Monthly Archives: May 2010

Monticello Motor Club making offer for US Grand Prix

The Monticello Motor Club circuit

The Monticello Motor Club circuit

The Monticello Motor Club, situated at the foot of the Catskill Mountains, is making an offer to host the United States Grand Prix from 2012 onwards. They are believed to be indiscussions with Bernie Ecclestone already about the offer.

The President of the Monticello Motor Club, Ari Strauss, has written a letter to all members, as it is a private club at the moment, regarding this issue:

A few months ago, [MMC chairman] Bill McMichael and I met with
Bernie Ecclestone, President/CEO of Formula One Management (FOM),
and discussed the terms for an exclusive 10-year United States
Grand Prix to be hosted at MMC.

Shortly thereafter, Hermann Tilke, the chief engineer and circuit
designer for F1, spent time at MMC and confirmed that our track
and surrounding properties, with some expansion and minor track
modifications, is an excellent location for a Grand Prix.

Since receiving a letter of understanding from FOM confirming their
hope to bring the U.S. Grand Prix to Monticello, Bill and I have
continued to secure the backing and support of local, state, and
federal politicians and organizations.

If F1 comes to Monticello, our intent is to preserve MMC as, first
and foremost, a private country club. Obviously, demand will
accelerate as well as the initiation fee for new members.

There has already been an offer to host the US Grand Prix, at Jersey State Park. However, this plan was massively flawed, and received no support from locals, groups or the Jersey mayor. While this offer would be better, there are still large problems.

First of all, Monticello Motor Club is a private club. Not just for driving there, but to spectate as well. The last line that I quoted read: “If F1 comes to Monticello, our intent is to preserve MMC as, first and foremost, a private country club. Obviously, demand will accelerate as well as the initiation fee for new members.” This line implies that people will have to become a member (massive subscription I suppose?) to buy tickets, which would be an absolute disaster for F1.

Secondly, the track doesn’t look like it is up to F1 standards. It was designed by Brian Redman, a former F1 driver. While it is 6.59km long, and seems very good for sports cars, it doesn’t appear to be up to F1 standards. Herman Tilke has reccomended changes to the circuit, but it is unclear what. Have a look at the full lap:

And thirdly, it isn’t the New York Grand Prix that Bernie would want. It is a 75 minute drive from Manhattan, which is nothing like the view that we would have got from the Jersey plan.

Again, it looks like a bad plan. We need a proper circuit, in a proper location, and not a private track like Monticello. I still think we should take a look at Watkins Glen.

FIA to change safety car rules

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

Because of a lack of clarity on safety car rules, Michael Schumacher lost his points-scoring position

The FIA has admitted a “lack of clarity” regarding safety car rules, and has promised to change the regulations accordingly. Following Michael Schumacher’s penalty for overtaking on the last lap as the safety car had already pitted, much critisism has been aimed at the rules for not being clear enough.

However, since then, the FIA have issued a statement, saying that the rules were not clear enough, and would consider changes at the next World Motor Sport Council meeting on June 23rd. They said:

The problems identified during the final lap of the Monaco Grand 
Prix, counting for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, 
showed a lack of clarity in the application of the rule prohibiting 
overtaking behind the Safety Car.

Adjustments to the regulations are necessary to clarify the procedure 
that cars must meet when the last lap is controlled by the Safety Car 
whilst also ensuring that the signaling for teams and drivers is made 
more clear.

These adjustments will help to avoid the problem which occurred during 
the Monaco Grand Prix from happening in the future.

The Formula One Commission, upon a proposal of the F1 Sporting Working 
Group will submit an amendment to the Sporting Regulations to address 
this issue. These amendments will be considered by the World Motor Sport 
Council at its next meeting in Geneva on June 23.

To be honest, I’m not sure what rule they can actually change. In the regulations, it is clearly stated that overtaking is not permitted when the safety car pits at the end of the race. Having said that, providing clarity on the issue works just as well.

Regarding the initial penalty, opinion is split. In the poll I put up yesterday, 50% believed that the penalty was wrong as it was under racing conditons, 21% wanted a smaller punishment, and 29% thought the penalty was fair.

Toyota not intending return to “elitist” F1

The former boss of Toyota’s F1 programme, Tadashi Yamashina, has said that the Japanese company is not intending a return to Formula 1, as the sport is too distant from ordinary drivers.

Talking to Automotive News, Yamashina said that regardless of the global financial troubles that speeded up Toyota’s departure, the team would have pulled out soon anyway:

"It might not have been so abrupt, but it would have happened.

President [Akio] Toyoda’s stance on motorsports is geared more 
toward the customer. There is a big gap between Formula One and 
Toyota’s actual car users."

Also, he claimed that the gap is too large betwee the average fan and the sport:

"Average fans have no hope of strolling the paddock at a Formula 
1 race.

For the fortunate few who can afford to do that, it's fine. I think 
the best kind of races are those in which people can get in close 
to the race."

What he says is true. Formula 1 isn’t linked enough with the fan, and neither is it geared towards average road users. But it isn’t supposed to be. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and should have the best drivers, the fastest cars, and the best teams. Toyota competed here from 2002 to 2009, spending hundreds of millions, and never won a single race. If you can’t win after spending more than all of the small teams combined, you have only yourself to blame.

Toyota is still competing in NASCAR, a sport which is excellent when it comes to linking the fans with the race. Spectators can walk right up to the teams’ areas, even in the pit lane I’m told. While Formula 1 is nothing like that, this isn’t a worthwhile excuse to stay out of F1.

Mercedes to ditch Schumacher appeal

Schumacher passes Alonso on the final corner, because of confusion over racing and safety car conditions

Schumacher passes Alonso on the final corner, because of confusion over racing and safety car conditions

Mercedes GP have announced that they are not to appeal the decicion to hand Michael Schumacher a penalty at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix. This means that the provisional result, with Sebastien Buemi now entering the points, will now stand.

However, the team have still called Schumacher’s penalty “disproportionate”, and that they are to discuss the terms of Article 40.13 with the FIA, the rule which was used to penalise Schumacher after the incident. They also announced their approval of having a former F1 driver on the stewards panel. Damon Hill, who some criticised for being a former rival of Schumacher, and therefore maybe wouldn’t have been fair, received hate mail after their punishment was handed out.

Mercedes’ statement is as follows:

On the final lap of the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, Mercedes instructed
our drivers, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, to race from
safety car line one until the finish line as permitted under
articles 40.7 and 40.11.

Mercedes were fully aware of article 40.13 which states that no
overtaking is permitted if the race finishes under safety car
conditions. However we believed that the combination of the race
control messages ‘Safety Car in this lap’ and ‘Track Clear’ and the
green flags and lights shown by the marshals after safety car line
one indicated that the race was not finishing under the safety car
and all drivers were free to race.

This opinion appears to have been shared by the majority of the
teams with cars in the top ten positions who also gave their drivers
instructions to race to the finish line.

It was clear from our discussions with the stewards after the race
that they understood the reasons for our interpretation and
acknowledged that this was a new and previously untested situation
but ultimately disagreed with our interpretation.

Mercedes would like to emphasise that we fully support the inclusion
of past drivers on the stewards panel and are completely satisfied
that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally,
impartially and properly in this matter.

The FIA has agreed to include article 40.13 on the agenda of the next
Sporting Working Group for discussion and to consider the scale of
post race penalties. We believe that the 20 second penalty imposed
on Michael to be disproportionate in the circumstances.

Whilst we cannot be happy with the outcome, we are pleased that the
FIA has recognised the reasons for our interpretation. Therefore in
the best interests of the sport, Mercedes will not be submitting an
appeal.

Seeing as how many appeals against these sort of penalties fail, I’m not surprised to see Mercedes give up. Still though, I’m not sure if they were in the right or not.

We have come to the conclusion that when the safety car pits on the final lap, the cars should go across the finish line with no overtaking. But, there were green flags being waved, and Fernando Alonso did seem to be quite aggressive exiting La Rascasse, whch showed that he was still racing (even if it was what cost him the place). Force India, Renault and Red Bull all instructed their cars to race until the finish line as well, so there’s still plenty of fuel for debate here.

Here is the incident again:

Monaco Grand Prix stats and facts

The Monaco Grand Prix was Mark Webber’s 4th of his career. See more stats and facts from the Monaco Grand Prix here:

  • This was Red Bull’s sixth 1-2 finish in their history, their second this year.
  • This was Mark Webber’s fourth pole position of his career, which puts him level with Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella, Didier Pironi and Mike Hawthorn.
  • This was also Webber’s fourth win of his career which puts him level with Eddie Irvine, Bruce McLaren and Dan Gurney.
  • This was also Sebastian Vettel’s fourth fastest lap of his career, which puts him level with Jean Alesi, Jo Siffert, Partick Depallier and Jean-Pierre Beltoise.
  • This is the first ever time that both Force India cars have finished in the points together.
  • There are now only two drivers who have scored points in all the 2010 races so far: Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.
  • This was the first time in 51 years that an Australian has won the Monaco Grand Prix, the last time was in 1959 by Sir Jack Brabham.

More stats and facts will be added soon.

FOTA narrows down choices to Pirelli and Michelin

Folowing another FOTA (Formula 1 Teams Association) meeting after the Monaco Grand Prix, it has been revealed that the teams have narrowed their choice for 2011 tyre supplier to Pirelli and Michelin.

Prior to this meeting, many other companies were in the running, such as Cooper Avon and Kumho. However, according to Stefano Domenicali, only two option now remain. He stated:

"No decision has been taken yet. I think, give it another week and
maybe by next weekend we will have found a solution.

There are now only two possibilities, though - Michelin and Pirelli.
I don't see any other option."

Their decicion was supposed to be made this weekend, but an agreement has not yet been reached. Eric Boullier has said that a decicion must be made by the next race in Turkey in two weeks time:

"It has to be, because I think there is a technical issue that if 
we wait too late then nothing will be ready for next year. It has 
to be done by Turkey."

So far, we are not sure about which supplier the teams are tipping towards. Pirelli do not bring as many terms and conditions, althoug Michelin have technical and commercial benefits that Pirelli do not. The main problem with Michelin, it seems, is that they are insisting on having a rival supplier, something many feel is not appropriate in F1 at this time.

Over the Monaco GP weekend, Pirelli may have been the favourite, although that could well change by Turkey. Personally, I would prefer the Italian company, as Michelin bring too many conditions to convince me. But, as we know, commercial interests often win in Formula 1.

Monaco Grand Prix in pictures

Here is a selection of pictures frim today’s Monaco Grand Prix:

Schumacher given 20-second penalty, Mercedes to appeal

Michael Schumacher has been handed a 20-second penalty for his opportunistic move on Fernando Alonso at the end of the Monaco Grand Prix. On the last corner, when the safety car pitted, Schumacher dived down the inside of Fernando Alonso, believing that racing conditions had resumed.

However, the stewards brought Article 40.13 of the Sporting Regulations into the equation:

If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the
pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the
chequered flag as normal without overtaking.

However, this year, the FIA opted to bring in the “safety car line”. This is a white line that, if you pass it when the safety car pits, you may then drive under racing conditions, which means overtaking is allowed. When Schumacher dived past Alonso, he had already passed the safety car line, which meant that, under the specific rule of the safety car line, the move was legal. In case you’re looking for the safety car line in the replay I have provided, it it below the green electronic flag on the left of the screen.

But, Article 40.13 won the argument, and Damon Hill, the former F1 driver of the stewards in Monaco this weekend (this year, there is 1 F1 driver in the stewards panel every race), decided that a penalty was necessary, and handed Schumacher a 20-second penalty.

This means that Michael drops out of the points to 12th place. Fernando Alonso is elevated to 6th place, and Sebastien Buemi now enters the points. Mercedes have announced their intention to appeal, and a date will be set soon.

Personally, I think it was a stupid decicion. The safety car line was put in this year for a reason, and Schumacher made excellent use of it. It was very sneaky, but an inspired move at the end of a boring second half of the race. Fernando, as you can see in the replay, was still pushing hard, which caused the mistake, which meant that he beleived he was racing under normal conditions as well.

My main argument for this is that Michael only passed Fernando at the start of the Anthon Noghes corner, which is well beyond the safety car line.

What do you think? Is it the fault of Michael to try and bend the rules too much, or was it just very clever and within the regulations? I’ll put a poll up in a few minutes. For the while, have a look at the replay and have a look for yourself (it’s Dailymotion because there’s no chance of it being taken down :) )


Webber takes Monaco Grand Prix win

Mark Webber took a well-deserved win at the Monaco Grand Prix today. It wasn’t handed to him on a plate though, as 4 safety car periods repeatedly ruined his leads.

At the start, all 23 cars (and Alonso) made it through the first corner without incident. However, in the tunnel, Nico Hulkenberg appeared to have a mechanical failure, and smashed into the left barrier, bringing out the safety car on Lap 1. This prompted Fernando Alonso, who started the race from the pit lane, to switch to the harder tyre for the rest of the race. This was to prove a decicive moment, as he could now try to complete the entire race on this set, without having to pit again.

Nico Hulkenberg crashes in the tunnel, causing the first safety car

Nico Hulkenberg crashes in the tunnel, causing the first safety car

Jenson Button retires due to an overheating engine

Jenson Button retires due to an overheating engine

On Lap 3, still under safety car conditions, Jenson Button pulled over with an overheating engine. After a while, it was revealed that McLaren had left a radiator cover on the left sidepod, which meant the engine couldn’t cool itself, and the car overheated, which is a pretty poor excuse for a retirement for an F1 team.

The safety car pitted on Lap 8, and the racing commenced. All eyes focused on Fernando Alonso, who had to work his way up from 20th position. He got cracking soon, and within a few laps, had got past Lucas di Grassi, Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Heikki Kovalainen. On Lap 18, Lewis Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit, switching to the harder tyre. He emerged just in fron of Alonso in P15, leading many to believe that McLaren were trying to cover Alonso.

Within a few laps, the entire field reacted. Barrichello, Schumacher, Liuzzi, Buemi, Kubica, Petrov, Alguersuari, Sutil and de la Rosa all pitted. But, there was a problem with Pedro’s stop, as he was stationary for over a minute, before the team finally retired him. Judging by what I saw on the TV screens, it looked like de la Rosa repeatedly stalled the car.

Webber pitted from the lead on Lap 24, and retained his advantage ahead of Nico Rosberg, who had yet to stop. Timo Glock suffered suspension damage on track, and retired soon after. On Lap 28, Rosberg, Trulli, Kovalainen all pitted. Rosberg fel to 8th place behind team-mate Schumacher, but there was a disaster at Lotus. On both occasions, the back right wheel gun jammed, meaning both Trulli’s and Kovalainen’s stops were 26 and 12 seconds long respectively.

By Lap 31, everybody had made their first stop, but the safety car quickly put a stop to most strategies. Rubens Barrichello had suffered a back left tyre failure, and hit the barriers at Turn 3. In anger or panic (we don’t know which yet) he threw his steering wheel out of the car onto the track, which was run over by either a HRT or a McLaren. It is yet to be seen whether Rubens will get a penalty for that incident.

When the safety car peeled in on Lap 34, it became apparent that the order of the field was starting to be set. Fernando Alonso had made his way up to 6th position, still behind Hamilton, while Kubica was pressusising Vettel for 2nd. For the next few laps, gaps started to appear between the cars, until the third safety car ruined all of that.

This time, there was a loose drain cover at Turn 3. Within a lap, the stewards had decided that it was all right, and had secured it properly, and the racing recommenced. On Lap 61, both Heikki Kovalainen and Bruno Senna pitted, but neither made it out of the pit lane. Senna was retired instantly, while Kovalainen had a gearbox problem, which meant he couldn’t select a gear to exit his box after his stop.

From there until the end, most drivers decided to settle for their position, and conserve their cars, Everyone except Robert Kubica, who was doing a great job of sticking behind Sebastian Vettel in the battle for 2nd. Unfortunately, thanks to the tight and twisty nature of the Monaco track, Kubica was unable to make a move.

But, just when everyone thought it was over, Jarno Trulli and Karun Chandhok collided heavily at La Rascasse. Jarno tried to dive down the inside of the corner, a dangerous move, and his car launched itself over the HRT car, going extremely close to Chandhok’s head. With two wrecked cars and debris lying over the track, the safety car was forced to make its fourth appearance, and led the cars until the finish.

So, Webber crossed the line first, well ahead of Vettel in second, for another Red Bull 1-2. This meant that Webber and Vettel are now equal on top of the drivers’ championship, both on 78 points. Since Webber has taken 2 wins compared to Vettel’s one, it means that the Aussie leads his team-mate. Red Bull also took the lead in the constructors’ championship, to top off a great race for the Austrian team.

Interestingly enough, Michael Schumacher passed Fernando Alonso on the precise safety car line, the line that you must pass before you can overtake when the safety car pits. It was an extremely opportunistic move, but I’d say Schumacher will get away with it.

Another fantastic performance from Webber, which gives him a fulls deserved lead in the championship. In my opinion, it is now turning into a battle between Webber and Vettel for the title, unless Ferrari and McLaren can improve their cars in time. Robert Kubica did a great job for another podium finish, and Force India did well to get a double points finish.

The standings have been updated, you can view them here.

Monaco Grand Prix qualifying in pictures

Here are the pictures from today’s brilliant qualifying in Monaco:

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