Morning After: The politicking in F1 never stops

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So far, so good.

Making the most of a particularly difficult Friday for most, Ferrari managed to set the early pace in Sepang which, considering their diminished championship chances, they simply couldn’t afford otherwise.

Obviously, there’s still a long way to go for the Scuderia to bounce back from the disaster of Singapore, but outpacing the Mercedes’ in wet and dry conditions is probably a good start.

Sebastian Vettel was a commanding frontrunner in FP2, up 1.416s on Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, but more importantly, far more comfortable with the car.

Hamilton made no secret in his post-session remarks of his team’s struggles, and admitted there was work to do to correct the balance – good news if you’re Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel.

Budkowski hiring has teams fuming

Rain or shine, the politicking in F1 never stops.

Regulation changes, regulation breaches, financial distribution, engine supplies, the worst Kai Ebel outfit… the list of things the paddock can argue about is almost endless.

This time, it’s a personnel move, with the other nine teams being up-in-arms over Renault’s hiring of recently-departed FIA technical department boss Marcin Budkowski.

With only a maximum of three months gardening leave allowed under Swiss law (where Budkowski’s contract was signed), Renault will be able to soon employ the man whose job it was to look-over all teams’ development plans to ensure they complied with the regulations.

It goes without saying that provides a massive advantage for the French outfit, and unsurprisingly the rest of the grid has been quick to raise their objections.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner made it clear his team would take “major issue” should the Budkowski hiring be allowed to stand, although it’s unclear how much is legitimate concern, and how much is sour grapes.

It’s not exactly the first time an F1 team has exploited a loophole, and it certainly won’t be the last, but if the law is on Renault and Budkowski’s side, it’s hard to see what their rivals can do – not that that will stop them from trying, of course.

Quick Hits

  • Without a doubt the biggest story of Friday was the loose drain-cover which channelled the spirit of Pastor Maldonado into Romain Grosjean’s Haas. Such things are always a danger, but particularly when you combine this year’s increased aero loads and tyre grip with some complacent maintenance workers
  • Two sessions into his F1 career, Sean Gelael is looking more Scott Speed than Sebastian Vettel
  • Don’t expect Friday to be the only day affected by rain – thunderstorms are expected to linger all weekend, with a 51% chance we see one in the hour leading up to qualifying