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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Pain of Spain

I'm sorry guys but I was left really upset by the Spanish GP.  It had everything to do with all of the reasons why I love F1 and everything to do with all of the artificial elements on the cars this season.

The first thing is that there were 4 pitstops - not one, or two, or three but FOUR.  It was far too many.  22 cars, with the majority doing FOUR stops for tyres is 88 pitstops.

The next thing really, is the level of degradation which went on throughout the race - even with FOUR pitstops.  The difference between a car two laps into new tyres and a car fresh out of the pits.  It was MASSIVE - Brundle and Coulthard talked about the undercut, i.e. being in the pits first and making the most out of the prime option to get past your opponent when they went in.  This does not represent racing in any form - this is purely tyres.

Is it exciting?  Yes
Is it Racing?   No

Spain has never been an overtaking track but yesterday the overtaking which went on was not as a result of driving ability, it was all about how fresh your tyres were.  There was no fight for position.  It was best illustrated when Vettel came out behind Button after his stop and proceeded to drive by both him and Nadgers as if they weren't even there!

This is without precedent in F1 history - I hesitate to say it but right at this moment in time I would take DRS over these tyres any day.

While DRS is, in my opinion, anti-racing (in that it provides a free pass down a particular straight) it's nothing in comparison to the impact of these degrading tyres where a fresh set of tyres can give you any number of free passes as long as your rubber is newer than the guy in front.

I've made up my mind - this is not a development which is good for Formula 1 racing.  And Racing is what it's supposed to be.  It is not racing to be able to drive by an opponent without having to fight for position and it is not racing to be able to take a free pass on the straight where your opponent cannot defend his position.

Surely racing is all about fighting for position, does that not mean that you should have the ability to defend?

I mean, Senna had a knack of making his car very wide when he wasn't driving the best machinery - he made it very difficult to overtake him.  Up until this year your racing ability was judged not only on your ability to overtake, but also on your ability to defend against the car behind you.  This is no longer the case and the Spanish GP confirmed to me that, while we are looking at Formula 1 we are not seeing a RACE merely a spectacle.  The Championship means nothing under these circumstances.