Real F1

When it finally arrived Valencia was a better race this year than last, but that’s not saying much.

At least it looked slightly better on screen this time. I was in Valencia (for my sins) for last year’s race, and couldn’t believe how lacking in atmosphere the area around the course was. I fear the Valencia street circuit will always owe more to those dodgy temporary IndyCar street circuits than it will to Monaco.

But now we go from the lame to the sublime, as we arrive in Spa on what is so far at least a sunny late summer weekend. Spa, like Monza, has a hallowed feel, steeped in history, which cannot be replicated by any amount of architectural flair at a new circuit.

The fact that we can all remember countless Spa races from our earliest days watching the sport counts for a lot. I will be sitting back with a few cold beers to watch every second of this, I think we’re in for a treat.


That Pro-IRL Post


That is how to turn a series around! This past weekend’s Kentucky Speedway IndyCar race saw rule chances implemented with the aim of improving the racing spectacle on ovals, and boy they seemed to work…

Aero modificiations were made available to the teams to increase downforce considerably without significantly affecting drag, whilst an ‘overtake assist’ boost button, available in 12 second bursts 20 times during the race, enabled offensive and defensive moves alike, turning the side by side racing into a fascinating game of cat and mouse.

The drivers reported better handling cars, providing greater confidence on multiple racing lines, which was evident from the excitement of the racing. The event ran mostly caution free, but without becoming a procession, resulting in the second fastest average speed in the sport’s history.

As an added bonus we had the sight of Ed Carpenter oh-so-nearly win the thing, which was fantastic for his team Vision Racing and would have made an interesting headline.

Looking back at the way the lack of excitement seen earlier in the season was addressed, I find it particularly impressive that the league was able to introduce the changes quickly and without fuss, with everyone doing their part to make a success of the measures and put on a great show.

F1 could learn a lot from this agile, fan pleasing decision making. Roll on the next race, although it’s a road course, it should be a lot of fun!

Leave it out!

Schumacher’s fans have always disliked suggestions that their favorite driver received special treatment throughout his career, and that this special treatment somehow contributed to his success. I don’t blame them – that sort of accusation would annoy me too.

So why do Ferrari and so many of his fans now expect, even demand, that he and his team should get even more special treatment upon his return – namely a test in the 2009 specification F60.

Testing would benefit the driver – giving him experience he would otherwise have to gain during Friday practice  – a form of special treatment not afforded to Jaime Alguersuari, a complete F1 novice with no experience of any type of F1 car.

Testing would benefit the team – giving them data about their current car that is not available to other teams due to the testing ban. All teams are modifying their cars continuously, without the ability to analyse the effect of the changes outside race weekends. Why should one team get the benefit of this additional data? Why should one team get this special treatment?

Massa’s accident is tragic, but points won by Schumacher will not accrue to Massa’s championship standings so don’t dress Schmacher’s wish to test (and therefore improve his speed) as altruism or assistance for a fallen friend. If Schumacher really wants to help Massa’s career he should be trying to minimise his competitiveness – because if he is faster than Massa this will undermine Massa’s efforts to return.

Finally – Ferrari could have chosen any number of drivers with recent experience of 2009 F1 cars. They did not. Either they think Schumacher is competitive anyway (in which case why request the tests?) or they don’t (in which case why select him over Bourdais, Piquet, Sato, Coulthard, Badoer, Gene, Davidson or anyone else).

Schumacher Fastest?

A throwaway comment by Robert Kubica in the FIA’s Thursday press conference now looks ominous for all those currently involved in F1 as Michael Schumacher prepares to return to the grid.

Kubica recently hosted a charity karting competition for current and former F1 drivers. When asked in Hungary who was quickest in a kart his answer was – “Michael”.

Oh dear!

Full transcript of the press conference here, or click here for more from F1V.

The return of the Schu

According to Jonathan Noble of Autosport and several other sources Michael Schumacher will be back in the Ferrari F1 car from the Valencia race until Massa is again fit enough to drive for the scuderia.

  • It’s good news all round for F1, since this will generate a lot of buzz and interest around what was to have been a must miss Valencia event.
  • It’s good for Massa, as it is a clear vote of confidence that his replacement is only temporary – something that will become vital should Ferrari decide to announce Alonso as a 2010 driver.
  • It’s less good for the queue of drivers ready to jump at the chance for a Ferrari drive – particularly bad for Kubica, should he have wanted to jump ship.

We must now wait and see how Schumacher gets on in the 2009 spec car, although given his undeniable talent I think he’ll be ok.

Poor Sebastien Bourdais eh? Ferrari didn’t call him. That’s two suprises in one month 😉

Three Car Teams?

The FOTA announcement about BMW is interesting. Even with BMW pulling out, the arrival of the new teams in 2010 should mean more cars on the grid next season, so why the sudden talk about fielding three car teams?

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Ferrari now has a bewilderment of choice for next season? A ‘resurgent’ Kimi – he did OK last weekend and I’m sure the presence of a new temporary team mate will spur him on; a returning hero in Felipe Massa; Fernando Alonso waiting in the wings; and now fluent italian speaker Robert Kubica knocking on the door at Maranello.

Never mind three cars, how about four Ferraris for 2010…

BMW Reactions – Sauber and Heidfeld pessimistic, Kubica quiet

Peter Sauber has issued a press release about the BMW decision and does not strike a particularly optimistic note, even with his 20% stake in the team he views the position they are in as ‘difficult’. He says the announcement was a complete surprise and that he is finding the decision hard to digest.

Nick Heidfeld’s own quotes echo these sentiments, and the immediate view of most commentators appeared to be that Nick had most to lose from the BMW pullout, although I would have thought he would be more likely than Kubica to hang around during what are likely to be protracted discussions on a rescue for the team.

Hopefully given time the shock and pessimism will give way to defiance and determination to provide BMW wrong. Maybe a helpful swiss bank can step in to save the day?