The Reuters global sports blog
Indian Narain Karthikeyan’s return to Formula One, along with Renault’s retention of Russian Vitaly Petrov and the imminent arrival of Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Mexican Sergio Perez, has put the issue of the so-called ‘pay driver’ — a man whose place on the grid is rightly or wrongly considered as much down to the amount of sponsorship he brings as talent behind the wheel — firmly back in the spotlight.
There are those who bemoan the situation, lamenting the lack of opportunities for the talented but hard-up aspirant, but that is not a new phenomenon even if it was more muted in the era of manufacturer dominance.
In the early days of the championship, you had the well-heeled gentleman racer — flamboyant types like Thailand’s Prince Bira — who could afford to buy a Maserati or two and go racing.
“Do you think we are running on air? The money has to come from somewhere,” HRT team principal Colin Kolles, Karthikeyan’s boss, told Reuters last week when asked about the Indiank. “For more than 100 years if you want to race, you have to put money on the table.”
Ferrari made much of their 800th Formula One grand prix in Turkey last Sunday, throwing a party in Istanbul and racing with the number 800 on their cars’ engine covers.
It was just a shame their performance on the track was nothing to shout about.
Over at McLaren, a more poignant milestone was being marked more discretely — one fittingly capped by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button finishing one-two in the race while the sport’s only Antipodean driver, Mark Webber, joined them on the podium.
Muscles acheing, and body sagging under the lingering effects of jet-lag, I wiped away beads of sweat and warily contemplated our newly-arrived karting opponents.
They looked like proper Formula One drivers.
A British media v Lewis Hamilton/Jenson Button “challenge” could only be a mismatch, even if one of our more souped-up members did bring his own race suit and helmet to the party.
Former champion Niki Lauda did not mince his words last year when he said that Formula One’s Singapore Grand Prix race-fixing scandal demanded the heaviest of punishments to restore credibility.
A Times headline called Brazilian Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash at the 2008 race “the worst act of cheating in the history of sport.”
It is not by any means something that can be taken for granted in Formula One, but commonsense seems to have prevailed at last.
Silverstone’s deal with Bernie Ecclestone for the circuit to host the British Grand Prix for the next 17 years makes sense on so many levels and yet has been tougher to resolve than any of the controversies and scandals of recent years.
Mika Hakkinen has the air of a man who has seen it all before.
He stared death in the face when only an emergency trackside tracheotomy saved his life after a crash at the Australian Grand Prix.
He returned to Formula One to win the drivers’ title in 1998 and 1999. He enjoys homes in Monte Carlo, France and his native Finland.
A disappointing day for fans of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, with news that the German has had to call off his proposed F1 comeback.
As the seven-times world champion said on his website:
“Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and Team Principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe (Massa). I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out. Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible.
Just wondering why people clap like mad every time a golfer taps in a two-inch putt? Are these the same people who break out in applause when a plane lands? Aren’t both these things suppose to happen?
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Best thing I heard on the golf course this week: “Instead of reading the greens you have to read the currents out there,” joked former U.S. Masters champion Mike Weir at the rain-hit Canadian Open.
Second best I heard on the golf course this week: “Let’s go watch someone who wants to play.” — A disgruntled spectator to a friend at the Buick Open after watching Rocco Mediate miss twice from three-feet at the par four 12th at Warwick.
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You have to love a tournament like the Buick Open where the trophy looks like a hood ornament.
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Best joke I heard: England midfielder David Beckham was fined $1,000 by Major League Soccer for confronting unhappy fans following his return to the LA Galaxy during AC Milan. That works out to 1/250,000th of Beckham’s reported five-year $250 million deal that brought him to the United States to spread the soccer gospel.
As Ferrari have just confirmed, Schumacher is poised to make a comeback after Massa fractured his skull in an accident at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Readers of some British newspapers might be under the impression that an accident waiting to happen has been unleashed on Formula One.
“F1′s most dangerous man?” asked the Daily Mail, over a picture of Jaime Alguersuari, a 19-year-old Spaniard with a piercing gaze and next to no experience at the wheel of a grand prix car.