Monday, July 11, 2011

F1 Britain 2011

I keep thinking F1 can't get any better this season, but it continues to prove me wrong. Silverstone delivered some brilliant racing in the changing conditions.

The first few laps were tricky on a half wet and half dry track. After it dried enough for slicks, things got very interesting. Passing (and there was lots of it!) required venturing off the safe, dry racing line. Several drivers attempted some supremely brave overtakes. Sometimes it was pure poetry; sometimes it was a smash up derby. All this action culminated in a classic final lap, with Webber chasing Vettel for second place, and Hamilton banging wheels with Massa over fourth place, right into the last corner. It was fantastic, absolutely incredible! ^_^

But F1 would not be F1 without some controversy.

Although team orders are legal now, it is still an ugly subject. I have no problem with Redbull instructing Webber to maintain position, as that is their perogative as a team. However, I feel a driver has the right to ignore the orders, just as Webber did, because the driver also has a responsibility to himself to maximize his championship points whenever possible. If drivers are totally subservient to team orders, what is the point of the drivers' championship? Why not just return to the pre-F1 days when there was only a constructors' trophy?

What really bugs me is that, with such a healthy points lead, Redbull could comfortably have let Vettel and Webber race each other. If they crash, they crash. That's racing.

The bigger controversy was the driver-off-throttle-but-computer-on-throttle-blown-diffuser. @_@ Never mind. I'll just call it the thingamajig. It's all about hot exhaust gases (and almost as stinky as other tail pipe emissions).

Typically, the FIA changes the rules after the end of a season. For some reason, they decided to ban thingamajigs mid-season this time. It was a huge mistake. The technical issues are very complex because of how different engine manufacturers use the drive-by-wire throttle. Although the thingamajig was banned for this race, I am still not sure about the rest of the season.

So what effect did the ban have on track? McLaren depended heavily on the thingamajig and appeared to suffer a huge loss of performance in qualifying, but their race pace was much better. Result: inconclusive.

Ferrari do not use the thingamajig and appeared to benefit (they won), but maybe it was their upgrades that made the difference. Result: inconclusive.

Redbull also depended on the thingamjig and should have lost performance, but they still locked out the front row in qualifying, and still finished second and third, which was more the result of bad pit stops than anything else. Result: inconclusive.

So, it seems that all the fuss over hot exhaust gases produced... nothing, except more hot air. I love Formula 1! ^_^

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