F1 News: Drivers Frolic, Brembos Didn’t Fail Vettel but the Suspension Suspicion Continues, Lewis’ Remarks Storm the Press

What Happens When Two Flyaways Are 7 Days Apart

12:12am EST — After a bang-up race in Australia, the F1 news focused on Lewis Hamilton’s frustrations, Sebastian Vettel’s formerly broken brakes, all while the drivers had a fun time in Australia and Malaysia, with only a week between the flyaway races.

The Drivers Frolic:
On the other side of the world, and with only four days between one race and the next race’s first practice session, the drivers have been doing a bit of off-track frolicking.  Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna have been hitting up the mall and tennis courts (see mainly Chandhok’s Twitter and Twitpic accounts), Rubens Barrichello and Heikki Kovalainen the golf course, though that was sort of work, what with the Bridgestone guys in attendance and all (see also Kovalainen’s Twitter and Tweetphoto accounts, and an official Williams Twitterpic account), and Jaime Alguersuari’s take on life with his mom, dad, girlfriend, and trainer through his Twitpic account.

Brake Failure Didn’t Knock Vettel Out of the Lead, Suspension Legality Sill Up in the Air:
Despite Vettel and Red Bull announcing loudly over the radio and after the Australian GP that a brake failure caused the crash that took the German out of the lead, it simply was not so.  Instead, brake supplier Brembo released the following relatively short press release,

With regard to the retirement of the Red Bull Racing’s driver Sebastian Vettel during the Grand Prix of Australia, Brembo communicates that the cause of his exit in Turn 13 was not caused by the braking system supplied by Brembo, as some publications have reported. Red Bull Racing has confirmed that Sebastian Vettel retired from the Australian Grand Prix after the torque drive between the front left axle and wheel was lost. Post race investigations revealed the wheel nut was correctly tightened at the pitstop as well as other possible causes of the fault. The team has communicated that it’s studying a number of solutions at present, which can be implemented for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

This was the second retirement from the lead for Vettel and Red Bull in two races.  Still, team principal Christian Horner cautioned in an Autosport article that, “Don’t panic – it is a long season. We know we have got a fast car and I would far rather have a fast car than a slow car…But there is still a long way to go and the season will have many different twists and turns.”  This is not the first time that an Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull went a bit haywire.  Last season saw reliability issues for the team, as well, though Horner correctly notes that the season is long.  Whether is is long enough is the question many are asking.
Meanwhile, a fuss is still being made over what Autosport calls “Rival outfits suspect that Red Bull Racing is doing something clever with its suspension – perhaps through the use of gas-filled dampers – that helps give the team a lower ride-height in qualifying for an extra boost of speed.”  This is, of course, not allowed.  However, Horner also noted that, “McLaren has made a lot of comments recently, be it about our fuel tank size or the future of our drivers and now supposed systems on the car. Categorically we don’t have anything like that on the car. It is down to them to speculate, but a clarification would be good for everybody.”  The drama continues on and off-track.

Hamilton’s Cranky Ways Cause Quite the Commotion:
After not advancing to Q3, a traffic violation that included his car being impounded, and a message (“Whose call was it to bring me in? Fricking terrible idea!”) back to the team in the closing stages of the Australian GP about his two-stop tire strategy, Lewis Hamilton’s bad weekend simply got worse.  Mark Webber subsequently ran into the Briton, but the furor over his teammate’s win and Hamiton’s temper tantrum has only grown.  After the race, Hamiton echoed his race communications, as quoted by Autosport, “My tyres were fine. I started off on a good set, got a good start, was up to a pretty good position, up to third, happy with everything and I was pulled in – I don’t know why I was pulled in. That is what lost us at least a one-two today. I think the tyres would have been pretty good. I may have struggled towards the end, but that is how the other guys did – and it was almost impossible to overtake a Ferrari anyway.”
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said, “With the information we had at the time, given where Lewis was, we felt that it was the right call. I think in retrospect and hindsight, if we look at how the race played out – if Lewis could have made those tyres last then he could have finished at least second today and we would have a 1-2.”  The key word there is “if.”  Hamilton is notoriously difficult on tires and quite unable to make them last the way new teammate Jenson Button does.  Later, Hamilton allowed, “The team has explained to me their reasoning behind the second pitstop, and I can understand what they were trying to do in trying to cover both Mark and Nico for later in the race…perhaps we over-estimated the wear that the frontrunners were expecting to suffer.”

In an excellent and thoughtful piece comparing the two British world champions, James Allen notes,

If Button is about swagger, mixed with savvy and subtlety, Hamilton is all about the warrior spirit, but the fear of failure is still there. He was aggressive from the outset and pulled off some stunning moves. He was never going to beat Button because he didn’t take the early tyre gamble but a podium was there for the taking. But unlike Button he wasn’t leading from the cockpit, he was still dependent on his engineers to tell him what to do on tyres and they felt that he would benefit from a second set of dry tyres, expecting the cars around him like the Ferraris and Kubica to do likewise…McLaren’s decision was partly informed by the belief that Hamilton would struggle to make it to the finish on a single set of tyres, unlike Button. Realising the decision had been wrong he criticised the team in a radio transmission which was heard by the world, which showed a lack of composure…Hamilton showed he is still dependent on them for decisions, but unfortunately for him, Button showed what leadership from the cockpit is all about and the contrast is painful for Hamilton. He will be stinging. It comes at a time when he is coming out of the protective cuccoon of his father Anthony, facing the world as his own man. The lesson of Melbourne is that as a driver he clearly has some life skills to learn. He has exceptional skill behind the wheel, of the kind which could make him one of the greats, but until he can add that extra dimension of leadership and racing intelligence from the cockpit he will not be the complete package.

Adding more words or opinion on the subject would be superfluous.



  1. Superfluous maybe, but still.
    This is typical British media after two races jumping around saying ‘I told you so, I did, me!’
    The fact is, when things were tricky at Honda, Rubens got the better of Button on the simple basis of experience. Rubens had been there, done it and had the t-shirt, Button was learning.
    With roles reversed, Button being more experienced than Hamilton in handling tricky conditions, Button will win a few battles, but (looking back to our Honda/Brawn parallel) who won the war in the end?

    So Hamilton may have to learn a few tricks from his newly crowned champion team-mate. Even Senna admitted to his last days ‘I can go quicker’.

  2. I don’t know if that call was right. I mean – we are talking super fast reaction time..

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s