Sunday, 26 July 2009

F1-asco-3 ...

You can see in pantomime the puppets fumbling with their slips of paper, see them pick up their phone, see the noiseless, ceaseless capital of memoranda, and always fooling with something.
Elwyn Brooks White




know I said in one of the earlier F1 posts that I would return to the subject from time to time, especially when I felt a rant coming on. Well, here I am again, sooner than I thought!

They will line up on the grid tomorrow (ermm... today, actually) at 13:00 hours GMT (UTC for the rabid politically-correct brigade), but there will only be 19 of the 20 cars there.

Felipe Massa of Ferrari won't be making it. If the truth be told he is lucky to be alive, let alone think about participating in the race. The result of a horrible 'accident', in the truest sense of the word.

The final seconds of Q2 (second qualifying session) saw Reubens Barrichello of Brawn-GP (coincidentally, a Brazilian like Massa), lose a chunk of metal that looked like a huge coil spring, from his rear gubbins (sorry, don't know the technical term) which didn't clear the track. Massa was the first driver to hurtle around the bend and one of his front wheels (too fast for even the TV replays to identify which one) scooped up the debris that was hurled into the visor of his helmet. He was knocked unconscious and his foot slammed down on the accelerator. The car slewed through one corner, crossed the track, and then ran off on the other side of the track at a tremendous speed, straight into the tyre wall. The car's onboard camera shows that his hands only left the wheel when they were shaken free by the impact.

This is the sort of head-on impact that makes the blood run cold.


Felipe Massa a split second away from disaster ... 
Felipe Massa a split second away from disaster ...


It certainly didn't do Massa any good. The track officials got to him rapidly. The doctor was only seconds behind, and the ambulance wasn't too far behind him. Massa was stretchered off to the Course Medical Facility. We knew that things were serious when one of the two helicopters on the helipad wound up its rotors.

The latest news on young Felipe is that he has undergone surgery for a cut on his forehead, concussion and a 'bone lesion of the skull'. The result of the surgery was declared successful, that he is stable and that he is under observation in intensive care. The initial prognosis is that he won't be racing for at least six weeks. I am sure he will give thanks that he will be able to race at all. Ferrari will be issuing an update on his condition later this morning.

Get well, fella. We're with you!

Now for the 'rant'.

Q3 was delayed while Massa was being 'medevacced', the remains of his car were returned to the Ferrari garage, and the track was inspected for further debris that could cause a similar accident. Nothing was apparently found. Wonder where the 'rear damper spring' (I did my homework) disappeared to?

Q3 ended with a spectacle that I have NEVER seen in all the many years I have followed this glorious sport.


Fernando Alonso (Renault) stuck his car into the P1 slot, then jumped out of his car and asked Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Mark Webber (Red Bull) and any other driver he came across what their qualifying time was. All the drivers appeared to be comparing notes about their qualifying times because it seemed that the official time keepers had lost the plot somehow!

Between them, the drivers decided that Alonso could claim P1, Vettel should have P2 and Webber was allowed P3. And, believe it or not, that is exactly how they will start the race tomorrow later today!

Honestly, you had to see the pantomime to wonder at how much of a farce it had degenerated into! Since when have the monkeys dictated to the organ-grinders? - (see my update below ...)

It could only happen in F1 ...


Update: Statement issued by the FIA on 29 July 2009

In the closing minutes of the Q3 qualifying session for the FORMULA 1 ING MAGYAR NAGYDIJ 2009, the Official Live Timing system did not update the timing screens. This was due to the finish line sensor suffering mechanical failure in the form of a damaged cable.

Well established back up procedures ensured that no data was lost and complete results for the qualifying session were quickly established and released. Formula One Management would like to clarify that at no time was this the result of the failure of any equipment supplied by LG, the Official Data Processor of F1.


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Lee said...

LOL Interesting rant, Terry! I've learned something about racing procedures. Is it possible that the officials would have decided those results anyway based on the qualifying times?

I'm sorry that Massa won't be driving. I worry about his finances at the moment. I once met a race car driver while dining out with a friend. He was in Dallas to dive in their 500. During our conversation he mentioned that he was unable to get insurance because of his job. So I'm guessing that perhaps it is the same with international drivers. The chances of them being hurt is extremely high and I can fully understand why no one would want to insure them. But that makes the price of healthcare fall entirely on the driver's shoulders and we all know how expensive it is to pay for a simple doctors visit never mind surgery with a helicopter for an ambulance. What do you thnk? Do drivers in higher more significant races get better care from their sponsors or the insurance industry?


Anonymous said...

Hi Lee
Where it comes to Insurance Formula 1 is a special world. They have huge policies, that obviously cost a fortune, but cover their lives and injuries.
I found this information to confirm it.
"Drivers usually have their own personal cover, and the team will also have a policy. Depending on the standard of the driver, payouts can be up to £1m per race missed with policies usually paying out for a maximum of 52 weeks, during which there are 22 races. A career-ending claim would also cover other items such as lost sponsorship revenues, an ever-increasing part of a typical sportsman's income."


Fletch said...

"... . Is it possible that the officials would have decided those results anyway based on the qualifying times?"

Yes, Lee, almost certainly. Each team runs its own timing in conjunction with the official live timing, and you can bet your sweet bippy that they'd challenge any discrepancy that went AGAINST them!

"... So I'm guessing that perhaps it is the same with international drivers."

I think Maria has answered this already. Formula-1 is BIG business, and the money that flows through it is phenomenal. A comparison with US insurance policies might not be the best comparison to make. I don't think ANY F1 driver would sign a contract to drive without the safety net of a HUGE insurance policy against death or injury.

Lee said...

Fletch, Malena, Thank you both. I am much relieved!


Sniffles and Smiles said...

Hi! You showed up on my statcounter this week, and so I thought I'd pop over to see what you've been up to... And I love this post! Monkeys dictating to organ grinders!!! What a classic line!!!! Love it! I'm still on my break...hope to be back some time in the early fall...But I notice you've got me on your blog roll, and I am so very honored to be there!!!!! Thank you! I don't know if you mind my advertising you...I know some people like to keep their audience small as it gets a bit much to keep up with after a while...So I hope you won't mind if I follow you...I've wanted to for a while, but now I have an excuse ;-) Right, I'm off to put you on my roll! And I'll see you when I officially return to blogdom! ~Janine

Fletch said...


I am certainly one of the many who await your return.

Hurry back ...

Shrinky said...

What a farce, but also extremely amusing - to think of all the high tech involved in this sport, not to mention all the millions of dollars invested.. and here they are, reduced to, "Okay, now you PROMISE me, that really was your time, right?"

So glad Massa appears to have survived his crash to drive again, it was a close call, eh?

Fletch said...


Spurred on by your comment I went looking for an explanation. I found it on the official F1 website, and although they absolutely HATE people copying their stuff (rightly so) I lifted the 'official explanation' for the farce.

Looks like they took great pains to exonerate LG from any blame, so I can stop being paranoid about my LG computer peripherals failing at the most critical moment - or can I?



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