Archive for May, 2010

Happy birthday Monaco

May 21st, 2010 No comments

Sixty years ago today was the first Monaco Grand Prix of the new Formula One World Championship.

It wasn’t actually the first Monaco Grand Prix ever. That was in 1929 and it was won by British spy/racing driver William Grover-Williams but in 1950 Juan Manuel Fangio won his first race of his career in Monte Carlo.

As he tells Jake Humphrey in this great BBC interview, Sir Stirling Moss, the first British winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, considers Fangio the greatest ever Formula One driver. It’s easy to see why. Fangio would later go on to win 5 world championships, a record only surpassed by Michael Schumacher 46 years later.

This picture of Fangio racing his Maserati 250F around the streets of Monte Carlo is not a photograph. It is an airbrush painting by Italian artist Alberto Ponno. Ponno’s incredibly details paintings are the result of months of work all done freehand and without any masking.

Here are a few more Monaco examples of  of his amazing work. Visit his website to see the rest of his paintings.

Categories: Circuits Tags: , , ,

Mercedes drop their Monaco appeal

May 18th, 2010 No comments

In a statement released today, Mercedes have announced that “in the best interests of the sport” they will not be appealing the decision of the stewards at the Monaco Grand Prix to hand Michael Schumacher a 20 second penalty.

On Sunday, the stewards declared that Schumcher’s opportunistic pass of Fernando Alonso after the safety car had pulled into the pits on the final lap was in breach of article 40.13 of the sporting regulations.

Section 40 deals with the rules for safety cars and here is what that particular rule says:

If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.

The confusion over the interpretation of that single sentence seems to come from the opening words: “If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed”.

Here is what Mercedes felt happened:

MERCEDES GP PETRONAS were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race control messages ‘Safety Car in this lap’ and ‘Track Clear’ and the green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line one indicated that the race was not finishing under the safety car and all drivers were free to race.

I can see how both sides could have come to different conclusions about this (although the ‘safety car in’ message and the green flags are pretty persuasive) but I’m a little disappointed Schumacher was penalised. I thought it was a gutsy move and a flash of the old Schumacher cunning that some have started to think has vanished.

I would also have hoped that Damon Hill’s influence might have swayed the decision in Michael’s favour. I don’t seriously think Hill would maliciously penalise Michael as some have stupidly suggested and I would have hoped the racer in Damon would have appreciated the move.

In fact Hill has voiced concern that the role of the driver on the stewards panel should not be to interpret the rules but merely to offer a driver’s opinion of any racing incident.

Mercedes seem to have accepted that Formula One can do without results being changed by a court after the race but they have scheduled it for discussion at the next Sporting Working Group and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the rule clarified to support the stewards decision.

My own view is this: unless a move is blatantly unsafe or against the rules then drivers should be given the benefit of the doubt and any overtaking should be encouraged.

Categories: Opinion Tags: , ,

Damon Hill has his revenge on Schumacher

May 16th, 2010 No comments

In a race that saw the safety car deployed four times it was the final lap that provided some unexpected controversy.

Mark Webber carried over his winning form from Barcelona to score his second victory of the season over team mate Sebastian Vettel. His perfect qualifying lap was matched by a perfect race and he led from lights to flag.

Robert Kubica had threatened all weekend but he had a poor start from the dusty side of the track and was forced settle for third behind the charging Red Bulls.

Nevertheless, this is a good result for Kubica and the French team. Renault have steadily improved this season and the way Kubica wrestled the black and yellow R30 around Monaco’s twisty streets proved that with the right equipment he is the equal of any on the grid.

After crashing in qualifying Alonso carved his way from starting in the pit lane up to sixth place but when Jarno Trulli parked his Lotus on Karun Chandhok’s head at La Rascasse the safety car was deployed in the dying laps of the race.

As the safety car pulled into the pits on the final lap Michael Schumacher took the opportunity to slip past a slightly sideways Alonso into the final corner and claim 6th. The stewards ruled this was in breach of article 40.13 of the sporting regulations:

If the race ends while the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.

Schumacher was penalised 20 seconds which dropped him back to 12th.

Mercedes are appealing the decision. Reading the rules, I guess it could be open to interpretation but I thought it was a typically Schumacheresque piece of opportunism.

You have to smile at the irony, too. In 2006 Schumacher parked his Ferrari at Rascasse in an attempt to hold onto his pole position. The stewards didn’t buy his story then and he had to start the race from the back of the grid.

But that’s not the only interesting little bit of trivia. This year an experienced driver is assigned to the stewards at each race, a scheme that has so far seen much improved decisions. Who happens to have that role at this year’s Monaco Grand Prix? None other than Michael Schumacher’s old rival, Damon Hill.

2010 Monaco Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1 1:50:13.355 25
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3 +00:00.448 18
3 Robert Kubica Renault 2 +00:01.675 15
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 4 +00:02.666 12
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 5 +00:04.363 10
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 24 +00:06.341 8
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 6 +00:06.651 6
8 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 12 +00:06.970 4
9 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 10 +00:07.305 2
10 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 13 +00:08.199 1
11 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17 +00:09.135
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 7 +00:25.712
13 Vitaly Petrov Renault 14 retired, 73 laps
14 Karun Chandhok Hispania-Cosworth 23 crash, 70 laps
15 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 19 crash, 70 laps
16 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 18 retired, 58 laps
17 Bruno Senna Hispania-Cosworth 22 retired, 58 laps
18 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 9 crash, 30 laps
19 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 16 retired, 26 laps
20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 21 retired, 25 laps
21 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 20 retired, 22 laps
22 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 15 retired, 21 laps
23 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 8 retired, 2 laps
24 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 11 crash, 1 laps

Image: Red Bull

Categories: 2010 Season Tags: ,

Who are Ferrari kidding?

May 4th, 2010 No comments

The word Marlboro may not be printed anywhere on the chassis, the but Ferrari F10 still looks like a giant pack of smokes.

Last week a report in the Times claimed Ferrari are using subliminal advertising in the ‘barcode’ design on their Formula One cars and drivers’ overalls.

Despite tobacco advertising being banned from the sport, Philip Morris have a contract with Ferrari until 2011. Ferrari also remain the only team to have a tobacco brand in their official name: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.

Today Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo called it all a bunch of nonsense:

Frankly, I find this argument completely pointless and it is verging on the ridiculous to claim that the colour red or a graphic design which shows a bar code could induce people to smoke.

Now I’m not saying that when I look at a Ferrari I feel the sudden urge to light up, but the Marlboro red and white is so synonymous with Ferrari that I honestly almost see the Marlboro logo there.

I’m not saying Ferrari should be forced to paint over the barcode. I can’t see it actually encouraging any impressionable young people to smoke. And let’s not forget tobacco advertising gave us one of the greatest liveries in the history of the sport.

But let’s be honest. A tobacco company is not going to spend millions of dollars on sponsorship unless it thinks it is going to promote it’s brand. Ferrari is not a charity and Philip Morris is not stupid.

Every time someone reads the Scuderia’s official title or sees those oddly spaced white stripes, Marlboro will be getting their money’s worth.

Update: This reminded me of a great animation from Spanish paper, Marca. Watch how the Marlboro logo morphs into a barcode in 2007

Categories: Opinion Tags: