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Apr 03 2016

Formula One 2016: Sakhir

Once again we’re going to forgo the pretty tables because I just don’t have time to do them. Suffice it to say that Australia was Rosberg, Hamilton for Mercedes, then Vettel and Ricciardo for Ferrari and Red Bull. Haas debuted in 6th place with Grosjean, which is pretty good for a rookie team and has some calling them ‘Ferrari West’ and not in a complimentary way.

There are 3 main topics of conversation this week, Alonso’s injury, the new Qualifying Rules, and the Driver’s revolt.

Alonso, if you forgot or didn’t see it, had a spectacular crash on the 11th lap in Australia with Gutiérrez. He walked away from it, but as it turns out he had a couple of fractured ribs and a punctured lung. As a consequence he will not race today and the McLaren reserve driver Vandoorne was called back from Japan to substitute. Vandoorne hasn’t done so bad considering that it’s his first time in the car, out Qualifying team mate Button (14th) in 12th.

Speaking of Qualifying, there’s a complicated new format this year. Slow cars are going to get Black Flagged (told to park) at 90 second intervals so there’s more room on the track for fast cars. It has the secondary and somewhat contradictory goal of promoting more cars on the track throughout Qualifying, the thought being that teams will have an incentive to keep their cars out to prevent elimination rather than waiting to the end of the Qualifying period and send them for 1 or 2 hot laps.

It’s an abysmal failure. Teams are sending their cars out at the beginning of each session, running 1 or 2 hot laps, then parking them and living with the result. Instead of a thrilling scramble in the last few minutes, the track is empty most of the time.

Compounding it is the fact that after Australia Formula One promised to revert back to the old rules for Bahrain and then promptly broke that promise which has even Bernie Ecclestone publicly pissed off (though I don’t buy his act for a minute. He’s a duplicitous bastard and this was his idea in the first place).

There are other rule changes for 2016. The one I think has the most promise is a change to the tire regulations which now offers the choice of 3 compounds with teams required to use at least 2 different ones (exclusive of the ‘wet’ tire exception which remains in place). One that is pretty much unenforceable is the restrictions on Radio Transmissions, it is laughably easy to cheat (think Baseball signs).

Finally there is the Driver’s revolt. Led by World Champion Lewis Hamilton the Drivers think that they are woefully under represented (as in, not at all) in the decision making process. Talking out of both sides of his mouth (again), Ecclestone is in favor of and yet unalterably opposed to the Drivers having a seat at the table. What Bernie really thinks is probably something like this, “The drivers can say what they like. They can’t do anything. They are only saying what their teams have told them to say.” Of course that’s an easy call since one of the reasons Bernie is such an asshole (in addition to lying and cheating among other things) is he thinks his opinion is the only one that counts anyway. If he doesn’t die first the day will soon come that the Drivers and the Teams and the Engine and Tire manufacturers will collectively tell him to go piss up a rope.

In other news Renault picked up Lotus as predicted. Red Bull is using Renault also but they are highly modified and badged TAG Heuer. The 2 Torro Rosso drivers, Verstappen and Sainz, are at each other’s throats after a collision in Australia. Magnussen will start from the pits because he blew off the post race weight inspection in Australia.

Tires on offer are Supersoft, Soft, and Medium. Bahrain International Circuit has 2 DRS zones and is hard on brakes because of the 4 long straights.

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