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What’s to be done?

Posted by Carrot on March 23, 2010 | No Comments

It’s been over a week now since the snoozefest that was the season opener at Bahrain. Now we’ve all had a chance to digest the race and the reaction from the paddock to it, we have to ask what will happen next.

The race was unexciting. It’s very simple in that regard. There was no close racing, no mad sprints into the car in front and do-or-die manoeuvres into braking zones. The ‘highlight’ of the race as far as excitement goes was Vettel’s problem. No fan of the sport wants mechanical problems to be the highlight of any motor race. Even the speculation over the problem was more exciting that the race with TV announcers calling it as a cracked exhaust (and TV pictures of singed bodywork would tend to back them up on this), Red Bull’s official position that it was a spark plug issue (and no-one’s going to doubt that a Renault engine cost Vettel are they? It’s a perfect excuse) and Ron Dennis, speaking at the launch of McLaren’s new road car opining that it could be a fuel issue and that the ECU switch to a ultra-conservative mix in order to get the car to the line (and although it carries a Microsoft badge, it was McLaren that built the standard ECU that is used by all teams).

The mood in the post race media was completely apologetic, this season had been built up as one of the most exciting ever, four teams challenging for top honours, four World Champions and the return of Michael Schumacher. Schumacher seemed to bring back the same dull races from 2002 with Ferrari 1 – 2, unfortunately he now drives for the opposition. Even team bosses were immediately calling for a change, something’s up when top level managers in a sport are saying that changes are needed for entertainment purposes.

What shall we do then? Some have said that the tyres should be made weaker. Yeah, that’s going to happen. Bridgestone are pulling out of the sport at the end of the season and there’s no way they’re going to risk a PR fiasco by building anything but the best tyres that they can. It won’t be exclusive to Bridgestone either, who ever replaces them won’t be building tyres designed to fail over a certain limit and if the FIA puts it in the contract for a new supplier I can see the cars running on rims next season as no company in its right mind would step in under that restriction. Others have said make them have two mandatory stops. Why? The teams are already forced to make one mandatory stop due to the rules regarding the use of both tyre compounds during a race. All an extra stop would do is increase the chance of an error in the pit lane, and I though banning refuelling was supposed to put an end to the concept of overtaking in pit stops? Bernie again touted his idea of ‘shortcuts’ on tracks. What next Bernie? Bus lanes? Short cuts won’t work because the line will only be used occasionally making it dirty and full of rubbish, drivers will ultimately lose more time as due to drop-off in grip than they’ll gain by cutting off a corner.

There’s nothing that can be done. Not this season at least. Any change requires the unanimous consent of all current participants and if any team thinks a change might lose them time of points they’re going to veto it without pause. My big idea? Bring back refuelling. It added strategy to qualifying and meant that a fast car could be forced to work in a race if the strategy was off. Now we have a situation where the fastest car should be on pole at the the end of qualifying, how does the FIA expect the other cars to get past a car that we already know is faster than them when they’re on the same fuel load? Tyre wear and degradation? Great idea, except that the tyres we have no are bulletproof and the aerodynamics mean that their tyre wear has to be so significant as to add three seconds a lap to this fast car’s lap time over a stint for the cars behind to stand a chance of being able to close. Otherwise the damage to their own tyres is just too great. It was a dumb idea Max, go back to your dungeon.
Anyway, the future. Predictions for the Australian Grand Prix, a favourite of mine, will be up later this week. Hopefully we’ll be able to be more active after Australia because they’ll actually be something worthwhile to write about.

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