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Singapore 2012

I think that is the first race I have seen that has been stopped by reaching the time limit. My daughter was not happy with the “fast cars” hogging the TV for so long.

Throughout practice it looked like Vettel owned the circuit. But then in qualifying he did not produce. I don’t know why, but the team suggest that Vettel and/or his car was not able to get the pace in Q3. Being out-qualified by Hamilton is not a surprise. Being out-qualified by Maldonado is when you have done so well in testing.

At the start Vettel was able to take second away from Maldonado after the first few corners. Then Vettel was able to stay with Hamilton all the way. It looked like Red Bull might be in trouble with tyres as the super softs did not last on them, but it was better on the harder softs. The gap from Hamilton to Vettel hovered around 1.5 to 2 seconds. Hamilton could not seem to shake Vettel, but Vettel could not get close enough to get into the DRS zone. It was either of their race before the second round of tyre changes. And there was the question mark of whether a safety car would be deployed. If the safety car was deployed before they both stopped, then Hamilton would probably stay ahead as they both pitted. If Vettel pitted, then the safety car came out before Hamilton made his stop, then Hamilton would have lost out a lot. But the suspense ended when Hamilton lost all his gears. And it was a straight forward win for Vettel. The BBC commentary team interpreted the radio message from pits to Hamilton after the event, that Hamilton was nursing a problem since qualifying.

Button looked like he might have been able to leap Vettel in the pits on the first pit stops, as Vettel had to pit and come out in traffic. But maybe Button stayed out one lap too long and lost pace with his tyres when it mattered.

With Webber having another off day, Alonso was about where he could get the car. He got passed Maldonado and got on to the podium after Hamilton stopped. I don’t know why Webber had to take his first tyre stop when he did making him come back on track behind slower car.

I did not see much of Di Resta’s race, but he scored a personal best of 4th.

Did not see much of Rosberg’s race either.

Raikonnen was outside the points for a long time until the safety cars. I predicted he would do better than he did, but it seems the Renaults did not like the circuit so much. Grosjean was ordered to let Raikonnen past, in so many words, in light of championship hopes.

Massa got a puncture near the start and we have to remind ourselves, this wasn’t actually another mistake from and just bad luck. Massa hung near the back of the filed for half the race, and then benefited from the double safety cars and had better tyres to pick off a few places to get into the points.

Did not see much of Ricciardo’s race.

I think Perez was trying for a one stop, and could not make it work, but got saved by the safety cars, and that Webber had to just about leave the circuit to pass him.

I think the penalty given to Schumacher was a bit harsh, as I don’t think he braked that late. But I guess the Stewards looked at the telemetry.

I don’t know why the incident between Hulkenberg and Kobayashi was not investigated. It looked to me like Hulkenberg squeezed Kobayashi right up to the wall, and Kobayashi had nowhere to go, and that is what broke his front wing.

I don’t know why there were so many long shots tracking into the circuit from above where we could not see any of the cars. Yes the circuit looks sticking from above at night, but nothing can ever look as good as F1 cars during a race. So just show them.

Before this race, Alonso had a big lead, but it looked like he was a sitting duck for Hamilton to slowly close in. But it looks like Vettel could be the one to chip away at Alonso’s lead. Or Vettel and Hamilton might take points away from each other leaving Alonso able to jut do enough. Vettel and Hamilton need good reliability all the way now. From the last two races they each have a win and a DNF which equals 25 points each. Alonso has had two 3rds which equals 30 points. And Hamilton and Vettel both need both Button and hopefully Webber to take points away from Alonso.

With Hamilton retiring, Button had a chance to get back into the title fight. But he only qualified 4th, and he needed to be ahead of Vettel to have a chance of winning. He did make points on Alonso, but too few at this stage of the season. And he lost even more to Vettel.

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Monza 2012

More races than not this season have had little suspense for the victory where the leader creates a lead and then manages the race. This is probably due to the advantage of running in clear air on the engineered for excitement Pirellis. We had Massa making a good start (!!!!!!!!!!) and he rightly tried to a move on Hamilton into the first chicane. But nothing came of it and Massa did not have the pace to stay with Hamilton and that was that. Perez was catching Hamilton towards the end, but did not have enough laps, and Hamilton was probably managing his pace.

At Monza most teams considered and went for a 1 stop. This meant that Perez could not use his party trick of 1 stopping to gain places. And the rules meant he could not 0 stop. But he did use his tyre miserliness to still do something different. He did not make it to Q3 and so could choose his tyres, and he went on the Hards and then eeked them out so that his first stint was way longer than anyone elses, with decent pace. So he could then really fly on his second set of tyres picking off those with more worn sets until the made it to 2nd. It is always a guess as to how much of a driver’s pace is due to the car or driver, but with Kobayashi not doing so well, it seems that it was mostly Perez making the strategy work.

Alonso might have challenged for pole if he did not have an anti-roll bar problem in Q3. If Massa was able to qualify 4th… But he qualified 10th. But he managed to have some really good opening laps and Button had to stop and Massa’s tyres seemed to start going off right at the appropriate time. Alonso made it to 2nd, but could not hold off Perez. He had a bit of a tussle with Vettel, and at one point had to leave the track. For the sake of excitement in the Championship struggle, you understand, I was hoping that Alonso would have gone further out on to the gravel and have an end to his race. But Alonso’s control overcame the off and did not seem to have any car damage. It says something about the safety record of the sport and the under appreciation of a tiny machine doing over 200km/h having to take to less than smooth grass that some of us would hope for it to end in a crash. I think it was a bit harsh to penalise Vettel for that (it didn’t matter in the end with Vettel having the dreaded alternator bogey) as it looked like he was just taking his line.

Massa had a good result and made a good start. But he did get passed again by Button and also by his team mate in the same car who started in 10th. He might be fighting for his future at Ferrari, and maybe he should have fought more with Alonso and at least tried to defend. But I am sure Alonso has clear number 1 driver status, which may or may not have enforcement from a third party of a group of legitimate Italian businesses run by old families with high standings in the communities. So we don’t know if Alonso’s pace was better than Massa’s on merit or on politics.

It seemed to me that Raikkonen’s set up was not ideal. Or maybe the Renaults aren’t suited to the track so much.

I’m a bit surprised the Mercedes were not stronger their double DRS system, which I am also surprised has not been copied.

Di Resta managed to get the lower end of the points again. It would have been interesting to see him start 3rd, but it wasn’t to be. He did move forward, but only after Button and the Red Bulls retired. I think that if Hulkenberg did not have problems in qualifying then we could have seen him mixing up at the front end of the race.

Don’t know much about Kobayashi and Senna’s races.

Maldonado set a few fastest laps. Maybe if he can stop being stroppy he can get a string of good points.

Disappointed by Webber’s pace. It could not all be down to tyre strategy.

It seems that Mclaren have a pattern of one driver good, one driver out.

The championship is looking hopeful for someone challenging Alonso, but there are 3 drivers who are really close who could take points away from each other, and leave Alonso to only have to do better than two of them at each race, on a rotation.

The Mclarens have been strong in the last two races, but they have both had significant straights. Singapore is a different track and we may get Alonso coming back strong. And Raikkonen could have a good shot at actually winning.

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Spa-Francorchamps 2012

Button is back in it. As long as the Mclaren stays the class of the field.

He was not touched in qualifying. Which was part due to Hamilton electing to go for an older wing which was slower. And then I think Hamilton had a bit of strop about it and then tweeted the telemetry of his and Button’s laps (which was good going with a 140 character limit) even though I gather the wing choice was his.

And we again had surprise in qualifying with Koybayashi on the front row, Maldonado in 3rd, Perez in 5th and Vettel out in Q2. Then Maldonado weed on his chips by holding up Hulkenberg and got a grid penalty. But he had a cunning rouse for negating the penalty; go before everyone else. So he has a 5 grid penalty for Monza. Plus another 5 grid penalty for taking his frustrations out on Glock, making a 10 place grid drop.

But the big villain is Grosjean who has no idea of any cars around him at starts. Which is pretty fundamental in circuit motorsport. He managed to take out Hamilton, Alonso and Perez as well as himself. And compromised many others. And then this mixed the running order up.

Button was in a race of his own without being concerned with the 1st corner incident and keeping a healthy gap with very consistent lap times. He did a 1 stop and did not suffer. But he could have done a 2 stop if he wanted.

Vettel gained a lot in the first lap carnage. But then he made yet more gains by making a 2 stop work. The Red Bull was set up to assume clear running and the team gambled on a 2 stop for him where he got quite a bit of clear air.

Raikkonen did a 2 stop and got jumped by Vettel. His Renault was set up with a similar philosophy as Vettel’s Red Bull, so maybe a 1 stop should have been tried? But I am sure there are bad memories from earlier in the season.

Hulkenberg was another to gain from the 1st lap incident and then his car worked well.

Massa did better than usual. But you have to remember that Alonso, Hamilton, Grosjean and Perez were not ahead of him.

It was interesting with different cars running largely different setups where a car was either strong attacking and defending on the Kemmel straight or was strong in sector 2 and had a chance into the bus stop chicane. The choice between the two set ups were quite up in the air as there was so little practice that the cars got and they had to guess if low downforce to maximise performance in sectors 1 and 3 would be better or worse than high downforce to maximise performance in sector 2. But I don’t understand why Webber’s car was set up to maximise in sector 2 and have a short 7th gear. They knew he would have a penalty and start from 6th at best. And so be they know there would be a period where he would probably be behind slower cars. And when he was, he could not get past where it would have been easy, and had to eat his tyres a bit trying where it was hard. He lost places on the Kemmel straight the he could not gain back in sector 2, or into the bus stop with the benefit of sector 2 pace. With Alonso not scoring any points, he did make ground, but not as much ground as he could have, and he got leap-frogged by Vettel.

Schumacher looked like he might be able to steal 2nd place after the first lap mix up, but the Mercedes did not like a 1 stop. They ran a 1 stop with Rosberg too, and I am surprised that they did not split the strategy with Rosberg not having much to lose.

Both Torro Rossos were gainers with probably faster cars not running and others choosing the wrong number of pits stops. And they had a bit of a fight at one point.

Di Resta was able to grab 10th. I think he had no KERS for the whole race.

Nice that the cameras caught a bit of the ding-ding battle between the Marussias. Normally we only see them when they are getting out of the way.

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Budapest 2012

Sorry that this is so late. Was on hols and could not reasonably access the internet until now. As such this might be a bit short, as I will have forgotten things about the race.

So with dry weather for both qualifying and the race, Mclaren had the pace to win. Although Hamilton was not comfortable and had to keep it tight throughout to stay ahead of the Lotuses (my therapist says I have made excellent progress), firstly Grosjean and then Raikonnen. But Mclaren did not keep it tight for Button’s pit stop strategy, and pitted him a bit early (as far as I can remember) and put him out in traffic after each stop, and so possibly costing Button a podium.

It seems like Red Bull might have suffered a bit with not being able to use a certain engine mapping anymore, which puts the throttle at 95% umm… sometimes, which helps because… err. Maybe someone can fill me in on what it did and how it helped. We did have Alonso have half a chance at passing Vettel, and mostly Alonso only needs half a chance and he grabs it and goes, but this time he could not do anything. As they got close, hands up who was hoping they would crash and both have to stop?

Webber had another bad performance. Shame.

So Alonso lost points to 4 competitors. But extended his lead due to Webber’s placing.

Looking forward, maybe different race tracks will show a return to the front for either Red Bull or Ferrari (Alonso). Or will Mclaren be able retain their edge and convert it into more wins? And Renault seem poised for a win soon.

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Hockenheim 2012

I had the chance to sample Sky’s coverage for free as Sky had a free weekend pass bollo ks. And I was wondering if I should try it, especially as it was a race that BBC were only showing highlights for. One of the long term subscribers told me that Sky is crap and is just one long advert for itself with a race squeezed in, and if BBC show it live he watches it on BBC HD. In the end I didn’t have any time, so I did not have to make the decision and watched the highlights anyway. I might be less time critical in about 5 years when the kids can more or less look after themselves.

Another wet qualifying with a dry race. Mclaren made updates to the car, but they are still slow in the wet. Both Button and Hamilton have proved themselves in the wet in the past, so I think we can put the poor wet pace down to the car.

Judging by Button’s dry race pace, it seems that the Mclarens started out of position. Maybe they could have locked out the front row if the Ferrari team had not done their rain dance. But it did rain and Alonso made the best of it.

And Alonso was able to manage the race from the front despite not being the fastest. But the car was good out of turn 3, so Alonso was able to defend, or not actually have to defend, in the DRS zone, which was the only real overtaking place, except if tyre difference was significant.

It was good to see Button back on the podium. If he was able to qualify better, then he would have had even more of a chance of winning. I think his good form returning is due to the car upgrades. I notice the car has not changed to an ugly nose. Maybe the car is too far developed in other areas that work with the higher nose. This could be a limitation again in a few races when the other teams continue with their upgrades.

Vettel had a chance to win too, but could not beat Alonso and then got swallowed by Button’s pace, after Button came through from 6th.He had a chance to get 2nd back when Button’s tyres faded in the closing laps, and took it. But he took it in the wrong way instead of pulling back and trying again. And got penalised to end up 5th. So there is some justice.

Raikkonen showed that the Black and Gold car is still good, despite it being roughly half way in the season. But Grosjean did not back this up.

Kobayashi showed some of his daring-do again. And Perez did his party trick again.

Schumacher again beat Rosberg. Although this time there was not one driver that had a really bad race.

Webber started lower due to a penalty, and never could attack really. Maybe it is because the Red Bull does not like following cars.

Hulkenberg is setting a pattern of doing better than Di Resta. I think Di Resta went for a higher downforce set up which did not work at the newer Hockenheim.

Hamilton was the only retiree with picking up a puncture that damaged his suspension. If the qualifying was dry then maybe he could have had a chance of winning. But I think it would be safe to assume that he would have had the same bad start. So if he started from pole he would probably end up 3rd after the dust settled, and so he would probably finish 2nd behind Button. As it was, with starting 7th and having a bad start, he had a lot of work to do. But then got the puncture and another no points retirement.

With two of my favourite drivers at Mclaren, I am hoping that the improved car can stay improved compared to the rest, but there is nothing stopping the rest improving too. If Mclaren can’t stay on top, then I am hoping Webber finds his top form and stays on it for a while.

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Why forthcoming F1 Stars game is WRONG.

One of the characteristics of F1 is that it is serious. This does not sound good, but I think that it is fitting for the pinacle division of a certain sport. I think it is fine that we can sit around and make silly of some of the drivers and/or teams, and some of the TV coverage has frivulous bits as long as F1 itself takes itself seriously. Not so seriously that no one smiles, but serious enough for the correct level of high self-respect.

So what the f ck is this new game about? It seems to be taking F1 and characaturing it and then turning it into a Mariokart rip.

If you want to play an F1 game, play a proper simulator. Yes I know it can never proper simulate driving an F1 car, and the limited free time of the players means the simulation is comrpomised, and the fact that it is played on games consoles brings a bit more compromise, but at least pretend it is reasonably the closest you can get without having access to huge resources.There is no loop-the-loop on any F1 track. And if a driver spins on a 150km/h corner, that is probably the car damaged and race over, with the risk of injury.

If you want to play a fun, cartoon-like game with lots of smart bombs, power ups and an array of pit falls, play Mariokart. If you don’t have a Nintendo then, err…  you can play Crash Tag Racing.

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