Monday, April 19, 2010

Formula 1 and Ash

I've been posting quite a ton's worth of posts about the Volcanic Ash situation here in Europe, matching much of what that annoying volcano in Iceland is actually spewing out. But it's about time I bring my blog's attention back to where it should be: Formula 1.

At this point in time, quite a lot of F1 teams are still stuck in China waiting for the air travel conditions to return to normal. I've just read that Bernie Ecclestone vows to bring everything back to Europe on time for the pre-European Season development to be done by the teams. It seems he is certain the Spanish Grand Prix in 3 weeks will go ahead as planned. Being Bernie, I trust him hands-down.

This is quite a strange situation though. Formula 1 teams arrange travel for their personnel every race weekend by themselves. But the equipments and, most importantly, the cars are arranged by Bernie's freight company working for F1. A number of teams, including Ferrari, have taken the option offered by AirAsia and Lotus F1 boss Tony Fernandes to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after the race and take his chartered flights back to Europe when the air restrictions have been lifted. What would happen if Bernie can't make good on his promise or if the precious cargo gets back to Europe too late for shakedown and servicing?

I don't think the servicing and shakedown would be too big of a problem for the teams. They can probably do 70% of that in the pits at the race track. Albeit the engineers would have to put in a lot of overtime and work through the night - we've seen that before.

But the cargo getting onto European soil is the main issue now. It would be a disaster if the Spanish Grand Prix is cancelled. All the logistics of refunding tickets, and I think the Spanish GP this year should be quite well attended as with recent years. Now that Fernando Alonso has joined Ferrari and is quite competitive, it means it's probably business as usual for the race track operators. It wouldn't be Bernie's fault of course, but would this be a reason for the teams to take even more control away from him? It all depends on how he manages the situation I guess.

One final thought...

Everyone has been harping on about how Nico Rosberg, who is significantly younger and less experienced than Michael Schumacher, is continuing to "out-shine" the seven-times World Champion F1 master. This is quite annoying. I think the people who say this don't really know what F1 is about. The pundits who make this comment are all trying to drum up even more stories to talk or write about - which is absolutely unnecessary considering that this season has been quite unpredictable already.

Formula 1 is a very demanding sport. When I was in the Paddocks last year, I saw Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jarno Trulli and other drivers who crashed out, stand in front of the world's media - and me! - perspiring like they've just climbed Mount Everest. These guys train like every other sportsmen and women, and often even more. After crashing out having done 30% of the race, they are wasted.

This brings me to the point. Leaving three years, and coming back into the sport where the rules have gone through all the washing cycles in the FIA washing machine, and - don't forget - all the technological advances during this time, means Schumi had a tough time before he started. He had hardly any testing, due to restrictions, and he has been out of shape (I say "out of shape," but I mean "not as fit as before" because he is damn hell as not going to waste away) for all this time. Did anyone seriously think he would jump in and finish on the top of the podium?

Schumi has been my biggest idol for more than a decade. I admire the man and I think he is a genius, and nobody should say any different - seven world titles! Coming in and qualifying in the top 10 and finishing in the top 10 (except one race) out of the four races so far is a very respectable achievement. Jenson Button (who is also an idol of mine) won the Championship last year, and managed to finally clinch two victories in the last four races, often because of changing weather conditions. I think this illustrates quite clearly how tough it is.

Stop bad-mouthing Schumi. He is great and to us, the real fans, he will always be great even if he is last in the race.

Go Schumi!

Image Source (Bernard Charles Ecclestone and Jarno Trulli): Krypton Zone (c) 2010 Entertainment
Image Source (Michael Schumacher):

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