Posts Tagged 'Michael Schumacher'

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!

The Safety Car Issue

Sunday’s Monaco GP was a reasonably exciting race, but not a thriller by any stretch of the imagination. Mark Webber drove a strong race to beat his teammate yet again. Sebastian will not be pleased with this, and I’m sure we will see a resurgent Vettel for the rest of the season! Mark has added his name to the list of greats who have triumphed around the Principality. Victory in Monaco will probably be the highlight of his season, if not his career, and something that the Australian can be proud of.

Unfortunately, the race will be remembered for two quite ridiculous events. The first one was Jarno Trulli’s collision with Karun Chandok. I have never watched a crash live onboard before … Jarno’s car literally chopped the T-cam off Chandok’s car! The wrecked cars partially blocked the track at the Rascasse corner, leading to the fourth safety car of the race. The safety car stayed out until the end of lap 78, after which it pulled into the pits, and the green flags/lights were shown … surely the cars were under racing conditions? Think again. Apparently, the green flags didn’t mean “all clear”, but Michael Schumacher interpreted it that way, and overtook Fernando Alonso into the very last corner. Michael would later be demoted to 12th position, as a direct result of the overtaking move. To be honest it was ridiculous! How can the marshalls wave green flags, and the green lights be shown WITHOUT the track being “all clear”? The rules as they stand are confusing and even contradictory. Green flags mean all clear! The F1 rules should be changed to the ones similar to IndyCar i.e. full course yellows. That way there would have been no misunderstanding, and no controversy.

14/03/93 – South African GP

Ok, this one is a couple of days late, but the 1993 South African Grand Prix was seventeen years ago!

In 1993 in-race refuelling was banned, and the cars were limited to 190 litres of fuel for the entire race.

Kyalama 1993 was exciting, but not a classic by any standards … similar to the 2010 Bahrain GP! Alain Prost won the race.

What’s All The Fuss About?

Everyone was excited about the 2010 F1 Season, and with good reason. With four champions on the grid, the return of Michael Schumacher, Mercedes and Lotus …. the prospects are great! However, the first round at Bahrain provided a fairly average spectacle, with a the occasional overtaking manoeuvre, but nothing out of the ordinary. The F1 world immediately started to react, saying that the “show” needs to improve, but I’m aghast at people’s reaction! Sure, the race wasn’t a classic by any length of the imagination, but you would think F1 was on the brink of collapse as a result of ONE race! Bernie Ecclestone has even waded into the discussion, saying that the race wasn’t all that bad.

The 2010 F1 rules have prohibited in-race refuelling, so we are in a similar situation to 1984 – 1993. Throughout that decade there were quiet races, and limited overtaking during some Grand Prix. Nobody really complained. In fact, the period gave us some of the best racing in F1 history. Here are just a few of the best battles:

Piquet vs Senna at Hungary ’86
Mansell vs Piquet in ’87
Senna vs Prost at Estoril 1988
Prost vs Senna at Suzuka 1988
Suzuka 1989

This season will turn out to be a good one. It just requires a little patience! The fuel strategies may be gone, but we will see some incredible action later in the season … you mark my words!

Heidfeld becomes Mercedes Test Driver

Ex-BMW driver Nick Heidfeld has joined the Mercedes F1 Team, as the official test driver.

Nick Heidfeld in 2008 (Photo: Mark McArdle)

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher will undoubtedly get the lion’s share of pre-season testing, and current F1 regulations prohibit F1 testing during the season. Nick will therefore use the team’s simulator, but some might question why Nick joined the team, as he will get very little track time. If you look at it from another angle, it was a smart move. I would be very surprised if Nico Rosberg didn’t deliver the goods this year. This is the first time he has had truly competitive machinery at his disposal, and I’m sure he will make the most of it … not that I’m expecting him to win the title! Michael is tipped to challenge for this year’s Championship, and it would be a very brave man to doubt Michael’s ability and renewed hunger.

Nick could be in line for a drive with Mercedes in 2011, or even sooner. Anything can happen in F1, especially during a fiercely competitive season. Michael’s performances could be slower than anyone was expecting, or a heavy shunt could make him think twice about driving at the age of 41. A recurrence of his neck injury could halt his driving mid-season, and therefore Heidfeld could replace him, in which case a 2011 drive is almost guaranteed. Should Rosberg fail to deliver, Heidfeld could be drafted in at short notice …..