Formula One is back after its three-week summer vacation and the glorious circuit of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium is the setting.
Weather in that part of the world in late August is chancy and that was the case today with showers interrupting both practice sessions.
Michael Schumacher, who is celebrating 20 years in F1 this weekend, kicked off the “second season” in grand style by setting fastest time in the first practice.
However, the Mercedes duo of Schumahcer and Nico Rosberg were the only two drivers to set a time before the rains came and so their one-two times at the top of the chart were significantly faster than the rest of the field, which had to tip-toe around in the wet (1:54.3 for Schumacher compared with third-fastest Jenson Button who went around in 2:02.7).
In the second practice, everybody scrambled to set a time before it started to rain again and when the showers returned, Mark Webber was on top of the charts with a 1:50.32. He was followed by Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.
Let’s hope Saturday is brighter in Belgium. Spa is a wicked fast track and Eau Rouge is the most exciting series of turns in the sport but the cars and drivers have to be able to operate at top speed for them to be truly appreciated.
Here’s a link to Autosport’s detailed report of how the sessions played out.
F1 qualifying can be seen tomorrow (Saturday) on TSN at 7:55 a.m. and the Grand Prix of Belgium will go Sunday, same time and same channel.
While I’m at it, here are other TV times and the channels for this weekend’s racing:
— NASCAR Nationwide at Bristol, tonight (Friday) at 7:30 on TSN2 (pre-race at 7).
— NASCAR Sprint Cup at Bristol, Saturday night at 7:30 on TSN.
— IZOD IndyCar Series at Infineon Raceway in California, Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. on TSN2.
Remember, TV times for all racing programs can be found at www.racefantv.ca
Speaking of IndyCar, HVM Racing has asked Simon Pagenaud (is he the new Super Sub?) to step in and set up their car today at Infineon Raceway in California after Simona de Silvestro ran into trouble with border officials while attempting to return to the United States from Switzerland, where she'd gone to visit her family.
Cross fingers that whatever happened can be cleared up quickly. Meantime . . .
IndyCar issued a very strange media release Thursday afternoon in which it announced that Will Power had been fined $30,000 for insubordination as the result of his public display of anger after he crashed at New Hampshire Motor Speedway several weeks ago (you remember: they tried to restart the race when it was raining and Power flipped the double bird at race officials.)
But there was a twist (maybe somebody thought this would get headlines): if Power didn’t want to pay the fine, he could “work it off” by agreeing to make a number of public appearances on IndyCar’s behalf, presumably to tell everybody what a bad boy he’d been.
As a result of Danica Patrick’s media conference (I’m over my snit, by the way; I’m sorry to see her go but I still like her) and the very peculiar offer made to Power, this is what I wrote to a friend this morning:
“I’m feeling very pessimistic today about the future of IndyCar. Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to have Power make public appearances to ‘work off’ his fine? ‘Hi everybody. My name is Will Power and I’m an IndyCar driver. I’m also a jerk.’
“The $5 million offer to have five non-regulars race at Las Vegas has officially fallen flat on its face. Half the field can’t afford the new car. Nobody’s heard from Chevy about who’s going to run their new engine (other than Penske) and – like her or not – they’ve now officially lost their biggest star.
“I know everybody’s putting on a brave face. But where do they go from here? What do they do to turn this thing around? Or can they?”
This blog (other than the Monday roundups) will be hit and miss for the next couple of weeks. I’m off on vacation. And to cheer up.