Tuesday, April 8, 2008

F1: Bahrain Sand Dunes - 2008 edition

I’d have to say that with the continuing Maxxum-gate and the St. Pete Indy Car race, my thoughts have been wandering like the shifting sands of the Bahrain Kingdom, which still amazes me that the entire Island nation is smaller than the square footage of the neighboring Saudi Arabia airport…

Thus I found Friday’s practice session to be fairly non-descript, besides the re-hashing of Max Mosley’s Pictionary games. Although I found it a bit funny to hear how Professor Matchett’s ex co-worker (John Wheatley) and crew chief of some guy named Schumacher’s at Benetton had been called before the FIA to explain the rash of Red Bull’s suspension failures and whether or not the chassis were indeed safe?

I also enjoyed hearing Peter Windsor’s recanting of the Williams team fooling the FIA scrutineers over the mirror’s rearward visibility, saying that they’d had an Engineer hooked up to a radio to say yes… As the steward scurried about the rear of the car as Adrian Newey had positioned the mirrors in an outward’s location in favour of aerodynamics vs. driver’s visibility. As this had all come up over DC’s less than complimentary comments over the radio we’d been allowed to hear.

And the comment towards The Krakow Kid (Robert Kubica) deciding to loose six kilos of weight off his rakish thin frame in order to help the BMW Sauber team play with ballast is simply astounding! (6 kilos = 13.23lbs) As I always find this utterly amazing when drivers go to such measures in the vain of ultimate car performance…

Then with 8 minutes to go Lewis Hamilton slid over a kerb and slammed sideways into the tire wall, ripping the front wheel and suspension mounts clean off his chassis, to which the McLaren mechanics would stay at the track until 4:30AM building up a new vehicle, as the FIA has STUPIDLY Banned the use of spare chassis this season. Although the teams are allowed to bring spare monocoque’s (tubs) they’re not allowed to be built-up units and thus the McLaren boys worked late into the night building up a new chassis for Hamilton as he’d tweaked the sensitive bonded suspension pick-up points into disrepair, as well as both Louise’s and Heikki’s cars having issues with their transmissions… Ah, the life of an F1 mechanic, eh?

Yet the only surprise of Q1 Qualifying was the Hamburgular outpacing his teammate, the German hot schue Sebastian Vettel, as Sea Bass’s 9th time held up for P16 as the runners completed their flying laps, thus Bourdais made his way forward into Q2, out qualifying Vettel for the first time this season.

And the usual suspects made their way forwards from Q2 into the final Q3 Qualie session, although it was “Jense’s” first time this far up the grid in quite some time.

And I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy the camaraderie that the Three Amigos in the SPEED TV Formula 1 broadcast booth have developed, as Bob Varsha and David Hobbs have been friend and broadcasting colleagues for several years, thus I broke into laughter when Hobbo claimed that ‘Ol Phil Massa was lurking like a Spectre over Louise’s shoulder towards the final Qualie session… Which caused Varsha to chide the elder Hobb’s: NO more coffee for you. (Sunshine)

As although Massa had been blindingly quick the whole qualifying session, he was pipped by Kubica at the very end of the session by less than three one-hundred’s of a second, which gave both the Krakow Kid and BMW Sauber their very first Pole position, which of course caused Varsha to make the requisite Pole on Pole jokes…

Although it was later revealed that it was the very first time in Sauber’s 15yrs as a Constructor and the first time that a new team and driver had garnered the honours since Rubens Barrichello scored the REAL EJ’s (Eddie Jordan) first Pole in 1994.

Thus the grid formed up with Kubica on Pole, Massa in P2, with Hamilton third with the Iceman Kimi alongside in fourth. Row three saw Heikki ahead of Quick Nick in the second BMW Sauber. Row four was an all Toyota engine affair with Toyota’s Trulli “Scrumptious joined by Williams Nico Rosberg, with Jense’s Honda lining up in P9 with the affable Spaniard Alonso slotted in tenth.

Yet Kubica’s moment in the spotlights was soon finished, as Phil Massa sprang like a champagne cork and took the lead, immediately screaming off into the distance on the first of his many hot laps. But the commotion of lap one fell to Hamilton’s unusual lack of pace as the lights went green, dropping from P3 all the way back to tenth, even worse, being stuck behind his favourite dancing partner… Some dude named Fredrico Suave… Who I believe gave the young Louise a patented Ferdi (Hi) Jink as we witnessed Hamilton clouting into the rear of Alonso’s slower Renault which demolished Lewis’s front nose and effectively ruined his race…

After these shenanigans settled down and Professor Matchett pointed out the large chunk of rear wing missing from Ferdi’s rear wing… The race settled down into somewhat procession-like running, although there was an entertaining dust-up between Button and DC. And the comments about DC’s mirrors of course came into the fray as well as Jense not having too far to drive as he’s taken up residence in the Bahrain Kingdom something to do with not having to pay taxes… Although it seems a bit galling to think that this little Island can successfully host a GP with a maximum attendance of 34,000 spectators, while Tony’s ‘lil Sandbox isn’t good enough for Emperor Bernardo…

And speaking of Coulthard, he earned the word of the week, when describing kerb hopping as; Kerb Strike.

Thus as the Ferrari boyzs traded fastest laps and drove off into the sunset, the BMW Sauber teammates were left to scrum over the final podium position, which Kubica held onto, while Massa redeemed himself with the Italian press by convincingly winning over Raikkonen.

Kimi’s second place finish propelled him into the championship points lead while Hamilton’s 13th place finish. (His career worst) dropped him to third in the standings, while Kubica’s podium coupled with Heidfeld’s fourth place sees BMW Sauber take the Constructor’s points lead by one point over the Scuderia, who lead McLaren by a further one point, as we’ll now have a three week break for everyone to get rested up before the European season kicks-off in Barcelona…

Driver’s Point Standings
K. Raikkonen 19
N. Heidfeld 16
L. Hamilton 14
R. Kubica 14
H. Kovalainen 14

Constructors Points Standings
BMW Sauber 30
Ferrari 29
McLaren 28