Sunday, 12 April 2009

F1-asco-2 ...

Your best teacher is your last mistake.

Ralph Nader



For a major corporate entity it appears that Ralph Nader's thinking is not advice that the FIA consider relevant, and that's a shame. Not that many people pay attention to Ralphie's Rants! But they could make an effort to listen to the siren calls of their fanbase to get it right!

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (Sempang), a week later. The FIA, barely over the Trulli-Hamilton debacle, were faced with BMW Sauber lodging their complaint against the teams that were using the new diffusers. For the unitiated, this is pure politics, not something that a team felt strongly about. The original complaint having been dismissed in Melbourne, the teams that lodged the complaint needed to have somebody reopen the wound or they would not have been able to raise the issue again on the grounds that it would have been 'inadmissable' under the current rules. So, BMW lodging their complaint forced the issue, and the International Court of Appeal (I mentioned the stuffed shirts in the previous post) had no choice but to schedule a meeting to hear the complaints and the appeals against the previous decision. They will also drag McLaren before the court to investigate the alleged 'lies' served up at the previous Stewards hearing in Melbourne.

And all this is to take place in Paris a few days before the Shanghai meeting, which is half a world away. I wonder whose interests these blockheads think they are serving?

Got carried away there! Back to Malaysia. The race was scheduled to start at 17.00 hours (5 in the afternoon if you're still using the funny clock), a time of day renowned for heavy rain at this time of the year. Why would anybody, no matter how inefficient they are, want to calendar a race meet knowing that rain is guaranteed?

And rain it did. Boy, did it chuck it down! A couple of madcap laps in those conditions, with drivers ducking into the pits to change and re-change tyres, and the safety car was deployed. The race continued valiantly under the pacing of the safety car, but after SEVEN drivers aquaplaned on apparently safe stretches of the circuit, the straight bits, it was decided to 'red-flag' the race. So we were faced with the spectacle of a whole bunch of drivers sitting in their open cockpits with a multitude of mechanics fiddling with the cars, even preparing to change tyres if necessary, and other lackeys holding aloft umbrellas so that the drivers didn't drown in a sitting position.


The start of the race and there is the ominous  threat of heavy rain. He doesn't know it yet, but Vettel's race is all but over! Button is in the lead, but he has to plough through a wall of water.
Finally, the 'Red Flag' comes into play! Hamilton does a rain dance ... ... Heidfeld decides to join him!
The rain worsens and the cars are instructed to re-form on the grid. Storm worsens, visibility almost NIL, and the stewards are considering sending them around for 8 laps! Button takes cover to avoid a watery end in a racing car!
All photographs courtesy of and © 2009 Official F1 Site


Honestly, you couldn't make it up! Nobody, and I mean nobody, seemed to know what was going on. Not the teams, not the television presenters, and certainly not the spectators - live or watching on television. Then word filtered through that the stewards were considering restarting the race. What? Under those conditions?

Yes! They apparently felt it would be OK for the cars to do another EIGHT laps under the safety car so that they would be able to complete 75% of the race and claim full points. Whereas, if the race was abandoned at that stage of the race, the drivers could only gain half the points. Them's the rules, see?

From where I was sitting, at an ungodly hour in the morning I might add, I could only whack the side of my head in disbelief. They were planning to send the drivers around in the rain, in a procession because they would not be able to 'race' behind the safety car, so that they could meet the absolute rule that full points could only be awarded to the drivers if they completed 75% of the race. But the placings would be the same after another 8 laps as they were at the time of the stoppage. So who was the dumbcluck that was making this decision? Facelesss to the last, I'm afraid.

Commonsense prevailed. The race was abandoned and the drivers climbed out of their cars with obvious relief on their faces. Jenson Button was adjudged the winner, and I have to say that I cannot tell you who came in second and third without looking it up, as I had lost interest by then! Half the race points were awarded, and I suspect that that might yet be an area for appeal by the teams and drivers if the end of the season is decided by a single point or two - or worse, half a point!

Will I stay up to watch the Shanghai 'hi-jinks'? You betcha!

Wouldn't miss it for the world ...

Update: (15 April 2009)

The court of appeal has upheld the decisions of the stewards in Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur to declare the diffusers in question to be 'legal' within the design guidelines published prior to the start of the season. What a surprise - NOT!

The fact is that, Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams, the three teams about whom the complaints were lodged, submitted the plans for the diffusers at each design and engineering stage of their pre-season build, and each time those submissions had been scrutinised and passed by the FIA technical directors.

Equally, it is clear that the diffusers are not a 'bolt-on' addition that the other teams can slap on after taking a stroll round to their local Halford's. At the very least the gearbox has to be redesigned to divert the airflow towards the diffusers to make them perform as designed. That means that all the other teams who do not have these diffusers now have to play 'catch-up'. So you can understand the labyrinthine politics, especially when massive amounts of money are involved. And it looks like Ferrari are in the forefront of the 'whingers'. Another surprise - NOT!

I have no doubt that the bigger teams like Ferrari and McLaren (who have NOT complained - correction, 22 Apr 09: they've had a whinge, too!) will already have started work on redesigning their gearbox and engine placement in anticipation of the decision going against them. But it will take 3 or 4 more races for them to become competitive, not to mention the extra testing that needs to be carried out.

I say "Good Luck" to Brawn, Toyota and Williams, and may the outcome of the races continue to be decided on the track and not in some dingy committe room!

back to the top



Cath said...

OK I realise now that I am reading these backwards. Not sure how I missed the first installment which I am about to read.
As for this one... ARE THEY MAD??!!?
Why bother with going behind a safety car if the placings will be the same and why bother at all when they are aquaplaning? Madness madness. I am glad it was abandoned and safety came first!

I have seen some bits and pieces on TV but unfortunately it is mainly politics and not racing...

Fletch said...

I try to rein-in the 'rant' because it is easy to sit in an armchair and criticise. But, with the technology available to them, especially the hi-tech communications equipment, I am often at a loss as to how they reach their 'decisions'.

And the season has only just started!

david mcmahon said...

You're right, El Tel. They were literally and metaphoically in the dark!

Fletch said...

Hi David.

Since we have discussed similar incidents in previous racing calendars, and since you are as much of a fanatic as I am (from a professional point of view), you must be shaking your head in as much disbelief as I am.

But it makes for interesting watching. Even if it is to see if they can out-do their previous faux pas!

jinksy said...

"hi-jinks" - how about making that HI! jinksy!? Long time no see...

Fletch said...

I visit, not as often as I should, and that's how I know you've curtailed your prodigious output because of the eye problems.

Me too, me too ...

Shrinky said...

I love the title to this post, and it couldn't be more apt, either.

Them's the rules, eh? Ah well, it must be right then. (Shaking my head) Still, it was certainly entertaining..

Fletch said...

Yes, Carol, "Them's the rules!" Methinks a few of these guys must have won several of Esther Rantzen's "Jobsworth" hats in a past life!

Of course, if Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone weren't so far up Ferrari's exhaust pipes they'd be able to see the racing track and the hazards up ahead!

No more on this topic for a while as it may appear that I have an obsession. I don't. I like the sport and wish the FIA wouldn't try so hard to control things from the smoke-filled committe rooms, and just let the drivers get on with it.



My Gizmo's

Gizmo Richards' Best-ever Freeware List. You really should pay him a visit! - (link opens in a new window)

All the tools and templates you need for a successful blog display! - (link opens in a new window)

Powered By Blogger! - (link opens in a new window)


width A cheeky little red

Here's a toast to your health.

"Lang May Yer Lumb Reek!"
(Scottish for 'long may your chimney smoke')

or if you prefer,

"Bottoms Up!"