Formula One returns this weekend with the Grand Prix of Belgium and I can’t say it’s a minute too soon.
Because there has been no F1 for most of August, there has not been one decent rumour to write about or talk about.
NASCAR? Rumours in NASCAR? No such thing. The only thing people talk about in NASCAR anymore is "payback" and that’s officially boring now.
There are no rumours in IndyCar because there is no intrigue. Simona de Silvestro is allegedly being courted by at least two F1 backmarker teams, but so what?
There hasn’t even been a decent catfight because Milka has been watching her mirrors ever since they put her on probation and Danica might be out there but her mind seems to be elsewhere (like NASCAR, perhaps?).
So, welcome back, F1. Now we can get back to the Good Stuff, such as which driver – Sebastien Vettel or Mark Webber – is really No. 1 at Red Bull? Will Felipe Massa pull over and let Fernando Alonso past the next time Ferrari tells him to? And what’s going on at McLaren? Can two guys who are Formula One drivers – Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button – really get along all that well together and like each other so much?
And, finally, has the leopard really changed its spots? Is Michael Schumacher genuinely sorry for nearly crashing Rubens Barrichello at the Hungarian GP a few weeks ago? Or would he do it again in a heartbeat?
We’ll find out Sunday.
Gerald Donaldson, Canada’s foremost expert on all things Formula One, will record his F1 Weekend Preview Podcast for wheels.ca Friday (tomorrow) morning (with Wheels Editor Mark Richardson conducting the intervierw, as I am on vacation . . . ) and it will be posted to the wheels.ca website no later than noon Friday.
Look for it among the half-dozen rotating stories at the top left corner of the site.
Gerry will bring everybody up to date on everything going on in Belgium as F1 heads into the home stretch. Where’s the time gone, eh?
Other weekend races:
– For the first time since Indianapolis, there will be five women (barring a cat-astrophe) in the IndyCar race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday – Danica Patrick, Simona de Silvestro, Milka Duno, Sarah Fisher and Anna Beatriz.
A total of 29 cars are entered, which is also the biggest field for an Indy car race since Indy.
Dario Franchitti, who always does well on the ovals, will be taking it to points leader Will Power, who is not as comfortable.
The IRL cars always run close at Chicagoland, so this race could be a treat. It will also be of interest because the IRL and NASCAR off-track war appears to be heating up again (they really don’t like each other) and this will likely be the last Indy car race at the Chicago-area oval, which happens to be owned by the same people who own NASCAR.
– NASCAR Sprint Cup has an off-weekend but the "B" Series, the Nationwide, and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will draw 70,000-plus to Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve this weekend for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge.
It has puzzled me since the beginning how a minor league race (and that is what the Nationwide Series is) can continue to draw such huge crowds in Montreal, which is a big-league city and where the fans refuse to attend if the home team isn’t winning.
The Expos had to leave because there was no interest in baseball after (1), the Expos were losing and (2), the Blue Jays beat them to the world series.
There are plenty of empty seats at the Bell Centre whenever the Canadians go on a losing streak and if the Alouettes don’t win the Grey Cup at least once every two or three years, all the season-ticket holders cancel.
Montreal wants to be No.1, don’t ever kid yourself.
So why, oh why, do people continue to flock to the Ilse Notre-Dame to watch – what? Carl Edwards? Robby Gordon? Jacques Villeneuve in a stock car?
Where’s Jimmie Johnson? Jeff Gordon? Dale Jr.? (Ron Fellows and J.R. Fitzpatrick, two good Canadian boys, are driving Dale Jr.’s cars this weekend but where's NASCAR's most popular driver?)
I don’t get it.
– What I do get is what’s going on at Mosport this weekend.
The American Le Mans Series is returning for its annual stop – supported by the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship, Star Mazda Series, IMSA Lites, etc. – and the Sunday afternoon race could very well be worth the trip out to the track north of Bowmanville because one team in particular appears to have found its sea legs.
Drayson Racing of Great Britain, with Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker, won last weekend’s Road America round in dramatic fashion with Cocker passing for the lead on the last lap. The team also won pole and set the fastest race lap.
It can’t get any more exciting than that.
Action will get under way Friday, with the ALMS cars going on track at 2:15 p.m.
Practice and qualifying for the big series goes Saturday afternoon; the first race of the weekend, the Star Mazda, will take place Saturday at 1:15.
Final races in all series will happen Sunday afternoon with the headline event, featuring Grand Marshal Bobby Unser giving the command to start engines, going to the post at 3 p.m.
NOTE: All of the above major races (F1, etc.) can be seen on TV. If you can’t make it to Mosport, the ALMS can be seen in its entirety Sunday afternoon on Speed TV, starting at 4 (just a slight tape-delay).