October 19, 2008

F1 UPDATE!: China 2008!

The penultimate race!  Two championships up for grabs!  Did either get settled?  Let's find out... THIS is your F1 UPDATE! for the Grand Prix of China!

*DULL:  Once the lights went out, the actual race was actually pretty boring.  Lewis Hamilton had a good start, led by one second at the end of the first lap, and was never even slightly challenged.  Kimi Raikkonen tried to hang with him and stayed close enough that the McLaren couldn't really relax, but the result was never in doubt.

*TEAM ORDERS?  IN MY F1 RACE?:  It's more likely than you think.  Article 39.1 of the sporting regulations state that "Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited."  The rule was instituted after a hideously blatant incident in the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002, where (surprise!) Ferrari ordered Rubens Barrichello to relinquish the lead to Michael Schumacher.  He did, on the final straightaway of the final lap, in an obvious manner.  To be blunt, Ferrari did the same thing today, just without the orders being broadcast over the radio.  Felipe Massa went past Kimi Raikkonen with seven laps left for second place, giving Massa an additional two standing points.  This means that Hamilton's win gives him only a seven point lead going into the final race of the season... just like last year.

*DRIVER OF THE RACE:  Robert Kubica, BMW.  From 11th to 6th in a car that was squirrelly all weekend isn't too shabby at all.  Unfortunately, he needed to actually win the race to have any chance at winning the Drivers' Championship, so he's been eliminated.   Still, a very solid drive under challenging conditions.

*TEAM OF THE RACE:  Ferrari.  Both drivers on the podium, and almost locking up the Constructor's Championship against their hated rival?  AND they didn't run over any pitcrew this race to boot?  Yeah, good job all around for the Red Cars.

*MOVE OF THE RACE:  Felipe Massa had been slowly reeling in his teammate Kimi Raikkonen for five or six laps, coming from three seconds behind.  Massa slotted in behind Kimi's car as they raced down the back straight, getting a nice tow.  Then in a flash of red, he swung out and blew the doors off his teammate's car, breezing by like Raikkonen wasn't even trying.  *ahem*

*MOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE:  On lap 25, BMW's Robert Kubica swept into the pit lane for his first stop for fuel and shoes.  The stop went perfectly, no hangups... except that the team for whatever reason decided not to change his front tires.  There is no good reason to NOT change tires during a regular pit stop that we at F1U! can think of, so in lieu of a driving incident, we'll give the Moooooo-oove to BMW's race engineers for making their man race for his championship life on worn tires.  Nice job!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE:


"Seven point lead going into Brazil.  Hm.  Where have I heard that before?" - Lewis Hamilton

"My home race in a must-win situation?  With the FIA in my pocket?  I like my odds." - Felipe Massa

"Mrmmrmbl mrmmmblblblmrb. (translation: Felipe passing me? I am part of a team and I am well aware what they expect of me.)" - Kimi Raikkonen (note: actual quote)

"The fact that we mounted McLaren-seeking missiles today slowed my car down enough that I couldn't do any better than fourth." - HWMNBN

"I'll be back in BMW next year.  Maybe then I'll get some respect from my team." - Grizzly Nick Heidfeld

"Konska spierolina." - Robert Kubica

"Yawn." - Everybody else.

So, one race to go.  If Hamilton wins or finishes second, he's the Driver's Champion (stupid FIA stewards notwithstanding), no matter what Massa does.  Of course, we learned last year that no lead is safe, courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen.  So, we'll see you in two weeks for the Brazillian Grand Prix (and that's a lot of grand prix)!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:04 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 658 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Let's see if Ferrari gets sanctioned under Article 39.1, after Raikkonen basically admitted to following team orders in the post-race interview. My bet is, since no team orders that the stewards are aware of were actually given to Kimi (i.e. nothing over the radio or on the pit board), Ferrari has enough of a fig leaf to avoid any penalty. (If the FIA did want to investigate, they would have to interview/interrogate Ferrari team members to find out if anyone gave Kimi team orders behind closed doors before the race. Even if they bothered to do that, the Ferrari boys would play dumb and the investigation would go nowhere.)

BTW, I agree with Steve Matchett that Article 39.1 is a silly rule and should be canned, despite Barrichello's antics back in '02. Team orders have been a part of Formula One strategy since the start of the modern era, and pretending they don't exist anymore now that they've been banned is simply naive.

Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at October 19, 2008 08:28 PM (0FK9t)

2 I'm glad that HWMNBN didn't manage to kamikaze Hamilton. That really would have sucked.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 19, 2008 09:00 PM (+rSRq)

3 I take Kimi's statement not as an admission that there were team orders, but as an acknowledgment that he voluntarily let Massa pass him even in the absence of such orders.  The wording of the rule doesn't prohibit that (of course).  It's been so long since two drivers for the same team have had an actual reason to compete with each other at this stage in the season that it's totally unsurprising that a driver like Kimi wouldn't need so much as a wink and nudge from his team in circumstances like this.  And as said, thats been the way of things in F1 for ages, the reg is pointless, other than as a fig leaf, and a way of saying "do what you need to, but don't rub the fans faces in it."

Posted by: David at October 20, 2008 01:08 AM (UpR/+)

4

This was one time when Kimi's mumbling accent seemed to work in his favor.  Except that during the part about being part of a team and knowing what was expected of him, he spoke quite clearly. 

Hmmm...

Posted by: Mallory at October 20, 2008 10:50 AM (3sife)

5 I'm sure that HWMNBN has bad blood for Hamilton, but I'm fairly certain that he hates the McLaren team as a whole more...  I'd love to know what really happened. 

Team orders or just "courtesy" I don't think that anyone can complain about what mumble mouth did, though I'm sure McLaren would if they thought anything would come of it.

My move of the race?  HWMNBN showing Kovalienenenen that he still knows what he's doing, even if his engineers don't.

I would like to hear taps played for BMW and Kubica...

Posted by: buttons at October 20, 2008 11:24 PM (DSgje)

6

I don't think taps are justified here. BMW-Sauber has done an outstanding job this season in challenging the big two, and I think they have every reason to feel very satisfied.

And so does Kubica as an individual driver. He cannot win the driver's championship but he's got a solid chance to come in third, and that's better than being hit in the face with a wet fish any way you figure it -- especially if you're not driving for McLaren or Ferarri.

As of today the driver points:

Hamilton: 94
Massa: 87
Kubica: 75
Raikkonen: 69
Heidfeld: 60

As to the teams, Ferrari 156, McLaren 145, BMW-Sauber 135, and then Renault 72.

There's nothing shameful in that for BMW-Sauber. A hell of a good performance.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 21, 2008 12:23 AM (+rSRq)

7 Oh, I think BMW did a spectacular job, especially considering what they were up against, I just wish they were still in it (even if only by the longest shot possible) all the way to the end.  Though being knocked out in the second to last round is still very admirable. 

Posted by: buttons at October 21, 2008 09:21 AM (VjS5e)

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