Monday, September 11, 2006

Apple #194: Formula One Nail-Biter

So, remember how, a few months back, I posted an entry about this season's Formula One line-up of drivers? If you don't, here are the crib notes:

  • My favorite driver is Fernando Alonso. He's from Spain, he drives Renault cars, he wears blue, he won the championship last year. He was the youngest to win ever, and people say he's one of the most skilled drivers they've ever seen at his age. In interviews, he always gives credit to his pit crew and to the quality of the car, but he's not so humble that he can't describe how his driving helped win the race. Have I said that I like him?
  • The guy running in second is Michael Schumacher. He's from Germany, he wears red and drives Ferrari cars which up until this season have had a less than exciting record in Formula One. He's won the championship a record seven times. This is insane. I have also learned that his methods to win are, shall we say, suspect. He's edged and even bumped other drivers off the track, and in a car going 240 miles per hour, that is extraordinarily dangerous, potentially murderous. But he's the biggest champion to hit the sport, ever. So that makes it right, doesn't it?
  • My second-favorite guy is a Finnish driver named Kimi Raikkonen. Last year, he posed a pretty serious threat to Fernando Alonso. He's younger than Alonso, and people were saying he's a superb driver as well, and the only thing holding him back was the fact that his cars kept crapping out on him. They figured him to be a real challenger for the championship this year.
The driver championship is determined by the number of points each driver has earns in each race, and the person with the most points wins. They've driven in fifteen races so far this season. In a nutshell, here's what's happened:

  • Fernando Alonso started the season strong. At one point, Alonso was ahead by something like 30 points, and people were kind of yawning, as if the whole thing were all but over.
  • Raikkonen, my second-favorite, has again faced issues with his car and has not won a race this year.
  • But then Schumacher won three races in a row. He'd won two others earlier, and the addition of these three in a row put him in the hunt as a possible upset to Alonso.
  • In qualifying a race prior to this Sunday's race, Alonso was penalized for blocking another driver, a guy named Felipe Massa. Massa is Schumacher's teammate, but that's not really significant. What is significant is that the rules require that only intentional blocking should draw a penalty. Many observers and drivers, including Alonso, say that not only was any blocking clearly unintentional, they're not even sure how the judges could call blocking of any kind. Regardless, Alonso had to take the penalty, and this meant he had to start at a much worse position at the start of the race that counted on Sunday.
  • During Sunday's race, Alonso was pushing his car to make up the lost position, and his engine literally exploded. He did not finish the race.

(Photo of Fernando Alonso from La Voz de Asturias)
  • Schumacher, on the other hand, had a far better position to start with. He wound up winning the race, which gave him crazy points. Alonso, of course, earned none. This put Schumacher within two points of the lead.
  • This is not the first time the folks in charge of Formula One racing have made decisions that penalize others and that also wind up benefiting Schumacher. Many people are crying foul, but it's kind of after the fact as far as this past race is concerned.
  • Schumacher also announced he will retire at the end of this year. He's already insanely motivated to win, and now this decision to retire, I think, will push that motivation up another notch.

Schumacher, broken up about his plans to retire
(Photo from

There are only three races left. What I have to say about all this is, "Go, Fernando!"

Formula One 2006 Season Review and 2006 Drivers Championship standings
Formula One articles including
Michael Schumacher - the end of an era
Schumacher wins as Alonso suffers DNF
Italian Grand Prix - selected driver quotes

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