Tag Archives: Bahrain Grand Prix

Reflections in the sand: The saga of the Bahrain GP

I know I know, it’s been awhile, and I can’t promise I will resume writing regularly.  A lot has happened since my last post and there’s plenty to talk about, let’s get on with it.

Chelsea: I don’t want to talk about it.  I don’t want to talk about the absurdly volatile season we had in the Premier League(although I did somewhat foresee it back in November in my post) or the meek showing against ManU in the Champions League, I don’t want to talk about the 50 million pounds spent on Torres, the axing of Ancelotti twenty minutes after the last match of the season, or the potential arrival/departure of Lukaku, Aguero, Neymar, Drogba, Anelka, and whoever’s name is on the hot list.  I would like to say, however, that I give the thumbs up for next year’s kit.

More importantly, what do the players think?

So it’s unanimous, we all like the kit.  Interesting how Drogba was omitted from the interviews, could it be an omen of his pending exit from the Bridge?  And yet his jersey is on sale at Chelsea’s website.  I think I’ll hold off on my purchase until I’m certain of next year’s roster.

Formula 1: Coincidentally enough, my last post on F1 was on last year’s Monaco GP.  I’ll try to summarize last year’s season and the first six races held so far this season, just to bring you up to speed.

Turkey: Vettel and Webber take each other out fighting for the race lead, gifting the win to Lewis Hamilton.  Teammate fail.

Canada: Lewis doubles up with a win from pole.  Meh.

Europe: Vettel wins, while his teammate Webber flips his car rearending a Lotus.

Definitely crash of the year.

Britain: Like a champ, Webber bounces back with a dominant win at Silverstone.

Germany: Alonso and Massa take a Ferrari one-two! So what if Massa let Alonso pass?  Forza!

Hungary: Webber wins again, and takes the lead in the Drivers championship away from Hamilton.

Belgium: Hamilton responds with a win to retake the DC lead, it’s turning into an epic championship prizefight, they’re trading blow for blow!

Italy: Alonso responds with his own win from pole for Ferrari on home soil.  Forza, cue the music!

Singapore: Alonso wins back to back!  And he made sure not to spit on the sidewalk afterwards.

Japan: Vettel wins for the first time since Valencia.  The Drivers championship is shaping up to be a three horse race, with the Spaniard Alonso taking on the charging Red Bulls.

Korea: Alonso wins again, taking the lead in the DC!  Granted Red Bull gifted the race win to him with Webber’s crash and Vettel’s blown engine, but so what.  It’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish.

Brazil: Vettel and Webber respond with a 1-2 at Interlagos.  Off to Abu Dhabi for the final race of what’s been one of the most epic seasons in F1 in years.

Abu Dhabi: What a dud.  Vettel takes the win and Drivers championship with a dominant start to finish performance.  But what robbed the race of its drama and intrigue was Alonso’s engineers boneheaded decision to have him pit to cover Mark Webber, only to find himself stuck behind Vitaly Petrov for the entire race.  Heads ended up rolling at Ferrari for that decision.  I felt robbed of a grand finale, I almost cried myself to sleep from boredom at one point.  Bah.  On to 2011!

Bahrain: Cancelled because of the civil unrest and state of martial law due to anti-government protests.  Or should I say postponed?  More on this later…

Australia:  Vettel wins dominantly from pole position.  Despite the introduction of DRS(Drag Reduction System), Pirelli as the principal tire manufacturer, and the reincorporation of KERS, Red Bull look as dominant as ever.

Malaysia: Vettel wins again from pole.  Jesus, if you go back to the end of last season, that’s four straight wins by Vettel.  Would anyone like to challenge him?  Bueller?  Anyone?

China: I never thought I would say this, but thank you Lewis Hamilton!  The Brit hoon reels in Vettel with just a handful laps remaining to take his first win of the season in an awesome race filled with numerous overtakes.

Turkey: Vettel returns to his winning ways with another win from pole.  Not much else to say.

Spain: Vettel wins gain, but does so with Hamilton stalking him the entire time.  While the race action this season has been far from boring with DRS and the new Pirelli tires that degrade far more quickly than the Bridgestones from past years, the championship race is turning into a real snoozer.  But who cares, off to Monaco baby!

Monaco: Vettel wins again.  A lot happened in the race, with Hamilton playing the role of the protagonist(or antagonist), depending on how you look at it.  Hamilton managed to get involved in two race incidents, take a look for yourself.

#1

and #2

As a result of both incidents, Hamilton was penalized by the stewards and finished in 6th place.  But the real buzz came from his post race interview.  Take a look.

Oof, he (half)jokingly plays the race card.  For what it’s worth, a few days later he apologized to both drivers and to the public for his comments.  Love him or hate him, he is undeniably one of the biggest personalities in the sport.  Sort of like the Kobe of F1.

And here we are to present day!  So the Canadian GP is this weekend, but the real focus during the past week was on the furor and outrcy among the F1 teams and the public over the FIA’s decision to reschedule the Bahrain GP.  As mentioned earlier, the race was postponed and seemingly cancelled after the Bahrain government instituted a state of martial law to quell pro-democracy protests by the Shia majority.  As a result of a brutal crackdown by the Bahrain police, 36 people were killed, nearly a thousand were wounded, and thousands more were detained.  F1 responded by declaring the race was cancelled with no rescheduled date in place.  As weeks passed, however, the issue of the Bahrain GP resurfaced, and the FIA convened last week to hold a vote to determine whether the race should be rescheduled for October 30th, taking the place of the inaugural Indian GP, with the Indian GP rescheduled for December 11th.  Despite the protests of humans rights groups and the F1 teams, the FIA elected to reinstate the Bahrain GP, and then things got really ugly.  Civil rights groups blasted the decision, promising statewide protests the weekend of the race, even going so far to call it a “day of rage.”  Meanwhile, the teams also protested the decision to race, citing safety concerns and the unfeasibility of racing in December, claiming it would put a strain on their staff and resources and their ability to develop their cars for next season.

Where does one start?  First, shame on the FIA, who turned a blind eye to the social issues surrounding their decision to reinstate the race.  What made their decision even more ludicrious was that they relied on the report of a single council member who stated in his visit to Bahrain that the country returned a normal and peaceful state.  To add to the ignominy was an independent news report that over 100 employees of the Bahrain circuit were detained during the protests.  And shame also to the F1 teams for sidestepping the issue and claiming their own safety and logistics concerns as the main reasons for not wanting to race.  Waaaa, are you worried your diamond crusted racing shoes will get bloodied?  But to be fair, many individuals in the F1 sphere voiced their grievances with the FIA, and that F1 was morally obligated not to race in Bahrain.  In the end, the right decision was made, but the path taken was a twisted and shameful one at best.

The reality is that F1 is as much a business as it is a sport, and the motivations behind the decision were influenced by economics as much if not more than social standards.  Something tells me that the $40 million dollar fee the owners of F1 receive from the organizers of the Bahrain GP(who not so coincidentally are mostly members of the Bahrain royalty) for hosting the race played some role in the decision.  Much like soccer,  F1 attracts the attention of sporting fans and institutions worldwide, and the influence they empower to the sport makes it a lightning rod for debate and criticism.  F1 is the greatest sport in the world, and so I beckon the powers that be, choose wisely, because the eyes and ears of the world are upon you.

MP

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Bahrain Grand Prix

Coming at you live from sunny Sakhir for the Bahrain Grand Prix!  Well, not really, I’m watching the race at my friend’s apartment in Oakland, but if you close your eyes…Technically this isn’t going to be a live blog, because I’m watching it off a DVR, but if you’ll indulge me I’m going to attempt a running diary of the race.

On a sidenote, did you catch Lady Gaga’s new music video Telephone?  The production was a visual cornucopia of police perimeter tape and ridiculous dance sequences, with a healthy dose of Gaga’s over the top fashion pieces, which includes her now infamous full frontal fishnet shot that was partially blurred(you’ll see).   The video had a highly stylized feel to it, but I’m not so sure how Gaga’s fans will respond to the collaboration between Gaga and Director Jonas Akerlund.  Unlike Bad Romance, I wasn’t exactly mesmerized by Telephone, neither was my friend Michael, and we both usually go gaga for Gaga.  But hey, at least she found some work for ex-NSYNC member Chris Kirkpatrick, Tyrese, and a whole bunch of latex and leather donning backup dancers.  Beyonce looked her usual bootylicious self, but I’m curious what was going through her head as they were filming(“This bitch is crazy!  But I look good, so who cares?).  At first I thought the video was trying to channel the cinematic experience of Thriller and Alice In Wonderland, but it was quite clear by the end there was a strong allusion to Kill Bill and Thelma and Louise.  Not to mention the rampant product placement, which I hope was Gaga’s nod to the Pop Art genre, and not just her shamelessly selling out.  In the end, I give the video 4 out of 5 stars, thumbs up on the ambitious scale and scope, but I felt like I should have been(or was) on acid while watching it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is…

I don’t know what this says of my expectations of Gaga, but on Friday while I was out at dinner I looked up Telephone on my iPhone, and I found this video on Youtube and first thought it was the actual video, but I soon realized it was a parody.  I attribute my mistake to the poor clarity of the video, and I distinctly remember thinking the video seemed a bit low budget for Gaga, but the truth is I kind of find it more entertaining than the official version.  Check it out…

But I digress…

In the words of Bob Varsha, turn up the volume for the start of the Bahrain GP!  Pretty uneventful start, Alonso and Massa switch places and are now 2nd and 3rd, respectively, with Hamilton losing a spot, and is now 5th behind Nico Rosberg.  Apparently Red Bull topped off Mark Webber’s engine with as much oil as possible, and he left two huge smoke plumes in his wake, and Adrian Sutil in his Force India car spun out as a result.  Meh.

Both HRT cars retired by lap 19, F1 padawan Karun Chandhok hit a bump on lap 2 and crashed into the wall as a result, which he later attributed to his lack of knowledge of the circuit, and and no one is surprised.  His teammate Bruno Senna retired on lap 19 after what seemed like a blown engine, but hey, at least he ran enough laps for us to witness HRT’s first live race pit stop, which they appropriately managed to bungle.  I’ve been highly critical of HRT’s decision to participate this season despite missing every testing and practice session.  But then I realized maybe that’s been their intention all along, I suppose the mantra “there is no such thing as bad press” is apropos here.

Richard Branson sighting, who apparently has not committed to fully funding his team for the entire season.  WTF?  You’re one of the richest men in the world and you moonlight as an entrepreneur and connoisseur of all things jetsetter fabulous, and you won’t even commit to a full year in an elite playground of the rich and famous?  Poor form, mate, but you know what they say, form is temporary, class is permanent.  Let’s hope he sees the light and rectifies the situation.  I think the racing karma gods were watching intently, and Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi were both out of the race by lap 21 with the same recurring hydraulic issues that have plagued them during preseason testing.

Apparently Clive Owen is an F1 fan, which makes sense given his pedigree as an action star with a particular skill for driving scenes.  If you’ve never watched The Hire series by BMW Films, I highly recommend it, they’re a series of short films produced by renowned Hollywood directors and cast with established actors, with Clive Owen as the main character in all of them.  My favorite of the bunch is The Ticker, enjoy.

Ooh, something finally happened among the frontrunners!  Apparently a spark plug in Vettel’s engine is misfiring, and he is now racing on less than 100% power.  Both Alonso and Massa overtake him with relative ease on lap 35, and Lewis Hamilton passes Vettel three laps later.

Ferrari finish 1-2, forza!  Alonso and Massa cruise to finish line, and Hamilton finishes 3rd, nearly 17 seconds behind Massa.  Vettel impressively manages to hold off Nico Rosberg to finish 4th, and his car limps forward to the pits almost right after he crosses the finish line.  I’ll say it again, Red Bull may have the fastest cars on the grid, but if they can’t improve the RB6’s reliability, 2010 may be a repeat of 2009.  It’s a shame, and in the words of Manny, it’s not how you go into the party, it’s how you go out.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the race was the lack of pace of the Mercedes cars, as Nico Rosberg and G.O.A.T. Schumi came in 5th and 6th and never made a real challenge to pass the leaders.  It’s a long season, and I’m sure Team Deutschland will improve as it progresses, but today’s result is further proof that in F1, it really is about the car.

Alonso is pumped, he just beat his chest four times after getting out of his F10.  No champagne for the podium placers, apparently alcohol consumption is highly restricted in Bahrain, so instead they get fizzy fruit cider.  Oh well, Ferrari is back on top, and all is right again in the F1 universe.  Cue the anthem!

See you in two weeks in Melbourne, in the mean time, stay classy, and Happy St. Patty’s Day!

MP

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