Late Season Thoughts - 12/09/09

After a conqueror’s start to the 2009 campaign, Jenson Button and Brawn GP have begun to face question marks being raised against their title credentials and overall worthiness of an inevitable championship. While recent results have brought his title run-in under unwelcomed scrutiny, Button is yet to throw away valuable points or wins by going off the circuit on the first lap and handing the lead to a rival, needlessly over-defending a position at the end of a race resulting in retirement and sacrificing a certain podium, engage the anti-stall on the starting grid multiple times, incur a race penalty through questionable driving and causing accidents, spin off during a wet race with a high attrition rate, try to have another driver and team penalised for unavoidable action under a safety car or publicly lambast his team strategy. Every win that was there for the taking has been taken. His is a championship lead earned and deserved, but regardless of all the above, history will judge his season on the smaller percentage that remains.

There have been some notable casualties in Formula 1 this year in all areas including drivers, management and even a whole manufacturer. Following McLaren’s Melbourne Muppetry, Ron Dennis stepped out of the light and Martin Whitmarsh, Dave Ryan and Lewis Hamilton rightfully bore the public brunt of their misdemeanour. This of course was conveniently being forgotten about until Renault’s recent issue with Nelson Piquet Jr reminded us what plagues F1. Piquet’s overdue sacking earned Romain Grosjean an early F1 baptism, but his debut outings were spared intense public analysis due to Luca Badoer’s woeful performances. Sebastien Bourdais made way for Jaime Alguersuari at Scuderia Toro Rosso to the simultaneous disappointment of some who felt the Frenchman never had the luck required on days where big results were possible, and the relief of those who believed there was no room in F1 for a downbeat so-called champion who could not convincingly show Buemi up as the rookie driver. Of all the departures, BMW-Sauber’s decision to withdraw from Formula 1 at the end of 2009 is the most disappointing. While it’s hard to ever class the BMW-Sauber operation as passionate, their measured positive-gradient-graph approach and success in F1 was great to see as a stark contrast to Scatter Graph Toyota.

Ferrari have demonstrated clearly that there is a right and a wrong time for charitable and emotional decision-making. The sentiments expressed by the team in the wake of Felipe Massa’s freak (and it was freak) accident in Hungary were touching and thoroughly believable. The decision to place Luca Badoer in a race seat for Valencia and Spa Francorchamps in Massa’s absence was slightly less believable. A driver who had, in a previous life, shown no spark of talent worthy of a Ferrari race seat and had been deprived of racing experience for a decade was clearly being rewarded for services rendered. Uncompetitive machinery can only go so far as an excuse since all other recent Ferrari drivers have shone in uncompetitive machinery at some point in their careers. While on the subject of Ferrari drivers’ careers, Kimi Raikkonen has gone from 6 non-scores out of 9 races to claiming three podium finishes on the trot, culminating in a customary yet harassed win at Spa. Giancarlo Fisichella, the driver responsible for the aforementioned harassment, will of course take the second Ferrari race seat from Monza onwards. One hopes this does not turn out to be yet another ill-advised charitable and sentiment-laced decision.

1 comment:

AERO_HDT said...

Interesting thoughts Maz, this has started off as one of the most interesting F1 seasons I've ever come across. Rookie teams leading the championship, ageing drivers showing the young guns how its done and of course the usual circus antics we've come to expect. The break in dominance that was previously held by Ferrari and McLaren are a godsend to F1 and to see small teams like Force India, RedBull and of course Brawn GP take wins and poles is going to encourage huge investment in F1.

Keep us posted on your thoughts for the rest of the season, I suspect we may see a Ferrari/McLaren renaissance (I could never spell that word) for the remainder of the year!