Archive for November, 2012

Lights to flag…

Posted in Regulations with tags , , , , on November 29, 2012 by philcurryf1

It has been four days since Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in 6th place to win the F1 world championship (ironically, the last three title deciders in Brazil have seen the champion finish in 5th or 6th). But now there are reports that the battle may not be over.

Twitter is abuzz with people claiming that Ferrari are looking to protest over an overtaking move made by Vettel on Lap 4, passing Jean-Eric Vergne, under yellows. Videos have emerged from onboard feeds, of the Red Bull passing the Toro Rosso on the back straight, after Pastor Maldonado crashed out.

I’ve seen the video, and the slow-motion replay. After the yellow light flashing on the right of the circuit is a marshal point. Here, a green flag is waved, prior to the move that Vettel made.

A flag supersedes a light – so if a yellow light is flashing, but a green flag waves shortly afterward,and before the green light, then it is the green that takes precedent. In this case, the green flag means Vettel was clear to overtake Vergne, and did so. It must also be asked whether DRS was still enabled, as I believe it is disabled if there is a yellow flag in the zone.

Ferrari cannot appeal anyway, as explained by F1 Fanatic here – I’m got going to rehash what they say, when I can just link to an excellent F1 site – but as the post also explains, the FIA are obliged to investigate any incident if new evidence comes to light.

There is also the question of whether a 20 second penalty could easily be applied, bearing in mind the timing of the incident on lap 4, and the action in the race. Any penalty Vettel received during the race would have been wiped out by the safety car. However, a 20 second penalty is the mandate – there is no room for flexibility, as we’ve seen in the past.

So to summarize, There was a green flag, Vettel passed after it. Therefore, Vettel is world champion. Roll on 2013!

Bottas in – cue the hashtags…

Posted in Drivers with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by philcurryf1

Valtteri Bottas has been announced as Williams second driver for 2013, replacing Bruno Senna after one season. The team will keep Pastor Maldonado.

Williams has found a strong talent I feel in Bottas, who ran in most first practice sessions this year, and quite often matched Maldonado on pace. Therefore, it was inevitable that he would get a race seat with the team for 2013.

Yet I feel the decision as to which driver the team replaced shows just how much Maldonado’s money, rather than his experience, is needed. Of course, Bruno Senna brought the team some funding too from his sponsors, but Maldonado makes the team budget with his backing from PDVSA.

Looking over the 2012 season results however, and Senna was the more consistent driver – despite not running in most of the FP1 sessions. He finished in the points in 10 of the 20 races this season, with a highest position of 6th, and scoring 31 points. Maldonado finished in the points in just five races, with his win in Spain, taking his points total to 45. Had he not won that race, he would have been quite some way behind Senna. Maldonado also had a number of penalties, collisions with other drivers, and was demoted 10 places on the grid in Brazil for his third reprimand of the season, for missing the weigh-bridge call. While this may have been a team issue, had he not been cautioned over collisions in the season, a drop would never have occurred.

It remains to be seen where Senna will go, if he is able to find a seat. Caterham no longer need a driver to bring sponsorship – though it would of course help – while Force India and Marussia are the only other teams (of those certain to be racing in 2013) with seats available (although Marussia is expected to name Max Chilton soon).

Bottas will make a good start next season, and deserves his place at Williams. Don’t be surprised if he outpaces, and even out scores, his more experienced, and richer, team-mate.

Goodbye Jake!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 by philcurryf1

When F1 came back to the BBC in 2009, the corporation needed to try something different. When it left the BBC, F1 was just a bit-part of Grandstand, with no main anchor in its own right. ITV changed the format, employing first Jim Rosenthal and then Steve Ryder in the main role.

So the BBC needed a different dynamic, and they got it. Teaming up the outspoken Eddie Jordan and reserved David Coulthard with the young presenter fresh away from his CBBC days, the ‘three amigos’ effect, as seen on Top Gear, created a show with laughs, fun and F1. Even this year, with the Sky deal taking half the beeb’s races away, the coverage has still be better due to the fun factor.

Watching Jake wingwalk, present from a campsite, and a hot air balloon, has made F1 enjoyable. It is not just about the news anymore, but the banter. Hopefully someone will come in with the same levels of humour and enjoyment to carry on with DC and EJ, but understandably, after four years, Jake wants to spend time with his new family. It’s a shame, but thanks for the memories!

Vettel’s treble

Posted in Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 by philcurryf1

So another F1 season draws to a close, and despite my earlier musings on feeling cheated, the final race of the season turned out to be a nail biter after all. With Vettel spinning, damaging his car and rejoining last, the hallmarks were there. Would he make places up? Would the damage to the rear of the car prove too much? Could Alonso capitalise?

Of course, we know the answer, and it’s congratulations to Vettel and Red Bull on their third consecutive double championship. Whether they can continue that trend into next year remains to be seen, but I certainly wouldn’t bet against them.

Ferrari, for all accounts, must be feeling lucky to have finished 2nd in the constructors race, with a car that many will agree is a dog. They also have Hulkenberg to thank, as taking Hamilton out of the race meant that McLaren couldn’t amass enough points to overtake them. Had McLaren finished 1-2, or even 1-3, they would have been second.

Therefore, Ferrari have ridden their luck a lot this season, to finish where they have. Next year however, they will need more than luck. Another poor car, or poor strategies, and heads will begin to roll. Alonso has shown his class this year with a bad car, so Ferrari must be kicking themselves to know that with an extra 4/10s pace, they could have had the drivers title.

As for McLaren, there was no fairytale ending for Lewis Hamilton, instead his season continued the dramatic ebbs which it had for so long. Fighting for the win, with a dominant car beneath him again, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time – boxed behind a backmarker while an overtaking move from Hulkenberg ended in him sliding into the McLaren. Lewis walked away, having lost what could have been his last win for a while.

So ends the story of 2012. A dramatic race, which saw titles decided, and minor positions won – Caterham taking 10th in the constructors at the death – Now we look forward to F1 2013, and what I suspect, will be another battle between Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

Driver movements, minor placings

Posted in Uncategorized on November 23, 2012 by philcurryf1

After Lewis Hamilton announced he was moving to Mercedes, and Massa was announced at Ferrari, there has been little excitement with driver moves. Hulkenberg moving to Sauber almost passed under the radar.

But there have been a number of key announcements (one early by accident) at the Brazilian GP this weekend. Firstly, Esteban Gutierrez will be promoted to a race seat at Sauber, thanks to his talent, and his backing from Telmex. This means Sauber will have a completely new line up next season, although worries that this will affect car set-up should be vanquished when you realise that Gutierrez has spent two years as test-and-reserve driver, so the team know him well.

The second announcement is perhaps a bit more of a surprise, although not perhaps unexpected. Marussia’s Charles Pic is to move to Caterham for 2013. It is expected that reserve driver Max Chilton will take his place in the black and red cars next year.

Caterham are currently 11th in the constructors standings, and if they fail to finish higher than 12th this weekend, they will lose out on a considerable chunk of prize money. It therefore makes sense for them to hire drivers with sponsorship. Vitaly Petrov currently provides this, with Heikki Kovalainen offering experience. Heikki has already said his seat is not safe, and it remains to be seen whether the team will run Pic and Petrov, or replace both

The talk at Williams is that Bruno Senna may also be on his way out, replaced by Vilttari Bottas, who has given some impressive runs in Friday practice sessions for the team. Senna was expected to take a berth at Caterham if he lost his seat, but with Pic there, the story is now less clear. He has made it known he wants to stay with Williams, but another team with a spare seat, and in need of funding, is Force India. Also in the frame here is Kobyashi (although apparently not favoured) and Adrian Sutil.

One thing is for sure, the driver merry-go-round is far from over!

US delivers

Posted in Uncategorized on November 20, 2012 by philcurryf1

Well, it’s been a couple of days since the first US Grand Prix for five years, and I think it is fair to say a lot was riding on it.

F1 has always struggled a bit in the States, and the debacle of 2005 did little to help. While the race continued for two further years, the damage was done. So a purpose-built F1 track in the deep south, seemed the perfect place to take the F1 circus away from the mainstream spotlight, while keeping it rooted in an area steeped in motor racing interest – even if it is only tin tops…

And what a race it was! The track offered overtaking opportunities, although Hamilton did struggle initially, and this was probably helped by the tyre choice Pirelli provided, a conservative choice for a green circuit. But with some daring overtakes, a long battle for the lead, a midfield that kept changing, and a winner who is perhaps better known across the pond than Vettel, the US Grand Prix showed America that Formula 1 is not a processional race, that there can be excitement, and that the tyre supplier is happy to have a bit of fun now and again – I loved the cowboy hats on the podium!

The Circuit of the Americas has a long contract with F1, and will be the only race on the calendar in the States next year, thanks to the event in New Jersey being postponed. To be honest, I think that’s the best thing that could have happened. Even though there were impressive numbers, Austin still needs to establish itself before another race comes along. F1 needs to take it one step at a time…

Tweaks…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16, 2012 by philcurryf1

There have been two news stories today that have caught my eye, one concerning the use of DRS in practice and qualifying, and the statement that ‘force majeure’ will be written out of the rules regarding stopping in qualifying.

For the latter, I believe it is about time. The incident with Vettel in Abu Dhabi was an odd one, with the FIA agreeing the stoppage was force majeure, but then excluding the car from qualifying due to the fuel infringement.

What this reads to me, and therefore I’m sure a number of fans, is that it is ok for a car to stop if the team is worried it will run out of petrol – Red Bull and Renault claimed they were worried about an engine failure caused by running out of fuel – but stopping to preserve fuel itself is wrong.

Mclaren claimed they had a fuel rig error in Spain, and that not enough went into Hamilton’s car. So surely, they could also have argued that they were worried about engine failure? Both cars were stopped due to concerns about the fuel – and Hamilton had enough in the car to provide the sample, he just stopped on track, the same as Vettel. Can you see where it gets confusing?

Charlie Whiting has quoted (from Autosport) that the FIA will instead look to see if a car would have had enough fuel in it had it completed the lap it stops on. This, I believe, is a fair way of checking. If a car stops halfway around the lap, and only has just enough fuel to provide the sample, clearly it wouldn’t have been able to do so had it completed the lap.

In terms of DRS, this new rule, taking away its free use in practice and qualifying, effectively rules out use of double DRS systems. Teams using them will only gain an advantage when overtaking another car, at certain points on the track. While it may add a couple of tenths in the DRS zones on Saturday and Sunday, it won’t allow for the system that Red Bull works – maximum permitted downforce for speed in the corners, and DRS for the straights, as the car will end up being slower elsewhere around the circuit.