Tuesday, September 29, 2009

what the hell Renault

Flavio Briatore is BANNED. Pat Symonds suspended for 5 years. All because of the events that took place during last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

Why the action now? After Renault got rid of Nelson Piquet Jr., whose crash in the Singapore GP brought out the safety car, ultimately handing the race victory to Fernando Alonso; Piquet blew the whistle. Apparently he'd been told to crash in order to bring out the safety car, so that Alonso, who was in the pits at the time, could come out in the race lead. Piquet was actually in on it but was granted immunity by the FIA since he provided the evidence. Alonso apparently didn't know anything about it.

This shit has to stop. Can we please have one Formula 1 season where there's no controversy and just get back to the damn racing? If Formula 1 is supposed to be the "pinnacle of motorsports" then why are there always issues with teams cheating, spying, or otherwise breaking the rules to gain an unfair advantage? The "no holds barred, sabotage the other guys to win" type stuff is more befitting of a video game or a plot device in a movie than a sport that's supposed to be honest.

F1 needs a number of changes, but perhaps first and foremost is the issue of the stewards who hand out penalties for infractions during the race. Whether it's speeding in the pit lane, crossing the white line on exit, passing under a yellow, or whatever. The main issue here is that there's no consistency. If you've been following the sport then you may well have recognized the two sets of rules in place: Those as they apply to Ferrari, and those as they apply to everyone else. It's not always that way, but the reason for this type of inconsistency is clear: There's no standard stewards panel, it's different for each race.

When you have different people looking at replays and shit you're going to have inconsistent decisions. What this results in is people being penalized heavily for what was essentially just a racing incident. Two people crash? The one who initiated it gets penalized. The usual first corner pileup? People occasionally get penalized. The ending of 2008's Belgian GP with Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen battling it out and going all over the place? Lewis rightfully won that race. Driver released unsafely into the path of another car in the pit lane? Mark Webber got a drive-through in Germany (and spectacularly went on to win the race anyway), but Felipe Massa just got a monetary fine to be paid after the 2008 Valencia race. Shut off the fucking litigation and just let the guys race, dammit.

Other things I'd like to see:
  • Remove the "you must use both tire compounds during the race unless it rains" rule. At every race one of the tires is clearly better for the conditions than the other and people spend the majority of the race on the better tire. What's the point of requiring both?
  • More god damned passing. I'm tired of seeing people improving their position solely through pit strategy. The 2010 regulations will change this somewhat, since no refueling means pit stops will only be for tires and will be much quicker, but it'd be nice to finally fix the issue once and for all. Make aerodynamic regulations changes so that the cars can run closer together.
  • No refueling eliminates my next gripe entirely, which was the current qualifying system. Now people can run really light in qualifying and we can see who's actually fastest, and then they fuel up for the race. Hopefully this will spur a bit of competition and we won't be seeing the same two or three people winning for the entire season. While watching someone who's awesome totally dominate is great, it gets boring quickly (aka Michael Schumacher).
  • Relax the engine restrictions a bit. Right now each driver is limited to eight engines for the entire season and they take a grid position penalty on their qualification for using a ninth. While reliability has improved, Red Bull suffered a bad batch of valves that gave Sebastian Vettel two engine failures in Valencia. He's on his eighth engine, there's three races left, and he's a championship contender. Come the fuck on.
  • Make teams make their cars look visibly different from each other. It's annoying looking at a car and saying "Is that Button? No wait it's Barrichello." The only differences are hard to spot: the tip of the nose, the camera mount over the driver's head, and possibly the only easily discernable difference, the helmet. Often it's just the helmet. If you look really closely you might be able to see the car number somewhere. Teams typically make the car number as small as possible since they don't get paid to put it on there. I'm not saying it should be as large as NASCAR, but it should be visible from a distance and contrast properly with the car's paint job.
  • My final gripe has been dealt with by the 2010 regulations already: KERS. Get rid of it. An extra 80 horsepower that only four drivers have? That's bullshit. You shouldn't be able to gain a position, keep a position when you're clearly holding everyone behind you up *cough*Kovalainen*cough*, or win a race just because you have a magic button and the other guys don't.
  • Electronic sensors in the tracks that can sense when a car drives over them, and a computerized powerups system. Since facebook removes strikethrough, keep in mind that this is struck through in the actual blog post.
This year's Singapore GP was pretty good, except for the total lack of passing outside of the first two laps. Honestly at this point I want to see Button win the championship. Hamilton is perhaps his greatest ally right now, since McLaren is back in the thick of things taking points away from Button's rivals while at the same time being out of championship contention.

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