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Goodbye, Michael – Hello, Brave New World of F1

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It was a sad day for the F1 paddock on Sunday at the Brazilian Grand Prix. So many goodbyes to long and well established names.

Michael Schumacher drove a fine last race, coming through from the back of the pack to finish fourth, and Jenson Button did well, finishing third after starting fourteenth.

However there are more goodbyes than that of the great Michael. Yes, Michael is leaving, and we will all be sad to see what is possibly the greatest driver of recent history (some would argue ever) leave the sport, but we have even bigger and more historic names leaving as well. Possibly the biggest of which is the mighty Cosworth.

Cosworth have not managed to find a team that will run their engine next year. This is a bad state of affairs, as Cosworth used to be the greatest. It shows how ingrained Cosworth were that all of the major drivers that can be thought off have won with a Cosworth in the back of their car. I'm sure that Cosworth will manage to struggle through and we will see them again in the back of an F1 car. It is, after all, where they deserve to be.

We are also losing the tobacco companies. The familiar liveries of Marlboro, Mild Seven, and Lucky Strike will be leaving the sport. These are some of the strongest supporters of the sport throughout its history, and it will be sad to think that there will be no possibility of ever seeing the glorious liveries of the JPS Lotus and the likes again.

The final goodbye we have is to Michelin. The French tyre giant will bow out at the end of the season due to the FIA instigating a one tyre manufacturer policy. Whether this is a good decision or not is still to be seen. A lot of the advancements that have come to F1 in the recent past is due to the tyre war. And it will be a shame not to see a challenger from Europe for tyre superiority. Perhaps we will see them return at some point, or even better them and Dunlop return, as it has been too long since Dunlop was involved in the sport.

The race turned out to be a good end to a good racing season. The first issues for Ferrari and Michael happened during qualifying. Due to the fact that all of the engine suppliers had to use the engine that would be used for the next 3 years, there where some niggles with a few of the teams.

Ferrari had an issue with Massa's car early on in the session, which was fixed. However Michael's car developed an issue during session three of qualifying, and the team could not fix it before the end of the session, this relegated him to the tenth spot on the grid as he did not set a time in session three.

Button in the Honda also had issues, his were with the traction control systems, on his run in session one the TC system was not coming on at all, forcing him to control wheel spin manually and not allowing him to power out of the corners. In session two they thought the issue had been resolved, however the TC had dropped into failsafe mode, this too did not allow him to power out of the corners, and relegated him to starting 14th.

The weather on Sunday came to the Bridgestone cars. With the track temperature increasing it meant that they where even quicker, whilst it seemed that Michelin and their teams had been conservative on there choices.

The start of the race was not without incident, and it seemed that Michael was on a mission in his last race, and started his run through the field. He made easy work of the two BMW Sauber cars and had started his run. The front, however stayed the same, with Massa followed by Raikkonen, Trulli, and Alonso.

However it was not all happy in the Williams camp as Nico Rosberg tail-ended his teammate Mark Webber into the first corner. Mark managed to limp around to the pits, where he retired with damaged rear suspension caused by the impact.

Nico however caused the story of the race. Whilst returning to the pits his front suspension gave out while he was traveling at 130 mph and Nico spun off into the barriers coming onto the main straight.

The safety car was called out while the debris from the crash was cleared up. Racing resumed with Massa pulling away from Kimi. Michael, however, was getting into his stride, overtaking both his brother Ralf in the Toyota, and his old teammate Rubens Barrichello in the Honda.

Next car to overtake was Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault. Michael got close to him in the final corner, and managed to draft him into the Senna S's, taking the Renault on the outside into the left hander. All however did not go well, as Michael was turning into the right hander of the S-turns. His car violently lost control, with Michael just managing to hold onto the lurid slide. It was however obvious to see that one of his rear tyres was deflating rapidly. It seems he had picked up a shard of debris from the Rosberg incident, causing a deflation. Michael limped round the rest of lap eight to the pits and change tyres. This however put him at the back of the field, and close to being lapped by his teammate.

Whilst this was happening, both of the Toyota cars slowed, pitted and retired from the race. It seems there was a design or manufacturing flaw with the rear suspension. A pity really as Trulli was doing well in third spot at the time.

Cars started to pit, and after the stops Alonso and Button seemed to be the winners. Alonso managed to overtake Kimi, and Button managed to get in behind Kimi in fourth.

Michael however was determined to show that just because he was retiring, he was not past it. By half distance he had clawed his way back up to eighth place. He came up behind the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica, and made the pass into the Senna S-turns look easy. Michael then set off up the road to pass Barrichello for sixth place.

The second round of pitstops allowed Michael to catch and pass Barrichello. Michael was now chasing down Fisichella for fifth place. It seemed that Fisichella was paying more attention to the fast approaching Michael, and not on the fast approaching corner. Because of this he left his braking into the Senna's far too late, and ran wide.

With three laps of his final GP left, he managed to catch and pass his successor at Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen into the Sennas, giving him fourth place. Even though Michael tried to catch Button, he could just not seem to take enough time of the Englishman, which meant he ended his career in fourth spot, although certainly deserved the driver of the day award.

Another notable performance was had from both Takuma Sato, and his Honda powered Super Aguri. He managed the teams best finish yet, coming home in tenth place ahead of a Red Bull, a Toro Rosso and a Spyker-Midlands. 

Alonso took his second World Championship in a row, and managed to seal the Constructors title for Renault with his finish. How he will get on in the new atmosphere at McLaren is to be seen, but with a competitive car he may go on to set some records of his own. After all, even this second title would have made him the youngest title winner had he not already have won it the year before.

So we say goodbye to the old F1 hello to a new interesting F1, without the shadow of Michael over everyone. With some luck the new talent, the paddock can now shine brightly. The likes of Kimi and Alonso are already well proven. But we have the new wave of young and definitely talented drivers coming through, Kubica has already shown his abilities, and Alonso is the youngest ever World Champion. But we have the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Nelson Piquet Jr coming into the sport. I think F1 is in very good hands for the future.

Results

1.  MASSA         Ferrai       1h31m53.751s
2.  ALONSO        Renault      +18.6s
3.  BUTTON        Honda        +19.3s
4.  M SCHUMACHER  Ferrari      +24.0s
5.  RAIKKONEN     McLaren      +28.5s
6.  FISICHELLA    Renault      +30.2s
7.  BARRICHELLO   Honda        +40.2s
8.  DE LA ROSA    Mclaren      +52.0s
9.  KUBICA        BMW          +67.6s
10. SATO          Super Aguri  +1 lap
11. SPEED         Toro Rosso   +1 lap
12. DOORNBOS      Red Bull     +1 lap
13. LIUZZI        Toro Rosso   +1 lap
14. ALBERS        Spyker       +1 laps
15. MONTEIRO      Spyker       +2 laps
16. YAMAMOTO      Super Aguri  +2 laps
17. HEIDFELD      BMW          +8 laps
R.  COULTHARD     Red Bull     +57 laps
R.  TRULLI        Toyota       +61 laps
R.  R SCHUMACHER  Toyota       +62 laps
R.  WEBBER        Williams     +70 laps
R.  ROSBERG       Williams     +71 laps

Fastest lap: M SCHUMACHER  1m12.162s

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