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Adaptability

November 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Yes that wonderful word that seems to sweepingly take Formula 1 these days in a climate where adapting to your surroundings is just as important as being fast.

The US GP failed to live up to the hype of last year. Pirelli’s continued ultra-conservative route still being taken and the lack of Sebastian Vettel looking vulnerable in any situation. Some interesting points did come from the US GP though if you look a little deeper.

For the first time in a good while we saw some of the rawness of drivers and not just their media fronts. This was firstly noticeable with the brash statement of Pastor Maldonado claiming that the mechanics of his number sixteen Williams were tampering with his car. In any circumstance or situation, even if you are leaving, you do not make such comments or statements. It is hardly an appealing factor to any new employee that you may be going to. In this case it looks like Lotus unless Quantum Motorsports cough up some money and, rightly, take Nico Hulkenberg.

We then have other examples of drivers just simply not adapting. Lewis Hamilton was contradicting himself for fun from what we heard of the team radio messages between himself and his engineer. Firstly claiming he knew what he was doing with the tyres, followed up by wanting to know a plethora of information, massive respect to Peter Bonnington for having the patience of a Buddhist monk. Hamilton once again showing he has speed but not the full package.

When we look at the performances of the second half the season it is clear to see that Red Bull have regained their advantage from last season with the 2012 Pirelli tyre construction being brought back. Even when the 2013 tyres were on the car, Vettel still won Malaysia, Bahrain and Canada. This reflects how he is able to adapt to the car and tyres given to him. Arguably, Fernando Alonso is doing an even better job considering the lack lustre Ferrari he has two wins to his name. But what Alonso portrays is firstly confidence and ability within him but also the mental capacity to be able to adapt. The car is not as good as the Red Bull but he is extracting everything from the Ferrari and has now finished runner-up to Vettel. He learns how the tyres work during the race and uses that to his advantage.

Jenson Button is loved by many in the paddock and many fans, but I am not one. Even during his 2009 championship campaign there was this snide character to Button that came across. Button moans about any given situation with the car. He does not understand or learn what the car is doing; he immediately proclaims something is wrong. McLaren have opted to release Sergio Perez from his contract. Over time it will come out if this is on performance or the Telmex money drying up. Have McLaren released the wrong man? No. Both need to go.

Perez in the second half of the season has done a better job than Button. He has understood the team, his engineers and also the simulator and McLaren are now seeing the rewards. I do not believe Perez is the ultimate driver but he is certainly more adaptable than Button. With Kevin Magnussen now joining the team, I believe in 2014 Button is going to get over shadowed by his young Danish team mate. Experience is a tremendous trait to have, if you know how to use it.

The driver that has been impressing most of late is Romain Grosjean. In 2012 he was erratic, reckless and arguably dangerous at times. In 2013 he has calmed down a lot by seeing a psychologist and learning more about himself. I am not a father but they say fatherhood changes you and while he claims it has not changed him, subconsciously I suspect a change has taken place. I have no end of respect for Grosjean to even mention the fact he sees a psychologist. In modern day sport that could be viewed as a sign of weakness to some. He and Lotus identified the issue and dealt with it. Grosjean has learnt the car and the tyres and is now beating one of the Red Bull’s, mighty impressive.

So where does this leave 2014? Currently you would say on driving adaptability alone the title fight will be between Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen and even Grosjean. With the amount of changes Formula 1 will go through in 2014 it is vital to be able to adapt. But for me Nico Hulkenberg is the star of the future as long as he gets a drive. He is a driver of raw talent, adaptability and speed. I first saw him in A1GP and knew then he was on for greatness.

If Britain has any hope in Formula 1 in the future, it is coming from lower categories. The current crop of drivers are near write-offs.

Follow me on twitter: @nico888

The Racing Edge #2 – Malaysian F1 GP Podcast

March 25, 2013 Leave a comment

This is our second podcast and we take a look at the antics that went on between the Red Bull and Mercedes team mates along with a brief review of the race. We are looking to get as many people involved and round table discussions open. Please like and comment below and we look forward to reading your comments out on the next show.

The Racing Edge #2 – Malaysian F1 GP Podcast.

Well… that was awkward…

Now that the Malaysian GP has ended a new race has begun, one which isn’t exactly overt but is sure to be happening. The race I am speaking of is the one where the viewers are all racing towards their computers in order to duke it out on their favorite F1 sites, facebook pages, group forums, etc over the controversy witnessed at today’s race within the Red Bull and Mercedes camps. While a race to express your opinion isn’t one that can really be won, the anxiety still exists to get an opinion out there as if it could. Unfortunately I fall under that group and as I begin to hear the birds chirping in my rural midwestern town that morning has come, a part of me wishes that I was racing to my bed. However, unlike some of us out there, I am honoring my team orders and keeping up the good fight.

The title of my post pretty much sums up the race for me.  From Alonso’s decision to stay on track in order to test unique front wing designs to Hamilton’s exemplary lesson on how subconscious desires override common sense, I couldn’t help but think how awkward this race was. Don’t get me wrong, the excitement was there. This was a proper Malaysian GP with it’s changing conditions, retirements, epic wheel to wheel battles, and dramatic turn of events. Yet I still couldn’t shake the feeling that the race just felt off in a lot of ways. I just knew that some bullshit was right around the corner.

Unfortunately, I turned out to be right. The podium ‘celebration’ and subsequent interview said it all. Even if things had went smoothly and the drivers decided to just toss their champagne bottles aside and take a piss on the crowd before them, I still don’t think it would have been as awkward as to what we witnessed.

I wouldn't be surprised to see this happen

It needs to happen

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see Mark Webber yet again receive unequal treatment and support (i.e. get screwed). One only needs to take a look at the 2010 season to confirm such things. Now before you naysayers stone me to death, I am not saying that Webber’s troubles and inability to secure a championship are down to just faulty team mechanics. He certainly has a variety of weaknesses that he has to take responsibility for (which he does). However, when a driver gives 110 percent effort it isn’t asking much to receive at least 90 percent support from his own team managers. You can get it all right and then some, but if those calling the shots aren’t fully in your corner, then there isn’t much you can do to overcome those odds. Webber wasn’t kidding when he responded to Helmut Marko’s criticism and said that “.. everyone at this level has their own agendas and it’s been evident for a long time now that I’ve never been part of Marko’s.” Oh how the anger rises inside me when I think about the final round in 2010 at the Abu Dhabi grand prix where Helmut Marko spouted off a bunch of fluff regarding the team’s views on honoring the spirit of competition and how drivers should have equal treatment as long as they still have a mathematical chance to win a championship. All talk and no walk.

Look, I understand the purpose of team orders and can accept that they happen in racing. I even support the implementation of them to an extent. However, it speaks volumes when Webber has always played the honorable role and is denied the same respect he has given countless times in the past. Some people out there may think that this is what makes Vettel one of the greats, that he will do everything it takes to get that win. But I would contest that what makes one great isn’t simply winning, but how one goes about achieving such a win. There is a reason why the ideas of honor and sportsmanship are highly praised.

Mark Webber knows that the odds have always been stacked against him. I only hope that history eventually shows this to be true. Simply put, I am not convinced that Vettel is superior to Webber as much as I am convinced that Vettel has received the greater support in both covert and overt form. Vettel’s on track actions seemed to express a belief that he can ignore team orders and act with impunity. The sad thing is that this is probably true.

The crazy thing is, this wasn’t even the most awkward thing that happened in today’s race. I think that award goes to Lewis Hamilton. Pit stop antics aside, did anyone catch how Lewis Hamilton openly admitted that Nico Rosberg ought to have been on the podium rather than himself? Kudos to Hamilton, he nearly killed me from the shock that overwhelmed my body from hearing that. It was the last thing I expected to hear from him but was certainly a pleasant surprise. At least we were able to witness some form of honorable action to help balance the dishonorable ones that took place.