Saturday, March 27, 2010

F1: Humiliation for Hamilton as Red Bulls dominate Albert Park

Well, some things are just worth getting up at 6:30 for. After knackering myself yesterday getting up at the crack of dawn for Practice, I hadn't intended watching Qualifying live, but I woke up naturally just in tme to see 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, my least favourite driver since Jacques Villeneuve, rather unceremoniously fail to make the final qualifying session for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix.

I don't know quite what it is about stepping onto Australian soil that turns Hamilton into even more of an idiot than usual. We are supposed to believe that he's grown up since last year when he told barefaced lies to the stewards after the race. Certainly towards the end of last year he was behaving like less of a brat, but then, on Friday night, he decided to show off in his road car, performing the sort of antics that Ferrari's Felipe Massa had been helping an Australian police campaign against earlier in the day. I did pick up a bit of irony in the fact that performing stunts and showing off in a car is known as "hooning" when a certain Mr Hoon has been exposed as showing off about his political prowess to feather his own nest.

Anyway, Lewis says that his brush with the law is "something to learn from". Actually I thought when you passed your driving test, you learnt what was against the law. I mean, those antics wouldn't be looked upon kindly here either.

Hamilton's weekend went from bad to worse when a dismal performance in qualifying meant that he finished in 11th position, failing to make the final 10 minute shoot out. Now, I know that when Rubens Barrichello finished in 11th position last week I was doing cartwheels of celebration, but it's not the same thing. Rubens finished well ahead of his team-mate, for a start, while Hamilton's team-mate, current World Champion Jenson Button, cruised seemingly effortlessly onto the second row of the grid.

My emotions are a bit tangled when I see Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber share the front row after, again, some dazzling qualifying laps. I really, really don't like Red Bull as a team, but I have a lot of time for both drivers. Mark Webber. He has really had to struggle to get a foothold in F1. His twitter name is AussieGrit and it's completely appropriate. Anyway, both drivers flew to the front of the grid. It would be fabulous to see Mark win in front of his home crowd. Red Bull showed us two weeks ago that they can dazzle in qualifying but reliability problems cost Vettel the race and he had to be happy with fourth. He is a very talented driver, but a haircut would do him no harm whatsoever. Do they not have barbers in Melbourne? Stephen came up with another reason, tough - his barnet could be ballast!

Third on the grid is Alonso. He is a very good driver for sure, but he annoys me. He behaved like an idiot at McLaren in 2007 as much as Lewis Hamilton did and he has made me livid yesterday with a typically arrogant interview in which he basically told fans that if they thought F1 was boring then they could always go away and do something else instead.

Jenson's fourth, Massa's fifth, the two Mercedes cars were closely matched in 6th and 7th. Alright then, Schumi was 7th, but only just, then Rubens in 8th, Robert Kubica in 9th and Force India's Adrian Sutil in 10th. What's interesting is that last year there was barely a second and a half covering the entire grid. Today there was almost 2 seconds covering the top 10.

Spare a thought for Virgin F1 though - somebody did the sums wrong and their fuel tank isn't big enough . Now I know I'm first to crticise Jonathan Legard for his ditchwater style of commentary but credit to him for being the first to sniff this story out.

We are used to seeing Melbourne basking in sunlight, but the Antipodean elements seemed to be sticking 2 fingers to Bernie Ecclestone, who'd snubbed Australia by depriving it of its traditional season opener spot. We had one very rainy practice session yesterday and today's qualifying was distinctly chilly and tomorrow's looking a bit unsettled too.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Alonso is going to win again tomorrow as the Ferrari will be faster in the early stages of the race and is likely to be more reliable. I really want Mark Webber to at least make the podium though.

This feels like a proper F1 weekend, though. The place is packed out with fans. While I am not chuffed with Bernie for putting on the Australian race with its resultant sleep deprivation for UK fans on the same weekend as the clocks go forward, the sport is as popular as ever down under. It should be a good race tomorrow. See you then!

1 comment:

Alex said...

The race was worth getting up for as well! Can't remember the last time a Grand Prix kept me gripped throughout.


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