F1, halos and inconsistent rules

A lot has happened in F1 since my last post on the subject. With Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas the 3 main contenders for the World Title this year, the sport has at least changed in the sense that it is no longer a Mercedes snooze-fest, at least for the moment.

But two of the more hot topics of conversation lately have been the introduction of halo devices on cars starting from 2018 and the blatant and annoying inconsistency of stewarding rules.

Let’s start with the one that has gotten the community in a teasy. The helao device has been officially made mandatory on next year’s cars. In case you’ve missed it, it looks something like this. The two biggest problems people have had with the halo is that it looks ugly and no team was in favor of this solution, other than Ferrari. Others however were in favor of this device mostly because it should help with protecting the drivers from flying debris, and with accidents such as Felipe Massa’s and Jules Bianchi’s, it’s understandable that such protection be put in place. The only gripe I have with this is that I think there would have been other, better solutions. And also, Jules Bianchi’s fatal accident was more down to organizer incompetence, with them NOT releasing a Safety Car in those wretched conditions and them having a bloody tractor in the middle of the gravel trap. I’m not against driver protection, but maybe next time, implement a solution that most people agree on? I don’t know, just saying.

The second topic of conversation I see tossed around is the inconsistency of stewarding rules, and boy was that obvious in yesterday’s race. Some 3 races ago, Sebastian Vettel intentionally rammed into Lewis Hamilton because he thought that Lewis had brake-checked him before the safety car restart. Seb then received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for his actions. Fast-forward to yesterday’s Hungarian Grand Prix and you have Max Verstappen making an honest mistake and being too optimistic and as a result, he took out his team mate. So what did the stewards do? Deemed it a racing incident, which it was, albeit caused by a silly move on Max’s part? No, they gave him a 10 second time penalty. Which in truth is not as bad as a stop and go penalty, but to give him 10 seconds for that is just…a joke. Mostly because there were other incidents which, for the time being, have been warranted no further action (Nico Hulkenberg vs. Kevin Magnussen comes to mind, although those two seem to have sorted it out by themselves afterwards).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this inconsistency in rule applying and rule making is making F1 fans angry. Sometimes justified, sometimes not, but there needs to be a rule book with more consistent rules that are applied in the same manner for all drivers. Because at this point, it’s like drivers are on “Wheel of Penalty”, in which for a racing incident a wheel is spinned and the result is then applied to the driver. One can only hope. And no, saying you’re giving up on F1 is not the solution I have in mind.

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Nico Rosberg’s retirement

So this happened…

Nico Rosberg has announced his retirement from F1 this afternoon, leaving everybody in a state of “WTF did I just hear?”. Me as well, because this really came out of the blue, given that he signed a contract earlier this year for the next two seasons. Nico has stated that the reason for this retirement is that he wants to spend more time with his family. And I can get behind that, especially since he has a child now. Moreover, he actually stated that he considered retirement should he win the title this year. And regardless of what people might think of him now

However, it’s speculation time now. Who do you think is going to get the drive? My money’s on an experienced driver e.g. Valtteri Bottas or Fernando Alonso (oh how I’d love that). Or who knows, maybe they’ll try and get Sergio Perez. He is one driver I’d really wish would get a top drive again, because that whole McLaren 2013 season seems like bad luck rather than lack of talent. Some people said Pascal Wehrlein might get a drive, but I don’t know if he’s up to the task yet.

Anyhow, one thing’s fore sure, 2017 just got a lot more interesting with this announcement.

Nico Rosberg – WDC 2016

And so it came to pass yesterday. Nico Rosberg is the World Champion of F1’s 2016 season. Now to be honest, I was rooting for him to win, mostly because he has lead the championship for the greater part of the season and he has been the more consistent driver. And even if Lewis had pulled a…well…2008 Lewis and won the championship in the last race with the odds against him, what I’ve rambled about here would also apply to him.

In short, I thing Nico is the deserving champion. He has been consistent, as I’ve said, and he managed to take advantage of every single mistake or bad luck that hit Lewis throughout the season. He hasn’t failed under pressure this season, unlike the previous ones. And strategy wise, he’s had his fair share of good calls (Singapore comes to mind).

That being said though, I think this is it for him, or how a friend of mine put it, this is his “Jacques Villeneuve year”. You know, the kind of year when you get the best car and actually manage to beat your competition and team-mate (even though is was so close) with said best car and then we never get to see you fight for another championship again.

Now I may be wrong on this one and maybe Nico will prove me (and other several million haters) wrong in the following years…but I doubt it. Maybe if the regulations weren’t changing so much next year, I’d have a different opinion.

But with aerodynamics once again playing a more important role in a car’s performance, I suspect Red Bull will be up there fighting alongside the Mercedes cars and possibly McLaren as some speculate. And with Adrian Newey once again back with the team, I really believe/hope they’ll be able to pose a serious threat to the Mercedes domination. Red Bull has had a surge in performance this year once Newey came back, hopefully he’s had enough time to work on next year’s car.

And who knows, maybe Ferrari will finally be able to come up with a good car (and some seriously better strategies…they have shown they can do it in Abu Dhabi this year).

This is just speculation though. We’ll get a first glimpse of all this during the first tests in early 2017. But for now, Nico Rosberg is the 2016 champion and, unlike what some people believe, he has earned it and no one can take it away from him.

F1 title deserving misconception

The Formula 1 2016 title decider race is just around the corner and…I am actually excited, even though I don’t support either one of the drivers in contention for WDC. The drivers in contention are of course, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

And because I am a bit of a sadist at times, I tend to read comments from F1 fans on various platforms such as Facebook and…well…Facebook. Not that big of a social media fan this guy who speaks about himself in the 3rd person.

Of the many things I find hilarious in these comments, the most recent trending discussions are about whether or not Nico Rosberg deserves the WDC if he wins it. The people who claim Mr. Rosberg doesn’t deserve the title always seem to cling on to one or more (or all) of the following reasons:

  • “ugh, anyone can win in that car, even me, even though I’m just a couch potato with no driver’s license to my name”
  • “ugh, Lewis has had so many car issues this year it’s embarassing for Nico to be considered better”
  • “ugh, Mercedes are sabotaging Lewis’s car, ’cause they want a German driver winning in a German car”

That last one always makes me laugh, all the while wishing Super Saiyan transformations were real so I could Instant Transmission myself to instill some logic in the people who say this.

Topics for another day though, as today I am going to tell you why I fell there is no such thing as an undeserving F1 world champion. This will contain examples starting from 1999 (the year I began watching F1), so brace yourselves.

Let’s start with the first reason in the list above: “anyone can win the WDC in the best car”. Yeah, tell that to Rubens Barrichello or Mark Webber. Granted, these two have had some impossible team-mates, but when Rubens Barrichello FINALLY had a good car in 2009 and no Michael Schumacher…what were the results again? As for Webber, he blew his chance in 2010 and sadly, it became the Sebastian Vettel show after that.

However, ever since 1999, the best car has ALWAYS been the one to win the championship. Maybe not the constructors one, but when it comes down to the WDC, there is no way you can beat the best all around car. From Ferrari’s domination between 2000 and 2004, when they were near untouchable, to Fernando Alonso’s double in 2005 and 2006 when even though Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher seemingly had a chance to win, they were let down by their cars in the most innoportune moments (Nurburgring 2005 and Hungary 2006), the best car will always be the one to provide the world champion. It’s up to the drivers to make the most of it. So that being said, why would Nico Rosberg not deserve the title based on this ? It’s the second time in 3 years when he has a shot at winning it. That in your opinion is a bad driver?

The second reason is rendered moot by Nico’s 2015 issues. I mean sure, Lewis has had a fair share of mechanical issues this year. But those countless botched starts are his fault, not the car’s fault. And to those of you saying that Nico can only win from pole or if Lewis misses the start…who’s fault is it that he wasn’t in pole position or he was but he failed the start?

The third one…let’s entertain this insanity a bit. You know, just for fun. So, let’s assume that for some reason, Mercedes don’t want Lewis to win the title and are actively sabotaging his car in order to make Nico the champion. This type of activity is happening at ALL companies, right? I mean, I’m betting Oracle, Apple, Microsoft, Samsung etc. ALWAYS sabotage their best workers in order to have their pet peeve employees shine. What? This doesn’t happen? Shocking…

And why would Mercedes risk doing this? What if Nico wouldn’t be capable of winning? What if Ferrari or Red Bull have come up with a car capable of keeping up with the Mercs and Nico would fail under that pressure and hand the title to another team? Don’t you think the risks far outweigh the pride of having a German driver win the championship in a German car?

Sadly, these conversations will probably keep on going for years to come, regardless of who wins. My point is, regardless of who will end up winning the championship on Sunday, he will be a deserving champion. If it’s going to be Nico Rosberg, then props to him for being the more consistent driver. If Lewis Hamilton wins, then props to him for fighting the odds race after race and overcoming a 12 point deficit, which seems simple, until you realize that Mercedes have little chance of missing out on a 1-2 finish on Sunday.