F1 Winter Break
Echoes of a bygone era give spice to championship battle
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Jun 2012   |  11:02 am GMT  |  256 comments

[Updated] We’ve grown so used to seeing almost perfect reliability from F1 cars that what happened on Sunday in Valencia with both Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean retiring from potential race winning positions, seems surprising.

Throw in Lewis Hamilton also retiring from a podium position after crashing out with Pastor Maldonado and it’s a real throwback to the 1980s, when finishing a race was never a given, even for championship contenders.

Since the early 2000s the cars have become super-reliable because teams have imported quality control processes from industry. Last year’s European Grand Prix was unique because it featured all 24 cars finishing the race, the highest number of finishers in Grand Prix history.

Both Vettel and Grosjean retired with electrical problems caused by an overheating alternator on the Renault engine.

The retirements this year were costly; for Grosjean the chance of a first Grand Prix win for him and for his Enstone based Lotus team, for Vettel and Hamilton the sight of Fernando Alonso scoring a maximum 25 points on a day when they go home empty handed.

Alonso now has some breathing space at the top of the points table; he has 111 points to Webber’s 91, Hamilton’s 88 and Vettel’s 85. With his record of scoring points in every round, this margin gives him something to work with.

Of all the F1 drivers I’ve known over the years, Alonso always seems to have points and permutations in his head at all times. When he comes into the unilateral TV interviews after the podium, he always wants to know championship positions to confirm what he’s worked out in his head on the slowdown lap.

And going into events he is always thinking about what needs to be done numbers wise and who he needs to stay ahead of or close up to. Last year there wasn’t much to be done with Vettel already certain to be champion at this stage of the season.

But this year, with things being much more open, he has every reason to believe that he can challenge for the title.

Valencia showed us that the Red Bull, with its significant rear end and blown diffuser upgrades is now clearly the fastest car in the field, but the multiple problems suffered by Webber’s car on Saturday and then Vettel’s retirement on Sunday will undermine confidence a little.

This is the Red Bull way, to push to the limits all the time, new parts arriving in boxes at all hours of the day and night.

In his short but stellar career, Vettel has lost a number of wins through reliability problems. One thinks of the start of 2010 when he lost certain wins in Bahrain and Australia through technical problems, then later that year there was the engine failure in Korea. Last year’s problem in Brazil deprived him of another win. With Sunday’s disappointment that’s five more victories that could have been added to the 22 wins he has from 89 starts.

Alonso has control for the moment then and the Ferrari will have an upgrade at Silverstone but they too cannot relax as the McLaren will be upgraded there and the fast corners on the track will really suit the Lotus. So the pressure is still firmly on Ferrari, as team boss Stefano Domenicali acknowledged last night,

“Our car is still not the quickest. In my view Red Bull, or the Red Bull that I have seen this weekend, is the quickest in terms of pure performance,” he said. “In the race it was leading comfortably, the pace was very strong. That is something that we need to look at. They had problems with reliability, but we are not, in my view, at the level that we should be in terms of the performance.”

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Hi James

Two questions:

1. What is happening at Mclaren with the pit stops? Where does the buck stop? Who has to take the blame? In 20 years of F1 viewing, I dont think I have seen a team bundle on so many consecutive races. This has happened at each and every race thus far...Hamilton has had bad pit stops in 5 out of 8 races thus far (Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, Canada and Valencia) and of course the qualifying fuel error in Spain...Thats the team bunding in 6 out of 8 races! How/ When will it stop?

2. Shouldnt Maldonaldo have been given a grid penalty for the next race for his incident with Lewis instead of a 20 second penalty which doesnt make any difference whatsoever.



Firstly,Pranav, lets not worry about aportioning blame for the McLaren pit stop problems, lets just hope they get them sorted out!

Secondly, I feel like you about Maldonado! He should be seriously penalised for the incident because it was plain to see he didn't attempt to take avoiding action at all, I mean he still had his front wheels steering straight ahead, straight into Hamilton, you would think he would have attempted to avoid it by turning his wheels to the left, but no,he just drove straight into the side of Hammilton's car like it was on purpose! In view of his history it is my opinion he should be kicked out of F1 (and any racing for that matter) due to his lack of self control and anger managment. He is a danger to other competitors.



Having watched the replay several times now, I think it was a racing incident (50/50). Either driver should have backed off of that (and it seems both relied on the other doing so) because it was never going to happen. Both drivers had reasons to back off: MAL the overtaker, and HAM on worn tires. If you watch carefully you will see that MAL tried to steer the other way, but had no control over the car.


PS: I not a fan of either of them.


I think he launched it over the curb unintentionally. He was probably trying to barge back in alongside Lewis banging tyres at the worst, but the curb caught him out. Kobayashi does a similar thing in a lot of his overtakes just clipping the tyres together enough to nudge the other car, but it went spectacularly wrong here.


1) McLaren do seem to have a problem with stops. It was almost embarrassing to watch not one, but two jacks fail. As the commentators said at the time. Why was there a spare jack if they weren't expecting it to fail? (I've paraphrased that and rather muddled it, but you get the gist (hopefully)).

2) Maldonaldo did lose a place, so lost the point he gained keeping the car out (quick thinking by Williams to keep him out with no front wing for the point). I suspect the stewards thought it was 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. Lewis could have been a bit fairer in his defense and Pastor should have waited for another time to pass Lewis. Saying that I'd agree with the consensus that Lewis was totally in the right, but as I say to my kids when crossing on a zebra crossing. 'It is our right of way to cross, but if a car wants to come through, let it through, its not worth going to hospital to prove them wrong.'


I'm pretty sure I've see Ferrari have a standby jack even though their swivel design has been working pretty well recently.

I can only really see the McLaren crew as psyching themselves out. When they get it right, it's clearly very quick - but when something goes wrong they are almost panicking and making it worse (panic is the wrong word but it's similar to the drivers over-compensating after a mistake and compounding the errors).


There is ALWAYS a spare jack.


1) Belt & braces.


The default penalty for something like this would be a drive-through.

The 20s is a replacement for a drive-through if the race has already ended; the grid penalty is a replacement if the driver didn't finish the race.


Don't foreget they also done the quickest

pit stop of them all, a 2.9sec so please

don't just bag them give credit when is due.


Personally I give credit to the beefy McLaren mechanic who bodily lifted the car up by the front wing to let the wheel crew bang the tyre on!

I recall Williams got Michael Johnson's 'physical development' consultants in to speed up their pit crew. Maybe McLaren can call in some of the World's Strongest Men competitors, ditch jacks altogether and have amazing deadlifters just haul the car in the air...


Yes, McL pit times have now become very fast.

A broken front jack is hardly forseeable, but the 'spare' jack & operator were right behind, so the time loss was minimal.

With the closeness ofthe cars right through the field,a delay of a tenth or two can mean several positions lost.

It did for Hamilton.


Of course. I was saying that a delay of a tenth or two can cost a driver paces, in the current close racing.

I am well aware that LH's poor pitstop took the time it did.

Thanks for being my patron.


16 seconds is not 'a tenth or two'!!!


There's no credit due for performing 5 * 3 seconds stops and 1 * 16 second stop. None at all.

They were running a development Jack... what's that about? According to Mr Kravitz, the jack had even failed before in practice. Why use it?!


With all the fuss made about Lewis Hamilton's allegedly dangerous driving last season and some of the punishments (and media reactions) he received. I think the inconsistency of stewards towards some overtly aggressive driving from Maldonado is demonstrated once again.

His actions have hardly been done with any finesse - despite his efforts to blame everyone else - and are unprofessional at the very least.

The 20 second penalty does not adequately reflect the effect of Maldonado's actions on Hamilton' race. And, as much as it was nice to see Schumacher on the podium once again, I felt cheated by the final outcome.

I suggest that the media too show double standards in not being more vocal the collision.

Much as I love F1 at the moment this is the sort of incident (and the inconsistency in dealing with it) that puts me off the sport.


How about the inconsistency of the Press, too?


Yes Peter I agree which then leads us to ask why the press seem to target some and not others.


Maldonado's penalty does make a difference as the point he would have got now goes to teammate Bruno Senna. Maldonado is currently in a fight with Sergio Perez in the championship and needs every point he can get, especially if he intends on smashing into Lewis when he doesn't give him room.


Well it seems that if a driver finishes and the penalty came too late to get a drive-through, they get 20s added. If they don't finished, they get a grid penalty next race.

Of course luck depends how much a 20s penalty affects you but it's consistent at least. But Maldonado did penalise himself a lot by throwing away 3rd.


1. Hamilton should leave McLaren if he can get to Red Bull or Ferrari. May be difficult but the Valencia weekend gave every impression that McLaren invested time and resources in sorting out Button's problems rather than following their planned development. They seem to be berefet on ideas, slow on developing the car, and incompetent in the pits. One or two seconds longer is poor but marginal in terms of the race results, but the huge chunks of time being taken from their drivers' races this year are losing huge points.

2. FIA once again is condoning Maldonado for driving deliberately into another driver,not racing.


Great questions, both!

Hope James has some insight he can share.


In terms of McLaren pit stops, if the Formula1.com site is to believed, Hamilton had easily the fastest pitstop at Valencia, so some of the changes have worked - they are quick with errors rather than medium speed with errors. As for changes, it is for the team to work out. The race mechanics have other jobs and with crew number limitations, there are only so many options. Training is part of it and part design is the other aspect. Fans looking for Whitmarsh or Sam Michael to be sacked is just an emotional reaction that won't achieve anything.

Since Maldonado finished the race, the standard penalty can apply. Just because he only lost one championship point is irrelevant. Hamilton got a pit lane drive through penalty in Valencia in 2010 that cost him no places since the penalty was applied so late. Varying the penalty to suit perceived damage will lead to accusations of compromised championship.


Martin, the 0.1 of a second they gave him in the first stop in setting this record does not make up for the 5 seconds they lost him in the second. It's still a net loss mate. Again.


I don't agree - ultimately someone has to take responsibility for pit-stop blunders.

You can blame the guy that designed & built the new jack but really it's risk management that is the problem - and reswponsibilty for that goes to the top.

How much time could this new experimental jack save? Maybe 10% of a 3 second stop = 0.3 sec

So let's weigh that against the risk of the jack failing, 16 seconds.

That's poor decision making at a high level.


This is formula 1 remember. It's all about taking risks for small gains and, as James said in the article, 'to push to the limits all the time'. You can guarantee the new jack was thoroughly tested, just as the alternator on the Renault engine would have been...


Whilst I am not a fan of Hamilton - AT ALL- I was very impressed with his attitude in the interviews after the race. Clearly McLaren have instructed him to keep his foot well clear of his mouth!

Anyways, I really don't think either of them did anything drastically wrong. We have all seen that Pastor did not deliberately 'torpedo' Hamilton. This was simply a consequence of having no steering whilst on the kerb. I do believe the collision was more his fault than Hamilton's though.

But here's one for you. James, chip in if you will.

Hamilton held the racing line, which I believe they are entitled to do. However, section 20.4 of the regulations state -

Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.

Does this regulation apply when drivers are holding the racing line? And if so, is Hamilton not equally in the wrong?


Stewards never, ever pay attention to that crowding other cars off the track rule as whitnessed by Maldonado himself at least once or twice on Sunday nad Rosberg twice in Bahrain.


If it were Schumacher in the position of either hamilton or maldonado, he would have been wrong and got a sever penalty!!


I wonder if McLaren charge him for the steering wheel he threw at the fence. 😉

But seriously, Hamilton should have conceded the place. He fought way too hard for it. It was only ever going to end either with him finishing in 4th place or the way that it did, in the barrier.


1 Steering wheel £15000.00, apparently.

1 Driver's ego.............Priceless.


Maldonado clearly pushed Räikönnen off the track, ruining Kimis chance of winning the race (not talking about the start of the race). That was forcing a driver off the track, I think his penalty was due to all of his actions on track, but then I am just guessing.


iv got some pic of red bulls new up grades open the link below they will defo make the car better



Its clear, Hamilton pushed Maldonado out and then he thought Maldonado's car disappeared. Suprisingly, it didnt. It was racing incident 50-50 and no one should be penaltized.

If penalty have to be given, it was Hamilton who failed to leave a car width room for car aside of him.

I would like to shoot every one who mentions racing line when there is cars aside.



"Lewis had the inside line, there was clearly going to be no room to go round the outside..."


I lost count of the number of passes that were made around the outside of this very corner on Sunday.

In fact, the very first proper overtake of the race was made at this corner - Grosjean on Hamilton.

Whilst I agree that Maldonado was in the wrong, it's clear that he did not deliberately 'ram' Hamilton. He simply lost steering on the kerb.

A lot of Hamilton fans would do well to cast their minds back to Hamilton's driving standards last year. Although the victim in this situation, he was more often than not the perpetrator in many similar incidents last year.

Of particular note, given the parties involved on Sunday, was Hamilton on Maldonado in Monaco last year. Hamilton clearly the perpetrator and Maldonado clearly the victim, yet I seem to remember Hamilton clearly blaming him (and a host of other 'fricken ridiculous' drivers that day.


@Bradley and everybody who genuinely does not understand the racing line, position...

Lewis had the inside line, there was clearly going to be no room to go round the outside, but Maldonado tried it, ran off the track. At this point he has no right to try and re enter the track at a point Hamilton is by then clearly occupying.

This is not the first time we have seen him driving badly, his deliberate ramming of Perez in Monaco should have got him a final warning, this incident, a ban. By driving like an idiot, he has robbed one of the 3 title contenders of 18 points, let us hope this does not cost Lewis the title...


Nope, Hamilton was on the track and Maldonaldo was off the track. Period. Maldonaldo had to choose when to rejoin the circuit and he chose to hit Hamilton, because that's just what he does. Seriously, some people will argue anything no matter how indefensible.

Hamilton took that corner in exactly the same way Maldonaldo had beofre to defend it. The difference? The cars that Maldonaldo ran pushed wide did not decide to create an accident.


@ Liam

Not sure that Hamilton had track position. Maldonado was ahead of him coming into the right hand turn, which is where Lewis didn't slow down enough to turn in with room on the left, pushing Maldonado off the track.


No, this isn't right - The driver with track position has the right to the racing line and the other driver must do whatever necessary to not have an accident... You know, turn the other way, brake - Whatever.

Hamilton didn't crowd him off the track, he had the right to take the line he did and once all four of Maldonado's wheels were off the track he had no right to drive in to Hamilton when rejoining the circuit.

I don't think too badly of Maldonado though, it's clear that if the kerb wasn't so high Lewis had left him enough space to rejoin that way - it's just a shame that the kerb lifted Maldonado's front wheels so he had no control.


1) The buck stops with the team collectively... having said that its not down to Whitmarsh as he is not sitting there with the jack changing tires. Its the pit crew! The last stop in Valencia was down to the jack which they supposedly brought as a fix to increase their pit stop speed. The cure became the desease in this scenario. But like all good things, bad things too come in bunches. This too shall pass.

2) Lewis was himself partially to blame for the crash with Maldanado and himself has caused many a crashes in the past w/o grid penalties. So stewards did the right thing by giving a token penalty to Maldanado. If you look at the video Lewis gave much more room to Kimi and Grojsean when they were trying to overtake him in the same corner, but in case of Maldanado it was inevitable that Hamilton would have been passed as his tires had gone off the cliff. However Hamilton knowing fully well how valuable points were for him drove Maldanado wide by giving him no room and even had his left front off the track and forced Maldanado out. Maldanado tried to come back over the curb and lost steering even though he was steering left to avoid collision as can be seen from his onboard. So essentially he got the penalty, but Hamilton was himself to blame for loosing those points and not looking at the big picture and partly forcing the situation that led to the accident.


Lewis to RBR next year, webber to Ferrari as a holding measure for when Vettel arrives in 2014. I dearly hope Lewis leaves McLaren, their partnerhsip is just done. They have already cost Hamilton 20+ points this season and showe no signs of doing anything about it. McLaren have not been the same team since big Ron left.

Whitmarsh is not a strong leader, he shows no love for Lewis Hamilton the way Horner does for Seb or Ferrari does for Alonso.

It's time to move on Lewis, go for ther titles, mate, not the money.


@Nick, wow, where do I start?

How about with "And no, sorry pal, you are wrong, Dennis was forced out" yep, this is exactly what I said, he was forced out and he left. Just pointing out that he was forced out by Max for eprsonal reasons more than anything else.

Then "as I said, but it’s really his one eyed, biased and over the top fans that I dislike the most," - you can be one-eyed, biased and over the top in your dislike of someone too, as you clearly know yourself (your caps and punctuation demonstrate this nicely). That is what winds me up. it's one thing to support someone in an over the top way (you see it in every sport) as you have an emotional investment, but it's quite another to actively hate on someone and constantly decry everything they do and say for literally no reason at all.

Then, we'll move on to: "Whilst quoting me you have conveniently left out the rest of what I said", Nope I was making the point about your use of capitals (notice the caps? They tell a tale in and of themselves.) and how telling that usually is, so I quoted the relevant bit, the rest was there for all to see, it's the same page on the same website.

How about: “So big Ron has delivered 12WCC and 8WDC? Over how many years? And I take it he McLaren NEVER made any mistakes during his tenure – apart from the £100M fine of course?” This shows a real lack of understanding of F1 history. Under Ron, McLaren are either the most or second most successful team in F1 history (again, Google is your friend).

Then there is: “Like I said, the main reason Hamilton gets a bashing from a lot of fans is because of his supporters. You lot give him a bad name – period!” Apart from your comedy use of ‘Period!’, I’d like to point you to my quote from Pete Gill above who sums it up nicely.

Then: “You’re blind devotion to him regardless of how wrong he is becomes ridiculous.” Based on what? There are plenty of quotes from me on this website pointing out Hamilton’s failings and just how brilliant I think Alonso is. Because, you see, the fact that I support Hamilton does not mean I need to criticise everything his rivals do.

I could go on quoting you but I suspect that James will be a little peeved at having to proof these mammoth posts as it is.



Yes, I'm not a fan of Hamilton, as I said, but it's really his one eyed, biased and over the top fans that I dislike the most, and the real thing that get's people wound up on this and many other forums.

Whilst quoting me you have conveniently left out the rest of what I said -

"I was very impressed with his attitude in the interviews after the race. Clearly McLaren have instructed him to keep his foot well clear of his mouth!...Anyways, I really don’t think either of them did anything drastically wrong..."

My thoughts on Hamilton have changed a lot this year, chief reasons among which are his maturity so far - whether forced or not. Even the most passionate Hamilton fan must admit he has, in the past, suffered from severe foot in mouth disease.

And no, sorry pal, you are wrong, Dennis was forced out after spygate and liegate. Believe what you want, he was forced out.

Yes, the 2009 car was a dog to begin with, but I'm sorry, what was wrong with the 2010 car? I clearly remember Button winning 2 races, Hamilton 3 races and them both being in contention for the WDC until the end of the season.

And I believe that the 2009 car was such a dog because the team was concentrating on giving Hamilton the car to win the WDC in 2008. Is this not correct?

And you don’t want to hear the BS about the second half of the season?? Why not?

Most Hamilton fans are the first to point out the Button’s car was superior to everything else in 2009, even though this was only the case for the first 7 races of the season – not even half way.

So the only thing that counts is how the car is at the start of the season eh? Not the fact that Button hung on, despite being out developed and won the WDC in a inferior car for the majority of the season?

So big Ron has delivered 12WCC and 8WDC? Over how many years? And I take it he McLaren NEVER made any mistakes during his tenure – apart from the £100M fine of course?

And how many years has Whitmarsh been in charge?

Like I said, the main reason Hamilton gets a bashing from a lot of fans is because of his supporters. You lot give him a bad name – period!

You’re blind devotion to him regardless of how wrong he is becomes ridiculous. But that’s not really the problem. The main problem is the way Hamilton, and in particular, his fans, blame the whole world and their mother for all of his problems.

No matter how obviously wrong he is, the blame is always laid squarely with everyone else.

And not only that, Hamilton fans constant bashing of his team mates and his team is a joke, and the main reason there so many ‘rabid anti Hamiltonists’. Hamilton fans can do nothing but bash Button and, at one time, Alonso. Anytime Hamilton has a challenge from a driver who can actually beat him, out come the claws and the Hamilton fans do nothing but put the other driver down.

And the criticism of the team is just disgusting. If Hamilton was an absolutely perfect driver who never crashed, never put his car up the rear of other drivers and always extracted maximum points from every race, then he MAY have an excuse to be upset with the team. But his, and his fans, abuse of the team is appalling!

You know what they say about people who live in glass houses…


I think that's the same for fans of any driver, who always see everything from their man's point of view. Hamilton fans are no different.


A quote or two:

From you:

"Whilst I am not a fan of Hamilton – AT ALL" - notice the caps? They tell a tale in and of themselves.

From Pete Gill:

"With the fifth-placed Nico Hulkenberg closing at a second-per-sector, Hamilton had no time to lose and his defence was in any case inherently passive: with the McLaren taking the racing, rather than a defensive, line into Turn Twelve, the Williams was given more room than Grosjean had required to cleanly complete his pass up the inside of Hamilton's McLaren earlier in the race. "

"But that's by the by. It is Hamilton who has been cast as the story's chief protagonist, as he always seems to be. It is another big-screen illustration of his box office status within the sport that so many have strived to blame him for Maldonado's stark wrongdoing. Incredibly, but nonetheless predictably, some have even sought to find evidence of guilt in his post-race refusal to castigate the Venezuelan. 'Perhaps his lack of post-race recrimination underlined his culpability', declared one former broadsheet. Damned if he reacts, damned if he restrains: it goes without typing that the same publication castigated Hamilton's refusal to accept the blame when he crashed into Maldonado at Monaco fourteen months ago. "


And another, another thing Nick - I notice how you conveniently forget, as most rabid anti-Hamiltonists do, the two years of garbage cars that they gave Hamilton to drive against outstanding cars from compettitors. I'll see your 2011 and raise you 2010, 2009. And let's not have any of that "by the second half of the season..." BS, the car has to be a contender from race 1 to stand a real chance. The only time Hamilton won the wdc, he did it in a car that was no faster than his main compettitor overall. Have the last 3 wdc's worked that way? Nope.

And... Ron was forced out and so he LEFT. If you know anything about F1 you'll obviously know that this was more to do with his political rivalry with Max than to do with the fine. Your point is what? I notice you don't take the time to point out anything in Whitmarsh's favour... Here's what Ron achieved around 12 WCCs and 8 WDCs, they hold countless records, google it.


And another thing @Wayne

Do you really want to start tallying up who has cost who more points between Hamilton and McLaren??

Only got one thing to say to you -




Now refresh my memory, did big Ron leave, or was he forced out?

Everyone keeps pratting on about how much better Ron Dennis was than Whitmarsh, but I think it's a load of BS.

When was the last time big Ron delivered a WCC? Was it in 2007? Oh, hang on, no, he delivered something else for McLaren in 2007 - the biggest fine in sporting history!

Yeah, he was the bomb!


I think you are wrong on point 2.

Hamilton positioned his car in such a way that Maldonado couldn't pass at that corner. A sensible thing to do as it could have gained him some extra WC points (this was not true with Kimi etc as there was further to go to the end of the race making a pass inevitable).

Becuase Maldonardo was trying to force the pass anyway that meant he left the track and would have lost a load of time that he may not have been able to catch up on the last lap.

So Maldonardo, being a hot head who isn't willing to conceed t-boned Lewis into the wall rather than accepting he had lost that battle due to poor car placement on the way into the corner.

Alonso would have done the same as Lewis in that situation. We have seen in the past that he has been very forceful in defending his position in the closing stages of the race. The difference is that Maldonardo wouldn't dare to T-bone Alonso.

But what else could Lewis have done. If he conceeds an easy pass then Maldonardo would see him as a soft touch and next time would try a similar risky move, again expecting Lewis to yeild. And again Lewis must yeild or crash. This is not a position Lewis wants to find himself in.

Maldonardo needs to learn a lesson and Lewis and the stewards have partially taught him it. But this is the 3rd time Maldinardo has used his car as a weapon and perhaps a harsher penalty is in order so that no more championship contenters need to sacrifice their car in order to teach him some control.


We do not know what's cooking between Hamilton and Maldonado... like Aseem Javed said, if it was Grosjean or Kimi, Hamilton would have given them the space... but not to Maldonado... looking back Hamilton took out Maldonado at the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix...


So for some reason, Hamilton does not have same respect for Maldonado as he has for other drivers... time will tell if they clash again this year. Hamilton should have let Maldonado pass and claim some points instead of zero points. Think about the championship!


I just hope that we have another 2010 battle to the last round of the championship on our hands, not a 2011-style domination by one team.

Would be nice to see Alonso win WDC No 3 though!


>Since the early 2000s the cars have become super-reliable<

however, would you say James, that 2005 tops records for the most heartbreaking dnfs?


2005 was the year I learned I can get very upset by a sport.


If you mean Mclaren and their fragile MP4/20, I would disagree, never broke my heart once!!


I think he meant heart break for the drivers, not for hero_was_senna


So the only contenders are Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton then? Seem to recall there is someone else currently in 2nd place....


Absolutely! Webber deserves to win it this year and I hope he can manage to do so.


I think you're reading what you want to read.


"Alonso now has some breathing space at the top of the points table; he has 111 points to Webber’s 91, Hamilton’s 88 and Vettel’s 85. With his record of scoring points in every round, this margin gives him something to work with".


Webber is "not bad for a number 2 driver"



The article has been edited. There was originally no mention of Webber.


Ah ok, my apologies.

... and that's a bit harsh then James!


Yes webber does seem unendingly overlooked - if we recall 2010 it was looking like a webber/alonso showdown and vettel wasn't really the favourite at all (remember all the talk of would vettel pull over for mark to ensure an RBR WDC?)

I suspect webber quite prefers this situation though. He seemed to choke in 2010 and prefers to chase than be chased.

I'm a mclaren fan entirely but I'd love webber to quietly win this year just to see the look on all the pundits faces who ignore his consistency...


Wasn't Webber driving with broken bones in late 2010?


Webber is currently in second due 2 circumstances rather then due to his own doing.

I think people need to honest the Alonso Hamilton and Vettel are the 3 best drivers!Webber and Button are good no 2's when things go there way they may luck a win here and there but its as good as its gona get for them!

Webber had 2 chances 2 win a title and he never really stood a chance in either of them!

I dont see how he is suddenly going 2 beat Vettel this yr!


Time will tell but I don't understand how you think he's p2 because of circumstances than he's own doing and I don't see him luck a win here or there if that's the case you could argue Alonso has lucked 2 wins this year but IMO winning a formula one race takes a lot more than just luck


U cant say the same about Alonso because u cant compare his car 2 red bulls car specially considering in the state it started off the season!

Alonsos win was in Malaysia was no fluke in the rain he blew mark webber 2 pieces! do you remember Alonso overtaking him? Yes thats right he started behind him.

nobody handed alonso the win and no1s car broke down infront him he beat every1 handsdown because of this supreme talent!

As for Valencia Alonso came up 2 second was no luck he outdrove every1 except Vettel because Vettel had a car that was over a second faster then anything else!

In a car that was a second faster then everyelses and considering that Vettel retired and so did Grojean Webber should have won the race but aaah yes as I recall he couldnt even get passed Schumi in merc that was probly close too 2 seconds a lap slower!

Grayzee (Australia)

Webber stuck his car on pole at Monaco through sheer balls and speed. He then went on to win it, fair and square. No "luck" involved!

Everyone knows that he has been one of the unluckiest drivers for many years. It was great to see some go his way for a change.

As for beating Vettel, before this race they 4 each in qualifying, and one each for a win.

Don't count him out just yet!


You could say the same thing about Alonso though. He's only leading due to circumstances. You could say that about every win and every championship - as a lot is often down to luck, reliability and other's mistakes.

I think the statement about Webber having no chance to win the title in 2010 is quite badly mistaken. He led Vettel during that season and although he made a mistake in Korea and choked at the end, Vettel did not lead at any point until he benefitted from Webber and Alonso's errors to win the championship.

You can make an argument for Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel being the best if you want, but you'd be better using facts rather than random insults against Webber and Button that don't bear relevance to the actual facts.


What alonso is doing this yr is the kind of stuff only Senna and Schumi could do!Winning in a car then isnt the best!

So yes Alonso is leading the title but in half the car that Webber has!

if Alonso were driving the Red Bull god knows how many races he would have won by now!His points lead would probly be over 40 by now!

and if Alonso was Vettels team mate the past 2 yrs he would have been a 4 times champion now!


Besides his win in Monaco please tell me what Webber has done that is so brilliant this yr?

Just go back and have a look at how many ppl have won in the past 10 yrs in monaco that didnt start on the first row!not many!My Garden boy could have beaten Nico Rosberg in Monaco!

As for 2010!Lets get this straight he was racing a kid thats like over 10 yrs his junior
and with less then half his experience!So wow
winning afew races in the middle of the season miraculous feet by Webber nodody alse could of done it!

The fact is when the heat was on and when the time came to win the races he "actually" needed too he cracked like an egg under the preasure!
Remember Korea? Remember Abu Dabi?
Neither could he beat Vettel in Brazil!

So if let me say it again he couldnt beat a kid with half his experience! He won afew races boohoo big deal!

2011 he could even beat button!Enough said!
When you have an equal car to your team there can be no excuses for getting beaten specially when that car happens to be the best on the grid.

As for Alonso u cant say the same about Alonso because u cant compare his car 2 red bulls car specially considering in the state it started off the season!

Alonsos win was in Malaysia was no fluke in the rain he blew mark webber 2 pieces! do you remember Alonso overtaking him?

nobody handed alonso the win and no1s car broke down infront him he beat every1 handsdown because of this supreme talent!

I still say Mark Webber & Jenson Button sh**!
They were average drivers who found themselves with a good car 1 day and won afew races now ppl think they so brilliant!

Brilliant is when u start you F1 career out in a minarda and go on 2 become the youngest champion at the time (Alonso) brilliant is when you win a race in a Torro Rosso at 21 in your first full season!

When you Jenson Button and you Rubbish for the first 8yrs of your career doesnt make u brilliant just because you 1 day suddenly find yourself driving a car thats 7 tenths faster then anything else!

Like wise for webber!He was average all his career then 1 day found himself in a car that was far better then anything else and so he won afew races!



Well said


well said


can't justify Webber not being on the same level as Vettel as there has been 8GP's this season, and Mark and Seb have both had 4 GP's where they have qualified better than the other. On top of this, Mark is higher in the championship standings. Feeling are hard to justify, but statistics don't lie!


Marks qualy lap in Monaco was good but any1 starting on pole could have won that race.

He had 2 fend of the Nico Rosberg who isnt exactly in the league of Vettel, Alonso or Hamilton.

Secondly besides his win what exactly has mark done so briliantly beside been consistant?

Eventually it takes more then been consistant 2 win a title!

and i stick with my comments regardless of the current standings if Webber couldnt do it last the past 2 years what makes anybody think he can this yr?

Given how good the red bull was last yr he couldnt even beat button let alone Vettel.

I rest my case!

Grayzee (Australia)

heh heh, and he started from 19th!! Okay, the attrition certainly helped, but i bet he'd rather have HIS reliability issues on a saturday, than a sunday!!

Great drive, Mark, and for once, some luck went his way!

Don't count out the Aussie just yet.


It's a sad fact, but true, and understandable that Webber isn't rated as highly as two double world champions and a single.

What is just sad though, is that some rate Nico Rosberg higher than Webber, but I would argue that Webber is better based on the head to head the two had at Williams in 2006.

And in a move sure to generate controversy, I would rate Webber higher than Jenson despite JB's credentials. Mark seems to get better results out of his car than JB does when things go wrong.


Webber and Kimi the best two number two drivers in the world. Let's face it their team mates are constantly quicker in qual and race. If they were put together in same team I have no doubt Mark would be the man.


Qualifying at RBR this year at 4 all. Consistently equal.


Yup Webber certainly can wring more out of a bad car then JB


It's been a while since Webber had a bad car. A less reliable one sure - but hardly 'bad'. And since Webber didn't do much in 2011 compared to JB and yet JB had more mechanical failures and pit crew mistakes, it does suggest that some drivers just have bad seasons where things just go wrong and get worse from there.

I'm not sure on the comparison of Rosberg to Webber. Webber certainly has the value of experience. Rosberg is clearly quick but he does seem to lack that 'spark' and he cracks under pressure situations fairly frequently.

I think Webber would prefer F1 to go back to the 80s with less technical aids and a much simpler driving ethic. He may only be 35/36 but he talks like one of the much older, veteran retired drivers some times, bemoaning the change in the formula away from pure racing. It would be wonderfully ironic if he claimed a WDC in the era of DRS, KERS, Red bull development wars and Pirelli magic rubber!


webber can get a little more out of a bad car and a lot less out of a good car -- we only have to think back to last year - where vettel cleaned up and webber only won when vettel waved him through.


Yip. I know the one.

W A R N I N G:

In spite of the heroics of Alonso and our other five champs there is a danger that it's Mark Webber who winds up wdc 2012 just by arriving p4 every round


Could Mark Webber be the James Hacker of F1?


I was about to say..... Webber is a serious contender for the WDC this year!


If RBR deem him worthy of support.


I noticed that too!! What gives James?


"Mark, Vettel is more expensive than you. Do you understand?"


Or as Joe Saward puts it, explaining why Vettel shouldn't move to Ferrari:

"at the moment he is in a team that... gives him a little help if his team mate is a little too close for comfort"


love it!

Mark will respond "got it mate, so he should have no problem getting past then"!


He's often overlooked and a bit underrated, despite some solid results in recent history. Could be a dark horse?


I agree and had he not had a drs issue could have qualified p1 or p2 and won the race


Whatta race...only yesterday I realized how popular Alonso is in Spain.

His comment that people sit/wait late all night outside the circuit in their cars/caravans to watch an F1 race the next day was amazing. Here is one driver who thinks about his fans. Not many sportspersons do that.

F1 was an equal winner yestrady in Valencia; not just Alonso!


The same 'fans' who express their joy loud over the crash of Hamilton?! Would they have a little compassion left -- if the crash had turned nightmarish and horrible?


I have no doubt about that. Remember that the accident occurred in a tight turn and speed was VERY low. I would not think so badly about spanish F1 fans.


Why so dramatic?

The fans didn't express their joy to Lewis's accident. I would like to think that no fan of any sport wishes harm to any sportsman or sportswoman. In the worse case scenario they were happy of the lead Alonso would have, following a DNF from Lewis and nothing more.


I spotted that comment from Fernando too.

I was so happy when he stopped his car to pay his respects to the fans. That was better than any podium celebrations I've seen this season.

What's going on with the Lotus? They seem so close in almost every race, but they're not quite there. When Grosjean retired, the look on Boulier's face was one of pressure. Pressure to deliver better results. That was kinda salvaged by Kimi's 2nd place.

Can't wait for Silverstone. This will be my first ever GP. Can't wait to be in the middle of everything and hear those engines scream.

The drama in Valencia put even more pressure on most teams for Silverstone. Should be an epic battle yet again.


Peter Windsor said Alonso will be champion, don't see a point arguing him:)


I hope other teams upgrades are good at Silverstone because Red Bull were miles ahead here.


That worries me too. 2011 was a letdown in terms of championship dispute.


"Alonso now has some breathing space at the top of the points table; he has 111 points to Hamilton’s 88 and Vettel’s 85."



Hmmm, a pattern appears!


RBRs updates in Valencia were a huge leap forward for them. They also seem to like the hot conditions (well, part from the Renault alternator).


do you think the cooler UK temperatures will slow down RBR a litle in Silevrstone? Or it could a chance that they will favour them?

Steven Pritchard

I disagree... Valencia suited RB very well, not sure they'll dominate next time around.


Well there is always the possibility that they've come up with the silver bullet for eliminating the tyre lottery i.e. an aero solution that allows tyres to work well enough across all temperatures and tracks. Hope not but this is RBR we are talking about....


I think they are the team to beat for the next few races, this was a massive step they took this weekend


Pushing design to the limits is more of an Adrian Newry thing than a Red Bull trait, otherwise Kimi would have a couple more titles... 😉


Is kimi out of contention .. as far as championsship is concerned... with Lotus eventually losing out in the development race


It's a bit of a pattern isn't it? Lotus good in the early races and then they tend to fall away as the money for development runs out.

They also spent a few bucks on that brake assisted ride hight adjuster thing in the preseason but hopefully it didn't cost that much to build.


I wouldn't count Kimi out... If he can sort his quali performance out, which he did to a certain extent in Valencia, then he could well still do it. Unlikely but possible!

That Lotus is particularly handy in two areas... High speed corners and hot conditions. We have quite a few races left that should meet one or both of these criteria plus Kimi is a monster at Spa!

The only thing is now I'm thinking about it, I think that Grosjean is possibly just a little bit quicker than Kimi so he'll either beat him this year or take too many points from him.


As a Kimi fan, I might be biased, but I don't think you can. He was unlucky at the start yesterday and that fluffed his race, ultimately requiring car failures to get his second place.

Lotus are gradually fixing the steering to his liking and he was quick in Valencia. You have to consider that the remaining races are generally going to be hotter than the ones we've already had, so that should suit the Lotus too.


Is it true that Lotus are getting the steering how Kimi wants it?

There were rumours and off the record comments from anonymous team members quoted that they'd had enough, and were leaving Kimi to deal with it. Hence Romain suddenly being a bit quicker?


All he needs are those in front of him to score one or two DNFs then Kimi will be right there =)

Consistency is the game for 2012, as Alonso has successfully proven.


Red Bull are looking ominously fast, 2011-style...I really don't think Webber can match Vetel over a season (and even if he could, would he get the unequivocal support from his team?

For me, Vettel is championship favorite in that car in current form. Alonso just can't keep on making up a performance deficit over an entire season. Can he?!?

Hamilton is the other contender. He is driving sublimely well this year and is being let down by those unbelievable pitstop problems. Also, even now, I just don't think he has the depth of technical knowledge or maturity that Alonso and Vettel regularly display.

James, is it true other teams might protest the blown diffuser RB upgrades?


red bull seem to have got something special.. vettel was back to his finger waving form of 2011... unless the other teams copy it quick or gang up on red bull and get it banned ...i think it may start the spell of red bull domination.


What performance deficit?

From what I saw at the last race, there really isn't an appreciable difference between the McLaren, Ferrari, and Lotus.

RBR appears to have bent the rules once more and stepped ahead, so the other teams have to either copy them or protest.

James - I'd love to see an analysis of why the floor either contravenes or doesn't this year's rules. I thought blowing off-throttle was banned (definitely heard off-throttle blowing from the Red Bull at Valencia), as was any placement of the exhausts deemed to be for direct aerodynamic benefit.

McLaren's latest bungle was inexcusable. The pit jack shouldn't even be built CLOSE to the stress failure point. There can't be any percentage in saving a couple of grams from a pit jack. What difference could that make to the speed of the stop - 10msecs?

Credit where credit is due - McLaren seem to have drilled their pit crews well, as the 2.9 second stop on Lewis' first pit rotation was brilliant. Blowing the second stop due to bonehead design decisions isn't something you should see at a top team, though.

I'm also curious as to the reason for the early first pit. Lewis seemed to be conserving his tyres well, and not losing ground, yet they brought him in very early anyway (lap 12?). Did they see something in the telemetry which forced the early stop, or was this another poor tactical decision which, had it not been for the safety car, may have cost them dear in the latter stages of the race?


What u hear is the Renault engine going down to using 4 cylinders when off throttle, saving fuel and less risk of spinning up the tires.


Do you know what off throttle blowing sounds like?


I've watched f1 since the 70's, designed Jordan's semi auto gearbox / ride height / traction control computer in the early 90's, attended pre season test sessions at Estoril and Silverstone, and been in Brian Hart's engine lab.

Having said that, I haven't had engineering involvement in F1 since that time, and as an EE, I'm certainly no engine expert, as my own engine tuning activities have been limited to tweaking the maps on a zetec with an aftermarket ECU.

I had plenty of opportunities to hear that odd exhaust note emanating from several cars last season, however. This sound was very much associated by the commentators with adjusting the ignition to reduce engine output power whilst keeping the butterfly valve open in order to keep a stable flow of air over the rear aero components when the driver lifts off the pedal

Until hearing the Red Bull at Valencia, I haven't heard that signature exhaust note change on corner entry on the F1 TV audio this season. Coinciding as it does with Adrian's double floor upgrade, it's suspicious, to say the least.


Kravitz suggested they were and he presumably does. Could definitely some strange sounds coming from the RB.


Darren Heath seems to know!

tom in adelaide

Darren Heath seems to agree. (Search Google News for "Darren Heath").


Two more to add to your list actually: Abu Dhabi and Brazil last year.


I always admired FA and regarded him as one of the best in the field but somehow I never was a fan. I thought he gained a number of his victories through retirements of those in front of him, especially in the championship battle of 2005. But Malaysia and Valencia this year have changed my perception. FA is in the right place at the right time not because he is lucky, but because he makes his own luck with his supreme talent to maximize every little opportunity at every single corner of every lap. He surely will become the youngest triple champion if he drives the way he does!


Alonso is the ultimate points player. It was what he was doing at Abu Dhabi in 2010 as he overdid it against Webber - and spent 40+ laps waiting for Petrov to fall off the track to assure himself he won the title. Neither Petrov nor Alonso did what the latter hoped for! And Vettel won the title.


Correction: Hamilton didn't 'crash out with Maldonado,' he was taken out.

I really dislike this subliminal attitude that Hamilton was wrong to fight legitimately for position, and Maldonado was right to (a) swerve *into* him on the first corner, 'forcing' his own exiting of the track, and (b) immediately return to the track, poll-axing Hamilton's car in his own clear view: i.e. *deliberately.*

This isn't driving, it's hooliganism and would should be unacceptable. FIA's leniency towards Maldonado is deeply suspect, comes to down to incoming money I guess.

Steven Pritchard

Not very pragmatic of Hamilton though was it. His tyres were completely shot - pointless trying to defend that position with a couple of laps to go.


Right, f1.com has an article confirming the penalty. One of the photos in the article show Maldonado steering right and Hamilton in front of him sideways with rubber on his side pod in the air.

Tornillo Amarillo

If Ferrari has problems with the car, Alonso surges like a magic driver, a hero.

If McLaren has problems with the car and pitstops, Hamilton looks like a victim, so there is something more that Hamilton could do, not only in qualify, but in race day.


Don't forget, Fernando sabotaged Lewis in 2007 several times. Remember the tyre issues then?


Yeah, one time Fernando put paella in Lewis's gastank. And he prank called Hamilton all night before the 2007 Monaco GP. He so sabotaged Lewis. Fernando is the worst!

6 Wheeled Tyrrell



What magic can Alonso do if he finds himself in the pit faults several times? His problems are different from Hamilton, apparently. Mclaren hasnt got any big car problem like Ferrari, but poor strategy, poor penalties and poor pitstops.


I guess at the pit stops he could quickly hop out, change his own tires and then hop back in again. Maybe he should manufacture his own jack too, just to be safe, even better he could tow Jenson round maybe, help the team out further...


Wouldn't that be good especially Lewis towing Jenson round


Please explain Montreal.


Montreal was the tyres not the car


Jim, in Montreal Alonso's tyres fell off the cliff, which no-one in F1 can help about. When that happens absolutely nothing anyone can do. Vettel, Hamilton, and Grogean had much newer tyres and so charged past.

You saw what happened to Kimi in China didn't you? He couldn't do anything.


They all get the same tyres. Try again.


James I think vettel would of won brazil and Abu dhabi last year aswell without mechanical failures and if his car didn't break in q3 in turkey 2010 he would have strolled that one aswell.


You can include Brazil 2011. Mark was gifted the win to ensure that he would come 3rd in the WDC and claim a trophy on awards night, nudging out Fernando (no offense to MW fans).

Turkey 2010, he ran into Mark. That was a pure brain fade so you can't include that one.

Adu-Dhabi - Newey's exhaust design was piping hot gases onto his rear wheel which caused it to explode. Another one of Newey's extreme designs. Seb most probably would have won that one as well.


Hey Buddy. Vettel lost pole in Turkey 2010 due to rear suspension having a sudden failure in the middle of the back straight. Entering that back straight he was 4 tenths up on Mark, and lost all that and more over the last few corners as he struggled to get the car to turn in.


Is there any speculation about whether the Safety Car period had anything to do with the overheating alternators?


Newey's cars have always been about packing everything as tight as possible, which causes side effects like overheating. These issues were very evident during his McLaren years.


Kay, I thought Redbull and Lotus had the same problem. Newey probably didn't cause RG's DNF.

Safty car was only for a few laps at most so if it was the cause there will be a few questions to engineers about their tolerances. The weather was hot but not outside the expected ranges.


Have Red Bull actually confirmed it was the same problem? All I saw on Telly was the presenters assuming it was the same problem, asking Horner if it was indeed the same problem and Horner sort of mumbling away about "possibly we need to check".

I'd be interested in a link if anybody has one to confirm it was in fact the same issue.


Electrical 'gremlins' in the Renaults. Constantly changing rules interpretations regarding aero aids. Pirelli tire woes. And Bernie wants to flood the tracks to make the races more of a lottery.

Personally I enjoy seeing the best man/car combination win. Go Go Vettel.


I've got to say I loved the way unreliability used to spice up the sport so much. As a big schumacher fan watching grand prixs in the late 90's when he was dicing it out with Mika Hakkinen provided some incredible memories. I'll never forget Italy 98 when DC retired from the lead and just two corners later, Michael took Mika for the lead. It was that era where you couldn't go and make a cup of tea because you were worried that someone's engine would cave in or your favourite driver would have a gearbox problem, only for a jordan to go and take a surprise point scoring position. Fantastic.

I'll never forget your commentary James at the 2005 European GP where Kimi retired on the last lap. 'I told you he should have pitted, I told you!'

What drama.


I'm still kicking myself for having thrown away the recording of that race. Ben Edwards is fine on the season recap DVD but it just lacks that 'live' thing to it.

2005 remains one of my favourite seasons. I cannot even recall a processional race that year.


Yes, what an insightful comment about pit stops, especially since changing tyres during pit stops was banned that season. It was only after Kimi's crash then that FIA changed the rules so that you could change the tyre for safety reasons (if you didn't refuel at the same time) and this is what McLaren did in another race. So basically Kimi had no choice than try to finish the race with the tyres that were ruined due to the, oh so ignorant, Villeneuve.


not sure that's correct.

But @ above "put pressure on Kimi". No one ever managed to do that! He's the Iceman, remember


The same Villeneuve who trash talked Raikkonen this year at Montreal. Arguably, he cost KR a WDC. I do think that Raikkonen seems a bit more tentative so far this year. Not a critic, since I seldom know what I am talking about, and by any standard, KR is doing quite well.


Ah yes, I remember that day well. Stunning race, we learned a bit about Kimi that day


really have to disagree with you on this.

James – what exactly do you mean by ‘sh$t or bust’?

It is fair to say that a large proportion of the laptime is dictated by the car – this is acknowledged.

Most of the risk at a circuit is gone – no more gravel traps, no more short run offs. I really can’t think of any specific examples of ‘playing the percentages’.

Both drivers would have the same objective – to achieve the best possible finish. Sure they can take gambles with strategy, but this is as much of a team thing, dictated by data during the race.

Regarding the Kimi example - that was 1 very specific example, under extra ordinary circumstances - it was totally 50/50 whether the tyre would last, well infact, you couldn't even put a percentage on it - it was a total unknown.

you could make reasonable arguments for Kimi not pitting that day, as well as for pitting.

I think it is unfair, from that 1 race, to label Kimi as a sh&t or bust driver, when there really isn't much percentages to play with in any race nowadays, apart from in the wet.

could you expand on this point, or think of other examples?

the only thing I can think of is Kimi driving flat through a wall of engine smoke at Spa in qualifying - but that wasn't anything to do with playing race percentages.


He and Alonso were well head of the next cars. Kimi had no intention of playing it safe, pitting to remove what was clearly an unsafe tyre and getting a guaranteed 2nd or 3rd place, from a championship point of view he wanted the win or nothing.


That was an amazing race, I remember Alonso pushing like hell to put pressure on Kimi a soon as he new he had an issue with one of his wheels.


What exactly James did you learn about Kimi? Would be interested to know!

He was my favourite driver as long as he was with Mclaren.


Yeh I said exactly the same thing at the time ! But didnt someone say later that he would've copped a penalty for changing rubber used up all his allocated sets or something. I can't imagine how he felt with that Mercedes engine letting go all the time- he was was probably desperate to get to the end. He'and Lewis are my favorite !


Here you go.


Cracking pience of commentary.

Look how close he was to whiping out Button.


Haha after each podium this year he says the same thing. Only wins count... 🙂


That he is a sh*t or bust driver, not a percentage driver!


What did we learn?

Grayzee (Australia)

Wow! What a cracker of a race! And we all thought Valencia was boring...........

How ironic is this: Vettel has no car problems on Sat, sticks it on pole and leads comfortably, then has car problems and scores zero points. Webber has car problems on Sat, can only manage 19th, battles through the field, is helped by attrition and safety car and good strategy, has no car problems....and scores 18pts.

Is Karma finally coming Webber's way?


More like 12pts 🙂

Grayzee (Australia)

oops! 12pts. Your'e right. Must have been wishful thinking...... 🙂


Mark got 12 pts for finishing 4th. Still a lot of points considering he started 19th, as you mentioned.

Fernando or Mark for winning the championship! go go!


Valencia is boring. It is one of the most dull looking circuits and apart from the swing bridge it is very hard to tell where the cars are. Canada, Spa Monza etc far better circuits not just for racing but to look at as well.


Still played its part in an amazing race


Let's coin the phrase... "do a McLaren", i.e. make a clumsy and avoidable mistake.


Sam Michael's School of Pit Stop Training (SMSPST)


Dare I say it, that something somewhere this season is feeling a little bit staged?


Is the conspiracty theory all about the debris safety car?


I have to admit, you don't see a safety car for debris in F1 much. But what other string of events are making you feel like the fix is in?


i reckon Bernie slips into Pirelli and sprinkles ''magic dust'' into whomever is the chosen ones' tyres the night before....


..of course that is pure conjecture on my part, and no attempt to imply mr ecclestone is in any way, how do you say, dodgy.


I love conspiracy theories. Please do tell more.

What are the events that are triggering your suspicion?


bingo,had the same feeling.Could not get force india's commet that it was there turn to get on the podium out of my head.


Er...wasn't that the same interview (post Valencia) when Vijay said the team was "on target" to finish 5th in the WCC?

It seems more likely to me that he's either delusional or lying to fend off his creditors, than letting slip the secret of some vast race fixing conspiracy. I thought that "it's our turn" comment was an absolutely characteristic insight into his mindset - and into why Force India will never win a race.


Aaawww, don't go bursting my bubble! I was kinda enjoying this season and now you have gone and published it. I would have hoped it would have remained unsaid. Yes, with the corruption court case going on, sponsors pulling out, teams struggling, FIA meddling with rules and technical specs and the usual Concorde agreement all conspiring to impact the potential value of, and interest in, the business what better way to maintain its price (or even enhance it) by having one of the "best" (i.e. unpredictable, anyone could win it, mass overtaking fests) seasons in its history with a record-breaking number of former world champs in the mix. Coincidence?


I know what you mean, though it's not so much staged as deliberately made messy by the tyres. Fits in with a stock market float as it has definitely upped the excitement. I guess the big teams are lumping the unpredicability as they are all in with some chance in the drivers championship, at least, Mercedes aside, and they're obviously not opposed to the idea of more money.


What in a year when they plan to float F1 on the stock market? What on earth makes you think that?


even more reason to stage it James, when they are floating F1 on the stock market.

that would be the no.1 motive. They want to make F1 look as appealing as possible, that it has the capacity of Growth, that it can be even more exciting as a vehicle for advertising - after all that is what F1 is. Its the sponsors that keep F1 alive.

what better way to show F1 is exciting to the mass viewer then by having different winners.


Agree with the Alonso analysis. He always talks about the points and permutations. He always knows the situation and clearly likes the numbers and analysis side of the sport. I'm sure I read in an interview once where he said he'd probably have done Maths at university and been a Maths teacher had he not been a racer.

Other drivers just don't care or want to think about the standings, and just race and see. You could argue it's pointless to analyse positions and points but I think it can be advantageous to know the situation at all times if you're challenging for the Championship. It allows you take a form of risk analysis to the race and is further evidence that Alonso is probably the most complete driver in the field.

Though Maldonado was cetainly at fault with Hamilton, perhaps if Lewis had been thinking of the points on offer and where that would have put in the Championship by playing it safe (which I feel Alonso does), then perhaps he'd have been a lot more cautious against crazy Pastor!


Interesting article - I do miss the drama of the days when finishing a race could never be taken for granted.

I note you totting up the number of wins Vettel has lost through unreliability, James, but I would think those numbers would be even higher with drivers like Prost, Senna and Mansell (or would the wins just be evenly redistributed?).


I think with Prost, Mansell, Senna et. al., they were losing races through unreliability to each other (and other drivers), so that for each of them, they had some victories gained at the expense of others mechanical misfortune etc.

However, Vettel's run luck does stand out somewhat, as he seems to have retired out of race-leading positions over the past three seasons much more often than anyone else.


In Senna's case he often drove the engine to death when others managed to preserve their equipment.

Vettel has had only one retirement from the lead per season due to reliability that I can think of. So I wouldn't feel too sorry for him. 🙂

2010 Korea.

2011 Abu Dhabi.

2012 Valencia.


Missed a couple: Australia 2010 and Bahrain 2010 (actually, he did not retire from the race in Bahrain, but a gearbox problem demoted him from a comfortable lead to 4th).


James have you ever known two different contructors to suffer the same identical mechanical failure in the same race?


The same Magnetti Marelli who are a subsidiary of Fiat?? I would smell a rat, if I knew what they smelled like...


Oh, so they're Italian alternators. Another conspiracy theory raises its ugly head!

Still, without the failed Italian electrics,Alonso would have been third - still very impressive.

Lots of Love........no,that can't be right!


Same engine though and this is an engine related part, from Magnetti Marelli


Vergne receives a 10 place grid penalty and €25000 fine for dangerous (but maybe not fully concious) driving.

Maldonado gets +20s penalty for wilful and very unsportsmanlike driving which has a direct impact on the top standings of the championship.

Why do I fail to see the logic?


If Vergne was really driving an F1 car while "not fully conscious", then a) hr's lucky not to have received a life ban and b) he was actually driving incredibly well, really, in the circumstances...


It was more like a chicken race where neither of them wanted to be the chicken...


They are both trying to emulate Senna's overly aggressive approach.


Wilful? You are dreaming if you think he would throw away a podium in by crashing on purpose in the last few laps of a race.


Agree, I don't think the crash was 100% deliberate. If you saw the race, the crash was not a "racing incident" but a result of reckless and overly agressive driving (as opposed to Vergne's).

However, I got the reply I was looking for above in this thread (cash).


Mike from Colombia

Absolutely. Maldonado has demonstrated that he can be a dirty driver who does not care about the consequences to others or himself.

He has shown this by jeopardising his own race in qualifying in Spa 2011. He was offended by being mugged by Hamilton and took a side swipe. He sought revenge on Perez at Monaco 2012 and was even condemned by his own team.

Maldonado has also previously faced a four race ban in the Renault World Series for dangerous driving.

This guy has form, as well as a chip on his shoulder ever since Frank Williams had to make excuses as to why he chose him in the team line up.


Hi James,

Can you tell us if the outcome of the race would have been the same if Alonso was not able to get infront of KImi on his pit stop ?

In Otherwords could Kimi have been the 8th diffrent driver to win?



It would have required Lotus to perform an equal pit stop as alonso. Kimi is always slow on his first three laps until he gets the brake and tire temperature up. Hence problems in qualifying.


Has Grosjean had the same problems?


No one wants cars failing. But 100% reliabily is boring too. Let's remember the type of emotion that a failure - while in comfortable lead can evoke. It's crushing to the fans, to the driver. Is there anything more crushing than feeling like you have it in your grasp, just to discover it was all a mirage?

There have been many engine failures that have delivered drama over the years. Those famous images of Mika in the forest of (I think) Hockenheim, or Schumi in Japan 2006 - which was the classiest way I have ever seen a driver behave after an engine failure from the lead - not only did it result in Schumi not winning the race, but the championship. He went to the garage and thanked all the guys for their hard work. It was amazing.

Is there such a thing as a beautiful engine failure? I say yes.


J Arnold (South Africa)


Can you do an article/comment of the blown diffuser upgrade that Red Bull brought to Valencia.

Do you think it will be deemed illegal? I thought the whole idea was to avoid this. If it is deemed legal I hope the other big teams can catch up, quickly!

Cracking drive by Alonso, really gutted for Hamilton. Hope it goes down to the last round between those two... Vettel should also be in there for good measure.





Any updates on this? Do you have any news from your sources? This looks like really key for how the rest of the WDC will go.

tom in adelaide

Let's hope the FIA look at this in the eyes of an impartial F1 fan. I don't think many people want to see Seb getting pole by half a second and racing away for uncontested wins for the rest of the season....



I'd love to know what's going on with Red Bull's latest upgrade package!


Dear James, can you explain how it is possible that Red Bull use blown diffuser? All regs were chamnged to prohibit it so even if they found some clever working around words it must be clearly against spirit of the rules... Many thanks in advance.

tom in adelaide

Agreed - it's obvious that the FIA did not want teams blowing the diffuser. This is the RedBull way though - they walk way outside the boundaries but cover it up cleverly. I just wish the FIA could act faster to assess the legality of these upgrades. RedBull shouldn't be getting free wins with parts that are later deemed illegal.


They'll call it evolution; First the tail, then the body, and later the forehead. Everywhere you go take the diffuser with you.



I am so disappointed in McLaren. The number of issues they have had this season is unacceptable!

Lewis has been driving fantastically this season and to have the team let him down on numerous occasions is getting beyond a joke. With regards to the Maldonado incident, you could argue that Hamilton should have let him through (I for one was shouting at the TV screen to let him by), but with just over a lap of the race to go on a circuit where overtaking is difficult I can understand why he was defending heavily. Then after the race to have the team principal only half heartedly back Hamilton over the incident is outrageous, particularly when Lewis has been very gracious over the countless number of issues and lost points he has had to encounter (the way he dealt with Barcelona was brilliant and Whitmarsh himself said that it was Lewis that was consoling him that weekend instead of the other way round).

Next - what has happened to all the upgrades! I thought McLaren were meant to be one of the best teams at developing throughout the season. We have gone from having the fastest car in qualifying and the race to not being the fastest in either. I'm not sure if the lack of development is down to the issues Jenson has been having - I fully support the need to dedicate time and effort to resolve his issues, but if it has had such an impact on the development of the car then some serious questions need to be asked.

Finally, from the race in Valencia what is worrying me most is not the pit stop mistakes and lack of points, but just how fast Red Bull were - being a second a lap faster than everyone else in the race! I understand McLaren have a big upgrade planned for Silverstone, so it better do the business otherwise I think we are in serious trouble.

[mod] I need a lie down...



yours was the second comment describing a perception that McLaren would be using most of its efforts to solve Button's issues and would be therefore not prioiritizing the car's development. Do you really think that this could be a relevant cause for losing pace in development race? Would that be resource (manpower) or technology-related?

If you have additional thoughts let me know, I couldn't still correlate these facts.


II think the judgement being unleashed on McLaren is warranted to some degree, however yesterday showed me that the team are making improvements. Look at the race from this perspective if you will. McLaren's first pitstop was recorded at 2.9 seconds, I believe it was for Lewis (my guy : 0 ). Consider that an option on the table may have been to let Lewis gallop away at the start, if the lead attainable. The lack of getting the lead may have changed the plan, to preserve the tires after the second lap that Vettel unleashed the Dragon. From that point on given that the plan to fix the pitstop errors more than showed the teams ability to compete in this area, then maybe this is a step forward in the championship. Maybe, just maybe a three stop strategy whit an average 3 second or faster pitstop would have one the race. The pressure is heating up at all factories now. Red Bull dropped points. McLaren dropped points. Alonso's strategy of "Podiums" finishes is definitely in full effect. Come on McLaren. Give my boy three in a row. I know it is possible. I still believe.

Tornillo Amarillo

Maybe a comment for a different post, it seems teams have lernt their strategies, but depends of the circuit.

2 or 3 pitstops if you are among the fastest and 1 pitstop less if you are not, and if you are not the fastest and you are doing 1 pitstop less than the others, try the 2nd pitstop to be a "late" one for the 15 last laps.

Or just 1 pitstop to be done after half of distance.


- Hamilton in Montreal 3 pitstops

- Vettel in Montreal and Schumacher and Rosberg in Valencia, with 2 pitstops, the last one late.

- Grosjean and Perez 1 pitstop in Montreal

Di REsta was complainning (again) that his pitstop wasn't in the right moment, too early, and I think he is right.


I think Hamilton may have been able to win on a 3 stopper this time around. But only after Vettel retired.


Unless he had a perfectly clear track, I think that would have been a major stretch for him to get the win.


Last year, Lewis Hamilton was on the verge of facing disciplinary action from the FIA after he jokingly suggested his skin colour might be the reason he is so regularly punished by the sports’ stewards.

Yesterday, Helmut Marko fueled conspiracy theories started by a disconsolate Sebastian Vettel by confirming that the world champion team suspect that the safety car was deployed onto the Valencia circuit, midway during the race on Sunday, to artificially aid ‘the show’.

Two identical allegations; In Hamilton's case, he was forced into a humiliating retraction and apology after F1’s governing body, the FIA, suggested he could be charged with bringing the sport into disrepute. It even led to a further meeting with race stewards where Lewis tried to repair the damage.

What will happen to the RB case?


I quite agree. It is surely better to be safe than sorry when there are chunks of wheel rim scattere on the track and, regardless of whether the debris could have been cleared under double waved yellows the stewards made the call. In most other sports the referee's decision is final, and to call their judgement in to question with innuendo about favouritism towards the Spanish driver deserves at least the same level of inquiry as Hamilton's tongue-in-cheek comments about his colour. The leader is always disadvantaged by the safety car but that's racing I'm afraid. Would a dead steward or a badly injured driver be preferable?

Mike from Colombia

Marko is a loose cannon and I can't really understand his added value....apart from knowing DM.

He will say anything to support and protect his wunderkid Vettel. He claimed Webber as guilty in the immediate aftermath of Istanbul 2010. He announced Webber's retirement mid-way through 2011. In 2012 he has tried to write off Hamilton coming into the team and potentially embarrassing Vettel...even though it is not his decision to make.

Seems very out of touch to me.


" it is not his decision to make."

That's the (only) part I think you may possibly be mistaken about.


Well we all know that the drivers championship will be open until the last race but how about the constructors?

In my opinion Red Bull will have it easy, it's the only top team that has two drivers constantly beating each other, rather than one dominating his teammate, I mean look at Ferrari, Alonso leading but they're 4th.

By the way if he finishes in the points in the next couple of races he will be beating Schumacher's record of 24 consecutive point-finishes.


F1 is good at the moment, But i think they need to make a few changes, could they not make Q3 abit longer as 10 minutes for the most exciting part is to short, plus it's not really fair if you qualified well in they top 10 you have to start on the same tyres when others outside the top 10 don't, plus could pirelli not make the tyres last longer cause when they go off they're useless


Some conclusions. . . Who else is wondering if ferrari aren't playing mind games with everyone first by lowering their expectations even if they seem to have a fast racing car only for alonso to shine come race day and their italian radio messages? Vettel will run away with title easy with a car that creats a gap of 20secs in just 18 laps. Mclaren are determined to deny hamilton any chance of getting the title with yet another pit stop error . Lastly no one seems to mention how bad button was yesterday, either the mclaren is a bad car or button has lost it.


Since we know from Lewis' efforts that the Mclaren isn't a "bad car" and it seems unlikely that a driver of Button's experience and demeanour would have "lost it" for no obvious reason, the possibility of hidden/unsuspected chassis damage should perhaps be considered. I recall something of that nature afflicting Seb Vettel's car after he ran it over a kerb last season. If I were Mclaren I'd either be undertaking a total stripdown and blueprinted rebuild of Buttons car, or giving him a brand-new chassis ASAP.


I always say about Ferrari and they always win races. People don't read behind the politics too well.

Hamilton is quick Mclaren have to play catch up with Red Bill and Ferrari now (as do everyone)

Button ? Ironically cannot cope with the tyres this year and is gone. I've always said he's not in the same league as top few.

Am very curious to what red bull changed on that car? cause that Quali in Valencia was perfect !

Hope Lotus can find something for the E20 because if they don't they will fade.


Alonso yesterday used similar tactics by lowering a bit his speed during the last 10 rounds, so that Hamilton could push and destroy his tyers. Remember the radio call from McLaren, "you're faster than Alonso". A few minutes later Lewis made late braking, and his tyers were gone. He should have let Kimi pass. I think that was a crucial moment before the Maldonado crash.


I recall one of the last races at Adeliade Gianni Morbedelli in a Arrows finishing on the podium 2 laps behind Michael Schumacher.

I miss the old days of the smaller teams picking up good points. 15 years ago HRT and Virgin would have picked up a handful of points. Whilst it has been easy to take pop shots at the performance of these teams it is worth remembering just how reliable the existing teams were when then they came into the sport.

I recall in the mid 90's midfield cars were sometimes 4/5 seconds of the pace.


Maybe I'm late to notice it, but Alonso is starting to remind me more and more of Prost. It's great to see.

'El Catedratico' for his title, perhaps?


Regarding Ferrari playing mind games. I don't think they have deliberately done so. The performance from the car is read by the technical head and the driver. At the beginning of the year. They were way off, but thanks much to the confusing/tricky tires. Their result is not as bad as they initially expected.

Regarding the bygone era. How I've missed those days:

1. old champions charging from the back of the grid to the podiums

2. heartbreaking engine failures and

3. frustrating crashes.

This Valencia race has to be the most exciting GP I've enjoyed this year.


Mclaren have absolutely no problem with their pitstops as regards to Button, these problems seem to affect only Lewis, why is that?


the FIA won't do anything drastic with Maldonado, no matter how bad his offences - because hes bringing in crucial dollars to Williams.

Simple as that.


As a side note...Anyone else notice the "much love" between Hamilton and Alonso with a bit of Ferrari thrown in?

Usually when a driver starts complimenting a team or rival driver this much there's something going on in the background.


Lewis would make a good number 2 to alonso

Tornillo Amarillo

Agree, hiring Hamilton is the best bet to beat the archrival MacLaren, and almost sure getting the WCC, a chess move.


On the subject of radio messages, why aren't the BBC and Sky able to translate what Ferrari are saying given a lot of viewers now have to pay a premium to view.

Its clear Ferrari now speak to Alonso in Italian on the radio so hearing the commentators laugh about not understanding only cuts it so far. Does nobody on the BBC or Sky team understand Italian and can provide a translation to the commentary booth?



Mario-Alberto Bauér at P1Mag-eZine is reporting that Montezemolo was in Valencia to let Ferrari Sponsors know that Massa is gone.


Not sure about that, don't see why he'd need to do that.

But I think the Vettel stuff is a bit of a smokescreen to move the story along for a 2013 without Massa. I sense he's going


Yes James! That race reminded me of the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix and of Ricardo Patrese victory!

Even Ricardo didn't know that he had won the GP crossing the line while giving a ride to the start/finish line to Didier Pironi.



Yes, what a scenario that was!


"Who else is wondering if ferrari aren’t playing mind games with everyone first by lowering their expectations even if they seem to have a fast racing car only for alonso to shine come race day and their italian radio messages?"

Ferrari (and its drivers) have been very clear and IMO honest about the expectations for Valencia, given (1) the qualy result, (3) the track characteristics (overtaking has historically been very difficult at Valencia) and last but not (3) the fact that at least RB and Lotus were faster than them.

Are you otherwise suggesting Ferrari did order its drivers to qualify in the midfield, even though they could do better? Or that they did lap ~1 sec slower than the other top teams in the first races of the season on purpose?


Not at all mate, qualifying problem was because overconfidence, no one tried the harder compounds inp2 except ferrari.



I noticed recently that non of my posts are getting published. I have put down time writing them, but obviously none of them have made it to the site!

Am I banned (for some for me unknown reason) from posting??

Name: Quattro_T


The above post was submitted with a different mail address than the one I usually use - the one I suspect is blocked somehow. I used the same name I usually use though.

I tried to reply to your response with the string "Ok, then I am testing posting here.", using my regular email adress minutes ago. It did not appear here. When I tested posting it again, the string

"Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!"

appeared, so the post is being registered in your database. Still not showing up here.


I've had the same issue until I changed my email address.


James after a great race in Spain's Tesco carpark of a track which for you has been the best race of the season so far? Would say this one is right up there as you never get good ones round there. But then Mayalsia might get it as a Sauber battling a off the pace Ferrari for the win? Brave man who would have put money on that at the start of the year.


Considering how insufferably boring last year's Valencia race was, this year it just had to be as fantastic as it was in order to keep the universe in balance. 😉 LOL 🙂


I thought it was one of the best races, yes. Plenty of cars pushing hard which is what we want to see, lots of drama, interesting strategy calls and overtaking.


What is wrong with radio messages in Italian, or German, or Spanish, or French, or Japanese, or whichever else lenguage a team can choose to communicate, if such a lenguage is understood by engineers and pilots of the team? Where is the rule saying that English should be compulsory everywhere? F1 is trullyI international I do not complain about hearing radio messages in English. I do my best trying to understand them, and my local tv do translate them..


It is like with the airline industry; one universal language is used for communication, especially at an international level. No one should get an advantage because of their bi/trilingual abilities.

Continental Europeans are so blessed as to have a primary language (eg: Italian, French, German, Dutch, etc.) as well as having education systems that place a relatively high emphasis on learning English. English is used as the medium for different European nationalities to communicate with each other.

Unfortunately, for people whose first language is English there is very little incentive, educational opportunity or practical opportunities for them to learn another language. People in F1 who are in this position are already at a disadvantage regarding this, so multi-lingual people should not be allowed to use their skills and unfairly outsmart the opposition. I wouldn't be surprised if a cashed up team like McLaren employed a full time translator to utilize under such circumstances. But this is not the way it should be in F1; it already costs too much.

True, this is all probably an almost inconsequential issue that most likely has an infinitesimally small effect on the racing but it is an issue that has been raised nonetheless, so I thought I would comment.

ENGLISH is now as LATIN was in the Ancient and Medieval times.


I cannot agree in this with you. English is the official language of F1 as an organization, no problem with it. Yet English is not compulsory inside the teams. That the individuals of a team can communicate one another in the language of its choice is understandable and it should not rise any laugh (BBC, Sky?). This laughing is highly arrogant, IMO. If F1 as an organization wants all the teams to radiocast in English, it should be written or spoken out. Im not saying that the teams must have translators, I say that BBC, Skynews or other local tv station either should be able to translate radiomessages for the audience or refrain themselves any laugh when a team speaks other languages. And please, I ask you to not shout when illustrating about English and Latin, we all travel in airlines and live in current times.


The ability of Alonso not only to calculate the numbers but also to predict what he has to do and what he will do is more and more astounding.

He predicted for the last three races to score 50 points - 50 points he scored....

I first got aware of this quality of his in full bloom in 2010, when starting with Silverstone he made solid predictions for nearly the rest of the championship - I wonder how much these predictions became self-fulfilling prophecies..... 😉


Couldnt agree more, I think Alonso's intelligence and cleverness is not given the weight it deserves, though if there is anything this year is proving it would be that.

Pay attention to what is said about him... like this comment from James, on the Speed broadcast they mentioned comments from Alonso himself as well as Montezemolo that show Alonso's complete integration at Ferrari. We all know the last guy given such importance at Ferrari....it's not handed to just anyone. Add to the shame he puts on his teamates to being an obvious key contributor to the improvement of this years car...all go to show he is a cut above.

He not only seems to be better at working with a poor car and handling adverse circumstances he seems to flourish with it. (can you honestly say the same about Hamilton? Vettel?) Any other pilot handed this year's Ferrari in Australia would have far fewer points on the board. Certainly debateable, but IMO Alonso is in a class all his own.

And yes...I agree...the reliability has taken away what was once a major player in the outcome of races. A blown engine and the oil hazard on the track...a driver losing a gear or two...brake failures etc, fun stuff.

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