Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grey Beards

“You’ve been a BAD boy; you let your face grow long…”

Obviously, I had a hard time getting as excited over this past weekend’s European Grand Prix as I would have been if the TERMINATOR had indeed made his proposed comeback…

James Allen:
“Just two weeks after announcing a shock comeback to Formula One, Michael Schumacher pulled off another surprise yesterday by calling the whole thing off.”

“Michael Schumacher’s comeback-that-never-was, has drawn the attention in recent days and it was clear looking at his face and his body language at the Geneva press conference how disappointed he was.”

(Source: James Allen’s F1 Blog)

And thus, it wasn’t meant to be, albeit Schuey was set to become the Old Man on the grid, (40yrs – 8 months) making a heroic comeback a la “Il Lione” or BLOODY NIGE’s. (Mansell) return 15 years ago, as the honour of F1’s elder statesman currently belongs to his ex-teammate Rubino… (Barrichello) Who in his own mind thought he coulda been a contender for the World Championship if only he wasn’t in Michael’s shadow and hence moved onto what has ultimately become BRAWN GP, albeit I think his junior teammate and current points leader ‘JENSE (Button) is clearly head ‘N shoulders above him. And thus a quick perusal thru my loosely kept Formula 1 statistics and Al Gore’s world wide web thingy reveal the following...

(ALL Statistics compiled PRIOR to the 2009 European GP)

Michael Schumacher
Age: 40 (Born 01/03/69) Starts: 249; Wins: 91; Poles: 68; Podiums: 154; Fastest laps: 76; Teams: Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari; World Championships: 7; Seasons: 15 (1991-2006).

What can I say about Herr Schumacher? I mean he’s certainly one of the greatest drivers ever… and I’m just really bummed that he had to F%%K UP his neck racing “Scooters” in order to not be able to fulfill his hoped for comeback… which would certainly have brought some Zest back to one of Formula 1’s most scandalous seasons…

Ricardo Patrese
Age: 39 (At retirement; Born 04/17/54) Starts: 256; Wins: 6; Poles: 8; Podiums: 37; Fastest laps: 13; Teams: Shadow, Arrows, Brabham, Alfa Romeo, Williams, Benetton; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 16 (1977-1993).

I’ve only included Ricardo because he was the benchmark of durability of all Formula Uno Piloto’s with an unheard of 256 Grand Prix starts, which was thought at one time to be untouchable. Hell! Even Herr Schumacher has less career starts then Patrese…

Luca Badoer
Age: 38 (B 01/25/71) Starts: 48; Wins: 0; Poles: 0; Podiums: 0; Fastest laps: 0; Teams: BMS Scuderia Italia, Minardi, Forti Course, Ferrari; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 4 (1993, 1995-96, 1999, 2009).

Although some are questioning Ferrari’s choice of Italian Luca Badoer over the teams younger test/reserve driver, the 35yr old Spaniard Marc Gene after not having contested a Formula 1 event since Suzuka, 1999, I’d like to believe the story of Badoer being granted the position due to his loyalty to the Scuderia, having become a test driver at Maranello way back in 1997.

Will we see Badoer thru the remainder of the season, not to mention the upcoming event at Monza?

Badoer began his F1 career with BMS Scuderia Italia, powered by Ferrari V-12 “Lumps” in 1993, regularly outshining senior teammate Michele Alboreto, whom he lost his drive to in 1994 when the team merged operations with Minardi, but stayed on as their test driver and replaced Alboreto in 1995 upon his retirement from F1, before moving onto an unsuccessful season with Forti Course. Badoer then ran his final F1 campaign with Minardi in 1999, and was surprised when Ferrari drafted Mika Salo as Schumacher’s stand-in upon the German breaking his leg, as Badoer was the team’s test driver, and still is…

And if you’re questioning Badoer’s pedigree, then you may wish to know he’s a multi-series champion; Italian Karting, Italian F3 and F3000, having beat some Dude named Zanardi for his F3 crown…

Rubens Barrichello
Age: 37 (B 05/23/72) Starts: 277; Wins: 9; Poles: 13; Podiums: 66; Fastest laps: 17; Teams: Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, BAR-Honda, Honda, BRAWN GP; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 16 (1993 - Present).

As we all know, Rubino, who ironically made his Formula 1 debut at the exact same race as Badoer, the 1993 South African GP, began his career with “EJ’s” (Eddie Jordan) plucky Privateer team, driving the Sasol sponsored Jordan 193/Hart V-10, which slowly rose in stature, while Barrichello’s career zenith obviously came while deputizing as Schumacher’s wingman at Ferrari, where he scored all of his Grand Prix victories, before eclipsing Patrese’s starting record late last season.

Giancarlo Fisichella
Age: 36 (B 01/14/73) Starts: 222; Wins: 3; Poles: 3; Podiums: 18; Fastest laps: 2; Teams: Minardi, Jordan, Benetton, Jordan, Sauber, Renault,, Force India; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 13 (1996-Present).

Not really sure what to say about “Fishy-fellah,” other then he’s been around an awful long time, having started his career with perennial back marker’s and Minnow Minardi, which has given many F1 Piloto’s there chance to race in Formula 1, kinda makes me think of Dale Coyne Racing, eh? Although I do recall some mighty infighting at Jordan with hotshot Ralph Schumacher before moving onto Benetton, while Fisichella’s final Grand Prix victory came in very strange fashion, scoring Jordan Grand Prix’s final victory as the race was red flagged just moments after his Ford “Lump” burst into flames and the outcome wasn’t decided until one week later…

Jarno Trulli
Age: 35 (B 07/13/74) Starts: 209; Wins: 1; Poles: 4; Podiums: 10; Fastest laps: 1; Teams: Minardi, Prost, Jordan, Renault, Toyota; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 12 (1997 - Present).

Jarno, a.k.a. “Trulli Scrumptious” according to Professor Matchett, is another long time veteran of Formula One and has never really seemed to become one of the sports top stars… Although he did have to suffer in the limelight of Ralfanso; you know Michael Schumacher’s brother for three years while routinely outperforming him! And I can’t quite remember which race it was? But Trulli put in a sterling drive when not being denied a much overdue Podium for Toyota, not to mention securing the team’s very first pole. Jarno seems like one of the good guys and reportedly makes some killer vino in his spare time…

Mark Webber
Age: 32 (B 08/27/76) Starts: 131; Wins: 1; Poles: 1; Podiums: 8; Fastest laps: 1; Teams: Minardi, Jaguar, Williams, Red Bull Racing; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 7 (2002 - Present).

Good Day Mate and get your BLOODY ARSE OUTTA MY WAY! As Webber’s been known to have ‘Juan of the widest cars on the grid… But his dogged determination finally saw him score his maiden Grand Prix victory at the Nurburgring after 130 starts. Not to mention coming back from a broken leg and shoulder suffered while riding in his Tasmanian charity event this past winter…

Nick Heidfeld
Age: 32 (B 05/10/77) Starts: 160; Wins: 0; Poles: 1; Podiums: 12; Fastest laps: 2; Teams: Prost, Sauber, Jordan, Williams, BMW-Sauber; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 9 (2000 - Present).

Contrary to Bob Varsha’s quoting of Mark Webber having just broken the longest drought for first victory by an F1 driver, unfortunately “Quick Nick” still holds that dubious honour, with 160+ starts to his credit… Then again, I’d say the majority of the teams he’s driven for never gave him a chance, as most don’t recall the fact that he outqualified his teammate Kimi Raikkonen in convincing manner whilst teammates at Sauber…

Kimi Raikkonen
Age: 29 (B 10/17/79) Starts: 149; Wins: 17; Poles: 16; Podiums: 59; Fastest laps: 35; Teams: Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari; World Championships: 1; Seasons: 8 (2001 – Present).

Obviously “The Kimster’s” greatest accomplishment in Formula 1 to date was his miraculous snatching of the 2007 F1 Drivers World Championship away from rookie Lewis Hamilton by one point in the final race at China in 2007…

And Kimi, a.k.a. the REAL “Iceman” has always been known for his blindingly quick pace along with David Hobbs routinely pronouncing how large the Finn’s attachments (Balloc’s) are… But for me, his finest moment came during the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix, when Raikkonen chased down “Fishy-fellah” and with two laps remaining, whilst ignoring the klaxon bell of the McLaren’s Mercedes Benz rev limiter, magnificently sweeps past the Roman’s Renault on the OUTSIDE of Turn 1 and snatches a breathtaking victory away from an utterly gutted Giancarlo… (Which would lead to his downfall from Renault).

Jenson Button
Age: 29 (B 01/19/80) Starts: 163; Wins: 7; Poles: 7; Podiums: 22; Fastest laps: 2; Teams: Williams, Benetton, Renault, BAR-Honda, Honda, BRAWN GP; World Championships: 0; Seasons: 9 (2000 - Present).

As we all know: “You’ve come a long way baby!” As our man ‘JENSE was on the outside looking in this past winter in regards to whether or not he’d be even racing in Formula 1? And his season has been magnificent to date, albeit the boil having come off quite a bit recently… Yet, when I think of Button, I hearken back to his rookie campaign, when under the tutelage of one Messer Gerhard Berger… ‘JENSE lost his license for excessive speeding in a BMW Diesel road car!