Sunday, 26 June 2011

Europe: post-race analysis

Since Canada:

Ugh. There are increasing reports that the BBC, which receives more guaranteed funding than NASA, has chosen not to spend on F1 despite it being hugely popular and the coverage being excellent. This means it will probably either end up on ITV (hopefully they won’t run bloody adverts during live racing again) or Sky, which I don’t have. Marvellous. And by ‘Marvellous’ I of course mean ‘Whoever made that decision deserves to be fired from some sort of giant artillery gun into the heart of the sun’.

The contract ends in 2014, but rumour has it some penny-pinching arsehead is intent upon breaking the contract early.

In other news, there’s no throttle map alteration between qualifying and race, so this should reduce Red Bull’s qualifying advantage. However, it’s so vast I’d be unsurprised if Vettel got pole.

Qualifying summary:

No tips, as I only had a few minutes and it looked like Vettel would get pole at short odds.

I missed this live and saw snippets online. Sadly no change at the front, and whilst it’s nice to see the Ferraris seemingly more competitive we’ll have to see if this is borne out during the race.

Race summary:

Betting-wise, I only offered one tip, and Button never threatened to get a podium so it wasn’t even hedgable, alas.

From a racing perspective Valencia/Europe was always going to suffer by comparison with the epic Canadian Grand Prix, but, even given that, I think it’s fair to say Europe was the most tedious race of the season.

Every single car finished, which is great if you get turned on by reliability, but if you aren’t a Volvo salesman it does indicate the tedium of the race. Most of my underlying assumptions regarding Button were wrong. Webber did suffer slightly from tyre degradation, but not so much it cost him a podium spot. Massa did have decent pace and neither Alonso nor Hamilton crashed out or had a similar issue. I was right about Vettel being over the hills and far away. He won with depressing ease, to be honest.

More importantly, McLaren lacked race pace. They were clearly inferior to Ferrari but superior to Mercedes, and I’ll go into more detail about that in the musings below.

Schumacher had another bad time in Valencia, mostly because his front wing was ruined by a Renault, meaning he had to stop again, and he then ran out of option tyres.

Alguersuari got a great eighth for Toro Rosso and Perez almost managed to make a one-stopper work again, but in the end had to settle for 11th.

I’d imagined the processional boredom of Valencia would’ve been blown away by the delights of KERS, DRS and the Pirelli tyres. Instead, it was just a bit dull. Vettel was never threatened, most of the cars had a substantial gap both ahead and behind them, and there wasn’t even an exciting crash to liven things up. The good news is that Silverstone’s a proper circuit, and we’re there in a fortnight.


Why were McLaren so rubbish in the race? Well, Button did get stuck behind Rosberg for a bit, which hampered him early on, but throughout both cars were slower than Ferrari. Button also had a KERS failure, but I don’t think that made a difference to his finishing position.

There are a few potential explanations. I do not believe the circuit is especially bad for them, as they got two podium places last year. It is possible the loss of hot/cold blowing changes from qualifying to race actually hit them hardest, but a perhaps the more probable explanation is that it was hot and that this disproportionately affected the McLaren.

Next race will see the hot/cold blowing banned entirely. Silverstone is a pretty McLaren-friendly circuit, so they absolutely must aspire to beat Red Bull in Blighty.

Interestingly, every single one of the five tips I considered (Ferrari win at 9.2, 18 or fewer drivers at 2.96, Safety Car at evens, Massa to finish outside the top 6 at 2 and the Button tip) was wrong. That doesn’t speak well of my betting eye this weekend, but at least I only bet and tipped one of them.

Button and Webber are tied on 109 points, a full 77 behind present and future World Champion Sebastian Vettel. I really can’t see him losing from here.

All good things come to an end, but hopefully I’ll be able to offer some better tips for the race in Silverstone, and I’m pretty sure the race will be a damned sight better than a Spanish procession.

Morris Dancer

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