ATLAS F1   Volume 6, Issue 29 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1   The Formula One Insider

Austria -
an island off the coast of New Zealand
by Mitchell McCann, U.S.A.


Maybe Formula One would be more exciting if the powers that be (sorry for the use of the plural, Bernie) took the first corner of each race and make it the last corner. Although this week, Zonta, Trulli and Diniz certainly did their best to make it the last corner for as many people as possible. Ten seconds into the race and it was pretty much all over aside, of course, from the excitement of waiting for Coulthard's jump start penalty to be announced. (That announcement is now expected a week from next Tuesday).

Ricardo Zonta went steaming into the first corner about 2 mph too fast and did as good a job ruining a perfectly good race as team-mate Jacques Villeneuve has for the last two months. Is there any way of banning BAR until they get a decent driver and a decent car at the same time?

Following the first corner melee, as everybody waited for the red flag, the stewards broke with long standing F1 tradition and made a sensible decision to bring out the safety car - certainly one in the eye for the conspiracy theorists if nothing else. The marshals quickly cleared away the three large piles of debris and two laps later we rejoined your regularly scheduled parade to the finish. Given Schumacher's form over the entire weekend it is unlikely that he would have troubled even the Arrows let alone the McLarens so it is probably no great loss but nevertheless, my tape of this race is going to be marked with a big red Z. Followed by some small ones.

DC's start certainly raised some eyebrows as it appeared clear to the naked eye that he had left the start line about two and a half minutes before anyone else even began to think about not stalling. Rumor has it that McLaren has given up work on illegal traction control systems and has concentrated on wiring the car directly to the starters green button. (NB Green button does not refer to rookie Williams' drivers). Strangely for one who left so early, DC was not particularly quick to get to the first corner and I'll bet you a pair of smoked herring that one of the McLaren drivers was seeing his entire 1999 Austrian GP flashing before his eyes as he turned in.

Fortunately for us, the level of excitement was maintained for a half dozen laps as both McLarens made it around the first lap without so much as a: "Does this bug you? I'm not touching you! Does this bug you?"

Rubens Barrichello, trailing forlornly along in a hopeful quest for 3rd place, had trouble dealing with the incredible talent of Pedro de la Rosa in the formidable Arrows and later put this down to a problem with his bottom. (This was later clarified by a Ferrari spokesman who said that Jean Todt was going to tear him a new one if he couldn't get past an Arrows).

The stewards finally upheld Formula One's long string of inconsistent decisions by penalizing Zonta for touching Schumacher's rear end (is it me, or is this column becoming really anal?) While in isolation it would not appear to be completely illogical to penalize one driver for inadvertently taking out another, it does seem to go against the precedents that have been set pretty routinely for the last 50 years. If this new rule continues to be enforced, I think I'll have a go at Formula One myself - chances are I'll be the only one left running at the end as there is no danger of me getting anywhere near somebody else's rear. If you know what I mean.

Diniz' penalty on the other hand. I'll buy that. I know that one of my fellow commuters or I will try that maneuver every now and then on I-95 but we're not doing 150 mph when we do it and we normally warn other drivers as to our intentions by flipping them the Zonta before we change lanes. And speaking of boneheads who probably don't need crash helmets, Ricardo, next time, try getting out on the side of the car that does not have a two ton bulldozer with a spike on it heading towards it.


Most of you probably missed the most significant point of the weekend about 5 laps from the end. This was when DC chalked up the fastest lap of the race. This marked a full and complete return to the form we have come to expect for the last two and a half years. DC qualifies second to Hakkinen, runs second throughout the race never threatening to challenge his team-mate until it is way too late when he suddenly bangs in the fastest lap of the race.

I've been pretty hard on Coulthard for the last few weeks but I would actually love to see him win the championship this year. Nevertheless, I think when we come to look back on the season when it's all over, we will find that this was the pivotal week. The last few weeks have been an aberration brought about by Coulthard's close brush with death and Hakkinen's severe lack of a week at the beach. The McLaren pendulum, which had only begun to move ever so slightly in the direction of the Scot, is now firmly ensconced back in the land of the midnight sun. Mika will resume his previous form, perhaps complete with the occasional Monza outburst, and DC will return to his supporting role secure in the knowledge that he has the talent, its just the nads that are missing.

I guess I'm still being just a little bit hard on him.


Another stellar weekend for the Dutch star (incidentally, do Holland's football internationals win Dutch caps?) After out qualifying his team-mate by a full five-hundredths of a second, Jos ran strongly in... ...well, somewhere around the Minardis until he spun out with what the team called a gearbox problem. The problem being he took a 3rd gear corner in 4th.


McDonalds has offered to sponsor the newly re-named Berger corner. Following Flavio Briatore's return to F1, Prost are no longer the only team to smoke in pit-lane. Eddie Irvine finally ran out of other people to belly-ache to. Alain Prost regretted his decision to tell world feed director where he could put his nose-cam as he subsequently thought of a much better place to stick it. The FIA are to investigate a broken seal on Hakkinen's electronics box as awaiting the outcome of this investigation will prove to be far more suspenseful than the race was. And who says the FIA are a bunch of overpaid, drunken layabouts. Oh! That was me.

Mitch McCann© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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