MMR Blog

Reflections on F1 2013

Posted on November 26, 2013 Comments (2)

Brazil is done. A race made interesting mostly by the threat of rain which never came. But didn’t the commentators and viewers wish it had. Other than that, it was notable for a couple of things.

First, of course, was the departure from F1 of Red Bull stalwart Mark Webber. A man of talent but also unlucky and inconsistent. Vettel may miss him most because he was not a serious threat. If it wasn’t clear before Malaysia, Mark’s position was very clear afterwards.

Frank Williams

Sir Frank Williams

Massa departs Ferrari. He appeared at times this year to require motivation. If driving for Ferrari is not motivation enough, he will surely disappoint at Williams. Sir Frank is not a cheerleader.

We learned, at this race, that in 2013 Ferrari and McLaren went to a different front suspension that allowed them an aero design advantage. This was apparently the major cause of their lackluster performance.

Heikki Kovalainen was consistent, sadly. Surely someone else could have done better and helped Lotus, themselves, and the viewers in the last two races. Management error.

Speaking of error. Red Bull’s on a pitstop for Vettel. A rare occurrence and a comfort to competitors.

Musical chairs will shortly end and many will be fitted for new uniforms and seats, but in the end, it is the cars that are the stars and Lotus, who do not have the budgets of RB, McLaren, Mercedes, and Ferrari appear to be punching above their weight. Where they will be after McLaren and Ferrari sort themselves out is an open question. On a positive note, they will have a Renault engine and a good chassis and a deserved reputation for being fast. Good drivers will be attracted to them.

Will Buxton’s interview with Nico Rosberg was a highlight of the interviews. Asked if he felt better about his improved performance this year over last, Rosberg replied no. It was due to an improved car and he left no doubt that he felt his performance was always good. He reminded Buxton that he had driven with Schumacher for three years and beaten him consistently. This is a driver who knows where he is at mentally and, should Mercedes deliver the car, he will deliver a championship.

Great credit is due and is paid to the Red Bull team, its drivers and management. Nobody on their side appears to say a word of thanks to their engine supplier Renault.

Red Bull

Finally, Vettel and records: A wonderful accomplishment for which he rightly thanks his whole team profusely. He is very good. He also owes thanks to Webber for not contesting his unexpected pass in Malaysia. That would have stopped the streak half way. Webber also deserves credit for taking 199 points that might have otherwise helped his competitors. He will miss Mark Webber.

In Will Buxton’s summary of the year he credited Vettel with finally realizing that he had to be ruthless to be a champion and that his pass of Webber in Malaysia showed he had come of age as a Champion.

This certainly fits the Senna–Schumacher mindset mold. Hardly fits the one from which Fangio, Clark, Stewart, Graham, and Phil Hill were cast.

As for Buxton’s comment, perhaps it is the times and perhaps it is the difference in our ages but when the goal is more important than the manner by which we achieve it, I lose interest. Fortunately for F1, I believe the majority of the drivers competing would not have needed to be reminded of team orders. It would never have crossed their minds to take a win away from a teammate.

NBC are to be supported for saving F1 from the Fox troglodytes. They have developed a first rate product and, if for them alone, the motorsports community should work like hell to grow F1 in North America.

As for the TV show itself, the sooner they get away from podium interviews the better. They are at best inept and mostly embarrassing to watch, and I would imagine to perform.

Despite all that, or perhaps because of it, F1 remains compelling.


Singapore F1

Posted on October 8, 2010 Comments (0)

Racing into the Night

Heikki Kovalainen’s spectacular fire

Heikki Kovalainen’s spectacular fire

As a rule, televised night races hold little appeal for me. On the fully lit NASCAR and F1 tracks they simply render all the background objects dull or invisible. No blue sky, no green trees, no well known markers or bridges or signs. Just brightly lit cars travelling on varying shades of gray.

On poorly lit tracks like Le Mans, it becomes a procession of darting white and red lights rushing from one pool of light to the next. Because the cars have no lights, the track at Singapore is completely lit in a stark white and color comes only from the cars and the pit action shots. On TV it is impossible to know where the cars are on the track or even where the track goes. Gushing commentators aside, if this is “the crown jewel” of the GP world, from a TV spectators point of view, the crown is made of dull tin.

Alonso Wins Under Lights

Alonso Wins Under Lights

On the other hand, the lack of color highlighted the colors of the cars, particularly the Ferraris. Is it just my TV set adjustment or has Ferrari gone back to the beautiful blue-red of the sixties from the Marlboro orange-red of the past twenty odd years? This year’s car is the most attractively sculpted Ferrari in decades, and the new color does it justice. Removing decals could only help.

Also, Heikki Kovalainen’s spectacular fire would not have been half as dramatic in daylight. And it was spectacular!

This viewer’s highlights of Singapore.

Alonso is unquestionably a great driver. But he always looks like he needs a bath and a shave, and unless he is on the top step of the podium he seems positively surly. By comparison Kimi and Mika are hilarious.

The drama of the race was watching Webber work his way through the pack and waiting for the guys in front to pit. Would that he could have made it to Vettel’s tail, it would have made interesting politics and racing.

Hamilton may have turned in on him, but Webber did nothing to get out of the gas or the way. Hamilton passed Webber in the first place because he got a really good run on him out of the previous turn. While Schumacher’s current driving style appears less forgivable in a lesser car, everyone else out there is just a mini-mike. Thank you Ayrton. Sorry Stirling.

My hero of the race is Kovalainen. What he did and how he did it was cool and you know it wasn’t something he could have practiced. It showed presence of mind. I like that kid.

What do you think?