Sunday, 4 September 2011

Flashback: GT1 at Silverstone (aka: the longest blog post in the world)

OK, so yesterday I was going to blog about GT1 at Silverstone (back in June!) but I got distracted. I'll try again now. I will attempt to focus.

Here's where I got to before I drifted off on a tangent....

I was marshalling on the Saturday and Sunday, but my story actually starts on the Thursday. Every month there's a talk put on at the pub in Silverstone for the marshals - I mentioned it before, when I went to see Martin Brundle talk. Well, the Thursday before the GT1 race they got David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter from the Sumo Power team along to talk to us.
Sumo's PR guy Simon was also there to introduce the boys. In a room of racing fanatics, everyone obviously knew who David Brabham was, but Simon introduced him anyway. And I warmed to Brabs immediately, because when Simon said his name, he grinned and waved at us as if he was being introduced on a game show in the early 1990s. I'm a big fan of mildly ridiculous waving, so I officially liked him from that moment.

Brabs and Jamie both told a heap of stories. It was interesting how both of them got into motor racing pretty late in life (Jamie was in his 20s before he started, and Brabs was in his late teens because he'd been resisting following in his father's footsteps). They made us laugh lots and they obviously get along really well, lots of teasing each other and laughter. It was a really nice evening listening to them chat.

At the end of the talk, everyone swarmed forwards to talk to the drivers and get an autograph. I squeezed through the crowd and instead made my way over to the PR guy Simon. As everyone knows, I want to work in motorsport so it was good to have the chance to talk to someone who does the kind of thing I could actually do. We had a long chat about all sorts of things, which was really nice.

And then Brabs won me over with even more waving. Him and Jamie were making their way out so briefly interuppted my conversation with Simon so that they could let him know they were leaving. After saying their goodbyes to Simon, Brabs then beamed at me and cheerily waved goodbye to me. Ahhh waving, I cannot resist you. Since then I've been a definite fan of his. (Also, he's an Aussie... need I say more?!)

So, after such a lovely evening, I was really looking forward to getting to Silverstone at the weekend and seeing a bit more of the GT1 world up close.

One of the really exciting things about that weekend was that it was the first race to go out of the new pitlane at Silverstone. GT1's got all the big 'firsts' at Silverstone lately - last year they were the first ones to race on the new track layout too!

It really was the thing of dreams (for me, anyway). I turned up at Silverstone (security waving me through because I'm a marshal), parked up at the normal spot, pottered through Copse tunnel and along the paddock to sign on for the day. I love the feeling of belonging when I get there, and how I can basically go where I want to. I wasn't 100% sure if I'd be in the new pits, as the support paddock was based at the old pits so I didn't know if they'd need me there instead. But nope, I was needed in the new pits, so as I signed on I was handed an All Access pass so that I could get in there! Amazing. I practically skipped there.

The new pits are wonderful. I love the picnic area (as I've always thought of it) between the pitlane and the pitwall. I imagine it must be a bit of a pain for the teams, but I find it lovely. (And I love that Alex Wurz has actually had a picnic on it. He is brill.). And I love the building. The marshals' pit office isn't amazing though, just a massive concrete room with no windows (!). The Wing was still a bit of a building site in places, which was quite fun to see it being rough around the edges in the bits where the public didn't see.

Those of us who got there early immediately headed out onto the start/finish straight to take in the new location and take a few pictures. I really felt just so lucky to be there.
The picnic area.
The new startline.
Hanging out in the pitlane.

I already felt lucky, but it got even better. Each pitlane marshal was assigned a few garages to watch over - two GT1 garages (one team) and a GT3 garage. Out of pure fluke, I was assigned Sumo Power. I had to spend the whole of Saturday and Sunday stood on the picnic area opposite the Sumo garages, watching everything that they got up to.

If you'd said to me: "OK, Lou. You can go to Silverstone this weekend and you can stand absolutely ANYWHERE you want, in the entire circuit", I'd have said to you "I'd like to stand on the picnic area opposite the Sumo garages, please, watching everything that they get up to". I just couldn't have been happier there.

Well, OK, I could have been a teensy bit happier...

Now, (girliness alert) you may remember from previous blogs that I adore Ricardo Zonta. He was my first ever F1 crush back in 2000, and I have kept an eye on him ever since he left F1. Last year and this year he's done a bit of GT1. I was desperately hoping that he was going to be at Silverstone while I was marshalling... but unfortunately it was just wasn't to be.

You see, he'd also signed up for a Brazilian stock car series this year, thinking that he could get out of the races that clashed with the GT1. But his sponsors wouldn't let him out of the stock car races so he had to leave the GT1 championship. This happened about 2 races before Silverstone. Absolutely gutted.

To make matters worse, he'd driven for Sumo - 'my' team!! And because they didn't have a firm replacement for him yet, his name was still on the garage door. It had just been covered over with a bit of white, yet if you looked hard enough you could still faintly see his name underneath it. Mocking me. Saying, look what could have been, look who could have been here. Sigh.

On the plus side, I had a nice chat with Simon about Zonta. I've never actually known anything about Ricardo, so it was nice to talk to someone who knows him a bit and to have him say what a lovely guy he is. (Glad to know I haven't spent the past 11 years with a crush on an absolute jerk!)

It really did sting spending 2 days looking at the exact spot where he should have been standing though. Ouch.

My view of where Mr Zonta should have been.

It wasn't just the Zonta-shaped hole that stopped it being entirely perfect. The other thing was that it just did not work out for Sumo that weekend. Brabs had his worst weekend in a long time and crashed out of both races. It didn't go too well for the other car either. It was hard watching Brabs and Jamie be so disappointed/frustrated. I just wanted them to be happy! I felt like a bit of a bad luck charm. Sorry, Sumo!

I must have used all my good luck up on my Lambo team. One of the support races was a Lamborghini series, and they'd come along and set up camp in front of the garages for their races. The team in front of my garages won on both the Saturday and the Sunday. They were naturally overjoyed. When they won on the Saturday, the team manger and mechanics were on the pit wall bouncing around with glee as their guy crossed the line, hugging each other and jumping about. I was watching and smiling at them, because it's lovely to see one of your teams so happy. After he'd hugged all his engineers, the team manager looked across at me with a big cheeky grin on his face. He held his arms out wide, ran across the picnic area to me and gave me a massive hug and a kiss on the cheek. It caught me a bit by surprise, but made me laugh. It was nice to be included in the celebrations!

And so when they won on Sunday, I kept my eye on the team manager as he jumped and hugged and celebrated. And when he looked across at me, I was ready. He beamed at me and I beamed back and held my arms out. He laughed and ran over and gave me another big, big hug. I loved my happy Italian Lambo team!

But I have to say, even without any celebratory hugging, it was Sumo Power that won me over entirely. Everyone in that team was absolutely lovely. From Simon being supportive of my motorsport dreams, to Brabs and his waving, Jamie recognising me on the picnic area, the team principal complimenting my shoelaces, the team manager having a friendly chat, the sweet mechanic excitedly finding me some spare 'Go Sumo!' foam fingers to take home with me.... everyone was an absolute star. This is why I love being in the pitlane or the paddock, you might not see the racing but you get to see the people, meet the people, and become a part of it like that.

I'm not normally a team person. I'm a person person. So normally I support drivers rather than teams. But in this case, everyone in Sumo was so lovely that I'm a definite Sumo fan now. I love watching the races online (thank you !) and seeing my Sumo boys during the pitstops or if one of the cars gets on the podium. I really am so fond of the team now!

So if you see me tweeting 'Go Sumo!' any time, now you know why.

Like the foam hand says: Go Sumo!

That was my best weekend of marshalling so far. Le Mans Series 2010 was very close to being that good. And Silverstone Classic 2011 too. I'll try and blog about the Classic one day... but given recent form, you might have to wait a few months!

Next weekend is the Le Mans Series 2011. I am a bit terrified (because you get the responsibility of writing down the amount of fuel that goes in, and it's quite important!) but hugely looking forward to it all the same. I imagine I'll blog about it one day, so watch this space...

Thanks for reading! x

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Have you seen the giant pig?

So back in June or July, I can't even remember when, I marshalled for the GT1 meeting at Silverstone. I think it's my favourite marshalling weekend I've done so far. (The top 3 is currently rounded out with Le Mans Series last year and Silverstone Classic this year). It was just amazing.

I was marshalling on the Saturday and Sunday, but my story actually starts on the Thursday. Every month there's a talk put on at the pub in Silverstone for the marshals - I mentioned it before, when I went to see Martin Brundle talk. Well, the Thursday before the GT1 race they got David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter from the Sumo Power team along to talk to us.

At the time, I'd actually forgotten that I'd very very briefly met David Brabham before.

I can't believe I'd forgotten it. Because it was massively surreal. It was at the Honda F1 factory open day in Brackley back in 2007. Brabs was there doing an autograph session, sat next to Gils de Ferran who was sporting director or some such of Honda F1 back in those days. Anyways, so Gils signed for me first. And as he did so, he looked up at me and he said "Have you seen the giant pig?".

Now, I'm pretty good with randomness and expecting the unexpected. But if you'd asked me to list 100, even 1000, opening sentences that I expected Gils de Ferran to say to me, "Have you seen the giant pig?" would not even have been close to being on there.

So I stared at him blankly for a moment and thought the sentence through very carefully in my head. Maybe I'd misheard and could figure out what he'd really said. Because obviously he didn't say 'pig'. Why would he say 'pig'? I'm sure he didn't say 'pig'. But if he didn't say 'pig', what DID he say? Eventually I had to give in and say "um.... sorry, what?".

"Have you seen the giant pig??" he said again, slightly slower and clearer. Yeah. No getting away from it. He'd definitely said 'pig'.

I still didn't have a clue why he was talking at me about a giant pig, so I looked imploringly across at David Brabham sat next to him. But Brabs was looking as utterly baffled as I felt. He looked up at me and shrugged with a big grin on his face. No help at all!

Magically, a thought then hit me. There was a hog roast. A massive pig on a spit. I *HAD* seen the giant pig!!! Poor old Gils wasn't entirely mental after all.

And so I rescued the situation. Just about. Collected my autographs from Brabs and whoever else was there, and that was that.

This story isn't really about David Brabham. And it's definitely not about GT1 (it was originally going to be, but I got distracted). But it is about a giant pig. And apparently that can be a key talking point in motorsport.

Maybe he's just a big Pink Floyd fan?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

OK, here goes...

So I haven't really said much about the Pastor/Lewis incident from yesterday yet. Because at first I just didn't know what to say. And then as I started to figure out my own thoughts, there was no way I could sum it up in 140 characters.

Let's just make sure you all know where I'm coming from to start off with. I love Pastor, and have supported him through thick and thin for years. So don't expect this to be an unbiased view-point.

But still, I felt massively disappointed yesterday. It was horrible. And I hope nothing ever happens in Pastor's career to make me feel quite like that again, because I couldn't take much more of that. But I didn't want to have a knee-jerk reaction to the whole thing, so I just tried to keep quiet and wait to see what the stewards made of it all. Not that the stewards are always right, but they have a lot more data at their disposal than the rest of us.

Interestingly, the more I watch the crash, the more I notice Hamilton twitching about at him. I'm not saying Pastor was an innocent bystander. But neither was Lewis. I think their penalties were fair. (Apparently 3 reprimands = a penalty, these days. Which is good because otherwise they're a bit pointless. Especially if someone keeps getting them..!)

I know Pastor's been a bit wild in the past and made some stupid, unthinking moves... but he's not been vindictive. The wildness that he was known for in the earlier days was mainly down to trying to overtake but getting it wrong or not having the space. I don't know what went on yesterday, but whatever it was I believe that it's not the sort of thing that he would normally do, so we'll put it behind us and move on. When everyone else is pissed off at him, I feel like that's when he needs me in his corner.

So, yeah, a little bit bruised, but still on his side.

And, on the other side of the coin, I was ever so proud of him in the race today. He did EXACTLY what he needed to do, which was to keep his head down, keep himself out of trouble, and drive as best as he could. And he ended up beating his team mate fair and square. And he made up 11 places. And he got himself one of those Championship point thingies that I've been so keen for him to get. Phew! It was unbearably tense for the last 12 laps or so - from about when all the pitstops had worked their way out and he was in 9th and I knew Massa would get him and di Resta was a proper threat. But he didn't put a wheel wrong all day long and his pace was good... a very good drive for him indeed.

So let's hope for lots more todays, and no more yesterdays, from now on. Please, Pastor.

(And if you have any massively anti-Pastor comments to make, can you please take them elsewhere. I'd rather you didn't direct them at me, because they won't serve any purpose other than to upset me. I just wanted to let you know where I stand so that I don't appear to have completely ignored the whole thing.)

While I'm here, I'll make a few other comments about Spa this weekend...

  • I was absolutely thrilled for Jaime 'Bob' Algersuari in quali. To quote, um, Bruce Forsythe? - didn't he do well! Gutted for him in the race though. Poor little Bob.
  • Another thrilled/gutted combination (this was basically the theme of the weekend for my boys!) - this time, Bruno Senna. Now, I love Bruno. Admittedly mostly because of that smile, but still, girliness aside, I think he's great. And he was very good in GP2 and so I think it's brilliant that he's had another chance in F1, and in a better car too. And I was so happy for him yesterday - him and Bob made yesterday worthwhile. And then today, bam, it all went wrong at the first corner. We'll have to see what he gets up to next race. (I do feel a bit sorry for Nick H though, I'm not sure he deserved to be thwown out of the car at this point in his caweer...)
  • My other thrilled/gutted scenario was luckily the other way around - gutted first, then thrilled. Watching JB tumble down the times at the end of Q2 was awful. I was just shouting 'WHAT?!' repeatedly at my computer screen with every place that he lost in the dying seconds. 13th?! Rubbish. But whenever he starts somewhere in the teens, a little voice in the back of my head always thinks 'Oh, he's going to have fun tomorrow'. When the car's faster than the quali position alludes to, you just know there's a high chance that JB's going to have a blinder. And he did it yet again. And in normal, dry conditions, not the changeable weather that normally serves him so well. After what felt like forever (but was probably only about 10 laps) I remember thinking 'oh, he's not gone far yet...' and then suddenly BOOM. There he was. Another podium, thank you very much. Love it. Well done, Jens. I wonder what would be, if only he could sort out his Saturdays....
  • In other news, apparently in my head I have started referring to Lewis as Crash Bandicoot. Just thought I'd let you know. My feeling on the Kobayashi incident is that Lewis should have looked in his mirrors. At least *tried* to look in his mirrors. I know the mirrors are teeny little things but you would have thought he'd be able to see Kamui in them, surely? They're there for a reason, Crash, why not try using them sometime...?
  • Talking of mirrors, how bloody scary is the footage from when JB's mirror was knocked off at the start! Glad it was only his mirror that got hit, because otherwise that would have been nasty.
  • And, my last point, neatly segued into with: talking of bloody scary - Mark Webber's pass on Alonso, going up Eau Rouge! Absolutely outstanding. I get goosebumps every time I see a replay, it's just terrifying. I can't help but feel that both of them were earning their $millions in that split second right there. Wow. Brilliant driving and bravery by both of them.

OK, I'm done. Apparently I had more to say than I thought I did...!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Zooming through what I've missed out...

So I've actually been doing all sorts of things lately, and I've just been lazy about writing about them. So here goes:

* I marshalled at the Aston Martin racing day at Silverstone. I was in assembly, which was great because we had lots of races coming through our area and there were lots of pretty cars to look at. When it's a busy weekend, I love being in assembly. It's fun pointing them all in the right direction and making sure everyone ends up in the correct order. And then you get to look at all the beautiful cars, and the drivers/team folk are all around so you get to chat to some of them. (On a quieter weekend, you can end up with a 4 hour lunchbreak... which is less good. You want to be doing stuff!)

* Oh I did some other marshalling too, can't even remember what it was for, but I managed to almost collapse on the pitwall. They called on the radio for a doctor to come and check me over, and then the next thing I knew there was all sorts of sirens and 2 medical cars and an ambulance turned up and 4 men came rushing into the pit office to see me. Of course, once I'd sat down and had some water I'd immediately started to feel better, so I was a bit sheepish about all this fuss! Anyway, they popped me in the ambulance and took me to the medical centre just to make sure I was OK. Which I was. I'd just had what a lady in the medical centre referred to as "a whoopsie". I think next time I'll push for a helicopter ambulance. That's pretty much the only facility I didn't get to check out.

* I went to see Martin Brundle do a talk for a roomful of us marshals. It was great, really interesting listening to him talking through his career (although he'd been talking for an hour and he hadn't even got to a time when I'd been born yet!) and then he answered questions about the new Silverstone wing (which had been opened that day), being a TV pundit (he requested that DC did the comms job with him), the gridwalks (he claims to hate them) and things like that. It was really cool, and I'm very grateful that my manager let me leave work an hour early so that I could make it in time!

There was a second guest speaker after Martin, who was John "The Kilt" Kirkpatrick. I must admit I'd never heard of him before, but he was utterly fascinating. Whoever turned up to see Martin and then disappeared before John started (which was most people) really missed out. He's been a really influential figure in how the motorsport industry has been shaped over the past (many) decades... he was involved in teaching drivers like Jenson Button how to drive a racing car, he seems to know absolutely everyone within motorsport, and he's currently involved in getting motorsport to work with other industries - e.g. defence, sharing engineering intelligence etc.

* I was incredibly lucky, and thanks to my very good friend Claire, I was able to see the SENNA film 2 weeks before it was actually released to the general public. And, as everyone is finding out now that it's in the cinemas, it is INCREDIBLE. I learnt a lot about him and about his career (I don't ever remember watching him drive, 1994 was about when I started to watch F1). And the footage that they found was just breathtaking - from the onboard shots to the quiet conversations with Ron Dennis (boo) to the FIA driver briefings (Ballestre - the perfect pantomime villain!). Well, I'm not going to do a full film review here - if you've seen it, you know. If you've not seen it, then I imagine you're planning on seeing it ASAP.

* While I was at the SENNA preview, not only did I have an electronically reclining seat, 1 seat away from where the film's writer was sitting - but I got to see the bloke that gave me my whole career direction. He works in F1 and I once called him up completely out of the blue for career advice, because as you know - I want to work in motorsport one day. He didn't have to be nice or help me, but he did. We had a couple of conversations, and I was in that petrified state where I'd just graduated from uni and was thrown out into the big wide world of work and didn't have a CLUE what I was meant to do or where I was meant to start. He gave me that clue. He made me realise what the first step was, and without that I wouldn't have got my job now. This was almost 2 years ago, and I've never met this guy before, but when I approached him and explained he remembered me and it was really nice to finally be able to say a proper thank you.

* I went to another marshals evening, where the guests were the GT1 team SumoPower. I then went marshalling for GT1, in the pitlane for the Sat and Sun, and was assigned the SumoPower garage to watch over. I'll write about that separately, because I now adore Sumo so have much too much to say about that!

* Le Mans 24 and the Canadian GP this weekend! Hooray! F1 Quali's just about to start now...

* Next weekend Johnny Herbert's driving at Donington. Think I'll get myself a hotel room and some tickets and make a weekend out of it. :)

OK, The Chain's just started playing on TV..... I'm signing off for now.

Over and out.

Quick Pastor update

So I've been rubbish and hardly written on here at all lately. And lots has been going on!

Firstly, let me just have a quick shout out for Mr Maldonado.

The boy's started to outdrive Rubens. So I am very proud. (Although, the usual disclaimer: Rubens is brilliant and I don't in any way wish him to do badly!)

Pastor's made it into Q3 for the past two races. Rubens hasn't made it to Q3 yet.

And despite the unfortunate ending to his Monaco race (I was gutted, as you can imagine), Pastor drove superbly all weekend. He was on song for a handful of points, and he would have fully deserved them. I read that when he got back to the garage after the coming together with Hamilton, the Williams boys all gave him a big round of applause. That makes me happy. I'm glad that he's started to shine and prove his worth.

As I write this, it's the little gap between FP3 and Quali for the Canadian GP. He's been solid so far this weekend, despite not knowing the track at all (whereas Monaco is a track he knows very well and has always been very good at it). Anything could happen over the rest of the weekend, of course, but fingers crossed he'll do OK.

I'm sure I'll report back..


Friday, 15 April 2011

The first car I ever loved.

The first time I ever drove a car was when I was about 3 years old. It was a 1937 Austin 12 Ascot.

This was the first car I ever loved. In fact, it might well be the only car I've ever loved. I'm fond of a few cars... for example I like our MGB very much. I also have a great fondness for The Bluemobile (a bright blue Y-reg Volvo V40 which not only got me through my driving test but also managed to survive the mentalness of Belgium). But I'm not properly properly emotionally attached to them. If we sold them, I'd get over it.

We sold the Austin about 8 years ago. I'm still not over it. I know it was the best thing to do, and I don't blame my dad for doing it, but it still kind of hurts. When we drive past the old classic car garage that we sold it to, I still look out for it even though I know it's long gone.

Anyways, it was a LOVELY car. You had to wind it up at the front to make it go. And of course it had the choke that you had to pull out and there always seemed to be so many things to pull and push to make it start. It had green leather seats that were so, so old but smelt amazing. On the inside of the roof there was a string newspaper rack that we always kept an ancient newspaper in. It always felt so special when we got to go in it.

It only went at a few mph, so it wasn't in any way practical for real roads. But at my house we had a little lane that went down the side of it, so we could tootle down there without getting in anyone's way. My big brothers would stand on the ledge outside of the car door and cling on through the open windows and we'd pretend it was our getaway car in some sort of black and white gangster (or perhaps Charlie Chaplin!) film.

Anyway, in the end Dad had to sell it because it hadn't worked for several years and needed a full restoration, which we just weren't able to put the time, effort or money into. So he sold it and got the MGB so that we had a  nice old car that we can actually use and have fun with. Which is fine, I can respect that decision and I know it's not one he made lightly. And we certainly couldn't have done track days in the old Austin! But I still miss it. I like to think maybe one day I can get it back. Well, a girl can dream...

Dad with our car back in the old days. He appears to be wearing purple flares.

/sentimental claptrap. :-)

PS - when I say I "drove" it when I was 3 years old. I mean Dad sat me on the drivers seat, got the car to tick along at about 3mph and then walked alongside it while I freaked out that he was trying to kill me by leaving me in a fast moving vehicle. We were in the middle of a giant stubble field, going slower than time and he was a foot away from me at all times, so there was no danger. I'm not sure it honed my early driving skills though. ;-) Incidentally, it's one of the earliest memories I have that I know isn't artificially enhanced by photos or home videos or family tales.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

More Woe for Williams

Oh dear.

Pastor still hasn't made it to lap 10 of a race.

Williams seem to have done a bit of a Jaguar (in 2000) where they seemed quite strong in winter testing and then it's all fallen apart when the season's started. However, I'm sure it won't continue in that fashion. We're only 2 races down and I've read they've got some developments coming up, so there's plenty of time to turn things around! Pastor might see lap 11 yet...! There's potential in that car that just hasn't been able to show itself in quali or the races yet.

At least it wasn't Pastor's fault that he stopped, which is good purely from a I-don't-want-him-to-look-bad point of view. He lost 2 places at the start but had made them back by the end of the first lap. That'll do me fine, thanks. He was then about to battle Perez but his car started misfiring and he crept round desperately slowly for a lap or two until it was all over on lap 8. Boo. I know how that feels (see upcoming and as-yet-unwritten blog about my track day yesterday).

So, that's a pity. Two races in: two cautious starts*, two promising follow-ups and then two mechanical gremlins. Sucky.

*At this stage I would much rather a more cautious start so that he makes it to the 2nd corner and loses a place or two, than him going gung-ho and crashing before the first corner. Obviously the best thing would be to go gung-ho and keep out of trouble and make up some places, but hey, baby steps.... just keeping out of trouble will do me for now. I'll get more demanding as the season goes on. ;-)

Anyway, so there we go. DNFs all round again.

China's only a few days away though. Let's see how he fares there. And come on Williams, give him a chance! (Although I'm not sure if my nerves can last a whole race!)

PS - in other Malaysia GP news....

  • YAY JENSON!!! I was ever so pleased for my boy. What a star. Didn't put a foot wrong, blasted out regularly immense laps in his last stint, kept pushing, ace. Very happy to see him back on the podium (and well ahead of Hamilton who just fell apart after his 3rd pitstop. What was all that about?! It was like he forgot where the 'go' pedal was.)
  • What a start by the Renaults! They were like bullets flying along!! That could put a cat among the pigeons (or indeed 'chickens') if RBR/McL keep locking out the front two rows with Renault not far behind. And well done Mr Heidfeld on his 3rd place too.
  • Massa finished ahead of Alonso! Hooray! And I say this from a place of "Poor Massa has become completely overlooked" rather than of anti-Alonso-ness. 
  • However, it was a 2nd Smedley-less race in a row. This is NOT GOOD ENOUGH, BBC. We need Rob Smedley. Sort it out.
  • Those marbles on the track.... wow! It was like an actual carpet. Probably not so good if it's going to be disuading cars from overtaking because they don't want to go off the racing line. But quite a spectacle when we're not used to it.
Dear BBC, please find this man and have a little chat with him on air. Thanks.

(Photo borrowed from (C) Julien Leroy -

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Maldonado at Melbourne (and other stories)

So, today was his first race. And he made it past the first corner!! Phew.

From what I could see, it looks like he was slow off the start, BUT he kept out of trouble (unlike his teammate, who gave me near heart failure as I saw a Williams trundling across the gravel in the background, it took a few seconds before I could figure out which one of them it was).

The slow start meant that Pastor lost a few places off the line, but the good news is that he started making them up. He zoomed up to and past Kovalainen with ease (admittedly the Lotus is a lot slower than the Williams, but still!) and around lap 5 or 6-ish he was over 2 seconds behind Perez. He just ate this time up, cutting around a second a lap out of the gap, and then was past him before you could blink an eye and pulling away immediately. Brilliant.

And then disaster struck. The next thing we saw, his car was stopped out of the way at the side of the track. The good news is that he hadn't done anything wrong. But the car had just stopped working. Transmission failure on lap 9. Rubbish :-(

If the car had worked and he had kept out of trouble, it would have been a decent result I think.

Unfortunately, instead he'll just show as a DNF, and the folks on the TV just glance over how he "didn't finish" which makes it sound like he screwed up. Brundle's complete disregard of him was really winding me up this weekend. I guess I'd better get used to it though.

What we need is just a few quiet, solid results under everyone's radar to start with, to build up his skill and confidence, and then we'll be alright. I have no idea if Pastor will be able to live up to my faith in him. But I hope so. I've stuck by him for several years and he's only got better and better so far, so fingers crossed. I know he's not perfect, but perfect's boring...

Meanwhile, Rubens had a mixed race. His bounce across the gravel dropped him down, but he stormed through the field.... until he then stormed into Rosberg, whoops! The Williams was strong enough to keep going after a quick pit, but eventually they retired from suspected transmission failure too. Hmmm - not good on the reliability front today, boys! BUT we've seen that the Williams has got some pace, which is a good start for the season.

Pastor: Quali 15th / DNF (Transmission failure)
Rubens: Quali 17th / DNF (Transmission issues again!)

Thanks to the Williams website for providing info (as the BBC didn't give a damn what had happened to Pastor's car).

(Apparently I care an awful lot about Williams now.)


In other news from the race....

  • People on Twitter are blaming Johnny Herbert (the Driver Steward this weekend) for JB's drive through. Gah. I'm pretty sure he wasn't the only person involved in that decision. I also don't think it was the wrong decision. (Sorry Jenson, love you, but...!) 
  • Di Resta did good, which is nice
  • Sauber's one stopping was a bit of a surprise, eh?? I wonder if there's something special about the Sauber or whether the other teams will have a big re-think about the tyres now?
  • DRS looks a bit of a crock. Jenson was activating it to pass Massa, but then Massa was just KERSing to get away again. Hmm. It looks cool when the wing flap opens though. But less cool when nothing visible then happens.
  • Massa needs to get out of Ferrari. I feel very sorry for him being a #2 driver as if it's the Schumacher era all over again. Also, it's sad that the BBC have seemingly lost all interest in him - no Rob Smedley this weekend!
  • I enjoy JB going back to the clean-shaven look. A beautiful boy, inside and out. 
  • DC's dislike of EJ seeping into on-screen mockery is more embarrassing than entertaining/funny. Especially with EJ's over-reations to everything DC teases him about.
  • Eddie Jordan being BBC's "Chief Analyst" is an utterly ridiculous situation. "Well I think he COULD find the button. I think he was joking." - said with total seriousness in response to Vettel's blatant cheeky comment about why he hadn't used KERS. Or "They've got KERS. I don't know why they've got KERS but there you go." Calling him a chief analyst is a bit of an insult to the viewers, really. I don't particularly mind having him there as an adding bit of entertainment and fun, but c'mon - chief analyst?!?
  • Why did Webber's car stop straight after he crossed the finish line??? Does anyone know??? Why did the BBC post-race coverage not even mention it?! It shows a chink in the Red Bull armour - I was a bit fed up they didn't find anything out about it.
  • Talking of Webber, as I said on Twitter - he must be annoyed today. Vettel even beat him to the first on-screen swear of the season!

OK, I think I've brain-dumped enough. That's how for now!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Next stop, Melbourne.

So the final winter test has just finished and now everyone heads out to the best place in the entire world, Melbourne. As always, I am jealous of all the F1 folks getting to go to the most glorious city ever. *sigh*

And that nice man Mr Pastor Maldonado will be sat on the F1 grid at Albert Park! I am very excited about this. Excited and terrified. Part of me is trying to come to terms with the fact that he might not make it to the second corner of the race. (If this happens, I will cry. You have been warned.)

But he's done good during testing. OK, he did smash his car up rather a bit - but I'm a firm believer that if you don't smash things up a bit as a rookie then you're just not trying hard enough. I'm sure it was Bob (aka Jaime Alg) who crashed and his team boss actually said that he'd prefer him to make a few mistakes like that because it showed he was trying. As long as it doesn't happen too often, and as long as the driver learns from them...! (And of course if a driver I'm not fond of crashes, I will always claim it's because he's clearly rubbish instead!)

But yeah, in general the boy has done good. It sounds like he's fitting into the team and Frank Williams says he's been told that Pastor is doing very well. Hooray! And he's taking it all seriously, training hard, losing weight, eating better (other than the massive chocolate cake for his birthday this week and all the steak of the world! But you can't blame him for cake and steak! ....I wonder if all the food he eats rhymes? Pasta bake? Milkshake?)

Anyway, I certainly enjoyed the rankings at the end of today's test.... you gotta take the minor victories when you can! (Yes I know there's all sorts of other factors that come into play, shoosh about that, let's just look at the final times...)

Faster than Lewis in the rain. Not a bad start.
I will of course be terrified about Pastor during every race. I want him to do well, in a realistic way. I want him to make it to the end of races. I want him to not make too many big mistakes that make people go "Oh well, he's a pay driver, whinge whinge whinge." (Yes, he's brought a lot of money with him. But he's also the reigning GP2 CHAMPION. Gah.) I want him to learn from Rubens and get on with Rubens and occasionally outshine Rubens. Please.

So yeah, I'll just have to wait and see how it goes. I am continuing to put my faith in him, and I hope he makes me proud. I think he will, though. In fact, he already has.

(In other news: I worry that the McLaren might struggle... although it looks like maybe Jenson will do better with the tyres than Lewis, which is a nice start. I also worry about the Merc suddenly looking faster in testing. Hopefully that's just a case of not being able to trust testing though. Thumbs pressed!)