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Monthly Archives: May 2010

MARK WEBBER took his third pole in a row in Istanbul yesterday ahead of today’s Turkish Grand Prix. This is now Red Bull’s seventh straight pole this year.

The Australian’s Q3 time was a 1:26.295, lapping the course at an average speed of 138.502 mph. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton lines up alongside him, while Sebastian Vettel in the second Red Bull took third on the grid.

The remainder of the top 10 are, in grid order: Button (McLaren), Schumacher and Rosberg (Mercedes lockout the third row), Kubica (Renault), Massa (Ferrari), Petrov (Renault) and Kobayashi (Sauber).

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had another bad Saturday as he didn’t make it into Q3. He got out of shape before the last few corners and didn’t really have enough fuel to put in another full speed lap. He starts twelfth, not what Ferrari wanted in their 800th Grand Prix.

And well done to young Bruno Senna of HRT for qualifying 22nd, ahead of his team-mate Chandhok and di Grassi’s Virgin. This is the first time an HRT has finished qualifying in front of a car from another team in the dry on merit.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

–          Confucius

Who will win? I reckon it will he Lewis Hamilton. If he can get a good start and use his F-duct to full advantage on the straights he can easily pass Webber and pull away. Hopefully with Button right behind him. 🙂

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ENGLAND beat Mexico 3-1 last night at Wembley in their first warm up game before heading off to South Africa for the World Cup next month.

The match swung to and fro for the whole 90 minutes, and Mexico certainly deserved more than they got out of the game.

They were actually looking more likely to open the scoring until Ledley King scored a close-range header on 17 minutes.

The man who set King’s goal up – Peter Crouch – scored himself (rather dubiously I must admit) on 35 minutes. Mexican keeper Perez tipped the ball onto the crossbar and the ball shot straight up into the air. But Crouch saw that the ball wasn’t going out of play and placed his 6’ 7” self underneath it and knocked it in. But the goal shouldn’t have stood. He was standing in an offside position as the original shot was taken and the ball did appear to roll down his arm and off his hand, but the goal was awarded and England went 2-0 up.

Mexico did manage to scrabble a goal back when Franco scored in first-half stoppage time. This was a shame for England’s first-half keeper Robert Green who had produced two fantastic saves to keep Mexico at bay. England still have much work to do defensively before South Africa.

The highlight of the game came when Glen Johnson scored a beautiful goal after an astounding run through the Mexican team on 47 minutes. I don’t think he’ll score a better goal in his international career.

Both sides continued to create chances but England held on to win their last home game before the World Cup.

Overall, I was happy with England’s performance, but as I’ve written earlier the team must work on their defence. If we give teams like Argentina or Spain chances like we gave Mexico we will get smashed.

Other warm up results:

Argentina 5 – 0 Canada

Australia 2 – 1 New Zealand

Japan 0 – 2 South Korea

Portugal 0 – 0 Cape Verde Islands

South Africa 1 – 1 Bulgaria

I kid you not. A full strength Portugal side containing Nani, Christiano Ronaldo and Pedro Mendes (currently ranked world number 3), couldn’t score at home against a side ranked world 117! Portugal have North Korea in their group who are ranked world 106, so don’t write them off producing another World Cup shock.  Note: World Rankings accurate at time of publishing.

England’s next game is on Sunday in Graz, Austria against Japan who are currently hitting the self-destruct button. After their 0-2 home loss to local rivals South Korea their coach Takeshi Okada offered his resignation to the JFA president. The president refused to accept Okada’s notice so he will carry on as Japan’s head coach.

THE Wednesday just gone (May 19) I finally got to see the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic mascots.

Olympic mascot Wenlock (left) & Paralympic mascot Mandeville (right)

Our Olympic mascot is called Wenlock after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which held the forerunner to the games we love today. It was from watching these games in 1890 that Pierre de Coubertin was inspired to create the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Our Paralympic mascot is called Mandeville after the Buckinghamshire village Stoke Mandeville. The village is famous for holding the forerunner to today’s Paralympics.

I think you’ll agree that the names are spot on.

They have a camera for an eye and taxi style headlights. Wenlock has friendship bracelets in the colour of the Olympic rings (that’s what to look for if you have trouble telling them apart) and Mandeville has a pink stopwatch, symbolising that you can always do better.

The pair originated from a Bolton steelworks that was helping to build the stadium.

But not everybody is a fan of the duo and they are perfectly entitled to their opinion. But let me tell you why I am holding a torch for them (no pun intended).

Firstly, nobody has ever had mascots quite like Wenlock and Mandeville before. A vast majority of the previous Olympic and Paralympic mascots have been 2D animals. We could quite easily have had a Bulldog and or a Lion, but Bulldogs aren’t cute and England has already used a Lion in World Cup Willie (1966 World Cup).

Secondly, they are supposed to be aimed at young kids. The whole idea of our games is to leave a lasting impression on the country, and the only way to do this is to please the young kids.

Lastly, I love the design of the two. It shows that their designers were thinking outside the box.

These mascots will always be remembered, hopefully as the first of a new generation of mascot design for all future sporting events for decades to come.

A party in Monte-Carlo Aussie style!

MARK WEBBER won this year’s jewel in the F1 crown – the Monaco Grand Prix – in dominating fashion last Sunday, just as he did in Spain the weekend before. The Australian Red Bull driver led home a 1-2 finish for his team with Sebastian Vettel finishing second. Renault locked out the podium in the Principality as works team driver Robert Kubica came third. Webber won the race in a time of 1:50:13.355 at an average speed of 88.316 mph. Vettel set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:15.192 (99.585 mph).

At the very start of the race, Vettel squeezed his way past Kubica who tried in vain to keep the young German behind him. Rubens Barrichello (Williams) had a great start, gaining three places from ninth on the grid. His team-mate unfortunately had a first lap to forget. Young Nico Hülkenberg was due to start 11th, but stalled his engine on the warm-up lap and had to start last. He then drifted onto the dusty part of the track in the middle of the Tunnel and hit the wall. This brought out the first Safety Car of the race. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso capitalised on this and came in for his mandatory tyre change pit-stop a lap latter. A real no brainer for a driver who was dead last anyway.

Lap three saw last year’s winner, McLaren’s Jenson Button retire with a cooked engine. Embarrassingly the cause of this well done V8 was a bung being left in the air intake by an engineer on the grid. As a team fan I find this totally unacceptable and most un-McLaren like.

The race restarted on lap seven and Alonso set about making up for starting from the pit lane by picking off: Di Grassi (Virgin), Trulli (Lotus) and the second Virgin of Timo Glock by lap 14.

Rubens Barrichello’s race ended on lap 31 at over 170 mph when his suspension failed at the top of Beau Rivage. The most experienced driver in the sports history then threw his £30,000 steering wheel out of his cockpit and onto the road. The collector’s item was then duly picked up by Karun Chandhok in his HRT. This crash brought out the second Safety Car of the race. The race restarted on lap 34, Webber still leading from Vettel.

Ten laps later the third Safety Car of the race was deployed due to a loose drain cover at Massenet. Fortunately the quick fit fitters were in the area and the race was underway again on lap 46.

Mark Webber by now was probably getting bored of going round and round in the lead all the time away from the action. But he got a grandstand seat and a programme of the crash between Trulli and Chandhok on lap 74.

Trulli tried to pass Chandhok on the inside at La Rascasse but his rear wheels drifted and the Lotus and HRT touched. The Italian’s green and yellow Lotus then went up and over the Indian’s grey HRT. Chandhok was seen holding his helmet after the cars came to a halt but he wasn’t hurt. The fourth Safety Car of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix was dispatched out on track a lap latter.

The race was now going to finish under the Safety Car with Mark Webber taking his second win in as many weekends. But the drama wasn’t over behind him.

On the 78th and final lap the Safety Car pulled into the pits and: Webber, Vettel, Kubica, Massa (Ferrari) and Hamilton (McLaren) all took off for the finish line just down the road. But Alonso was jumped by Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes and the German beat the Spaniard into sixth place.

Now this would have been illegal last year and many years before that, but the rules have changed for 2010. Article 40.7 of this year’s regs states that:

 “Instead of waiting until you cross the Start/Finish line to be allowed to overtake, you can now pass cars after you have crossed the white Safety Car Line.”

 At Monaco Schumacher did just this. He pulled alongside the Ferrari coming out of La Rascasse, crossed the line in seventh took Alonso on the inside as they entered the finally corner, Anthony Noghes. Ross Brawn (Mercedes team principle) was confident that everything he and Schumacher had done was legal.

But Ferrari protested by bringing up article 40.13 which reads:

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

The race stewards found in favour of Ferrari, and Schumacher was given a 20-second time penalty, demoting him to 12th place and last of the runners. Dastardly and Muttley caught again!

Looking at the championships now, it looks increasingly likely that Red Bull will run away with both of them unless the other teams can raise their game or Red Bull themselves continue to suffer from reliability problems.

Drivers’ Standings

  1. Webber 78pts
  2. Vettel 78pts
  3. Alonso 75pts
  4. Button 70pts
  5. Massa 61pts
  6. Kubica 59pts
  7. Hamilton 59pts
  8. Rosberg 56pts
  9. Schumacher 22pts
  10. Sutil 20pts

 

Constructors’ Standings

  1. Red Bull 156pts
  2. Ferrari 136pts
  3. McLaren 129pts
  4. Mercedes 78pts
  5. Renault 65pts
  6. Force India 30pts
  7. Williams 8pts
  8. Toro Rosso 4pts

MARK WEBBER took Red Bull’s sixth straight pole position of this year’s world championship with a barnstorming Q3 lap in Monaco yesterday. The Australian’s Q3 time was a 1:13.826, lapping the principality at an average speed of 101.428 mph.

Renault’s Robert Kubica will start second on the grid after almost ending Red Bull’s pole dominance with a lap of 1:14.120. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel made it three Renault powered cars in the top three with a time of 1:14.227.

Fourth to tenth on the grid is as follows: Massa (Ferrari), Hamilton (McLaren), Rosberg & Schumacher (Mercedes), Button (McLaren), Barrichello (Williams) and Liuzzi (Force India).

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso didn’t take part in qualifying and will start from the pit lane after crashing his car in Saturday morning practice. He hit the Armco at Massenet (the corner before Casino Square).

My prediction for the win today is Mark Webber. He is in the best form of his career so far, and if he can keep Kubica behind him at Sainte Devote on lap one I can see him just running away with the race just like a week ago in Spain.

Mark Webber gets his reward for dominating the whole event.

MARK WEBBER of Red Bull dominated last Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, winning the 66 lap race in a time of 1:35:44.101, that’s an average speed of 119.596 mph.  Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) came home in second to the delight of the partisan crowd. Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished third. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:24.357 lap (123.418 mph).

Unlike last year, everybody got around the first two corners without incident; well that is everyone except for Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus). He couldn’t take the start due to gearbox ‘gremlins’.

Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) lost several places at the start when he went off the track at turn three, Bruno Senna (HRT) went straight on at turn four on the opening lap ending his race early, and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) also had a poor opening lap when he took to the grass on the front straight. But it wasn’t just a story of bad starts. Mark Webber made up for his opening corner mistake in Malaysia and kept his team-mate and Lewis Hamilton behind him. Toro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari also had a monster of a start in his home race.

The first action of note came on lap 17. World Champion Jenson Button (McLaren) failed to keep seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) behind him as he exited the pits. The ensuing battle between them lasted for the rest of the race, with Button being unable, or failing, to pass Schumacher. Much to my annoyance, Button didn’t vary his overtaking opportunities enough. You can’t hope to pass Schumacher around the outside of turn one lap after lap. You need to do something unexpected.

Hamilton stole second place from Vettel in the pits on lap 18. Red Bull had taken too long during his stop, and Hamilton came out of the pits alongside the German. The Brit used his cunning and a slowing Virgin Racing car that was in their path to his advantage. Lewis went through the middle of the Virgin-Red Bull sandwich and forced Vettel to take the runoff area and yield his position.

Felipe Massa ran his Ferraris’ front wing into Karun Chandhok’s HRT’s rear tyre as he followed the Schumacher-Button fight on lap 24. This twisted an aerodynamic aid on his front wing, but he then started to set his fastest laps of the race so far! Albeit under the continual cajoling of his race engineer Rob Smedley!  “Come On Felipe Baby!”

Vettel came into the pits after taking to the gravel on lap 55 as a result of a loose front right wheel. This promoted the chasing Alonso to third place.

But that wasn’t the end of the young German’s problems as on lap 60 he got a radio message no driver wants to hear.

“Your brakes are about to go.”

It looked like he was going to tip-toe around to fourth place, until…

On lap 65 of 66, Lewis Hamilton’s front left tyre punctured as he rounded turn three and he crashed into the tyre barrier and out of second place and 18 points. NOOOOO! 😦

However, way out in front, Mark Webber eased to his third career win and 25 points.

Personally I didn’t think that this race was as exciting as the last three. But it did have its moments, some which may play a massive part in the championship later in the season.

Bring on Monaco this weekend! The classic of the classics returns for its 68th running. I’d love a McLaren 1-2 (as always) but the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix is one for the romantics everywhere.

1984: Ayrton Senna in his first season, a slow car, a wet track. Result = Senna leaves the F1 world jaw dropped and announces his arrival by driving biblically well and finishing second to soon to be bitter rival Alain Prost.

2010: Bruno Senna in his first season, a slow car…

(I can dream can’t I?) 

Drivers’ Standings

  1. Button 70pts
  2. Alonso 67pts
  3. Vettel 60pts
  4. Webber 53pts
  5. Rosberg 50pts
  6. Hamilton 49pts
  7. Massa 49pts
  8. Kubica 44pts
  9. Schumacher 22pts
  10. Sutil 16pts

 

Constructors’ Standings

  1. McLaren 119pts
  2. Ferrari 116pts
  3. Red Bull 113pts
  4. Mercedes 72pts
  5. Renault 50pts
  6. Force India 24pts
  7. Williams 8pts
  8. Toro Rosso 3pts

 

PS: I’m feeling much better now. Also, today (May 13), Formula 1 celebrates its 60th Birthday!

I’M sorry that I can’t bring you my blog reviewing the Spanish Grand Prix tonight. I have felt ill for most of the weekend and really don’t feel up to doing it. So I’ll hopefully write it tomorrow and post it in the evening.

Sorry again for any inconvenience caused.

MARK WEBBER secured Red Bull’s fifth consecutive pole position of the season in a qualifying session which was dominated by the Austrian team.

The Australian’s Q3 pole time was 1:19.995 (130.148 mph). He will start tomorrows Spanish Grand Prix ahead of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel who posted a Q3 time of 1:20.101. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is third on the grid with a time of 1:20.829.

Yes the Red Bull’s really are that far ahead.

The rest of the top 10 are from fourth to tenth: Alonso (Ferrari), Button (McLaren), Schumacher (Mercedes), Kubica (Renault), Rosberg (Mercedes), Massa (Ferrari) and Kobayashi (Sauber).

Not really much else to say at the moment.

Oh wait…Alonso and Ferrari have been fined $20,000 for an unsafe pit release in Q3. Alonso drove out of his garage and almost forced Rosberg into the pit wall, much to the Germans annoyance. Also, five place grid drops have been given to: Petrov (Renault), Chandhok (HRT) and both Virgin cars.

If we don’t have rain during the race tomorrow, I can only see a Red Bull win. Who the winning driver will be in that team, I can’t say.

THIS is what happened when AC/DC and Iron Man 2 came to my castle. I only found out about this today and am so gutted that I wasn’t there, but oh well.

This is perhaps the most complex light show ever, and you will love it.

PS: watch in HD!

AUSTRALIA’S Neil Robertson, 28, has become the first Australian to win the World Snooker Championship since Horace Lindrum in 1952. Robertson is also the first non-British winner since 1997 (Ken Doherty, RoI) and the first non-British or Irish winner since 1980 (Cliff Thorburn, Canada).

Neil Robertson – World Champion

The ‘Thunder from Down Under’ beat Scotland’s Graeme Dott 18 frames to 13 in a pretty anti-climatic final at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Both players didn’t play at their best with numerous easy misses and not too excellent positional play. Dott scored the only century of the final, 112 in the 22nd frame. The last ball was potted at 00:54 BST.

On his way to the world title, Robertson beat: Fergal O’Brien (10-5), Martin Gould (13-12), six-time world champion Steve Davis (13-5) and Ali Carter (17-12).

Remarkably, Robertson was 0-6 and 5-11 down to Gould in the second round.

For me the highlight of this year’s tournament was the legendary Steve Davis beating defending champion John Higgins 13-11 in the second round. With this win Davis made his first quarter-finals in the world championship since 2005, and at the age of 52, became the oldest player to reach this stage since Eddie Charlton in 1983 (the year of Davis’s second world title).

Mark Allen made the first ever 146 break at the Crucible in the second round against Mark Davis. Graeme Dott then went on to make the same break later on in the tournament to split the £10,000 for the highest break.