April 2009 - Posts
The wise men of the FIA have done it again. In wake of their participation in the lie-gate in Melbourne, McLaren Mercedes have been handed a suspended three race ban sentence.
While most F1 fans were either upset or jubilant about the FIA’s decision [depending on their loyalties] – most fans were also again – confused.
What is a suspended three race ban sentence? The ruling and its wording is as complex as an F1 car.
Well the truth is that –Mclaren were awarded a three race ban for lying to the Stewards and bringing the sport to disrepute. However, the ban was suspended because McLaren were honest and fair during their questioning!! The FIA does have a weird sense of pardoning or should I say punishing!
While most are getting into a debate of whether their punishment is enough or not –I am speculating the reason behind the punishment followed by the pardon.
Formula1 as a sport is in danger, although not in the short term. The costs are too high for privateer teams to afford and with the pull-out of Honda last year; F1 can’t afford loosing another ‘manufacturer’ team.
Mercedes’ corporate communications team went on the offensive over the last week by getting the top management to publicly speak about Mercedes withdrawing from Formula1 if the punishment of the lie-gate was too harsh. This after the team was found guilty of spying in 2007 and was fined a hundred million!
I am certain that when the wise men of the FIA sat down to decide on the fate of the lying McLaren team – sporting regulations was just one of the things on their mind.
We’re yet another GP down and thankfully it was a ‘hot & dry’ one - so much so that the winner complained of ‘burnt’ buttocks and twin champ Alonso almost fainted post-race. However, unlike the previous two ‘wet’ races this dry one did everything but entertain the viewer.
Within minutes of a just-about crash-bang start the pecking order settled. Apart from a few over taking maneuvers at the front – the race settled into it’s own pace early enough for one to start making predictions. An early settling race also sometimes indicates a ‘boring’ one – unless of course the Safety Car is deployed to inject some dose of entertainment for the viewers.
Button, Vettel & Trulli ran their own unmatched pace with Lewis and Kimi taking over only when the others went about re-fuelling their machines. It was yet another GP where the champion teams of last year were left chasing their own tails. The fortunes of McLaren and Ferrari dwindled as they managed to finish only one of their cars in the points. The BMWs and Renaults had yet another miserable race with Alonso just about holding off a charging Nico Rosberg for the final point and both the BMWs finishing dead and last!
With seasoned teams struggling for pace against the new comers ever since the start of the season, experts have proclaimed setting of a new pecking order in Formula1. Many have already explicitly stated that the Brawns will run away with the Championships mid-way of this season. Some have been cautious and have given the seasoned teams some chance of getting stronger and faster as the season progresses. However, I wonder what an average F1 fan has to think about all of this. Is the new pecking order really good for the TV and stadium figures?
When Brawns struck and dominated Melbourne and Malaysia, there was an extreme wave of emotions that swept Formula1. Every person connected to F1 was happy not only with the survival of the Brawns but also with their dominance. Finally Jenson Button & Rubens Barrichello had got a car they have been waiting for their entire career. Finally Ross Brawn got a chance to give it back to his former Italian employers, Ferrari.
But 4 races into the season, the Brawns have had it all. Barring the drenched Chinese GP – they have won it all. The more their progress, the more the seasoned teams have suffered, most were there own doings. But after the Bahrain GP, one gets a feeling that it’s time to get serious.
One doesn’t wonder if the fan is happy to see Brawns win, but the question is whether the fans are happy to see their favourite teams and drivers faltering at almost every race. I may sound like Briatore when he said that ‘no one wants to see Nakajima as the top 3 drivers with 60 points’ but the point that I am trying to drive here that – non-performance by the top teams & drivers might just drive away their fans.
Let’s face it – F1 is a worshipped sport, with drivers and teams having a strong fanatic group of fans. Thankfully, they haven’t resorted to hooliganism yet – but would these fans be happy to see their teams being beaten due to one silly rule at each race? Would these fans buy those expensive race tickets to watch their favourite drivers not win?
I think only time will tell – but the sooner the Ferraris, McLarens and the other top teams get their act in order and gain more pace – the better it will be for Formula1. Pretty ironic considering that 2002 was a ‘bore’ since Ferrari won almost ‘everything’ – but such are the ways of Formula1!
Formula1 for the first time ever, has three Sebastians on the grid. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s both drivers are Sebastians!! Well, I ain’t digging up any history or statistics to see if there were any instances earlier with three drivers sharing the same first name!
However, let’s step away from the historics and the statistics of F1 – that usually leave us in awe. Rather let us be in awe [again] of the two Sebastians that really scorched the track in Malaysia and of course of the only Sebastian [again] who is yet to make his presence felt this season.
The two seasons old Sebastian Vettel won his second F1 GP in China. That both his victories till date have been in the wet is - purely coincidental – that he and Red Bull can win this year only in the wets – is BullSh**!
The young German displayed Schumi-style dominance on track - setting the wet Shanghai track ablaze in his Newey designed Red Bull. He not only charged up ahead and built up a lead in the opening stages, but also managed to pile on fastest laps one after the other to build up a cushion for his pit stops. That his team-mate Webber was following him home in second should’ve given him a reason to slow down and control the pace – but that’s not what Vettel thought so it seems!!
The other Sebastian – Swiss lad Buemi – in the Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso too was in Sebastian class, as I would call it. Not only was he the man on the move in the opening stages of the races, but he also drove well to his strategy to finish in 8th place – gathering yet another championship point for himself and his team. On his way to the finish he matched and beat the pace of the other diffuser-dud teams – Ferrari, Renault and the BMWs!! While he finished behind the McLarens and Toyotas, his on-track battle with their duo was surely a worthy sight – with Buemi coming out on top!
Buemi’s team mate and name sake however, hasn’t had the best start to the season. He did manage to score a point in Australia, but that was only after McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was disqualified for having lied to the stewards. Bourdias had a similar start to his 08 season and only grew stronger as the season progressed, but whether it will be the same this year only waits to be seen. But for sure having a rookie team-mate beat you isn’t always the best way to impress your otherwise cross team boss!
Will all the three Sebastians rule the F1 world in the near future? Or will it only be two! One thing for sure is that the Sebastians are here to stay!
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Finally the most
awaited decision [yet] of the 2009 season was out last week. The FIA ended the diffuser saga and ended it
right. They ruled the protest in favour of the diffuser three teams – Brawns, Toyota and the Williams [BTW].
After an 8 hour
long meeting in Paris,
the governing body concluded that the diffusers were legal and that the teams
had not breached the regulations. The Ferraris, BMWs and all other protesting
teams of course cried foul. Ferrari of course are not used to protests not going their way. The Renaults
[especially Flavio] loudly voiced their discontent and BMW of all the teams still
haven’t withdrawn their protest!
hit the Land of the Dragons last weekend and it was the new pecking order that
was back in business. A late start of the GP meant that we had yet another ‘wet’
race and thankfully this one wasn’t much of a lottery like Malaysia.
issues right through Friday practice and Saturday’s qualifying, the Red Bulls
of Vettel and Webber outpaced the entire field on a wet Shanghai circuit. The Brawns were less
dominant in the wet and whether they would’ve scored their third consecutive
victory had it been dry will only remain speculation.
comfortably led and set the pace at the front, Webber and Button had their own
little fights for the second place, which made interesting viewing – and yes of
course how can one forget the fast paced Lewis Hamilton – who had a few spins
too many enroute to a 5th position.
The Ferraris had
yet another miserable weekend. Let alone challenging the front runners, but
scoring their first point itself of 2009 seems like a distant dream. The
Renault of Fernando Alonso too had a miserable race after starting from 2nd
– a faulty pit strategy that saw him re-join the race dead last. Alonso and
Rosberg’s strategy to pit during the Safety Car period failed miserably. The
one thing that did succeed about their strategy was proving that the teams and
drivers are much closer this year and it will be a while till we see a front
running driver start at the bottom and work his way on to the podium.
However, the last
week has also made one more thing certain. Barring the BTW trio, the other
teams have to play catch up –not just
on track but also off it! Go get ‘em diffuser!
I have been wanting to write on Formula1 since the pre-mature end of the Malaysian GP. But each time I sit to write, I can’t think beyond and write beyond the foolishness and selfishness of Formula1’s Ring Master Bernie Eccelstone. Again, the lesser said the better.
Whatta Start!! That’s the shortest and best description for the 2 rounds old 09 F1 season. We’ve experienced sheer pace and dominance by the Brawn GPs. We’ve also seen the Williams and Toyotas mounting a challenge and fading away. We’ve seen the BMWs still searching for pace, while the Ferraris are on their worst and I’d say most challenging season till date. And of course, how can one forget the McLarens for their lack of pace and of course a new controversy – ‘Lie Gate’.
The GPs in Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur have had lots in common. For starters, they both started off late – to cater to the European viewing audiences. They also had the same teams dominate and the same teams struggle on track!
The 3 B’s [Brawn, Button, Barrichello] have taken F1 by storm – from an uncertainty to supremacy, theirs is surely a success story that I would like to pen! They arrived in Melbourne, dominated practice from the word ‘go’ and then ended up 1-2 on the podium. What was most interesting in their pace all through the weekend was that they were not running KERS and also that they were the heaviest cars on the grid. Something very un-F1 like!
Like most fast cars in Formula1, the Brawn GP cars too suffer from lack of reliability. However, credit goes to the team; they have tested the least amongst the others and still have a car more reliable than others. Though am sure each time the drivers go up and down on the gear box, they will be hoping that they don’t blow any of it! Rubens already registered their first casualty of the year. As with his Stewart and Ferrari years Rubens’ lady luck just remains a fantasy!!
However, it’s time we [& the others] get over the Brawn and their rags to riches story. Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum – the Ferraris and the McLarens.
The multiple World Champion teams have clearly suffered on track. As many say, they are bleeding due to last years title chase which went down to the wire and hence slowed down their 2009 development cycle.
Their cars are not only suffering from lack of speed of grip, but also from reliability. Both the teams have made tactical errors on and off the track and have only looked a shade of their 2008 avtaars. I too believe that the change of 2009 has hit them and hard and they have been slow to respond. They have been caught unawares!
Ferrari notched up a double DNF in Melbourne. A tactical qualifying error in Malaysia followed by the ‘funniest’ pit stop strategy in the race – Ferrari do have a long way to go. Their worst start since 1992 – having notched up a non points finish in both opening rounds surely would’ve sent shivers through the top management in Maranello.
While I don’t wish to get into the nitty gritties of their errors – not mentioning Kimi’s tyre gaffe in Malaysia would be a sin!! An otherwise ‘tactful’ team in the pits, Ferrari made the funniest blunder in Sepang. They put Kimi on extreme wets on a dead dry track and then sat praying for rain. We all know what happened there after, but what I think will happen here after will be Ferrari hitting a slump which they did in the early 90s. Will they need another ‘Schumacher’ to bail them out and re-write their success story?
Their arch rivals McLaren have had a better season - off rather than on track. The team was accused of lying and misleading the Stewards during the post-race inquiry in Melbourne. World Champion Hamilton received a disqualification thereby stripping the team of their 3rd place. What also followed was a deeper inquiry and a date with the famous World Motor Sport Council.
On-track, while they have showed reliability, their pace has been truly questionable. Their pre-season testing pace was slow and that has reflected in their qualifying and race pace. The team has struggled to work up the ranks in the qualifying sessions and have relied on accidents and retirements to climb up the ladder during the race. Not the best way to defend a Drivers title!
I think we’re in for a new pecking order in Formula1. Will it last for long or will the two best equipped F1 teams strike back soon? Let us sit back and enjoy their chase, for however long it may last…"
It’s been an interesting start to the F1 season – the 3 B’s [Brawn, Button & Barrichello] have not only set the benchmark but also raised the bar for the rest. The bottommost team on the grid last year has engineered its way to the top and how!
Contrastingly, last years Constructors World Champion, Ferrari have had a miserable start to 09. Even their 08 campaign wasn’t much to talk about. With Kimi being out of form and Massa’s car throwing up reliability issues, Ferrari clearly struggled to be the team they used to be in the early 2000s.
Though Massa was in clear contention for the Driver’s title all of last year – and though many believed that he thoroughly deserved it too. There were instances when he did not show the grit and valour that a World Champion should. The spins in Silverstone and the bumping Lewis incident would make all believe so.
The last two championships were both decided at the last GP of the season – offering us close wheel-to-wheel racing and a nail biting finish. But what the Ferrari team [and even the fans] really missed was the Schumacher-type dominance over the proceedings – thinking back of the 2002 and 2004 seasons where he helped the team clinch the titles with plenty of races to spare.
The post-Schumacher era for Ferrari has been an interesting one – Jean Todt has moved on and so has Ross Brawn. Their drivers are one of the most talented ones, but are only a shadow of Schumacher. Often leading many experts to believe – that still Ferrari misses Schumacher and his services!
But is that really so?
Switch to 2009, the new regulations and new cars have made racing exciting to watch. They have also made the cars a handful to drive. But not all the teams have adapted their cars well to the rules. The team that has clearly made the mark has been Brawn – run by former Ferrari ace Ross Brawn.
What very few know is that Ross Brawn has been the architect of ALL of Michael Schumacher’s driver’s championships. They started their successful relationship way back in 1994 with the Benetton Racing team and then moved to Ferrari in 1996 and went on to create what was known as the Scarlet era in the history of modern day Formula1 – winning multiple drivers and constructors championships!
Post Schumacher’s retirement in 2006, Ferrari lost their ace strategist to Honda Racing Team, which he then bought over to create Brawn GP. And we do know what he’s done with the team already.
Going by Ferrari’s disastrous start in Melbourne where they not only ended up with two DNFs but also a faulty tyre strategy – which ultimately affected their fuel strategy – I believe that 2009 will be the year where the Scarlets will miss Brawn more than Schumacher!
Now who would’ve thunk that!!