Daily Archives: July 13, 2010

Thoughts on the British Grand Prix

I would have been under the impression that the new developments to the Silverstone track, most notably the Club straight, would have created more overtaking opportunities than we had seen last Sunday. Despite a lack of a fight for the lead which we had expected, the British Grand Prix was still a reasonably good race.

The first lap gave us plenty to talk about, especially Sebastian Vettel’s and Felipe Massa’s punctures. Regarding Vettel’s incident, I don’t think that either driver was at much fault, although I feel that Sebastian should have been concentrating on Lewis more, as he was too busy fighting alongside Webber for the lead. As for Felipe, it was another racing incident, and I don’t think much more could be done about it.

Then we arrive at a surprisingly controversial incident – Alonso’s battle with Kubica. Put simply, both drivers were battling for position at the Vale corner, Kubica pushed Alonso wide, and Fernando was forced to cut the corner, overtaking the Renault in the process. However, he failed to give the position back, and was later dealt a drive-through penalty, as Kubica had already retired.

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

Fernando Alonso battles with Robert Kubica, and cuts the next corner

In my view, the penalty was well justified. It is perfectly fine to cut the corner to avoid a collision, but failing to hand the position back afterwards is blatant cheating, and Alonso should know this. These days, drivers should know better to just hand the position straight back, rather than keep going on and be ordered to hand it back later. But, since Kubica had retired, there was no driver to hand the position back to, so the only option for the stewards was a drive-through penalty.

Unfortunately, after this, the excitement died down, and didn’t ignite again until the safety car was deployed. This was for debris that came off Pedro de la Rosa’s rear wing. This safety car period allowed the field to get bunched up again, which helped the overtaking we saw in the second half of the race.

Sebastian Vettel’s recovery was hugely helped by this safety car, as he was able to leap back from 15th to 7th. However, this has been largely overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Red Bull favouring Sebastian over Mark, as the team removed an updated front wing from Mark’s car, and used it on Sebastian’s car for the race, leading many spectators to accuse Red Bull of bias towards Vettel.

This is the front wing that was taken from Mark Webber and given to Sebastian Vettel

This is the front wing that was taken from Mark Webber and given to Sebastian Vettel

At the end of it all, I was happy to see Mark Webber take the win, especially after the front wing switch. Apparently Webber’s mechanics started waving Mark’s front wing at the Vettel side of the pit after the race, which isn’t exactly sportsmanship at its best, but shows just how divisions in the Red Bull garage are growing. This could well be the reason why Red Bull fail to topple McLaren in the standings by season’s end.

The track itself, despite the poor slow corners added this year, are still an improvement in my opinion. We now have a great corner in the form of Abbey, and the Club straight gave us a few overtakes across the race. Also, the new 17-year deal in place means that the fans can enjoy Silverstone for years to come, which is certainly a change in outlook compared to last year.

Driver of the race – Mark Webber: Overcame bias from the team regarding the front wing, and still held the lead of the race fantastically well throughout. He said that he would not have signed a new deal until the end of 2011 if he knew how he would have been treated, so it’s great to see Webber fighting back.

Driver of the new teams – Jarno Trulli: Seeing as this high-speed track requires a good aerodynamic setup, nobody was expecting the new teams to challenge the midfield much, but Trulli did well to get past Kovalainen at the start, and held his advantage to the end.

Best rookie – Kamui Kobayashi: Got a better result here than in Valencia, but he was completely invisible in a solid drive to 6th from 12th on the grid. Nico Hulkenberg also deserves a mention, for getting his first points finish since Malaysia.

Best team – McLaren: This is about team results, and the crucial word in that first half of this sentence was team. Red Bull’s bias throws them straight out, so the best team in my opinion was McLaren, for overcoming massive setup difficulties in practice and qualifying to get 2nd and 4th places.

Least impressive – Michael Schumacher: He wasn’t too bad, but lacked the defensive skills to keep his rivals behind him. His only move against Sutil was the only one worth mentioning, as he got very close to pushing Adrian onto the grass. His only retaliation to Vettel overtaking him was to push him to the side as much as possible, which is perfectly legal, but I personally hate those kind of moves.

P.S: Did anyone watch the BBC F1 coverage after the race? I found myself singing along to Wonderwall when Lewis played it on the guitar, great fun :D

Ferrari were advised to allow Kubica through

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has revealed that he advised Ferrari 3 times to allow Robert Kubica through, after an overtaking incident with Fernando Alonso during the British Grand Prix. Alonso was handed a drive-through penalty during the race after he cut a corner battling with Kubica, overtook the Renault but failed to give the position back.

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Ferrari were advised 3 times to hand the position back to Kubica

Under normal circumstances, after repeatedly advising Ferrari, this would have turned into an order to hand the position back, but since Kubica soon retired with unrelated mechanical issues, Alonso was unable to hand the position back. However, Charlie Whiting felt that Ferrari had plenty of time to instruct Alonso to let Kubica through, before the Renault retired.

Whiting claimed that, despite the penalty being issued many laps later, Ferrari were immidiately advised to hand the position back:

"We told Ferrari three times that in my opinion they should give the
position back to Kubica.

And we told them that immediately, right after the overtaking
manoeuvre. On the radio, I suggested to them that if they exchange
position again, there would be no need for the stewards to intervene.

But they didn't do that and on the third communication they said that
Kubica was by then too far back to let him regain the position.

It's not true at all that the stewards took too long to decide. For
us the facts were clear immediately: Alonso had gained an advantage
by cutting the track."

However, team principal Stefano Domenicali argued that, despite Alonso getting past Kubica, he didn’t gain an advantage:

"He tried to be aggressive to overtake, and we complained the 
drivers not to be aggressive and we complain about the lack of 
overtaking, and so at that stage, we felt as we normally do at 
that moment that we need to go on the radio with race control to 
check what is the position.

And normally, we take the right time to discuss with race control 
to make the judgement, and the moment when race control give us 
the instruction to give back the position to Robert, it was clear 
that Robert had already lost a lot of time - effectively he had a 
problem and he came back. That is the situation we analysed.

You can have a situation where immediately there is a possibility 
to give back the position to a driver if you feel that there is 
really an advantage that you gain. On our side we felt that was 
not the case otherwise we would have done it."

I was wondering after the race, why Ferrari didn’t complain loudly about the penalty being awarded, and this is clearly why. If Ferrari are pushing the rules that much just to gain one position, then they completely deserve any penalty that they get.

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