MMR Blog

F1: Sochi Sucks

Posted on October 15, 2014 Comments (2)

Sochi Sucks! Mickey Mouse Track Designer, Hermann Tilke, has done it again! His name is anathema to enthusiasts and was never mentioned. This was a triple threat come true. The track is boring, the race was boring (Alonso agrees) and the coverage was abysmal.

Hermann Tilke

Our sympathies to the talking trio who sit in Connecticut trying to make an entertaining contribution without any control of the broadcast feed or the ability to review images.

Having said that, their consistent braying “the drivers love it” about absolutely every venue sounds like a directive from F1 management. They and F1 appear to have forgotten who it is they are supposed to be entertaining.

Will Buxton

Kudos to Will Buxton for consistently asking the tough questions, also for his forthright statement to Alonso about the race: “It wasn’t a classic.”

Bravo also to NBCSN for highlighting the issues brought on by Russia’s recent actions in the Crimea, the Ukraine, and the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane. Their showing of the portion of the “Team Principals” Press conference in which Red Bull’s Christian Horner’s gutless response to the question of why F1 was even there, made very clear the teams’ principles.

$150M for five years is clearly the guiding one. 

Christian Horner

From the post race podium interviewer we learned that Hamilton “is a real fan of Russian racing”, “has been back in Moscow”, is “impressed with the ski resorts” and in his own words “(Russia) Is not far from where I live and I will be hopping over for some holidays for sure.”

F1 didn’t do itself any favors today. Lewis Hamilton will not get any Christmas cards from Holland and NBCSN made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Unfortunately, this overshadows Mercedes’ remarkable accomplishment. On this day they secure the F1 Manufacturers World Championship for the first time in the modern F1 era. Congratulations to them.

Ross Brawn

The genesis of this accomplishment is also interesting and historically significant: In an interview after the race, Paddy Lowe, Director (Technical) of Mercedes reminded all that the winning car was developed last year under the guidance of then manager Ross Brawn. The Mercedes Team was previously the Brawn F1 Team and Brawn actually bought the Team from Honda, purportedly for $1.00, when Honda pulled out of F1. The package he got included a car which Honda had developed for 2009 that was as significantly ahead of the competition in that year as Mercedes is of its competitors now. That car carried Jenson Button and Brawn their only championship.

Honda Team logo

Ironically, Honda is coming back to F1 in 2015 as an engine supplier to compete against its former, albeit significantly changed, team. F1 is a small world.


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.