May 22, 2011

2011 Spanish GP: The Grand Illusion

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari 150° Italia takes the lead at the start of the Spanish grand prix
(photo: Pirelli)
Fernando Alonso made Spain dream with his brilliant start when he burned Vettel, Webber and Hamilton with fantastic plunge into turn one. Looked like it would be something different and exciting in Catalunya but then, reality set it. The idea that Red Bull and Vettel are really that vulnerable is, I think just an illusion, just as Ferrari's speed was. I'm not even so convinced Red Bull was that worried about Hamilton passing Vettel at the end of this race, one that more than any other this year was dictated by tire strategy.

Even the entertainment value of the race was an illusion, on a track where DRS was needed most, it failed miserably. The "passing zone" (so sad one has to refer to such a thing in F1 but there it is..) was too short. If it were up to me I would have implemented DRS before the final turn, forcing drivers to choose between tire wear and speed. If you go back and check, other than in the first laps there were very few passes amongst equals, it was all either new vs old tires or DRS. BS, I say.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing RB7 Renault

Speaking of BS, let's send Charlie Whiting on vacation, shall we? On a day where leaders lapped up to fifth spot you would think the FIA would try to promote competition yet it seems to go out of its way to apply technical regulations rules capriciously and arbitrarily.

Take for example the case of Ferrari's rear wing which was deemed to be within the letter of the rules but outside the spirit of the regulations and thus banned. Two seasons ago the same person declared Brawn's double diffuser to be within the letter of the regulation and outside the spirit of the regulations yet legal.

Even worse the question of the "hot gas" blown diffusers. Whiting said they are illegal yet they are allowed for at least one more race. This is a joke and make a mockery of the rules, it's sad small teams and even a veteran like Williams who do not use the system and are therefore legal, do not have the standing to protest. Rules need to be applied consistently and you cannot have this rest on essentially one person.

I would say the biggest impact of the Spanish week end will be on Webber and Massa. Webber now has his fate sealed at Red Bull for the season and this might have repercussions on his future choices in F1. Massa is being destroyed by Alonso worse than he has ever been by any of his other team mates.

Next week in Monaco bet on red, ...Bull.

end of post


  1. Colin Kolles is threatening to protest teams using hot-blown diffusers in Monaco. He obviously has yet to learn how F1 works or suffer the same fate as Paul Stoddart. He may be right, but he can't win.

    I see that Hamilton, Button, Webber and Alguersuari escaped punishment for faster laps during the yellow flag due to Kovalainen's crash. They were apparently quicker than their previous lap because they had new tyres... I wonder if the same would be true if it was just Alguersuari who was under invstigation? The standard time penalty would not have changed the race results anyway.

  2. I'm trying to wrap my head around why every up to alonso got lapped. Those cars just not working well with the new primes?

  3. As and Aussie, I knew that Webber was going to grip it.

    I mean, we all know that you have a split second to make defensive desicions in that kind of situation, but FFS, why the did he choose to defend against Alonso? He must have know that he'd have pure race pace to get past him at some stage, so defending against his only rival, Vettel, should have been first priority.

    Also, I can't ever remember a race in the last couple of years @ RBR where he has either;
    A: Gained positions at the start.
    B: Sucessfully defended his position at the start.


    P.S DRS was also a fizzle, with only half a straight. Surely it should have been available from after the last chicane. Make drivers choose between risking an off/tyre life against a successful pass into turn 1.


  4. It was a cool race. I knew that given Alonso's brilliant start it was all or nothing for Ferrari. If it didn't work Ferrari would be under heavy criticism. And it not only did not work, but failed miserably. The "being lapped" was too much.

    Kudos to McLaren for making the most of their situation. A little more luck and they would have been celebrating a second win.

    Regarding the drivers, it's fairly apparent that the top drivers, Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso, continue to deserve the hype. Maybe only Rosberg comes a 4th strong name. All the other ones aren't ready for stardom. So replacing Webber, Button and Massa just isn't easy. At most you can swap them around.

    (Cheers! Fan from Brazil.)

  5. I wish the DRS zone were enabled earlier but that might have been more of a possibility if it weren't for the fact of the chicane at the final turn where used to it was a large radius curve.

    They did comment on how Vettel just has absolute faith in his car and was on the KERS while still in the corner and would use the DRS asap.

    I'm not too keen on Vettel, but he is certainly one of the best drivers with the best cars.

  6. I'd like V12's, no Aero, mechanical grip, and all drivers being as manly as Steve McQueen... but crying like a baby about it like you do every race just shows your age and doesn't change anything.

    I enjoy the races for what they are -- currently it's a tire strategy game and KERS/DRS placement (unless you're Redbull then you just get pole and win). Would I like it to be different? Sure, but do I still think F1 is a great series and entertaining to watch? Absolutely.

    I really wanted to see Redbull Aero VS McLaren Electronics on even footing, with Vettel's KERS dying/dead and Hamilton's in top working condition. Unfortunately the RB7's pace is just too fast, even with a dying KERS system and dead weight on board.

    Hopefully much like last year, just in a quicker timeframe, other teams catch up in pace and start bringing the fight right from quali, or like when Ross Brawn dominated the first half of the season but almost couldn't keep up with McLaren, Ferrari and Redbull's advancements later down the road.

  7. @Teqnik, who me? I don't subscribe to the "back in the days it was really hard" school. faster is always harder. Ichuckled when Martin Brundle started on his rant "'s too easy now, back in my day..." and Coulthard mildly told him it's time to let if Brundy was ever a Vettel equivalent, back in his day... :)

  8. Dear AC,
    Would you also say "faster is harder" at Eau Rouge in a modern day F1 car?

  9. Faster is always harder, take monaco, the swimming pool, have you ever sat there and watched cars go by? it's a "slow track yet your brain cannot reconcile how they possibly go through there a speed.

  10. @AC - Teqnik, I like it, I may start using that instead :P

    I didn't mean you thought things were harder "back in the day", but you seem to always lambast any change they make year to year, be it adding "Fake passing" with KERS and DRS or whatever new fangled rule they come up with. Granted, some of these aren't the best changes but unless they start giving them regulated lola chassis or no Aero, there's not much they can do with passing now that it's 100% an aero game.

    They're not the best changes, but I can still find a lot of enjoyment out of watching the races. When you're at the forefront of technology and engineering, sometimes you being the first to do something ends up being a poor decision, heh.

    I'd say this year was a big step forward (for most of the field) in being entertaining to watch from last season. Now if they could just stop the tires from covering everything but the racing line with buildup we'd almost be in business!


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