March 29, 2009

The Unfair Advantage

Any enthusiast worth his salt will have read Mark Donohue's "The Unfair Advantage" and agree that racing is about finding that creative way around the rules. Brawn left all in the dust as expected, the dominance of the car highlighted by Rubens Barrichello's horrid race still yielding a second place. More on Barrichello later, but this Brawn story is pure gold for Formula 1, another British contender, fodder for the UK dominated motoring press. Ferrari's sprung floor was "cheating", Brawns diffuser, "creative"... Jenson was a dunce last year, sure to be a hero in 2009. Oh well.

If Brawn's domination was both announced and very real, Hamilton's eventual podium spot from last place on the grid was the standout performance of the race even if you factor in the "luck" of having seven cars ahead of him drop out, eight if you include Trulli. He did stay out of trouble and passed many cars with characteristic confidence.

Ferrari qualified with 18 laps worth of fuel but had to pit after nine and ten laps because the soft tires were gone. Whatever you may think about Bridgestone being mandated by the FIA to provide tires designed with entertainment rather than performance in mind, Ferrari's strategy was an obvious failure from the start. Barrichello puncturing one of Kimi's tires and the Finn later putting the Ferrari in the wall did not help.

While you could say that the new aero regulations are quite a success in terms of allowing more passing, the way the safety car was deployed after Nakajima's crash was inexplicable. With a surging Vettel, conspiracy fans are bound to ask why race control waited for Button to pit before sending the pace car out.

The biggest drama of the race was of course the crash between Vettel and Kubica. Vettel admitted fault where he really had none or at least none once he decided to contest the corner. Vettel had a lousy turn one which allowed Kubica to make a charge. Looking at replays they were essentially even at turn in and while Kubica, ever so slightly ahead, had the choice of staying wide and gain advantage on the subsequent left hand turn, he instead decided to turn into the apex leaving Vettel, who was on the inside and on full brakes with nowhere to go.
I would be fine with that being deemed a racing incident yet Vettel was harshly punished with a 10 spot penalty for the next race.

Now let's examine Barrichello's race, if you apply the same criteria as were applied to Vettel then he too should get a penalty, and he took out three cars not just one. Examine the video, have your say.



  1. To me it looked like Kubica would have had to go off the road to give Vettel enough room for the line he commited to at that speed. I'm on the fence as to whether or not a penatly is diserved though.

    It's hard to tell what happened with Barichello's T1 incident. It sort of looks like Kovalainen hit him from behind but it's hard to say for sure. His incident with Raikkonen was bull shit though, that move was way too ambitious.

  2. I was surprised and disappointed to hear that Vettel had been penalized for the incident between him and Kubica. Sure, Vettel should have recognized that there was no way he could hold off Kubica for three laps with his tires as far gone as they were but Kubica's attempt at an outside pass on a car that didn't have enough tire to do anything except push wide is pretty foolish as well. It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise brilliant race by both competitors but I didn't see anything truly penalty-worthy there.

    Both Vettel and Kubica could learn a lesson from the Ferrari drivers who have apparently mastered the art of having race-ending incidents without another car within hundreds of yards of them.

  3. AC, wasn't Vettel penalized because he failed to stop safely and park his wrecked car? and instead he choose to drive on 3 wheels around the track leaving a trail of debris along the way?

  4. btw, nice poduction values on the video. :)

  5. I understood he got the 10 position penalty for the incident and $50000 for attempting to drive the first tricycle to score world championship points.

  6. Penalty? What happened to this thing called "racing"?

    Jackasses at the FIA! They want more passing and side by side action, and when they deliver they get penalized for racing to hard? wtf?

  7. Open wheel racing is killing itself right in front of our eyes. This is supposed to be a series of the best drivers and the best technology, and it has turned into A1GP right in front of our eyes. (except they have better looking cars).

    How many spins occurred that were just driver error? How does a FIA Super license holder miss his pitbox? Why are the stewards allowed to decide race outcomes?

    As Jack Nicholson said in "A Few Good Men", "This isn't funny, this is sad. This is really Sad!"

    That's how I feel after watching what F1 has become. Sad.

    BTW- Nice video production work. Are you guys going to have a cable channel soon?

  8. I don't see where you can penalize Rubens. I really don't. He was nailed from behind by Heikki, and a split second later due to that bump from behind was hurtled toward inside of the RB5 of Mark Webber. At the same time, Webber came down hard into the apex without checking his right mirror. That is not Rubens fault at all.

  9. There should be a penalty for neither, or both. Barrichello was not pushed by Kovalainen and having had such a lousy start had lost the corner to Webber who was clearly ahead. He chose to divebomb the apex with predictable results.

    Fisichella's missing the pit was probably due to sun glare. It was right in their eyes on pit lane

  10. Would like to see in car from Kovalainen for the start, it is just too tough to tell from the camera views if he hit Barrichello or not.

    Terrible 'attempt' on Kimi though, just stupid.

    Completely agree about the Vettel penalty, stupid! I honestly think it was because Vettel admitted fault on the radio, "I'm an idiot, sorry guys".


  11. i just read Barrichello's post race comments... Amazing how he knew he was hit by a Mclaren from behind but did not know who he hit in front! Video evidence contradicts everything he said, especially the Kimi part...."he cut me off"..Geez.

    "...I was hit from behind from a McLaren and that put me sideways and I hit someone really hard. I thought the car was done from that crash but I survived quite well, but on my first stint my nose was falling apart and I lost the braking stability when I hit Kimi as well. He closed the door and I couldn't avoid him...."

  12. Barichello - like Coulthard last year, just needs to accept that he isn't that competitive anymore and retire.

    From the video, and when I watch the race this weekend, it looks like Barrichello came into the corner hot and off the line and clipped Raikkonen because of this - after taking Webber off in the first corner when he torpedoed the side of his car. Nice.

    Button had a great race though. It was a nice change to see someone different on the podium.

  13. Ferrari using the sprung floor was cheating. It constitutes a moving/moveable aerodynamic device, and as such contravenes the regulations.
    Same as Toyota's excessively flexing rear wing from qualifying on Saturday (something else Ferrari have used in the not too distant past).

  14. Hmm. Did McLaren instruct Hamilton to let Trulli past? I can't help but wonder if they were thinking that was the only way to protect the position.

    Vettel got a raw deal . . . IMHO he and Kubica share responsibility for a racing incident . . . the stewards and FIA have no place in the dispute.

    Very enjoyable race . . . I think I'm going to love the new F1

  15. The argument at the time was that Ferrari's sprung floor went against the "spirit of the regulations " It too exploited a gray area and as such was legal until it was deemed illegal. The same thing might happen with Brawn. Rules are made to be broken... Creatively!

  16. If you look at the in car video for Webber, you can clearly see that Heidfeld cuts him off and he does the same to Barrichello. Rubens had no where to go, it happens in racing. As for Rubens being too old, lets remember that Brawn only had a week of testing compared to everyone else, and he still finished second; he still has some talent left!

  17. Barrichello was rammed from behind at the start by Kovalinen that's why he took out 3 cars.

  18. Vettel hit Kubica on the corner exit, he ran out wide and Kubica was next to him. As where Barrichello's incidents were both on the corner entry, the other cars came down on top of him at entry.

    The inside car always has right of way at entry but not at exit, then the outside car has right of way. If you pay attention to when the impacts are you will see that they are consistent in their rulings.

    If you come down on top of someone into a corner and take them out you get a penalty. If you run wide at exit and take someone out you get a penalty.


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