The Drood Report

Nick Fry is a jerk.

Aussie GP potentially moving to Eastern Creek Raceway

This excites me.  Just read on Autosport that a feasibility study is being done to see if Eastern Creek Raceway can be bought up to code to host the Australian Grand Prix.

Any new circuit on the calendar that isn’t designed by that idiot Tilke gets my vote! Plus I happen to really like Eastern Creek. (Yes, that’s a different link than the first one.)

April 28, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment

GP2 Asia Recap (And GP2 Barcelona thoughts)

I’ve followed GP2, or Formula 3000 as it was, for a fair few years now, though it was only 2006 where I started following it regularly. That was when I became a Lewis Hamilton fan. Then he came to F1 and opened his mouth and paraded his father around and that was the end of that.

Anyhoo, GP2 Asia was a sort of Winter League for GP2. I guess to keep them all out of mischief before the regular season started. Essentially the engines were detuned to increase reliability, everything was loaded into a shipping crate, and the entire lot was sent off to Asia for 10 rounds of fun and excitement. And fun and excitement there was.

Sentul, site of the Indonesian round, was a joke. The circuit was terrible. The dust was insane. The track workers incompetent. All this, of course, led to fascinating viewing, if not fascinating racing. The dust seemed like the sort you see on clay tennis courts, and when a car went offline, anyone behind practically disappeared in the cloud. On top of all that, it rained. The entire event was a wonderful “How NOT To Run A Professional Racing Event”. Absolute farce. The Dubai rounds were only slightly more professional, and in the final weekend especially there were some eyebrow raising incidents from the track workers.

By far the best rounds were in Bahrain. It was great to sit down after a moderately enjoyable Bahrain F1 race and watch the division 2 boys drive their nuts off. There was more action in this two race event (they run a feature and a sprint race) than an entire F1 season pretty much. Just battles all through the field. As the commentator said, for every pass you see on camera, there are ten others you don’t. As I said at the time, if you can, FIND SOME COVERAGE of that weekend. Just flat out brilliant stuff. Sadly a search of YouTube did not turn up anything useful. Perhaps, if I get around to it and install the right toys, I should make my own highlight video and upload it. Risking the wrath of Bernie’s Elite Ninja Lawyers, but sod ‘im. If I do, I’ll upload it somewhere other than YouTube so it’s less likely to disappear. Wish I had some kind of gauge as to how many people are actually reading this to know if it’s worth it or even appreciated. I know for sure I have TWO readers. Three if you include me!

So after 10 rounds, one name really shone. No, it wasn’t the much hyped Bruno Senna. It was the Swiss driver, racing under a French license, Romain Grosjean. He absolutely dominated the series and won my undying devotion as a fan, not to mention the inaugural GP2 Asia championship. He’s a real racer. Right up there with Alonso, Raikkonen etc… Look forward to him getting into F1, hopefully in a good team.

Which brings us to this weekend in Barcelona. Both races were okay. Not up to Bahrain standards, but still fun. More fun than the F1 anyway. (Not that the F1 was especially bad.) Once again Grosjean put on a demonstration of how to fight and pass guys in equal equipment. Then got a drive thru penalty for his trouble. This was weird. There was a restart after some muppet spun coming out of that pathetic chicane and stalled it. On the restart Grosjean made a bit of an error allowing Kobayashi to close up. He moved all the way over to the right, then back over to the left to take his line, squeezing Kobayashi, and entering the corner in a cloud of tyre smoke. Now at first glance I felt the punishment was entirely fair. It was only when they replayed it and I stopped to consider it, it seemed dubious. While the move WAS out of line (I think all this weaving crap is out of line to be honest. That’s what comes from a generation of drivers that grew up watching Michael Schumacher), you see it all the time in GP2, often ending in tears.

Now I am not the slightest bit trusting of the FIA. I believe they are a corrupt organization, incapable of being impartial. Petty prejudices and desires will always entire their rulings in my opinion. An opinion based on years of previous evidence.

Anyone betting on GP2 would be unwise to bet against Grosjean being champion after his GP2 Asia performance. His penalty makes my spider sense tingle. Could it be the FIA punished Grosjean basically because they had a good reason too, and want to try and keep the title battle close? I mean nobody is really going to care about dodgy officiating in GP2 except for those in the actual series, nor is it going to get any media coverage. It just makes me very suspicious when I see a move that happens at least 10 times in any GP2 race, and they just happen to punish the one that will, ultimately, effect the championship. Perhaps there was more to it than met the eye. I was watching a race with ambient sounds only, no commentary, so maybe I missed something. (A truly marvelous and absorbing way to watch a race. Just the glorious engine sounds.) I’m still sitting here, eyebrow askew, and a tingling spider sense. (Should see a doctor about that.)

Curious to see if anyone (barring the FIA of course) can stop Grosjean. If GP2 Asia was anything to go by, the answer is “not bloody likely”. Bruno Senna is amounting to very little to be quite honest, and if he makes it to F1 I fear it will be on name alone. There’s a few other good drivers in GP2 (such as the aforementioned Kobayashi), but really, Grosjean owned GP2 Asia, and will most likely own the regular GP2 season as well.

At least when Lewis was dominating he had Piquet as a foil.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment

Random Thoughts

Could it be Ferrari don’t want Alonso on the team because he’s the only current driver to actually beat Schumacher to a title? Came to mind during qualifying. I could see Ferrari being that petty.

Nice to hear Brundle agree with me that the McLaren looked bloody awful on Friday. And that the Honda antenna look ridiculous.

Funny to hear James Allen bitch about Spanish F1 being “Alonso vs 21 other idiots.” Kinda like ITV is “Lewis vs 21 other idiots” then.

What the hell has happened to Heidfeld?

Alonso on the front row… So annoyed Raikkonen just stole it at the end. Realise he’s probably got about 3 laps of fuel in, but Fernando and Kimi next to each other at the front.

Just like old times.

April 26, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment

Flappy bits and fast cars

ARGHH! It’s like some alien invasion. All the cars are sprouting… THINGS! You’ve got the Honda sprouting two antenna at the front (which make me think of the Tivo logo). The Renault now has an engine cover like Red Bull that looks like someone took the original model and just stretched it, or perhaps it wasn’t quite set when it was picked up and was packed wrongly and dripped. Man, it’s all horrible, horrible stuff. Hope we can kiss goodbye to all this crap next year. Even the wings are sprouting wings these days.

Speaking of horrible things, watching second practice from Friday, I really think it’s a Ferrari weekend. From numerous onboard shots with Lewis the McLaren looks TERRIBLE. From a few outside shots the rear has looked iffy, and onboard it just seemed horrible, especially in the third sector. Admittedly I’m not done watching Friday practice yet (yes, it’s almost time for Saturday practice. I’m a day behind.) I supposed they can dial it out and fix it maybe, but man, I’ve I don’t think I’ve ever seen a top car look so evil. There is also something clearly wrong on the turn into the final tight left (that one before the long sweeper that leads to the idiotic final chicane, which incidentally, when you look at the circuit logo on the pit buildings, they’ve not changed the map). Not sure what it is. It’s like Lewis is changing up way early or something. The revs drop really low.

Curious to see where the weekend goes for Lewis. Early on the pit bitched at him for not warming his rear brakes up (this was after he bitched at them saying the brakes were “terrible”.) Then he spun. He seems to be having a rough time.

I am very VERY curious to get to qualifying and see if the Scarlet Menace are sandbagging in regards to their new slotted wing. Though more importantly right now, with about an hour to go in final Friday practice, Giancarlo Fisichella is fastest. I know it won’t last, but damn that put a smile on my face.

I might be back before the race, I might not. Depends on a lot of factors. (Snagging some qualifying coverage being the biggest issue.) Not least of which is whether there’s anything worth talking about.

I’d say we’re on for an all Fezza front row, and one of them, probably Massa, disappearing off into the sunset come .

GO FISHY!

April 26, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment

Spanish Grand Prix Preview

We’re off to Barcelona. Hu-bloody-rah. I hate that circuit. It’s funny, in Formula One racing games over the years, going all the way back to the original F1GP on the Amiga, the one circuit I can never remember is Barcelona. It’s just a nothing circuit. The racing is almost universally horrendous. In short, after three good races, I fully expect this weekend to be utter crap. PROVE ME WRONG!!!!

Top news is Super Aguri who are hanging by a thread. A THREAD I tell you! The team is hoping for a sudden hot cash injection so they can actually race this weekend. That is an extremely depressing situation. I remember the days when we had 34 cars fighting to make 26 slots on the grid. Now look at it. Aguri go, we’re down to 20. Now admittedly the sports golden era only had a grid around that size but still, it’s a depressing prospect. More cars on track means more action. Yes, it’s a simple equation, but it works for me.

Ferrari have figured in the leadup to the race, in that they’re the only team stirring anything up really. Firstly they’ve said they have no interest in signing Alonso. What cracked me up in the story was this quote.

“To line up a Raikkonen-Alonso double act would mean wanting to damage yourself.”

Lord knows seeing Ferrari win used to make me want to damage myself… Anyway:

“I want two equal drivers that work together”

What the hell do Ferrari know about having two equal drivers? For the decade Schumacher drove for them the other driver was contractually obligated to a subservient role every year. The team have only run two equal drivers once in the last 12 years. The fact is with Alonso and Raikkonen they WOULD have two equal drivers. Just like McLaren in 1988 with Prost and Senna. To imply that Kimi and Felipe are equal is a bit of a slap in the face for Raikkonen. Massa, I’m sure, will be in his now traditional subservient role come seasons end. After all he’ll have thrown away several more races by then and unloaded into his foot on a fair few occasions.

Next up from the Scarlet Menace is that they expect a fight in Spain. Well duh! Hardly surprising. No team has shown the desire to really dominate so far. That’s good for us though. Sensible money, however, would have to be on Raikkonen. However, the endless testing at Barcelona makes things a bit of a lottery. The circuit is ridiculously well known to the teams, so it’s not unthinkable that something wacky could happen up the front. You drive the same circuit hundreds of times, you’ve gotta learn something, right? That’s the theory anyway.

Ferrari’s vice president Piero Ferrari, who looks alarmingly like the old Commendatore, has said the FIA, should Max step down, needs a strong president. Something must have been lost in translation. What’s Italian for “Very pro-Ferrari president”? (Given when the sport was on the verge of breaking up the FIA plans involved building a new F1 with Ferrari at the center. So largely the same as the one we have now.) Piero has also said that the KERS being introduced next year (that’d be Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems fact fans) will only increase costs and not actually improve the racing.

Now he has a point, though I am actually giddy with excitement at KERS as it’s the first time I’ve found an F1 technology exciting since active suspension was around in my first season of viewing. Yes, I admit it, I’m a tech geek. I love racing. I am also a lover of tech, and KERS is fascinating to me. The potential to store energy and have a boost button brings to mind the old days of F1 when I first started watching. The thing is, there is a LOT of expense involved in implementing these systems. Not to mention there are two vastly different approaches to the technology. (One mechanical, one not.) Nobody is sure which will be the better solution, or even if there is an advantage with one or the other.

They make us spend time and money to design the KERS, for which we can’t evaluate the costs precisely because it’s a new technology.

At a time when the FIA are seemingly hellbent on cutting costs in the sport, it does seem rather hypocritical to bring in a new technology that is unproven and so new that the costs can’t be calculated until the money has actually been spent. Of course hypocrisy from the FIA is nothing new, but it’s just yet another ruling that makes one sit up and go “Huh?!” Great idea, but seems to go completely against the current “SAVE SAVE SAVE” ethos of the sport.

Force India are reiterating that they will achieve their goal this year. That being advancing to Q2 on a Saturday on merit. Not going to happen guys, sorry. It’d take a monstrous leap up the grid for that to happen, not to mention a fairly major stumble from a team or two. I do not believe for a second that even ONE Force India will make it to Q2 without something happening, whether it be a red flag, weather, mechanical issue. I have no doubt they WILL make it to Q2 this year. Well, Fisichella anyway. But it will NOT be because the car has been legitimately quicker than six others.

Bored with racing? How about some asinine bureaucracy? Always good to stir the blood.

The European Union is investigating shenanigans over the Valencia race coming up later this year. The most interesting/depressing is the noise level issue. The stupid red tape loving bureaucrat assholes are saying that the race could violate European law. Now don’t get me started on this noise issue. Like these whiny little maggots who move next door to Silverstone or Monza. Both are world famous tracks, with a history stretching back prior to World War II that even the most closeted non-race fan knows by name. Then what happens? People move next door to these MAJOR HISTORIC RACING VENUES, then bitch and moan at the local authorities because of the noise, and the circuits are forced to cut down on the number of races and institute all manner of other stupid measures, which leads one to ask WHY DID YOU MOVE RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO A RACETRACK THEN YOU CONTEMPTUOUS, MENTALLY DEFICIENT PARASITES IF THE NOISE WAS GOING TO BOTHER YOU?

Makes me so angry. Now fair enough, someone slaps down a racetrack next to your lovely new house, you have the right to complain. Any noise violations in Valencia… Well you just know the race is going to happen, no matter how many palms Bernie has to grease to make it so. Bernie has largely laughed in the face of the EU in the past, and I expect the giggling to continue. Gotta cash in on Alonsomania while it lasts don’t you! But honestly, you move next door to Silverstone, Monza… The correct course of action from officials, when Mr. and Mrs. Shagwit come to complain about the noise, is to say “You moved next door to a race track. Either admit to us, IN WRITING, that you are a stupid idiot who has no business being allowed to use the precious oxygen on this planet when you’re clearly just wasting it. Or if you’re not prepared to do that, then GET THE HELL OUT OF MY OFFICE!” That right there would kill 99.9% of these complaints stone dead. Of course nobody seems to care outside us racing fans. I wonder what the reaction would be if someone near Old Trafford complained about the crowd noise from Manchester United home games? Can you imagine the authorities saying “Sorry, you can only play 20 games a year here from now on.” Would never happen would it. “Old Trafford was there when you moved in. Shut up.” Double standards, the governmental currency of choice.

Anyway, moving on from that blood boiling situation, there isn’t much else to report right now. Then again it is only Wednesday. Perhaps something interesting will turn up after the Thursday press conference. I won’t hold my breath though. Those damn whiny Silverstone and Monza residents are using up all that oxygen AS WE SPEAK! BREATHE DEEP MY FRIENDS!

April 24, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment

A defender!

Finally someone has come out and defended Mad Max. Former Ferrari head honcho Jean Todt has given his full support to Max Mosley. Hardly surprising really, given everything Max has done for Ferrari over the years. I have visions of a meeting with Max saying:…

“One day I will come to you and ask for a favour in return for all I’ve done for you.”

This must be it I guess. Makes you wonder what sort of skeletons Jean might have in his closet. Perhaps Max and Jean have partied together in the past. Regardless, I find it another wonderful indictment of the man that the ONLY person to publicly come to his defense hails from the team Max has whored the organization he’s president of to on so many occasions.

I believe the phrase is “thick as thieves”.

April 21, 2008 Posted by | f1 | 2 Comments

Late Roundup

The Setup: Apologies to all my readers for the lack of updates this week. Yes, all six of you. Early in the week my wife and two kids got very sick. I was already nursing an apparently broken toe, but was having to hobble around looking after them. Then I had seek medical attention for said toe, and a problem on the OTHER foot. Anyway I’ve got a broken toe on my left foot, and a bone spur on my ankle on my right foot meaning I can barely walk. That has led to my already horrendous back problems getting even worse. Getting in and out from my desk is a very painful experience, and I feel like I’ve been driven over by a train, but I’m here. For now at least.

The Week in F1: Fair amount of stuff going on. Let’s get bloody Mad Max out the way first. Few more voices to add to the cacophony singing “Hey, you, get out of my sport!” Porsche have stuck their oar in now. I find it rather nice that it’s the German companies who have been the most vocal. Porsche have said that the high costs of F1 and the sex scandal make F1 unattractive to them.

More surprisingly, a current F1 driver has come out against Max now. Continuing his rapid ascent back up my list of favourite drivers, Mark Webber has said the whole thing has bought the sport into disrepute. Mark was VERY careful to not comment on Mosley specifically, but the mere fact that a driver had the balls to come out and say ANYTHING is pretty huge given the political nature of the sport. Well done Mark! I’d give you a big manly hug if I wasn’t scared the News of the World would have “Webber’s Gay Love Trist” as their headline next Sunday.

It’s looking increasingly unlikely Max’s tenure as president will continue beyond the meeting on June 3rd. I’ve risked permanent psychological scarring and seen the tape now. To be quite frank parts of the tape that I saw reminded me of footage I’ve seen of how Jew’s were treated entering the concentration camps. I really don’t want to go into anymore detail as it’s quite sickening, but that was the distinct feeling I got viewing it. I am a very hard person to shock, but a lot of what I saw on the tape was nauseating. Nazi connotation or not, Max is one sick puppy.

Moving onto… Well not more joyous things, in fact quite sad things. Super Aguri may very well be doomed. The buyout lifeline they received has been withdrawn. While the team has set off for Barcelona, it’s unknown at this time whether they’ll be on track for the race, meaning Davidson and Sato’s F1 racing careers may be over. I certainly can’t see where they’d fit in anywhere else.

This is very sad. My recent Fisichella Revelation not withstanding, I’d rather see F1 without Force India than Super Aguri. I consider the “musical team” at the back of the grid with its everchanging ownership over the last four years to be detrimental to the sport. I think it looks bad for a team to keep changing. Super Aguri was at least constant. Now it looks like the party may be over. The team are in talks with alternate buyers, but nothing is set in stone.

I feel very bad for Sato and Davidson. Takuma has never really got a fair shake in my opinion. He has gained a reputation as a crasher, despite the fact there seems very little evidence to back up the assertion. (Given his recent form, Coulthard could have that label placed on him, which shows how unfair that can be.) When he WAS in a well financed team, he was with Button who isn’t exactly a slouch. Now he’s stuck slumming it and may not even have a job now. Very sad. As for Davidson… He’s like the guy in a horror movie who through no fault of his own winds up down a dark alley only to be butchered like a hog. If Sato has been unlucky, I don’t even know how to describe Davidson. The sport has well and truly shafted him, and I believe he has far more talent than he has ever been allowed to show. Hardly the first driver you can say that about, but it’s still sad.

I hope we see Sato and Davidson on the grid in Barcelona. Preferably in cars.

STR debuted their new car to a moderate amount of fanfare. Sebastian Bourdais then went out and almost immediately drove it into a wall. I shouldn’t laugh… But I did. All week I’d read stories of the new car coming, new car coming… Day it came, “Bourdais crashes car”. Bourdais was okay obviously. Car looked a bit second hand though.

Perhaps the biggest story of the week has been the number of drivers worried about next years ban on tyre warmers. Now usually I’m quick to say “Shut up and drive” as I believe a lot of the drivers are whiny bastards. They’re making more money overall than any drivers before them and really, at least the half of the grid could walk away from the sport right now and live very comfortably for the rest of their lives and never work again. They’re also driving in by FAR the safest era the sport has ever had, and yet they still find things to bitch and moan about. However they may be on to something this time.

Okay, so next year SLICK TYRES RETURN! GOODBYE GROOVES AND GOOD RIDDANCE! This is of course due to the fact that downforce will be reduced by around 50% next year. They’re going to need those tyres just to keep the damn things on the island. Now in their infinite wisdom for reasons I can’t quite figure out, the FIA has also banned tyre warmers. So rather than having a nice toasty set of tyres on the car, the tyres will be at ambient temperature. According to David Coulthard, this could equate to a car with over 25% less tyre pressure than those up to speed on track. Coulthard even went so far as to say another Senna type incident could occur. Slightly alarmist, but he has a point. It’s widely accepted that Senna’s accident was caused by the slow speeds behind the safety car causing the tyre pressures to drop, which is what led to the car grounding out at Tamburello. 1994, just like next year, saw a huge slew of changes made to the sport. The only difference this time, from a rule change perspective, is that the driver aid ban has happened a year earlier so it’s not all coming in together.

The average F1 tyre runs at 20psi. These cold tyres are supposedly only at 14psi. That is a huge difference. The sport just changed the rules after Heidfeld’s final qualifying lap was messed up in Malaysia. The change was due to the massive speed differential between Heidfeld and the other cars. The drivers believe the ban on tyre warmers will lead to this situation. Only it’ll be occurring several times throughout each race, and with a lot more cars on track.

If the FIA keep the ban in place, it will ultimately fall to Bridgestone to find a compromise, which one would assume would require a fundamental redesign of the tyre compounds to limit the difference as much as they can between cold and hot. It would make sense at this point for the GPDA to present a united front to the FIA and demand the warmers be allowed to remain. The whole idea behind the GPDA reforming, which ironically was set in motion the morning after Ratzenberger was killed, but prior to Senna’s death, was so drivers had the aforementioned united front to present in regards to safety matters. Surely this would qualify as a noble and worthy subject to do so?

Amid all the comments, Michael Schumacher even came out and joined the active drivers chorus. Firstly he pointed out that all the teams already HAVE the technology, so the FIA can’t justify it on cost grounds. So it leaves us to wonder just why the hell the FIA are doing it. But then a lot of their decisions in recent years have left us wondering that. (Once again I draw attention to this article about Max and his closest friends in the FIA. Disturbing reading.)

I expect this will rumble on for some time. I believe the drivers are making a fair point. F1 is on the bleeding edge. Other series not using tyre heaters could be used as a counter argument, but then how advanced are their tyre compounds? Tyres in F1 are obviously a very different beast from cold to hot, probably far more so than in any other open wheel series.

Man, it’s all doom and gloom so far isn’t it?! Shall we end on something more jolly? Yes. Lets!

Several drivers have been testing simulated 2009 downforce conditions on their cars and running the new slick tyres for next year. I have read not a SINGLE WORD of complaint. Astonishing! In fact it’s the complete opposite. Almost universal love. This hopefully bodes well for next year when we will see the most radical shift in car design for a very long time, and will hopefully make F1 as exciting as GP2 Asia was this year. I’ll be writing about GP2 Asia very soon, with the enthusiasm of an overly excited schoolboy most likely. I watched nine of ten races. (Skipped one due to the appalling commentary.) Every single one was worth my time and saw more action than you’d get in three F1 races. Truly a magnificent series.

All I will say for now is remember this name: Romain Grosjean. A Swiss (yes, despite their ban on racing, Swiss) racing driver who races with a French license. More on him later… Believe me, you’ll know him very well in a year or two.

April 19, 2008 Posted by | f1 | 2 Comments

Beg, Borrow or Steal!

Lot going on in the F1 world right now, and I’ll be writing about it soon. Been a rough week. On top of various other things, I’ve broken my toe it would appear. Dear lord it hurts!

So I’ve been laid up a bit and catching up on my racing. The reason for the subject is you MUST BEG BORROW OR STEAL a copy of the GP2 Asia Bahrain race. I’ve followed GP2 Asia this year, and it’s been fantastic. The two Bahrain rounds were some of the best racing I’ve ever seen. Incident packed, and usually the RIGHT kind of incident. (Hard battling for positions.)

Seriously, if you can check out either of the Bahrain rounds, if you’re any kind of racing fan, you owe it to yourself to catch them, whether it be on torrents, TV, YouTube or wherever you might find it.

I’ve now got the final two races to go. Hope the regular GP2 season will be this good!

April 17, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment

The Last 100 hours of Ayrton Senna

Feeling crappy at the moment. Headache etc… So I’m going to take a break for a day or three.

In lieu of that, there is this rather interesting piece on the last days of Ayrton Senna. I’ve read lots of stuff about Ayrton’s last few days. Like how he made up with Alain Prost, didn’t seem to be himself etc… However this article reveals some things I was never aware of. It’s a great read once you get past the opening family feud crap Ayrton was dealing with and get to Imola. It also goes into more detail of the effect on the drivers and the events after the race which I’ve never seen before. (Most writings on Senna end shortly after the accident.)

A word of warning: The description of the condition Senna was in immediately after the accident is rather graphic.

April 16, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment

Mosley Resignat… Oh who cares…

Wasn’t going to bother covering this anymore. Really there’s not much more to be said.

However, Damon Hill, in his role as head of the British Racing Drivers Club, has said that Mosley should reconsider his position in the FIA, for the sake of the sports image.

“Businesses connected with the sport want a positive image, and politicians want to engage with it because they know motorsport people support those values.”

So finally the BRDC says “GO!”

Though I fully expect Mister Mosley to drag this out all the to the FIA meeting on June 3rd.

“3rd of June, End of game.” (From a song by Yello. Seemed appropriate.)

April 14, 2008 Posted by | f1 | Leave a comment