Vettel wins snoozer in Spain
While the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal two weeks ago was one of the most exciting Formula One races in years, Sunday’s Grand Prix of Europe in Valencia, Spain, was enough to put you to sleep.
In fact, if I hadn’t been heading out the door for Mosport (see NASCAR report below), I might have crawled back into the sack for another 40 winks after watching the first dozen laps or so.
The starting lights went out and Sebastien Vettel, the new Michael Schumacher (although a lot younger), took off for the first corner and the race, for all intents and purposes, was over.
Felipe Massa had a dynamite start for Ferrari and passed his teammate, Fernando Alonso, but instead of forcing the issue by going down the inside on Mark Webber and fighting for second place immediately, he backed off and that allowed Alonso to swing around the outside and slot into third behind Webber.
Alonso made it into second with a nifty pass of Webber on Lap 21 but that was pretty much all she wrote. Nobody ever got really close to Vettel and the 23-year-old German won his sixth race of eight so far this season.
Alonso and Webber arrived home in that order and they were followed by Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Jenson Button (McLaren).
Since Vettel’d won the pole, as usual (his seventh of the season), and set fastest lap during the race, it was a perfect weekend for him and his Red Bull-Renault team.
The defending champion leads the World Championship with 186 points, 77 more than McLaren driver Button and Vettel’s teammate Webber, who are tied for second with 109 points.
Hamilton is fourth with 97, followed by Alonso, who has 87. The rest are way, way back.
The British Grand Prix is in two weeks. There are sugggestions that upcoming technical changes could shake up the order somewhat, but I wouldn’t count on it. Red Bull is too smart and Vettel is too good to be anything but No. 1 going forward.
– Jaime Alguersuari, the Spanish driver under threat at Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari, responded to rumours of his imminent dismissal by finishing eighth after qualifying 18th. He drove a great race.
Meantime, his teammate, Sebastien Buemi, who’d outperformed Alguersuari previously, finished 13th and complained that his car seemed to be sluggish and that he just couldn’t get going.
Far be it from me to suggest that maybe the fix was in for Alguersuari this Spanish weekend. I’ll leave that to David Coulthard, who wondered aloud during the qualifying telecast on Saturday whether Mark Webber had everything available on his Red Bull that Sebastien Vettel has on his.
Just wondering, was the way Coulthard put it.
So, if there are questions surrounding fairness at the all-dominant Red Bull-Renault team, it’s quite possible that that sort of thing may go on from time to time at other teams.
– F1 races can’t be held without the help of dozens of volunteer marshals. They often risk life and limb in the performance of their duties.
During qualifying on Saturday, Pastor Maldonado’s Williams conked out halfway around the circuit. There was a fuel pickup problem, or something. In any event, the session was red-flagged.
So the red flag is out, and some marshals are waving white flags (the signal that a non-racing vehicle – in this case, a wrecker – was on the racing surface) while other marshals are out on the track attending to Maldonado’s racing car.
And my heart skipped a beat while I’m watching this because at least three F1 drivers literally flew past that little scene in their rush to get back to their comfy pits, missing those marshals by no more than a couple of feet.
What if one of those marshals had tripped and fallen, as happened to that guy in Montreal?
The FIA should have done something about those jerks. They fine them for speeding in pit lane, and for other somewhat inconsequential reasons, so why not for something like that?
How about a $25,000 fine for careless driving? That might get their attention.
– Okay, I‘ve got to say it: is everybody connected with Formula One racing skinny? Is there not one kinda chubby guy or gal among the beautiful people? (I’m not counting Flavio Briatore, because he’s not in F1 these days, is he?)
I don’t know how those folks can avoid packing on the pounds at a Grand Prix. I mean, at the start of the telecast Sunday, the camera went into the Paddock Club ($10,000 a head, minimum, for three days of hospitality) and showed half a dozen people sitting around a table drinking champagne.
There were six of them, and between them they might have weighed 200 pounds, total.
Now, I’ve enjoyed the Paddock Club experience. It was four or five years ago in Montreal, thanks to BMW. Let me tell you, it’s three days of non-stop eating and drinking. You can’t turn around in one of those suites without some man or woman wearing white gloves shoving a plateful of blueberry pancakes, or a café au lait, or a flûte of champagne, or pheasant under glass, or whatever, into your hands or your lap.
You eat from morning til late afternoon and then they take you back to the hotel so you can change clothes before they trot you out to some magnificent French-Canadian restaurant where the serving of more gourmet food and booze continues into the early morning hours.
I can proudly say I am among the 60 per cent of Canadians that the Heart & Stroke Foundation says are overweight and/or obese and I can add, with all honesty, that it is all the fault of the Formula One Paddock Club for exposing me to the joys of gastronomy.
So back to all those thin people in F1. What is their secret? I have to know.
Marco Andretti gets the bit in his teeth
It’s been five years since Marco Andretti, son of Michael and grandson of Mario, last won a race in what is now the IZOD IndyCar Series and that was on a road course in California.
Saturday night on a short oval in Iowa, Andretti blew past Tony Kanaan with 18 laps left in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 and held on for the victory. Scott Dixon was third, J.R. Hildebrand (he crashed on the last lap of the Indy 500, remember?) finished fourth and Dario Franchitti was fifth, despite leading 172 laps.
“We just didn’t get the job done tonight,” he said afterward.
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville finished ninth and Alex Tagliani of Montreal was 16th.
The Honda Indy Toronto is the next stop on the IndyCar calendar, in two weeks.
– There were five crashes into the outside wall of cars losing control exiting the second turn of the Iowa oval – James Jakes, Ana Beatriz (Mike Conway was caught up in her crash and crashed himself), Sebastien Saavedra, Will Power and Takuma Sato. All those cars spun around and went into the wall backwards (thank goodness for the SAFER barrier, or there could have been some serious back injuries).
Time and again, the TV announcers mentioned a “bump” in the track surface exiting that second turn. If true, it must be eliminated before the next IndyCar race there. A couple of crashes in the same place can be explained away. But five?
– Bob Jenkins is doing a better job of hosting these telecasts than was the case previously, but who is “J.R. Hinchcliffe?”
– Scott Dixon out-and-out blocked Danica Patrick on the last restart (or shortly after) and wasn’t called on it.
– The grandstands were packed Saturday night, which is very good news for IndyCar.
– The Penske team waved Power to leave after an early pit stop and he crashed into the side of a pitting Charlie Kimball. A wing was changed but there were other problems and he suggested to the TV cameras later that he’d been driving a dangerous car.
“(I) probably shouldn’t have been out there in a damaged car,” he said, explaining why he lost control and crashed coming out of turn two (see above).
He then suggested that something had to be done to eliminate the chaos of pit stops.
Good luck with that one.
Shane Jantzi injured in Can Am Cup FF race
Six years ago, when the editor and publisher of EFormulaCarNews.com put up a trophy – the Can Am Cup – for a special, once-a-year, Formula Ford shootout race open to anyone with a race-legal Formula Ford 1600 car, Shane Jantzi of Ayr won it for the first time.
And he defended it successfully for – are you ready for this? – four more years.
That’s correct: he won the Can Am Cup five years in a row.
Sunday at Mosport, Jantzi was aiming to make it six straight when disaster struck. At the beginning of the last lap, and running second at the time, Jantzi made an effort to pass eventual winner Mathew DiLeo of Innisfil going into Turn One and was clipped by a spinning backmarker.
The collison sent Jantzi’s car flying backwards into a tire wall at almost-full speed.
Safety crew and ambulance officials took 15-to-20 minutes to remove Jantzi from the car, which sustained serious damage to its back end.
The driver, strapped to a backboard, was taken to the Control Tower medical centre where his condition was evaluated.
At about the same time, a thrilled DiLeo was accepting the Can Am Cup.
The race was red-flagged immedately following the accident and the checkered flag came out soon after that. The official order of finish listed Janzi second.
A talented racer, Shane Jantzi is one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. We wish him a speedy recovery.