Considering you can’t usually shut us up here at FFN, you may be wondering why it’s taken this long for us to sit down and write anything on Sunday’s European Grand Prix. Well we have no excuses really, just that we have been lying down with our Ferrari embroidered flannels on our foreheads trying to come to terms with all the excitement and drama.

ahappyscene.jpgUnless you have been vacationing on Mars, no doubt you will be aware that McLaren’s Fernando Alonso stole victory in the closing laps of the race from the sticky mitts of Ferrari’s poor little poppet Felipe Massa in one of the most exciting races in years. Although the result was not what the Tifosi were quite expecting, the weather and ensuing chaos ensured that for once F1 wasn’t about cars going around pointlessly and endlessly in circles with nothing much happening in between.

All began well enough, with the boys from the Scuderia lining up in 1st and 3rd places on the grid respectively, with Fernando Alonso sandwiched in between. Due to his unfortunate high-speed tête-à-tête with the barriers during qualifying, championship leader Lewis ITV-Lovechild Hamilton was languishing down in tenth spot on the grid. The prospect of Ferrari maximising on this fortunate turn of events, not to mention the prospect of Lewis actually having to overtake someone other than a back-marker for once had us all rubbing our hands in glee.

As the grid formed up for the red lights to go out, Spyker’s rookie Marcus Winkelhock lined up to start from the pitlane. Not that usually that would make much difference as the Spyker’s seem to be permanently glued to the back of the grid…so I doubt it caused many raised eyebrows.

goodstartfelipe.jpgAs the race got under way, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa got a great start and managed to swipe 2nd place from the hands of Fernando Alonso, while Lewis Lovechild got off to another of his demon starts making up five places on the main straight. As the rest of the pack were swarming around the track Quick Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica seemingly forgot they weren’t at the fairground playing dodgems and drove into each other, collecting Lewis’s rear tyre causing a puncture. One has to wonder if Lewis was becoming sick to death of those black round things on the corners of the car, as he wasn’t having much luck with them all weekend.

At this point the rain decided to intercede in events, meaning that the track was too slippery on the dry weather tyres. At the end of the first lap the vast majority of the field decided this was a good time to pit for intermediate tyres, with the exception of the Kimster. Kimi presumably thought he’d have some fun aquaplaning across the pitlane entrance and go around for another go like a kid at Waterworld. While Felipe was leading proceedings in the pitlane, the Kimster had a slightly surreal moment as Marcus Winkelhock in the Spyker passed him on his lap. Yes a Spyker taking a Ferrari…. Just imagine! I bet Kimi decided to give up on the Finlandia Vodka there and then (just means more for me then).

interestingparkinglot1.jpgAt the end of the second lap apparently Kimi got a call from the pitwall to stop larking about and to come in, and as he did so utter carnage began in turn 1. Jenson Button started it all sliding into the barriers which is probably what the Honda deserves, and he wasn’t long to be outdone by a few other drivers. Lewis ended up in the gravel yet again, but this time managed to save himself from being closely acquainted with the tyre wall, shortly followed by Adrian Sutil who slid in backwards narrowly missing Lewis.

At this point we assume Race Director Charlie Whiting must have decided to pop the safety car out, as you can’t have much of a race if everyone is parking up in the first turn like you would at the supermarket. Just as the safety car was deployed, the Race Marshalls rushed into action, digging out all their expensive cranes and diggers to try and remove some of the hapless beached victims. STR’s Tonio Liuzzi as ever decided it was boring having his race car pointing in a forwards direction and decided he would have a go at sliding into the side of a tractor for fun. Unfortunately the tractor was considerably bigger than his car and was always going to come out the winner in that one.

Meanwhile young German rookie Marcus Winkelhock in a Spyker was leading the Grand Prix which must have been slightly surreal for a car used to being stuck behind just about everyone on four wheels including Jarno Trulli on roller-skates. Cunningly Lewis had managed to keep his car going, and once the crane had lifted him out of the gravel trap he was able to get back on track and go around for some more fun albeit a lap down on the leaders.

redflagged.jpgAfter four laps the race became red flagged due to the weather conditions, well that’s the official story and the FIA are sticking to it. Personally I think the Safety Car guy threw a wobbly at having a Spyker so closely behind him (given their reputation for driving into just about anything) and couldn’t take the pressure anymore. The cars then had to reform on the grid once more, the sun broke out and the teams were forced to await the restart while getting a spot of sunbathing in.

After half an hour the race was back on again under the safety car. McLaren meanwhile were disputing that Lewis was in fact a lap down on everyone else, (presumably conveniently forgetting Lewis’s short sojourn in the gravel, but then McLaren do like to dispute just about everything including the fact they haven’t really seen secret Ferrari documents). However, Lewis had to basically unlap himself and form up at the back of the grid ready for the race to begin in earnest.

However for some silly reason just as he had unlapped himself Hamilton came into the pits to take on a set of dry tyres despite the fact the track was still very wet. Subsequently as the race started again, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were able to get past race leader Marcus Winkelhock on the extreme wet tyres, compared to the rest of the field being on the intermediate ones.

The McLaren decision to pop Lewis on the dry tyres appeared to have been a bit of a gaffe as Lewis spun the car yet again but luckily managed to keep it going. Unfortunately it wasn’t long before Lewis was getting lapped again…and we thought it was him supposed to be doing the overtaking.

Meanwhile the Kimster was all over fellow flying Finn Heikki ‘Grassmower’ Kovaleinen like a bad case of the chicken pox, and it wasn’t long before Kimi got past, but Heikki was not having any of it and immediately took the position back off the Kimster again. Those Feisty Finns.

kimihuntsdownalonso.jpgFerrari then decided to bring Raikko in to go out on some dry tyres, a move that would later prove to be very wise as Kimi was able to get up into 3rd place and start hunting down Eyebrows Alonso in the McLaren.

On the next lap race leader Felipe Massa lead a stream of cars into the pits for the switch to dry tyres, leaving Red Bull’s Mr Magoo to lead the race for one lap. Meanwhile Spyker’s star rookie of the day Marcus Winkelhock unfortunately had to retire due to a hydraulics problem, the German later admitted to having thoroughly enjoyed his 10 seconds of glory…and strangely for a Spyker driver it didn’t end up in any of the barriers for a change much to the relief of the Mechanics.

The top three drivers, Felipe, Fernando and the Kimster meanwhile were within less than four seconds of each other and Kimi seemed to be catching Alonso at a rate of knots, leading us to wonder if Kimi has been using his Finlandia Vodka for rocket fuel instead of drinking it.

Shortly after Renault’s Heikki Kovaleinen was able to get past the Williams of Alex Wurz, while Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher and BMW-Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld were battling it out for eighth place. Quick Nick again seemed to be struggling to see through his voluminous beard and managed to punt Schumacher off track. Once out of the car Ralf seemed to be visibly annoyed and looked like he wanted to hot foot it across the track after Heidfeld. Unfortunately a Marshall decided to unwisely intervene and try and encourage Ralf away from the danger of the racetrack and got a good shove Raikkonen style for his troubles.

A few laps later Ferrari’s flying Finn seemed to be struggling to keep up with Alonso, and it later became evident there was a serious problem with his car as the engine began to cut out. It was later to be confirmed by Ferrari that Kimi’s car suffered hydraulic problems, which put him out of the race. Kimi must be wondering just what he has to do at the Nurburgring to stop his cars falling apart on him. Perhaps purchasing some industrial strength gaffer tape would help?

kimiretires.jpgWith Kimi out of the race, Red Bull’s resident handbag slinger Mark Webber was promoted up to third place for his dogged drive.

Before this turns into a feature length life-sapping essay of the sort of proportions that only McLaren CEO Ron Dennis can provide (and yes I’m slipping into a coma and I’m writing it), perhaps we should try and sum up what happened for the remainder of the race.

In short two further rounds of pitstops ensued, followed by more rain. During the final round of pitstops Nando attempted to squash ex-team mate Fisichella’s Renault between his car and the pitwall as they raced side by side down the pitlane for the exit. No doubt Fissyfella was not “very ‘appy” but unfortunately this time we were not party to his colourful radio transmissions.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa managed to just avoid driving over what appeared to be a stray ‘Ferrari Frisbee’ lying out on track, and with the rain once more in play Fernando Alonso managed to catch up and overhaul the remaining Ferrari. Not without some exciting wheel banging race action taking place first, which really should be compulsory in just about every race.

Unfortunately Ferrari confirmed after the race that Felipe’s car was suffering from vibrations due to the last set of tyres, and this is why he apparently lost time to the McLaren of his rival. And really, honestly, had nothing absolutely whatsoever to do with the fact Felipe is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard when it comes to driving in the rain, bless his cotton socks.

pantomimedameinaction.jpgNot content to however have stolen the victory from the Brazilian in the final laps of a thrilling yet chaotic race, Fernando couldn’t quite help himself when he got out of the car in Parc Ferme. The Spaniard making a theatrical show of demonstrating to the watching media the scratched paint along the side of his car. If he ever decides to quit F1, he has no fear of being bored and not having anything to do like a certain Mr. Schumacher. No indeed here at FFN we would bet our money that Fernando Alone-so has a ready made career treading the boards as a theatrical pantomime dame…and we like to think he’d look quite good in a dress.

As the top three drivers made their way up to the podium, Fernando and Felipe were involved in a polite exchange of opinions. From our lip-reading expert we can garner that the main gist of the conversation was:

Fernando: “Next time I do insist after you sir!”
Felipe: “No after you!”
Fernando: “No, no I must insist dear Felipe after you!”
Felipe: “Fernando you are just too kind”

What a polite bunch these F1 drivers are. We only wish the same could be said for Team Bosses. McLaren’s CEO Ron Dennis (as you will know by now I’m a particular fan) made a complete public spectacle of himself on the podium after receiving the constructors trophy from one Mr. Schumacher of 7 World Championship Fame.

fia.jpgRon was seen gesticulating and pointing to the back of Michael’s head like a badly behaved six-year-old (let alone 60). Quite what it was all about we have no idea, perhaps it was motivated by follicle related jealousy, after all our German friend has plenty of luscious Loreal locks unlike Mr. Slaphead.

Whatever the reason, maybe someone ought point out it doesn’t do to take the mick out of someone who has just given you a trophy on the winners podium. Not least because these people are usually presidents and prime ministers and usually have a decent arsenal of nuclear warheads at their disposal should you upset them. Michael may only have a ‘Schloss’ in Switzerland, a bizarre wardrobe of clothes and a big collection of pots, but we do hear he has a good collection of vehicles in which he could decently run you over with Ron.

It matters not, Mr. Dennis might be laughing on the other side of his face come Thursday afternoon. We live in Hope. Forza Ferrari.

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