ATLAS F1   Volume 7, Issue 18 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1   The Formula One Insider

spenda my Saturday nightsa
by Mitchell McCann, U.S.A.


OK, Holland, settle down. I notice you lot were conspicuously absent amongst all the e-mail I got after I missed a column a couple of weeks back. To all those of you who wrote, thanks for your concern, I appreciate it. And to Mr. J.R. Tottering of La Plume de ma Tante, Quebec, no, I'd rather you didn't, I like them exactly where they are, thanks very much.

I must apologize for my unexpected absence from the San Marino edition. Unfortunately, I went to San Marino and it turns out that they don't have a Formula One race there. But then, I suppose you could say that's true of Hungary too but at least there everybody goes to the same wrong place. Actually, the real reason for the missing column was that I ran out of electrons and there's nowhere around here to buy any on a Sunday night.

So, to briefly recap the article I would have written after San Marino: congratulations to Ralf and Williams etc. etc. Nice to see somebody other than….etc. etc. You might think this bodes well for the future etc. etc. but I predict that the next race will see Schumacher on pole, Hakkinen heading for an easy win before bad luck deprives him 5 corners from the end. Lucky win for Schu, DC will do something boneheaded. Verstappen will go off in the gravel. Lottery numbers for tomorrow night are 2, 4, 6, 8 (never too late). [Note to self: don't forget to get down the bookies before they close].


So on to round 5 and the return of the gizmos. I like roast beef on mine – a joke that they'll only get in Cincinnati. Launch control, traction control, ground control and bladder control returned to Formula One with a vengeance this weekend, with Villeneuve, Coulthard and Frentzen all demonstrating at various points that the one thing it controls is not wheelspin but speed. All three managed to control their speed, with an incredible degree of accuracy, to something between nothing at all and reverse.

Actually, the return of the electronic aids was pretty much a non-factor from a spectator point of view and as far as relative performance was concerned. And the fact that Hakkinen turned his off in order to record his best qualifying time must have left Ron Dennis carefully considering the payroll checks of a couple of very highly paid software engineers.

No, the only discernible impact was the lack of tyre smoke at the start. Well, that and the lack of David Coulthard at the start. The lack of a truly competitive Williams and the lack of any passing to speak of clearly has nothing to do with traction control because the FIA would clearly not implement any sort of rule or regulation which would reduce the excitement or competitiveness of the sport.

Seriously, it was a shame to see the joint championship leader knocked out of contention before the race even started and clearly the turn of events put the Scotsman's nose out of joint. And one nice thing about traction control is that Schumacher may never again have to go weaving all over the road after laying down a smoke screen at the beginning of the race. I’m sure we'll all come to miss those staggering, drunken starts of yester-year.

Jos Verstappen was so impressed with the traction control on his Arrows that he went for a couple of spins through the gravel trap to see if it would work there too. Nice to see Jos doing such ground-breaking work when clearly he should be spending his time trying to out-qualify his team-mate. The things he does for his art!


If you took a bio-break at the wrong moment, you might have missed pretty much the whole race which consisted of twenty seconds of a pitstop and five seconds when it was unclear whether Mika's McLaren was terminal or not. Yes, there was passing for the lead but long-time readers of this column will know that I am not particularly impressed by the type of lead change that involves one car sitting in the pits while the other car drives past it. Without the death throes of the McLaren to wake us up, this race was a bit of a snorer. Sure, Montoya did some passing and I believe that Coulthard passed at least one car that hadn't just retired, but if a pass happens on the track and there’s no camera there to see it, is it really a pass?

I guess you could say that Schumacher's wobbly wheels caused a little excitement for a time as we all waited to see which part of the car would go bang and when but, the theme I picked up a few weeks ago seems to be holding for Schumacher: his share of bad luck has been divided up equally amongst the other F1 drivers although some are clearly more equal than others. (As proof, I offer the fact that with his car riding like the vibrating bed in a cheap Californian motel, he chose to do his Nigel Mansell impersonation two corners from the end and, inexplicably, was not immediately struck down by the god of humility).


While picking up Mika Hakkinen after the race, and given Mika's track record after losing a comfortable victory, what did David Coulthard say when Mika dropped his balaclava in David's lap:

a) Oh thanks a lot! Why don't you just anchor yourself by sticking your foot in my crotch while you're at it.
b) Don't worry about it Mika. The electronic bladder control didn't work either.
c) Now I know why people consider Finns to be phlegmatic.


Ralf Schumacher announced that he is getting married to his girlfriend Cora Brinkmann and subsequently announced that they are expecting their first child. At least he got the announcements in the right order! (Yes, I am an old fuddy-duddy!)

Mitch McCann© 2007
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