FormulaY : Bahrain Debrief
I started FormulaY as a hobby to better understand a sudden fancy for racing. I started following the sport in the not-so-distant past (2015) and it was already a backseat behind my hockey fandom and hockey blogging/podcasting (the “other stuff” on this site). But with every race, and every series I tried to follow, I wanted it more and more to be a bigger part of my weekends. The hockey blogging started shortly after I stopped playing competitively and I needed a singular focus to maintain my passion. To shorten my learning curve with racing, I decided to take that same blogging plunge I did with hockey, hoping for similar results.
And this is all a long way of saying that while the time is crunched, and its added more waking hours into my schedule, little victories like posting these Debriefs and slapping some logo work together is enough to make it worth while. More than not the cover image of these Debriefs will be some F1 driver’s Twitter picture from race weekend I liked. But this one, I was too excited and wanted to put up something silly with the logo on it. —KRU
Points or DNF
Bahrain’s edition of Ted’s Race Notebook featured a gripping minute and change of insight from Sky Sports Ted Kravitz. Are Alonso’s DNFs true retirements or is this another branch of McLaren/Alonso vs. Honda posturing? Watch the quick video below for Ted’s thoughts:
The theater, the dramatics, the politics of F1 are immensely intriguing. Of course my perspective is as a wide-eyed, bushy tailed, infant F1 fan–so maybe I haven’t grown tired of it yet. But I can see how taxing it is after years. Silly Season has already begun with wild Alonso back to Renault Part trois rumors and its just after Round 3. But back to the topic…
Let us say for a moment, hypothetically, this is true–Fernando will race full-out until points are out of the picture and then he will return the car in one piece as soon as they are not(should McLaren be so lucky it’s still in one piece). Is it against the racing spirit? Is it right for Alonso (and maybe even McLaren)?
Romanticism will tell us a driver, the truly top level ones, will have an insatiable hunger for wins, for staying on the track. Looking at this in the short term this move seems to go against that notion. Why would a driver, in this case one who has openly stated his chase to be one of the best drivers in history, take himself off the track? Taking romanticism, or any emotion, out of the equation, the bigger picture shows why this may be a smart decision.
Alonso ‘s biggest criticism is one of his decision making. He’s found himself in the wrong drives on the wrong team at the wrong times a good amount, and stays there longer than other drivers would. If viewed purely through the lens of forcing a mid-year move, or more likely preserving his health and performance for a new team next season, this whole forced retirement business makes sense. Should Alonso risk himself in an under-powered, ailing car just to make the results classified? No, why should he when Bottas isn’t set in his Mercedes seat? Or Palmer is vulnerable at Renault. Or any other possibility that could see him improve upon a McHonda washer unit that malfunctioned even at the Bahrain testing first day?
Either way, the continued strain of McLaren and Honda will only yield better results for Fernando right now, which at his age is what matters. He’s not shy to apply pressure to the strain either.
Might as well be Old Heads day for me with my two topics of choice this Debrief but I do not mind. After Kimi Räikkönen’s fifth place finish in China, the Ferrari overreaction PR went into full effect. However, it is not outrageous to say that some of the blame should blow back on Ferrari. Räikkönen’s criticism of the car’s setup and strategy, while some call overly inventive, rings true like the bells at Maranello this year–more often than not. Round 1’s strategy was cautiously praised in our first Debrief but also came at the expense of Kimi, as he was used to help set Vettel free. All fine, all good. But what seems to have developed during Rounds 2 and 3 is an improved strategy (relative to last year) for their first driver and a similar (to last year’s) hurt your chances strategy for their second driver. With problems all over the car for Kimi, issues not as magnified or prevalent on Seb’s ride, it’s clear Ferrari’s shakers and movers, and the garage, is hyper-focused on a Driver’s Championship for Seb. Again–all fine, all good.
But they have not yet shown the ability to translate that into a workable 2017 Constructor’s Championship strategy. At the moment Ferrari can get by on Vettel’s victories but when the sample size is not this small, and the pot of points dolled out is bigger, their share may decrease if their #2 car can’t stay up in the pack and get podiums.
— The Circus (@Circus_F1comic) April 13, 2017
This all may be early posturing to let others (cough, Alonso, cough) know Kimi’s seat is open post season, or keep the carrot out there for Giovinazzi. This may even be the only way Ferrari knows how to motivate (which is also likely). But this season is a good barometer on Kimi’s decline. The grueling nature of these cars can hurt or help RAI. If his decline is real, his struggles may increase as the season goes on and the wear degrades his performance. Or, Kimi’s natural skills and experience with these harder to drive 2017 cars will elevate him higher in the in the points and create a bigger distance between the #7 car and Bottas + Red Bulls.
I’m afraid my initial observation of Bahrain and the teams season so far is a bit misguided. KRU has highlighted that the Red Bulls are right where they should be at this point in the season and are on pace to catch Ferrari’s and Mercedes’ performance by Canada. Perhaps its my overblown expectations for this season, combined with four years (2010-2013) of a consistently competitive car, that anything less than a podium finish is just ‘meh’. But both Red Bulls were consistently within a second of the top pace setter (P3 not withstanding) in practice and showed themselves decent enough to fall within 4-5-6 on the qualifying grid.
I guess my disappointment comes from:
1. Verstappen’s early crash and,
2. Ricciardo’s inability to actually compete for a podium finish.
That said, memories of the disastrous 2015 campaign is forcing me to consider how much more preferable holding down 4-6 on the grid is compared to having reliably unreliable power units. Speaking of power units, according to the wonderful Dutch racingnews365.nl, Mercedes is speculating that the Red Bulls are running the Renault power unit at half power in order to extend the life of their engines until Canada.
Spain and/or Canada have usually been host to the first major improvements engine manufacturers roll out for their engine packages, so Red Bull conserving their engines until this point seems about right. If RN365’s sources are to be believed, that suggests there’s very little horsepower separating Red Bull from Mercedes and, by extension, Ferrari. The Renault works team did see impressive form this weekend, though how much of that can be attributed to engine upgrades or to chassis/aero upgrades is not known.
Haas (again) and the Ferrari Trickle Down
My patriotic homer-ism did not take a break this weekend as VF-17 at the hands of RoGro continued to impress as a solid mid-pack package in practice and qualifying runs. While the season opening race was a massive disappointment for both drivers, China was a relatively consistent outing for the Dane and Frenchman. Bahrain was ultimately only fruitful for RoGro as he finished one place ahead of his starting position in 8th.
Speculation after pre-season testing had pinned Ferrari and its PU as early favorites in the engine arms race. Vettel’s two wins combined with the relatively consistent performance of both Haas drives is starting to demonstrate a trickle-down effect for the American squad. Collaboration between the two teams at this point is almost exclusively on the engine, but the human and intellectual capital Haas has managed to bring in-house and execute on is allowing them to really develop a package that is light years ahead of where other two-year old teams have recently fared.
For one, last year’s downturn in performance was driven in large part to issues surrounding the Brembo brakes. The long lead-time to stamping out mechanical issues has translated into brake issues still rearing its head in the early stages of the campaign, but all accounts point to both parties sorting the issue out this weekend. Hype surrounding Haas at this point last year was ultimately very near sighted, so I’m hesitant to get too excited this year, but the reliable weekend performances so far are nonetheless very welcome for a new Formula 1 team.
Formula 1 Standings and Schedule
|3||Red Bull Racing||47|
|1||26 March||Australian||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari|
|2||9 April||Chinese||Shanghai International Circuit||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes|
|3||16 April||Bahrain||Bahrain International Circuit||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari|
|4||30 April||Russian||Sochi Autodrom|
|5||14 May||Spanish||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya|
|6||28 May||Monaco||Circuit de Monaco|
|7||11 June||Canadian||Circuit Gilles Villeneuve|
|8||25 June||Azerbaijan||Baku City Circuit|
|9||9 July||Austrain||Red Bull Ring|
|10||16 July||British||Silverstone Circuit|
|12||27 August||Belgian||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|13||3 September||Italian||Autodromo Nazionale Monza|
|14||17 September||Singapore||Marina Bay Street Circuit|
|15||1 October||Malaysian||Sepang International Circuit|
|16||8 October||Japanese||Suzuka International Racing Course|
|17||22 October||United States||Circuit of the Americas|
|18||29 October||Mexican||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez|
|19||12 November||Brazilian||Autódromo José Carlos Pace|
|20||26 November||Abu Dhabi||Yas Marina Circuit|
More Race Schedules
|1||9 October 16||Hong Kong||Hong Kong Central Harbourfront Circuit||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams|
|2||12 November 16||Marrakesh||Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams|
|3||18 February||Buenos Aires||Puerto Madero Street Circuit||Sébastien Buemi||Renault e.Dams|
|4||1 April||Mexico City||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez||Lucas di Grassi||ABT Schaeffler Audi|
|5||13 May||Monaco||Circuit de Monaco|
|6||20 May||Paris||Paris Street Circuit|
|7||10 June||Berlin Race 1||Tempelhorf Airport Street Circuit|
|8||11 June||Berlin Race 2||Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit|
|9||15 July||New York Race 1||Brooklyn Street Circuit|
|10||16 July||New York Race 2||Brooklyn Street Circuit|
|11||29 July||Montreal Race 1||Montreal Street Circuit|
|12||30 July||Montreal Race 2||Montreal Street Circuit|
|1||March 12||Firestone GP of St Petersburg||Streets of St Petersburg||Sébastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing (Honda)|
|2||April 9||Toyota GP of Long Beach||Streets of Long Beach||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Honda)|
|3||April 23||Honda Indy GP of Alabama||Barber Motorsports Park|
|4||April 29||Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix GP||Phoenix International Raceway|
|5||May 13||IndyCar GP||Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course|
|6||May 28||101st Indianapolis 500||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|7||June 3||Chevrolet Detroit GP||Raceway at Belle Isle Park|
|8||June 4||Chevrolet Detroit GP||Raceway at Belle Isle Park|
|9||June 10||Rainguard Water Sealer 600||Texas Motor Speedway|
|10||June 25||Kohler GP||Road America|
|11||July 9||Iowa Corn 300||Iowa Speedway|
|12||July 16||Honda Indy Toronto||Exhibition Place|
|13||July 30||Honda Indy 200||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course|
|14||August 20||ABC Supply 500||Pocono Raceway|
|15||August 26||Bommarito Automotive Group 500||Gateway Motorsports Park|
|16||September 3||GP at The Glen||Watkins Glen International|
|17||September 17||GoPro GP of Sonoma||Sonoma Raceway|
|Round||Date||Race||Track||LM P1||LM GTE PRO|
|1||16 April||6 Hours of Silverstone||Silverstone Circuit||Buemi/Davidson/Nakajima Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050||Derani/Priaulx/Tincknell Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK|
|2||6 May||WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps||Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps|
|3||17-18 June||24 Hours of Le Mans||Circuit de la Sarthe|
|4||16 July||6 Hours of Nürburgring||Nürburgring|
|5||3 September||6 Hours of Mexico||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez|
|6||16 September||6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas||Circuit of the Americas|
|7||15 October||6 Hours of Fuji||Fuji Speedway|
|8||5 November||6 Hours of Shanghai||Shanghai International Circuit|
|9||18 November||6 Hours of Bahrain||Bahrain International Circuit|
|1||31 March||World RX of Barcelona||Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya||Mattias Ekstrom||EKS RX (Audi)|
|2||21 April||Bompiso World RX of Portugal||Montalegre|
|3||5 May||World RX of Hockenheim||Hockenheimring|
|4||12 May||Coyote World RX of Belgium||Circuit Jules Tacheny|
|5||26 May||World RX of Great Britain||Lydden Hill|
|6||9 June||Team Verksted World RX of Norway||Hell|
|7||30 June||World RX of Sweden||Holjes Motorstadion|
|8||4 August||World RX of Canada||Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres|
|9||1 September||Bretagne World RX of France||Loheac Bretagne|
|10||15 September||Neste World RX of Latvia||Bikernieki National Sports Base|
|11||29 September||All-Inkl.com World RX of Germany||Estering|
|12||10 November||World RX of South Africa||Killarney International Raceway|
|2||R1||20 May||EuroSpeedway Lausitz|
|2||R2||21 May||EuroSpeedway Lausitz|
|5||R1||22 July||Moscow Raceway|
|5||R2||23 July||Moscow Raceway|
|6||R1||19 August||Circuit Park Zandvoort|
|6||R2||20 August||Circuit Park Zandvoort|
|8||R1||23 September||Red Bull Ring|
|8||R2||24 September||Red Bull Ring|