Monday, April 25, 2011

I don't understand

Bernie Ecclestone in quit threat:
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has suggested he could retire if Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation group wins control of the sport.
...and my first thought was where's the downside?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What We Learned: China 2011

Having watched Sunday's race through a haze of small children and pain medication, I may not be especially coherent.
  • Red Bull isn't invincible: Somehow Vettel found himself unable to fend off Hamilton's McLaren at the end of the race, having wrung the life out of his tires at that point.
  • Qualifying poorly may be a tactical advantage: Too bad that Webber and the team got the qualifying dance wrong, with Webber lining up 18th. But Webber put on a clinic on how to put to good use all the available, unused option tires he had available as a result. Definitely the drive of the day.
  • Strange Strategies: the teams at the front which deviated from the expected two stop race (ie McLaren, Webber, Mercedes) all fared better on balance than the teams that did the expected (which actually is just Vettel and the Ferraris). Massa and Vettel were out front with only a handful to go, but their tires were done and they were powerless to resist those which caught them. In Massa's case, he slid all the way back to 6th, as Hamilton, Webber, Button, and Rosberg all steamed by and was still only 15 seconds back of winner Hamilton at the flag.
  • Alonso brings up the rear again: For the third event in a row, Massa finished the first lap in front of his team leader. Massa seems to be either getting luckier than Alonso is right now -- or he is just better at making his own luck.
  • Another DRS fault for Alonso: While not exactly in his favor, at least it wasn't to his detriment the way it was last week in Malaysia. Ferrari has some work to do with this system still.
  • Faster cars burn more fuel: or so Mercedes has learned with Rosberg's car. Rosberg had to go into serious fuel consumption management during part of the race or would have risked running out.
  • Whither Renault? After impressing at the first two stops, the Renault cars did not impress the way some had expected in China. Time will tell if this is merely a case of the rest of the field developing while Renault stands still, or if the Renault car is going to turn into a specialist for some types of circuits.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What We Learned: Malaysia 2011

Quick commentary which boarders on incoherence:
  • DRS worked better here than it did in Australia. I think there were two differences between here and Australia. First, the placement of the "determination" point just before the last corner was at the end of a long straight run with only the final corner between the "determination" point and the "active zone", meaning that cars which were faster through the curves than their pursuers were unable to get away as much. So the cars which were faster in a straight line than their targets ended up closer to their targets than they did in Australia. Second, the pit straight is longer and wider than it was in Australia, giving more time and space for the DRS advantage to be realized. DRS still seems gimicky to me, and I suspect the Australia experience will be closer to the norm than Malaysia. That said, DRS will probably work better in China than Australia.
  • Ferrari has some qualifying speed, but at Malaysia they were clearly slower than the McLaren and Red Bulls.
  • Ferrari's race pace looks much more promising. While still not challenging for the lead, the Ferrari can dice with the Renaults and pick up anything that the McLarens and Red Bulls drop.
  • Ferrari's DRS failure on Alonso's car is frustrating. This is a pretty simple system all things told. I point at this failure as the principle cause of Alonso's driving into the back of Hamilton. The collision threw away the podium to be sure.
  • Massa had a steadier race, but still doesn't look like he's on Alonso's pace. If the Ferrari was on pace with the McLaren this wouldn't be as much of an issue, but really Ferrari needs both cars coming home higher up than they have been.
  • At this point the championship looks like Vettel's to lose. Two wins in dominating fashion, the Malaysian one with KERS unavailable to him. If Red Bull can keep consistent, he'll be uncatchable except perhaps around some specialist courses like Monaco or Spa.
  • Nice to see Heidfield back on the podium. It is just hard to hear it over the sound of Kubica weeping.
  • Petrov does his audition for the Dukes Of Hazzard sequel. Scary stuff to see the steering assembly come apart in his hands on landing, but not really surprising since the cars are not designed to be bounced over anything. That's the picture of the year so far.
  • The current car rankings look like Red Bull, then McLaren, then Ferrari, then Renault. Lots of distance to go, and I think Renault will fade as the year goes on.
Short week then China this weekend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Idiot Officials

Well here we are race two, and already we have a stupid decision from the stewards to wrangle with*:
Hamilton was penalised for making more than one change of direction as he tried to defend his position from Alonso. The Spaniard, meanwhile, received the same (20 second) penalty for causing a collision with the British driver during the fight.
So basically Hamilton was weaving, while Alonso was penalized for driving into Hamilton -- because Hamilton was weaving.

Either Hamilton defended his line appropriately and Alonso was too aggressive, or Hamilton was defending his position too aggressively and Alonso is blameless.

Can't have it both ways.
*= and why the hell is the press release detailing this not on the internet anywhere? All the sites I've checked just itemize the punishment without reprinting the text of the decision (which would be interesting to me, anyways) and the FIA site doesn't have it either.

Update: so OK now that I can actually find details of the penalties -- it looks like Hamilton and Alonso are being penalized for different incidents. Hamilton's transgression happened about two minutes before Alonso's:
The incident which caused Hamilton’s penalty was timed at 17.20 and the incident which caused Alonso’s penalty was timed at 17.22. Given the lap times involved one can say with some certainty that Hamilton’s penalty related to a move on lap 45, while Alonso’s penalty was linked to the collision on lap 46 that led him to pit at the end of the lap.
So the officials can have it both ways. Would have been nice if the text of the decisions had been actually available in a timely manner.