Nov 18 2012

Formula One 2012: Perry’s Pit

Well, where is here exactly?

It’s the penultimate race of the year and the Driver’s and (arguably) Constructor’s Championships are still up for grabs.  Actually I should classify the Driver’s Championship as arguable too since it’s not really as close as the 10 point gap between Vettel and Alonso would indicate.

What happened?  It’s not so much that Red Bull is all that much better than the rest but that the other teams suck so bad.

Jenson Button says 2012 McLaren car is worst since he joined F1 team

Paul Weaver, The Guardian

Monday 5 November 2012 17.30 EST

“Since I’ve been here this has been the worst year. It’s been tricky, even on good weekends. We’ve had a problem pretty much every weekend, lately. We need to stop it. I don’t get it.”

Button has been just as frustrated as his departing team-mate Lewis Hamilton as McLaren have failed to match the performances of Red Bull – or even Ferrari, who now look likely to relegate the British team to third place in the constructors’ championship.

Hamilton has often been outstanding this season but has been frustrated by pit-lane mistakes and, more recently, poor reliability.

He dominated the weekend in Abu Dhabi and stormed away from his 25th pole position into a comfortable lead, only to pull out before the halfway stage because of an electrical problem, evoking memories of his gearbox failure in Singapore, when again he was running away with the race.

“It’s twice in the last five races,” he said. “And the cars, apart from India, have had problems in all five. In Singapore we had the gearbox failure, at Suzuka a rear rollbar malfunction, before qualifying and in the race, and in Korea a rear rollbar failure. Then we had India, which was fine, and then here. So that’s four hardcore difficult weekends.”

Hamilton added: “I’ve been on pole position seven times this year. I have only won three times. In the other ones we’ve had failures and issues with pit stops and so on. If my car was as reliable as Sebastian’s or Fernando’s I would be right up with them now.”

Crisis of confidence as Ferrari pull out stops for Fernando Alonso

Paul Weaver, The Guardian

Friday 16 November 2012 12.24 EST

In a move so late it was positively posthumous Jules Bianchi, the Ferrari test driver, took the car for a spin at Spain’s Idiada Circuit last Saturday. The work he did there concentrated on the car’s aerodynamics, for this has long been diagnosed as the car’s failing; and yet it was a classic case of closing the garage door after the Red Bull has bolted.

Fernando Alonso goes into the penultimate race of the season here on Sunday only 10 points behind Sebastian Vettel. While Alonso has said he is confident and trusts his team, his chances of winning his third world championship were best summed up by one beleaguered member of the tifosi who said on Friday, shrugging: “For Fernando to win Vettel needs to crash. Twice.”

In reality it should never have been this close. Ferrari still have a slim chance because of Alonso’s dogged ability to make the best of a bad job while his and the team’s position have been promoted by McLaren’s habit of not only shooting themselves in the foot but using a sawn-off shotgun to do it.

There are many technical reasons for Ferrari’s troubles. They have had wind tunnel problems. They have also had difficulties – perhaps most crucial of all – in qualifying. Alonso has not been better than fourth on the grid in the past eight races and is normally about sixth. He is stronger in race mode when he is not hindered by the car’s poor DRS system, which is used more freely in qualifying.

But there are deeper problems at Ferrari. There are questions over Fry in his role as technical director, which he took on for the first time at Ferrari. The team were more competitive two years ago, when Alonso almost won the title, and when Aldo Costa, the man Fry replaced, was in charge. Ferrari have not been innovative enough. They have been too content to close the gap on their more inventive rivals at Red Bull and McLaren. They have not challenged, intellectually.

The journalist Beppe Severgnini said: “Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis.” There have not been many Botticellis from Ferrari recently.

Red Bull’s F1 dominance is talking point of US Grand Prix paddock

Paul Weaver, The Guardian

Friday 16 November 2012 14.22 EST

The BBC commentator David Coulthard drove not only for Red Bull but for two of the other three teams to achieve this feat (a hat-trick of Formula One Constructors’ Championships), McLaren and Williams (Ferrari, twice, were the others). Coulthard said from the paddock here on Friday: “I’m totally unsurprised. Because Red Bull are the only one of the major teams totally focused on Formula One.

“McLaren have electronics, road cars and other things and I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve never been successful at giving 100% to more than one thing.

“At various times McLaren have been the class of the field. At no time have Ferrari been able to say that, although they’ve had a great package. But Red Bull [whose soft drinks empire is run completely separately] have an ability to find solutions to the problems that they find during the course of a season. It is a really good formula.”

So this is 3 years in a row now of Vettel grabbing the pole and driving out of range and Formula One is just as boring as it was under Schumacher/Marlboro UPC.  What has to happen for it to get interesting again is for the other teams to get better and only Lotus/Renault shows any sign of improvement.

Good luck with Mercedes Lewis.  You’ll need it.


Interactive Track

Official Sites

Pretty tables below.

Starting Grid

Grid Driver Team Q-Time Q-Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 01:35.7 20
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 01:35.8 20
3 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 01:36.2 20
4 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 01:36.7 26
5 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 01:36.8 22
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 01:37.1 20
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 01:37.3 24
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 01:36.6 28
9 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 01:37.8 26
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 01:36.9 24
11 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 01:37.6 20
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 01:37.6 12
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 01:37.7 15
14 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 01:37.9 17
15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 01:38.2 16
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 01:38.4 15
17 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 01:38.5 16
18 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 01:39.1 9
19 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 01:40.1 12
20 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 01:40.7 11
21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 01:40.8
22 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 01:41.2
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 01:42.0
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 01:42.7

Driver Standings

Rank Driver Team Points
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 255
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 245
3 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 198
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 167
5 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 165
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 153
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 95
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 93
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 90
10 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 66
11 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 58
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 49
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 46
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 43
15 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 43
16 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 30
17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 12
18 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 10

Constructor Standings

Rank Team Points
1 Red Bull 367
2 Ferrari 290
3 McLaren 284
4 Lotus 255
5 Mercedes 136
6 Sauber 116
7 Force India 89
8 Williams 58
9 Toro Rosso 21

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