After a season that was utterly dominated by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Renault, the Scuderia Ferrari needed to find a way to become more competitive if they really wanted to stay atop of the F1 World. Ferrari came up with their latest model, the Ferrari 150° Italia at Maranello on late January of 2011. Fernando Alonso drove the car for the first time at the Fiorano Circuit the same day. The Italian squad’s racecar hasn’t been really performing too well this season, but things were going to take an unexpected turn in Malasya and with the help of some unusual circumstances, it was up to Ferenando Alonso to outplay Sauber’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and take the Scuderia Ferrari’s first win of the season. Right after the start, the rain starting to come down over Kuala Lumpur forced teams to make an early strategic call: mix condition or wet condition tires for the race.
Just after the first lap, some drivers opted to make a quick change of tires. The first one to make the change was Sergio Perez, followed by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Marussia’s Timo Glock and Charles Pic who changed for wet tires on lap three. On the next lap, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen and team mate Vitaly Petrov. Kovalainen had one heck of a start and when the water came down he was able to move from 23rd on Lap One to 17th on Lap Two. Perez took advantage of the early change of tires, and even a big off-course moment didn’t hurt him. He was able to keep his position but Red Bull’s Mark Webber came close within a short distance. The race was red flagged on lap 9, and stayed like that for the better part of an hour.
But either Fernando Alonso or the Scuderia Ferrari had shown signs that on the long haul they might be a threat. But, relying on his magnificent wet-weather driving skills the two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso, took the win. Perez was excited and proud of his first podium, but he also realized that things could had been a bit better. He was clearly cutting down on the advantage that Fernando Alonso had build ahead of him. The Mexican driver ran off the track with six laps to go, giving the Ferrari driver, Fernando Alonso, enough of a gap to win.
Lewis Hamilton of McLaren had won the Pole position, for the second consecutive race, but finished third ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen. Williams’ Bruno Senna finished sixth in his best F1 finish, Force India’s Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were seventh and ninth, respectively. They were separated by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne. Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher took the last point in 10th. Perez sliced Alonso’s lead to just half a second with seven laps to go. He was certainly giving it a strong push to outrun Alonso. He ran wide at the final turn onto the back straight. With Perez out of the fight, the Spaniard was able to take a 2.2 second win over the Sauber driver.
When it comes to car racing, be it the NASCAR Sprint Series, the Formula One series, the Moto GP, it has always been a matter of how far can you take the technical limitations that are set upon the car to the limit. It has always been a matter of how you can cut the corners inside the legal margins to, at the end, have the fastest car or the fastest bike out there. Let’s not forget that at the end of these 200, 300, 500 mile-long races, it all comes down to a matter of seconds and milliseconds between the winner and everybody else.
Don’t get me wrong here, I do realize this limitations set upon chief mechanics and team engineers are set to keep things fair and let the talent and driving skills of each driver be what makes the difference. Let’s not forget also that some of these limitations are also place to keep the safe being of the racers and spectators as the No. 1 priority.
So yes, if you do make changes that go too far, if you cheat (but that’s not the right word here) and break some regulations to make your car go faster, you and your team should be penalized. But I would go so far as to expect that if as a Driver and a team both Clint Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing should be penalized with such a harsh punishment, then NASCAR should have done so on Sunday, not wait for an extended review and give the punishment on a Wednesday afternoon.
Here is the thing, why did it take so long. They have penalized Clint Bowyer with 150 points. Ok, Sunday night, after he won the race, Bowyer was 2nd in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Thursday Morining, that same guy now sits 12th over 180 points from the first place and basically without the slightest chance to win the Chase. For a single race infraction, 150 point must be up-to-date the highest penalization any NASCAR driver has received. The thing here is that, as of press time, Sprint Cup officials have yet to make an statement regarding the details of what was it that Richard Childress Racing had done wrong.
They, the evaluative commission who tested the car, have said that it was a matter of how the team mechanics and engineers had arranged the care body over the frame, giving it some sort of aerodynamic advantage. But here is the twist. If the infraction was really worth a 150-point sanction, why didn’t the guys who check the cars after the race noticed that anything was wrong?
Upon further review… That is the phrase that makes this whole thing a bit upsetting I must confess. The technicians said Ok, the race results stands, you can make it official one and a half hours after Bowyer crossed the finish line first. I must say that 150 points is still a very harsh infraction for something that the technicians and specialist that checked the winning car on Sunday to miss.
At the end it is a matter of credibility. NASCAR owes it to its fans. This sort of issues cannot be repeated, for the sake of the sport.
Not since 2006, when Michael Schumacher was still racing for Ferrari, and was considered among many to be the finest F1 driver, had the team who calls Monza its home court. The Legendary, capital-L shaped course, was build back in 1922, and it is one of the longest running events in the Formula 1 racing calendar. The 5.79 km long course holds a certain signification for the Italian world-renown sports car maker Ferrari.
For instance, Ferrari has been the most successful maker in this course. The red car team has been a key protagonist on this course. The red team has won 19 F1 races, including Fernando Alonso’s first as a Ferrari man. That’s 19 of the 71 times that the race has been held at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Michael Schumacher has been the fastest driver in this circuit. Back in his golden years, Shumi won 5 races in this course. But that was prior to his off-the-courses years, because since the professional hiatus, truth be said, Schumacher has not been able to completely make it back to the top of his sport. But Fernando has. This most recent win has really opened up the chance to fight for the drivers’ championship. He is now among the top 5 drivers and only 21 points behind the leader Mark Webber.
For you guys out there who enjoy betting on the Formula One, here is an interesting fact. Popular believe, and by this we mean a believe among more dedicated F1 spectators, there is a very powerful jinx against the racer who wins at the Italian Grand Prix. With the exception of the late Ayrton Sena and the great Michael Schumacher, over the last two decades no racer who has won at Monza has managed to keep on his streak and win the drivers championship.
Could the Spaniard, Fernando Alonso, be able to break the spell? He has been among the youngest and most successful drivers in the F1. Perhaps only the German young-gun, Sebastian Vettel has experimented such success at such an early age. Now, for this race, Alonso started winning the pole position in the qualifying stage of the race. Nevertheless, a very bad start from Alonso gave forth to Jason Button’s efforts and he lost the first place after the first turn.
Team McClaren had the lead for many laps. But at the end, thanks to Ferrari’s well planned race tactics, the Spaniard was able to recover his first place after the second pit stop. From there on, Alonso was able to keep up his good rhythm and finished with a 2.6 second lead over Jenson Button. The Brazilian Felippe Massa of Ferrari completed the podium. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel came in fourth.
Alonso, who has won 24 races as a professional formula one driver, is now dreaming with a chance to win another championship. He has been on the top of the sport twice. He won the F1 drivers Championship in 2005 and 2006. If he can keep up his good performance in the Asian part of the championship, Fernando could very well be on his way to claim his third driver’s championship.
Kevin Harvick has become the first driver to clinch a berth for the 2010 Chase. He is the most dominant driver out there and his dominance over the rest of the field in this Sunday at Michigan should be enough to post him as the No. 1 Favorite to win the Sprint Cup Series.
As of press time, Harvick has managed to shadow the 4 consecutive-time winner Jimmie Johnson and company. Wit three races to go, on the regular Sprint Cup season, Harvick has cleared up a 239-point gap between him and the second place, and as if that was not enough, he has opened up a 400-point lead over Jimmie Johnson.
But not all has been said about this possible dwell. We shouldn’t forget that Jimmie has never been in the lead in any of his previous four Championship wins. He has not been the points leader by the time the regular season ends, but he has managed to show off beautifully once the Chase begins. But here is the thing, 400 points is a very significant distance.
If the sports betting industry had not already handicapped Harvick among the favorites, well, after this great performance over at the Michigan International Speedway has had to catch their eye. Harvick has been in the top 10 for most of the season, and he has had all but three top-20 finishes in this current Sprint Cup season.
There is an upside and a downside to the way this tournament has been deployed. The thing is that you are not winning the Sprint Cup because of your good performance year round, but because of what happens in the last 10 weeks. And, considering it follows with most of American sports competition formats, with a regular season and a postseason, what really matters at the end is what happens at the end.
Harvick, for instance, is well aware of his dominance over Johnson in the regular season, but he is also well aware of the fact that Johnson is still his number one threat. He has been in a similar position at the end of the season during the last 4 Sprint Cup Championships and yet he has managed to make the most out of the Chase.
Harvick knows that his team has to be very efficient in the postseason, otherwise, it would not matter what a great season they have had up to this point. After the race he said: “We’re fast enough to beat ‘em (Johnson and his team), but the circumstances and all the things have to go your way over the last 10 weeks. It’s not about a whole season anymore; it’s about 10 weeks.”
Johnson could now be facing his fifth in a row, if everything moves as usual. But this year, the Sprint Cup might go not to the guy who wins the most races at the end of the season, but rather to the driver that can be more consistent in the last 10 weeks. And that gives Harvick the edge. Johnson has been up and down all season long. The bottom line is that Harvick could put an end to Johnson hegemony. He is not as dominant as he has been and Harvick is got the motivation and the talent to pull off the upset.