This weekend is the Grand Prix of Bahrain at the International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Three years ago I wrote about the local protests in Bahrain seeking some modicum of civil liberties and fair treatment. Instead there was a violent crackdown by the tyrannical ruling Khalifa family leading to bloodied protestors and dead bodies near the track.
There is no good reason, save for greed, that Formula One is in Bahrain this weekend but, nevertheless, there it is.
What might the journalists report on were they allowed in Bahrain? Maybe the petrol bomb attack members of the Force India racing team were caught up in. The incident so shook the team that it withdrew from the second practice session and at least one team member left the country due to safety concerns.
How is this occurring? Why is the race still being sanctioned? Money and hegemony.
F1 Grand Prix is big money. Really big money.
Big money and the mighty US war machine are a potent combination and, between the two of them, are permitting the disgrace occurring this weekend in Bahrain. It is a stain on international human rights, and it is a stain on Formula One. F1 and Ecclestone cravenly hide behind the false premise that they are a business and would be allowing themselves to be politicized if they were to cancel the Bahrain Grand Prix again.
The USA war machine is, obviously, the Fifth Fleet, which is based in Bahrain. That, too, is of big money and logistical importance to US Mideast hegemony. Same as the huge race sanctioning fee Bernie Ecclestone and F1 is important to their bottom line. By last report, F1 charged over $40 million as the sanctioning fee for the Bahrain race, which is far more lucrative a piece of income than many of the traditional grand prix in Europe and elsewhere. It is raw greed.
So, after canceling the 2011 race under duress, and showcasing the civil liberty atrocities of the Khalifas and their regime in 2012, there has been a lot of progress, right? There is so little mention of strife now that it must be better, right?
Sure Bernie Ecclestone put some lip gloss on the money pig:
Formula One has long-insisted this is none of its business. “We’re not here, or we don’t go anywhere, to judge how a country is run,” Bernie Ecclestone pointed out two years ago. The damning Amnesty report, however, was preceded by another announcement with considerably less fanfare. In it the group Americans for Democracy on Human Rights in Bahrain said that it had concluded an agreement with F1 that the sport would begin a policy of analysing the human rights impact it might have on host nations. “Formula One Group has committed to taking a number of further steps to strengthen its processes in relation to human rights,” it read.
But there is the Amnesty report, and as laid out in the Guardian article from yesterday linked above, it is not pretty. The same denial of speech and liberty, not to mention brutal oppression still maintains in Bahrain.
Worse yet, it is clear that the presence of Formula One in Bahrain doesn’t just ignore the brutal problems, it is a significant cause of them:
He does not believe this was an isolated event. “Many journalists come to cover F1 and maybe that’s why they arrested my father,” he says, adding that it was part of a wider crackdown that has occurred in areas where there are regular protests. “If you go to the villages, you will see them surrounded by police, any gathering of six or seven people chanting will be attacked with tear gas or Kevlar bullets or birdshot; the government are not allowing any protests to happen there.”
While there are human rights issues in other countries the sport visits, the activists claim that, unlike in China for example, it is Formula One’s very presence in Bahrain that makes the situation worse. Maryam al-Khawaja, the co-director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights who is living in Denmark having been sentenced to one year in prison in absentia for allegedly assaulting a police officer, describes the reforms since 2011 as both a smokescreen and a whitewash.
“The problem is that the F1 isn’t just being used as part of that whitewash, the F1 actually causes human rights violations in Bahrain,” she says. “Right before the race we have the government going on an arrest spree to try and prevent protest. We have protesters cracked down on during the F1 and the violence that is used is usually more than what we see for the rest of the year. F1 causes human rights violations and for that reason it should not come to Bahrain.”
That would be exactly consistent with reports from the ground in Bahrain in 2012. Nothing has changed. And nothing will change so long as powerful entities like Formula One and the US Government will blindly sanction such oppression to further their own interests.
As to the race itself, practice was as expected with the Mercedes and Ferraris leading the rest of the pack. Qualifying just concluded, however, and there was a bit of a shakeup at the top. Lewis Hamilton took his fourth pole to open the season, but Vettel took P2 followed by Rosberg and Raikkonen in the second row. No front row lockout for Mercedes as they have become expected to lately. The rest of the top 10 in order are Bottas, Massa, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Grosjean.
Will the Ferrari and Williams cars have anything for Hamilton and Rosberg in the actual race? We shall see, but they are getting ever closer.
Also, baseball has started the regular season, and the Tigers and Royals look awesome so far; the Giants not so much. The NBA playoffs are starting and the NFL draft is nearly upon us.
Consider this a full Trash Talk and discuss anything you wish. And don’t be a dick like Lewis Hamilton and spray champagne into unsuspecting girl’s eardrums.
Last week we opened up with discussion of the stunning announcements of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to change teams for 2015. That was a titanic sized announcement the likes of arguably never seen before in F1, certainly not with so many races left on the calendar. All that was lead unto the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, which unfortunately was scheduled at the same time a rather large typhoon was rolling in. The conditions were horrible on track, and in fact the first dozen or so laps were run at a crawl behind the safety car.
And then unspeakable tragedy struck Adrian Sutil went off course in his Sauber and a lap later, young Jules Bianchi went off at the same exact location and his Marussia car went into the side of and under a tractor crane present to remove Sutil’s car. frankly, it is so graphic that I am not going to embed it, but if you want to see it, it is here. It seems almost inconceivable that Bianchi survived, but he has, although his condition is grim and with serious head trauma.
The accident has cast a pall over this weekend’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Team Marussia will run only a single car for the race, a dedication to a down teammate not seen since Damon Hill of Williams ran solo after the death of Aryton Senna 20 years ago. Bianchi is young, personable and a fantastic up and coming driving talent. Get well Jules.
Baseball is back, and there was yet another extra inning barnburner involving the Kansas City Royals last night, with the Royals pulling out the win – again – on the road in ten innings. Today is game two between the Royals and Orioles, and the start of the NLCS between San Francisco and St. Louis. MLB has been incredible this October.
Hey, who would have thought the road to the college football national championship would run through Starkville and the Mississippi state Bulldogs? But today it does as the second ranked Auburn Tigers come to town to face the third ranked Bulldogs. Mississippi State has beaten LSU and Texas A & M in back to back weeks. Can they beat Auburn too? Tall order, not so sure about that, but should be one heck of a game. The aforementioned Aggies host the ‘Ole Miss Rebels, and may be in danger of losing two in a row after a hot start. Two other games are huge, and in the Pac-12. Oregon at UCLA and USC at Arizona are both big games with huge post season implications.
In the pros, Dallas at Seattle looks like the best matchup of the weekend. Dallas is way better than people thought, and their defense and running game are really coming into their own. But Seattle at home is a tough hill to climb, don’t think the ‘Boys have enough juice for that. Giants at Eagles also could be decent. Giants have looked better last couple of weeks, but I will take Nick Foles over Bad Eli here. Pats at Bills, Steelers at Browns and Skins at Cardinals also may have interest.
What you have to talk about?
The lads are back from the winter off. The 2014 F1 season opens this weekend in Melbourne down under Australian way. But things are different this time. After several years of relative stability in the top teams, there has been all kinds of driver movement. And, of course, there are entirely new specs for the cars and engines. In short the whole snow globe is turned upside down.
Qualifying will be at 2 am EST Saturday morning (11 pm tonight PST) and the race goes off at at the same times one day later, all coverage on NBCSports Network.
Four time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel is back to defend his title. But no longer will he pair with Mark Webber, who has moved out of F1. Instead, Vettel is partnered with young Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull. Likewise at Maranello, Fernando Alonso returns for Ferrari, but longtime partner Felipe Massa is gone and replaced by the aging, but still very fast, Kimi Raikkonen. Massa has moved over to Williams, where he will be paired with up and coming hopeful Valtteri Bottas. It is good to see Kamul Kobayashi back in the show, but he is saddled with a back bench team in Caterham. Jenson Button is back at McLaren, and can’t possibly have a worse year than he did last year. Button will be paired with another unknown quantity, Kevin Magnussen. Lewis Hamilton returns again for Mercedes, where he will be paired again with Nico Rosberg. A rundown of all the teams, drivers and principles can be found here. Somewhat sadly, Vitaly Petrov once again could not find a ride, even as a tester.
More importantly, the equipment is vastly changed for 2014. Gone are the naturally aspirated screaming engines of the recent past and in are turbocharged 1.6 litre power units with enhanced energy recovery systems (ERS). An extra gear has been allowed in the gearbox which, combined with the more efficient motors, allows reduced on board fuel load. Aerodynamically, the noses have been substantially lowered and the rear wing architecture tailored. The new lower front wing design makes this year’s car (with the possible exception of the somewhat pug nosed Ferrari) quite a bit more attractive. The tire compounds seem to be overall harder, resulting in longer life, but reduced cornering grip. It also results in less rubber being laid down on the course, which also reduces grip. Bottom line is the cars look a little squirrelly early on.
So, who is fast coming out of winter testing at Jerez and Bahrain? Not Red Bull. Despite having Vettel and Adrian Newey, the airflow design engineering genius, Red Bull is lagging badly. Mercedes powered vehicles are the clear leader so far, and this was borne out in the first practice session in Melbourne. Ferrari and Williams are close but not quite there. But the Renault engines are just flat bad right now, and poor Lotus is behind even Red Bull in the Renault pecking order.
One thing should also be mentioned. The season starts with a bit of a cloud over it as Michael Schumacher still seems to be languishing in a coma. The latest report is Michael is showing “small, encouraging signs” of progress in awaking from the medically induced coma he has been in. That is certainly good news, but it still seems rather bleak. The sport is just better with Michael in it. Wake up Schumi.
There is so much that is different that there has to be a shakeup. Good, things had gotten too predictable the last few years, it was time for a change. One thing I don’t care much for so far is the voice of the new engines. They are quieter and the awe inducing scream is gone. The sound is going to take some getting used to.
Okay, that is it for now. We will check in with the circus at key points as the season progresses. Consider this wide open Trash Talk, all subjects welcome whether sporting, food or political.
Hi there Wheel, Empty, and and otherwise gear heads, it is time for Spring Trash Talk. There is a lot under foot, Spring Training in Major League Baseball, free agency season and pending entry draft in the NFL, the somewhat diminished fortunes of the NBA and, most of all, FORMULA ONE! The Circus season is upon us, and it is starting down under in the Land of Oz.
Appears we are starting off where we left off: there is yet no reason to believe the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are anything less than the cars to beat. But, that being said, there is also no reason to think that the Ferrari and McLarens are anything less than the threat that they were at the end of last season. Drivers make a difference in F1, and Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are very, very good drivers. And their cars are not chopped liver either. For the clear superiority of the Red Bulls, and even the McLarens for that matter, Fernando Alonso pulled off one of the greatest performances in the history of F1 with inferior equipment last year. Alonso was only 3 measly points behind Vettel in the final Driver’s standings. Simply astonishing.
The opening two practice sessions for the Australian GP were late last night my time; i.e. between 9 pm and 12 am whatever the heck time AZ is. (Daylight savings time really screws with our heads here, cause we don’t do that). Bottom line…..not much has changed.
Okay, if I were pleading guilty (I would never!) to a heinous offense under truth serum to make sure I was cray cray (yeah, okay, this is some stupid shit too) I MIGHT admit that a lot of this post was written from a series of taco joints in Old Town Scottsdale. It is nowhere near as opulent as it sounds; hell even the mariachi music is piped in like Muzak. And the 60 something threesome at the table next to me looks like their Winnebago may be illegally parked out on Camelback Road.
Where were we? Okay, back to the Australian GP. Here is what Brad Spurgeon thought:
Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel have won all the titles for the last three seasons. Vettel became only the third driver in Formula One history to win three drivers’ titles in a row, after Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s and Michael Schumacher last decade. Only Schumacher, Fangio and Alain Prost have won more than three titles, with seven, five and four, respectively. So both Vettel and the team have more pressure on them than ever. Still, Red Bull has the advantage of the consistency of keeping the same two drivers and technical team, and Mark Webber is still pushing for his own final career chances to capture the drivers’ title. With the great designer Adrian Newey leading the way, Red Bull should remain among the strongest.
As a lifelong aficionado of Scuderia Ferrari, I would kill to demur. But, I cannot; I think that is right. Still. As to the beloved Prancing Horse, well, from the lens of the season start, it will take another superhuman drive for the ages by Fernando Alonso to keep Ferrari in the chips.
That leaves McLaren and Mercedes fighting for sloppy thirds. Maybe it will come to be that one will blast out of nowhere to be a contender for King Vettel’s Crown, but it is really hard to see. Lewis Hamilton proved himself to be a self absorbed punk at the more superior team, McLaren; now he will try to do what Michael Schumacher could not at fast, but unreliable, Mercedes. Please. Juan Pablo Montoya performed better and was sent packing to NASCAR.
For all the sturm and drang, for all the off season shuffle, the Championship will still be fought for between Red Bull and Ferrari, with a decided advantage to the former.
Let the Circus games begin!
And, then, there is the NFL free agency merrygoround. Heck, I do not know who are the winners and losers at this point. But, a quick take says the Steelers and Cardinals, the teams of local pricks bmaz and Scribe, did not do well.To be kind. Probably nobody did worse than the Cardinals, who signed an aging punt return specialist that even the Cleveland Browns did not care about anymore, and let go Kevin Kolb, the only even practice squad level NFL quarterback they had. Seriously, what kind of addled mentally challenged assholes are running the Cardinals? Oh, wait, it is still the fucking Bidwell family. Who could have guessed from this level of rank pathetic incompetence??
The Deetroit Kittehs seem to have done very well. If they can keep their peeps healthy and out of the klink, they may have the greatest show on fake turf. The Pats lost Welker’s whining wife (and shitloads of clutch catches in the slot and over the middle) BUT gained a sometimes fragile Danny Amendola. Amendola was the successor in kind at the Pirate attack fun/gun at Texas Tech. Amendola is actually every bit the route runner, and even faster, than Welker. But he ain’t as predictable, nor as reliable, as Welker. This could be a wash, or it could be a loss. Time will tell. The Pat’s defense and, especially, secondary looks to be much improved.
Other than the above, the Squawks got Percy Harvin and some other studs, and the Niners got some too. Whoo weee baybee, the gold rush is on on the left coast.
MLB is in Spring Training; let me tell ya something brother, it is fucking hot here. The NBA is in the stretch run, but the only question of interest I see is what lower seed will the Lakers fill? 8? 7? 6 looks bleak, but not impossible; though I would be shocked. We will return to that in a roundball post later. As we will with the student athletes for March Madness, and very soon.
Rock it, Talk it, Jayhawkit. Get yer sweve on Wheelies. Light it up.
Music by BB King, Bono and the band.
If there were more days remaining, say maybe seven, perhaps there would be reason to throw some politics in here for discussion. But, no, there are, as I write this blarney, only four days left in our long national nightmare. So, enough of the yankee doodle dandies in their gold Rolls Royces, and car elevators, enough of the relentless ads and horserace discussion, let us instead talk football.
But this week it will not just be here, Marcy and I will also be appearing with Jay Ackroyd on Blog Talk Radio Sunday at 9pm EST [note corrected time] and other times adjusted accordingly moving ever westward. To talk about the election? Nope, enough of that, we will be talking trash about football baybee! So come join us, here is a link to the audio feed on the net and if you are in Second Life, you can find us there as well. Even better, you too, my friends and friendettes can call in and yammer with us by dialing (646) 200-3440 during the show. Can’t promise how many get through, because I am a rookie at this, but what the heck give it a try. Exciting!
With that public service announcement out of the way, let’s get down to business. First up is, of course, the student athletes. The game of the week finally does not have to do with the Blighted Irish. This week it is without question Alabama at LSU. Both teams have big and nasty defenses, but the Crimson Tide has a quietly cold blooded efficient offense, and I think, coupled with the defense, it will be too much for LSU. The other critical showdown is Oregon at USC. Can Matt Barkley and the Trojans get their mojo back and spoil the Ducks’ season? Maybe, the game is in the Coliseum and the Men of Troy have a lot of weapons in the offensive skill positions. But their O-line is not up to usual par, nor is the defense. And, as I witnessed in person a couple of weeks ago, the Quackers are big, fast and badass; I’m sticking with the boys with the billed beaks. Lastly, an honorable mention to Colin Klein and Kansas State, who host the always dangerous Oklahoma State.
On to the pros. The big cheese here is the Cardinals at Packers. Okay, not really, the Pack will light up and then crush the Cardinals in Lambeau and send the once promising season for Arizona further down the toilet. The game I am strangely hooked on is Miami at Indianapolis. The Fish are WAY better than anybody thought. Philbin can coach, Tannehill can throw, and Reggie Bush can be a featured back. Oh, and the defense is quietly awesome. Miami looks to be for real; but so too do the Colts and Andrew Luck. No clue which way this one will go, but maybe a slight edge to the Fish because of the D.
The third game on the slate for discussion is Pittsburgh at the Giants. Really, this is probably the best game of the week. Good/Bad Eli and Big Ben both came out of the 2004 draft, and both have a couple of Super Bowl wins. Both teams traditionally have punishing defenses. Fun fact: “This is the first time quarterbacks in opposite conferences with multiple championships are meeting in a regular-season game since Joe Montana’s 49ers beat Jim Plunkett’s Los Angeles Raiders in 1985.” The game is in the Meadowlands where emotions will be running high from Sandy. Everything points to a win for the Gents, but the Stillers are starting to gel after a rough start to the season, and I think they may pull off an upset.
Hard to see Dallas having much for the Falcons in Atlanta. A better question is who in the world will win between the Saints and Eagles down in Nawlins on Monday Night? Both teams have been quite sucky to date. I don’t think any team in history has given up more yards on defense through the first seven games than the Saints, and Drew Brees is getting uncharacteristically hammered behind a porous O-line. Mark Ingram has been close to a bust at running back. It ain’t pretty down in the Big Easy. Nor has it been for Mike Vick and the Iggles. His and Any Reid’s jobs may truly be on the line. Both teams are desperate for a win, but I think Philly is a better team and will take the win.
Lastly, the Circus is up and running in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Sebastian Vettel had some problems with the brakes on his Red Bull in practice and spent most of the time in the garage. Qualifying is underway as I post – and it has just wound up. Lewis Hamilton was fast and took pole. Mark Webber will join him on the front row, with Vettel and Maldonado in the second row. Jenson starts from a disappointing P6 and Alonso is all the way back in P7 and Massa in P9. Two oddities may affect the final grid by tomorrow: Vettel stopped his car on the track as qualifying ended, and that is usually a penalty. Secondly, Ferrari was working beyond permissible hours last night in the garage, and that may yet cast Alonso and Massa. We shall see.
The Yas Marina Circuit is the most expensive track on the calendar, and it is indeed beautiful. It is also a pretty fine track for racing. Here is a nice video overview by CNN from when Yas Marina first opened in 2009. Should be an excellent race and it goes off at 8 am EST Sunday morning (think I have that right, it is the stupid daylight savings time change day).
So, that is it for this weekend. Music above is the original promo video of Elected by Alice from 1972 and it is pretty fun. Rip it up!
It is Labor Day weekend. Shockingly, my dictation program, Nuance Dictate for Mac, has gone beyond its normal complete worthlessness and now exists in the temporal-intellectual worthlessness of time and space. Seriously, for an application that claims to be useful for efficiency for the normal human, they are total crap. I have fought with them for nearly four years, and I am tired. You want to talk to me Nuance, here I am. Otherwise, go blow a goat.
Okay, now that I have gotten a little preliminary issue setting out of the way, let us get down to Trash Talk mofo’s and……
Oooops! Major power outage at Casa de bmaz! Seriously, I have dick for connection, only 3G on my old iPhone (yes, I have been holding out for iPhone5, even my wife is about to kill me).
I am sorry, I Musta Got Lost. And my gmail tells me Marcy is on the warpath. Rightly so, despite monsoon season here. Oddly, the sky looks mostly clear, I have no reason why my AC, much less my DC, has been taken away from me. You laugh, but when it is 106, you need the juice for the air conditioner. Bad. Somewhere below is a picture of the only light there was for a while, the moon. Vaya con dios Neil Armstrong, I thought well of you in the face of the moon tonight. If there was a measure of the childhood of my generation, it was the Moon Shot.
More Trash content will be on the horizon, like the storm front closing in, but not yet here. In the meantime, I am going to buy you all off with the evidence of my entertainment while I had no electricity. When you suddenly have no cable, no internet, no McIntosh, Adcom and B&W stereo; you have to make do. My daughter Jenna is providing the entertainment while all things I know are down.
UPDATE: Okay, I am back for a little bit. Man, lot of no power tonight and during, and after, then there was the tequila issue. What is a poor boy to do? Sing for a rock n’ roll band?
Okay, South Carolina and Michigan State, both closer than expected but not so by me, both won to start the college football season. Nobody should take anything away from Vanderbilt nor Boise State though. Especially Boise. Sparty is good, and at home to open the season? The BCS should never, ever, dock Boise State because they do not try to play a difficult enough schedule. Previously they opened against the Oregon Ducks in Corvallis. Tell me again why they cannot play for a national championship?
But now, the most interesting game of the first weekend is on tap. Yep, the Wolvereenies versus Crimson Tide at JerryJonesBowl. I’ll take Denard Robinson, seen below in a stirring segment, in an upset over the NickSabanDroids. Granted, I am completely sloshed and sitting on my front patio in a cactus patch, but that is my Karl Rove’s Fathers’ Solid Gold Cock Ring Lead Pipe Lock prediction. [All legal disclaimers imaginable applicable]. But wait! There is more! If you call right now we will double the offer! [Okay, not really].
The NFL has played the 4th and final preseason game, the one season ticket holders pay for, but that nobody understands, already. The Jets, Jets, Jets finally scored a touchdown. Yes that is one. But “yay”. There are interesting things going on in baseball, but the best is the return of the Rocket. Even if it is for the Skeeters. These are the young Pujols’s of the next generation and, through four innings, they can’t hit Rocket. Think the jurors from the trial and Reggie Walton are not watching the Rocket? Oh yeah, you bet your butt they are. Clemens will likely throw one more independent league game, likely against the Long Island Ueckers (not really; that was a little high and outside). And then a start for the Astros. Maybe two. Just cause.
But, far more globally important than football, baseball or that nimrod NASCAR, the Circus is coming back to town. Yep, Formula One. And where the spinning wheel stops is…..at Spa! Yes, the circuit that looks like a woman’s reproductive system. Or a Phaser. Whatever. Unlike those candy asses in left turn NASCARland, they run in the wet in F1.
Yes they do and it is wet at Francorchamps. Qualifying will go off not too long after I post this, and the race coverage o Speed TV begins at 7:30am EST and 4:30am PST on Sunday morning. Despite the safetied up new course at Spa, with a bit of wet, it is still a fast, dangerous and interesting layout. Ought to be fun.
There are certain people that have covered F1 forever. One of the best photographers, Paul Henri-Cahier, has been, and is, a friend to this blog. Paul is the, without question, premier F1 photographer in the world and he is second to his father, the legendary Bernard Cahier.Grand Prix does not get the attention it should here in the States. But one who does cover it up close and personal on track is Brad Spurgeon. Here is Brad’s setup for this weekend:
Formula One began the second part of its season after the long, five week summer break in August, with the practice sessions on Friday at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
But thanks to the typical Spa weather, and unfortunately for the thousands of spectators who showed up to take a €400 shower, it was as if the holidays had never ended.
The cars may have managed to turn a few laps in the rain in the morning session — although only one car went out during the entire first half of the 1 hour and 30 minute session — but there was no track action at all in the afternoon session until 35 minutes of the same length session remained. And even then, six of the 22 drivers did not take to the track, and of those who did, none drove more than four laps.
Yep. Summer break is over, and it is time to go to Ardennes forest with the lads. With the wet in the picture, Spa will be special.
So, there is Trash Talk for this week. Marcy is probably gonna come along and yammer about Nate Ebner and whatnot. I got one question though. Picture Walt Kowalski talking to an Ikea chair: Should the Cardinals pick up and immediately start Brian Hoyer? Bonus question: Do Watertiger’s precious Jets need Hoyer even worse than the Cardinals?
Boogie the Trash!
When we started the 2011 Formula One season back in March, I noted that 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the magical 1961 F1 season in which Phil Hill, driving for Ferrari, became the first, and other than Mario Andretti in 1978, only American Formula One Grand Prix World Champion. From our season opening post in March, Circus Starts Anew, 50 Years On From the Yankee Champion:
This will be the last formal installment in the 1961 retrospective series. While there are 19 races in this year’s 2011 F1 schedule, with six remaining after the Italian, there were only eight races on the 1961 docket. The Italian was the seventh and penultimate race, and the one that will not only live in infamy, but in which the Championship was determined. Indeed, with both the Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships decided at Monza in the Italian, and in light of the tragic death of their star factory driver, Count Wolfgang von Trips, the dominant Ferrari team did not even travel the Atlantic to contest the final race, the inaugral United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, NY.
As starts the 2011 Formula One season, so too started the 1961 F1 season fifty years ago. For all the differences brought by technology and time over five decades, there is much in common. The excitement and anticipation of the drivers, the longing to put the knowledge of the off season testing and tech changes finally to proof in actual race conditions, the first drivers’ meetings of the season, the beautiful people and the eyes of the international sporting world focused. There is nothing like the Formula One circus; that was the case then as much as it is now.
Longtime regulars here at the Emptywheel Trash Talk threads will likely remember that I had the privilege of knowing Phil Hill as I was growing up. Phil was the first, and still one of only two (Mario Andretti), Americans to win the Formula One Grand Prix World Championship and his career was immortalized in the excellent biography Yankee Champion by William Nolan. 2011 is the fiftieth anniversary of his championship season. In honor of that, I will be comparing and remembering the races and excitement of the 1961 season over the course of the current season. See here for some simply superb [Cahier Archive] photos from the 1961 season.
There are a lot of sports deserving of some Trash Talk this weekend, including the one and only British GP from Silverstone, Derek Jeter…Jetah…, getting his 3,000th hit and the gleeful schadenfreude over The. Ohio. State. University. having to self forfeit all its wins from 2010. All are glorious sports stories, but we will start where we always do this time of year, with the F1 Circus.
This weekend is the British Grand Prix from historic Silverstone in Northamptonshire (and Buckinghamshire) England. Silverstone has evolved over the years and, in its current configuration is a fast track with several straightaways, coupled with two near hairpins and a smattering of other turns that make it a great track for racing and overtaking. Combined with the potential for the wet stuff, Silverstone holds promise for great races.
Aussie Mark Webber of Red Bull was fastest in practice, which was hampered in the second session by the rain. the Red Bull dominance continued into qualifying this morning with Webber taking P1, followed by teammate Sebastian Vettel in P2 and the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in P3 and P4 respectively. Di Resta in the Force India, Maldonado in the Williams and Koayashi in the Sauber were pleasant surprises in P6-P8. Of the three upstarts, I think Kobayashi has the best chance to break through for a podium, but it will be really tough. Lewis Hamilton continues his downward slide from Continue reading
Well, I am getting ready to watch the European Grand Prix. It is being broadcast for all of us lucky discriminating American viewers on Fox TV, and coverage will start at 12pm EST and 9am PST. Did I mention it is on Fox TV?
I hope one and all will join me in a discussion
as we watch the race live. We can regale in how young Sebatian Vettel started from pole and drove away from the field for his sixth victory in eight races this year, basically racing against himself while the rest of the grid actually had a competitive race. We can marvel at how Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari is putting on a hell of a show throughout the entire race in front of his home country Spaniard crowd in Valencia. We can take sides with some of us supporting Fernando’s foil today, Mark Webber, in the Red Bull and us Scudderia aficionados screaming with glee as Alonso out bulls Webber’s Red Bull for the precious P2 podium finish; especially in that heart stopping Senna like pass that put the crowd breathless and on its feet.
We can do all of the above, of course, because the fucking race is over. And, thanks to the MENSA geniuses at Fox TV, we Americans were denied the ability to watch it live and have no alternative but to watch it on tape delay long after the checkered flag dropped for Vettel.
This is just craven and malignant jackassery by Fox; and there is simply no excuse for it. Formula One is the biggest and most popular sporting league in the world. Contrary to the ignorant belief of most Americans, the circle jerk that is NASCAR is NOT the highest form of motorsport, and its drivers are nowhere near the best in the world. No, that distinction would belong squarely to F1. The entire rest of Continue reading
This week is the Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. We will get to that shortly, but perhaps the most significant news from the Circus this week is the swing of F1 from reinstating the Bahrain Grand Prix, which was previously pulled from its season opening slot in mid-March due to civil unrest and corresponding governmental oppression, to again yanking it from the schedule.
The race was called-off Friday after Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) announced its withdrawal to stage the event in the wake of objections from the teams and its drivers. The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council last Friday had re-instated the race to October (28-30) but removal of it now is most likely to make way for the staging of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix on the same dates.
“We will be back to normal. We have to put it to the World Council. I sent something this morning, so it will be quick,” Ecclestone was quoted as saying by The Guardian Wednesday.
Ecclestone, while defending his earlier decision, said the teams had the right to object to the re-scheduling of the race that was cancelled in March due to anti-government protests.
“The truth of the matter is we put the calendar together and the teams race on the calendar,” he said. “We were trying to help Bahrain, who have been very helpful to Formula One, and hoping they could get themselves sorted out.
“I don’t know whether there is peace or not. I have no idea. The FIA sent somebody out to check and they said it was all OK. I think the teams had different information and they have the right to say they don’t want to change the calendar.”
Since not everybody can translate jive, here is the deal. After the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt began in late January and started to spread, there was a brutal crackdown on protesters in Bahrain. A wave of pressure was placed on F1 and its governing body FIA by supporters of the protesters and reform movement to pull the Grand Prix. I certainly doubt I was responsible for diddly squat, but I was among the early suggesters that putting the GP in play would be perhaps the biggest single blow that could be leveraged against the oppressive Bahraini government and the Khalifa clan that owns, runs, and dictates it.
They paid dearly and through the nose to build the facility and buy their way into the F1 schedule and, like the crown jewels to a monarchy, it is the very symbol of their belonging and relevance in the international community. It means everything to them. To Bernie Ecclestone, who does not just run F1, he IS F1, it is simply a giant wad of money. And Bernie likes money. Having seen Bernie in action over three plus decades, and casually meeting him a couple of times, my take is Ecclestone does not care about the Continue reading