August 29, 2016

The fine line between genius and Maxdonado

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"I did not want to let them by because they wrecked my race,  Sure I was aggressive but I was correct, in fact the stewards did not penalize me"

Max Verstappen

Let's keep this short and sweet,  while you could argue the first corner incident between Versappen and the whole Ferrari team was a "shit happens" racing incident,  it's harder to argue it was the smartest move by the Dutch "teenage sensation".    Max was clearly beaten off the line by the two red cars behind him on the grid and tried a Kamui Kobayashi style dive bomb into a space that was not really there.

Vettel was not without fault here, if anything a four time champion should know better than to just concentrate on his teammate.

But there is much less of a justification for the way Verstappen behaved later in the race when he once again displayed  some rather dodgy defensive moves against Raikkonen, Vettel and Perez,  all of whom eventually passed him anyway.

Is there any doubt Max is a huge talent?  No,  but he's got a lot to learn about being a grown up, the quote above along with his result today,  show it.

By the way,   he came within inches of the outside wall at Radillon on the first lap.  a crash there would not only have been huge for him but it would likely have taken off most of the field behind him.

More troubling is that the penalty happy FIA seems blind to his conduct,  something I'm sure has nothing to do with how packed the stands have been,  how could we be that cynical...

Rosberg did his job superbly,  Hamilton took advantage if his good luck with a very controlled race,  truly a champion's drive.   Ferrari and Red Bull could have had a nice battle today but it was not to be.

Great day for Force India, Williams were a bit disappointing but can we give "driver of the race" to ol' Fernando?   I think he and Hamilton had the most fun.

The same can not be said about Magnussen though and Renault need to figure out why the head protection collar came off in the crash

August 17, 2016

Two minutes in an old car are better than most racing you've seen in years.

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We interrupt your summer break to remind you it's not always about more grip and downforce...

Take a couple of over fifty year old cars,  one with a live axle rear suspension,  narrow crap tires (by modern standards), great drivers on a wide open track like the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit and a certain kind of magic begins to happen.

OK, you can't live in the past and you can certainly make a good argument that everything you see Nicky Pastorelli do to control this 1964 Ferrari GTO happens in a modern car, just so much faster that it's difficult to see and appreciate...


Well, let's just leave it at:  be thankful there are people who maintain and race these wonderful relics in series like Masters Historic Racing     Turn it up.

(H/T Peter Krause)

July 30, 2016

2017 F1 driver market still far from settled.

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While 2017 drivers at top teams, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull,  have been locked in early this year,  many seats further down the grid are still very much in play.

Both Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas are rumored to be out at Williams.  Felipe is said to have been told in Monaco his contract option would not be picked up and Bottas is likely paying for the disappointing season Williams had in 2016.

Replacing the two at the Martini sponsored team would be Jenson Button and Lance Stroll.   Stroll,  is an ex Ferrari Academy driver who this year signed on to be Williams' development driver. His seat is contingent on his European F3 series results being good enough to obtain points needed to qualify for a Super License.  But it's also contingent on the $60 Million his father Lawrence Stroll (Michael Kors-Tommy Hilfiger among other investments) is said to be prepared to spend on his son's career.   
At one point Stroll was rumored to have bought into Sir Frank's team though the team denied he bought in.  What is certain is that he's hired ex-Ferrari race engineer and Ferrari Driver Academy chief Luca Baldisserri to be Lance's personal mentor. 

Jenson Button will finish his career where he started his F at age twenty, sixteen years ago.  Jenson is super marketable and, by all accounts, great at sponsor events. 
Button's seat at Mclaren will got to Stoffel Vandoorne with Alonso riding out the third year of his contract "evaluating" if the new regulations are to his liking before deciding if to continue beyond 2017.

Renault's lineup will also change with the team not needing to rely on pay drivers after this season.   Bottas and Esteban Ocon, on loan from Mercedes, are top contenders for the French team but Perez is still hoping to jump ship from Force India  along with his considerable sponsorship backing.

Haas too is up in the air,  Grosjean said not to Renault this year with the hope he might get a call from Ferrari but that was dashed when Raikkonen's contract was renewed.  The chance of his moving to the Scuderia now in 2018 look slim and that seat at Renault looks quite inviting.   But after turning the team down this season, his future does not look yellow.
The second seat at Haas may got to Charles Leclerc,  a driver Ferrari wants to evaluate for future consideration.   Leclerc would need to win the GP3 championship to score the points needed for a Super License in which case Esteban Gutierrez might land at Sauber or at Force India.

Of course no Silly Season would be complete without juicy rumors.  The one floated during the NBC broadcast of Friday practice, that Mercedes would leave the sport in 2018,  seems unlikely for a team party to the Concorde Agreement expiring in 2020.  
The other, floated by Autosprint, is more plausible: Vettel "procrastinating" on any early discussions of a post 2017 renewal because he's evaluating McLaren Honda's progress versus the Scuderia's long term prospects.

That should warm a few seats at Maranello.

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.

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.

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