Sunday, 12 April 2009

F1-asco ...

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

Sir Winston Churchill



Off to China next. Not me, the F1 Roadshow. After the fiasco's of Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur they are going to try and get it right in Shanghai. Fat chance!

I have put off saying anything about the F1-Circus on the off-chance that my disappointment would have abated sufficiently, hoping that I could be objective about what I wanted to say. But, what the hell, I'm not an 'objective' motor racing hack; only one of several million frustrated and disappointed followers of the sport.

Let us start at the beginning. Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault lodged an appeal in Melbourne against the Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams teams on the grounds that the diffuser devices used on their cars breached the technical design. The appeal was heard by the Panel of Stewards and was rejected.

Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault appealed the Stewards' decisions. Then, BMW Sauber launched a similar protest and appeal in Malaysia.

The hearing of the International Court of Appeal (don't these stuffed shirts embellish themselves with grandiose titles?) will take place in Paris on Tuesday, 14th April, 2009 at 10.00 hours. The decisions are expected on Wednesday, 15th April, in the afternoon!

I could wait for three or four days and report on the report, but I don't have the patience. I cannot see how the Court of Appeal can overturn the ruling of their local stewards, penalise the teams in question, remove the points scored so far (Jenson Button and Brawn GP have finished FIRST in the first two races), and leave themselves, the FIA, without any credibility whatsoever!

What else has been happening? A whole bunch of idiotic moves, is what. Lewis Hamilton qualified 15th on the grid in Melbourne with a car that isn't up to scratch. He and his team came to the decision that the gearbox would need to be changed before the race. For that Hamilton was penalised (quite rightly, according to the rules) and had to start from 18th position on the grid. The race was a thriller, the safety car being deployed twice, and Jenson Button took the chequered flag. Lewis Hamilton finished fourth, a commendable race when you consider he started from the back row.

Within a couple of hours after the race the Stewards had stripped Jarno Trulli of his third place and promoted Lewis Hamilton from fourth, along with the 6 points that came with it. TWO DAYS later the FIA reversed the decision, reinstating Jarno Trulli and disqualifying Lewis Hamilton completely, based on an interview that Hamilton gave immediately after the race, and on a transcript of radio transmissions between Hamilton and the team in the pits. Here is that transcript:

Team: OK Lewis, you should need to make sure your delta is positive over the safety car line. After the safety car line the delta doesn't matter but no overtaking. No overtaking.
Lewis Hamilton: The Toyota went off in a line at the second corner ..... is this OK?
Team: Understood, Lewis. We'll confirm and get back to you.
LH: He was off the track. He went wide.
Team: Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now.
LH: He's slowed right down in front of me.
Team: OK, Lewis. Stay ahead for the time being. Stay ahead. We will get back to you. We are talking to Charlie.
LH: I let him past already.
Team: OK, Lewis. That's fine. That's fine. Hold position. Hold position.
LH: Tell Charlie I already overtook him. I just let him past.
Team: I understand Lewis. We are checking. Now can we go to yellow G 5, yellow Golf 5.
LH: I don't have to let him past I should be able to take that position back, if he made a mistake.
Team: Yes, we understand Lewis. Let's just do it by the book. We are asking Charlie now. You are in P4. If you hold this position. Just keep it together.
Team: OK Lewis, your KERS is full, your KERS is full. Just be aware. You can go back to black F2, black Foxtrot 2.
LH: Any news from Charlie whether I can take it back or not.
Team: Still waiting on a response Lewis, still waiting.
Team: Lewis, work on your brakes please. Front brakes are cold.
Team: If we are able to use one KERS that would be good. If you deploy KERS please do so now.
Team: OK, Lewis, this is the last lap of the race. At the end of the lap the safety car will come in, you just proceed over the line without overtaking, without overtaking. We are looking into the Trulli thing, but just hold position.

The claim by the FIA after hearing that excerpt was that Hamilton and the McLaren team lied to them when they were interviewed an hour after the race. The transcript clearly shows that Hamilton was instructed, at least twice, to allow Trulli to overtake him. Hamilton admits that he told the stewards that he had received no such instruction. Hamilton was being a 'team player' when he said that, and the suspension of McLaren's sporting director, Dave Ryan, confirms that the team's dealings with the FIA stewards was not above board. McLaren have elected not to appeal the findings!

I have heard the audio of that transcript above and I can tell you that the confusion between driver and team was almost palpable. Hamilton had been penalised last season for a very similar incident, and here he was faced with something almost identical. Jarno Trulli had gone off the track whilst the safety car was deployed and the rules state that cars cannot overtake under those conditions. Since he, Hamilton, had 'overtaken' when Trulli had made an obvious mistake, he must have felt that it was an acceptable move to go past. However, neither he nor the team were certain of the 'rule' and Charlie Belated research has uncovered the following information about the elusive 'Charlie'

Charlie Whiting is FIA Formula One Race Director, Safety Delegate, Permanent Starter and head of the F1 Technical Department, in which capacities he generally manages the logistics of each F1 Grand Prix, inspects cars in Parc fermé before a race, enforces FIA rules, and controls the lights which start each race.

Now you know!

(whoever the hell he is) needed to be consulted. Somebody (from the team) decided that Hamilton had better give up his position, and I suspect that nothing more would have happened about that incident had Hamilton not been pressured, by his own team bosses, to say that he had not been told to allow Trulli to pass!

I was going to deal with the Malaysia cock-up next, but I suspect anybody that has read this far is as exhausted as I am. So, we shall leave Malysia for "F1-asco-2".

Next instalment soon ...

back to the top



Cath said...

Aha - now this is what I heard about on the news and I am still as confused about it. From what I can see, the driver did what he was told but the team were not up to scratch. So he got penalised. I don't know if that is how it is but it seems a bit unfair somehow when it is his name that is all over the news, not the idiot's who made the cock up...

I am getting an education here.

(Pop over sometime - my blog is not updating now on your bloglist because I went "private". There are posts up, they just don't show up in the reader any more I'm afraid.)

Fletch said...

The 'rules', as you can imagine, are many and varied and they almost all have an 'exclusion' clause.

I think Hamilton overtaking Trulli whilst they were under the safety car was a legitimate move because there is a rule that says something like this...

"Overtaking will be permitted under the following circumstances :

... [6 rules are quoted here - the next is the 7th and last] ...

- if any car slows with an obvious problem."

For me that is the 'get-out' clause for Hamilton, but I guess McLaren have taken the line of least resistance by not appealing because of their "sport director's" bad behaviour, compounded by young Hamilton sticking to the party line!

Hey, Ho! Many races to go ...

Cath said...

Have you seen the latest? I really feel for Lewis Hamilton. Between the devil and the deep blue sea...
I've heard the audio now too and it is obvious how confusing it must have been. I also want to know who Charlie is because if they need to consult him in the middle of a race, and he isn't available, surely he has some culpability?

If Dave Ryan told Hamilton to lie to the stewards he deserves what he got. What a shame after all those years. He should know better. And so should Hamilton. It's like the playground -
"Why did you lie?"
"Because he told me so!"

Oh that's ok then! Sheesh.

*rant over* And I don't even watch F1... (much) *wink*

Fletch said...

You GET it Cath. Right on the nail!

I found out who 'Charlie' is and I added it to the text in a popup balloon. Take another look. Too many irons in the fire for Charlie!

At least Hamilton hasn't lost any MORE points after the court's decision, and he can continue to race with about as much chance as the rest of them.

They'll have to work at getting the car competitive, though.



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!"