Welcome to Motorsports Monday, a recap of the thrills and spills from the weekend of racing. Today we cover the Grand Prix of Germany, Edmonton Indy, the Grand Prix of Mosport and the Olympic Games for the weekend of July 20-22, 2012. Fire up the telemetry and let's get to racing.
Formula One: Fernando Alonso became the first driver to win three races in the 2012 season, leading the German Grand Prix from pole position and looking every bit the best driver in the sport right now. He’s even making the F2012 itself look good, something that Felipe Massa couldn’t do if Heidi Klum was sitting on top of it.
Overall, the race was filled with brilliant driving all the way through the grid. Sergio Perez drove from 17th to 6th, Sauber teammate Kamui Kobayashi drove an astounding 25 laps on his first set of tires and finished 4th, and one of the more impressive moves of the season came when Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen simultaneously passed Niko Hulkenberg in a corner not ideal for overtaking (here).
In fact, only one car retired from the race: That of Lewis Hamilton, who dealt with damage the entire race after running over the front wing of – who else? – Massa. Hamilton fell back but caused a stir by unlapping himself in front of Sebastien Vettel, who was busy fighting for a podium spot. Naturally, Seb didn’t take kindly to that treatment in his home race, but Hamilton soon after called it quits and besides, the Red Bull champion had bigger issues to worry about. Battling with Jenson Button for second place with two laps to go, Vettel overtook on the outside of the hairpin and went completely off the track to pull it off and finish second. Now, four wheels off is an automatic penalty and the stewards stripped him of the podium, relegating Vettel to fifth. According to the rule book, that’s the correct call. However, Vettel was clearly faster than Button at this point, took an opportunity and then allowed Button space to avoid a collision; meanwhile Button took up the entire road, so what was Vettel to do, anyway? Nevertheless, Button moved up to second, giving Raikkonen third and Kobayashi fourth.
The Grand Prix of Germany also brought a merciful end to four Formula One races broadcast on FOX, an event clearly out of the comfort zone for the network. Camera angles were often ill-timed, statistical graphics and leaderboards were sometimes flat-out wrong and Bob Varsha at one point had to explain how difficult it is to drive a Formula One car; something that could only have been suggested to him by a producer.
Alonso has now built a sizeable lead over Webber and Vettel, but the Red Bull team continues to increase their lead over Ferrari because Massa is basically no help at all. Haha, Massa. Now, on to Hungary – and SPEED Channel! – this weekend.
IndyCar: How many times have we seen Michael Schumacher start from an unwanted position, only to storm through nearly the entire field? Put a good driver into a corner and you never know what you’ll get. Will Power couldn’t have been under more pressure this weekend in Edmonton, losing his championship points lead to Ryan Hunter-Reay and incurring a ten-spot penalty by switching out engines. Still, the Aussie swept past other drivers like they were four-wheeled chicanes, and finished a dramatic third place – all the way from 17 th. Still, it wasn’t enough to regain the season lead; it wasn’t even enough to stay still in the standings. Helio Castroneves took second in the championship and the checkered flag in Edmonton after beating hometown hero Alex Tagliani out of the pits, with Takuma Sato nipping at his heels all the way to second place. Hunter-Reay finished seventh and leads Castroneves by 23 points and Power by 26 heading into Mid-Ohio in two weeks. The win was the eighth of the season for engine provider Chevrolet, who have all but locked up the season title over Honda.
American Le Mans: Same ‘ol, same ‘ol in ALMS: The Honda ARX-03a of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing easily took their fourth consecutive overall victory, while the GT class had more action than the three-way romance in the new Oliver Stone movie (check out Savages if you like a bloody good time). Joerg Bergmeister sprung his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to first place halfway through the race and would hold on for the win, until the car failed post-race inspection. Officials disqualified the Flying Lizard team for not passing the stall test, handing victory to the Ferrari F458 Italia of Extreme Speed Motorsports for the first time in their three ALMS seasons. The No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R took second and the No. 56 BMW M3 GT grabbed third. Check out the final three laps of the battle in this video (here). Muscle Milk bested a pair of Mazda cars, the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 and the No. 20 Dyson Lola B11/66 to round out the P1 podium. ALMS joins IndyCar at Mid-Ohio on August 2-4.
Olympics: While wasting time – oops, I mean working – on Twitter over the weekend, we started a fascinating discussion with some followers, and now we’d like to pose the question to you: Should motorsports become an Olympic event? With the games coming up in London in just a few weeks, we fantasized about a Nation vs. Nation battle royale and even worked out a format. Drivers and automakers from the same country would be pitted against each other in production-based sports cars, on a road course, in heats leading up to a final gold medal event. Basically, the American Le Mans Series but with driver and car matched up by country, in a knockout-style tournament.
So, who would win? The favorites would have to be America, Italy, Germany and the UK. Certainly France and Australia would be in the mix. Could the drivers from Spain and Brazil pilot their cars to a surprise win? What do you think?
Should motorsports be an Olympic event? Let us know in the comments below.