Spanish GP – Qualifying

Casa Batllo
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Barcelona…dum di dum di dum di dum…Barcelona!! Was that not the best Olympics song ever?! Mind you I am slightly struggling to think of any other Olympics song. What musical paean will be unveiled for London 2012? Well it seems like there is a whole myriad of songs being recorded for the Olympics. Apparently McFly have penned the official song for the mascots. WTF…even the mascots have a song?! Tinchy Stryder and Dionne Bromfield are doing the ‘Torch Relay’ song and Elbow have written the BBC’s official Olympic theme (nice upbeat choice there from the Beeb). Underworld have been appointed as the musical directors for the opening ceremony with Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Shallow Grave etc) as artistic director. An interesting collaboration if truth be told – all I can visualise are lots of drug addicts and zombies leaping around whilst shouting lager, lager, lager (insert typical Saturday night out in [city of choice] here). And throw Boris Johnson (even literally, perhaps out of a cannonball a la Russell Grant on Strictly) into proceedings and blockbuster ratings would guaranteed.

Apologies, a huge digression (and possible descent into madness) already… I’ve had a small operation this week and been living on a cocktail of painkillers since Wednesday. When the 4 year old says, “Mummy please wear a hat to school” (presumably to avoid scaring small children) you know its not your finest hour.

Anyhow, lets put the flags out, crack open the bolly as the F1 roadshow has arrived in Europe! First stop, Espana. It must really be the start of summer and as if by magic (given the biblical rain of the last few weeks), the sun is finally shining even in England. Stone the flaming crows.
As we settled down to watch the qualifying coverage slightly delayed (as ever we are slaves to the 4 year old’s far superior social life), a unilateral decision was made by myself to pick the Beeb’s coverage. I felt it would be beyond me to wade through the interminable and we-take-ourselves-very-seriously offering from Sky Towers. My fuzzy and slightly numb head was only really equipped to cope with the zany stream-of-consciousness witterings of Eddie Jordan…just.
We opened with a slightly curious montage, which reminded us that Spain used to have a nasty military dictator and people used to say “Europe stopped at the Pyrenees”. But happily those dark days have now gone. Seeing as Franco died in 1975 (the year of my birth so depressingly quite a long time ago), I’m not entirely sure why this seemed relevant and worthy of bringing up. Seems a bit harsh on poor old Spain to rake all that up when Bahrain is currently doing quite a nice line in dictatorships and everyone went into full ostrich ‘we’re just here for the racing’ mode a few weeks back.
Spain is really feeling the love for F1 these days (after many years of not giving an xxxx for the sport). Nothing like having your own double world champion to increase the fanbase hey. There are prawn (or whatever the Spanish for prawn is) sandwiches the world over. Bless Roy Keane for thinking a prawn sandwich was the pinnacle of haute cuisine (I’ll surely get a bonus point from the husband for name-checking Roy Keane).
Jake and DC chatted away about how Fernando Alonso is now on Twitter and how he’s been full of brilliant insights. I recently discovered Alonso on Twitter myself and he seems like a top guy – very funny and very passionate about racing. He has definitely moved onto the List of Drivers that I Didn’t Like But Now Really Like – I’m a sucker for someone driving a rubbish Ferrari really brilliantly (see M Schumacher, 1996). Jake seems to be on a mission to get Eddie Jordan onto Twitter. This absolutely must happen. I might start a petition!

Like raw eggs (apparently)

They all then chewed the cud for a bit about tyres and Schumacher’s recent criticism of them. Basically the Pirellis have been deliberately designed to degrade super-fast to prevent drivers going flat-out and thereby to make racing much closer. Schumacher isn’t the kind of guy who wants to cruise around as if behind a safety car. He simply wants to race flat-out and drive to the optimum (a classic Schuey word) of his ability and the car’s ability. All seems fairly reasonable to me. But according to EJ, Schuey is totally “out of order” for taking this stance. It is the same for everyone blah blah and it just means we have a different kind of racing. What is more important than anything else, so EJ told us (in almost hysterical tones) was “The Show” and so Schumacher was utterly villainous (sub-text – not for the first time) for wanting to deprive us of that.
Well here’s my ha’penneth. Tyres have always degraded the more a driver has pushed. But these Pirelli tyres have placed an artificial limit on how hard the drivers can push – the Pirelli’s performance levels are falling off a cliff before 10 laps have been completed which is ridiculous. The focus has moved away from pure driver skill to a bunch of geeks on the pitlane wall frantically figuring out how to win the race. Do you want to see a race run by someone driving on the ragged limit or by someone ‘cleverly’ conserving his way to the finish line. Basically, are you Senna or are you Prost? Sometimes you might get a dull race with a supremely dominant drive but it would at least be ‘real’. The irony is that the cars genuinely appear to be very closely matched this year and aren’t we as fans losing out by not being able to see the Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, Mercedes, Williams etc racing FLAT-OUT against each other.
Right, I’m getting off my soap-box now and onto the all-important (or is it, see the Q3 debacle) business of qualifying…
Whizzing through Q1 – more or less all the usual suspects doing what they normally do in qualifying except for WILLIAMS who are looking frigging fast! The session ended with Maldonaldo in 5th place and Senna in…er…18th and out of Q2. Ok it was just Pastor’s Williams that looked fast. Bad day at the office for Bruno who in an attempt to force his way into Q2 totally over-drove and spun off into some gravel. The husband said that Patrick Head wouldn’t be happy. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that Patrick Head retired from Williams last year. Its hard for him to keep up sometimes now he is 40 (he’ll kill me for that). So the top six in Q1 was 1. Lewis, 2. Grosjean, 3. Alonso, 4. Rosberg, 5. Maldonaldo and 6. Kobayashi.
Onto Q2. Quite early on, Lewis set a cracking time, so much so that he got out of the car and disappeared off into the back of the garage somewhere. Under 2 minutes to go and both Ferraris were in the drop zone. I made a prediction here that one Ferrari would make it into Q3 and it wouldn’t be Massa. And you know what, I was right. But I didn’t expect that Massa would actually finish in 17thplace. Disgraceful. Somewhere in Maranello, a minion is clearing out Felipe’s locker and posting the contents back to Brazil. Really it would be better if Ferrari just had one driver than the unmitigated disaster that is Massa dragging the once proud (maybe still proud?) name of Ferrari through the mud. Literally. Just at the death, Schumacher hauled his car into 10thplace and the 4 year old rejoiced wildly. Vettel also squeaked into the top ten and shock of shocks, Button and Webber fell into the drop-zone and failed to make the top ten shoot-out. Jenson, where is it all going wrong? Actually we know its something to do with understeer as he has complained about it 20 thousand times so far this weekend on the radio. The fastest driver in Q2 incidentally was Maldonaldo. In a Williams. Good Lord.
So finally Q3 was underway. First out was Vettel who looked quite fast, then lost some time and just scooted off back to the pits without setting a lap-time. It is actually quite difficult to blog about Q3 as there were NO CARS out on the track most of the time. Hooray (eventually) for Lewis who decided to turn rogue and have the audacity to set a lap-time which resulted in him being in 1st place out of a mighty total of 1 cars. Schuey had a little pootle out on the track but clearly thought to himself blow this popstand and also scuttled back to the pits.
Then incredibly, a SECOND car decided to do a flying lap. It was little Nico. Well done that man. It was England v Germany all over again…and…Lewis still stayed on provisional pole. So under two minutes to go and we had seen two flying laps. Pirelli, this is ALL your fault. Eventually most of the teams blinked and panicked and we had tons of cars all hurtling around at the last minute. Alonso went 1st, Kimi went 2nd, Perez went 3rd, Grosjean went 2nd, Maldonaldo went 1st (say what!!!!), Hamilton went 1st (again) and Vettel just couldn’t be bothered.
So the grid lines up tomorrow like this:
1. Hamilton, 2. Maldonaldo (a Williams is on the front row – the husband nearly fainted with joy), 3. Alonso (how on earth did he manage that?!), 4. Grosjean, 5. Kimi, 6. Perez, 7. Rosberg, 8. Vettel, 9. Schuey and 10. Kobayashi.
I’ll be keeping a careful eye on the cars in 8th to 10th at the start. That has First Lap Incident written all over it. Just time for a quick Christian Horner interview (does he actually spend any time in the Red Bull garage?) before the Beeb had to abruptly end its coverage to show Wigan Warriors v St Helens. Some rugby game or other. Whatever.

Lewis (not so smiley tonight)
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

NEWSFLASH OF EPIC PROPORTIONS!!!! Just peeked onto BBC Sport (to check the names of those frigging rugby teams) only to discover Lewis Hamilton has been STRIPPED of his pole and will start from the BACK of the grid. Apparently the stewards rejected the McLaren argument of ‘force majeure’ that a team member had put an “unsufficient quantity of fuel into the car”. The husband is currently opining away on the concept of force majeure and apparently the stewards are quite right. Whoever said that lawyers are heartless. POOR Lewis. I feel your pain.
Ok time to wrap up and have a fashion crisis (as off out later…). See you tomorrow or in a day or two later when I have recovered sufficiently from Lewis-gate and the events of the race to do my mighty race blog. Adios amigos.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Rich G says:

    The pain Lewis feels probably isn't compared to the bloke they kept talking about on Sky's coverage who had bet on Maldonaldo at 200/1 each way to be on pole if he collected before this evening.That punter has either had a very good day or an extremely gutting one, seeing Maldonaldo lose pole to the last car on the track and then losing out on 200/1 winning odds by collecting during the day.Hope he had the sense to wait before collecting…no doubt he will tweet sky and they will go on about him tomorrow (as he got about half a dozen mentions today !).Sorry, not exactly commenting on the blog there am I lol (sorry to hear about the op, hope you are going to be ok and seriously if Rich isn't waiting on you hand and foot right now divorce him !!)

  2. Nat says:

    Keeping me up to date as ever. Excellent job – thank you. I missed qualifying yesterday due to not being bothered to get out of bed and not learning how to make the upstairs TV do anything except Xbox.

  3. Liz says:

    Any comment (whether on blog or otherwise!) is very welcome so thank you :-)So did Sky mention whether that punter got paid out his money? We watched the build-up on the Beeb before giving up during DC's (fairly dire) gridwalk and moving across onto Sky – v high risk when you're watching the race delayed (in terms of seeing race spoilers when changing channels). Must get more organised so we can watch Monaco on real-time…

  4. Liz says:

    Ah thank you so much! I'm glad that I decided just to quickly pop onto BBC Sport before I put up my post yesterday otherwise I would have been celebrating the wrong person on pole. Another v entertaining race – you must be really enjoying a strong Alonso and Kimi season! xx

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