Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Enough already?

June 29th, 2010 No comments

2009 saw the biggest change in regulations in Formula One for many years. This was largely in response to the perceived need to “improve the specatacle” of Formula One. There was a general feeling that overtaking had become so hard that it was making the sport boring.

There is a possibility that much of this impression of F1 being boring stems from the “good old days” point of view; that things are never as good as they used to be. I am not so sure that the amount of overtaking in Formula One has really declined that much in the last 20 years, however, I think the regulation changes have, in general, been a success. 2009 was a fantastic season and 2010 is shaping up to be even better.

A number of changes for 2011 were announced in Geneva last week, one of which was clearly designed to increase overtaking. This moveable rear wing regulation has caused quite a bit of controversy with some drivers saying it will be dangerous and others saying it will kill defensive driving and reduce the skill required to pass.

After the Canadian Grand Prix there have also been calls for Pirelli, the tyre supplier for 2011, to provide tyres of a more extreme range of durability.

I am starting to wonder if enough is enough. Apart from Bahrain, this season has seen some fantastic racing at every Grand Prix, even traditionally boring circuits like Barcelona and Valencia. I am not convinced the rules need any further messing with.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh expressed a similar view:

I think we have a great show, we should be careful not to spoil it, but we should always be thinking about how we create some entertainment. Both Lewis and Jenson have showed this year that you can overtake in F1 cars.

We like talking about improving the show. The show has been fantastic this year. We must not keep this obsession with improving the show.

Image: Red Bull

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BBC F1 video montages

June 22nd, 2010 No comments

Since taking over from ITV last year, the BBC’s Formula One coverage has just gotten better and better.

I love the fact that every practice, qualifying and race session is available on the web and the red button. I do miss James Allen’s commentary, but on the whole, the BBC team is first rate. The 5 Live commentary for the practice sessions is also really good, especially Anthony Davidson (although I’d rather see him back on the track).

One of the things I look forward to each race weekend is the little video montages that the BBC put together. They are pure, bite-sized pieces of F1 goodness.

Just take a look at this one from Turkey commemorating 800 races for the Scuderia.

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Mercedes drop their Monaco appeal

May 18th, 2010 No comments

In a statement released today, Mercedes have announced that “in the best interests of the sport” they will not be appealing the decision of the stewards at the Monaco Grand Prix to hand Michael Schumacher a 20 second penalty.

On Sunday, the stewards declared that Schumcher’s opportunistic pass of Fernando Alonso after the safety car had pulled into the pits on the final lap was in breach of article 40.13 of the sporting regulations.

Section 40 deals with the rules for safety cars and here is what that particular rule says:

If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.

The confusion over the interpretation of that single sentence seems to come from the opening words: “If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed”.

Here is what Mercedes felt happened:

MERCEDES GP PETRONAS were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race control messages ‘Safety Car in this lap’ and ‘Track Clear’ and the green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line one indicated that the race was not finishing under the safety car and all drivers were free to race.

I can see how both sides could have come to different conclusions about this (although the ‘safety car in’ message and the green flags are pretty persuasive) but I’m a little disappointed Schumacher was penalised. I thought it was a gutsy move and a flash of the old Schumacher cunning that some have started to think has vanished.

I would also have hoped that Damon Hill’s influence might have swayed the decision in Michael’s favour. I don’t seriously think Hill would maliciously penalise Michael as some have stupidly suggested and I would have hoped the racer in Damon would have appreciated the move.

In fact Hill has voiced concern that the role of the driver on the stewards panel should not be to interpret the rules but merely to offer a driver’s opinion of any racing incident.

Mercedes seem to have accepted that Formula One can do without results being changed by a court after the race but they have scheduled it for discussion at the next Sporting Working Group and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the rule clarified to support the stewards decision.

My own view is this: unless a move is blatantly unsafe or against the rules then drivers should be given the benefit of the doubt and any overtaking should be encouraged.

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Who are Ferrari kidding?

May 4th, 2010 No comments

The word Marlboro may not be printed anywhere on the chassis, the but Ferrari F10 still looks like a giant pack of smokes.

Last week a report in the Times claimed Ferrari are using subliminal advertising in the ‘barcode’ design on their Formula One cars and drivers’ overalls.

Despite tobacco advertising being banned from the sport, Philip Morris have a contract with Ferrari until 2011. Ferrari also remain the only team to have a tobacco brand in their official name: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro.

Today Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo called it all a bunch of nonsense:

Frankly, I find this argument completely pointless and it is verging on the ridiculous to claim that the colour red or a graphic design which shows a bar code could induce people to smoke.

Now I’m not saying that when I look at a Ferrari I feel the sudden urge to light up, but the Marlboro red and white is so synonymous with Ferrari that I honestly almost see the Marlboro logo there.

I’m not saying Ferrari should be forced to paint over the barcode. I can’t see it actually encouraging any impressionable young people to smoke. And let’s not forget tobacco advertising gave us one of the greatest liveries in the history of the sport.

But let’s be honest. A tobacco company is not going to spend millions of dollars on sponsorship unless it thinks it is going to promote it’s brand. Ferrari is not a charity and Philip Morris is not stupid.

Every time someone reads the Scuderia’s official title or sees those oddly spaced white stripes, Marlboro will be getting their money’s worth.

Update: This reminded me of a great animation from Spanish paper, Marca. Watch how the Marlboro logo morphs into a barcode in 2007

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Stop!! Who cares about this shit? What about the racing?

July 8th, 2009 No comments

Kazuki Nakajima, Monaco, 2009I couldn’t agree more with Mr Saward. In a great post on his blog (with an awesome URL, check it out), Joe Saward sums up the thoughts of Formula One fans everywhere.

This comes after the news that the rotting zombie corpse that is the FIA/FOTA war has broken through the coffin of the WMSC agreement of last month, clawed its way up through the earth and is now stumbling lopsided down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, hungry for brains.

Today the FIA issued a press release after the teams met at the Nürburgring to try to agree on a final set of regulations for 2010.  It starts off positively with the following:

All changes have now been agreed subject only to the maintenance of the minimum weight at 620 kg and the signing of a legally binding agreement between all the teams competing in 2010 to reduce costs to the level of the early 1990s within two years, as promised by the FOTA representative in Paris on 24 June.

Great!  But wait!  What’s this next paragraph?

The eight FOTA teams were invited to attend the meeting to discuss their further proposals for 2010. Unfortunately no discussion was possible because FOTA walked out of the meeting.

WTF?  Seriously, WTF!?!

FOTA subsequently issued their version of events.

During the course of this meeting, the team managers were informed by Mr Charlie Whiting of the FIA that, contrary to previous agreements, the eight FOTA teams are not currently entered into the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship and have no voting rights in relation to the technical and sporting regulations thereof.

This is just bizarre.

So the FOTA teams are not entered into the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship?  Then what the hell was that list the FIA published on 24 June? This one here.  The one that says “The following teams have been accepted for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship” and then goes on to list the 13 teams, including all FOTA teams.

I can’t say it any better than Joe.

Stop!! Who cares about this shit? What about the racing?

Image: Williams

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