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

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

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

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

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

The ballot paper as used in the referendum.

The new map of the two Sudans.

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

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

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

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

President Kiir Mayardit with the Constitution of South Sudan.

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

Father of the nation, John Garang.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official language = English (all indigenous languages recognised).

Currency = Sudanese Pound (SDG).

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

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

National Anthem = South Sudan Oyee!

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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.

THE 18th under-21 European Championship took
place in Denmark from 11-25 June 2011.

It was held without the participation of 2009 and reigning
champions Germany, as well as 2006 and 2007 champions the Netherlands and 2004 champions and five-time champions
Italy.

This meant that the tournament was well and truly up for
grabs between the eight teams participating. They were: hosts Denmark, Belarus,
2002 champions Czech Republic, 2009 losing finalists and ’82 and ’84 champions
England, Iceland, 1986 and ’96 champions Spain, current under-17 world
champions Switzerland and Ukraine.

Group A consisted of: Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and
Belarus; while Group B contained: Czech Republic, Spain, England and Ukraine.

Belarus’s 2-0 win over Iceland got the tournament underway. Switzerland
added to the Scandinavian misery later on in the second match of the group by
beating the hosts 1-0.

Switzerland caused more Nordic nightmares by inflicting
Iceland’s second straight 2-0 defeat in their second match. Fabian Frei opened
the scoring for the Swiss less than a minute while Innocent Emeghara (a
Nigerian born Swiss) scored the second on 40 minutes.

A crowd of over 18,000 (larger than the eventual Final)
watched Denmark go behind to Belarus after Dzmitry Baha netted 20 minutes in.
But just two minutes later Denmark were level thanks to Christian Eriksen
scoring his own rebounded penalty. He is the hottest thing in Danish football
by the way, and is certainly a name to watch out for in the future. Denmark
pressed hard for the winner, which came via a fabulous solo run from Nicolai Jørgensen
who then smashed the ball home from around 20-odd yards out.

Unfortunately Denmark couldn’t carry on their momentum into
the last group match against Iceland, who beat them 1-3. At the same time
Switzerland put three past Belarus without reply to win the group with nine
points out of nine and six goals for with none against.

However, the other three teams in the group had exactly the same record as each other:
one win, no draws, two defeats, three goals for with five against (thus a goal
difference of -2) and three points. In the 3-way tie-break between them it was
Belarus who came out on top with a goal difference of +1. Iceland’s goal
difference was zero while Denmark’s was -1.

So after all that, Switzerland topped the group with Belarus
advancing in second place. Iceland (third) and hosts Denmark (bottom) went out.

Group B kicked-off with a 2-1 Czech victory over Ukraine
before the two favourites for the crown (Spain and England) went into battle.
It was Spain who took the lead in the 14th minute with a goal from
Ander Herrera. Replays show that the young Spaniard may have used his hand to
put the ball in the net but I can’t be sure. England were dominated for most of
the match but crucially kept Spain at just a goal ahead. That was until the 88th
minute when Danny Welbeck coolly slotted the ball into Spain’s goal for
England’s equaliser. There was a hint
of offside in the goal, but after Spain’s goal I think everything was now even.
Even is how the match finished, 1-1.

Spain won 2-0 against the Czech Republic in their second
match, while England could only manage a boring 0-0 draw against Ukraine.
Daniel Sturridge pounded the crossbar and Welbeck missed when clean through but
that was about it. If England wanted to advance to the Semi-Finals, they needed
to beat the Czech Republic. Only
three points would do.

Both England and the Czech Republic had chances to take the
lead but they were all either wasted or saved. Yet with only 14 minutes of time
left, Welbeck headed England into a 1-0 lead. This would be enough to see the Young Lions into the last four. But fate
favoured the Czechs as in the 89th minute Jan Charmosta poked in the
equaliser, and in the fourth minute of added-time Tomáš Pekhart slotted the ball
into an empty net to give the Czech Republic a 2-1 win. Meanwhile, Spain
brushed aside Ukraine 3-0.

Spain won the group with seven points, followed by the Czech
Republic on six. England crashed out in third place, earning just two points
and no victories, while Ukraine propped up the group with just the single
point.

Watching the Young Lions at this tournament was
exactly like watching the senior side. Loads of promise and potential to go the
distance, but humiliation is all we get. But these guys are young. Hopefully
this will be the last time this group of players disappoint like this.

Back to the four sides still in contention for the title
now, and the Semi-Final line-up saw Spain matched up against Belarus, while
Switzerland had to face the Czech Republic.

Belarus took a shock lead in the 38th minute of
their match against Spain after Andrey Varankow’s overhead kick went in off the
post. The young Belarusians almost
caused the upset of the tournament as they got to the 89th minute
still 1-0 up. But Adrián López levelled for Spain to take the game into
extra-time, then scored again to put Spain 2-1 up just before half-time in
extra-time. A 3-1 Spanish victory was secured when Jeffrén Suárez smashed the
ball home from distance.

Switzerland and the Czech Republic both failed to score in
90 minutes, meaning an extra 30 for them as well. Admir Mehmedi scored from
25-yards out for Switzerland in the 114th minute to see his side
into the Final.

But before the Final, a special match needed to be played.
This competition served as the qualifying competition for the Men’s Olympic
Football tournament in London next year, and three places were up for grabs. If
England (who qualified automatically as hosts (and as Great Britain)) made it
to the Semi-Finals then the other three teams would have qualified for the
Olympics no questions asked. But England didn’t get that far and four teams
were left fighting for three places.

Two of these places would go to finalists Spain and
Switzerland, so losing Semi-Finalists Belarus and the Czech Republic would
play-off for the last ticket to London.

The game was all square until the 88th minute
when Egor Filipenko scored for Belarus from the edge of the area to earn
Belarus’s first appearance as an independent nation in the Olympic Football
tournament.

However, that was just the warm-up for the main event, The Grand
Final. Spain and Switzerland both won their groups and had conceded only two
goals between them (both against Spain). Spain were also out to avenge the
senior side’s defeat to Switzerland in last summer’s World Cup in South Africa.

Ander Herrera headed Spain into the lead four minutes before
half-time, and nine minutes before full-time defender Thiago Alcântara scored a
free-kick from all of 40-yards out to give Spain a 2-0 and the title of European
Under-21 Champions.

Spanish football celebrates yet another championship.

The 16 matches in the tournament saw 36 goals scored at an
average of 2.25 per match. The total gate for the championships was 101,955,
and average of 6,372 per match. Spain’s Adrián López was the top goal scorer
with a total of five.

Adrián López with his Golden Boot.

So, Spain are now: World champions, European champions,
under-21 European champions and world
ranked #1. Can anybody stop their dominance of international football? We’ll
find out when Spain play in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup which kicks-off at the
end of this July in Colombia.

Sorry about the layout. I have no idea why it has done this.

THE 11th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup was held in the United States of America from 5-25 June 2011. This was the 21st overall championships in the North and Central American and Caribbean confederation, which was also celebrating its Golden anniversary.

The 12 teams taking part in the competition where: hosts America, reigning champions Mexico and fellow automatic qualifier Canada, who are the only other nation to have won a Gold Cup besides Mexico and America.

Jamaica, non-FIFA member Guadeloupe, Cuba and Grenada qualified by finishing in the top four in the 2010 Caribbean Championship; while: Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala qualified courtesy of finishing in the top five of the 2011 Copa Centroamericana.

The tournament kicked-off with Group A games Costa Rica vs. Cuba and Mexico vs. El Salvador. Both matches were played in Cowboys Stadium, Arlington (Texas) and were both won 5-0 by Costa Rica and Mexico respectively. Man Utd’s Javier Hernández scored a second-half Hat-Trick for Mexico, who were soon involved in a drugs scandal.

Five Mexico squad members had tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol prior to the start of the tournament and were suspended. The Mexican FA said that the players had eaten contaminated meat but accepted the suspensions. CONCACAF allowed Mexico to replace the players, who’s ‘B’ samples all came back negative.

Mexico didn’t let their off-field problems affect them on the pitch and duly beat Cuba 5-0 and Costa Rica 4-1 to win the group with nine points and 14 goals to their name. Costa Rica just went though as group runners-up ahead of El Salvador on goal difference. El Salvador now had to wait to see if they were one of the two best third-placed teams. Cuba crashed out with a 1-6 defeat by El Salvador, having let in 16 goals and only scored one in their three defeats.

Group B was won by Jamaica who scored seven goals without reply in their three matches which all ended in victory for the Reggae Boyz. Last year’s World Cup participants Honduras finished second in the group on the same amount of points (four) as third placed Guatemala. Grenada proved to be the whipping boys of the group, only scoring once and conceding 15 times as they also lost all three games. They were smashed 1-7 by Honduras in their second game after going 1-0 up.

Hosts America opened with a 2-0 victory over northern neighbours Canada after Panama edged Guadeloupe 3-2 in the opening round of Group C games. The United States were stunned by Panama who beat them 1-2 in their second match, but beat Guadeloupe 1-0 in their last group game to advance in second place behind Panama. Canada were beating Panama 1-0 in their last game and this would have seen Canada into the Quarter-Finals as one of the two best third-placed teams. But Panama equalised in the first minute of stoppage-time through Luis Tejada to knock Canada out.

Guatemala, El Salvador and Canada all finished third in their groups with four points. But Guatemala had a goal difference of +2, El Salvador’s goal difference was zero, whereas Canada’s was -1.

This meant the Quarter-Final line up looked like this: Costa Rica vs. Honduras, Mexico vs. Guatemala, Jamaica vs. U.S.A. and Panama vs. El Salvador.

Costa Rica and Honduras played out a 1-1 draw after extra-time in the first knock-out match. Honduras held their nerve and won the penalty-shoot out 4-2, scoring all of their spot-kicks.

Mexico went behind early against Guatemala thanks to a Carlos Ruiz goal five minutes in. They held on until just after half-time when Aldo de Nigris equalised for the defending champions. Mexico’s winner came from Javier Hernández in the 66th minute.

The United States beat Jamaica 2-0 win in Washington D.C. to book their place in the last four.

Panama again left it late to equalise in their match against El Salvador, who had taken the lead from the penalty spot with only 12 minutes to go. But Tejada scored in the last minute to take the match into extra-time, in which there were no more goals. Dennis Alas missed El Salvador’s first penalty in the shoot-out. This proved to be the only miss of the shoot-out that was won by Panama 5-3. That man Tejada scoring the winner.

The Semi-Finals would see America taking on Panama (who had beaten America in their group match remember) while Honduras had to face Mexico.

Fulham’s Clint Dempsey scored America’s winner against Panama in the 76th minute of their Semi, while Mexico were taken to extra-time by Honduras before de Nigris and Hernández scored in the 93rd and 99th minute respectively to see Mexico into the Final with a 2-0 win.

The Final would see the two highest ranked CONCACAF teams – America and Mexico – taking part in the championship deciding match for the third straight tournament. America won the 2007 Final (2-1) while Mexico won the last Final in 2009 (5-0). This was the fifth time the two would meet in the Final, with Mexico 3-1 up in the head-to-head battle. This would also be America’s eighth Gold Cup Final while this was Mexico’s seventh.

America raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to a an eighth minute header by Aston Villa load signing Michael Bradley (son of the head coach Bob) and a 23rd minute goal by all-time leading U.S. goal scorer Landon Donovan. The crowd of 93,420 inside the Rose Bowl, Pasadena (California) could sense a U.S. victory.

But Mexico had other ideas.

Pablo Barrera got one back for Mexico just before the half-hour. Andrés Guardado equalised on 36 minutes and Barrera scored his second and Mexico’s third five minutes after half-time to give Mexico a 3-2 lead! Mexico’s fourth came after a stunning piece of skill from 22-year-old Giovani dos Santos with 14 minutes left. He dribbled inside the box against five U.S. defenders (including the goalkeeper) before chipping the ball into the top-left corner of the goal over the head of Eric Lichaj. This was later named goal of the tournament, and was the last goal of the tournament as well, as Mexico won the Final 4-2.

 

So, Mexico are champions of the North and Central America and Caribbean zone for the ninth time. This was their sixth Gold Cup and second consecutive title. They won all six of their matches, scored 22 goals and conceded just four (half of these in the Final itself).

Mexico have now moved up 19 places to ninth in the FIFA World Rankings.

The tournaments’ 25 matches saw 80 goals scored at an average of 3.2 per match. The total attendance was 1,125,120, an average gate of 45,005 per match.

Mexico’s Javier Hernández ‘The Little Pea‘ finished as top goal scorer with seven goals to his name, and was also named player of the tournament.

The Little Pea.

Honduras’s goalkeeper Noel Valladares was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Mexico also collected the Fair Play Award for receiving the least amount of cards.

Mexico have now qualified for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil as the CONCACAF representative. They join hosts Brazil, World (and current European champions) Spain and Asian champions Japan.

El Tricolor will now travel to Argentina to take part in the Copa América as one of two invitee teams (the other being Costa Rica). Could Mexico become champions of all the Americas? We’ll find out by 24 July.

RED BULL’S Sebastian Vettel secured his 22nd career pole position and seventh of the season with a Q3 time of 1:36.975 (124.993-mph) around the Valencia Street Circuit ahead of tomorrow’s European Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion will have his team-mate, Mark Webber, for company on the front row of the grid after the Australian set a 1:37.163 in the final part of qualifying. The 2008 world champion, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), will start from third on the grid, after setting a 1:37.380 lap time.

Fourth to tenth on the grid is as follows: 4th) home favourite Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 5th) his team-mate Felipe Massa, 6th) Jenson Button (McLaren), 7th) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 8th) Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), 9th) Nick Heidfeld (Renault) who didn’t set a Q3 time, as did 10th) Adrian Sutil (Force India). Heidfeld was the quickest of the pair in Q2 and thus is ahead of Sutil on the grid.

Q2 was Red Flagged for a short while after Pastor Maldonado (Williams) stopped out on track with what seemed like electrical problems and a mobile crane needed to be brought onto the track in order to move the car.

Those drivers who were knocked-out of qualifying in Q2 were: 11th) Vitaly Petrov (Renault), 12th) Paul di Resta (Force India), 13th) Rubens Barrichello (Williams), 14th) Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), 15th) Maldonado, 16th) the well again Sergio Pérez (Sauber) and 17th) Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso).

The main (and only) highlight of Q1 was Jarno Trulli spinning his Lotus at Turn 25 on his final lap. The session also claimed Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) as a victim for the third straight race. His race seat may now come under serious scrutiny if he cannot perform tomorrow in his second home Grand Prix of the season.

Alguersuari will start alongside his team-mate Buemi in 18th place on the grid and ahead of: 19th) Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), 20th) Trulli, 21st) Timo Glock (Virgin), 22nd) Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT), 23rd) Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin) and finally 24th) Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) who was nearly a whole second faster than the 107% Rule time of 1:45.301.

Past winners of the European Grand Prix on the grid:

  • Michael Schumacher, 6: 1994 and 1995 (Benetton), 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006 (Ferrari). All except ’94 at the Nürburgring (Germany). 1994 Euro GP was held at Jerez (Spain).
  • Fernando Alonso, 2: 2005 (Renault) and 2007 (McLaren). Both at the Nürburgring.
  • Rubens Barrichello, 2: 2002 (Ferrari) and 2009 (Brawn). ’02 at the Nürburgring and ’09 in Valencia.
  • Felipe Massa, 1: 2008 (Ferrari). Massa won the first race on the Valencia Street Circuit.
  • Sebastian Vettel, 1: 2010 (Red Bull).

I’m not going to say who I think will win tomorrow, because at the moment anybody who bets against a certain German must have a hotwire to God.

THE 2011 Canadian Grand Prix around the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit will go down in history for producing perhaps the most dramatic last few laps Formula 1 has seen since Brazil 2008.

It started raining in Montreal just before the race was due to get underway. There was a possibility that the race would start under the normal procedure, but race control decided to start the race behind the Safety Car. This first SC period lasted for the first four laps of the Grand Prix. I think that if the race starts under the SC it should just be for the first lap of the race, but then again the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit has very little run-off areas and this was probably the best call.

One of the few occasions Vettel has had a car in front of him this year.

Anyway, the SC came in at the end of lap four and the: reigning world champion, current championship leader, pole sitter and newest inductee into the Wall of Champions wall of shame, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) came under immediate pressure from the second placed Ferrari of double world champion Fernando Alonso at Turn 1but held him off. Further back, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) challenged the other Red Bull of Mark Webber at the same corner for fourth place. Unfortunately the pair touched and Webber was sent into a spin. Hamilton lost ground to the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher as well as his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, whereas Webber found himself much further down the order when he got himself going again.

Button (#4) cashes in on Webber (pointing the wrong way) and Hamilton (behind Webber) nudging each other.

On the next lap Button ran wide at Turn 6and allowed Schumacher to pass him. He now had his team-mate Hamilton to deal with.

Hamilton quickly dispatched his team-mate and began trying to pass Schumacher. On the run down to Turn 10 (L’Epingle ) the seven-times world champion pushed the 2008 world champion wide and onto the run-off area, thus allowing Button to get back ahead of Hamilton.

By this time Hamilton was getting angry inside his helmet. His aggressive driving style (of which I am a great fan) had gotten him into trouble at the previous round in Monaco and was about to go too far once again. Only this time it was with the worst possible person on the track.

At the end of the seventh lap of the Grand Prix race control announced that the Hamilton-Webber incident was under investigation. At the exact same time both McLarens were exiting the Last Chicane and Hamilton had a much higher exit speed than his team-mate in front of him. He pulled out to Button’s left and tried to overtake him around the outside on the start-finish straight. But Button couldn’t see his team-mate due to the amount of spray in his mirrors and stuck to the racing line which was near the pit-wall…this is exactly where Hamilton had placed his car. Two into one didn’t go and the silver machines hit each other sending Hamilton into the pit-wall, puncturing his left-rear tyre and breaking his rear-suspension.

NOOOO!!! 😦

Button’s car was largely undamaged and he carried on at full racing speed though he was clearly unimpressed with his team-mates actions, asking the team over the radio: “What is he doing?!

Hamilton tried to get his car back to the pits as the SC came out so the marshals could pick up the debris on the start-finish straight. But the McLaren team told Hamilton to park the car as the damage was too great, and the Englishman’s race came to an end at Turn 5, the sight of Olivier Panis’s leg-breaking accident in 1997 when he was driving for Prost.

The pair almost come together again.

Rule #1 of Formula 1 – Don’t hit your team-mate.

Meanwhile Button pitted for intermediate tyres under the SC and also found out that hewas now under investigation.

The SC came in at the end of lap 12 with Vettel leading and the Ferraris of Alonso and Felipe Massa second and third respectively. Rosberg held off Schumacher’s attack on his fourth place at the Last Chicane, a move which Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) had a great view of in sixth place ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov (both Renault) who were in seventh and eighth. Webber had worked his way up to ninth ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta. Button at this point was 12th.

By the end of the first racing lap Button was ninth but had been given a Drive-Through Penalty for being too fast behind the SC. Each drive must stick to a certain lap time under SC conditions, and Button had exceeded that time. He decided to take this penalty immediately (the track has a relatively short pit-lane) but still dropped well down the order to 18th place.

But by lap 19 Button had worked his way back up into eighth place and was challenging the two Renaults. He passed Petrov at Turn 7 but the rain suddenly became torrential, and Button was on the wrong tyres for that amount of rainfall. Unsurprisingly the McLaren ran wide at Turn 10 and the Russian (who used to race on ice) duly took seventh place back. Elsewhere on track Massa radioed his concerns about the rain.

Sure enough a lap later the SC was deployed again, but this time it was in order to prevent an accident. This is something that the drivers had been asking for and it’s nice to see that on this occasion they have been listened to.

The rain got worse and worse and on lap 23 Vettel (still in the lead behind the SC) radio: “[There is] So much water. [We] Cannot restart the race like this. People behind me won’t see in spray and crash.

The field continued behind the SC until the end of lap 25 when the Red Flag was thrown because of the constant downpour. The cars – as in South Korea last year – lined up on the grid in race order and waited for the rain to ease up.

There then followed a TWO HOUR period in which nothing happened on track. BBC commentators Martin Brundle and David Coulthard kept their worldwide audience entertained by discussing a vast range of important subjects which included: Do Birds have Shoulders? Why there aren’t seats in their com-box, pop-star Rihanna being shown around the McLaren garage by a now smiling Lewis Hamilton, a photographer falling over and getting a cheeky up-skirt shot of said pop-star 😀 (who had somebody else holding her Umbrella), how cool Mercedes’ rain tents looked, racing in Australia in the rain in ’89 and ’91, when Kobayashi will get out of his car and go for a comfort break and the boat race the teams used to have across the St. Laurence Seaway. BBC anchormen Jake Humphrey and Eddie Jordan interviewed Star Wars and Indiana Jones director George Lucas and proposed the idea of an F1 film. I on the other hand had to make do with eating cheese and worrying about my A-Level Philosophy & Ethics exam which was the next morning.

Vettel’s thoughts: “Can we just finish this race on the PS3?”

Then, mercifully the rain eased and the race restarted under the SC. The order was: Vettel, Kobayashi, Massa, Heidfeld, Petrov, di Resta, Webber, Alonso, Button and Sauber’s stand-in driver Pedro de la Rosa, whose participation meant that for the first time in 40 years there were two drivers in the race who were over 40 years old (himself and Schumacher, 42).

It wasn’t until the end of lap 34 that the SC returned to the pits because Heikki Kovalainen was limping into retirement with a driveshaft failure on his Lotus. Vettel bolted early so as he wouldn’t have to deal with the often Kamikaze Kobayashi, who actually had his mirrors full of Massa at Turn 1.

Several drivers (Button, Heidfeld, di Resta, Toro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado to name a few) all came into the pits for inters at the end of the first racing lap. Button rejoined the race in 15th place.

The 2009 world champion was involved in his second crash of the race on lap 37 when he attempted to pass Alonso’s Ferrari up the inside at Turn 3 and (to me) had won the apex of the corner. But Alonso turned in on him and the pair touched. Alonso was sent spinning and beached his car on the curb as well as damaging the back of his Ferrari, forcing his retirement. Button’s McLaren suffered a front-left puncture and limped back to the pits. The SC came out yet again and the seemingly unstoppable Vettel pitted for new tyres.

Racing was underway again at the end of lap 40 with Vettel still leading from Kobayashi and Massa. Button was now dead last, but was about to revive a McLaren tradition that began with John Watson almost 30 years ago. Attack from the Back.

But before McLaren fans could feel nostalgic again, millions of fans were treated to another blast from the past.

Michael Schumacher took sixth place away from Mark Webber at Turn 10 on lap 42 and was soon promoted to fourth after Paul di Resta broke his front wing on the back of Heidfeld’s Renault, causing them both to pit. By lap 51 Schumacher had caught the Kobayashi-Massa fight for second place. The pair of them got into trouble on the exit of Turn 8 and Schumacher drove straight past the two of them. Michael Schumacher was now second! Massa did pass Kobayashi at Turn 10 but was still third.

He wasn’t third for long however as he aquaplaned into a wall whilst trying to lap Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) just two laps later and the Brazilian damaged the nose of his Ferrari. Further up the track Vettel was pitting for super-soft tyres and his Red Bull team-mate Webber was on a charge.

There was yet more on-track drama on lap 56 when Nick Heidfeld broke his Renault’s front wing on the back of Kobayashi’s Sauber at Turn 2 (Virage Senna). The German carried on at full speed until he ran over his own front wing which sent him slightly airborne. He slid down the escape road at Turn 3 out the way, but the debris on the track was on the racing line and the SC was needed for a record shattering sixth time in the race (I believe Canada ’07 or ‘08 did hold the record with four).

One marshal had a moment to forget when he fell over like Bambi on ice more than once in front of oncoming cars. I reckon he did something then that he hasn’t done since he was a small boy.

But in all seriousness, we were now set for the grandstand finish we were robbed of in Monaco. Vettel had: Schumacher, Webber and Button (who had raced up through the field yet again) right behind him with just 10 laps to go.

When the SC came in Vettel gunned it in a desperate bid to get away from the chasing trio. Webber couldn’t pass Schumacher until the DRS was made available at the end of lap 63. He got ahead of the oldest driver in the race at the Last Chicane but missed the corner itself and went across the run-off area. He had to give Schumacher the place back but also needed to prevent Button from cashing in on him slowing up. Webber judged his move perfectly at Turn 2 and we were back to how we were.

On the end of the 64th lap Webber again cut the Last Chicane trying to DRS his way past Schumacher. Webber almost took out Button as he came back onto the track but couldn’t stop the McLaren moving up to third place.

Button DRSed his way past Schumacher before they got to the Last Chicane one lap later, and could clearly see Vettel ahead of him. Button was driving like a man possessed, but there was still a very real possibility that Vettel would win his sixth race out of seven this season.

With just three laps to go Button was 1.3-seconds behind Vettel and gaining on him, but at the moment wasn’t close enough to get his DRS to work. Webber was close enough to Schumacher however to get his to work and finally passed the Mercedes the Last Chicane.

Button set the fastest lap of the race on lap 69 (the last lap but one) with a 1:16.956 (126.774-mph) lap, but he still couldn’t get past Vettel, who just needed to hang on for another 2.71-miles (4.361-Km).

Then came the moment that has hopefully saved the 2011 season. Vettel ran wide at Turn 6 and slid on the damp surface allowing Button to take the lead with only seven corners to go! Remember what Red Bull said in Malaysia? “We pushed them and they cracked.” How ironic that seems now! 😀

My Dad and I cheered like crazy (perhaps louder than when Liverpool score an injury-time winner) as Button somehow won the 10th and unquestionably the greatest Grand Prix of his career having: started from 7th, had a crash with his team-mate and Alonso, been 21st and last, been in the pits six times and had a D-T Penalty!

Could this be one of the greatest wins F1 has ever seen?

This race was the longest in Formula 1 history at 4h:04m:39.537, breaking the record which had stood since the 1954 German Grand Prix which was won by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio (then Mercedes), who would have turned 100-years-old yesterday (24 June). Button’s average speed over the course of the whole Grand Prix was only 46.522-mph, making this by far the slowest Grand Prix ever as well.

The race stared at 18:00 my time and did not end until just gone 22:00!

I have never seen Jenson Button drive like he did in Canada before and can’t wait to see if he can carry on this form into the next few races. It has also been proven that Vettel can crack under pressure.

2011 Canadian Grand Prix Top 10.

  1. Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes) 70 laps in 4h:04:39.537 – 25 points
  2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault) + 2.709-seconds – 18 points
  3. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) +13.828-seconds – 15 points
  4. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) + 14.219-seconds – 12 points
  5. Vitaly Petrov (Renault) +20.395-seconds – 10 points
  6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) +33.225-seconds – 8 points, who passed…
  7. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari) +33.270-seconds – 6 points, on the line!
  8. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) +35.964-seconds – 4 points, his best F1 finish (also started from the pit-lane).
  9. Rubens Barrichello (Williams-Cosworth) +45.117-seconds – 2 points
  10. Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) +47.056-seconds – 1 point.

Rosberg came 11th, de la Rosa showed that he still has it by finishing 12th and Vitantonio Liuzzi came home in 13th, HRT’s best ever finish.

I have been watching F1 religiously since 1996, and I can confidently say that this was one of the very best races I’ve ever seen.

PS: The moral of the story is, all you need to do is lead the last lap.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 7/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

161

2

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

101

60

3

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

94

67

4

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

85

76

5

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

69

92

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

32

129

7

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

31

130

8

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

29

132

9

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

26

135

10

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

26

135

11

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

25

136

12

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

8

153

13

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

8

153

14

Jamie ALGUERSUARI (ESP)

Toro Rosso

4

157

15

Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)

Williams

4

157

16

Sergio PÉREZ (MEX)

Sauber

2

159

17

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

2

159

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 7/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

255

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

186

69

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

101

154

4

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

60

195

5

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

52

203

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

27

228

7

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

12

243

8

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

10

245

9

WILLIAMS (ENG)

Cosworth

4

251

SEBASTIAN VETTEL (Red Bull) will start on pole-position for the sixth race out of seven this season after setting the fastest time in Q3 for today’s Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

The German’s Q3 time was 1:13.014 (133.618-mph), 0.185-seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who will line up second on the grid. His Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa will start from third.

Fourth to tenth place on the grid are: 4th) Mark Webber (Red Bull), 5th) Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) – the first time he has not been on pole in Canada, 6th) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 7th) Jenson Button (McLaren), 8th) Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), 9th) Nick Heidfeld and 10th) Vitaly Petrov (both Renault).

Q2 saw the grid places 11-17 filled by: 11th) Paul di Resta (Force India), 12th) Pastor Maldonado (Williams), 13th) Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), 14th) Adrian Sutil (Force India), 15th) Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso), 16th) Rubens Barrichello (Williams) and 17th) Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber).

Pedro de la Rosa is driving Sergio Pérez’s car in the race today after the Mexican complained of feeling ill during Friday’s first practice session. He was given the all clear to race by the FIA doctors after his accident in Monaco last time out, but he didn’t want to risk hurting himself again or anybody else. The reason why de la Rosa is driving for the team who fired him last season is because Sauber’s regular reserve driver, Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez, is not in Montreal.

How daft is this?! Unless Gutiérrez is not in Canada for a really good reason Sauber have shown themselves up in a huge way here. There was a chance that Pérez may not have felt well enough to race and they haven’t brought their third driver to the race! Apparently de la Rosa (now a McLaren test and reserve driver) was given just 10 minutes warning that he would be driving a Sauber in Friday practice two and had to do it in his McLaren overalls.

But to his credit he did get himself into Q2, but the following drivers didn’t and will line up thus: 18th) the under pressure Jamie Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), 19th) Jarno Trulli and 20th) Heikki Kovalainen (both Lotus – Trulli out-qualifies his team-mate for the first time this season), 21st) Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT), 22nd) Timo Glock (Virgin) and 23rd) Narain Karthikeyan (HRT).

The 107% Rule claimed Virgin’s Jérôme d’Ambrosio in Q1. The Belgian rookie could only manage a 1:19.414 (122.850-mph) lap when he needed to set a time of at least 1:18.989 (123.511-mph). However he will start the race from 24th on the grid after the stewards declared that he had set a fast enough time during Friday practice one before he stuffed his car in the wall at Turn Four and had to change chassis.

Montreal has been deep McLaren territory for the past few seasons, but I can only see one winner today, and he is the man sitting on pole, Sebastian Vettel.

Past winners of the Canadian Grand Prix on the grid today:

  • Michael Schumacher: 1994 for Benetton, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 for Ferrari.
  • Lewis Hamilton: 2007 (his first win) and 2010 for McLaren.
  • Fernando Alonso: 2006 for Renault.