The halfway point – disappointments

I’ll be looking at the disappointments and the triumphs of the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season today, and first, the disappointments.

Felipe Massa – Three seasons driving against Kimi Raikkonen showed that Massa was a serious, ambitious and successful driver, a far cry from his early F1 days when he often chucked a Sauber into the barriers. After his horrific accident last year, many were looking forward to seeing this raw talent take on the might of Fernando Alonso. Yet the Spanish double world champion has strolled in and taken over the team. Rather than compete with him, Massa has fallen back. Yes at the start of the season he was running ahead of Alonso a few times, but he was also holding the Spaniard up. He doesn’t look like the Massa we knew in 2008, and half of 2009. Of all the teams where we expected infighting, Ferrari was high on the list. However Massa has not shown up to the party. I hope he does, and I still believe he is capable of challenging Alonso in an internal team battle.

Kobayashi – He was a driver who we all screamed about when he fought with Button in Brazil, and diced with whoever he could in Abu Dhabi, while only filling in for Glock at Toyota. Yet in the Sauber, he hasn’t shown the same fighting spirit, at least he hadn’t until Valencia. He’s made too many mistakes, caused a few incidents and not pushed the car as much as he did the Toyota. While that may be down to the fragile Sauber, his drives just haven’t made the impact they did in two races last season. Of course, Europe and Britain have gone some way to dispelling that, and I think we’re going to start seeing the fighter again now he has got a couple of good races behind him.

Ferrari – When they were topping all the test sessions prior to the season starting, everyone said Ferrari would walk away with the title this season. This was to be Alonso’s third championship (or Massa’s first). Yet they’ve never converted their pace then into race pace now. They were lucky in Bahrain, although they may still have won, but since then no stand-out results have materialised. They haven’t been able to make the F-Duct work as well as they hoped, and the talk of gaining 7/10’s of a second with their blown rear diffuser has proven to be wide of the mark. Yes it’s made them faster, with good performances at Valencia and in qualifying at Silverstone, but they still haven’t challenged for a win with it. One problem may be with their cooling. There have been numerous times when the cars have had to back away in traffic due to engine temperatures raising.

Michael Schumacher – Yes, ok, I was never a fan of him in the first place, but still I got excited when I heard the rumours that he may sign for Mercedes. Then when it was announced, I looked forward to seeing him battle with Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Massa, Kubica, the modern greats. However, so far the battles we’ve seen him involved in are with the Torro Rosso cars! At the start of the year, I did say that he needed time. Now I think that three years out was too long. He has come back to very different cars, with different tyres, and looks like a rookie, rather than a seven time champion. Will he win a race this year? I don’t think so, if Mercedes do, it’ll be Rosberg.

Mercedes – At the start of the season, every journalist raged about the ‘Top Four’ challenging for the title. Yet there have only ever been three teams looking like being on the highest step of the podium at each race. Last year’s title pace, lack of money through the season and a late ownership takeover seem to have cost Brawn, while bringing Schumacher into the team has translated into great PR, but not great results. The fact that Renault have them in their sights shows how this top four team has become just another contender.

Safety Car Rules – We’ve had two changes to the safety car rules this year already, which shows something was wrong. While I believe (and I have said before on this blog) that Schumacher was rightfully punished in Monaco, I do concede that the rule about the last lap was open to interpretation. I have also said that Hamilton was only just in the wrong, and received the correct punishment – which due to circumstance negated itself. But still, the Safety car should have been deployed in a different manner, so to pick up the leader. At Silverstone, this was done, thanks to a rule change, and seemed to work much better. All we need now is for the pit-lane to close when the SC boards come out…

No HD coverage – I don’t own a HD box of any sort. My TV is apparently ‘HD Ready’ but at present, I have no wish to upgrade my current set-up. But the lack of HD coverage in F1 upsets me. The sport is the pinnacle of motor racing, one of the most technologically advanced in the world, yet FOM have not embraced the new broadcasting options, and don’t look to do so until 2012. By then we’ll have super HD!

The New Teams – Don’t get me wrong here. I’ve said, and will always say, that F1 needs the new teams. They have added some excitement to this season, they boost the numbers and provide opportunities for other drivers to come in. Yet there was a lot of hype surrounding them when they started. All the USF1 fanfare, Virgin using CFD and no windtunnel, the Lotus name back in F1 etc. Each of them hope to get a couple of points, in fact, Tony Fernandes and Richard Branson even made their famous bet, that whichever team finishes lower in the constructors race, the owner will have to serve as a stewardess on the winners airline. It seems that bet will be settled by race positions, rather than points. The teams have not looked anywhere near to scoring this season, and although I do think the tag of ‘class B runners’ is harsh, they are in a different league. Next season however, is when they should improve, and I believe they will.

Do you agree or disagree with my choices? What are your own disappointments? I would love to read your comments, please keep them civil, but don’t hold back too much!

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