September 7, 2015

There wasn't much racing at Monza but there is a lot to discuss.

Save for deflate-gate threatening Mercedes's dominant win for a couple of hours, the Italian GP was a bit of a snoozer.

Except for Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn climbed out of the hole  he found himself before even the very first corner.  
Driver's fault or technical issue,  we don't know for sure and we may never find out but Kimi drove a spectacular race from last at the first chicane to 5th at the flag.    

It's amazing the run of bad luck Raikkonen has had.  You wonder if Heikki Kovalainen might not have put some ancient norse curse on him.


But in a way the Kimster must have had more fun than anyone... unless they find out he forgot to take it out of neutral anyway.

Someone definitively not having any fun was Alonso.

Fernando retired before the end, supposedly to "prevent further damage" to the car and engine. One has to wonder if him being behind Jenson Button once again was as much of a factor as the McLaren being such a total dog.

It's pretty apparent the McLaren-Honda relationship is completely broken with the English team calling for Honda's engine development boss Yasihisa Arai's head and Honda hinting McLaren cars are not all that.

It's a terrible mess and incredible two great companies could have dug themselves in such a hole.

Speaking of engines,  before the week end, Red Bull let it be known they would not be using Renault engines in 2016.   Everyone thought they must have made a deal with Mercedes but Toto Wolff convinced the Mercedes board it would be a terrible idea.

That leaves Red Bull at the mercies of Ferrari, a company they historically not have head great relations with.
Unless they really have, as long rumored,  been working on their own engine in secret...

Renault's acquisition of Lotus is not a done deal yet, with the hangup being, according to some, F1's stakeholders wish to make the maximum amount of money possible.   CVC is said to be objecting giving Renault what amounts to a bit of a sweetheart deal with the prize money.    With the alternative bing Renault leaving the sport and leaving the series to just Mercedes and Ferrari, it seems like an extraordinarily short sighted policy.

The future of Monza was another big topic.   Bernie said, boiled down to it, he could care less if Monza has been on the calendar for the whole history of F1, he only cares about money.
Italy, unlike the many dictatorships F1 seems to prefer,  is bound by EU regulations limiting government financial involvement in private enterprises.    Laws have to be changed and Italy has bigger fish to fry.....but politicians are politicians and they love a show:  Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was on hand to meet with the tiny Briton.  

Frankly, given PM Renzi's command of the english language combined with his determination to continue butchering it in public, makes me glad negotiations will be conducted in the universal language of money.

I'm hoping Sergio Marchionne is more involved that he will admit

The elephant in the room was the tire decision.

Unfortunately it becomes difficult to discuss this rationally as Lewis Hamilton fans get bent out of shape.   It actually had absolutely nothing to do with Lewis at all and yes, it would have been a disappointment for him and his fans had the dominant race win been taken away because of a technical infraction.

But not any more disappointing as it was for Daniel Ricciardo last season in Australia.

In Monza, it was decided that in effect,  rules were wrong, or not sufficiently clear or that it was Pirelli's fault for not being specific enough...

On pit lane, not everyone was buying it:

Rob Smedley (Williams Martini F1):

"It does not matter how much it is, minus 0.3 or minus 10, when you have technical regulations you have to adhere to them.   With wings we make them within a half a millimeter of the regulations. If we go over and are caught, we get disqualified.
Rules  are there so that you respect them,  what do you do with wings, with engines with ride height ?  Is it OK to go over by a little but not OK to go over by a lot?
If we all added just a little, all of our cars would be all be two seconds faster.
There are rules and they broke them, end of story."

Paul Hembery (Pirelli)
"at the end of the day, it's about performance, (low pressures) create a problem because they threaten the integrity of the race car but at the same time gives a performance advantage."

It's somewhat ironic that after Spa, Toto Wolff had been very critical of Ferrari for going outside of Pirelli's recommendations.   The measured discrepancy on Hamilton's car was small, but on Rosberg's. quite substantial.   Both were below what they were supposed to be.

In it's infinite wisdom, the FIA decided, after two and half hours,  to rule it did not really know when to measure pressures and that Pirelli had not been sufficiently clear about when it should be done.

It would seem logical pressures should be checked as closely as possible to the start,  it's too easy for a mechanic to change pressures on the grid.  Will everyone take tires out of the blankets early so as to have lower pressures for the start?

Before you say "stupid F1 rules", "Shitty tires" etc.,  WEC has exactly the same safety rule regarding tire pressures.

Politically, it's understandable:  fans would have screamed bloody murder.
It's complicated to rule against the largest team in the sport, the one that supplies the most teams,  provides all the support vehicles, the one buying all those Pirelli tires for its road cars.

The rule was one for safety yet it's pretty clear other considerations came into this decision.

It's not the first time Mercedes has has "interesting" rulings from the FIA regarding tires: remember the secret tests of 2013  after which the Silver Arrows stopped wearing through Pirellis in less than ten laps?

All of this really had nothing to do with Hamilton who drove exactly as he should have and did everything the team asked him to do.

Perhaps he should all just forget about it and

"don't ask questions, just execute"

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