my most intense sport moments of 2010

notice that this is a personal list of how i perceived this year’s sport events. the most intense sport moments of 2010, in chronological order.

february 16, whistler (canada)

anastasiya kuzmina from slovakia had won the first gold medal of the olympic games in female biathlon, just two seconds ahead of german star magdalena neuner in her first olympic games. but right in the beginning of the pursuit race, neuner passes her rival and increases her advantage after two error-free shootings to an incredible advantage. in the fourth and last shooting, neuner makes her second mistake and kuzmina has a perfect shooting, but it is not enough -12 seconds advantage at the end give the young bavarian her first ever olympic gold medal.

february 21, whistler (canada)

in the 12.5 km mass start, only 13 of the 30 starters make a mistake in the first shooting – and neuner is one of them. after her perfect second shooting, she was now in 8th place, still dreaming of a medal, but another mistake in her third shooting made it look tough. thanks to a perfect fourth shooting and her incredible pace on the slopes, magdalena neuner manages the incredible and wins her second gold medal – an even more exciting race than the one five days earlier.

march 9, fiore (italy)

in a cold, windy day, the people from fiore were all there, seemingly. it was the greatest day in football for this italian town, that had had european glory, but never in the main competition, the champions league. to eliminate bayern would be their biggest success ever, and the players knew it; bayern couldn’t control the wind or the opponent, and early in the second half, fiorentina were up by 2×0. mark van bommel managed to score a lucky goal at the mark of 60 minutes, but the dream of extra time vanished only minutes later with jovetic’s second strike against a desolate defense, 3×1. the italians looked like the certain winners now, but just a minute later, arjen robben silenced the crowd with an incredible masterpiece of a shot. with luck and robben, bayern were through to the quarterfinals.

march 24, gelsenkirchen (germany)

what a semifinal match between schalke and bayern for the german cup. the kind of 0x0 that lifts the soul, good football and very nerve breaking. but even with the stress in the weeks before, and with only a few minutes to play in extra-time, arjen robben takes the ball, dribbles passed five people and concludes with a perfect shot – the goal of the year, and once again such a decisive one!

march 30, munich (germany)

it didn’t look good at all for the home team. rooney had scored an early goal, and bayern were trying to get the best possible result since then; they dominated the match, but weren’t able to convert their advantage into goals; only ribéry was able to score a goal against the favorites and 2008 champs, and that goal only came in the 77th minute. in stoppage time, the 3-minute mark was coming close as mario gomez won a ball against rooney in midfield and somehow got it to the united box, where evra lost orientation for a second and olic scored the most exctiting goal of this life. incredible! 2×1 and munich now had a chance!

april 3, gelsenkirchen (germany)

schalke against bayern – the decisive match for the title race in the bundesliga, where felix magath’s team could’ve made a great leap towards the title with a simple victory over their pursuers. bayern, though, scored twice in the first half, conceded a goal and got a red card very early in the game. but they were able to play the match so well and united that schalke did not have one goal scoring chance in the second half, running away with the victory and, finally, with the leadership in the table.

april 6, barcelona (spain)

lionel messi wrote his name in golden letters that evening. historians might call this the greatest performance ever by a football player, in history. against arsenal fc in the quarterfinals of the uefa champions league, messi’s game was near perfection even without scoring a single goal; but he scored four, after arsenal had scored the first goal of the match. 4×1 final score, four messi goals in a perfect night for the argentinian, who marked his name as the best of the world – and applied for the “best of all time” category, although he’ll need a world cup victory to state that claim.

april 7, manchester (england)

what a day. manchester seemed to show that olic’s last-second goal wouldn’t matter at all. they demonstrated modern, fast and agressive football in the first 45 minutes, scoring three goals even without a good rooney (but with a great nani), and even olic’s goal right before the break didn’t seem to change that fact. in the second half, bayern were more present, but still found it difficult to score what would be a decisive 2×3. but they did: corner kick ribéry, volley from 20 meters by robben – perfect goal, a third all-decisive goal of the year for the incredible dutch! after that, bayern controlled the game and manchester had no answers. olic’s goal from the first leg was worth gold, after all.

april 28, barcelona (spain)

the last ten minutes of fc barcelona’s semifinal second leg match against internazionale milan were some of the best sporting minutes of the year. inter had held  0x0 for a long time, and they could lose 0x1 and still advance to the final; but after piqué scored a beautiful goal, the nou camp became an inferno for the italian team (playing without a single italian player); attack after attack rolled onto julio cesar’s goal, and some luck was involved, mixed with a lot of talent. in stoppage time, barcelona scored for the second time, which would see the holders of the title advancing to the final. but the goal was disallowed, and inter advanced. what a match!

may 15, berlin (germany)

what a match. bayern played almost perfect football in the german cup final against holders werder bremen. beautiful, efficient, dominating, fast. 4×0 was the final score, and the second title was in the sack for bayern; trully a great moment for louis van gaal and his football philosophy.

may 22, madrid (spain)

the uefa champions league final was too important to really be a fantastic game. bayern had the ball possession, inter the wit and experience; diego milito and wesley sneijder made the difference on the positive side, daniel van buyten and martin demichelis on the negative one. 2×0 to inter, in a game that seemed more like a 0x0.

may 30, istanbul (turkey)

in the most exciting championship race in history, race 7 had everything to be spectacular. mark webber and sebastian vettel led the pack with equal points but more wins for the australian, who had just won monaco. alonso had 75 points, only 3 points behind the duo, and button had 70, with felipe massa at 61. lewis hamilton, the most spectacular driver of the year thus far, wasn’t even in the top five. and it was a battle between red bull and mclaren, between webber (pole man) and vettel, between hamilton and button. and between all four, who were racing on similar pace through the circuit during most of the race. vettel an edge faster than the leading team mate, and with hamilton pressing him. so he attemped a pass, encouraged by his mechanic – but webber didn’t know of it, closed the door, and the two drivers crashed. vettel was out, webber still managed third, but the race was not over; in sight of the red bull drama, mclaren advised their drivers to “save fuel”, in other words, hold positions. hamilton thought he was okay, but button still attacked him and passed with an incredible move. hamilton was determined not to let that happened and answered in specatular fashion. incredible! great race, and hamilton now emerged in third place in the standings – two places ahead of vettel, with mark webber still leading the pack.

june 11, johannesburg (south africa)

a pretty good opening match, but what  a goal by tchabalala, to erupt the stadium and the hearts of all african people. a singular moment in this sport year.

june 13, durban (south africa)

finally the world cup gets started in terms of quality. germany plays a perfect match and impresses the whole world with its incredible speed and light way of playing, a new kind of “beautiful game”. 4×0 against australia, who didn’t lose after that and had a good world cup in 2006. mesut özil, now at real madrid, appears to the world for the first time, even without scoring a goal – that’s how well he played.

june 23, london (england)

john isner against nicolas mahut. no one could have guessed that this might have been one of the most exciting moments in tennis history, but it was. round 1 in wimbledon, court 18. the match had started one day earlier, with four sets completed and a fifth set in need; darkness was the reason for the ending of the playing that day. basically what happened is that the american and the frenchman played the whole day and still didn’t find a winner between them, due to the rule that you have to outscore your opponent by two games in a grand slam fifth set match, no tie breaks allowed. 59-59 was the astonishing score after that day, and for the second time, darkness impeded that match to be concluded. the match was concluded a day later, with an incredible 70-68 scoreline.

june 23, pretoria (south africa)

another american victory on the same day, and what a victory: landon donovan’s deciding goal in stoppage time was one of the most deserving lucky strikes in this sports year and in any fifa world cup. the us had been denied a couple of decisive goals and would face elimination without the life-saving strike by the american soccer star.

june 24, johannesburg (south africa)

the reigning champions are eliminated in last place of their group, after a gripping second half in the match against slovakia, who qualified for the knockout stage with an incredible 3×2 victory – many beautiful goals, lots of drama and an italian team playing like it should have during the world cup only in the last 10-15 minutes. the typical too litte too late.

june 26, rustenburg (south africa)

asamoah gyan is a world cup star. he had a great group phase, but his decisive and beautiful goal against the us team kept african dreams alive, and it was in extra time after a 1×1 tie during the match. one could feel the whole continent united supporting the black stars.

june 27, bloemfontein (south africa)

arguably the best soccer match of the year. the first half was the best half of football i can remember watching, mostly because of the incredible performance of the german team in the first 35 minutes (and their 2×0 lead, more than deserving) and the great english performance after the 1×2, including the disallowed goal by frank lampard, the answer the the wembley-goal from 1966. germany shook, but didn’t fall. england’s pressure was on in the beginning of the second half, but after one of those incredible and fast moves, germany scored with müller. 3×1, and shortly thereafter, 4×1, again müller. a pitty that i watched that game by myself.

july 2, port elizabeth (south africa)

brazil had impressed me and the whole world with their focussed performances in the group phase. it was a different brazil, a more intelligent brazil, but a much less beautiful one. against chile, one could only come to the conclusion that this team could only beat itself, and that it wouldn’t. so brazil were favorites against holland, not only by tradition. and the first half was a demonstration of the new brazilian way of playing: very firm in the defensive midfield, combative, efficient and cool. the 1×0 advantage could have easily been a 2×0, holland had not even seen julio cesar in the match. but the brazilians beat themselves; a goalkeeping error by julio cesar, very rare indeed, enabled an own goal by felipe melo later credited to free kicker wesley sneijder. melo saw the red card after the whole team had become nervous, and the game was now gone. the netherlands dominated the second half and won the game, 2×1. brazil was out, and the country didn’t even care too much about it. a sign of how the public viewed the “new brazilian football”.

july 2, johannesburg (south africa)

what a match between ghana and uruguay, and what dramatic moments at the end. muntari had scored a beautiful goal right before the half time break, but forlan equaliezed in the beginning of the second half. ghana were stronger in he first half, uruguay had a better second half. but ghana was the team pressuring the south americans in extra time, and then it happened. after quite a lot of confusion in the uruguaian box, a defender saves from an shot, and a header is fished out of the goal by uruguay star attacker luiz suarez. red card, penalty, but no decisive 2×1 right before the penalty shootout. asamoah gyan could score it from the spot – but the ball hit the aluminium and went out. drama was not over, more penalties were one the program now. this time gyan scored, but two of his team mates didn’t – africa cried, uruguay celebrated – mostly bad-boy suarez.

july 3, cape town (south africa)

i’d watched argentina’s 3×1 win over mexico and was not impressed. no tactics, only talent. a lot of talent, sure. but enough to beat germany’s beautiful and efficient fast-paced way of playing the game? after 2 minutes, shooting-star and world cup golden boot winner thomas müller answered with the first goal. bastian schweinsteiger played the match of his life, eliminating lionel messi from the game and even organizing all attacking moves. he played it like a true quarter-back, and the runners scored another 3 goals. 4×0, and title favorites maradona were out. germany had convinced the world that they can actually play the most attractive football on the planet, not only the most efficient one.

july 7, durban (south africa)

germany couldn’t play. spain didn’t let them. it was as simple as that. and when germany finally started to have a little chance after after almost 70 minutes, the spaniards found their goal – after a corner, with a header. the deserving winner with perfect timing and somewhat boring, but extremely exact and perfect passing style. efficient enough for he germans not to get into the game at almost any time.

july 11, johannesburg (south africa)

there were only two good things about the final: it was thrilling and the right team won. the football was pretty poor, the netherlands weren’t even try to play football most of the time, which is totally contrary to the country’s football history and philosophy. they played more german than the germans, and they could’ve won – robben missed the decisive goal twice. but spain was strong in the beginning and in extra-time, in the rest of the match they were only able o control the game. the goal by iniesta was deserving, the title as well; the best team won!

august 29, spa-francorchamps (belgium)

this has always been my favorite race (and i plan to watch it live next year), and it didn’t disappoint; at least not in the spectacle, which had vettel trying to win the race. he was the fastest on the track, once again, and as it was getting dry, he tried to pass jenson button; but he crashed into him, provoking widespread criticism. lewis hamilton won the race and took over the lead of the championship after 13 races, ahead of mark webber. at this point, it seemed that the two of them would decide the title race, but things changed quite a lot after that.

october 4, newport (wales)

a ryder cup final day on a monday was uncharacteristic, and it is not every time that the decision goes to the last hole. the young american zach johnson kept the us-hopes alive, and their great final day seemed to be able to produce a historical comeback after trailing by three points on sunday. at the end, greame mcdowell kept his cool under enormous pressure: the us open champ of 2010 beat hunter mahan and gave europe another title in this, the arguably greatest competition in golf.

october 10, suzuka (japan)

fernando alonso had won the last two races and was back in the title race after a great end-of-summer run. japan was the last chance for sebastian vettel to still run for the title, with hamilton also in front of him and webber leading the standings. and he had a simply superb weekend (just like a year earlier) to claim a fantastic victory in the land of the rising sun. kubai kobayashi gave his home crowd an incredible show and made five passing moves, making it his own personal show and finishing in 7th. vettel had now passed hamilton, but alonso was still ahead of him – and so was leader and team mate webber.

october 24, yeongam (south korea)

the championship leader had held on to his lead without winning any of the previous four races, but this time, his nerves cost him the top spot. after a mistake, he crashed out and tried to take then-second placed fernando alonso with him, but actually hit nico rosberg. vettel now was the virtual leader, since he completely dominated the race; it would have been his first championship lead of the season, the sixth man to do so. but it was not to be, since his motor failed and alonso went on to win the race and become the runaway championship favorite. with only two races to go, vettel was a race victory (25 points) behind, webber only 11 points – a team order seemed the logical strategy for brazil and abu dhabi. but that also was not to be!

november 7, são paulo (brazil)

the podium was vettel, webber, alonso. which was curious in this order, since alonso remained on the top of the standings, only needing a second place in the emirates to win his 3rd title. but webber was denied the team order privilege, since his team mate still had slim chances himself. so vettel won an exciting brazil race, and went into the final race having to leave team mate webber and alonso behind him – and not only that!

november 14, abu dhabi (emirates)

vettel cries. he’s done he impossible, and thanks the team for the opportunity to do so. he wins the race, webber finishes back in 8th (worst race of the year for him), alonso in 7th. schumacher has a frightening accident right at the beginning, ferrari ignores rosberg and petrov going to the box (i’d seen it all along!) during that safety-car phase, and their second mistake is to “mark” webber, who goes early into the pits after hitting one of his wheels. alonso goes to, worried to lose his spot in front of that red bull, and gets stuck behind petrov. vettel wins with luck and superb driving, after a year of some mistakes and lots of bad luck. and he cries. the youngest f1 champions ever, what a career so far!

november 28, london (england)

what a year it had been for rafael nadal. although there was no nadal x federer final in a grand slam, in 2010 (the first time this had happened for quite a few years), nadal had won the last three slams and is going for a “false” grand slam in australia, to make it four in a row, but not in the same year. nadal finally met federer in the atp world tour finals, the inofficial world championships of tennis. and federer taught the spaniard a lesson of who still hasn’t given up on the dream of coming back to become number one – and maybe even winning the grand slam itself. after this superb match, 2011 can come in the tennis world!

here some high class tennis, maybe the best there has ever been:

my personal top five moments:

5- ivica olic scores the winning goal for bayern munich against manchester united in the first leg, seconds from stoppage time.

4- arjen robben scores a spectacular volley to eliminate manchester united in old trafford, making olic’s goal count.

3- lukas podolski’s 2×0 against england, a fantastic goal as an example of the new german game (great work by thomas müller) and virtually eliminating the until then astonished englishmen, traditional rivals.

2- sebastian vettel passing the finish line in abu dhabi and, half a minute later, realizing he’s the world champion, breaking into tears.

1- arne friedrich’s goal against argentina, eliminating the gauchos with the 3×0; bastian schweinsteiger’s brilliant assist was the reason, and of course the tension breaking after another incredible performance of the best german team that ever played.

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team orders allowed in formula one

well, just a quick comment.

many people will disagree, but i do believe that team orders have a definite place in formula one, and they should. after all, there are teams! and they pay the bills! so they should get to decide what should happen in a race, whenever they can.

team order yes - but you gotta know how to use it, as did red bull.

that’s the second point: teams should be smart enough to make the best decisions for business. and truth be said, that will always be the best decision for the fans. if the fans watch and love the sport, the teams will get their money – it’s that simple. absurd usages of the team order (schumacher x barichello) are bad for the sport, the alonso x massa affair this year is tolarable (not for brazilian fans, though), and if vettel had helped webber, that would have been approved by most. red bull was the smartest this year, letting their drivers fight it out until the bitter end. it was risky, but even if alonso had gone to win the title, red bull would have been the moral winners all over the globe – in terms of adverstising, that matters quite a lot.

but once again, team orders should be part of formula 1, and teams should try to be clever about using them correctly.

Published in: on December 12, 2010 at 09:07  Leave a Comment  
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my top ten drivers in f1 2010

it’s the end of the year, time to remember the season. i’ll do that by defining my top ten drivers of the 2010 season. but first, the main disappointment: felipe massa had a horrible season, was almost never even close to his team mate’s pace, lost his credibility with his home fans after hockenheim – and today wasn’t even capeable of passing jaime alguesuari. a season to forget for the brazilian. but here the top ten.

10. adrian sutil (force india)

the german had a wonderful first third of the season. when force india continued its surprising run to the points, it was mostly lewis hamilton’s friend who would take the points for the team. at the end, he carried 47 out of 68 team points, one of the clearest winners of the season; if he continues his good form (since last season), he might land a great driving seat for 2011 or 2012.

9. rubens barrichello (williams)

williams was the best of the rest in the second half of the season, sometimes even getting better results than mercedes gp. barichello wasn’t the guy on the pole in his home grand prix, but he did beat hülkenberg most of the time; 47 out of 69 points for the team came from the veteran brazilian.

jenson button, without a chance this year.

8. jenson button (mclaren)

he had a pretty good beginning of the season, being the best driver when conditions got tough. the “tyre whisperer” won two races by doing exactly that – being better than everyone else in the handling of the tyres. but at the end, it became painfully clear most of the time that his team mate is simply the better driver – tough for the 2009 world champ.

7. kamui kobayashi (sauber)

his career starting promising at the end of the 2009 season, subbing for timo glock at toyota. kamui showed talent, but mostly he showed a very agressive attitude, very refreshing. this was observable when the car started to get better in the second half of this season, when kamui scored most of his 32 points – out of the 44 team points! thats more than 75%. this might just become the best japonese driver ever.

6. mark webber (red bull)

he won two races  brilliantly. barcelona and monaco were webber’s highlights of the season. but they were races number five and six. webber won in britain (needing some luck) and inherited a victory in hungary. after that, he tried to become world champion by scoring points constantely. it’s just not enough! not only his horrible mistake in korea or his horrible weekend in abu dhabi, but his inability to really challenge vettel in brazil, japan, italy and even hungary. for one of two men with he best car, it was just not enough. even more if you consider that he had no mechanical failures during the year, and still finished third after the turkey crash. still, his best season to date.

5. robert kubica (renault)

the pole had an incredible start of season, driving with the big dogs and taking part in the initial championship race. his car shouldn’t even be at a level with mercedes gp, so ninth place would have been realistic goals. he did end up in eighth place, but scoring only 6 points less than the best mercedes, and 8 points behind felipe massa’s ferrari. he had a pretty weak second half of the season, but a strong last race in abu dhabi.

lewis was sometimes fantastic, sometimes infantile.

4. lewis hamilton (mclaren)

the brit was the most spectacular driver of the year, and is clearly one of the most talented.  but mistakes in two consecutive races cost him a very probable championship in the middle of the season. he did show his pace once again at the end, and clearly a favorite for next year, too.

3. nico rosberg (mercedes)

it almost seemed that he didn’t really exist anymore. even with his fantastic season 2009, rosberg seemed to be completely overshadowed by schumacher’s comeback. at the end, though, he beat the veteran seven-time champ in almost every qualifying session (or every practise session at all) and scored 142 points – only two shy of massa and almost exactly twice as many as michael. to be clear: he humiliated one of the greatest of all time. it’s a shame the car wasn’t a winning car, but it might be next year. look out for rosberg 2011!

fernando had a great first season at ferrari...

2. fernando alonso (ferrari)

okay, his last race was disappointing. okay, he did take advantage of an ugly team order when he seemed out of the title race. but fernando alonso is maybe the best driver in formula one, and he showed it by leading the championship coming into the last race, but only having the fifth best car on the grid for most of the year. and he completely humiliated felipe massa, a very talented driver. demoralized him. alonso showed that he’s still got it, and ferrari will try even more, next year.

1. sebastian vettel (red bull)

in a season where things were always close, vettel showed what he’s made of in these last four races. red bull had the best car, but only slightly. and in the race, mclaren and sometimes alonso were able to match red bull’s pace. but vettel completely dominated the last four races, showing that he’s matured a lot over he year. he was very unlucky in the beginning of the season (when he was also dominating), lost himself a little in the middle, but never stopped believing and showed incredible concentration, focus and just talent. he’s still 23. he’s won 10 races.  and he passed the final test today!

a deserving champion: seb vettel

vettel, hamilton and alonso should dominate formula one for years to come, maybe joined by rosberg. button, webber and schumacher might still hope, sutil and kubica might also become important in future. maybe eben massa can come back from this season. still a lot to happen in 2011! only 4 months to go until bahrain!!!

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 20:35  Leave a Comment  
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the f1 season in review – in the old points system!

schumacher, here still in retirement, helped vettel win the title today...

we all know what happened today. without really intending it, schumacher’s mistake and webber’s not feeling to well were the decisive key to vettel’s happy day. and of course renault’s strength on the straights.

today, vettel was simply perfect. he did everything he had to do. get 2 seconds away from a really fast hamilton, stay on the track longer and coming back right in front of kobayashi (who was in front of kubica and hamilton), and then pressuring button, who still stayed out. vettel was perfect. but he needed help. and he got it.

from schumacher. he lost control of his car, luizzi crashed into him, and the safety car came out, prompting petrov and rosberg to switch tyres. then webber wasn’t feeling well at all on the option tyres and put it an early pit stop. alonso had to react, to stay in front of him – if the spaniard had waited one more lap, who would have come back behind the aussie; little did he know that he should’ve stayed on the track for as long as possible, since it became impossible to pass petrov. and he still needed to pass rosberg and kubica, with his late stop strategy.

 

comeback of the year... and quite disappointing. less than half of his team mate's points!

we all know that it was a pretty unique formula one season. not only because it ended with the youngest f1 world champion of all time, but because so many drivers were fighting for the title in different phases of the season. even with the new point system, it became clear. but let’s relive parts of the championship as if the old system was still in place.

after the third race, vettel and alonso would have led with 15 points each, equaling massa’s 15 points, but having scored a victory each. rosberg would have 14 points, kubica 13, button 12 and hamilton 11. can you imagine this? seven drivers within only four points – and webber would’ve had only 9 points at the time, in eight place. aftet china, button (then sixth) jumped into the lead, at 22 points. alonso and rosberg with 20 were trailing only by 2 points, hamilton in 4th (19) and vettel in 5th (18) and kubica in sixth (17) still close; massa fell from second to seventh, but still 5 points ahead of webber.

 

mark webber wins monaco. he also won another glamour races, the british grand prix being one of them.

but webber won the next two races in europe, and look what that did to the standings, now after six races; and here is  difference, because vettel would have been the leader before that turkish grand prix, with 32 points, one more than alonso, and two more than webber, now in third. button, with 26, and kubica (24) would still be relatively close, hamilton and massa would be at 23 (still less than a victory away from the lead), and rosberg with impressive 22 points, but in eight. the eight place in the championship only 10 points behind the leader, it hasn’t even been close to this interesting in any f1 season before. after the turkish crash, webber still took over the lead in the championship (would have taken), two points clear of button (34 points) and three of hamilton. vettel and alonso followed with 32, with the top five within 4 points. this is incredible. kubica (27, 9 points behind), massa (26) and rosberg (25) already seemed a little out of the picture, even though all of them were still pretty close. one race later, the second mclaren 1-2, and things changed a little more. hamilton was now in front of the pack, with 43 points – only one more than his team mate jenson button. webber had 40 points, alonso 38, and vettel 37. at this point, kubica, rosberg and massa were officially out of the championship race.

vettel won the next race and moved up to third place at 47 points, one behind button and four behind leader hamilton. webber, at 40 points, seemed out of the race, and alonso at 39 points was already 12 behind. it seemed to be a trio now. but, as always in the season, things changed pretty fast. webber won in silverstone, and alonso in hockenheim – both were back in the race! by the way, after the british grand prix, hamilton had 6 points of advantage over his toughest opponent, team mate button. this was, at that point, the biggest lead of any championship leader! and he extended that lead to seven points after the german grand prix. 64 points for hamilton, 57 for button, 55 for vettel, 53 for webber and 49 for alonso. it still didn’t seem likely that the ferrari driver could get into the fight between mclaren and red bull. but that’s what he did.

 

alonso wins monza and is back in the race!

in hungary, vettel made his first big mistake, and webber won his fourth race, twice as many as anyone else. that was webber’s last win, which he only inherited from vettel’s mistake. hamilton would have still been in the lead, with 64 points, but webber had 63, vettel 61 and button, 58. alonso was back in he game, at 57, only 7 points behind the leader. interesting that, at that time, all drivers had been in the points in 10 out of the 12 races. only seven to go!

after the belgian grand prix and vettel’s accident with button, the title fight seemed to be between only two drivers: lewis hamilton (74 points) and mark webber (71). vettel was already 13 points behind the music, button had 58 and alonso 57. none of them really out, but all three in clear disadvantage. but then came monza and singapure, changing everything. mistakes by hamilton, and everyone seemed to be back in the race; mostly fernando alonso, who won both races and stormed up the ranks. this is when lewis hamilton lost the title; his two dnfs dropped him to third, 6 points behind the leader, mark webber. alonso had passed him, too (77 points), and vettel also had 74 points, in 4th place. even button was now only nine points behind, at 71.

 

before japan, these five drivers still had a shot at the title!

then came japan. everything still looking good for webber, even losing to his team mate sebastian vettel. the red bulls celebrated a 1-2 with no team orders. the duo now led the title race, with webber four points ahead of vettel (88×84 points). alonso was third (83), and the mclarens were starting to look worse and worse. they had led with both drivers right into the middle of the season, and now they were in 4th (hamilton, 78) and 5th (button, 76). it seemed like a race between the red bulls and alonso now, and that is precisely what would happen.

after the red bull disaster (webber’s mistake, vettel’s engine blowing up), alonso inherited the race victory and topped the f1 standings for the first time since his win in the first race of the season. 93 points, five over webber, seven over hamilton and nine over vettel. it seemed that vettel’s dreams were now gone, and he would have to help webber win the title. hamilton was back!

but in brazil, red bull decided not to use team order, and vettel lead a 1-2 red bull victory, but alonso’s third place meant he who be the favorite for the title. 99 points in the old system would mean that a second place in abu dhabi would be enough for the title. vettel would have to win and hope for a fourth place for alonso. not impossible.

vettel became the champ by 4 points in the new system. here the final standings of the championship in the old point system:

 

he's the number one. here in japan, but also in the world. youngest champ ever, sebastian vettel!

1. vettel 104

2. alonso 101

3. hamilton 99

4. webber 97

5. button 86

6. massa 56

7. rosberg 55

8. kubica 52

9. schumacher 25

10. barichello 15

11. sutil 14

12. petrov 9

13. kobayashi 9

14. hülkenberg 6

15. luizzi 5

16. de la rosa 2

17. buemi & heidfeld 1

 

 

Published in: on November 14, 2010 at 19:39  Leave a Comment  
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fernando alonso: simply the best!

i have to start this by saying that i am one of not few who simply hate fernando alonso. actually, i’ve hated him even more in the past. i don’t even really know why. but i have to recognize that this year he has been the best man in the field.

 

in 2001, not even 20, but already in f1!

initially, in the first semester, it was lewis hamilton who i was seeing as the deserving coming champion, with a really more mature, but still agressive style, and a lot of competitiveness. but his car and even himself didn’t do as well in the second half, while alonso has been constantly good – this year and actually in all of his career years.

2001, one year before webber, alonso entered into the sport at minardi. since then it was his dream to drive a ferrari, just like other great drivers before him (prost, senna, schumacher), and even more starting his career with an italian team, his dream of being world champion for ferrari is old. alonso wasn’t even 20 years old when he sat in a f1 car in a race weekend, for the first time. the minardi was slow and not reliable, but alonso showed talent from the very first qualifying session, beating his team mate (brazilian tarso marques) by a whopping 2.6 seconds. alonso went on to even beat benettons in qualifying a couple of time, a fet that impressed their team chef, flavio briatore, que quickly became his manager. even without scoring a point in the season, he had quite a few impressive performances, most notably the japanese gp in suzuka, where he finished eleventh, in front of many better cars. he was offered mark webber’s job as renault’s test driver, with a good chance to become a regular driver for them in the future; webber took his job at minardi, a team who would soon be bought by the red bull empire.

incredibly, fernando alonso did so well as a test driver that briatore got rid of a young aspiring british driver to give him a seat for the 2003 season – jenson button had to leave renault. and it worked out! the team that had had their last successful spell with michael schumachers double championship in 94 and 95 finally was getting close to winning races again. alonso was the youngest driver to sit on pole position and the youngest driver to win a race, both in that year, and he had incredible 4 podiums and a 6th place in the driver’s championship, considering ferraris, mclarens and williams had far better cars. trulli, who started the season as the main driver, scored only 33 points, and alonso was on his way.

 

quite a duo: alonso and his boss/manager briatore, after his first pole position in march 2003.

in 2004, alonso didn’t win any races (although trulli did win monaco). benetton had left the williams behind, but the bar car with jenson button reached a high enough level for alonso to finish in 4th, one place behind the driver he stole the seat from. alonso still had a good season, with 59 points, 4 podium finishes and a 13 point advantage over team rival trulli, who fighted with team chef briatore and left the team before the end of the season. but alonso left the replacement jacques villeneuve no chances in the last 3 races, a world champion in his right. and renault seemed to be the main rival to fight ferrari and schumacher dominance, that had lasted for five years.

2005 was alonso’s great year. he became the youngest ever f1 champion by beating schumacher in the ferrari, although truth be said: the ferrari was only the third fastest car on the grid that year. it was a greater achievement for alonso o beat raikkonen, who had the better car (a mclaren); the spaniard won seven races, had 15 podium finishes and an incredible 133 points (schumacher had 62, in third place). fisichella, alonso’s new team mate, managed the first victory of the year, but only added two more podiums to he tally and ended up in 5th place, behind montaya’s mclaren, schumacher’s ferrari and raikkonen’s mclaren. alonso had won, and he’d won in style. he was the new schumacher, who also took 2 years at benetton to rise up the car’s level and crown himself champion in the third year. could he repeat schumacher’s feat of defending the title with a benetton? they had the same team chef (briatore), and they both seemed arrogant to the media, perfect parallelism. and what irony that schumacher tried everything in 2006, his last year at f1 (before his so far unsuccessful comeback), but alonso repeated the german’s feat and defended his title. seven wins again, 14 podiums, 134 points. schumacher managed 121 with an improved ferrari, but now the benetton was clearly the better car. alonso got the title, schumacher the glory, since many regard that last season as his best, even though he didn’t win the prize.

 

at the beginning they could smile... but this fight almost reminded of senna and prost...

it was time for alonso to move on, just like schumacher did. but not to ferrari, his dream. he first went to mclaren, to replace raikkonen, who went to ferrari instead. just like in 96 when schumacher left benetton, briatore’s team declined. and alonso continued his success, but he felt he was entitled to a better treatment, as the reigning two time champions and superstar of the sport. alonso never got along with the new boy hamilton, who totally managed to steal his thunder. in the british team, it seemed that alonso wasn’t as appreciated as the young lewis, who even seemed to have it in him to steal all of alonso’s records as youngest driver to achieve this or that. it was a tough season for alonso, and he almost won the championship; but hamilton actually threw it away, which also meant that alonso was, for the first time, outdriven by his team mate. it was a close call, but hamilton had had a better season with  tragic ending, and ironically raikkonen won the main prize. alonso angrily returned to his haven, the benetton team and flavio briatore.

 

alonso celebrates in hockenheim, another contreversial race in his career. vettel lost.

the two years to come were basically a wait for raikkonen to leave, since massa wouldn’t: alonso wanted to finally go to ferrari, even more so because his benetton car couldn’t give him wins. or at least shouldn’t, since it was a pretty medium car. there were victories anyway, two in a row even, but one of them with great controversy. his team mate nelsinho piquet caused an accident right after alonso’s pit stop, giving the spaniard the edge and the win in last year’s singapore race. until today, alonso denies that he knew about the scheme, but that seems highly unlikely. in any case, his image hadn’t been the best since his year at mclaren, and ferrari was all he was looking for to recuperate some lost respect and even dignity.

no way better than to start the new season in the new red car with a victory. a victory which came from a mechanical failure in sebastian vettel’s red bull. kind of a symbol for how the whole season has gone.

alonso has been there when needed. and he’s had quite a lot of luck this season. it would surprise me if his luck would change, but at least he has a clear goal – he needs to finish second, or he can kiss the title goodbye (vettel will certainly let webber pass, if needed). so the main action for the title might come out to be a direct duel between webber and alonso – fighting for second place behind vettel. another symbolical moment for the season might be coming in the closing weekend…

 

close to his dream - the title for ferrari!

Published in: on November 11, 2010 at 18:25  Leave a Comment  

sebastian vettel – too reckless for truimph?

ayrton senna was a phenomenon. even winning most of his races and all of his titles after double-champion emerson fittipaldi and triple-champion nelson piquet, the brazilian was able to become the biggest star not only of the sport in his native country, but maybe the biggest star ever, alongside the king of football, pele. but after him, it’s been tough for any other landsman to really shine. barichello and massa both got to drive ferraris for quite a while, but they were both beaten by superior adversaries (schumacher and currently alonso); massa only really had a shot for the title in 2008, when raikkonen was his team mate. but it was not to be. and the zontas, pizzonias, di grassis & such will probably never even get close to winning races. basically, it’s tough to be  brazilian f1 driver, with senna’s shadow overcasting all.

 

seb vettel, here as a 17-year old test driver for bmw.

what does this have to do with sebastian vettel, who has a small chance of clinching his first f1 drivers title on sunday? well, he also has a fellow countryman who has quite a few successes under his belt. michael schumacher dominated formula one for years, in unseen proportions. he had more than twice of senna’s world championships, and more than twice of his grand prix wins. how could anyone even get close to his success our popularity, in the future?

vettel is far away from schumacher’s success, although he would be taking a first step towards a shiny career if we were to become the youngest f1 champ ever, this weekend. but schumacher was never as popular as senna, and vettel is today probably more popular in germany than schumacher ever was. it’s important to limit it to germany, since vettel doesn’t seem to enjoy too much sympathy outside of german borders. it’s not dislike or hate, the way schumacher at times experienced it (although that was also rare), it’s more of a “he’s too young and too wild”. not that f1 specialists and the public don’t like those adjectives, they just have given them away to f1’s current favorite driver, the brit lewis hamilton. and there is a parallel to be drawn between vettel and hamilton, as they do have a lot of the same personal and professional characteristics. both had great success in the business right from the beginning, both are always eager to attack and pass, both sometimes lose balance and make mistakes, and in both cases, it has costed one or the other championship title. and the question is justifiable: did vettel through away the drivers championship in 2010?

 

vettel in his toro rosso days...

vettel was a test driver at bmw in a very young age, and when he starting testing in the friday free sessions, posting best lap times, he caught everyone’s attention. the austrians from red bull saw the talent and the market (germany’s sport and f1 market is probably the biggest in he world) and hired him in the middle of the season, to driver in the ex-minardi team toro rosso – still italian, but already red bull. funny that all three championship contenders started their career at the italian team. vettel became a rising star almost instantely, with good performances in qualifying and race. the second half of the 2008 gave him a particular boost, as he was able to constantly finish in the top 5 with what was considered the eight or ninth best car in the field (=16th places would be in order). vettel won monza in a toro rosso, an amazing feat by any standards. and even in the big finale in interlagos, when massa failed to take the title out of hamilton’s hands, it was vettel who almost decided the championship in favor of the brazilian, passing hamilton in the rain of the last few laps. people commented on a possible duo of young, talented drivers for mclaren, but vettel stayed at red bull and moved up to the main team. a mistake, many people remarked, since the toro rosso seemed faster than the red bull, at the time.

but right at the beginning of the season, it was clear that vettel would be fighting for the title. his car was an instant success, leaving only the new team (brawn gp) in front, because of a technical advantage. thanks to button’s incredible consistency in that first half of the season and one or the other reckless mistake by vettel, the championship seemed decided early in button’s favor, but red bull had positioned themselves in front of mclaren and ferrari – and vettel in front of webber. it was one of the rare occasions when the world champion was not voted driver of the year.

 

monza winner in 2008 with toro rosso must be his most spectacular performance to date...

this year, vettel has made a couple of mistakes. but most of all, he’s had an incredible share of bad luck. it started in the first race of the year, when a certain victory was taken away from him by malfunction in the gear box. he lost three gears, but still was able to finish the race in 4th position, quite an impressive performance. alonso won that race (do the math in your head). in the second race, once again leading, vettel’s car lost torque (a clear team error) and he had to abandon the GP – instead of 50 points, he had 12. he won in malaysia, even after losing to team mate mark webber in qualifying (vettel’s first non-pole of the year). one can clearly state that if it weren’t to reliability problems in his car, vettel would’ve started the season with three wins. but even with the mishaps, he was only two points short of championship leader felipe massa.

in china, vettel qualifyed on pole again, but ever-changing weather conditions and one mistake during the race dropped him down the field, to 11th position; he eventually finished the race in 6th, a good result considering the circumstances. in spain, for the first time in the year and in his career, vettel was completely dominated by his team mate mark webber, who managed pole and a 100% race lead to the checkered flag. to top it, red bull made a mistake in the german’s pit stop, costing him second place in the race. our tally of points lost by team mistakes (and not driver mistakes) is now up to 41 points.

monaco started to worry vettel’s fans and himself, since once again it was webber who claimed pole and victory in this tradicional race. was the status quo changing and webber putting himself into championship contention? vettel showed better pace than webber during the race, which he finished second, but now both of them had taken the lead in the championship, with 78 points each, three ahead of fernando alonso. in midst of this doubt about who was trully red bull’s number one driver, the turkish grand prix arrived, seventh race of the season.

 

another win for vettel, here in suzuka a few weeks ago.

here is my take on that race: webber once again beat vettel for pole, and this was the third time in a row. the duo led the championship, and the afternoon’s winner would be sole leader. webber continued to push forward during the race, and vettel managed to get past hamilton. at a certain point, webber, vettel, hamilton and button were all in one “train”, which in f1 usually means that the first car is the slowest. and, in fact, vettel’s pace was better than webber. and he was being pressured by hamilton. so an overtaking manouver was necessary for him, and the team gave its okay, without announcing it to mark webber. it was still pretty clear, though, that webber should let his team mate pass in case of an attack, since he clearly was not up to the pace (read the article https://figobay.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/in-defense-of-red-bull-racing-and-ferrari/ for my stand on team order). vettel did see an opportunity and actually was ahead of his team mate at the end of a straight, but webber did not leave enough space and the two collided as vettel prepared to take the next curve. that would’ve been 25 points and the lead in the championship, but instead it was 0 points, down to 5th place in the standings – and a lot of angriness. i’ll stop counting now, but this is 66 points already. no matter what other bad luck other drivers out there had, vettel should be the championship leader at any point, and he isn’t. it’s true that he did make a couple of mistakes after the turkish grand prix, one of them in an attempt to pass jenson button at spa francorchamps, but even with those episodes, he would confortably lead the championship before the korean grand prix.

but he didn’t.

 

he's had a lot of bad luck this season... time for some luck?

incredibly, though, he went on to dominate that race in the rain, while his team mate webber made a mistake and striked out. finally, for the first time in the season, the championship lead was in his hands – when his motor blew up.

no driver can come back from 91 points lost due to outside factors and at least 25 due to own mistakes. and sunday might prove this to be true. but it is in fact astonishing that vettel is still in the running, after so much bad luck. vettel is, at times, reckless. but most of the time, he is talented and fast, and he would be this year’s deserving champion. or will he? only if the others finally have one of these vettel days…

Published in: on November 10, 2010 at 15:02  Comments (3)  
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mark webber – the people’s favorite

 

mark webber wants to become world champion - and he has a good shot at it on sunday...

today, tomorrow and on thursday i will publish posts taking a closer look at each one of the three championship contenders (lewis hamilton will be ignored in this one). and i’ll start today with the aussie mark webber.

in most polls all around the web, if asked who people favor for the title this year (and not who you think will actually get the gold), mark webber comes out victorious. and this has quite a few reasons, the most popular are these: he is the underdog, it’s probably his last chance to fight for the title (since he’s the oldest), he’s the most handsome, he’s the nicest. in general, people love it when specialists are wrong, and they have never really regarded mark webber as someone deserving of the formula one driver’s championship. and it seems pretty likely that mark can do the trick. but before we look at the irony of life, let’s look back to his career.

when mark was 20 years old, he finally moved to england to persue his dream of a f1 cockpit. over 13 years ago, he started his first formula 3 championship, but even with some good results there, in formula 3000, in fia gt and even le mans, it took him another five years to land a job in formula one – and at the smallest team on the grid, minardi. his career had really started when he earned a job test driving benetton for 2001, and became a personal client of his then teamchef, flavio briatore. flavio arranged a seat at the also italian minardi (replacing also briatore-client alonso, who replaced webber as a test driver for benetton) and webber had his first race at home, in the australian gp 2002. he actually finished in the points in that race, the only points the team would pick up in the entire year; still, mark webber was voted rookie of the year for that feat and for being faster than his team mate yoong in every single qualifying and race. in that vote, he beat the other rookies including felipe massa and takuma sato. this earned him a seat at jaguar, then the seventh best team on the grid.

 

as a rookie of the year, for minardi

mark webber proved himself in that he once again gave his team mate not a bit of a chance; when the brazilian antonio pizzonia, who had tested for then giants williams the previous season, was fired, mark webber had scored incredible 13 points, against zero from his team mate. at the end, jaguar ended up in seventh place in the cosntructor’s, but webber was tenth, carrying 17 of the 18 team points. although he was now a sought after driver, his age was never an advantage, since he was already 27 at the beginning of the 2004 championship, another season for jaguar. his new team mate was the austrian christian klien, who just recently came back to f1 in the hrt team.

mark webber had eight top ten finishes that season (against 4 by klien) and scored 7 points, out of ten for the team. jaguar, still seventh best constructor, wasn’t progressing, and mark webber knew that this would be his chance to fight for podiums or even the championship – if he could only get a new job for 2005! he’d proven himself in three pretty good season, taking easily care of his competition within the team. and he wasn’t getting any younger.

williams was supposed to give him the opportunity to win...and he did get a pretty good job. williams f1 wasn’t at the top any more, but it was still the fourth best car in the grid, destined to always be in the points. 2004 found them finishing on the podium only four times, though, but with one victory in the last race, by juan pablo montoya. it was a bad year for williams, who had slipped from ferrari-chasers number one to fourth, and they wanted to come back. montoya and ralf schumacher left the team powered by bmw, and nick heidfeld joined mark webber for a brand new season and attempt to get back to the top.

it wasn’t  good season for williams, and it was even worse for mark webber. for the first time in his career, his team mate was getting better results than him: the german nick heidfeld had three podium finishes in the first seven races, two of them as the race’s runner-up. webber managed a third place, his first podium, in monaco – but heidfeld finished second there. after the turkish grand prix, heidfeld had scored 28 points, 4 more than webber. then he suffered two different accidents and had to sit out the remainder of the season; antonio pizzonia, webber’s former team mate, replaced the german for the remainder of the season. and it was the same as two year earlier – pizzonia scored two points, webber 12. still, williams had slipped behind toyota and mclaren and were now only the fifth best car in the grid.

 

horrible accident in montreal for webber in the williams

bmw left the team for the 2006 season; mark would be 30, and williams didn’t seem to improve. a new and young driver replaced heidfeld, and it was another german: nico rosberg, today maybe one of the most valued drivers in formula one. as a rookie, rosberg didn’t have the same results as webber. everytime they both finished a race, webber ended up in front of his young team mate, but he retired a massive 11 times and only scored 7 points in this, the most disappointing year of his career. rosberg retired eleven times and had 4 points, leaving the williams team with an all time low of 11 points in a single season; that was eight place, behind bmw sauber, honda, toyota and even red bull ferrari, at the time with coulthard and klien as drivers.

this is when mark webber decided to switch from a rapidly declining team to a seemingly ascending one: red bull racing became the aussie’s home in 2007, and many experts judged that the once promising driver had just given up on any win or title hopes, similarly to his much more successful new team mate, david coulthard. red bull started seventh in the constructor’s hierachy that year, which meant that they would hope for one or the other point. it took webber seven races to get his first two points for red bull, and at the end of the season he had 10 points, 4 less than coulthard. still, it wasn’t to be considered a loss (or a win), since webber won the qualifying duel and did normally beat the scot when both finshed a race (which only happened four times), most famously in the european gp, when he got his second career podium finish in a great day for red bull. still, webber needed to prove the world and himself that he could beat an opponent like david coulthard, himself a gp winner, but not one of the greats in the sport. by the way, after that podium finish, the daughter team toro rosso (used to be minardi), bought by red bull to train and observe young talent, fired the american scott speed and hired the young german sebastian vettel…

last week in korea, both cars were still in the race at this point...red bull racing had rise to fifth place in the f1 hierachy, and wanted to go higher in 2008. webber had a good start to the year, finishing in the points in six out of the first eight races and getting his tally up to 18 points before the middle of the season. coulthard had finished on the podium once in these races (which webber hadn’t managed), but that was his only point finish, so he only had a third of his opponent’s points at the time. things seemed to be going well for webber. but the second half of that season was to become pretty humiliating.

webber only managed 3 additional points in the last 10 races, still one more than his british team mate. but the tragic in it was the performance of the daughter team toro rosso; destined to be a true second team with theoretically second hand material and a much smaller budget, the frenchman bourdais scored two points and finished in front of webber three times. much worse, though, was the performance of young german sebastian vettel. even without his incredible victory in monza, vettel scored 20 points in those 10 races – and with he victory, a whopping 30, ten times as many as mark webber’s! as vettel accepted red bull’s offer to move up to the main team in replacement of the retiring coulthard, the f1 world was asking itself if that wasn’t a major downstep for the german. and webber knew: here comes someone younger than me, praised by f1 boss ecclestone himself, and destined to be the future of the team. and what seemed worse: he seemed to be a better driver.

that would be a first for webber, who had been miles ahead of yoon and pizzonia, and slightly, rosberg and coulthard. only heidfeld was at the same level or slightly above him. but vettel could be a problem. to be a number two driver anywhere is a career breaker. at least the kind of career that looks for victories and world championships.

webber’s fears came true. although he was glad that red bull went from seventh to second best car of the season in one year, his first two victories and fourth place finish in the world championship were personal highlights, for sure. after all, when the won the german grand prix in july last year, he was almost 33 years old. but vettel outshone him in what was supposed to be his moment, in this 8th season of f1 circus. 4 wins, best man of the second half and elected the best driver of the year (instead of world champion jenson button), vettel was the man of the season for red bull and for most f1 specialists. and the defeats in qualifying, once webber’s domain, were normal. webber ended the season with few mistakes and 69.5 points, vettel ended it with more mistakes and still 84 points. and he would enter the year 2010 as one of the main contenders for the crown.

the irony is that vettel has been faster than webber most of the year, and will probably be on sunday, again. still, webber depends on his enemy in the team to be world champ. even if the aussie manages to win the race on his own merit coming weekend, he needs vettel to be second, in front of alonso (who is driving the second best car, currently). if vettel where to finish third or below, alonso’s second place would guarentee the spaniard’s title. and there’s still the more likely option of vettel having to hand webber the world title in the last round, which would be gentlemanlike, but still pretty humiliating. even for an underdog world champion.

 

will it be this time, mark? now or never!

webber came into formula one replacing fernando alonso after his successful rookie season at minardi. alonso got webber’s job of testing the benetton. now, alonso has two world titles, both for benetton, and is close to the third. irony wherever you look in the small world of formula one.

Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 16:27  Comments (2)  
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in defense of red bull racing – and ferrari!

this is a mini-manifesto.

from someone who has been interested in formula one in a household were no one else was since the age of 11, and watched every single race since 1994. from someone who is arrogant enough to think he can determine what is “right” in term of sportsmanship and what is wrong in formula one. and the subject is that of team orders.

i know that there are many opinions on this, but once again i will be arrogant enough to say that it is not a matter of opinion or relative truth, but this actually a pretty clear question. and i must say that i am very surprised not necessarily by the lack of knowledge of bloggers all around the world criticizing RBR after yesterday’s race, but by the terrible and unfounded opinions found in newspapers all around the world. i will just say it: most of them are simply wrong. and i’m right! 😉

what do to? vettel and webber have quite an onion to unpeal...

this is the game, this is the sport, this is formula one. there are two titles to be won in the formula one world championship. this is due to the fact that each team participating in the expensive competition has the right and duty to hire two drivers. there can only be one champion team, and there can only be one champion driver, that’s as simple as it is.

generally, teams equip drivers with the exact same material. at least in theory. in praxis, it is very rare that two drivers have the same ability to drive a particular car. most of the time, one driver is constantly the faster one; this is just a general statement that completely justifies, from the point of view of the team, why one driver might get more current or better material when there is only one piece available. it would not make sense at all to limit the second driver deliberately, since this is commercial nonsense. if schumacher, for example, had the advantage in new materials in his car, it is not because he was more beloved; it is because he was simply faster than a barrichello or a massa. this type of privilege, including the one in strategies during the race, is deserved in a purely competitive merit. this happens because formula one is run by teams, and they do have limited recources and economical considerations. not necessarily to sell more mercedes benz (in case of mercedes gp), but in terms of expenses and outcome. felipe massa would deserve priority in material and race strategy if he were more likey to score more points for his team. this is, once again, a merit that is earned through a career and a race-to-race performance. and now, more then ever, performance can actually be clearly measured and cracked into data, interpreted statistically and used to make decisions.

in this case, i am totally in favor of team strategy. and, this should be said, it is actually pretty rare that a driver  gets a real advantage over his team mate, since the differences, even if they exist, are too small to actually matter; this is what i’ve seen over the years. and those who complain too much about differentiated treatment are mostly just bad loosers.

a second situation is, what do you do if two drivers of one team fight meet each other on the track? i truly believe that here, there is a way to settle things in a sportive manner. first of all, if there is a duel between drivers of the same team at all, most of the time the faster driver in that particular race is the one attacking. this is very simple: to even get to a fight for positions in formula one, other than a good or bad timing in box stops, the car behind must be going faster than the car in front. in this situation, two phases should be put into practice. in the first phase, the car in front has to show that he has at least equal speed compared to the car behind. if he fails to show that, he should let his team mate pass. this is to reduce the risk of both drivers getting themselves out of contention through a stupid and unnecessary accident. open fights like senna x prost were only possible because no other drivers had cars good enough to compete with them, and there this is justified financially. but that would never have happened if other drivers were in contention for the end of year’s crown. it’s almost a decision for the fan: do you want to see two drivers driving for the same team battling it out on the track, or do you want multiple drivers from different teams trying to become world champion? i must say, i prefer the latter.

alonso could be the champ, and in my book, it's legit.

i am in favor of a faster team mate in a particular race be able to pass, if he’s shown that he is faster, for whatever reason (better or newer tyres, or just more pace).

what i am totally against is a driver with less pace being waved forward by the team for championship reasons before his team mate is out of contention.

just to finish up this little manifesto, here are examples.

ferrari making barrichello give schumacher the victory in austria – apalling and horrible, totally against the sport.

ferrari asking massa to let alonso pass in hockenheim this year, that was okay. alonso showed in the race that he was much faster. so actually massa should have let him past, but he couldn’t because that would be horrible for his fans in brazil, so the team order became the only option. i don’t applaud it, but alonso deserved to pass, since he is in the same team and was much faster. it doesn’t really matter that alonso as ahead in the championship (and at the time out of reach in the title race).

red bull not letting webber pass for the championship was correct, yesterday. if webber had reached vettel and started attacking him, vettel should’ve at least not complicated things and let him pass if he attacked. that’s my opinion. since vettel showed he was superior yesterday (and most of this season and all of last season), that was not an option and red bull made the right decision.

there is one exception to the rule, which is when a driver has no mathematical chance of being the world champion, and his team mate does. in this case, it is normal and understandable for a driver to help his team mate; this might be vettel’s case in the very last lap of the abu dhabi grand prix. a pretty sad way for webber to be world champion, somewhat humiliatging, but still, that’s what vettel should do. unless webber deservers the title and wins the race by his own merit.

Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 16:58  Comments (2)  

red bull have one title – and the other in their hand!

the big question after today’s pretty exctiting race at the interlagos circuit in são paulo, brazil (which saw no brazilians, but four germans in the top ten) is if sebastian vettel is capable of being a gentleman. one could almost feel the sadness in mark webber’s expression and voice after the race. but actually, if you really look at it, it wasn’t a bad race for mark at all.

 

sebastian vettel was the man of the day - and can give his enemy in the team the title next week!

ferrari had the same pace as the red bulls, and they showed it today. but fernando alonso will have to deserve the title by finishing in front of one of the red bulls, since abu dhabi promises to be red bull land. and if mark stays ahead of alonso, he has a great chance to become world champions because of sebastian’s vettel talent. today, once again, he showed to be just a little better than webber, and had he not had problems in his car and that accident with webber (i still blame the australian), he would be world champion right now. there is a good chance that vettel will lead that race until the end, and if webber is able to stay in second and alonso is in third, as it was today, the question will arise: is sebastian vettel gentleman enough to gift webber with the title?

red bull has made it extremely clear that they will not interfere, and they proved it in a very professional and sportive way this weekend. so it will be vettel’s call, and i truly believe that he will let his team-mate become the world champion, even if they really are and never will be good friends. vettel has to win the race and alonso could only finish in fifth for the german to be champion. which is difficult, unless alonso has massive bad luck. so, if red bull plays it like this weekend, the champion next week will be the australian mark webber!

today is also a day to recognize the organization and management of red bull racing, who indeed have invested less than the big teams and have won the world championship for austria. the country had their first title in formula one in the early sixties, when jochen rindt was the only postum world champion. niki lauda added a couple of titles, and now red bull are on top! and really, if you look at it, this is quite an impressive achievement for such a new team, first laughed at as not serious enough to do well. red bull showed class today, with performance and sportivity. and sebastian can show class next week, leaving the victory to webber, if absolutely necessary.

Published in: on November 7, 2010 at 19:12  Leave a Comment  

game over for vettel!

it seemed to be too good to be true. perfect weekend for vettel, and then his title contender number one, mark webber, made a mistake and was out the rainy race very soon. vettel was going to be the leader of the championship, for the first time.

 

no points for these cars... and now vettel will have to help webber...

but now he’s out. he’s out of the title race. the motor blew up, and seb’s title hopes our history. because with two races to go, he will have to help mark webber, still in second position in the title race. lewis hamilton is the third official contender for the title, back in the race. but actually the title will be decided between webber and fernando alonso, who is the official favorite for his third title, a first for ferrari – that would be quite a feat, since his car is not the best in he field.

that is still the red bull racing car. so webber still has a chance, even more so since, if he manages to be directly behind vettel, the german will now have to let him pass for the championship. vettel’s only remote chance is bad luck again, for alonso and webber. which isn’t completely impossible, if you look at his bad luck today.

 

alonso stayed on the track and won the race, leading the pack with 11 points on webber and 21 on hamilton...

so, new situation after a medium race (quite spectacular at times): fernando alonso leads the title race, mark webber is the enemy – and lewis hamilton has to hope or luck to become champ for the second time. vettel is practically out, button is de facto out.

Published in: on October 24, 2010 at 09:54  Leave a Comment