Nov 26 2011

F1: Interlagos Qualifying

The news, such as it is, is mostly silly season speculation about who will be driving next year which is really the least entertaining and important part of the sport.  And at that the only real news is that Kubica’s rehabilitation may not be complete at the beginning of next season which is a problem mostly for him since his team has a deep and talented bench.

One interesting thing of note is that many of the backmarking teams spent a longer than usual time running practice laps and brought out some fiddly aero bits from next year’s machines.  This is indicative of the most pressing anti-competitive problem in Formula One which is that teams in general are not allowed to test enough because the weaker teams can’t afford to do it.

More than all the Downforce Reduction Systems and Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems in the world, if you really wanted to advance the fortunes of the non-scoring teams you’d allow them to do some real engineering and instead limit the amount of simulation time which as we’ve seen as they’ve struggled the last 2 years to integrate is no substitute.

This year was a boring replay of last year only more one sided and there is no reason to believe next year will be any different since the regulations are only changing in the direction of making the cars less durable and safe.  No tire you can put on the track is going to deteriorate fast enough to create real pit competition or a meaningful alternative race strategy.  Likewise all the aerodynamic changes are in the direction of making less downforce and the cars more difficult to steer and unstable.  Great if you like flaming chunks of twisted metal, not so good if you want lead changes and racing opportunities.

Stories to watch in the off season are the negotiation between Ecclestone and the teams on a new agreement and the continuing unfolding of big money financial scandals particularly in connection with the 2 new US tracks in Austin and New Jersey.  Bernie is already jacking Texas up for their multimillion dollar entry bribe which the Comptroller has refused to release because the contract has insufficient assurances the race will even be held.

I predict Austin is going to become the embarrassing step child and the track a billion dollar boondoggle of a white elephant.  NASCAR for good or ill (and mostly ill) dominates racing in the States supporting no less than 3 separate series in a weekend that pack the stands with boozy beer-drinking red necked boors who like their blood sport flaming chunks of twisted metal wrecks so much that they build them like bumper cars, bend the rules to force the drivers to drive them that way, and don’t care that they’re slow moving pieces of crap.

Good luck with that Bernie.

Maybe I’ll be surprised and something interesting will happen by tomorrow, but I don’t expect it.  If you want to find out more about Interlagos which if it wasn’t a track would be nothing but a malarial swamp, click the link.

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