Friday, June 29, 2012

Fresh questions over struggling Schumacher

Michael Schumacher's collision with Williams driver Bruno Senna in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix has once again focused awkward attention on the German legend's lacklustre performances for Mercedes.

A senior member of the Mercedes team used the word "mediocre" last weekend when discussing the 43-year-old's driving, and that was before Schumacher clumsily ran into the back of Senna's car in the race.

It was the sort of error you might expect from a beginner, not a man with 91 grand prix victories and seven world titles under his belt.

Coming at Senna from a long way back, Schumacher seemed simply to misjudge the closing speed of the two cars and, caught in two minds about which direction to go, he ran into the back of the Williams.

Schumacher called Senna an "idiot" on the radio as he sat in the gravel trap in the immediate aftermath, and, even after watching replays, he still seemed convinced it was his rival's fault. The stewards disagreed and gave him a five-place grid penalty for the next race in Monaco.

Schumacher's reaction will have surprised no-one in F1 - he has always seemed to lack the ability to accept he can ever be wrong.

In an aspiring young driver, this is a characteristic one might expect. But age is supposed to bring wisdom and, in this aspect at least, it appears not to be the case with Schumacher.

With the passing years comes an inevitable waning of physical abilities, and it is surely now beyond dispute that this has come even to him.

Michael Schumacher collides with Bruno Senna during the Spanish Grand Prix. Photo: Reuters

How long can he go on raging against the dying of the light? More to the point, perhaps, how long can Mercedes accept it?

There is no shame in Schumacher not being the driver he was - one can argue there is honour in him being able to achieve even what he has as he heads into the middle of his fifth decade.

The facts, though, are that he is now no more than a decent F1 driver - and some may argue not even that.

Statistically, this is the worst start to a season in Schumacher's career. But statistics can be misleading - Schumacher actually started the season well. He was the stronger of the two Mercedes drivers in the first two races.

But then came China and Nico Rosberg's qualifying lap, half a second quicker than his team-mate, who was second on the grid.

The gap was explained almost entirely by a stunning middle sector of the lap from Rosberg, which Schumacher, I'm told, justified to himself by Rosberg managing to turn his tyres on better.

That may well have been the reason, but the gap was there nonetheless. As it was again in the race, when that excuse was less justifiable. Schumacher was simply outclassed by his team-mate.

They have been more evenly matched since, but still Schumacher is almost certainly getting no more from the car than a number of other drivers could manage.

The contrast, with what Fernando Alonso is doing in the Ferrari - which is not dissimilar to the sort of thing Schumacher used to achieve in his early years with the team - is stark.

The tragedy of Schumacher's current situation is that it is leading some people to question his earlier achievements of seven world titles; two with Benetton and five with Ferrari between 1994 and 2004.

His criticisms of the Pirelli tyres after Bahrain drew uncomfortable parallels with the bespoke tyres from Bridgestone which Schumacher enjoyed for much of his Ferrari career, a subject that was largely unexplored during his pomp.

Some are beginning to wonder if seven titles really was such an amazing achievement, given the advantages he had at his disposal?

This would be wrong, though. There is no doubt that the Schumacher of the 1990s and early 2000s was an outstanding racing driver, one of the greatest there has ever been.
But that Schumacher belongs to the past.

The current one is out of contract at the end of this season. This, in fact, was the context in which the "mediocre" remark came up.

So what reasons do Mercedes have to keep him on, rather than try for someone else?
Lewis Hamilton, also looking for a new deal in 2013, may well not be available, or interested. Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button are committed to their current teams. Those left are all unproven.

Schumacher may continue to embarrass himself in wheel-to-wheel racing occasionally, but he's close to Rosberg's pace these days - and Mercedes' top management rate their younger driver very highly indeed.

The other reason is less palatable for those who like to consider F1 as the arena in which the very best drivers in the world do battle. It's commercial.

Schumacher's marketing value to Mercedes is huge. After Rosberg's victory in China, vice-president of Mercedes motorsport Norbert Haug delighted in how "fantastic" Schumacher had been in front of 800 guests at the launch of a new road car model in Shanghai the previous night. It had been, Haug said, "the perfect weekend".

Schumacher may no longer be one of the best F1 drivers, but around the world he remains arguably the most famous - and therefore the most valuable to Mercedes off the track. And in Germany, Mercedes' home, he is largely untouchable, voted recently the greatest national sportsman in history.

Ultimately, though, Mercedes are in F1 to win - and it is no secret that, after two disappointing seasons, the pressure on the team at the start of this season was enormous.

It will have been alleviated somewhat by their win in China, but the team have faded after a promising start and currently look no better than they did through much of last year.

In a season as topsy-turvy as this, that could easily change - and, who knows, if everything comes together perhaps Schumacher can win again. After all, who before the weekend would have predicted Pastor Maldonado's victory in Spain?

But, all things being equal, that looks unlikely. For a team with an average car who need to win, is a "mediocre" driver, however famous, good enough?

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/05/fresh_questions_over_mediocre.html

Jean Pierre Bayle Len Bayliss Troy Bayliss Bruce Beale Douglas Beasley

2013 Shelby GT350 revealed

Shelby American has unveiled the 2013 GT350. It features revised styling and several new options.

Source: http://feeds.worldcarfans.com/~r/worldcarfans/Jxfz/~3/5IS3YABFHhM/2013-shelby-gt350-revealed

Domenico Brigaglia Aramis Brito Massimo Broccoli Bo Brolin Rob Bron

Engine Question for Tim Boyd

Tim, I remember an article you did a long time ago (and I can't find it again) where you used some kind of RC model airplane parts for Hilborn injector tubes. These looked better than ANY other injector tubes I've ever seen anywhere! They were the perfect diameter and even had a good looking flare on them. I've looked all over the net and can't find these parts. I've looked calling them "grommets" and "ferrules" with RC suppliers and can't find anything close. Can you point me to who made these, and what they're called?

Many thanks!

Source: http://cs.scaleautomag.com/SCACS/forums/thread/1021650.aspx

Toshiyuki Arakaki Fernando Aranda Takeishi Araoka Adrian Araujo Gilbert Argo

Fresh questions over struggling Schumacher

Michael Schumacher's collision with Williams driver Bruno Senna in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix has once again focused awkward attention on the German legend's lacklustre performances for Mercedes.

A senior member of the Mercedes team used the word "mediocre" last weekend when discussing the 43-year-old's driving, and that was before Schumacher clumsily ran into the back of Senna's car in the race.

It was the sort of error you might expect from a beginner, not a man with 91 grand prix victories and seven world titles under his belt.

Coming at Senna from a long way back, Schumacher seemed simply to misjudge the closing speed of the two cars and, caught in two minds about which direction to go, he ran into the back of the Williams.

Schumacher called Senna an "idiot" on the radio as he sat in the gravel trap in the immediate aftermath, and, even after watching replays, he still seemed convinced it was his rival's fault. The stewards disagreed and gave him a five-place grid penalty for the next race in Monaco.

Schumacher's reaction will have surprised no-one in F1 - he has always seemed to lack the ability to accept he can ever be wrong.

In an aspiring young driver, this is a characteristic one might expect. But age is supposed to bring wisdom and, in this aspect at least, it appears not to be the case with Schumacher.

With the passing years comes an inevitable waning of physical abilities, and it is surely now beyond dispute that this has come even to him.

Michael Schumacher collides with Bruno Senna during the Spanish Grand Prix. Photo: Reuters

How long can he go on raging against the dying of the light? More to the point, perhaps, how long can Mercedes accept it?

There is no shame in Schumacher not being the driver he was - one can argue there is honour in him being able to achieve even what he has as he heads into the middle of his fifth decade.

The facts, though, are that he is now no more than a decent F1 driver - and some may argue not even that.

Statistically, this is the worst start to a season in Schumacher's career. But statistics can be misleading - Schumacher actually started the season well. He was the stronger of the two Mercedes drivers in the first two races.

But then came China and Nico Rosberg's qualifying lap, half a second quicker than his team-mate, who was second on the grid.

The gap was explained almost entirely by a stunning middle sector of the lap from Rosberg, which Schumacher, I'm told, justified to himself by Rosberg managing to turn his tyres on better.

That may well have been the reason, but the gap was there nonetheless. As it was again in the race, when that excuse was less justifiable. Schumacher was simply outclassed by his team-mate.

They have been more evenly matched since, but still Schumacher is almost certainly getting no more from the car than a number of other drivers could manage.

The contrast, with what Fernando Alonso is doing in the Ferrari - which is not dissimilar to the sort of thing Schumacher used to achieve in his early years with the team - is stark.

The tragedy of Schumacher's current situation is that it is leading some people to question his earlier achievements of seven world titles; two with Benetton and five with Ferrari between 1994 and 2004.

His criticisms of the Pirelli tyres after Bahrain drew uncomfortable parallels with the bespoke tyres from Bridgestone which Schumacher enjoyed for much of his Ferrari career, a subject that was largely unexplored during his pomp.

Some are beginning to wonder if seven titles really was such an amazing achievement, given the advantages he had at his disposal?

This would be wrong, though. There is no doubt that the Schumacher of the 1990s and early 2000s was an outstanding racing driver, one of the greatest there has ever been.
But that Schumacher belongs to the past.

The current one is out of contract at the end of this season. This, in fact, was the context in which the "mediocre" remark came up.

So what reasons do Mercedes have to keep him on, rather than try for someone else?
Lewis Hamilton, also looking for a new deal in 2013, may well not be available, or interested. Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button are committed to their current teams. Those left are all unproven.

Schumacher may continue to embarrass himself in wheel-to-wheel racing occasionally, but he's close to Rosberg's pace these days - and Mercedes' top management rate their younger driver very highly indeed.

The other reason is less palatable for those who like to consider F1 as the arena in which the very best drivers in the world do battle. It's commercial.

Schumacher's marketing value to Mercedes is huge. After Rosberg's victory in China, vice-president of Mercedes motorsport Norbert Haug delighted in how "fantastic" Schumacher had been in front of 800 guests at the launch of a new road car model in Shanghai the previous night. It had been, Haug said, "the perfect weekend".

Schumacher may no longer be one of the best F1 drivers, but around the world he remains arguably the most famous - and therefore the most valuable to Mercedes off the track. And in Germany, Mercedes' home, he is largely untouchable, voted recently the greatest national sportsman in history.

Ultimately, though, Mercedes are in F1 to win - and it is no secret that, after two disappointing seasons, the pressure on the team at the start of this season was enormous.

It will have been alleviated somewhat by their win in China, but the team have faded after a promising start and currently look no better than they did through much of last year.

In a season as topsy-turvy as this, that could easily change - and, who knows, if everything comes together perhaps Schumacher can win again. After all, who before the weekend would have predicted Pastor Maldonado's victory in Spain?

But, all things being equal, that looks unlikely. For a team with an average car who need to win, is a "mediocre" driver, however famous, good enough?

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/05/fresh_questions_over_mediocre.html

Luigi Anelli Marcel Ankone Hans Georg Anscheidt Alessandro Antonello Haruchika Aoki

A Future Champion?

After a shaky start to the season, is starting to prove himself in Formula One, despite retiring from Sundays .

An alternator problem on the Swiss driver’s cost him the chance of his first victory in Valencia with 17 laps to go. He was in second at the time and closing the gap on eventual winner , as he looked for victory in the Spanish heat. The retirement meant that out of eight races Grosjean has completed only half of the events this year, a statistic not pleasing for a driver who is in his first full year in the sport.

The 26-year-old may have feared his second stint in would go the same way as his first, after he completed only four laps of the opening two races combined. But, both in qualifying, and the occasions when he has reached the chequered flag, Grosjean has been hugely impressive, dispelling the bad memories of his time with Renault back in 2009. Promoted to number two driver half way through the season after Nelson Piquet Jnr was dropped from the team, Grosjean had the unenviable task of being Fernando Alonso’s team mate.

With Alonso challenging for wins, the then 23-year-old could be found battling it out trying to avoid the ignominy of being last on the grid. He wasn’t retained by the team for the next year and his three year absence from the sport appears to have done Grosjean a world of good.

After winning last year Lotus team principal Eric Boullier gave him a route back into motorsport’s biggest stage. This time round he is also the teammate of a former World Champion in , but there is no visible gap in class this time.

Just twenty points separates the two with Raikkonen one place ahead lying sixth in the standings. The gap would have been closed on Sunday, but the Frenchman’s loss was the Finn’s, gain as he took second place on the podium in Valencia.

Had the Swiss ended up on the podium it would have been his third of year, impressive for a relatively young driver who is so far performing with great consistency. Never has he qualified outside of the top ten thus far, and on the four occasions he has made it to the end of a Grand Prix has not finished lower than sixth.

If Grosjean can keep his race finishes as consistent as his qualifying, then there is no reason why he can’t out score, and outclass, not only his teammate but most of the field. Raikkonen may be the dominant force in the team now, but Grosjean is showing the qualities of someone who may just become number one in the sport in years to come.

What are your thoughts? Comment or let @gstyles19 know on Twitter

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Formula1Fancast/~3/xYvJo6Tez8s/a-future-champion

Giacomo Agostini Jack Ahearn Mitsuo Akamatsu Takashi Akita Kousuke Akiyoshi

Jaguar F-Type R spied on Nurburgring [video]

These latest spy photos show something new. We can see a dual quad exhaust layout which suggest something more powerful lies beneath the hood.

Source: http://feeds.worldcarfans.com/~r/worldcarfans/Jxfz/~3/3-JnhheaoS4/jaguar-f-type-r-spied-on-nurburgring-video

Ismael Bonilla Steve Bonsey Paul Bordes Juan Bordons Andrea Borgonovo

European Grand Prix 2012 - Qualifying Pictures

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/F1InsightAFormula1Blog/~3/Dgks6KfT8Jw/european-grand-prix-2012-pictures.html

Manliff Barrington Alex Barros Geoff Barry Hans Bartl Harald Bartol

32 Ford Sedan Street Rod WIP

I started this one a couple of months ago by painting the body and related body color parts with Kustom Kolor Peach enamel.  I mixed it with some of the same Bright Orange because I only had 1 ounce of each and this paint is not available any more.  I was hoping for a brighter peach color but got more of a Salmon. Painted the top and running boards with American Accents (Lowes's) Wine Satin.

I have the other pieces in various stages of paint.  I am going to paint the interior wine satin as well. I painted the engine yesterday with Testors One Coat Reving Red over Tamiya Silver Leaf so it would sparkle a little and provide a good contrast with the engine chrome while staying with the same color scheme. Holes are already drilled for spark plug wires and I removed the distrbutor stem base in order to mount a MAD pre-wired distributor. Steering wheel and column will also receive the Reving Red. Thanks for looking! Cool

Source: http://cs.scaleautomag.com/SCACS/forums/thread/1022393.aspx

Bo Brolin Rob Bron Alain Bronec Bob Brown Norick Abe

The London Grand Prix – PR stunt or the real deal?

A month ago McLaren sponsor Santander invited the media to an event in London today with the premise “Ever imagined what a London Grand Prix might look like? Jenson and Lewis have.” The company followed up with the promise of … Continue reading

Source: http://adamcooperf1.com/2012/06/28/the-london-grand-prix-pr-stunt-or-the-real-deal/

Karl Auer August Auinger Jean Aureal Josef Autengruber Stu Avant

Journalists shocked at Korea award


Scarecrows adorn the entrance to a barren Korean International Circuit © Getty Images
Two leading Formula One journalists have expressed their surprise at Korea being named the best grand prix promoter of the season at the FIA’s annual prize gala in Monaco last Friday. The Korean Grand Prix received the Race Promoters' Trophy despite the event taking place at an incomplete facility with few race fans in attendance and team members and media staying at disparagingly dubbed 'love hotels'. "Korea. Korea? KOREA??!! I must have been somewhere else," said Times correspondent Kevin Eason on Twitter. Daily Mirror journalist Byron Young added, "The Korean GP, complete with event and flight chaos, shoddy hotels and things I won't mention, won the race promotors’ trophy. Why?"

Source: http://blogs.espnf1.com/paperroundf1/archives/2010/12/journalists_shocked_at_korea_a.php

Jacques Bolle Pierre Bolle Maurice Bolwerk Gianfranco Bonera Bruno Bonhuil

Few unfamiliar Faces 'Behind the Scenes' of an F1 event

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/F1InsightAFormula1Blog/~3/HQ5_rTpc-QA/few-unfamiliar-faces-behind-scenes-of.html

Robin Appleyard Junya Arai Toshiyuki Arakaki Fernando Aranda Takeishi Araoka

Thursday, June 28, 2012

57 Chevy Nomad.............................6/28

It will have a custom engine, wheels and paint..................................

More coming soon....................

Source: http://cs.scaleautomag.com/SCACS/forums/thread/1022520.aspx

Gerhard Bauer Manfred Baumann Alvaro Bautista Lenfranco Baviera Richard Bay

Bernie gets a bite of the Big Apple

Source: http://www.metrof1.com/blogs/metrof1/2011/10/second-us-race-confirmed---and-will-nyc-hog-the-limelight-over-new-jersey.html

Gino Borsoi Luca Boscoscuro Gimmi Bosio Juup Bosman Adrian Bosshard

Chequers for Salvadori...

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/nofenders/zbjv/~3/4d8T2tO5Xt4/chequers-for-salvadori.html

Pierre Bolle Maurice Bolwerk Gianfranco Bonera Bruno Bonhuil Ismael Bonilla

Ferrari Launch Their 2011 Car The F150

Ferrari have become the first team to launch their 2011 Formula One car – named the F150. Thw F150 name comes from the fact it is 150 years since Italian unification, the flag bearer for the nation decided it was important to increase exposure of the major event in the country’s long history.  The cars [...]

Source: http://f1fanatics.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/ferrari-launch-their-2011-car-the-f150/

Aramis Brito Massimo Broccoli Bo Brolin Rob Bron Alain Bronec

Dan Wheldon 1978-2011

Source: http://www.metrof1.com/blogs/metrof1/2011/10/dan-wheldon-1978-2011.html

Hubert Abold Karel Abrah Brian Adams Duilio Agostini Felice Agostini

2013 Mercedes SLS AMG GT Nurburgring lap time is 7:30 - priced for US

Only on the market for less than two years and Mercedes has already announced a much improved SLS AMG for the 2013 model year. Although slightly more expensive, it is indeed faster.

Source: http://feeds.worldcarfans.com/~r/worldcarfans/Jxfz/~3/k6WT9D-TVE8/2013-mercedes-sls-amg-gt-nurburgring-lap-time-is-730--

Marcel Ankone Hans Georg Anscheidt Alessandro Antonello Haruchika Aoki Nobuatsu Aoki

Why Michael Schumacher Could Win The 2011 World Championship

Michael Schumacher’s 2010 comeback was somewhat abortive.  The results, the driving standard and the overtakes were well below par for the former champion.  He even let his team mate beat him for the first time in his career.  So why can Schumacher, the fallen Ferrari hero, win the world championship for an 8th time? It’s [...]

Source: http://f1fanatics.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/why-michael-schumacher-could-win-the-2011-world-championship/

Daniel Amatriain Dario Ambrosini Ray Amm Luigi Ancona Bob Anderson

Vettel sprouts a second finger

Source: http://www.metrof1.com/blogs/metrof1/2011/10/vettel-sprouts-a-second-finger.html

Hartmut Bischoff Gastone Biscia Norman Black Kenny Blake John Blanchard

Prosecutors say Ecclestone corruption 'accomplice'

German prosecutors on Wednesday appeared likely to press ahead with a corruption case against Bernie Ecclestone. Until now, the F1 chief executive has been implicated in the Gerhard Gribkowsky scand...

Source: http://feeds.worldcarfans.com/~r/worldcarfans/Jxfz/~3/aMljHPVEVZc/prosecutors-say-ecclestone-corruption-accomplice

Alejandro Aleman Eduardo Aleman Jaime Alguesuari Julien Allemand Dick Allen

'70 Challenger drag car wip

Its revells '70 challenger T/A kit. I scratch built a full funny car cage and yes i know that for what it is a funny car cage is complete overkill but im thinking about buying a ross gibson 815 hemi for it so that would fit in with the theme of the build i also scratch built a tach and kirkey style racing seat now i need to order some seat belt material and a photoetched cam style harness. anyways the paint is testors one coat lacquer purplelicious with 2 coats of clear and polished with Meguiar's cleaner wax.

Source: http://cs.scaleautomag.com/SCACS/forums/thread/1022313.aspx

Artie Bell Carlos Bellon Carlo Bellotti Jean Pierre Beltoise Felice Benasedo

Bowyer celebrates win with Blake Shelton concert

Source: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/06/27/2163995/bowyer-celebrates-win-with-blake.html

Jose Barresi Manliff Barrington Alex Barros Geoff Barry Hans Bartl

Sebastian Vettel on Late Night with David Letterman (+Video)

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/F1InsightAFormula1Blog/~3/RxG8tksqCPw/sebastian-vettel-on-late-night-with.html

Brian Ball Andrea Ballerini Kork Ballington Hans Baltisberger Carlo Bandirola

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor introduced

Ford has introduced the 2013 F-150 SVT Raptor. It features optional HID headlights and forged-aluminum wheels that can be equipped with aftermarket beadlocks.

Source: http://feeds.worldcarfans.com/~r/worldcarfans/Jxfz/~3/7mAiRQaimT4/2013-ford-f-150-svt-raptor-introduced

Stu Avant Rex Avery Masao Azuma Jan Bé‹Ťkstrom Chris Baert

All good for revitalised Webber

"All good, mate," is probably Mark Webber's favourite phrase. It's a fair bit more loaded with meaning than it sounds, and it sums up the way he will be feeling after the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Australian's second win in three years in Formula 1's most prestigious race, and his first of the season, had been coming for a while and it confirms Webber's return to form after a difficult 2011.

It will have been particularly sweet as it came at another race in which he has had an edge on team-mate Sebastian Vettel, whose romp to the world title last year was probably harder on Webber than anyone.

When a driver takes 11 wins and 15 pole positions in 19 races, as Vettel did last year, most of his rivals can console themselves with the thought that he has a better car than they do. Not so his team-mate, who suffered through 2011 with dignity and largely in silence.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber (right) is congratulated by Prince Albert II (left) of Monaco after winning the Monaco Grand Prix. Photo: Getty 

This season, though, has seen a Webber more like the one who led the championship for much of 2010 before falling at the final hurdle.

There was virtually nothing to choose between the two Red Bull drivers for most of that season - and this year Webber is back to that position.

Although it has taken until Monaco for Webber to draw level with Vettel on points, the qualifying score is four-two in Webber's favour.

It would almost certainly have been five-one had Red Bull not erroneously decided not to send him out for a second run in the second session of qualifying in Spain two weeks ago, thinking he had done enough to make it through to the top-10 shoot-out.

Out-qualifying Vettel so comprehensively again in Monaco, on a track where all the drivers admit the man in the cockpit can make that bit more of a difference than on more mundane tracks, will have been particularly sweet.

The two Red Bull drivers have been more evenly matched in races this year, but while it took until his Monaco victory for Webber to draw level with Vettel in the championship, that is not necessarily an accurate reflection of their relative pace.

Webber scored four consecutive fourth places in the first four races as Vettel took a win, a second and a fifth. But only in Bahrain was Vettel demonstrably faster - and Webber would almost certainly have taken the second place his team-mate did in Australia had it not been for a pit-stop delay.

A win in Monaco, to become the sixth different driver to win in the first six races of the year confirms - as if confirmation were needed - that Webber is a major contender for the championship again this year.

He admitted after the race in Monaco that "last year was a little bit of a mystery; the gap was sometimes really, really extreme". One imagines Vettel feels very much the same about this season.

Monaco was another example. There was Webber on the front row while Vettel was back in 10th having used up all his 'super-soft' tyres just getting into the top-10 shoot-out - exactly as had happened in Spain.

Red Bull have been struggling comparatively in qualifying all year, but their race pace has been strong almost everywhere. So it was again in Monaco, where Vettel, on a different strategy, suddenly became a factor for victory mid-way through the race.

"That wasn't in the plan," Webber joked afterwards, admitting he had been a little nervous about his team-mate's progress. Eventually, though, the tyres on Vettel's car cried enough - and he had to settle for fourth.

Team boss Christian Horner could not explain after the race how Vettel was so competitive in the race in the same car in which he had struggled in qualifying. But the answer will almost certainly lie somewhere in the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres, the secrets of which are proving elusive to the teams so far this season.

It says something for Red Bull's professionalism and competence as a team that although aspects of their car's performance are flummoxing even a man as brilliant as their designer Adrian Newey, they find both drivers tied on points just three off the championship lead.

Equally, it speaks volumes for the quality of Fernando Alonso's driving so far this year that he is the man they are chasing, despite being in a car that has not yet been fast enough to set a pole position.

The Spaniard was in impressive form again in Monaco. From fifth on the grid, he made another great start and ran fourth to the first pit stops, when he jumped Lewis Hamilton's McLaren thanks to a stunning in-lap, on which he set the fastest times of the race until that point on both the first sectors.

Alonso and Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali both admitted afterwards that he could potentially even have got ahead of second-placed Nico Rosberg and perhaps Webber, too, had he stayed out a little longer. But, as they said, you only know this in hindsight.

Still, third place was enough to vault him past Vettel into a clear championship lead. No wonder Horner said after the race: "Fernando has driven very well. He's going to be a key factor all the way through this championship for sure."

He wisely added that it would be wrong to rule out McLaren, despite another lacklustre performance in Monaco, and the same should also be said of Mercedes.

Mercedes bounced back with a bang in Monaco after a dip in form in Bahrain and Spain following Rosberg's dominant win in China last month.

And after a difficult start to the season, it was Michael Schumacher who stuck the car on pole, which he lost as a result of the five-place grid penalty he earned for running into the back of Williams's Bruno Senna in Spain.

Schumacher was unlucky in the race, tagged by Lotus's Romain Grosjean at the start, and then retiring with a fuel pressure problem after running seventh for a while.

It will take a few more performances like that to convince everyone that the veteran German can be a consistent force at the front, and he is almost certainly too far behind to be a factor in the championship battle.

But his presence at the front, should it continue, will add an intriguing dimension to an already fascinating season.

"All good," as Webber would doubtless say.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/05/andrew_benson.html

Hector Barber? Fabio Barchitta Alan Barnett Lorenzo Baroni Jose Barresi

Drivers' meeting 'promises to be very interesting'

Oh to be a fly on the wall at the drivers' briefing ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix next month.

The controversial decision not to penalise either Nico Rosberg for his aggressive defence against Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at the Bahrain Grand Prix or Hamilton for overtaking by going off the track has led to considerable debate within Formula 1.

So much so, that Alonso, a man who weighs his words carefully, has decided to speak out about it. After learning of the ruling, the Ferrari driver said to his 400,000-plus Twitter followers: "I think you are going to have fun in future races! You can defend position as you want and you can overtake outside the track! Enjoy!"

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton

Nico Rosberg (left) and Lewis Hamilton may have differing views at the drivers' meeting. Photo: Getty

Alonso had earlier said of Rosberg's driving: "If instead of such a wide run-off area there had been a wall, I'm not sure I'd be here to talk about it."

On the face of it, and at first glance, the stewards' decision does appear difficult to understand.

With both Hamilton on lap 10 and Alonso on lap 24, Rosberg veered dramatically to the inside - and, unusually, right across to the white line that demarcates the edge of the circuit.

Both Hamilton and Alonso went off the track in avoidance, to varying degrees. Whereas Hamilton kept going and succeeded in passing the Mercedes, Alonso backed off and tried for the outside line, but had lost too much momentum to pull a move off.

Article 20.4 of the sporting regulations says: "Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted."

So why was Rosberg not penalised?

The stewards said his defence was legitimate because although it was Rosberg who started to deviate from his line first, he did so in a "constant and continuous straight-line manner" and neither Hamilton nor Alonso had "a significant portion of their car... alongside" Rosberg's.

In other words, because Rosberg moved first, he was always clearly in front and it was therefore effectively the other driver's decision to keep moving to the inside to the point that he was off the track.

In Hamilton's case, if you watch the TV footage back, you can clearly see this is the case.

It is less obviously so with Alonso - and the stewards had to use the footage from the Ferrari's onboard camera before they came to a conclusion.

I have not seen the footage, but I'm told it showed again that a) Rosberg moved first; and b) at no point was "a significant portion" of Alonso's car alongside the Mercedes.

During the race, viewers heard Alonso say over his team radio: "He pushed me off the track. You have to leave a space. All the time you have to leave a space."

This, though, is not actually what the regulations say.

A new rule, article 20.3, was introduced this year to formally enshrine that "any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to a corner".

But this only applies when he is making a second move - there is nothing in the rules to stop drivers going right to the edge of the track in their first defensive move.

In other words, you might think - as Alonso did - that Rosberg's driving was unfair, overly aggressive, even dangerous, but the rules contain nothing the stewards could use to penalise him.

There is no obligation, I'm told by a senior figure, to leave room for a rival, unless he is partially alongside. The question then becomes, how far alongside does a driver have to be before the man he is overtaking has to leave him room with his first move?

That's where it starts to get awkward.

"It's no different," a senior insider says, "to a conventional overtaking manoeuvre when one driver dives down the inside, gets halfway alongside and they collide. One guy says: 'You should have given me room.' The other says: 'You weren't far enough alongside.' Often drivers' perception of a situation differs from the reality."

The stewards have to use their judgement, including factors such as speed differential between the cars, when a driver moved, how many moves he made, and so on.

Back, though, to what the rules do say. Article 20.2 says drivers "must use the track at all times". This is why Rosberg said over his team radio: "Hamilton passed me off the track."

Which Hamilton clearly did. So why was he not penalised?

The stewards, I'm told, asked: "What advantage did Hamilton gain by going off the track?" And they concluded that if he had gone to the outside, he was carrying so much momentum he would have passed anyway.

The most obvious of several counter-points to that is: "Yes, but Hamilton did go off the track when you have established he didn't need to, and he did pass him by doing so, so he should be penalised."

At least two leading drivers share this view, I'm told. But you have to bear in mind that Hamilton is not the most popular driver on the grid and his rivals are "always looking for ways to nail him", as one source put it on Monday.

The problem arose in the first place because concrete run-offs surround the circuit in Bahrain. Drivers can use these with impunity, safe in the knowledge that if they are forced off the track they are not going to spin on wet grass or hit a wall.

Had there been grass there, Hamilton would not have been able to pull off the same move (another argument for a penalty being applied) and Alonso might have backed off sooner.

Equally, had there been grass there - or even a wall - Rosberg might well have given them both a bit more room.

The stewards weighed it all up and felt that, in this instance, penalising Hamilton would have been overly harsh.

The result is some drivers believe Hamilton should have been penalised, some believe Rosberg should have been, and Alonso is saying the stewards' ruling gives drivers carte blanche to overtake off the track or crowd their rivals as much as they like.

Which is why that drivers' meeting in Barcelona promises to be so interesting.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/04/unanswered_questions_for_rosbe.html

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Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/nofenders/zbjv/~3/clrEEIVzZVE/dario-races-onto-late-night-show.html

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