Screw you Guys, I’m going home

Originally posted on The Buxton Blog:

Is Formula 1 in crisis? No. But you’d never know it given the hullabaloo in the press. Red Bull saying this isn’t Formula 1. Ferrari saying this isn’t Formula 1. Bernie saying this isn’t Formula 1. Well I’m sorry guys, but you’ve only yourselves to blame.

This new engine formula came about as a direct result of Renault holding the sport hostage. Formula 1 was living in the past said Carlos Ghosn, and Renault would not be hanging around unless it changed its regulations to move in line with more road relevant technology. If they’d had their way, we’d currently have flat fours. As it is, they backtracked slightly to the 1.6 litre V6s which have so divided the sport’s fanbase.

That Renault has arguably done the poorest job in preparing for this new formula is nobody’s fault but their own. They pushed for this technology. They made their bed…

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The background to Bahrain…

Originally posted on joeblogsf1:

A lot has happened since the last blog post. The Bahrain Grand Prix was terrific and completely debunked the politicking that Bernie Ecclestone and Luca Montezemolo were up to before the race. The new formula was not only brilliant technically but it led to a great race.

For whatever reasons, the two grandees were busy talking down the sport and saying that things needed to be changed. Perhaps they were simply testing the water to see if there would be any response from FIA President Jean Todt, who is doing a very decent impression of The Invisible Man at the moment.

When Bernie wants to put out a message he wanders into the Media Centre at a Grand Prix and very quickly he is buried beneath a pile of people. In 15 minutes he has delivered the message and departs. Luca Montezemolo is much the same but he tends to…

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A couple of Sepang ‘surprises’

It shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been watching F1 over the past decade that Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are tough as nails.

Controversial characters of course who have had their share of foot in mouth moments and have not been particularly fair towards their teammates at times. Heck, the Spaniard profited from his teammate allegedly crashing on purpose during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

But these two have been involved in two genuinely thrilling championship showdowns in 2010 and 2012. The odd numbered years since the former have seen Vettel fly off into the distance with a clear car advantage while Alonso struggled.

This year, both have new teammates. And both have been sidelined in the VERY early stages of the 2014 season by the dominance of the Mercedes AMG team.

Alonso has the tougher task of the two, of course, with a former world champion in the Ferrari pits who has a habit of driving pretty damn fast. And based on reports of Ferrari’s overweight power unit that is not yet up to the mark of Mercedes in terms of driveability, there’s a serious technical challenge ahead too.

Kimi Raikkonen (the aforementioned teammate of Alonso) has shown that there is pace to be unlocked from the Ferrari package as he hovered in the top three over the course of the three practice sessions prior to qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Although it must have been worrying for Ferrari that on a relatively greener track in FP3 (due to heavy rain on Friday) and with the Silver Arrows getting ready to use full power for qualifying his best effort was around a second slower than Rosberg and Hamilton’s best efforts.

Coming back to Vettel and Alonso, however, the two managed to beat the odds to look pretty rapid in wet qualifying that would have negated some of the grunt advantage of the Mercedes power unit.

Wet qualifying sessions are quite often a lottery especially when – like at Sepang – the rain eases up and picks up intermittently.

Through it all though, Vettel was just 0.055 seconds off Hamilton’s pole time and Alonso was just 0.125 seconds slower than Rosberg’s third placed effort.

There’s a one lap advantage for Mercedes for sure as of now but they would do well to be wary of the rear tyre wear problem from last year that led to so many pole positions leading to a disappointing points haul.

Rain is expected on raceday and that could present an opportunity for Vettel and Alonso to apply some pressure.

It’s a bit of a letdown that the weekend was not completely dry as the 5.543 kilometer circuit is a venue that gives one a far better idea of what the F1 pecking order is than Albert Park in Melbourne.

With, as yet, unfamiliar power delivery characteristics visibly – much to the delight of those watching on TV and, I am sure, in person – putting off many drivers, races have been fun to watch in the dry too. And dry weather is more likely to expose any tyre wear issues that Mercedes may have.

Either way, there is potential for a fantastic race. Provided, of course, that we are not forced into a red flagged event due to rain further truncated by failing light. As is a high possibility at this time of year in Malaysia.

Having lived there – many moons ago when I was too young to remember many details but was told of the weather in late March and early April – and attended the 2009 event I keep wondering what the point of making the TV broadcast palatable to European viewers is if there is no racing for them to see!

A 3 pm local time start would give them a greater chance of seeing Vettel and Alonso strut their stuff against pretty stiff odds, right?

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Sepang squeezing the best (and worst) out of new look F1

I would rather not wade into the storm that Red Bull Racing are stirring with the FIA at the moment over fuel flow sensors that caught them off guard in the Australian Grand Prix, aside from the added complexity of the new regulations that led to Seb Vettel retiring.

To sum up it seems as if the Bull boys weren’t particularly prepared for having to tackle the increased performance differentiators this year rather than just dominate with Adrian ‘his aeroness’ Newey. If you want to go more into detail about that head over to Auto Motor und Sport’s website who go explore this in detail along with the other specialized publications that cover F1.

I would much rather talk about how a track like Sepang seems to be playing up these performance differentiators to brilliant effect by the looks of the pecking order in the two opening practice sessions.

Vettel seems to have bounced back and is looking strong around the Sepang International Circuit where his RB10 seems as strong as previous Red Bull Racing machines were in medium and high speed corners. It allowed him to set a time in second practice that was less than a tenth of a second slower than Nico Rosberg’s fastest time despite the German’s Mercedes being the car to beat in terms of grunt and overall driveability of its power unit.

Updates for Kimi Raikkonen by Ferrari suited to his set up requirements and his own natural driving ability shining through on a track with a lot of corners (of all kinds) led to the Finn posting the second fastest time in both sessions with teammate Alonso looking not too shabby in terms of race pace.

Mercedes have not yet stopped looking over their shoulder and are wary of the rear tyre degradation issue that hit them hard last year. It was hidden a fair bit due to low temperatures in Australia along with a track that is not very hard on tyres.

Should the expected thunderstorm stay away from the circuit on raceday it could be a factor. However, at the moment, with the race scheduled to start at 4pm local time the rain is expected to start pouring about an hour into the race.

The 2009 race had to be stopped prematurely of course due to a massive downpour when the race started at 5pm. As it was the first Grand Prix event I had been to (had attended a test session prior to that) the change in start time to cater to the needs of the European TV audience annoyed me a fair bit, but let’s not dwell on that now.

Although there is still a chance of  something similar happening this year, I personally would be hoping for a dry race in order to see just how competitive Williams are and if they have a chance of beating McLaren outright and establish themselves as the second best team on the grid.

Unfortunately this damn issue with Red Bull and the FIA fuel flow sensors looks like it will turn out to be a talking point yet again.

The really puzzling thing about it all is that other teams who were warned about exceeding the fuel flow rate – including Mercedes and the car of Rosberg – complied with the FIA despite their own readings not matching the data being logged by the governing body.

It sounds like it would be a non-issue, one of teams trying (as they always do) to push the envelope while the governing body tries to curb their enthusiasm.

Red Bull, however, emboldened by their current status in F1 – one that seems to include being the de facto promoters for the championship in association with the real promoter, Bernie Ecclestone – and probably due to being spooked as they have more to lose than anybody seem to be taking on the FIA and challenging the accuracy of their fuel flow measuring sensors.

One will recall a similar incident following the 1999 Malaysian GP when the Ferraris of Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher were found to have illegal turning vanes (aka bargeboards) and disqualified but then were reinstated when the FIA admitted that there was an error with their own measuring equipment.

April 14 is the date when this will all come to a head in the International Court of Appeals. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t get messy.

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Rob Wilson Picks Eight!

Originally posted on peterwindsor.com:

IMG_1817 Regular readers of this site will be familiar with the GP Tours logo to your right.  It’s there because I’ve been a GP Tours fan for many years.  I like the people who run the business from Newport, California, and I like the tours they generate. They’re about race fans travelling with other race fans to some of the greatest circuits in the world – Monaco, Spa, Silverstone, Austin and many more.

What I’m particularly excited about this year is a new free-to-enter competition they’ve put together, the prize for which is a fully-catered trip for two to the 2015 Monaco GP. How to win? Choose your top eight finishers for each of the 2014 F1 races; points will be awarded when you select the right driver for the right finishing position, with bonus points if you make your choice prior to FP1 or Q1. Go to http://www.gptours.com/pick8 for more…

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Transformers + F1 rule changes = cool video

Like or dislike reigning Formula 1 world champions Red Bull Racing but you can’t help but deny their expertise in winning races and titles.

Not to mention the expertise of their vast and well connected media house that has been a boon in not only promoting the F1 team, but in many cases, the sport itself.

From taking their F1 car up to the highest motorable road in the world (in India) to scaring the local livestock on a Texas ranch and doing donuts on a yet-to-be-built Circuit of the Americas, the team has almost become the de-facto promoter for F1.

They seem to have pulled out the stops even more than usual as far as enlightening hardcore fans and some curious onlookers about the technical intricacies with regards to the new-for-2014 technical regulations.

Here is their new video. Enjoy.

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Interesting initiative from Getty Images

Just trying out what Getty Images claims to be the ability to embed more than 35 million of its images for use on the Web by bloggers and independent websites.

I don’t know at the moment if it will allow me to use this blog a lot more frequently but a reaction from veteran F1 photographer Darren Heath suggests that the move – largely driven to stop bloggers etc from just copy pasting from news sites without attribution – will be detrimental to photographers.

Heath’s argument suggests that the ability of anyone to just embed an image without paying for it will lead to lost revenue for photographers who are constantly in the hunt to be creative and use the latest cutting edge equipment while travelling the world over on assignments.

It seems as if giving credit won’t be enough of a an incentive for photographers to back the move and as of now it doesn’t seem like there is a way to prevent someone from simply copy pasting the embeded image from the blog or site.

All in all it seems like a losing battle for photographers unless they manage to get their work into print, however there doesn’t yet seem to be a solution to stop the work from spreading over the World Wide Web once the image makes it to the publication’s website.

But at least when I embed the image of one of the oddest looking F1 cars in the history of the sport, people will know that Mark Thompson of Getty Images Sport was responsible for clicking it.

 

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