March 29, 2010

Australian GP: just add water.

Reports of the rebirth of Formula 1 fun will be as greatly exaggerated as reports of its demise were after the Bahrain GP but, once again, the Australian GP delivered the goods.

Now here is a radical idea: how about Formula 1 hold all of its races where there are actual people watching? Notice a difference in the stands in Melbourne? Notice that there actually are spectator stands all around the race track? You don't believe the energy of that many fans can be felt by the drivers? Nothing more needs to be said, right?

The race, like any variable conditions race, was great fun to watch. I was traveling this week end and did not see it until late last night and I must say, I could not take my eyes off the screen. There were some fantastic drives. Vettel, man he's good, he pulverized Webber in the same car and Webber is not exactly slow. Weber felt it for sure and made some pretty bad judgement calls and took out a now rather tense Lewis Hamilton.

Interesting about Hamilton in contrast with Fernando Alonso. Fernando was spun in what can only be described as a "racing incident" by Jenson Button and ended up dead last. He clawed his way back to fourth place, just behind a slower Massa. Yet there was no complaining, no demands for a pass, at least in public. Rightly, Alonso figured an epic climb from 22nd to 4th and keeping the lead in the championship was good enough for the day. Hamilton instead went fairly ballistic on his team over the open radio about his pit stop strategy. This looked kind of bad when Button was being praised for making his own call on tires. Hamilton had a great drive, but questions over his tire management will dog him.

Kubica, getting a midpack car on the podium speaks for itself. Great to see.

Button drove a perfect race and benefitted from his gamble on the tires and, as Alonso did in Bahrain, from Red Bull possibly pushing the envelope a bit too far with the car design.

And Schumacher? I think Schumacher's race showed where F1 really is, you still can't pass unless you are willing to go Webber Kamikaze or, the guy in front makes a big mistake. The race in Melbourne just had the right condition for mistakes to happen. Don't get too excited, you probably saw that in the final phase of the race, on the dry track the usual blanket of rolled up rubber covered the track except for the narrow racing line making overtaking essentially, impossible.

This klag buildup is one of the main problems F1 should address. What's the point of building wider tracks in the middle of deserts when, by half race, it becomes a single lane toboggan?

Finally, the new teams are simply moving chicanes, dangerous ones when they lose parts along the way. Kobayashi's wing failure accident would have killed three people not so long ago. it's not wise to tempt fate like that.

Highlights after the jump.

I did not have time to prepare the usual reel this time, but I think the BBC's are well worth watching.

end of post


  1. I was a little curious about why I haven't heard much complaining about the new pit stop rules. Massa for example lost three or four places in the pits even though he was the first in. Not that it really mattered in the end as there was plenty of mixing up, but it seems stupid that when more than one car comes in, the person whose pit is further down the lane basically must automatically be released after the other cars regardless of the order when they entered, even if they both spend the same time stopped.

  2. Wow! Kubica! Amazing! I think that Kubica and Renault is better than Mercedes and their drivers.. But I need to see more races to know.

    The Hami - Webber spinn was pure stupidity from Web! Everyone knew that the move wouldn't work or.. Everyone except Webber.. Since there was only 3 cars in that corner and not 10 as in Alonsos case I think that it's a race incident for Alonso and pure stupidity involved in the Hami - Webber thing....

    It's a shame that RB and Vettel have lost 2 races due to mechanical.. One step forward on the car and two step back on the mechanical..

  3. It's astonishing that a driver of Hamiltons caliber still relies so much on the team to make decisions. I'm sure he's the better gauge on whether to make a tire stop than the engineers on the pitwall.

    Jenson surprised me, I didn't think he has the balls to make such a move. It really put him in
    position to win.

    The RB6 is fast and fragile and if they can't solve the reliability issues I can foresee cars that are quick enough to push the RB6 into breaking. Why does Newey design such fragile cars??

  4. When is Vettel's contract up with Red Bull? Massa's contract is up this year and if Vettel's car keeps letting him down it would only make it easier for Ferrari to lure him away from Red Bull.

  5. @Anon. The team does have much more data than he does, like infrared tire temperature cameras.. but you would think he has the feel. Thing is LEwis was brought up listening to Mclaren, it's probably working against him, like last year with "Lie-Gate".

  6. "The team does have much more data than he does, like infrared tire temperature cameras...but you would think he has the feel"

    That's what I was thinking. It would be weird that Lewis didn't have any input to the changes being made to the car prior to the tire stop. I think Lewis and the engineers just got it wrong, which was sadly compounded by Lewis' radio comm. It makes me wonder though what the radio comm between Jenson and the engineers was like. They were probably pleading Jenson to make another stop.

    Do you where I can get full race vids?

  7. I was going to add on regarding the postings mention of the crowd size in Melbourne vs. Bahrain. Yes, Bahrain was very very small crowd, but what the announcers and others dont explain is that in the Middle East, Sunday is a workday. Muslim countries take off Friday and Saturday as the weekend. This was the same situation in Abu Dhabi, a great track, but the stands could have used a few thousand more people.

    Second issue, F1 and the FIA want passing but have spent the last 4-5 years ensuring through tire and aero restrictions that passing will never happen. You want people to pass but you mandate that the front tires must be smaller, thereby inducing under steer, making it impossible to hold a tight line to make the pass in a corner.

  8. I also missed the race, so I was waiting for this video! Once again, thank you Axis.


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