New venue, same old boring Formula One. That is a good summary of last Sunday’s European Grand Prix. I thought about using at least one verb to make it a proper sentence, but I did not think the race deserved that much. Too bad for the organizers, who created a wonderful atmosphere. Unfortunately, today's F1 grooved tyres and excessive downforce do not allow anyone to drive out of the racing line in an overtake manoeuvre.
It was another display of strength by Felipe Massa. At the same time, it was another display of Ferrari’s weakness. Two engine failures in two consecutive races is not what one would expect from a title contender. Especially when the other contender – McLaren – is doing much better in that area. That gives them a big advantage. That allows Lewis Hamilton to be leading the championship, although he has also had his share of ups and downs. That inconsistency was matched by Felipe Massa’s own mistakes in the beginning of the season, so the drivers are equally matched. If that engine had not failed in Hungary, he would Felipe would be the championship leader. And let’s not even mention Ferrari’s other miscues this season.
The Raikkonen situation
Kimi Raikkonen also did not help Ferrari by leaving the pit stall before getting the green light from their new - yet unproven - automated system. When the media is saying that you are not at the top of your form, it does not help to break the bones of one of your crewmembers.
Still, it seems like the media all over the world is obsessed in saying that Raikkonen has no desire to race anymore. I doubt that. The way he drives is a reflex of his personality. He has never been a flamboyant character either on or off the track, Still, he has finished the championship twice in second place, and, more importantly, once on top of the world. He is not as aggressive as other drivers are – e.g. Massa and Hamilton. Still, that does not mean that his driving style is wrong.
Let's think about Alain Prost, for example. The guy was neither a great qualifier, nor the best in overtaking other drivers. I even remember a few times when he had problems overtaking backmarkers! Ok, the blue flags were not as strict as today, but some guys like his arch-rival Ayrton Senna were doing a much better job. All in all, Prost was champion 4 times. Once is luck, two is coincidence, but 4 times is what? That’s consistency. He was always hanging in there even during bad situations, scoring precious points. This is what Raikkonen has been doing. Ok, maybe he has not had the best races of his life, and on average he has just scored 4.75 points a race. Nevertheless, he is 13 points behind the championship leader. That is not perfect, but not bad at all. It allows him to hang in there. Who can blame the guy for thinking that the current F1 is boring?
- David Coulthard once again decided to try a daredevil overtaking move and overestimated his chances. He hit Adrian Sutil, but at least he only hurt his own race. He is about to retire now, so I guess he decided to have some fun. Maybe too much fun.
- I am not sure what Kazuki Nakajima was thinking when he hit Fernando Alonso’s rear wing on the first lap. He was close, but not so close he did not have room to react. That cannot be called a rookie mistake. That is a total mental lapse by a guy who has not yet proven why he is in F1. Or maybe he has, especially if we read the 'Toyota' on top of his engine.
- Nick Heidfeld seems to be fading behind more and more. I do not think that he suddenly forgot how to drive, but something in that car is clearly not matching his driving style. He needs to watch out or he will lose his job. All BMW needs is to find another German driver to replace him. That seems to be easy in the post-Schumacher era. If they want, they can get Nico Rosberg for 2009 or Sebastian Vettel for 2010. Or Timo Glock. They may have clauses in their contracts, but BMW has enough money to buy them out.
- By the way, Rosberg scored a point, but it is becoming too painful to watch Williams lingering around the track. He is sure desperate to get a better car.
- Vettel scored a 6h place without any safety car appearance, rain or anything unusual. When that is done in a new circuit, it means that the guy knows a lot about setting up a car.
Star of the Race:
Felipe Massa, especially for bouncing back from a dramatic end to his previous race.
Shame of the Race:
This is originally from my blog: Formula One Monday. Feel free to edit it here, especially if you find typos!