Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ramble on ...

Ok then, time for a bit of perspective.
Is Formula one in trouble …. ?
Yes, yes of course it is. Half the teams are spending more time fighting creditors off with a finely tooled carbon prop shaft than chasing championship points. The racing is restricted by tyres that go off way too fast, fuel flow meters mean drivers have to lift and coast rather and nail it where the angels fear to tread. The muddy scum on the banking are kept well away from any contact with those paid to entertain them. Social media is a dirty word as other racing series fall over themselves to throw information at the punters, overload them with data and behind the scenes footage. F1 inc is taking down fans Youtube clips taken from six miles away on the banking, banning online F1 games that haven’t paid for the rights to use the drivers names or results of the races. There’s no attempt to engage with the audience, it’s only available to those prepared to pay through the nose for access and information. And that access and information is tightly controlled by just one man, a man dismissive of anyone that doesn’t have the money to buy a seat at his expensive race day tables. And a man who isn’t too concerned just where that money will have come from either. Dodgy third world dictator, not a problem, questionable attitude to human rights, come on in.
The only people telling you there isn’t a problem are those with a vested interest in things staying exactly as they are; Anyone connected with Mercedes, Bernie and his various tame media outlets, the FIA, Pirelli tyres, Ferrari. But not Redbull, especially not Redbull who are lying on the ground kicking their heels, throwing their toys at any passing media and screaming red faced at absolutely anyone that will listen about how unfair it is that they aren’t winning anymore.  It’s all particularly unseemly.
So yes, on and off track, it’s not looking too clever really. Talking of clever, where are the F-ducts and mass dampers? Those clever bits of thinking that can turn a midfield garagista into a front runner …. Banned.  The only difference now is buried deep under the carbon fibre skin, electrical systems tick and fizzle with innovation. KERS and ERHS powering man and machine faster for less fuel, more bang for your bucks. But all kept oh so secret, until it explodes then the fingers start pointing and shoulders are shrugged.
All this would be fine of course if there was a BUT next wouldn’t it ….. Nope I can’t think of one. The absolute highlight of the season so far, the biggest talking point, was Mercedes calling Hamilton in when he was leading the Monaco GP, oh and Maldonado crashing a lot.
Did you catch any of the other motor sport events I mentioned at the start of June ?
It all kicked off with the Canadian GP; Hamilton was the fastest, some cars almost hit some local wildlife. I fell asleep.
The following weekend was Le Mans and possibly one of the best races of the past decade, Porsche and Audi scrapping it out for the win, Toyota completely outgunned, Nissan getting a rude awakening and a social media kicking, the plucky KCMG squad from Hong Kong taking the LMP2 win with a faultless run ahead of much more experience teams. Then Corvette taking the honour in GT pro after a race long battle with Ferrari and a fleet of Aston Martins. Heartbreak for Aston in GT am with a crash for the leading car with less than an hour to go, Dempsey making in onto the podium in second behind the SMP Ferraris.  It had everything this year, racing all race long, beer,  Audi beaten at last, baguettes, Corvette winning, roast chicken. I hardly slept for 24 hours.

The Austrian GP: Roseberg was the fastest, I was in London having a good time with my son. So I didn’t fall asleep during the race this time, I fell asleep watching the highlights instead.

And finally I couldn’t find any live streams of Pikes peak. But I did watch the Formula E race from London, the final round of this new championship and it was an absolute belter. Buemi looked like he’d cruse to the title, but Piquet Jr drove a spectacular second race to hold onto the championship lead by two points.
Formula E is an odd thing, because the cars will only do half the race they have to swap cars at about half distance. So the driver has a choice weather to lift and coast to save power so they can get an extra lap to have more power with the second car at the end. Or go hell for leather at the start, build a big lead and then eak out the power of the second car to defend the lead. Where F1 is dull because the drivers are having to lift and coast from pretty much lap 4, Formula E manages to make this racing exciting. 
Putting up temporary circuits in cities around the world has brought the racing to people who wouldn’t normally see any live racing, okay the design of the circuits needs a little more thought. They were often too narrow for the bumpy city roads and parks and didn’t always promote much overtaking. But the cars looked fast on the narrow tracks, overtaking had to be about picking the right moment and often muscling past defensive minded drivers.  They might not have sounded very interesting, but the cars look different and the racing was exciting.

With both Le Mans and the Formula E races, social media was all over them like a rash!
I watched Le Mans from the comfort of my sofa, I had my nice big tv with its HD picture showing the two days of practice, and the entire 24 hour race. I had my PC set up showing a full timing service, Tweetdeck following all the major players who tweeted constantly, Facebook with various motorsport sites running race long threads. I watched live feeds from the 3 Nissan in car cameras with Nismo TV’s youtube feed. They had live reports from the pits, the cars, a studio at the back of the garage. Nissan had a great social media race if not an actual race.

Formula E actively encourages fans to get involved with their “Fan boost” via the FIA website.  Fans vote for their favourite driver and the top three get a five second power boast. It’s a bit simple, relies on the driver or teams PR department ability to reach out and do the FIA’s promotion for them. But as a direct result of this I’m now following Instagram feeds for Buemi and Bruno Senna and added dragon racing to my facebook time line. I’ve not watched the whole season, but I’ve watched races that I stumbled on whilst flicking though the tv channels.

So, formula one didn’t really shine in July, when the highlight of the month is Jean Todt telling Bernie to stop bad mouthing F1 to the Media and who is going to buy the rights to the series … you have a problem. There is no positive news from any of the teams or drivers or even the people charged with promoting the whole damn mass !

I have no idea what answer to all this is, but what F1 needs right now is someone to lead the thing whose primary concern isn’t his own ego, legacy or bank balance.

Okay, enough grumpy complaining .. We have the British GP this weekend to look forward to.
Well we do, and if you like watching Kimi being evasive in front of a frenzied media witch hunt you’re in for a proper treat.
The last few weeks have seen Kimi struggle to qualify well and then keep up with either of the Merc or his team mate Vettel. Normally this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, a number two driver is supposed to be there or there about’s and not put the highly paid number one under too much pressure. But this is Ferrari and any sign of weakness is jumped upon by the Italian media and eventually the rest join in. It’s a quite month, not a lot of on track action to write about, let’s pick on a driver make him feel bad about his perceived lack of performance.

So the media have been rumbling for a week or two now about how badly Kimi was doing, the usual “Ferrari number two poison chalice” stuff. If Ferrari isn’t coming first and second than clearly it’s the number two drivers fault. Then Arrivabene held a press conference to say no they weren’t looking to sign Bottas any time soon despite not being asked that question, and the interest in Kimi ramped up.
Vettel is doing a good job of looking renewed and exciting, he got a win and Kimi has failed to win anything and is thus now over the hill and ready for a job at Marussia apparently.
And this week, apparently Ricciardo thinks it’s “nice” that Ferrari are interested in signing him at some unspecified time despite a rock solid contract with Redbull. So the media circus is chasing Kimi around asking him when he’s going to be fired and why is he so rubbish now. Kimi, not the most charismatic media presence, is hiding behind his big glasses and muttering “no comment” whenever he’s asked about his future. Expect this weekend TV coverage to be dominated by this total non-story.

Right, yes, Silverstone .. total power circuit, so Merc win, and Ferrari close behind, the same as Austria and Canada really. I should imagine that Hamilton would like to get a win on home soil, it’s a circuit he likes and knows well. Nico will probably be right in his wheel tracks.
Errr Ferrari (Vettel) the Williams boys looking to put on a good show, Lotus with renewed vigour and I thinks its Perez’s turn to do well this weekend. Throw in a Torro Rosso for the laughs.

Things to look out for, how many engine changes Renault have across all their teams. How many laps the McLarens complete all weekend long and how many grid penalties they get starting from Friday practice one. Will Kimi make it to Q2. And how many minutes Redbull last before they start complaining about their Renault engine.

Once again, I have father/son duties to perform with a party for him and his mates. So the results might be a touch late.

Good luck.   

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