Saturday, October 18, 2008

F1: Viva Italia - 2008 edition

Yeah, I’m still playing Ketsup with my twenty-oh-eight Grand Prix recaps...
So, in this episode, we’re back at Monza, Italy once again... Which without doubt is one of the most famous of le Grand Premio Cirquito’s on the Formula 1 calendar... As the ambiance of the Tiafosi is simply unrivaled, and alas, what should this event’s “Press Dawg” beverage of the race be? How ‘bout a nice, cold, DEL DUCATO NUOVA MATTINA, or perhaps one of the countless fantastic varieties of vino, but none of that cheap Chianti table wine crap, Kapishe...

Friday PracticeSPEED’s on air coverage began with Bob Varsha noting that a Press Release had just been issued moments after the start of Friday Practice by the Scuderia, in what has become Ferrari tradition... Informing us that Kimi Raikkonen’s contract had been extended thru the end of the 2010 season, and thus contrary to popular belief, “Fredrico Suave,” a.k.a. Fernando Alonso would NOT be joining the Scuderia anytime soon. (Although rumours still persist that he’ll show up in Maranello in 2010?)

Then there was a camera shot of Herr Schumacher (Michael) in the pits, to which David Hobbs chortled; “Is that Ralf’s *Ralfanso) brother? To which much laughter was heard, while Varsha said; Yeah, the world famous R. Schumacher...

Professor (Steve) Matchett then digressed into revisiting the savage crash that The Iceman (Raikkonen) had endured one year ago during practice, as several replays were shown while Matchett said it sure looked like a steering failure, as in the steering had broken just prior to impact...

Having begun the session with a damp surface, the track was slowly drying out and The Hamburgular (Bourdais) was the first to throw down the gauntlet of top speed honours, with a registering of 206mph in the speed trap. Yet, compare this to the all time record set at Monza by none other than “Jungle Boy,” a.k.a. Antonio Pizzonia, in a Williams BMW V-10, hitting a maximum velocity of 231mph in 2004!

Yet, Varsha further marveled on about how Alan van der Mewe had managed to go 257.9mph in a slightly modified Honda F1 chassis at Bonneville... Well, actually Bob! The “Bonneville 400,” as the record attempt on the Salt Flats was known as, didn’t manage to officially break the 400kph barrier, but did indeed go 397.481kph. (246.983mph)

Matchett then digressed over the theory of drag vs. down force and how the engineers would love to do all sorts of slick “Aero” things to clean up the drag created by the open wheels, along with noting how the teams build special low down force front/rear wings for Monza only... What’s that about cost cutting?

And speaking about the track’s atmosphere... Peter Winsor chimed-in, by noting how Friday was Enzo’s (Ferrari) day... As speculation suggests that Enzo decided to stay away from the racing action after having egged on an early driver to go faster... Vamoosh-vamoosh...
“Più velocemente! Più velocemente! “
Having tried to inspire the young Piloto to go faster, the driver then proceeded to crash and perish on the following lap and hence Enzo decided he should stay away from the track during the racing action...

And as the track continued to dry, the other Sebastian (Vettel) outdid his teammate for trap speed honours, by moving the bar to 207mph; yet, this wouldn’t last long as Robert Kubica put the hammer down with a sizzling 213mph lap... Yet, “Nelson Nelson” *Piquet Jr.) Wasn’t to be outdone, by uncorking a 214.8mph blast before beaching himself, to which we herd the radio transmission from Renault boss Pat Symonds asking Piquet what he was doing? As Nelson sheepishly admitted he’d gone off track before the radio crackled again telling him to shut it off, Nelson...

Saturday QualifyingIn an interesting comment towards issues regarding keeping drivers face shields from potentially fogging in the wet conditions, it was stated that Arai was now running a heated visor, a la your cars rear “De-Frogger,” with mini electrical strips imbedded in the shields, which now also needed to be registered by being plugged into the corresponding chassis’s common ECU, of which there were some retorts made about this coming about due to Ferrari...

Rubens Barrichello fails to advance out of Q1 for the seventh consecutive race., while Giancarlo “Fishy-fella” Fisichella garners Force India’s very first Q2 session...

But, by far the most amazing aspect towards qualifying is the fact that both Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton FAIL to advance out of the Q2 session, as “Louise” made a judgment error in trying to go out on intermediate’s when the track became damper, while Kimi simply was unable to move forward as we’d later find out he was allegedly on a “Dry” set-up. Thus Kimi would start from P14 with Lewis in P15, while Felipe Massa had barely slithered his way into Q3 by winding up tenth. But undoubtedly the surprise of qualifying was the fact that Sebastian Vettel scored his very first career pole ahead of McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen and became the sports youngest ever pole sitter at the age of 21 years and 73 days old.

Teammate Bourdais was knocked out of P3 on the final lap by Big Brother Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber, with Sea Bass winding up fourth, as the two Toro Rosso’s would out qualify the mighty Scuderia Ferrari on their home track!

Sunday Race
For only one of the few times ever, the race started off behind the safety car, as the weather conditions weren’t cooperating and the track was most definitely wet. This gave front man Vettel a great advantage when the cars were finally released, as the young German would be the only driver with a clear view ahead of him, while everybody behind battled with the spray of the rooster tails... As Kubica would later comment that he’d never even seen his teammate who he’d passed for position...

And it was simply amazing... Could Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Toro Rosso actually win? As Vettel uncharacteristically continued to pull away from not only Heikki’s McLaren, but the entire field... And I continued to get more vociferous at the Telescreen, chanting for Sebastian to indeed win... Which was quite magnificent to watch the unthinkable happen! As Vettel indeed crossed the stripe ahead of a dejected Kovalainen and fairly happy Kubica, who was running a special helmet paint scheme commemorating his very first podium position he’d scored previously at Monza in 2006...

Qualifying Results
Pole: S. Vettel* (1st F1 Career Pole)
2. H. Kovalainen; 3. M. Webber; 4. S. Bourdais; 5. N. Rosberg; 6. F. Massa;
7. J. Trulli; 8. F. Alonso; 9. T. Glock; 10. N. Heidfeld

Race ResultsWinner: S. Vettel* (1st F1 Career victory)
2. H. Kovalainen; 3. R. Kubica; 4. F. Alonso; 5. N. Heidfeld; 6. F. Massa;
7.; L. Hamilton; 8. M. Webber

Point Standings(Round 14 of 18)

L. Hamilton 78
F. Massa 77
R. Kubica 64
K. Raikkonen 57
N. Heidfeld 53

Ferrari 134
McLaren 129
BMW Sauber 117
Renault 43
Toyota 41