The F1 Week That Was (24 June 2012)

25 Jun

It’s a good job I described this as a weekly-ish column. The last few weeks have been really busy! Anyway, here’s the latest instalment.

Valencia GP – Alonso Reigns in Spain

Despite the unpredictable nature of the season so far, F1 fans were bracing themselves for the annual ‘bore-fest’ of the Valencian Grand Prix. and I remember BBC F1 viewers at the start of the season had been really annoyed that it was one of the 10 live races they would see. Luckily for all it was an absolute cracker. It was a race of mixed emotions for me; in the middle of the race two of my three favourite drivers had their races wrecked and I was bracing myself for the prospect of another Hamilton victory (sorry McLaren fans but I really can’t stand the man). Little did I know that less than an hour later I would be screaming with excitement that Hamilton was out and that Michael Schumacher would be on the podium. The podium made up of Ferrari heroes with Alonso winning his home race was an incredibly poignant moment.

The notable development of the weekend was the heavily upgraded RB8. It  was an impressive step forward for the team and it will be interesting to see how the car performs in different conditions. The other leading teams will need to make similar steps forward in the next few races to prevent the Bulls charging away. Lewis Hamilton’s comments and body language in the drivers’ press conference on Thursday implied this wasn’t the case for McLaren, and Ferrari openly acknowledge they need to move forward. The results of the 3 remaining races before the summer break will be fascinating.

Third Drivers

Timo Glock’s unfortunate illness in Valencia, which led to him missing the race, raised the issue of reserve drivers. Marussia do not have a reserve driver, and the sudden onset of Timo’s illness made the team unable to draft in a temporary replacement (Jaime Alguersuari and Nick Heidfeld were both in the paddock, albeit with broadcasting commitments, and there may have been others). It is unusual for a team not to have a reserve driver, and Marussia’s test driver, Maria De Villota does not have a superlicence so is unable to participate in F1 races.

So why not have a reserve driver? Marussia are clearly short on funds this year – no KERS etc, and as a team at the back of the grid I think they have made the right call. Having a reserve driver is a big financial overhead for a team, and as they aren’t realistically going to be in with a chance of earning points, they are better off running with just one driver in circumstances like the ones that befell them in Valencia. If either Timo or Charles had a longer term problem then there is no shortage of drivers who they could draft in for multiple races.

A London Grand Prix?

News emerged during the week that Bernie has started talks about staging an F1 race at the London Olympic park. This news has been greeted with both cynicism and enthusiasm. I’d absolutely love to see a race in London, and when I go to the Olympics later in the summer I’ll definitely be envisaging an F1 circuit around the park. Bernie has tried for many years to get a race in London and this may be his best chance. The odds aren’t in his favour though.

Inevitably British fans love the idea of having two races. Silverstone has a long-term contract (not that those mean anything to Mr Ecclestone), and Britain is the base for the majority of the F1 teams. I’ve never been convinced, however, that it is a good thing to have two races in one country when there are so many other countries wanting to get a place on the calendar.

We’ll have to wait and see if the bid is successful.

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