Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Car after car would appear, one at a time in quick succession, or spread apart so you didn't know when one'd magically appear again. Once they appeared almost paired, attached – when Fisichella looked like he was on top of Coulthard's car and Coulthard was the one found to be unfairly blocking. It was like having a car heaved towards your lap.

I had hot sensations about my face. The excitement and the beer, surely.

We saw Kimi poke his nose out of Rascasse and stop abruptly, weirdly, short of the wall. A funny echo of Schumacher's move the year before, when you think about it. Schumacher, that unrepentant motherfucker, pretended to lose control and parked it, expertly, a few centimeters from the wall in exactly the same spot, drawing out the yellow flags and ruining Fernando Alonso's last gasp at pole. "Who me, what?" he protested disingenuously, grotesquely. It was pure, sinister brio, an example of beautiful failure in the service of success. Fail, but fail by just the right degree and you succeed ten times. Counterintuitive genius. But in fact he paid a price – he was penalized to the back of the grid for his ruse yet, irony upon irony, struggled valiantly to fifth place. A performance somehow more commendable because he'd been given his medicine for being so arrogant, and had choked on it, yet performed brilliantly with its taste still in his mouth. And so here's Schumi's replacement, Kimi Raikkonen, to try to fill those big, lead shoes. Everyone wondered: Now that Kimi's got Schumacher's car, will he finally prove himself to be just as good? Or better? And instead he struggled – he won his first race but then he disappointed, frequently qualifying and starting a bit worse than you'd expect. And today, in a moment of sublime symmetry, he tagged the Ferrari's brittle suspension against a wall and lost it slowly, and for good, in exactly the spot where Schumacher exercised his deliberate, devious mischief. Kimi's car emerged sidewise, pointed perpendicular to the wall. He somehow managed to lurch it into reverse and create a path for his teammate, Felipe Massa, to pass a few moments later. That hard-won and unremarkable accomplishment was practically his only one that weekend – also, from sixteenth and he clawed his way back to eighth for a single point, yet another faint echo of his predecessor.

At the end of qualifying I looked and Sara and noticed she had a few dark specks on her cheek and forehead.

"You have something on your face," she said.

"You do too," I said.

It was burning oil from the backs of race cars.