July 6, 2015

2015 British GP Executive Summary

To paraphrase Michael Corleone:  "...Just when they said it was dead..."

It's become trendy to slam the series but even the most die hard hater was to admit F1 put on a good show at Silverstone.

Call us crazy, but there is something to this idea of holding races where people care:   350,000 people, according to the organizers,  passed through in the three days  easily topping Le Mans this year by almost a third,  amazing considering Le Mans is such a special unique event.

Kudos to the BRDC and the British fans.    In return they got one of the best races in a while, one that had all the ingredient you'd want:  Underdogs, Uncertainty, The Local Hero triumphant in the end.

After all the talk of conspiracies with Mercedes clutch springs  leading up to the "green flag"  it was fantastic see Massa and Bottas' hole shot both Silver Arrows.  Massa might want to consider a future in top fuel dragsters with reactions like that!

Surprising,  on that first lap, that Bottas made such rookie error, leaving the door wide for Hamilton to pass him at the Loop.  Bottas was  a little disappointing, especially for one supposedly with a foot at Maranello already.  
Williams did make a mistake giving him mixed signals on racing Felipe,  you can't tell a driver not to attack,then a couple of laps later tell him he can,  chances to pass are too hard to come by, but Valterri did not look like he quite had the pace to pass Massa.
Later on Bottas made the same early call for intermediate tires Raikkonen did but Williams refused him, that was good, but later they lft both drivers out too long, that was bad.  The final stage of the race saw Valterri in greater difficulty that his teammate.

Another highly touted driver had a lousy race: Daniel Ricciardo.   Not just his Renault going poof again but that first lap error,  one you would expect from Maldonado or Grosjean.  Daniel must be getting a bit of the feeling he gave Vettel last year, Kyat put on a very good show finishing 6th and for the first time ever, wiping the smile off the Australian's face.

Jim Hunter/Flat12
As for Hamilton, a great win in front of the fans.    He was both hugely impressive and quite lucky.

After a bad start and getting schooled by Felipe "I'm not Timo Glock" Massa on the safety car re-start,  Lewis was absolutely  phenomenal on his out lap after the first stop.
Consider this:  Lap 20,  his out lap,  at 1:56.349 was about 1.7 seconds faster than Rosberg's, 2.1 seconds faster than Massa and Bottas.
(Incidentally, the driver with the second fastest out lap?  Daniil Kyyat, with a 1:57.7!)

Later Hamilton benefitted from the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car.   Hammy loved it but maybe fans lost because the rest of the field did not get a chance to catch up.    Why race control deployed a real safety car  at the start when Massa was ahead but a Virtual Safety Car when Hamilton was leading, we'll leave to the conspiracy theorists.

Considering how things played out when it started drizzling, that cushion was crucial for Hamilton.     In the mixed conditions/slick tire portion of the race, Hamilton was outclassed by Rosberg who, having gotten through the two Williams, was gaining on the leader at two seconds a lap..

When he pitted he was about to be caught and passed,  he had to pit then.  Just enough time for the commentators to declare his race lost and it started pouring,  Behind him Vettel had made the same call... Champions make their own luck sometimes.

Raikkonen could have been the genius had the skies opened up 3 laps earlier instead he got more people kicking him now, unfairly.   Kimi for his part just owned up to making the call, shit happens.

The Scuderia did not seem especially supportive.  What a fascinating difference in team dynamics:  In Monaco, Lewis made the wrong call and the team later took the whole blame.  At Silverstone, Kimi made a wrong call, the team says he made the call on his own and Raikkonen shrugged.

Ferrari is looking like it has for so many seasons,  facing the prospect of their mid season upgrades not working out as well as it was hoped.   With the backdrop of Sergio Marchionne's need to pump up Ferrari's value to prop up other parts of FCA, will this lead to panic?     Mercedes docet : you need to go all in, to do whatever it takes, spend whatever it costs if you want to dominate....and it might take years.     There is always an ulterior motive behind racing but FCA's is not the same Enzo Ferrari had.

Now it's a long three week until Hungary.  The German GP was supposed to fill that gap and F1 still has a lot of soul searching to come up with a proper solutions and add excitement.  
Naturally all manner of gimmicks are being proposed yet  the formula is simple:   Fans want to see drivers doing what they do best so get rid of preset clutches, figure out a way take the computer out of the rear brakes, give them 25% more power and, especially,  bigger tires so they can drive different lines into corners.

You're welcome F1, we love you!


  1. I think the reason for the real safety car at the start & VSC later on is because on lap 1 there was a huge melee involving 4-5 cars with 3 being knocked out while later on the VSC was deployed because only Sainz had stopped & he was off beside the track.
    In the first case there was a lot of cars & debris to clear up, in the second there was 1 car in no immediate danger & no debris.
    It makes sense that way instead of deploying the safety car for every little problem.

  2. Hamilton wore the slicks out setting the pace up front in the laps after his stop. Meanwhile, Rosberg, stuck behind the Williams, put less wear into his Pirelli's. Once he'd cleared Massa and Bottas his tyres were obviously still fresh enough to push hard. Fortunatly Hamilton did seem to get lucky with the British weather.

    The first race I've not fast-forwarded through in a while. Thank god for that. Bernie's idea of sprinklers on corners wasn't a bad one after all.

  3. According to conventional wisdom, Rosberg should have worn out his front tires more running in the Williams dirty air.

  4. Yes, but all the cars were off the track after that first lap incident too. I guess I'm not a fan of VSC in general.

  5. Worth noting though that Lewis was initially quicker than Nico when the rain first came. Lewis then had a trip off the circuit causing the initial time gain by Nico, however there were 4 laps where Nico was quicker. Clearly the tyres on the 44 car were past their best at this point.

    Ironically the changeable conditions would've suited another Brit even more, however it seems to be one disaster after another for JB. He must wish he'd gone off to WEC at the end of last year when he had the chance.

  6. In fairness, Le Mans only counts its "race day" tickets (since all its tickets give access for the entire week's racing, allowing the assumption that anyone there for, say, qualifying is simply assumed to be one of the people with a race day ticket) while F1, due to most venues catering to people having shorter availability, has to count each of its three days separately - often meaning the same person is counted three times. There is no method of accurately comparing the two races' sales success given the discrepancies in counting method required to reflect each race's success, and there is the further point that if there was, the F1 would come up short of its potential popularity - Le Mans has no known ticket ceiling but Silverstone F1 hit its limit quite firmly...

    It is probably fairer to compare Silverstone's success with other F1 races, where it broke all series attendence records by at least 100,000. And it seemed the racing reflected all that positive energy. For me it was the first good race (as opposed to average-for-F1 or downright poor) all year, the the first since Italy last year.

    Barnum's concept of "build it and they will come" works to a point, but the concept of "build where they will come most" seems to carry a racing series much further.

  7. Jeez, F1 is in terrible, horrible shape if it can produce races like last weekend's. /s

    Like you say...little tweeks and adjustments. I think once Bernie throws in the towel it'll free up a lot of political room needed to make real solid changes to the show and how it runs. And Todt's current handling of the FIA is increasingly scrutinized so a shakeup there would be a good catalyst. Just a matter of time before one or both of those things come to pass.

    Until then a few more races like this would be great. It won't shut the haters up - but they're never happy.

  8. in other news:

    - kimi spun again https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CowtAuigNz8

    - seb had fun with slicks in the wet https://vid.me/1n0N

    also: what is it with kimi and the strange spins, software glitches that only he triggers? i refuse to believe he did unlearn how to drive altogether. martin brundle has made an interesting comment, that on the opening lap and the first lap after the pitstops there is a different program active for enginemanagement, can anyone shed any light on this?

  9. That spin was later in the race when Kimi's inters were totally fried, probably why he made that stop with two laps to go.


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