2013 February… on the verge of something special in Formula One?!?

Without reservation, I can honestly go on the record that the 2012 Formula One championship was the best season I’ve ever followed.

Now the marketing vehicles, except for WilliamsF1, have had their covers pulled off, for what it’s worth.

These early launches are about marketing and business development. Anyone who thinks that here is anything on this car to give any developmental advantage to the competitors has not been paying too much attention to how this cycle is now working. Ferrari, said, before the launch of their F13-8, that the car in Melbourne will be quite different to the one that is presented to the public during their ‘launch’.

I expected the red car to be fast out of the blocks this year. After the first day of testing, I’m not so certain that is the case.

I was very interested in seeing the Mercedes, a wildcard, but their woes apparently continue; “call the fire brigade”.  Speaking of the silver arrows, they are the most top-heavy organization of all time!  If you’ve been paying attention over a few cycles of this game, then you’ll know, without doubt, that the Niki Lauda, Toto Wolfe equation is incompatible with Ross Bran remaining with the team; it ain’t gonna happen!  That’s just the way it is, regardless of you stature.  The achievements of Ross Brawn in Formula One racing are staggering!  Yet, he’s on the way.

For whatever reason, maybe because of my bent endearment to the underdog, I like Sauber; not just Peter Sauber, but the entire Sauber culture and tradition. I like the car.

Of course, as mentioned above, the ‘launches’ are all about marketing, rather than actually displaying the focus of the teams’ fanatical developmental focus.  I would personally discount any teams chances, if they were to bring any of their key hard earned ‘goodies’ to the table, for their VERY aggressive and active and capable of copying competitors to assess. Nonetheless, I find I like this car better than any launched so far. Despite the fact that it was a fantastic achievement scoring as well as they did last year, this season might even be better for Sauber; the car could in fact be genuinely competitive, not ‘somewhat competitive’ as it was last year.   As far as incremental development of machinery, Sauber is bats way over it’s head, and has has for quite a few years. With this unusual period of stability in regulations, we enter a potentially optimum environment for Sauber. Notwithstanding the fact that the driver line up has a lot to do to demonstrate that it is as good as last year’s phenomenal line up, there is a very real possibility that it could be better yet!  I believe that both of the 2012 Sauber drivers are world-champion potential; but Nico’s trajectory at the end of 2012 was the most impressive.  While information for assessing the expected performance of Gutierrez is next to nothing, I yet remember while naming Sergio Perez to first drive for the team, the word on the street was that he was a placeholder for Gutierrez!  Nico didn’t set the timesheets ablaze on this the first day of testing for the year, but there is a long way to go.

Did I mention that the Sauber looks good?  The management structure at Sauber seems very solid; Kaltenborn has more than demonstrated top flight capabilities for someone in her role. I just hope they can remember, if your driver is currently experiencing the drive of his life, closing in on, and as certainly as anything in the circus, going to pass the legend in the Ferrari, to take the lead, with a few laps to go, then do NOT tell your driver to change anything!  Best if you just don’t talk to him at all, except o tell him that you’re there for him, if he needs you, and that he’s doing a great job.  We could have had another winner last year.

I expect teams to be establishing their baselines during the Jerez tests.  Maybe we’ll start seeing some more ‘goodies’ bolted on during the next test, and a continuous development cycle across he year.  The team that will be first across the finish line for the championship, will be the team that has the capability, and delivers the stream of upgrades in such an order that it will be most difficult for other teams to adapt and incorporate, like Red Bull did last year with their decisive final round of new goodies,starting with Singapore.  Nobody could adapt and incorporate the concepts in time to catch them.

With the constancy of the rules, I expect the races to be very competitive, and multiple race winners to be the norm, as early as the fourth race. For a team to dominate, it will likely have to come with a unique innovation that nobody else has, and requires a significant time frame to develop by competitors. Who knows where that could come from in this year’s tight pack, Sauber, Williams, Force India. If there was a year that a previous year’s mid-pack team could win, this has got to be it.

 

It’s going to be good!

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Okay, Lewis Wins F1 USA Grand Prix in Austin, Texas

Lewis Hamilton, fully deserving, chases down and takes victory, in the best race of the year, so far.

Way to go, Lewy!

The McLaren ha been good for a lot of the season; it just seems that one or another in the McLaren camp can’t get it right for the weekend.  They picked a good time to do it, before the biggest market in the world, with a world-class race.

Now we can wait and see about the economic potential for Formula One in the U.S. A.  because they don’t get much better than this inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas.

About the Ferrari decision to ‘work on’ Filipe’s transmission; and it favoured Alonso; of course they would, with good reason.  Any team that wouldn’t do that, in similar circumstances doesn’t deserve to win.

Bravo to Filipe, who has never driven better!  Way to go Filipe; nobody on the grid is hotter than you, including your esteemed team mate.  It’s too bad you would almost certainly not be permitted to in at your home race, even if you deserved it.

Good job Vettel.

Though strategically foolish, chasing Lewis all of the way to the line; there are those like me, who can’t help but respect.

Vettel – Holy S#!T! F()<KING Awsome! What the F()<K?!?

Whoa!  He’s done it before, but I don’t think we’ve ever had such a Red Bull-Vettel package advantage OVER ALL COMERS!  He comes out late in a practice, the teaming having worked on some undisclosed, but crucial performance issue for most of the session, frantically!  And he bangs in the fastest lap of the session!  Just like that.

Everybody else has a BIG PROBLEM!

I think the job for Vettel is to stay focused, stay cool, stay light, and then he will stay in that zone that he is in with the Red Bull right now, and no one is going to be ble to get close to him.

The only issue at stake is, can Alonso get at least the third place, he needs to retain a mathematical possibility to still win the championship, going to the anything-can-happen Brazilian GP?  

I want to put yet another shout out the Kamui Kobyashi: those who have been paying close attention, know how good you are.  Keep up the good work; I honestly do not count you out of a win before any race.  Go for it, I hope you can win, but it looks like second will be the highest possible position for anyone but Sebastian Vettel, at the moment.

Still backing Kimi to win the 2012 F1 Drivers Championship

2012 October 20  11h51 daylight saving Eastern timezone, North America.

Is it either:

1. Kimi can do this (the Maki Racing) commercial endorsement the it has been done (interesting, clever, eye-catching, and very amusing, i.e. not bus-nob square boring, shit, so tedious), because he has such a large fan base?

or

2. Kimi has such a large fan base because he has ALWAYS been doing it that way done things in interesting, clever, eye-catching, amusing ways, and seldom is busnob square, nor boring, nor bullshit?
It is the latter, as all of the people who have been paying attention, already know.

2012 Korean F1 Grand Prix – Friday Practice Analysis – pretty much as thought

By the second session, and having no doubt gone through their program with little regard for demonstrating the fastest pace, Red Bull are the fastest cars at Yeongam, a circuit of interesting corners and straights rather oddly strung together, in a marshy industrial space four hours from Seoul.  But party town if you are Sebastian Vettel, and yet fun for Mark Webber.  The two of them traded incremental fastest laps, in the hundredths, while Alonso was closest three tenths off their pace.  Red Bull are maintaining their advantage, albeit, slimmed compared to Suzuka.

But Alonso is just off the pace, he was P2 in the first session!

Massa is very close as well, Ferrari are the main contenders here.

McLaren have dropped back a bit, since Japan and the latest flex-wing scare.  I’ve come point in my life where I believe it to be so that real ‘co-incidence’ is extremely rare, if not non-existent.  Jensy leads the way with P4 in the 2nd practice, Lewis in reverse after having the fastest time in P1, ended in 8th in P2.

Mercedes are for real, P5 and P7.

Sadly, Lotus have lost touch with the front.  We have seen with Mercedes, that the learning curve for tuning the exhaust-effect, rear-downforce increasing process, is slow, only now are they showing the increased pace from their introduction.  They plan to keep it for the race.

More later…

Doubters of Perez haven’t been paying attention – 2012 October 1st

In case you haven’t read any of my previous posts, mark the date, October 1st 2012, Sergio Perez will clearly get the better of Jenson Button by the fourth race of 2013.

As predicted in the https://deancassadyf1.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/silly-uhh-enough/ post, yes, that was September 14th 2012, Lewis to Mercedes, Perez to McLaren.

Okay, there is only one Lewis Hamilton, and HE’S PROVEN that he can win, races, an the championship; there is no doubt there, the talent, and maybe even more importantly, some intangible quality, THE ABILITY TO WIN.  Whatever you say about past F1 champions, regardless of comparative equipment, regardless of almost everything else, is this quality, who knows if it can even be learned?  It is the quality to be able to win.

For those that haven’t been paying attention.  Perez has shown the ability; and it is a rare thing.  For example, if you look at him lap by lap, especially in dueling situations, he has without a doubt done better than Jenson Button, for example, who is a world champion, also.  Checko, is that what they call him, he most definitely has displayed an ability to go for it, and then, make it!  He has done this repeatedly.

The dueling with Raikkonen was one of the nicest fights to watch so far this season.

About the strategy being responsible for the achievements: that just doesn’t wash.  Look at the comparative competitiveness of the Sauber.  Certainly they are much closer to the sharp end compared to recent years in terms of equipment competitiveness; but the car has never been the all out fastest car.  Yes they have a few things going for them, their tire management became good, early on in the campaign, but this is just not a top-flight car.  I admit that the strategy has been very good, but that just propped up the driver(s) to within an outside chance of podium potential competitiveness!  Sergio capitalized on this outside potential spectacular fashion!

I still think a team blunder cost him that first win against Alonso.

It was no mistake, for either Lewis, or McLaren to go their separate ways.  Sometimes a relationship is out, when it is out, it is out, and the synergy required to create the driver champion is not available.  So was the case with the Hamilton-McLaren relationship; and the details of who and why are just for decoration, it really doesn;t matter, after the fact.

Short of Kimi, he is proven, I believe that Perez was the best available driving option for McLaren.  I expect Perez will lead Button, by a similar margin that Hamilton has won this year, at McLaren.

Furthermore, his behaviours over this season and last suggests strongly that he is more inclined to deliver the maximum points per race, regardless of the comparative advantage of the equipment. If McLaren deliver a car with the same overall comparative advantage over the course of the entire season, I would expect Perez to be leading the championship at this stage of the season.

Is this a bad move for McLaren?

Any bad moves by McLaren, if they exist, happened in the past, and were not going to be overcome in contract negotiations.

It’s just the way it goes sometimes.

The title race 2012 September 24, with six races to go…

As indicated on the Official Formula 1 web site, the drivers’ championship stands as:

01 Fernando Alonso 194
02 Sebastian Vettel 165
03 Kimi Räikkönen 149
04 Lewis Hamilton 142
05 Mark Webber 132
06 Jenson Button 119

While there remains a maximum mathematical total of 150 for any driver on the grid, even if one driver were to gain all of those points, the other drivers would likely continue to amass points as well.

The logical favourite is the current points leader, Fernando Alonso, not only because he has a 29 point lead on his nearest rival, but also because he has demonstrated relentless determination to maximize the points haul for every race, regardless of the competitiveness of the equipment that he has had.  Furthermore, Ferrari, contrary to their ongoing claims of uncompetitive machinery, have come on terms with the leader in the development race, arguably McLaren, so that the most significant difference between the competitiveness of the McLaren and the Ferrari is the qualifying pace, only!

Second, after his Singapore victory, Sebastian Vettel, is charging hard in his Red Bull.  The reigning world champion is going through his first year since he joined Red Bull without a clear advantage in machinery (2009 the Red Bull was faster than the Brawn except for the double diffuser).  He has responded by upping his game, as evidenced in his driving in the second half of this year.  Already having established his credentials in the top tier of drivers, Vettel is currently the fastest driver on the grid.  Singapore was only his second victory of the year, yet he is in second in the driver standings, only 29 points behind Alonso.  Like Alonso, he has maximized points scoring for every race, regardless of the comparative competitiveness of the Red Bull machinery. 

Speaking of the machinery, this year has had no clear dominant car, but over the course of all of the races so far, I would be tempted to place the Red Bull tied for second with the Ferrari, behind only the McLaren.

Speaking of McLaren, there is no doubt that Lewis Hamilton is in the top tier of drivers, in fact, when completely on his game, he dominates more than anyone else on the grid; and that is saying a lot in the company of Alonso, Vettel and the other former world champions.  However, Lewis has shown he is unstable.  He has a history of reactivity that seems to have constrained his phenomenal capability; the tweeting of the telemetry after his exit from Spa is just one example in a long list.  So this fantastic driver, with arguably the best equipment over the course of the season so far, is only 4th in the championship, and a whopping 52 points behind championship leader Alonso.  It could be argued that this is because he has NOT maximized his points haul in every race of the year.  He is now only an outside contender to become world champion this year; he is not eliminated, we’ve seen one person on the grid make up this magnitude of points to win a world championship in the last race; that person BEAT Lewis in the final race, and Alonso.

Kimi, in terms of raw racing ability, is second to none on the grid.  He currently stands in third in the championship, but 45 points behind Alonso, with no wins.  But he has, like Alonso and Vettel, maximized his points haul even when the Lotus was not competitive, stayed out of trouble, most of the time, unlike his team mate Grosjean.  He is a long way back, but has the demonstrated experience in making up a sizeable gap to win a championship.

In my opinion Webber and Button are no, for all practical purposes, out of the running for the drivers’ championship.  Webber has maximized his points haul, but has still come up short, whereas Button, it could be argued, has not had the consistency, even accounting for the team errors that cost both him and Hamilton points, so far this season, to be champion.

I don’t know about you, but I really feel that this year’s formula has ultimately created a situation wherein the driver capability is the defining factor, and that factor this year is in extracting the maximum from whatever the competitiveness of the machinery is for that given race.  The people who have done that the best now stand in the top three spots in the drivers’ standing.  Let’s face it, Ferrari started the year with a dramatically inferior car, and Lotus has only really had observable dominance in Budapest, and then yet hindered by sub-par qualifying pace; and Vettel was just as fast as Lotus in race pace; so Kimi’s placement in the championship is even more extenuating.

Factors affecting the final six races and the championship:

1. Development:

All of the contenders must keep their development on pace or better, to win the championship. Ferrari just needs to maintain their comparative competitiveness, regardless of their media propaganda machinery, their car is now as competitive as any, except as noted, and their reliability is second to none.  ed Bull seems to be just hanging in there, and really need to improve their qualifying pace to give Vettel a chance.  At the other end of the spectrum, Lotus need to make gains against these two rivals; they need better race pace than Red Bull, and they need better qualifying pace compared to Ferrari; if their vaunted and much anticipated ‘device’ fails to deliver, then, unfortunately, I predict a two-way fight to the last corner in San Paulo, and Lotus won’t be there.  McLaren have the car, and the development pace, but now they are so far back with Lewis in the drivers’ standings, that not only do they need to maintain or exceed their rivals in development, they need a little luck, the bad kind, to befall Alonso, anyhow, for a real chance to win.  Even an Alonso DNF combined with a Lewis victory would still put his more than a race vicory’s worth of points behind Alonso, and counting on that to happen more than once to Alonso/Ferrari is pretty thin ice.

What I’d like to see:

A second world championship for Kimi, won in the last corner of the last race, in Brazil.

My prediction:

Vettel will win it in the last race.