Monday, June 26, 2017

Even racing drivers get red mist

If you didn't watch the F1 race from Baku yesterday, spoiler alert.
The face-off between Hamilton and Vettel yesterday demonstrates that even the best trained, fittest drivers at the top of their game suffer from red mist. Hamilton had been told to maintain 10 car lengths behind the safety car twice, and twice he didn't. Under the second safety car, he brake-checked Vettel (correction : telemetry would seem to indicate maybe he didn't), who then ran into the back of him and then made it so much worse by going around Hamilton and deliberately bumping wheels with him whilst giving him the finger.
Vettel got a ten second drive-through penalty - totally agree with that. But Hamilton got nothing for the brake-check (or the double safety car rule violation). In the end it didn't matter - Hamilton had to come in for a replacement cockpit bolster and once he came out behind Vettel, he lost his fire.
When it comes to dangerous driving, where do you draw the line in racing? Vettel risked both their cars when he deliberately bumped wheels with Hamilton. But then so did Hamilton with the brake-check and SC rules violation. In my mind, Hamilton should have been handed two separate penalties - the first for not maintaining proper distance from the safety car (twice), and the second for what he did to Vettel. (correction - maybe just the SC violation).
Apart from that, Baku was a good event again - I hope it stays on the F1 calendar.

8 comments:

Paul Canciu said...

Although I do not agree with their behaviour, it was still fun to watch. I was expecting more retaliation when they parked their cars because of the red flag. :) But I guess they heard their share of "calm down" on the radio before pitting.

I'm not sure if Hamilton brake-checked Vettel, or he just didn't accelerate out of that corner, like Vettel expecting him to do, but it was still kind of dangerous driving on his part too. He got no penalty, but he got the problem with the car, so it all evened out in the end.

The last laps were also very fun to watch, with Bottas gaining on the first 2 cars and even snatching the 2nd place so close to the line.

David Coulthard was also fun, especially when he told Bottas that Raikkonen took responsibility for the incident in the beginning of the race. Bottas' face was priceless. :) And then, he told him "just kidding". :) Excellent!

Paul said...

You surprise me Chris. This is the first time, that I'm aware of, you've written something that is factually incorrect. Hamilton did not brake check Vettel, a fact that has been backed up by telemetry. Vettel tried to anticipate Hamilton, failed and ran into the back of him. Hamilton did nothing wrong and Vettel responded by deliberately ramming Hamilton. Not only very dangerous but particularly childish as well. The 10 second penalty at the time might have been acceptable had there been a brake check but there wasn't. Vettel can only blame himself... which of course he won't. Considering the facts as they've now come out I think Vettel should, at the very least, have his points stripped from the Baku GP. If there is no other punishment it sets a very dangerous precedent.

Chris said...

I hadn't seen the telemetry when I posted this entry - I posted within a couple of hours of the GP ending I think and at that point, I think everyone thought Hamilton had brake-checked Vettel. The UK, US and Australian commentary team seemed to all be of the same opinion as did some of the drivers they talked to.
Either way - Hamilton was supposed to be within 10 car lengths of the safety car and he slowed the pack down so far you couldn't even see the safety car in front of him. I think Vettel was probably expecting Hamilton to follow the safety car, not park it just after a corner :)

Paul said...

Fair enough regarding posting before the facts were known but considering how your comments were very damming of Hamilton I thought you would have updated your post. I'm not absolutely sure but didn't the incident happen after the SC had left the track? If that is the case then the 10 car length rule is out the window and Hamilton was backing up the pack in exactly the same way every other driver does.

Chris said...

The SC was on the in-lap so it was still on track but heading for the pits. To the regulations the cars are supposed to maintain a 10 car length behind it (which is admittedly short) until the lights go out AND the SC is in the in-lane for the pit. That's when they can start racing again. In this case they were still 3 or 4 corners from the start-finish straight so the SC was most definitely still on-track.
I'm no fan of Hamilton - he has no consistency and even that could be seen this week. When he's in front, everything is fine. When he's behind, it's always a problem with the car, the engine, the KERs, the tyres, the brakes, the suspension, the people on the radio, the dinner he had last night, the fact that it's sunday. During the pit rotation for his new bolster and Vettel's penalty, he ended up behind Vettel and then just seemed to give up.
I'm a Max Verstappen fan through and through. I still like Vettel but he went really weird after leaving Red Bull. He's pulled Ferrari out of the drop zone but his on-track attitude has been less than brilliant for the last 18 months with his constant commentary about blue flags.
I think the FIA have a lot to do with it too - they're constantly butchering the cars to make it harder and harder to pass by relying more and more on aero grip and less on mechanical grip, meaning the wing designs throw so much turbulent air behind the cars now that all the drivers get frustrated at not being able to pass. They've all said as much but it falls on deaf ears. DRS is a band-aid to try to help this but it's not a solution.
Once you get that much frustration into a 200mph car, crap happens and it's been happening a lot recently :(

Paul said...

I'm no fan of Vettel, I never have been. His attitude is that of a primadonna (sp?) and almost always has been. I must admit to being a fan of Hamilton. I was at the beginning, then lost respect a bit after he left Mclaren (although he sure picked the right time to jump!), not because he left but because he got a superstar "bow down before me" type of attitude. That seems to have reduced lately though. Off topic, I feel for Alonso, McLaren (who I'll support 'till the day I die... I'm a Kiwi after all!) is really letting him, and fans, down. Geez I hope they (or more correctly, Honda) get it together sooner rather than later.
I see Vettel has apologized (again) and the FIA have (again) said do it again and we'll throw the book at you. This happened when he abused Charlie Whiting on the radio. He has skin of teflon!

Paul said...

Something i forgot to add, I completely agree in regard to less aero, more mechanical grip. I think that a simple single plane wing front and rear is all that is needed. No little winglets and protrusions etc. I actually like the idea of the DRS and also like the idea of a "push to pass" button but only a limited number of times per GP.

Chris said...

I still like McLaren but Honda have to go. Their engines are what are affectionately termed "hand grenade engines" - where you pull the pin when the lights go out and wait to see how long it is before it explodes. Alonso has the patience of a saint. He didn't participate in the Monaco GP because he wanted to race the Indy 500. Which he did. In a Honda-powered car. And the engine let go in that race too. So it's not just F1 - it's all the series right now. Honda couldn't build a race engine this year if you gave them a Mercedes engine and told them to stick a badge on it.