July 25, 2016

You be the steward: 2016 Hungarian GP edition.

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The Hungarian GP was, like all the races this season except for Spain, a tale of two races.   There was the Mercedes class and the rest.

In Mercedes class, it was all over by turn one:  Rosberg, too busy looking behind,  got out-braked by Hamilton and Ricciardo.   He made a good move on the australian in turn two but by the end of lap one his teammate was already a second ahead.    The gap between the two varied but Rosberg never even tried to attack Lewis.  In the final stages it looked a lot like team orders to keep station were in effect.   The two silver cars finished a second apart but were a massive twenty seconds ahead of third place Ricciardo.    In post race interviews Hamilton revealed they were doing the minimum necessary to save the engine.    Pretty demoralizing for the rest of the field, bit dull for anyone but diehard Lewis fans.

Take the Mercs away though and you still had a rather old school Hungaroring, no passing race.    The only bright spot was that "washed up, good for nothing" Kimi Raikkonen charging from fourteenth on the grid to sixth.    Along the way,  the only real controversial on track incident, the collision with Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

Raikkonen was on fresh super soft tires while Verstappen was on older mediums.   Raikkonen had the clear cornering advantage.   Max wasn't going to make it easy but it all came to a head in turn 2,  Kimi had the drive on the run in, fainted for the outside, Max turned right, Kimi dives left for the inside, Max shuts the door.




Clearly, Verstappen made two changes of direction but did he break the rules?

What does the FIA Sporting code say:
27.6 More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off-line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.
The stewards did not think it warranted any penalty or even a reprimand which means they  saw his second move as "moving back towards the racing line".

Of course Max's entry into T2 on that lap was nowhere on the usual "racing line",  it was an unusually early turn in meant to keep the Ferrari on the outside.

Stewards were lenient on this one which again raises the question of consistency.
After the race, Raikkonen correctly pointed to drivers getting penalties for far lesser offenses in previous races.  In Hungary, FIA Stewards saw it fit to give Jenson Button a drive though penalty for discussing his failing brakes on the radio but had no problems having teams coach their drivers on how much and when they should push (Hamilton for example) or when tires are ready to be changed.  

After qualifying, they gave a literal reading of the rules to Rosberg (rules do not quantify yellow flag "lifts") but a lenient reading to the 107% rule which Red Bull and others fall foul of because of the rain.  

During the race, only the driver who held up Lewis Hamilton received a penalty,  Vettel was left out to be ridiculed by TV commentators for his complaints while Mercedes driver was free to give Gutierrez the ol' #1 sign.



Of course Hamilton and Verstappen are popular and pushing back Red Bulls is probably bad for business but c'mon,  isn't it getting a bit too transparent sometimes?



July 19, 2016

On track and ripping up an alpine pass in a Porsche 911 R

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Great video from Auto Motor und Sport: tester Christian Gebhardt drives a Porsche 911 R on the Hockenheim "short" layout and up the Col de Nivolet pass.

Full screen, turn up to 11,  sit back and enjoy.

Ferrari crisis: James Allison to leave the Scuderia

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Something was in the air after the British GP disaster and a first half of the season devoid of victories,  with the Scuderia slipping further away from Mercedes and behind a resurgent  Red Bull.

The axe,  according to today's Gazzetta dello Sport, will fall on James Allison,  the ex Ferrari, ex Lotus  Technical Director who was in charge of Maranello's much touted comeback.      Sergio Marchionne, incredibly, has asked to be informed of every technical and strategic decision of the team so he may intervene personally (what could possibly got wrong?).

Allison's family was hit by terrible tragedy at the beginning of the season, when his wife suddenly died of meningitis.  Relations between the Englishman and Ferrari's bosses were, according to the Gazzetta article, already strained because of differing views on methodology along with a lack of results but his need to spend more time away from the factory to care for his young children, made it very difficult to proceed with technical development on the car.

To further complicate things, Allison was perhaps the last major management figure in the team still associated with the Montezemolo tenure, having been picked originally by Stefano Domenicali and later Marco Mattiacci.

Allison, very understandably has been trying to get back to working in the UK and apparently has been courted by Renault.  

This effectively leaves Ferrari without a technical head.   His successor could be Simone Resta, the designer of the current car, but given the SF16's lack of pace, it does not bode well.

Other names mentioned as replacements are James Key from Toro Rosso,  but he lives in the UK and even if he decided to move, would face a long "gardening leave"  before being able to do anything.  

You can forget Ross Brawn who, by all accounts, is both still happy fishing and not a sure thing having missed many years in which F1 has changed radically.

While the Scuderia has changed and strengthened it's technical structure since the 2014 revolution, poaching technical talent from Red Bull and Mercedes,  they have not found a leader,  their new Brawn, or Newey or Paddy Lowe.

Ironically,  the previous management at Maranello had let Aldo Costa go after 2010.  The ex Ferrari engineer went on to design the last three Championship winning Mercedes'.

The only thing Ferrari is sure of at this point is its drivers, Vettel and the newly confirmed Raikkonen.    

It's a big deal for Vettel,  he  certainly had certain expectations when he joined Ferrari and, with the lead time of cars spanning at least a season, having no clear direction, there  might be little to keep him in red after his contract runs out at the end of 2017.

Which would leave Ferrari with not very much at all,  with "a handful of flies" as the say in Italy.





July 11, 2016

Hamilton dominates but race control robbed fans at Silverstone.

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There was no question a Mercedes would win the British Grand Prix, with over a second per lap over the nearest competitor it was just a matter of which one would get the better start.

Then,  English summer weather intervened and, all of a sudden, it looked like we might be treated to a real classic.    Would someone take advantage of the inevitable first lap chaos and sneak ahead of the Silver cars, forcing a truly heroic drive from Hamilton or Rosberg?.

No,  Race Control decided a comical 6 laps Safety Car procession under bright sunshine was needed, handing Hamilton the easy lead.   PAuse and consider this year's Nurburgring 24 hours.  Most of those guys are amateurs or semi pros, yet they raced through fog and rain on a track without the acres of runoff Silverstone affords.   F1 drivers are supposed to be the best  in the world in the best cars,  they can't drive to the conditions?

F1 lost another piece of its soul at Silverstone, the very place it was born.

Slightly vomit inducing worship aside,  it was hardly Hamilton's fault the race was given to him on a silver platter.  His driving was almost perfect,  he made the most of being in clear air with a superior car.    Hamilton  had so little trouble, he was barely shown on tv.  

Not so perfect, his only championship rival.  Rosberg was once again left looking weak in the rain.  Lewis got the jump on the German right off the safety car.   After all these years with safety cars, it's a mystery that F1 drivers still don't know how to do restarts properly.   The time penalty for the radio calls was inevitable given current regulations,  like them or not.   

The real star of the race was Max Verstappen.  his non-DRS pass on the outside of Rosberg in a place where NOBODY passes is something even Hamilton might fantasize about.     Max's strength is his instinct,  you give him half a look and he's through.  This was so obvious when he was Sainz's teammate,  Sainz would take two laps to pass a back marker while Max would do it in a few corners.
Imagine how great it would have been to see Hamilton have to figure out a way past Verstappen.

But no,  race control saw to it none of that nonsense would happen up front. 

The irony of a formula that has increasingly seeked to put artificial obstacles in front of drivers, shying away from a proper, natural one is strong.

Die hard fans and the Motorsport press routinely complain about how boring and sterile F1 has become and yet  excitement is currently measured by the number of instagram and snapchat followers (99% of whom care nothing about racing)  Hamilton has and any slight controversy or contact is castigated.      Everyone is endlessly bringing up the "golden era",  Hunt, Lauda, Fuji, Dijon, Villeneuve yet Sunday we were treated to the sad spectacle of Vettel getting a penalty for an "on the limit" pass on Massa instead.

Soon, F1 will start handing out penalties for "exceeding the limits of traction".

It's that bad.









July 9, 2016

2016 Le Mans Classic Live Stream

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Sort of a Gallic Goodwoodwood Revival,  complete with no t-shirt, no sandals dress policy,  Michael Delaney and Erich Stahler looks encouraged,  the Le Mans Classic is a once every two year extravaganza of amazing sports cars from the 1920s through to Group C.  

Follow all the action live this year.  



Samedi / Saturday (UTC+2)
10h20 - 11h40 Jaguar Classic Challenge
11h40 - 13h00 Group C Racing

15h20 - 16h00 Little Big Mans
16h00 - 17h20 Plateau 1 (course 1)
17h20 - 19h00 Plateau 2 (course 1)
19h00 - 20h40 Plateau 3 (course 1)
20h40 - 22h00 Plateau 4 (course 1)

Dimanche / Sunday (UTC+2)
08h15 - 09h30 Plateau 1 (course 3)
09h30 - 10h45 Plateau 2 (course 3)
10h45 - 12h00 Plateau 3 (course 3)
12h00 - 13h45 Plateau 4 (course 3)
13h45 - 15h00 Plateau 5 (course 3)
15h00 - 16h00 Plateau 6 (course 3)

July 6, 2016

The best Formula One interview ever.

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Are you bored with hearing about Lewis Hamilton's underwear or Nico Rosberg's sweat absorbing sanitary napkin?  

Here is a perfect antidote.      Alex Kersten is a genius.



Enjoy.

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