Archive for September, 2010

F1 2010 – The game

Posted in Uncategorized on September 22, 2010 by philcurryf1

I haven’t written about this yet. Mainly because at the moment, this blog is a fans reflections, and not a bona fide media outlet for F1 news and reviews. When I say at the moment…

Anyway, I’m counting down the days until the release of F1 2010 with a mixture of excitement and disappointment. Why the latter? Well I don’t own an XBox, or a Playstation 3, and my personal laptop with its highly spec’d circuitry is broken. In fact, it’s broken badly, and I cannot as yet afford its repair. So I’m stuck with my fathers laptop, which is good, but not high on its specifications. I actually need a new processor and a new graphics card if I want to play F1 2010. My mother’s computer may be slightly higher quality, I’ll be checking tonight…

I’ve played F1 games on the consoles before now, and hated them. The last one I actually bought was F1 World Grand Prix II for the Nintendo 64. Since then, I’ve borrowed or rented. Each one has left me disappointed. I never actually wanted to buy them. Why? Because they smacked of being an arcade racer. When I play a F1 game, I want to feel like I’m driving the car, and controlling it. From what I’ve read, and what I’ve seen, F1 2010 lets you do that.

In fact, on the PC, I’m a huge fan of the Geoff Crammond Grand Prix games. Actually being placed in the cockpit, and being able to control pit strategy, what tyres to use (at the time anyway) and racing for long periods as though you are the driver made it more of a challenge. There were problems, things I wished could have been done better. I wished that the player could control the pit lane speed limit, rather than the CPU, so that if a mistake was made, a penalty could be given. I wanted damage to necessitate a pit stop, or a retirement, rather than a magical fix. When I cut a chicane, I didn’t want to be slowed down automatically, but to be given a penalty. Finally, I wanted a safety car period if there was a pile up of CPU cars, rather than a very, and impossibly, quick recovery team.

Now there will be no safety car in F1 2010, but damage will require a visit to the pits, speed limits will be controlled by the driver, and penalties will be served in the pit lane – on certain modes anyway. That is perfect, and makes the experience more realistic. Add to this the fantastic graphics, the latest circuits and drivers (except Yamamoto, or Heidfeld) and this promises to be more than an arcade game, but a proper sim instead. You can feel the tyres going off, you race as your team is set, so don’t expect to get in a HRT and be a hero straight away. In career mode, you don’t even get much say in car set up – instead your experienced team-mate leads the way in that, and you learn from them. This promises to be better than GP4 – although I’ll withhold that judgement until I’ve played it…

If that laptop works, I’ll be playing F1 2010 on Friday. I’ll post a full review then. For now, I’ll leave you with the official video of the game. I think you’ll agree it’s stunning graphically.

Article 39.1 doesn’t work

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 by philcurryf1

Yesterday, many cried outrage. Ferrari, found guilty by the stewards of the German Grand Prix of instigating team orders, seemed to get away with it at the World Motorsport Council meeting in Paris. Many will say it is a case of the FIA supporting their favourite team, that if it had been McLaren, the book would well and truly have been thrown.

I will admit, I was a little incensed. I think even the most hardcore Ferrari fan will admit that Massa was given a coded instruction to let Fernando pass. One respected F1 journalist called the outraged “Ferrari anti-fans” – well I can tell you now I am not one. I found that term insulting. I am not against Ferrari, I respect every team in the sport. I am a racing fan, and in that Grand Prix, in that manoeuvre, there was no racing.

So we believe there were team orders, and obviously so do the stewards who imposed the fine. But can it be proved? No, and this is where Article 39.1 does not work.

All we have to go on, the evidence, is that Rob Smedley told Massa in a slightly abrupt and sarcastic tone that his team-mate was faster, and then called him a good lad, and apologised after Alonso had got by. There was no official call to move over. Ferrari can then say that they gave no such instruction, and it was the driver’s decision, not an order. Smedley’s lack of emotion can be described as being down to the fact his driver was slower, and wouldn’t last in the lead. Where exactly did Ferrari tell Massa to move over and let his team-mate pass?

Other team orders have been seen this season. In Turkey, McLaren drivers we told to save fuel, effectively ending their race and keeping them holding station. Why was there no outrage over this? Most likely because one driver was not asked to move over to let another driver take the position. I think this is where the onus is on Ferrari – they manipulated the result by having one driver take the place of another, not by telling them to hold station. There is still the belief that in Turkey, had it been Button leading from Hamilton, the same ‘fuel save’ order would have been given.

I’ll point to another instance of team orders going unpunished, again a blatant one, and again, ironically, involving Alonso. At Renault, in Canada one year, Fisichella was told to ‘have a go at the car in front, or let Fernando have a go instead’ – nothing was said about this, which is obviously an instruction to pass the guy in front or let your team-mate pass you. Another example of “Fernando is faster than you”.

So teams can still give coded orders, and claim it is up to the driver that they moved over. It is then up to the FIA to prove that an order was given, which is hard unless the specific ‘move over’ words are spoken. Even inconsistency in the lap times can be explained by the argument that it was the driver’s decision to slow down. Article 39.1 bans explicit team orders, but it cannot reasonably be enforced.

I am against team orders of any kind. I dislike it when a driver is told to hold station, not just let a team-mate pass. I wasn’t happy that McLaren did it in Turkey, I wasn’t happy when Brawn did it some times last year. I would love to see team orders banned. But as last night proved, the rule needs to be enforceable, and I think it will take a long time to find one that is. Perhaps that’s why the FIA have passed the question over to the F1 Working Group.

F1 2011 calendar

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2010 by philcurryf1

Next season will be the busiest yet for the teams, with a 20-race calendar announced at this mornings WMSC meeting. The season will kick off in Bahrain, but will end next year in Brazil. Of course, that was the plan this year, until Abu Dhabi requested a change. The season will go on until November 27th, so F1 Fans will have a longer year!

13th March – Bahrain
27th March – Australia
10th April – Malaysia
17th April – China
8th May – Turkey
22nd May – Spain
29th May – Monaco
12th June – Canada
26th June – Europe
10th July – Britain
24th July – Germany
31st July – Hungary
28th August – Belgium
11th September – Italy
25th September – Singapore
9th October – Japan
16th October – Korea
30th October – India
13th November – Abu Dhabi
27th November – Brazil

India is the newest race on the calendar, and will be subject to a track inspection. Korea is also subject to this year’s event taking place, if it doesn’t, The FIA may impose sanctions.

It will be a long haul for the teams after the European season, but as F1 strives to reach out to new countries and cultures, it is one that is necessary.

On a personal note, I now need to book tickets and a campervan for the 28th August – I’m doing a road trip to Spa for that weekend!

Team Orders – back in the spotlight

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 by philcurryf1

Tomorrow (Wednesday) will see the issue of team orders debated again, as Ferrari stand accused of breaking the rules at the German GP, and must answer their case to the World Motorsport Council.

The question of what will happen can only be answered by those presiding over the drama tomorrow. A points deduction and heavy fine seem the likely outcome. Any points deduction should only be levelled at the team however, taking those from the drivers would be an unfair ruling.

But what will happen about the rule (Article 39.1 to the FIA), which many argue ties F1 in knots. Why can’t a team focus on one driver, and make sure that driver wins the championship – especially if the other car is no longer in contention?

Let’s bring the story back a bit, to Austria 2002. This is where the rule stemmed from, and once again, it is all thanks to Ferrari, and (ironically) current FIA President Jean Todt. Just six races into the season, and with Schumacher already coasting to the title, Ferrari were on for a 1-2 win in the Austrian Grand Prix. However, it was Rubens Barrichello leading, as he had done all weekend, being faster than Michael through most of the sessions. The result wouldn’t have harmed Schumacher at all – six points (at the time) would have more than sufficed. Yet Ferrari made the call for drivers to swap positions. Rubens, unhappy at this (and who can blame him), held on to the last corner. Schumacher took the flag to a chorus of boos and jeers. It was very public, and very embarrassing for the FIA and FOM. Ferrari were heavily fined, and the rule imposed.

So has the rule worked? Well not quite. In 2007, Felippe Massa let Kimi Raikonnen pass for the win in Brazil, giving the Finn a win which clinched the drivers title. In 2008, after McLaren hadn’t called Lewis Hamilton for a pit stop under the safety car in Germany, Heikki Kovalainen gave away his place a bit too easily. Team orders happen, but they’re not exactly obvious.

The problem with the above examples is the circumstances in which they were executed. We all expected Massa to let Kimi pass in Brazil – he wasn’t in contention for the Championship, the McLarens were in trouble and a win would give the Ferrari driver the title. In Germany, Kovy was in 4th, and hadn’t been a contender for even a win since the start of the year, while Hamilton was leading the table, and had been leading the race but for the poor pit stop timing.

In Germany 2010 however, Massa was faster than Alonso. The Spanish driver had tried to pass earlier and failed. Massa was holding his own, was on the pace, wasn’t holding anyone up and was leading. Then suddenly came the subdued words of Rob Smedley, Massa’s race engineer – “Ok… Fernando is faster than you… can you confirm you understand that message?” followed by “Ok, good lad, just keep with him now… sorry” after the pass. This was broadcast worldwide, to all fans. Rather than hold Massa in a pit stop, or tell him to save fuel, the message was delivered by, it sounded like, someone who didn’t want to say it.

So should Article 39.1 exist? My answer is no. But should team orders be banned? Yes. Let me explain…

I like to watch drivers race. When two drivers are in identical cars, the better. Look at the 1996 season, Hill vs Villeneuve. Both drivers in the same machinery added an extra spice to the title battle. Neither driver had a car advantage, none of this ‘our car suits slow corners, their car is better on low downforce…’ – they raced each other. I like that.

Yes F1 is a team sport, but both drivers should be free to race. That is unless one driver is out of contention for the championship. Whether mathematically, or because they are a certain percentage of points behind I don’t know. But when that condition is reached, then team orders can come into play. Until then, drivers should be free to race each other, as long as they respect the team wishes (do what we tell you, and don’t take each other off).

So the team orders rule should be disposed of, but another put in its place. The problem for F1 is, how to word it, and prevent further transgressions ruining the spectacle for the fans.

Korea – yes or no?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2010 by philcurryf1

We were treated to our first look at the new F1 circuit in Korea a few days ago, thanks to the onboard footage from Karun Chandhok’s Red Bull. I’ve put this video below for you to have a look at.

The first thing that strikes me is the amount of dust being picked up by those tyres. I know dust can be cleaned, but for a track with a race in just over five weeks time, the amount was worrying. You’ll also notice the tread on the tyres. Karun has said via Twitter that they were used due to a rain shower just before the afternoon demo run (when the video was taken). I wonder whether it was a mixture of this, dust and an unfinished track surface requiring maximum grip.

When you look at the actual track, you’ll notice how high the kerbs are, all around the circuit. This indicates that another layer of asphalt is needed yet. The bollards and cones are quite comical, but they don’t look like they’re there for direction. It actually looks like the M1 roadworks – and that’s worrying.

Then there are the buildings. The Korean organisers have already admitted they will need to put up temporary grandstands as the permanent ones won’t be ready. But other buildings, hospitality areas etc don’t look ready either. Bernie Ecclestone has already commented they may need to bring tents – I don’t think he was joking.

The FIA will inspect Korea at the end of the month. By then, it’ll be too late to cancel. All the organisers can hope to do now is get the track to the right level, and the pit lane and paddock ready. Korea will go ahead, but unlike Abu Dhabi and other recent new circuits, it really isn’t going to be pretty.

I would welcome your comments, as always, and really do want to know your thoughts on the video, and whether the Korean GP will go ahead. Please add them below!