Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Shut up and develop the car, you irritating little man!

So then, have you been watching the F1 circus this past week ?

If you have, then you won’t have failed to see one team making all the headlines after its poor showing in Australia. A once great team now fallen on hard times in the engine department, is not firing on all cylinders and the team isn’t happy about it. They’ve blustered up and down the pit lane demanding that they be given special dispensation to sort out their engine and how it just isn’t fair that one team is winning everything.

No, not McLaren, who had probably the worst start to a season in the team’s long and illustrious history. One car grenaded its engine on the way to the grid and the other car trundled around at the back of the field limping along without even a Marussia to keep it company. It was a spectacularly poor showing for a team used to winning multiple championships.

And yet there hasn’t been a peep from Ron complaining about how they can’t update the engine, how it’s all so unfair they can’t win. He’s not been shouting and pouting to all the media demanding attention and threatening to sell the team and flounce off with all his fizzy drink money. No, McLaren have said “Yupe, that was a bit of a mess … we’ll do better next time” and then got on with sorting their cars out.

Not so Redbull I’m afraid, who were pretty smug winners when they won four titles back to back and are now showing themselves to be appallingly bad losers.
We’re used to them playing fast and loose with the rule book and throwing their toys out of the pram when others show better technical innovation. But now they have gone fully tantrum and threatened to pack up their toys and flounce off unless the rules are changed to allow them to win again. As you should with difficult and petulant children, the rest of the paddock has resolutely ignored their shouting and attention seeking. The sole voice to agree with them was that of Bernie, a long time friend of the winners with money. Who mumbled something about “the show” and “the fans” and “how much can we charge them for this” then asked what an app was and how much they could charge the fans for that.

The highlight was Horner pouting at the media and claiming that “Sir, sir ... Redbull never dominated like Mercedes are now sir! Its soooooo unfair sir” Clearly forgetting the time Pirelli changed the tyre constructions and Vettel won every race by a country mile for the rest of the year.    

So Redbulls furious proclamations that they are “This close to selling it all to Audi and good riddance to the whole thing”, should be treated with the contempt it deserves. F1 has always been a cyclical sport, teams rise and fall all the time. Some rise and float for a time, some rise and flounder just under the surface for a time before being eaten by their creditors. Whinging that the life raft doesn’t have the right kind of seats and the champagne is too warm wins you no friends with the other passengers. As McLaren are demonstrating, the best thing is to get on with building a new raft and keep your mouth shut, for that I think I shall cheer on their efforts this year.

So then, this weekend.

Well Alonso was seen getting aboard a plane bound for Malaysia with a race suit and helmet. The word from the team is he will be in the car for first practice on Friday, it remains to be seen if he’s in the car on Sunday afternoon though. He’s been in the simulator catching up with all the updates since his accident or which he claims the steering went heavy before he lost control. The inference being then that the car was at fault and a mechanical system failed, not the sparky blue bits.

I think Alonso is too much of born racer to walk away from this car, but a couple of races tooling around at the back of the grid might weaken that resolve. But if you want a single team to develop the nuts off a car, then McLaren are your boys and girls. Sure it’s bad now, but eventually it’ll be at least alright. I don’t think a McLaren in the top ten would be a good idea just yet.

Also unlikely to trouble the top ten will be Manor (Marussia) who got slapped with having to pay their air freight costs after the non running in Australia. Whilst the FIA was perfectly happy that the team had a car and at least made it to the first race, Bernie threw a wobbler and told everyone they had no intention of running and where “Just ’avin a laugh” at F1’s expense.
Manor pointed out that Ferrari who make their engine had handed over a couple of spare 2014 unit for them to use at a just about affordable rate. But as there had been no plans to use 2014 engines because they were so rubbish, there was no software to make them start. The 2015 code wasn’t backwards compatible despite assurances it would be, a problem software companies keep seeming to have! Ferrari shrugged and said “it’sa too tight’a deadline sinore”. Then shrugged again and walked off so compare sunglasses.
Manor claim they will be up and running in Malaysia, but the pesky 107%, “your too slow” rule is going to be their biggest challenge.

Up the front.

Mercedes will win it .. and that means Lewis, unless Nico gets his act together.  Mercedes have been smiling slyly and hinting that have an even better update coming, just you wait and see. So anything other than a silver car on pole and the top step of the podium is a foolish notion. Even in the rain that car is so much faster than the rest. Pick your favourite driver for the win.

Next is interesting, Ferrari or Williams.

Williams had the measure of the Ferrari in Australia, although it is clearly faster than last year donkey, the front wing loses its entire front end grip when following another car. Massa was called in far too early, allowing Vettel to nail a couple of fast laps in clear air sail past the Brazilian. A sign to me, that Williams were still looking at a conservative and safe points claiming finish than a, “roll the dice and see what happens” strategy.  They need to hang it out there and have the courage to make thing happen for them, they’re Williams F1 damn it! They’re better than that.

Bottas is talking up his chances of returning, but anyone who’s had a back injury will tell you it doesn’t take much of a knock to set it off again. If the Williams driver is back, there are a few hefty bumps in Malaysia so I think he might be a bit tentative about pushing too hard.  Massa is paid to be safe and steady, so i think Vettel will be ahead of the plucky British cars again. Kimi, well your guess is as good as mine where he is.

Then you have the Sauber and Redbull fight. The Swiss team were more than a bit surprised just how much better the 2015 Ferrari engine is. They were expecting to just collect the odd point and try not to embarrass themselves this year, and here they are third in the championship only one point behind Ferrari! If Redbull are going to continue to have Renault issues than we might very well see Sauber in fifth place for the next race or three. And Nasr appeared to have at least some talent, keeping a number of more qualified drivers behind him all race long. Melbourne is a tricky little track that requires a certain amount of respect. He did alright did Nasr but Ericsson is still just their because he paid the winter fuel allowance at team HQ.

So then Lewis or Nico for the win, give Vettel another shot at Italian glory in third, Massa and Nasr to round out the top five if Kimi doesn’t keep his hands off the ice-creams.

Lotus will be better this weekend after promising so much and delivering so little in Australia and should be ahead of the Torro Rosso boys. Force India will be keeping McLaren company for the last point.


Please feel free to update your predictions before the Friday if you want to, any changes after midnight on Thursday will only affect the next race in China.

Malaysia always throws up rain at some point remember. A wet track will level the playing field for the mid table boys considerably. Mercedes will still walk it ;)

Good luck everyone.

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