Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Abu Dhabi and Ferrari

The Abu Dhabi race is a strange one. I was lucky enough to go there in 2010; sitting with Virgin Racing's Superfan, Alex,on the roof garden of the team's hospitality building at the end of a media drinks party, overlooking the harbour and hotel, and with a fridge full of wine and beer, is a great memory.

It is a magnificent event, but somehow it doesn't feel like a "race". Although Seb's drive through from the pits last year did at least show that overtaking in the DRS era is at least possible. Unlike in 2010, when a dodgy strategy call by Ferrari, calling Alonso in to cover Webber, left the Spaniard struggling to get past Petrov. The result? Seb's first championship.

This year, on about lap two, I tweeted that I was bored, because it was pretty obvious what was going to happen. It did. I got some stick for that tweet, probably rightly, suggesting that I might need a break from F1.I don't think I do, but I am frustrated by how the sport (or entertainment if you are in India) is developing.This week's court case could prove more interesting than last week's race - and that's not right.

I think my favourite part of this year's ADGP was seeing Felipe still ahead of Alonso after nearly 40 laps. I tweeted that too, just as he came in for what looked to me, like an earlier than necessary stop. Given that he had already done more laps on softs in his first step than there were left in the race, there seemed to be only one choice. Apparently there wasn't, and Ferrari's Abu Dhabi strategy again looked questionable.

I don't know if Felipe didn't have any usable softs left after qualifying, but mediums was a strange choice, likely to cost Felipe around 15 seconds over the remaining part of the race. And more importantly, give him the drive out of corners to pass people (Vergne for example). And if they were really that concerned about the life of the softs (with way less fuel on board than at the beginning of the race) surely one or two laps more on the mediums would still have netted a better result, even if he was losing two seconds a lap. Which he wasn't.

So, the conclusion appears to be that they just pulled him in to let Fernado past. "Felipe, Fernando isn't faster than you, but we're letting him through anyway".

And that passing Vergne off track thing? I cannot believe the stewards let Alonso off that. There are as many ways to avoid an accident as there are to skin a cat. If that had been Monaco, with a barrier rather than a white line, Alonso would have backed off. Braked even.But he didn't, and he did gain an advantage.

But the stewards didn't think that was the case. It was pointed out to me that Ferrari World is nearby, and that maybe local stewards had over-ruled the driver steward, but no, there were no locals on the panel.

It was just the same story as always, inconsistent application of the rules. And ip front, just the same story as always. A great drive by Seb.

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