Sunday, 15 May 2011

BBC MotoGP Coverage Good, Though Still Room For Improvement

There's no denying that I am incredibly relieved with the replacement of Jennie Gow, last season's MotoGP presenter. It was always going to be difficult following the fabulous Suzi Perry (@suziperry), but Gow did little to demonstrate her knowledge of the sport (if there ever was any), and fly the flag for women in biking. Often blogging on her BBC real estate about non-related subjects (Canadian weddings) or how she'd spent time 'catching up on her knowledge' (youtube-ing previous races perhaps?!), she had me bored stiff and I did wonder what had possessed the BBC to hire her in the first place.

2011 saw the promotion of Matt Roberts (@mattrobertsbbc), and for this I was grateful. Easy on the eye, the Yorkshireman knows, or at least presents to know, about the sport, contributing intelligently to the wise commentary of Steve Parrish and fits naturally to the deck.

Furthermore, the new pitlane recruit, Azi Farni (@azifarni), brings a splash of respectable feminine touch, desperately needed and has both qualities my friend, Onions, considered Miss Gow to be lacking in,

"You either have to know shit loads about motorsport, or be dropdead gorgeous."

Waxing lyrical over, I was left slightly disappointed today though, when searching through the race reports to glean various pieces of information I'd missed during the race, I'd discovered the Reuters release had been 'borrowed' for about four different sites, all on links from the BBC's race report, also a copy.

I know this kind of reporting, particularly for the weekend, isn't uncommon, but Beeb, if you're really struggling, I'll swap my yearly licence fee for a bespoke report each weekend, if needs be!

Pole Cat Loves A Good Cat Fight: Spaniards lash out at Simoncelli

After an enthralling French MotoGP, which saw Stoner take the top spot and Rossi secure his first podium win of the season, the most heated discussions centre around the decision by officials to penalise Marco Simoncelli for seemingly cutting up Dani Pedrosa.

The twenty-four year-old Italian, who was publicly attacked by World Championship titleholder Jorge Lorenzo for riding 'dangerously', attempted to overtake round the outside, while the two battled for 2nd place. In launching for the apex too early, he left Pedrosa with very little room to manoeuvre or pull up and the Repsol Honda went crashing out of the race on Lap 17.

Simoncelli was penalised with a ride-through, though still managed to finish fifth behind Lorenzo, leaving many believing he should have been blackflagged. Post-race, Pedrosa spoke of his disappointment. Having only just returned magnificiently to top form in Portugal a mere fortnight ago, after a titanium plate was removed from his left collarbone, the Spaniard has discovered he has now fractured his collarbone on the right side, which will undoubtedly impact his claims to the 2011 title.

While Simoncelli sympathised sincerely with Pedrosa's situation, he fervently claimed the manoeuvre was entirely fair, directing doubters to telemetry readings for evidence. The Italian, whose 'Sideshow Bob' styled hair do is as wild as his riding style, is receiving all kinds of debatably unwarranted negativity of late.

Displaying the talent, speed and aggression of a younger Lorenzo, it's surprising the frontrunner, who had a comparatively weak weekend, is finding Simoncelli such a threat. If Lorenzo continues to let Simoncelli get under his skin, he could find himself in a mental battle, fighting demons he's created himself. Though as a newly self-appointed spokesman, campaigning for more safety awareness in motorcycling, we may see the focus shift from his riding to more drama off the track than on it.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Schuey Needs The Boot

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, there is no room for those once at the top of their game and retired, to make a career-changing, media-hyped comeback. It did nothing for Morrissey or music (my other greatest love) and it’s done nothing for Schumacher.

The hotly-anticipated 2010 comeback allowed more recent World Champion title holders an opportunity to compete with the multiple-title winning driver, and no doubt, one of their childhood legends but after a dismal start to his second returning season, Schumacher has had to face an incredible amount of criticism over his inability to “beat” team mate, Nico Rosberg.

In Schumacher’s defence, that’s like expecting your granddad to know his way around better than you – an electronic word processor, great for its day, not a patch on the Office Suite.

I’ll concede that it IS a completely different sport to when he used to rule the championship and it’s almost admirable that he wanted to challenge himself again, but he never seems to learn – and they say that wisdom comes with age! The move he pulled on Barrichello at the 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix he claimed initially was to make the race ‘spectacular’, though what would have been more spectacular, though undesirable, would have been a crash of astronomical proportion. Anyone see the crash at Brands Hatch in the same week?! Apologising only after fans and media pressure intensified, you may almost mistaken the German for being arrogant - who'd have guessed?!

Following last season, Mercedes Petronas GP made some vague pre-2011 season claims that he would be in contention for the title in 2011 and with some kind of momentum beginning to build in the Chinese GP, in which he showed signs that he still possesses nuggets of that legendary racing flair, the true, ever-loyal Ferrari fans would have no doubt believed he could be a frontrunner.

But like a certain FIA lion, those fans are incredibly biased and often can’t see the calories for all the pasta and sauce. Schumacher is no longer a racing legend. Race-by-race he comes closer to losing all credibility he’s so carefully crafted in past years, to the point of embarrassment. Do him a favour, Mercedes, lose him before he loses it completely.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Quali report – Shanghai

Vettel (1:33:70) maintained his consistently strong performance in free practice, then going onto secure pole for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. Unlike his team mate, Mark Webber, who’s practice sessions had been fraught with a number of mechanical issues. Taking the RedBull car out on the prime tyres, his Q1 session was riddled with understeer, a lack of speed and non-existent KERS, so he struggled to within the 107% only to have Pastor Maldonado push him out into the cold with a slight nudge and take P10.

Fuming he sulked around the garage, whilst the Ferrari team, for a second race running, put both drivers out on two sets of option tyres. Initially this strategy seemed to be paying off as they secured P1 and P2 in Q1. It was not to last as Petrov, showing glimmers of the underdog spirit, taking P1 back just before the end of Q1. In Q2, the Russian put in a flying lap, which secured P4, until a hydraulics failure brought his car to a complete standstill, much to the dissatisfaction of other drivers, notably Barrichello.

Officials red-flagged the session with just over two minutes to go. Cue a scramble into the pits to ensure access at the restart to the frontrunners. Young Sergio Perez won this minor battle, but failed to stave off Alonso, who would only eventually manage a P5.
The restart offered an exciting end to the session, as drivers battled to gain times that would secure a start from the top ten grid positions tomorrow and the McLarens made good use of this, Button (1:34:42) finishing on the front row for the first time since Italy last season and Hamilton in third (1:34:46).

Schumacher continued his frustrated return to Formula One, failing to compete in the second session and being outshone by his teammate, Nico Rosberg, who secured P4. Not the only experienced driver usurped by his younger teammate, rookie Paul Di Resta (1:36:19) made the most notably drive of the day, taking P8 for Force India, leaving Adrian Sutil (1:35:87) at Q2 in 11th position.

As the Scot returned on the inlap, the green and orange car kicked up a bit of a fuss, which may prove damaging to his efforts. Only tomorrow can confirm that one way or other.