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Bahrain Grand Prix – epilogue

On Friday Bernie Ecclestone made one of his occasional appearances in the media centre. “Does he come in here often,” someone asked. “Only when he has something to say,” came the reply.

Of course the first topic to be raised was whether or not we should be racing in Bahrain. Bernie handled it in the usual way – “you’re the guys that write about the rubbish so you go looking for it. Have you found anything to write about?” He then moved on to possible future races. Apparently Egypt is out, as is Syria. Although he did go on to say that he’d “consider anywhere to be honest, if it’s good for everybody then I’m happy”.

f1  Bahrain Grand Prix – epilogue

Before long conversation in the scrum of journalists and photographers turned to the 2014 regulations. At the moment much of the talk in the paddock and on forums around the world is centred on the tyres – cars driving at 80 per cent for much of the race, in order to conserve their tyres, haven’t gone down well with many of the sport’s long-time fans. However, come 2014 and we may be looking at more of the same according to Ecclestone.

“You know I’ve been anti the 2014 engines since day one,” he said, “and we’re going to have a fuel economy run for sure so we’ll have to be very careful.

“I think maybe the FIA would be happy to have a look at the regulations. It’s the manufacturers that don’t want them touched, though. They’ve always said ‘we’ve made big commitments to get where we are’ and I’ve explained that if they get it wrong, which will happen, whatever commitments they’ve made, they’ll have to spend an awful lot more to get it right. What we’ve got at the moment is good, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Pat Symonds alluded to the same problem in his most recent Motor Sport podcast. He explained that although purists may want to see a freer set of technical regulations they don’t necessarily mean good racing. Some will get them right and will be much faster than everyone else. The rest are left to scrap the work they’ve done and start from scratch – a costly exercise even for F1 teams.

The 2014 engines could provide a similar situation because the chances are that one engine manufacturer will produce a better product than the rest. With so much emphasis on the V6s and the energy recovery systems this could mean some teams are seconds faster than others.

In Q1 on Saturday the gap between the front and back of the grid was only 3.1 seconds, while the difference between first and 10th was 0.7s. You may not enjoy the tyre situation at the moment, but let’s enjoy the racing – it’s as close as it’s been for a long time.

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f1  Bahrain Grand Prix – epilogue

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17 comments on Bahrain Grand Prix – epilogue

  1. pablo y pedro, 22 April 2013 08:55

    with the turbos at least we’ll see engines spitting fire. And that’s good for the show. Sparks from the bottom would be welcomed again. I don’t know why they got rid of that.

  2. Michael Spitale, 22 April 2013 11:35

    Ed,

    I am curious if you think Pirelli gives into Red Bull and Mercedes and goes to harder compounds? …or do they stick to their original plan of some softer rubber which would play more into Lotus and perhaps Ferrari’s hands.

  3. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (the other one)), 22 April 2013 12:20

    Michael,

    I don’t think that tyres that fall apart after 6 laps is good for Pirelli.

    I, to be frank, have no problems with what’s happening in Formula One in 2013.

    I don’t know if I classify as a “long time fan”. I’ve only been watching Grand Prix racing since 1979 and grew up reading DSJ.

    Fine, I didn’t see anything earlier (as I was too young) but the last thing we need is a Jimmy Clark/Lotus-like package winning by 1 minute.

    I’m enjoying Formula One these days. And, I couldn’t stand seasons like 2002 and 2004.

    Cheers.

  4. Ben G, 22 April 2013 12:22

    Wise words on the tyre situation. It’s far from perfect, but the racing is great. And that’s all that matters.

  5. dave cubbedge, 22 April 2013 16:03

    So, I wonder just how teams like Williams and McLaren could’ve possibly let Adrian Newey go. I would need to re-visit the history of the contracts, but when Jaguar went after Newey, McLaren responded by extending his contract and then putting him on ‘gardening leave’. I would’ve thought they would’ve put him on leave permanently, paid the money, rather than see him go to a competitor and dominate. After all, they did this with Gordon Murray – took him right out of the F1 game.

  6. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (the other one)), 22 April 2013 16:19

    I don’t think Williams and McLaren were willing to let Mr Newey have total control of the design team…or write the type of eye-watering cheques Dieter Mateschitz was willing to sign.

    Patrick Head was still involved heavily when Renault were there and McLaren seem to have a ‘team’ approach and they don’t seem to like to relinquish control to any one individual.

    Williams were, historically, “cheap” (ditching WDC drivers like no tomorrow (Mansell, Hill) for instance) and McLaren seem like “control freaks”.

    By the way, Newey has really only gelled with two drivers over the past 15 years – Hakkinen and Vettel, two All Time Greats.

    Newey hadn’t won a title in an entire decade … until Vettel came along.

    Last year McLaren had the faster car overall but Red Bull did a way, WAY better job on the race operations side (including qually prep and tyre stops and strategy) and Vettel drove better than certainly Webber and Button and, perhaps, Hamilton as well.

  7. Dennis, 22 April 2013 16:50

    What the present tyre situation doesn’t do is let us know who is the fastest driver or which is the fastest car. I don’t want to root for the folks on the pit wall calling all the shots. I don’t want to root for the best tyre manager among the drivers, I want to know who and which is the fastest.

  8. Pete Robertson, 22 April 2013 19:56

    “Apparently Egypt is out, as is Syria.”

    Good to see he hasn’t ruled out North Korea then……

  9. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (the other one)), 22 April 2013 20:46

    Hello Dennis!

    Based on the last two races, we know that the Mercedes is the fastest car over one lap (Poles in China (a front-limited circuit) and Bahrain (a rear-limited track)).

    Also, we know that Hamilton is faster than Rosberg (on average).

    We also know that over a race stint, the Red Bull is very fast in the hands of Vettel…and that Ferrari is also very fast in the hands of Alonso.

    Ferrari may have won in Malaysia had Alonso not punted into Vettel. They also might have challenged for victory yesterday had DRS not failed on Alonso’s car.

    Lotus is actually very quick too…but it treats the tyres better than, say, Mercedes or even Red Bull (who want Pirelli to change tyres).

    Well, at least Kimi knows how to be fast AND treat his tyres better than, say, Grosjean.

    In the end, Dennis, it looks like the cream of the crop are Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen.

    McLaren may also have a fast car in race trim…but they lack one of the top 4 Aces on the grid and, also, you have to say that Force India are doing more with a Mercedes engine and a McLaren transmission than McLaren themselves.

  10. Bill, 22 April 2013 22:05

    “let’s enjoy the racing – it’s as close as it’s been for a long time.”

    Yes, although I bet if Vettel wins it at the end, Roebuck, JYS will find a way to say it was borin and stats arent everything unless you count JYS wdcs.

  11. dave cubbedge, 23 April 2013 15:48

    I’ll say it now Bill.

  12. dave cubbedge, 23 April 2013 15:57

    Yes Ray I recall now. Eye-watering checks indeed, but do you think there’s ever talk at McLaren about how they should have given him what he wanted, because three (going on four) World Championships lost to this Red Bull team has got to be a bitter pill to swallow….? (Granted, they’d need Vettel too – it isn’t all about Newey.)

  13. Bill, 23 April 2013 17:25

    Yes, dave cubbege, but you dont have an agenda and give just an honest opinion as a race fan, wich I respect a lot more than these former mentioned clowns.

  14. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (the other one)), 23 April 2013 17:55

    Hi Dave,

    I don’t think McLaren – or any F1 team – live in the past or waste time in regret.

    I do agree with you re the lost Championships. And there have been many, actually:

    In 2003 and 2005, a blisteringly fast Raikkonen kept McLaren in the hunt for the WDC … but poor reliability and Ilmor-Mercedes woes cost the Finn two championships.

    In 2007, McLaren were, in part, ‘divided’ (HAM v ALO) and, in part, destabalised (SpyGate hearings, fines) and, further, Kimi was mega in the 2nd half of the season for a ‘united’ Ferrari to take the WDC at the last.

    In 2010, Hamilton made some errors whilst Button wasn’t plain fast enough consistently in qualifying. McLaren had a chance…but Vettel ‘stole’ it at the last.

    In 2011, McLaren felt they had a very good package and could have given Vettel a harder time…but Hamilton’s head was elsewhere and Button, yet again, wasn’t consistently fast enough in qualifying.

    In 2012, McLaren had the fastest overall package. They had more Poles and as many victories as RBR…but they let Hamilton down too many times with way too many blunders.

    They’ve gained Sam Michaels (don’t know what value he really added in 2012) … but they’ve lost Mike Coughlan (SpyGate); Pat Fry (Ferrari), Hamilton and, now, Paddy Lowe.

    Poor math.

    Do I think Vettel would have helped McLaren win at least one or two titles (especially 2010 and 2012)? I think so.

    I mean look at where Webber has finished in those Championships and where he is in this year’s…

  15. John Read, 24 April 2013 06:13

    Hi Ray,

    We could all come up with alternate scenarios for just about every season past, but really they can be boiled down to “if my Aunty had balls………..”

    And just another comment if I may be so bold. I have got the message from just about every post you have written (regardless of the topic) that you are ‘PRO Vettel, and ANTI Webber’.

    Your position is seared into my brain.

  16. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (the other one)), 24 April 2013 14:07

    Hi John!

    I do feel like McLaren have wasted way too many Championship opportunities since Hakkinen announced his retirement. Including without Newey being there.

    McLaren have lost Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton as well as Coughlan, Fry and Lowe.

    They, instead, gained Michaels (a failed Williams designer) and have two drivers who aren’t Aces and don’t have a reputation for consistently qualifying a car well up the grid.

    There’s obviously something ‘wrong’ with them. At least there’s something not ‘right’ over in Woking.

    As per being ‘pro’ Vettel…

    Well, Vettel was fleeced by some of the press and some of the fans for being a racing driver and winning a Grand Prix he deserved to win.

    I’m merely defending a guy who is driving better than ever and better than most…and who still takes the time to have fun on the podium and speak his mind, inspite of being unnecessarily pilloried by people who’ve never driven a high performance car.

  17. N. Weingart, 24 April 2013 20:46

    Ecclestone voices the opinion of the teams who wish to sustain the current status. This has a lot to do with money (surprise) and nothing to do with relevance to the advancement of the automobile or tires or much of anything most people associate with the cars we drive. More than ever F1 is an entertainment rather than a sport and it’s the poorer for it. Racing by it’s competitive nature is not the egalitarian pursuit many F1 pundits and officials make it out to be.

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