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Monthly Archives: July 2010

SEBASTIAN VETTEL of Red Bull took his fourth pole in a row for tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.

Vettel’s fastest lap in Q3 was 1:18.773, lapping the course at an average speed of 124.307 mph. His Red Bull team-mate, Mark Webber, will line up alongside him in yet another all Red Bull front row after setting a time of 1:19.184. German GP winner Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) will start third after recording a best lap of 1:19.987. Basically, the Red Bull’s are just driving fast for fun. Although theirs and Ferrari’s front wing just may have something to do with their speed.

The rest of the top ten on the grid are, from fourth to tenth: Massa (Ferrari), Hamilton (McLaren), Rosberg (Mercedes), Petrov & Kubica (Petrov out qualifies his Renault team-mate for the first time this year), de la Rosa (Sauber) and Hülkenberg (Williams).

Reigning World Champion Jenson Button (McLaren) could only manage to qualify in 11th place and missed the cut for Q3. He has been struggling for most of the weekend for pace, but this still came as a shock to me. What didn’t come as a shock to me was Michael Schumacher only qualifying down in 14th, yet again failing to make it into the top ten.

We will have an all Japanese back row with Sakon Yamamoto (HRT) and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi. Yamamoto was just slow (if the 107% rule was in place both he and team-mate Bruno Senna would have failed to qualify). But Kobayashi would have started 18th if he hadn’t of missed the weighbridge when he was coming into the pits after being knocked-out in Q1. This earned him a five-place grid drop.

It is hard to see any car other than a Red Bull winning this race. There pace can only be described as terrifying. But remember Turkey, there is still hope for the rest of the field.

PS: This is my 150th blog. 😀

Alonso’s first win since Bahrain this year, and most controversial since Singapore 2008.

FERNANDO ALONSO of Ferrari took his second win of the season at last Sunday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. The 2005 and 2006 World Champion won the 67 lap event in a time of 1:27:38.684, at an average speed of 130.367 mph. However he only won the race because Ferrari ordered his team-mate Felipe Massa to move out of his way, just as they had done to Rubens Barrichello in Austria in 2002 (Barrichello was ordered to move over on the last lap and let Michael Schumacher win). Massa ended up finishing second – a year to the day after nearly being killed in Hungary – and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (who was one of six Germans in the race) came home in third. Vettel also set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:15.824 (134.934 mph) tour.

Vettel started the race from pole, but when the lights went out he immediately moved across the track and tried to squeeze Alonso into the pit wall. This gave Massa (who started third) a clear run into the first corner and took the lead. Alonso stood up to Vettel and snuck through on the inside meaning that the Ferraris were first and second. On the run down to the best overtaking place on the track – the turn four ‘Hairpin’ – Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) passed Mark Webber (Red Bull) to take fourth place. Nearer the back of the field both of the Toro Rosso’s made contact. Jamie Alguersuari broke too late and knocked off Sébastien Buemi’s rear wing, causing him to retired. Oops!

The top five of: Massa, Alonso, Vettel, Hamilton and Webber began to pull away from sixth place man Jenson Button (McLaren) and at the end of lap 12 Vettel made his pit stop. He came back out in sixth place and more importantly, into clean air. The rest of the leaders came in soon afterwards giving Button the lead, with the only real looser being Mark Webber who came out in traffic.

Lap 16 saw Alonso try and pass Massa at the Hairpin but the Brazilian held his position. Alonso’s next big move came on lap 21 when he and Massa were lapping backmarkers. One got in the way of Massa on the exit of turn three and Alonso got into Massa’s slipstream as they tore down the straight before the Hairpin. Alonso pulled out from behind Massa and got about a quarter of a car length ahead. But Massa had the better entry position for the corner and kept the place again. Alonso almost had the pair off when he had a look on the entry to turn five but correctly decided not to risk a massive crash. While all this was going on Sebastian Vettel was right behind the two Ferraris and worrying Alonso. A few laps later Button pitted and Massa led from Alonso and Vettel.

The race chugged along for the next 25 laps or so, as the watching millions wondered when Alonso would try and make his move on Massa.

Then on lap 48, Formula 1 was taken back to a time that I personally wish to forget. Felipe Massa’s loyal race engineer Rob Smedley told Massa: “Fernando, is, faster, than, you. Can you confirm you understood that message?” Smedley sounded like he was talking and holding back rage at the same time. Those who knew what Ferrari did in the past knew what was about to come next.

Sure enough, on the very next lap as they exited the Hairpin, Massa slowed down and Alonso blew past him and into the lead. On the next lap the watching millions heard Smedley again talk to Massa, but this time to simply tell his driver and friend: “OK mate good lad, stick with him now…sorry.

The race continued, with the only real incident being Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber) and Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) making contact with each other and the Finn retiring as a result.

On the podium it was very clear to see that Massa was fuming as he stood next to Alonso (who as you can see from the above picture had a smile a mile wide). Ferrari team boss, Stefano Domenicali, brought both drivers back out onto the podium for a group hug in front of the press. This only just rubbed it in. It was like they didn’t even care.

By making Massa give way to Alonso Ferrari broke the rules. Article 39.1 states that: “Team orders that directly affect the result of the race are prohibited.” They were fined $100,000 and will face the World Motor Sport Council later in the year to face charges of manipulating the outcome of a race…again.

Cheated – Rubens Barr… (sorry) Felipe Massa (right).

In my opinion, Ferrari have gotten off too lightly. It was because of their actions in Austria and America in 2002 that Article 39.1 was brought in to the rules, banning team orders that affect the outcome of a race like this. Even my mum (a casual F1 fan) said after the race that: “They spoil it when they do that.

My dad (lifelong F1 fan) said that Ferrari should be banned for three races for bringing the sport into disrepute again. This would see them miss: Hungary, Belgium and worst of all for them, Italy.

I wouldn’t be that harsh, but what I would have done is leave the race result alone but take away the points scored by Alonso and Massa.

What would you have done?

PS: I know Hungary qualifying is tomorrow but I just haven’t wanted to write this blog because I felt so reluctant to watch any highlights of it because of what Ferrari did.
















Red Bull



Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull



Fernando ALONSO (ESP)












Felipe MASSA (BRA)








Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India











































Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins

ON 24 July, the sport of Snooker lost one of its legends.

Alex Higgins ‘The Hurricane’ died at the age of 61 in his home town of Belfast after a 12 year long battle with throat cancer.

He was the bad boy of the golden age of Snooker, and was never far from controversy. He was rarely seen without a cigarette in one hand and a pint in the other when his opponent was at the table. But when he was at the table he seemed to be able to rewrite the laws of physics.

His greatest ever match was against Jimmy White in the Semi-Finals of the 1982 World Championship. The match swung one way and then the other, and was played at a lighting pace for the time. White was one red away from advancing to the Final, but missed it with the rest. Higgins then produced what is generally regarded as the finest break (69) in Snooker history. The Hurricane would go onto win the match 16-15, and then became World Champion for the second time – ten years after his first title – beating fellow legend Ray Reardon 18-15 in the Final.

However, Higgins’s heavy smoking and drinking caught up with him as he was diagnosed with the throat cancer that would ultimately kill him in 1998. He also became an obsessive gambler, and admitted using cocaine and weed in his past.

In his final months he took part in the Snooker Legends Tour debut event at the home of Snooker – The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. In an unrelated event his fellow professionals and friends tried to raise £20,000 so that he could get a new set of teeth fitted. His original set of teeth had fallen out during his radiotherapy, and was reported to be living on liquid food. At the time of his death he weight only six stones (38Kg).

Higgins near the end of his life.

Yes he may have made several wrong turns in his life, but to me and the rest of the Snooker world, he will be remembered as one of the golden generation who brought Snooker out of the clubs and into our living rooms.

When asked for my fantasy Snooker match I reply with this: “Alex Higgins vs. Ronnie O’Sullivan. Higgins to win.”

Rest in peace Alex, you are in pain no longer.

RED BULL’S Sebastian Vettel took pole for his home Grand Prix yesterday by an incredibly small margin.

The German’s Q3 time was a 1:13.791, lapping the Hockenheim circuit at 138.651 mph. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will line up alongside Vettel, after setting a time that was just 0.002 seconds slower. Alonso’s Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa will start the race from third.

The rest of the top ten from fourth to tenth are: Webber (Red Bull), Button & Hamilton (McLaren), Kubica (Renault), Barrichello (Williams), Rosberg (Mercedes) and Hülkenberg (Williams).

Michael Schumacher again failed to make it into Q3, this time missing out but only 0.008 seconds. It’s true; F1 is a sport of fractions.

Force India didn’t have a great qualifying by any stretch of the imagination. Firstly Adrian Sutil will start down in 19th place after being bumped five places for having his gearbox changed. But the real pain for the team came when Vitantonio Liuzzi put his left-rear tyre on a damp patch exiting the last corner, lost control of his car and crashed into the pit wall. The front end of his car was destroyed and one of his wheels bounced across the track, causing Virgin’s Timo Glock to take evasive action in order a avoid it. The red flag stopped the session while the marshals cleared the debris away. Nobody was hurt.

Glock himself will start last after receiving two five place grid penalties. One of these was for having his gearbox changed; the other for having a seventh-gear ratio put on his car that wasn’t declared on Friday.

I believe that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will win this race. Ferrari have been building towards this race for many weeks now, and given that they have felt hard done by in the last two races, it seems that the prancing horse is bucking.

Murali – A must pick for any fantasy XI.

YESTERDAY in Galle Sri Lanka beat rivals India in the first Test match of their series by 10 wickets. But the result doesn’t really matter when you consider the significance of the match.

Muttiah Muralitharan was playing in his last ever Test match for Sri Lanka – the end of a record breaking and rule book rewriting era.

The off-spinner played his first Test for Sri Lanka against Australia way back in late August 1992, and made Craig McDermott his first victim by trapping him L.B.W. Muralitharan’s last wicket was that of India’s Pragyan Ojha. This was the last ball he would ever bowl in Test Cricket, and with it took his 800th wicket.

I doubt that we will ever see this record surpassed in our life-times, if indeed ever. The closest any other bowler comes to him in terms of wickets taken is Australia’s Shane Warne with 708.

Now to me, Cricket is a game of statistics. So here are some of Muralitharan’s astonishing bowling numbers from his 133 Test matches (one of which was played for ICC World XI).







Strike Rate








Murali took 67 five wicket innings, and 22 ten wicket matches along the way. These are both international records to his name, as are these:

  • Most international wickets in all forms of the game – 1,320.
  • Only player to take ten wickets in a match against every other Test nation.
  • Only player to take ten wickets in a match in four consecutive matches. (He did this twice).
  • Only player to take 50 wickets against every other Test nation.
  • Only player to take seven wickets in an innings against five Test nations.
  • Most Bowled dismissals – 157. (This is the most common dismissal in Test Cricket bar Run Out).
  • Most Stumped dismissals – 41.
  • Most Caught & Bowled dismissals – 31.
  • Most Man of the Series awards – 11.
  • Only player to take 75+ wickets in a calendar year three times – 2000, 2001 & 2006.

Correct at time of publication.

He never took all ten wickets in an innings unfortunately. Muralitharan’s best in that department is 9 for 51 against Zimbabwe. His best figures in a match are 16 for 220 against England at The Oval in 1998.

He was also handy with a bat in his hand instead of a ball. He scored 1,261 runs at an average of 11.68. His best score was 67 against India in 2001. But he scored 33 Ducks and four Pairs as well, so it is a good thing he didn’t quit his day job – causing the batsmen the world over hell. Muralitharan also made himself useful in the field taking 72 catches.

Personally I’m sad to see him go, but at the age of 38 I can see why he has decided to call an end to his Test career, and on the highest possible note to boot.

Red does this to you.

MARK WEBBER of Red Bull stormed to victory in last weekend’s British Grand Prix at the new look Silverstone circuit. The Australian won the 52 lap race in a time of 1:24:38.200; at an average speed of 135.122 mph (the fastest race of the season so far). McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton finished second in his home race just over a second behind Webber. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) finished third less than a second in front of home-boy Jenson Button (McLaren) who drove brilliantly from his 14th place grid slot. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:30.874 (145.269 mph) lap.

The first lap saw both the Red Bull drivers of Webber and Sebastian Vettel’s rivalry at its most intense since Turkey. Vettel started from pole but it was Webber who made the better start. The young German (Vettel) tried to squeeze his team-mate against the pit wall but in fact gave Webber the better line going into Copse corner. Lewis Hamilton stuck his car right up Vettel’s inside and his front wing just brushed Vettel’s right rear tyre. This caused the tyre to deflate and Vettel lost control of his car and went off the track as he followed Webber into the Maggotts-Becketts complex. The first lap also saw both of the Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso touch. Massa suffered the same misfortune that Vettel did and their races were ruined. When Massa and Vettel rejoined the race after changing their tyres they were 23rd and 24th respectively.

Webber and Hamilton in the meantime raced off into the distance, and by lap ten were over 13 seconds clear of third place man Robert Kubica (Renault).

Lap 17 was eventful to say the least. Hamilton pitted and rejoined the race just ahead of his team-mate Button, but further round the lap was where the real action took place.  Alonso pulled out to pass Kubica was they approached Vale. Kubica defended the inside line and Alonso cut the corner to avoid hitting the Pole. In doing this he gained the position and should have given it back to Kubica there and then, but instead the Spaniard drove away from Kubica.

Two laps later Alonso had a great view of Nico Rosberg passing Toro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari. Kubica retired with a driveshaft problem on the next lap.

Jenson Button left his pit stop until lap 22 and rejoined in sixth. There’s nothing like making the best of a bad situation.

On lap 27 Fernando Alonso was issued with a Drive-Through Penalty for not letting the now retired Kubica pass him after he illegally overtook him. Ferrari and Alonso felt hard done by as another decision went against them for the second race running, but if Alonso had just let Kubica pass him he would have been fine.

However, Alonso couldn’t serve his penalty just yet because the Safety Car was out on track. A couple of laps earlier, Force India’s Adrian Sutil touched the back of Pedro de la Rosa’s  Sauber on the pit straight, causing bits of the Sauber’s rear wing and diffuser to come off the car. More bits exploded off the Sauber on the high-speed Hangar Straight. The marshals were unable to safely remove the debris so the SC had to come out and bunch the pack up again (much to a certain Sebastian Vettel’s delight).

The race was restarted at the end of lap 30 and Webber tore away from the field with Hamilton again keeping him honest.

Vettel was now in a position to be able to fight for some good points and passed William’s Nico Hülkenberg on lap 39. The Red Bull driver took on his hero (Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)) on the next lap. As the two Germans sped down the new Wellington Straight, Vettel pulled out to Schumacher’s left so he could have the inside line for the new look Brooklands corner. But Schumacher pulled across the track and almost forced Vettel onto the grass. Young Sebastian held his nerve and pulled off the pass.

But the drama wasn’t over yet. On the very last lap Vettel barged his way past Adrian Sutil’s Force India as they raced around the new Arena section for the final time. So from starting on pole then going down to last, Vettel had driven his way (with the help of the SC) to seventh place and six points.

But the day and the race belonged to his team-mate Mark Webber, who had his front wing taken away from him and given to Vettel just before qualifying the day before and was very angry with his team. As he waved to the crowd on his lap of honour we heard the Australian say the quote of the season so far: “Not bad for a number two driver, eh?

Webber showed his delight on the podium (see above) but I felt a lump in my throat when the legendary Sir Stirling Moss gave Lewis Hamilton his second place trophy. Sir Stirling had a nasty fall at his home earlier this year, but has now made a full recovery. 🙂

Moss and Hamilton earned the biggest cheer from the Silverstone crowd.

We are now into the second half of the 2010 season, and I predict that we will see more spectacular racing in what is turning out to be one of the best seasons in many years. The next race is in Germany at the nowhere-near-as-good-as-it-was-and-please-make-it-what-it-was-again Hockenheimring.

HRT, who replaced Bruno Senna with Sakon Yamamoto for Silverstone have dropped Karun Chandhok for Yamamoto for next weekend’s race. The team have also told young Senna that he will have a seat for the rest of the season.

FINALLY, I am able to post my very own awards for the 2010 World Cup.

Best Picture

Fernando Torres with the World Cup and a Liverpool scarf

See it on my ‘About Pickle92 page’. What a message to send to us fans.

Worst Team


Public in-fighting, players refusing to train and insulting the manager who himself was clueless.

Most Disappointing Team


We were supposed to have one of our best ever World Cups, but instead had our worst.

Villain of the World Cup

Luis Suárez

Handball on the line cost Ghana a place in the last four. He then said that his was the true hand of God, and that he pulled off the save of the tournament.

Pipe and Slippers Team


They were an old team four years ago, and many of that squad were in South Africa.

Best Underdogs


Made it into the last 16 after beating Italy.

Best Match

Slovakia 3-2 Italy

Slovakia knockout the reigning Champions, who wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Worst Match

Portugal 0-0 Brazil

Two of the best teams in the world played as if they just didn’t care.

Worst Timing


I missed England’s goal against U.S.A. because an advert came on.

Most Proud Player

Jong Tae-Se of North Korea

He cried his eyes out during his countries anthem against Brazil. Many players can learn a lot from him.

My Biggest Cheer

Tshabalala’s goal against Mexico

Fantastic goal to give the host nation the lead in the opening game.

Teams Other than England who at one point had My Support

South Africa, New Zealand, North Korea (all three games), Slovakia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain and the English Officials (all games)

Best Story

Iker Casillas forgetting to post his father’s £1million pools coupon

Worst Quote

Wayne Rooney

“Nice to see your home fans booing ya. That’s what loyal support is.” This was after England drew 0-0 with Algeria.

Worst Play Acting

Kader Keïta of Côte d’Ivoire

He faked injury after running into Kaká and got the Brazilian sent-off.

Red Mist Award

Sani Kaita of Nigeria

He kicked a Greek player whilst off the field when his team were 1-0 up. They went on to lose 1-2.

Worst Injury / Brave Little Solider Award

Zdeno Štrba of Slovakia

Had his knee cut open against Italy, but still played on for another 40 minutes!

Best TV Pundit

Marcel Desailly (ITV)

For saying what we were all thinking about England, and for his reactions when his birthland (Ghana) scored (see below).

Best Individual Performance

Paul the Octopus

He predicted the correct winners in all of Germany’s seven matches (including their shock loss to Serbia). He also correctly predicted that Spain would win the Final.

English hatched Paul cost bookmaker William Hill £500,000 alone. He has now retired from Football and since returned to his day job in Oberhausen’s Sea Life Centre in Germany.

Zakumi: “Well that’s it then. Our time together is over.”

P92: “It’s been brilliant having you with me during your World Cup man.”

Zakumi: “I’ll keep in touch. If anything else comes up about the 2010 World Cup on this blog I’ll be here.”

P92: “I hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the World Cup, and thank you for reading it.”

Zakumi: “Bye everybody.”

WE all know that Spain took the top FIFA prize in South Africa (see below), but these are the other awards the governing body dished out.

Golden Ball – Best Player

Diego Forlán (Uruguay)

Golden Boot – Top Goalscorer

Thomas Müller (Germany)

5 Goals & 3 Assists

Golden Glove – Best Goalkeeper

Iker Casillas (Spain)

Best Young Player – Best Under-21

Thomas Müller (Germany)

Fair Play Trophy – Most Disciplined Team


Zakumi: “Can’t argue with these, but where are your awards?”

P92: “Er…They’ll be on tomorrow.”

2010 World Champions - Spain

I’M having issues with this blog. I just can’t get it to look they way I want.

Zakumi: “It’ll be fine tomorrow.”

P92: “I hope.”








MotM = Andrés INIESTA (ESP)

Andrés INIESTA 116’


Ref = Howard WEBB (ENG)

Johannesburg – JSC

SPAIN won their first World Cup last night with a 1-0 extra-time win over the Netherlands, who taste bitter defeat in the Final for a third time.

The Spanish exploded out of the starting blocks as they went for an early goal. Sergio Ramos had a close-range header saved less than five minutes in and David Villa hit the side netting soon after.

Dutch number eight Nigel de Jong was lucky not to have been sent-off when he kicked XABI ALONSO in the chest. Mark van Bommel (Netherlands) was also lucky to still be on the pitch in the first half.

Netherlands finished the first 45 minutes the stronger side, and continued with that momentum when the game restarted. Spain did up their game, but had captain Iker Casillas to thank when he saved a shot from Arjen Robben with his leg after the Dutchman and he went one-on-one.

It was now Spain’s turn to have the most of the game. Villa saw his close-range effort cleared away from goal and Ramos this time headed over when he should’ve scored. Robben then tried his luck again at the other end of the pitch, and again Casillas got in his way.

The second half also saw both number sixes, van Bommel and Andrés Iniesta nearly have a fight, but I’d call it handbags at ten paces.

With the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes, we went into extra-time.

Cesc Fábregas had two great chances to give Spain the lead, but one was saved by Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and the other went wide. Team-mate Jesús Navas almost scored in the first period of extra-time as well but his shot was deflected into the side netting by Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst in his last ever game.

In the second period of extra-time both sides well and truly went for it. Nobody wanted penalties like the 2006 Final. What was already a bad tempered game boiled over when English ref Howard Webb gave a second yellow card to Dutchman John Heitinga.

With just four minutes left, Spain tore into the Dutch half of the pitch, and Iniesta smashed the ball into the goal from the resulting attack. Spain held on for the last few minutes to become World Champions for the very first time.

This was a brutal game of football, but wasn’t the classic I was expecting it to be. The Dutch seemed to think that they could literally break Spain down. Neither side gave English ref Howard Webb an easy game, but he did the very best job he could under the circumstances. All in all, the best (and right) team won.

This Final saw a number of firsts for the World Cup, and here they are:

  • The first Final since 1978 (Argentina vs. Netherlands) with two teams who had never previously won the title.
  • The first ever Final not to have either: Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina in it.
  • Spain becomes the first European side to win the World Cup outside of Europe.
  • The first time that two different European sides have won the World Cup consecutively: (Italy 2006, Spain 2010). The previous occasion Europe won the World Cup back-to-back was with Italy in 1934 and 1938.
  • Spain also becomes the first team to have lost their opening game (0-1 to Switzerland) and then go on to win the World Cup.

Some other notable records are:

  • This was the first World Cup that saw both of the previous finalists (Italy and France) eliminated in the groups. They both finished bottom of their groups.
  • The Final saw a record 14 yellow cards with one red.
  • Spain scored the fewest ever amount of goals by the Champions with just eight. They only let in two, tying with France in 1998 and Italy in 2006.

Zakumi: “Congratulations Spain on winning your first ever World Cup.”

P92: “I echo that. Tomorrow you will be able to see the FIFA awards for players and teams, and my own special awards along with them.”

Zakumi: “I can’t wait for that.”

P92: “Me neither.”