…they find the fastest path! 2013 April 13 – Chinese F1 GP Qualifying

The thing, about modern formula one, is that they come up with the formula, (I don’t know how they come up with the rules, but there is usually a lot of quacking and otherwise carrying-on), the specifications, the constraints, including the tires, and the teams try an almost unimaginable number of permutations …and they find the fastest path!

The whinging (good word Australia) about the tires, is tiresome, definitely!  (“tires, is tiresome”, yes, we can do that in Canada, within the formula.)

Hats off to Lewey, he won the qualifying.

As predicted, Massa would NOT beat Alonso.

Initially, I’d thought Ferrari look strong overall, but having taken a close look at their tire management, I don’t think they are ready to win; I think they’ll both have to take another set more than the team that wins, though Vettel could very conceivably do three stops, the last for softs, and sprint the last four or five laps to win.

Sad, what is happening at Red Bull; anybody who thinks this is a coincidence suffers from not paying attention and/or getting over the denial; it’s just too sharp to be a coincidence; it has design, and planning behind it; the all too rapid on-air report of the ‘problem’ and aggressive action to ‘quarantine’ it?!?  Give me break!  Oh well.

Hoping Mark will bust out of the back and take out Vettel (no injury) as he passes him on the final corner to win the Chinese GP, ahead of Massa, just for a bit of balancing in the kharma.

Everybody has the same constraints (though sometimes somebody finds a path around such constraints, especially when they can’t be policed).

So… tires… and funky, all-blowing-the-load-at-the-same-time, whatnot (in the qualifying today):
“…that’s what they do.”
At one level, when quite a few fans are expecting something (fairly specific), in this case, an hour or so on track dueling and striving, all these people are SO DISAPPOINTED!
But there are those paying attention, to the fascination of the these latest approaches; imagine completely abandoning significant blocks of time, for… retaining more options for during the actual race? Wow!

Fascinating.

People often complain about how the driver has been minimized in the equation, yet here, now, this format, right now, today, creates this intense, almost unbelievable pressure on the human operator, TO DELIVER!

There is no place to hide if you are left to a single timed qualifying run.

It’s amazing!

Getting over traditional expectations might allow some to gain a deeper understanding of the big picture, here.

Really interesting weekend, so far; I am hoping for high tension in the race tomorrow.

Even though the racing is slightly different from the mid-industrial era origins, it’s been a long time since there has been such volatility at the top.

I’m sticking with my outlying prediction of a Bianchi point, and hoping for a Kimi victory.

Late Update: 2013 April 13 21h32 NAEDT:

I just got a feeling that Rosberg must do well; so look for him to ‘get a bit of urgency’, and let’s see what he can do.  Go Nico, go!

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Expect the unexpected! 2013 Apr 10 musings before the 2013 Formula One GP at Shanghai

I was writing this comment at James Allen on F1, in response to his excellent pre-race analysis; of course, it has little to do with the analysis, besides saying that pre-race analysis for this race is very difficult, and what you can actually understand from it should be, that it is very difficult for anyone to predict the results; so I’ll more appropriately put it down here:

Expect the unexpected!
Three weeks!?!
That is quite a while for several of the development departments of the top formula one teams.
However, we come from a base, three weeks ago, of:
a. Red Bull is the fastest car, can qualify at the top;
b. Ferrari is fast, can qualify good;
c. Lotus has had the lowest tire degradation over an entire race distance in the wet, probably won’t be able to qualify on the first two rows, and will be close on race pace;
d. Mercedes are fast, can qualify high (now), may be in the top two teams for tire management, and are the fastest improving team, just ahead of Red Bull, so far this season;
e. McLaren were trending positive from a poorly understood base machinery, and three weeks is long time for them to develop their car.

It looks wide open to me.
I still expect Red Bull to be the fastest.
I still expect Lotus and Mercedes to have the best tire management capability over dry race distance.
Everything else, to me, is open.
Which teams can out-drag their chief rivals, in the development game?
I anticipate warfare, impossible to hide, within at least one team.
When Alonso is out-qualified by Massa for five races in a row, I personally think, ‘way to go Massa!’ But that is irrelevant, because in the context of the environment of Formula One competition, right now, and in case you’ve not been paying attention, this really means that there is a problem with Alonso; and a problem with Alonso IS A PROBLEM AT FERRARI!  

So, that’s ‘kind of’ interesting; not that Ferrari hasn’t been in just about continual crisis mode since the beginning of last season.

I think McLaren could be closer this weekend; look for Perez in the top five, at the flag.

I’m looking forward to the intriguing battle between Sauber and Force India, and the intra-team intrigues there as well.  Some time, before the summer break, I expect Gutierrez to impress, and Bianchi to astound, any race now, for Bianchi; he should be on a top team.

We’ll also see how bad it is at Williams; hopefully not as bad as it was looking in the first two races.

For the cynics, who say/write something like: ‘blah, blah, blah, Vettel, Alonso, and/or Webber, and/or Lewis, boring, boring, boring, but maybe Alonso?’  I think you’re wrong.

Nobody really knows what the entire situation is at Red Bull, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or more of the key players in the drama were not entirely sure how they personally will react this weekend (but we can likely rest assured that Dr. Marko knows where he stands).

What is up at Alonso/Ferrari; couldn’t it only be something that we don’t know, or is it just that Alonso and Massa are comparable drivers?!?  Now, certainly, the Alonso Media Corporation would NOT be supporting that view of the universe, would they?  So, they would have to admit that something is WRONG!  Wouldn’t they?  Of course they won’t; this situation will be described as Massa at the top of his career, with indirect unspoken suggestions that ‘he’s on a streak (that can’t last).’  It certainly can’t last, one way or another.  All I can say is, ‘Go Filipe, go!’  and ‘Go for the world championship!’

Does anyone have credible information about any lasting affect of the Mercedes instructions?  (No need to answer, it’s totally rhetorical;) no one knows the fallout at Mercedes.

There’s tension at Force India.

Hulkenburg is on a mission to beat Force India, and anyone who gets in his way.  If Gutierrez is as good as I think he is, when he gets his F1 legs, he is going to be really good.

In summation, there are a lot of highly reactive ingredients in the recipe this weekend, and there could well be some explosive outcomes, and because of that, potentially drASTIC RESULTS.  iMAGINE bANCHI ON THE PODIUM!

2013 March 24 – Vettel wins ugly, and gracelessly, further complicating the intrigue…

It’s pretty ugly.
I have to say, after finally understanding and admiring Sebastian Vettel from his performances from Budapest, in 2012, my opinion of him is really bad now.
‘Fuck you’ to anyone comparing Vettel to the best driver of all time, (a Brazilian, born March 21, 1960, according to Wikipedia), and justifying Vettel’s actions; that is sick, in the good old-fashioned, messed-up-in-the-head, kind of way.
Neither do I buy the argument that the points difference in this race, between first and second, being greater than the margin between Vettel’s points total and the runner up, Alonso in 2012, justifies what Vettel did. If this was close to the end of the season, and the points landscape was similar to last season’s, I might feel differently about it. But this is the second of 19 races. Vettel has three world championships, fully deserved, but can’t he win it and be gracious at the same time? Also, the team component makes a difference down the stretch; I believe, ultimately, the cost for this cunning stuntery, will be much more than seven points. I think it will cost Vettel the championship; and it should!
I hope Mark works dedicated to himself for the rest of the season, and goes for it! Then, whatever happens, likely out of the ride at Red Bull, he’ll know that he took his best shot. It’s now or never Mark, go for it, knowing you’ve more than earned the right to focus on looking after yourself. Go for it, otherwise, you’ll be finished in Formula One never knowing… You are feral Mark. Stop repressing it. It’s time to let it out, and you just got the license to do it! Good luck mate.
Lewis and Nico did the right thing and I Mercedes is now looking pretty strong. Lewis is Lewis, but in a fair fight, if such a thing exists, I really don’t see too much between them; definitely within the distance of random chance playing a decisive role in the final outcome. I don’t think Lewis did anything wrong, at all! And I’d bet, that in a similar, but reversed situation, Hamilton will hold. He might not have done it before, but we’ll never know, because he’ll do it now, if it happensm at least one pay back time; who knows, maybe more. So I think Rosberg earned a lot with this payment of points. Rosberg could win the title this year.
I think Red Bull has opened the door for Mercedes to win the 2013 Formula One championship!
Sure it was Sebastian Vettel who actually made the move. But the attitude required to make such a move has surely been fostered by the ridiculous coddling of Vettel in the RB stable.
I’m loving the tires, by the way. Good job Pirelli!

The Red Bull controversy is really, really handy for Ferrari. For Red Bull, did ultimately come away from the race with first and second.
At Ferrari, we need the person who made the call to stay out, to stand up, and wear the ‘stupid’ hat; so we can all see who it is, before he or she gets rightly fired. No ifs, ands, or buts, there is no way around it, it was definitely only a matter of time the wing on Alonso’s car was going to break and go under the car; they were fortunate to get all of the way around TO BE ABLE TO MAKE THE PIT STOP! In fact, the gaping unforgivable defect of this call, in every way surpasses the Vettel decision, in the heat of the moment. but since I don’t want to lessen the outrageousness of that call, I’ll let the comparison slide. But make no mistake, it was THE WORST DECISION that I have knowledge of, in Formula One history.

Elsewhere, where was Lotus?
Is it more the case that Australia is more anomalous, or Malaysia is more anomalous?
Could Malaysia simply be a blip on the screen?
Hard to tell right now, but both their single lap pace and race set up looked like it was right up there with Red Bull, Mercedes, and Ferrari. I think they may have gambled on dry, and got hung out when it turned out damp in Q3 and at the start of the race. I’m hoping.

Whatever Shanghai shows us, the complexity of the season before us has increased with the obvious strife at Red Bull, and the likelihood of points-affecting manouvres now very high, there.

2013 March 23 – Malaysia Grand Prix – post Qualifying Analysis

Interesting!
The crystal ball is pretty muddy; that’s because there are so many significant variables.
I get the feeling that the four permutations of:
1. a. qualifying set up versus b. race set up
and
2. c. dry set up versus d. wet set up
yield very different car capability.
Specific observations:
i. Mercedes is fast in one lap, dry
ii. Lotus is comparatively slower in the wet
iii. Red Bull are comparatively fastest over a single lap, wet or dry
iv. Ferrari are quite quick in wet and dry, single lap and race pace, but not the fastest in anything
v. Vettel-Red Bull is the fastest package over a single lap, MASSIVELY
vi. Ferrari start very close to the front with two cars together
vii. Lotus start together at the back of the top ten

Here’s the qualifying positions, as presented by James Allen on his excellent F1 web site:
“MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m49.674s
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.587s + 0.913s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m50.727s + 1.053s
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m51.699s + 2.025s
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m52.244s + 2.570s
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m52.519s + 2.845s
7. Kimi Raikkonen * Lotus 1m52.970s + 3.296s
8. Jenson Button McLaren 1m53.175s + 3.501s
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m53.439s + 3.765s
10. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m54.136s + 4.462s

11. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m37.636s + 1.446s
12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m38.125s + 1.935s
13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m38.822s + 2.632s
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m39.221s + 3.031s
15. Paul di Resta Force India 1m44.509s + 8.319s
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams no time

17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m38.157s + 1.348s
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m38.207s + 1.398s
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m38.434s + 1.625s
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m39.314s + 2.505s
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1m39.672s + 2.863s
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m39.932s + 3.123s

* Three place grid drop for blocking Rosberg”

It’s very difficult to tell how the race might pan out, but here are some of the things I’d like to see:
A. Kimi will start well, pass three to four cars in front, and steadily work his way to the front, likely requiring one less pit stop than any other team*
B. Hamilton will aggressively pass Alonso at the start and have an intense dual with Massa.
C. Red Bull will require one more tire change than Ferrari*
D. One Mercedes driver will take one less stop than the other one*
E. Bianchi will score a point
F. It will rain and the race order will get drastically shaken up
G. Vettel will not win
H. It will dry, after a rain, and the race order will get drastically shaken up,
I. Tires delaminating, fine chaos and mayhem

(*assuming dry race)

Kimi – Victory in Victoria – 2013 Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix race winner!

Sweet.
The only talk that counts.
That’s two race wins in the past five races, isn’t it?
Celebrating the victory of who I believe is the best driver is fun, but what is going on, in the championship?
Are there already any discernible trends?
As stated, repeatedly, in previous posts, “Tire management will determine this race outcome.” (see most recent, at: 2013 March 14, below).
Lotus has the best tire management, at least for the conditions in Melbourne, on 2013 March 17.
It looks like the trend is, Lotus have continued, as aggressively as any other team, to develop their tire management capability from a base of having the best tire management, overall, in 2012.
The Red Bull has continued the trend of being the fastest car.
Ferrari have a much faster car which has improved upon its tire management capability relative to most teams.
Mercedes has improved all areas of their car, relative to most teams, including tire management; at least considering a two-stop strategy suggests to me that they have much, much more confidence in their tire management capabilities, compared to last year. But they are still chowing their tires.
But Red Bull? Probably made a sound strategic decision to get the speed first, and push on tire management through the season; maybe they have a game-changing concept that is easy to copy, say, in three or four races; maybe they don’t want to show it before the summer break is over. How could they (AD) not have foreseen the priority of tire management capability? I don’t think it is a viable supposition.
It is good to see Massa look strong; I don’t know if I buy the Alonso get-by so?!?
Speaking on the object of adoration of the Alonso Media Corporation, he looks strong.
Woe to the team that decides to work the revolution rather than evolve last years fastest car on the grid. Cursed, however, are they that then bemoan it on and on to the Brit-o-centric F1 media circus.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll write it again, Jenson, shut up! Maybe you’re not such a wus, but if you are not, then you sure are presenting the world with your best wus side. Just drive, and do your best. Put your head down, and keep working, even if it doesn’t do too much.

Speaking of working and driving, and shutting up, you got to love that Kimi.

Here is an interesting pattern, from my post on the James Allen site:

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, 58 laps, Dry throughout
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1h30m03.225s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 12.451s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull + 22.346s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 33.577s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561s
6. Mark Webber Red Bull + 46.800s
7. Adrian Sutil Force India + 1m05.068s
8. Paul di Resta Force India + 1m08.449s
9. Jenson Button McLaren + 1m21.630s
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus + 1m22.759s

Look at the pattern of time between the cars:
12, 10, 11, 12, (then anomally) 1, 20 (then similar cars) 3, 12.
10-12 seconds between positions in the top nine!
I don’t know what this means, but it seems significant.
I’ll be tracking.

Last year the Lotus was comparatively weakest on cold circuits. Mercedes’ weakness in tire management was minimized in the cold, like Shanghai, last year. Lotus had its greatest comparative advantage in the hot and dry.

Sepang will be hot and wet. I expect that we’ll see if Red Bull have really fallen back on their tire management against the likes of Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari.
Will Ferrari be able to be the second fastest qualifying, and the fastest in the race?
How will the hotter conditions affect the apparent Mercedes advancement?

Or can Lotus, again, use one less set of tires, come from behind on the grid, and also get the fastest lap of the race on tires that they’ve driven further than any other team would dare?

Somebody will be working their program, paying attention, and driving better than anybody else.
I hope that guy wins… again.

2013 March 02 – Good old Ross Brawn sandbagging?

I admit it here, to all that read these posts, none but myself probably, that when Lewis Hamilton decided to make the move to Mercedes, to elevate the team like his idol, a German with the initials MS, I thought it was laughable.  Lewis is just not that kind of guy!

Well, I’m not backing off that thought, though I thought he move was bad for Lewis, and good for Mercedes.  Now, there has been quite a bit of shit happening at Mercedes F1 these days, and it looked like they were ‘in the weeds’; but now I’m not so sure.

Besides by differentiating itself as the ugliest car on the grid, second year running (though I think the Caterham is challenging this year), I thought they had gone down a dead end route.  I thought, incredulously, Ross Brawn had finally lost the Midas touch.

Since Lewis is the racing pride of most among the POM, we, the Formula One fans, have been inundated with the most minute reports of how Lewis and Mercedes are doing, one minute, very poorly, then the next, inspiring.  Well, we’re at a inspired moment, in the long stream of uni-directional time flow.  Could it be that the old limey has one more sandbag up his sleeves.

Obviously, I’m a big believer.  Mercedes have gone to the bank to ‘get serious’ about improving their standing in F1, hiring a raft of top F1 cronies, in an attempt to redress the unbalance Adrian Newey makes to all other teams.  I have thought this approach inefficient, if not ineffective, and with the seemingly almost self-appointment of the perpetually criticizing Austrian, non-executive chairman (I wonder how much money they spent on the consultants coming up with that title – lol?), I really thought Mercedes was completely losing their marbles.

But as the great Murray Walker is reportedly to have said, “I’m applying intelligence and observation to the situation…”, and I am realizing the truth in his saying, “Anything happens in Grand Prix racing and it usually does”.

It will be interesting if one or more of the Mercedes drivers can haul it up on to the podium.

I still think that Red Bull are quietly, and assuredly constructing a right bower, left bower, (they definitely have an) Ace (up their sleeve), king and queen (the personages of which I leave to your discretion; though one might keep in mind a board game, in which the queen is the most powerful player).

In other words, though I hope for a very interesting season, with closely fought battles, butteri with proper mounts, fast and crashing flowers, winning Spanish-speaking silver arrows, and coloured three point stars, the bulls will gore.

2012 November 13 before the American Grand Prix

Just a few tidbits that have crossed my mind.

Oh yeah, back to the U.S.A!  “Eh, right on”, as we say here.  Yeah, they are next door, but it is all the way on the other side of the country, for us, and it’s a big country.  Plus… the other stuff.

It could be interesting.

My early call: The McLaren should still be good on every circuit, including this one.  I do also think Red Bull will continue to be strong.  If Ferrari are going to challenge, they have to at least start, for this, as they so fondly like to say, on the British Formula One television coverage, the ‘penultimate’ race of the championship. We call that, ‘the second last race’, or, in a race, ‘the second last lap’; it’s easier to say, and at least as descriptive.  I also think Lotus will be strong, perhaps yet a little bit stronger than in Abu Dhabi.

So, it could be interesting.

I haven’t really been too down on Martin Whitmarsh, but he’s really, REALLY losing the plot, here:  in the same week as he is getting headlines, that read, “Lewis doubting move to Mercedes”, or something like that, it SHOULD DEFINITELY BE, IN THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE, “Whitmarsh says Lewis doubting…”, he says something like, “… oh yeah, I’m doubting my decision on my driver next year, oh yeah, that’s how confident I am… …about MY driver selection for next year… Oh yeah… I did that, didn’t I?”  Trouble at McLaren; say it ain’t so!?!  That’s pretty bad.  Pull it together, man!  When confused, just keep quiet and see if you can’t find a bit focus again, before opening it, and subsequently, losing it.  Poor Lewy, damned if he do, and damned if he don’t.  Stick to your guns, man; you made the decision, and now go and do it, (after your car breaks down for two more races you are leading – oh well, you’re going.)

By the way, Perez is still looking great, as far as I’m concerned.  What’s happening now, at Sauber, is everybody getting their money’s worth.  Perez is pushing the boundaries, learning everything he can, especially since he is leading the charge in a constructor’s battle for Sauber, and they are willing to support alternative strategies, to just maybe get one of their guys further up the pecking order by the flag.  It’s been a bit rough over there, and this strategy may not always work, but maybe their due, either one of them; I’m still a big Kobyashi fan, and I’d love to see him at Williams with one of them Finns; they seem to make good race car drivers, there.  I think it’s a bit like Canada there; they have great hockey players; they’re doing something right; I hear they have a good education system, short hours, and much of it spent outside, even in the winter.  That makes healthy people, not just physically.  We should have shorter hours in grade school, and mostly teaching outside, here, too.  Then maybe we’d get a few more race car drivers who could win in formula one; you never know.

The “warned over language…” thing is a bit much.  I admit that it did seem a little bit like Sebastian was, kind of, sort of, emulating Kimi!?!  Now that is a bit weird!  Let’s just think about this for a second, the reigning champion, a two-time-in-a-row, double world champion, likely, shortly to be, three-time-in-a-row, world champion, is out of character, a bit anyways, sort of… kind of… being like Kimi?!?  Well, I don’t blame him; there’s no doubt about who the coolest driver.  The one who likes to drive, and doesn’t like the corporate types; who could blame him on that one?  But being… something… that you are not?  That’s just not cool; it’s the opposite of cool.  Anyways, he sure a great race car driver, though.  What a bunk of uptight gunk!  The language police!  If Vettel hadn’t made such a mess of it, it probably would have just cruised under the radar, with Kimi’s quite appropriate usage.  Oh well, it was it is.  NBD.

Slightly off, but really not that much: I am happy that Lorenzo, already having won this year’s MotoGP championship, the approximate equivalent in the motorcycle racing world, is seemingly in good health following his BIG HIGHSIDE, (WAY!)  at the last race in Valencia, won by Dani Pedrosa, who is runner-up in this year’s championship.  VERY SAD, that Casey Stoner, the best motorcycle racer of all time, is retired.  He’s a young guy.  I think he should get a Formula One test with the smartest team, why not straight to Ferrari.  He could win a world championship in F1; he might as well go right to the top; or maybe… Williams!?!  (So far, I must have about ten people driving for Williams next year!)

BACK TO THE RACE…

Yeah, I think it’s going to be good; I got at least six guys who I think could win this one; and I still think (and like the idea of) a Sauber victory, in the last two races, either one of them; so really, I’m looking at eight guys who I think can win this one; unknown to everybody.  How often do we get that, unknown to everyone, therefore everyone of similar experience, still a hot fight in the drivers’ championship, and potentially, closely matched machinery, for FOUR TEAMS!  I hope the machinery is evenly matched, and I think it’s going to be interesting.

First thing I’m looking at:

Tire wear, and tire wear across varying conditions, warmer and cooler.