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Vicki’s Formula One Olympics
Bela Szandelszky, Press Association
Lewis Hamilton with Sam Michael
As the Great British Team scoop up the gongs at the Olympics and I sit bewitched by a man from Romania lifting sixteen times his own bodyweight, few will have realised the athletes who use mechanical power are taking a mid-season break.
It's holiday time for the Formula One boys who, amazingly, have almost a month at their disposal before saddling up for the Belgium GP at Spa. But instead of lounging around Monaco harbour, the grid will likely be maintaining a pretty rigorous fitness regime, not least Jenson Button who's currently shaping up for an Ironman competition.
Racing a 200mph F1 machine is physically demanding. It may not look it on the telly where all you see is a turn of the hands and a tilt of the head at the corners, but you have to be robust enough to wrestle with the g-forces, the suspension knocks, the heat or rain, traffic and precision pit-stops, as well as listen to someone jabbering away in your ear urging you to go ever quicker. Like you need the come-on (when will Felipe Massa tell Rob Smedley to zip it?).
Balazs Czagany, Press Association
Seven different drivers famously won the first seven races until Spain's Fernando Alonso spoiled the party at the eighth. The Ferrari man is now leading the title race by 40 points (25 points for a win, 18 for a second and 15 for third) which is something you'd never have put money on at the start of the season.
Every team principle will be cursing
It's as though Ferrari has given its 2.4-litre V8 a turbo and a set of sticky tyres. Well, I say 'Ferrari' but it should be 'Alonso' because if you look across the garage at team mate Massa he's putting up an Olympian effort to remove himself from F1 with finishes languishing in the teens.
On paper it's Mark Webber who's closest with Sebastian Vettel in third, but their Red Bull racers (and Renault engines) have been under the technical microscope and been found wanting by the headmaster for exploiting a loophole in the exhaust-blown-diffuser department. Hats off to them too, because every team principle in the pits will be cursing for not getting there first - that's what F1 is all about after all.
John Donegan, Press Association
Jenson Button at the Australian GP
Jenson Button's cursing himself for a different reason following a dream start when he bagged gold in Australia. Since then he's slid down the order including a disappointing 10th at the British GP.
Team mate Lewis Hamilton was only two places better at Silverstone but now sits in fourth spot overall with a 47 point deficit that's still do-able. A pity it wasn't McLaren who slipped into that loophole, or that Bernie Ecclestone doesn't dish out points for qualifying to reward a hard fight pre-race.
A case of slowly-slowly catchy-monkey
And then there's the team that has two car manufacturers in its name, Lotus-Renault (though most still call it Renault), and returning hero Kimi Raikkonen alongside boy wonder Romain Grosjean.
The former is so unapproachable that Sky's F1 interviewer Martin Brundle protects himself with a self-prescribed restraining order. By contrast, Grosjean was born grinning.
Neither has yet to win a race but for Raikkonen it could be a case of slowly-slowly catchy-monkey as he hangs onto Hamilton's heels in the standings. But he needs results soon.
David Davies, Press Association
In the spirit of such a great sporting year though, perhaps Bernie could offer an Olympic-themed event for the returning outing. Under the banner of a four-wheel logo perhaps, the F1 stars could feature in a 100 metre sprint race with Lewis Hamilton billed as our home-bred king of speed, Usain Bolt. The crowd would go mental.
After that, the skills of such finely tuned men and machines would be too weak to transfer to other events, so Bernie could widen the entry field for further entertainment.
In the velodrome, Chris Hoy's pedal power could make way for American horse power as Indycars scorched their way around the banking. And outside at the road-based time trials, Mark Higgins could morph into a less-hairy Bradley Wiggins as a pack of rip-snorting rally cars roar round against the clock.
And with the infrastructure already in place in the capital, it would be a better bet than Bernie's proposed London GP.
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