July 4, 2015

Raikkonen Caught in the F1 Echo Chamber


In the past month, the drumbeat about Kimi Raikkonen's future at Ferrari has risen from a whisper to an all out group chant.
Journalist and commentators, perhaps tired of repeating Max Verstappen is "only 17" or that Nico Hulkenberg has won Le Mans, have been calling for forks to be stuck in Kimi because the man is beyond done.


Granted, 2015 started well for the Ferrari Finn but has since served up a streak of unfortunate events:  the spins the missed qualifying laps, the being shoved  but, if Kimi is at Ferrari to support what is a rebirth clearly led by Vettel then he's not doing that bad of a job.

Going into the British GP he is fourth in the driver standings, behind Hamilton Rosberg and Vettel.  He is also an asset to Ferrari in the fans eyes, he was voted most popular driver in the recent GPDA F1 survey,  ahead of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

If there are behind the scenes reasons why Ferrari would not want to renew Kimi's contract they might be related to communications, feedback,  perhaps cost.  It's unclear what Raikkonen's demands might be and how prepared he is to take the pay cut Sergio Marchionne will inevitably demand.

But if you were Ferrari, would you change now and with who?  It's certainly not a given any of the options will perform better.

Jim Hunter/Flat12
First it was Nico "the most underrated driver in F1" Hulkenberg.  The Hulk is a good driver (hey, he won le Mans, did you hear?)  but there must be reasons why he's been consistently passed over by major teams.  Timing of course but perhaps his being the tallest driver in the current field, at just over 6 feet, is seen as a problem.

Red Bull Photo
Daniel Ricciardo has been named but, aside from a rumored ironclad contract with Red Bull, it would not be  clever management to again pair Vettel with a driver that gave him a hard time before.  Yes, Ricciardo has hardly been dominating Kvyat this season but what Ferrari needs is peace of mind and stability, not any chance at drama.

Another option would be promoting one of the reserve drivers but I just don't see Vergne or Gutierrez as having what it takes to fill Raikkonen's shoes.

Bottas is the man everyone has decided will be Raikkonen's replacement.    Without a doubt a driver with a lot of talent but also one who has been out qualified by Massa,   Add to that that Bottas is a driver in the Mercedes family via Toto Wolff and it becomes potentially more complicated for Ferrari.  Would Ferrari be worse off swapping one laconic Finn antihero for a laconic Finn who seems very serious?

Ultimately Ferrari's decision might come down to securing the best available driver for the next few years,  There is no obvious choice out there.  Alonso's not coming back, Hamilton is a couple of years away if ever.  Rosberg I don't see happening,  Button's done, all the youngsters are too unproven.   If you are going to get someone with an eye to the future, Bottas is probably your best choice.

For his part, Raikkonen has to show he still has the desire to be in the game.   One gets the feeling that psychologically he may not be the Iceman of legend but rather a driver who needs to feel  the embrace and reassurance of the team.   Ferrari has done that before but perhaps some in the team do not want to deal with another Felipe.

Saturday at Silverstone Bottas was out qualified by ol ''washed up" Felipe Massa and Raikkonen out qualified Vettel.   There are no points for Saturday but there is delicious irony in that.

While on the subject of Silverstone, a big hand to all the British fans, all 350000 who are expected for the week end.   At a time where it has become fashionable to literally shit on F1,  from social media all the way to Bernie himself it's fantastic to see a crowd much larger that that at this year's 24 hour of Le Mans.  

Face it Bernie,  Silverstone and Monza ARE the beating hearts of Formula 1.

Simon Gale/Flickr

July 3, 2015

You be the Steward: Track Position


Let's put you, the reader, in race steward shoes again.   This time it's four rather than two wheels and the consequences of the on track action,  spectacularly more severe.

Challenge Car Racing is a independent racing series with no affiliation with Ferrari, it is high end club racing for owners of Challenge cars of different vintages, from 355 to 458.   Round four of the series took place at Road America as a support to Pirelli World Cup.

The Ferrari 458 driven by Jim Booth and the 430 of Steve Hill touched on what on a track map looks like a straight but in reality is a significant left kink approaching the turn 5 braking zone.

The resulting video is both one of the most spectacular and graphic depictions of a crash ever recorded thanks to the multiple cameras on Booth's car and a testament to great engineering at Maranello: the driver walked away from a 150 mph crash, the 458's front and back windows still completely intact.  

But now you make the call:  would you rule against the black 430 for blocking or the red 458 for sticking its nose where it should not have been?

July 2, 2015

Lewis thinks there are too many kids and not enough gentlemen in F1

Instagram celebrity Lewis Hamilton seems unhappy with F1 ahead of the British GP.  

Complaints ranged from the bad clutch the team gave him in Austria to the lack of real gentlemen on the grid "compared to the days of Stirling Moss, when drivers had loyalty" to trophies not to his liking:

"Where's my gold cup"  said the aspiring singer who left McLaren, where

Maybe, Hamilton was in a bad mood because the just released results of the recent F1 fan survey  listed the three most popular drivers as Raikkonen, Alonso and Button.   Sorry Lewis, you're probably still #1 in Roscoe's eyes though.

While he was in the mood,   Hamilton lamented too many youngsters in F1 these days.  Perhaps Lewis is still sore Vettel took away his record as youngest ever F1 champion in 2010.

You may have heard mentioned Max Verstappen is "only 17" a few times.  Certainly you heard about his mistake in Monaco but young Max has yet to top this brilliant move.

June 30, 2015

Nice catch Dion!

No comments:

We haven't posted a good onboard for some times now so  let's ride along with Dion Von Moltke in his Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 GTD during a dry practice for the Sahlen Six Hours of the Glen.  

Von Moltke with co drivers Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller placed third in class for the very wet race.

Check out the slide at the off camber turn 9.

June 29, 2015

You be the steward: Track Limits


Valentino Rossi had led from the start of the Dutch TT at Assen this past  but lost the lead to Marc Marquez with with eight laps to go.

The Doctor go it back with three laps remaining but everyone knew Marquez would have a go at him:   it happened in the last quarter mile of the race.

Marquez made a lunge on the inside of the chicane,  Valentino turned in on him but then bailed  cutting across the gravel, possibly avoiding a collision and winning the race.

Moto GP, has regulations regarding track limits but like many other series, the enforcement of that regulation is open to subjective interpretation.

Moto GP decided to let the results stand,  Honda, no surprise, protested.

After the race, Rossi said he was bumped,  video shows there was no contact.  Marquez said he would have won had Valentino not cut the corner, video and logic would seem to be against him.

The only thing that's certain is Valentino cut across the gravel,  a riding feat one might argue worthy of the win in and  of itself but certainly, beyond track limits.

How would you have called it?

June 27, 2015

This car Killed Group C: 20 Minutes of Epic Jaguar XJR-14 Onboard from Monza.

In 1990 the FIA decided to change the Group C regulations from free engine displacement and type with a limited amount of fuel to  a specific displacement but with unlimited fuel.    The new engines would be 3.5 liter normally aspirated, essentially Formula 1 units.

With the advent of Group C, sport car racing  had reached a peak of popularity by the end of the decade that rivaled Formula 1.   Porsche, Mercedes, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Aston Martin, Lancia and Jaguar were all involved as were a healthy amount of privateer teams.

The  new regulations effectively eliminated the privateers by making the older cars )mostly Porsche 962)  uncompetitive and pricing them out of the series.   By holding shorter races to compete with Formula 1, the series alienated fans of endurance,  nobody really cared for two seater F1 cars.

Despite manufacturer involvement from Peugeot, Jaguar, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota, by '93 it was all over:  Races had to be cancelled for lack of entries.  Endurance racing globally was a giant mess that has only recently begun to make a real comeback.

Emanuele Fossen/Flickr
Still, those 3.5 prototypes were amazing machines.  The 1991 Jaguar XJR-14 was designed by Ross Brawn and built by TWR.  It used the same Ford V8 engine the Benetton F1 car, albeit rebadged as  Jaguar.  Aluminum honeycomb and carbon fiber monocoque, pushrod suspension, carbon brakes and very advanced aero which gave it a huge edge over rivals,  a couple of seconds a lap.   Other teams eventually copied Jaguar's detached rear wing and ground effect chassis.

This XJR-14,  originally raced by Derek Warkick and Martin Brundle, was driven at Monza recently by Belgian Christophe d'Assenbourg in the Coppa Intereuropa, part of the FIA Masters Historic racing series.

Turn it up and enjoy.
(hat tip Sean Cleary!)

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