Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fernando Alonso: Excellence Misused.

Time for the radical truth and truths of the situation at McLaren....also a few truths about the "spectacle," of an F1 driver coming to drive at Indianapolis. 

It's come to my attention, and I suspect a few others in the F1 fan-club, that Team McLaren, well they're doing as well as they have since 2015, appallingly. So their solution? Send Fernando Alonso some 3,000 miles from the Monaco Grand Prix, to Indiana, at Indianapolis, to the world renowned Indy 500. Now there is one justification for this, surprisingly, Honda does much better in the V6 Turbocharged power-fest that is Indy-Car, which is odd because presumably if Honda is so good at making a regular 2.2 liter V6 Turbo, why are they so bad at making a 1.6 liter turbo with extra juice from an electric motor? I am not going to say the two are exactly the same, the budgets alone can show you Indy-Car is different than Formula 1, it still leaves that question on power though.

Now here are some of the reasons why Fernando Alonso, who is a World Champion driver make no mistake, is not the Big Three from the almost mythical 1966 Indy 500. For one, McLaren isn't lending Indy their No. 1 driver because he's bored or up for a new challenge, the team is in serious trouble, both points and position wise and Monaco won't probably help that, short of a miracle. Another point is, unlike 1965/66 and other years, McLaren isn't showing up with radical new technology and their drivers to literally annihilate the Yankees concept of open wheeled motorsports. In 1965 Jim Clark came over here, with a fellow named Colin Chapman and his team called Lotus, and they had a interesting car called the Lotus 38, it had a rear mounted V8 engine which was made by a company called Ford. The rest as they say, was not only history, it was fact. The front engine open wheel race car was dead in America now and in 1966, the Brits had the affront to do it again! This time a few other Brits joined in, one was Graham Hill, who won the race, another was a young Jackie Stewart, who was voted Rookie of the Race!

They all drove rear-engined Ford V8 motored vehicles, but another point is they all three were or would become World Champion drivers, Clark and Hill had already won championships, Jackie would win his first in 1969 and win two more. Clark and Hill came from a Championship winning team Lotus was one of the best teams in Formula 1, and in the 1960s, they were the team to drive for, Jackie was a rookie at the time, he had only been in F1 for a year and a half at the time of the Indy, but he came third in the championship in 1965, and in 1966, 8 days before the Indy, he won the coveted Monaco Grand Prix.

Which does bring up yet another point, these drivers didn't actually miss the Monaco Grand Prix. Jackie won it and also had been at Indy before that race and after along with his compatriots. This situation we have in 2017, is one of the McLaren team basically giving up on a Grand Prix because the car is not good enough and it certainly is passing it's number 1 driver to Andretti Autosport, which is powered by the Honda Indy engine instead of the almost sad Honda F1 engine. As for how Fernando will do, that is not the question here, there are enough differences between this scenario and the F1 drivers coming over in the 60s as stated above, to make the other points an actual issue.

While admittedly, Ford itself would not come to dominate Formula 1 until 1967/68, and then with a different engine from the one used at the 1966 Indy 500, the immortal DFV by Cosworth. It was abundantly clear which motorsport was ahead in many terms due to the British Invasion of American Motorsports at that time. This invasion not only brought the concept of engines behind the driver, but the drivers themselves, who were in a class of their own when they did take the lead. Now, in 2017, not per-se with other teams, like Mercedes or Ferrari, but in McLaren-Honda, you have a team that could be taught a thing or two by the less glamorous and less watched IndyCar Series teams and their Honda and Chevrolet Engines.

Now finally, the concept of sending F1 Drivers here to Indy to do a good turn, Fernando isn't the first, and likely he won't be the last. There are also a few notables who made a full time career of CART and USAC and IndyCar itself, my personal favorites include, Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Juan Pablo Montoya, and for 2 years in his racing career, Nigel Mansell. So let us not sit in too much awe when an F1 driver crosses the pond for a race not of the Formula 1 variety. Perhaps Fernando will win, I figure it will be the bright spot in a three (15, 16 and 17) year stint that has not gone very well and is not going very well. I myself, am rooting for Scott Dixon, being a consistent winner in IndyCar and also a driver for Ford at LeMans 24 Hours race, but I hope that Fernando does well in Indy too, he more than deserves the win if he is as masterful a driver at Indy as he was with Renault and Ferrari.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Formula 1 is Coming Back...LIVE!

Now that I have the 1980s-esq title out of the way, lets be honest, the cars are faster, fatter, and lower to the ground, but is that the recipe to solve the issues that have transpired during the break from the Flying Circus. I list them in order of magnitude to show how serious the state of affairs is being taken by those now leading F1. I also list my expectations for 2017 too!

1.) The removal of Bernie: There is no other way to put it, the regicide, (and for the record, I am not saying it was some sort of revolution against Bernie, but he was in-fact, removed,) of Bernie was the most significant event of the off season, it brought an end to the reign of the long running titular head of F1 who for better or for worse was running F1 through some of the most spectacular racing and some of the most controversial changes in motorsports history. He had suffered some defeats at the hands of teams and their heads over things like race refueling, but until he was brought down, you can count this F1 fan as being totally shocked that there was enough power gathered to bring him down. Liberty are running the show now and we will have to wait and see what is going to happen there, they have plans that are well written about for F1 so 2018/2019 will be critical.

2.) The removal of Ron Dennis: This was another shocking event, I am going to say something controversial and say this was the most unnecessary act ever committed by a team in Formula 1 history. Ron was not perfect, and he was leading the team during a particularly difficult patch in their racing, but to remove him with no real reasons given, then make superficial changes like ending the MP4 program, and changing the paint scheme to an unrecognizable black and orange, the original McLaren colors had no black  if this is what McLaren or Honda think is going to cause some up turn in performance. I point to the testing in Spain, it just does not hold water, and even more importantly, you took away the most singular talent to ever run an F1 team.

3.) The Issue of McLaren...again: Will the team possibly preform better? Considering I was rather hoping for them to have podiums last year, I am probably wrong this year too. I also have pointed out Honda took from 1983 to 1986 to win Championships but only to 1984 to win the first race and by 85, Williams came 3rd in the Constructors Championship with 4 wins. Now we have had McLaren working with Honda for 2 years, and the results are not quite as good, Williams rose less than 50 points under the old 9 point per win system from 1984 to 1985 the first two full seasons they used Honda engines. McLaren on a 25 point per win system, they rose 49 points from 2015 to 2016, which is appalling if you consider that there were overall 8 more races available to McLaren and ironically, similar circumstances on the dominance of teams, in 1984/85, McLaren themselves dominated with Lauda and Prost each winning the Drivers Championship, in 2015/16, Mercedes did the same thing.

4.) Will Ferrari bring it's A game in 2017? The answer to that question is yes, it would be unfair to say they have not been performing fairly well in the face of Mercedes ruling the roost and Red Bull rising to win two races in 2016. If you want to watch competition, it will be between these three teams again, the 6 best drivers in Formula 1 today are in those three teams, and Ferrari truly has the talent, with the calm and cool Kimi and the dedicated Seb Vettel. History shows that while Ferrari is the dominant team in F1, this may be due to it's longevity as much as it's ability to build a good car or recruit the right drivers.

5.) Haas, will they be up or down this year? Definitely and hopefully up, 29 points in 2016, my prediction is hopefully about 50 or so in 2017, they have K-Mag and Grosjean is back for another year and I expect both young guns will be on the hunt for points. Also Haas and Dallara have had another years worth of testing and familiarization with F1 and various other technical points, also the fact that these new cars are not the same as 15/16 gives the chance to shake the field up potentially. What would really be fantastic is to see them score a podium, or finish consistently in the 4th to 10th position all year long because in 2016, they had a strong first 5 races with Grosjean, (he scored points 3 out of the first 5 races,) he only scored twice for the rest of the season,which is not reflective of his driving so much as it's the teams first year. Gene Haas is a man who can claim the fastest drivers in NASCAR and he will probably look to claim that title in our time for F1 as well.