Archive for August, 2010

24/8/97 ….. Schumacher wins Belgian GP

Spa 1997 (f1-facts.com)

Thirteen years ago today …… Michael Schumacher scored his 26th victory at the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix. The racetrack was virtually flooded before the start of the race, and therefore it was too dangerous for a normal “standing start”. For the first time in F1 history, the race was started behind the safety car. Jacques Villeneuve was in pole position, followed by Jean Alesi in the Benetton, and Schumacher in third.

The cars followed the safety car for a number of laps, until the track’s condition had improved. Twenty-two cars and a safety car cleared the track surface of excess water quickly. Michael Schumacher quickly demonstrated that he was the “Rain Master”, passing Alesi into La Source with a very brave move. Schumacher caught and passed Villeneuve easily, and left his competitors for dead. Jacques was never a brilliant performer in the wet, and the Williams FW19 wasn’t a dominant force in those conditions.

Schumacher crossed the line 26 seconds ahead of second-place man Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan Peugeot). Michael would go on to challenge Villenueve for the Championship. It all ended in tears, as Schumacher would collide with the Canadian during the final round at Jerez, and was excluded from the entire Championship!

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Danica Patrick – F1 Material?

In recent months, several F1 figures have expressed their surprise that Danica Patrick still hasn’t made it into F1. They point to her driving skills and her marketability. Bernie Ecclestone recently said:

“Regarding an American driver, we have tried that lately but obviously what’s missing is the right attitude. You can race successfully in the US without the huge effort you need to succeed in F1, but to have someone like Danica Patrick in F1 would be a perfect advert.”

(www.formula1.com)

Peter Windsor, the famous toaster manufacturer and ex-USF1 boss also supports Danica:

Why did no-one sign Danica Patrick a few years back? It’s beyond me. She’s probably the best female single-seater driver in the history of the sport, she’s attractive, she works hard – and yet no-one in F1 seemed to take her seriously. If BMW had raced Robert Kubica and Danica for the last few years, would they have been any less successful? For sure they would have sold more cars in the States…but that’s assuming America is still important to the F1 corporates. I assume it is, but you should never take anything for granted in F1 these days…

(GPWeek)

Although Patrick has the support of several F1-related figures, there is a question mark over her suitability. There is no doubting her ability to attract sponsors and new viewers to F1, but is that all a driver needs? I have been keeping an eye on her IRL performances this year, and I have noticed her lack of pace on non-ovals. Her performance at Mid Ohio was below-par, where she finished last. Danica’s performance at Sonoma (22/8/10) wasn’t significantly better … she finished 16th! The race commentators for yesterday’s race noted that she will be relieved there are no more “road courses” left on the 2010 calendar! F1 drivers must be able to drive at a very high level, on the most technical circuits in the World. Just look at most of Herman Tilke’s circuit designs: Sepang, Bahrain, China … they are technical tracks to drive, and I personally doubt that Danica has the ability to drive at the very highest level on these circuits. If she can’t handle Sonoma .. there is no way she could handle an F1 track.

I believe that Danica Patrick is a very skilled driver, but there are tens of thousands of skilled racing drivers out there! Attracting sponsors is one thing, but delivering the goods is another matter altogether! Just look at Peter Windsor and his USF1 team ……

Oh Dear ...