F1 Update: Just before the Summer Break

A few weeks ago, I caught up with the development in Formula 1 this season. In that post, the main finding was that the Mercedes engine (and consequently, the Mercedes team) were dominating this season. Today, just after the season’s 11th Grand Prix in Hungary, I’d like to take a look at that item again, and also to some things specific to this Hungarian Grand Prix.

1. The Engine Performance

The picture is still roughly the same, although the Mercedes engine seems to have lost some of its lead over the other engines. This can be attributed to special effects in individual races, and in part surely to the issues the Mercedes team is facing with regard to the brake performance. Also, the last race was a bit out of the ordinary, because it showed the worst performance yet by the Mercedes engines, and consequently the best by both of the others. What’s up with that?

2. Safety Car Regulations

Please see this as an open letter to the FIA guys doing the regulations, because they suck, and that in one very specific regard: pitting under SCD status.

During last weekend’s Grand Prix, none of the top three qualifiers managed to reach the podium. Pole-sitter Rosberg at least managed a fourth place (behind his team colleague Hamilton, who had started from the pit lane because of yet again reliability issues), while Vettel (who had qualified second) ended up in 7th, and Bottas fell from 3rd to 8th place. So why did that happen? Because Rosberg, Bottas and Vettel have suddenly turned into crappy drivers (as a lot of journalists want to make us believe, at least in the case of Vettel)? Or just bad luck?

The reason is in the sport’s very regulations, which in specific race situations, penalizes top performers. Let me explain this with the example at hand:
Early in the race, Rosberg had started to pull away at the front, followed by Bottas and Vettel. Following one of many crashs during the race, the safety car was deployed – and this decision was announced right at the moment when Rosberg, Bottas and Vettel had passed the entrance to the pit lane.
The rest of the field immediately pitted, which the top 3 had to do later, putting them to the back of the field.
There had been a solution to that in the past, namely to close the pit lane when the safety car is deployed for a few laps, and the problem with that was cars running out of fuel – which can no longer happen, as the cars don’t refuel during the race, anyway.

So we all know that there’s a lot of things happening in a race that have neither to do with the drivers’ skills nor the cars’ performance. You can make a 50/50 decision as to which tyres you choose in changing conditions and get lucky or not. And we’ve come to accept that. However, what is hard to accept is a regulation that specifically penalizes top performance.

So please, you regulation guys, change that! Close the pit lane for two laps when the safety car gets deployed. Or think up something else. Or if you don’t why don’t you throw a coin at the end of each race, and if head comes up, points will be awarded in reverse finishing order? That would not be more idiotic as the situation is right now.

3. Team Order

I had in the past already accused the Mercedes team of violating the spirit of sportsmanship, and afterwards they said they won’t do it again, and this time they did it again: When a (considerably faster) Rosberg appeared behind Hamilton, Hamilton was ordered to let him pass – and refused. First of all, I’m all with Hamilton on that, he was completely right not to let him pass. And the team once again stated afterwards that it won’t happen again…let’s wait for the next time.

True, Hamilton only got past Rosberg in the first place because of a huge injustice in regulations (see above), but that still doesn’t mean he would need to give up his place. After all, driving onto the podium after starting from the pits is still a great accomplishment, even if some severe problem in regulations works out your way.
I’m asking the stewards to finally penalize the team in a way that hurts for this very repetition of that incident (e.g. by stripping them of all the championship points for the season – something that really hurts!). We don’t want to witness that again. And while we’re at it, why don’t the Daimler management simply fire the team executive responsible for that move?

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