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Friday, June 24, 2011

Frree Practice 2

I was right about Vettel this morning - he was going around in Silverstone Spec.  16th in FP1 - that's gotta hurt!

He was right up the sharp end in FP2, in third place.  Nadgers was quickest for the third year running - the only driver to break the 1.38 mark.  Lewis was second and Schumi fourth.

4 different constructors could make for an interesting qualifying - if the times are relatively genuine.

Massa 5th, Button 6th, Webber 7th, Rosberg 8th - mirroring the constuctor's positions in the first four.

Can Schumi continue his rise out of retirement obscurity - if he keeps this up he'll be on the podium this weekend.

After Hulkenburg's crash on lap 8 this morning, Di Resta only got ten minutes on track and managed 7 laps without crashing.

Alguersuari spent the entire session in the pits with an engine fault.

First Free Practice

As with all free practice sessions times must be taken with a healthy pinch of salt.  For example, the two McLarens came in 4th (Lewis) and 7th (Button) in their overall times but they weren't using the DRS and were testing a new high downforce wing - the two times are therefore relatively redundant from analysis.  Of the front runners Button did only 16 laps, while Petrov only did 20.  The others were all into the low to mid 20's.

The only driver to do less laps than Button was Nico Hulkenburg who crashed Di Resta's Force India out on track on lap 8.

Vettel ended the session down in 16th place with 23 laps done - I wonder what he was doing? He did a 10 lap stint on the medium tyres.

Could it be that Webbo was using fully open exhaust engine mapping while Vettel was checking out the 10% rule?  Just kidding - particularly given that the two Renaults were up in 2nd (Petrov) and 5th (Heidfeld).

The times seemed to drop off towards the end of the session as the air and track temperatures began to rise.  A lot of the early part of the session was spent cleaning the track and particularly the racing line of dust, dirt, and debris.

Webbo first, Petrov Second, and Alonso third, Hamo, Heid, Mass, Butt, Sutil.

No Di Resta, No Trulli

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Senna Movie

Saw the movie yesterday evening.  All of the memories of Senna were very nearly overwhelming.  You forget so much with every new season.
Some fantastic in-car footage from Driver's eye height around Monaco - Madness!

Beautifully shot, beautifully edited and ultimately very sad (just in case you don't know how it all ends!)

Went in-car at Imola '94 - I was counting down the corners - 3...2...1...Tamburello

The entire tale is told by those who knew him, with interview sound from his Mother, Sister, Teammates, team principles, and of course, the man himself, with some incredible accompanying footage.

Really points fingers at Ballestra.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I love Luca

Those of you who dip in and out of this Blog are probably aware that "The Great" Di Montezemolo would appear to be an avid fan of F1 2011 and that I now tend to address him directly rather as a third party.

Having said that Luca, I have to applaud you on your interview on Italian Sky TV which confirms what we know and love about Ferrari:

"I'd rather see a competitive Ferrari that stops rather than one that finishes sixth or seventh. This car was not born well but I know the quality and determination of my men. We must respond knowing that this season did not start as we wanted. But hope dies last."

That Luca, expresses the passion of the Tifosi beautifully. Sometimes you've just got to love Ferrari.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hamilton's Intentions are Plain

My March Archive includes a number of blogs in relation to McLaren Team harmony and the fact that Lewis and his management were stirring the proverbial ***t in a serious way.  At the time I was of the opinion that it was partly a tactic to spur McLaren on, partly an attempt to renegotiate a higher fee, and partly a statement to other teams that he was available for a little chat.

What happened in Canada?  A little chat with Christian Horner.  Funny how his management company had a representative in Montreal when they weren't in Monaco, and even funnier that their presence was felt after the little chat took place.  A few strategic words to say that "Neither Lewis nor his management team have had any discussions with regard to moving team" and leave the rest up to yourself.  Remember Lewis slagging RBR off earlier in the season?

Hamilton's contract with McLaren is up in 2012 and it's pretty standard to be setting the scene at this early, pre-negotiation stage.

If I were McLaren though I'd be thinking like Frank Williams, that if I can produce a winning car then I only need to hire two drivers who can win and the season is sewn up.  The prime focus for the team is the Constructor's Championship, with the Driver's Championship only the public jewel in the crown.

Jenson can deliver wins; and with a winning car under his belt would do a lot of the work to grab the Constructor's trophy, all that's needed after that is another driver who, given the right car, can take wins where Jenson can't.

Once again we are talking about a winning car, the staple requirement for every Championship.

I mean, let's face it - regardless of his undoubted talent I have to reiterate again and again that Lewis, since he parted from the management of his father (and since Ron Dennis left the pitlane), has exhibited signs of an increasing egocentricity combined with a most unfortunate "Mansell"-like tendency to whinge when things aren't going his way.

While I'm sure that his vast talent makes him a very attractive prospect for most teams, as a front-runner McLaren really don't need him to win championships.  Given the right car Rosberg, Massa, Kubica, Trulli (call me sentimental), and a certain MS would have no problem bringing home the remaining wins, and creating a team where both drivers can compete for the Driver's trophy while ensuring the Constructor's Championship for the team.

Personally I think that Lewis needs a strong boss who'll stick his emerging hubris back into its box.  I'm all for self-confidence and pride but his boss needs to encourage that while discouraging the less attractive qualities which go with it.  I think Horner may be the guy to do it - Frank W just wouldn't engage with it and Lewis would find himself out on his ear after a year. I don't think Ross Brawn would be bothered reigning him in - Domenicalli isn't a runner and I don't know enough about Boullier to judge his abilities in man management.

What Lewis really needs is another Ron - but he won't get that unless he moves down the grid to the likes of Peter Sauber who is one of the stalwarts who has seen drivers come and go and is used to dealing with over-inflated ego's.

For McLaren, I think Massa would blossom in a partnership with Jenson (let's face it you just can't hate the guy at all!).  Both Jenson and Filipe appear to be genuine characters.  They both have the drive to win but it is packaged in a friendly and open manner.  Massa has suffered at Ferrari over the last couple of seasons - particularly since his accident - and needs a nurturing atmosphere, which McLaren would provide.  It's great to see him getting back in the swing of things over the last couple of races and this will help him move.

Rosberg too seems to be a genuinely nice guy.  Adam Cooper tweeted a few hours ago " #F1 Just had a chat with @nico_rosberg at Montreal Airport. He was in normal cafe, not some fancy lounge. Top bloke".  But regardless of Adam Cooper's take the way Nico talks on camera is serious, down to earth, and professional, but you can see that he has a sense of humour to go with it.

I think that either of those guys would be a great asset to McLaren from a driver's and a PR perspective.  Lewis' mouth is becoming a PR and team liability - which is just not the McLaren way, while his driving is also becoming somewhat erratic as a result of his increasing frustrations in the car.  One is feeding the other while XIX management seems to be more focused on Lewis the individual Brand rather than Lewis the team asset.

Hamilton should be encouraged to go elsewhere for next season - the Ron Dennis asset is turning into a Martin Whitmarsh nightmare liability.

Monday, June 13, 2011

O Canada! ...With Glowing Hearts we see thee rise

What a day.  From disappointment with the red flag in Monaco to exuberance with the red flag in Canada.  From the depths of my Spanish tyre depression to a most inflated sense of Canadian delight.  It really was the maple syrup on my pancakes, the wonder and awe and amazement that characterises the most complete thing (for what are pancakes without Maple Syrup? crepe!).

What did we not have in this race?

Start under the safety car - Given the state of the track I wasn't too bothered by this, remembering what happened at Spa in 1998.  I understand Eddie Jordan's feeling that the excitement of a proper start was lost but, given the conditions, I wasn't surprised at the way things worked out.

Torrential Downpour - I was amused really by the drivers on the live radio feeds talking at the race director through their teams.  Charlie is listening to all of this stuff and they all know it - why can't they just communicate to him? I know the link is to the team but given that they know he can hear they could appeal directly to him - I guess it's just a matter of form.

The weather really did disimprove dramatically and the red flag was inevitable.  The conditions were reminiscent of Adelaide in 1991 when the race was stopped on Lap 14.  At that time, if you remember, we had no access to pit-to-car radio transmissions and what I remember most of all was Senna, driving down the start-finish straight, along side the pit-wall gesticulating madly that the conditions were undrivable and the race needed to be stopped.  It was, on lap 14 - the shortest ever F1 race.  Senna won.

Even more so I remember it was the first time I didn't get up to see the GP live - I was meeting mates in the pub on Sunday morning to watch the replay.  None of us had listened to the radio or seen the news and we had no idea of what was going to occur.  We bought our drinks and sat down to watch the show, the preamble had built up our expectations for an exciting wet race, another chance to see Senna the Master of the Rain.  And then the pub owner dashed cold water over us - walking behind us he looked up and said the words "Oh yeah, that's the race that they cancelled after 11 laps!" - We cursed him from a variety of heights and grumbled into our drink - but we still watched the race 14 laps! and listened to the afters.  We never did watch another GP in that bar though.

Red Flag - I thought the race director and his team did exactly the right thing.  Even though I had to wait for a couple of hours, listening to Martin and David discuss the merits of red-shouldered Blackbirds and grey shouldered seagulls (even with the constant threat of a black flag and half points), the wait was worth it.

Rhianna and George Lucas.  What I loved watching was the shot of Rhianna drinking her champagne immediately followed by a shot of the boys on the grid getting their polystyrene cups of coffee and a hunk of sandwich - The glamour of working in F1 eh?  Brundle, lost for something to fill the time, making fashion statements about Rhianna's hairdo, while equally cringeworthy, EJ tells George Lucas that he'd make a good Bernie! Live TV.

Restart - The restart was a shambles.  By the time that they had decided to restart the race, with all cars on full wet tyres, the track had dried to such an extent that some teams would have chosen to go with intermediates - as was evidenced by D'Ambrosio going in on the last lap under the safety car to change tyres - and the resultant drive-through penalty.

A slew of cars raced into the pits immediately after the Safety Car pulled in in order to change to inters with the Ferrari's in the next lap - neat work by the Ferrari pit crew, Massa out and Alonso straight in.

Alonso muddles into Button on the chicane and beaches himself - Button gets a puncture and has to drive around to the pits for the fifth time.  Safety Car out and another free pitstop for Vettel.  With Kamui K in second I was expecting him to have a go but Vettel really knows how to control the restarts and didn't give him a chance.

It was only a matter of time before he got overtaken.  Schumi overtakes Webbo - The man drove like the champion he was - just didn't have the car under him to hold the place.  Forget Hakkinen on Schumi around Zonta in Spa 2000 - best overtaking move ever? Michael on Massa and Kamui, on a drying track, on intermediate tyres, lap 52, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2011. It is the Master showing what he's capable of.

Button comes back from 21st to sneak onto the radar again - he's made a sixth visit to the pits and is flying on dry tyres He's up in tenth and surely is driving on pure adrenalin at this stage - he's putting in fastest lap after fastest lap, Jense in the Brawn in the first 7 races of 2009, consistent, fast, aggressive, controlled.  It's like he had drawn a target on Vettel's back and was honing in - He drove like he knew the race was his.

By lap 56 he was into fifth, Heidfeld lost his nose and brought out the safety car.  What a close call for the Track Marshall's - that was a lot closer than I'd ever want to get to Kamui when he was in the car - great control by Kobayashi to steer away from him.  The eternal question do you move and hope to escape the much faster missile pointing directly at you or do you let the driver avoid you?  Common sense says the latter, deer in the headlights syndrome says RUN!

Button flys up behind Schumi and Webbo who are going at it for Second place - Vettel is busy deciding what he's going to say on the team radio after winning again.

Webbo takes Schumi but skips the chicane and relinquishes the place - does a great job not to let Button through, but he can't hold him for long.  He screws up the chicane again, goes off-line and pulls back onto the dry line, Button is much quicker, has to dive onto the wet part of the track to avoid colliding with him, and powers past on slicks in the wet.  Heartstopping moment, could have been the end of his race right there and then.

Another burst of adrenaline must kick in - I've survived that and taken the place - DRS right past Schumi - no worries.  Now where's my target.  Lap 65 to Lap 69 Button pushes like crazy, probably still living on the adrenaline rush from the Webbo overtake, on 69 he gets into the DRS window but can't make it stick, just no quite close enough.

Vettel has stopped thinking about his winning speech and finally decides to concentrate on winning, but, like Brundle always used to say it's hard to pick up the pace again after you've been cruising.  Your mindset is all wrong. And we see the result.  Lap 70, Vettel Cracks for the first time this year - puts a wheel on the wet and spins, Jenson goes by, cheerio Seb! WOW! What a win, What a drive.  Definitely Button's best drive ever.  What a roller coaster of a race.  Even after writing this and recalling everything that happened It's like I've relived it. And I've missed so much Button/Hamilton, Massa, Button/Alonso, Heidfeld (who had a great race up until his run in with Kamui), Di Resta, KERS in the Rain, Button's 5 pit-stops and one drive-through, Schumi overtaking Hamilton, Hamilton running into Webbo, How the Safety Car worked for Vettel, Petrov, and loads more.  You could write a book.

Great drive Jenson, Great drive Michael, Great drive Webbo.  Hard Luck Seb - you still got second and didn't deserve the booing crowd - I apologise for them (even though it has nothing to do with me) but I guess they're just happy to see someone else on the top step for a change! remember the Michael era?  Loved and hated in equal measure.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vettel the Champion gets acquainted with the Wall of Champions

Free Practice 1 sees Vettel smash the right side of his car up as he says hello to the famous Wall of Champions.

Funnily enough he did mention the proximity of the walls on Thursday - and then there was this question of how the super degrading tyres would work at close quarters.

He radio'd the pits immediately to tell them he was fine - the session was red flagged for a couple of minutes.

"It's official the white Patey helmet has been hung up for good...

...Stirling Moss has retired from competitive racing." These were the words of Sir Stirling Moss to his twitter fans informing him of his retirement from racing at the age of 81.

Moss epitomised the spirit of motor-racing believing that how you raced was as important as the final result.

He began his F1 career with HWM, a small team based in a garage in Walton-on-Thames, in 1951 and retired after a heavy crash in a Lotus at Goodwood in 1962.  Over the course of 11 years he raced in a number of great and evocative F1 cars such as Connaught, Cooper, Vanwall, BRM, Mercedes Benz, Maserati, Lotus, and drove alongside some of the greats of the sport, of which he is one, such as Fangio, Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorne, Phil Hill, Von Trips, Dan Guerney, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Innes Ireland, Bruce McLaren, etc.

He is often regarded as the best driver never to win a world driver's championship but probably should have won the 1958 title with 4 wins that year.  He lost out to Mike Hawthorne by 1 point.

The story goes that Hawthorne was going to be penalised in Portugal for restarting his stalled car by bump-starting it down the hill, against the oncoming race traffic but Moss defended Hawthorne's manoeuvre to the race stewards on the basis that he himself had shouted the advice to Hawthorne.  Moss won the race and Hawthorne came second claiming 6 points.  Hawthorne was the first British World Champion - if things had been different...

I just can't picture any of the modern era guys doing that - Maybe Barrichello, Webbo, Button...maybe.  I'd think the last drivers that you could guarantee would do it would have been the late '80's early '90's guys.  the pre-Schumi group, but that might just be wishful thinking on my part.

Apparently, Enzo Ferrari told Moss that he would build him whatever car he wanted if he would race for Ferrari in 1962 but after the crash at Goodwood Moss was in a coma for a month and spent the rest of the year recovering.  He returned to Goodwood in 1963 but came into the pits almost immediately and announced his retirement.

What can you say about a man who was a renowned master of the Mille Miglia (when it really was a race) and the Nurburgring 1000 km and won the 1957 GP on the Pescara Circuit, the longest ever GP circuit at 16 miles.

Long before my interest in F1, when I was but a child, I read about the Mille Miglia and in my head (whether or not it's true) I associate Moss with that part of the story which remains with me - even though I can't remember the book it was in.  That story refers to Moss? in second place, with darkness falling rapidly, racing towards the finish line without lights so that the leader (Fangio?) wouldn't be aware that he was catching up rapidly, and overtaking him with only a couple of km to go to win the race.  It was a real Boy's Own adventure story and had me racing up and down the drive on my homemade cart with that dangerous image in my head - If only my mother had known!

Moss returned to racing in the BTCC in 1980 unsuccessfully, and has been a regular competitor in historic racing events ever since.  In announcing his retirement during qualifying for the Le Mans Legends race he said "I was frightened before I even got in the car. This afternoon I scared myself and I have always said that if I felt I was not up to it or that I was getting in the way of fellow competitors, then I would retire. I love racing, but now it is time to stop."

For a full biography and all kinds of interesting info about Sir Stirling Moss visit his website.

Thanks for the racing and the attitude - "To me now racing is - the dangers are taken away: if it's difficult, they put in a chicane. So really now the danger is minimal - which is good, because people aren't hurt. But for me the fact that I had danger on my shoulder made it much more exciting" (I'll leave the rest of the quote out!).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Helmut "Groucho" Marx(o) is (Animal) Crackers

Groucho, as I'm now going to affectionately call the good Doctor (mediocre ex-F1 Driver) would appear to be losing it.  It's either that or he's made it his life goal to flood the top echelons of the sport with other mediocre F1 drivers.

Apparently he's now saying that, should Webber retire (or not have his contract renewed!) he'd expect that Buemi or Alguersuari would move into the vacant Red Bull seat!

These are surely nothing but the half-witted ravings of a man imitating an ostrich.

He bases the idea on the basis that Vettel has done alright

But Groucho -
Vettel showed his talent when he was in the Toro Rosso
Webbo showed his ability when he was in the Minardi

Buemi and Alguersuari have never shown any particular talent which would lead us to believe they should be in a top four team.  Don't get me wrong, the guys are OK, but if they're all that the Red Bull FDaD scheme can produce (Find Deitrich another Driver - pronounced eFFdad funnily enough) then the Red Bull Team's future is in doubt.

Groucho is obviously of the opinion that a driver can be made great rather than just being great in the first instance and making the most of their innate talent.

Great drivers make the most of their cars and their teams to do whatever can be done to get the best achieveable result - this often results in the drivers actually making the cars look better than they actually are.  Persistence, skill, a strong team ethic, talent, fitness, flair, aptitude, ability, skill, talent, flair - did I mention talent?

Sorry Seb and Jaime but I'm of the opinion that you have to chances of getting into the sister team - none and Bob and let's face it Bob's dead! -Oh! two Hopes! Now I get it...

Welcome home Felipe have a blue and silver can of sugary goodness!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bernie says No Bahrain GP

BBC, ESPN and Autosport are reporting that Bernie has finally accepted that there'll be no Bahrain GP this year.

About bloody time Bernie.

What a waste of time and effort on everyone's part when there was no appetite for the GP anywhere else other than at FIA HQ, in the Ruling House of Bahrain, and in Bernie's head.

Give them back the 40 mill and let's get on with the show!

FIA to Ban Exhaust Blown Diffusers after Canada?

This ban is interesting on a number of levels.

On one level - and once again the conspiracy theorist in me is leaping out of his chair and shouting - this could be interpreted as an attempt to tighten up the Championship by penalising Red Bull, who, let's face it, have made this system work and have reaped the benefits and racked up the points.  A ban might well see them lose a significant amount of laptime and allow the chasing pack to close up and bring the Championship back into play for Ferrari and McLaren, spicing up the back end of the season.

On another level Todt was right from an environmental perspective when he said that "It's a pointless consumption of fuel" as Renault had said that their engine had used 10% more fuel in Melbourne 2011 than last year

But from a racing perspective there is no such thing as a pointless consumption of fuel. is the place to go to see just how this system works, but basically what happens in the Red Bull is that, when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator the Renault engine throttle opens up fully.  This provides a constant flow of exhaust gas maintaining the downforce levels while the car is cornering and allowing for increased cornering speeds.  Those who know reckon it might cost the RB up to eight-tenths a lap in pace - more than enough for the rivals to sew up pole position and the race.

All of the teams have designed their cars to take advantage of downforce provided by the engine exhaust including Ferrari and McLaren, with Ferrari apparently pushing very hard to catch up to Red Bull.

Charlie Whiting has initiated the ban because he's come to the conclusion that, as ScarbsF1 says "when off throttle the engine is being used purely to drive the aerodynamics, this contradicts the regulation on movable aerodynamic devices".

Interesting interpretation.  Will it lead to another final race decider in Brazil? (You can read that question in two ways)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Open Letter to Jean Todt and the FIA

To Jean Todt, President, and Members of the FIA,

Today is a momentuous day for World Motorsport.  Today is a day when the governing body of motorsport can take a stand against inoperable and archaic Government systems which repress and assault their own citizens in order to maintain an unequal and unfair society where a person can be discriminated against on the basis of their Religious beliefs.  Today you must make a decision as to whether or not to hold a Formula one race in Bahrain.

Before you sit down to consider this matter I would like you all to take some time to think about what is currently happening in Bahrain.  Let's take a look at what those with information about the region have said.

Christopher Stokes, General Director of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) writes:

"In the kingdom of Bahrain, to be wounded by security forces has become a reason for arrest and providing healthcare has become grounds for a jail sentence. During the current civil unrest, Bahraini health facilities have consistently been used as a tool in the military crackdown, backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, against protestors.

The muted response from key allies outside of the region such as the U.S. – which has significant ties to Bahrain, including a vast naval base in the country – can only be interpreted as acceptance of the ongoing military assault on the ability to provide and receive impartial healthcare.

While the government and its supporters in Bahrain continue to refer to the protestors as ‘rioters’, ‘criminals, ‘extremists’, ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’, the label that remains conspicuously absent for those who are wounded is ‘patient’.

Torture and beatings

Since 7th April, when Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) first raised the alarm about the situation, our team has seen patients in villages across the country who were severely beaten or tortured in jail; schoolgirls who have been both physically abused and threatened with rape; and patients in urgent need of hospitalisation who still refuse to be referred due to the high risk of their arrest.

The militarisation of the only public hospital, Salmaniya, persists. Although Ministry of Health statistics show an increase in patients accessing the hospital, tanks and security checkpoints are still manned by masked soldiers at its entrances, searching cars and people.

The wounded tell MSF that they are still too afraid to go to the hospital in case of being arrested or beaten in the wards.

Medical staff arrested

Doctors and nurses also continue to be arrested during raids on health facilities, or on their homes at night. In fact, 47 medical staff are now being prosecuted by the Bahraini authorities.

Within Bahrain, the medical community itself is polarised. Many oppose the blatant militarisation of medical assistance, while others support the military presence in the hospital and the legal charges against fellow health workers. However, the impact on the patients is often disregarded.

By dragging the health system deeper into the political crackdown on dissent, Bahraini authorities continue to undermine patient’s trust in health facilities.

Wounded arrested

All of the 88 people that MSF has managed to see in their homes are at risk of being arrested if they were to present themselves at health facilities – simply for being wounded in protests by government forces. Some of them need to go to hospitals for surgery or x-rays – but MSF is unable to safely refer them.

This is because hospitals in Bahrain have received directives that any patient who presents with wounds associated with the current unrest must be reported to the police by health staff.

While there is a legal provision to report trauma cases to judicial authorities in many countries, this is designed to assist and protect victims of violence. However, in Bahrain today, the reality is that hospitals are being used to catch and imprison wounded people.


Our medical teams then face the impossible choice of knowing that patients who need medical attention risk arrest and a serious deterioration of their health condition in prison.

MSF has seen the results of violence and torture perpetrated against those imprisoned, caused by beatings with iron rods, boots, hoses and cattle prods on the back, legs, buttocks, genitals and soles of the feet.
MSF has also seen the serious impact of psychological abuse on those arrested, including extreme anxiety and fear as a result of sexual harassment and humiliation.

Humanitarian law

Ensuring the safe and impartial provision of treatment for the wounded is a basic legal obligation under humanitarian law. It is entailed in mandatory provisions of Common Article 3 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions – and is valid at all times.

Thus, as a state party to these Conventions, the Bahraini authorities must respect its obligations regarding the protection and provision of health care to the sick, injured and prisoners.
This healthcare should be provided by the high quality Bahraini health system, without precluding the offer of medical services by an impartial humanitarian organisation such as MSF.

MSF assistance blocked

Although we now have authorisation to begin training Bahraini health workers to deal with psychological trauma, other crucial assistance remains blocked.
Our requests to set up a referral system, whereby MSF can accompany wounded patients to health facilities to ensure they receive lifesaving care, are still met with insufficient guarantees about their safety.

The national security agenda of Bahraini authorities must not come at the expense of the lives and health of wounded people, whether in hospital or prison. Doctors and nurses must be allowed to provide healthcare in line with medical ethics, without the fear of reprisal.
This is impossible when health facilities are used as bait for arrest and torture, with the support of Bahrain’s closest allies".

Reuters write:

"Police patrolled Manama and villages near the capital to snuff out any protests before the meeting of the world motor racing body and fired tear gas to try to break up a protest by some 500 people shouting "Down with (King) Hamad" and "Gulf forces out" in the village of Sanabis on Friday.

The protest began after the funeral of Zainab Ali Altajer, who demonstrators said died from the effect of a sound bomb during disturbances the day before.

Military trials of 21 mostly Shi'ite dissidents continue. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has offered new dialogue on reform with all sides, without spelling out its parameters.

The court sentenced six men on Thursday to jail terms ranging from one to five years in prison for rioting and gathering illegally in public with intent to cause disturbance -- a reference to the protests -- the state news agency said.

An employee of the state-owned Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) which hosts the Grand Prix told Reuters 28 of 108 staff members had been fired. He said all 28 were detained and abused, and five remain in detention, including chief financial officer Jaafar Almansoor.

He said all the detainees were Shi'ite and many had taken part in or expressed support for the protest movement. The government has purged hundreds of Shi'ites from state jobs. It is not clear how many were arrested in total or remain in jail.

A BIC spokesman did not reply to telephone calls.

Britain lifted a travel advisory this week but expressed concern over rights abuse.
"We remain deeply concerned by reports of human rights abuses, including the recent arrests of protesters and medical staff and the nature of the charges brought against them," Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said on Wednesday".
(Reporting by Andrew Hammond and Hamad Mohammed; Editing by Jon Hemming)

A lead editorial ten days ago in the Times  highlighted the active campaign being waged by Bahrain to get the grand prix reinstated. It concluded: "It must not succeed. The roar of petrol engines around the tiny kingdom, smothered with advertising, would be too great a symbol that Western acquiescence to repression can be bought with stability and an oil industry."

ABC News has written:

"Bahrain has lifted martial law after months of pro-democracy protests in what the government hopes will be a sign of the country returning to normal.
Bahrain is also looking to get back their leg of the Formula One Grand Prix, which was cancelled in February when protesters, inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, clashed with police.
A meeting of F1's governing body on Friday could reinstate the race, but a human rights watch group based in the United States says Bahrain's ongoing crackdown on opposition activists should count in the decision.
According to online activists, there is still a heavy anti-riot police presence in Shiite villages on the outskirts of the capital, Manama.
Al Jazeera television quoted witnesses saying police used tear gas to disperse protesters, arresting several and injuring dozens more.
Ali Zirazdi, 30, says police fired tear gas at hundreds of people gathered in the Shiite village of Diraz.
"With the end of the emergency situation, the security should not be here but they still are," he said.
The interior ministry later denied troops had opened fire on demonstrators".

Max Mosely, your former president talked to ESPN and said:

"If I was president today, Formula One would go to Bahrain over my dead body," Mosley said. "It cannot happen."
He also warned that if it is rearranged for later this year, then pressure on sponsors may mean many will want their logos removed from cars for the race.
"The grand prix will be used to paint a picture of Bahrain that will be false," he said. "They will be attempting to use the grand prix to support what they are doing, almost using Formula One as an instrument of repression.
"There is only one reason Formula One is in Bahrain and that is a political reason. To go will be a public-relations disaster and sponsors will want their liveries removed."

Amnesty International Reported:

Human rights conditions in Bahrain have undergone a marked deterioration in recent weeks. This was clear and palpable during Amnesty International’s most recent fact-finding visit, following an earlier visit in February. The government’s resort to renewed excessive force to suppress the protests, its declaration of the State of National Safety and the extraordinary powers that contains, and the application of those powers to arrest and detain incommunicado hundreds of mainly Shi’a protestors and political activists has exacerbated tension between the Sunni and Shi’a Muslim communities and cast Bahrain on a very worrying downward trajectory.

There is an urgent need now, therefore, for the Bahraini government to reverse this trend and give renewed and greater priority to its obligations under international law. It must not fail that test.

At the same time, much more and more determined action is needed from governments in North America and Europe that have long maintained close diplomatic, trade and other ties with the Kingdom and which have been much more vocal in espousing the cause of human rights during the current turmoil in Libya and during the recent protests in Tunisia and Egypt than they have in relation to Bahrain. For many in the Arab world, this appears as another example of political selectivity when it comes to the advancement of human rights by such
states; they must act, and act quickly, to disperse this perception but principally to remind the Bahraini authorities of their obligations to uphold and respect human rights, including the right to peaceful protest, and to ensure accountability for unlawful killings, torture and other human rights violations committed by their forces or the forces of the other states currently assisting them.
In an open letter to Bernie Ecclestone, published as part of a Facebook campaign, the 'Youth of the 14 February Revolution' wrote:

"We are addressing to you this open letter publicly regarding the organization of Bahrain Grand Prix, and we, citizen of Bahrain, and human rights supporters of the world, are asking you to consider the challenges to organize what should be a happy sporting event in the middle of a country under siege and martial law, surrounded by tanks and military forces, while the population is being reduce to silence, killed, tortured, etc...
"Not mentioning the difficult climatic conditions, and the fact that organizing a motor sport festival in the middle of a despotic crackdown on the population, wouldn't be well understood and accepted worldwide.
"Also, in support of the population of Bahrain, we're asking you reconsider hosting Grand Prix of Bahrain until basic human rights and freedom are restored, and, if you wish, to issue a letter stating that the Grand Prix cannot, and will not, be organized in Bahrain until basic human rights and freedom are restored, and the repression is over. With your permission, we will display this letter of support on Facebook and other networks to show the solidarity of the Formula 1 sporting industry with the democratic and freedom aspirations of the Bahraini people!
"We thank you very much for your support and wish to see the Grand Prix in Bahrain soon, in a free and democratic atmosphere to which you would have contributed."
For myself let me just say that Bernie has repeatedly made the point that F1 is apolitical and should not get involved but Bahrain wants Formula 1 for purely political reasons - the same political reasons that South Africa wanted Cricket and Rugby in the 1970's - to give public and global credibility to an reppressive regime desperate to hold onto power using any means necessary.
At 11.33am today (20 minutes ago), as you are sitting there thinking, Associated Press have reported:
11.33am: Associated Press reporting that Bahraini police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters marching toward Pearl Square in the country's capital.
The downtown square was the epicenter of weeks of Shiite-led protests against Sunni rulers earlier this year in the Gulf kingdom.
Friday's march in Manama comes two days after authorities lifted emergency rule. It was imposed in March to quell demonstrations by Bahrain's Shiite majority demanding greater freedoms and inspired by uprisings across the Arab world.
At least 30 people have died since February, when protests erupted in the tiny island nation, which hosts the US Navy's 5th Fleet.
There were no immediate reports of injuries. The eyewitnesses spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.
The only reason for Formula 1 to go to Bahrain this season is financial - you're all about cutting costs associated with the sport and last year was a bumper crop for all concerned with F1.  Take the financial hit and consider the morality of the situation - an attempt to prop up a gulf state by using MY SPORT, the fan's sport,  If we don't watch no-one gets paid.

I am watching you as you make this decision and I am not alone.  The Internet is full of opinion from fans on this issue and you would be wise to listen to their thoughts, to their voices.  Ours is the true voice of Motorsport - do not let us down.

I'll leave you with the voice of one of our own - Damon Hill -

"Formula One cannot put its head in the sand concerning the Bahrain Grand Prix because it is a very volatile situation out there and F1 is involved," he told the newspaper. "I am not a spokesman for Formula One. But I am surprised and disappointed that there is a lack of intelligent comment coming from the sport at a time when we should be trying to promote it in a positive way, a way which recognises human values.
"Formula One, its teams, its drivers and its sponsors, has to stand for values which are positive and aspirational. The ruling family in Bahrain have said they want to stage a race there, and we all do. But F1 must align itself with progression, not repression, and a lot of demonstrations in that country have been brutally repressed. You are either aware of that or you're not.
"It is clear, whatever anyone says, that some very violent events have taken place in Bahrain. It is not our country. It is their country. But we can't just fluff over it and pretend that the difficulties there don't exist, or that they will sort themselves out. It is an over-simplification to say that the rulers there are the bad guys and the demonstrators are the good guys. But we cannot pretend that the political situation there is not a factor, because it is."
"It is important that Formula One is not seen to be only interested in putting on the show, whatever the circumstances, " Hill concluded. "You can't just base your decision to hold a race in a country on that country's ability to pay."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Update on Bahrain

This is taken directly from ESPN - Nothing added by this Blogger

On the eve of the decisive World Motor Sport Council meeting, Bahrain looked unlikely to return to the 2011 Formula One calendar as reports of continuing unrest continued to circulate.
Martial law in the kingdom ended on Wednesday, just two days before F1's governing body sits in Barcelona to consider a new race date for the postponed season opener. Bahrain officials insist they are now ready to host a grand prix, but F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone had warned in Monaco that the event will only take place "If there's peace".
As the state of emergency ended, overseas media organisations claimed there was still turmoil on the streets of Bahrain. Al Jazeera television said police used tear gas against continuing protesters, arresting and injuring several of them. "With the end of the emergency situation, the security should not be here but they still are," said an eyewitness.
Reuters said the interior ministry denied the reports, while the Bahrain Shura Council's deputy president Jamal Fakhro insisted Formula One can return. "The end of the national security law and announcement of dialogue are both positive. It will be a shame if anyone is negative about it," he said. "Bahrain will welcome F1, and any other event. There's nothing wrong with that because life is back to normal now and it will be excellent to have it back."

The Professor, the Cooper, and the Virgin

It may seem lazy of me but I thought that these blog postings were so thoroughly well put together that there was no point in me having my say without giving you the opportunity to read them in full.

The first and most interesting post is by Professor Mark Jenkins - always well thought out, concise, and interesting.  This is about Virgin bringing their cars into the wind tunnel and no longer relying solely on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for their design.

I, personally, am of the opinion that they had no chance at success if they relied solely on CFD and made that point when previewing the season on March 14th just before Melbourne (Virgin being at the back of the grid my comments are in the final paragraph - excuse my spelling of competitive!).  Now HRT have done a deal with Mercedes for the use of their "spare" wind tunnel at Brackley it is only a matter of time before they pass a CFD designed Virgin and begin fighting with Lotus, probably with Mercedes Engines.

Apparently Virgin parted company with Wirth Partnership, who operate the CFD designing and ordering upgrades to the car, after Pat Symonds, Team Consultant and Crashgate Phoenix, gave a bleak assessment of the teams position at Monaco.  Adam Cooper's Blog gives an insight into the tangled politics of Marussia Virgin now that Nick Wirth has left the role of Technical Director and has updated the story today.

I would say that Virgin can't get into the wind tunnel fast enough!