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May 11, 2008

Turkish Grand Prix

It was kind of a snoozer. The most interesting thing so far is that Super Aguri went out of business, which leads to the debate about the health of F1. Peter Windsor interviewed Bernie Ecclestone on Speed TV and he said the sport is healthy and growing with new events being added to the calendar. I disagree.

There are now only 20 cars. It is simply too expensive and consequently there are fewer cars now. There even used to be pre-qualifying because there were only a maximum of 26 (?) slots on the grid.

Governments can and will subsidize races for a multitude of reasons. Not all of them are for sporting purposes. But industry has to fund the teams and you can see there’s not enough funding to go around in the current sports climate.

Anyway, the start of the race was a downer. The safety car has been getting a lot of use this season. Both Heikki Kovalainen and Kimi Raikkonen made poor starts. Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica, and Fernando Alonso made up places at the start.

Is Kovalainen generally unlucky? He qualified well but between losing out to the safety car period in Australia, the massive accident in Spain when his wheel failed, and today’s extra pit stop, I’m wondering how well he’ll turn his season around. Still he provided some great racing dicing with Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg further down the grid today.

Another driver having a tough time is Nelson Piquet. While he had a nice scrap with Jenson Button, his driving has been ragged and he’s made a lot of mistakes.

Don’t know what happened to Vettel, but at least he survived the first lap and finished the race but had to make 4 stops which is why he finished last.

Raikkonen’s race was essentially blown at the start and when he lost 1.2 seconds to Hamilton during the last round of pit stops (7.1 seconds vs 5.9 seconds), finishing 0.5 seconds adrift.

Jarno Trulli’s race engineer often gives him comically obvious motivational advice via radio to catch up to the drivers ahead. Trulli’s response today was “Don’t worry, I’m already pushing like hell”.

On to the technical details, the items of interest this time around were the thermal imaging cameras of the cars as they pitted. Interesting to note how white hot the exhaust, transmissions, and rear brakes were. I’d like to see a side profile of the cars and the front brakes with these cameras.

Also, Steve Matchett had some insightful comments on McLaren’s struggles running with the soft compound tires. Finally, there was talk about the margin of safety of the cars and the weight of various components. It seems like if the FIA wants to improve safety, they should specify minimum weights for certain components such as wheels, in addition to the overall minimum weight of car and driver.

Oh, and Felipe Massa won the race for Ferrari. The next race is Monaco in two weeks.

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