root out competition by operating as a single, well-oiled machine.

After lap one, Alonso led by half a second, with Button, Rosberg and Sato having moved up rapidly. A first corner between Liuzzi and Coulthard would mean that the Scot's race was over. Liuzzi suffered a punctured tyre, his machine stranded on the track. A brief interruption by the maylander ensued.

In the meanwhile, several minor battles started, with Raikkonen trying to gun down an elusive Button and Montoya passing Fisichella. Alonso and Schumacher then started to get ahead of the pack, trading fastest laps between them. Webber then went wide, his hydraulics having gone for a toss.

On Lap 17, Alonso and Massa pitted, rejoining fourth and sixth respectively. Michael pitted the next time around, emerging behind his Spanish rival, in fifth position. Raikkonen then led the race, cranking out fast laps. He pitted on lap 23, knowing very well that the fourteen seconds he had buffered up would not be enough to surge ahead of Alonso and Michael. He rejoined in fourth.
The first set of pit-stops also saw Fissichella regaining the position he lost to Montoya.

As luck would have had it, it was Villeneuve tailing Fiscio, and all eyes were on this pair, considering that Fiscio had complained to the stewards that Jacques had blocked him during qualifying. A verbal battle that had started yesterday at the BMW garage had manifested itself into an all-out war on the track. In the meanwhile, Button lost his engine, Klein his gearbox and Montagny, the F1 debutante, his hydraulics. For the lead pair, they were obviously so oblivious of what ever else was happening on the track.

Come lap 38, and Alonso pitted, the first one of the front runners to do so. Michael Schumacher, taking advantage of the empty track, unleashed two brilliant laps, clocking an amazing 1:32:099 the second time around. A lap later, he was leading Alonso by 25.5 seconds.

At the end of lap 41, Michael pitted. As the crowd, Ross Brawn and Jean Todt (with a stop clock in his hand) watched on, the Ferrari pit-crew bolted on fresh Bridgestones and splashed in fuel, taking just 6.8 seconds to complete the procedure. A few seconds later, Michael emerged to an empty piece of track, with air-horns blaring as loudly as Michael's Ferrari engine. The Champion and his strategist had proved why they were still one of the very best in the business.

Raikkonen pitted on lap 44, the Finn knowing very well that a podium grab was in the offing. However, a determined Massa would hold forte until the very end. Takuma Sato retired on Lap 46, with yet another Aguri hydraulics failure. A couple of laps later, Montoya and Ralf retire with blown engines. Clearly, a dissapointing day for the Toyota's. But retirements meant that Villeneuve would land up in the points, unlike his German team mate Nick Heidfeld.

A jubliant Michael Schumacher took the chequered flag, slowing down to a saunter soon after, saluting his crew-men who made his victory possible. Alonso appeared gloomy, for he sensed the imminent Ferrari danger. For Felipe, it was a dream weekend, the Brazilian taking his first ever podium.

Among the better drivers of the day were Brazilian Rubens Barichello who finally seems to have found his groove with the Grove-car. Rosberg, who started absolute last after completing an engine change drove brilliantly, garnering a couple of points on the way. The old wily fox, Jacques Villeneuve took the last point, his weekend being a tumultous one. Montoya, Button and Webber would find it hard to hide their dissapointment, for their machines and not they were at fault.

All said and done, the 248 F1 seems to have improved by leaps and bounds since Bahrain, and is probably the only other package that can challenge the might of the Renault's in the near future. Though Alonso leads by a 13-point margin, he would be ever so careful, for he is up against one of the most fantastic drivers on the planet.

Looking forward to Catalunya where the Rosso Corsa would attempt to ride the Spanish bull on its home turf.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Talking Point: Schumacher's retirement.

When Michael Schumacher crossed the unblemished chequered flag at Imola, the sanctum sanctorum of Ferrari, it was celebration time for the omnipresent Tifosi. But for Michael himself, the question of retirement must have loomed larger than the victory itself.

As the Seven-time World Champion ponders over signing a two-year contract with Ferrari, a team he so successfully built around himself, motorsport comes to a standstill. Will HE? or Wont HE? they wonder..

As one reflects, the words of Zinidine Zidane, perhaps the greatest mid-fielder of modern day Football come to mind. He said "I don't think I can improve on anything I've done. Hence, I've decided to retire". And that to him was the deciding factor.

Talking of Michael's achievements, he holds every conceivable record in F1.
  • Most number of World Championships (Seven)
  • Most number of race wins (Eighty-six)
  • Most consequtive race wins (Seven)
  • Most race wins in a season (Thirteen of Eighteen)
  • Most fastest laps in a season (Ten of Eighteen)
  • Most podium finishes in a season (Seventeen of Seventeen)
  • Most Championship points in a season (148 out of a possible 180)
  • Most number of pole positions (Sixty-six from two-thirty-six races)
and the list continues...

Talking of the intangibles, one can't forget the slight German who first forayed into F1 in a Jordan car on a cold morning in Belgium, after having promised Eddie Jordan that he knew the Spa track, complete with its notorious Eau Rouge curve, like the back of his hand. In reality, Michael had only been around the track once, and that too on a borrowed bicycle. Michael went on to qualify seventh, shocking the greats, and was signed on by Flavio Briatore for as early as the next race. The rest, as they say, is history.

Buried in the brains are images of a jubliant Schumacher holding the trophy high for the first time at Spa in 1992, and of the emergance of a new King at Australia in 1994. The epic battles with Hakkinen reminded us so much of the Prost-Senna jousts, and will go down in history as one of the greatest. And ofcourse, there were black moments, like the '95 Hill controversy, where Schumacher allegedly pushed Hill off the track to take the championship, the Austria 2002 debacle where Barrichello was forced to let Schumacher win the race, and the disqualification from the World Championship after Schumacher attempted to push Villeneuve off the track at the season finale.

Going back to Zidane's ideology,

Is there room for further improvement?

Talking about it, Schumacher's decline in form might be attributed more to Ferrari's failure to deliver a winning machine than to Schumacher himself. No matter how great the driver, he can only be as good as his machine allows him to be. One could simply put down the argument that we could never know if Schumacher is still as good as he was a couple of years back until Ferrari delivers a powerful machine. On the other hand, we did witness races like Imola 2005, where a ressurgent Schumacher chased Alonso all the way to the chequered flag. Some call it one of his greatest drives, considering his limited resources. But perhaps there is another story. The Schumacher of the young would have spotted those milli-meter wide gaps that Alonso left as he snaked around Imola. The chase would have been won, as it had been won on numerous occasions in the late 1990's with Hakkinen, simply by taking that extra bit of risk. Perhaps the slowdown has started...

Now the logical bifurcation in the road has come, and Schumacher would have to decide. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has hinted that he would not be interested in anything lesser than a two year commitment. The ball is in Michael's court now.

Michael, being himself, could go for the gamble and challenge the new order, thereby improving what he has done before. Afterall, how can one forget Nigel Mansell's emotional World Championship in 1992, aged 39? But ofcourse, one has to remember that Mansell had no world championships before 1992, and hence had nothing to lose and everything to gain. But for Schumacher, the situation is quit the opposite.

Is it worth the gamble?