FIA Should Have Penalised Verstappen & Raikkonen
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The 2017 Spanish Grand Prix was epic! It had all the ingredients that every Formula 1 race wishes to have – wheel-to-wheel action and tyre strategy. We had two iconic teams and their iconic drivers fight tooth and nail for victory. The overtaking score, which I would assume Vettel would keep is: Hamilton 1, Vettel 0!
The one missing discussion from the Spanish Grand Prix weekend was the result of the Bottas-Raikkonen-Verstappen sandwich, one that saw Verstappen and Raikkonen retire but after dangerously rejoining the track, at least in my view. We saw Massa needing to take evasive action and throwing Alonso on the grass. Kevin Magnussen’s race was impacted too. I saw the on-board action a few times and I think the FIA should’ve reviewed this incident. We were very lucky to have gotten away with little or no damage to other cars.
Or were the drivers in too much momentum to make a different choice?
Do check the footage from seconds 18-54 in the official video released by Formula 1. In Raikkonen’s case, he makes little attempt to slow down despite a broken left wheel. In the case of Verstappen, he lets the car roll straight onto the circuit.
Ferrari’s Achilles Heel – Safety Car, Virtual & Real
Two times in five races, that’s Ferrari’s ‘got it wrong’ score this season already. The Safety Car episodes have done them more harm than good. But does this merit a re-think for the FIA on the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car? I will explore this further in the points below.
But I really wished that Ferrari opted to pit Vettel in last 12-14 laps of the race. They should’ve given him a fresh set of soft tyres (no, I didn’t check his tyre allocation to see if he had a spare set) and asked him to lap at qualifying pace to close down and try to overtake Hamilton. There are a few reasons I hoped for this. First, they were secure in 2nd place and Ricciardo was nearly a minute behind. Second, overtaking wasn’t as difficult in Spain as most of us expected it to be. In fact, Vettel overtook Bottas and I can’t recollect when a Ferrari last overtook a Mercedes in his new hybrid turbo era. We would’ve certainly relished a second Hamilton vs. Vettel battle in the same race. And third, Mercedes had an engine issue with Bottas. Would pushing Hamilton have resulted in similar issues for his engine?
FIA & The Virtual Safety Car
Does deploying VSC for the entire circuit make sense when it is possibly only a corner or two or a particular sector that’s impacted? Yes, I know this means a similar setting to a ‘yellow flag’ (or ‘double yellow’), but impacting the whole circuit doesn’t make sense to me. It makes lesser sense when you realise that Vettel’s near 8 second lead was wiped out in the span of a lap by Hamilton. FIA could improvise on this rule to ensure lesser reliance on luck in the overall race result.
FIA & Driver Stickers
The new ‘driver identification’ rule came into effect at Spain. The teams displayed their creative geniuses while showcasing their driver stickers in the days leading up to the race. But did the FIA not detail out the application of the stickers? It seems they didn’t. Because Force India were pulled up for not displaying the stickers ‘effectively’. I wonder if the FIA had sleuths in the stands observing cars and their stickers all through the race.
Force India’s suspended sentence should urge the FIA to clarify and pre-fix the sticker locations for all cars. But will they keep in mind the commercial contracts the teams have with their sponsors? After all, every visible area on the cars is real estate for teams to sell.
Force India, Brabham, Bernie Ecclestone – Is This A Hint?
The absurd rumours of Bernie Ecclestone helping Brabham re-enter Formula 1 via a purchase of Force India got even more absurd when rumours indicated that Ecclestone himself was interested in turning team owner. I am certain that Force India hasn’t made a profit since inception and that it is highly difficult for Formula 1 teams to make a profit, if this is the case, why would Ecclestone, a shrewd businessman himself, be keen on owning a mid-field team that will almost never be a World Champion? Could this be a hint that Formula One Management is in the process of recalculating the distribution of their prize money and mid-field teams would stand to benefit more than ever before?
2018 Silly Season In Formula 1
Jenson Button could return to Formula 1 full-time in 2018; he has a valid contract with Mclaren. Fernando Alonso, who has publicly welcomed every team to talk to him for his services, indicated that a reunion with Ferrari could well be possible. After denying Formula 1 fans an Alonso-Hamilton rivalry in the Mercedes camp, Wolff has expressed interest in hiring Alonso in 2018. In all of this, Marko has stated that Verstappen won’t be allowed to go to Ferrari! But what about the two talented Finns, Bottas and Raikkonen? It seems there are few people talking about them.
Formula 1 has learned a thing or two from MotoGP several times. In Spain, the post-qualifying interviews with the top 3 drivers was the latest example. Ross Brawn has indicated that he will sit with Dorna (the rights holders of MotoGP) to avoid a clash of races in the seasons to come. In 2017, MotoGP and Formula 1 will clash for at least 8 racing events. But isn’t that a good thing? We call that a ‘Racing Sunday’ as only a few events have a clash of timings too. (Is MotoGP Better Than Formula 1?)
But was this clash planned on purpose during the Bernie Ecclestone era? Was this Ecclestone’s way to ensure as little viewership of other motorsport series? And finally, since Formula 1 and MotoGP are discussing calendars, can you please try and work a Formula 1 Grand Prix and MotoGP race on the same Sunday? Now that would be a Super Motorsport Sunday!
Season 2017, Episode 18
Here is also the latest episode of the Firstpost Pole Position video!
Co-hosted by Mithila Mehta and Kunal Shah, the Inside Line F1 Podcast is a weekly show on Formula 1 that attempts to simplify the sport and business of Formula 1. This show also aims to add some much needed humour to the otherwise serious sport of Formula 1. In 2016, the show crossed 150,000 listens and was top-rated on iTunes and Audio Boom. The show is available on Kunal’s F1 Blog and partner websites such as Motorsport, Firstpost, NDTVAuto, Sport360, Sportskeeda, Scroll, Talking About F1, Motor Octane and others.