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Flat Spot On: Daly ‘Flying High’ In Monaco

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 26 2012

Michael Schumacher appears to be highly motivated in Monaco. (Getty Images)

By Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

MONTE CARLO, Monaco – Top Ten “Tweets” From Monaco:

1. First, the weather in Monaco: clear today and money tomorrow. (To learn more about F1’s upcoming IPO, please read on.)

2. American Conor Daly scaled new and different heights in his career exiting the tunnel in the GP3 race on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, his Lotus entry nearly left the circuit after getting airborne while trying to overtake and took down the catch fence. Thankfully, Derek Daly’s son was uninjured by the horrendous shunt. (After a poor start in Friday’s race compounded by a penalty, Conor’s encore to his victory in Barcelona was, well, underwhelming.)

3. Those who like having the Monaco GP, the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 all on the same day can continue to enjoy F1’s current schedule. Until five years ago, the Monaco race was held on the Sunday following Ascension Day, which meant it moved according to the Hebrew calendar and Easter Sunday. The race sometimes fell in early May or, occasionally, the first week of June. Five years ago the date was fixed to the last Sunday in May. (Pffft! This eliminates any opportunity to do the world’s three greatest races – Indy, Monaco and Le Mans – on the trot.)

4. The talk of the town in Monaco has been whether F1’s commercial rights holder, CVC Capital, would offer stock for sale in an IPO later this summer on the Singapore exchange – despite the fizzle of Facebook’s IPO. Just this week, it was announced that CVC had sold $1.6 billion of its stock in the F1 commercial rights to three investors, including American company BlackRock. (Does this enhance investor confidence – which was being touted by Eddie Jordan – or just mean that private investors got in early at a bargain price?)

5. During an interview with Bernie Ecclestone, a CNN reporter blurted out something about CVC being “Bernie’s boss.” It seems to me Ecclestone runs the administration of F1 through Formula One Administration; he controls the teams through the Concorde Agreement; and he is in charge of the relationship between F1 and the FIA when it comes to the annual schedule. He also apparently has the votes to control the board meetings of Alpha Prema, the holding company that controls the commercial rights, even though CVC owns the majority of stock in Alpha Prema. (So, dear young reporter, Bernie is the boss.)

6. The Sauber team announced it would investigate whether Sergio Perez’s car had technical problems that put the talented young Mexican into the wall during the first qualifying session. But from where this writer was sitting, Perez caught the curbing poorly at the entrance to Louis Chiron (Turn 13), which put him out of shape for Turn 14, which then put him into the wall. (Between constantly being asked about replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari all week and/or his concussive crash last year in the same section of track, Perez may have had good reason to be distracted.)

7. Kimi Raikkonen is wearing a “James Hunt” helmet this week in a tribute to the 1976 world champion. (But Raikkonen blew off the first round of practice in very un-Hunt-like fashion, because he didn’t like the steering set-up of his Lotus; the Finn then qualified too deep in Q3 to be a contender on Sunday.)

8. I agree with Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn that the current qualifying system works well and that fans don’t seem to miss the fact one driver – Red Bull-Renault’s Sebastian Vettel – elects to sit out Q3 in order to save a set of tires for the race. (In the last 20 years, no driver starting outside the top 3 positions has won a dry race at Monaco, so it looks like Vettel will be points racing on Sunday.

9. Things may look up for American fans on Sunday morning when Alexander Rossi starts from the front row in the Formula Renault 3.5 series race. (But he too crashed this weekend — at Mirabeau during the final practice – before saying, “It’s better to hit the barrier today than on Sunday!”)

10. And how about that 43-year-old Michael Schumacher, pipping the fastest lap in the waning moments of Q3, his first such accomplishment since coming out of retirement in 2010? (It’s always been the view here that motivation is 99 percent of driver performance; it appears the five grid position penalty for crashing Bruno Senna in Barcelona had the seven-time champion highly motivated.)

11. (Bonus) After he chopped Sergio Perez, the stewards handed Pastor Maldonado a 10-position grid penalty for reckless driving in the final practice and then wrecking in the Casino Square on the next lap. (Okay, there’s no better after-the-fact penalty than subtracting grid positions, but it sounds a little like five will get you ten.)

– Jonathan Ingram can be reached at jingram@racintoday.com

Jonathan Ingram | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 26 2012
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