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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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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…