Saturday, March 22, 2008

F1: Thunder Down Under - Australia, 2008 edition


That seems to be about the only thing I can think of that appropriately sum’s up the 2008 Formula 1 season opening race just held in the Land of Oz!

Friday practice notes
The Boyzs are Back
The Boyzs are Back…

Now it must “Trulli” be Spring as the SPEED TV gang is back once again to bring us the magnificent sights ‘N sounds of Formula 1! And although they’re not quite the boys of summer, I’ll take the Quartet of Bob Varsha, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett and Peter Winsor ANY day OVER the chalkboard high pitched noise machine affectionately known as the RASSCAR RAT PACK! (Mr. Boogity; DW, Larry Mac ‘N Cheese, Jeffery Arm & Hammond, Kenny “The Beaver” Wallace and Jimmy Mr. Goodbar Spencer)

Vijay Malia’s massive cash infusion into the new & improved Force India F1 team has the squad so enthused, that Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne has brashly stated that if the VJ-M01 isn’t vastly up the grid by the season’s third quarter mark, then he should be fired! Careful of what you wish for MATE! Then again he’s pretty proficient at “Gardening Leave,” eh? Ah, don’t uze just lov’s the smell ‘O enthusiasm? Kinda like those new car deodorants you hang around your car mirror as the beginning of a new season bubbles over with optimism…

My very favourite Pit Reporter (Peter Winsor) was his usual krack-up-self, while interviewing Renault head designer Bob Bell, saying c’mon Bob when are you gonna win? To which Bell replied if they don’t get cracking this season then he’ll probably need to borrow Messer Gascoyne’s seeking employment want ads. And while discussing his much beloved adaptation of the SECU, Winsor rhetorically asked; do you mean drivers may actually have to de-clutch once again?

Winsor’s next target of affection was Honda test driver Alex Wurz, as a good bit of shtick was dolled out over Wurz’s needing to wear sunglasses while missing out on the Honda bloomer’s…

To which Varsha quickly quipped; Honda’s green-green shorts would get his vote as Team Schrek!

And speaking of bloomers, from the Varsha WAY TOO MUCH INFO files came the tidbits of David Coulthard’s shopping junket Down Under, claiming that DC has a penchant for buying up to forty pairs ‘O boxers, size small… To which quickly deteriorated into a bad skit by “Hobbo” over seeing Flavor Flav in a pair ‘O briefs while pooh-pooh-ing Briatore’s impending wedding to Victoria Secret supermodel Deanna Miller…

To which Matchett tried to awkwardly segway into much more serious techno-babble over the miniscule ride height adjustments the teams were currently making in the garages. Yet it is amazing how mechanics are constantly at work shimming the suspensions between half and one millimeter which makes crucial aerodynamic changes. Professor Matchett proclaimed that half of a millimeter is approximately the thickness of a hard back novel’s page… While the teams will need to add shimming to raise the chassis in proportion to the amount of fuel added, as the extra weight actually forces the chassis downwards.

Matchett also commented on the BMW Sauber’s front nose treatment by naming it the Bullwinkle treatment, in regards to the addition of the Viking style appendages that first adorned McLaren’s air box a few seasons ago, by placing a smaller pair of protrusions over the front suspension uprights.

There also seemed to be some confusion over the 2008 rules as Varsha noted that there’s NO spare car this year, although I heard it mentioned that somebody was in their team’s spare chassis for the race. And leave it to the WMSC to make the rules as clear as mud on a rainy day… As although Varsha is theoretically correct, the rules state that teams are allowed only two complete chassis at any given time, yet one may build up a new car as long as the engine and transmission along with all of the other nefarious FIA sealed bits remain intact in the changeover. Although I do NOT like this new rule as there is simply NOT enough flexibility to ensure a “Full” grid of 22 chassis. Nevertheless I suppose this rule was concocted under the aspics of MAD Max’s beloved cost cutting measures, while really trying to persuade drivers from committing any further Senna-Prost intentional crashing shenanigans.

I was also unaware that if you change your transmission prior to its mandatory four race weekend’s duty cycle you will receive a five grid spot penalty, a la premature engine changes, although this year teams are granted a “Mulligan” on the draconian 10 grid spot penalty. And while engine design has been frozen thru 2010, the manufactures are required to run 5.75% biomass fuel content this season as the FIA sheepishly tries to turn green, also having cut the Q3 fuel burning segment.

And I’d also not heard about the 2009 rules changes which will see a massive 50% reduction in aerodynamics, which will see the deletion of many of the countless winglets, flip-ups and aerodynamic aids…

Varsha also proclaimed that Renault new boy Nelson Piquet Jr was no longer wishing to be known as Junior or Senior and apparently will go by the nickname Nelson Nelson… As there will be NO more Junior biz.

Saturday Qualie-Quips
Some of you may already know about the newly revised Qualifying format, which thankfully sees the deletion of the Q3 fuel burning phase… (Note to Tony George, way to go on ADDING laps to Oval qualifying this season) Thus last years three segments of 15-15-15 minutes has been revised to Q1: 20minutes; Q2: 15 and Q3: 10, while all of the other previous rules still apply, i.e.; laps started prior to the checkered flag count and race fuel loads for the top ten must be in the tanks prior to the beginning of Q3, with positions 11-22 being allowed to re-adjust their fuel ballast up to 90 minutes prior to the green flag.

I’d say that the biggest disappointment of Q1 had to be Nelson Nelson not being able to haul his way up to P16, being relegated to a 21st starting position. Hmm? Hey Flavio, now what do you think about making Heikki walk the plank.

And speaking of Renault, reportedly the “Reggie” is paying Fernando Alonso $46 million per season to drive the Bleu machines, while the rumours of Ferrari driver shuffles has once again been wound-up, with German Hot Schue Sebastian Vettel’s name also being cast about. Oh crap, here we go again! And it’s NOT even anywhere’s near the official start of Silly Season, SHEISA!

And what in the HELL happened to the Kimster in Q2? As apparently Raikkonen had a fuel pressure problem, to which The House of Winsor immediately jumped on by proclaiming he was putting his cynical cap on… To which Varsha chided, Who, You? What me worry? While Peter went into his bad Italian accent, quickly proclaiming that it OBVIOUSLY had something to do with the McLaren/Microsof Common ECU control unit…

And Ferdi the Putz was uncharacteristically out of the top ten for only the second time since 2006, while Homeboy Mark Webber was bitterly disappointed to have suffered a front brake disc explosion, as I had a moment of brilliance upon nicknaming Robert Kubica as “The Krakow Kid” upon Varsha’s repeated comments of the Pole’s residence.

So it was a somewhat jumbled starting grid with Lewis Hamilton gaining his seventh pole, followed by Kubica. Kovalainen lined up third with Felipe Massa in fourth while Kimi was forced to settle for 15th. Quick Nick Heidfeld was 5th with Toyota’s Jarno Trulli in 6th. Row Four was filled by Nico Rosberg and David Coulthard, while Timo Glock slotted into P9 and Vettel rounded out the top ten…

Sunday Race notes
”Sunday driver NEVER took a test, out in the wild, wild, west!”

I’m NOT even gonna try to rehash the massive carnage of the race as there were simply too many incidents to cover, from Jarno Trulli’s “Hot Bot,” due to an exploding battery. The antics of Drivers being Drivers by having a multiple car melee on the first lap after the winter’s break… The Iceman loosing his cool by slithering off track twice; “The Krakow Kid’s” untimely undoing behind the safety car by Nakajima, along with poor ‘Ol Rubinoe’s fueling rig schumozzle… Aye Karumba!

As Professor Matchett was “Johnny-on-the-spot” catching Barrichello’s red light running, of which he was correctly DQ’ed one hour after the race, which means that the Australian GP saw only six classified runners at the chequered flag, tying the lowest number since the 2005 USGP Michelin Tyre debacle!

Yet in the end it was business as usual for Louise “Jaguar” Hamilton who thoroughly dominated the race, with Quick Nick and Nico on the podium. It was genuinely nice to see Hamilton hug his karting buddy Rosberg in congratulation’s of scoring his first F1 career podium, as Lewis eluded to during the post race interview it was the first time in eight years they’d shared a podium since their go karting days…

Word of the Week

El Twich-Oe”

Or as David Hobbs proclaimed meant extremely twitchy in El Spanol, while watching Fredrico Suave cutting a rug with the underperforming Renault R28, as I’m still not exactly sure what’s up with all of this talk about Ferdi’s differential giving him grief, as I thought it was Heikki Kovalainen in the McLaren…

Best “Dust Up”
Of the weekend has to go to the scrap between Fredrico and Heikki as Messer Hobbs duly noted that Alonso would be most desperate to keep the McLaren of Finnish new boy Heikke behind him, as the Ronster was forced to wipe the smile off of his mug after Kovalainen’s late race pass for fourth place was gifted back to the Spaniard upon Heikke inadvertently hitting the pit lane speed limiter…

Yet Alonso’s fourth place should have gone to the Hamburgular (Sebastian Bourdais) whose Ferrari lump went KUH-BLAMOE! With only two laps remaining, as I find it most odd to be suddenly rooting for the former Champ Car champ-pee-on! Yet he managed to avoid trouble and was leading the two time World Champion and Heikke’s McLaren in the closing laps before the McLaren boffins cut the spark to the 2.4 liter Ferrari V-8!

And it was so nice to NOT have to listen to Fredrico in the post race interviews!