Jarno Trulli is one of the most-liked and friendliest drivers in Formula One. He has earned the primary driver spot at Toyota. And the team has built him what they feel is their best car yet. This is a very well-produced promotional video for Toyota's 2009 season. Turn up the volume and check it out.
Let's start with the most outrageous major news story from this morning. Yes, AIG payouts to banks with TARP funds it received is outrageous. And yes, we need to know more about the relationship between Goldman Sachs and AIG. But I am referring to the Pope's opinion that condoms either can worsen or already worsen crises in Africa. I hope that we've reached a point in our history in which the words of a politician or religious leader cannot override scientific fact. Perhaps the right thing to do is to ignore Pope Benedict XVI, as we live in a secular world and shouldn't have to listen to what the leader of a shrinking, anti-sexuality, minority religion thinks about condoms, and the role they play in worsening crises in the world's poorest continent.
But I am a strong birth control and HIV prevention advocate. I'm going to try a bad analogy here, but condoms are to the fight against HIV and unintended pregnancy what the AK-47 is to to rise of insurgent warfare. In other words, condoms are cheap, effective, and have changed the landscape in the context of their use (in this case, barrier birth control, not civil war). If anything, this world needs more condoms, not less (OK, that's where the AK-47 analogy ends - there's over 70 million Kalashnikov rifles in the world). The world still has a deadly pandemic on its hands, and the HIV virus is most transmitted in Africa and Asia. Condemning condom distribution and/or their use is an opinion that is not grounded in scientific fact, logic, or reality itself.
It certainly seems to this author that the Pope discounted the effects of civil war, genocide, poverty, and refugee crises, and pointed a finger at a life-saving medical device for making life worse in Africa.
Embarking on his first visit to Africa, the Pope said that distributing condoms is 'not the answer' to figting HIV in Africa. Well then, seat belts are 'not the answer' to reducing deaths in motor vehicle accidents. And immunizing children against polio is 'not the answer' to keeping the disease nearly extinct in the human population.
Considering that Africa is the only continent where Roman Catholicism is growing, and the very conservative, irrational views of both the African senior clergy and the Vatican on issues of human sexuality and birth control, I think it is a fair prediction that the next pope will be African. It was my prediction last time, and I'm sticking to it the next time around. The growth of Catholicism in Africa has been explosive, thanks primarily to the strategic evangelical projects under Pope John Paul II, who visited the continent 16 times.
To his credit, the Pope did make this statement when he arrived in Cameroon:
"In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent," he said on his arrival.Certainly the Catholic Church is a powerful voice for peace and justice. I just feel that attacking condoms is highly ill-advised.
Freedom is on the Retreat: Coup in Madagascar hands power to Andry Rajoelina, a man too young to become president under the current constitution. While I understand that outgoing president Marc Ravalomanana is not a poster child for democracy, I have to agree with the African Union that his ouster is an undemocratic coup d'etat.
Late-breaking changes to Formula One rules: And there are a few of them. Drivers must put in more autograph session hours and be more available to the media. Low-budget teams will have the option to operate under a $42M annual budget cap in-exchange for more freedoms regarding technical and aerodynamic changes during the season. And car weights will now be announced (and published online) after Saturday qualifying. But most significant and surprising of all, the FIA has announced that the number of race wins will determine the drivers championship, with points only being used in the result of a tie. That's huge. Had that rule existed in years past, Philippe Massa would have won the driver's championship last season, and Nigel Mansell would have three F1 titles instead of one.
My take is that this rule change is risky. What would happen if a driver won 6 or 7 races before August? Would he and the team have an incentive to sit-out consecutive races and coast-in for the championship come October? Races in F1 are all run on team strategy. So will the new strategy be to win the first race, and then do everything short of foul play to knock-out contenders in subsequent races? This will be interesting, but I fear it is going to be a bad experiment. There was a reason F1 used a points-based championship for decades. The current teams were asking for a restructuring of the points system and the FIA imposed a radical rule change instead.
And last on my list, a recycled Slate St. Patrick's Day article: The man behind the green beer and myth, by David Plotz (originally published on March 17, 2000).
The last 72 hours have been fantastic for Red Bull driver, Mark Webber (Maaahk Weeebah!). On Thursday, he was re-affirmed as the primary driver for team Red Bull. His contract was extended after he proved himself by scoring points in 6 of the season's first 8 races. Then two days later, he qualified second at Silverstone - his highest-ever qualifying position, and his first career front-row start. He's a late bloomer, in his mid 30s and into his 7th Formula One season. But Mark has the right car, team, and skills to get his first F1 victory before this season is over. On Sunday, he will get his best chance ever for that win.
Congratulations to Timo Glock! I had meant to post this months ago. But now I have the time. Timo is the German race car driver who had a disappointing stint working for the Jordan F1 team in 2004. Then he excelled in his brief Champ Car career in 2005. Then he went back to Europe and won the GP2 championship in 2007 (no small feat). And now he is back to being an underdog F1 driver at Toyota. But for winning the GP2 championship, I want to acknowledge it here. A very belated congratulations, Timo!
You let me down, Freddie. I have defended you and your emotional behavior for years. I saw you rise as a great driver, from Minardi, to Renault, to McLaren. Like all other F1 drivers, you have gone through a rigorous public speaking and public image education. You sharpened your English. You were taught how to handle the media. You were shown the dos and don'ts of what to say publicly. I tolerated your unease and your jealousy of your teammate, Lewis Hamilton. But now that Hamilton is poised to win the Drivers Championship, you have told the world you want to go back to Renault...back to Uncle Flavio. Fine. But keep in mind that if you do go back to Renault, you will be driving with Heikki Kovalainen, who had compliments for both you and Hamilton this past weekend (being the good sportsman he is). Don't expect Kovalainen to roll-over for you if you end-up becoming his teammate. You need to earn-back some of the respect you seem to have lost recently.
Two big cheating stories to report on today. Details are still developing, but the basic facts are known.
On one side of the Atlantic, we have the New England Patriots. On the other side, we have the McLaren F1 team. In both cases, we have reputations, future success, and revenues at risk.
First, the Patriots. It has been determined that the Patriots spied on the New Jersey Jets and stole / read their signals before plays were executed. It is blatant cheating and the Pats are going to have to be penalized in one or more ways. Bill Belichick might have to pay a very heavy price. He may have gone from Hooded Jedi Master status to Richard Nixon status in less than 72 hours.
Here's the thing that shocks me: I always thought Belichick cared too much about his legacy to risk tainting it like this. He's a history buff and someone who allowed [David] Halberstam to follow him around simply because he understood the intrinsic value of a great writer capturing his "brilliance" in a widely read book. The whole thing is just bizarre. I'm a big Watergate buff, and there are some eerie parallels to last Sunday's Jets game and the '72 presidential election -- not just the spying symmetry, but that neither the Patriots nor Nixon needed to take the risk. Nixon had the '72 election locked up but was so paranoid, he allowed his guys to basically defame Edmund Muskie and George McGovern and tried to break into the Democratic headquarters multiple times. Belichick knew he had a better team than the Jets, but he tried to steal their signals anyway. Let's hope this doesn't lead to a disgraced Belichick climbing on a private jet in 18 months and raising his arms defiantly in the air.
You know who should be the maddest at Belichick and the cloud of suspicion that his actions have cast on the organization? The Patriots players themselves who were a part of those three Super Bowl championships. If those successes were all legitimate, as they very likely were, then those players have every right to be furious at the notion that this damage to their legacy was entirely self-inflicted. And for what? A competitive edge that they already have in spades, in most cases, thanks to their superior players, coaches and preparation skills.
MLH contributor M:
Ok, both you guys follow football way more than I do...frankly I can't be bothered until after the Sox season winds down. The NFL has confirmed the Pats cheated with the camera thing. How bad is this? To me its simple...you cheat you lose. The Pats should be given the loss and the Jets the win. Any other penalties on top are probably ok too. I realize that the Pats players are innocent here and that the guilty is so far just a cameraman and probably the coaches.
But how tainted are they now? Did they cheat to win superbowls? Will that question be raised?
Or is all of this just an idiot with a camera and totally overblown?
One: They all cheat. Players, coaches, owners. With the money dolling out, all teams will employ whatever methods it takes to win games. Football, baseball, whatever. Steriods, HGH, video coaching in the dug to analyse swings (a la Big Papi)....I mean why does a third base coach have 27 different hand cues to convey the play? Why should football feel so violated that someone might try and figure out the blitz package? Why WOULDN'T you try to figure out what the other team is doing? These sports dicks use war terms so much why would trying to figure out what the "enemy" is doing in order to properly counter not be completely justified? Christ an average lineman weighed 265 pound about 15 years ago....now they are as fast as the runnings backs of that time and are twice as big! Something stinks here.
Two: This is EXACTLY like stealing signs. To me I am sure it helps to know what pitch is coming but how much it helps is another thing.
To me it is the culture we live in. Why would we believe sports to be any different from real life. Winning is all that matters and losers go home.
Another thing that struck me, if the Pats have been up to no good for a long time (previous Super Bowls etc) why didn't Mangini know that? My guess is they all do it. It just that the Jets were too stupid to change up the signals.
I guess I just feel that sports is just like everything else, integrity, purity, and fairness be damned, just win the damn game.
There's no question our value system particularly in sports culture is fucked up to high heaven. But to me that's no excuse. Ususally when these controversies arise it has something to do with "unwritten rules"...ie stealing signs, throwing at a hitter, giving payback for a hit batsman by throwing at somebody else (but not at their head). Its tough to keep up or be objective since these rules are "unwritten". But this one is written and its pretty clear they cheated. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this camera business is fairly common place and Mangina just had the inside scoop because of his time with the Pats. I also think that yes the issue of performance enhancing drugs is very out of control. I find the Mitchell MLB investigation amusing. To me who cares who did steroids...for the most part they are not doing them anymore....they're doing HGH and other designer drugs now....and one look in the eyes of Giambi will tell you he's drugged to the gills. MLB is way behind the curve on that one...and the NFL isn't doing much better. Its like conducting an investigation into who had a nightcap before bed during Prohibition...its irrelevant now.
So yes to some extent "they all cheat" and unfortunately in our society where winning is everything people will continue to cheat. But when an individual or team is caught as blatantly as the Pats seem to have been the governing body (in this case the NFL) has to set an example. It can't just be an old boys club where everybody knows this goes on and crime is just the getting caught...it ought to be having committed the crime in the first place.
The notion of taking away draft picks seems harsh...just take the W away.
The Pats are good enough to overcome the loss....but not so good they'll try it again. Lesson learned and we move on.
On Thursday evening, the NFL handed down its punishment:
- Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be personally fined $500,000
- The Patriots organization will be fined $250,000
- The Patriots will lose their 2008 first-round draft pick if they make the playoffs this season. If they somehow miss the playoffs, then they will lose their second and thrid round draft picks. Not a light penalty.
I was almost certain that the Patriots would have to forefit last Sunday's game against the Jets. I still think they should. It is shameful that they were caught cheating against the Jets.
I have been saying for years that the Jets are a terrible team - popular and overrated only because of their rabid fans and the New York media. Like the Knicks, they may never win another title.
I'm getting off-track again. OK, I'll lay off the Jets for today. After all, they were the victim here.
And now the more complicated story of McLaren, the F1 team that was having a monster comeback year in 2007. Following an awful season in 2006 in which the team lost Juan Pablo Montoya to NASCAR and Kimi Raikkonen to Ferarri, and points were hard to come by, 2007 was becoming the greatest rebound year the team could hope for. The team was successful from the first race March 18th in Australia with its two new drivers, defending F1 champion Fernando Alonso and rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton. McLaren, the favorite team among UK F1 fans, and still designated as a British car constructor, were dominating sports headlines and dominating race results from the beginning of the season. They were well on their way to winning the Constructor's Championship with Ferrari a distant second. And surely one of their drivers would win the Driver's Championship. In fact the biggest controvery in the team was whether Fernando could handle the possibuility of Lewis Hamilton scoring more points than him.
But as spring became summer, we learned that the team's chief race car designer, Mike Coughlan, was caught with a CD-ROM containing 780 pages of Ferrari technical documents - all intellectual property and trade secrets of Ferrari. It turns out that Coughlan obtained the CD-ROM in April from Ferrari Race Technical Director Nigel Stepney, a disgruntled senior team member in the final year of his contract.
News of the data transfer broke when Coughlan's wife alledgedly took a hard copy of the documents to a shop near Surrey to have them photocopied. The employee at the shop, realizing that they were genuine Ferrari documents, made a copy for himself and contacted Ferrari in Modena directly.
[It has been said many many times - stupid mistakes get people caught.]
In June, both Stepney and Coughlan approached Honda inquiring about job opportunities. Nothing substantive came out of those meetings. But it suggests the possibility that the leak of trade secrets was meant to eventually take Ferrari knowledge to Honda.
On July 3rd, Ferrari fired Stepney, and had criminal charges filed against the Coughlans after a warranted search of Coughlan's house produced the documents and CD-ROM. The Coughlans soon made a deal with Ferrari to tell them everything they knew. By late July, F1's governing body, the FIA, concluded an investigation which ruled that while the McLaren team had possession of the Ferrari documents, there was no evidence that McLaren used any of Ferrari's secrets in its 2007 car design.
Then came the FIA's ominous words - the investigation could be re-opened at any time, and McLaren could be penalized if new evidence was brought to the FIA regarding this espionage scandal.
In August, new evidence emerged suggesting that team McLaren used or looked at the Ferrari data, and today, an expensive punishment was handed-down to them. Their Constructor Championship points have been voided for the entire 2007 season. Ferrari are the new Constructor Champion points leaders. Furthermore, no McLaren team member, orher then their two drivers, may appear on the podium for the remainder of the season. But the drivers, Hamilton and Alonso, keep their championship points, and will be able to battle each other for the championship in the four remaining races this season. Plus McLaren will pay a $100 Million fine, which will include estimated lost revenue due to failing to win the Constructor's Championship.
He needed a win to keep up with his teammate, Kimi Raikonnen in the points, and today he got it. Ferrari's 25 year-old Brazilian driver, Felipe Massa, has won his first race of the year in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Fernando Alonso finished fifth. Kimi Raikonnen finished third. BMW's Nick Heidfeld finished fourth, so his pursuit of the Drivers Championship is not yet futile. But up-front, there is a 3-way tie for the Drivers Championship between Alonso, Raikonnen, and Lewis Hamilton, who finished on the podium for the third straight race. No F1 driver has ever started his career with three straight podiums. Is his first victory imminent? The teams pack-up and go to Europe for 4 weeks of testing and refinement. Next race is Barcelona on May 13th.
I finally used 'The Google' to look-up the first Red Sox game I ever watched on television. It was opening day, April 4th 1977 at Fenway Park. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and a little warmer than today. I watched the game at a friend's house, in a paneled entertainment room complete with a brown, woven plaid sofa and a bean bag chair. Boston hosted Cleveland, and lost a heartbreaker 5-4.
I distinctly remember the introduction of the team to the Fenway Faithful as voiced by Sherm Feller. I remember cheers for Jim Rice and Dewey Evans, and plenty of boos for manager Don Zimmer. And there was something about it that drew me in. It would be another 3 years before I knew the rules of baseball, but somehow I felt like this was something I could consider 'mine,' just like the fans on TV did. I had found a place where I could belong. OK, that's bullshit, but I became a fan. By 1988 I was reading Sox stats daily.
I've got time to kill before the first pitch, so I'm going to try a few tangents.
I applied my assimilation into baseball to other sports, notably Cricket, Soccer, and auto racing. And the assimilation process was similar in some respects, as the more I learned about each sport, the more I loved it. Unlike baseball, however, I couldn't claim to have a local team or local sports hero. I was coming-in from well outside the sport's local area.
Cricket is not supposed to be part of my world. Drinking wine while eating cake, and wearing a checkered, woven dress shirt and a pink tie while sitting in a members-only grandstand is not really me. Even eating a meat pie, drinking ale, writing down stats on a scoring sheet, and reading a newspaper in the public grandstand is not really me. Celebrating Victorian colonialism is not me either. And yet, I felt that if I gave it a chance, I could find a lot to love in the sport, and I did. Since it is played year-round, Cricket has satisfied my craving for hardball sports when baseball is not in-season. And when I discovered I could see the sport in a more contemporary way, through the lens of the old colonies like Jamaica and India, I loved it even more. I can't wait to see it live again in any of the 5 continents in which it is played.
Soccer drew me in for its universal, global appeal. The nationalism, the broad appeal to girls, boys, men, and women, and the different playing styles in each region on Earth are all good. Soccer has the most fit athletes in the world, with high stamina and incredibly low body fat (compared to Cricket where a beer belly is OK). It is the first professional sport, from the nation that helped give us the industrial revolution and the modern workday. Such a new, mechanized world needed a modern form of entertainment, and since late 19th century, soccer has been it. In 1993, the English Premiership was re-organized and re-marketed, and I somehow noticed while using the pre-browser Internet. I gravitated towards Newcastle United for their history, distinctive uniforms, big stadium, drunk fans, and Geordie culture, which is like a blend of urban Scotland and hard-core industrial England. It also helped that they were not Manchester United, as I am not a bandwagoner. And since I tried hard not to be an uninformed American, the more soccer I exposed myself to, the more worldly I think I became. I'd have to go back over 200 years to find ancestors in northern Scotland or central Ireland, but I feel that English and Scottish soccer are an ethnic and cultural 'fit' for me. One of many joys is standing for 2 hours, singing songs, drinking pints, and eating meat pies, in front of a 42" plasma TV with 20 English blokes (or Scottish lads) you hardly know.
Auto racing....far more strange. It is the most expensive sport in the world, requiring obscene amounts of corporate sponsorship. Like any sport is has many rules (it actually has the most rules of any sport). It has 7 flags that mean 7 different things. It involves elements of physics like aerodynamics, downforce, torque, temperature, friction and traction. It has the whole playboy / sex fantasy culture of winning a race, getting a trophy, kissing the girl in a Lycra dress, and then spraying her with champagne (and if you're a young Mario Andretti, you take her home too). It involves travel to a different city or country every week (where each stop brings a new trailer full of girls). It is seen live by more people worldwide than any other sport, except soccer and baseball. It is particularly popular in Mexico, the USA, France, England, Germany, Italy, Australia, and Japan. But since I wanted to absorb it all, I ended up liking the kind of racing most of the world likes - road racing, with twists, turns, bumps and elevation changes.
Race car drivers are like Jedi Knights. They have superhuman reflexes. They are fearless. They only want to win. And the best ones have this aura about them, like they have the greatest job in the world, and if they were to die, they would say it was all worth it. They can't inspire more than a few people to become drivers themselves (compared to say, Arnold Palmer, who helped inspire middle class white Americans to play golf in the millions). Most come from upper-middle-class and wealthy families, and get into kart racing at an early age. Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Finland, and Spain have produced the most talented drivers in the last four decades. Despite the many egos, my favorite driver ever is the most humble, friendly, and nice guy in the sport - Jackie Stewart. He won many races. He won the F1 World Championship twice. He was gracious in many defeats. He made millions. He advocated safety and the death toll dramatically dropped ever since he retired in 1973. He got the tall blonde 40 years ago, and has remained married to Lady Helen ever since. I don't believe in role models. But I believe in Sir Jackie.
And after years of knowing the famous names and watching only the biggest races, I finally got into auto racing full-time on September 15h, 2001. Still reeling from a near-death experience, I watched the Champ Car race from Germany in which Alex Zanardi (another nice driver and quite a colorful character) lost his lower legs in a horrific crash. And instead of being frightened away, I was drawn-in. Now I can't miss a race on TV, especially if it is an open wheel race like Champ Car or Formula One.
We've got Jeff Weaver and the Mariners visiting Josh Beckett and the Red Sox at sunny, friendly Fenway! I can't do play-by play, but I can do updates....
14:09 Josh Beckett strikes-out Ichiro Suzuki. It's on.
14:13 It's a 1-2-3 inning for Beckett. Boston's turn to bat.
14:20 Julio Lugo walks, Kevin Youkilis singles. Sox have 2 men on and no one out.
14:24 David Ortiz makes contact. It's a single. Bases are loaded. Here comes Manny Ramirez. You up against it now, Mr. Weaver.
14:27 Manny makes contact! It's a single. Lugo scores. Boston takes a 1-0 lead and the bases are loaded.
Pinch me. This is a dreamy home opener so far.
14:31 JD Drew pops it up. Sacrifice fly. Youkilis scores. Sox up 2-0.
14:34 Jason Varitek walks. Bases are loaded again. 2 out.
This is what the Sox since 1998 do best - get the opponent's pitch count really high from the start. Weaver is just missing the strike zone an awful lot, filling the counts.
14:38 Full count to Coco Crisp. 2 out. Bases loaded. And a hit! Ground-rule double. Ortiz and Lowell score. Sox up 4-0. End of the 1st.
14:47 Another 1-2-3 inning for Josh Beckett
14:51 Lugo doubles, Youkilis doubles. Sox score again. 5-nil Sox.
14:59 JD Drew homers! Youkilis scores. Sox up 7-0. End of the second inning.
15:06 First test for Josh Beckett. Two in scoring position. No one out.
15:06 Jose Lopez grounds out. Kenji Johjima scores. Mariners are on the board.
15:08 Josh Becket strikes-out Ichiro Suzuki again. Impressive.
Pitching change: Jake Woods replaces Jeff Weaver.
15:17 Dustin Pedoria walks. Jason Varitek moves to second. Here comes Lugo, and he singles. Varitek scores. Boston up 8-1. End of the third inning.
15:29 Josh Becket loves 1-2-3 innings. Sox up again.
15:34 JD Drew hits again with Manny on first. Fielding error means everyone is safe. Sox threaten again.
15:35 Mike Lowell doubles. Manny scores. JD Drew to third. Sox up 9-1.
15:36 Jason Varitek singles deep to center. JD Drew and Mike Lowell score. Sox now up 11-1. Had enough, Seattle? Who's your daddy?
We were waiting for this performance by the Sox. Their bats are alive today. They are hitting like it's 2004.
15:41 Julio Lugo is up. Two out. Coco on first. He is intentionally walked. Julio Lugo is one hot lead-off guy. He's 2-2 today. And he was just walked like he was Johnny Damon in his prime. It's up to you Youkie...
15:43 Youklis at the plate. Two out. Full count. And the inning ends with a fly out. 11 runs off of 11 hits. End of the fourth inning.
15:44 A fourth 1-2-3 inning for Josh Beckett! Just seven pitches. He's going to go 8 full innings at this pace.
Pitching change: Brandon Morrow replaces Jake Woods.
15:52 David Ortiz walks to start the bottom of the fifth. The Sox are going to score again. Mas! Mas! Deseamos más runs.
15:56 Eric Hinske walks. And here comes....Willy Mo Pena? I assume JD Drew is okay and Terry is just giving Willy a chance to hit one. Willy is intentionally walked! No wait, 3 balls and then he is hit by a pitch. Oh my. Someone is a quitter. Brandon?
15:59 Mike Lowell. Nobody out. Bases loaded. And contact! Double play ball, but Ortiz scores. Sox up 12-1.
16:02 Jason Varitek doubles! Hinske scores. Sox up 13-1. Um, they have scored in every inning of the ballgame. Sweet. End of the fifth inning.
16:10 A fifth 1-2-3 inning for Josh Beckett! Two strikeouts this frame (Suzuki and Beltre - yet again)! Only two hits given-up in the game. Can you say 'gem'?
Pitching change: Julio Mateo replaces Brandon Morrow.
16:15 Kevin Youkilis doubles. Can the Sox score in a sixth consecutive inning?
16:17 Doug Mirabelli pinch hits for David Ortiz. Smart move. He strikes out. End of the sixth inning. Sox post their first goose egg on the scoreboard today. Everyone can relax now. We got this win in the bag.
16:25 Make this a sixth 1-2-3 inning! Josh Beckett is on cruise control. This is All Star stuff today. He has eight strikeouts, and no walks. That's Pedro quality. The fans must be standing, cheering him on. One more inning, Josh.
Pitching change: Chris Reitsma replaces Julio Mateo.
16:34 Mike Lowell hits a sacrifice fly with Eric Hinske on second. Sox up 14-1.
Pitching change: Brendan Donnelly replaces Josh Beckett. Take a bow, Josh.
We're done here. The Sox have come home. Red Sox 14, Mariners 3.
For you, Freddie. It is a song about the Mexican Revolution, and not about racing. But it's for you.
You're not a kid anymore. You are now winning races for Ron Dennis. Juan Pablo couldn't make him happy. Perhaps you can.
But the cold beer goes to Lewis Hamilton. The 22 year-old rookie held-off Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to secure 2nd place. Not only does it keep himself in the World Championship hunt, it puts his team further ahead of Ferrari in the points.
It's a frustrating fact in Formaula One that the contenders for the Championship emerge early and are rarely upset. If a team cannot produce a winner within the first three races, they have no chance at either the Drivers or Constructors Championship. And I'm being liberal. Most experts would say a team is virtually out if it can't score a podium within the first two races.
So we have seen two races, and Ferrari and McClaren have won a race apiece. And McClaren have been more impressive overall in both races. The team that is trailing in 3rd is BMW Sauber. If Nick Heidfeld can't win the next race in Bahrain next week, then this is truly a 2-horse race between Ferrari and McClaren. And it should be a close race through the summer.