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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

...On that Malaysian adVenture

What are we to make of the Malaysian GP? I certainly didn't venture out there but had an adventure finding it live and free online.  There it was live and in colour streaming direct into my living room where I began to soak up the atmosphere (but not the rain).  And what a race it was Ferrari on first step of podium, Multiple incidents (some of which involved Narain), no points for Button, no points for Vettel, and a number of very odd, slightly hysterical radio calls.

Firstly that Sauber radio message to Sergio Perez.  Absolutely right call by Peter Sauber to remind Sergio not to take any silly risks simply to take first place - Could he have done it? probably however, as Murray Walker always used to say "it's one thing catching up to the guy in front of you its another thing entirely to get past him".  It's still hard to gauge just how good Perez is, he can certainly manage his tyres and maintain a position and, judging by Malaysia, he's very quick given the right package but I think there's still room for improvement and his consistency is something that will be key to his future success and that will be under scrutiny by the top teams this season.

I've read the Perez/Massa rumours - no matter what the truth of this matter is (and time will tell) I think that Peter Sauber is the right team leader to bring Sergio into 2013.  A consistent and encouraging Team Owner, Peter has the wherewithall to bring out the best in his drivers.  I think I made this exact point in relation to Kobayashi when rumours were flying about Hamilton's drive becoming available next year for McLaren.  The Sauber Team is a good and nurturing environment and they have a history of bringing on good drivers - Massa and Raikkonen being the most memorable of the recent past.  It is also a team which can get the best out of a driver, Heidfeld outperformed both of the aforementioned drivers away when they drove against him at Sauber (probably Nick's best period in F1).

A small team with a small budget Sauber have the capability of creating a strong car/driver pairing.  the unfortunate thing is that they seem happy to compete within the Midfield without seeking to take that final step towards winning a championship.  Perhaps it's a Swiss conservative ethic at work.

The next call (or series of calls) was/were made to Vettel on the last lap - first up the PIT PIT call, then (after listening to Brundle on commentary) stay out stay out, followed by pull the car over now - each time the voice got a little bit more hysterical.  Okay so they wanted to change the Gearbox without penalty but that doesn't appear to have been on Vettel's mind given that he claimed the chequered flag and finished the race.  Fair play Seb.

Seb and Jenson got involved with Narain and neither drove away from the impact.  In Seb's case I'm not really that sure that Narain could do anything about it but he certainly felt the champion's ire with an untypical raised middle finger perhaps indicating that Seb wasn't going to end up on the top step that day.

Jenson's I thought was a racing incident and he took the loss gracefully and with humour.  I think he knows that these results can happen and that McLaren are currently at the top of the heap.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pitcrew Shenanigans

Being Irish you would expect that I'd know how to spell shenanigans - I have to admit that it's just not true and I'm not too hot on Begorraghs either so don't judge me.  I do know how to spell some very interesting words which struck me after Melbourne "Blocking" is one, "Blatant" is another, and "Deliberate" is a third.

There is no question in my mind, having seen it happen live on TV, but that the RBR pitcrew deliberately came onto the pitlane to create a traffic hazard and block McLaren from exiting their pitbox at speed.  The spectacular bodyshaping made by the RBR poleman to avoid Jenson's car after his first pitstop shows just how tight they made the exit space.

The fact that later on in the race they sat in the pitlane for the McLaren pitstop when no RBR pitstop was going to happen is ample evidence that they were up to nefarious shenanigans.

Shenanigans, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as "secret or underhand activities" while the online Mirriam Webster defines it as 1: a devious trick used especially for an underhand purpose, or 2a : tricky or questionable practices or conduct —usually used in plural b : high-spirited or mischievous activity —usually used in plural.

I think we know how to define RBR's Sunday pitwork and I'm of the opinion that such blatant blocking of a pit exit should be subject to a substantial fine and/or team penalty

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are you reading this Bernie?

Last year it was Luca, this year its Bernie.  I guess I'm at the forefront of F1 PR Idea generation and whether its Bernie or one of his flunkies they've obviously decided that third cars are the way forward.  I presume this is the case given that Bernie would appear to have suggested the privateer idea to Sky in a broadcast yesterday.

Apparently he said that new teams should have three years to build their own car and they should be able to buy a works car from any of the teams up until that point.

I posited that idea last year with the added warning that it would only encourage Georgio Pantano to come back to F1 in a works Ferrari.  But I think its not a bad old idea Bernie! it certainly keeps the chatter up - except for those of us who won't pay for Sky F1.

Are YOU ready for THE Hot Seat?

Are you up to the challenge?  Do you have what it takes?

Successful F1 Team looking to hire a driver on a fixed term contract with the ability to extend it for the right candidate

Do you have the proven ability to bring the car home in the top 4 places?
Are you a driver whose form suggests that you can win a race given the opportunity?
Do you have the consistency to ensure that you're there or thereabouts come the end of the race and can push all the way to try to steal victory?
Can you build a gap at the start, extend it, and drive the lonely miles to an unchallenged win?
Are you young enough that you'll give the team continuity when your team-mate retires?
Are you old enough that you can fight for the mantle of No.1 from the moment you arrive?

Send CV's only - No Agents - to

Chertsey Road
GU21 4YH

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You cannot be Serious! No.2

Last year we began talking about Romain Grosjean and how, in 2009, he was all washed up in F1 until he began kicking backside in GP2.  Suddenly the rumour mill was in overdrive and one did link him with Renault (sorry that should read Lotus) should Nick not cut the mustard (which he didn't).

So that's where he ended up. No Williams, no Sauber, no Toro Rosso, no Force India.  all those rumoured destinations gone - Renault (oops Lotus) was where he ended up and now - in testing (and you know how I feel about testing) - he's gone fastest in Barca today.

Hat's off to the man who fell from grace and returned with his head held high - Can he do the job in 2012? we'll have to wait and see. I wonder if he's held on to the banking job?

You cannot be Serious!

Is it time for Frank Williams to go? I'm not talking about the Parr replacement theory I'm listening to Frank regretting ever letting Adrian Newey go.

Regrets are all very well but perhaps the trouble really came to a head with last years performance and the trouble which that highlighted within the organisation of the team. Perhaps Frank and Patrick took their combined eyes off the ball over the last couple of years and managed to allow things to progress to the current state.

Unfortunate? Yes but not necessarily down to the departure of Adrian Newey.  It was inevitable that Newey would leave eventually and I don't think that part ownership would have staved the day off for more than a couple of years.  Adrian would appear to be the kind of guy that needs a challenge - needs to be able to start from scratch from time to time in order to justify his sense of his own (legendary) abilities.

He might be the only one who feels the need to prove himself to himself- let's face it the rest of us know how good he is we've see it every year, year-on-year as he gets to grips with design and budgets and new rules which have been brought in to attempt to give everyone else the chance to catch up.

We know Adrian Newey is the greatest car designer in the paddock but that does not give licence to the born racer that is Sir Frank Williams to start regretting past decisions.

If you take that expression of regret and link it to the Parr story I think we might be looking at the last season of Williams F1.  I don't think anyone would expect Frank to go out with a whimper though.

Night Swimming Bernie-style

Funny how Bernie gets involved in pre-season discussions in relation to how tracks should change in order to create a spectacle.  Last year around this time he was ramping matters up about providing artificial wet races and now he's threatening the future of Melbourne unless they provide night races in the future.

I'm always amazed at his ability to raise the profile of the sport just as the season limps through pre-season testing towards the only thing that counts - the first race of the season.

Where would F1 be without Bernie's mouth? Public interest would be suspended between races and to those, outside the sport, the only indication that it existed would be from the sports news.  His mouth is worth millions - though perhaps not €25 million per race.

Everyone knows that the Barca stuff is no more than basic tweaking in an attempt to understand how the car performs on various different corners/straights etc.  None of the teams know exactly where the rest of the field are at this stage.  For all we know (though it's highly unlikely to be the case!) RBR are steaming around on minimal fuel while HRT are testing on brimful tanks.

All of this talking the testing up is no more than hot exhaust air desperately attempting to find some way to influence downforce - pointless under the new regs (I had to try to get something in) - the real marketing is direct from Bernie's mouth onto the printed page and, obviously, the webpage.

Melbourne is more at risk from the annually expressed outrage of the residents around Albert Park than from the F1 Circus - who among us Europeans doesn't eagerly anticipate the 4.00am wake up call of quali and the race.  It signals the season is beginning in the same way that Suzuka in the early morning always used to signal its demise.  Abu Dhabi as an opener or closer just doesn't excite in the same way.  The anticipation is subdued because it fits into the normal everyday - there's nothing special about it.

For this occasional blogger there's no greater joy than the early morning coffee accompanying first quali in the wee hours of the morning - it's unfortunate that this year I'll have to watch highlights of the race in the afternoon on the Beeb.  The day will come when even they'll end up pay-per-view and I'll be watching some sad weekend round-up of motorsport - a week after the fact - to catch a glimpse of my beloved sport.

That, for me, is the most worrying trend in F1 at the mo.