Wednesday, April 24, 2013

deja Bahrain

Whoa is Rosberg and the Mercedes on race day.  This is the same kind of performance we saw time and again last year.  One of the fastest cars on the track for one lap and some possibly good qualifying speed, but then slowly losing position throughout the race.  Is this a tire issue?  That might explain why Hamilton was able to gain position.  He is very good in dealing with a squirrelly car with low traction.   And if Rosberg's rear tires were going off prematurely, then that would explain why he was so easy to pass.  Not being able to lay down the power out of the corners would make him a sitting duck.

The opening laps were amazing.  Heck, the first corner was crazy.  Rosberg defended his P1 position so aggressively from Vettel, that he nearly opened the door to Alonso to pass them both from 3rd.  But Vettel eventually regained not only his 2nd position from Alonso, but then passed Rosberg to take the race lead and basically hold it for the rest of the race.  Because, really, once Vettel took the lead he just walked away from the rest of the crowd.  At one point he had a 24 second lead over di Resta and was able to pit and return in the same position.

The Force India of di Resta did a great job and nearly made the podium.  But it was still a great result for the Scotsman as he showed a great deal of car control and maturity as he let the Lotus of Grosjean past with five laps to go.  The fresh tires of Grosjean were no match for di Resta on his two stop strategy.

About the only people to have a worse day than Rosberg would be Alonso and Massa.  Alonso's broken DRS really inhibited his progress, but even with two extra pit stops, he did make a valiant effort.  Massa with his broken front wing led to all sorts of problems with his tires.  First, the wear rate was far higher than expected, then multiple punctures on his right rear didn't help either.
Yeah, that'll affect handling.
What I'm a bit confused about this season is the passing.  Or more specifically the defending.  As was beaten into the collective minds of the sport for the last few seasons is one move and you must leave a car width on track if you are the defender.  On top of that, if you have two cars side by side with even a marginal overlap, the car in front is supposed to allow space for the other car on track.  We saw a lot of cars being pushed off track.  The top three culprits being Rosberg, Perez, and Webber.
F1 meets WRC
 Last year we would've seen notices of a steward's investigation of an incident.  And like 99% of all investigations, they would determine something after the race, which is annoyingly pointless, but that's another article.

Still, we had a lot of action.  And again, action between teammates.  This time Perez and Button.  Sadly, Button just sounded like a whiny bitch on the radio.  But it was a bit ridiculous to get tapped in the rear tire by you own teammate.
Team players.
So, overall, a really entertaining race.  It would've been interesting to see where the Ferraris ended up had they not had the myriad mechanical issues.  But, still a fun race even if we got a repeated podium.  Well, except for this:
This is a race EE.
Which gets to my last and only real gripe.  To Leigh Diffey, Steve Matchett, and David Hobbs, the constructor's representative on the podium is an engineer who happens to be a woman– not a girl, a woman.  Holy crap, guys, it's like you'd never seen a woman who worked in motor racing other than holding a grid sign!  I realize that you had no idea who this person was until Vettel mentioned her name and function in the interview with David Coulthard, but you could have attempted not to be blubbering blithering idiots for a few minutes up to that point.  Maybe you could've noticed that only 1 of the 3 governmental representatives actually shook her hand, because, well, women are scary.  But, fuck, just because some folks have ridiculous misogynistic institutional fears doesn't mean you have to stoop to their level of cluelessness.

Gill Jones is responsible for all the electronics in the car and garage.  That's right, all the fricken wiring, telemetry, radios, computers, fiddly buttons on steering wheels, ecu, KERS, etc.  She's been at this game for a good number of years along with a good number of other folks who just happen to be female.  You might want to take note, she is part of a large and growing segment of the population.  Try not to act like a sexist neanderthal.

Alcohol content: buzzin' (dark and stormy ++)

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 Malaysian GP

Took me way to long to get back into writing and thankfully there are three weeks between Malaysia and China, otherwise, this would be completely irrelevant (versus the normally mostly irrelevant) by the time I hit publish.

The race started damp, but amazingly had a clean start.  Well, cleaner than expected.  Alonso had his typical aggressive and excellent start, but clipped the rear of Vettel's car breaking the Ferrari's front wing.  Why Alonso (or the team) thought dragging the wing for more than a lap instead of pitting is beyond me.  Sure, it did seem that Alonso was somehow able to keep pace with the rest of the leaders, but his broken wing was dangerous and I would hope that if it hadn't broken at turn 1 after blowing passed the pit entrance, that the stewards would have black flagged the car.  Maybe Massa should speak to his teammate about the dangers of high speed flying debris.

In many respects, though, this was a race about pit stops.  My favorite being Lewis Hamilton having a bit of nostalgia and trying to park it at his old team.

Good concentration there Hamilton.
But really, the story was around the fact that Red Bull, McLaren, and Mercedes all had pit stops under 2.3 seconds, breaking last year's record repeatedly.  Amazing how fast you can stop, change 4 tires, and send a driver off when everything in working.  Not the case for the Force India duo.  Both cars ended up being retired with some sort of issue around the wheel nut.  And then McLaren had a flashback of Silverstone 2011 and released Button without a properly fitted right front wheel.  All that and he had been in the lead.

Lots of good passing in this race as well and not all of it required the use of the DRS zones.  Raikkonen made a number of early passes in the damp before DRS was enabled and the general lineup of the top 10 was completely jumbled before the first pit sequence.  Regardless of the good racing though, the story almost everyone is wagging their tongues over is Vettel passing Webber.

It's the tale of two teams with Vettel seemingly ignoring team orders and taking the fight to Vettel, while Rosberg followed orders.  In the latter case, Rosberg certainly showed his displeasure throughout being told to hold back by tailing Hamilton very closely for the last laps of the race.  And he was faster than Hamilton, lap for lap, almost the entire race.  Rosberg's position was lost in the pits on a delayed release which saw him lose multiple places.  He earned those back, but was told to hold off Hamilton.  Good for Rosberg to be the team player, but a shame he didn't feel he could be aggressive and make the move on his teammate.

Obviously, Vettel had no such problem.  Whether he violated team orders or didn't see/hear the message from the pit is irrelevant.  At a certain point he decided to make the move and pass.  It's not like Webber didn't fight back.  In fact, he nearly drove Vettel into the pit exit wall.  That alone would've gotten him a stern warning if not a penalty last year from the stewards.  Even better, Webber then continued his dangerous angry driving after the race by speeding up and cutting across Vettel so he could give him the finger.  I guess some people feel sorry for Webber.  In some respects, I do too.  Just not for this pass.  Does he have a right to be pissed.  Sure, he does.  He did have 13 laps to return the favor, but instead he sat there and steamed while Vettel continued to pull away.  So if there is one answer to the question about Webber's status and whether Vettel should have passed him, the answer is all over Webber's car and his suit.  He is number 2.

If this were any other team and any other pair of drivers, there wouldn't have been a question of giving up position.  Had Massa been leading Alonso for the lead with a few laps to go, Ferrari would've made Massa park the car if need be to have Alonso win the race.  Regardless of all the PR BS which would claim that Red Bull treat their drivers exactly the same, there is no way that would be a reasonably accurate.  On any other team the world champion will be your #1.  With Vettel as the 3-time consecutive reigning world champion, nothing more should be needed to indicate who the number 1 driver in Red Bull should be.  If team management can't understand that, then the thing which makes Vettel a champion– the aggression, determination, skill, training, and ego will continue to do whatever is necessary to win the championship again.  That's what champions do.

For the last two years Webber has had his panties in a bunch on a number of occasions.  "Not bad for a 2 driver," summing up his feelings after winning the 2010 British GP.  Yeah, sometimes Mark will win a race, but overall his performance has been far worse than Vettel's.  Whether it's Webber's atrocious race starts, losing anywhere from 2 to 6 positions on average, or just an inability to aggressively pass (except at Spa passing Alonso at O Rogue, that was great), Webber and his car just do not perform.  Rarely does Mark Webber out qualify or finish ahead of his teammate.  Since 2009 when Vettel became Webber's teammate, Vettel has had 37 poles (26 wins) to Webber's 11 poles (9 wins).  Same car, same team, radically different results.

Will Vettel make it 4?  I dunno.  I wouldn't bet on it.  But if the drivers will just shut up and drive, it looks like it'll be fun to watch.

Alcohol content: need more booze (jinond-o-nicks)