Archive for April, 2012

F1: China positives and negatives

April 21, 2012

Oh well, one more decent race in Shanghai with a little bit of help from DRS and the long back straight.

First positive mention goes obviously to race winner Nico Rosberg who drove like a winner. Excellent timing to appease his critics and also the big cheeses in Stuttgart who were starting to wonder why they have bought their own Formula 1 team.

Romain Grosjean finally managed to avoid trouble in the early laps to finish sixth and earn his first ever points. Well done to the Frenchman.

Williams was heavily criticised for hiring what effectively are two pay drivers but managed to produce a car that can fight for points. The team has already scored more points in three races than in the whole 2011 season. Things are moving in the right dictection for Sir Frank.

As usual, the selection of negative highlights was simpler. Ferrari could only manage 9th with Alonso whilst Massa finished outside the points again and now has the unfortunate distinction of being the only driver with no points besides the HRTs, the Marussias and the Caterhams.

The “Sebastian Vettel is losing it” theme continued as the reigning world champion could only manage a fifth place, was again beaten by his team mate and had heavy complaints about straight line speed during the race which is a slight issue in a circuit like Shanghai,

Finally, Mercedes’ pit crew did their best to prevent Michael Schumacher from reaching the first podium since his return. It used to be possible for cars to come back to the pits on three wheels without terminal damage, but somehow that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore…

NASCAR: Can it be global?

April 5, 2012

NASCAR is just too (Southern) American. At the recent race at Martinsville (a place known for its hot dogs!), some race restarts were sponsored by KFC (see video below at 1h18m). Brilliant.

Can this ever be turned into a global concept? Stock cars are now making in-roads in Europe but it’s still very nichy.

However, Indycar was also too American before Fittipaldi and others arrived. Let’s see.

INDYCAR: The verdict after two races

April 5, 2012

After two races it’s possible to make an initial assessment of the changes that Indycar has implemented for 2012. The introduction of the new ‘spec’ car and multiple engine providers has clearly worked well for the series and the performance issues in ovals do not seem to be too serious (the cars clocked averages of 218mph on a recent ┬átest at Indianapolis which mean that the organisers’ target to reach 225mph during the actual event are not unreasonable).

On the racing side, a boring race at the St. Petersburg street course was followed by a surprisingly good one at the Barber road course. This is interesting because over the past years Indycar has failed consistently to produce good races in road courses whilst the street courses tend to be more unpredictable and enjoyable to watch. Of course, the series also runs on ovals, but only five events are scheduled for 2012 – less than one third of the calendar. Races at ovals have suffered from poor attendance for years (even if the racing is good), partly because many tracks are owned by the International Speedway Corporation, a part of NASCAR that is unsurprisingly more interested in promoting NASCAR events. So Indycar has been forced to search for alternative venues, resulting in new street courses of very dubious quality (such as the one in Sao Paulo, Brazil).

Indycar needs to tackle this problem. Clearly the series would benefit from more ovals as this is the core of American racing and Indycar itself. Finding a couple of ovals abroad could be an option, especially in markets like Brazil that are already more familiar with the series. Something needs to be done about the awful street circuits as well.

Interesting to see how the next events will turn out to be. Long Beach is a classic and should go well whilst Sao Paulo, with a combination of a poor track and unpredictable weather, makes people wonder how Indycar cannot find a better venue in such an important market…