Thoughts on F1 – Spanish GP

I didn’t do a blog post after China, perhaps I ought to have done. Nonetheless here are my musings on the Barcelona race.

Everyone expected the Spanish GP to be a little on the tedious side, and that has turned out to be the case with the only highlight being Button harrying Schumacher for 5 or 6 laps before the gap became too much (and it really was a good battle, Jenson was all over him trying different lines at different corners).

Despite this I still had to close Twitter and SPC comments because the whining was too much – yes, it was dull, we know, we knew it would be so stop going on about it every two minutes and let’s make the most of what there is, let’s find those standout drives further down the field. Or, if nothing really is happening and you can’t stand it, go and do something else. I think a few people switched to the LMS race at Spa which is apparently a very good one – good on you and I hope you enjoyed it. I haven’t done so because F1 is my first love and I stick with it through thick and thin. This is no doubt my loss. I don’t care – I can download the Radio Le Mans coverage via podcast later and I can torrent the Eurosport feed so I have pictures (hopefully they’ll sync). That’s not to say I’ll keep doing this if F1 keeps failing to deliver.

What have we learned from Spain?

– The Circuit de Catalunya has a great atmosphere in a good location just a little way outside a major European city, but it is useless for car racing. The only good race I’ve seen here was MotoGP last year which was a cracker – I’ve been watching 4-wheeled races from there for years and they have all been uneventful. If the Tilke tracks get a hammering for being crap then we should rank this track equally alongside them.

– Webber walked away with it, some of the problem with the racing wasn’t with the track it was with the pace advantage he had and the general lap time spread through the field – the cars aren’t close any more. Red Bull are dominant but Vettel wasn’t second as he had car trouble. Seb had all kinds of trouble making it home yet after Hamilton’s stupid crash he was still third, as only Alonso had passed him while he was backing the pace down. Good for Webs though, he needed a win and I’m pleased for him.

– Lewis, I hope that was a car failure because you can’t throw away a 2nd-place and the 18 points that go with it, not with this year’s points system and not when it is Alonso taking those points instead and Vettel still running. McLaren are marginally ahead of Ferrari on pace now. Only marginally. It could swing the other way very easily. They badly needed those points.

– In fact Webber has lapped everyone up to and including Barrichello in 9th. This is no different to when McLaren dominated in ’98 or when Ferrari did for that four year period. That was boring too – it was just the rest of the field seemed to provide some entertainment – where was that today? Usually we have a few midfielders running close together and having a fight, that didn’t seem to happen. Did I miss something? Barrichello made up places, Kobayashi mixed it in and that was about it. Rosberg had that pit error but couldn’t recover the time loss, I expected that car to make up places.

– Barrichello seemed to be the only one making progress, he started 18th and finished 9th with only a couple of places made up through retirements (most retirees were behind him already). He did it with the supposedly crap Cosworth engine and he kicked his teammate’s backside. Rubens rocks.

– Backmarkers need to do a better job of being lapped, particularly the slow new teams. Don’t park on an apex, don’t jump out of the way so quickly, surely you can blend in and out a little more effectively without being a danger to others by running at road car pace.

– Schumacher is getting quicker. Seems to be at the expense of Rosberg. We expected and feared this would happen..

Monaco next week. Knockout qualifying has been absolutely mental there since it was introduced and it will be a real lottery with extra cars particulary slow ones getting in the way, let’s hope it creates a mixed up grid with fast cars out of position. Perhaps different cars will be faster in a very different place.

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7 thoughts on “Thoughts on F1 – Spanish GP”

  1. Hmm. I didn’t think the SPC comments were too bad myself. I don’t do twitter much during the races because for me it’s TMI.

    I think people should be allowed to complain – it’s therapeutic and to be honest, we are just calling it as we se it. I guess in response to your suggestion, you did the right thing by closing the comments and concentrating on the race.

    But for me, there was no way I would have watched that ‘on the telly’ – I had to have comments as a distraction, because that was an awful race. I missed Qually on Saturday as I had too many things to do, and I wasn’t even bothered by it. Now that I find sad, and a good indication of how things could be better in F1 right now…

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  2. I guess what I’m saying is that we all knew it was boring, there was no need to repeat it every two minutes.

    People were writing it off on lap 4, people were writing it off during the only good bit (Jenson vs Schumi). I think that’s /insane/. Anything could’ve happened. As it turned out they were right but if you weren’t prepared to give it a chance what hope did you have of enjoying it if it did turn better? At least let the thing get some way in before dismissing it.

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  3. I’ve got to say, I don’t think I understand what it is that people expect motor racing to be anymore. I do understand that folks probably weren’t happy that the Red Bulls had so much of an advantage in qualifying, but I think that colored peoples’ perception of the quality of the race. The fact of the matter is that Webber did run away a bit at the front, but then Lewis did manage to find the pace to get by Vettel at the stops. To boot, we got plenty of coverage of the Schumacher/Button/Massa scrum which, while it eventually came out to be nothing in terms of passes completed, as you point out, Pat, anything could have happened with those three. The dicing between Button and Michael was as good as anything I’ve watched on a lap-to-lap basis in some time.

    Anyway, I thought that the race yesterday was actually pretty fascinating. There was coverage of racing back in the pack, we had Vettel nursing a sick car (shades of Michael doing the same at Barcelona in 1994), Lewis going off with a wheel failure with less than two laps to go, backmarkers mucking things up constantly, and many other subplots. I was entertained for literally over 90% of the race distance. I thought I’d always heard that Europeans were more appreciative of sports like F1 because they’ve been weaned on years of 1-Nil football games, and that Americans are too addicted to smash and bash action like NFL football and NASCAR to be able to enjoy F1. Is this not the case anymore? Are Euros the “new Americans”? Have people everywhere become too addled by the constant entertainment potential of Youtube, DVDs, video games and the like that a two hour F1 race that isn’t an instant classic (of the type that, say, Interlagos 2008 was) is thought of as an instant failure?

    The fact of the matter is that there have been isolated sub-par races in F1 this year (and I don’t even put Barcelona in that list, but to each his own), but the overall championship is as open as any that we’ve had since I started following in 1991. Since 1990, only three times have we had four winners in the first five races: 1997 (the year that came down to Schumi/Jacques), 2003 (the year that had Schumi, Kimi and Montoya all in contention with two races to go), and this year (when we have seven different drivers who could be leading the points after Monaco, and the top 3 constructors are covered by 6 points). I am sorry, and maybe I’m in the tiny minority, but I am completely riveted by F1 this year. I guess it’s a good thing that I continue to watch the race several hours later on the DVR and without the outside influence of SPC and Twitter. I’ll be more than happy to sit my own dumb, easily entertained butt on my couch and enjoy the sport that I love without hearing constant complaints about what’s wrong. How about talking about what’s right every once in a while?

    OK, that’s it. Thanks, Pat, for your take on a subject that I feel strongly (and similarly to you) about.

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  4. Also, Pat, you are 100% correct about Barcelona being a terrible racing track. Isolated years have had decent action there, but the number of times in the track’s 20 year history in F1 that the pole sitter has NOT won the race? Four. That’s right, 80% of the time at that track, the pole sitter wins the race. Maybe that means that the track should go away, or maybe that means that as long as it’s on the schedule that people shouldn’t expect too much there.

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  5. I wasn’t impressed with the race at all other than that one battle but I did find it interesting in terms of how the story of each team has developed over the three week break, the change in car competitiveness and that side of things. Sauber being faster, etc.

    You’re right that people always used the argument of the football draw but I guess that’s because things can still happen in a game like that and you never know when someone will score – but I’ve heard many, many complaints about boring games over the years. It is true that the Americanisation of sports is happening more and more everywhere particularly with TV coverage. Look at what the Indian Premier League is doing for cricket, it couldn’t be any further from the long calm English game if it tried. The same with TV drama etc, with all the rapid cuts so your attention is never held for more than 4 seconds.

    I know from watching online feeds that you guys have it much worse, you aren’t even allowed time to have a thought of your own, they do it all for you..

    I agree that the championship fight is fantastic this season, better than we could’ve hoped. Red Bull may have dominated but their unreliability is costing them. It could be the real race is in the points table – and I argue it was the same last year.

    SPC and Twitter do have their uses, you pick up more information from them because others are listening to different feeds and you’ve got the teams tweeting away sometimes. I do find I spend too much time reading all of that though, it is too much like your mates talking all the way through it, you want to hear their opinion, just not right now! I think for Monaco I’ll take a step back and analyse things after the race. We’ll see though, I am an addict for the live commenting and the tweets.

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