The Singapore GP – Qualifying

The stunning Marina Bay Street Circuit

Just seven more races to go and the endgame draws ever nearer.

Time for Round 14. Singapore.
Welcome to Bonkerdom. Think Monaco but with even more skyscrapers…at night-time…in the tropics. A visually stunning spectacle but an absolute race of attrition for the drivers – insanely hot even at night with vicious levels of humidity (I fully expect the commentators to remind us of this repeatedly and for the husband to tell me for the umpteenth time how humid it used to get in Durban!). Oh and its the longest race of the calendar. Some would say too long. Whisper it quietly, the races can transport you straight into dullsville but whoopie do-dah we have 5 more years of Singapore to look forward to. I guess you have to be there. But in definitive proof of the utter insanity of the Singapore GP, all those taking part stay on European time so they sleep in the day and work at night. Something to do with body-clocks. Wimps.
And talking of raving out-and-out loons, Sebastian Grosjean is back from his 1 race exile. Everyone seems to be getting mildly hysterical about his crazy antics and that he was the first driver to be banned for umpteen years. Interestingly the roll-call of previously banned drivers includes:
  • Michael Schumacher – But of course!
  • Mika Hakkinen – Really?! The super cool, flying iceman Finn (and other relevant Scandinavian cliches) actually was banned in a race?! Mika, you have actually gone up in my estimation! 
  • Nigel Mansell – See Schumacher.

Irv the Swerve – in a way he was so brilliantly Ferrari!
  • Eddie Irvine – Ah remember those mad crazy Eddie years, ie. all of Eddie’s career bar the one and only season he challenged for the title (when Schuey broke his leg). His antics in his debut F1 race resulted in him being punched in the face by Ayrton Senna in the Jordan motorhome afterwards. We need more Eddie’s in F1 – though come to think of it, Grosjean and Maldonaldo are starting to pick up the ‘wild driver’ mantle quite nicely. 

So perhaps Grosjean has the mark of True Greatness upon him or maybe he’s just another Eddie Irvine. Time will tell.
So another race weekend dawns and still the interminable, never-ending saga of Lewis Hamilton’s future at McLaren drags on and on and on. The ever-reliable source of information, Twitter, has been awash with speculation from those in-the-know that Hamilton is offski to Mercedes. But all the main players are keeping firmly schtum. Apparently Nico wants Schuey to re-sign for Mercedes, Perez feels ready for a job for a ‘top team’ and Button has hinted he’d like Hamilton to stay.

Is it me or does Paul Di Resta look about 12? Surely he can afford some laser treatment by now?

Paul Di Resta’s name has been in the frame (actually with a drive at McLaren and Mercedes) but does the fact he is now managed by Jenson Button’s sports management company count for or against him moving to McLaren? Just to add a bit of spice, Paul is currently embroiled in legal proceedings with his previous manager that he fired earlier in the year who just happens to be Anthony Hamilton, Lewis Hamilton’s dad. Come to think of it, Lewis sacked his dad at some point as well before moving over to XIX Entertainment run by Simon ‘Svengali to the Stars and Pop Mogul’ Fuller. And look how that has turned out? In the words of Bernie (and who would argue with him, certainly not me), it has been “a disaster”.

Soon to be the face of BT Vision. West Brom on a rainy Sunday or Monaco? Jake, you daft fool.

In other big F1 related news, Jake Humphrey is stepping down from anchorman duties at the BBC at the end of the season. Not moving over to Sky (who surely must have tried to poach him several hundred times to replace the godawful Lazenby) but he’s off to present football on some obscure digital channel somewhere. Perhaps it was only a matter of time since the Beeb lost half the races. It must have been hard for Jake to see how he could advance his career any further with the Corporation having inexplicably decreed that its Golden Boy and Chosen One is Gary Lineker. Although in my mind, Jake did have The Best Job in the World. Each to their own I suppose.
And what now for F1 on the Beeb? The merry little triumvirate of Jake, Eddie and DC will be broken up (not necessarily a bad thing – there’s only so many ‘shirt’ jokes and ‘three amigos’ comedy sketches one could take without reaching for the gin) – DC’s contract is up and his best bud and manager, Martin Brundle, is over at Sky. Go figure.

The old Alma Mater. Suffice to say, this wasn’t here in my day!

Anyway back to the very important business of qualifying and today for the first time in living memory, I actually saw ALL of the build-up on the Beeb. We were visiting some great friends for lunch who luckily are as fanatical about F1 as us. We all go way back, even to a time when Schumacher was utterly dominant – actually two of us go as far back as school (see tribute above!) which is clearly a zillion years ago…at least in the mind of the 5 year old who has recently come out with such hilarious gems as “had blackboards been invented when you were at school?” and yesterday’s particular highlight “were you alive in the First World War?”. Swiftly moving on…
Here are my two main observations from qualifying (but I wasn’t observing very hard to be fair!):
Firstly, it seemed like the longest build-up show EVER and that is no mean feat given some of the epic Sky programmes and endless montage fests I have sat through this season. Every single time I glanced over at the TV, Jake, Eddie and DC were still wibbling away relentlessly in the background. What the hell were they talking about? Disco shirts? The fact Jake won’t be around any more next year? Who knows. Who cares.

Sometimes things are more important than football
Is it humanly possible for any F1 build-up show to deviate ever so slightly from the tried and tested and utterly done to death (ie. kill me now) formula of (1) interview with Christian Horner; (2) interview with Martin Whitmarsh; (3) interview with Stefano Domenicali; and (4) some mind-numbing feature with Paul di Resta. FFS, is this line-up set in tablets of stone by the Imperial Decree of Bernie. I might have to shoot the TV if I have to sit through one more clean sweep of these people again. Fortunately for the TV, I will not watching the Grand Prix live tomorrow (so will probably skip all the build-up before #MartinsGridWalk) as I will be having to watch The Most Football Match Ever in the History of Football at 1.30pm. The husband is already ‘despondent’ about the match so will be in full doomlord mode by kick-off tomorrow. Oh joy.
So better have a quick round up of qualifying:
  • Lewis Hamilton is ON POLE for tomorrow’s race. Cue a hysterical Lewis love-in on the Beeb and comments that McLaren need to just pay him whatever it takes. What like the £60 million that Mercedes have offered him!? Have they ever met Ron Dennis?
  • Second on the grid is none other than (drum roll…..!!!) Pastor Maldonaldo (you can imagine the husband’s not-at-all smug gleeful reaction!). Behind Pastor are Vettel, Button and Alonso. Its like throwing a hand grenade into a pot of F1 champions. Marvellous stuff!
  • Not a great session for Lotus who qualified 8th (Grosjean – worryingly positioned just in front of the two Mercedes of Schuey and Rosberg) and 11th(Raikkonen).
  • For the 9th time this season, Massa failed to make it into the top ten and starts in 13th place. Actually that isn’t really newsworthy. What’s more surprising is that Ferrari haven’t actually sacked him yet.
  • The Surprise Casualty of Q1 was Kobayashi who got dumped in the dropzone of doom with the usual suspects of Caterham, HRT and Marussia. If Kamui can drive Spa, surely Singapore should be a doddle?
  • A difficult debrief as well for Bruno Senna who only managed to qualify 17thin the same car as his team-mate who stuck it second on the grid. Ouch. 

But as we all know, Singapore is a long, long old race. Its hot, its humid, there will be horrific tyre degradation, Maldonaldo is starting second on the grid, Grosjean is back. All the drivers think its daytime when its not. Valium all round for tomorrow.


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