1. More than 30 injured after fire breaks out in F1 garage
2. Why has Honda Indy called a press conference? Indy 500 practice
3. Who was that little guy out on the NASCAR track?
1. Maldonado rescues cousin from fire after winning Grand Prix
About 90 minutes after Pastor Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday
– an hour and a half after the winner and his podium sidekicks Ferando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen exchanged champagne squirts and he’d talked on international television about winning his first F1 race – the Venezuelan driver carried his injured cousin on his back out of the inferno that moments before had been the Williams garage.
We won’t know for sure what caused the huge fire that resulted in at last 30 people being injured – at least one is reportedly in critical condition – until the investigation is complete but the suspicion is that it had something to do with the electronics on Bruno Senna’s car that had been returned to the garage following a mid-race collision with the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher.
Sir Frank Williams, confined to a wheelchair since being injured in a road accident in the 1980s, was hustled away from the fire and wasn’t among those hurt.
Williams GP personnel as well as some members of the Force India, Red Bull and Caterham teams were treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
My F1 race report is directly below this, or you can click here but my first Notebook Jottings item concerns the huge Spanish financial institution Banco Santander.
When international banking giant ING wised up a couple of years ago and bailed out of F1, it was replaced by Santander. As was the case for a few years with ING, all you see in F1 these days, pretty much, are Santander signs.
The people running those big international banks like the F1 lifestyle. And they get to live it until the people who have their money on deposit in savings accounts start to put 2 and 2 together.
Then they start saying things like this:
"How come you are flying to Monte Carlo on a private jet and eating shrimp scampi and lobster in the Grand Prix Paddock Club and all you’re willing to pay me in interest is a lousy 1.2 per cent. I think I will go down the street to a bank whose managers don’t have such expensive tastes."
Because of the European debt crisis, Santander’s net profit dropped a whopping 24 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. Which means it won’t be just the little people asking questions about the bank’s F1 involvement and you can start with the board of directors.
I betcha, like ING, Santander won’t be around all that long.
– Michael Schumacher was penalized five grid positions at Monaco for running into the back of Bruno Senna and ending both their races.
As is the case on the street, the onus is on the driver following to avoid a collision. Schumacher did not do that and deserves the penalty – probably.
But Schumacher said Senna changed his line twice – and he did. Watch the replay again, if you can, and I think you would agree that Senna broke the rules. I know, the stewards ruled otherwise, but they are not always right (as we all know).
But here’s what I think really happened: Schumacher got confused. I don’t think that accident would have happened five years ago. I know it wouldn’t have happened when Schumacher was 25.
Why? Because his eyesight would have been better then and his brain would have reacted faster and his reflexes would have been just that much quicker.
Yes, he still has the desire and he’s still fast when he’s out there all by himself. But that world, the world of million-miles-an-hour F1 racing, is going way too fast for a guy his age and it’s time to call it a day.
– What is it with the left rear tire changer on the McLaren team? On Sunday, Lewis Hamilton went to leave his pit after a stop and ran over a wheel that had been put down too close to the left rear corner of his car.
You will recall that twice previously this season, Jenson Button’s race chances were stymied by the left rear tire changer.
– Pastor Maldonado, starting from pole, looked like the Schumacher of old at the start, the way he took dead aim at Alonso and moved across as if to run him off the circuit.
But, as the rules state, he left him a lane and Alonso kept his foot in it. (I mean, who thinks he can intimidate Alonso . . . ) And the two-time world champion, who was not going to be denied at his home race, was in the lead after that first corner.
– I want to go back to the fire at the F1 race in Spain for a moment.
I watch the Speed News on Sunday night. I like the show. I like host Adam Alexander and I think his sidekick this season, Sam Hornish Jr., is doing a good job.
I wonder about the lineup editor, though. They reported the race results and so on and then, almost as an afterthought, they reported on the fire. Kind of a, "Oh, by the way, there was this near-disaster after the F1 race in Spain."
It reminded me of Denis Jenkinson’s report on the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans race that was published in Britain’s Motor Sport magazine. He wrote 250 paragraphs (or thereabouts) before reporting that 80 people had been killed when a car went into the crowd. . .
– Felipe Massa and Sebastien Vettel both got drive-through penalties for not slowing down for yellow flags.
They weren’t passing anybody, they didn’t nearly run somebody over, they didn’t do anything. So who makes the complaint and who makes a decision as the result of a complaint? If the situation is that drastic, send out the safety car.
– Speaking of Massa, while he was being lapped he was very quick to get out of the way of Maldonado and not so quick to get out of the way of Alonso. He’s finished at Ferrari and he knows it. If he can’t find a way to stay in F1, he’ll join Barrichello at IndyCar.
– And speaking of Vettel, analyst David Couthard was pointing out that "Vettel is making passes in places where there aren’t usually passes."
Which explains why he’s won the last two world championships.
2. Why is IndyCar boss coming to Toronto Monday?
The Honda Indy Toronto has called a media conference for Monday morning and IZOD IndyCar Series boss Randy Bernard plans to fly in from Indianapolis to attend.
No, they aren’t bringing in a driver to publicize the July race, which is just a little less than two months away. Just (so far as I know) race co-owner Kim Greene (I don’t see partner Kevin Savoree’s name on the invite) and Bernard.
The reason for the press conference? "Private and public partners renew commitment to professional auto racing in Toronto."
Now, what’s that about?
I shall report on this Monday afternoon in this spot. But I suggest there are things happening behind the scenes, to wit: maybe the welcome this race has enjoyed in this town since 1986 isn’t as enthusiastic as it once was.
That's all I'm going to say. You can read between the lines.
Meantime, they’re practicing at Indianapolis and the run for the pole will take place next Saturday and bumping will take place on Sunday – although there won’t be any bumping because they are going to be hard-pressed to come up with 33 cars.
Sebastien Saavedra, who doesn’t have a full-time ride in the IZOD IndyCar Series this year, was fastest on Sunday with Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden and sprint car standout Brian Clauson (yea!) right on his heels. Scott Dixon and Justin Wilson rounded out the fast five.
Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe – who’s writing and recording an Indy 500 diary for Speed TV’s website – was ninth fastest. The other Canadian, Alex Tagliani of Montreal, who won the pole at Indy a year ago, turned a lap that was 20th fastest.
Saavedra, driving for Andretti Autosport (he won a Honda Indy preliminary race here a couple of years ago), ran a best lap of a little more than 221 mph with Chevrolet power. Slowest was Lotus driver Simona de Silvestro at a little more than 202 mph. The second Lotus driver, Jean Alesi, was a tad quicker at 205 and change.
Is it any wonder Jay Penske has gone to court to try to get out of his contract with Lotus (as Bryan Herta and Dreyer & Reinbold did before him) in order to get Chevrolet motors for Sebastien Bourdais, who could win the race, and Katherine Legge?
Postscript: it pains me to watch the video of the opening laps at Indy at the weekend. The three Penske cars and drivers – Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves - drove a lap in formation and it looked really neat. But there was, in the words of Mel Lastman, no-body there. I mean nobody. When I first went to Indy in the Sixties, when they used to literally race through the pits to be the first car on the track on the first day of practice, there would be 200,000 in the place. Now? Nobody.
3. Some in NASCAR have class and some have no class
After the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Saturday night, won by Jimmie Johnson (it was Hendrick Motorsports' 200th team career win) with Denny Hamlin second and Tony Stewart third (story and results here), there was a kerfuffle on pit road. One of Ryan Newman’s crew members went after Kurt Busch for creating a situation late in the race that resulted in Newman crashing.
(Why does Greg Biffle not get into scrapes? Or Johnson? Or Earnhardt Jr.? Or Bowyer? Or just about everybody else except Kurt Busch and his little brother Kyle? I know the answer. Do you?)
In any event, I could really care less about the Busch brothers.
What I really want to know, however, is who was the little grey-haired guy wearing a blue jacket who was out on the track during the fight and then did the inexplicable: he went after a TV cameraman who was filming the struggle and tried to put his hand over the lens.
He was chased away by a Fox Network producer (I assume he was a producer; they usually travel almost hand-in-hand with camerapeople at sports events) but how dare he do what he tried to do?
NASCAR – in fact all sports – owes just about everything to TV. If not for TV, NASCAR is still a southern, regional, sport.
NASCAR is paid millions and millions of dollars by the NBC and Fox sports networks to televise the sport and anybody who tries to interfere with anything having to do with those races, including the fights, should be banned from NASCAR races for the rest of this season, if not forever.
I mean, how did he get out there? NASCAR apparently has a security problem, too.
One last thing about NASCAR. Danica Patrick is now up to tenth in the Nationwide standings. And she made it through the Southern 500 without crashing and driving steadily and solidly. She'll be okay.
There was all sorts of racing this weekend. We'll catch up with the rest of the results Monday night - at the end of the report on that Honda Indy press conference.