The Drood Report

Nick Fry is a jerk.

Spanish Grand Prix recap

Well the week has disappeared in a blur of crippling back pain and videogames. Yay for the latter, boo for the former. You know it’s really depressing when, after four years of being shuttled from specialist to specialist, you finally get a diagnosis, only to be told “You were put together wrong, sorry. Nothing we can do.” At this point I’m stuck with the possibility of botox injections into my muscles (no I am not kidding, which is great given the recent research that shows that it causes neurological damage) and possible steroid injections into my spine to look forward too. JOY!

Being a fan of F1 means I’m no stranger to pain.

So it was off to Barcelona we went. The track is one of the nastiest and dullest in F1, especially now they’ve castrated the final corner. Don’t just take my word for it, F1 Rejects agree. So I had very little hope for the race. Though that was tempered somewhat by the fact that so far this year, the One we call Formula has been uncharacteristically enjoyable. So rather than my usual “Oh god no” in regards to the Spanish Grand Prix, it was more a case of “Hmmm…”

Remember Johnny Herbert? He’s still out there racing. He races sportscars. He also races the Speedcar series, the NASCAR wannabe that seems to be attracting for the most part second tier ex-F1 drivers. It’s not bad. In fact the only time I find NASCAR tolerable is when they race at real tracks rather than the pathetic gladiatorial arena throwbacks they usually race. So Speedcar has that going for it over NASCAR, as it’s ALL proper circuits.

Anyway, back to the plot, remember Johnny? Remember his horrendous luck? Like how, on the verge of his big break, he has his massive Brands Hatch crash? Or heaven knows how many other incidents that would lead one to say “Dear lord that man is unlucky”? I mean he left his first F1 race in similar fashion, having a fairly big shunt. Well I believe Sebastian Vettel may very well be his heir apparent. He is the ONLY driver to have not finished a race so far. Spain did not change that stat. He was taken out of the race on the first lap in an incident he had no part of. He zigged. He zagged. He crashed. What’s the old blues song? “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all?” Expect Seb to turn up with a harmonica and start playin’ ‘dem blues real soon. Quite possibly being joined by Takuma and Anthony who may be Aguriless.

Once again, for the second race in a row, Fisichella was a real star, punching several weight classes above where he should be. I mean he had Heidfeld behind him for a while. The BMW, against the second slowest car on the grid, and he kept him there. Astonishing. This is why I’m baffled as, according to Martin Brundle, Lewis Hamilton was the driver of the day. HUH?! I don’t recall him doing anything of any real note. Still, guess it should be expected from ITV’s “Lewis Hamilton Show”. (I also noticed the apology for falsely accusing Alonso of brake testing their precious Lewis was not forthcoming.)

Back on track (both in a race and metaphorical context), once against Giancarlo was a standout. The other standout was Alonso, albeit he very nearly binned it on the formation lap. Whenever I’ve seen him do that insane tyre warming ritual of his I’ve always thought “He’s gonna bin that one day” and Spain was very nearly that day. I’m sure the grass and crap on his tyres from his little excursion contributed to his not very spectacular start.

I find it amazing to see just how Alonso is crushing Piquet. They’re not even in the same league when it counts. Alonso is up there keeping the Ferrari’s honest (at least until his engine grenaded itself), and Piquet is down at the bottom end of the top ten. Clearly during his McLaren debacle he lost none of his ability. What was also interesting is everyone was saying how light his car must be. Hell, I said it myself. In the end, however, he only had about 7 litres less fuel than Massa, who is in arguably the best car in the field.

Once again we had several incidents where a driver didn’t see the car behind due to the pathetic mirrors they have these days. So we’ve got massively high cockpit sides that obscure visibility, and mirrors that are pointless and ineffective. Jacques Villeneuve has said mirrors should be banned entirely. I have to say he makes a good point. If they took them away the driver would have to pay more attention to his surroundings. Currently with the mirrors they have only the illusion of awareness. The constant incidents of a pass ending in tears clearly shows that the current setup is NOT working. I think banning mirrors is a bit extreme to be honest, but there is obviously an issue. They clearly need bigger mirrors. I mean hell, if they can have rear facing cameras in road cars, why could they not just feed back the rear facing broadcast camera to a small screen in the cockpit or in place of the mirrors? I mean lets go all out here. We have the most technologically advanced race series in the world. How come the drivers don’t have head up displays yet? Something has to be done as every race we’re seeing two or three incidents where one or both drivers races are compromised due to this issue.

Speaking of compromised, whoever came up with closing the pitlane when the safety car is deployed needs to be beaten to death with sticks. It’s a noble idea, but once again the FIA fire a sawn off shotgun at a problem rather than taking a precision shot at it. The rule was introduced if I recall to stop nonsense like we had a few years ago at Spa where one of the McLaren drivers slowed the field to a crawl so the other Macca driver could get in and out of the pits and retain the lead.

Twice this season already we’ve seen a driver have their race utterly destroyed by this asinine and idiotic rule that if you pit while the pits are closed, you get a 10 second stop/go penalty. Not just a regular penalty, but a bloody stop/go! Nine times out of ten you don’t even get that penalty if you maliciously take someone else out of the race! It’s so bad that if this happens, you may as well park the car as your race is done. You have to wait until the race has restarted to take your penalty. (This from the people who let Schumacher take his penalty AFTER a race had finished.) Why not just, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, do what NASCAR does? Send the car to the back of the field if you must punish them? The punishment does not fit the crime at all. There should BE no punishment. Heidfeld’s only crime was having his planned fuel load run out at the wrong part of the race.

There are times I can see the point of a rule, however much I hate it. (Though ironically nothing springs immediately to mind.) Then there’s times like this where I’m blood spittingly angry at the stupidity and lack of thought placed into a rule. This rule is as retarded as the year we lost tyre changes and you were punished if you changed a tyre “without good reason”, leaving “reason” open to personal interpretation. Honestly, if anyone reading this ever sees Max Mosley, please, I beg you, go up and punch him in the face and say “Steve says hello”. Just punch the nazi whore loving bastard square in the face, JUST ONCE, for all the stupid, moronic, asinine, retarded, backward, ill-conceived, idiotic bullshit we and the people of F1 have had to stomach during his tenure at the helm of ruining the greatest sport in the world.

While watching this past weekend, one thing came to me. McLaren have gone off the boil. It would be very easy to blame the punishment they received for this. (There’s something else you can punch Max in the face for.) However, I think the issue lies elsewhere. That being the loss of their prime asset. Yep, Fernando Alonso. Think about it. Alonso has years of experience, has been world champion twice. Last year when he and Lewis fell out, when he stopped sharing setup information with Hamilton just happened to coincide with a slide in Lewis’ performance. Now what do we have? A team whose race drivers have about 44 races between them. Two rookies essentially, with very little experience between them of setting up a race car on a weekend. Now in testing they still have Pedro, so actual car development feedback is still covered. On race weekends, however, they have two guys who are still learning their way and learning the nuances of car setup, since none of the feeder series are as remotely technical as F1. Could it be that the the team stabilizing exercise of kicking Alonso out has ultimately shot them in the foot on race weekend, due to their drivers inability to accurately set the car up? In Spain the Mclaren was clearly an absolute dog of a car. On Friday the onboard shots from Lewis’ car were downright terrifying at times. The car improved over the weekend, but even on race day the car was clearly a much bigger handful than the Ferrari. The drivers weren’t working WITH the car, but DESPITE the car.

Speaking of McLaren, Heikki had the first big crash of the year, and a scary one it was too. Not quite up to the standard set by Kubica in Montreal, but still a monster crash. A wheel rim that had done a mere 14 kilometers failed, leaving Heikki a passenger in his car. He speared off the track around 140mph and wound up under a pile of tyres. A scary sight. What is interesting is there was a belt along the tyres. Heikki did not wind up under the belt. His car had actually punctured the belt. Mercifully Heikki was okay, only suffering a concussion when in reality, broken legs would have been seen as a lucky escape. (He was knocked unconscious in the crash.) It’s always such a huge and wonderful relief to see a driver giving the thumbs up from the stretcher.

Since the accident, requests have been made that the run-off area be extended at that corner. Once again, as the old saying goes, “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted”. It was a freak accident. I’d bet no major accident ever happens there again. There’s also talk of removing the gravel traps, but this may be an issue due to the bike racing there. While asphalt allegedly slows cars more than gravel (not to mention gives drivers a bloody get out of a jail free card if they go off, something which will annoy me until the end of time), if you’re on a bike and crash, I’m not sure which would be worse for you in the event of an accident.

Did get a bit chuckle out of Rubens breaking his front wing before he’d even left the pit, then having to circulate for a lap riding on top of it like some kind of demented surfboard. The wing had an exceptional sense of comedic timing, finally departing Rubens company right at the end of the lap. One thing that was utterly stupid was that, while his car was obviously damaged, due to the rules the cars behind couldn’t pass as the safety car was out, until Rubens slowed down considerably, which of course Rubens didn’t want to do as he wanted to get back to the pits as quick as he could so as to get back out and rejoin before the safety car pitted. F1 would be a real comedy of errors these days, were there anything to find funny about the many stupid issues in the sports rules.

To overuse a tired phrase, “once again” David Coulthard got tangled up with another driver. That’s every race now isn’t it? Three for sure. (Massa in Australia, Button in Bahrain, and now the Spain incident.) What is going on? Is Coulthard just unlucky and suffering from the mirror issues we’ve seen which are an inevitable consequence of crap mirrors and a tightly packed midfield? Or is he turning into a modern day Rene Arnoux? People accuse Takuma Sato of being prone to crashing etc… And yet here we are, four races in, and Coulthard has had multiple incidents, whereas Sato, to my reckoning, has had none. Very curious to see if Coulthard can continue his streak. Back on my old site I used to run yearly awards. Coulthard keeps this up, I’ll be coming up with a special award for him!

So there we are, the race is closing in on the finish, ten laps to go… And, as always, I have NO DAMN CLUE WHERE THE HELL ANYONE IS! Honestly, this is getting ridiculous. I turn on any football match, and the score will be up there on screen. Only exception is during goal replays, and if you stick around, you’ll be rewarded. Baseball has the score up. Hockey has the score up. Cricket… Actually I’m not sure about cricket as I by and large lack the masochistic tendencies required to follow the sport. (I do like it though.) Hell, I was watching Snooker today, they had the score up. Instant information. F1… Not a damn thing. For lap after lap I’m sitting there thinking “Well I know Kimi is leading, Massa is second… I know who’s third… I have no idea where anyone else is.” I’ve ranted about this before but it really is ridiculous. Every other sport, the information is right there. NASCAR, it’s on the top of the screen. I wonder if it’s a conscious decision to try and keep eyes on the TV so they can bump the viewing figures? I mean after all they include you in the global audience if you just happen to see some F1 coverage on the news. Just boggles my mind to see how pathetic the lack of information is. I am a fan of a lot of drivers. I’m tired of spending half the race not having a bloody clue where most of them are.

Also have to give special kudos to two drivers who put in great drives, but once again were largely ignored. Both Mark Webber and Jenson Button drove really tidy, good races. It’s such a shame that drivers in the midfield can put in such great performances and be almost completely ignored.

So Spain is in the books. Next we’re off to Turkey. As Tilke circuits go, Turkey isn’t bad.

Apologies again for the lack of updates. What with the gaming stuff, and the week just slipping away, I honestly have no damn clue where the last five days went.

If you happen to find them, please send me an email.

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May 2, 2008 - Posted by | f1

3 Comments »

  1. Hmm. A lot to digest here – must have taken you ages to write, and all relevant, interesting stuff too. You could tone down the personal attacks on Max Mosley though, that might get you into trouble. Just use the stuff you know about him, not the stuff you can be sued for, there’s too much other good stuff in this post to be spoiled by unprovable ranting (his parents were married, by the way, so he cannot be a Bastard) or incitements to violence.

    Having said that, Max is clearly to blame for just being too much of a control freak. His concentration on safety has now gone too far. The F1 chassis had to survive a higher G impact this year than last year, resulting in: wings that absorb more energy than before by exploding or falling off at the slightest provocation! This then leaves shards of razor sharp carbon-fibre debris all over the place, a lot of which is never cleared by marshalls, and this causes further safety problems by creating punctures, accidents, and debris that can cause wheel failures.

    The higher sides designed to protect drivers to make them safer just means they are more likely to need such protection – without lateral or rearwards vision the accidents are coming thick and fast. The problem with a rear facing camera is the wide angle lens which distorts relative distances. They should have massive mirrors instead! Truck sized at least.

    Not sure you’re criticism of McLaren is all warranted. I agree the decision to name Hamilton as Driver of the Day was strange, but no other driver finished more than 2 positions higher than their grid positions without inheriting that position because of non-finishes from faster cars. I agree that Webber and Button deserve some credit though for putting their cars where they ended up, particularly bearing in mind the performances of their team mates.

    One thing we are of course seeing this year is the engine development freeze. Something that I am sure will be another nail in the coffin of F1 as over 5 years positions become solidified and fans go off seeing the same teams in the same positions every race, every year.

    Alonso crushing Piquet? I think it has more to do with Renault purposefully putting Alonso on a faster strategy to keep his ego puffed up – Pat Symonds said so.

    As for McLaren needing Alonso to setup their cars, it is an interesting idea and one worth watching for the next few races, but let’s not forget the spygate scandal. Not only did McLaren have to take their eye off the ball, not only did they have to give up working on some technologies that were similar to Ferrari’s, but Ferrari also got to learn how McLaren’s technologies worked and were given technical information that could improve their car this year. And Ferrari have publicly said they do not want Alonso because they want BOTH their drivers to work for the benefit of the team, not for themselves alone…

    Fisichella did no better than any other driver in terms of overtaking faster cars, and remember, those at the back of the grid are usually not very good rookies with little experience so a seasoned driver should be able to handle them. And let’s not forget the power of the Ferrari engine in the Force India car. In other words, Fisi is bound to look fizzy at the back of the pack. But he still only finished ahead of two faster cars than his own.

    Man of the Day for me? Jenson Button. Finished 2 places higher than faster cars, went from 13th to 6th (with retirements) so scored points (in a Honda!) and set the 4th fastest lap.

    Comment by fifthdecade | May 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. Oh, by the way, I forgot: have you tried a chiropractor for your back pain? I find standard Doctors know very little about backs, usually giving you anti-infammatories and painkillers and setting up a new appointment “to see if it has gone away”. If it ain’t broke, they can’t fix it. Nerve alignment is so difficult to see on XRays or scans…

    I had a trapped nerve in my back that almost paralysed me with pain, the chiropractor completely fixed it in 2 sessions. Good luck.

    Comment by fifthdecade | May 3, 2008 | Reply

  3. Yeah, I did rather lose it over Max. I loathe the man. Always have done. And I know that technically he’s not a bastard but still… The odious little man just reminds me of every slimy, oozing weasel-like suit I’ve ever met. Plus everything he’s done to the sport over the years…

    And yes, it did take me a fair while to write what with the distractions from my kids etc…

    As for my back, it’s genetic. Chiropractic actually made it permanently worse and the last time I almost wound up in hospital because I was in such severe pain afterwards. It took me years of being told “there’s nothing wrong” until a specialist stood, looked at me and said “You’re put together wrong. Look.” One of my shoulders is two inches lower than the other. This went unnoticed for 35 years and has caused permanent damage. In fact the specialist was extremely surprised (and angry because I’ve had years of “there’s nothing wrong” ) that no other medical professional had ever noticed that one of my shoulders is clearly lower than the other. It’s clear as day and he said someone should have picked it up LONG before I saw him. Like going back to when I was in my early teens etc… I also have scoliosis, which can only really be dealt with if discovered before your bones set.

    If I was a horse, they’d shoot me:)

    Comment by Steve | May 3, 2008 | Reply


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