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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sauber will not appeal disqualification

Just an update on the sauber disqualification- Sauber will not appeal against the ruling having accepted that their rear wing was contrary to the regs.  If you havn't seen this elsewhere the full story can be found here


There's nothing like a little in-fighting to keep me happy between races.  Last season we had Red Bull V. Webbo which was almost as entertaining as the racing and became a very divisive topic among fans.  For the record I'm on the "Vettel was to blame" side of things.
This week its their little brother "Toro Rosso" with Buemi and Alguersuari having a game of handbags over their Australia performance.

Alguersuari nicked Schumi at the start, which lead to his eventual retirement.

Heidfeld says that one or other of the TR's ended his race and Alguersuari pointed the finger at Buemi.

Buemi blamed his teammate for their coming together in the first corner and said that they'd be having words.

It looks as if it's a case of watch this space - we might have some on-track fun over the next couple of races, until they sort it out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rookie Reflections

It's always interesting, as the season goes on, to have a look at the new drivers on the grid and how they performed.  Obviously this tends to take place after the first race, the Season mid-point, and at the end of the F1 calendar.  The rookies this year are Maldonado, D'Ambrosio, Perez, and Di Resta.

Maldonado was the only one who failed to bring the car home resulting from a transmission problem on the Williams which saw him go out on Lap 9.

D'Ambrosio finished in last spot, but brought the car home in one piece albeit 4 laps behind, which is always a good start, but had an uneventful race overall.  Not a lot else could have been expected from the Virgin cars so a Well done to Jerome on his debut.  He was classified ahead of Timo but this was not on performance rather due to Glock being in the pits for a very long time due to problems refitting a loose front wheel. Glock brought the car home but was listed as unclassified, being 9 laps down.

Di Resta ended up claiming a point on foot of the disqualification of the Sauber cars and ran line astern with his teammate in 11th and 12th after their second pitstop.  The question has been asked as to whether team orders played a part of that, however after the final stops, and with nothing left to fight for it would have been unwise to upset the status quo.  Things might develop later in the season but it has to be said that Sutil did well last year and were Di Resta to compete with Adrian over the season it would lay down a decent marker by which he could be judged.

And finally, Perez! What can I say about that performance - regardless of disqualification - One stop! Fastest lap of the Race on Lap 40! Beat his teammate!- Sergio deserves all the exclamation marks.  No question but that was the performance of the Weekend and I for one am looking forward to seeing him perform at Sepang.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Straight to the DRS

Having watched the race, like everyone else, I'm not massively impressed with the DRS system.  It worries me that all the guys were desperately trying to get within the 1 second window so they could deploy the system down the start finish straight.

What's this going to do for the sport?  Not only was there no evidence that it was useful as a passing aide - but it seems to me that it might become the focus for attempting to overtake, leading to an increasingly sterile race apart from the DRS zones.

The majority of overtaking action in Melbourne took place without employing the system - most memorably Vettel on Button into turn 4 - and what we saw of the DRS related to shots of the cars coming out of the last corner, the rear wing opening up, and then a long race down the straight attempting to catch up to the car in front.  Memorably we watched Button in the early laps deploying the system to try to overtake Massa; without success.

Result of first race DRS "null points".

I would hate to think that when it becomes useful, on the longer straights in the calendar, drivers would become dependant on its deployment in order to take a place.  I'd prefer to see the rules in respect of the aerodynamics of the car altered to provide an increased slipstream effect for the cars behind rather than focus overtaking on an artificial aide such as is the case here.

I'd like to reserve judgement on it but after Melbourne I just don't see a role for it - unless it makes drivers complacent throughout the rest of the lap which then allows those behind to take advantage.  Maybe that's what happened to Button yesterday?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saubers Disqualified

In a disappointing addendum to the race both Saubers have been disqualified for a technical infringement involving upper rear wing element. That means the result pushes Massa into 7th, Buemi to 8th, Sutil 9th and Paul di Resta gets a point on his debut for 10th position.

The scrutineers discovered that the wings breached two articles of the technical regulations, where essentially the angle created too great a gap when the adjustable element was deployed.  The articles are new for this year and appear to relate to the DRS. The test was conducted after the race.

This matter is likely to be appealed but one thing is for sure it does not take away from Perez' drive to seventh today.  An outstanding drive for a rookie driver and an outstanding strategy.

Qualifying and The Race

Oh Dear! I guess this is my Humble Pie blog!

Brundle and Coulthard I bow down in most humble apologies - Sterling job Martin and once again David not relying solely on his experience but also referring to notes when he feels it necessary.  Nice to hear it.  Only one small, small, very tiny quibble David - We get that the DRS system is the equivalent of 100 extra horses!  But is it useful at all as a passing aide?

What did Quali tell us about the teams? it seemed a case of "plus ca change plus le meme chose" with Vettel literally kicking arse and then McLaren, Webbo, and Ferrari with Petrov doing a great job for 6th and Rosberg showing Schumi up yet again.

Heidfeld nowhere, Barrichello nowhere, Schumacher not making it through to Q3.

Overall Quali just showed us that there wasn't any major change.

The race?  Well once again I eat a fair slice of Humble Pie!  Vettel and Hamilton taking one and two - The DNF dream shattered by a bulletproof Red Bull (as Brundle says "ominous") and a strong McLaren with a floating floor.

Petrov third - what a GREAT drive! Calm, poised, professional, remarkable - once again holding off Alonso at the end.

Alonso, Webbo (equalling his best ever Aussie GP finish), Button, PEREZ & Kobayashi.

Drive of the Day must be Perez in the Sauber - making only ONE pitstop - WOW! how did that work? And he was right on the pace all the way to the end.  That was an amazing drive.
Drive of the Day 2 is Petrov.  Well done that boy!

Team of the Day - Should be Red Bull, Should be McLaren but it must be Sauber - 7th & 8th.  I can see a whole lot of team spies having sneaky peaks at the Saubers to see how they treat their tyres so gently.

Red Bull Ran without KERS for both Quali and Race.  Is that even legal?  Last time KERS was in operation we had most teams reject it because the added weight was not compensated for by the increase in speed.  Why are they all using it if this is still the case - as it would appear to be given RBR's performance?

The DRS system seems to be relatively ineffectual as an aide to overtaking though it does provide for greater speed down the start finish straight - I might have a little go at that tomorrow.

Most Improved Team must be McLaren coming into the race with hardly any testing and what appeared to be a poor car.

Overtaking maneouvre of the Day - Rubens on Rosberg (sorry that was Cock-Up of the Day) Steamed into the side of Nico who was doing an OK job for a first race outing.  Tsk! Tsk! Rubens you should know better!

Overtaking Maneouvre of the Day  Must be Vettel on Button - just out of the pits Turns 3& 4, needed to get past and make it stick, Go Seb!

Seems we're still in no-man's-land in knowing where everyone will end up - reliability and differing pitstop strategies providing for the show today.  I wouldn't call it a great race but it was a good season opener.

Results:                                               pts

1. Vettel                                                 25
2. Hamilton                                             18
3. Petrov                                                15
4. Alonso                                               12
5. Webber                                             10
6. Button                                                 8
7. Perez                                                  6
8. Kobayashi                                          4
9. Massa                                                2
10. Buemi                                               1

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free Practice News

Free practice took place during the night for me and as I couldn't see it live on the TV I slept through it.  It was on my mind though cos all night long I dreamt about F1 Melbourne and this morning I woke up anxious to see the free practice times and read the stories and quotes surrounding the First Day of F1 2011.

My wife and daughter were particularly unimpressed with my perky attitude which was regularly interspersed with snatches of "The Chain" and dancing around the bedroom with my daughter in my arms who looked more than a little disgruntled at such abuse at an early hour!

Webbo set the marker in FP1 with a last minute lap to oust teammate Vettel - delighted for him as, regardless of the fact that its only practice, it gives him a little psychological boost for the race and set his mind towards victory on Sunday morning.

In FP2 Button topped the timing sheet above Hamilton thus announcing the rebirth of McLaren - Can this translate into a race result? We'll have to wait and see.  Button has form at this track and given a fast and reliable car would be one of the few who could guarantee a result.  I've said in a previous post that I think Lewis will probably go out while trying a pass on degraded rubber (only in this first race mind you).

"Nadgers" Alonso showed strong pace coming third fastest in both sessions for the Prancing Horse but Massa's times did nothing to make me think that he is particularly motivated or considers himself anything other than a No.2.  He made the point afterwards that they were both working on different aspects of the car BUT... (and as you can see its a big one!).

HRT got one car out of the garage for one installation lap.  107% here we come would appear to be the conclusion there, with one website suggesting that they will attempt to qualify one car only - attempt being the operative word in that sentence.

Chandhok lost the Lotus on his first lap after Turn 3 and put the car into the barrier - Trulli's time in FP2 were compromised by the fact he had to drive the Chandhok car so we can't read too much into his performance.

Williams may be regretting Maldonado already - Barrichello did ok with the 9th fastest time of the practice sessions but Maldonado is over two seconds off Ruben's pace and down in 18th on the timing sheets with only Lotus and Virgin below him.  Bad start for the Rookie.

Schumacher showed that the Mercedes has pace as he clocked in at 6th overall but it seems clear (or as clear as mud given its only practice) that Mclaren, Ferrari and RBR are still the boys to beat.  Nico clocked in 10th overall.

It's hard to say what you can take out of free practice but one thing is for sure and that's that McLaren have made huge progress between Barcelona and here.  As Nadgers said afterwards:

"Nothing new yet and what else would you expect? These two free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams: this morning Red Bull went well and in the afternoon it was McLaren's turn, with us and Mercedes always in the mix, while Williams and Renault also seem competitive".

No doubt Quali will sort all the confusion out in terms of raw speed, then all they've got to worry about is the dreaded reliability.

Free practice 2 Results:

PositionDriverTeamTime  Laps
1Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:25.854  32
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1:25.986  31
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:26.001  28
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:26.014  35
5Mark WebberRed Bull1:26.283  33
6Michael SchumacherMercedes1:26.590  31
7Felipe MassaFerrari1:26.789  34
8Sergio PérezSauber1:27.101  39
9Rubens BarrichelloWilliams1:27.280  34
10Nico RosbergMercedes1:27.448  23
11Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso1:27.525  31
12Vitaly PetrovRenault1:27.528  29
13Nick HeidfeldRenault1:27.536  22
14Sebastién BuemiToro Rosso1:27.697  30
15Kamui KobayashiSauber1:28.095  35
16Paul di RestaForce India1:28.376  33
17Adrian SutilForce India1:28.583  31
18Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:29.386  29
19Heikki KovalainenLotus1:30.829  22
20Jarno TrulliLotus1:30.912  23
21Jérôme D'AmbrosioVirgin1:32.106  36
22Timo GlockVirgin1:32.135  30
23Tonio LiuzziHRTNo Time  1
24Narain KarthikeyanHRTNo Time  0

Free Practice 1 Results:

PositionDriverTeamTime  Laps
1Mark WebberRed Bull1:26.831  20
2Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:27.158  19
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:27.749  20
4Nico RosbergMercedes1:28.152  16
5Rubens BarrichelloWilliams1:28.430  24
6Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:28.440  29
7Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1:28.483  26
8Michael SchumacherMercedes1:28.690  14
9Kamui KobayashiSauber1:28.725  13
10Vitaly PetrovRenault1:28.765  15
11Felipe MassaFerrari1:28.842  20
12Nick HeidfeldRenault1:28.928  14
13Adrian SutilForce India1:29.314  19
14Sebastién BuemiToro Rosso1:29.328  21
15Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:29.403  24
16Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:29.468  23
17Sergio PérezSauber1:29.643  18
18Nico HülkenbergForce India1:31.002  20
19Heikki KovalainenLotus1:32.428  13
20Jérôme D'AmbrosioVirgin Racing1:35.282  17
21Timo GlockVirgin Racing1:35.289  15
22Karun ChandhokLotusNo Time    1
23Tonio LiuzziHRTNo Time    0
24Narain KarthikeyanHRTNo Time    0

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Free F1 Prediction Game from Castrol

Free to play - predict the top ten in each race and be in with a chance to win some great prizes.  Castrol and Autosport have put this together and its FREE.

If nothing else it's a bit of added spice without the need to shell out the cash.

What else are we going to do with our predictions?

Mine are Bigger than Yours but RBR's are HUGE

Button and Schumi have set out their stall and have forced me to (slightly) reevaluate my Predictions for the Melbourne GP.

Michael is sounding VERY confident that Mercedes will be in the mix for podiums with, perhaps, a win or two on the cards for the year.  He EXPECTS podiums but says he won't be satisfied unless he wins this season.  I think my third place prediction may well be justified should his "proverbials" prove to be as big as his talk pre-Melbourne.

Button though is a different matter.  I stuck him back in eighth and McLaren are coming to Melbourne with a host of changes, not least to the exhaust system, which they think will gain them around a second a lap.  This, should they achieve reliability over the weekend, will bring him back into the mix behind Red Bull.  When you add to that his pre-race comments about him expecting to benefit from tyre management in the final stint of the race and you have a driver who expects to finish high in the pecking order.

His McLaren Website Pre-Race chatter is quite bullish in comparison to Lewis's and that in conjunction to his above comments made in an interview to Autosport ( makes me think he might be in the mix for 4th or 5th given reliable machinery. Revised Prediction 1-8 accordingly reads:

1.  Mark Webber to break his duck and win the Aussi GP - Red Bull
2.  Alonso - Ferrari
3.  Schumi - Mercedes (a years experience + testing)
4.  Massa - Ferrari
5.  Button - McLaren
6.  Rosberg - Mercedes
7.  Heidfeld - Renault
8.  Barrichello - Williams
Apologies to anyone who decided to place their bets on the basis of my original prediction - who knows how the first race will pan out. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Melbourne F1 Love In

What the hell is going on?  Everyone is sooooo happy down under.  Have they had too much sun? Too many 4ecks and fosters? Have they been overcome by the aussie's optimism?  What the hell is up Down Under?

Vettel is happy, Button is happy, Schumi is Happy, Alonso is gushing about Massa like a love struck teenager, Hamilton is (relatively speaking) happy, SH*tsville even I'm happy.

Can you feel it? Can You Feel It? dum dumdumdumdumdumdumdumdumdum... Play it LOUD OKAY!

The Lotus Position

Karma is what it's all about.  Lotus is dead and gone.  Neither of these teams are Lotus in anything other than name and that is a different thing altogether from the historic and respected marque of the 60's and 70's.  All that bull about the return of the Lotus name to F1 being great for the sport is so much hot air being wasted.  The sport doesn't need the name, it needs performances reminiscent of the heydays of Chapman, Clark, Rindt, Hill, Peterson, Fittipaldi, and of course the JPS design which Renault would appear to be copying this year.

It doesn't matter - These names do not bring back the brand they're just copies.

Karma requires they both just drop it and move on- Karma is coming back to bite them in the ass.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lewis flys too close to the Sun

Having raised the spectre of Hamilton leaving McLaren and pointing out that it might be in his best interests to keep his opinions to himself a little more it seems that he's done just the opposite.

Simon Fuller must be working on the principle that more exposure means more money but without considering that F1 is a very knowledgeable community and a very small one.

Having slagged McLaren in the Daily Mail he's now retracted slightly on that but had a go at Red Bull Racing saying:

"Red Bull are not a manufacturer, they are a drinks company. It's a drinks company versus McLaren/Ferrari history. I don't know what their plan is. Our team is building to become a bigger manufacturer, like Ferrari, and I can only see our team being there for a ridiculous amount of time. It is a pure-bred racing team."

I think we can say that one (very lucrative) door has now shut very firmly in his face.

It's really quite funny to think that Dietrich Mateschitz would spend the money he has to poach Adrian "GOD" Newey and Geoff Willis and pay Vettel and Webbo were he not serious in his desire to break the stranglehold of Ferrari and McLaren.

Top teams rise and fall and rise again.  Williams (we hope again this year) has a long and distinguised history in the sport and controlled the game in the early 90's, McLaren and Ferrari emerged from the ashes of Benetton's victory, Renault made good, Mercedese have a venerable presence but there's nothing like new blood.

Red Bull is a drink Lewis - a very powerful drink that gives you wings - Red Bull Racing is a Constructor with Mr. Newey creating a winning machine.  It's time to hide under the table until Melbourne, turn off your phone, disconnect the electronics, and pull the duvet over your head.  You can't do any more damage to yourself from there (unless your manager decides you need more exposure!)

Button with a Mountain to climb

Just thought this was spectacular.  Button drives Mount Panorama in McLaren MP4-23. quotes Button as saying

"That was phenomenal. It was such a rush. Once you get over the straights being quite hard to control the car over it is such a pleasure. It’s just a pity I don’t have more laps to test it out.”
Button said he was surprised by how much he could attack the circuit driving the Commodore: “I didn’t expect so much grip. It took me a while to get used to it.
“I haven’t hammered a car over kerbs like that for 12 years so it was a new experience for me and something I’ve missed.
“I was holding on tight all the way. It takes everything out of you. It was the experience I’ve wanted to have for many years and I’ve finally done it. In a way it’s probably not a good thing because it’s made me more hungry to come back.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Alonso confirms suspicions

Alonso is reported on ESPN as confirming what we've all thought in an interview with Welt am Sonntag:

"The fight will be between Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari.  We have new rules and tyres but I do not think we will have new winners, or a mix of teams that win or do big surprises on the grid. The races will have frequent pitstops and will probably be more spectacular, but at the end the names of the winners will be the same as in the previous year, as will the names of the teams in the midfield."

That's it then.  No need to watch the F1 season at all - lets all go watch Moto GP instead.  What can we expect this year Nadgers? same ol' same ol' eh? That sounds exciting! Way to sell the show.

Must have lost something in translation.

Hamilton to Mercedes?

All the preseason talk has stopped so there's little really for anyone to whine on about prior to the Season beginning on FRIDAY next...about time too!

What we do have, and I'm sure it's doing the rounds, is the Daily Mail interview with Lewis where he attempts to motivate his team by saying that if they don't pull themselves together he'll be outta there faster than a Red Bull showing off on the streets of Melbourne (around 100kph).

Is this Motivation 101 from the Book of Simon?

Once again we have to question whether this is McLaren stonewalling the opposition in respect of the quality of their F1 machine or whether there is genuine concern within the team over the quality of the car.  If it is the latter I have to say that, in my opinion, Lewis is sending out the wrong message.  You want to pull the team together not have them wondering about your loyalty.  Is it about the Constructor's or the driver's championship?  First comes the Constructor's, Driver's second.

I hate to parrot all that cheap management S**t but in this instance I think Lewis would be doing well to remember there is no "I" in Team but there is room for the "me" to shine. (how sad is that?)

Lewis is a brilliant driver, there's no doubt about that, but there's a little "Nige" whinge creeping in - best driver crap car complex.  The difference is that Nige was always like that even when he had the best car so you knew where you were with him, with Lewis it seems to be a case of "foot in mouth" at times.  I think he's an amazing talent and seems to be a nice enough guy but I think that he has to watch what he says over the radio and in interviews - you can only explain yourself so many times before people start to question your loyalty to them and to the team.

Button once made a similar cock-up, if we remember the BAR/Williams contract debacle of 2005 and 2006, but once he had made the decision to stay at BAR in 2005 he made it clear in 2006 that BAR was where his future lay - cementing his relationship with the team and ultimately bringing him his first win in Hungary and then the Driver's Championship with Brawn Racing after Honda and F1 parted ways.

I guess the lesson of today's sermon is that loyalty pays dividends - the team know you're with them so they give you their best.  If Lewis continues down this road it may well be that Jense finds himself getting a lot more attention from the team.  Remember Alonso Lewis? Ego fuelled by a perceived bias on the part of the team?

If this isn't all just a McLaren game the fur might be flying in the McLaren Garage come Europe and Lewis might be looking at Schumi's seat come the end of the season!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Melbourne Predictions 1-8

Who'll come where in Melbourne? Nobody knows.

That's the beauty of the first race, testing means nothing, previous times mean nothing, in a way quali means nothing either because you might have the fastest car and driver onthe grid but... Melbourne no-one knows whether the car will stay the course, whether the engine will survive, whether the tyres will last the requisite number of laps to make your strategy work, whether some rookie (and there are a few) will put you out of the race.

Nobody knows what's going to happen - it's a complete unknown or it's a continuation of last year.  I've always had a punt on predicting the points scoring positions in the first race of the season simply because it's nearly impossible.  I nearly got the first 6 in 2003 but they were in the wrong order and I thought that Alonso would be in instead of HHF - Close but no cigar as they say.

This year is without precedent after last season so I'll probably be way off the mark but in the spirit of fun here's my first to eighth.  I hope I'll get good odds on it this year but the irish bookies are notorious for being conservative.

1.  Mark Webber to break his duck and win the Aussi GP - Red Bull
2.  Alonso - Ferrari
3.  Schumi - Mercedes (a years experience + testing)
4.  Massa - Ferrari
5.  Rosberg - Mercedes
6.  Heidfeld - Renault
7.  Barrichello - Williams
8.  Button - McLaren

Vettel and Hamilton - DNF

I think Ferrari will be strongest going into the first race both in terms of pace and reliability.

One of the Red Bulls will suffer engine failure and I'm giving it to Vettel purely on the heart - Webbo deserves to win a home GP.

Hamilton will crash out chasing the leaders on degrading rubber.

Mercedes are sounding very smug so I think they've got a podium in them and probably a 4th/5th spot.

Renault would seem to be in the mix but I'm afraid that they may have flattered to decieve in winter tests and they may not have a complete package.  I'm still giving Heidfeld a 6th on the basis that if they haven't he'll be the most likely guy to bring the car home in the points.

Williams might well have been given the last two spots if they had a second driver of any quality.  I go into every season hoping they'll come back to form but unfortunately I think that Barrichello is the only driver who can move them on.  This will have a serious effect on their Constructor's Championship and they may have to change drivers mid-season to address that shortcoming (that's assuming they're on the top-of-midfield pace).

McLaren could be talking themselves down but if they have any speed and reliability I believe that Button will be able to manage the tyres to bring the car home in the points.  If they've been hiding their true potential, I still think its likely that Hamilton will go off trying to make an overtaking maneouvre stick on degraded rubber.

Sauber/Toro Rosso are the dark horses that could ruin the prediction totally - Kobayashi might well mix it up and either cause a pile up in the midfield or bring the car home in 5th/6th - you've gotta love that guy!

No matter what prediction I make I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all the drivers and teams the best for this postponed season opener.  Remember when the lights go out its every man for himself and lets see the wannabe 2011 champion show their hands early this year.

St Patrick's Day Hello

I know it's a day late but I wanted to wish all the Irish associated with Formula 1 over the years a big Cead Mile Failte.  I know that I'll be missing an awful lot of guys within the teams from this list but I'm sorry to say that I'm relatively ignorant of your names.  If you contact me I will address the ommission asap - Just remember that I think you're all GREAT anyway and a big thank you for your valued contribution to my No.1 sport.

A big Hello to all (alive and dead) EJ, Richard Cregan, Gary Anderson, Eddie Irvine, Derek Daly, Dave Kennedy, Martin Donnelly, John Watson, Tommy Byrne, Kenny Acheson, and Joe Kelly.  I suppose I'll add Ralph Firman to the list too as I've been told that he holds Irish citizenship - and his mother's Irish.

Happy St. Paddy's Day to all and to all who hold them in their hearts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unlapping the Leader

Reading the site I saw their piece where Charlie Whiting has said that the rear wing system can be used to unlap drivers from the leader.  It reminded me of the Senna/Irvine confrontation in 1993 at Suzuka where Senna went off on one. So from the archive I give you the scene as it played out:

Eddie Irvine is sitting alone on a table in the Jordan cabin. Jordan's commercial manager, Rubens Barichello and several other people, mostly Team members, are also present. Suzuka was Irvine's first ever F1 race and everyone is watching a re-run of the Senna-Hill-Irvine incident.
Suddenly the door opens and in walks Ayrton Senna accompanied by Norman Howell, director of communications for McLaren and Giorgio Ascanelli, Senna's engineer.
Senna is looking for Irvine, but either he doesn't see him or he doesn't recognise him. Eddie Irvine raises his hand and Senna walks over to him ...

Irvine : Here!
Senna : What the **** do you think you were doing?

Irvine : I was racing!
Senna : You were racing? Do you know the rule that you're supposed to let the leaders come by when you're a back marker?

Irvine : If you were going fast enough, it was no problem.
Senna : I overtook you! And you went three times off the road in front of me, at the same place, like ****ing idiot, where there was oil. And you were throwing stones and all things in front of me for three laps. When I took you, you realised I was ahead of you. And when I came up behind Hill, because he was on slicks and in difficulties, you should have stayed behind me. You took a very big risk to put me out of the race.

Irvine : Where did I put you in any danger?
Senna : You didn't put me in any danger?

Irvine : Did I touch you? Did I touch you once?
Senna : No, but you were that much from touching me, and I happened to be the ****ing leader. I HAPPENED TO BE THE ****ING LEADER!

Irvine : A miss is as good as a mile.
Senna : I tell you something. If you don't behave properly in the next event, you can just rethink what you do. I can guarantee you that.

Irvine : The stewards said "No problem. Nothing was wrong."
Senna : Yeah? You wait till Australia. You wait till Australia, when the stewards will talk to you. Then you tell me if they tell you this.

Irvine : Hey, I'm out there to do the best for me.
Senna : This is not correct. You want to do well. I understand, because I've been there I understand. But it's very unprofessional. If you are a back marker, because you happen to be lapped ...

Irvine : But I would have followed you if you'd overtaken Hill!
Senna : You should let the leader go by ...

Irvine : I understand that fully!
Senna : ... and not come by and do the things you did. You nearly hit Hill in front of me three times, because I saw, and I could of collected you and him as a result, and that's not the way to do that.

Irvine : But I'm racing! I'm racing! You just happened to ...
Senna : You're not racing! You're driving like a ****ing idiot. You're not a racing driver, you're a ****ing idiot!

Irvine: You talk, you talk. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Senna : I was in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Irvine : Yes. I was battling with Hill.
Senna : Really? Really? Just tell me one thing. Who is supposed to have the call? You, or the leader of the race who comes through to lap you?

Irvine : The leader of the race.
Senna : So what have you done?

Irvine : You, you were too slow, and I had to overtake you to try to get at Hill.
Senna : Really? How did I lap you if I was too slow?

Irvine : Rain. Because on slicks you were quicker than me, on wets you weren't.
Senna : Really? Really? How did I come and overtake you on wets?

Irvine : Huh?
Senna : How come I overtook you on wets?

Irvine : I can't remember that. I don't actually remember the race.
Senna : Exactly. Because you are not competent enough to remember. That's how it goes you know.

Irvine : Fair enough. Fair enough. That's what you think.
Senna : You be careful guy.

Irvine : I will. I'll watch out for you.
Senna : You're gonna have problems not with me only, but with lots of other guys, also the FIA.

Irvine : Yeah?
Senna : You bet.

Irvine : Yeah? Good.
Senna : Yeah? It's good to know that.

Irvine : See you out there.
Senna : It's good to know that.

Irvine : See you out there ...

Appearing to turn away Senna then turns back and hits Irvine with his left hand. The blow lands on the right side of Irvine's head. Irvine loses his balance and falls off the table. Senna is still shouting as he is hustled towards the door.

Irvine yells "Insurance claim there!"
Senna (leaving) retorts "You got to learn to respect where you're going wrong!"

Worth airing every now and again just to show that while Senna was a Master, even he could lose the rag in public every now and again.  Next embarrassing archive Schumi tries to Kill DC at Spa

Paying to Drive

One Quarter of the F1 grid can be classified as Paying for their drive this year:


And really Di Resta should be added to this list too, given that it is believed that a deal was done on the Force India Mercedes Engine price in order to get him the drive over Hulkenburg.

I'm not knocking the Paying Driver idea (maybe a little) until we see what they're worth over the course of a season.  Petrov has shown he has talent and probably deserves a place on the grid; great things are expected from Di Resta given his racing history; and Perez may turn out to be a find.

Maldonado and d'Ambrosio - who knows?

Alguersuari - I don't rate

Karthikeyan - Let's face it if he was any good Force India would have him on their dream team, particularly given his relationship to their previous incarnation: Jordan.

Maybe I'll be surprised this year (and if I am I'll be delighted to be wrong) but somehow I have a sense that at least 4 of the 7 will be making up the numbers - a further case to support 10 teams on the F1 grid.

Rant over - except to say that regardless of my feelings about Ant. Liuzzi the boy done good in refusing to pay for his drive and clinching the deal anyway!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Random HRT

Colin Kolles from HRT said that they'd be happy with only 10 teams on the grid?  With a comment like that you'd expect that he was looking for HRT to get offered an exit strategy, or that he didn't expect they would qualify for the grid anyway under the 107% rule - but NO.  Kolles would appear to be of the impression that "others are more desperate than we are to be honest with you." This about a car that has not yet taken to the testing track, with two drivers who have not managed to sit in the cockpit other than to get their seats designed; one of whom has not raced in F1 for 5 years and the other who needs to start pulling his trousers on like all the rest of us.

Sorry ColKolle, but I'm backing you for the back of the grid along with the Branson Bunch.  Perhaps HRT really does stand for Hormone Replacement Therapy after all.

Melbourne Seems a Long Way Off

I've spent the morning trawling through the F1 sites looking for something of particular interest which I thought I would share with you.  The fact is that we would appear to be in a hiatus leading up to Melbourne.  For the last few weeks it's been Terminator or Rambo territory with news and conjecture spewing out like bullets from an Uzi, suddenly it's gone all Gary Cooper in High Noon - nothing to hear but the ticking of the clock, tension mounting, waiting for the showdown (under) - lmao! I may have enjoyed that analogy a little too much.

There are a couple of things which interest me about the coming season not least a few of the drivers.  Some interesting battles are in the offiing, not least due to the Pirelli conundrum.

Can Petrov do the biz against Heidfeld?  Heidfeld has always been quite easy on his tyres and his testing/technical experience should stand him in good stead.

Will Button make the best of the tyres and drive circles around his teammate who we know is harder on tyres?  Brundle was very disparaging recently about the ability of the McLaren to turn into and drive out of corners.  Was he watching Button or Hamilton? Or is it simply that the car is a Pig?  Button doesn't think he'll be winning in Melbourne but his comments seem to suggest he'd expect to be in and around the sharp end.

Barrichello should beat the pants off Maldonado but then I know nothing about Pastor other than he's a cash cow.  But I'm not going to disparage him any more than that (at least until he's has a chance to show his credentials).  until a wheel is turned in anger I'll reserve judgement other than to say that he just might be the second coming.

Vettel vs Webbo? That's intriguing.  Which is easier on tyres? I'm a big Webber fan and loved watching him fulfill his potential last season.  The worst thing he did was to drive the last two races with a fractured shoulder and not tell the team.  I watched him do nothing in Abu Dhabi and whinged about his poor performance for at least a week afterwards.  Now we know why and it made it worse.  I know he felt he had to take the chance but the team has to be first priority - even if they aren't treating you equally.  You have to be the bigger man Mark (and you are).  Highlight of last season - Silverstone - "Not bad for a second driver!"  I worry that Vettel is easier on tyres and may take total control at RBR.

Alonso will probably consolidate his place over Massa.  Massa was totally robbed of the Drivers Championship in 2008 - not only by Piquet's "crash" but also by Timo's inability to fight off a McLaren which had struggled throughout the Brazillian GP.  Like Webber I'm afraid that Massa has had his chance in the Ferrari and should probably find a new home.  Mercedes will probably be looking for someone next season, Williams too, and Renault may well wish to pair Kubica up with someone who will push him hard.  There could also be a place at the RBR table given that Mark is on rolling one year contracts.  Time to look at your options Filipe - put that unfortunate accident out of your mind, push Nando to the limit, leave, and never look back.  Your performance on the podium in Brazil 2008 shows your passion for the sport and your belief in yourself - put it in the car and take the Driver's Championship that you know you still want.

Mercedes will be a very interesting place this season.  Schumi has a season under his belt - Is he back in the groove or will he be relegated again to a supporting role?  We need to see flashes of his previous brilliance this year.  Ross Brawn knows what Michael needs to make a car perform - has he delivered it?  Will Rosberg teach the old dog some new tricks?  I'm looking forward to that battle.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Roll Up! Roll Up! F1 Circus en-route to Melbourne

The new season is underway - only two weeks to go to Melbourne!  All the pre-season testing is out of the way and the excitement is now building.

As we all know, there is no point in taking too much out of the pre-season testing as each team will no doubt bring a slew of upgrades to the Melbourne track.  The first races - pre-Europe - tend to be all about reliability over speed.  Sure speed is a factor but which chassis/engine/electronics/gearbox etc. survives tends to decide the early races.

Red Bull and Ferrari have racked up enormous mileage over the winter and would appear to be relatively bulletproof under testing - the stresses and strains of a race tend to expose the little (but fatal) flaws which can end a race prematurely.

McLaren have done very little mileage compared to the majority of the (expected) front-runners but, regardless, given their tendency to build reliability into the car and their  historically good record in finishing the first race of the season they may well take points away as others drop out.  This prediction is based on the lack of form shown in testing where they have shown little in the way of raw speed. The thing is, it could all be smoke and mirrors - running short testing stints on heavy fuel to disguise pace, the concerned comments of the drivers, the overcautious approach confining the car to the garage for long periods - this could all be a bluff! and we won't know their true speed until quali - and their comparitive strength until the lights go out.

Mercedes may be flattering to decieve though the drivers have been much more positive (both in their comments and in their body language) on foot of the final two days of testing.  They might be the team to watch - you can never write off Ross Brawn!

Renault are very bullish with all reports saying that they expect to be fighting with Ferrari and Red Bull for wins.  I'm a big fan of Heidfeld and really think that, with the right car, he can pull off a win or two.  Petrov still has to show his full capability and he really needs to be outdriving his teammate this year if he's to hold onto his race seat next year.  I think Kubica is a magnificent racedriver (in F1) and Petrov will need to show he can operate very close to Kubica's skill level.  This will require him to outperform Nick on a relatively regular basis throughout the season, otherwise we might see a Kubica/Heidfeld team line-up next year.  I'm calling it here first!

I'm hoping Williams will make a big comeback this year.  I've made no secret that I'm a big fan of Frank and Patrick and all the webchat and F1 news sites seem to be of the opinion that they have a neat package this year which might see them pushing up the grid.  The only two worries I have relate to the new flywheel KERS system which they have produced and whether the car will run a full race distance with the KERS installed.  They ran last weeks final test in Barcelona without the KERS but all reports say they have confirmed they will use it in Melbourne.  Fingers crossed the Williams performs well.

These are the guys I expect to see fighting for the top six places in the race.  The final two points positions may bring Sauber, Force India, or Toro Rosso into the mix.  Force India seem to be off the pace (once again based on testing times) so at present I'm expecting that they will struggle to challenge the midfield for the last two points scoring places.  Toro Rosso would appear to have the raw pace to look towards the front but I think the complete package may see them as front of midfield in a straight fight with Sauber.

At the back it looks as if Lotus has made a big step from last year and we might see them mixing it with the back of the midfield runners - all the evidence suggests that Virgin and HRT will remain at the back HRT have not turned a wheel in anger in their new car so it's likely Virgin will dominate that particular fight.  Virgin's major problem, in my humble opinion, is the fact that the complete design has been built using Computer software.  Theoretical computational flow models are all well and good but wind tunnels are better, while track time is paramount.  While it is a significant cost saving to the team I think it is not yet viable as a method of producing a competitative F1 car. Probably only a matter of time though...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Barcelona Testing final day

Apparently a wash out - Ferrari packed up early due to the weather, Schumi only does installation laps - Hamilton complains of aquaplaning - Weather too extreme for full wet Pirelli tyres.  HRT not able to run their new car at all.

DriverCar TimeLaps
1.Nico RosbergMercedes W021:43.81435
2.Pastor MaldonadoWilliams FW331:44.33323
3.Lewis HamiltonMcLaren MP4-261:44.56033
2.Fernando AlonsoFerrari 150No time5
3.Michael SchumacherMercedes W02No time5

Friday, March 11, 2011

Barcelona Test - Friday times

Schumi stays on top, Alonso second, Rosberg third.

DriverCar TimeLaps
1.Michael SchumacherMercedes W021:21.26846
2.Fernando AlonsoFerrari 1501:21.61461
3.Nico RosbergMercedes W021:21.78846
4.Nick HeidfeldRenault R311:22.07343
5.Rubens BarrichelloWilliams FW331:22.23389
6.Kamui KobayashiSauber C301:22.31541
7.Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso STR61:22.67532
8.Sebastian VettelRed Bull RB71:22.93333
9.Heikki KovalainenLotus T1281:23.43771
10.Paul Di RestaForce India VJM041:23.65326
11.Adrian SutilForce India VJM041:23.92126
12.Pastor MaldonadoWilliams FW331:24.10889
13.Jenson ButtonMcLaren MP4-261:23.92138
14.Jerome d'AmbrosioVirgin MVR-021:27.37538

Barcelona Test - Friday Morning Times

Schumi sets the fastest lap on short run with fully upgraded aero package.  This might be more representative of the actual pace of the car in quali mode.

HRT are to run their 2011 car for the first time this afternoon.  Testing ends tomorrow.

DriverCar TimeLaps
1.Michael SchumacherMercedes W021:21.26846
2.Fernando AlonsoFerrari 1501:21.61461
3.Nick HeidfeldRenault R311:22.07343
4.Rubens BarrichelloWilliams FW331:22.23389
5.Kamui KobayashiSauber C301:22.31541
6.Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso STR61:22.67532
7.Sebastian VettelRed Bull RB71:23.01233
8.Heikki KovalainenLotus T1281:23.43771
9.Adrian SutilForce India VJM041:23.92126
10.Jenson ButtonMcLaren MP4-261:23.92138
11.Jerome d'AmbrosioVirgin MVR-021:27.37538

Ron Denis Banned from Driving

Not really an F1 news story as such, but it is quite funny that Ron has been banned from driving for 6 months having gotten 12 penalty points on his licence.

the Interesting thing is that he said that he jumped the lights - triggering the final 3 points which brought him to 12 and an automatic ban - in order to avoid a collision.  That's either great driving or a poor excuse.

I can sympathise with that position though as years ago I was stopped at a set of pedestrian traffic lights allowing people to cross the road when I heard the squeal of tyres behind me.  I looked in my rear view mirror to see a black Mercedes (It wasn't Ron) skidding towards me at a rate of knots with the driver desperately trying to avoid rear ending me.  Because there were pedestrians crossing the road I couldn't jump the lights to avoid the accident so instead I put on the handbrake and stood on the brake pedal in the hope that when he finally hit me he wouldn't push my little Mitsubishi into the pedestrian traffic.

I just remember this second of silence where it seemed like he had managed to stop - then the equivalent impact of a tank crushing an ant.

I've changed my mind - I believe Ron's story.  At least he has enough money that he can afford a chauffeur!

Earthquake Hits Japan

Just passing this on though its unlikely that it will inform anyone who may be affected:

Tsunami Alert for New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and others. Waves expected over the next few hours, caused by 8.9 earthquake in Japan.

My thoughts are with the people affected by this awful tragedy

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jordan F1 Debut

Thanks to Adam Cooper for reminding me.

Can you believe it? Jordan Grand Prix made their debut 20 years ago today in Phoenix.  The 7UP Jordan!The prettiest F1 car ever! (I know, Personal opinion - but it is my Blog so I guess you'll have to indulge me).  Look at me gushing like the proud parent - An Irish F1 Team, An Irish Owner, and a very pretty
machine with bags of potential.  Thanks for everything Eddie!  I was lucky enough to meet the great man at Spa last season - enough time for a "how are ye boys?" and he was off with his mates.

(Apologies to the photographer for the lack of accreditation but I couldn't source the copyright holder of the above shot.  If they contact me I will be happy to rectify the situation asap) I couldn't help myself, I had to show it!

AND, Can you believe it - Michael Schumacher Debut - Spa 1991 - in the above Jordan.  Qualifies 7th - Race DNF (burns the clutch at the start if my memory serves?).

Schumi - 20 years in F1 this year - how time flies eh? I remember him as a fresh faced kid looking to rule the track.  He seemed like a pretty good prospect.  I wonder where he is now...?

Pirelli: Barcelona Test Report

Having looked at the testing times yesterday and the reports coming out of Barca I noted that there was no info on the Pirelli's from the drivers or the teams.

This has been rectified on where the drivers discuss the tyre degradation issue after testing short, medium and long runs over the last two days.  Petrov said yesterday that the degradation was very significant once the tyres reach end of life:

"In one lap it [the degradation] is getting to half a second, then one and a half seconds and then two seconds and then three seconds," he said. "If you decide to come in [to the pits] one lap later you could lose two seconds and those that come in one lap earlier will have some advantage."

The story indicates that the tyres life cycle, in terms of consistency, is somewhere around the 15-16 lap mark at which point, if Petrov's evaluation is correct, we can look forward to the massive degradation kicking in.

What will this mean for the races?  The track at Barca is 4.655km long so 16 laps equates to 74.48km.  The Spanish GP is 66 laps in overall length (307.104km) so by Petrov's calculations constant operational rubber on the car would necessitate 4 pit stops over the course of the race.  From a strategic perspective the pitstop is approximately 22 seconds so the question is whether the teams can justify driving an extra 6 laps per stint on old rubber to push out to 3 stops.

The Melbourne track is 5.303km long and the race take place over 58 laps (similar distance of 307.57km).  A longer lap, but also a quicker circuit than Barca with consequent heavier braking at the end of the long straights, particularly along the curved, fast back section between turn 9 and turn 13, the start-finish straight, and between turns 4 and 6.  logic would dictate that the tyres would degrade quicker with higher temperatures, higher speeds, and heavier braking.

Could we expect to see some teams attempt a 5 pitstop strategy?

Webbo, talking about the tyres on foot of his Barcelona test, said:

"There are a lot more opportunities to screw things up, unquestionably. Actually, in a bizarre sort of way, if we raced here tomorrow and you had a dry grand prix there wouldn't be many surprises. We know what's probably going to come our way and we just have to get ready for that. It's just in relation to what everybody else does that your strategy might be a surprise."

I'm sure everyone else would be hoping that their strategy might come as a surprise to Red Bull too Mark!

2nd Barca Test Day times

Vettel's Times set on a short run of seven laps while the Ferrari carried out medium runs testing aero packages.  Difficult to figure the 0.5 second gap on that basis, given the tyre degradation row.

No info on how the pirelli's held up as of yet with drivers and team engineers focussing on the positives at this stage (apart from Williams who had to remove the Kers in the morning - and Lewis).

Vettel's fastest lap was only 2 tenths slower than Raikkonen's 2008 lap record.
DriverCar TimeLaps
1.Sebastian VettelRed Bull RB71:21.865112
2.Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso STR61:22.396120
3.Vitaly PetrovRenault R311:22.670116
4.Lewis HamiltonMcLaren MP4-261:22.88857
5.Felipe MassaFerrari 1501:23.324101
6.Paul Di RestaForce India VJM041:24.334118
7.Kamui KobayashiSauber C301:24.436107
8.Nico RosbergMercedes W021:25.807100
9.Jarno TrulliLotus T1281:26.09098
10.Pastor MaldonadoWilliams FW331:26.98929
11.Jerome d'AmbrosioVirgin MVR-021:28.98264

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

first morning times - Barca

March 8th 2011 Barcelona - Morning Pre-Season test

Weather - WET

Webber's time carried out on very short run, dry track, temperature increase of +10 degrees

DriverCar TimeLaps
1.Mark WebberRed Bull RB71:22.54438
2.Nick HeidfeldRenault 1:24.73520
3.Davide ValsecchiLotus1:25.40650
4.Sergio PerezSauber C301:25.44354
5.Nico HülkenbergForce India VJM041:26.03031
6.Jenson ButtonMcLaren MP4-261:28.97144
7.Jerome d'AmbrosioVirgin MVR-021:33.50220
8.Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso STR6No time3

Senna: The Movie

June 3rd - At a cinema near me (hopefully).

Monday, March 7, 2011

McLaren need Team Harmony!

The title says it all really.  This is once again a little rant about the Pirelli tyres ongoing saga and how it has been received in the McLaren Team.

I've said before that Jense has been strangely silent on this topic and presume it's because he's quietly confident that his driving style will allow him to manage his tyres better than the majority of the field.

Lewis has said that he has issues with the tyres apparently stating it was "like driving an out-lap, very slow and not particularly exciting. It lasted a little bit longer but it didn't feel like I was really racing the car." (quoted in Autosport).  He had another go on a dutch website ( which sounded like a bit of a whinge (based on the Google Translator) apparently saying it didn't feel like as much of a challenge.  Advice Lewis? The challenge may well be knowing when to charge and when to drive smoothly to conserve tyres (something you may have had a problem with in the past).  No whinging this year Lewis get on with the job (best job ever too!!!).

But Martin Whitmarsh, Chief Bottlewasher at McLaren and FOTA has defended Pirelli saying that "The drivers and teams should perhaps be more careful in their expressions" . Having made the point that what FOTA wanted was higher degradation and that it's easy to step into the car and complain he stated that:  "The job of tyre supplier is a thankless one, as the higher wear is a feature that was requested to make the show better." 

Perhaps he should do a swap - Lewis for Vettel - as Sebastian came out with guarded support for the tyres saying:  "I think one stop is impossible and at this stage also two stops, so I think it will be a three or four-stop race. I think it will make it very interesting."

Harmony at McLaren might be better served with two drivers singing from the same Corporate hymn-sheet.

F1B twitter chat

Looking at the Formula1blog (F1B) this morning I came across this little gem - a twitter chat on the topics set out below:

I'm not a tweeter - unfortunately in this case - but I thought I'd comment on the questions on the F1B site.  I was so pleased with my answers that I copied them back here. (Italics are F1B quotes)

Here are the hot topics for this week:

Is F1 on the edge of ruin?
1.  F1 is not on the edge of ruin It just gets better and better - other than Bahrain last year (obviously)

To you, what needs to be changed? Or are you happy with the evolution of the sport?
2.  A level of continuity is needed to ensure that aero design and mechanical packages reach their optimum potential - Continuity leads to closer racing as it allows the less well funded teams to close the gap over the course of 4-5 years.  The drivers are then the main difference and we get the best drivers fighting for position in relatively equal packages.

Would you welcome artificial rain?
3.  Yes - on an irregular basis at boring tracks like Bahrain/Valencia etc. certainly not at every race but the option of having a wet race once every 3/4/5 years at very boring circuits would bring a certain excitement to those tracks - You could even throw Barcelona in there given that it's such a technical track which does not encourage overtaking (and the teams have so much data from testing).

Do you anticipate 2011 to be as close and exciting as 2010? Or will we see more one- or two-team dominance? Weighted advantages? Several teams literally left in the dust?
4.  2011 will probably have two dominant teams in terms of speed and handling given that it's the first year with some continuity.  It seems to take 3 or 4 years to give other teams a chance to catch up.  The exciting thing about this year would appear to be the level of tyre degradation being experienced.  I think this year may well favour the smoother drivers who might be able to wring enough extra laps to make one less pitstop!  (Here's hoping)

What about 2013?
5.  As above, if the continuity is there and there are no massive rule changes it may well be that 2013 is a classic season - 2012 should see a closing up of the field with maybe two other teams joining the two dominant teams from 2011.  It'd be great if one of those was Williams - more likely to be Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, and Mercedes (as long as they keep Ross B.)

And finally, I’ll claim the hot seat for the week and ask: am I right about NASCAR?
6. Nascar - I'll bow to your expertise on that one - I've never found it massively exciting myself.

Join us ( for the conversation on Twitter Monday (7th March) at 4 p.m. Eastern US, 9 p.m. UK. Follow @F1Chat for updates throughout the day and questions during the chat, and use the hashtag #F1Chat to follow and participate in the conversation.

I'm rather pleased with my answers but I'm always happy to be embarrassingly wrong should anyone feel any differently.  If you get the chance and are a tweeter join in the above chat - no doubt, being in live time, there'll be all kinds of differences of opinion - do we call that "healthy debate", "handbags at dawn", or "too many cooks"? Not knowing the ins and outs of twitter I'll reserve comment.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I know this is a relatively old story but with not much happening in F1 today I thought I'd throw in my own opinion on it - that's what this Blog is all about after all.

It makes me laugh to see that Nelsinho has said he won't drive in F1 again.  His performance was never great on the track and the way he handled the "crashgate" saga didn't show any particular strength of character.

What I found most interesting about that scandal was the way in which it all came out.  No-one knew anything about it until Nelsinho was dropped by Renault in mid season 2009 at which point the story spilled out over the papers.

Now - I know he was very young at the time and that Flav put him under serious pressure to perform the dastardly deed (in conjunction with Pat Symonds for whom I had great respect and hope that he was also put under pressure by Flav), but, the fact is that he kept it secret while he had the drive. When this is considered alongside his poor performance behind the wheel it is enough to preclude him from the sport for his lifetime.  He simply is not a good enough driver for teams to overlook his past history.

If he had come out straight away and told the truth, or better yet had refused to consider crashing in the first instance, then his slate would be clean and other teams might have considered him.  The fact is that he kept it quiet while it suited him.  Should relationships between team and driver sour (as they tend to do) the last thing the team wants is an ex-driver with a history of trying to get back at the boss.

Alonso and Schumi have had their brushes with the dark side in the past (spygate, 1997) but both drivers have enough talent for their flaws to be overlooked when it comes to hiring drivers: Piquet does not.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Indycar's Lottery Grid Idea for F1

There's been a lot of comment in respect of how to improve F1 over the years and I include the matters referred to recently in respect of "Wet" races along with the Kers system, rear wings, etc.  The F1 boards have been full of this Indycar idea for a lottery grid - most of them ridiculing the idea, a position which I would also adopt.

Having said that (and correct me if I'm wrong) an idea was launched a few years ago which I thought wasn't too bad, but nothing came from it.  If I remember correctly the idea was that each driver on the grid would get to drive for each team on the grid throughout the season - effectively we'd be talking about a pool of F1 drivers each getting to drive each constructor's car twice in the season.

The upshot would, on the current grid, see Vettel driving a HRT, Webbo in a Force India, Alonso in a Virgin, Karthikeyan in a McLaren, d’Ambrosio in a Red Bull, and Kobayashi in a Ferrari.  I like the idea as a spectacle - the best constructor should still win through at the end of the season, while all the drivers would be racing on a relatively equal platform (relatively speaking because of the suitability of different cars to different tracks).  What do you think - is the idea idiotic or does it have some merit?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jackie Stewart in hospital

The news is that Jackie Stewart has been taken to hospital after falling ill on a flight today.  I just want to wish him a speedy recovery.

Rain on the F1 Parade

I see Bernie has been talking about providing wet tracks on demand during races.  I like the idea.  I remember when Circuit Paul Ricard was given its facelift a few years ago.  One of the upgrades, I believe, was the ability to wet the track for the purpose of testing.

When I saw what they'd done there I was amazed that there was no discussion at that time about bringing F1 testing and Maybe even a race to the circuit.

I thought that the ability to wet the track at will might be incorporated into some of the other race tracks.

The idea of giving teams a two minute notice seems a bit daft.  What I'd suggest is that it be done without warning but that it would begin offline at the start finish straight and work its way around the track from that point.

Gradual wetting or deluge would be a matter for the track officials in discussion with Charlie Whiting.

Actually, Scrap that idea.  We have enough tracks which are susceptible to rain: perhaps we should only bring this kind of idea to tracks which have a history of being boring - like Bahrain or Valencia - Modern Tilke designs (just 'cos this criticism is doing the rounds!).

Tyred of hearing about Pirelli performance

Pirelli are providing tyres to all teams this year - FACT.

No team has gained an advantage by being part of Pirelli's tyre development process - FACT.

All teams are therefore on a level playing field - FACT

Why are all the drivers griping about them?  Pirelli have provided a number of different compounds from Super-Soft to Hard and will be bringing the most appropriate two compounds to each race.  From the sounds of things the drivers appear to be whinging that they degrade very fast and will lead to an increase in the number of pit-stops.

It is interesting that I haven't heard much from Jenson Button on the topic; the driver who everyone considers is easiest on tyres.

The likes of Lewis whose driving style is very hard on tyres may have to adapt or struggle while those like Button may be able to wring some crucial extra laps out of their cars.

Should the Pirelli compounds prove to be a particular problem we could see driving style emerging over sheer speed.  It may make no difference in qualifying, but the top eight race positions may be determined on the number of pit-stops which each driver needs.

It is worth mentioning that Pirelli have stated that they were requested to provide a tyre that degraded more rapidly than in previous seasons.

On that basis it might be worth revoking the rule with regard to each car using both compounds during the race and leave it up to the teams to work out their own pit-stop strategies.