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In Case There Is Any Doubt

BRAWN

In reference to:

“Analysis: Brawn and Hamilton defiant amid Mercedes F1 storm” [Note: Ben Anderson, it’s actually “bated breath.”]

“‘I’m still in charge’ – Brawn” [Note: ESPN staff, it’s actually “complementary.”]

NY International Auto Show 2012

It’s been, er,  a while since I stopped by, but this seems like the best place to post a bunch of photos from the New York International Auto Show, as I did last year. Last year’s post was super-popular, by the way; people seem to enjoy photos of F1 cars, even when they’re taken by the likes of me. I have some amateurish photos of F1 cars this year, as well, although it was a little more difficult to get them. There was always a rope or other barrier of some kind getting in the way, and the lighting where the Lotus was was all wrong. However, as usual, nothing was going to stop me from snapping photos indiscriminately!

(Note: In this gallery, you can access hi-res versions by clicking on the Permalink.)

News of the Day: January 4, 2012

Just now sitting down to read the news and write this post — which doesn’t bode well, considering I usually would have posted by this time. Oh, currency-based economy that makes it necessary for me to have a job, how I resent you!

Clearly, the biggest F1 news story today is this item from Alan Permane’s Twitter:

The Iceman cometh…. (well, to Enstone tomorrow for a seat fit!)

No, wait… I’m sorry! That’s not actually the biggest F1 news story today. For a moment, I had it confused with the F1 news story that made me flush anew with excitement as I was reminded again that Kimi really is coming back. Yes he is. I get those confused a lot, actually.

The real biggest F1 news story of the day was this:

How Does That New Blocking Rule Work, Anyway? The FIA Tells All!

2012 F1 Sporting and Technical Regulations, published today on the FIA web site.

This article by Andrew Benson on the BBC site and this one by Keith Collantine on F1 Fanatic provide good summaries of the new rule changes. The one that seems to have caused the greatest amount of argument is this:

20.3 More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off‐line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.

Keith Collantine has been explaining to commenters on his site all day that this is merely a codification of one of the unspoken yet already existing rules of F1. Stewards have been enforcing it for a while now; it just never used to be written down anywhere. Now it is. Nothing to get upset about, right?

The thing is, I hate these kinds of rules.  The other thing is, I don’t feel very qualified to argue about why I hate these kinds of rules. When Peter Windsor says “More rules are taking the art away from defence and attack,” that sounds intelligent and like something I want to agree with. However, the real truth of my problem with this is nothing so logical. It almost certainly has more to do with how I can’t get my head around the concept of not being allowed to do just about anything to defend your position in a race. I can see it now: me, in an F1 car, weaving back and forth several times trying to keep someone behind me, getting penalized, then not being able to stop myself from doing the same thing again the next time someone threatened me. Because what am I going to do? Just let him go right by? I think not! Reason number five million and two why I would make a terrible racing driver.

All of that aside, though, less ambiguity where steward decisions are concerned would be welcomed by many. Some, though, have been wondering exactly how much less ambiguity this rule will lead to. For example, is leaving a car width feasible in the approach to every corner? Will the stewards be deciding some such things on a case-by-case basis? And, if so, how does having article 20.3 to point to make any difference at all?

It will make a difference because everyone will at least be on the same page with regard to the standards the stewards are using to begin with, even if they do then consider them in light of the particular circumstances of a given situation. Keith Collantine makes a very good case for turning unwritten rules into written rules in this post from 2008, in the wake of a controversial ruling against Lewis Hamilton.

The Disappearing AT&T Logo Was No Fluke

Williams spokesperson confirms title sponsor news to Reuters

As everyone basically knew as of yesterday, Williams and AT&T have ended their title sponsorship relationship; this has now been confirmed. It has left Williams in the market for a new title sponsor, and Joe Saward is reporting that Qtel, the Qatar telecommunications company, is rumored to be a candidate. What implications, if any, this might have in terms of driver choices isn’t clear. Or maybe it would mean staying with the known quantity that is Rubens Barrichello.

Also, I’ve got to agree with Saward about one thing: that Qtel logo could be blended very attractively with the Williams logo. If I weren’t so fricking exhausted right now, I’d play around with that in Photoshop. Maybe in the morning.

And now, because I just spent literally an hour chasing quotes from Luca di Montezemolo all around the internet and came up with a big mess of weirdness, none of which ended up qualifying as news of THIS particular day, I am going to have to give up until tomorrow. Maybe, by then, I’ll have come up with a combined Williams/Qtel logo that’s so fantastic and stunning and brilliant that both parties will have no choice but to strike a lucrative deal with one another. And then they’ll come to me in their gratitude, asking what they can ever do to repay me. In response, I will humbly request that I be able to choose the driver for next season. This all seems really plausible — don’t you agree? Stay tuned…

News of the Day: January 3, 2012

Today is my last day as a free woman before returning to work. Now, to make the most of it by really digging into some juicy, exciting F1 news!

Uh. Yeah. Er. So much to choose from today.

There Is Something Conspicuously Missing from the Williams Site

See for yourself.

Up at the top of their home page, where the logo is? Anything look different?

The apparent end to AT&T title sponsorship for the Williams team is probably the only thing that qualifies as actual F1 news today. Actually, I first saw it pointed out yesterday on Twitter, but it wasn’t until today that news stories in English started to pop up online. Here’s one, from SpeedTV. I don’t see any announcements on the Williams web site, and it’s not clear to me what “initial reports” the article is referring to, but you’ll see that same wording pretty much everywhere — it’s all from the same GMM wire story.

Oh, look — it turns out  Joe Saward posted about all this on his blog yesterday, but I didn’t see it until today. (I thought he was still on vacation!) In fact, he might be the “initial reports” the GMM wire article is referring to. Why don’t people just cite sources? I’m never going to understand that. Unless your story is based on information from an anonymous source, it would be nice to know who/what the source is!

Anyway, according to Saward, the national bank of Qatar, QNB, will soon be announced as Williams’ new title sponsor.

More Words from Adrian Newey, OBE

Interview with Autosport.

Straight after his interview yesterday with Unnamed ESPNF1 Staffer, Adrian Newey headed over to Autosport HQ to chat with Jon Noble and Pablo Elizalde. On his way in, he passed Nico Rosberg, who was just leaving and stopped to greet him.

“So,” Nico said, cheekily plucking a nonexistent piece of lint from the lapel of Adrian’s sportcoat. “I hear you are going to try to have your car ready for Jerez?”

Newey smiled agreeably. “Yes, I think that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Nico shrugged. “If you’re sure that’s the best way to proceed. Of course, you know best, but… There are those teams that would prefer to perfect every detail for an extra two weeks.”

“And there are those teams that have no need of an extra two weeks to perfect every detail.”

Nico laughed, perhaps too loudly. “Of course. See you in Barcelona, each with our perfect cars…”

Newey turned and headed into Jon Noble’s office for his interview — and that next part of his day turned out to be very much par for the course.

As Adrian Newey has said many times in many interviews (and says again here), Sebastian Vettel is a very intelligent and hard-working young lad who is constantly putting every aspect of his race under a microscope and trying to fine-tune it to absolute perfection. I think a lot of people would prefer that he did less of that. Maybe he could take up a hobby, like R&B album recording? But no — I don’t think he’s going to stop doing what he’s doing anytime soon.

So, Newey tells Autosport, one can expect Vettel to be using this break to take a very close look at the mistakes he made during this past season — mistakes like the fateful one in Canada. Oh, Canada.

…he was distraught post-race – that he had been beaten, having dominated the whole race, on the last lap.

Well, we all were to be honest.

Oh yeah, I hear that. Distraught is what I was, too. However, I’ll be surprised if we see Vettel make that particular mistake again. See the last hundred interviews with Adrian Newey or Christian Horner for the reason why.

Newey also says no one on the team is tired of winning yet. They’d actually like to continue doing that.

God, no, I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do to make this story interesting. I mean, I love hearing about how great Seb is a lot more than the next guy, and it makes me happy that Newey and Horner genuinely think so highly of him, but I honestly feel like I’ve read this interview twenty times in the past year. The first time I read it, I loved it. The second time I read it, I loved it. But…damn, people. Are there some new questions someone could ask Red Bull management at some point?

Jules Bianchi Says Things About 2012

French radio interview, reported numerous places, like ESPNF1.

Jules Bianchi, the Ferrari test driver and GP2 racer about whom you sometimes find yourself wondering, “Wait — he’s Italian, right? No, no — French. French.” is now rumored to be in contention for the Force India test/Friday driver position. Basically, he’d be this year’s Nico Hülkenberg, the Hulk obviously having graduated to racing full time for the team. I haven’t heard a lot of people saying they were blown away by Bianchi’s awesomeness in GP2 (he finished third in the 2011 championship), so I hope all this works out for him. I’m also not sure whether this means he is not going to be competing in GP2 in 2012. Anyone know?

“Sustainability Director”?

News item in the Austin Business Journal.

The Circuit of the Americas has hired Edgar Farrera as its “director of sustainability.” No, I don’t know exactly what that is, either. Oh, wait — the article says! See link above. You should go read it and see if it sounds like the sort of career you might want to pursue. I’d reproduce the description here, but I’m deeply opposed to the use of the word “green” to mean “environmentally friendly,” and that happens twice in the relevant paragraph of the article.

I know this is not exactly thrilling F1 news — or even F1 news at all, except in the most tangential sense — but it struck me as encouraging that COTA is hiring people for positions other than the most fundamental ones, like “director of making sure a circuit exists by November.”

Speaking of whom, it looks like he or she has been busy; here are some photos of the circuit posted on Facebook today.

And now, I’d like to thank you for making it this far into this blog entry. BY GOD, this was a dull day for F1 news. Perhaps tomorrow will be more exciting…

News of the Day: January 2, 2012

Around this time of year, a type of “news” story that’s always around becomes a lot more prevalent. You might call it the “This Guy Has Something to Say, and Here It Is” story. It isn’t “news” in the sense of something of note happening — someone getting hired or fired, a rule change being made, etcetera — it’s the sharing of a couple of statements someone involved in the sport said in an interview, something that fans might find interesting. Or not. Probably depends on what kind of mood you’re in and how starved you are for something to read about F1, because, to be honest, it’s usually a bit dull. Minor measures could be taken to make them a bit less dull (see below for some ideas), but most F1 journalists, presumably saddled with numerous deadlines and strict word limits, tend to stick with just-the-facts reporting.

Today, Autosport and ESPNF1 both led off with “This Guy Said Stuff” stories on their home pages.

Nico Rosberg Says Things About His Team Missing the First Test

Autosport interviews Nico Rosberg.

You probably heard about Mercedes deciding to skip the first preseason test at Jerez in order to continue developing their 2012 car, and ever since then you’ve probably been wondering, “Hmm…but what does Nico Rosberg think about that decision?”

Well, wonder no more. Autosport has interviewed Rosberg about this and other matters — although if you want to know about the other matters, you’ll need to pay up. Nonpaying readers, this is what you’ll need to be content with: Nico Rosberg doesn’t have a problem with the decision to delay testing. As he stroked his attractively stubbled jaw, the dashing German explained to Jon Noble that he has full confidence in the team, specifically in the restructured tech part of the team, and if they say it’s important to have that extra time for car development, then he’s happy to get on board with that. “This year,” he said with the barest hint of a wry grin, “we would not have managed to do the first race if we had run the car that late.” He leaned closer with a slightly conspiratorial air, the leather of his jacket creaking with the movement. “But with the way the factory is now optimised, I am confident that we can quite happily make it happen…”

“Quite happily make it happen.” Let’s hope he’s right. We need Mercedes out there being competitive. It would be a great thing to see their drivers on the podium in 2012.

Adrian Newey Says Things About the RB8

ESPNF1 interviews Adrian Newey.

He’s obviously not going to say anything specific, but what Adrian Newey does say gives the impression that he is not too bothered by the 2012 rule changes. No exhaust-blown diffusers allowed? Well, it’s not as though it’s the first time he’s had to work a change like that into his car design. I takes a lot more than that to faze Adrian Newey, my friends.

No need for a wholesale overhaul of the basic design, Newey says. The RB8 will be an “evolution” of the very successful car of the past three years, and it’s going to “kick your ass” even more comprehensively. (Note: “kick your ass” is a direct quote from me, not Newey.)

But, the ESPNF1 interviewer asked, isn’t it really bloody annoying that this innovation you’ve perfected is now against the rules?

No, Newey is not too upset about that, because he’s been in F1 a long time, and that’s just the way it works. A team comes up with something awesome, and sooner or later, for one reason or another, it’s banned. “That’s the nature of the business,” he said mildly.

Newey also hopes Red Bull will be able to maintain the crazy-fantastic reliability they enjoyed during the 2011 season — but perhaps “enjoyed” is the wrong word. According to Newey, they have “hard work and discipline” to thank for that reliability. It’s not as though it’s something that simply fell from the heavens.

It became clear during the course of this interview that nothing the ESPNF1 staff member said was going to upset the coolness of Adrian Newey in any way — not mentioning of the forbidden exhaust-blown diffusers, not bringing up how unusual and unlikely the reliability of the car was last season, nothing. Flustered and frustrated at his inability to shake the man up, the interviewer ended the interview by leaping from his chair and yelling, “Yeah? Well, you could have at least made sure your fly was zipped before you got here!”

But Adrian Newey merely cocked an eyebrow and smiled pleasantly as he rose to leave and thanked the staff member for his time, never looking down in even the briefest moment of self-doubt. Naturally, his fly was impeccably zipped — in fact, much to the staff member’s annoyance, it was the most expertly zipped fly he’d ever seen. Damn that man…

Don’t Count Rubens Barrichello Out Just Yet

Andrew Benson BBC blog entry.

Andrew Benson, being a super-cool “insider” with “sources” and whatnot, has some actual information to provide today that requires little or no embellishment. Williams is, as Benson reminds us, the only decent option for an open race seat right now, and there is a surfeit of recently sacked drivers out there who would be only too happy to plant their jumpsuited behinds in that very seat. Williams is free to essentially sit back, relax, and ponder the possibilities, secure in the knowledge that whoever they do offer that seat to will absolutely not say “no.”

What is now coming to light and is reported here by Benson is the fact that Williams might, in the end, not make any changes at all to their 2011 driver lineup. Rubens Barrichello recently has shown himself willing to do everything just short of falling on his knees and begging to keep that seat, including finding sponsors if he needs to. As much as people love the guy, it seems a popular fan opinion that it’s probably just about time for him to retire. However, as Benson points out (and Barrichello himself has argued), it might be a good idea to keep some continuity where the drivers are concerned, especially in the face of the many other changes the team is undergoing.

In addition, Benson has been “told” that Patrick Head was somewhat less than charmed by Barrichello’s many complaints about the team, and he points out that now that Head has severed professional ties with the team entirely, that’s “one less barrier” to Barrichello being retained.

The other names you hear most often in association with the Williams seat are Adrian Sutil and Bruno Senna. Sutil is apparently trying to negotiate too short a contract for Williams’ liking (see Auto Motor und Sport and James Allen’s site). In the past few days there have been intertubes rumors that’s Senna is close to a deal — but there are intertubes rumors about lots of things, of course. Dimitris Papadopoulo seems to think there is something to the Senna vs. Barrichello idea, though.

My personal preference is to see Bruno in F1 next season — period. He’s an agreeable, sensible guy who keeps his feet on the ground and is being realistic about exploring all options, but I have no doubt this Williams seat would be his first choice. And let’s not forget what happened when he and Barrichello went for the same seat back in 2009! Maybe it’s time for a little turning of the tables…

News of the Day: January 1, 2012

It is New Year’s Day, and none of us are exactly swimming against a mighty current of thousands of F1 news stories. Now is the time when F1 drivers are engaged in activities like shoveling snow, torturing themselves by not eating bacon sandwiches, and clinging to the backs of daredevil motorcyclists, but one thing they aren’t super-busy with at the moment is making F1 news. One consequence of this, I suppose, is that it will be a bit easier for me to meet my goal for the month of January, which is to post something about current F1 news stories in this blog every single day — and the fewer stories there are, the less of an intimidating task that should be. Right?

Let’s get started and find out…

Ferrari Will Be Back. They Hope. I Mean, the Chances Are at Least Fair to Middling, I Think We’d All Agree.

Autosport quotes Stefano Domenicali, Pat Fry, and Luca di Montezemolo.

Every so often, the folks at Ferrari seem to like to remind us that they have always been and will always be a force to be reckoned with, and that it is only a matter of time before they reclaim their rightful place at the top of the world contructors’ championship and make you truly fear them once again.

And then sometimes, instead, they say things like in this article: Today on Autosport.com, Stefano Domenicali is quoted as saying that he and the team are “optimistic,” “doing a reasonable job,” and “working in the right direction.” Part of his slightly understated optimism comes from the change in the regulations to eliminate off-throttle exhaust blowing, as his team was never quite able to get that right. Pat Fry, chassis technical director and possessor of one of the most glorious heads of hair in F1, says they’ve made improvements in one of the main areas that gave them trouble in 2011 — namely, their imperfect wind tunnel data correlations — and that the engineers, especially in the aero department, are being “a lot more creative.” Finally, di Montezemolo is quoted on the subject of Ferrari’s recent organizational changes, which he describes as “good improvements…without a revolution.” He’s not expecting a miracle overnight; just improvement from year to year.

I think all of this serves to remind us that not everyone associated with the Ferrari organization communicates like the Horse Whisperer. Sure, it would be a lot more entertaining if they did — but are they here to amuse us? Are they a clown to us? No, they are not, and these are not imperious statements made by those who are bragging about a sure thing. Even di Montezemolo, who often sounds that way, doesn’t here. I’d describe the mood here as “cautious optimism.” Which, I think, is about the most that can reasonably be expected from anyone aspiring to stop the Red Bull/Vettel juggernaut.

A note on the reporting:  The quotes from Fry are from a December interview with Autosport, but the source(s) of the quotes from Domenicali and di Montezemolo are not clear from this article. I always find that annoying. There’s also an almost unreadable sentence that has two phrases set off with em dashes and “it’s” used in place of “its” — but the failure to mention the source of the quotes is even more annoying.

Sebastien Buemi May or May Not Be Close to Becoming a Red Bull Test Driver

Reported in Blick in fairly uncertain terms. (As far as I can tell.)

The fact that the Blick article states that no one will say whether a contract has been signed is not stopping other media outlets (SpeedTV.com, for example)  from picking this story up and reporting it, although they are careful to qualify the news with words like “reportedly.” Well, I suppose I’ve heard more bizarre things in my life; I wouldn’t be totally shocked if this did end up being true.

What’s been surprising me more is some of the reaction I’ve seen from fans, which can be summarized as “Why him and not Alguersuari?!” As though this plum reserve driver job would be the first choice of either former Toro Rosso driver. The whole thing has to feel like a hearty kick in the teeth. Maybe Buemi, for whatever reason, feels as though this is the only way he’ll be able to stay in F1 right now, while Alguersuari is exploring other options. Who knows?

Of course, some are bound to speculate that the notorious video of Alguersuari getting an earful from Helmut Marko has something to do with all this — and, I’ve got to tell you, I’m already tired of people making so much of that clip. Really, guys? You’d think no one had ever been chewed out by their boss without getting fired before. And, frankly, I wasn’t all that impressed by Marko’s level of anger in that video. But hey, maybe that’s just me. You should see some of the workplace arguments I’ve had…

Marussia F1 Unleashes Its Decent-Looking New Logo

This was probably in a press release for actual media types; however, see it here on their new Facebook page and web site.

The F1 team formerly known as “Virgin” and then “Marussia Virgin” is, as of today, now officially known as “Marussia.” The main form this news is taking is reporting of the new logo — which, in my opinion, isn’t bad. Sort of a tasteful marriage between the straight-up Marussia logo and the Van Halen logo. However, the Marussia logo itself really, really reminds me of certain 1980s video games. For example, take a look at the Marussia logo, here. Now imagine it slotting neatly into the top row of aliens in this screenshot from Galaga:

Right? That’s what I’m saying!

Oh, the Unfinished Posts

So many unfinished posts. They just loom there in my Drafts folder, tapping their fingers on the table, eyebrows raised in silent judgment. They’re really starting to get on my nerves.

I realize now I haven’t posted anything on this blog in more than a month, and it has nothing to do with waning interest in the sport, which I still spend an unseemly percentage of my waking hours obsessing over. No, it has to do with the increasingly stringent standards I gradually set for myself in terms of post quality. What started out as brief, flippant comments on races and F1 news items eventually became long essays — and you know what’s a pain in the ass to write? Long frickin’ essays.

As an exercise in shame — and possibly as an exercise in freeing myself of them once and for all — I’m listing some of my unfinished posts from this season, along with brief excerpts, starting with the most recent.

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