Archive for July, 2010

Massa moves over for Alonso

July 26th, 2010 No comments

At the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, at the height of Michael Schumacher’s dominance of the sport, Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to give up his race lead and let Schumacher past to take the victory. Barrichello duly slowed at the final corner of the last lap and let his team mate pass him just before the finish line.

The crowd didn’t like it. There was jeering during the podium ceremony which was made even more awkward when Schumacher encouraged Barrichello to take the top step and handed him the trophy for first. Both Barrichello and Schumacher were fined one million dollars for their behaviour and a new rule was introduced banning so-called team orders.

39.1: Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited

Such is the clear intention of this rule that many were surprised at Ferrari’s blatent imposition of team orders at Hockenheim on Sunday.

Having led the race from a fantastic start, Felipe Massa was told by his engineer, Rob Smedley:

OK, so, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?

There was silence on the radio but confirmation was given when Massa obviously slowed at the exit of turn 6 and allowed Alonso to pass. Smedley then told Massa:

Good lad. Just stick with him now. Sorry.

The stewards fined Ferrari $100,000 for the move although the race result still stands. The stewards have also referred the issue to the World Motor Sport Council which may take further action against Ferrari.

This is the second time Alonso has picked up a victory due to the blatant altering of the race by a team mate. While not as dangerous as Nelson Piquet Jr’s deliberate crash in Singapore, Massa’s move was equally unsporting and like Singapore, Alonso doesn’t seem to treat his win as anything less than fully deserved.

There has been a lot of debate about whether team orders should or shouldn’t be allowed but the fact remains that there is a specific rule forbidding them and Ferrari willfully broke that rule.

As to the question of whether team orders should be allowed, I think it is clear that the fans don’t want them – no matter how much the teams may.

There is an inherent conflict of interest in a Formula One team. Both drivers are hired by the team to drive for the team but when it comes down to it, each driver is driving for themselves. There can be only one champion and every driver wants it to be him. And while Ferrari have legions of supporters devoted to the Scuderia I don’t think the fans want to see race results manipulated even if it is for the good of the team.

What made Sunday’s result even worse was that it was the first anniversary of Massa’s terrible accident at Hungary. A win for the Brazillian would have been a fitting and well-liked result. Instead Ferrari showed clear Alsonso favouritism and did nothing for the Spaniard’s popularity.

All the talk of Alonso being faster than Massa is specious. A similar point was made about Webber and Kovalainen at Valencia but the reality is that Formula One is not just about who has the fastest car. It is also about who is the best driver and it can be just as exciting to see a skilled driver holding off a faster car as it is to see overtaking. If it was only about speed then why bother racing at all? Why not just have each car set a lap time on its own and then rank them accordingly?

I think team orders are wrong but it is not the use of them in this case that I find as distasteful as the obvious lying by Ferrari after the event.

Categories: 2010 Season Tags: ,

Pictures from the Goodwood Festival of Speed

July 7th, 2010 No comments

I had been wanting to go to the Goodwood Festival of Speed for years and on the weekend I finally made it.

For those who don’t know, the Festival of Speed is a huge celebration of racing cars from the early decades of the 20th Century to the latest Formula One and Le Mans prototypes, held over three days at Goodwood House, the country estate of Lord March.

The main event is the hill climb but there is so much else to see that you could easily spend three days there and not run out of things to do. There were literally times when I didn’t know where to look, like when the Red Arrows were streaking overhead at the same time an old Maserati was roaring up the hill.

The festival is really well organised and it’s amazing how close you can get to the cars and drivers. One moment you are wandering around the F1 paddock, peering into Ayrton Senna’s old McLaren, and the next there are shouts to move aside while Mark Webber’s Red Bull rolls past.

This year the festival was celebrating 100 years of Alfa Romeo and 60 years of the Formula One World Championship so there were no shortages of beautiful old Alfas and F1 cars, including an example of the Alfa 159 ‘Alfetta’ that Farina piloted to the very first F1 World Championship.

Bruno Senna drove his uncle’s McLaren and John Surtees drove his championship winning Ferrari 158. With Jenson Button now at McLaren, Nico Rosberg took control of Button’s BGP 001 from last year (unfortunately repainted in the new silver Mercedes livery).

There were a whole host of classic Lotus’s; Emerson Fittipaldi drove his gorgeous JPS 72E from 1973 and Sir Jackie Stewart drove the beautiful Lotus 38 that his friend Jim Clark used to win the Indianapolis 500 in 1965.

It wasn’t just F1 cars either. There were sports cars, touring cars and motorbikes and a long walk to the forest at the top of the hill revealed some classic rally cars blasting around the forest rally stage.

Below are some of my favourites of the hundreds of pictures I took.

Categories: Cars Tags: ,