F1 News: There Was a Race & Other Stories (Vettel’s Engine Woes, Drivers Protest)


What Happens When the News Can Be Amusing

12:01am EST — While the day’s biggest news was the season opening race (full race report found here at On Any Sunday, These Days) in Bahrain, there are two stories that trickled out from the paddock that were interesting.

Vettel’s Issue Electrical, Not Exhaust:
According to an Autosport article, it was not a broken exhaust that caused Sebastian Vettel’s dramatically slow pace at the end of the GP of Bahrain and his subsequent fourth place instead of first.  During the race, Red Bull explained to ever-curious reporters that Vettel’s car was suffering from an issue with the exhaust, which the team had changed the configuration of between off-season tests.  Instead, Vettel finished fourth, behind Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, and Lewis Hamilton, because of a faulty spark plug.  The article noted that “the team said, however, that there had been no damage to the unit,” which should be good news for the team, since their Renault engines had reliability issues last season that could be said to have lost them the championships.

Ecclestone Bans Physios From Grid, Drivers Retaliate:
Watching respective pre-race shows before Bahrain, one might have noticed that the drivers remained suspiciously absent from the grid.  There were no interviews, no chatting with celebrities wandering about.  The drivers only appeared at the last moment to strap in, having waited in the pit lane or garage until then.  According to an unnamed driver source in an Autosport article, this was a protest against a move by Bernie Ecclestone to reduce the number of people wandering the grid before each race, by refusing to grant passes to drivers’ personal physios.  Generally, the physio is someone who seems to be combination personal trainer/doctor/masseuse/cheerleader/drink fetcher/umbrella person.  It is understood that Ecclestone told the drivers that they would need to have their teams provide the passes, a difficulty since teams are already required to maintain a maximum at-track staff number.  So, this source explained to Autosport that “the plan of action would likely continue for the next race in Australia too unless the physio’s access to the grid is sorted” since Ecclestone continued to refuse to offer passes even after the drivers explained to “him that they need their physios with them to ensure they are in perfect physical shape for the race.”  One would hope this spirit of cooperation amongst drivers will continue to hold firm should any safety matters force a standoff between Ecclestone and the drivers.

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