Sunday, 16 March 2014

Its always important to read the rules.

Article 5.1.4 of the 2014 FIA Technical regulations states very clearly, in black and white, you have a fuel flow rate of 100kg/h. If the sensor doesn’t work and you stick your own one in, and that also doesn’t give you the result you want .... it’s not the sensor that’s broken, it’s your engine.
Ricciardo drove a pretty flawless race whilst Hamilton and Vettel copped the bad luck fairies attention. Ricciardo came home second on his debut with the world championship team in front of his home crowd and looked like a proper racing driver with skills and talent and stuff. But the Evil FIA called the team to the steward’s office after the race and told them that they had used fuel to fast during the race also that they had told them half way through the race what was happening and they had to fix it. Redbull replied it was a faulty sensor and not their problem.
But the rules are the rules and if the sensor says you are using the fuel too fast, you have to slow that rate down. Now I can sympathise to an extent with Redbull, after the winter they’ve had with a car that is reluctant to complete more than a hatful of laps. Here they were in second at the opening race and pretty much learning on a lap by lap basis, their new car. It was the longest it had run in one go and the fuel flow rate was probably as much of a surprise to them as it was the FIA. But the rules I'm afraid are the rules and if their own sensor, which they had used on Saturday after they noted problems with the FIA sensor, still didn’t give them a legal fuel flow rate...  they’re screwed.
As Ricciardo stood in the steward’s office champagne dripping silently off his race suit, the boyish grin slipping slowly from his face, the men in well fitting blue suits shook their collective heads as the Redbull management argued their case.  The result was his well deserved second place was taken away from him and Redbulls disastrous 2014 campaigned continued.
But every cloud has a silver lining doesn’t it. This all meant that my new favourite driver was promoted from third to second. Step forward Kevin Magnussen, McLaren’s latest Uber talent, and the first Danish driver ever to stand on an F1 podium. I like Kevin, I really do, he’s been fast from the moment he got in the car and he doesn’t swagger about giving it all the “big I am”.
And also its a return to form for McLaren who had a torrid year in 2013. In fact 2012 and 2011 were pretty rubbish. So Big Ron’s come back, sidelined the slackers (Whitmarsh on day one and by all accounts Sam Michele any day now). Picked up Eric “I hate Lotus” Boullier for a song and nailed McLaren back onto the podium. We should make Ron prime minister, he’d be absolutely fantastic. And Jenson got a podium, all be it after everyone else had gone home and without any razzamatazz, but I think in a way that may have been for the best.

So yes, the race then, did you enjoy it ? I did, even with Hamilton stopping after a couple of laps. His pole in the wet on Saturday was typical all out attack Lewis. Especially after he’d only completed 100 yards of the first practice session before his engine shut itself down.  If he hadn’t had an engine glitch on the parade lap that robbed him of one cylinder I think he’s have walked the race, just like Nico did. The biggest surprise for me was the pace and reliability of Ricciardo’s Redbull, Vettel was nowhere all weekend but Danny was up there through all the practice sessions and qualifying. He almost looked like he deserved that seat!
I also liked the sound, now my real love are the Le Mans cars of the world endurance championship and they or rather the Audis have sounded just like the new F1 cars for years now, a turbo whistle and the squeal of the tires protesting in the corners.   I like the new grunty V6 turbo sound, and you can hear the crowds again, especially when the local lad beats the chap who stole a win for the previous local lad. Give it 6 months and you won’t even remember the sound of the old V10’s

Right okay the result then. Just to confirm. Ricciardo was excluded from the result by the FIA and because we don’t like cheats that get caught before everyone has packed up and gone home, he gets excluded from our results. I'm sure Redbull are going to protest about this and to be honest I think it’ll get overturned by the courts in a month or so. But I can’t be bothered going back and changing results so this is the result we’re sticking with. If by some miracle you’d predicted a the grinning Ozzy new boy to be on the podium I am sorry, I think he deserved the result but the FIA don’t agree and that is the end of it.

Nico wins and gets the 100th win for a Mercedes engine I think. Given the winter testing results that looks to be about the right result really, it was going to be either Nico or Lewis according to the bookies, who are usually right. He won by a country mile, and got the fastest lap to boot. I suspect the first round of fly away races are going to be between the two Merc drivers and the bad luck fairies.

Magnussen was second after the FIA threw the book at Ricciardo. Kev was fast in all the testing he did over the winter and the McLaren has shown it has the speed to be at the sharp end this year. I'm expecting great things from this lad this year. All he needs to do is learn to get the car off the line cleanly, another wild moment like today could see him hit with the FIA ban hammer.  It looked spectacular, but not if you were Alonso it didn’t.

Jenson was third and profited once again from a timely pit call and not driving the nuts off the car. He still can’t qualify but he can certainly drive a car. Could this signal a return to the top table for McLaren ?

Alonso was fourth, but the car is slow, almost half a second off the Merc boys. Apparently both Ferraris had some sort of electrical issue during the race so Fernando’s result is once again testament to his superb driving ability. But I think this is yet again another year where Ferrari has not given him the car to do the job. McLaren are certainly ahead of the red cars, Force India isn’t far behind and Redbull may apparently have them beaten too. Worrying times for the Ferrari pitwall I imagine.

Bottas brought it home fifth in the end and should have delivered more really. Those Williams cars are pretty fast, I’d even go as far as to say on a pace with the Mercs. Bottas was seconds faster at times and he had avoided the wall that destroyed his right rear wheel he was on for a podium.

Hulkenberg was sixth in the Force India, see he’s just brilliant.

Kimi was seventh and didn’t look like he enjoyed a single minute of his return to Ferrari.  The new fly by wire breaking system looks like it’s going to take a bit of getting used to for the Finish lad.

 Vergne was eighth even after I bad mouthed him in the preview! And now he’s the best placed Renault finisher too!! Yes I'm more than a little surprised, I bet none of you thought he’d be in the top ten did you ...

Kvyat was ninth and no doubt will get a bit kiss from Putin next time he’s back in the mother land. He looked alright throughout the weekend actually.  Well, apart from getting in everyone’s way during the practice sessions, but once he figures out the shiny flappy things to his right and left our mirrors he’ll be fine.

Finally Perez is given some points and told not to brag about it to anyone important. Check out that McLaren you were driving last year, look where it is now. That’s what talent gets you, not money.

Finally, Max  .. .hurrah ...... is last again and his little puppy dog eyes were all aglow in the post race interviews. His eventual 13th place might prove to be very important to Marussia. Yes yes yes I know technically Bianci was actually moving at the end, but he did less that 90% of the race and thus the FIA say he didn’t finish. He was pretty much just tooling around on an extended test session anyway after he missed the start of the race.
Ok, the red wine is almost finished and I need to go to bed. I think the new season has a lot of potential, the podium looked happy for a change and it’s always nice to see some new faces up there.  The future looks rosy for a few and Lotus has a mountain to climb.

See you in two weeks for the Malaysian GP. 

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