Sunday, May 29, 2005

Comments on the European GP

Man, what a finish! Though Kimi didn't get the poll this week, he was just "nicked" out by one of the local boys Nick Heidfeld, and after a restart due to some gearbox problems that left Giancarlo Fisichella stuck on the grid he rocketed out of the gate and took the lead right off. Fisichella had to do the restart from pit lane.

Then more fun. A small pile-up on the very first turn dropped a number of the field back and totally scrambled everything. The only casualty was Mark Webber's Williams-BMW.

After that it was a battle for second as Räikkönen did what he's done the past 3 races, pull his McLaren-Mercedes away from everyone. David Coulthard had his Red Bull car up in forth just before the first round of pit stops. When the leaders pealed off, it left the Englishman in first place. It seems that the team is really pushing for competitiveness. Unfortunately he was assessed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He was still able to finish 4th. Red Bull almost had both cars in the points but Vitantonio Liuzzi finished just 0.5 seconds behind the Toyota of Jarno Trulli. Trulli was also assessed a drive-through for having pit crew on the grid to long. The rules are that everyone of the crew must be off the track 15 seconds before the race.

Both Ferrari's were mired in the middle of the pack and got caught up in the first turn shenanigans. With some deft driving they both ended up in the points with Rubens taking a podium for third. Heidfeld brought his Williams-BMW in for second and Fernando Alonso drove his Renault in for his 4th win of the season.

You might be asking yourself, what happened to Kimi? If he took the lead and held onto it like a pit bull why didn't he finish first? It seems that the Flying Finn scuttled his own race. With about 5 or 6 laps to go, and leading by some 15 seconds, Kimi lost focus and locked up the front right which took him off onto the gravel. He easily came back on with no damage to the chassis but a huge flat spot on the right front tire. This caused a great amount of vibration and bouncing of that tire. With so few lamps to go and with Alonso still behind him he had no real option to do anything but stay out and hope things held together long enough to finish. While Alonso was gulping up massive amounts of distance it looked like the Finn would be able to hold on. But just as they started the final lap the damage was to much for the strut and it let go in a shower of carbon fiber. The wheel itself didn't blow but it did come pretty close to hitting Kimi in the head. Only the safety tether held it from any danger. So it was that he had to settle for eleventh.

So here's what things look like after a hair over a third of the season. The McLaren-Mercedes team is looking very strong. Especially Kimi. If he doesn't have mechanical problems he could conceivably be on a five race win streak. The Renaults are still looking good and there's promise for continued success this season. The team of the year so far has, in my eyes, been Red Bull. Save for Monaco they have scored points in every race. BAR-Honda seems to be in a stall that could threaten to become a tailspin. After their two race suspension they looked very mediocre in this outing.

Lastly we get to Ferrari. The last two races Michael and Rubins have both put in some good racing. The problem seems to be that they can't qualify high enough to make any use from it. The going theory is that the Bridgestone tires don't perform well until they have a good number of laps behind them. And with the one tire per race rule they can't work things out from testing to qualifying to race. I think, though, that they will start to come along the rest of the season. But it will be a miracle if Michael can hold onto his championship.

Now it's off to Canada in two weeks. I wish I could be there for that.

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