MMR Community Newsletter

August 1, 2014 Comments (2)

The market for vintage classics continues to climb from week to week; there is much speculation that this year’s Monterey auctions will top the season. Oophy Prosser handed in his Weekly Leek story early this week and ever, we are in total disbelief. Amazing! This week’s eye candy and main story is Sandy on Assignment: Initiation to the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance.

Michael Furman image is posed at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia and is of a Porsche 917LH which ran at LeMans in 1970 and was driven by Gerard Larrousse & Willi Kauhsen and finished second.

This week’s Michael Furman image is posed at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia and is of a Porsche 917LH which ran at LeMans in 1970 and was driven by Gerard Larrousse & Willi Kauhsen and finished second. Images and story are available in The Spirit of Competition.

F1’s Mid-Term Review

As we reach that point in the F1 season when all the teams take a one month hiatus we take a quick look back at the Teams and the Drivers. Overall, based on how the first half ended, the second should be far more competitive.

Teams:

Despite management changes at all but Red Bull, the major teams have not fared as well as expected. The final race at the Hungaroring only highlighted their shortcomings. Mercedes “let them race” policy reverted briefly to a more typical, “let them race as long as they do what I say” policy and they are in disarray. Ferrari have fired people back home in an effort to shake things up but trackside they are only mildly better. McLaren brought back “Big Ron” and stole Eric Bouillon from Lotus-Renault. Despite early signs of promise, the car is no better, possibly worse. Mercedes coasted through the first half with a better aero and engine package. All remnants of the Brawn era. Toto will own the second half and the jury is out on him. Lotus-Renault is a disaster, as is Sauber. The only positive hope in the second tier is Williams who have an excellent aero package and the Mercedes engine that dominated the first half. Based on Hungary, that advantage is not what it was originally and given a month to work on it Ferrari and Renault engines are likely to be stronger beginning the second half. Red Bull have won two races with Renault and their aero package is coming together. They are simply too good not to be a force in the second half.

Drivers:

More than the racing, Rosberg and Hamilton have provided the entertainment in the first half. Their soap opera will continue but they will face far greater opposition at the sharp end of the grid and their green management team will be severely tested. At Red Bull, Vettel is getting a better grip on the new car and has been very impressive of late. He will be heard from sooner rather than later. Alonso is still the class of the pack and deserves far better than his ride. Kimi continues to be governed by the cycles of the moon. The McLaren duo are okay but have to be disappointed that after a brilliant beginning in Australia, and the strongest engine in the paddock, their chassis is dirt. Button isn’t going anywhere but home and can still race. Magnusson has shown he can race but still needs seasoning. At Williams, Massa has been severely out paced by his team mate Bottas and hasn’t helped his cause by regularly making stupid mistakes. Bottas has proven to Williams that they can do better and they will. Bottas is destined for better things but if Williams can hang on to him for another year, improve their racecraft, and replace Massa, they will be a force. Grosjean and Maldonado at Lotus-Renault are better than their rides. J.E. Verne, Danil Kvyat, and Bianci deserve better and with Raikkonen, Button, Massa approaching their “sell by” dates, they will get better rides.

Alonso Real Winner of Hungarian GP. Hamilton More Lucky Than Good

There is a thin line between adulation and admiration. Nationalistic race announcers everywhere cross it with abandon. The British-Australian trio that give America its F1 commentary are no exception.

Weather and luck were the major factors in determining the winner of the Hungarian GP and some had more of the latter than others.

Starting from the pit lane should be an insurmountable handicap and prior to the safety car era, it was. Before Sir Jackie came along and mercifully put an end to the carnage, there were no safety cars and races were only stopped if the entire track was blocked. The advent of the safety car and the frequency with which it is deployed, (think of the last race when there was not a safety car) pretty much means that you could start from the parking garage and still be competitive once it has come out and closed up the field. Plus, unlike every other car on the real grid, cars beginning in pit lane can change parts and more importantly suspension settings up to the start of the race, while those on the grid are obliged to race with their qualifying set-ups. So starting from the pits is perhaps not as bad as Lewis makes it sound. Particularly if you have one of the two fastest cars.

Once the safety car is deployed nobody is more than 20 seconds from the lead and if you have one of the two fastest cars and sixty laps left, moving up is not genius. And if you have the fastest car, finishing third might be considered failure. In this case the first safety car came out just in front of Rosberg, forcing him and three others to slow and follow it around at a reduced speed. All the cars that were further behind the front four, if they hadn’t passed the pit lane entrance, had an opportunity to dive into the pits and change their tires to slicks. By the time Rosberg pitted to get slick tires his 10.5 second lead over the field had been wiped out, plus he was balked getting into his pit box and got back into the race in 11th place. Hamilton’s 33 second initial pit lane penalty was wiped out.

In our opinion, probably shared by Spanish commentators, Alonso really won that race. In reality, at the end, Ricciardo had fresher tires and was lucky. Alonso was second in a car that was possibly fourth best on the grid, on tires that had twenty laps more on them than Hamilton’s and was being hounded by a better car with fresher tires. If Alonso was ecstatic on the podium and Hamilton wasn’t, that’s why. Alonso had just given him a driving lesson.

We have mentioned elsewhere that the Mercedes team began the year taking bows as a result of the departed Ross Brawn’s effort. It was his car then, and unfortunately, it appears to be his car now. With the edge that they had at the beginning of the season they had considerably less incentive to improve it. Others, with their backs to the wall have been burning the midnight oil and they definitely have improved. All but McLaren.

Racecraft is the art or science of how to race. Preparation, strategy, and execution are all elements of racecraft. Ferrari racecraft is what failed Kimi Raikkonen during qualifying for Ferrari in Hungary. When Mercedes and Brawn parted, the Mercedes board was happy to promote home boy Toto Wolff to the position and then appointed former World Champion Niki Lauda to oversee the racecraft portion at which Brawn was a master. The Hamilton-Rosberg cock-up on Sunday demonstrated a lack of racecraft and Toto Wolff’s comments afterward demonstrated for the remainder of the paddock the chink in Mercedes’ armor. The engineers gave Hamilton and Rosberg conflicting messages and as a result, a race that might have been won by either, wasn’t. Later, Wolff admitted to the team’s error and said “If Lewis had let Nico go, he could have won the race, but as a racer, a driver, I can understand why Lewis didn’t obey. I could have gone on the radio, but we didn’t. I don’t want to play the vicious general and demand they obey the rules.” Bad news Toto. You aren’t in Kansas anymore and you just lost control of your team and probably your job. Race team management is not democracy. In case you didn’t read your contract, your job is to see that the team wins races, whether your drivers like it or not.

Spa on August 22-24 weekend should be interesting indeed.

TV: Check our MMR Motorsports Calendar. IndyCar racing this weekend from Mid-Ohio. The Tudor-United Sports Cars (which is fabulous racing) is at Mid-Ohio.

In New England the Vintage Racing Celebration is on at Loudon, NH and Tutto Italiano is on at Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline MA. See you there!

Peter Bourassa

Share:

twitter facebook digg linkedin myspace delicious mixx newsvine posterous stumbleupon technorati tumblr MORE...

Comments (2)

  1. Larry Brody:
    Aug 01, 2014 at 03:21 PM

    As far as the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix if I were Hamilton (sometimes I think I drive like him on the highway) I would not let his team mate Rosburg go by if I could prevent it no matter what my boss escued on the radio. He has too much to lose and besides it's not like the competition is even going to catch up in the second half to Mercedes.

  2. Peter Bourassa:
    Aug 01, 2014 at 07:30 PM

    As a driver, I agree. As a Team Manager, my job is to win races. Someone did an analysis that showed that had Hamilton been called in and given fresh tires, he could have won. As it happened, neither driver won and the Team Manager looks incompetent and the black eye belongs to Mercedes.
    In my years of following F1 I have never heard of a company's board being so involved with the running of the race team and they are not going to like looking foolish. You can bet that they don't like hearing that if Brawn was still running the team this wouldn't have happened.


This thread has been closed from taking new comments.