Sunday, 26 August 2012

Ferrari's Winning Formula

As Fernando Alonso closes in on Schumacher's record of 24 consecutive points finishes, it makes me wonder how many more of the German's achievements he will emulate. 

Just as the Williams was superior in 1996 and 1997, followed by the McLaren in 1998 and 1999, Ferrari have not had the best car on the grid since Alonso joined the Maranello team for the 2010 season.  However, just as Michael did, Fernando has been able to get the best out of the car and continually rack up wins and points.  Ferrari's excellent reliability record coupled with the best driver on the grid, could be leading them to more World Championships, just as this combination did between 2000 and 2004 with Schumacher. 

When Schumacher arrived at Ferrari, he found a team who were disorganised and made panicked reactions rather than thoughtful actions.  Using a pacesetting and visionary approach, he was able to lead the team in an organised and measured way. Fernando has shown that he is becoming increasingly effective at leading the team.  This was especially evident in Valencia this year. 

Alonso takes a home win in Valencia.

It seems Alonso really is following in the footsteps of the great Michael Schumacher, in more than one way, and let's face it, it is a winning formula.  Let us see how long it is before this winning formula results in a number of championships for the Spaniard.

The only missing peice of the Ferrari puzzle is an effective number two driver.  Both Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello were able to notch up enough points in their number two status to help Ferrari win the Constructors Championship six times between 1999 and 2004. 

Barrichello adds to the points tally.

With Massa having only scored twenty five points so far this season, this could be something that needs to be addressed, in order to complete the formula. 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Red Bull Loses its Wings

Prior to the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, the FIA were alerted to the fact that Red Bull were running a questionable torque map by their technical delegate, Jo Bauer.  Having the job of ensuring all cars are within the regulations, eagle eyed Bauer had questions over the difference between the torque maps they were running for Silverstone and Hockenheim. 

Jo Bauer

The amount of torque needed varies between races and can be adjusted to take account of conditions. Silverstone and Hockenheim were similar in conditions making a big difference stand out under scrutineering.  They managed to get away with it in Germany with the FIA deciding that it didn't actually breach the regulations as they are currently written.  It was banned for Hungary. 

The RB8 under question

When interviewed in Germany, Christian Horner refused to talk conveying an air of guilt.  In Hungary, he said that the team push the boundaries when developing the car.  Maybe Red Bull are so worried about losing their top dog status that they need to push the boundaries too far and effectively cheat.  However, all teams push the boundaries to get ahead of each other, maybe it is just a case of Red Bull not hiding it so well this time.    

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Future of Stewarding.

Those trusty FIA stewards have been meeting to thought shower ideas about how to change the penalty system, in order to reduce the disproportion between the asperity of the penalties given out. 

In Hungary, Maldonado struck again, 'nudging'  Paul Di Resta off the track.  Running in 12th, his penalty was a drive though which saw him rejoin in 13th.  Considering the fact that he wasn't in the points anyway , the penalty really had no effect and was rather pointless.  If the stewards are working at being more consistent, and that means a drive through penalty will be the norm for moves similar to that made by Pastor, how are they going to get round the fact that a drive through for a driver in 12th has a totally different impact if handed out to one lying in 3rd? 

Paul Di Resta was the most recent victim of  Maldonado's clumsy driving style.

Similarly, the length of the pit lane varies between tracks so administering a drive through will not always be fair.  The pit lane in Canada is significantly shorter than the one at Interlagos, therefore a stop go penalty in Montreal is more fitting and keeps more of a level of consistency.  

There will always be huge disparities, it is not as easy as giving the same punishment for the same crime.  Maybe one way to stop fans and teams, including drivers, questionning the penalties given is to provide explanations about exactly why one of that severity has been applied. 

It will be interesting to see what they come up with.  Let's hope that whatever it is, it is consistent, provides clarity about decisions made, but is also clever enough to allow exciting racing.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Lotus' Steady Climb

With a sterling result in Hungary and lying only one point behind McLaren in the Constructors Championship, Lotus are emerging as strong contenders in the 2012 season.  While still chasing a win, they have been steadily collecting points due to a number of podium finishes.

Lotus grabbed second and third places in Hungary

Pairing 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen with 2011 GP2 champion Romain Grosjean seems to have been an inspired decision.  Both team mates have had strong finishes and appear to be quite evenly matched. 

Kimi has amassed more points this season than his younger team mate, and has achieved more podium places.  His second places in Bahrain, Valencia and Hungary, together with thirds in Spain and Germany, have put him fifth in the championship with 116 points, just one behind Lewis Hamilton.  Following third places in Bahrain and Hungary, and second in Canada, Grosjean sits in eighth place having clocked up 40 less points than the Finn.

Due to the blistering pace of Raikkonen and traffic holding up Grosjean, the more experienced team mate was able to make a move on Grosjean at Turn 1 in Hungary.

Kimi clearly has the upper hand when it comes to races.  Grosjean being involved in incidents early on in six of the races have also contributed to the difference in points gained.  Raikkonen has been reported as saying that Lotus need to make it easier for themselves by qualifying higher up the grid, however he has been outqualified by the Frenchman eight times out of the eleven races so far. 

Although demonstrating strengths in different areas, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean do seem to be surprisingly equal in their pairing as team mates, helping Lotus steadily climb up the Constructors Championship.