Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Back to Europe and sensible start times.

Hello, how are you all ?

Looking forward to watching the racing at a more reasonable hour I hope. Yes, we’re back in Europe with packed grandstands in the rolling green (ish) hills of Spain and the Circuit de Catalunya. One thing is going to be a nailed on certainty this weekend; Maldonado will not be standing anywhere near the podium on Sunday evening. No sire Bob. Not a chance in hell. Not even in the top ten, no way buddy.

Well, probably not. You never know with this sport.

It’s all been pretty quite after the frenzy of the first four flyaway races. The teams have hunkered down in their respective factories with the boffins pouring over the date acquired over the last two months, trying to find the answers to why the cars are; a bit rubbish (McLaren), a bit slow (Ferrari) and lacking a bit of rear grip (Mercedes). So the PR machines have been a bit quite all around.

Bernie popped up to tell Marussia, the last place team that they wouldn’t be getting any TV money next year. Marussia shrugged and nodded at Caterham and smiled. While Williams after thinking about it, started telling anyone that “it wouldn’t apply to the established teams ... would it ?”

Lotus have waved goodbye to the only thing that was making a difference. James Allison, the best F1 designer you’ve never heard off, has been tempted away to ... well take your pick from Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes. And why, you ask, is this such big news? Well Allison is pretty much credited with being the best thing in F1 design circles after Newey. Considering how much money Redbull throw at the team, they achieve what they are capable of. Lotus on the other hand, has a pittance from Genii capital and still they are the next best thing, ahead of the big rollers Ferrari and Mercedes. A lot of people in the pit lane put this firmly at Allison’s doorstep. He’s got a cheap car up there with the richest team on the grid ... imagine what he could do a shed load of cash and a nice sunny view over Maranello *wink*wink*
 So I'm kind of expecting Lotus to fade a bit now, unless he’s left a big fat folder marked “Things to fix next” on his desk.

What else is new? Well Hamilton has expressed his delight in his new “Mercedes Freedom”, whilst talking about being “okay with being Alonso’s team mate ... if that ever happened”, but he still want to see his 3 year Merc contract out. Which is nice.

Button doesn’t think the McLaren upgrades for Spain will be up to much, but I think they showed in Bahrain that they’re maybe not that far off the big boys. Maybe its sneaky, “We’re no threat what so ever” ploy, from Button. That or he’s getting his excuse in early for why Perez over takes him this time.

As for the race then, well,  anyone want to take a punt on anything other than a Redbull ? no me neither. Maybe a Merc for pole again, this time Hamilton perhaps, but Vettel is the form driver to beat right now. Unless anyone has brought an amazing upgrade which changes the game in one move.

The main interest here will be the seeing which teams have opted to put all their development time into next year’s car. The midfield boys have to decide it they can nab a few extra points and move up the table for more TV money. Or concentrate on not going backwards whilst putting all their money into next year’s car. The back row Jonnies have nothing to lose trying to beat the midfield chaps, but don’t want to be that last place team that gets nothing next year. Marussia look like they’re pulling out all the stops here and Caterham might well be firing Van De Garde if he has another rubbish race.   

Whilst this is happening, the front running teams will look at staying ahead of the midfield. Merc and McLaren if they’re being realistic are not going to win the title so there isn't too much point developing the nuts off the car now. Ferrari, will give it a race or so to see if Lotus can keep it up or Redbull pull away too much. But Ferrari will still try regardless though, purely through pride.
These boys can pretty much afford to run two development teams anyway, so they’re not fussed either way. Lotus though are on a shoestring still so they’ll look at where they are relative to Redbull and try to figure out how much it’ll cost to close that gap.

 So, a race to set the tone for the rest of the season then.

Good luck. 

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