Interlagos: Race review

Predictable unpredictability

I have no intention of producing a detailed lap by lap, stop by stop report – the BBC and others have the resources to do that better than I do. Yet what has happened to F1 in the past few years? 6 of the last 8 WDC’s have been decided on the last race of the season.

This is the antithesis of what preceded when I almost stopped watching the sport after the borefest of Ferrari dominance from 1999-2005. Madmax Moseley changed something, and it was definitely for the better. My guess it was the beginning of engine restrictions in 2005 and then everything flowed from there.

@F1photographer was mocking those of us who have spent all week checking out weather forecast reports – because 1 hour before the race it was sunny. Having searched for and studied websites I didn’t know existed like some saddo trying to glean 3-4 day forecasts for the weekend, I didn’t take kindly to the picture man’s sneers. For example, The Brazilian ‘National Institute for space research’ is a most interesting proposition and a great read for those who suffer the ignominy of insomnia.

Anyway, he who laughs last eh? It just re-enforces the notion that people should do what they do best and in Darren’s case it’s to take brilliant pictures because he clearly has a warped understanding of F1 history (a la his Schumacher ramblings). In this instance it was the knowledge of how incredibly quickly the weather can change at Interlagos. And boy did it just. Events were such that unpredictability became in fact predictable.

Rain favours the Bull???

The writers of the script for the Grand Finale held that the backdrop of rain would spin favour towrdas Ferrari. Yet the genuis and geek that is Newey told us how he feared the damaged exhaust would overheat and crack.

Following the crash damage in turn 4 with Senna, maybe the rain was in the final analysis not the friend Ferrari thought. Vettel said, “I was the slowest car down the straight in the dryer conditions” and Newey knew if the conditions stayed dry, the exhaust temperatures could rise and crack the crucial pipe causing certain failure. So was it the rain that in fact saved Vettel from probable car failure? Was Sebastian lucky?

My view is Sebastian was indeed lucky – that’s not to say he isn’t a deserving champion – but he was very, very fortunate in the final review. I did suggest in my pre-race preview that Red Bull and Vettel were definitely not on ‘business as usual’ outing whatever their protestations.

There was the perception that Vettel was slow away from the line, but in fact he wasn’t. The onboard footage shows him catching and level with Mark just before the first corner. He then eased down and played safe settling for 7th place coming out of turn 1.

Onto ‘the incident’ that could have been the game changer. Some believed in the very moment that Senna, guided like some sidewinder missile, had hit the target and the Bull was fatally wounded.

Having watched the 4th corner incident about 10 times now,  in my opinion Vettel is fortunate the stewards didn’t investigate. If the track hadn’t been damp, this kind of coming together would definitely have been poured over by the finest racing analysts the FIA can muster. In my humble opinion Vettel does not give Senna enough room. Senna ends up out of the race – on another day an almost certain penalty for Sebastian.

Yet the matter was not even examined by the stewards, it has been reported that the pre-race lunch was good – surely not that good?.

Regardless, such was the nature of the race and Vettel’s indefatigability even a drive through or stop and go penalty would most likely have been just another irritation to be overcome on the day for team Red Bull. Rocky’s calming voice prevailed in the heat of the battle. Following his driver’s reversing practice when most would have called the car in for inspection, Rocky demanded they press on regardless.

To question Red Bull efficiency would be akin to question whether the sun will rise in the east. The speed at which they had pictures taken of the damaged Bull machinery, printed and blown up and placed precisely in front of Papa Newey was astonishing.

The rain

Back to the rain – reminds me of a Lou Reed song – There is a line in the Lou Reed song Wild Child that says “…always back to Lorraine”. I always heard it as “…always back to the rain”. Even though I now know it’s wrong, I always now hear ‘rain’ and not ‘Lorraine’ when I turn to Lou for solace.

I began my proposition that the rain was indeed the friend of Red Bull and not Ferrari – and if the water and cool temperatures stopped the exhaust cracking, then ultimately my proposition is sound.

Yet the liquid sunshine of course assisted Alonso too. At the time of its second coming Button and Hulkenberg were out of sight some – 45 seconds ahead of the field.

In the far distance Alonso was using ‘Goose’ – his wingman – to desperately repel the swarming MIG-28s and retain his position; the chances of the Spaniard making a podium (which he had to do) seemed as likely as peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind being a universally adopted reality by December 25th – with Assad as the leading proponent.

Of course the rain came, Alonso bemoans the debris on the track, the safety car is then conveniently deployed – and the first of the cynical voices began to sing the anthem song of the Ferrari Internationale Automobiles (namely Bob Fernly who described it as a joke). Now Alonso had a real chance of making the necessary podium again.

Having initially made the wrong call to stop for intermediate tyres, Hamilton is now back at the races and looking re-incarnated and most spritely. His use of the rubber however, reminded me of days of yore when my children gleefully opened their presents on Christmas morn – before my first glass of Benedictine was imbibed. Yes he re-took the lead but was already bemoaning the state of tyre batch number 2 whilst Jenson was levitating above the fray on the same shiny black boots with which he qualified.

Lorraine would be better

Back to Lorraine – the rain. Without the rain and the safety car, Hulkenberg and Hamilton of course wouldn’t have dueled gallantly with the resulting sword piercing the heart of the once great champion as the young pretender showed him no regard. The resulting death of the previous champion and the admonishment to the young pretender for not playing by the ‘Queensberry rules’ inspired ‘the voices’ to sing again – another 2 moves forward for the stalking Spaniard. Could it be – could it really?

I worry at times that I’m becoming a grumpy old man. As a child of the late 70’s and 80’s I have always taken pride in my life philosophy of ‘live fast die young’, yet I am finding certain things a persistent irritation that ensnare my mind and coerce from me ramblings from my metaphorical soap box – like a drunken Scot to an Englishman about Bannockburn (something I heard too many times as a lad). Anyway. Race management – AGAIN!!!.

Whether you concur or not with the conspiracy theories on the motives behind the deployment of Mylander in his relative Trebant-esque vehicle amongst the Prancing Horses, the Raging Bulls and the Lotus (what was Chapman thinking?), the frustration at watching the cars trundle around the track waiting for those who have been lapped to unlap themselves and catch the rest back up is infuriating for all I’m sure.

Apparently the message is getting through to race control that this is ridiculous as their guided Trabant clearly drove even more slowly to allow these previously vanquished drivers to regain the coat tails of the rest.

The result of course was predictable, Button is heard remonstrating with his team about the pace being too slow from Mylander and now his tyres were cooling further in what was already relative arctic thermal conditions. Are the FIA completely insane and contained within a sphere of their own ego’s such that they cannot see the solution to this problem is simple and efficient. Instruct those who are lapped to drive through the pits and if necessary hold them at the pit lane exit on a red light until the main snake has passed.

Alternative Universe

As I alluded to in my pre-race analysis, Red Bull were anything but their usual model of perpetual motion like efficiency. This is not to suggest they in any way fell to pieces because the nature of race strategy is far less predictable in such circumstances. Yet the sight of Vettel called in and given new dry tyres, only to return unannounced 2 laps later for intermediates which were still in the garage – was surreal.

In fact the whole event was exactly that  – surreal. I know I am under the doctor’s instructions at present, but the medication is hardly mind altering and sensory warping such that I am transported to a place transcendental to all reality.

The fiction before us was hardly the work of a slick Holywood director producing an A-list blockbuster, but more of a cult creation that was epitomised by the time warped meanderings of the enigmatic flying Fin. For those of you unable to see this footage (as it was not part of the main broadcast), here’s Kimi reliving yester-year on an Interlagos of by gone times – yet he still scores a point.

The End

And so to the final curtain. To me it was predictable that Caterham would find a way of re-establishing their dominance amongst the minnows, but again the script was not true. It was indeed predictable that JEV would ram raid Glock – who was the fleetest of all the 3rd division contenders  – and the German was in line to present his Russian masters with the greatest of prizes.

Unpredictable and ironic was that the Russian driver was in fact chosen to deliver the $16m bonus to his very English masters. Hero Heikki was in fact not so; rather more inglorious methinks. Yet had Heikki been the ‘King of the rest’ with prize in hand – this may have gone someway to assuage his fears for 2013.

What appears crystal clear is that Sir Bernie does not wish more than 10 gladiatorial contestants in the Colosseum. The bounty for those who fail to achieve top 10 prominence is indeed pitiful.

Almost as a by-line the greatest champion of them all bows out for ever and ever amen…..again. The reality is he has been twice forceably ousted from his steed yet many still believe him to posses the ability to attend to unfinished business, were he given a weapon of combat made of a substance other than papier-mache. We will miss Le Baron Rouge indeed.

The final twist of what might have been – we leave to the reminiscence of the Champion of the Day. Knight Button recalls how the lap before Di Resta, ‘the page’, embraced the concrete so heartily, he too had an off camera moment in the same location.

There was a violent ‘snap’ for the McLaren that may have resulted in the same fate as the dour Jock. The ensuing speed of the deployment of the FIA’s Trabant would have negated any opportunity for the Bulls to switch places and predictably the unpredictable would have occurred – the Spaniard would have been the all-conquering champion for the year of Anno Domini 2012.

Such was the day, the race and the year, I feel I need to lie in a dark place for some time now and reconsider the parameters of the reality in which I believe. What is certain is that once again the vanquished will arise and do battle once more when the grip of winter is over and the new season arrives on antipodean shores. 😎

An Epitaph

It was sad to see the conqueror and valiant opponent reduced to point scoring following the most remarkable of duels. The German champion having entered the most exclusive order of valiant Knights gave an emotional and rambling victory speech. During which he poured scorn and disdain on what he described as his opponents’ ‘dirty tricks’ and ‘unfair practices’. Similarly his opponent speculated that given  better weaponry he would have concluded the matter in his favour several rounds ago.

It appears they both have little understanding of the historic nature of the competition in which they are entered. The death and glory of their mighty predecessors appears not to be fully appreciated by these modern contenders. The arena and rules of combat have always been set by the whimsical ordinances devised by the powers that rule the gladitorial code – and that’s just the way it is.

22 responses to “Interlagos: Race review

  1. Interestingly, I found that Kimi’s detour actually features on Google Streetview – http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=interlagos&ll=-23.696955,-46.697868&spn=0.002083,0.003522&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&fb=1&gl=uk&hq=interlagos&cid=0,0,3457880540196939200&t=h&z=19&layer=c&cbll=-23.696955,-46.697868&panoid=wnwqPWAe0quahqLKJ9kSnA&cbp=12,227.08,,0,0

    Looks like he could have rejoined the circuit if he’d carried on, so why did he turn around? I wonder how many other racing circuits feature on Streetview and more importantly, how you get the job of Google car driver for these things ! 🙂

    Must admit I was hoping Vettel would drop the ball sufficiently to let Alonso win it as he’d done a much sounder race. One thing I did wonder, it was hard to tell from the TV footage but it looked like Vettel overtook someone just before the line after the last safety car peeled in to the pits. I’m surprised they even did this as there was plenty of debris still on the track…

    • Great research! I believe Raikkonen tried this a number of years ago and was fine, but this time a gate had been added and it was closed – not that its obvious from the on board footage.

    • It’s part of the rules – if the safety car is out on the final lap then it will come in, but overtaking is still not permitted. Not exactly sure why – maybe they don’t want it in the photos.

  2. Just a general thought, with the absence of any major rule / regulation changes for 2013, what can we expect in terms of gossip or tittle/tattle? I normally enjoy the off season technical gossip and rumour.

    Dare I challenge you to predict any themes that you might be addressing in the near future. (Or do you go into cold storage hibernation?)

    Keep up the great work!

    • Hi RedNo5 – not heard from you before. I don’t go into cold storage other than its bloody cold here in England – I will be at testing in 10 weeks time and keep in touch with my friends among the teams anyway.

      Wondering whether Lauda will be leaving Mercedes after a short appointment now Aabar have pulled out.

      Cosworth buyers still hiding in the woods – a number of collaberations may occur.

      And they’re will be plenty of other stuff. I’ve not done this before as the site is only 10 weeks old so I don’t know if I’ll have daily content – so if you sign up for email notification it saves you checking here daily and you’ll get a mail when a new post has been made.

      How long you been reading thejudge13?

    • I think the most interesting watch will be on Mercedes – not only for news of nick-off or nick-in Lauda, but that they are producing a totally new car. Bring on testing!

  3. I watched the BBC broadcast, and I recall seeing that outing by Raikkonen. I’ve never laughed so hard during a Grand Prix.

    What I didn’t see was any interview or post race coverage of Hulkenberg after he took out Lewis. From what I saw, he attempted an impossible move on Lewis to take advantage of the Caterham backmarker, inevitably got it wrong, and suffered no greater than losing the podium. The consequences for McLaren though were much greater. That removed McLaren’s from 2 podiums and a likely 2nd place Constructors finish and denied Hamilton his final farewell gift to the team. Costly indeed, as Button later revealed that he was looking forward to having 1 last podium celebration with Lewis. His words were, “We haven’t been up there together for a while.”

    As the ‘move’ by Hulkenberg was ballsy at best, with the rain just beginning to fall again and worn slick tires. Do you think it is possible that McLaren would take legal action as the cost to their budget is so great as a consequence? Or will they really just roll over in the guise of race incident?

    • I think you’re being a little harsh – I’m about to publish a news round up and some less poetic comments about the Hulk incident – He was distracted by the Caterham and shifted down a fraction too early.

      McLaren will grimace and bear it. F1 teams have not yet started suing each other for on track mistakes – but there’s always I first time I suppose.

      • Admittedly, I was pretty unimpressed by the move. And sad overall to see Hamilton’s time at McLaren abruptly cut a few laps shorter than expected.

  4. By the way, thanks very much for making the latter half of the season that much more interesting with your insights and the creation of this blog. I’ll continue to read for quite some time.

  5. Good report, that Kimi tour was wild funny. Not so funny seeing safety car and hitting Hamilton end Hulk’s chance of win as placed a bet at 450-1 a week ago he would!!

      • Was looking at the odds for the winner and seen the insane odds on Hulk.

        Just £2 as didn’t obviously expect anything but knew Force India was a decent car and Nico’s pole in damp conditions there meant the odds were crazy!

        Would have got £900 if won but suppose I’d be then kicking myself more for not putting something decent on him!

      • You would think he would be better staying where he is but he seems like an intelligent and grounded fella(maybe unlike Lewis) so he must have good reasons.

        What I don’t get is why McLaren felt the need to rush their decision on Hamilton’s replacement. It was the most coveted seat so everything was in there favour so why rush it.

        • Good question – and now with the hindsight of Perez’s ‘nil pointe’ since Singapore. Mmmm.

          Maybe Martin Whitmarsh comment about hoping Lewis is on a ‘gap year’ has more substance than we realise.

    • Did Kimi’s “tour” happen after or before Hamilton went out? Maybe he was desperately trying NOT to finish third in the WDC. I remember a Kimi tweet around the time of Spa or Monza saying that if couldn’t win he’d rather come fourth. He must really hate that presentation dinner!

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