Monday, July 2, 2007

Ferrari to the Fore

Ah, how a change of scenery seems to have done the Scuderia good. As the Prancing Horse was comfortably quickest during the final Formula 1 outing at Magny Cours.

With Louise Jaguar Hamilton the meat in the Ferrari sandwich, it was even more impressive as we learned during the course of the race that Kimi Raikkonen was on a heavier fuel load. Which made his start even more impressive when overtaking Hamilton for second.

And what a difference live vs. “canned” FOX TV coverage makes… As by far, this was their best showing of an F1 race this season. They actually had time to do Peter Windsor’s grid walk as well as read the names of all starting positions. Along with vastly improved camera shots as well as reducing the size of the dreaded black positions box. Damn, never thought I’d actually be impressed by a FOX TV broadcast.

And speaking of television coverage. I found it interesting that Champ Car, Formula 1 and RASSCAR were all going head to head via staggered pit strategies yesterday. Err, slightly staggered broadcast times, with F1 taking the green flag first.

Apparently Alonso’s maladies in final qualifying were attributed to transmission failure, as it was most interesting to hear Professor Matchett state that the McLaren mechanics had to wait a full 2.5 hours for the unit to cool down before they could even attempt to chisel it off the back half of the Mercedes Benz lump. Therefore “Ferdi” kept his tenth place starting position, chasing the sharp end of the grid the entire day. As I yelled at the TV for Quick Nick to keep him behind. As Heidfeld gets my Mark Webber Tough Bloke of the weekend award. Racing with a very sore back/bruised ribs incurred in recent testing. Yet Alonso finally managed to overtake Heidfeld with a bonsai maneuver where neither Nick nor the announcers were expecting.

Meanwhile Felipe Massa was leading a Ferrari procession with only Jaguar able to hang on in third place. And the TV coverage seemed quite endured with Alonso, who struggled mightily to make his way forward. Having several epic battles including a tussle with ex-Renault teammate Fishy Fella… As I found myself oddly cheering Giancarlo Fisichella to hold off that pesky Fernandoe!

While Raikkonen’s extra fuel load came to his advantage while allowing him to go three laps longer then Massa. By building up a 23.5 second lead, the “Kimster” was able to do enough demon laps along with a quicker final pit stop to leap frog Massa into the lead. And although the two red cars had to thread their way thru traffic, Kimi led Felipe home in Ferrari’s first 1-2 finish of the season. With Raikkonen scoring his first victory since Australia!

Third place Jaguar had a good scrap with his friend and rival Robert Kubica who finished fourth in front of teammate Heidfeld. Fishy Fella brilliantly held off Alonso for sixth with “Jense” (Button) securing his and Honda’s very first championship point of the season in eighth place.

Yet Super Aguri still leads Honda in the Constructor’s championship, while now only Scuderia Toro Rosso and Spyker F1 have failed to claim any points.

And speaking of Spyker, was that insane when the car went screaming down the pit lane with the fuel hose still attached to it! As the “Red Mist” seemed to get the better of Cristijan Albers while ripping the fuel hose clean off of the refueling rig.

Now the F1 circus makes its annual pilgrimage to Silverstone for the upcoming British Grand Prix, which should see all of the UK media in a tizzy over “Homey” Lewis Hamilton. Can the Scuderia keep the pressure on? Or will Alonso rain on Jaguar’s parade. Although I’m still waiting to see if the BMW boys can pull a rabbit out of their hat at the Nurburgring…