The Slipstream: Bridging the gap

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota TF109. Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday 1 November 2009.

Kamui Kobayashi driving in Toyota's final F1 race at the 2009 Abu Dhbai GP

Jul.30 (Geoffrey Hunton) Hello and welcome back to the Slipstream.  I would like to thank all of the positive responses that were put up on the bottom of the interview with Takuma.  It was a very memorable experience and I am glad to do what I can for YallaF1.com.  There are many interesting articles going up on the site, and I enjoyed reading them all over the past few weeks.

Toyota spared no expense during their foray into Formula 1

Toyota spared no expense during their foray into Formula 1

Before I get to the race coverage from Germany, I would like to try and touch on a few other things that have been in and out of the F1 news cycle.  It does appear that Toyota is getting back into the racing market with a possible deal with the HRT team.  This is interesting because of not only the failed Stefan GP bid that was basically a Toyota version of the Brawn team, but that there have been several articles written in Race Engineering about the un-raced 2010 Toyota challenger and some of it’s innovations it would have brought to the grid.  It will be interesting to see what really happens with that design and if it does see the grid in 2011.

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN). Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Thursday 3 April 2008.

Jacques Villeneuve wants to be an F1 team boss

Jacques Villeneuve made news on multiple fronts as well.  It was announced that he has taken interest in getting back into F1, but in the form of a team boss.  While this is interesting, one cannot think back to Alain Prost’s failed F1 team effort that ended in receivership after a short tenure on the grid.  Maybe with enough corporate backing and legitimate driver talent this rumored team project might be worth a second look, if it becomes a reality.  I know that USF1 is the butt of a lot of jokes, but before there was USF1, there was Direxiv, Aston Martin GP, and Prodrive.  The 1997 World Driver’s Champion also made news by racing in last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 at the Indy Motor Speedway.

Juan Pablo Montoya during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Juan Pablo Montoya at the Brickyard 400

Former Williams and McLaren driver, Juan Pablo Montoya led for most of the day, but a bad call during a late race pit stop led to an eventual DNF.   This is the second year that Montoya has dominated the Brickyard race and failed to bring home the victory.  Juan Pablo’s only victory in NASCAR has come at a road course, and he has yet to win on one of the many ovals the series frequently races on.

Perhaps it is fortunate that there is a short gap between last weekend’s race in Germany and this weekend’s race in Hungary.  Most of the press has squeezed as much as they could have out of the incident that took place on track.  Normally I would denounce the illicit sensationalism of off track politics and incidents as just media being the media, but since this latest issue with Ferrari happened on track, and has caused a pretty intense fervor, it needs to be addressed.

The podium (L to R): second placed Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari with race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday 25 July 2010.

Ferrari team work got them the result they needed in Germany

Formula One racing is a team sport, using cars that are raced and operated by competitive individuals all seeking to become world champion. These men strive their entire lives for the opportunity to fight for points, podiums, and overall wins and the stakes get higher as the season progresses.  With all of that being said, this is still a team sport, and Ferrari made the best decision for the team, although it was executed in the worst possible way.

Wouldn’t you think that with the hours of race strategy that goes into each GP weekend, a team as advanced as Ferrari would have a scenario for this besides the most obvious?  This is not as bad as Austria, 2002, but it is a screw up to a high degree. While watching the Speed TV broadcast, which has had an issue with Ferrari since the days of Michael Schumacher it became very clear what they thought of the “stall and pass” move that Felipe and Fernando executed.

Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director is grilled by the media after the race.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday 25 July 2010.

Stefano Domenicali is grilled by the media after the Hockenheim race

Whatever Ferrari does, there is just a certain portion of the F1 media and fan base that will denounce their motives. Some of the time it is totally justified, and Alonso brings his fair share of controversy onto himself as well.

Felipe deserved to win that race, and nobody can deny that.  His start was brilliant, and he caught Vettel and Alonso by surprise. Mr.Chalmers, who wrote a fascinating article on what Alonso has to do to become world champion factored luck into his out look.  I don’t think this is the kind of luck that is good for his legacy or title hopes. The Spanish reign over world sport continues, but this is not a victory to be proud of. Felipe’s race craft has improved since that horrific incident one year ago, and the man has much to be proud of.

Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen

Felipe Massa with Kimi Raikkonen

Felipe is a team player, and that was shown in his title quest in 2008 where Ferrari favored his effort over Kimi, who just so happened to be the current world champion. At the same time, if everybody won what they deserved, David Coulthard would have been a world champion and BAR Honda would have won the world constructors title in 2004.

The team orders ban should be lifted since it is a rule with more ways around it than the Nordschlife.   Every team has their own way around it and you can see team orders executed across the grid at almost every GP.  Didn’t Red Bull make sure Vettel and Webber wouldn’t cross paths on track after their lap 1 incident by ordering one car to the pits?  While Eddie Jordan and Norbert Haug denounce what Ferrari did as a travesty to the sport, the calendar moves on to Hungary, a track where McLaren is strong but Ferrari will have to be stronger to beat the diversity that now greets them at every gate.

The Slipstream Favorite 5
1. Mark Webber
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Fernando Alonso
4. Felipe Massa
5. Sebestain Vettel

Qualifying Predictions for Hungary
1. Vettel
2. Massa
3. Alonso

Podium Predictions for Hungary
1. Felipe Massa
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Lewis Hamilton

The Slipstream will be back next week with post race analysis, awards, and commentary.  I am sure this is not the last of “PassGate” but until then, thank you for reading