Its Rosberg From Lights To Flag, But The Real Story Of The Monaco GP Is…
Formula One, you are so fickle! Except for the fact that it was required to have one on each corner of your car to race, tires did not play any part whatsoever in who won the Monaco GP (not too much or too little degradation for any of the 22 drivers) but somehow the tire issue is again front and center. Unbelievable.
Before I go on one my tangents I will say a few words about the race. Nico Rosberg, congrats, your home GP, and in such style. You were untouchable all day, and your restarts were brilliant. Fastest all weekend long, you deserve that trophy 100%. Lewis Hamilton, who I co-picked to win, almost pulled it off at the first turn after the lights went out, but ran out of road and then never looked like he could challenge. Hamilton would later say he needs to get his act/shit together (depending which news outlet you read), and sort out his side of the garage, but he still finished 4th. There was a curious moment after the first safety car that needs some more analysis in my opinion, but I have to do some research first on the matter. Hamilton finished in the points and would have had a podium if not for Mercedes’ strategy to stay out deep into the race.
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber both drove a smart race and finished one position better than they started. Vettel increased his lead in the Drivers championship, Mark finally makes it back on to the podium after a three race absence.
Kimi Raikkonen, the other driver I co-picked to win with Hamilton (just goes to show you what I know, most of the time, nil) would have also gained a position and collected a fair amount of points had it not been for Sergio Perez whom Kimi wanted to punch in the nose. Maybe Perez’s passing efforts were a bit too ambitious, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, doing the thing that we all want to see more of in F1. Passing. If this was Schumacher, Senna, Mansell, Alonso, or Hamilton, would we not be praising them? I wonder.
Finally, to Ferrari and Fernando Alonso. I am so disappointed on so many levels in his result that I am going to write a separate post on the matter. Suffice to say for now, I am completely confounded on the Ferrari’s race pace or lack of it, and Alonso’s rare inability to drive around whatever problem the Ferrari was falling victim to.
There are of course many more points from the race that are worth mentioning, but I will leave those to the professionals at Planet F1, BBC F1, YallaF1 and the rest of the services that are all linked from my homepage.
Now that I have disposed of the obligatory recap, lets get down to the real nitty gritty. Y’all going to love this one. During the race, Will Buxton, pit lane reporter for NBC broke the usual commentary to bring us this headline. MERCEDES AND PIRELLI HAVE SECRET TIRE TEST. After hearing this I could almost picture the face of every F1 journalist who was in attendance and the frenzied rush to confirm the details. Can you say piranhas in a warm pool with 100 skinny dippers?
Right after that I thought “Can we not just have a normal race weekend? Jeez.” Then again this is F1. Right. Somehow F1 wasn’t satisfied that we were about to have a new race winner for the season, that Red Bull didn’t win Monaco for a 4th year, that Ferrari didn’t run away with another win, or that we were not going to spend the next week complaining about the durability of Pirelli’s tires. Nope, none of that was good enough for F1 after the sixth meeting on the calendar.
Instead, F1 decided that more drama was on order, it needed to stir up the pot. It seemed that F1 was getting a little bored with itself and what better way to get everyone all fired up than to cast each of its major players into the character roles of a Whodunnit.
Ferrari and Red Bull (that is a funny alliance right?) are pointing their fingers at Mercedes, Pirelli and the FIA. The FIA is pointing the finger at Mercedes. Mercedes is pointing back at the FIA, and Pirelli is pointing all ten of its fingers at everyone due to the fact that they can’t conduct any meaningful testing because the Teams, FOM, and the FIA cannot get their shit together, to borrow a phrase from Lewis. It is pretty much a finger pointing fandango. I can’t for life of me figure out why F1 would shoot itself in the left foot, especially when it recently broke the toe on its right foot with all the drama that followed the previous race in Spain.
As of today there is some clarity on the matter. At least how the test came about, and why it was Mercedes that was chosen. In the interest of disclosure, Ferrari participated in a secret test as well, but the conditions were very different and therefore no one is complaining about that test.
Since I am not a real pundit, or a professional, an expert, or otherwise someone that is being paid for my insight (mine really is that of a impassioned fan) I am including two links that give (so far) a much more complete picture of the whole affair. Both James Allen and Joe Saward have provided good intel on the the who, what, why, when and where. Each author has his own take on the matter and it is interesting that each post focuses on a different aspect of this issue.
I don’t really want to point fingers at anyone just yet. I want to see how this develops and if additional details that we don’t know yet will come to the surface. That being said, I am very disappointed in Pirelli. I have been defending them this whole season and banging the drum of logic, and what is right and wrong regarding their behavior. I have been telling anyone who will listen, and posting up comments like mad, regarding how Pirelli have done the exact job that they were contracted to do, no more no less. How as a whole they have come into the sport and done a fantastic job with the task at hand, and that the real issues that everyone has complained about lie not with them but with the Teams and the FIA.
However this latest act forces me to reevaluate my loyalty. Did Pirelli really think no one was going to find out? Did they not have any inkling that using Mercedes’ 2013 chassis to test tires might just get a few people upset? As in, just about everyone. Especially the folks over at Milton Keys, and Maranello? That allowing Mercedes to rack up 1000 kilometers, (the equivalent to three race distances!) would at a minimum give the appearance Mercedes gained a wealth of data they could use to correct their issues with their suspension geometry? (Suspension geometry is the real reason Hamilton when from second to twelfth in Spain by the way). What will it look like if, at the Canadian GP, Mercedes pull close to Lotus and Ferrari in regards to tire wear? Or bring both cars home in front of Red Bull?
No matter that Mercedes didn’t know what the compounds were (a weak argument at best, in this bloggers opinion). No matter that some of the testing was for next years tire compounds, (also falls into the weak argument category), but how in anyone’s book is this fair to the other teams?
Look, for the record I like Ferrari and Alonso. I am not a Red Bull or a Vettel fan, I have made no secret of that on this blog. I like watching them race, true, because they do it so fantastically well but it is usually at the expense of the team and guy I like. So as a team, they are not high on my list. However, let me be very clear, I never want them or any other team to be at a disadvantage due to behind-closed-door deals or because teams acting together in collusion made the game unfair. Did I mention THE EQUIVALENT OF THREE RACE DISTANCES?!!
Wait, as if it could not get any better and by that I mean more unfair. This test was not with a Pirelli test driver i.e. Jamie Alguersuari or Lucas di Grassi. No, for this test, Pirelli and Mercedes had the clarity of mind to use the current Mercedes AMG Petronas driver line-up. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. You don’t say. It didn’t occur to anyone in either organization, at any level, on any of the three days in Spain that maybe, just maybe, something was a little beyond the pale?
Both Pirelli and Mercedes and for that matter the FIA seem to have an answer for all of these questions that I have pointed out and this is where the finger pointing begins. He said, they said, they never said, and that was not how it was said to us. Like a car on the front straight with the DRS open, is in full effect. Here are some quotes from the Teams themselves in response to just one of the issues that has “unfair written all over it.”
There are reports that Pirelli distributed an email about the possibility of tyre testing, but many teams reportedly deny ever receiving it.
“We feel cheated,” Sauber founder Peter Sauber is quoted by Swiss media.
According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Williams also denies knowing about the possibility of Pirelli tyre testing.
And asked if his team was consulted, Lotus boss Eric Boullier is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace: “No.”
Force India’s Bob Fernley said the issue came up in a FOTA meeting, but it was not a formal invitation to test. “I don’t remember getting a letter from Pirelli on the subject,” he insisted.
These are all from an article on YallaF1, Lauda: I’ve bet €50 with Marko we will escape penalty for secret test, which is linked.
This is just wrong any way you choose to view it. It reminds me of children on the school playground with no one really telling the truth after the teacher has busted them for some shenanigans.
Well what can you do now? Just roll with it I guess. Similar to the girlfriend that gets you so mad and you swear that you are going to break up with her for the tenth time. You don’t, because it is just then that they look you in the eye that certain way and coo at you just that way, and like that, all is forgotten. As mad as I am, I suspect this is how this story is going to end. So even when F1 goes out of its way to really piss me off, deep down inside I know I’m just a sucker. I guess F1 knows it too.
To use an old news reporter line, we will be following this story as it develops folks. For now, I will put on hold my judgement. I will suspend my disappointment for a little while and concentrate instead on the brilliant drive from Rosberg on that beautiful day at the crown jewel that is the principality, Monaco. Oh yeah and how Ferrari and Fernando made sucking air the rest of my Sunday unpleasant. Thanks for that…
-jp- (and I’m glad I’m not Paul Hembery right about now)