Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jaguar on the prowl

Once again British media sensation Louis “Jaguar” Hamilton swiped pole position away from double world champion Fernando Alonso at Indianapolis.

Alonso had spent the entire weekend at the top of the time sheets, with Hamilton always close by. While I enjoyed SPEED keeping track of Sebastian Vettel’s progress, as well as all of the other “Usual Suspects” chasing the McLaren’s. C’mon Ferrari! You need to cool down those blokes from Woking…

And I don’t know who it was, but the scorecard now reads. Formula 1 chassis: 2, Animals: 0 as somebody took out a pigeon today, which hopefully caused less damage then the “Beaver” walloped by “ANT” last week. Appropriately Davidson’s nose sported a furry critter decal in homage to the slain Marmot.

And once again top speed is not the solution to the quickest lap times. As interestingly the four Red Bull chassis (Red Bull, Scuderia Toro Rosso) demonstrated. As Derr-Wreck Daily discovered in one of his multiple Scott “Nose” Speed interviews. The STR chassis had gone for minimum rear wing in order to get down the front straight. Speed claimed this was their only solution in attempting to challenge their rivals. Yet this caused extreme lack of grip in the infield (“Twisty”) section. (Effectively the back half of the track, including Holman Boulevard)

Bob Varsha pointed out that although the cars spent 23 seconds at full throttle. Which is the longest of all Formula 1 tracks. The cars were at full throttle for only 60% of the lap which ranked 11th overall.

Yet once again those Adrian Newey designed RBR chassis were amazingly quick down the front straight of Indy. With “Uncle David” (Coulthard) grabbing top honors with a terminal speed of 209mph on Friday! Joining the Red Bull speed fest on Saturday was Vitantonnio Luzzi reaching 203.4mph in Q1 qualifying. While Dc cranked out a 205mph burst with Mark Webber reaching 333kph/206mph. Yet Webber was the only Red Bull driver to reach Q3 final qualifying, where he ended up 9th overall.

Professor Matchett made several rounds of the pit garages with his usual insightful technical look at the sport. Yet the highlight(?) of today’s expanded coverage was the overly theatrical piece pitting Matchett against ex-driver David Hobbs in dueling go karts. As all I could do was chuckle as they played “God save the Queen” in homage to Messer Hobb’s victory. This segment apparently had something to do with last year’s competition between Hobbs & Matchett, which I didn’t see.

And although SPEED’s expanded coverage meant an overbearingly insane amount ‘O commercials during the non-racing segment. I did enjoy the extra driver interviews offered by both pit lane reporters as well as the entire qualifying sessions being un-interrupted.

During wrap-up Varsha noted the young German Vettel’s qualifying position when asking if anybody knew what Michael Schumacher’s qualifying debut grid spot was? Yes it was 7th, the same as Vettel’s. But I expect Vettel will most likely go further than 100 yards with gearbox failure as was Schuey’s demise in Spa-Francorchamps 16 years ago. Then again I’m betting on there NOT being a 7 car pile-up on the first corner of the opening lap!

Yet once again Hamilton was the star of the show in today’s qualifying, taking his second consecutive pole position on another track he’s never raced on before. And while Hamilton's meteoric rise continues to see everybody pouring on the accolades. One must recall that a previous rookie named Jacques Villeneuve once in sighted similar outpourings of greatness…

Qualifying Report