Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: November 2010

THE first Test match of the 2010/11 Ashes series at The Gabba in Brisbane ended in a Draw, but not after some truly epic scorecards were produced.

England captain Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat first. This ruled out the possibility of a repeat of the infamous first ball of the last series down-under (Steve Harmison bowled a wide to second slip).

The first thing Ponting will lose this winter.

Unfortunately Australia had something to laugh about after just three balls this time when Strauss was caught by Michael Hussey of the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus for a duck. 😦

Oh Duck!

From being 0-1, 41-2, 117-3 and 125-4 England got the score up to 197-4. Then Peter Siddle came on to bowl. The Birthday boy, 26, then took the first Ashes Hat-Trick since England’s Darren Gough took three wickets in as many balls in Sydney in 1999. Siddle dismissed Alastair Cook for 67 (caught Shane Watson), bowled England’s wicketkeeper Matt Prior for a golden duck and dismissed Stuart Broad L.B.W.

Siddle appeals for L.B.W. against Broad for his Hat-Trick.

 

Broad is given out, and Siddle is destined not to remember anything more of his Birthday.

We were now 197-7 and were it not for Ian Bell’s 76 we would have gotten nowhere near our eventual total of 260. Siddle finished the innings with bowling figures of 6-54.

Australia’s reply got off to a shaky start and at one point they were 143-5. But a Gabba partnership record of 307 runs between Michael Hussey (195 caught Alastair Cook of Steven Finn) and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (136 caught Paul Collingwood of Graeme Swann) helped Australia to a first innings total of 481 and a lead of 221 runs.

Hussey reaches three figures. Haddin will later go on to reach this mark as well.

 Finn (below) matched Siddle by taking six wickets but conceded 125 runs in the process.

Things looked grim. Surly we couldn’t get hammered by an innings in the first Test?

Fortunately Strauss, Cook and Trott wrote themselves into the record books and saved England’s first innings blushes. Captain Strauss scored 110 before being stumped by Haddin of the bowling of Marcus North. He and Cook had put on an opening stand of 188 runs between them. This beat the record for the largest England opening partnership at The Gabba, during which they overtook the great Sir Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe as England’s largest scoring opening batsmen.

Strauss celebrates his 100.

 But the loss of Strauss was only a slight setback. Cook and new-man-in Trott put on a massive Hussey and Haddin record breaking 329 run partnership for the second wicket. Cook – who had an average summer – had scored a career high 235 not out, beating Sir Don Bradman’s previous Gabba record of 226.

“The greatest innings by an Englishman I’ve ever seen.” – Andrew Strauss.

Trott 135 not out when Strauss declared the England innings on a jaw-dropping 517-1. It is not every day that the top three batsmen all score tons! 😀

Well done lads!

This set Australia 297 to win off of 41 overs. Simon Katich was out for just 4 (caught Strauss of Broad) and the Aussies were 5-1. But Shane Watson and Captain Ricky Ponting held on scoring 41 not out and 51 not out respectively as Australia ended the last day on 107-1.

I was seriously worried halfway through this Test match about England’s chances of getting anything out of it that was positive. But we have shown the Aussies that we are made of stronger stuff than four years ago.

All Australians beware! We are coming to get you at Adelaide…BRING IT ON!

England officially pwne Aussie bowlers!

 

Ashes 2010/11 1st Test – The Gabba, Brisbane

England won the toss and elected to bat

England

vs.

Australia

260 (76.5 overs @ 3.38 rpo)

1st Innings

481 (158.4 overs @ 3.03 rpo)

I.R. Bell 76 (131)

M.E.K. Hussey 195 (330)

P.M. Siddle 6-54

S.T. Finn 6-125

517-1 dec. (152 overs @ 3.40 rpo)

2nd Innings

107-1 (26 overs @ 4.12 rpo)

A.N. Cook 235* (428)

R.T. Ponting 51* (43)

M.J. North 1-47

S.C.J. Broad 1-18

Umpires – Aleem Dar (Pak) and Billy Doctrove (WI)

Match Drawn – Series level at 0-0 with four Tests remaining

Man of the Match = A.N. Cook (England)

TODAY the draw was made for the sixth FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be played between 26 June and 17 July next year in Germany.

There were plans to expand the number of nations in the finals from 16 to 24. These plans were later scrapped when it became apparent that there would be too many sitting ducks if you will. Germany beat Argentina 11-0 in the opening match of the 2007 World Cup and it was the fear of even higher scorelines that made FIFA keep the number of finalists at 16.

The 16 countries that will battle it out in Germany are:

Zone

Country

Key Info

AFC (Asia)

Australia

Asian Champions

Japan

Ranked 5th in the World

North Korea

Ranked 6th in the World

CAF (Africa)

Equatorial Guinea

Making Debut

Nigeria

African Champions

CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean)

Canada

North American Champions

Mexico

Ranked 22nd in World

U.S.A.

1991 and 1999 World Champions, Ranked 1st in the World

CONMEBOL (South America)

Brazil

South American Champions

Colombia

Making Debut

OFC (Oceania)

New Zealand

Oceania Champions

UEFA (Europe)

England

Ranked 10th in the World

France

Ranked 8th in the World

Germany

Hosts, Double Reigning World Champions, won six of last seven European Championships

Norway

1995 World Champions

Sweden

Ranked 4th in the World

Brazil, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden and U.S.A. have appeared in every women’s World Cup since its debut in 1991. Conversely, this is the first time that China have failed to appear.

The groups were drawn as follows (World Rank show as (x))…

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Germany (Hosts and Double Reigning Champions) (2)

Japan (5)

U.S.A. (1)

Brazil (3)

Canada (9)

New Zealand (23)

North Korea (6)

Australia (12)

Nigeria (27)

Mexico (22)

Colombia (32)

Norway (7)

France (8)

England (10)

Sweden (4)

Equatorial Guinea (62)

England should be able to make it into the Quarter-Finals but then we could quite easily come up against Germany yet again. 😦

The Group of Death has to be Group C, with Colombia as the whipping girls. Leaving aside the current relationship between the U.S.A. and North Korea, we have the top, fourth and sixth ranked teams in the world in the same group!

Hold onto your hats everybody because this could get interesting.

NEXT YEAR’S Rugby Union World Cup in New Zealand at last has its full line up of teams confirmed.

New Zealand of course didn’t have to qualify as they are the host nation.

The following 11 teams also didn’t have to qualify because they finished in the top three of their groups in the last World Cup in France in 2007. They are: Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, reigning World Champions South Africa, Tonga and Wales.

The next seven teams all qualified after finishing their regional qualifying section in the required places. These countries are: Canada, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Russia – the only team who are making their debut, Samoa and U.S.A.

The final place was contested over by four teams who had failed to qualify directly from their regional groups, but had done well enough to be given a second chance. They were: Kazakhstan, Romania, Tunisia and Uruguay. Romania beat Tunisia 56-13 and Uruguay beat Kazakhstan 44-7. Romania and Uruguay drew the first leg of the final in Montevideo 21-21, but in Bucharest today Romania ran out 39-12 winners, winning the tie 60-33 on aggregate and qualified for the finals.

Now the draw for the groups was made back in December 2008 and goes like this:

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

New Zealand (Hosts)

Argentina

Australia

South Africa (Reigning Champions)

France

England

Ireland

Wales

Tonga

Scotland

Italy

Fiji

Canada

Georgia

Russia

Samoa

Japan

Romania

U.S.A.

Namibia

The competition kicks-off on 9 September 2011 with New Zealand taking on fellow Haka performers Tonga see below. This will be the first opening match since 1995 which doesn’t include Argentina.

England’s first match is against Argentina on 10 September, followed by Georgia on 18 September, Romania on 24 September and arch rivals Scotland on 1 October.

Even though it is just under a year away, BRING IT ON!

 

 

England

1

vs.

2

France

Peter CROUCH 86’

Att. = 85,495

Karim BENZEMA 16’

Mathieu VALBUENA 55’

International Friendly

Ref = Claus BO LARSEN (DEN)

Wembley Stadium

ENGLAND suffered a sickening defeat to rivals France on Wednesday (17 November). This is the national side’s first home loss under coach Fabio Capello.

The home team almost scored after just two minutes; Steven Gerrard had his free-kick comfortably saved by French keeper and captain Hugo Lloris.

France then utterly dominated the next period of the game. England keeper Ben Foster almost spilt Florent Malouda’s shot before Karim Benzema scored at the near post after a lovely passing move between himself and Malouda. But England did have some chances in the first-half but they were few and far between. Gerrard blasted a shot over and debutant Andy Carroll could only provide Lloris with some catching practice.

The first real action of the second-half came ten minutes in. Bacary Sagna crosses the ball into the box and Mathieu Valbuena seemed to appear out of thin air to guide the ball into the back of the net for 0-2 to the visitors.

Gerrard almost pulled a goal back for England just after the hour mark, but his header from a free-kick landed on top of the crossbar. Seven minutes later Carroll again saw his attempt on the French goal saved by Lloris. With just 15 minutes left on the clock a game of pinball broke out on the edge of the French penalty area, but alas England couldn’t make the ball go in the hole.

The clock now said 80 minutes and England were getting desperate. Gerrard shot wide after Lloris spilt the ball, and France almost capitalised on England going forward but Samir Nasri hit the post.

With only five minutes left Steven Gerrard injured his hamstring and had to be replaced by Peter Crouch. It later emerged that the FA had told Liverpool that Gerrard would only play 60 minutes. Stuff was written and stuff was said in the heat of the moment and I hate to disagree with the club I support, but he was playing for a different (and more important) team when he got injured.

Less than a minute later England finally scored thanks to the long legs of Peter Crouch. The 6 ft 7 in striker arrowed the ball into the roof of the French net from a corner for his 22nd international goal in only his 42nd appearance.

Why is Crouch never started? He is a proven international goal scorer, so why is he left on the bench?

England almost equalised in the 92nd minute through new boy Jay Bothroyd but again Lloris caught the shot and secured his nation the win. Capello’s team had finished the stronger side, but over the whole 90 minutes France where the worthy victors.

Now, I was rather ill on Wednesday night (and missed school on Thursday and Friday because of it) and watching this made me feel even worse. The only consolidation England fans had at the World Cup in the summer was that we weren’t France. They publicly fell out with each other and brought shame to their nation in such a way that a government enquiry was launched into what the hell went wrong.  They also had to live with the shame of France being ranked as low as 27th in the world (no disrespect to Denmark who are currently ranked 27th in the world).

But the management was changed and the troublesome players were banned. The side is on the up and doubtlessly France’s time will come again. But England are just the same old team, the same old management, the same old high hopes, and the same old disappointment.

Going into this game England were ranked 6th in the world by FIFA, France were 21st. On the evidence of what I saw on Wednesday night I wonder if FIFA got their sums the wrong way around.

Some other friendly internationals from Wednesday night

Argentina 1 – 0 Brazil

Hong Kong 0 – 7 Paraguay

Netherlands 1 – 0 Turkey

Northern Ireland 1 – 1 Morocco

Portugal 4 – 0 Spain

Republic of Ireland 1 – 2 Norway

Romania 1 – 1 Italy

South Africa 0 – 1 U.S.A.

Sweden 0 – 0 Germany

(Tuesday) Scotland 3 – 0 Faroe Islands

Euro 2012 Qualifiers

Croatia 3 – 0 Malta GC

Finland 8 – 0 San Marino

SEBASTIAN VETTEL of Red Bull became the youngest ever F1 Drivers’ World Champion by winning last Sunday’s (14 November) Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Welcome to the club Seb!

Vettel, who took the title at the age of 23 years 134 days, won the 55 lap race in a time of 1:39:36.837 (114.324 mph). The two previous World Champions, Lewis Hamilton (2008) and Jenson Button (2009) (both McLaren) came home in second and third places respectively. Hamilton also set the fastest lap of race, a 1:41.274 (122.673 mph). The two drivers who lead the title race going into the final Grand Prix of the season, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Mark Webber (Red Bull) could only finish down in seventh and eighth places respectively.

When the race got underway Vettel kept his first place by easing out Hamilton into the first corner, but Alonso lost his third place to the fast starting Button, who could still play a vital part in deciding the championship.

Here we go!

While all this was going on up front, tragedy almost unfolded before our eyes. Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) was following his former Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello (Williams), with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg alongside him. On the exit of Turn 6 Rosberg and Schumacher came within inches of each other and Schumacher spun 180˚ and was now facing oncoming traffic. He tried desperately to spin around, but was hit head on by the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi. The Force India climbed up the front of the Mercedes and only just missed Schumacher’s head. It looked worse in real-time and from the camera angel I saw it at, I honestly thought Michael Schumacher had been killed. But to my great relief, his head moved naturally in the cockpit, and before too long he and Liuzzi were walking back to the pits together. This crash naturally brought out the Safety Car for yet another appearance this season.

Michael! You are too old for this S***!

The race was back on at the end of lap 5 and just as he had done so many times earlier in the season Vettel shot off into the distance leaving his fellow title challengers to eat his dust. Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov had taken advantage of the early SC to get their pit stop out of the way and immediately began to pass other cars on old tyres.

On lap 11 Mark Webber radioed the Red Bull pit wall telling them that he had lost the grip in his rear-tyres. We saw that he was struggling for grip when he had hit the Armco at Turn 19 a few laps earlier. The Red Bull pit crew raced into the pits and Webber came in and had his tyres changed. The Australian rejoined the race in 16th place behind Toro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari who let him through with no trouble. This is probably because he was driving the Red Bull ‘B team’s’ car.

Alonso dived into the pits at the end of lap 15 to have his tyres changed and found himself behind Petrov’s Renault in 12th place, but more importantly he was in front of Webber who needed to beat Alonso to have any hope of winning the title.

The millions watching the race now expected Alonso to breeze past Petrov who was still a rookie and under pressure to keep his drive for 2011. But the young Russian’s Renault was proving to be as wide as the Iron Curtain and Alonso was starting to get fidgety. By lap 23 he was so fidgety in fact that he put off braking into Turn 11 too long and instead of passing Petrov, went off and would have lost his place to Webber if the Red Bull was any much closer. While all this was going on Hamilton pitted. The front three of Vettel, Hamilton and Button had seen their tyres come back to life and were still charging around the track. Hamilton rejoined the race behind the Renault of Robert Kubica who like Petrov would prove to be virtually impossible to pass.

Race leader Vettel pitted at the end of the next lap, letting outgoing World Champion Jenson Button inherit the lead. Vettel came back out on track just ahead of the third placed Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and the Kubica – Hamilton fight. This swung the odds massively in Vettel’s favour. He was in a net first place (Button was yet to pit) and all the other title challengers were stuck behind Renaults!

Button pitted at the end of lap 39 and Vettel re-took the lead. The McLaren driver came back out in fourth place behind his team-mate Hamilton who was still behind Kubica, who didn’t pit until the end of lap 46. All the while Petrov was still preventing Alonso and Webber from getting to where they needed to finish.

Not even those ill-gotten seven points in Germany were going to help Alonso pass Petrov.

Vettel crossed the line at the end of the 55th and last lap first – his third win in the last four races – with both McLaren’s second and third. But he still wasn’t World Champion yet and his radio went silent. As we saw at Brazil in 2008 it isn’t over until the last car crosses the line, and Red Bull didn’t want him to get his hopes up. Further back Alonso tried one last ditch dive up the inside of Petrov but failed, and it was confirmed that Vettel won the title.

The 23 year-old German burst into tears when he was told over the radio that he had realised his dream. What a feeling that must be.

Alonso spoiled the mood slightly after the race by angrily waving his hands at a bemused Petrov on the slowing-down lap. Yes you may have been faster Fernando, but unlike Massa, Petrov wouldn’t move for you. And why should he have? In my opinion, Petrov’s drive in this race was the best of the season, and he totally deserves a 2011 race seat.

With regards to our new Champion, the right man won I cannot deny it. Vettel won five races, took ten podiums finishes, took 10 pole positions and set three fastest laps. He would have won in Australia but his brakes failed on him, he would have come in the top two in Turkey if he didn’t have himself and Webber off and he would have won in South Korea if his engine didn’t blow up. Remarkably this is the first time in his career that Vettel has even led the drivers’ championship. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Schumacher congratulating Vettel after the race.

But, will he defend his title next year? That is the question.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – Final Standings

Pos

Driver

Constructor(s)

Points

Gap From 1st

World Champion

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

256

2

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

252

4

3

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

242

14

4

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

240

16

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

214

42

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

144

112

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

142

114

8

Robert KUBICA (POL)

Renault

136

120

9

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

72

184

10

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

47

209

11

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

47

209

12

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

32

224

13

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

27

229

14

Nico HÜLKENBERG (GER)

Williams

22

234

15

Vitantonio LIUZZI (ITA)

Force India

21

235

16

Sébastien BUEMI (SUI)

Toro Rosso

8

248

17

Pedro DE LA ROSA (ESP)

Sauber (1-14)

6

250

18

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Sauber (15-19)

6

250

19

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

5

251

20

Heikki KOVALAINEN (FIN)

Lotus

0

256

21

Jarno TRULLI (ITA)

Lotus

0

256

22

Karun CHANDHOK (IND)

HRT (1-10)

0

256

23

Bruno SENNA (BRA)

HRT (1-9, 11-19)

0

256

24

Lucas DI GRASSI (BRA)

Virgin

0

256

25

Timo GLOCK (GER)

Virgin

0

256

26

Sakon YAMAMOTO (JAP)

HRT (10-14, 16-17)

0

256

27

Christian KLIEN (AUT)

HRT (15, 18-19)

0

256

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – Final Standings

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

World Champions

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

498

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

454

44

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

396

102

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

214

284

5

RENAULT (FRA)

Renault

163

335

6

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

69

429

7

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

68

430

8

SAUBER (SUI)

Ferrari

44

454

9

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

13

485

10

LOTUS (MAL)

Cosworth

0

0

11

HRT (ESP)

Cosworth

0

0

12

VIRGIN (ENG)

Cosworth

0

0

More F1 2010/11 blogs will follow between now and Christmas.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL of Red Bull took his tenth pole-position of the season in the qualifying session for this year’s Championship deciding race in Abu Dhabi tomorrow. The title challenger’s Q3 time was 1:39.394 (124.993 mph). Fellow title contender Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) will line up second on the grid, with Championship leader Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) third. Second placed man in the title hunt, Mark Webber (Red Bull), could only manage fifth on the grid.

The rest of the top ten from fourth to tenth are: Jenson Button (McLaren), Webber, Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Rubens Barrichello (Williams), Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Vitaly Petrov (Renault).

There was a moment of controversy in Q2 when Massa and Hamilton almost crashed into each other at Turn 5. Neither car was damaged and both drivers escaped punishment, but one bollard was taken clean out of the ground by the McLaren. It would have been a mockery to penalise both drivers and the right decision was made.

For the first time this season Renault’s Robert Kubica failed to make it into Q3, and will start from 11th on the grid. This means the only two drivers who have made it into Q3 at all 19 races in 2010 are Vettel and Webber, surprise surprise.

As for tomorrow’s race I can’t see a clear winner. It looks like Vettel and Hamilton will race off into the distance, but as we have seen over this great season, anything can happen.

May the best man win the title (so long as it is by more than seven points if it is Alonso).

THE 2010 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion will be one of four men. They are: Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.

This is the first time ever that four drivers can win the title at the last race of the season, so as you can imagine there is a vast amount of different outcomes on offer. We will start with the man who is the outsider for this year’s crown.

Lewis Hamilton – 222 points: The 2008 World Champion will be Champion again if…

  • He wins; Alonso fails to score with Webber no higher than 6th and Vettel no higher than 3rd.

He must win to stand any chance of taking his second title.

Sebastian Vettel – 231 points: Last year’s runner-up will be Champion if…

  • He wins with Alonso no higher than 5th.
  • He is 2nd, with Alonso no higher than 9th and Webber is no higher than 5th.

So Vettel must win or come 2nd to be in with a shout.

Mark Webber – 238 points: He will become the third Aussie to win the title if…

  • He wins with Alonso no higher than 3rd.
  • He is 2nd, with Alonso no higher than 6th, as long as Vettel does not win.
  • He is 3rd, with Alonso no higher than 7th, as long as Vettel does not win.
  • He is 4th, with Alonso no higher than 9th, as long as Vettel does not win.
  • He is 5th, with Alonso no higher than 10th, as long as Vettel does not win.

Webber must be in the top five to be in contention.

Fernando Alonso – 246 points: The Spaniard will take his third title if…

  • He wins or is 2nd.
  • He is 3rd, 4th or 5th, with neither Webber nor Vettel winning.
  • He is 6th, with Webber no higher than 3rd, as long as Vettel does not win.
  • He is 7th or 8th, with Webber no higher than 4th, as long as Vettel does not win.
  • He is 9th, with Webber no higher than 5th, as long as Vettel is not on the podium.
  • He is 10th, with Webber no higher than 6th, as long as Vettel is not on the podium.
  • He fails to score, with Webber no higher than 6th, as long as Vettel is not on the podium and Hamilton does not win.

 All Alonso has to do is finish 1st or 2nd and all the above is irrelevant.

Deadlock – 256 points: Alonso, Webber and Vettel can all finish on this score, and have the Championship decided on count back for the first time ever if…

  • Vettel wins, Webber is 2nd and Alonso is 5th.

Vettel and Alonso would have five wins each, two 2nd places each and three 3rd places each. Vettel would be Champion because he would have three 4th places to Alonso’s two.

Phew.

RED BULL became Formula 1 Constructors’ World Champions with their 1-2 finish in last Sunday’s (7 November) Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. It was Sebastian Vettel who won the 71 lap race ahead of his team-mate Mark Webber in a time of 1:33:11.803 (122.365 mph), with Drivers’ Championship leader Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) coming home in third place. The Fastest Lap of the race was set by fourth place finisher Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) who produced a lap of 1:13.851 (130.495 mph).

Sebastian Vettel (L) celebrates his victory and Red Bull’s first Constructors’ Championship with team Principal Christian Horner (R).

All four of the above drivers can still win the title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday (14 November). This is the first time ever that four drivers will be in with a chance of the title at the last race of the season. Reigning World Champion Jenson Button (McLaren) saw his hopes of becoming the first British driver to defend the title have now gone with his fifth place in Brazil.

The race itself started with Williams’ rookie driver Nico Hülkenberg on pole. He got away from the line well, but was no match for Vettel who led going into the Senna ‘S’ for the first time. Hamilton managed to get his nose ahead of Webber but had to back out of the move. This left Webber able to have a clear run at Hülkenberg down the Reta Oposta straight. The Australian dummied the reigning GP2 Champion and passed him up the inside at the Descida do Lago double left-hander.

Vettel (Far Right) takes the lead away from Nico Hülkenberg (Middle) at the start.

Alonso tried his luck at passing Hamilton on the start/finish straight at the beginning of the second lap but just didn’t have that little bit extra speed in his Ferrari to get around the McLaren. But the Spaniard’s luck was back in again when Hamilton went wide at the Descida do Lago and just as in South Korea, Alonso effortlessly passed him.

The 2005 and 2006 World Champion now had Hülkenberg in his sights. However, the pole sitter was not making life easy for Alonso who also had to be aware of Hamilton behind him; and it wasn’t until lap seven when he took advantage of Hülkenberg’s inexperience and passed him, also at the Descida do Lago. Now it was Hamilton’s turn to swarm all over the back of the Williams, yet he couldn’t do what Alonso had done and needed to wait until Hülkenberg pitted at the end of lap 14 in order to get by. This was also the lap in which Felipe Massa’s (Ferrari) home race was ruined by a problem with his right-front wheel nut. He had to come in again on the next lap so his mechanics could tighten it. Speaking of Brazilian’s having bad luck at Interlagos; Rubens Barrichello (Williams) suffered a puncture after hitting Jamie Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso, Lucas di Grassi (Virgin) finished nine laps down after experiencing car troubles and was not classified; Bruno Senna (HRT) finished in 21st place.

Vettel lost the lead when he made is pit-stop at the end of lap 25 to Webber. Webber then handed first place back to his team-mate one lap later when it was his turn to come in for new tyres. Meanwhile Jenson Button was making his way up through the field after starting 11th, just as he did last year (but from 14th) in order to take the Championship. By lap 31 (roughly half distance) Vettel was leading from: Webber, Alonso, Hamilton and Button. In other words all five title contenders were in the top five.

With only 20 laps to go both the Red Bulls were in the midst of lapping around eight other cars that were all racing each other. But the team’s problems were made easier when Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi crashed at the lower half of the Senna ‘S’. The car couldn’t be moved safely while the others were at racing speeds, so out came the Safety Car.

The racing was underway again at the end of lap 55. Vettel charged away from Webber who still had a couple of cars to lap. Alonso and Hamilton were further back in the pack of lapped cars, and by the time they were clear the Red Bulls were gone and on their way to their Championship clinching first and second places.

Well done Red Bull (he writes with gritted teeth). They have had the best car all season, but really should have won the title races ago.

As with regards to the drivers’ title, I’ll have all the ins and outs for you on Friday (12 November) evening.

DRIVERS’ STANDINGS (18/19 GPs)

Pos

Driver

Constructor(s)

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

246

2

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

238

8

3

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

231

15

4

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

222

24

5

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

199

47*

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

143

103*

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

130

116*

8

Robert KUBICA (POL)

Renault

126

120*

9

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

72

174*

10

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

47

199*

*Can’t win title.

There are just 25 points available

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS (18/19 GPs)

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

World Champions

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

469

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

421

48

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

389

80

4

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

202

267

5

RENAULT (FRA)

Renault

145

324

6

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

69

400

7

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

68

401

8

SAUBER (SUI)

Ferrari

44

425

9

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

11

458

Yet to Score

LOTUS (MAL), HRT (ESP), VIRGIN (ENG)

Cosworth (All)

0

469

 

There are 43 points available

NICO HÜLKENBERG (Williams) took his first ever pole position in yesterdays Qualifying session for this afternoons Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. He was the driver who got the maximum number of laps on a drying track in Q3, when the conditions on the track where not quite right for either dry tyres of inters.

The reigning GP2 Champion’s fastest Q3 time was 1:14.470 (129.411 mph). Apart from being Hülkenberg’s first pole, it is also Williams’ first pole since the 2005 European Grand Prix and Cosworth’s first pole since the 1999 French Grand Prix.

The two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took second and third on the grid respectively, over a whole second behind Hülkenberg!

The rest of the top ten from fourth to tenth are: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Rubens Barrichello (Williams), Robert Kubica (Renault), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Vitaly Petrov (Renault).

Reigning World Champion Jenson Button (McLaren) could only manage 11th place on the grid, and must surely be out of title contention now. But he did qualify down in 14th last year and still came fifth.

Breaking News: Jenson Button was almost carjacked in São Paulo last night. Six armed men approached the car he, his manager and trainer were travelling in. But all of them escaped unhurt after an armed policeman got them away in an armoured vehicle. Lucky boys indeed.

Anyway back to the racing. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg also missed the Q3 cut and starts down in 13th place. Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) and Adrian Sutil (Force India) will start 20th and 23rd respectively after taking five-place grid drops for their actions in South Korea. Bruno Senna – who is racing in São Paulo for the first time ever – will start the race from the back of the grid.

With regards to the start of the race, let’s face it Hülkenberg is a rolling road block if it is dry. He has: fourth, second, third and first in the championship all sitting behind him. He can hold up both Red Bulls and Alonso all he likes. Just don’t get in Hamilton’s way!

MY family and I went so see the Anderson Wakeman 360 Project on 16 October at the Assembly Halls Theatre in Tunbridge Wells.For those of you aren’t too familiar with the world of classic rock, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman were the respective lead vocalist and keyboard player in the group Yes.

Rick Wakeman (L) and Jon Anderson (R)

Last year Wakeman performed his album The Six Wives of Henry VIII live for the first time ever at Hampton Court Palace to high acclaim, having left Yes (again) in 2008. Anderson however has not had it easy over the last few years. He suffered a severe asthma attack in May 2008 and was subsequently diagnosed with acute respiratory failure. It looked like he would never sing again.

But Yes fans need to worry anymore. Jon Anderson can still sing, and he sounds as if he is still in the 1970s.

The whole show was brilliant. All there was on the stage was: Wakeman with his two keyboards and a microphone and Anderson with a guitar for the Yes songs and a microphone. The set itself was made up of songs from the duos new studio album The Living Tree and classic Yes songs.

The first song of the night just so happened to be my favourite Yes song, Starship Trooper. This along with Living Tree track 23/24/11 were my songs of the night.

But it wasn’t just all music. Wakeman is notorious for his story and gag telling, and Anderson is just as bad. The onstage banter between the two close friends was great to see, and really really funny to boot.

Here is the set list (The Living Tree unless noted):

  1. Starship Trooper (Yes – The Yes Album)
  2. Sweet Dreams (Yes – Time and a Word)
  3. Forever
  4. And You And I (Yes – Close to the Edge)
  5. The Living Tree
  6. Morning Star
  7. Your Move (A part of I’ve Seen All Good People (Yes – The Yes Album)
  8. Garden
  9. The Living Tree (Reprise)
  10. Time and a Word (Yes – Time and a Word)
  11. Owner of a Lonely Heart (Yes – 90125)
  12. Long Distance Runaround (Yes – Fragile)
  13. Yours Is No Disgrace (Yes – The Yes Album)
  14. Just One Man
  15. Wonderous Stories (Yes – Going for the One)
  16. 23/24/11
  17. South Side of the Sky (Yes – Fragile)
  18. Turn of the Century (Yes – Going for the One)
  19. House of Freedom
  20. Roundabout (Yes – Fragile)
  21. Soon (Yes – Relayer)
  22. The Meeting (ABWH – Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe)

 

The Living Tree goes on general sale on 29 November.

On a different note, today this blog celebrates its 1st Birthday. YAY! 😀