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RED BULL took their twelfth pole-position out of 12 this season in the qualifying session for today’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) set a time of 1:48.298 (144.667-mph) around the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the final session yesterday. Vettel will be looking for his and his team’s first F1 win at Spa.

Last year’s winner, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), will line up second on the grid after setting a time of 1:48.730, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber will start the race from third.

Pretty much all of qualifying was dictated by the infamous changeable weather in the Arden forest, and yes we do have a mixed up grid.

Fourth to tenth on the grid are: 4th) Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 5th) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 6th) Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), 7th) Bruno Senna (Renault. Bruno Senna has replaced the much more experienced but not as rich sponsor wise Nick Heidfeld, who is seeking to take legal action against Renault over this move. It is truly frightening to see that yellow helmet in an ‘80s style Lotus). 8th) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 9th) Sergio Pérez (Sauber) and 10th) Vitaly Petrov (Renault).

11th-17th on the grid for today’s race are: 11th) Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso), 12th) Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), 13th) Jenson Button (McLaren. Button and McLaren got their timings wrong in Q2 and the 2009 world champion was left high and dry at the end of the session. But, Spa is known for its changeable weather and in those conditions Button is the best driver on the grid). 14th) Rubens Barrichello (Williams), 15th) Adrian Sutil (Force India), 16th) Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus, who got into Q2 on merit) and 17th) Paul di Resta (Force India, who was going to start 18th having fallen out of Q1, but was promoted on the grid for reasons I will now explain).

In the last seconds of Q2 Lewis Hamilton was on a flying lap as he approached the last corner, the Bus Stop, with Pastor Maldonado in his Williams right ahead of him. Hamilton forced his way past the Venezuelan rookie who he took out of the Monaco Grand Prix in the last few laps when they were fighting over a points place. Hamilton went into Q3 but Maldonado (who himself was being held up by two other cars) didn’t.

As the pair exited the first corner, La Source, and began the run down to the infamous Eau Rouge, Hamilton twitched, causing Maldonado
to pull out and pass him. Then either out of the inexperience of having only raced in 11 Grand Prixs or out of pure anger, Maldonado swiped Hamilton’s McLaren with his Williams, damaging the Silver car and forcing the Woking based team into emergence repairs.

After qualifying, Hamilton was given a warning by the Stewards and Maldonado was demoted from 16th to 21st on the grid. He’s a very lucky boy to be racing at all today in my opinion.

The drivers at the back of the grid are: 18th) Jarno Trulli (Lotus, in the last five races the driver starting 18th has scored points). 19th) Timo Glock (Virgin), 20th) Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin, he is the first Belgian driver in the Belgian Grand Prix since Thierry Boutsen (Jordan) in 1993). 21st) Maldonado, 22nd) Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT), 23rd) Daniel Ricciardo (HRT) and 24th) Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).

Schumacher’s right-rear wheel fell off on his Q1 out lap as he approached Rivage and slid into the tyre barrier. So Michael Schumacher will start his 20th anniversary Grand Prix from dead last, his worst ever grid position.

Four drivers: d’Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Ricciardo and Schumacher were all outside the 107% time (2:10.339) but will race because of the changeable
weather conditions and times in practice.

I’m not going to say who will win, because at Spa anybody can win.

Winners of the Belgian Grand Prix on the grid today:

  • Michael Schumacher, a record six-times, 1992 (his first F1 win…I wasn’t even alive when this happened) and 1995 for Benetton and 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2002 for Ferrari. Spa is also where he won his seventh world title back in 2004.
  • Felipe Massa, 2008 for Ferrari after Hamilton was (wrongly!) bumped down to third.
  • Lewis Hamilton, 2010 for McLaren.

2009 WORLD champion Jenson Button (McLaren) won this season’s Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring, the same track where he took hismaiden victory back in 2006 for Honda. This win was made even more special becausethis was Button’s 200th Grand Prix.

Button's second win in Hungary.

 

Mind out Jenson, you might break it.

Button once again proved he is the best driver on the grid in changeable conditions, but if his McLaren team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, was on the right tyres Button may not have had it all his own way. Hamilton ended up finishing back in fourth behind current championship leader Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who came second and third respectively.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber came fifth just over a second behind Hamilton, while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was sixth and the last driver to complete the full 70 lap race distances.

The most dramatic moment of the race was when Nick Heidfeld’s Renault caught fire just before Turn 1 on lap 24 and then exploded, almost wiping out the marshal who was attempting to put the blaze out.

As far as I know he is okay.

Massa set the fastest lap of the race on lap 61 with a 1:23.415 (117.389-mph) tour.

Top 10 finishers of the XXVII Hungarian Grand Prix:

  1. Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes), 70 laps, 1h:46m:42.337s @ 107.145-mph. 25 points.
  2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault), +3.588s. 18 points.
  3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), +19.819s. 15 points.
  4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes), +48.338s. 12 points.
  5. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault), +49.742s. 10 points.
  6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), +1m:23.176. 8 points.
  7. Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes), + 1 lap. 6 points, his best finish in F1.
  8. Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari), + 1 lap. 4 points, not bad from 23rd on the grid, plus this was Toro Rosso’s 100th Grand Prix.
  9. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), + 1 lap. 2 points, this was also Rosberg’s 100th Grand Prix.
  10. Jaime Alguersuari, (Toro Rosso-Ferrari), + 1 lap. 1 point.

 

I’m sorry for the lateness and shortness of this report, but my University placing hasn’t gone exactly to plan.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 11/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

234

-

2

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

149

85

3

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

146

88

4

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

145

89

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

134

100

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

70

164

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

48

186

8

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

34

200

9

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

32

202

10

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

32

202

11

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

27

207

12

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

18

216

13

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

12

222

14

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

10

224

15

Sergio PÉREZ (MEX)

Sauber

8

226

16

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

8

226

17

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

4

230

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 11/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

383

-

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

280

103

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

215

168

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

80

303

5

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

66

317

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

35

348

7

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

26

357

8

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

22

361

9

WILLIAMS  (ENG)

Cosworth

4

379

LOOTING scum on the streets of England on Monday night (8 August) meant that England’s (6) match at Wembley against the Netherlands (2) on Wednesday (10 August) was cancelled.

But fortunately for me, there was still a full day of international football to look forward to.

There was one Euro 2012 Qualifier amongst all the friendlies, a Group C tie between Northern Ireland (62) and the Faroe Islands (112) at Windsor Park in Belfast.

Northern Ireland needed to win in order to stay in the race to get on the plane to Poland and the Ukraine, and win they did. A 4-0 victory for the Green and White Army sees them climb up to third in their group behind Slovenia, who are two points better off but have played one game more. The Faroes on the other hand (who drew 1-1 with Northern Ireland in the reverse fixture last October) cannot now make it to Euro 2012.

Japan (16) held onto their crown of Unofficial World Champions by beating rivals South Korea (28) 3-0, in their friendly at the Sapporo Dome.

Just in case you don’t know, the Unofficial World Championship is past around like a Title Belt in Boxing, and if you go back far enough, you will find yourself at the first ever international between Scotland and England in 1872.

Japan took the title away from Argentina on 8 October 2010 in a friendly they won 1-0, then defended it against: South Korea (0-0, friendly), Jordan (1-1), Syria (2-1), Saudi Arabia (5-0), Qatar (3-2), South Korea (2-2 a.e.t. 3-0 pens.) and Australia (1-0 a.e.t.) as they lifted the Asian Cup for a record fourth time, before drawing 0-0 in both their Kirin Cup matches against Peru and the Czech Republic before this 3-0 over South Korea.

The next defence of their title comes on 2 September in their first 2014 World Cup Qualifier against North Korea. Also in Japan’s group (Group C) are Syria and Uzbekistan.

Select International Friendly Results (World Ranking in Brackets)

Albania (59) 3 – 2 Montenegro (17)

Côte d’Ivoire (14) 4 – 3 Israel (32)

France (15) 1 – 1 Chile (11)

Germany (3) 3 – 2 Brazil (4), which I watched.

Germany is a young team now that looks like they can beat anybody. Brazil on the other hand seems a shadow of the side they were at the turn of the millennium.

Hungary (47) 4 – 0 Iceland (121)

Italy (8) 2 – 1 Spain (1)

The reining European and World champions suffer another defeat to a top-class nation – the others being Argentina (1-4) and arch-rivals Portugal (0-4).

Latvia (83) 0 – 2 Finland (75)

Liechtenstein (118) 1 – 2 Switzerland (30)

Norway (12) 3 – 0 Czech Republic (38)

Poland (69) 1 – 0 Georgia (57)

Portugal (7) 5 – 0 Luxembourg (128)

Republic of Ireland (33) 0 – 0 Croatia (9)

Russia (18) 1 – 0 Serbia (27)

Scotland (61) 2 – 1 Denmark (21) :-(

Turkey (24) 3 – 0 Estonia (79)

Ukraine (45) 0 – 1 Sweden (19)

Wales (112) 1 – 2 Australia (23) :-)

U.S.A. (30) 1 – 1 Mexico (20)

OVER 170 nations held their breath last Saturday night (30 July) as the various draws for each Football Confederations next (or first) Qualification round(s) for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil were made in Rio de Janeiro.

The African zone had their draw first, followed by Asia, North, Central America and the Caribbean, Oceania and finally the reason why there isn’t a draw for South America (it’s one big group).

But then came the headline act, the draw for the European Qualifying groups.

Just like the 2010 qualifying format, the 53 UEFA nations would be seeded into five pots of nine and one pot of eight. Based on the July 2011 FIFA world rankings the top nine nations would be in Pot 1, tenth to 18th in Pot 2 and so on.

The 53 nations were to be drawn into eight groups of six and one of five. The nine group winners will qualify automatically for Brazil 2014, and the eight best second-placed teams (based on their record against the first, third, fourth and fifth-place teams in their group) will play-off in four
separate head-to-head home and away matches to determine the other four European teams at the Finals in Brazil in three years time.

The Pots for the draw looked as such, world ranking in brackets:

POT 1

POT 2

POT 3

POT 4

POT 5

POT 6

Spain (1)

France (15)

Switzerland (30)

Bulgaria (48)

Armenia (70)

Wales (112=)

Netherlands (2)

Montenegro (17)

Israel (32)

Romania (53)

Finland (75)

Liechtenstein (118)

Germany (3)

Russia (18)

Republic of Ireland (33)

Georgia (57)

Estonia (79)

Iceland (121)

England (6)

Sweden (19)

Belgium (37)

Lithuania (58)

Cyprus (80)

Kazakhstan (126)

Portugal (7)

Denmark (21)

Czech Republic (38)

Albania (59)

Latvia (83)

Luxembourg (128)

Italy (8)

Slovenia (22)

Bosnia & Herzegovina (41)

Scotland (61)

Moldova (85)

Malta GC (173)

Croatia (9)

Turkey (24)

Belarus (42)

Northern Ireland (62)

Macedonia (96)

Andorra (203=)

Norway (12)

Serbia (27)

Ukraine (45)

Austria (66)

Azerbaijan (111)

San Marino (203=)

Greece (13)

Slovakia (29)

Hungary (47)

Poland (69)

Faroe Islands (112=)

-

The eagle-eyed amongst you would have noticed that the Faroe Islands and Wales have the same ranking (112) yet were not in the same pot
because that’s just the way it worked out. FIFA were going to put Wales in Pot 5 until Eduard Ranghiuc – a 30-year-old Romania computer programmer who runs a football ranking website – pointed out to FIFA that the Faroe Islands were 0.07 points better off than Wales.

FIFA listened for once and placed the Faroes in Pot 5 with the likes of Armenia (70) and Estonia (79), who they beat nearly beat in Tallinn and did beat 2-0 in Toftir in their Euro 2012 qualifying matches. Wales on the other hand were placed in Pot 6 with the minnows that are Liechtenstein (118), Andorra and San Marino (both 203).

So anyway, as I like to say before the start of every major championship: “Enough with the preliminaries and now on with the main event!”…the draw for the preliminaries.

Group A

Former Yugoslav nations Croatia (9), Serbia (27) and Macedonia (96) will have to deal with a resurgent Belgium (37) and the Home Nations of Scotland (61) and Wales (112=).

Croatia finished third in France ’98 on their debut, while Serbia has only been to one World Cup (the last one) as ‘Serbia’. Belgium came fourth in Mexico ’86 and Scotland hold the record for most number of World Cup appearances without advancing to the next round – eight. Macedonia has never qualified for the World Cup and suffered their heaviest defeat, 0-5, at the hands of Belgium. Wales’s only Finals appearances was at Sweden ’58 (after initially being eliminated and then reinstated in qualifying) where they reached the last eight.

I sense some battles both on and off the pitch with this lot. Croatia and Serbia will have to watch out in case Belgium spring a few surprises.

Group B

Four-time world champions Italy (8) were drawn with: Denmark (21), the Czech Republic (38), Bulgaria (48), Armenia (70) and Malta GC (173).

Despite winning Euro ’92, Denmark have only been to four Finals but came fifth in France ’98. The Czech Republic has only been to Germany ’06 as the ‘Czech Republic’ where they failed to get out of the Groups. Bulgaria surprised everybody in U.S.A.’94 by knocking out then reigning
champions Germany en route to finishing fourth. Armenia and Malta GC have never qualified for the Finals.

Italy should ease this, but write-off the Danes and Czechs at your peril.

Group C

Triple world champions Germany (3) – who have only lost two World Cup qualifiers got: Sweden (19), the Republic of Ireland (33), neighbours Austria (66), the Faroe Islands (112=) and Kazakhstan (126).

Germany, Austria and Kazakhstan are all in the same Euro 2012 Qualifying group, so they will have some good up-to-date knowledge of some of there opponents.

Sweden finished as runners-up to Brazil when they hosted the 1958 World Cup and also finished third in 1950 and 1994. The Republic of
Ireland should have been in South Africa last summer but were cheated out of their place by France. Their best performance in a World Cup was in 1990 when they ended up seventh. Austria earned the bronze medal in 1954, while the Faroe Islands and Kazakhstan have never boarded the plane to the Finals.

Germany will waltz this lot, but the Sweden-Ireland games will prove decisive.

Group D

Three-time runners-up the Netherlands (2) will play: Turkey (24), Hungary (47) and their neighbours Romania (53), Estonia (79) and joint lowest ranked team in the world Andorra (203=).

The Netherlands beat Hungary 4-0 and 5-3 in four days during their Euro 2012 qualifying group.

Turkey spectacularly came third in 2002, while Hungary went one better in 1938 and 1954 when they lost to West Germany in The Miracle of Berne. Romania’s biggest loss, 0-9, was against Hungary and they came fifth in 1994. Estonia and Andorra have never been to a World Cup.

The Netherlands vs. Turkey games should prove to be terrific to watch. The Dutch don’t have it all that easy in this one.

Group E

Norway (12) was handed: Slovenia (22), Switzerland (30), Albania (59), Cyprus (80) and fellow Nordic nation Iceland (121).

Norway has only been to three World Cups while Slovenia has been to two of the last three, and was in South Africa because the Czech Republic and Russia weren’t. Switzerland’s best showing in a World Cup is sixth back in 1950, and they hold the record for most consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, 559. Albania and Cyprus have never been to the Finals, and coincidently Albania’s biggest win, 6-1, came against Cyprus. Iceland to has never qualified for the World Cup and have been drawn against Norway for the third straight time in World Cup/Euro qualifiers. Norway’s largest win, 12-0, also came against Iceland.

This group is wide open. It could come down to who has the best record against Iceland or Cyprus as to who advances.

Group F

Portugal (7) will travel to: 2018 hosts Russia (18), Israel (32), Northern Ireland (62), Azerbaijan (111) and Luxembourg (128).

Portugal has (surprisingly) only played in five World Cups, but they have finished third and fourth in 1966 and 2006 respectively. Russia hasn’t qualified for the last two World Cups and will be out to push home their home advantage over the warmer nations. Israel has only been to a single World Cup, Mexico ’70, while Northern Ireland has been to three. Azerbaijan has never played in a World Cup Finals match, and Luxembourg has been trying and failing to qualify since 1934 – a rather unwanted record.

This one is between Portugal and Russia. I can’t pick the winner.

Group G

Euro 2004 champions Greece (13) will fancy qualifying for their third World Cup in a group also containing: Slovakia (29), Bosnia & Herzegovina (41), Lithuania (58), Latvia (83) and Liechtenstein (118).

Greece and Latvia were in the same 2010 World Cup qualifying group and are currently in the same Euro 2012 qualifying group, as are Lithuania
and Liechtenstein. The Baltic nation recently lost 0-2 to Liechtenstein.

One of Slovakia’s largest wins came against Liechtenstein (7-0) and they famously dumped out the previous world champions Italy last summer in their only World Cup appearance as ‘Slovakia’ on their way to finishing 16th. Bosnia and Herzegovina almost qualified for the last World Cup but lost 0-2 on aggregate to Portugal in their Play-Off. They along with the other sides in this group have never reached the Finals.

This group should be Greece’s, but I fancy Bosnia and Herzegovina will cause an upset or two.

Group H

1966 world champions and perennial international underachievers England (6) got handed a group they should advance from, but then again you don’t get trophies for winning qualifying groups and this is England we are talking about.

Montenegro (17) will play England again (they are in the same Euro 2012 Qualifying group and drew 0-0 at Wembley). Both Euro 2012 co-hosts the Ukraine (45) and Poland (69) are in this group as well, as are ex-Soviet side Moldova (85) and the tiniest minnow of them all, San Marino
(203=) who are also in Moldova’s Euro 2012 Qualifying group.

Since they played their first match in 2007, Montenegro have rocketed up the world rankings like it was going out of fashion and will be fancying their chances of qualifying for their first World Cup. The Ukraine has only been to one Finals (Germany ’06) but they did come eighth. Poland almost won the World Cup in 1974 and 1982 but wound up finishing third on both occasions. They also prevented England from going to the 1974 World Cup after earning a 1-1 draw at Wembley. Moldova has never made it to a World Cup. Neither have San Marino who hardly score any goals and have only won one match, but they do ironically hold the record for the fastest international goal ever. In a 1994 World Cup qualifier, Davide Gualtieri scored after just 8.3 seconds…against England.

The draw could have been better for England who should be able to win this group. But as we shall see, the draw could have been so much worse.

Group I – The Group of Death

Reigning World and European champions Spain (1) were drawn with none other than 1998 world champions France (15) who are on the rebound
after their shameful World Cup campaign last summer.

The other three sides in this, the smallest group are: Belarus (42) who beat France 1-0 then drew 1-1 with them in their Euro 2012 qualifiers, Georgia (57) and Finland (75) have never made it to a World Cup…and won’t this time either.

I can’t call who out of France and Spain will win this group, but there will be at least one team to avoid in the Play-Offs.

All group matches are scheduled to be played between 7 September 2012 and 15 October 2013. The Play-Offs will be completed around a month or so later.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL (Red Bull) took the 23rd pole-position of his career in the qualifying session for tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.

The reigning world champion’s Q3 time of 1:19.815 (122.684-mph) was just quick enough to bump last weekend’s German Grand Prix winner, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), into second place after the Englishman set a 1:19.978 on his first run, but couldn’t go faster on his second hot-lap.

Hamilton’s team-mate, Jenson Button, will start his 200th Grand Prix from third on the grid after setting a 1:20.024.

For the first time this season, Felipe Massa out-qualified his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso. Massa will start the race from fourth, Alonso fifth.

Sixth to tenth on the grid are: 6th) Mark Webber (Red Bull), 7th) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 8th) Adrian Sutil (Force India), 9th) Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and 10th) Sergio Pérez (Sauber) who didn’t set a time in Q3.

Q2 saw grid slots 11-17 filled by: 11th) Paul di Resta (Force India), 12th) Vitaly Petrov (Renault) in his de facto home Grand Prix, 13th) Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), 14th) Nick Heidfeld (Renault), 15th) Rubens Barrichello (Williams), 16th) Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) and 17th) Pastor Maldonado (Williams) who also didn’t set a time.

The last seven places on the grid, 18-24, were decided in Q1. The drivers who will fill these placers are: 18th) Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), 19th) the returning Jarno Trulli (Lotus), 20th) Timo Glock (Virgin), 21st) Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT), 22nd) Daniel Ricciardo (HRT), 23rd) Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) who actually qualified 18th (still failing to make it out of Q1) but has a five-place grid bump for causing the accident between himself and Heidfeld in Germany last Sunday, and 24th) Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin) who’s time of 1:26.510 was nicely inside the 107% Rule time of 1:27.288.

With his pole today, Vettel is now tenth on the all-time list for most pole-positions in a career, and is one behind Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet – both three-time world champions. However, with a strike rate of 31.5%, Vettel is still way off the next man up who just so happens to be Ayrton Senna, who’s strike rate is 40.1%.

As for who is going to win tomorrow, I have a sneaky suspicion that Hamilton will win. That’s put the mockers on him you watch.

Previous winners of the Hungarian Grand Prix on the grid:

  • Michael Schumacher, four times (most wins of the Hungarian GP): 1994 (Benetton), 1998, 2001* and 2004 for Ferrari. *Schumacher won his fourth world title at this race and equalled Alain Prost’s then record of 51 wins.
  • Lewis Hamilton, twice: 2007 and 2009 for McLaren.
  • Rubens Barrichello, 2002 for Ferrari.
  • Fernando Alonso, 2003 for Renault. This was Alonso’s first win and made him (at 22 years and 26 days old) the youngest ever F1 winner at the time.
  • Jenson Button, 2006 for Honda. This was Button’s 113th Grand Prix and his maiden victory.
  • Heikki Kovalainen, 2008 for McLaren. This is Kovalainen’s only F1 win of his career so far. He also became the 100th driver to win a Grand Prix.
  • Mark Webber, 2010 for Red Bull. This is the last race that Webber has won.

THE German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring was one of the best races of the 2011 Formula 1 season so far, with three drivers (none of them Red
Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel) fighting it out for the victory over the whole 60-laps.

Before the race began however there was bad news for Toro Rosso driver Sébastien Buemi. He was sent to the back of the grid because of an irregularity in his fuel from qualifying, were he qualified 16th on the grid.

The start line itself had been moved 240m (790’) closer to Turn 1, roughly halving the distance between the previous start-line and the first corner.

Unfortunately for pole-sitter Mark Webber (Red Bull) the shorter run down to the first corner couldn’t prevent him from keeping second on the grid, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) behind him at the start. Webber let his revs drop just as the lights went green, allowing Hamilton to roar past him and take the lead before the pack even got to the first turn.

Just behind the leading pair, the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were hounding Vettel, who was looking to win his home Grand Prix for the first time. Alonso forced his way up into third place ahead of Vettel, but Massa was passed by another German driver, Mercedes’ Nico
Rosberg.

Jenson Button (McLaren) had a poor start, dropping from seventh to tenth, while Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) made up a couple of places to go from tenth to eighth. Further back, Nick Heidfeld spun both himself and Force India’s Paul di Resta at Turn 3, dropping them both to the back.

As Alonso exited Turn 2 on lap 2, he put his Ferrari’s tyres on the damp carpet behind the curb and ran wide, allowing Vettel up into third place. However, Alonso took his third place back away from world championship leader on lap 8 by passing him up the inside at Turn 1.

A lap later Vettel spun off at Turn 10 after touching the white line, and instead of pursuing Alonso’s Ferrari, he had to focus on keeping Rosberg’s Mercedes and Massa’s Ferrari behind him. At this point in the race, Hamilton was just 0.7-second ahead of Webber and three ahead of Alonso.

Nick Heidfeld received a drive-through penalty for causing the spin between him and di Resta on the opening lap, but never got to serve it. The Renault driver was attempting to pass Buemi’s Toro Rosso around the outside before the Turn 14/15 chicane when Buemi moved over and put Heidfeld on the grass, which launched the Renault and sent it deep into the gravel trap. For his actions, Buemi has been given a five-place grid bump for the next race in Hungary.

A few laps later (lap 12) Hamilton’s lead had been cut by Webber to just half a second. Hamilton went into the Turn 14/15 chicane too deep and Webber got a run up the Englishman’s inside line as they rounded the final corner. Webber was now first and technically led his first lap of the 2011 season. But Hamilton knew his McLaren was faster in a straight line and showing massive balls, stuck his car in a McLaren shaped hole in between the pit wall and Webber’s Red Bull and drove clean past him, retaking the lead of the Grand Prix.

Webber pitted from second place at the end of lap 14 and rejoined the action behind the Vettel-Massa fight for fourth place (Rosberg had pitted earlier).

Massa got by Vettel at the chicane on lap 16 as Webber closed right up behind them. Vettel pitted immediately, allowing Webber to get into Massa’s slipstream as they raced down the start-finish straight. All this was happening while both Hamilton and Alonso were trundling down the pit-lane having just pitted for new soft tyres.

The quartet all got to the first corner together, with Massa emerging as the leader ahead of Webber who had undercut both Hamilton (now third) and Alonso.

Massa soon pitted and Webber could finally enjoy leading a race for the first time in ages. His joy could only last until the end of lap 30 (the halfway point of the race and the 2011 season) because he needed new tyres.

One lap later and Hamilton pitted, promoting Alonso to the lead of the race. Webber couldn’t make his fresher tyres work to their full advantage because he had Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus in front of him. This meant that Hamilton exited the pits back ahead of Webber and into the net-lead of the race.

Webber wasn’t going to go down without a fight mind, and attempted to go around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 2. But Lewis was wise to this move and hung Mark out to dry on the run-off area.

Alonso’s tyres lasted him until the end of lap 32. He surprisingly emerged from the pits still in the lead with Hamilton and Webber right up his
exhaust pipe. Hamilton got a much better run out of Turn 1 and drove his McLaren clean around the outside of Alonso at Turn 2 to spectacularly snatch the lead away from his former McLaren team-mate.

Speaking of team-mates, Lewis’s team-mate Jenson Button was busy passing people too. On lap 35 he took sixth place away from Nico Rosberg
at Turn 1 after the German had out braked himself. Unfortunately on the very same lap Jenson was called into the pits and retirement by his team because they had detected a terminal hydraulic problem. :-(

Webber and Alonso stayed with Hamilton out front for the next 15 laps. But it was now time to change to the significantly slower medium compound tyre. The race would be won or lost here. Who would blink first?

Out of the three leaders it was Hamilton who pitted for the medium tyres first at the end of lap 51. Vitaly Petrov (Renault) was the first driver to put the mediums on and was lapping extremely quickly, so McLaren decided to roll the dice.

Two laps later Alonso pitted but Webber carried on. Hamilton comfortably passed Alonso as the Spaniard was exiting the pits and was now second.

Three laps later Webber put the medium compound on and exited the pits third behind Alonso who was still behind Hamilton. Behind those three was the ongoing battle for fourth place between Massa and Vettel.

On the penultimate lap Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:34.302 (122.123-mph) tour…and Massa and Vettel still hadn’t put the medium compound on!

In order to avoid the 30-second time penalty for not using both compounds in the race, Massa and Vettel pitted at the end of lap 59. The Red Bull pit crew worked lightning fast and got Vettel out before Ferrari could safely release Massa. Vettel was now fourth and on course for an extra two
world championship points.

But the man who was on course for 25 world championship points, his second win of the season and 16th career victory was Lewis Hamilton! He had written off his chances of winning on the Thursday, but proved himself and the world wrong on Saturday and Sunday to take yet another
memorable victory. :-D

Alonso, Hamilton and Webber on the podium.

 

Could this win spark an epic championship fight-back?

Alonso was second and Webber was third, but Alonso had to stop his Ferrari on the lap of honour because it had run out of fuel. Mark Webber converted his Red Bull into a Taxi and gave Alonso a lift back to the pits, causing all us nostalgia nuts to go all teary eyed for a moment. :-)

“Turn 13 to the pit-lane...that’s £8.30 please, mate.”

Top 10 finishers of the LXXII (72nd) German Grand Prix, 2011:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes. 60-Laps in 1h:37m:30.344 @ 118.097-mph, 25 Points.
  2. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari. +3.980, 18 Points.
  3. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault. +9.788, 15 Points. His third-straight 3rd place.
  4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault. +47.921, 12 Points.
  5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari. +52.252, 10 Points. His third-straight 5th place.
  6. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes. +1:26.208, 8 Points. His best finish this season.
  7. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes. +1 Lap, 6 Points.
  8. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes. +1 Lap, 4 Points.
  9. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber-Ferrari. +1 Lap, 2 Points.
  10. Vitaly Petrov, Renault. +1 Lap, 1 Point.

 

Well done to Karun Chandhok (Lotus) who finished his first race since Silverstone last year in 20th place.

The F1 circus now travels to Hungary for what are Jenson Button’s 200th Grand Prix and the 100th Grand Prix of 2.4 litre V8 engine.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 10/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

216

-

2

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

139

77

3

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

134

82

4

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

130

86

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

109

107

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

62

154

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

46

170

8

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

34

182

9

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

32

184

10

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

32

184

11

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

27

189

12

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

18

198

13

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

9

207

14

Sergio PÉREZ (MEX)

Sauber

8

208

15

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

8

208

16

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

4

212

17

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

2

214

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 10/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

355

-

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

243

112

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

192

163

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

78

277

5

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

66

289

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

35

320

7

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

20

335

8

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

17

338

9

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

4

351

ENGLAND vs. India at Lord’s 2011 saw Test Match Cricket (the pure form of the game) celebrate a very special landmark, its 2,000th match.

The match was also the 100th Test Match between England and India, but all eyes were on one man…the Little Master Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar went into this match on 99 international hundreds. You couldn’t have set it up better. Tendulkar scoring his 100th 100 in the 100th Test between England and India at Lord’s (the home of Cricket) in the 2,000th Test.

But Tendulkar’s highest score at Lord’s before this Test was only 37, and as fate would have it, 37 is still his highest score at Lord’s. He was caught in the slips by Graeme Swann off the bowling of Stuart Broad for 34 in India’s first innings, and was out L.B.W. to James Anderson in India’s
second innings for only 12.

The Man of the Match was Kevin Pietersen. After his slowest 50 in Test Cricket in England’s first innings, he powered his way to his third double hundred in 326 balls, hitting 21 fours and one six.

With this win, England go 1-0 up in the four Test series that the hosts must win by two clear Tests in order to become world No. 1, a title currently held by the tourists.

England vs. India

England vs. India 1st Test @ Lord’s, 21/07/2011 – The 2,000th Test Match and 100th between England and India

India won the toss and elected to bowl

England

vs.

India

474-8dec.

(131.4 overs @ 3.60 rpo)

1st Innings

286

(95.5 overs @ 2.98 rpo)

K.P. Pietersen 202*

R. Dravid 103*

P. Kumar 5-106

S.C.J. Broad 4-37

269-6dec.

(71.0 overs @ 3.79 rpo)

2nd Innings

261

(96.3 overs @ 2.70 rpo)

M.J. Prior 103*

S.K. Raina 78

I. Sharma 4-59

J.M. Anderson 5-65

Man of the Match – K.P. Pietersen (England)

England won by 196 Runs, England lead series 1-0 with three Tests remaining.

 

So far ten nations and the ICC World XI have played a Test Match. Kenya were so close to gaining Test status in 2003 after their Semi-Final appearance in the World Cup, but lately Kenyan Cricket has gone through hard times. Ireland and Afghanistan have said that they want to want to have Test status bestowed upon them.

Nation

Test Debut

Matches

Wins

Draws

Loses

Ties

Australia

15/03/1877

730 (36.5%)

341

195

192

2

Bangladesh

10/11/2000

68 (3.4%)

3

6

59

0

England

15/03/1877

912 (45.6%)

323

328

261

0

ICC World XI

14/10/2005

1 (0.05%)

0

0

1

0

India

25/06/1932

452 (22.6%)

110

201

140

1

New Zealand

10/01/1930

364 (18.2%)

68

149

147

0

Pakistan

16/10/1952

358 (17.9%)

108

150

100

0

South Africa

12/03/1889

358 (17.9%)

125

109

124

0

Sri Lanka

17/02/1982

201 (10.05%)

61

69

71

0

West Indies

23/06/1928

473 (23.65%)

153

163

156

1

Zimbabwe

18/10/1992

83 (4.15%)

8

26

49

0

TOTAL

-

2,000

1,300 (65%)

698 (34.9%)

-

2 (0.1%)

RED BULL took their tenth pole-position out of ten races this season, as Mark Webber took his second straight pole at the Nürburgring ahead of tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

Webber’s fastest Q3 time was 1:30.079, averaging 127.848-mph around the 3.199-miles (5.148-Km) circuit. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start
the race from second on the grid after setting a 1:30.134. Hamilton had said earlier that he wasn’t expecting to be able to challenge for pole, and described his best lap as: “Wicked!” Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel will start off the front row of the grid for the first time this season. He only managed to be third fastest in Q3, setting a 1:30.216.

Fourth to tenth on the grid are: 4th) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 5th) Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 6th) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 7th) Jenson Button (McLaren), 8th) Adrian Sutil (Force India), 9th) Vitaly Petrov (Renault) and 10th) Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).

Q2 saw grid slots 11-17 filled by: 11th) Nick Heidfeld (Renault), 12th) Paul di Resta (Force India), 13th) Pastor Maldonado (Williams), 14th) Rubens Barrichello (Williams), 15th) Sergio Pérez (Sauber), 16th) Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) and 17th) Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) who made it out of Q1 for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix.

The unlucky ‘established team’ driver who fell in Q1 was Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, who will start from 18th on the grid.

19th-last on the grid for the race tomorrow are: 19th) Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), 20th) Timo Glock (Virgin), 21st) Karun Chandhok (Lotus), 22nd) Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin), 23rd Daniel Ricciardo (HRT) and 24th) Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT) who would have been 23rd on the grid but has been given a five-place grid drop because he has had his gearbox changed.

Chandhok is racing this weekend for Lotus after the team (rather bizarrely) dropped Jarno Trulli, a veteran of 243 Grand Prix starts. The team say he’ll be back for the Hungarian Grand Prix next weekend, but I can’t help but think this is the end of the F1 road for the Italian.

By the way the 107% Rule time was 1:38.253, which was well beaten by Ricciardo who set a 1:37.036.

There are six German drivers on the grid for this year’s German Grand Prix. They are: Vettel, Schumacher, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Sutil and Glock. If any one of them is going to be the first man to win their home Grand Prix since Massa at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, it will be Vettel. But I reckon Webber will be the man who takes the victory tomorrow.

Previous winners of the German Grand Prix on the grid:

  • Michael Schumacher, four-times, 1995 (Benetton) and 2002, 2004 and 2006 for Ferrari.
  • Fernando Alonso, twice, 2005 for Renault and 2010 for Ferrari…because he was faster than Felipe.
  • Rubens Barrichello, 2000 for Ferrari (his first win).
  • Lewis Hamilton, 2008.
  • Mark Webber, 2009 (his first win).

Previous winners of the European Grand Prix when it was held at the Nürburgring on the grid:

  • Michael Schumacher, five-times, 1995 (Benetton) and 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006 for Ferrari.
  • Fernando Alonso, twice, 2005 for Renault and 2007 for McLaren.
  • Rubens Barrichello, 2002 for Ferrari.

WITH victory at this year’s British Grand Prix at the new pit complex Silverstone, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso equalled three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart’s tally of 27 Grand Prix victories. Only Nigel Mansell (31 wins), Ayrton Senna (41 wins), Alain Prost (51 wins) and Michael Schumacher (91 wins) have won more Grand Prixs.

Alonso’s 27th win. How fitting that he should achieve this milestone in a Ferrari.

This was also a special moment for the Ferrari team. Not only was this their first win since South Korea last year, but it was almost exactly 60 years ago to the day at the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, that the now 88-year-old Argentine José Froilán González won Ferrari’s first Grand Prix.

Alonso, the 2005 and 2006 world champion, took the lead from the reigning world champion and current runaway championship leader, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) during the second round of pit-stops. Both drivers were in the middle of the fight for the lead when the pair of them pitted for new tyres at the same time. The Ferrari pit crew flawlessly serviced Alonso’s car, but the Red Bull guys fluffed Vettel’s stop, thus letting the red car out ahead of the Red Bull. And in this case, having something red in front a Bull didn’t make it go any faster as Alonso raced off into the distance.

Vettel would now have his team-mate, Mark Webber, for company in the closing laps of the Grand Prix. Webber was using all of his years of experience to try and get past Vettel, but Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, told Webber to: “Maintain the gap.” To me, this says ‘Don’t take Vettel off Mark, he’s going to win the championship this year but we don’t trust you to try and pass him.’ Webber ignored these anti-racing orders but failed to pass Vettel, finishing third just 0.4-seconds behind him.

Further back, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton turned the last moments of his battle with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa into a banger race to the delight of his home fans, including me as well.

The 2008 world champion (Hamilton) had been told by his team that he needed to save fuel urgently. This allowed Massa to chase Hamilton down at a rate of at least a couple of seconds per lap. Massa got alongside Hamilton as they entered Vale corner for the last time. Hamilton missed his braking spot and the two made contact. Massa was forced wide and rounded the last corner, Club, on the run-off area while Hamilton forced his damaged McLaren around the right-hander and into fourth place, 0.024-seconds before Massa crossed the finish-line.

Felipe was faster, but Lewis’s use of brute force and ignorance won their race.

McLaren’s second home driver, 2009 world champion Jenson Button, didn’t get to the finish because of a blunder in the pit-lane. His front-right wheel hadn’t been attached by one of his mechanics when he was given the all-clear. Button knew something was wrong as soon as he turned out
of the pit-lane, but because he had crossed the line separating the pits from the track, his team couldn’t go and get him. Button’s race ended right there in rather embarrassing circumstances.

Sign of a p***ed off racing driver. He keeps his crash-helmet on.

The other British driver in the race, Scotland’s Paul di Resta (Force India) didn’t have much luck in the pit-stops either. When he came in for his first set of new tyres his team were expecting his team-mate Adrian Sutil instead. This meant di Resta had to wait for his tyres to be brought out and Sutil’s removed. This dropped him well down the running order, and he would soon come together with Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi. Buemi’s left-rear tyre was damaged and ripped itself apart, causing the Swiss driver’s retirement from the race. di Resta would go on to finish 15th and out of the points, utterly negating the sixth place grid slot he had started the race from.

This race wasn’t the best British Grand Prix I’ve seen, and I was very disappointed to see McLaren slip behind Ferrari and even further behind Red Bull.

But hopefully the Silver Machines will find something special at the German Grand Prix, which this year is back where it belongs at the Nürburgring, but it’s only the GP-Strecke and not the mighty Nordschleife. I can dream can’t I?

By the way, because the start-finish line at Silverstone has moved to between Club and Abbey and is no longer between Woodcote and Copse, the race now starts in Buckinghamshire and not Northamptonshire.

The 66th British Grand Prix Top 10

  1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 52-Laps in 1:28:41.194 @ 128.951-mph. Alonso also set the fastest lap of the race on lap 41 with a 1:34.908 (139.095-mph) lap. 25 Points.
  2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), +16.511-seconds. 18 Points.
  3. Mark Webber (Red Bull), +16.947-seconds. 15 Points.
  4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), +28.986-seconds. 12 Points.
  5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), +29.010-seconds. 10 Points.
  6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), +1:00.655. 8 Points.
  7. Sergio Pérez (Sauber), +1:05.590. 6 Points. His best finish in F1.
  8. Nick Heidfeld (Renault), +1:15.542. 4 Points.
  9. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), +1:17.912. 2 Points.
  10. Jamie Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), +1:19.108. 1 Point. Despite not making it out of Q1 in the last four races, this is the third consecutive points finish for him.

 

Congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo (HRT) on finishing his debut race. He was classified 19th and last of the runners and was 3 laps down on Alonso at the end, but he finished. My one concern about him is that he is Red Bull’s and their sister-team’s (Toro Rosso) test driver. So in a way, Red Bull have five drivers out on track when they should only have two.

PS – This is my 250th post! :-D

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 9/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

204

-

2

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

124

80

3

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

112

92

4

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

109

95

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

109

95

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

52

152

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

40

164

8

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

34

170

9

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

31

173

10

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

28

176

11

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

25

179

12

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

10

194

13

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

9

195

14

Sergio PÉREZ (MEX)

Sauber

8

196

15

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

8

196

16

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

4

200

17

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

2

202

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 9/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

328

-

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

218

110

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

164

164

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

68

260

5

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

65

263

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

33

295

7

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

17

311

8

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

12

316

9

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

4

324

AT midnight East Africa Time (2100 GMT) on 9 July 2011 the world welcomed a brand new country, The Republic of South Sudan.

The flag of South Sudan. Black represents the people, white represents peace, red represents the blood shed for freedom, green represents the land and blue represents the Nile. The gold star of Bethlehem represents unity of the states in South Sudan.

 

The Emblem of South Sudan. The Eagle signifies: strength, resilience and vision. The shield and spears represent protection of the state.

South Sudan had existed as an autonomous part of Sudan for on-and-off periods in between the civil wars between the Arabic/Muslim North and African/Christian South. But when Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil war (over 20 years in duration and 1.5 million people – mainly civilians through starvation – dead) ended with a peace agreement. Said agreement offered the people of the South of Africa’s largest nation* a chance to vote in a referendum on independence.

This referendum was held in early January 2011, with a landslide result in favour of independence. Out of the 3,837,406 valid votes cast, 3,792,518 (98.83%) were for separation.

The ballot paper as used in the referendum.

 

The new map of the two Sudans.

The President of Sudan (which is still called Sudan and not ‘North Sudan’), Omar al-Bashir (who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Darfur conflict in Western Sudan) accepted the result and vowed to let the South go peacefully. Well as peacefully as possible when the two nations were in dispute over the oil rich areas which now cross their boarder. The South accused the North of bombing the Abyei region a month before they seceded, but I believe the U.N. bashed their heads together and the two nations will continue to split the oil profits 50-50, just as they did in the six years between the end of the civil war in 2005 and the South’s independence.

On Independence Day itself, people of all walks of South Sudanese life partied in the streets like it was 1999. In the capital city, Juba, a large sign read: “Congratulations, free at last, South Sudan.” State TV played the new national anthem ‘South Sudan Oyee!’ which had won the national competition to be the new nation’s anthem in honour of the occasion. It was written by students and teachers of Juba University and had been played on the Radio for weeks so as the population could learn the words.

In a ceremony later that day, the Speaker of the South Sudan Legislative Assembly, James Wani Igga, proclaimed his nations independence and
the flag of Sudan was lowered, replaced by the flag of South Sudan. The first elected President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit stood with President al-Bashir before proudly showing the state’s new constitution to his people.

The two Sudan Presidents, President Kiir Mayardit (L.)with President al-Bashir (R.).

 

President Kiir Mayardit with the Constitution of South Sudan.

A statue of John Garang was also unveiled to the delight of the crowd who had gathered for the most popular divorce of the year. Garang was the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (the South Sudan Army) in the civil war and is regarded as the father of the nation. He died in a helicopter crash just six months after peace was declared.

Father of the nation, John Garang.

As part of the celebrations, the South Sudan Football team made their debut against one of Kenya’s top clubs, Nairobi’s Tusker FC (who represented Kenya itself) in Juba Stadium. South Sudan took the lead within the first ten minutes thanks to a James Joseph goal, but the Bright Stars went on to lose 1-3. South Sudan’s Basketball team also made their debut when Uganda came to Juba on the same day. I have yet to find the result of the match.

On 14 July 2011, after a meeting of the U.N. general assembly, South Sudan was elected as the 193rd United Nations member state. The last new member state was Montenegro on 28 June 2006.

South Sudan has applied to join the Commonwealth of Nations and plans to apply for membership of the African Union soon as well as the East
African Community, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is also eligible to be in the Arab League should the government so wish, but personally I can’t see this happening.

There is also no doubt about South Sudan soon becoming a member of the major African and global sporting organisations such as the International Olympic Committee, FIFA and CAF (Confederation of African Football).

But looking into the future, South Sudan is going to need all the help that it can get. The Horn of Africa (which South Sudan boarders) is currently in a draught that is being called the biggest ‘humanitarian disaster in the world’ by the U.N. and South Sudan is felling its effects.

South Sudan is also one of the world’s least developed countries and its health facilities are some of the worst on Earth. The under-5 mortality rate is 112 per 1,000, while the maternal mortality rate is the highest in the world at 2,053.9 deaths per 100,000 live births. At times in the past, there has only been one doctor per 500,000 people. More than 90% of the population live on less than $1 (63p) per day. And according to UNICEF, less than 1% of girls complete primary school education in South Sudan. Girls who do attend school are outnumbered 1:4 by their male counterparts, but many children under-13 aren’t in school anyway. South Sudan also has the highest female illiteracy rate in the world at 84%.

However I’m determined not to end on a downer.

GOOD LUCK SOUTH SUDAN. MAY YOUR GOD BLESS YOU AND GUIDE YOU TO MANY GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE FUTURE.

Population = 7.5-9.7 million. 8.2 million at last census in 2008, 94th in world in between U.A.E. and Honduras.

Land Area = 619,745Km2 (239,285 sq mi), 45th in world between C.A.R. and Ukraine. *Algeria is now the largest nation in Africa, the DR Congo is now second largest, then Sudan. South Sudan is larger than Spain and Portugal combined.

Official language = English (all indigenous languages recognised).

Currency = Sudanese Pound (SDG).

Time Zone = East Africa Time (EAT), UTC+3.

Borders = Ethiopia to the East, Kenya to the South-East, Uganda to the South, DR Congo to the South-West, Central African
Republic (C.A.R.) to the West, and Sudan to the North.

National Anthem = South Sudan Oyee!

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