A Day At Goodwood Revival 2011

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Goodwood Revival on Sunday, courtesy of Johnnie Walker. Despite having attended five fantastic Festivals of Speed I have never been to the Revival before, so I immediately accepted!

A Unique Atmosphere

The Revival is more than just a normal race meeting for historic/classic racing cars, it has those added Goodwood touches and details we all know and love from the FoS. With spectators in period clothing and the stands selling vintage items, I thought I’d ask Mum to come along to her first ‘big’ race meeting as she’s really into that side of things, regularly attending the local vintage market and so forth.

The first surprise was arriving at the gate and seeing so many of the crowd in period dress. I had expected maybe half of the attendees would do it, and then only in a half-arsed way, but it was a good 80-90% of the crowd! Later as we walked away out to the sticks towards the far end of the circuit it was more like 60-70%, still an impressive figure. It put our minds at rest that if we came back we’d certainly give it a go and not feel silly about it… well maybe only if we stopped for coffee on the motorway.

There were also a lot more ‘acts’ either in their own performance areas or just floating around the crowds at the back of the main grandstands. Dancers, bands, singers, and the Laurel & Hardy boys I’d seen before at the FoS seemed to be following us everywhere as we bumped into them several times, I seem to remember they did that at the Festival too! That’s actually a poor angle of them, in reality they do look a lot like the originals.

This all contributed to a strange crossover in atmosphere between the ‘garden party’ of the Festival, the relaxed feel of historic/classic car racing event with old road vehicles dotted around the track, yet with the attendance levels of a major race meeting. There were easily 50,000 people there by my estimation and likely a lot more.

The Races

Sunday’s card featured seven races, and we arrived in the traffic queue as the second of those got under way. Once we made it in there was an unexplained delay in on-track action, we never found out why but everything was running late by as much as an hour. This meant was had the opportunity to explore all of the above before heading trackside, stopping for a nice organic burger – though I had a hangover and had forgotten that at the Belgian GP it was sausage which was the magic hangover cure, should’ve had that! A cup of tea worked wonders.

The Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy was under way as we walked along the track away from the final corner looking for a space. Neither of us are into motorbikes though I do watch modern MotoGP, it was interesting to compare their 1960s counterparts braking very early in wet conditions.

We got near to Lavant corner and found a good viewing spot, the cars entering our sight directly opposite and heading left-to-right, before driving in an arc to pass in front from right-to-left. The St Mary’s Trophy got under way and there was a great selection of cars of all sizes, from big Ford Galaxies to little Mini Coopers via BMWs, Alfa Romeos, Jaguars and even a Mercedes-Benz 300SE.

Because of the nature of this event I make no apologies for loading this post with big photos and videos where usually I’d have several smaller. I know many don’t like that sort of thing but these are classic cars and deserve to be shown to the world, so an exception can be made here.

St Mary's Trophy (saloons/touring cars 1960-66)

The BMW (2nd in this shot) went on to a dominant win but the Galaxie (leading) and the Mini (3rd) had a race-long battle which was fantastic to watch! The Galaxie usually entered our sight ahead after using its big engine and top speed, but struggled to slow down and turn the corner in this picture, whilst the little Mini barely slowed down at all and nipped through on the inside with far better grip despite having tiny wheels – only for the Galaxie to stretch its legs again straight afterwards.

This was a great race, different types of cars with different capabilities. Touring car racing needs to get back to this and to hell with any thoughts of ‘equalisation’.

Video – St Mary’s Trophy – BMW 1800 leads Galaxie and Mini

The threatening rainclouds dispersed in time for an air display. This was no ordinary air display. This was TEN airworthy Spitfires! Okay I admit they may not all be genuinely from the war, some are rebuilds, but that’s fine if that’s what it takes to keep Spitfires flying. As luck would have it they took off right in front of us!

Spitfire Taking Off

(more Spitfires on my Picasa page)

Then it was the GT race and these were impressive beasts, noisy, tails sliding out on the damp track, fantastic. Yet they are worth tens of millions in some instances!

Video – RAC TT Celebration

Kenny Brack (Indy 500 winner) in the Shelby American Daytona Coupe  leading Martin Brundle (Le Mans winner, ex F1 driver) in the Ferrari 250 GTO owned by Nick Mason. This isn’t a great quality video but I hope it shows the cars well enough. Brack got the tail of his car wiggling under power much more than the others did theirs.

Martin Brundle, Ferrari 250 GTO

This was a good one as well, maybe not so much in the wheel-to-wheel but just the spectacle of it. Despite being slower than last week’s sportscar race at Silverstone these seemed much more impressive. We headed back towards the final corner to watch the end there and as we did so the black clouds drifted over and sure enough, the rain came down very hard.

Wet track for the GTs

The track quickly became treacherous with standing water everywhere and spray being kicked up. In the modern era they’d probably have sent out the Safety Car in such heavy rain. In this case with the race already scheduled to be shortened from 1hr down to 45min, they waved the chequered flag a further 5 minutes early. At a race for historics, particularly one which is delayed, there is no sense in continuing to risk these collectable and highly valued cars.

Another cup of tea sought, we moved location to watch the Tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio and then the short race for 1960s 1.5-litre Grand Prix cars.

The Fangio tribute featured a wide selection of his race cars from his career, in a parade behind a pace car, spanning his early days right through to his succesful Maseratis, Mercedes and so forth. Even his Indy 500 car was there, even though he’d failed to qualify for that race! It was good to see a famous name or two out there in the cars.

John Surtees, Fangio Tribute

We were stood between the last corner ‘proper’ and the makeshift chicane on the main straight. The 60s GP cars took it very gingerly on the wet track, I don’t blame them because if I were in a priceless 50-year old Lotus, Cooper or BRM I’d probably do the same. Still pretty fantastic to see the cars in action even if they were slow.

Grand Prix cars of 1961-1965

Andy Middlehurst took a dominant win by half a minute but the group behind were very close throughout. Paul, Lord Drayson – yes he whose 2010 LMP1 Le Mans car adorns the top of this very blog – finished a creditable 2nd. Ben Collins was also guesting and he was passing cars.. until he slid into the gravel.

We were running out of hours so decided to skip the final race of the day (1950s sportscar world championship) to explore the rest of the Revival.

Paddock

We spent a little while looking around the stalls. Many were the usual sort of thing you find at race meetings or at the Festival of Speed: model cars, books, £30 t-shirts, £300 Steve McQueen ‘Le Mans‘ leather jackets, etc., etc. The rest of the stands were an odd mix of vintage fashions and automotive art.

Surprise of the day? Seeing Sir Stirling Moss signing at one of the book stands surrounded by a crowd! A part of me regrets not getting the book. I like Moss a lot but I didn’t really want that particular book, but I could’ve had a book signed by Stirling Moss.. Irritatingly this was the moment my camera died and I realised the charged batteries I’d brought hadn’t actually been charged.

We ventured through the tunnel to the paddock. Unlike the Festival this paddock was roped off except to badge holders, but they did provide viewing areas around the whole perimeter of it so that was something. It was great to be there though and it looked like the podium finishers for many of the day’s races went out for another celebratory lap, as they came into parc ferme as were stood nearby. I borrowed Mum’s camera to get some up-close shots of those although I’ve not seen how they turned out.

And we (eventually) found the drivers’ club too, but no drivers, it was 5 or 6pm though and most of the racing action had stopped, little potential for seeing famous names. The good thing is that now I know the lay of the land, a future visit can be planned to ‘bump into’ certain drivers as they happen to be walking from place to place.

Oh and we checked out the Earls Court Motor Show as well, some fantastic supercars from the 1960s to today, from E-Type, GTO, Daytona to XJ220, McLarenF1 and Alfa 8C Competizione.

Sadly there wasn’t time to sample some Johnnie Walker (we got lost looking for the right bar.. and I had something of a hangover already!). They didn’t have the big tower from the Festival with the different drinks so I didn’t feel I was missing out so much. I don’t drink a lot of spririts but I’ve started exploring them in recent months so I think I may well buy a bottle as a ‘thank you’.

EDIT – I’ve been contacted by the man from JW who corrected me and said they did indeed serve a variety of drinks, and the bar featured an original Rob Walker car as well. I must say, after VivaF1 sampled some at the FoS and gave a thumbs up I would’ve quite liked to have tried it myself, it was just a shame we ran out of time. Apologies to them for jumping the gun!

In all a great day and I think I’ll be back.

Further Links

You can view my photos at Picasa and I also uploaded videos to YouTube.

Do have a look at these great photos from Lara and from Lynch. Lara also wrote a few words, as did the F1 journalist and writer Maurice Hamilton.

Motor Sport magazine has released a podcast with Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, Martin Brundle, Gerhard Berger, Eddie Cheever, Arturo Merzario, Nick Mason, Tom Kristensen, Emmanuele Pirro, Andy Priaulx, and Rauno Aaltonen. I’ve not listened yet but with a line-up like that it can’t be anything other than brilliant.

Thanks once again to Johnnie Walker for the tickets and to Jackie at VivaF1 for making it happen.

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Lewis Hamilton v. 2011

To tide us over during the F1 summer break VivaF1 set up another of their great Swap Shops, whereby a group of volunteers write for each others blogs in an exchange of ideas.

In this post, Robyn from RookieF1 writes about Lewis Hamilton’s up and down 2011 season.

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Lewis Hamilton v. 2011

One thing that is sure about the 2011 season, it will go down in history as one of the most chaotic in recent times. This years we’ve had tyres that have forced the teams to reconsider the merits of qualifying, a flap that has a mind of its own and a boost button that has caused some major headaches for a particular Austrian outfit (although it seems to be contagious). There’s been the odd mid-season regulation change to halt the Bull ruining it for everyone (vehemently denied by the FIA of course), and then we have the newest batch of rookies putting their twist on respecting the old guard.

The rookie year of any driver is crucial; it’s all about creating performances that have teams knocking on the door for next year, or perhaps more importantly, to stop their current team giving them a premature P45. A quick perusal over recent Formula One history has Lewis Hamilton down as one of the most successful rookie drivers, coming within one tantalising point of winning motor sports biggest accolade on his first try in 2007. The second time around he got the job done on the last lap and since then the British driver has been left chasing another title. As it was in 2009 that Brawn and now team mate Jenson Button wrote the ultimate fairytale, and then in 2010 the Wunderkind stole it out from underneath everyone.

So what has Hamilton done this year to keep himself in contention? Until his second win of the season in Germany, Hamilton’s exploits have been prime journalistic fodder. Not to say his season has been an unmitigated disaster, he started the year in Australia by proving the car was more competitive than first thought from testing. He then went on to claim the first non-Vettel victory of the year, teasing us with a glimmer of hope. A fierce fight kept Vettel honest in Spain, around a track Red Bull was considered the strong favourites, so what has gone wrong? Not able to keep his aggression in check around two tricky circuits brought his unrelenting desire to win, at almost any cost, into the spotlight. In Monaco, the most globally exposed race of the year, he collided with Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado ending the latter’s race. But it was his poorly chosen comments to the world’s media and subsequent tête à tête with the stewards (he’s been involved with the stewards 8/11 races so far) brought the heat to his naturally aggressive driving style. Compounding the situation further in Canada, he spun Mark Webber and crashed into his team mate, this time ending his own race prematurely.

It was during the visit to Canada that an impromptu meeting with the ‘energy drinks’ company sent the media into a frenzy. Despite a win in Malaysia, Hamilton was faced with a surge of criticism from experts, past drivers and fans. Lewis Hamilton’s brief visit to the Red Bull energy station to talk with team principal Christian Horner is still circulating, and will continue to do so until the ink dries on a new contract. A 15 minute get together outside the McLaren bubble threw the F1 world, Hamilton is a McLaren man through and through, cut him and you’ll see he runs on rocket red and chrome. He certainly wasn’t there to congratulate Red Bull on their success, so was he there to build a safety net for his ‘get out’ clause? Whatever the reason rumours abound regarding his future, some cautioned against a rash decision, although after Monaco his pit crew may have wanted a break from their starring role in the blame game. Others have taken it upon themselves to fuel the fire; Red Bull apparently can’t cope with two ‘world class’ drivers, but Ferrari is open to a Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton reunion. Could Hamilton be tempted to switch his shade of red for something more Italian?

Until such time that multi-million Euro question is answered we can appreciate the post-Canadian Hamilton instead. Since his Canadian escapade a new version has emerged, one with a more positive outlook due to a rather intensive PR lesson perhaps? But he hasn’t strayed far from his inimitable driving style, still keeping in touch with the stewards and literally in touch with some of his fellow drivers. It is no secret that the 2011 version of Lewis Hamilton is as divisive as ever, providing the twitterati with endlessly retweetable quotes and the press with countless ‘exclusive’ articles. It may be borne out of frustration from not repeating the euphoric 2008 campaign again, or it could be the continuing rise and dominance of a certain German that echoes his own career. Both Vettel and Hamilton were spotted early and brought through the ranks into a team that has subtly moulded itself around them.

Either way, with an 88 point deficit to consider over the summer break, lessened PR responsibilities and a sunnier disposition could make his second half altogether more rewarding.

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Do check out RookieF1, and you can find all of the Summer Swap Shop posts in this bundle!

UK F1 TV Coverage in 2012

There had been murmurs in recent weeks and months of potential changes to F1’s UK TV rights, as everyone knows the BBC is trying to save money and it paid a heck of a lot for the Formula 1 rights, but with the need to cut back across the board nobody really knew if they’d stick to the contract. The names of Channel 4 and Five were mooted as taking over, and I think many fans expected a wholesale switch to one of those channels.

Last weekend it was revealed to be Sky Sports and that it would be a partnership agreement, not a complete switch. Sky will air all 20 races on their dedicated sports channels with additional pre- and post-race coverage on Sky Sports News. The BBC will continue to cover 10 races live and in full, including the British GP, Monaco GP and the final race of the season which next year is scheduled to be the Brazilian GP. Highlights of the other 10 races will be aired later that day.

For the benefit of those outside the UK, you pay a monthly fee for the Sky package and then a premium for Sky Sports. Sky Sports News comes as part of the main package not the premium package. Sky Sports is also available as an add-on with a variety of other competing services such as cable. BBC channels are free to all*.

* the term ‘free-to-air’ does not include the TV License because that is non-optional, everybody has to pay it so it is usually ignored in any comparison.

Reaction

Whilst this sort of sharing arrangement is common over in the US, although maybe without airing on two channels at once, this is a Big Deal for UK rights. Formula 1 TV coverage in this country has always been free-to-air for as long as races have been available on TV –  since the 1970s in highlights form with sporadic live races, and every race of the season covered live since the early/mid 1990s.

Quite a lot of discussion has occurred online in the last week or so, with a great many opinion pieces from insiders and fans alike putting forth their arguments for and against the deal.

For me it isn’t the death knell of the sport in the UK, but that is very much contingent on the BBC honouring their promise to produce an ‘extended’ highlights show or even air the entire race on a tape delay. If it is a heavily edited version the interest will wane and audience figures will drop off. The reason for that is I think only the die hard fans will take the option to watch live on Sky, and there aren’t as many of those fans as some like to suggest.

There are an awful lot more of what most of us more diehard fans call ‘casual fans’, especially so in Britain over the last 3 or 4 years as a result of the championship wins from Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, hence the record viewing figures seen this year. They might not all be buying Sky especially to watch F1, and unlike football I don’t think they’ll all pile down the pub to watch it. If they have Sky Sports already they may well continue to tune in, I really hope so.

With a lot of sponsorship dependent on viewing figures and the UK representing a major market for F1 sponsors, the real question is whether a casual fan without Sky will be happy to wait for the BBC highlights show. The argument goes that they are happy to wait until 10:35pm for Match Of The Day, a highlights show covering all the Premier League action that day. Indeed many make it a weekly ritual. I don’t doubt that a similar F1 show would attract decent viewers. They might not be the nuts who want to have every F1 session live on TV with an hour of pre- and post- analysis, those who are surprisingly vocal about it on the internet, but they are interested enough in F1 to watch an hour or so about the day’s race.

Some have argued we may actually see an uplift in viewing figures as the diehard fans will stump up to watch the race live, then the less diehard fans are able to come to the race coverage at a potentially more favourable time which doesn’t take up a whole afternoon and give the highlights some decent ratings.

I don’t know if that is how it will play out but it definitely just as plausible as live ratings falling off a cliff and highlights being ignored as some others have suggested. We won’t know the answers to that until we see the broadcast time of the show, and how much is included and how much is edited out.

Winners And Losers

The teams themselves and FOM/FOWC (‘Bernie’s lot’) will making extra money so the pressure to nail the BBC at the next renewal will be off, hopefully meaning the BBC will be able to keep their rights for a few years longer than they would’ve done.

There are three sets of fans :-

– For the dedicated fan with spending money, who either already has Sky Sports or is willing to get it, they’ve got a win-win situation because for the first time in years they’ll be able to choose between two live broadcast teams for half of the races. How many countries can say that? Luxury!

– For the casual fan I am sure they can wait for the highlights show and wouldn’t complain a lot because of it, many might even prefer it.

– For me the only true losers are those dedicated fans who can’t afford to take Sky Sports. Sadly I am one of those fans. I’m sure we’ll be climbing the walls staying off the internet and away from news reports, waiting for the highlights show. Web feeds are usually awful and they can suddenly get shut down midrace, I struggle enough with IndyCar, imagine the demand there will be for F1. Luckily I do know people who have Sky Sports so rather than struggle away with a 4 inch buffering web feed I’ll go there and watch 50 inch HD. But I can’t do that forever. I think one day I’m just going to have to make savings elsewhere and stump up for Sky. That may come at the expense of attending races, including Grands Prix.

Sky

I have nothing against Sky in all of this, despite their poor quality news channel and the poor reputation of some of their owners, they do produce very good coverage of other sports. I watched the cricket coverage of England vs India last weekend and it was of a very high quality. Everybody on the panel, including the presenter, was a former international-level cricket player, yet none floundered on TV as so many do.

I’ve also seen football games which are well presented and produced, as well as golf and more. They do a lot of American-style wooshy sounds and boistorous intro music and over-hyping which is all probably a little unnecessary, this is countered with a knowledgeable staff of presenters and analysts and as many on-screen stats as you can imagine. I genuinely would love to see what they could do with F1 coverage, it could be transformed.

There are those who decry Sky Sports based on their IndyCar coverage, which is frankly awful, a few talking heads sitting in a little studio in London trying to fill time whilst their host feed is on yet another ad break. (If anything this is a good sign as it means Sky themselves won’t take too many breaks.) I hope they don’t approach F1 in the same way because it is interminably boring. I don’t have a problem with a studio, just put it at the track in the same way the football and cricket studios are at the grounds. That way the on-air talent can speak to the relevant people before the race and get a better sense of the event. I don’t think they will just plonk them in London and make them work from a feed. I think they are more sensible than that.

As an aside, perhaps they could cross-sell IndyCar to F1 fans to bump up viewership of that series, this could actually be a really good thing for IndyCar viewership figures in this country, which are currently tiny. What good timing with a brand new car being launched for IndyCar next year. Sky might even start sending people to the States to cover IndyCar more effectively rather than simply taking a feed, even just a reporter..? I’m dreaming. I’m hoping.

Conclusion

The main problem here is one of cost. I think people who can’t afford Sky, including me, are going to have to revise their expectations. In any case, with a record 20 races next year surely nobody can expect to watch all of them live complete with an hour of talking before and an hour of talking after. Where would you find the time? Highlights, even extended highlights, could be a blessing. Mind you, I’m holding out for a tape delay.

Was the 2011 European GP boring?

I’ve seen all manner of opinion across a variety of internet feeds, be it Twitter, Sidepodcast’s comments, and more, that the 2011 European Grand Prix was the most boring motor race of all time. But was it?

No.

Don’t be silly.

This kind of reaction seems to have become a hallmark of internet discussion and especially in ‘real time’ fora such as Twitter or Facebook. Knee-jerk overreactions just because someone is bored with a race and there is a keyboard in front of them.

Was the race boring? Well, half of it was. The first half actually really interesting, but the second half was awful. It seems people with a keyboard in front of them lose all sense of time and perspective after 25 boring laps, and by the chequered flag they had forgotten the first part of the race wasn’t actually that bad. They seem to have applied 3 previous years of boredom to this year’s event. I’m sorry, you just can’t do that.

The only person I saw with a different opinion was Lukeh in this excellent post, a beacon of common sense. It was not a great race. It might not even have been a good one, but I tell you something, it wasn’t a bad one either.

Afterwards I posted the following comment to Sidepodcast’s ‘Rate the Race’ thread:

I give this a 5 out of 10 simply on the basis that I really enjoyed the first half of the race and it was only from halfway onwards that it got boring (really boring).

People must have such incredibly short attention spans to level the vitriol I’ve seen about this race. There is nothing wrong with having a 5/10 race once in a while.

I’ll admit I didn’t watch live and because I had it fullscreen and was too lazy to boot up a separate device, I wasn’t following internet reaction as it happened (i.e the live thread), so I was just left with my own thoughts. I found the first 40% of this race to be just as interesting as any other. There was racing. There was passing. There was a 3-way fight for the lead which could have resulted in a pass at any time. That it didn’t was neither here nor there, at no stage in the first half of the race did I think it was a foregone result (apart from actually already knowing the result.. but you know what I mean).

There was a battle for 4th. Racing between McLaren, Mercedes, etc. There was a colossal battle for 7th-14th which I loved, Force India, Toro Rosso, Williams. There was split strategy among midfielders, with Jaime in particular proving a lot of people wrong, he shouldn’t be written off. Sutil had a good run as well, no crashes, top ten result.

There was genuine passing as well as DRS-assisted passing. Just because the DRS was useless among the top 5 – and we have to say the FIA got this one wrong with the distance between detection and activation – it doesn’t mean it was useless for everyone.

We also can’t expect the FIA to get the zones right first time at each venue.. they are going to get some wrong in the first year, they got it wrong here. But on the few occasions a car was close enough in the zone, there was a pass.

So it fell flat in the second half. That’s not an excuse to write off the entire thing. It was by far the best F1 race at this track I have ever seen. That’s not saying much but it is positive progress. We had half an interesting race here, that’s half more than we had before. Change the DRS zone next year. Problem solved.

In the second half of this race we’ve proven conclusively – without the effect of rain as per Canada – that the old aero problems still exist and cars can’t pass without DRS (even with KERS and Pirellis). That’s a problem.

By 2009 standards this would’ve been a good race. Leaders sailing off into the distance, bit of battling in the midfield as a sideshow, just like 2009 with different players. We’ve been spoiled this year. Frankly if this was the worst race of the year, we’re very lucky. People are acting like this was Bahrain 2010 and it was nothing of the sort.

And I’m not saying the latter half of the race wasn’t boring, far from it, it was terrible..

I should also add… it probably says something about how low my expectations were, that I was watching on delay in the first place, having prioritised a golf game with my Dad over it. And I always prioritise F1 first.

Let’s just have a sense of perspective, shall we? Two years ago we’d have loved this race and here we are with people saying it is dull. I think that shows just how far we’ve come in such a short time. What a great result that really is for the sport of Formula 1 and motor racing in general.

F1Predict: Valencia

I was asked by Greg at the F1 Results Predictor to make my choices for the upcoming European Grand Prix at Valencia. I had to pick the finishing order for all 24 cars, not easy! It helps that there are three very distinct groups in F1 at the moment:  title protagonists, midfielders, and tail-enders.

You can see my predictions, and Greg’s, at the F1 Results Predictor blog and do leave your thoughts in the comments there, and follow him on Twitter at F1Predict.

Thanks hugely to Greg for asking (it always amazes me when people do), and let’s see who gets the better strike rate!

2011 Monaco Grand Prix

This was possibly the most exciting Monaco GP in many years. It was certainly up there alongside all the classics – 1992 with Senna and Mansell, 1996 when nobody could win, 2003 with Montoya and Raikkonen.

We saw passing moves in places we wouldn’t normally expect them. At Monaco we normally see passes just at the chicane and that’s all. This time they didn’t really try it at the chicane (not on TV anyway), understandably so given the accidents of Rosberg and Perez this weekend. Instead the attempts were made at the hairpin and at Sainte Devote. Amazingly enough some of them worked!

I always thought a hairpin pass was a fluke, on the rare times I see it happen the move more often than not fails. This time it was successful maybe half the time – the other half causing damage and penalties (see Massa/Hamilton as well as Di Resta’s wars). It was good to see that a supposed “no-no” could be made to work when both parties co-operate, and it did need the leading car to concede he’d lost the corner and leave space. My read of the Massa and Hamilton collision at the hairpin was that it was a racing incident, neither to blame. Hamilton went for a move just as he had with Schumacher, but it just so happened that Massa at the same instant decided to try the same on the Toro Rosso in front of him.

It was interesting to see Schumacher back off against Hamilton, something I really didn’t expect when the move started. Memories of banging wheels with Alex Wurz in ’97?

However, the move in the tunnel was all Hamilton. You can’t pass in the tunnel without it going wrong for one or other of the parties, and that’s nothing new. Where was Massa supposed to go? The better option would’ve been to draft behind Massa and get him into the chicane just a few hundred meters up the road. The tunnel is just wide enough for two cars but the outside is always covered in marbles, that’s why Massa skated into the barrier.

It was good to see Hamilton in battling mood though, if he’d just kept his head a little he’d have been seen completely differently in this race, as the swashbuckling hero fighting through the field. Instead he looked hot-headed, crashing into people and then getting out of the car to complain about it.

The top three drivers put in excellent drives, solid smart performances from the champions they are. Before the red flag they were nearly a minute up on the chasing group. They ran different strategies and speeds all day, yet had converged with less than ten laps to go, we were set for a fantastic battle for the lead in the closing stages and not for the first time this year! Who says F1 in 2011 is boring? Far better than having all the racing done by 1/3rd distance – the first pit stop – and then watching a parade.

Vettel made his one-stop strategy work despite some very old tyres. Alonso was on him for several laps and couldn’t get by – we’ll never know if he would’ve made it or if Vettel’s tyres would’ve dropped off even more.  Button put in flawless laps to reel in this pair on his newer tyres, closing in a decent gap to start battling Alonso. The BBC commentary was talking up a Button win, or at least a second-place. I’m not so sure that would’ve happened but I was on the edge of my seat hoping either driver would take the win from Vettel! Nothing against Seb, he’s just been winning too much lately and the others need the points.

I use the Softpauer iPad app during F1 races and qualifying sessions and I could see on the map that the lead trio were catching a massive group of cars, there must have been 6 or 7 of them there! This group was being led by an Adrian Sutil trying valiantly to make his tyres last to the end of the race. Webber and Kobayashi had fallen behind through the stops but both made it past him, and the group behind him included Hamilton, Petrov, Alguersuari and Rosberg (some of those a lap behind Sutil but now running faster on fresher tyres).

Now it was always going to be fraught but I thought they’d be sensible and pull over one at a time to let the leaders through. Instead Sutil under pressure from Hamilton slid into the marbles after Tabac, into the barrier causing a puncture. Hamilton had to lift off in avoidance, surprising Alguersuari who rode up over the McLaren’s rear wing. Poor Vitaly Petrov was following Alguersuari just as closely, he had nowhere to go when he was confronted with this accident and hit the barrier. Petrov said in post-race quotes that he chose to hit the barrier rather than another car, but he can’t have known he’d hit so hard and cause himself minor injury.

The red flags came out and I was sure it was just a race suspension whilst others were saying it was over, though of course it would come at the discretion of the organisers if they couldn’t get the track cleared or if the barrier was damaged. Restart they did, but what nobody reckoned on was the teams being allowed to repair accident damage and fit new tyres. Most people (including me) expected neither tyre changes nor repairs except in the pitlane, and maybe then only once the field was moving again.

A great way to suck out the tension of the race. However, I can understand the rule exists for safety reasons, if there has been an accident you don’t want to leave people out there on damaged tyres after running over carbon fibre shards, so it is a difficult one. It is very hard to argue for a reduction in safety, so I think we should chalk this one up as something that just happens in racing sometimes.

Good to see Williams finally get some points, it would have been even more had the collision not occurred between Maldonado and, yes him again, Hamilton. Also a shout out to Kamui Kobayashi and the Sauber team, who played the strategies and Safety Cars to perfection to record a strong 5th ahead of all the melee.

I hope some of this isn’t just my blinkered glasses since I’m a huge fan of the Monaco Grand Prix, I really do think this was an excellent race in its own right, not even “by Monaco standards”, and the red flag doesn’t detract from that at all.

Result

  1. Vettel
  2. Alonso
  3. Button
  4. Webber
  5. Kobayashi
  6. Hamilton
  7. Sutil
  8. Heidfeld
  9. Barrichello
  10. Buemi

Driver Points

  1. Vettel 143 (winner)
  2. Hamilton 85 (6th)
  3. Webber 79 (4th)
  4. Button 76 (3rd)
  5. Alonso 69 (2nd)
  6. Heidfeld 29 (8th)

Vettel is already looking unbeatable. Can he wrap this up as early as the Hungaroring in July, as Schumacher once did?

Constructor Points

  1. Red Bull 222 (1st & 4th)
  2. McLaren 161 (3rd & 6th)
  3. Ferrari 93 (2nd & DNF)
  4. Renault 50 (8th & DNF)
  5. Mercedes 40 (11th & DNF)
  6. Sauber 21 (5th & DNS)

Red Bull are in charge. McLaren could yet fight back though, they have a chance in this fight.

The next race is the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal in two weeks.

Friday Favourites: 22 April 2011

A series highlighting the best around the motorsport web.

I feel like I’ve given up writing race reviews and opinion posts. Just don’t seem to have it in me any more to write a long treatise about why X is Y especially when others do it so well. Much more fun to read their excellent words and then join the conversations on their sites or on Twitter. What I am good at is picking up news and opinion from elsewhere and sharing it with other subsets of fans. That’s why I started this series of posts. Cross-pollination. Learning from what others are doing.

  • Sidepodcast: An Aside With Joe – This Is Way Above All Our Pay Grades
    F1 journalist Joe Saward’s latest appearance with Christine and Mr C is, as ever, very much worth spending an hour of your time. Even his off-topic divergences are good to listen to! Unlike some, Joe is actually willing to do a some digging in paper trails to work out what is going on with the bigger picture of F1 ownership, and as part of looking things as a bigger picture that he keeps a good eye on what is happening in other forms of racing too. Joe is a great listen and also a great read. I assure you, even if you know a lot about F1 and racing, you will feel much smarter after listening to this.
  • Sidepodcast: Hands On With Fanvision’s Portable F1 Interface – Part 1 and Part 2
    Staying with SPC, guest-writer Amy Fulton has attended two of the three F1 races held this season and at both she tested out Fanvision’s brand new device. You may know Fanvision by their old name KangarooTV, and their G2 model has been a feature at F1, Le Mans and NFL events for a while now. Amy’s got her hands on the new-generation, much-improved G3. Now you have to check out this device, because you’ll wish they covered every racing series on earth with the data they provide!
  • Motorsport Musings: Time For F2 To Deliver
    Dan takes a look at Formula 2 and asks how the series has fared now it is in its third season (wow, that went quickly). Is it living up to the original billing or should it refocus?
  • Motorsport Musings: TT3d: Closer To The Edge
    Another post from Dan, who does ‘too much racing’ far better than I can, sees him review this new documentary film about the Isle of Man TT and rider Guy Martin. Do check out the included video clip, that alone is breathtaking so I can only imagine what the full feature is like. The TT has always scared me somewhat and sometimes when watching the coverage I have to look away, so close are they to hitting solid objects and causing themselves and others an injury. The talent and bravery – and stupidity? – of these riders is astonishing. This documentary looks like a must-see.
  • Oilpressure: Stop The Gender Comparisons
    George makes the great point that TV coverage, reports, the written media, fans, and even the drivers themselves should stop acting as though women racers are taking part in a sub-class of the main race. It is time for driver comparisons to be based on ability alone.
  • Brits On Pole: Could Holding A Road Race Become Easier In Future
    If you hadn’t noticed, BoP has quietly started blogging again – about time too! Last year they kept up with developments to allow road races* to be held in the UK without having to seek the currently-required Act of Parliament. It seems as those things are progressing well, could we see more events on the roads of Britain soon?
    * North American readers in particular may not know that ‘road racing’ here doesn’t refer to ‘road course racing’ (as obviously most tracks here are road courses) but instead to the closing of public roads for the purposes of racing. There are no street circuits in the UK and most rallies take place off-road or on private land.

That’s all this week, apologies for the double-mention for two sites but sometimes that’ll happen when sites put out more than one good post in a week! I’ll be back next Friday with more, do let me know if you spot anything interesting in the meantime.