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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…

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