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Monthly Archives: July 2011

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.
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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. 😀

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! 😀

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!

TODAY (12 July 2011) the gas-giant planet Neptune celebrates its first birthday.

Neptune, the Birthday boy.

The (now) most distant planet in our solar system was officially discovered by German astronomers Johann Gottfried Galle and Heinrich Louis d’Arrest at the Berlin observatory on the night of 23 September 1846.

Galle.

d’Arrest.

The pair followed the calculations made by Englishman John Couch Adams and Frenchman Urbain Le Verrier, who had studied the orbit of the then last planet (Uranus) and calculated that another large object nearby was having an effect on the planet’s orbit.

Couch Adams.

Le Verrier.

Following the Anglo-French calculations, the German pair saw Neptune in almost exactly the right place after only an hour of work. This was the first (and now officially only time) that a planet in our solar system was discovered on purpose.

Now exactly 164.79 Earth years later, one Neptunian year has elapsed. The planet is in the very same place that it was discovered all those years ago.

1846 was the year the Texas state government was installed, the Corn Laws were repealed, the Saxophone and sewing machine were patented, the 49th Parallel boarder between America and Canada was established and Pope Pius IX began the longest papacy in history.

Neptune, named after the Roman God of the sea, is famous for having the fastest recorded wind speeds of any planet in the solar system with speeds of 1,200-mph (1,930-kmph) being clocked on the planet’s surface. The record for fastest wind speed recorded on Earth is a meagre 301ish-mph.

The eighth planet is on average 4.5 billion Km (2.8 billion miles) from the Sun, just over 30-times further away from the Sun than the Earth is. This means surface temperatures are as low as -218˚C (-360˚F, 55K).

With a mean radius of 24,622Km Neptune is around four times larger than Earth and is 17-times more massive (even more massive than Uranus) than Earth, despite not having a solid surface – the atmosphere of Neptune is 80% hydrogen, 19% helium and trace amounts of methane.

There are 13 known moons of Neptune, the most well known of which is Triton. Triton was discovered only 17 days after Neptune and is the only large moon in the solar system to orbit its planet backwards (the opposite direction to which the planet rotates). The theory that I believe is correct for why this is, states that Triton was a Kuiper belt object (like Pluto) that strayed too close to Neptune and was captured by its gravitational pull. It has fascinated astronomers for years because it has frozen nitrogen on its surface and is one of the few moons in the solar system to be geologically active.

Triton.

Unfortunately due to how far away Neptune is from Earth, we have only visited it once. That was back in 1989 when the legendary Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by it and Triton on 25 August 1989, taking the definitive picture of Neptune (above).

Voyager 2 and Neptune.

So happy first birthday Neptune, and what better way is there to celebrate a planet’s birthday than by playing their piece from Holst’s The Planets?

RED BULL’S Mark Webber will start today’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone from Pole-Position, continuing the utter dominance displayed by
the Austrian team this season.

Webber’s Q3 time of 1:30.399 (146.033-mph) was just 0.032-seconds quicker than the fastest time set by his team-mate and reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel, who will start from second on the grid. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will start the race from third on the grid, despite having slid off the track in Q1 at Luffield but kept his Ferrari going.

Q3, like the rest of qualifying, was affected by changeable weather conditions which resulted in some drivers being out of place on the grid.

Fourth to tenth on the grid for today’s race are: 4th) Felipe Massa (Ferrari), homeboys Jenson Button (McLaren) and Paul di Resta (Force India) are fifth and sixth respectively, 7th) Pastor Maldonado (Williams), 8th) Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), 9th) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and 10th) Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) in his home race.

He and Rosberg were really scuppered by the weather, but the pace of the McLaren is something to get worried about.

Q2 saw places 11-17 filled by: 11th) Adrian Sutil (Force India), 12th) Sergio Pérez (Sauber), 13th) Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), 14th) Vitaly Petrov (Renault), 15th) Rubens Barrichello (Williams), 16th) Nick Heidfeld (Renault) and 17th) Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus).

Yes Lotus’s stride towards the ‘established’ teams continues. This time their presents in Q2 was at the expense the Toro Rosso team who saw both drivers eliminated in Q1.

Q1 (as we all know) fills places 18-24 on the grid. 18th and 19th on the grid are the Toro Rossos of Jamie Alguersuari (who for the third race in a row failed to get out of Q1, but he did at least go quicker than his team-mate) Sébastien Buemi. Timo Glock (Virgin) is 20th on the grid, followed by: 21st) Jarno Trulli (Lotus), 22nd) Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin), 23rd) Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT) and Formula 1 debutant, Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo (Narain Karthikeyan’s replacement at HRT) who qualified 24th and last for his first Grand Prix.

Ricciardo (pronounced Riccardo – the second ‘i’ is silent) was over a second inside the 107% Rule time of 1:39.156, setting a 1:38.059.
Yes, he is over half-a-second slower than his team-mate, but he has been faster than him in practice at some points. His participation in this Grand Prix means that for the first time since the 1977 Austrian Grand Prix we have two Australians on the grid. Back then it was Alan Jones (Shadow) and Vern Schuppan (Surtees). This was Jones’s first F1 win and Shadow’s only victory by the way.

Now for my winner prediction. We have two Australians racing today, one at the front of the grid and one at the back. The one at the front will win.

Previous winners of the British Grand Prix starting the race today

  • Michael Schumacher, 3 – 1998, 2002 & 2004 (all for Ferrari).
  • Rubens Barrichello, 2003 (Ferrari).
  • Fernando Alonso, 2006 (Renault).
  • Lewis Hamilton, 2008 (McLaren).
  • Sebastian Vettel, 2009 (Red Bull).
  • Mark Webber, 2010 (Red Bull).

THE 55th European Grand Prix was held on 26 June 2011 at the Valencia Street Circuit in Spain.

This was the fourth time that this particular track has hosted the event. The race was run over 57-laps.

The entire field were looking to stop the Red Bulls (who had locked-out the front row of the grid in Qualifying) and in particular, world championship leader and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, who started from pole.

But Vettel made a good get-away when the lights went green, as did his team-mate Mark Webber. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa made a terrific start
from fifth on the grid and by Turn 2 was challenging Webber for second. However he had to slow down too much, allowing his team-mate Fernando Alonso up into third ahead of him. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton lost out badly, dropping from third to fifth, just ahead of Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.

“You can’t catch me, I’m Sebastian Ve!~”

Button chased Rosberg hard as the leading five drivers pulled away from the two Mercedes-powered cars. On lap six Button out braked
Rosberg into Turn 2 to take his sixth place from him.

Button (L) passed Rosberg on lap 6.

By lap 13 Vettel’s lead over Webber was 3.5-seconds. Meanwhile Hamilton and Rosberg pitted for new tyres, allowing Button up to fifth. Webber
also took the opportunity to stop for fresh rubber at the end of the lap.

On his newer tyres, Hamilton breezed past Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) at Turn 12 on the next lap to take sixth place from the seven-time world champion. Both Vettel and now second placed Alonso pitted, thus allowing Felipe Massa to inherit the lead of the Grand Prix.

After Massa pitted the front runners were back in the right order, and by lap 20 Vettel led the Webber-Alonso battle for second by
2.3-seconds, with Hamilton fourth, Massa fifth and Button sixth 20-seconds behind Vettel.

On the next lap (21) Alonso sold Webber a dummy on the run down to Turn 12 after gaining a massive slipstream from the Red Bull. The double world champion had no trouble with getting his Ferrari up to second.

At the end of lap 24 Hamilton pitted for the second time. But his pit-stop almost ended in disaster when he almost drove away too early. This cost him precious seconds and rejoined the race in sixth place.

Five laps latter Alonso pitted. He almost spun his Ferrari at the pit-lane entrance because he had no rear grip left. The Spaniard rejoined the race in fourth place behind Massa (second) and crucially, Webber who had pitted a lap earlier and passed him on the undercut. Vettel and Button pitted to have their tyres changed one lap later.

This led to Vettel being closely followed by: Massa, Webber and Alonso on lap 31. But Massa was on old tyres and this allowed Vettel to get away whilst holding up Webber and pushing him back into the clutches of Alonso. Webber used his DRS to get around the outside of Massa at Turn 17.
Alonso had to wait for his moment to pass his team-mate because they both had to lap the Lotus of Jarno Trulli. Trulli saw Massa but must have missed Alonso, because he came back across the track after Massa passed him and nearly put Alonso into the wall at well over 160-mph!

As you can well imagine this didn’t go down well with Alonso who waved his hand at Trulli in anger before inheriting Massa’s third place as the Brazilian went into the pits.

The top three of Vettel, Webber and Alonso continued to drive within close proximity of each other, and on lap 35 there were only 3.6-seconds covering them.

The last round of pit-stops took place with around 12/13 laps to go. Alonso pitted at the end of lap 45, just one lap after Webber pitted for new tyres. But Webber was being held up by a train of lapped cars, negating any advantage he could gain over Alonso who exited the pits in second place.

But out at the front was (still) Sebastian Vettel, who drove to his 16th career win in a time of 1:39:36.169, an average speed of
115.618-mph. He has now won as many races as Sir Stirling Moss, and is now one ahead of Hamilton on the all time list. Not bad for a man who has only started 70 Grand Prix.

After all these wins, surly Champagne must taste a bit boring?

Vettel has now won six out of the eight races this season, eight of the last ten and nine of the last 12 Grand Prixs! He also completed a Hat-Trick by setting the Fastest Lap of the race on lap 53 with a 1:41.852 (119.008-mph) tour. In fact the only thing that stopped him from completing a Grand Slam was the fact that Massa led lap 14.

He has also become the first driver in F1 history to finish in the top two at the first eight races of a season. Can anybody stop this guy?!

2011 European Grand Prix @ Valencia Top 10

  1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault), 1h:39m:36.169s – 25 Points.
  2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), + 10.891s – 18 Points. The home fans loved this I bet.
  3. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault), +27.255s – 15 Points. He backed off near the end in order to save his gearbox.
  4. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes), +46.190s – 12 Points.
  5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari), +51.705s – 10 Points.
  6. Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes), +1:00.065 – 8 Points.
  7. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), +1:38.090 – 6 Points.
  8. Jamie Alguersuari (Toro Rosso-Ferrari), +1 Lap –4 Points. This drive from 18th on the grid in front of his home crowd may just have saved his race seat.
  9. Adrian Sutil (Force India-Mercedes), +1 Lap – 2 Points.
  10. Nick Heidfeld (Renault), +1 Lap – 1 Point.

 

This race – despite how boring it was compared to most of the races this season – has gone down in the record books. For only the fourth time in F1 history, there was not a single retirement. The other races when all of the starters finished are: the 1961 Dutch Grand Prix (15 starters)*, the
2005 American Grand Prix (6 starters)† and the 2005 Italian Grand Prix (20 starters).

*As well as every driver finishing the race, not a single pit-stop was made either!

†Only the Bridgestone runners started.

The fact that we have 24 drivers in the grid now means that this race has set the record for the most classified finishers in a Grand Prix. This also means that HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan has become the first man ever to finish 24th in a F1 Grand Prix. The fact that his team-mate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, finished 23rd and almost lapped him is probably the reason why he has lost his seat for the rest of the season to Toro Rosso’s
test driver, Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

The F1 circus now heads to Silverstone for my home race, the British Grand Prix.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 8/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

186

2

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

109

77

3

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

109

77

4

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

97

89

5

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

87

99

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

42

144

7

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

32

154

8

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

31

155

9

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

30

156

10

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

26

160

11

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

25

161

12

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

10

176

13

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

8

178

14

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

8

178

15

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

4

182

16

Sergio PÉREZ (MEX)

Sauber

2

184

17

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

2

184

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 8/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

295

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

206

89

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

129

166

4

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

61

234

5

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

58

237

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

27

268

7

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

16

279

8

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

12

283

9

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

4

291

THE XXIII Winter Olympic Games will be held from 9-25 February 2018 in… the South Korean city of Pyeongchang!

Pyeongchang (population 47,000), approx. 180Km (111-miles) East of the South Korean capital Seoul (host city for the Summer Games in 1988) saw off competition from Munich (Germany) and Annecy (France) to win the rights to host a Winter Games at the third time of trying.

The result of the vote was announced late at night in South Korea, but that hasn’t stopped people partying.

Pyeongchang was edged out by Vancouver (Canada) by just three votes (56:53) in the final round of voting for the 2010 Winter Games after the South Korean city obtained 11 more votes than Vancouver in the first round. There was further disappointment when Sochi (Russia) beat Pyeongchang by only four votes (51:47) in the final round for the 2014 host city after the South Korean city had again won the first round.

But on this occasion, at the 123rd IOC Session in Durban (South Africa) there was only the need for one round of voting. Pyeongchang won 63 (two-thirds) of the 95 votes cast while Munich had 25 votes, with Annecy getting only seven.

This will be the third time that the Winter Olympics will be held in Asia. The previous two occasions were in Japan (Sapporo ’72 and Nagano ’98).

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak was in Durban to see IOC President Jacques Rogge announce (for the last time) the winning city.
President Lee said that it was: “his duty and mission to deliver the Games to Asia. I will make a good Olympics.

President Lee Myung-Bak (second from left) celebrates the long waited victory with the bidding team.

The Pyeongchang bid chief, Cho Yang-ho, added that: “This is one of the happiest days of our country, our people and millions of youth dreaming of winter sport.

Back in late 2009, The Chosun Ilbo (Korean Daily News) published a survey that said 91.4% of South Koreans and 93% of Gangwon residents (Pyeongchang’s region) backed the bid.

I am personally delighted for Pyeongchang. They were narrowly beaten twice and could have given up, but they showed true Olympic spirit to learn from their mistakes to come back even stronger than ever this time around.

President Rogge said: “The best one [bid] has won convincingly. I think that there is a lesson in the achievement of Pyeongchang. Patience and perseverance has prevailed.

My sympathies to the Munich and Annecy bid teams. If Munich had won, it would have been the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, whereas an Annecy games go back to Chamonix – the site of the first ever Winter Olympics back in 1924.

The date of the vote (6 July) is turning out to be unlucky for the French Olympic Committee. It was on 6 July 2005 that Paris lost in the final
round of voting (54:50) to London in the 2012 Summer Games vote.

Attention will now turn to the 2020 Summer Olympic bids. 1960 hosts Rome have made an official bid, as have 2012 and 2016 candidate city
Madrid (Spain) and 2016 candidate city Tokyo (Japan). Tokyo should save their time and money in my opinion, because there will not (surly) be back-to-back Far East Olympics.

We will find out which city will host the 2020 Games on 7 September 2013.