Tag Archives: Perez

Pit Stop – F1 changes – By Lewis Brearley

Almost all Formula One fans have ideas about how the sport should be improved. From less prescriptive technical regulations to more prescriptive technical regulations, more durable tyres, less durable tyres, bringing back refuelling, fewer teams, more teams, a budget cap, stopping racing on the newer and less romantic Tilke-designed circuits, there’s myriad ideas, some more worthy than others.

This week, the newly established “Strategy Working Group,” which comprises six team principals and six representatives from both the FOM and the FIA, had their first meeting and agreed on some changes which they believe will improve Formula One.

Firstly they decided to bring in, with immediate effect, permanent numbers for all the drivers. Sebastian Vettel will get the first choice, including the option to use the #1 earned by winning the drivers’ championship, with the others getting their choice in championship order.

This is a pure marketing tool and has been very well received among the fans and drivers alike. Formula One bosses will be hoping that sometime in the future they will be able to match the image and income of Valentino Rossi’s iconic #46 in MotoGP.

However, it’s unclear how the system will be implemented. If a driver retires only to return a couple of years later such as Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher, will their number be kept “on ice” for a couple of years or will they have to pick a new one?

Also, how will the numbers be visible? At the moment the numbers on the cars are too small to even be seen in slow motion close ups, and the teams are unwilling to increase this size for fear of reducing space for paying sponsors.

A number which is therefore only really visible on the driver’s caps and t-shirts before and after races is hardly going to have the same impact as the clear numbers used in MotoGP.

Secondly, a tentative plan to have a workable budget cap for 2015 was announced. Due to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes’ current blasé and selfish attitudes to the ridiculous current financial situation in Formula One, it’s very unclear how this system will be properly enforced.

It’s certainly very unlikely to be set as low as the $40 million cap pushed by Max Mosley in 2009. The lack of information in the press release itself shows just how early into negotiations this decision is.

A more immediate change to the rules, and the one which has gained the most headlines, is the decision to award double points in next season’s final race.

This means the winner of next year’s Abu Dhabi grand prix, a race seen as one of the least challenging on the calendar, will receive 50 points.

As of now, Vettel is the only man to share his opinion on the issue, calling the whole idea “absurd and unfair,” and he is completely right. Never in the history of Formula One has one race been worth more than others.

This is a purely business-driven move, just like the permanent numbers, as it almost guarantees a final race championship decider, yet this is different as it affects the racing itself.

In football, the goalposts aren’t widened in stoppage time and in a 19-race championship, one race should not outweigh any of the others.

It’s also a sign of Formula One taking a worrying direction towards gimmickry and entertainment and away from sport. What’s to stop a circuit organiser deciding to pay double the hosting fees to get their race billed as a “50 points super-race?” Or giving points for overtaking in the final few laps?

This sort of gimmickry is not what Formula One needs to be entertaining and it’s concerning that the very owners of the sport think it is. They need to have more confidence in their product and remember that when Mika Hakkinen overtook Schumacher at Spa in 2000, or when Raikkonen overtook Giancarlo Fisichella on the last lap of the 2005 Japanese grand prix, there were no gimmicks, no double points and no overtaking aids.

Pure racing, rivalries and personalities is what makes Formula One the second most watched sport in the world. There’s no need to dilute that.

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Pit Stop – End of Season Review Part 2 – By Lewis Brearley

Now that the 2012 Formula One season has concluded it’s time to reflect and analyse the successes and failures of the drivers and their respective teams. In the second part of the review, it’s the turn of the team of McLaren-Mercedes and their drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

If you count the points Lewis Hamilton lost to mechanical gremlins and ill fortune and add them to his championship total, you find he should have actually won the world championship, with around 290 points.

Three sure fire wins – Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Brazil – and the 75 point prize that would have ensued plus probable good results in Belgium, Valencia and Germany would, theoretically have given Hamilton the title. That’s not even mentioning the handful of points lost in the first third of the season from botched pit stops.

Yet at the beginning of the season it appeared as though the only thing stopping Hamilton taking his second title would be his team mate, Jenson Button who won the season opener in Melbourne.

The Australian Grand Prix saw McLaren take a dominant front row lockout and a 1-3 double podium finish in the race itself, only stopped from being a 1-2 by an unfortunately timed safety car costing Hamilton second place.

McLaren had at last started the season with the best baseline car, a rarity after a run of years where the Woking team had been forced to start the season playing catch-up.

But McLaren’s remarkable ability to be close but not close enough continued. One Driver’s championship since 2000 is an indictment of the team’s inability to keep a consistently fast car to rival their Milton Keynes nemesis, Red Bull.

Throughout the year, McLaren consistently held a raw pace advantage over the remaining teams. However there were some tracks, Silverstone being a prime example, where the MP4-27’s pace was strangely poor. Hamilton finished eighth and Button finished tenth, and it was days like these inter spaced with the previously mentioned mechanical hiccups which killed off McLaren’s championship bid.

McLaren really should have at least been in the championship frame at Brazil. The team has epic resources, an innovative technical department led by Paddy Lowe and arguably the best driver pairing on the grid. Yet again the dynamic came up short.

But in 2013 the team’s dynamic will have changed. Their prodigy, Lewis Hamilton, has departed for a rival team and the young Mexican charger, Sergio Perez has been signed up.

The decision to sign Perez is one which has generated reams of debate from insiders and journalists. His peaks are extraordinary and hint at world champion talent, second at Monza; second in Malaysia. However these peaks are sparse and his mistake and accident ridden end to the season was worrying.

McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh does understand this though, calling Perez a “diamond that needs polishing.”

With Jenson Button more renowned for his race pace and calculating strategy nous than his pure, qualifying speed, McLaren may be in need for some of Hamilton’s scintillating speed by Brazil next year. Or they may not. Only time will tell.

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