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Archive for April 2009

Ferrari gets first points

Ferrari got its first points of the the season after Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth in the Bahrain Grand Prix and with that gained three precious points.

Felipe Massa the other Ferrari driver finished the race but out of the points in fourteenth place.

It hasn't been a good start for Ferrari this season after failing to gain a single point from the first three races and the Bahrain race may offer a bit of comfort.

Now Force India is the only team that remains pointless. Last year Force India failed to get a single point the whole season.

Back to the race it was a third win out of four for Jensen Button who won the race after starting from fourth the grid.

I think his start helped him put pressure on the front runners and I could see that once he took the lead there was nobody going to stop him from winning.

Last week's winner Sebastian Vettel came second followed by pole setter Toyota's Jarno Trulli who managed to fend off a late challenge from current champion Lewis Hamilton who finished fourth.

In fifth place was Button's team mate Rubens Barrichello who gave the Brawn team some four more points for the constructors' championship.

The last two points places went to Toyota's Timo Glock and former champion Fernando Alonso who finished seventh and eighth respectively.

After finishing on the podium in the Chinese grand prix this time Mark Webber could only finish eleventh.

After two races dominated by the rain, it was good to see a race without rain once again and its not surprising to see that only one car failed to finish this race.

The next race will be the first European race this year at Barcelona. I think the two week break will give all the teams a time to tweak their cars and try and catch up with Brawn GP or else will be decided very early this year.

Five up at Monte Carlo for Nadal

World number one Rafael Nadal got his fifth straight title at the Monte Carlo Masters after beating Novak Djokovic in three sets.

Nadal won the first set but then dropped the second and the last time he dropped a set at Monte Carlo was in 2006 against Roger Federer.

He then came back and showed why he is number one winning the third with an emphatic 6-1.

To be fair to Djokovic, he played quite well especially in the second set which he won but I think Nadal knew that he had the skill to outlast his opponent.

In the semis Nadal beat world number four Andy Murray and Djokovic beat Federer's conquerer Stanislas Wawrinka.

I think once again Nadal seems unstoppable on clay this year and lets see if he can be the first person to win six Monte Carlo titles next year.

Red Bull shines in Shanghai

The Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took first and second place respectively in a rain affected Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

For a moment I thought it was going to be the same story as in Malaysia two weeks ago when a partial race was run because of the persistent rain but this time the full race was run and the Red Bull team took the honours in the conditions.

This was the first Red Bull team win and the second for Vettel who won the Italian grand prix but last year when he was racing for Torro- Rosso.

This was also the highest finish for Webber and a good eight points will set him nicely at this stage of the season. I hope that this will be a good season for Webber and he will appear more times on the podium.

The last podium place went to Brawn GP's Jenson Button the winner of the first two grand prix. Although he ended up finishing third I think he could have finished as high as first but the conditions made everything dicey.

In fourth place was Button's team mate Rubens Barrichello completing a pair for third and fourth place.

McLaren took the fifth and sixth places with Heikki Kovalainen finishing fifth ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton who had started ninth on the grid.

Toyota picked some more points in this race with Timo Glock finishing seventh and in the last points place was Toro Rosso-Ferrari's Sebastien Buemi.

It wasn't a good race for Ferrari once again with Felipe Massa failing to finish and Kimi Raikkonen only managing a tenth placing despite starting eighth on the grid.

Ferrari seem to have a lot of work to do this year and In fact only Force India and Ferrari are the only teams without any constructors' points.

So the next race is the Bahrain race in a week's time and lets hope it will be a dry race this time.

Pakistan loses hosting rights for 2011 World Cup

The International Cricket Council(ICC) has announced that Pakistan will no longer be hosting matches at the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

I think this is hardly a surprising decision given what happened to the Sri Lankan cricket team but its good to see that the ICC has taken this decision with at least two years to go rather than at the last minute.

At the same time its also sad to see that Pakistan will miss out on hosting the matches in the 2011 World Cup and now it will be down to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The ICC statement did not say how the 14 Pakistan matches will be shared among the remaining three hosts but I am sure we will hear more about it soon.

Federer out of Monte Carlo

Stanislas Wawrinka beat his fellow countryman Roger Federer for the first time in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Federer had planned to miss the Monte Carlo event but he accepted a wild card to compete there and now he has gone out after playing just two matches.

Federer played Andreas Seppi in the second round and I think that was an easy match for him and he managed to progress to the third round to meet Wawrinka.

After losing the first set I thought Federer would win the second set and force a third but I could see that Wawrinka was quite comfortable on his serve and that Federer would find it hard to break him.

I think Federer will have to deal with the uncharacteristic unforced errors if he is entertain winning the title at Roland Garros this year.

Dennis leaves Formula 1

There has been a lot of news this week off the circuit and the latest one is that Ron Dennis has left McLaren's Formula 1 team to concentrate on the McLaren Automotive initiative.

The name we will now be hearing is that of Martin Whitmarsh who will now become the team principal for the McLaren team.

The season hasn't started that well for McLaren this year after current world champion Lewis Hamilton lost his points from the Melbourne grand prix but its still early days I think.

I think over the years I had got so used to Dennis and hearing his views on racing and his team and I am keen to see Whitmarsh continuing with the good work Dennis has done to make sure that McLaren remain competitive.

Flower for England

Former Zimbabwean batsman Andy Flower has been appointed the new England coach to replace Peter Moores.

During his playing days for Zimbabwe, Flower's outstanding ability as a batsman made sure that the Zimbabwean team was a decent one and since he retired the team has been in a free fall.

Although he was caretaker coach in England's tour of the West Indies I still think he is still untested at this level of competition and he will not wait long to be tested as Australia will be touring England in the winter.

Before the Ashes series England will have played the West Indies and also the ICC World Twenty20 and so Flower will have some experience when England tries to regain the Ashes from Australia.

All right with Brawn and Toyota

The FIA has ruled that the Brawn GP car is all legal and there is nothing that breaches the current rules.

At the Melbourne Grand Prix complaints were raised about the legality of the diffuser used by Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams cars and the stewards in Melbourne ruled that there was nothing illegal about those six cars.

Jenson Button has gone on to win two races and with this ruling he does not fear of losing the 15 points he has gained so far.

I think its now up to the other seven teams to implement the same diffusers in their cars and with the Chinese grand prix so close I think that will have to be for the next race in Bahrain.

I am keen to see whether Button will continue to dominate once the other teams have also implemented similar diffusers as the one on his car.

South Africa takes one day series

South Africa beat Australia by 61 runs in the fourth one day international match to take an unassailable 3-1 lead going into the final match on Friday.

South Africa has now won three matches in a row after losing the first match.

Australia won the the Test series that preceded this one day series but South Africa won the Twenty Series.

I think the difference between the two teams was Herschelle Gibbs who scored 110 runs from 116 balls.

Australia were bowled out in 45th over and I think the good start by the first three batsmen who all scored half centuries was ruined by the rest of the other batsmen with only David Hussey and James Hopes managing double digits.

The last match will be in Johannesburg and I hope we are going to see a better Australian performance to end the series in some style.

Hewitt wins in Houston

Lleyton Hewitt won his first title in two years when he beat Wayne Odesnik in straight sets.

Hewitt last won a title in March 2007 when he won the Las Vegas title after he beat Jurgen Melzer.

This was also only the second clay title for him.

I hope this will be a good turnaround for Hewitt and the raking points gained will help him get a better ranking going deep into the clay court season.

Hewitt now needs just one more win to have 500 wins in his careers

Button in second win

Brawn GP's Jenson Button won his second race this season in as many races as he won the shortened Malaysian Grand prix at Sepang.

This was a race of a different kind as the heavy rain meant that the race could not go the full length and the drivers in the points positions only got half the normal points.

But Button's win continued the good start to the season for the new team and this time Rubens Barrichello finished fifth.

Joining Button on the podium were Nick Heidfeld in second and then Tim Glock in third.

This means that a Toyota driver has also been on the podium for the second consecutive race.

Jarno Trulli who finished third in Melbourne finished fourth this time and I think whilst most people will talk about Brawn GP, this has also been a very good start for the Toyota team.

Mark Webber collected his first points for the season finishing sixth and so did reigning champion Lewis Hamilton who finished seventh to collect a single point.

William's Nico Rosberg finished in the last points place.

Ferrari's miserable start to the new season continued with Felipe Massa finishing just outside the points in ninth but his team mate Kimi Raikkonen fared worse finishing 14th.

Now the teams will take a two week break with the next race in a fortnight's time at the Chinese grand prix.

I would have loved to see this race go the full length but the weather won but I hope the Shanghai race will actually show where the season is heading this year.

STERP in the right direction

The Zimbabwean ministers' three-day retreat ended on Sunday and it looks like the plans that have come out of that retreat are good.

I think the real test will be in the implementing of those plans.

Its good to have the media laws in Zimbabwe changed to make it easier for other players to enter the media arena.

As a result of the current tough media laws, Zimbabwe has actually in the end lagged the other Southern African countries and is possibly the only country now in that region where all radio stations are still government controlled.

I hope these plans will come to fruition and that there wil be co-operation from all the parties involved.

It will also be good to see the likes of CNN and BBC allowed back in the country as soon as possible.

One thing that the new government should know is that relaxing of the media laws will also create employment as the new media players will need people to work for them. Anything that creates employment should be applauded especially in a country where unemployment is estimated to be near 90%.

The only problem with STERP is that it needs money that the coalition government doesn't have. What happens if nobody comes forward with the money?

Its also good to see that the making of a new constitution is finally going to kick off. I think that is one of the most important things that this government will do.

I hope to see a new people driven constitution that puts the people first and where no leader is going to be given sweeping powers to do whatever they want.

Now lets see what happens in the next 100 days and I hope that if they don't achieve everything that they have planned it would be a good start to achieve some of the things.

Hamilton stripped of podium

So the FIA has stripped Lewis Hamilton of his third place finish at the Australian grand prix and reinstated Jarno Trulli to third place.

This now means that that Toyota got third and fourth places after Brawn GP got first and second. Interestingly it also means that Rosso-Ferrari got seventh and eight places.

With McLaren now getting zero points it means that both McLaren and Ferrari front runners last season both started with no points.

Lets wait and see what happens at Sepang this weekend.

Shearer to the rescue

Newcastle have appointed former captain Alan Shearer as manager until the end of the season.

There is eight matches left in total to save the team from possible relegation for the team that slipped into the relegation after losing at home to Arsenal.

I think its been a roller coaster season for Newcastle with constant change of managers but now this is the business end of the season and the team has to survive the chop.

Four matches are at home starting with one against Chelsea and then Middlesbrough, Fulham and Portsmouth.

I think these will be the crucial matches because at 29 points, I think the Magpies need another 11 points to survive. Getting as many points as possible from St James Park could be the key.

I think the toughest match there will be the one against Chelsea but with Boro also fighting for survival and being a local derby the Boro match could be another tricky one.

If you look at the away matches they all look tough. The away matches are at White Hart Lane, Anfield, Villa Park and Britannia Stadium.

I think Shearer will be very lucky to get anything from Anfield and Villa Park but I think there might be a chance of points even if it means one against Spurs and Stoke.

If Newcastle lose all those away matches then it could be very tricky although other results could help.

I don't think it should have come to this for Newcastle this after starting brightly and with the kind of players they have but at the moment the most important thing is to survive and I still think they will survive.