News and views on motorsports

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Driver Surprises in Bahrain

Narain Karthikeyan has been catching the eye of many pundits this weekend with some stellar performances in the Jordan Toyota during the practise sessions. Even ITV's Martin Brundle seemed to look forward to his qualifying session. Alas in first qualifying a mistake cost him some time but nevertheless all weekend he has been quicker than his team mate. He also made it into 8th during Saturday's first practise, quicker than Webber, Coulthard and the two BAR drivers. A repeat of Alex Yoong, this man certainly isn't. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. I remember this lad outpacing his much fancied team mate Takuma Sato at the Macau Grand Prix in 2000. He has some talent. But I think it still needs some development.

Its certainly fantastic to see the underrated Nick Heidfeld go one up on his much heralded team mate during first qualifying. It was by any standards a brilliant performance that left him a tenth down on Michael Schumacher. Nick should be incredibly satisfied with the job he's done so far. Keeping Mark Webber honest and blitzing those blokes who had passed him over in the past, McLaren. Nick knows this is his one and only chance to show what he's got and looks like he's definitely making the most of it.

But Jacques. What on Earth is going on here? A mistake cost him massive amounts of time. One that I fear he will not recover from in second qualifying. His team mate Filipe Massa is summarily dismissing him. Rumours keep persisting of his imminent exit from Formula 1. Red Bull, I suppose sniffing blood in the air, is going so far as to offer their drivers to replace him. Things look incredibly serious. That a driver's manager can go on record to say that his driver lacks confidence is a serious mistake. And Formula 1 teams cannot make mistakes that they can otherwise rectify with a simple driver replacement.

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