2013 Shanghai F1 Race Notes

1. I quite prefer watching the F1 Race in DVR, provided I don’t hear about the result beforehand. The commercials are such a buzzkill, that it makes it hard to continuously shift focus. This might be the first race I purposely watched on a delay. And as I think about it, with exception of the Canadian Grand Prix where there was a four-hour rain delay (where DVR) would not have taped it, it turns out to be a good way to go.

2. After Sebastian Vettel’s comments, I wish him the worst luck. So, seeing anyone else win is good. Alonso has shown himself to be a great champion–in defeat last year, and for his management of that season, and a bad car. It’s great to see him win today.

Similarly, it’s great to see Lewis Hamilton’s continual development at not be in the headlines trashing his team, complaining like a child, talking about his personal life or other distracting stuff other than watching him race.

3. Ferrari clearly has the best understanding of how to run a team and have an authentic one-two driver relationship. It’s clear that Massa’s early race was better than Alonso’s but he dared challenge his teammate, not to stress the tires or under team strategy. This understanding has to be made ahead of time and it is, in retrospect, an understanding that has been made clear behind the scenes in the aftermath of such comments in past races like the one where the race engineer asks Felipe to “confirm Alonso is faster than you” … We all know what that means. You’re the #2 driver.

On the other hand, the by all measures caustic relationship at Red Bull has reach a toxic nature, where each individual’s respect for his role in the team has fallen away, instead of becoming more cohesive over the same time as the previously discussed relationship at Ferrari. Webber, has not proven he could be a #1, whether it’s falling away during qualifying or not effectively managing the race, he’s not a #1. And he’s a bastard to pass almost under any circumstance even when he’s not in competitive form.

That said, it really isn’t Vettel’s place to say Webber “doesn’t deserve” the win in the last race. Quite the opposite: he doesn’t deserve the treatment he’s received–and the team’s mismanagement of his qualifying immediately after a three-week break must really be a bee in his bonnet. For all of Schumacher’s flaws at Ferrari that many seemed to harp on (as the most dominating talent in the post-Senna years), he showed proper respect to his team and any cues (team orders) one way or the other were decided in advance.

But, as some great F1 pundit has said about him in the past: to be the #2 on the best team must still be better than being the #1 on a team that doesn’t rate (ask Kovalainen). And this is why the situation is so intriguing. We might all say we wouldn’t put up with Vettel’s brat wunderkind behavior, but outside of going out there and just winning, what are you going to do?

4. The Bahrain race is exactly what’s wrong with F1: the only politics of F1 is money, which I can accept, but the celebration in a country with its publicized revolts is unseemly.

6. Watching Jenson Button is like watching paint dry, but the diversity of driving styles is great as an overall concept and in practice for watching races and absorbing the strategy as it plays out. He’s a master of driving stints and managing tires. Truly professional. He was a great foil for Lewis Hamilton at MacLaren, and I still wonder about the effect of Perez to the team’s results.

7. Massa, early on, looked to take the fight for the race lead, but eventually fell away to that second tier that he has languished for oh, so long. Race pace, or that something extra special just may not be there–and Ferrari knows it–justifying the halo around Alonso. I would like to see Massa NOT pass Alonso early on AND still lay the hammer down. That would help disprove this dynamic.

But, this is F1, the most advanced motorsport on the planet. And driving a Ferrrari (and having them pay you) is nothing to sneeze at. Massa, compared to just about anyone else, save about 20 individuals is still walk on air good. But he’s more Barrichello good, than Schumacher good.

Proof that not just anyone can come in there and be a #2, much less a driver of any stripe was watching that stretch where Luca Badoer drove for the team after being a longtime test driver. Even he didn’t have the pace. So respect has to be shown to the dynamic of being a #2 driver.

8. Must at least be a consolation for Esteban Gutierrez to say he “Schumachered” the back of someone’s car and ended his own race. Takes the heat off of being a rookie–a little bit.