Aug 30, 2010

Ambrose leaves Montreal empty-handed for 4th time

He wasn’t first time lucky, he suffered the sophomore jinx, and his third time definitely wasn’t a charm. Now, Marcos Ambrose has a fourth frustration in Montreal to fume over.

After taking control of the race early and passing cars at will, a mechanical failure turned another promising performance in Montreal to tears as he retired from the NAPA Auto Parts 200 on Sunday with 24 laps to go due to a suspension problem.

Instead of celebrating a win on the podium, a dejected Ambrose sat at the end of his hauler talking about what could have been — again.

It was the same old story for the likeable Australian, who has dominated each of the four NASCAR Nationwide races in Montreal, only to have something go wrong and spoil an incredible performance. In all, he has led 149 of 273 laps Nationwide has run on the 12-turn, 4.361 kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

So, when does the constant disappointment make him begin to have a hate on for Montreal?

“Oh, about now,” he said with a huge smile. “You know it’s a great track, a great city, huge crowd and I love coming here. Just because I am not winning doesn’t mean I don’t have fun. It’s just a shame I can’t get to victory lane.”

An alternator failure meant that Ambrose had to shut down all the fans in the car to conserve electrical energy as the power got sucked from the battery. With engine power falling, Ambrose needed to drive the car hard to keep up. And that was his downfall.

“We were dominating early on. I held the lead for a long time but I drove it so hard that I broke some of the left front suspension,” he said. “You can’t say we didn’t give it a good shot.”

Ambrose told reporters that he needed to sleep on it when asked whether he'd be back in 2011 to try to finally win in Montreal.

Let's hope he does come back and gets that elusive win. He deserves it.

Aug 18, 2010

Windsor wisdom?

Peter Windsor resurfaced earlier this month as a new columnist for GPweek magazine after laying low for the better part of a year during the USF1 fiasco.

As readers might recall, Windsor was one of the men behind stillborn Formula One team which never made it to a race despite his continued promises left and right that it would be in Bahrain last March.

In his first act as a GPweek staffer, Windsor did a Q&A with the magazine explaining his side of the story in an "exclusive" interview.

Bottom line he says is that "a bit of humiliation is always good for the soul," but unfortunately, it doesn't seem like the experience has removed much of the self important attitude displayed by Mr. Windsor. 

He takes no blame for the disaster that was USF1. Nope, that's the fault of Formula One, the Formula One Teams Association, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the economy, and sponsors, but not the silly decisions made by Windsor et al at the helm of USF1.

You know, like the incredibly misguided idea that the team could setup in the U.S. and build its car away from the hub of the sport and its talent. Despite being told by everyone "that Europe was the only place to do a car," Windsor and crew went forward.

Apparently the time "when an F1 car could be designed and built in America" had not arrived.

As an aside, one would think that Windsor, who has been a top communications official for several F1 teams and a working journalist for SpeedTV among others, would have understood that this kind of communication might have saved USF1 from the trash bin by quashing many of the rumours that he claimed sabotaged the operation.

But the more laughable part of the interview is his assertions on U.S. drivers in F1. He expresses disbelief at the fact that no one in F1 saw it wise to sign Danica Patrick to a contract.

Let's put aside the fact that Windsor promised up and down that he would run U.S. drivers on his team and vowed on pain of death not to go the pay driver route before signing flush Argentine driver José Maria López.

After blaming everyone else for his misfortune and making decisions that were apparently based on false assumptions, the real kicker here is that in trying to understand why Patrick hasn't had a shot in grand prix racing, he says: "You should never take anything for granted in F1 these days."

Apparently the humility thing kicks in slowly…

Aug 8, 2010

Mark Webber pays it forward

My latest column in the Globe about Formula One racer Mark Webber's help to IndyCar driver Will Power...

Formula One driver Mark Webber doesn’t have to win the world title this year to be a champion in Will Power’s eyes.

That’s because without getting some financial aid from the Red Bull racer five years ago, Power’s career might have come to a screeching halt.

Instead, Webber pitched in to help his fellow Australian keep racing and Power is now leading the IndyCar Series championship on the strength of four wins and eight top-5 finishes going into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Although he excelled once given the chance, Power's success in IndyCar may never have happened had the pair not met in 2004 at the Silverstone circuit in England, when he was watching the British Formula 3 Series from the sidelines due to lack of funding.

Read the rest at the Globe and Mail.