Ken Block Gymkhana 5 – San Francisco

It’s been a long time coming, but the latest in the Ken Block Gymkhana series is here. With 650 hp in his Ford Fiesta (the Subaru Impreza will always be cooler still to me) and the empty streets of San Francisco to play around in, hooning has never been better. I have to say that the use of the “Matrix” style cameras is really cool, but a flying drift is also very spectacular indeed.

 

2012 European Grand Prix Results and Maria de Villota Update

In my last piece, I wrote that Valencia needs to be gotten rid of because it is just a parade lap with the same weather, but lack of history and theater that makes Monaco so special still. Well, I know when I am wrong. And how wrong I was! Did I need to wait this long to write this? No. Was I just lazy and not willing to sit at my computer for a few minutes to write this? Yes. But now I am and it was a phenomenal race that had me yelling and screaming and jumping and fist-pumping throughout. In a few words, it was the best race we have seen this season. As if we didn’t have enough of a wild ride already with seven different winners in the first seven races, Fernando Alonso comes through from 11th on the grid (with the aid of some bad luck for other runners, including two alternator failures on the Renault and the Renault powered Red Bull, and another horrendous pit stop for Lewis Hamilton). Plus, it was a remarkable showing for both Michael Schumacher, making his way to third on the podium, and Mark Webber, who started a lowly 18th to finish fourth. Overall, quite the exciting race, and one that will hopefully propel this season forward to continue as one of the greatest ever.

1. Fernando Alonso

2. Kimi Raikkonen

3. Michael Schumacher

4. Mark Webber

5. Nico Hulkenberg

6. Nico Rosberg

7. Paul di Resta

8. Jenson Button

9. Sergio Perez

10. Bruno Senna

In much sadder news, it was revealed today that the test driver for Marussia F1, Maria de Villota, after a freak accident during testing wherein she crashed into one of the team’s support trucks, is in critical, yet stable, condition, but has lost her right eye. No doubt the car she was driving is being inspected and picked apart and having loads of information culled from it to see just what happened to destroy this promising young woman’s racing career in one fell swoop. Marussia will hopefully find the problem and things will be done to correct it, but it no way can replace what would have been a very big achievement for a woman race car driver. I wish Maria all the best in her long recovery. Because of this accident, I have to believe that the FIA will take an even harder look and do more testing on the front roll cage. After Felipe’s freak accident and now this (along with many other freak roll-over and tire detachment accidents), there might be some more new rules coming down the pipeline shortly.Maria de Villota

2012 Canadian Grand Prix Results

Well, the one-stop strategy was tried and in full effect… it just failed miserably for a few of the front runners and predicted winner especially. In the end, it was Lewis Hamilton, whose record in Montreal is either a win or a DNF so far in his career, meaning that I really should have picked him to win as he had a pretty good shot. This makes it seven winners from seven races and means that the championship is still wide open and anyone can take it in the remaining 13 races.

Usually, Canada provides some good racing, and it provided some good moments to be sure, but not if you are a fan of the Prancing Horse. With Felipe Massa spinning out of his own accord and Fernando Alonso trying to nurse some very well worn tires for over 45 laps, neither of the two I picked to have good results finished that well. Alonso’s tires fell off the cliff in the final three laps, making him easy prey for Hamilton, Perez, Grosjean and Vettel, all of whom passed the struggling Ferrari in the last few laps of the race. To his, and his team’s, credit, the McLaren driver had the right strategy for the day called all along. Even when Hamilton came in for his second stop and both Alonso and Vettel stayed out, it looked like the race would be over for him. Either they would put in a few fast laps to come in and stay ahead after the pit stops, or they would stay out and just run out the few remaining laps to the checkered flag. However, the team must have known something – or got very lucky – as they were adamant that Alonso and Vettel would be stopping again before the end and that Lewis would catch them in the rotation. However, the longer they stayed out, the more Hamilton had to push, and the faster he wound up catching them both as their tires began to fall apart. As Kimi Raikkonen proved earlier this year, when the tires fall of the cliff, they fall off hard, and both Red Bull and Ferrari made critical errors that they might come to regret later on in the season. Lewis is one of the most consistent drivers on the grid for scoring points, and now leads Alonso in the Driver’s Championship by two points.

Yes, there is a long way to go, but with every point becoming more and more valuable, no driver can ill afford to have a blunder or blown strategy call anymore. Both Ferrari and Red Bull will learn from this, but Hamilton is going to only find strength in this win and it could be a three horse race as they start to come down to the wire. Look for these three to lead the way and start to pull clear of the rest of the field soon enough.

1. Lewis Hamilton

2. Romain Grosjean

3. Sergio Perez

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Fernando Alonso

6. Nico Rosberg

7. Mark Webber

8. Kimi Raikkonen

9. Kamui Kobayashi

10. Felipe Massa

 

In other racing news, the next race is one of my most detestable: The European Grand Prix in Valencia. And it comes as no surprise to me that the race is struggling to find an audience. As I have said before, it makes no sense for one country to have two races, and even Bernie said as much, then went ahead and did the damn thing anyway! Now, the director of the circuit was quoted as saying, “Two races for Spain is meaningless. Like everything, you have to rationalise.” If that isn’t proof enough of what I had been preaching since this race’s inception, nothing is. Bernie, stop lining your goddamn pockets, pull your head out of your ass and either alternate the race (bad idea) or get rid of the parade lap that lacks the pomp and theater of Monaco (best idea) known as the Valencia circuit.

2012 Canadian Grand Prix Preview

That time of year is upon us. I can’t believe it’s been one full year since I was sitting in a grandstand in the Senna S curve watching Formula One cars and getting a great tan. This weekend, despite the protesters wishes, the whole of Montreal will be reverberating to the sounds of 2.4 liter V8 engines as the best drivers take to the Circuit Gilles Villenueve. I am actually glad not to be there this year because of those hoodlums, but I still always wish I could be anywhere that sweet, sweet sound is being made. Anyway, let’s get right to it. As always, Lewis Hamilton looks quick, and we know he generally likes this track (he took his maiden win here). Over one lap, both he and the two (surprisingly enough) Ferraris looks to be the front runners for this race. However, the Mercedes has been decidedly slow all weekend and may have something up its sleeve for qualifying and the race. I also wouldn’t count out Vettel, who seems to be liking the Red Bull, despite its lack of straight line speed.

We also know that Montreal is probably going to give us the best racing of the year, so enjoy it while you can. With multiple spots to pass (the Senna curves, the hairpin, into the final corner, etc), the ever present threat of unpredictable weather – remember the two hour rain delay because of the torrential downpour last year when I almost developed hypothermia? Well I certainly do – a possible one-stop strategy, crashes and safety cars, this is going to be a great race.

1. Fernando Alonso

2. Lewis Hamilton

3. Felipe Massa

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Nico Rosberg

6. Jenson Button

7. Roman Grosjean

8. Kimi Raikkonen

9. Michael Schumacher

10. Kamui Kobayashi

2012 Grand Prix of Monaco Results

What can I say? I tried to get cutesie with my pick and it came back to bite me as the Grand Prix of Monaco became just another parade lap with the pole sitter taking the victory. There was the threat of rain, but of course, the skies didn’t open up until about five minutes after the race was won. How exciting would that have been? If that downpour had happened just 10 minutes earlier… well, we would have had quite a different race on our hands. As it ended up though, we did get our sixth different winner from six races, and now both Vettel and Webber are tied on points, while Fernando’s third place finish has him out in front… just. Really though, the Grand Prix of Monaco has always been more about brokering deals and the spectacle of the town rather than the race. Honestly, when was the last truly epic race there? The last vivid memory I have of any race there was in 2009, and that was AFTER the race when Button parked in the wrong spot and had to run the entire length of the front straight to collect his trophy.

Either way, the season is shaping up to continue to be unpredictable. And with the next race usually being the undisputed best race of the season in Canada (Montreal is both an amazing city and provides some of the best on track action the entire year) we are going to be in for even more unpredictability. Can Hamilton shake off his funk and become the seventh winner in seven races? What about the turn of speed that Massa just showed. And how about Kimi or Schumacher or Grosjean (if the last two can stay out of trouble that is). All I know is that I wish I were back in Canada like last year, because it is always a spectacular time… even if it does rain for over two hours non-stop and I almost develop hypothermia and end up standing in a porta-potty just to retain warmth, wait out the rain and wring out my sopping clothes!

1. Mark Webber

2. Nico Rosberg

3. Fernando Alonso

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Lewis Hamilton

6. Felipe Massa

7. Paul di Resta

8. Nico Hulkenberg

9. Kimi Raikkonen

10. Bruno Senna

2012 Monaco Grand Prix Predictions

Who can master the streets of the Principality this weekend? My money is on Hamilton. I wish it wasn’t but he is fast and Webber is bad on starts and I don’t see the Red Bull holding that pole position for the entire race. I really hope that Webber can hold off Hamilton and Rosberg for that matter, but Webber just doesn’t seem like he can. It doesn’t seem like he, or the car, can keep up the pace. And what happened to the Lotus cars? They just seemed to fall off the map. I was expecting on picking Grosjean or Raikkonen for the win, but not now. Grosjean is in with a chance for a podium at least, but I was expecting more. Great lap from Schumacher, but his penalty really, really hurt him (obviously). Felipe looks like he has some more life and fight in him, and I look for him to finish in the points, but I wanted to see him continue his ascension as he did in Q2. Either way, here is my list.

1. Lewis Hamilton

2. Mark Webber

3. Romain Grosjean

4. Fernando Alonso

5. Felipe Massa

6. Nico Rosberg

7. Michael Schumacher

8. Kimi Raikkonen

9. Sebastian Vettel

10. Kamui Kobayashi

 

2012 Spanish Grand Prix Results

Huh.. that one certainly came out of left field.

1. Pastor Maldonado

2. Fernando Alonso

3. Kimi Raikkonen

4. Romain Grosjean

5. Kamui Kobayashi

6. Sebastian Vettel

7. Nico Rosberg

8. Lewis Hamilton

9. Jenson Button

10. Nico Hulkenberg