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Posts Tagged ‘Alonso’

And the 2012 F1 Season…

January 15th, 2012 2 comments

2011 was a good year for F1, the stats are excelent, more over taking thanks to a combination of aero changes, the Drag-Reduction-System (DRS), the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and the tires that gave tremendous grip, for a while.

But it could have been more competitive. Perhaps we were just spoiled by maybe the best championship in the history of the sport in 2010. With Kimi Raikkonon returning for 2012 (admittedly with Lotus) there are 6 world champions on the grid, and that’s got to be good.

Lets be clear, Vettel won his second world championship in style. It became little predicable and was wrapped up with four races to go. But such was the speed of Vettel and the Red Bull that there was little real doubt after Valencia. The constructor’s championship (which is what the teams get paid by) was tied up one race later.

Vettels ability in the first couple of laps to pull out a significant lead over everyone was astounding. That first lap was critical and made it clear that baring a mistake, everyone else was running for second. Read more…

It’s still raw, but 2011 has been a great year

November 3rd, 2011 2 comments

It all came to a halt last night and no one should have been surprised, after Saturday the odds of playing in the conference final Sunday were long.  And that’s no ones fault other than the players that put on the atrocious display in Salt Lake Saturday night.

In the past I’ve been impressed by Salt Lake, but after the last couple of games I think they have been shown to be typical MLS thugs. That’s not their problem, they play a style that works for MLS. It’s a league problem and Seattle has not built a team that’s equipped to play physical play-off football in that way.

The front office and coaching staff somewhere decided that they would build a team that played in the right way. They invested in young, talented players and put together a team that, when they are on, play about the prettiest football in the MLS. And that is something I can get behind. Read more…

Alonso the Honey Badger!

November 1st, 2011 6 comments

I’ve no idea why, but this makes me smile.

Via Sounder at Heart

Sounders 1 – Monterrey 2

October 18th, 2011 Comments off

Not a game for the ages, but tonight we saw some world class players show how effortless this game can be. We also saw the difference between victory and loss can be wafer thin.

This was the last game of the champions League group stage, Seattle were already through and Monterrey (the defending champions in this competition) came loaded and needed a result to ensure qualification for the knockout stages next spring.

Among the talent on show tonight (and Monterrey has plenty of it) was Humberto Suazo, a top class player who spent last season with Real Zaragoza in the Spanish top flight. He looked like he was going to do something special every time he got the ball. Add Argentinian Cesar Delgardo, Mexican Luis Perez and the rest of the international and this was an excellent team Seattle took on tonight.

Seattle fielded a side with seven changes from the squad that started Saturday against San Jose. This included Brian Meridith making his first start for the club in goal.

Monterrey needed a win tonight and opened the scoring three minutes in when Dario Carrena got onto the end of a lofted through ball from Suazo. A defensive breakdown when no one pressed the Suazo. It was a nicely taken ball and the keeper never really had much of a chance.

Read more…

Sounders 2 – San Jose 1

October 16th, 2011 4 comments

The home regular season finished tonight, and it’s been a great year hasn’t it? Unfortunately for the first 75 minutes or so the Sounders were not at their best, there was little creativity and only one chance worth the name, but how quickly things change in this game.

The headlines will be dominated by two things, a crowd of a little over 64,000 and Keller. The crowd number is unquestionable impressive, it was a terrific atmosphere in the stadium and another landmark in the remarkable story of this team.

San Jose went up shortly before half time. Unsurprisingly it was Chris Wondolowski that got on the end of a nicely weighted through ball that split the defense and really gave Keller little chance.

The second half did not start too well for Seattle, they were still flat and the game started to get away from then a little. First there was a rather contentious moment when Fernandez almost started a fight after giving a San Jose player a kick. A few minutes later Alonso lost his head somewhat when a player perhaps went down a little too easily from one of his challenges.

Just after the hour mark Sigi made the change that made all the difference. Rosales came on for Fucito, who had been totally anonymous tonight. It took a while for Rosales to get into the game, but when he did the difference was clear.

Keller had a huge moment with 20 minutes left, four stand up saves one after the other kept it a one goal game. This was the moment that perhaps turned the game as shortly afterwards the equalizer arrived. It was a beautiful through pass from Rosales to Sammy Ochoa that split the defense and gave the new-boy a fairly straightforward tap in.

With a few minutes left to play the winner went in. It was a through ball from Neagle to Montero just outside the six-yard box. Montero did exactly what you expect him to do and gave the keeper no chance.

It was not a great game tonight, but that was fine as last night Salt Lake dropped points and ensured Seattle could no longer be caught for second in the table. It was good to have Rosales back; his importance to this team was clearly seen tonight.

Sigi and his tactical changes were a large part of this win. On reflection it’s difficult to say it was fully deserved as the team did not play well for long stretches, but that’s football and we’ll take the three points. It’s Chivas away next week to close out the regular season then it’s into the playoffs with the big one waiting to be taken by the team that can put three or four great performances together, dare we dream?

The night finished with a tribute to Kasey Keller. As his 20 year career as a professional football is coming to a close he had a huge game again tonight. We are fortunate to get at least one more chance to see him in action; we’ll all be back in a couple of weeks for the home leg of the playoffs. Hopefully another chapter on the clubs history is written that night as they advance towards to MLS Cup. There is unfinished business to be taken care of in this magical season.

Sounders 4 – Red Bull 2

June 23rd, 2011 2 comments

I never had enough energy to head into Seattle for one of the Sounders games I had circled when the schedule came out.

New York (even with out Henry) was one of the big ones and ESPN2 missed the first 10 minutes when the Cal-Virginia baseball game went over. The apology tweet from Alexi Lalas was nice, but come one, Cal were 8-1 down with two out in the 9th it really was long over.

“On paper” this looked like a solid chance for the Sounders to get three points. Through a combination of injury, suspension and international call ups NYRB were missing Marquez, Ream, Juan Agudelo (maybe the best player to come out of the US youth system yet), Henry and Rodgers were all starters that were missing.

Despite being shorthanded NYRB is a side that’s not had issues scoring, putting three past Portland on Sunday (and conceding three to be fair) and winning 2-1 against New England before that.

When ESPN2 finally cut to the game the first thing we saw was Freiberg control the ball with a beautiful first touch to control the ball and a then put it away with a curling ball into the far corner. A really well taken goal to put Seattle up 1-0.

No idea what happened in the previous 10 minutes, but this was a good start. Then it got even better when a minute or so later it was Alonso’s turn. A defensive header fell just right for Alonso to put away on with a great volley that took a deflection to give the keeper no chance.

Over the next few minutes it turned into a very open, entertaining game.

Dane Richards scored for New York about half an hour in. he used his pace to creat a little space and put the ball over Keller. Keller may have been unsighted by Zack Scott (replacing the suspended Hurtado), but it was a good finish to a well put together chance.

The second half started the way the first ended, with chances at both ends. This was turning into a very entertaining game for football. Both sides had some great chances and goals were going to come.

Unfortunately it was Zack Scott that scored with a toe poke past Keller for an own goal. Nothing the keeper or the defender could do, but it came during a period of consistent New York pressure where Seattle really had their backs to the wall for a period.

It really was anyone’s game at his point and it took a third goal from a corner to put Seattle ahead. Rosales one again the provider, this time it was Levesque with a flick on header inside the near post. Roger does not score often, but he soon followed it us with his second of the night when he took the ball off the NY keeper and slotted it home in the empty net to make it 4-2 with 15 minutes left to play.

There were a couple of positives for Seattle. Three goals came from corners (set pieces have been an issue). Three of the four goals were scored by attacking players and the own goal Zack Scott gave away was plain unlucky.

On the other side of the equation Alonso picked up his fifth yellow and will miss the New England game (his first game off this season). Montero did not look 100% and never had any really clear chances. The biggest issue may have been the defense. I’m not sure why Scott was preferred over Pat Ianni with Hurtardo suspended. Scott did look a little out of his depth, it seemed like nearly everything dangerous was coming past Scott in the middle of defense.

The whole of Royal Brougham Park (or Century Link if you prefer) was opened up tonight. This game was part of a package that included the Manchester United game and the 46,000 there saw a very entertaining game of football this evening with three points collected. As nice as it was sitting there with the cat, it would have been better to be at RBP.

Sounders 2 – Fire 1: At last, three points.

April 10th, 2011 1 comment

The first win of the year is in the books and that particular elephant in the room is taken care of. It was not the best performance of the year, but it was good enough and that’s the piece that mattered.

Montero was still out after surgery to his wrist last week; he was around the stadium with a hard cast on. He should be back for next week. For today Mauro Rosales played up front with O’Brian White in a rather conventional, if make shift looking 4-4-2.

We did not have to wait long for the first goal. Rosales set up White in the 7th minute for a well taken header just inside the near post. Very well set up and you did get the feeling that something interesting was going to happen every time Rosales got the ball.

Chicago responded straight away with the impressive Diego Chavez nicely finishing a pass into the middle after Parke slipped and gave him the space to finish.

The second goal was a great finish by Zakuani; he went past his marker and slotted home to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. The building got loud, this is what we’ve been looking for the first four games, and now they just had to hold onto the lead.

This was not Seattle’s best performance of the year. Having said that the home team largely controlled the first half, but the second half was a different story. Chicago made some adjustments at half time. Most notably by pushing the ball wider and playing in a little sooner. This created bigger problems for Parke and JKH in the middle and seemed to stretch the defence

Evans had a good performance, less a playmaker in the middle of the field, but making the runs into the box and taking up good positions. He put a lot of pressure on the defence, not through touches on the ball, but creating space for others to take advantage of.

Alonso was as important as ever; so much of what Seattle does goes through him. If he’s not the first name on the team sheet, it’s only because Keller is ahead of him. His importance to this team can’t be over estimated, and today he played his usual complete game and took a ball to the face defending a free kick late in the game.

What else did we learn today? Keller has plenty of life left in him yet with a couple of top drawer reaction saves in the second half to preserve the lead.

Steve Zakuani took the Chicago left back Jalil Anibaba to all over the park. The defender had no real answer for the pace of the Seattle attacker, this was fun to watch.

Set pieces looked better than ever. Corners especially have been an issue, today was better. With Friberg whipping the ball into the 6-yard box with pace anything can happen, and defences get worried.

Chicago is going to score goals and win a lot of games this year, Seattle beat  a very good team that controls the ball and comes forward quickly and with purpose. The two Uruguayans up front look dangerous. This is a playoff quality team.

O’Brian White has earned the opportunity to start over Nate Jaqua, He is a very different player than Jaqua, but is a more effective target forward. He’s faster, more aggressive in the box and has a better first touch than Jaqua. What happens when Montero is back will be interesting, but I think White has done enough to be in consideration with Rosales dropping back to play just behind Montero.

On balance Seattle deserved the three points, they played well and with Montero back next week things are looking good. Its difficult to say this was a must win game, but with a tough game at Philadelphia, coming away with three points today was important.

Six weeks to Dubai…

February 1st, 2011 3 comments

It’s only day one of the first test of the year and really means nothing, but Vettel is top of the timesheets in the new Red Bull and by a little distance. Force India had a good showing, Ferrari were not much off the pace (but was reliable, Alonso did 98 laps today, but Ferraris Twitter feed is so boring) and Mercedes had issues and were a little off the pace.

To be clear, the times from Valencia are pretty meaningless, but there was some interesting stuff on show today. First day of pre-season testing is typically interesting, there was always something new to look at, drivers getting back into the groove and the glorious sound of more than one car running at any time.

When there were fewer rules on testing the bigger teams would test throughout the winter. There were plenty of freezing winter mornings in Silverstone, warmer winter days in Barcelona and shorts and the occasional t-shirt weather in Kyalami. But almost always there would only be one or two cars at a time on track, this would change at the first “official” test where there would be a handful of cars out at anyone time and it sounded absolutely glorious. While mechanics rarely enjoy testing, the noise did let us know the season was getting closer.

Other than the massive surprise that Vettel and the new Red Bull were quick, what else did we learn?

Ferrari are a little down, with Alonso behind the two Force India cars. I’m a big fan of Hulkenberg and his times were not only quicker than Alonso, but also very consistent. Last year I thought Force India may have a good year and net a few podiums, it’s way too early to say, but perhaps it will be this year?

The new Mercedes was unveiled today and from the pictures looks very sexy. While racing has disproven the “if it looks right it is right” saying more than once, it did look very nice. Niko Rosberg said the cars is a huge advance from last year, again the noises being made by the drivers are exactly what you’d expect.

The tech story of last year was McLarens F-duct that was used to stall the wing at high speed, very innovative and by the time mid season had rolled around the principals were worked out and copied by everyone else on the grid.

This year it seems Renault/Lotus has the first of the tech stories. I have to say the Renault looks spectacular in its black and gold. Last year a lot of teams were using their exhausts to make the diffusers more effective by directing the exhaust gasses under the car. Now this is banned and Renault now route the exhausts forward and vents it under the car. I think this must increase the downforce created by the floor/diffuser by accelerating the air traveling under the car and according the Bernoulli this would increase down force. First thought is the downside is the hot exhausts are now forward and next to the driver and could produce cooling issues with the exhaust gasses being pulled through the sidepod.

I wonder how many computers and wind tunnels are running hurriedly cobbled together simulations tonight to work out exactly what Renault are up to. It will be fascinating to see if this is the new must-have like last years F-ducts.

McLaren have yet to release the new car, they will be running it in a couple of weeks at Barcelona. That test will give a better comparison between the top teams and perhaps the times will be worth looking at.

Categories: Racing Tags: , , , , ,

One more day of perfection needed by Alonso

November 13th, 2010 1 comment

As the 2010 F1 season has gone on I’ve come to like the current Q3-Q2-Q1 knock out qualifying system more and more. The tension ramps up nicely to the 10-minute shootout in Q3 for the top10 on the grid.

Abu Dhabi was a fascinating final qualifying session. There was none of the waiting until the last moment for Vettel, he went out early, set a very fast time and made it clear to everyone who was the guy to beat today.

Hamilton did something simular, he set an early time that he was unable to better. Both McLarens were consistently quick through out qualifying and Button lines up fourth.

Alonso was struggling down in 6th early in the session, his last chance lap was started with just a couple of seconds left in the session was enough for third. His comment at the presss conference was “just one more day of perfection needed.”

The biggest looser today was Mark Webber. He could do no better than fifth, he needs a good start tomorrow.

Abu Dhabi Grid

Vettel
Hamilton
Alonso
Button
Webber
Massa
Barrichello
Schumacher
Rosberg
Petrov

Abu Dhabi: Time to find out who is going to win it all

November 11th, 2010 2 comments

The 2010 Championship will be decided this weekend and on recent performances and assuming the cars are reliable, it seem likely that at the end of the day the top three will comprise Vettel, Webber and Alonso in some order. While I don’t think you can count out Hamilton, his McLaren has been a little off the pace of the three drivers ahead of him in the championship.

There are many, many permutations, but to keep it simple we’ll just have a look at a few. If Alonso is first or second he walks away champion, no matter who finishes around him. If Webber wins Alonso has to be third or worse for the Australian to be crowned. Vettel needs even more luck to go his way; if Vettel wins Alonso needs to be fifth or worse.

For Lewis Hamilton to regain the drivers’ title he needs a lot to go his way. First he needs to win, and then he needs the other three contenders to finish either out of, or well down the points. Nothing else will do. This seems unlikely at best, but he has the chance to play spoiler should he be able to mix it with the Red Bulls and Alonso it up front. Let’s not for get both Hamilton and Also have quick team mates who are capable of winning races. Neither Button or Massa have been on great form recently, but both could make life difficult for others on their day.

As much fun as the speculation is, the question I have is what if Vettel is leading going into the last lap and Webber is behind him and Alonso third or fourth? Would Vettel pull over for the Australian and give his teammate the championship. Of would he try to hold onto his position for another win this year?

Clearly the relationship between the two Red bull drivers is not great, and that’s to be expected at this point in the year after they have gone after each other so hard for 17 races now. I’m not sure any professional partnership between two competitive sportsmen would do well under this pressure.

So what’s the team been saying? Team principal Christian Horner “if we find ourselves in a position where one of the drivers can win the world championship, then the drivers will do whatever is necessary to ensure as a team we achieve the best result.” That seems clear, if they should find themselves in that position then Horner expects Vettel will allow Webber though and do what he can to hold off Alonso. I’m sure it would not be easy for Vettel, but the team employs him.

Later in the week Red bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, the man who founded the energy drink company threw a turd into Christian Horners’ “everyone is doing their job” punchbowl. He was clear he wants the drivers in win, but no team orders. He’d rather they fight it out on the track.

Talking of team orders, at Hockenheim Alonso gained an extra seven points when Massa pulled over to let him through into the lead. Take those points away and Alonso leads Webber by only one point and Vettel by eight. That would have meant that Abu Dhabi this weekend would have been a winner takes all race for the three of them.

F1 doesn’t have a “play to the rules’ mentality, it’s about winning and nothing else. If Red Bull were not to enforce some kind of team orders for Vettel to help Webber, should the situation arise, it would reinforce the idea that Webber is done with the team after this race. Would the team rather wait until next year in the hope that for Vettel will be their first champion? That seems rather far-fetched, even in the cynical world of F1.

There have hints from Webber that there have been team orders to hold position rather than race each other in the recent races, rather than risk another accident like turkey where Webber was taken out by Vettel. I can’t imagine either driver holding back in Abu Dhabi with the title on the line.

Of course, part of what makes F1 so fascinating is the politics and intrigue that run through the paddock and despite all this speculation into tactics and what if’s, we have a race to run. Once again Red Bull probably arrive as favourites for the race. But Alonso has beaten the red bulls in three of the previous five races and is not far behind them in race speed. He’s not been as good in qualifying, he’s also the only one of the three that’s been in the position of winning the championship before.

With the pressure on all the title contenders so intense, will that be a deciding factor? Or, with all the contenders worried about engine mileage under F1’s eight-engines-a-year rule, will it be reliability that wins the day? It’s difficult to believe that after such a great year of racing that it will all go down without one final twist in the season. It could be reliability, it could be teammates, it could be a desperate lunge for position or even a mistake under the incredible pressure, but it will be fun to watch.

The race is on Speed TV in the US at 4:30am Sunday morning.