Mar. 25, 2006

Lord of the... Race Track

Yes, I was at the Opening Night gala for the Lord of the Rings stage show. Yes, it was a great evening. But I still haven't been home for more than a few minutes so I haven't been able to download the photos from my camera. I'll blog about it tomorrow. What am I ready to report on? The Formula One races that I finally managed to watch on the PVR with my friend. Well, one of them. The first race in Bahrain was recorded but somehow got deleted. Grrr... I don't know what went wrong there.

What I read about the Bahrain race was that Ferrari were at the front of the starting grid, so they appear to be back in the game. Honda, Renault and McLaren were all right behind. The big technical changes have been the return of tire changes during the race and smaller V8 engines. There's also a new qualifying system that cuts down the field after certain intervals during qualifying. Kimi Raikkonen fell afoul of this as a crash during qualifying kept him off the course before the first interval expired.

In the actual race the story was Kimi's charge from the very back of the field to finish third. He'll be in contention this year. Fernando Alonso got his Renault past Michael Schumacher's Ferarri just as he exited the pit lane from his second stop for the win (pictured here). That must have been an exciting moment! Jenson Button struggled to recover from a bad start and finished fourth. Newcomer Nico Rosberg drove well in his Williams, finishing seventh. It will be interesting to see how he performs. The new teams, Super Aguri, Midland and Toro Rosso were at the back of the field, but they've got a lot of development work to do. Torro Rosso is running last year's Red Bull car with special allowance to use a detuned V10 engine. Super Aguri is even running a four-year-old Arrows car!

So what about the race I did get to watch? That would be the Malaysian Grand Prix. Giancarlo Fisichella was on the pole in his Renault, with Jenson Button along side. The two Williams cars, driven by rookie Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber filled row two. Row three was also occupied by teammates, with Juan Pablo Montoya ahead of McLaren-Mercedes partner Kimi Raikkonen. Last race's winner, Fernando Alonso, couldn't qualify better than eighth because of an accidental over-fuelling of his Renault (he had to carry that excess fuel into the race too). Michael Schumacher qualified fourth, but started fourteenth because he had to replace his engine before the required two races.

The race itself was pretty straight-forward. Giancarlo Fisichella started on the pole and stayed there. His teammate Fernando Alonso got a great start, moving from seventh to third by the first corner and then managed to keep pace in his over-fuelled Renault, with the result that he was able to finish second. Jenson Button held his starting position until Fernando passed him, but kept ahead of McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya. Filipe Massa out-drove his Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher, leaving them fifth and sixth at the end of the race. Jacques Villeneuve (go Canada!) drove well in his BMW, earning his team its first points. He might do well this year. Poor Kimi (see picture) was knocked out of the race on the first lap after being bumped by Christian Klien's Red Bull. Both Williams cars left the race early, due to an engine fire and a hydraulic problem. Jacques' teammate Nick Heidfeld also suffered an engine failure late in the race.

Listening to: Tired Of Getting Pushed Around by Two Men, A Drum Machine, And A Trumpet from Tired Of Getting Pushed Around (EP). (A Fine Young Cannibals side-project.)

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