I guess Ferrari boss Luca Cordero di Montezemolo found out today what happens when you don’t fire a world champion driver to his face but do it in a newspaper article.
Two days ago, di Montezemolo told Kimi Raikkonen – in so many words – that he wasn’t wanted at Ferrari after this season, despite having a contract for 2010. He delivered the news in answer to a question from a college student at an academic ceremony in Italy.
So this morning, in qualifying for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix, Raikkonen just up and quit trying. He barely scraped through the first session of knockout qualifying but then, in danger of missing final qualifying but with time still left on the clock for another lap, he backed off and pulled into the pits.
Kimi’s message to The Boss? Screw you.
Now, Ferrari had been saying all weekend that they were going to be up against it at Singapore. And Kimi was in no danger of qualifying on pole. But the fact that he still had time for one more banzai lap – one more lap to give it the good old college try – and he didn’t at least give it a go, speaks volumes.
World Champion Lewis Hamilton will start on pole for McLaren, with Red Bull’s Sebastien Vettel beside him on the front row. Nico Rosberg (Williams), Mark Webber (Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (Renault), Timo Glock (Toyota), Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica (both in BMWs), Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP) are the rest of the top ten.
Barrichello, in fact, set fifth fastest time but was penalized five places for having to change a gearbox.
Other qualifying observations:
– Barrichello, who squeaked into final qualifying at the very last second (unlike Raikkonen), brought an early end to final qualifying when he crashed.
– His teammate, Jenson Button, is obviously suffering from a severe case of the jitters as he tries to wrap up his first world championship. He qualifed 12th and missed the run for the pole by slippin’ and slidin’ around out there. As commentator Martin Brundle observed, Button seems to be sweating.
– Speaking of Brundle, he sometimes has a delightful way with words. Describing one qualifying run, he said a car’s rear wheels were "squealing in displeasure."
– The two Force India cars are back where they belong – in the rear. I took criticism for suggesting there was something fishy about the marque’s success in Belgium and Italy (remember when Giancarlo Fisichella won the pole at Spa?).
Well, there’s an interesting interview on the Internet with Alonso, in which there are suggestions that some cars were running illegal engines.
I’ll leave it at that.
WHERE WAS PETIT LE MANS? For nearly 30 minutes this morning, I sat – fit to be tied – because the geniuses at Rogers Cable, TSN and/or Speed TV had done it again.
(I lump them all in here together because trying to find out who is responsible for the insane blacking-out of Formula One programming that then screws up other auto racing programming is like trying to find a cure for cancer.)
Memo to all those people: the F1 qualifying program went off the air at 11 a.m. The broadcasting of the American Le Mans Series’ Petit Le Mans race, live from Road Atlanta, went on the air at 11 a.m. with the start scheduled for 11:15 a.m.
As of 11:24 a.m., there was nothing on my Speed TV channel on Rogers 409 except that false and misleading blackout message that said: This Programming Is Available On Another Channel In Your Area, which is a lie.
I wonder how the American Le Mans Series (which needs all the help it can get – it’s down to only nine races in 2010) feels about this?