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Phuket Sports: F1 – Gremlins, graunches, gruffness, grit and glory

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Sports: F1 – Gremlins, graunches, gruffness, grit and glory | Thaiger



PHUKET: After qualifying the script for the Abu Dhabi race was clear; Lewis Hamilton would coast around to win. Sebastian Vettel, starting at the back would make no impression; Fernando Alonso would take his customary third, while Kimi Räikkönen and Jenson Button would take some good points.

It would be boring, but could open up both championships. I had fortified myself with roast lamb, and opened a bottle of indifferent red in anticipation of little entertainment.

Thus you find me, with little excitement, waiting for the off, seated beside my clerical acquaintance and his lady wife, my head of security at our feet and my son texting me from the track.

But somehow the script was forgotten, and Abu Dhabi became the most exciting race of the season. By the end I had dumped the indifferent red for a 12 year-old Double Wood Balvenie, was gripping the lady wife, and GSM had profited mightily from the texts with Number 1 son seated by turn 10.

We all know the result now, but I will quickly run across the race for the main teams.
Räikkönen took second place at the very start, overtaking Mark Webber and Pastor Maldonado, and inherited the lead when Hamilton’s gremlin stopped his petrol pump in lap 20.

The victory was Räikkönen’s first since 2009. He is the eighth driver to win this season.

Räikkönen was asked on the podium by McLaren ex-team mate David Coulthard, dressed in a suitable passé style, what it was like to win again. The Finn replied in his trademark laconic fashion: “Not much really.”

This was not his first terse observation of the day.

When Räikkönen’s engineer advised him of his lead, he unwisely offered advice and received the retort of one who had shrewdly signed a contract extension before the race: “Leave me alone, I know what to do”. His engineer is brave and pushed his luck by later reminding Räikkönen to warm his tyres. “Yes, yes, yes, I do it all the time.” The lady wife asked me: “Did he just tell them to **** Off?” He had.

When Räikkönen used the “F-word” on the podium, Coulthard felt obliged to clarify that English is not his first tongue. To viewers, Kimi sounded quite comfortable with the language. It is a brave or foolish interviewer that questions Räikkönen live. He then poured fizzy peach juice over an unsuspecting Coulthard, who pretended not to notice.

This is the first Lotus win since 1987. But today’s Lotus is the old Renault team, with whom Alonso won his 2005/2006 titles; still based at the disused quarry south of Enstone Airfield in Oxfordshire.

Kimi is 57 points behind Vettel in the Championship, so he cannot win overall. But Lotus is now a team to be reckoned with, and its clear Räikkönen is a driver to be reckoned with; by his team and interviewers as well as by competitors.

Alonso started sixth and finished second; a gritty drive in a miserable car. He is now only 10 points behind Vettel. Felipe Massa underperformed again.

For Vettel it was a lucky day. He started from the pit lane with a modified car, survived two early sets of front wing damage, one in a collision with a DRS Marker Board, which was clearly speeding under the safety car. He resumed the tail of the field after getting a new nose, and stormed up to second before making a second pit stop.

He then benefited vastly from the second safety car, hunted down Button in new shoes, overtook him three laps out, and took third. Now only Alonso can save us from a third consecutive Vettel Championship.

Webber had a bad day. He started second, battled for fourth after a miserable start, lost time in incidents with Maldonado and Massa, and was finally taken out in the Sergio Perez accident on lap 38.

Narain Karthikeyan made a spectacular exit on lap 8 when his hydraulics failed, triggering an extravagant accident with a tailgating Nico Rosberg flying over the top of his car. A ‘KERS’ problem kept Maldonado from a podium for Williams.

So it’s on to an all new and untested Austin next, at an unsociable hour, but more of that next week. I shall be accompanied by Evan Williams.

— The Digby

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions

Tim Newton

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Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | Thaiger

Three of Thailand’s biggest expat areas are seeing sharp rises in new infections, partly from pre-Songkran traffic. The Songkran holidays, now officially over (but will see many people taking today off and making a weekend Songkran extension), and the government says they are expecting to see a rise in the cases numbers reported in the popular holiday locations.

Chon Buri Public Health office says they now have a total of 910 infections since April 1. They have 103 new cases in the past 24 hours. Most new cases are in Bang Lamung district which includes Pattaya City with 47, Siracha with 12) & Chon buri City with 8.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

Meanwhile Phuket has a total of 142 infections recorded on the island with the Governor still insisting there will be no need for a lockdown. Here’s a breakdown of the areas and the numbers of recorded infections so far (below).

Governor Narong announced that the Phuket Infectious Disease Control Committee won’t be implementing an official lockdown, but will “strictly raise the intensity of public health measures to counter the spread of Covid-19″.

“Everyone should wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash their hands frequently and install the Mor Chana app (available for free from App Store and Google Play Store).”

A meeting of the CCSA, chaired by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is expected to upgrade restrictions in red zone areas around the country, which includes Phuket and Pattaya. Read more about the latest red and orange zones HERE.

Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin brace for increased restrictions | News by Thaiger

For Hua Hin expats, there’s been 100 new Covid-19 infections announced in Prachuap Khiri Khan in the past 24 hours, 75 cases from Hua Hin. This takes the total in the province since April 1 to 625. Hua Hin accounts for nearly 90% of the district’s total cases.

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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