Sunday, April 06, 2008

Massa masters Bahrain

Felipe Massa must be a happy man. He vindicated himself by winning the Bahrain Grand Prix, in the face of all the criticism he was subjected to after his disastrous non-performances in the last two races in Australia and Malaysia. Doubtless he would have preferred champagne to non-alcoholic peach juice during the podium celebrations; he deserved it, considering he withstood all the pressure to put in an almost flawless drive to victory at the barren, picturesque desert circuit of Sakhir, Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, is not quite living the fairytale season he had last year during his debut with McLaren Mercedes. The ban on traction control seems to be making drivers' lives difficult. Now isn't that just what we, the spectators, want? A run-in with former teammate Fernando Alonso, now going through another unhappy season, this time with Renault, added spice to an otherwise uneventful race. No yellow flags, no safety car, no penalties- the only warning from race control was one pertaining to oil on the track. The much anticipated exciting start did materialise to a certain extent. Robert Kubica, on pole for the first time in his career, was slow getting off and allowed Massa, starting from the dirty side of the track, to power his Ferrari into the lead. This was followed by some smart overtaking by Kimi Raikkonen in his own Ferrari, thus slotting in right behind Massa, and finishing in the same order, with Kubica coming in third. This result has made for an interesting order in the team championship, with BMW leading the pack with 30 points, ahead of Ferrari (29) and McLaren (28).

The Hondas were looking good for a comeback, but Jenson Button collided with David Coulthard's Red Bull, putting paid to their hopes of a strong return. Rubens Barrichello, however, gave them something to cheer about, finishing close behind Alonso in 11th place. Giancarlo Fisichella finished 12th in his Force India, and while that may not exactly make him a household name in India or get our news channels all excited, it was a considerably good result for a team that, in the past few seasons, restricted its competition to Super Aguri. The Italian finished, rather surprisingly, a place ahead of Hamilton. There was a bit of excitement for Fisi in the shape of a battle for position with Hamilton, but that didn't last long as the Briton overtook him on the straight. In the end, however, it was Fisichella who prevailed.

I hold a grudge against the commentators, and it's not just because I'm a Ferrari fan. Steve Slater just cannot seem to get enough of Lewis Hamilton, and most of his commentary is about how circumstances should alter for Hamilton to improve his track position. And those hopes often consist of having one of the Ferraris overheat its engine and blow up, or have a slow pit-stop, or get penalised for a mistake that hasn't even been made. Why on earth is he so biased? If you think it's because Hamilton was phenomenal in his first season, then how can Slater's preference for Coulthard in the early years of this decade, or later, for Button, be explained? When he's not talking about Hamilton, his commentary is about McLaren. He does give the others credit when they deserve it, true, but he appears overly fond of British drivers and teams.

Now the caravan moves on to Europe, and in three weeks' time, the Spanish Grand Prix will take place. At the moment, Dani Pedrosa might be more popular in Spain than Alonso, but Alonso will surely be motivated to do well at home and effect a comeback even with the Renault team that’s just a shadow of its former championship-winning self. With three teams in the fray, though it is too early in the season to talk of concrete results, the battle just seems to be hotting up.


Arun said...

I bow down to an F1 afficianado! ... this piece was so thorough and professional in the way it panned out (the hamilton fan in me wants to tell you "except for the part against lewis" ;) :p) previous manager would have loved this..hes a huge F1 fan and a ferrari supporter !..

but yes I know the feeling when the commentator can tend to allow his favorites to be presented better in his views...hoo boy ever heard any aussie or indian cricket commentator when England beat oz or india?! anyway I caught the race in parts...after ages saw some sport on tv for a few hours..the F1 race...and Man United vs middlesborough which was actually pretty thrilling and it went down to the wire..I caught my 1st ICL match today and it was exciting too as it went to a bowl out...lemme confess the only thing I really love about the ICL is its steaming hot presenter Mayanti Langer ! ;)

Jaya S said...

Thanks, Arun :)! I tried to be extremely unbiased, but I couldn't help it in some parts. But I just described what happened, you see. Commentators partial to their home teams are really annoying, especially when you have to hear them almost every other weekend. Mayanti? She sure is much better than Mandira. I like her too. Good to see you're getting back into 'active sports'.

ashwin said...

I knew this blog was there after the results y'day :) Good one.

Didn't watch the race as i went to beach. Just was the start & knew that Ferrari would finish it perfectly.

@ ur comments about the commentators, I am against it. It's natural that everyone has their own favorites.

Before Hamilton was the phenomena, focus was on Schumacher & later towards Alonso.

If Schumacher is god, steve & chris are demigods to me :)
PS: It is due to f1 gyan i gained from them. Personal opinion :)

Jaya S said...

Ashwin: Thanks...there wasn't much in terms of excitement, if you leave out the suspense of whether or not Massa would keep his cool. About the commentators, sure they're entitled to favourites, but while they're on air, they're supposed to be unbiased. And I don't think they were overly fond of Schumacher and Alonso. Things always change when a Brit comes along, and they seem to will the others to go wrong somewhere. (Nice, healthy debate, this :).) Oh yes, I owe my knowledge to Slater and Goodwin too.

ashwin said...

This has been an age old phenomenon. Right from the days of Tim Henman to Wayne Roonie, it has always been the same :) British people are treated specially by media. its universal thumb law.

I still stand by my statement. They (Steve & Chris ) generally focus on the championship contender(alonso & schumi). They also get exited about a young rookie

Jaya S said...

Fair enough :).