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or were they? 

Rubens to be sure was not competitive at Monaco, despite ending up on the podium. Michael however was, until he outbraked himself and Juan Pablo and paid the price for it. 
Does this signal a new order? I don't think so. Michael would not have won in Monaco but he was certainly on the pace at a circuit that the Renault could have been built for. Nobody was going to beat the Renault's there. A very impressive and mature drive from Trulli notwithstanding, on that circuit on that day they could only lose, they couldn't get beaten. Trulli deserved his win after performing flawlessly all weekend.

Michael's best lap was a half a second faster than Trulli's and that is a measure of the skill of the man, not the pace of the car on the restrictive roads of Monaco. Can we read into the results of last weekend the end of Ferrari's march to the Championship(S)? No. I got the results at Monaco very wrong but Ferrari still have this season wrapped up, at least until Renault get some serious horsepower development.

The race was interesting, not just for the result and the lift in interest that result will deliver. It was interesting because of the incidents and shortcomings it delivered. Michael wrong footed Juan Pablo and it cost him a podium. Personally, I agree wholeheartedly with the steward's decision on that one. It was a true racing incident and neither Michael nor Juan Pablo had any intent to create the situation nor any opportunity to avoid it once it had started. I'm just glad that Montoya survived the incident without damage to his car. I can't be as generous with the stewards, BAR or Schumacher junior.

Sato should have been pulled in by the team, and failing that, should have been black flagged by the stewards. The BAR was an incident waiting to happen and Monaco is not the place to leave the car on the circuit to allow that incident to happen as it did. Sato was left to run out his time to provide a buffer for Button. As it turned out that incident only ruined the race for Fisichella and Coulthard and damaged the cars, it could have been much more tragic. McLaren are to be applauded for pulling Raikkonen, even if it was done to minimise the damage to the car. BAR should be brought to task for failing to do the same thing. Fisichella was probably too adventurous and David was too conservative in their reactions to the BAR smokescreen but the fault lay firmly at the feet of the Race Stewards and BAR.

While I'm on the stewards, they deserve a slap on the wrist and a strong 'please explain' for the pathetic control they displayed over the whole race. Monaco is the circuit that most needs professional application of blue flags. I don't ever recall having seen such a haphazard performance. The race was always going to be processional, the circuit assured that, it did not need to be a procession behind lapped (or should have been lapped) cars. da Matta was unlucky to be singled out for a drive-through. Half the back markers (him included) should have suffered the same fate.

Reviewing the Fernando-Ralf incident several times left me in no doubt about where the fault lay, Alonso committed to the overtaking move and was shut out. I don't know whether that was done out of ignorance, stupidity or sheer bloody-mindedness but that was not a racing incident, that was bad driving, bordering on criminal incompetence. Had it happened in an overly ambitious racing move where the excuse could be made that Schumacher was protecting his position then the fault would have been Alonso's. It didn't and it wasn't. Ralf was under blue flags, knew Alonso was there and allowed the accident to happen. All the profanities under the sun (Ralf's erudite and professional reaction to the incident was that it wasn't his f***ing fault) will not make it right. The sooner Ralf is taken out of the circus the sooner the other drivers will be able to breathe easier on the track. My earnest hope is that Toyota et al will recognise that Ralf is not an asset to a team but rather a huge liability and retire him to the grandstands where he belongs.

The circus now moves to the Nurburgring, where I fully expect to see the red tide resume. A high downforce circuit will reward Ferrari and punish Renault although I also expect the BAR to be strong there.

At least Michael's run of wins, and his run of luck (19 races without a retirement) has been broken. Perhaps his critics will allow him to go back to winning a few more before they start blaming him again for F1's woes. Then again, perhaps not.

The Quali-flyer

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Reader's comments:

I'm reluctantly coming round to your position on little brother Ralph. Though both he and the Columbian appear to be saddled with squirrelly chassis, the latter has double the points! And you're certainly right about his unprofessional demeanour. Look at the difference with Michael! He didn't blame JPM and even suggested that the "silliness" was as much his own as Montoya's -- and he also began his remarks by congratulating Jarno. He was both sincere and gracious ... no wonder so many people can't stand him: not only is he brilliant, he's cool and coherent. [I didn't say he was nice, did I?] 
I wish I knew about the telemetric data downloads; so many commentators say that BAR knew from this information enough to pull Sato. But HOW do we know this? Is there some kind of F.I.A.A. review of data? If so, why not make it public? 
On to the Ring! - Jim W - USA

The Quali-flyer replies:


Ralf is still capable of driving quickly but he's both erratic and dangerous. I've been a constant critic of him and he is living down to my expectations more and more often. Sir Frank cannot persevere much longer, it's increasingly obvious that Ralf won't be at Williams next year and he isn't delivering the points. I would give him only a few more races behind JPM and he'll get moved out. For the sports sake I hope he doesn't put in a quick one and win a reprieve.

Two way telemetry is illegal however the teams have a crystal clear picture of what is happening in the cars. While that data is captured and analysed by the teams it is definitely not published and we will never know how much or little BAR knew about Sato's engine before the blow-up. Personally, I firmly believe that BAR was aware it was terminal but left Sato out to run a blockade for Button for as long as they could. There have been occasions when cars have run with suspect engines but not right from the start and not with that degree of damage. Had Sato been trying to nurse home an ailing car in the final stages of the race I would understand but that patently was not the case here.

You are totally right about the difference between the brothers. I don't particularly like Michael either, but I have enormous respect for his talent. That respect does not extend to baby brother.

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