Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ferrari And Vettel Show Their Mettle In Singapore

SINGAPORE - It was a good race for Sebastien Vettel and Ferrari.  After winning the top grid position, Vettel led the race from pole to podium.  The Mercedes teams were not quite on their optimum pace with some signs of struggle with tires on the multi-corner track that did not benefit from the high-speed silver arrows.  In fact, the ever-reliable Benz of Nico Rosberg wasn’t causing his first DNF of the season.  The day also proved good for Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull who turned in their finest performance of the season.

Vettel charged from the pole and showed the prowess of the Ferrari as he was 3 seconds ahead of Ricciardo’s Red Bull after the first lap, increasing it to 5.3 sec in the opening laps.  Ricciardo appeared to be gaining on Vettel until contact between Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenburg brought out the safety car allowing all the leaders to pit for tires and fuel.  Any possible tire advantage that Red Bull had was lost.  Vettel appeared to take the stint after the restart easy, possibly realizing the tire advantage of the Red Bulls.  However, after the safety car again came out due to a spectator on the track, Vettel had a clear 21-lap run to the checkered flag.  Kimi Raikkonen took the final spot on the podium for Ferrari.

After the race, Vettel commented “I think Daniel had a very good race, looking after his tires very well, which made it a bit tactical towards the end with the stints. Second stint I was dictating the pace. Obviously around here it's not so easy to overtake, so I was using that. And from then, at some point, chipping away, trying to control the gap. Fortunately that worked. It's obviously a great day; we had a really great weekend, thanks to the team.”

The race results have moved Vettel within 51 points of Lewis Hamilton and 7 points off number 2, Nico Rosberg. "If we have more weekends like this, then yes," said 28-year-old German Vettel when asked if Ferrari can take the fight to Mercedes in the remaining six races. "All we have to do is look after ourselves, maximum attack and then what they do is not in our hands. “We have a small chance, maybe we can make the impossible possible, and we will definitely go for it."

In other F1 news, it is rumored that Jensen Button will announce his retirement at the next race in Suzuka.  After 16 years, a F1 Championship, 15 race wins and 50 podium finishes, Button will reportedly drive in the World Endurance Championship and host the revamped Top Gear.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Oh Captain My Captain...

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA – The season did not end that well for The Captain.  Roger Penske was close to making history Sunday hoping to be the first team owner to win the NASCAR Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar championship.  With his three IndyCar drivers all eligible for the Championship, including Montoya with a 77 point lead, it seemed to be a sure-thing.  But in racing, as in football, “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Mr. Penske had a bit of simple advice to Juan Pablo, “One thing I’ve said to Juan – he’s run a great season, he’s been tough and he’s been competitive and he needs to bring the same playbook here on Sunday.”  Unfortunately, Montoya was not able to heed the advice and ended up colliding with teammate Will Power on a restart on lap 39 sending both into the garage.  After Montoya took on a new front wing assembly the Montoya and Power dropped  to 23rd and 22nd.

Scott Dixon running in ninth place at the time of the incident saw the opportunity afforded by the Penske mishap, turned on the juice and took the lead on lap 51, in the 85-lap race.  Dixon came into the weekend mourning  the loss of his dear friend Justin Wilson, but focused.  “This is what we came here for this weekend,” Dixon said. “It was a long shot but we knew we had shot at it. All of us this week raced with heavy hearts. Justin Wilson and everyone in his family are in our thoughts. He is such a great guy and that made it hard this week.”

What did Montoya have to say?  “We had a good car. We had a good start and, you know, we did everything we needed to do at the beginning,” he said. “Will overshot and I was fighting with Newgarden, we shot the corner, we got inside and Will cut across and I was there, and we touched and that was it. We came from behind and did our best, just wasn't enough. It's tough there, tires are going off, and it's one of those days. As I told you, it could happen, and it happened. It sucks, but when you make double points the last race in a road course and you change the tire and you do everything you did for this weekend and you put so many variables, it doesn't even matter what you do all year.”

Penske lamented “These guys were racing. It was an accident. It looked like Juan wanted to get inside and Will didn’t see him. At the end of the day it’s over and we move on. We had a great season.”  At least that was what he said publicly…