Archive for May, 2010

Monacogate…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 by philcurryf1

I’m writing this as an impartial fan, someone who watched the race at home, someone who listened to the commentators, and someone who read the rules and listened to the reports after. This is my view on the events that happened on the final lap. They may not please everybody.

But firstly, having seen some of the comments posted on other blogs, and while I respect the reviews of all who visit and read, please do not leave offensive comments. I like a debate, not a slanging match!

I believe, the FIA and the stewards got the decision right. At first, having watched the race, I believed Schumacher had got away with a cheeky pass after the first Safety Car line, as I believed the new rules allowed. However having looked at the controversial Rule 40.13, and looking at other evidence, I believe they got the decision right.

Firstly, what is this rule? As taken from the FIA Sporting Regulations, which can be found on the FIA website – 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.

Thinking back, a Grand Prix has never actually finished with the safety car taking the chequered flag. It has always pulled into the pit lane and let the cars cross the line with the leader dictating the pace. The first race to see a safety car finish was Canada 1999, when Frentzen crashed near to the end. It was Hakkinen who led the cars over the line that day. Therefore, the safety car was always going to come in on the final lap, that was never in doubt. The fact that Race Control issued the statement “safety car in this lap” is neither here nor there. That is the procedure when the safety car comes in, no matter when. This is so the teams and drivers are aware that they will be responsible for holding position, and the race is ready to end. It also allows the leader to prepare to lead the cars around.

The main confusion surrounds the flags once the safety car pulled in. Green flags were waved. While I agree this is confusing, the green flag does not actually mean that cars can overtake. However, the marshalls were abiding by rule 40.11 which states – As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the line. These will be displayed until the last car crosses the line. There is no regulation stating that on the final lap, the SC boards and yellow flags will remain.

But where people argue that green means go, this is not true. The yellow flag means ‘slow and prepare to stop’ while the green means, track clear, continue at racing speed. This is down to the FIA International Sporting Regulations. It should therefore be noted that green flags mean proceed at racing speed, and the rule under article 40.13 should apply and take precedence. Continue at racing speed, but do not overtake.

My belief is that this rule prevents drivers from undertaking crazy moves on the last corner of the lap, which could be do-or-die and lead to a serious accident.

This means that Schumacher contravened Article 40.13. It should also be mentioned that both Ferrari and McLaren informed their drivers of this rule, and other teams may also have done so. Therefore this is not a rule hidden away. We, the fans, were unaware, but then, how many of us have read the FIA Sporting Regulations for F1?

Many people have hit out, saying Damon Hill made this decision, and was in charge of the stewards, and he only imposed the penalty to get back at his old rival. That is complete nonsense. For a start, Damon is a man of integrity, and wouldn’t do anything so transparent. He is president of the BRDC, and helps the organisation of the British Grand Prix. He has more than enough to do without resorting to petty squabbles. Secondly, Damon was only one of four stewards, and all four took three-hours to instigate the penalty. If the other three felt it was a legitimate manoeuver, Damon would have lost a vote by three to one. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was Nigel Mansell as a steward, the same decision would have been made.

It was a mistake by Schumacher, and by Ross Brawn. They interpreted the rule differently, and the green flags did not help. It should be written in the rules that if the safety car pulls into the pits on the last lap, the SC boards and yellow flags should remain. As there is no rule, the marshalls were following what is written. These arguments will rumble on, but this is my interpretation of events based on what I have learnt.

Mercedes appeal will not give Schumacher his place back. As we know from McLaren’s appeal against Lewis Hamilton’s 25-second penalty in Belgium 2008, a pit-lane drive through or time penalty cannot be reversed. Mercedes appeal will simply lead to a clarification of the rules. Why couldn’t the stewards have just given Alonso his place back? Because the penalty for passing under safety car rules is a drive through.

As always, I welcome your comments.

UPDATE – 18th May 2010 @ 14:38

Mercedes have decided to drop their appeal to the stewards decision, meaning they accept the ruling that the rules were breached. This is a shame. I do believe the Article 40.13, together with Article 40.11 needs to be clarified, and an appeal, while perhaps not being successful in terms of overturning the penalty, would certainly have aided this clarification.

Monaco Baby!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2010 by philcurryf1

We all know the drivers have a love for Monaco. But if the FIA went ‘by the book’ when it comes to track safety, width and regulations, the five-star circuit would have been thrown off the calendar years ago. So why is it still here?

To put it simply, Monaco is too important. The FIA would not just have a fight on its hands not just from the teams, not just from the drivers, but also from the fans. There have not been many classic races by the harbour, but unlike the procession in Bahrain, or the constant lack of overtaking at Spanish races, we don’t mind. Constantly people cry that Formula 1 is no longer a driver’s sport, that the cars are too technically advanced. These people have never watched a Monaco Grand Prix.

In fact, Monaco holds a special place in my heart. I’d never watched an F1 race before, but when I switched on the TV in 1992 to catch Mansell pitting with just a few laps to go, and then that titanic battle with Senna, I was hooked. The skill that both drivers displayed in fighting as hard as possible, Mansell with the faster car, but Senna with the skill, and the lead, yet not ploughing into those unforgiving barriers. That was excitement that got me hooked. I’ve never missed a race since.

This is the point of Monaco. It allows the drivers to show their skills. One mistake and that’s it, there is no tarmac run off, there is no second chance. It allows for a glimpse of the old days, before safety became the be all and end all of the sport. Don’t get me wrong, F1 needs to be safe, but not at the cost of thrilling racing. Monaco offers those thrills.

There have of course been other memorable races, some of which owe this to the circuit’s unique character. 1996 saw three cars finish, due to accidents, failures and poor driving. 2008 saw Lewis Hamilton hit the barrier, and still win the race, the resulting pit-stop doing him a favour when the rain came. But perhaps the most memorable moments are those on-bard camera shots of drivers climbing the hill, just centimeters from the barriers. Or shooting out of the tunnel into blinding daylight, braking hard to duck around the chicane. Then there is the scene of the cars racing along the harbour, with the boats moored just beyond. Oh and Loews, who can forget Loews…

So why is Monaco still on the calendar? Because it allows the FIA to prove that Formula 1 is still a driver sport, and to bring the fans closer to the action than possible at any modern circuit. I know I’m not complaining. When Jenson Button crossed the line to take the chequered flag last year, he summed it up perfectly..

It’s Monaco Baby!!!