Archive — Motorsport
McLaren admits its Suzuka tyre selection was “wrong”
Despite the many management changes over recent years, this might be peak McLaren. Rumour has it that McLaren’s odd allocation of tyres for the Japanese Grand Prix is down to the fact that it forgot to submit its choice to Pirelli in time. Gil de Ferran insists that it was a deliberate decision, even though it’s clearly wrong. Wut? 🤔
Formula 1’s first, and chaotic, use of the safety car
I had no idea that this was the first time a safety car was used during a Formula 1 race. It puts some modern controversies around race results into perspective!
When did Formula 1 first use the safety car? If your answer revolves around an introduction during the middle of the 1992 season, and first used in the Brazilian round early in ’93, then you’re wrong.
And we’re not even referring to the F1 statisticians’ favourite anomaly that the Indianapolis 500 was – for a time – part of the world championship. There was one occasion before its modern-day introduction that the safety car, or pace car as it was known, was employed. The 1973 Canadian Grand Prix, 45 years ago. And given the experience, it’s little wonder the concept was then dropped for near enough two decades.
Another burned bridge could drive Alonso to Nascar
This opinion piece from Dieter Rencken on how Fernando Alonso has destroyed his own F1 career contains an insight on the fate of his team bosses that I wasn’t aware of before.
Every F1 team boss Alonso has driven for save Paul Stoddart (who owned Minardi, and thus could not be fired), lost his job during Alonso’s tenure with that team: Renault’s Flavio Briatore (also his manager), Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali and Marco Mattiacci, McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh, Ron Dennis and Eric Boullier. One could also add the names of more than a few senior engineers to this roll call.
It’s quite extraordinary that even Alonso’s heavily-hyped potential move to IndyCar could be thwarted by his own past behaviour.
Photo — 2018-09-15
The new Formula 1 timing app is comically bad. Even on quite a large screen, it only shows 10 drivers — at a gigantic font size. Meanwhile, the live driver tracker is juddery and completely unusable.
But hey, I guess it uses Sean Bratches’ new fonts.
The old app wasn’t perfect, but at least it gave you all the information you needed to follow a session, and the driver tracker was usable.
It’s difficult to believe Liberty Media did any usability testing with any F1 fans before unleashing this style-over-substance atrocity.
Wolff says rivals ‘didn’t have the balls’ to commit to Ocon deals
I am as upset as anyone else that Esteban Ocon probably won’t be racing in F1 next year. But this is not a good look for Toto Wolff. The other teams are perfectly entitled to hire whoever they want (particularly if a top-notch driver like Daniel Ricciardo becomes available).
If Toto Wolff thinks Esteban Ocon should be racing next year, he could always have given him a Mercedes drive. Notably, he hasn’t.
Photo — 2018-08-26
Chilling on Eau Rouge (or is it Raiddilon?) after the Belgian Grand Prix.
“Stay on this! Stay. On. This.” — The split second decisions behind Formula 1’s television direction
One for the geeks. Formula 1 have released a fascinating video of the moment Sebastian Vettel crashed out of the German Grand Prix, including talkback from the FOM production team responsible for the main TV world feed.
This is a brilliant insight into the amount of work and split-second decision making that goes behind telling the story of a complex race while dramatic events are unfolding live. I generally admire the high quality standard of the FOM world feed. But this video shows that there is a even more going on behind the scenes than I imagined.
It is particularly interesting to see how aware the team are of relatively minor incidents like Carlos Sainz changing to intermediate tyres, but they opt not to reflect this on the broadcast for fear of distracting from the bigger picture: “This is the story.”
Photo — 2018-08-25
Belgian Grand Prix beer times. 🍺
It’s not lost on us that it’s 10:30am at home. But it’s party time all the time at the Verstappen stand.
Photo — 2018-08-24
We’re here at Spa-Francorchamps!
Photo — 2018-08-23
Campervan fun times
Photo — 2018-08-23
Haas pit stop practice.
Photo — 2018-08-22
Would you believe it! Our campervan is orange. We’ll fit right in with the Max Verstappen fans!
Tomorrow I set off on holiday for two weeks. I have scheduled some link posts for the duration of my holiday so that the mirage of my daily publishing is maintained. So if anything seems weirdly incongruous, or if I seem strangely unresponsive to any comments, that's why. Read full article5 comments
The shoey: Why it’s a bad idea to copy Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 podium ritual
Finally, someone has done the science on the shoey, the ritual whereby Daniel Ricciardo drinks champagne out of his sweaty shoe after winning a grand prix. It’s about as bad as you might expect.
The positive — and possibly surprising — revelation was that in most instances the alcohol kills much of the bacteria present.
In fact, the only drink that failed to do so was sparkling white wine or champagne. Not only did the fizzy stuff fail to act as a disinfectant, but it encouraged the growth of more bacteria — and we’re not talking the friendly kind.
Food (or drink) for thought when champagne is the go-to tipple for Ricciardo when he celebrates a F1 podium finish.
What Pérez’s shock decision tells us about Force India’s uncertain future
The current turbulence surrounding Force India F1 Team is possibly the most extraordinary Formula 1 story in over 20 years since I began following the sport. The fact that a driver, Sergio Pérez, has played a pivotal role in his own team going into administration was scarcely believable when the news emerged last Friday. As this story by Dieter Rencken outlines, the plot is thicker still.
I greatly admire the Force India team. When I was a child I was a huge fan of Jordan, from which Force India is descended via various owners. And they have consistently demonstrated that they are the team able to deliver the most on the scarcest of resources.
As Dieter Rencken’s article notes, the odds are more stacked against them than ever. The fact that they have finished 4th in the constructors’ championship for the past two seasons is an awesome achievement. And the fact that such a successful team finds itself in such financial trouble is a damning statement on how unjust F1’s current payment structure is.
Vettel is first driver to crash out of the lead solo in 13 years
What a stonking stat.
When Sebastian Vettel slid into a barrier on lap 52 of the German Grand Prix it was the first time in 13 years a Formula 1 driver has crashed out of the lead by themselves.
The art of deciphering Fernando Alonso’s Alonsospeak
Fernando Alonso is one of the most eloquent speakers in Formula One and one of the best at interacting with the media. But he can also use these opportunities to cultivate certain narratives. Four of his statements during the French Grand Prix weekend — one of the most miserable weekends McLaren has endured in recent years — were perfect examples.
It’s a shame, but this article is bang-on, and it needed to be said.
I am a huge admirer of Fernando Alonso. He is one of the few drivers whose driving is so expressive that it actually comes across on TV.
It is a complete tragedy that he only has two world championships, despite probably being the best driver on the grid. And yet it is probably entirely of his own doing.
In that context, you can understand Alonso’s desire to talk himself up. But it is also transparent, and more than a little bit sad.
Note — 2018-06-28
The possibility seems remote for the time being. But it did instantly tickle a part of my brain. If Räikkönen were to go to McLaren next year, then for whatever reason decide to end his career at Sauber, he would have a palindromic career. In other words, he will have worked his way back through each of the teams he has driven for, in reverse order.
The F1 teams he has driven for in order are:
Has any driver actually done this before?
Some interesting facts about Volkswagen’s record-smashing Pikes Peak electric race car
Volkswagen took a car to the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the intention of beating the record for fastest electric vehicle up the mountain, but it didn’t just beat that one. It also beat the all-time record—leaving both so far in the dust that all the dust had probably settled by the time they got there.
OK, so in a lot of ways Pikes Peak is ready-made for electric vehicles given that range isn’t necessarily an issue, and the lack of oxygen makes things trickier for internal combustion engines. But this is nevertheless a seriously impressive development.
The record has been smashed by over 15 seconds.
Canada 2005: A record-breaking race that won’t be matched behind a paywall
I didn’t know that this was the most-watched Formula 1 race in history. As this article points out, it seems unlikely at this stage that this record will ever be beaten.
I was struck that this happened the very year before CVC Capital Partners bought their stake in F1. 🤔
They made it their business not to invest in the sport (quite the opposite, in fact). F1’s slow decline began then.
Photo — 2018-06-16
Settling in for a night watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only 15½ hours to go!
How the halo protection device passed its first major test in F2
It’s great to see the addition of the halo already apparently paying off. Though I doubt it will convince the naysayers.
How F1 has changed – for better and worse – in my 300 races
I really enjoyed this look back by veteran F1 journalist Dieter Rencken, who has been covering the sport since 1997.
I was particularly struck by his observations on how the costs of running a team have evolved over that time.
[In 1997] No fewer than seven [engine manufacturers] – Ferrari, Ford, Hart, Mercedes, Mugen, Renault and Yamaha – were represented, with engines then typically costing up to $40m for a season supply. Against that, budgets peaked at around $80m, so engines accounted for 50 per cent of spend.
2018 budgets run to $300m (plus), with engines pegged at around $25m, yet team bosses complain the power units are too expensive… while kicking against budget caps!
Formula 1 has trademarked Daniel Ricciardo’s shoey
This seems like a bit of a dick move from Formula 1.
It doesn’t mean F1 is going to go about suing Australian drivers from other categories indulging in sock juice, but it does mean that anyone selling Shoey-themed drinking vessels could be slapped with a strongly-worded ‘stop-what-you’re-doing-or-else’ letter from Liberty Media.
…But when Ricciardo retires, or races in a different category, won’t it seem absurd that the celebration he made famous is trademarked by Formula 1? And not Ricciardo, nor even the Mad Hueys who originally came up with it?
When Ayrton Senna visted Musselburgh to pay tribute to Jim Clark
Red jackets with dark slacks was the required uniform for the couple of hundred children sitting mesmerised in front of Senna. What was a living, breathing Brazilian racing driver doing here, in Musselburgh, of all places?
Note — 2018-03-17
It’s great to see this clip of Henry Hope-Frost on You Bet.
He may have thought then that his obscure knowledge would be of absolutely no use. But it certainly came in handy when he later became one of the top motorsport journalists.
There aren’t nearly enough clips of You Bet on YouTube. I remember one contestant who was able to tell a piece of music that was being played backwards just by seeing a candle flickering in front of the speaker.
It’s extraordinary to think that this kind of geeky talent passed for Saturday night ITV entertainment in the 1990s.
Henry Hope-Frost’s untimely death traveling home from the job he loved earlier this month was tragic. This clip is a demonstration of pure fever.
Retracing the Birmingham Superprix
Looking back on the street race that ran in Britain’s second largest city for a few years in the 1980s. It is almost unimaginable today, and going by the weary comments from the business owner whose building was used as the pitlane, you can see why it didn’t last.
Cheating fanboost rivals a catastrophe for Formula E — Abt
Audi Formula E driver Daniel Abt has accused rivals of cheating the series’ Fanboost voting system and says drivers unfairly winning it is a “catastrophe”.
So apparently voting patterns in Formula E’s fanboost vote are suspicious. It was surely inevitable that would be happening. But it sounds like Formula E don’t know what to do about it.
Last weekend’s race was the first time this year that Daniel Abt didn’t receive the fanboost himself though. And his team mate (in the team with his family’s name in it) Lucas di Grassi did receive it. So it does make me wonder what makes him such an expert on what’s going on. 🤔
Here’s a radical idea though. How about not having the ridiculous fanboost in the first place, and leave the drivers to get on and race on an equal footing rather than turning what’s supposed to be a sport into a popularity contest?
Frederic Vasseur cancelled Sauber Honda F1 deal on first day as boss
I joined on July 17 at 9am, and the meeting [about Honda] was at 10am.
That’s what you call getting on with the job.
The worst car I ever drove — Lapped dog
What happens when you get your dream drive in Formula 1 — only for it to become a nightmare. Julian Bailey on the Tyrrell 017.
I climbed in and they fired it up. Just as they did that the right hand mirror fell off..
From the archives of Motor Sport Magazine, this article is from 1999, but still an entertaining read.
Photo — 2017-11-24
Ferrari exhibition at the Design Museum
Note — 2017-10-31
It’s worth reading the full transcript of Lewis Hamilton’s press conference following his championship victory on Sunday (scroll down to about halfway down the page to see “Questions to Lewis Hamilton”). As noted by Andrew Benson, his answers are long, in-depth, and provide an interesting insight into the mindset that has seen him step up a level this year.
Photo — 2017-10-29
Mexican Grand Prix night.
…Including home made churros!