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6th April 2013
Memories of Brazil 2003
I have cross-posted the following entry from the : Fisichella Fanbase
. I'd meant to do a different version for here, but the length got a bit out of hand. So this is a very slightly modified version.
Ten years ago today, Giancarlo Fisichella got his first victory in F1, in the exciting, dramatic and complicated 2003 Brazillian Grand Prix.
I for one have very strong memories of that race, that nearly got cancelled due to the heavy rain and started under a safety car. Giancarlo had somehow dragged a Jordan EJ13 to 8th place. Note: the EJ13 was arguably the worst car to come out of Silverstone for over a decade, and the only slower cars on track belonged to Minardi.
On the seventh lap, Fisico pulled into the pit lane, which was quite surprising. After all, it was a 71-lap race and it put Giancarlo right at the back of a rather long safety car queue. Fresh wet tyres were applied and the tank fuelled to the very top. It later emerged that this was part of a deliberately strategy, one based upon a dream that Gary Anderson, Jordan's technical director, had had the previous night. If this sounds to you like a rather silly way of creating a strategy for a motor race, do not feel alone. As Giancarlo put it in a Formula 1 Magazine interview in November 2003, "I was telling them [Gary, and race engineer Rob Smedley] all the time over the radio that it was stupid. But actually it was the right choice."
The race got going properly on lap 8 - without Nick Heidfeld, whose Sauber had broken down with engine failure. While Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari diced with McLarens and Williamses at the head of the field, Fisico was running in last place but one (his team-mate Ralph Firman pitted the same lap as the safety car pitted). He slowly caught up with Olivier Panis, whose Toyota was not enjoying the conditions. The same could be said for Justin Wilson's Minardi, which was the first of many victims of the misleadingly named Curva do Sol (literally "Sun Corner", which had a river running across it). Then Ralph Firman caught Fisico, due to Ralph taking more risks through the trickier points.
Although Ralph had caught Fisico, he had enough sense not to attempt a pass on him - until he flew past at the end of lap 17. For a split second, I thought it was a brilliant overtaking move. Then I noticed how wide a berth Giancarlo was giving Ralph... ...and that one of Ralph's wheels was bouncing around on one of its two tethers. His suspension had failed, taking out the wheel and its other tether in the process. He spun down the start/finish straight and collected a surprised Olivier Panis at the first corner. Cue the second safety car of the day.
After a few laps of this (and a mass dash for the pits by most front-running cars), the safety car parked up. Its driver, Bernd Maylander, didn't even have time to grab a cup of coffee before Antonio Pizzonia slipped at the Curva do Sol river. He was a rookie in a not-particularly-great Jaguar, so nobody was suprised. Well, Juan Pablo Montoya might have been, but that was because he nearly hit the Jaguar as he came off at the exact same spot about 30 seconds later. By this point the marshals were trying everything to avoid dragging Bernd Maylander and his safety car back into the fray. Double-waved yellow flags, cranes being sent onto the gravel to retrieve cars while the race was running... ...they tried everything. But their efforts came to naught when Michael Schumacher went off at the same corner, nearly hit the crane moving Pizzonia's Jaguar and then hit Juan Pablo Montoya's car. Oops.
By this point, Fisico was up to 12th and fighting with Fernando Alonso's Renault for 11th. Both had been held up by Jos Verstappen's Minardi, which was on a similar strategy to Fisico (except that its tank was filled before the race began). He quickly gained two more positions - Mark Webber and Jarno Trulli had slow pitstops.
The safety car returned to the pits on lap 33. Almost immediately, there was a problem. Jos Verstappen's Minardi stalled in Curva do Sol, causing him to join the others at the wall. This released Fernando and Fisico to chase down the rest of the field. Fisico was 8th by this point.
He didn't stay there very long. Jenson Button's BAR, which had been 5th at the time, crashed at The Corner You Already Guessed. He was further round the corner at the time he lost control, giving hope that the track might eventually dry, but the unavoidable fact remained: Bernd Maylander and his safety car would be needed for a 4th time.
Mark Webber pitted from an excellent 3rd, which raised Fisico to 5th behind the safety car. At this point, I started to get the feeling he might possibly get a podium, but I was still struggling to get my head around the idea he could win from there. And yet, with over half the scheduled laps yet to be done, it was looking distinctly possible...
The safety car finally parked on lap 37. By this point, Bernd had led 20 of them. Everyone was looking forward to having the freedom to race on a drying track. This was especially true of the Bridgestone drivers. Only one type of wet tyre had been permitted for 2003, supposedly to save costs but probably outweighed by the cost of the carbon fibre piled up at Curva do Sol. Bridgestone's tyre was optimised for slightly drier conditions than Michelin's, so for the remaining Bridgestone runners - Rubens Barrichello in 2nd, Giancarlo Fisichella in 6th, Heinz-Harald Frentzen (who eventually completed the race with no stops) in 8th and Jacques Villenueve in 9th - things were looking good.
Furthermore, many drivers were having tyre management problems. This was first noticeable on David Coulthard's car, who gradually slowed due to excessive tyre wear. He'd been on his tyres for 26 laps, like most other drivers, but Barrichello's Bridgetones were finding the going easier and he passed for the lead. This delighted the crowd of fellow Brazillians.
By this point, Webber had been off the road and Alonso had served a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Fisico was already ahead of Webber, but Alonso's penalty elevated Giancarlo to 5th. Ahead: Ralf Schumacher's Williams, the two McLarens and Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari.
Then Barrichello's Ferrari went suspiciously quiet. He had to drift to the side and retire from the race due to a lack of fuel. In 11 years of competing at his home track, he'd never won, and he never got closer to doing so during his record-breaking F1 career.
Shortly afterwards, Ralf Schumacher pitted for fuel. He'd refuelled on lap 19, like much of the grid, and needed more fuel to reach lap 71. This put Fisico up to 3rd - a podium position. I was practically dancing at this news, but had to stop because dinner was served at that point.
I came back into the living room with my plate of beef wellington to see that Fisico had caught up with Kimi Raikkonen in 2nd place. He was clearly much faster than the McLaren driver, just waiting for a mistake. He knew that waiting for a pit stop was a bad idea because Kimi had pitted much later than everyone else (except for Christiano da Matta, whose Toyota was fitted with dry tyres and was a lap down). David Coulthard pitted on lap 52, but his previous stop was 8 laps before Kimi's had been, and by lap 60 the track would be much drier. Maybe dries might have been possible, in which case everyone would have to pit anyway.
It did not come to that. On lap 54, Giancarlo pressured Kimi into an oversteer moment two corners before the end of the lap. Giancarlo gratefully accepted the invitation and led the race. For 30 glorious seconds (including one crossing of the start-finish line), I exulted in seeing my favourite driver, at my favourite team, emerge from the chaos in the lead.
Then Mark Webber crashed.
This time, it was at Subido dos Boxes that the problem had occurred. Mark had "enough fuel to get to Sydney", but his Michelin tyres were completely worn out. There wasn't enough grip to get round the slippery back "straight" (which at Interlagos is curved) and he hit the left wall. Mark was OK, but his car emphatically was not. Parts of it were spread all over the track, making the track difficult to navigate. However keen race control was to avoid issuing another safety car, it had to happen. So a forest of yellow flags was flown, and Bernd Maylander patiently waited for everyone to come round. Giancarlo was sensible around the debris, ensuring he didn't hit anything, and got through. In the process he crossed the line for the second time since his overtake of Kimi.
Kimi got through the debris field too, but chose to pit due to his tyres being too worn out. He also wanted enough fuel to get to the end of the race. With hindsight, he needn't have bothered.
For this was the moment Fernando Alonso crashed.
Fernando, unlike Giancarlo and Kimi ahead, completely failed to slow down for the debris. He hit a tyre, then both walls. For a while it was unclear how Fernando had fared. What was clear was that there was a gigantic mess on the back straight and that attempting to send the 8 remaining cars through it, even controlled by a safety car, would be foolish.
As the safety car returned to the pits with its queue of drivers, Fisico noticed something odd about his car. By the time he reached the pits, everyone else noticed something odd about his car too... ...it was on fire. It made for a very dramatic image, albeit not one compatible with Giancarlo resuming the race.
Fortunately for Fisico, there was no restart. There was no way the debris could be cleared in the remaining 26 minutes. Instead, joyous celebrations for the little yellow team that hadn't won anything since Italy 1999 and the brilliant Italian who'd won his first F1 race after 110 attempts. Fisico threw his beautiful helmet into the sky, punched the air, and generally looked happier with his win than many drivers do when winning a world title.
I had been attempting to read a magazine at the same time as the race as usual, but given up on lap 25 as the race was too exciting. Thinking the race was done (and noting that ITV had gone to an ad break), I resumed reading. It just so happened that the next sentence was a quote from Giancarlo discussing some rumour: "Even Eddie has said he would love to see me in a winning car". (Yes, I imagine he would, especially if it was one of his own ;) )
Someone forgot to tell the timing computer. The system was busy recovering from a brief power cut when Fisico had overtaken Kimi. Nobody confirmed what happened next, but my personal theory is that someone used Kimi's timing data to figure out what lap the race had ended upon. Since Kimi had pitted, he only crossed the line once before the red flag. This would explain why the fact someone else had crossed the line twice was not taken into consideration on countback.
In any case, the computer said "no".
Fortunately, I had a mouth full of beef wellington at the time, otherwise I would probably have said something I'd have later regretted. It was pretty obvious that something was amiss with the calculations somewhere, but I couldn't figure out where at the time...
Kimi was put on the top step of the podium and Giancarlo put a brave face on his disappointment. The third step was empty; it should have been Fernando's, but he was in hospital for checks.
Afterwards, there was the usual press conference. Giancarlo showed his typical dignity and class by talking about Fernando and wishing him well before mentioning his disappointment. He came across as very much the moral victor, as well as having shown more merit in the race than the man who was at that point deemed to have finished first. (Some would argue that other people had more merit than either, and with some - particularly those supporting David Coulthard or Rubens Barrichello's claims to have deserved it more on merit - I have some sympathy).
The story was not yet over. Jordan decided not to issue a formal protest. Instead, they got one of their IT technicians, Mark Cormican, to match the data from Giancarlo's car to events on track and on the timing equipment. Then they submitted the information to the FIA for informal consideration. The FIA took the hint, reconvened the stewards for a meeting on Friday 11th April, and together they decided that Jordan was correct. The race really was 56 laps in length and Fisico really did win it.
It remains the only time in Formula 1 history that a race has formally been won on a Friday, or a trophy ceremony held on a Thursday (at Imola, in Giancarlo's native Italy).
It just goes to show: never stop dreaming, never back down and never give up:
even if your car is hopeless,
even if you're stuck at the back of the field with only a crazy idea for company,
even if you find yourself opposed by an implacable beaureacracy.
Current Music: Liberty X - Never Give Up
26th March 2013
Hold the Holding Station
First of all, it's my birthday today. :
I think I've calmed down enough to tackle Malaysia's team orders debacle. At the time, I was sufficiently upset with the conduct of Red Bull and Mercedes to skip seeing the podium, let alone the post-race conference. Now, with two days of space, it is easier for me to understand why I had that instinctive reaction to what I saw.
Before I explain that, I should probably explain what the conduct was that caused the problem. Red Bull and Mercedes were the two fastest teams in Malaysia by some margin, something that became clear as soon as the first pit stop window was completed and dry-run pace established. The Mercedes cars once again ate their tyres too quickly to challenge those ahead, but for a variety of reasons their opponents behind them couldn't catch them (the fastest of these was Felipe Massa). The scene was set for some intruiging intra-team fighting, given that it was race 2 of a season that has yet to establish any dominant patterns (other than Caterham and Marussia remain the slowest cars).
Then, both teams started giving orders. The right to give whatever team orders a team pleases - provided they don't involve bringing the sport into disrepute or otherwise breaching the current regulations - was re-introduced in 2011, having been informally permitted since Jean Todt assumed the FIA presidency at the start of 2010. This struck me as a very bad move, since teams and drivers have an unequal power base, despite going for two theoretically equal championships.
If a driver does something to endanger a team title in pursuit of a driver one, the team is entitled to sack or otherwise punish the driver in any way their contract permits. If the team does something to damage a driver's chance of a driver title to pursue the constructor's title, the driver has no meaningful comeback. Indeed, a strong complaint about the team's conduct may itself be construed as breach of contract. So in that situation, the constructor's title ends up being treated as more important than the drivers' championship because team orders prevent the drivers from giving the driver championship its rightful equality.
Both teams asked their drivers to "hold station", though I believe neither used that exact phrase.
Now, "hold station", even for a generally anti-team-order fan such as myself, does have legitimate uses in motorsport. If conditions are particularly bad, or there's a danger on the track that the drivers might underestimate, saying "be careful" may be insufficient. We may be talking about professional racing drivers with years of experience, but it is very difficult to judge the grip level of a track with very varied amounts of standing water and duel with another car simultaneously. Not every driver is capable of doing both simultaneously in every circumstance. Furthermore, if there is something wrong with a following driver's car, that driver's attempt to take another position may be the difference between that car staying intact and failing.
However, in all those situations, I would expect for the driver to be told why the "hold station" instruction is being issued, in plain terms. For the first example, tell that driver that the conditions have become extremely wet (and if they're that dangerous, ask out loud whether a Safety Car is appropriate). For the second one, explain the danger - otherwise holding station wouldn't be sufficient. If it's the following driver's car that has the problem, tell them what the problem is so they know how to adjust. Note that none of these are so much asking for a lack of overtaking as they are there to underline the severity of a problem that the pitwall is better able to judge than the driver.
To ask drivers to hold station in normal circumstances... ...well, let's look at some scenarios.
Had the Mercedes drivers been three seconds behind the Red Bulls and closing, assuming the situation was otherwise the same as in Malaysia 2013, do you think Red Bull's pitwall experts would have thought, "Nah. These two can't manage their cars and keep the Mercs back simultaneously?", or would they have thought, "We have a chance here. Tell our guys to fight off the other guys as best they can, and trust them to bring the car home in one piece - with occasional reminders if need be?"
Had Felipe Massa been three seconds behind the Mercedes and closing, assuming the situation was otherwise the same as in Malaysia 2013, do you think Mercedes' pitwall experts would have thought, "Nah. These two can't manage their cars and keep Felipe back simultaneously?", or would they have thought, "We have a chance here. Tell our guys to fight off the other guys as best they can, and trust them to bring the car home in one piece - with occasional reminders if need be?"
Answer: the latter, in both cases. These are highly-trained, highly-experienced racing drivers we discuss. Not kids fresh from Formula Ford or Renault.
Asking drivers to drive to their car's limits, or their own limits, is fine. Asking drivers to drive below the car and driver's combined demonstrated limit just because there's a long gap to 3rd/4th/5th/[insert position here] is not. If a driver wishes to coast in an easy situation, it should be their own decision, made with the wisdom of their experience and the knowledge of their car's current state.
It should not be any more difficult to keep one's car out of the path of a team-mate than a rival. After all, team-mates should know each other and the capabilities of their respective cars better than drivers in different teams. Besides, the laws of physics care not one jot if a struck car is purple, grey, blue or brown with pink polka dots - it will act just the same. Neither does the "they could have lost all the points" argument work because they could have just as easily, if not more easily, "lost all the points" in the scenarios above, yet the drivers would not be told to hold position then.
This makes asking drivers to "hold position" when times are relatively easy, such as in Malaysia 2013, make it look like the teams cannot trust their respective drivers to do things that drivers in lower series of single-seater racing, and in other disciplines, manage to do on a routine basis - or those same drivers could do in more difficult circumstances. It infantilises the drivers, encouraging the usurption of power that Sebastian Vettel appears to have done at Red Bull in 2010 (and contributed to Red Bull's error looking worse than Mercedes' despite both, at heart, being the same error).
Furthermore, it damages both the sport and show of F1 as a whole. The sport, because it shows that two champions and four winners are seen by their teams as less capable of sensible racing under kind circumstances than many of the drivers in other series. Those other world-level series are gaining viewers - apart from WRC rallying, which not only doesn't get the same situation quite so directly, but is struggling to sort out even more basic problems than the ones described in this post. WTCC is now the most watched motor sport in the world. WEC is growing in viewers by the race despite having no mainstream coverage. GP2 and Renault World Series drivers routinely race their team-mates without issues (it's when they race title rivals that everything tends to go to pot).
The show suffers too, because it means the majority of viewers, who follow F1 for reasons connecting to the drivers' championship rather than the constructors' championship, are increasingly convinced that their support is not welcome. Many have tried to get series loyalty through teams, and through other abstract concepts. All have failed, due to human neurotypical nature having a greater affinity with people than objects or abstract concepts. Fewer viewers, less attraction to circuits to offer high fees for their circuits (due to less promotion and tourism being possible). Fewer viewers, and lower TV fees (due to less money from advertising, sponsorship, subscriptions and less goodwill generated from viewers). Fewer viewers, and lower direct sponsorship rates.
F1 already has a serious viewer problem. Viewers fell to 502 million across the course of 2012 (10 million fewer than the 512 million WTCC managed). In the UK, Malaysia 2013 attracted 28% fewer viewers on Sky this year than last*, which was already a vast reduction on the viewers in 2011 (when BBC had the rights to Malaysia, hence direct comparison less useful for this specific article's purpose). If this pattern turns out to even be half as bad on the global scale, it's looking at having just over 418 million viewers across 2013 (noting that there is also one fewer race than in 2012 - the 20-race equivalent would be just above 440 million). That represents a loss of 16.8% of viewers.
It may not prove to be a direct 16.8% income loss due to income conversions frequently being non-linear, but even half that loss would lead to everyone involved in the sport having 8.4% less money come 2014. Some teams are skating close to the edge of survival as it is, which is demonstrated by the sudden pay driver proliferation in 2013. Circuits are being priced out of the market in areas previously considered wealthy, as well as in the traditional stomping grounds. Broadcasters are starting to demand discounts on broadcast fees (Sky Germany did so last year). The attempted F1 flotation last year failed.
The last thing F1 needed was evidence that the drivers are not even regarded as the best in motor racing by their own teams. Nobody likes seeing good drivers being played for fools by people who think they know better than everyone how to race properly but clearly don't**. I thus regard team orders, as used in Malaysia 2013 by Red Bull and Mercedes, as having brought F1 into disrepute. What the drivers did in response to those orders was moot, and said more about the quartet's mentalities of the moment than any knowledge usable in the long term. Other than Red Bull now appear to have lost respect from both drivers, instead of just Vettel.
At least (having since seen photos) the drivers had the decency to look glum - that's closer to the mending of ways needed than I expect to see from those truly responsible for helping to kill the series...
PS: I have ideas for how to implement a team order ban/limitation successfully. They are too lengthy and tangential to warrant inclusion in this post, but I will record them another time.
* - I am being particularly generous here. By China 2013, Sky will have removed the "free for all HD viewers" option for Sky F1. This could have a significant impact on F1 viewing figures for that channel. However, the "free for all HD" existed for Malaysia, meaning the race can still be directly compared to Sky F1's 2012 broadcast.
** - "Racing properly" and "racing fast" are not the same thing. They may seem the same in most circumstances, but this is one case where the difference is stark. "Racing properly" here would have meant limiting any orders to reminding the respective drivers to consider relevant weak points of their cars, and a reminder to be careful (in whatever wording was needed for driver comprehension of the risks and care needed to complete their primary mission of being as fast as possible).
Current Music: Latin 5 - Mark Russo
25th March 2013
Kimi and the Otherwise-Mundane
One of the striking things about yesterday's F1 race was that, for the first time, I heard Kimi Raikkonen lose his temper. :
He was stuck behind a substantially slower car, which happened to be very good at defending itself. He activated the radio - and while his words (I forget exactly what they were) didn't appear to be anything unusual for drivers fed up with being stuck behind someone else, it was strange to hear the tension and frustration in Kimi's voice as he said it. Most other drivers routinely get a bit flustered at such times, so had it been anyone other than Kimi I would not have been surprised.
As it's Kimi, I don't know what to make of it. Could any of the Kimi supporters out there please inform me as to whether this development should make me worried?
Current Music: None (reading Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson)
15th March 2013
F1 can be a dramatic, tension-building theatre of sporting achievement. This is sometimes difficult to convey. Which is why, along with many other F1 devotees, I woke up early this morning to watch the first cars go out for FP1... ...at least through audio and live-commentary, since I cannot get Sky where I live. :
I checked the official F1 site the night before and noticed the new sponsored time banner. It suggested a wake-up time of 2:30 am. This was corroborated by the "local time" converter. So I set my alarm accordingly. In fact, I managed to wake up a little before then. So imagine my shock when I discovered it was an hour into the session*.
It turns out that the site thought I lived in continental Europe instead of Britain (maybe that's why I can't get Sky?) No worries, I thought. Maybe I can get Radio 5 Live to explain what I missed.
No. None of the radio stations would load. Even the ones with no detectable relevance to F1. I'm still clueless as to why it behaved like that (in case you're wondering, none of the radio stations work for me now either, but it's getting further through the loading process before falling over).
Live timing didn't work, but that was not a surprise as it hasn't worked for me since 2011.
So I resorted to live-comment sites. Autosport? Wouldn't load, except for the front page. F1 Fanatic? A bit better, in that the news pages worked, but the rest of the site didn't work. Twitter? Worked, but surprisingly little information came through. Naturally, this left me a bit stuck.
It's difficult to care about a series that promises so much viewability and delivers so little. The European Le Mans Series would be ashamed to have such a small proportion of its broadcast offering working. I remember the olden days when it was easy to get information about a F1 practice session... ...8 months ago. The viewability of F1 is decreased on an almost race-by-race basis - no wonder WTCC is now more watched than F1.
* - Yes, I realise no cars had run at that stage. That's not the point.
Current Music: Peter Windsor - The Flying Lap Australia Preview
14th March 2013
2013 La Canta Magnifico Blog Calendar
First of all, happy Pi Day to everyone! :
Secondly, I've done a calendar of most of the races I'll be trying to see during the year. Clearly seeing them all will be impossible for a number of reasons, but if they're listed, there will be fewer surprises. The race I'm most likely to concentrate on for each weekend will be in italics.
The many clashing races will be given in the following sequence:F1
. Supporting Force India and the British contingent. Previously the focus of La Canta Magnifico Blog, though there will be less focus on it from now on.Assorted sportscar and touring car races
. This is not a complete list, but it has all the races I think Giancarlo Fisichella (the main driver I support) is doing, and all the races I can find for Markus Palttala. The occasional other race may get mentioned here, particularly if Gianmaria Bruni is doing it. A few of the races mentioned here have none of the above in them, but may require me to keep track of them anyway, depending on future news updates.Indycars
. One of my friends, @revs_rule, is introducing me to the top American single-seater series this year. I will spend some time here learning a new series, which I hope will be fun for you to read. I have no pre-set loyalties, though I have heard a fair few of the names involved before.MotoGP
. My favourite driver in motorcycling is Valentino Rossi. I like to keep track of what is happening in the cream of motorcycling, though my knowledge is not as detailed as it is in F1, or even WEC sportscars.
Here goes the list:March
17th: F1 Australia
24th: F1 Malaysia
/Indycar St Petersburg
31st: Nothing currently knownApril
7: Supercars International 2 Heures d'Marrakech/Superstars Monza/Indycar Birmingham, Alabama
14: F1 China/WEC & ELMS Silverstone (ELMS Saturday, WEC Sunday)
21: F1 Bahrain
/Indycar Long Beach/MotoGP Americas
28: Supercars International 2 Horas de AragonMay
5: WEC Spa (Saturday race?)
/Indycar Sao Paulo/MotoGP Spain
12: F1 Spain
19: ELMS Imola (Saturday race)/Superstars Brno/24 Hours of Nurburgring/MotoGP France
26: F1 Monaco
2nd: Indycar Detroit (Saturday and Sunday races)
/MotoGP Italy/Blancpain Great Britain
9th: F1 Canada/24h Le Mans Test
/Superstars Slovakia Ring/Indycar Fort Worth (Saturday race)
16th: Scrutineering for 24h Le Mans/Indycar Milwaukee (Saturday race)
23rd: 24h Le Mans (with activities across preceding week)
/Superstars Zolder/Indycar Iowa
30th: F1 Britain
/Supercars International 2 Horas de Porto/MotoGP Netherlands (Saturday race)/Blancpain FranceJuly
7th: F1 Germany
14th: Indycar Toronto (Saturday and Sunday races)
21st: ELMS Red Bull Ring (Austria, Saturday race)/Superstars Algarve/MotoGP United States
28th: F1 Hungary
4th: Indycar Mid-Ohio
11th: Nothing currently known
18th: MotoGP Indianapolis
25th: F1 Belgium
/Indycar Sonoma/MotoGP Czech RepublicSeptember
1st: WEC Sao Paulo
/Supercars International 2 Horas de Portimao/Superstars Donington Park/Indycar Baltimore/MotoGP Great Britain
8th: F1 Italy
15th: ELMS Hungaroring (Saturday race)/MotoGP San Marino
22nd: F1 Singapore/WEC & ALMS Austin
29th: ELMS Paul Ricard (Saturday race)/Superstars Imola/MotoGP AragonOctober
6th: F1 Korea
/Supercars International 2 Ore di Imola/Indycar Houston (Saturday and Sunday races)
13th: F1 Japan/Superstars Vallelunga
20th: WEC Fuji
/Indycar Fontana (Saturday race)/MotoGP Australia
27th: F1 India
3rd: F1 Abu Dhabi
10th: WEC Shanghai
17th: F1 USA/Supercars International 6 Ore di Roma
24th: F1 Brazil
30th: WEC Bahrain
7th: Nothing currently known
14th: Nothing currently known
21th: Nothing currently known
28th: Nothing currently known
Current Music: Musica para Soñar - Love Story
12th March 2013
Kobayashi's AF Corse Adventure
: Kamui Kobayashi will be racing for AF Corse in the World Endurance Championship
for sportscars this year. It looks like he will be in the #71 GTE-Pro car with Olivier Beretta
. This is great news, because Kamui
is a feisty, bright racer. Top-level motor racing needs as many feisty, bright racers as it can get.
Kamui proved quite consistent in 2012, in addition to a few quietly impressive fightbacks (16th to 6th in Abu Dhabi was a standout). He does not have team-mate Pérez's podiums, but then he did not have Pérez's error-prone run either. Falling off the track in F1 these days usually amounts to losing a few seconds and maybe two places. Falling off in sportscars has a habit of meaning ongoing problems through the rest of the stint and even through the remainder of the race. The same two places may be lost, but the class fields are smaller, which means they make more of a difference. Also, team-mates in sportscars tend to be rather less tolerant of drivers who stuff their cars through gravel traps or graze walls than their F1 counterparts. After all, they have to get in the thing later!
AF Corse is a good place to begin a sportscar transition. They showed during 2010 that they were willing to do what was necessary to support Giancarlo Fisichella
's transition. They placed him in a car with expert GT racers (first Toni Vilander
, who got dubbed "professor" for his extensive knowledge, then the extremely fast Gianmaria Bruni
). When it was clear sharing with Toni and fellow sportscar newcomer Jean Alesi
meant Giancarlo was getting too little time in the car to apply what he was learning, they and Ferrari ensured he got some ALMS races as well as the ELMS ones he'd already been doing. All the efforts paid off and he and current team-mate Bruni are the current WEC GTE-Pro champions. They only missed out on being official World Champions because that particular sobriquet was given to a collapsing sprint series called GT1 World. Giancarlo and Gianmaria will also be able to help Kamui settle into his new series.
Kamui's team-mate will almost certainly be Olivier Beretta. He's not necessarily the top GT racer, but he is very experienced and did a decent job in the #71 AF Corse last year. He should make a good "professor" for Kamui.
I have great confidence in Kamui's ability to race well and be an asset to his new series. Just let him have some time to get used to the new ways of doing things and he'll be just the sort of driver sportscar racing needs.
Incidentally, don't worry too much about Giancarlo not being confirmend yet by AF Corse. Firstly, it would be odd for a team to drop a driver who just won a championship for them. More to the point, teams don't generally ask drivers to "break records for most laps done in a single test day at Vallelunga
*" unless they need that driver to be very familiar with the latest upgrades to that car - and AF Corse does not have a dedicated test driver position...
* - 202 laps, in an AF Corse Ferrari 458, carrying the most current aero updates. To put this into perspective, the 2012 6 Ore di Roma was won by a car doing 180 laps and shared by 3 people...
Current Music: Queen - Dreamer's Ball
19th February 2013
Today, I begin the process of moving my blog to my new host. One thing I'd like to get sorted out early is the page design. :
I have more freedom in the blog design than I am accustomed to having, and am not yet sure how to use it. Things which could be tolerated before because of imposed design limitations may now be editable, subject primarily to how much HTML I can remember from university.
If you can think of anything you'd like improving, please tell me in the comments (they are open to everybody and registration is strictly optional, though anonymous comments will be screened for spam).
Want different colours? Different fonts? Features missing? Things in different places (my HTML skills may fail me here, but if there's demand I'll try)? Ask away!
Note: I've checked the cookie/tracker situation. There do not appear to be any trackers, and the only cookies are for people who register. Even the ads in the "Friends" section do not appear to use trackers or cookies. I like sites that don't throw random cookies and trackers all over the place :)
Further note: I will be copying over all the old blog entries I can, backdated so that the sequence makes sense. This will be a long process, but if you have any entries you are keen to see moved immediately, let me know. I can always bump them up the queue ;)
Current Music: Nickelback - Fly
Welcome To My Test Entry
This is a test entry for my new blog host, InsaneJournal. :
My blog has been operating in various forms since 12 August 2006.
My first blog host was Formula 1 Home. It was Neil from there who encouraged me to set up a blog in the first place. They reliably hosted the blog from the days when it was read by 3 people and a dog, until the end of 2009 when it was read by hundreds.
In 2011 La Canta Magnifico Blog was hosted by a variety of places, including a disastrous time on Wordpress, and more successful hosting on Ning. But it wasn't a true blogging platform, and eventually became too sluggish to use, as well as inaccessible.
Most of 2011 involved La Canta Magnifico Blog being hosted by Wikidot. However, at the end of the year it went pay-monthly-only, which wasn't an option for me.
Last year, the host of choice was BlogBaker. Sadly, they recently went for a verification method I can't use, so here I am.
I'm excited about the mood emoticons. I have fond memories of the mood set from Formula 1 Home, and none of the other providers appeared to have such a set.
Current Music: Fleetwood Mac - Gold Dust Woman
10th August 2012
Grafham Is Go
Just a note to say I won't be updating either the blog or Twitter this weekend. This is because I am leaving tomorrow morning for a triathlon relay in Grafham (the competition is 8 am on Sunday). I'm doing the swimming component - 1.5 km, doing 2 laps of a course in a reservoir. Two team-mates will cycle 43 km and run 10 km respectively. It's the first time I've ever done a triathlon relay. It is going to be hard work and I will update you on how it went upon my return. :
Have a lovely weekend! Update:
My team managed to finish the Grafham triathlon. I got cramp 6 strokes into my swim, but managed to keep going and even overtake a few people. I was 10th from last upon leaving the water. My team-mates did rather better than me and we eventually finished 120th out of 159 competitors. It was a fun day out and I am currently considering triathlon options for 2013.
Current Music: Muse - Survival
7th August 2012
It's been a difficult few months for writing. Some of the reasons are mundane, some exciting - but I don't want to explain any of them tonight. Instead, I'm going to write about the problems of having a compulsory budget cap, inspired by the : "We can do Cost-Cutting better than the FIA" Thread
at F1 Rejects
A mandatory budget cap is completely unworkable if you want the champion to be known within 12 months of the last race of the season concerned, because nations generally want to have the figures first and some allow 12 months for the figures to come in. Attempting to circumvent this by demanding the figures before the team's nation's deadline is likely to result in the EU courts banning the entire budget-cap concept because the FIA promised in 2000 to have nothing to do with the commercial side of the sport in order to save its regulatory function. There is only one team whose base of operations (as opposed to its FIA registration) is outside the EU, so such a ruling would either kill off F1 or bring it back to its pre-budget cap square one.
If the FIA decided to wait until teams are permitted to send it the relevant information, the 12-month window would mean there'd be huge amounts of time to hide income (meaning costs go up as there is no incentive for teams to even try sticking to the limit) and any attempts to punish offenders would be meaningless - who, other than the most devoted of F1 fans, is going to remember that the championship Dodgy Accountants Racing won in 2014 was disallowed in mid-2016 for RRA contraventions and that the real winner was Happily Compliant Grand Prix? Not to mention there's a rule that all FIA championships have to be irrevocably awarded in the final meeting of the year in which they are completed. Even if F1's last race of the season was on New Year's Day, there wouldn't be enough time to get all the paperwork in to ensure compliance before the closing date for protests to be activated.
If, on the other hand, the FIA chose to insist on early paperwork and the EU ignored the situation, teams would probably have to guess their expenditure, and certainly wouldn't be able to prove all of it with documents normally used for the purpose. It would have to come down to faxing a ton of receipts and invoices (originals can't be used because they'd be needed to prove finances for the tax inspectors). How easy would it be to, let's say, misplace some of the receipts and invoices, and then argue later? Such an argument would likely succeed in this instance because the FIA is not authorised by the EU to judge commercial matters, so an EU court would have to decide. The EU is not likely to take an attempt to know a team's precise financial status before it reasonably could know itself very seriously. After all, at that stage the teams cannot know their full financial standing, especially given that these are not single traders we are discussing.
Then there's the whole currency conversion issue - are you going to use the conversion for some specific date (in which case teams will violate the rules simply because they were spending in the wrong currency and don't possess a crystal ball), for the date in which the money was spent (in which case the FIA would be opening another can of worms, as the EU would probably ban proof of that type on data privacy grounds) or the date on which the invoice/receipt was made (meaning a lesser version of the "accidental violation" problem plus it'll take an age to get all the conversions done)?
In short, any kind of compulsory spending cap is not possible, at least in the EU. The current system only works because it's optional. Those who stick to it know what they're doing, why they're doing it, and have peer pressure and honour to defend. Some take to that sort of discipline better than others, but the ones who choose to reject RRA will be known to the other teams and thought lesser for doing so. If the FIA takes control, nothing except the amount of money possessed limits expenditure. It would be like the early 2000s but with extra fakery involved.
Current Music: Evanescence - Missing
19th April 2012
Note About Bahrain Coverage
The F1 circus going to Bahrain on the FIA's orders despite this contravening the FIA's own Statutes ( : more detail in the "UniFacepalm" entry
for those who are interested) and then being further in breach due to one of Force India's hire cars
being attacked despite safety reassurances from the FIA. This means the event technically doesn't meet Article 17 of the International Sporting Code
any more. This in turn means that F1 cars can no longer partake of the race, if Article 5.2 of the Sporting Regulations
is anything to go by. As such, there are two very good regulatory reasons why F1 cannot race in Bahrain.
In light of the above, the F1 race, by the FIA's own regulations, should not be happening at all. Therefore I intend to ignore all sporting aspects of the Bahrain weekend. There will be no live-commenting on Twitter or the Fisichella Forum (as I normally provide), nor will I comment on any aspect of any driver's on-track performance.
Discussions of non-sporting aspects of F1, and of non-F1 events, will continue as normal and appropriate.
I hope this is OK with everyone and apologise to anyone who is inconvenienced by this service interruption/boycott. Non-F1 items are unaffected by this boycott, and I intend to resume live-commenting F1 events in Spain and (possibly) the Mugello test beforehand, subject to the FIA not breaking any regulations in the course of going there.Update 05/03/2013
: The Bahrain bother and its fallout had a much worse effect on my blogging motivation than I'd thought, with the result that there was very little to read for the 10 months following the FIA's mistake. So far, the FIA has not paid any significant price for breaking its regulations, but French law means it won't be safe from the consequences for another 4 years and 6 weeks. It remains to be seen whether anything will come of this.
For those wondering, I have a summary of how the championship would have finished if the FIA had done what it should have done and not gone to Bahrain:
- Fernando Alonso would have been a triple world champion as of the end of 2012, having amassed 272 points,
- Vettel's 256 points would put him in a clear second place, far from the casing pack but over a 3rd place away from Alonso.
- Raikkonen would have been been unaffected, remaining in third place.
- Button would have gained fourth place in the title chase with 188 points.
- Hamilton, with 186 points, would have slipped to fifth in the title.
- Webber and Massa would have remained in sixth and seventh places respectively.
- Rosberg would have gained a place, attaining eighth in the championship.
- Grosjean would, in turn, have slipped to ninth in the championship.
- Pérez, Hulkenberg, Kobayashi and Schumacher would have been unaffected, remaining tenth through thirteenth, in the order given.
- Maldonado would be up to fourteenth in the title chase, with 45 points.
- di Resta's points total would be only 38, dropping him to fifteenth.
All positions below di Resta would be unaffected.
As for the constructors' title... ...Bahrain's exclusion, in and of itself, makes no difference whatsoever due to the large points margins between teams.
Current Music: Jim Steinman - Stark Raving Love
10th April 2012
First of all, sorry for the long absence. I've had a lengthy spell where everything I've wanted to write has been either live-commenting or small enough to fit in a tweet or two. Neither fits my blogging style. I'll try not to let 10-week absences happen again. :
Fury ignited this entry. It's the ongoing situation in Bahrain. Up until now, it's been a matter of ethics and safety whether F1 goes or not. Thanks to the Bahrain organiser's actions, it's become a matter of regulations.
I speak of the "UniF1ed" campaign
" - something which apparently has been happening for a while but only came to my attention last night. The organisers of the race may or may not have originated the campaign, but they are enthusiastically participating in it. Little do they appear to realise that they have endangered their race by doing so.
I draw your attention to the tagline "One Nation in Celebration". The pedants among you will deem this false - F1 is a worldwide event so, barring disaster, "Many Nations In Celebration" would be more accurate. The font used for it on the poster is difficult to read, but that's even more nit-picky. The big problem, however, is that it expresses a link between F1 and national unity.
Linking F1 and national unity probably doesn't seem that big a problem. It may even seem close enough to pro-social and "sport is good" themes to be helpful. I can only assume that was what the organisers thought when they decided to go down that path. Unfortunately for them, Article 1 of the FIA Statutes (PDF)
, in wording combined with its application and the reason for its existence, indicates otherwise.
Article 1 of the FIA Statutes says, among other things:
"The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect."
Many thanks to the Midweek Motorsports Listener Collective on Facebook
, particularly with regard to finding an ad in the campaign that further demonstrates the link the organisers are making between F1 and politics.
You may be wondering why I am using "linking F1 and politics" as synonymous with the "racial, political and religious discrimination" actually mentioned in Article 1 of the FIA Statutes. This is down to two things: the way Article 1 has been implemented and the reason Article 1 is required to exist.
The most recent use of Article 1 was to convict the Turkish GP organisers (TOSFED) of using the 2006 podium ceremony for political gain
. Mehmet Ali Talat presented one of the trophies. This in and of itself wasn't a breach of Article 1. Had he been described as the regional governor of Turkish Cyprus, everything would have been fine (except for possible grumblings within Cyprus and Turkey). However, he was described as the head of state of the Republic of Cyprus, a state not recognised by the UN but is recognised by Turkey. That was deemed a breach of Article 1 of the FIA Statutes and of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code. This was for a one-off incident that was relatively subtle in its political aims and, importantly, did not connote political discrimination, only express a controversial political point.
Yes, part of the fine was for Article 151c, but a more significant breach of Article 1 would be sufficient for any penalty the FIA has to be levied. The "UniF1ed" campaign is clearly not a casual breach, nor is it a question of tick-boxing. Article 35 b) specifically mentions that any club not acting according to the expectations of the FIA (including by breaking any of the Statutes) can be struck off the roll. That is to say, the entire club and all associated activities can be dissolved. Obviously, this would include the very Grand Prix Bahrain was attempting to protect.
There is nothing in the Statute that requires a political statement to be true or demonstrable in order for it to be usable. Technically speaking, even explicit FIA approval wouldn't work, unless the message was specifically against racial, political or religious discrimination. "UniF1ed" isn't. Instead it is a message suggesting political unity already exists, which doesn't meet the exemption requirement.
As for why Article 1 of the FIA Statutes exists, it's mandatory for non-political organisations registered in France. This is because anti-discrimination and apolitical approaches are considered key elements in the sorts of groups France allows to be registered with them. If the FIA overlooks a breach of Article 1, it is under serious risk of being sent to the French civil courts and penalised. Dissolution is entirely possible, as is a large fine and (at least partial) loss of its autonomy over judging its own motorsports events.
That would open the door to everything from pitlane speeders to technical flouters to use the civil courts to challenge every single decision the FIA makes. Motorsport would grind to a halt. That assumes a lack of dissolution - that scenario would obviously have a serious deletrious effect on every branch of motorsport, including ones that never in a million years considered going to Bahrain.
Clearly none of this is in any motorsport fan's interest. It certainly doesn't help Bahrain organisers any!
There is no longer any need to reference political strife or anyone's safety to justify not going to Bahrain. Regulations now demand refusal to race - and refusal to support the race. Many have suggested this be done in the form of a boycott.
Thanks to the combined efforts of Sky (inaccessible, unaffordable and unethical) and BBC Radio (unintelligible in the races), I won't have a choice about watching the race. The most I'd have been able to do was follow it on Twitter. Having already had the difficult bit taken out of my hands, I am quite happy to boycott the 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix completely. The powers-that-be have already demonstrated they don't care about viewer figures due to sending the UK live rights to Sky, so I doubt the boycott will achieve anything.
For that matter, I'm not convinced the situation is safe enough to enable a viable attempt to hold the 2012 Bahrain GP. If inviability makes for a race cancellation on force majuere (which incidentally has to be done by the FIA if there is to be a Bahrain 2013), that would be helpful in the short term.
The breach of Statute would make the validity of copyright use of "F1" within "UniF1ed" questionable too. The licence the organisers have to include F1 in their marketing would surely not include uses in materials breaching the regulations, particularly ones underpinned by law. Some of the cases Bernie has lost on the topic mean there is not sufficient evidence for certainty in either direction. Even so, that wouldn't be Bahrain's biggest likely problem.
Its biggest problem in that scenario is that Bahrain would likely lose the race... ...on account of there being no viable authority to contract the race from in the first place.
For these reasons, it is wrong to support a race that's being used to support political strife in contravention of Article 1 of the FIA Statutes. As in, it's such a big contravention that, at minimum, the FIA will lose its ability to be the first and final place of judgment for matters involving its own series (everything would have to be made subject to the French civil courts). The French courts are rather sensitive about the whole "no politics" thing for non-political organisations. The moment Bahrain's organisers issued the "UniF1ed" ad campaign, it was in contravention of the regulations. That the FIA has (so far) let that campaign go ahead without comment is contemptible and puts the FIA - and every single series it runs, including those who'd never have gone to Bahrain in a million years - in a very vulnerable position.
It's in F1's and the FIA's interest not to wait for force majuere to come into effect, but to protect themselves by cancelling on the grounds of FIA Statute Article 1 breaches.
Until then... ...I don't see why I should have to applaud or condone the FIA's attempted self-destruction.
Current Music: Queen - Innuendo
28th January 2012
Pre-24 at Daytona Checklist
- Snacks (several bars of chocolate and a flapjack) ready :
- Support gear (Fisichella/Force India T-shirt, Force India wristband, Jordan hat, Force India/Jordan lanyard) on
- Reading material (lots of it...) to hand
- Drink (litre of orange squash) next to my computer
- White earphones applied to speaker and ears
- Computer activated
- Unnecessary software turned off
- Paint activated in case anything screenshot-worthy happens
- Main browser open with 2 instances of Twitter, 2 instances of Fisichella Forum, LCMB, Radio Le Mans, translation software and a few spare browser windows
- Secondary browser open with 2 instances of Grand-Am (defaulting to live timing)
- Comfy chair with cushion found
- Cleaning cloth ready
- Me ready for 24 hours of fun Update 05/03/2012
: After all that, the car I was supporting retired after 6 hours. Still, there was a lot going on elsewhere in the grid. At some point I should probably reproduce what I wrote in the live-commenting. Earlier this year, Giancarlo Fisichella once again turned up for the 24 at Daytona. Things went considerably better... ...his car lasted 23 hours this time. Pity the race was 24
hours, and that it had suffered electrical/electronic problems at critical points in the race...
Current Music: Chris Rea - Daytona