Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite: Was the Vettel win stage-managed?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in Fat Hippo’s Rants are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.

hippo-mouth_1440541c Who woulda thunk it? I always assumed that when Vettel scores his first win with Ferrari, I’d be sitting at home, drinking beer, and think about starting Christmas preparations. The reason for that is of course silver and goes by the name of Mercedes-Benz.

Lo and behold. Instead I was sitting in a rather basic Hotel in London’s Argyle Street, drinking beer. “Beer that early in the morning?” I hear you ask, and my answer is yes. I was to board a Eurostar to Brussels a couple of hours later and I still had two bottles of that Belgian bile left that apparently passes for Lager in Blighty. I would have probably been arrested returning to Frankfurt carrying that stuff – so it had to be drunk.

As my natural inclination is towards the cynical, this means I’m fairly disinclined to take things at face value. My theory: Merc stage managed a surprise win in Malaysia 2015. Here are the pros and cons.

Pro

Everybody wins. Mercedes have all those frustrated critics off their back, who said they were killing the season before it really began. It’s hard to call for Mercedes to be pegged back, when they are beaten as early as the second race.

Bernard wins too. I would hazard a guess that viewer numbers in Germany and Italy will temporarily climb again, until people realize it was a one-off.

Pirelli win too, as it were their tyres, which played a vital part in this race while not being as ridiculous as the early 2013 construction.

“But Mercedes can’t afford to give away points!” I hear you cry. “Yes they can,” is my answer. Remember Spa in 2014? They lost way more points then than possible in Sepang.

Calling Lewis and Nico into the pits after just four laps was a monumental strategic mistake when compared with Ferrari’s decision to leave Vettel out. Further, if the Pirelli era has taught us one thing, it is that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Any other team would have split the strategy. Leave one man out, in case Ferrari doesn’t pit and bring the other one in. But that’s not what they did, and it is hard to find a good reason why.

This cost Rosberg big time as he had to wait for tyres and then was held to avoid an unsafe release.

However, Merecedes most inexplicable decision of the weekend was to to use medium tyres on Saturday in Q1. With the car advantage they have combined with the fact the medium tyre had been predicted to be the better race tyre since FP2, to use up an extra set of mediums on Saturday looks like deliberate stupidity. So after other teams used only the prime tyre in Q1 it was inevitable each Mercedes driver would be short of a set of option tyres for the race.

Con

On the contra side, we have the indications that Lewis Hamilton was in panic mode in the closing stages of the race. The boy from Stevenage, who learned the trade on the same track that was infested with TJ13 crew members and readers last Saturday, was definitely not a happy camper.

Would Merc really cynically stage manage to lose the race without telling their drivers about it?

Renault fixed a race once in Singapore without telling their lead driver Fernando Alonso – allegedly. Though Felipe Massa questioned this claim directly in 2014.

Mercedes have traditionally struggled to make the tyres last, while Ferrari has been quite kind to theirs throughout the Pirelli era. That’s now even more likely since the Ferrari SF15-T is the brain child of James Allison, who penned the designs of several tyre-whispering Lotii. Therefore, is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to conceive that Ferrari won the 2015 Malaysia GP because of the superior strategy and the lower tyre degradation?

Conclusion

Time will tell whether this was a staged managed race trick by Mercedes – as they were accused of in Monza 2014, where Nico apparently used the polystyrene bollards in the run off area at turn one repeatedly to practice his weaving skills for his impending AA Advanced driver road license test.

It could be Mercedes were just genuinely beaten for the first time under the new engine rules.

Have your say. The comment section is all yours.

The Hippo.

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61 responses to “Fat Hippo’s Rant Lite: Was the Vettel win stage-managed?

  1. Fabulously paranoid for first thing on a Monday morning, Hips. – I’m not sure about yr taste in Belgian lager, but I’ll deffo order some of what you’re smoking!
    IMHO, too much panic and confusion in the Merc camp for it to be a pre-conceived match-rig. And we’ve seen previously how bad Nico and Lewis are at following basic instructions that aren’t in their favour.

  2. It’s easy to have good tactics when you are 2 seconds faster. Yesterday Ferrari suprised them and their strategy fell short. Paddy Lowe also needs some practise on the radio driver select switch.

  3. If Mercedes again dominate the next two races then voices to cut their wings short come Barcelona will be very loud, so Malaysia was too early to artifically bring F1 to live again and stop the critics, should have waited until Bahrain then…

  4. I am suprised that nobody has questioned the decision to deploy the safety car,what about the virtual safety car? Also the offending car was almost cleared by the time the safety car was on track!
    This to me would fuel a conspiracy theory.

    • I made that very same comment yesterday.

      The Sauber, though beached, the rear wheels were still spin and would only need the marshals to push it out from the gravel trap, given that it was only the rear tyres that were stuck.

      I think the SC was deployed after the recovery vehicle along with the marshal were seen entering the track.

    • “I am suprised that nobody has questioned the decision to deploy the safety car,what about the virtual safety car?”

      I too question that. Yet another instance of Ferrari International Assistance, allowing Kimi to get back in the race?

    • This surprised me too, but perhaps because the car was right in the line of fire. The safety car notice certainly deployed after the recovery vehicle started to enter the track.

      The other safety car question is why was the safety car out for so many laps? Arguably it could and probably should have come in during the end of the lap most people pitted, given the car was cleared. It didn’t, and in doing so gave a huge helping hand to not only all those who pitted, but also those who’d had to make early stops because of punctures/damage.

  5. I believe Mercedes have employed an ex McLaren strategy expert. I’ve lost count of the number of times that McLaren lost races and places because their strategy was written on a fag packet, which had then been thrown away.
    All of the knowledge and race managing skills of Brawn have been lost since he left the team. Mercedes need to get him back to run a few masterclasses on how to run a race, otherwise we’ll be seeing more repeats of this mess during the rest of the season.

  6. Has anyone checked on the hippo to see if he’s suffering from some rear form of medical condition?…

    Seb wins his first race after a 2014 that he’d like to forget quicker than o can blink and the hippo has doubts?…

    Has the world gone mad??!!!

    But in saying that, I mentioned somewhere else yesterday, that the whole thing reminded me of Bahrain. Bernie, Luca and everyone else was up in arms complaining about the racing and the Mercs dominance and then ended up with a cracker.

    Forward a few months later and we have H&M squealing like stuck pigs and what do we get? A cracker of a race.

    • The quality of his drive made me wonder if he hadn’t intentionally activated the non-performance clause in his contract last year. He couldn’t adapt to the Red Bull all season, yet he is right on it with the Ferrari out of the box?

      • I don’t think so. They had to replace his chassis three times. He actually did the first four races in a cracked one. And he would have won Canada instead of RIC if it wasn’t for RB bolloxing up his pitstop.
        Vettel’s drive was not perhaps the very best last year, but many of his meagre results came through lack of support from the team. And the Ferrari talks didn’t start before summer, when he actually started improving.

  7. I’m not big on conspiracy theories but using the set of options in Q1 and the stacked pit, putting them both on the same tire, threw me. Neither decision made sense
    Vettel only finished 9 and a bit seconds ahead of Hamilton (13 ahead of Rosberg) doing one less stop which would indicate Mercedes race pace was still quite a bit faster then Ferrari’s, probably about the time lost in traffic after the safety car stop. So I’m going with blown strategy calls over the weekend.
    However, it would only have taken the involvement of very few players, at Mercedes,to slow their progress. If it was intentional, the Ferrari lapping the Red Bulls must have been the icing on the cake. We need to see the facial expressions of Lowe and Wolff through the race, see how worried they were…or weren’t.

  8. Chaps, lets not lose sight of the end game, and that is to run the championship down to the last round, hopefully with the top three teams covered by 6 points….so, I think this ‘scenario’ will occur repeatedly throughout the season, to encourage sponsors and other teams not to press for any major changes…..

    • I disagree completely. But then I did inhale an awful lot of your exhaust fumes on Saturday..
      If it was a ploy then why now? Why not during the Schummy years or the Vettel years.
      Is it ze germans running this consiracy? sneaky Germans.

  9. I read a comment straight after the race on a Ferrari forum which stated exactly that….this race was staged!!! After 40 laps I was thinking Shekelstone and Toad are already trying to “manage” this season, knowing the backlash will be getting stronger every race to stop the domination by 1 team or the other if another Merc walkover developed this year, and was killing the interest and viewing figures. Plus Shekelstone and Toad get to discredit Alonso a little bit more, because we all know Alonso is not the golden boy for those 2, and the icing on the cake would be that their idol Vettel gets to win his first race for the Skiddyrear Ferrari and takes the heat off of Mercedes.! Stinks of a fix to me, Merchumps dont lose a 7/10ths-1.5 sec advantage overnight!!! Anyway, Shekelstone and Toad have been interfering in stewarding decisions for years….Whiting is always on conference call to the pair of them and nothing gets done until these a55holes decide during every race. #:/

  10. Conspirationists arise!

    “Calling Lewis and Nico into the pits after just four laps was a monumental strategic mistake when compared with Ferrari’s decision to leave Vettel out.”

    “But that’s not what they did, and it is hard to find a good reason why.”

    Only *6* blokes (no, more: Ferrari, FI, Lotus, I think) decided to stay out. It was a gamble, and Ferrari’s paid off while Merc’s didn’t. Could have been the other way round. And half the grid didn’t split strategy, from memory…

    “his cost Rosberg big time as he had to wait for tyres and then was held to avoid an unsafe release.”

    Rosberg bundled all up by 10s or so under the SC no-overtake rules, prompting Seb to squeal on the radio. As for the unsafe release, this is one of those things…

    “However, Merecedes most inexplicable decision of the weekend was to to use medium tyres on Saturday in Q1.”

    Ouh, I think Hungary 2014 explains the decision-making at Merc pretty well. Come up with a plan, never deviate from it, be extra conservative, as they have most to lose. Merc was conservative and got toast (slightly). Ferrari were aggressive, as they only want to win at least once and don’t care about getting toast in the process.

    More importantly though, now it’s clear why Ferrari didn’t do one single race simulation throughout winter testing. They had no PU issues to justify that. But Allison knew damn-well how good tire deg was on the Ferrari, and they didn’t want to expose this to the others. Result, Merc got caught out completely by surprise, and Ferrari bagged in a victory.

    • “Renault fixed a race once in Singapore without telling their lead driver Fernando Alonso – allegedly. Though Felipe Massa questioned this claim directly in 2014.”

      As do I, for what it’s worth:

      http://thejudge13.com/2014/12/02/voice-of-the-f1-fans-alonso-the-home-wrecker/

      From circumstantial evidence, it makes absolutely no sense for Alonso not to have known of what was about to happen… Even Nelsinho made a practice spin on the formation lap.

      • To this day, I believe that no one explicitly told Alonso about the plan before hand. He probably surmised that it was staged after the event, but I doubt that he was stupid enough to ask out right. Thus he could always deny knowing about the event without ever committing perjury.

        • @Bill McKidd
          That may be so.

          I for one believe that the whole idea of the Singapore cheat emerged from a chat between Briatore & Alonso. Symonds would then have been informed, and then Nelsinho coerced. But we can’t really know all that, can we?

          We do know that one of the two convicted schmoes later heaped it all onto Nelsinho, saying that (quote from memory) “It was Nelson’s idea.” Which is clearly, singularly utter rubbish. But you know what they say: best lies come with some truth embedded in them.

          So my (very speculative) suspicion is that the truth in that accusation is that the original idea came from a driver, or was originally discussed/decided with a driver well before it became a thing and a clearly defined plan… Now it makes *absolutely no sense* for this idea to have come from Nelson Piquet Jr. Hence Fred must have been in the know…

    • “It could be Mercedes were just genuinely beaten for the first time under the new engine rules.”

      That’s my overall impression. A combination of Merc’s chewing through the tires, while Allison’s Ferrari walking on water; and Merc’s gamble to pit at SC backfiring as they lost time through traffic, while Ferrari’s gamble to stay out paying out having kept in clean air.

      It seems to me that Ferrari can challenge Merc this way only on very high-degradation circuits, like Sepang. And let’s wait for the outcome of the fuel-flow restrictions coming up; maybe Merc restricted their flow already, whereas Ferrari kept it. If Ferrari goes under the next couple of races, there shall be no question about who was getting naughty…

    • Was so going to bring up Hungary. Also point out that Merc assumption was that they would be covered if they pitted did them in, I’m guessing no one looked at the what if’s, just assumed only Lotus and FI and Sauber wouldn’t. They’ll learn though.

      Might also be a knock on of their “equal strategies for drivers” mentality, not splitting strategy at SC pit stop.

      • Yup, broken calculators all the way…

        “Might also be a knock on of their “equal strategies for drivers” mentality, not splitting strategy at SC pit stop.”

        Toto and Paddy look at the Merc statutes, and then are more conservative than a grandma… 🙂 Especially if they’ve already devised a plan two weeks before the GP. Oh how this team lacks the gentle bear claws of Saint Ross…

        • My thoughts exactly…this is when you need a Ross Brawn thinking quickly and coherently on the pit wall…you don’t need him when you’re already two seconds faster than everyone else!

          • “you don’t need him when you’re already two seconds faster than everyone else!”

            …thanks to him in the first place! Saint Ross’ the one who put in place this fabulous, well-oiled grey machine…

            Toto may b^tch as much as he wanteth about “work harder”, but the fact is that HE did NOT build this organization from scratch; Ross did! The Wolff simply jumped on the bandwagon at the convenient moment (and pushed Ross overboard by bringing in the Leprechaun).

  11. I think the more obvious conspiracy was FOM totally ignoring Manor all weekend. Getting their cowardly friends in the (ooo a free paddock pass you say!) press to help along the way. Don’t think it’s not being noticed and remembered!

    Keep up the good work Judges, you can’t always call it right but at least you’re one of the ones happy to ask the questions.

    • “I think the more obvious conspiracy was FOM totally ignoring Manor all weekend.”

      Indeed so. I’m not sure the was one single shot of a Manor trundling around. Bernie still taking a p^ss at it, marking down his territory?

  12. Malaysian GP is sponsored by the Mercedes title sponsor – Petronas. Would Mercedes really give this race away? Petronas wouldn’t be happy. Why not win by 2 seconds? Or lose the next race in China?

    • Or conspiracy theory 2. Sauber was intentionally beached at T1 to trigger safety car, call Mercedes in and give Ferrari P1 on the track.

    • When it comes to conspiracy, I always say follow the money. While many would be happy and profit from this result would Petronas be happy about losing their home race? As you wrote, wouldn’t have made more money people happy if this happened in China or Bahrain?

  13. Must watch the race….missed the bloody start of it due to many pints consumed after TJ13 Karting on Saturday!

  14. I must say Mr. Hippo I love your humor but I usually don’t agree with your opinion. This article was well written and gave the reader the option of making a choice for themselves because you defended both points of view, hats off to the Fat Hippo!

    I agree with your conclusion so let’s wait and see what the rest of the season brings us… 😀

  15. Hippo-
    Thanks for the insights laid out in your article…

    Being in the U.S., try as I might, I fell asleep before the live race began. Last thing I saw was a commercial before Martin Brundle performs his manic chase through the throng hoping frantically for a meaningful 30 seconds with anyone.

    I awakened in shock. I saw headlines but didn’t read an article.

    The SkyF1 replay aired. Before the lights went out I said, “They’re on the options?! Wait a minute, what the hell is wrong with this picture!!!” Scrambling to think I went back to your Q1 “Pro” moment.

    I was a U.S. sportswriter who exposed exactly how easy it is to fix baseball, U.S. football, and basketball games. Beside my own observations, After the first few articles, I had moles from former players to former television junior producers email and call me to tell me, “you have no idea how close you are,” and then fill me in about “the action” as they call it.

    In fact, before I had a heart attack on March 12 of this year, I was to appear on a radio show on March 20 to discuss, at length, the “how” of game fixing and, most importantly, the “why.”
    Fortunately for me, the heart thing was a blocked aorta that took all of about 50 minutes for the surgeon to clear with me watching in a morphine-induced dream, a Jane’s Addiction concert in my head the whole time for about 90 minutes.

    Interestingly, “Tire deg” was the phrase of the day from the long runs (that weren’t all that long) during practice straight through to the race. And suddenly Merc couldn’t handle the heat (for SkyF1 watchers, remember the mentions of Rosberg’s times falling off after two laps on the options during FP3, while Vettel’s times were consistent???).

    Malaysia stunk of a fix. In the U.S. especially with the long seasons of baseball and basketball, most regular season fixes are conspiracies manufactured solely between umpires or referees.

    However, as the season ends and the playoffs begin, those on high get involved. And here’s how it works: As soon as the playoffs are set, team vs. team-wise, if there is or are preferred winners, commissioners send down “the word” as given to them from team owners. The commish passes the word down to the executive television producers in charge of meting out producer assignments for the games. Meantime, the commish mets the head of umpires or refs, surveys the various matches together and looking at certain mentions how he’d like to see a certain series “go the distance” or how it would be nice for ratings if “X” matchup produced an upset. At this level, everyone knows what is meant without saying anything outright.

    Without getting into the in-game nuts and bolts of how this plays out during games, I’ll let everyone know, including you Hippo, that the athletes are NEVER told outright what’s up, except in extremely rare conditions (see Michael Jordan in the Chicago Bulls vs. the Orlando Magic playoff series after his return from his sudden “retirement”).

    As the game progresses, most players can sense that “something” is wrong. It isn’t until postgame, when they have moments to replay the games in their head that they begin to clue into what was actually being done – and every once in awhile reporters will get statements in press conferences (“pressers”) where a player or two will provide a glimpse as to knowing what was up.

    As for this Prancing Horse vs. German Monolith passion play we must have a couple of things happen: team principals who get along with each other who will share how the fix will look – check and; drivers who are noted enough to make the whole thing look on the up-and-up, who can carry out the task without choking – check.

    If there was a fix, Hamilton didn’t know. Vettel didn’t know, Rosberg didn’t know and poor Kimi was too far back from the beginning to get involved in any meaningful way – fortunately for all involved in the fix because he could have been a wild-card in the whole equation.

    For this to become further thought of as a fixed race, let’s see what happens in the coming two races. Though not completely promises, China, and especially Bahrain could be extreme warm weather races.

    We’ll should know rather quickly if “tire deg” is anything more than a catch-phrase for, “here we go again” for F1 viewers in the know.

    • Cogent arguments, even if I’m not particularly convinced (I did upvote, though). These teams would give an arm and a leg for McLaren-esque or Vettel-esque records, so throwing it all to the bin willy-nilly seems like a silly thing for a dominant team to do. They put way too much money in these things, and they just want to win.

      Even when RB was decimating the opposition, they were still moaning and whining of how unfair it was to them that the tires weren’t suitable. Do you think they would along with a “staging” idea? Do you think Vettel was in any mood to stage anything when he was on his 9 straight wins streak? For me the answer is no. Hence I see very few arguments for Merc to go down this road…

    • Hmmm… First, can’t believe you left boxing out. Second (aside from being humbled as you are an actual sporstwriter) I once read an article on Sumo wrestling (may have been the Freakonomics guys) that demonstrated very conclusively that if 1 wrestler was already guaranteed to make the next round, and the other would be put out by losing, it was much more likely that the wrestler with the guaranteed spot would lose, enabling the other wrestler to advance as well.

      Just thought you might like to know.

  16. Considering how much the Mercedes cars were sliding around compared how planted Ferraris were, I think Mercedes was certainly caught off guard in Malaysia. The bad strategy call was probably just one of the errors they made.

  17. If we’re going for conspiracy theories, i’m more inclined to believe that this is a fuel flow issue, with Mercedes turning theirs down already, while Ferrari used the opportunity to take home a win before they are forced to turn theirs down too.

  18. We slogged our way to the F1 Brunch With Friends after first insuring our phones were fully charged so we could slip away during the boring bits and watch YouTube videos of dancing cats. So food, drink, race. Vettel in front. Kimi with flapping tire. Merc Boys stacked in pits like jets over O’Hare. Hm. What’s going on? Vettel stays in front. Kimi inches from 16th to 4th. Hamilton complains. Race ends. Vettel cries. Hamilton and Rosberg laugh. Whaaaat? So weird. After all the talk of equalizing it appeared awkward dual-tire changing did the trick and everyone is happy. Was the fix on? I think so. Were the Ferraris stronger? Well, they beat the Williams Boys. Did we have a good time? Yes.
    Do we think that somewhere Bernie is smiling? Definitely.

  19. Thanks Hippo for your insight! I’m so glad I found your site from among the so many others that are just toeing the mainstream conclusion.

    I’m of the view that Malaysia GP wasn’t that much of a jewel (etc Monza/Spa/silverstone) thus it was up for a trade by Mercedes since they have confidence of their car’s superior performance (for pretty much the rest of the year). It would be for the greater good they are sacrificing their potential win. In addition, they would have to secure their contract extension with Bernie (announced after the race that it is extended to 2018). ie. the cards are laid bare on the table.

    F1 is ultimately a circus show controlled by Bernie, so everyone has to toe the line for the show to go on. It doesn’t help that after the Australian GP, the race had the least amount of cars/drivers (etc Alonso/Bottas) starting. The F1 fraternity have to go into overdrive to think of some plot to drive F1 up since there’s so much negativity around. 2014 was about Ros VS HAM, it definitely won’t bring as much interest if they stick to the same formula for 2015. What’s better than what is being acted/directed right now? 😉

  20. Thanks for an interesting piece, I also had my suspicions as regards Mercedes reaction to envious comments other teams were making – problem resolved – of course they wouldn’t tell their drivers of their intentions.

  21. To be honest, I can understand a tad, a tad, why people may think this, but let me refer you to Mark Hughes’ article – http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/reports/2015-malaysian-grand-prix-report/

    In a nutshell – Merc were simply just not as good as Ferrari in terms of tyre deg as was evident through free practice. The very high temps meant that Ferrari had the more consistent times and lower drop off rates from the tyres than Merc. Even though Merc peak performance was quicker, Ferrari’s times were more consistent meaning that merc couldn’t offset their own drop off rates. Coupled with the fact that Hamilton’s lack of running in practice 1 and 2 heavily compromised his setup and therefore he wasn’t able to control the car as effectively, meant that it’s not hard to see how Ferrari were able to win the race.

  22. I-can’t-believe-I’m-typing-this-but…. I don’t think you are crazy Hippo. Ferrari winning this race solved a lot of problems, the largest one being all the talk of “equalization”. Those discussions are now moot, and Christian Horner looks like an even bigger fool. Mercedes wins…

    Vettel winning in the Ferrari so early in the season will spark ticket sales in Italy, and possibly throughout mainland Europe, (I bet this has already started to happen). Bernies pocketbook wins….

    Changes all the talk in the mainstream press from Lewis V Nico to Lewis V Vettel and Ferrari V Mercedes. We all win….

    Also interesting how Bernie openly complained about Vettels lack of press interaction, and then proceeds to tell the world that Vettel is having a second baby. Is Bernie F1’s official Stork? I wonder how enthusiastic Vettels baby-momma was about being outed by the troll?

    (Oooh, it just occurred to me, maybe part of the F1 contract is that all drivers have to supply the blood of their infants to Bernie and he just got excited…)

    And I don’t think anyone had to be in on it apart from Bernie, the top 3 at Mercedes, and 1 software engineer. A simple engine mapping change before the weekend starts, that limits the Merc PU output, and all of the sudden there is a race. The pit-stop strategy kerfuffle was just an added benefit. Not even Ferrari really had to know. Any Merc engineers that started asking questions could be told that they are limiting power to increase longevity.
    (Although it is interesting how it seemed that all of the teams were “planning” on there being a safety car on that exact lap)

    What did Merc really loose? 10 championship points? when you are set take home 700 this year, what’s 10 points..

    I haven’t been able to find all of the data yet from this race, but I think that we will be able to tell a lot from the lap times.
    The Mercs were around 3 seconds a lap faster in Australia compared to last year. But based on cursory examinations, it appears the lap times for this year in Malaysia were the same as last year. Where did that 3+ seconds go? It can’t all be down to track temps, it was almost as hot last year, (again I haven’t gathered all the data yet….)

    It will be interesting to see if Merc “finds” their 3 seconds a lap again at the next race.

    You’ve been on fire lately Hippo, some of your best stuff. Keep it coming.

    • “Bernies pocketbook wins….” It makes no difference to Bernie if a track sells all their tickets or none; Bernie gets paid either way. Really, the fans do NOT matter to Bernie.

      • My apologies. I work under the umbrella assumption that if there is money involved, then Bernie will get a kickback. Therefore more ticket sales= Bernie gets more money. While you are technically correct, i am theoretically not wrong.

        • Well okay then. Unfortunately for us fans, Bernie’s business model doesn’t factor us in; track fees, TV revenue, track signage, peer to peer business stuff, and series sponsors like Rolex are where the money is for Bernie. We really have little effect on what he does as we don’t put money in his pocket. I know that in the end we fans DO pay, in roundabout ways, but Bernie really doesn’t give a sh*t about us and isn’t afraid to say so. There have been some good discussions about the FOM business strategy on Joe’s blog; I’ve written that in the end we ffans do pay for everything, but in the short term we are of no account to the dwarf.

  23. @Hippo.

    One word – “Reinheitsgebot”. Seek medical help. Remember Litvinenko. It wasn’t Polonium!

  24. I am happy to see I was not the only one to “see” the possibility of a few scenarios of fixing taking place. this article and comments cover all my thoughts and more. just as I held back a bit in rating the race only as a 7, I am also not ready to declare a firm belief that the fix was on.

    at this early stage of the season, I do believe Ferrari have made a miraculous recovery, but likely still a half step from Merc overall. that alone should result in another win or so and a bunch of podiums. Ferrari pit stops were pretty stout – Seb threw away 1/2 sec on his second stop… and clearly to most, Seb and Kimi got their considerable mojos back in a very competent Ferrari – and that is likely better for both casual and hard core race fans than ANY conspiracy plan could conjure up.

    was the fix in?? I can see that being highly possible and desirable to a few; HOWEVER, nobody could have predicted Kimi getting shut out of Q3 with much of the strategies already pre-determined after FP3 or Q1, or getting a flat in the race. with the strategy Merc deployed and as other factors played out (some luck too), it is almost guaranteed in my mind that Ferrari would have finished a super close 1 – 2 (choose the finishing order as you like). even with Kimi starting P11 with no flat, it is quite likely both Ferraris would have finished ahead of both Mercs.

    so, was Merc REALLY willing to finish third and fourth in this race in front of their title sponsor?? or did they have more in the tank to mitigate that disaster (necessarily meaning IMHO that Lewis and Nico would have been willingly complicit participants)??? this is where my doubts come to play…

    we will likely see more pieces of the puzzle in place over the next few races. at this point, I am willing to wait until the Spanish GP has run to totally make up my mind.

    gotta love F1 🙂

    Rich

    • a few additional thoughts:

      Ferrari and Sauber need to have a “hollier than thou” sit down with Marcus (and Nasr) for their own brand benefits. Ferrari must be fuming! not grossly arrogant or incompetent by any means, but more of this will likely get the stewards involved too… wink, wink

      no coverage of Manor smacks of a spoiled kiddy playground mentality; HOWEVER, I am more and more thinking Manor IS playing a deliberate game here. feel free to choose sides, my friends :). it always takes two to Tango…

      WTF was with having a safety car?? yeah, in years gone past, this was minimally intrusive, but the massively incompetent FIA totally missed their first opportunity to showcase the newest , latest and greatest innovation of safety and circus enhancing technology… argh.

      speaking of mojo, Honda has got none at the moment. they are the worst of all in F1 and pretty much had their arses handed to them in IndyCar in St Pete,Fl… what a waste of 2 World Champions… not like either has another 5 years to wait on broken promises of over-the-hill incompetent spin-mysters…

      does anybody know the BETFRED odds of Force India, Lotus, Sauber, and/or Manor making it to next year hahaha.

      while I have never been a fanboi since the late, great Jimmy Clark, I have always had my favs and disliked racers. but I have always been a fan of the underdawg. much like I suspect all of my friends here. the kids at my unliked Torro Rosso are impressing the hell outta me. BIG TIME!!! I know, they both got a couple of years yet to make that ONE big stupid rookie mistake. but right now, I am closer to being a fanboi than ever in 37 years. continue kicking some serious arse, bois!

      Rich

  25. I don’t think this was stage management but more of being surprised by the Ferrari pace and being caught off guard. It’s too early in the season to give away points. After qualifying Ferrari was confident of a possible victory because they saw the advantage with the tires and they capitalized on it.

    Merc was probably relieved that it took the pressure off for now and that Kimi was to far back to do more damage.

  26. Of course it was a fix.

    Vettel and Hamilton were in on it too. Didn’t you see them laughing and chatting during the podium cermeony?

    And Niki Lauda knew, which is why he was so happy too!

    Even the fact that Paddy pressed the “wrong” communication button was a fix. Lewis losing his temper with the team during the race was all an act.

    However, poor Rosberg had no clue, because from past experience (of secret tests) Mercedes know he can’t be relied upon to keep it to himself. He had no clue where he was in the race because Mercedes preferred to keep him in the dark.

    😉 :-0

    • I thought for sure that with the loss Hamilton would start whining again about having to sleep on his father’s couch, but he didn’t. Instead he sat on the podium and yukked it up with Vettel. A sure sign the fix was on.

  27. The facts of the day leave plenty of room for all these theories and the culture of F1 certainly allows for a fix to happen.

    More likely, in my opinion, is that Merc wanted to cut down the talk of equalisation and keep at least a few people watching their efforts so they decided to play it cute by handbraking their own performance. Using up option tyres in qualifying then giving up track position early was the set up for a big come back for a narrow HAM win.

    However, they misjudged slightly the performance gap and got caught out. Not the result they wanted but the intended effect remains the same so job done.

  28. Wow, Bi Hippo. It never ceases to amaze me how the people who cherish F1 end up spreading utter garbage theories and conjectures about cheating, fixing, breaking rules and so on, ultimately undermining the sport they love so much. Case in point is the Minardi rant about Red Bull cars in the second half of 2013 about how it was supposedly really weird that Red Bulls were seconds ahead the rest of teams (worth of more than one season of development work he claimed) and how weird the Red Bull cars sounded in turns and braking zones. He basically strongly hinted that Red Bull is using illegal traction control without saying it. Even though the myth of the Red Bull cheating had been dispelled many times on this blog and other technical sites, the general populace of popular F1 news sites (read, not this one), now takes for granted that “Red Bull cheated”.

    Then we have seen the fervent accusations that Rosberg “cheated in Spa” in 2014. Later, a whole bunch of accusations that Mercedes supposedly fixed the later races to make sure Hamilton wins in order to punish Rosberg for Spa. Now we see this. Come on guys. Do you want this blog to be taken seriously or not?

  29. Mr. Hippo,

    The positive thing about this article is that it is nice to know how the tin-foil hat crowd views F1 these days. Thank you for that.

  30. Pingback: The Official Formula 1 2015 Season Thread - Page 206 - Honda-Tech·

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