Sunday, 30 August 2009

BTCC Silverstone - Jackson on pole

Mat Jackson is on pole for tomorow's opening BTCC race at Silverstone, his first of the season and to cap it, a new qualifying lap record round the National circuit.

Rob Collard lines up second on the grid in a Chevrolet sandwich with James Nash third and Jason Plato fourth.

Collard will no doubt be hoping to get a clean start and not have another coming together with Nash.... Must seem like deja vu.

Current championship leader Colin Turkington qualified in fifth with Team RAC team mates Jelley sixth and BTCC bete noire Anthony Reid a credible tenth after a long absence from the series.

Reid will have his old adversary and sparring partner Matt Neal one place behind him.

Youngster Jonny Adam is seventh whilst Giovanardi is the highest placed of the Vauxhalls.

Tom Chilton is ninth in the Ford.

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert in his BTCC debut had to prematurely end his first qualifying session due to a front end failure on his Honda Civic but will hopefully show some pace in the race.

Belgian Grand Prix - Fisichella takes first pole for Force India

Picture by Eugene Flores

Veteran Italian F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella has claimed a shock pole position for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa which promises to be a classic (at least compared to last weeks run round the "Tesco car park" as Mark Webber described it!).

Fisichella's pole, the first ever for the Force India team, was gained in dry conditions so could not be put down to inclement weather and was therefore on merit. After fuel correction he would have been fourth - still an excellent achievement.

The Force India cars were consistently fast in all three qualifying sessions today.

After a poor showing in Valencia, the Toyota and BMW teams each qualified both of their cars in the top ten. Trulli (Toyota) is second on the grid with his team mate Glock seventh. Heidfeld is a season's best third for BMW with his team mate Kubica fifth.

On the other end of the scale Luca Badoer put in another lacklustre performance in what could/should be his last qualifying session for Ferrari. He spun off the track and will start plum last - again.

Jenson Button's title push was dealt another blow. He qualified in fourteenth on the grid whilst his team mate Barrichello, still on a high following victory in Valencia last weekend, was fourth. Button was some 0.4 seconds slower than his team mate.

I can see Button being overhauled in the Championship before the end of the season. He has been mediocre in the last few races and does not seem to be holding up to the pressure.

At the beginning of the season, the Brawn car was without doubt the best in the field, especially in the hands of Button.

Since then, the likes of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari have gradually caught up and now there is little to chose between them at most circuits.

At the same time, Barrichello has raised his game perhaps realising that at this stage of his career this could be his last tilt at the driver's Championship. His issues with the Brawn team earlier in the season now seem to have been ironed out.

When everything is going swimmingly Button is fine. As soon as things start to get difficult he seems to lose the plot and his head goes down.

The Red Bull's were having a poor day by their standards. Vettel qualified eighth after making a mistake and Webber ninth. Rosberg for Williams struggled into tenth but is fueled heavier than the other top runners.

I have not mentioned Kimi Raikkonen so far. Although he qualified sixth he is definitely a possible contender for the victory tomorrow. He will have the benefit of KERS so should make up a few places off the start. He also has a string of Spa victories under his belt.

Others to watch will be Trulli and Barrichello. Having said that, if the weather changes, as it often does without warning at Spa, anything could happen!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

BTCC - Anthony Reid back for Team RAC

Anthony Reid at Brands Hatch 1998 - photo by Tonylanciabeta

As reported in the excellent Touring Car Times, the bete noire of the BTCC, Anthony Reid, is back racing this weekend at Silverstone for Team RAC.

Reid has not raced in the BTCC since 2004 but has been drafted in by Team RAC for the remainder of the season to support Colin Turkington's championship bid together with Stephen Jelley.

I have always been a fan of Reidy and welcome his return to the series.

He will no doubt ruffle a few feathers along the way and get the old women, Neal & Plato whinging! (just like the good old days).

Despite all the controversy that seems to follow him around, when all is said and done he is still a quality driver.

Reid has just returned from competing in a TC2000 endurance race in Buenos Aires where he finished second in a Honda Civic.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ferrari - Face Facts - You Can't Polish a Turd!

There is an old, if somewhat vulgar, saying here in the UK - "you can't polish a turd".

Ferrari seem to be trying to do just that with poor old Luca Badoer....
They are keeping him in the car for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa this weekend despite his woeful performance in qualifying and at the race in Valencia, apparently in the (vain) hope that he will improve.

Let's face it, if he couldn't get to grips with the bland Valencia circuit, how is he going to cope with the rigours of a track like Spa?

It seems to me that Ferrari have completely written off the 2009 season.

They are showing absolutley no ambition despite the fact their car in the right hands, is clearly competitive at some circuits as evidenced by Raikkonen's podium in Valencia.

I would not be surprised if Raikkonen gets another good result at Spa.

There must be dozens of drivers who would give their right arm to replace Badoer as Massa's stand in for the remaining Grand Prix of the season.

When Michael Schumacher broke his leg in 1999, Ferrari drafted in Mika Salo. He did a great job as stand in and would have even won a race, if he had not dutifully ceded the lead to his team mate and championship contender Eddie Irvine.

I would like to see Piquet given a chance and do well.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see him outperform Renault and rub Briatore's nose in it.

On the subject of the perma tanned lothario, I'm just wondering how long it will be before he prematurely ends the career of Romain Grosjean who's first F1 outing did not exactly set the earth alight.....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

BTCC Snetterton - Nash v Collard in Pictures

They say a picture says a thousand words.... Here is the story of when Nash met Collard!

Collard leads race three through the Esses from Nash with Turkington close behind in third place.

Nash makes a botched overtaking attempt punting Collard off at high speed who collects the inncoent Stephen Jelley.

Both cars come to rest on the grass verge and marshalls are quickly on the scene.

Stephen Jelley is quickly out of his Team RAC BMW but there is a worryingly long wait for Collard to be extricated from his car.

Despite being a bit dazed I am pleased to report that Rob was fit enough to express his opinions, as only he can, of Nash's driving!

Collard trudges away ruing another lost victory as Nash leads the race in his absense.

Collard and Jelley compare notes. I bet Nash's ears are burning inside his helmet.

Stephen Jelley surveys the remains of his BMW.

The villain of the piece. Nash goes on to take his first BTCC race victory only for it later to be overturned by the stewards in favour of championship leader Colin Turkington.

Meanwhile, the busy marshalls clean up the remains of Jelley's BMW.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Schumacher rules out F1 return

Just when it looked as though we might have a bit of added spice for the rest of the F1 season, Michael Schumacher has decided against returning to Ferrari on medical grounds.

Schumacher sustained injuries in a motorbike accident earlier this year and suffered neck pain (some will say he has always been one of those!) when test driving a 2007 Ferrari on track. It is feared his injury would be further agravated if he were to temporarily replace Felipe Massa as reported previously in this blog.

Instead of the mouth watering prospect of the Red Baron returning to the track we have, err, Luca Badoer. Luca who? - Luca Badoer.

He has been beavering away behind the scenes at Ferrari for many years as one of their test drivers and last raced an F1 car around ten years ago so don't expect him to set the world alight.

I suppose given the very short notice this was probably the only option Ferrari had to replace Massa now that Schumacher has also stepped back.

It would appear that Ferrari have written off this season to concentrate of next year.

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Saturday, 8 August 2009

F1 - Schumacher Returns - Piquet Out

Despite Michael Schumacher's manager stating last week that he was "200% sure" Schumacher would not replace the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari, he has now been confirmed through to the end of the season!

Ferrari have thrown a hissy fit earlier this week (as they usually do when things don't go their way.....).

They had requested dispensation from the FIA and other F1 teams to allow Schumacher to test the 2009 Ferrari due to the in season test ban. This request was turned down flat by Williams, Toro Rosso and Red Bull in case it set a precedent. A tad harsh maybe but after all, rules is rules as they say.

I have a gut feeling that Schumacher could win a race later this year. If I was a gambling man my money would be on Abu Dhabi. Here's why -

1. It is the last race by which time he should be back in the swing and fully up to speed with the car

2. Ferrari will no doubt have made further developments to the car throughout the remaining races

3. It is a new circuit for all the drivers making it a level playing field

What do you think? Your comments are always welcome.

Meanwhile over at Renault, Nelson Piquet Junior has been shown the exit door - not unexpected.
Yet another in a long line of victims of the perma tanned Lothario.
He has already been replaced by rookie Romain Grosjean who was Renault's official third driver.

I cannot see that he will do any better than Piquet managed when all the team's resources are directed at Alonso.

I think it was a mistake for Piquet to join the Renault team in the first place although it is completely understandable that he would see it as an immediate move into one of the top teams at the time.
He may have been better advised to take the traditional route and join a team lower down the grid for a couple of seasons and then move up to better things (like Alonso for example).

Briatore is notoriously difficult to work with and it became quite quickly apparent that Piquet was not feeling the love!

Jenson Button had a similar miserable time at Renault but since leaving his career has flourished.

Piquet is not a shabby driver by a long chalk - at the inaugaral A1 GP meeting at Brands Hatch he wiped the floor with everybody (including some ex F1 drivers), winning both the sprint and feature races by some margin.

I really hope that he will get a chance to find another berth in F1, perhaps with one of the new teams and prove his true potential.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing Briatore made to look a twat once more!

Photos thanks to - Schumigirl1956 & Ann64