Champions duel at Imola

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher won today’s San Marino Grand Prix (April 23rd) after beating Fernando Alonso at Imola. This was the German’s 85th Grand Prix victory and his first in this year’s championship.

It was a carbon-copy of last year’s race as the Ferrari and Renault challenged each other for victory. This time it was Michael ahead of Fernando to take his first ‘proper’ win after an 18-month winless spell (not including that ‘farce’ race at Indianapolis back in 2005).

Good result for the Spaniard despite finishing a close second. Eight points would do nicely for his drivers’ championship. He should have won the race but the team took the risk to pit the car earlier than expected (in the second pit-stop), in order to get ahead of the Ferrari… It didn’t work out and Alonso tried his best to past the leading Ferrari in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

McLaren’s Juan Pablo Montoya drove a solid race from seventh to finish third. But I expected a better result/pace from McLaren by now…

As for Jenson Button, he is suffering so much bad luck lately… Looked promising when he qualified second and was able to keep up the pace of Michael in the earlier stages of the race. It all went wrong during the second pit-stop when the lollipop man gave the all-clear signal to go, despite the fuel hose still attached to the car…

Chaos in Melbourne and yet Fernando takes the win

Wow, what a crazy and yet exciting Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. So much promise from Honda and Jenson Button to win his first Formula One race after qualifying on pole position. But alas, Button suffered bad luck and failed to finish on the last lap…

From hero in qualifying to zero in an action-packed race. Great win for Renault’s Fernando Alonso who extends his championship lead with 28 points with his first Australian Grand Prix victory. It was an easy race for Alonso, who overtook Button’s Honda on the first restart (after the Safety Car).

His team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella, did his best after a mixed weekend. Confident that he will have a good result in Melbourne after his win in Sepang, Giancarlo stalled his car on the starting grid. Then spun during the first Safety Car period! And was lucky enough to grab fifth position when Button’s Honda engine blew up on the last two corners…

McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen finished second but had a moment when he overtook Button’s on the second restart. The Finn locked up going to Turn 1 as he made his past. This resulted in a ‘flat-spot’ tyre which damaged the end plates on his front wing. Meaning he struggle to keep up the pace with race leader Alonso. But the team changed the nose-cone/wing during another safety car period without losing track position.

Third place for Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher despite speeding in the pit lane and serving a stop-go penalty. Fantastic result for the German and the Japanese team after struggling in the last two races this year.

It was an entertaining race filled with many incidents including both Ferraris crashed out (Felipe Massa crashed into Nico Rosberg’s Williams and Christian Klien’s Red Bull Racing at the first corner; with Michael Schumacher losing control when behind Jenson). Juan Pablo Montoya’s embrassing spin during the warm-up lap! Then his car ‘shut-down’ when he nearly hit the wall at the same corner where Michael crashed… Home town hero Mark Webber was leading a race in his Williams but broke down before his first pit-stop. He was looking good for a podium finish.

As for Button, he should have come home fifth, but as he turned into the final corner his Honda engine detonated, engulfing the close-following Fisichella in an oily cloud of smoke. Whether Button could have coasted across the finishing line quickly became a moot point, as he was instructed over the radio to pull to a stop to allow Honda to make a penalty-free engine change before the San Marino Grand Prix.

Goldfrapp at the Royal Albert Hall

Wow, what a stunning night out I had last night (March 28th)! The venue was at London’s Royal Albert Hall and the live music was superb.

Saw four main acts including GTA, Starsailor, Antony and the Johnsons and of course, Goldfrapp – the highlight of the charity event.

Alison Goldfrapp was on good form and she was gorgeous! I can’t help but admire her beauty and that voice…

She started with Utopia (which was fab) followed by Lovely Head.

Then some others including: Tip Toe, Train, Ooh La La, Deer Stop, Fly Me Away, You Never Know, Ride a White Horse, Number 1 and Slide In.

The audience demanded more and she was having so much fun, so we had a 15-minute encore! With Black Cherry and my absolute favourite Strict Machine.

Goldfrapp were on for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. They put on an amazing performance. Sound was briliant. The Royal Albert Hall really suited her stunning voice with a great atmosphere. Alison said how much she enjoyed it, said “that was fun” at the end. There was a large video screen behind the stage, that gave us live images from 4 or 5 cameras!

A great night out and a very worthy cause too. In addition, fantastic to see Starsailor again with an extended version of Good Souls.

Fisichella wins in Sepang

Giancarlo Fisichella finally avenged the misfortune that has dogged him for more than a year by scoring the third win of his grand prix career in Malaysia on Sunday (March 12th).

The Italian started from pole position and drove a near-flawless race to withstand challenges from Honda’s Jenson Button and Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso.

The world champion eventually leapfrogged Button to seal Renault’s first 1-2 as a constructor since the 1982 French Grand Prix and cement its status as the team to beat in 2006.

Even though Fernando was handicapped in qualifying by starting the race with a heavy fuel load (there was a problem with the refuelling rig), it was a great performance by the Spanaird to finish second and extend his championship over his rivals.

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher had to start the race from 14th position after an engine change and finished the race behind his team-mate, Felipe Massa, in sixth.

As for Kimi Raikkonen? The luckluss Finn had to retire on the first lap when his McLaren was hit from behind by Christian Klien at the preceding corner and with broken rear suspension he was a passenger as his McLaren veered off the road at 130mph.

But it was a good day for Jacques Villenueve (BMW Sauber) and Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) who scored their first points with seventh and eighth respectively.

A good race for Renault and we will see if the French team can keep up with its impressive start to the season in Melbourne in two weeks time.

Alonso takes first win of the year

The opening round of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship was great with plenty of racing action.

The Bahrain Grand Prix was a contest between the champions of the past and present – Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher – who both fought out a tense duel which resulted in victory for the Spaniard by only 1.246s.

Michael Schumacher’s pace signalled a major Ferrari revival this year, after the bitter disappointment of last year’s campaign. The 248 is competitive and this allow the German to fight for wins.

Michael came close to winning in today’s race (March 12th) but lost out – just – by Fernando and the excellent Renault team. It was very exciting as the Renault came out of the pits alongside the Ferrari into turn 1. Fernando edged out Michael and the race was won in a matter of inches!

Great team work by the Renault F1 team and even Fernando dedicated his latest victory to the winning organisation.

In third place, McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen drove an excellent race from 22nd position. The Finn held off Jenson Button, who gave a magnificent exhibition of overtaking as he fought to make amends from a poor start.

But the star of the race was Nico Rosberg. After a clash with BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld in the first corner on the opening lap, he pitted for brief repairs, losing 45 seconds, and then staged a superb recovery drive to seventh. On the way he twice set the fastest lap, leaving it at 1m 32.408s. Impressive!

F1: Season Preview

“And it’s go, go, go!” The new F1 season is upon us. And with new rules, new drivers, teams and the return of tyre changing, this 18-race calendar will become the most exciting and unpredictable championship for quite a while. Walking Leaf brings you the low down in this year’s Formula One World Championship.
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