Formula One USGP 2007

19 06 2007

The US Grand Prix at Indianapolis was always the one that I’d miss watching, primarily because it’s broadcast live in the wee hours of the morning in my timezone. Not that I’d really missed it these past few years, the races weren’t that exciting given the forced track layout (an infield section squeezed into the big oval), plus that one year when all the Michelin-shod teams didn’t race, leaving the Bridgestoners to duke it out (basically the Ferraris and the backmarkers). 

That said, I’m freaking glad I didn’t miss the 2007 edition of the Formula One USGP.

The qualifying itself was nailbiting with the two Mclarens fighting it out for the pole. Alonso was strong all the way during the weekend’s practice section and was the strong favorite. And yes he was on the way to get the coveted first slot on the grid.

But we’ve got one Lewis Hamilton, aged 22, British. Rookie. With podium finishes since the start of the season. And a victory over Alonso in last week’s Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal. Someone I didn’t really take notice of when his announcement as Mclaren’s second driver, I even thought his 3rd place in Melbourne was due to a very superior MP4/22.

I did sit up and notice him when I watched my first-ever Formula One race in person at Sepang Malaysia earlier this year when he got the second podium step. Here he is:

On a track he’s never been to, Lewis just went ahead and pipped Alonso for P1. Just like that. And to make a long story short, also led from the start of the race to the chequered flag, beating his double World Champion teammate. Okay, they actually raced wheel-to-wheel when Alonso tried to overtake him at one point, but Lewis just kept his cool while Alonso backed off.

In other news:

Ferrari was more muted this time around, but we saw signs of Kimi regaining his old form and made a late charge at teammate Massa. Not that it mattered much from a team perspective, they were both far from the front-running McLarens.

We also had a great race in the midfield. We’ve got an overacheiving Adrian Sutil in a Spyker, that by conventional wisdom shouldn’t have been anywhere in the middle of the pack, but there he was. We’ve got Davidson in a Super Aguri (read: Honda B-Team) overtaking Jenson Button in a Honda works car, 19-year old Vettel in the points for BMW-Sauber (first teenager and youngest to win an F1 point).

 My personal favorite Takuma Sato of Super Aguri unfortunately had a bad day. He spun out into a gravel trap while trying to overtake from the outside and his race ended there. To top off his DNF, he is going to be penalized 10 grid slots in the next race because the stewards judged that he had overtaken on double-waved yellow flags. Tsk.

We also had first-lap drama. Ralf Schumacher ended the race for Coulthard, Barrichelo and himself when he braked too hard and made a mess for the two others. This track has never been kind to him, as he had a serious accident here before. However, that was an accident and this was something that could’ve been avoided.

The Indy track’s a lot better than quite a few out there in the race calendar because there are lots of overtaking chances (Monaco, anyone?). I hope Bernie Ecclestone and the Indianapolis Speedway people sign off on another few years of F1 in the US, as their contract expires this year.

And oh yeah, they tested out the lighting system on this track as part of their evaluation of night races for F1. Read somewhere else that the test satisfied their requirements.

And finally… we got to hear Ron Dennis saying “I love you, too, Lewis.” This from a guy who’s better known for introducing the word “package” into the F1 vocabulary.




4 responses

19 06 2007

Still I didn’t think there was as much passing at Indy as there usually is – I blame the rev-limited engines. I understand the need to restrict costs but that’s a step too far.

19 06 2007

Still, it’s an improvement over Monaco and other overtaking-challenged tracks. If engine performance is due to the cost-cutting measures, then we should even be more afraid because Mosley’s out to make things cleaner as well.

21 06 2007

I still think the greatest obstacle to overtaking is that the cars are so aero-sensitive. With the two next venues being Magny-Cours and Silverstone – both tracks where aerodynamic efficiency is crucial – I don’t think we’ll see much overtaking unless there’s rain.

It’s raining in Magny-Cours this week so fingers crossed!

22 06 2007

Certainly rain’s going to make a race interesting anywhere. Witness the backmarkers who end up near the top of the qualifying timesheets when rain slows down the frontrunners.

Looking forward to the French GP.

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