Thursday, August 23, 2007

Anup Sridhar climbs upto 29 in World Rankings

Anup Sridhar, riding on the back of some inspired performances in the World Badminton Championship, has moved up to 29 in the latest Men Singles ranking released by the International Badminton Federation(IBF).

Sridhar now becomes the top-ranked Indian in the world, having overtaken Chetan Anand, who slipped to 33 from his previous ranking of 32.

Sridhar had defeated Taufik Hidayat, the reigning Olympic Gold-medalist and the All England champion Hafiz Hashim before he lost to the eventual winner, Lin Dan, in the quarterfinals.

Saina Nehwal is the top-ranked Indian female shuttler at the 28th position.

Sridhar will now take part in the Indian Open in Hyderabad from September 5 to 9.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Should McLaren be penalised?

There's a new feud in Formula One. Move over Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, it's now the turn of the real 'big boys' of the sport – Jean Todt and Ron Dennis.

Todt, Dennis. Who are these guys? Well, they are perhaps not as powerful as Bernie Ecclestone, but being the team bosses of Ferrari and McLaren, they sure can pull their weight around.
The bone of contention has been McLaren's breach of the International Sporting Code, after the team's chief designer Mike Coughlan was found in possession of confidential documents belonging to Ferrari. Coughlan, who is now under suspension, allegedly got the material from sacked Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney, who was the man knocked over by Michael Schumacher during a pit-stop at the 2000 Spanish Grand Prix.

The FIA's World Motor Sport Council did find McLaren in breach of the International Sporting Code, but let the team off as there was no substantial evidence to prove that McLaren used the information available to Coughlan. It's speculated that Coughlan held almost 800 pages of Ferrari documentation - enough to design, engineer, build, check, test, develop and/or run a 2007 Ferrari Formula One car.

Todt wasn't amused with the decision and said he believed McLaren had access to the data when the team requested a clarification over the use of 'moveable' floors. Dennis promptly replied, admitting that it was from a tip-off from Stepney and not because McLaren were privy to Ferrari documents.

Following the mounting pressure from Ferrari, FIA president Max Mosley has now referred the case to the Court of Appeal. McLaren's championship hopes could be in jeopardy if they are found guilty of using the material.

However, should McLaren be docked points or excluded from the championship even given the fact that only their employee possessed Ferrari data and the team didn't use it? It's like a Coca-Cola employee having the secret formulation of Pepsi. Would you penalise the employee, or both employee and employer?

After all, Coughlan and Stepney apparently did together approach Honda in June with an eye at job prospects. So, perhaps it was just a thing involving the two of them.

What really would have been interesting is if they had not been caught so early, assuming all the allegations against them are true. Imagine a lower-placed low-budget team suddenly having access to all this costly data and giving the big boys a run for their money.

Now, that would be a tale to tell.

Log on to KONIG F1.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A fight to the finish

After two convincing wins for rookie Lewis Hamilton, it was now the turn of Ferrari and surprisingly Kimi Raikonnen to register back-to-back wins.

Surprising because Raikonnen had been outdone till then by the three other top contenders - team-mate Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton - for the Drivers’ Championship. And the way Hamilton was shaping up, one would dare still consider him as just another rookie who’s had a great start to his career.

Raikonnen has now perhaps rightfully claimed his place as Ferrari’s contender for the Drivers’ title. Massa may just be a point behind, but he’s now suffering from luck deserting him at the crucial junctures, something maybe he shouldn’t have picked up from his more illustrious colleague.

For those who may have forgotten, this season has already witnessed three drivers having consecutive wins. Massa did it in Bahrain and Spain, Hamilton in the couple of GPs in North America, and now Raikonnen in the European countries separated by the English Channel.

It may also have to do a bit with the team momentum, which is crucial in the case of races on successive weekends. This season has 10 races packed in five fortnights over the season. McLaren did well at Montreal and Indy and Ferrari bounced back with Raikonnen’s wins at Magny-Cours and Silverstone. The latter dampened the homecoming party for local lad Hamilton, who still managed to maintain a place on the podium.

Raikonnen has won the most races this season, but would need to be far more consistent to push Hamilton for the title. We are halfway into the season and Hamilton still has a 12-point lead over Alonso and a 18-point advantage on Raikonnen. Now, assuming, Hamilton continues to be at least third on the podium for the rest of the season, he going to end up with a minimum of 118 points.

That means Alonso would need more than 60 points in nine races while Raikonnen would need 66. That’s an average of approximately 7 points per race. It’s not impossible though, since the 7 points is only needed if Hamilton continues this remarkable run. And if Hamilton doubles his points to 140 at the end of the season, it would in all probability be an exceptional second-half of the season for both Alonso and Raikonnen to pip him to the post.

If Ferrari focus on Raikonnen as their No.1, then he could benefit from the internal squabble between a champion wanting to retain his crown and a potential great who is aiming to fulfil something he’s been working towards and trained on for years. For those who say that the problems have been fixed, just clear out those corneas and watch the replays of the podium celebrations at Silverstone.

It’s definitely a fight to the finish.