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Werthead

Formula One 2019

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The new season starts this weekend. Things look tasty from testing, where it appeared (as much as anything can be inferred from testing) that Ferrari are starting off ahead of Mercedes like last year, but by a larger margin; Red Bull seem to have made some gains with Honda but still off the front two teams; Renault have closed up to the top three, but not as much as they'd like and McLaren have made some improvements and are now firmly in the mid-grid with everyone else. The only really bad news comes from Williams, whose car is apparently slower than last year's, which is insane. Could be a tough, lonely season for them if they can't bring some massive upgrades to the table.

Sad news that Charlie Whiting, the F1 race director, has passed away at only 66. It's remarkable that he had the toughest job to do in the sport - running each race weekend, dishing out penalties etc - but also retained the respect of the drivers and teams. His replacement will have some massive shoes to fill.

Netflix have a genuinely great documentary series, Formula One: Drive to Survive, which, despite the awful title, delves into the 2018 season in a huge amount of detail and with unprecedented access. You find out that everyone swears a lot more than you'd think, and some of the behind-the-scenes dealing is eye-opening. In particular, the bitching and sniping between Renault and Red Bull is impressive to behold. I think the goal of the series is to get Americans more interested in the sport, so less focus on the technical details and more on the drivers, the teams, the personalities and the on-track battles (which tend to make the sport look more exciting than perhaps it really is, but okay).

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Early prediction. Vettel to finish 2nd, in his own team. Hamilton broke him last year. 

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2 hours ago, BigFatCoward said:

Early prediction. Vettel to finish 2nd, in his own team. Hamilton broke him last year. 

I would also predict that even if they start off the season with the stronger car, Ferrari will somehow manage to contrive to mess things up. At least, it should be more interesting than it would be if Mercedes started with a clear advantage.

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Yeah, I get the feeling that if Ferrari win the championship it might be with Leclerc rather than Vettel. The only way that might not happen is if Leclerc buckles under the pressure. It would be hilarious if then the story of the next few years is Leclerc smashing records and the so-called golden boy Verstappen kind of gets forgotten in the mix. Vettel is not good under pressure: give him the best car and an open road and he will usually be fine (although if someone's racing hard behind him he can get out of sorts) and win the race. Put him in the mix and he can easily make mistakes and misjudgements that other drivers of a similar age and experience simply won't do (well, apart from Grosjean).

It's worth watching the Netflix show because it dedicates a whole episode to the new young guns of F1, focusing on Leclerc in particular. His mental fortitude is utterly formidable: two days after his his father died, he got into his F2 car, ended up at the back of the field and then won the race. Very impressive.

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Well, that was dissapointing.. A continuation of last year.
Kimi could have gotten a better starting position, I don't know if there was a problem with the car, because he only did one lap in Q3.
Too bad for Renault and especially Ricciardo. I am rooting for him this year. It would be nice if he was a title contender.

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7 hours ago, the hound of sansa said:

Well, that was dissapointing.. A continuation of last year.

There is something very familiar about the front of the grid. I guess we still need to see whether Mercedes also have a significant advantage in race pace, but it doesn't look good for Ferrari.

Too bad for Renault and especially Ricciardo. I am rooting for him this year. It would be nice if he was a title contender.

They do seem to be embedded in the midfield.

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Same thing happened last two years running and Vettel won both debut races, so no-one should take anything for granted. However, Bottas actualling getting to second place makes Vettel's life much harder in that regard. Hopefully a sign that Bottas has levelled up over the winter and come back with more drive (which he's going to need to fend off Ocon, who is actually in Melbourne watching the race, just to put the pressure on).

But yeah, it does look like Mercedes may have been sandbagging in testing a bit. Again.

Good start from Leclerc, since his fastest lap was compromised by an error. And McLaren are definitely screaming now about ditching Honda. Red Bull don't seem to have moved much up from last year's pace, but they don't seem to have dropped anything (Gasly's poor form is on him, not the car, I think) either, and the integration of chassis and engine seems to be far superior, since Honda actually let Red Bull's engineers study the engine as they built it, to make the chassis fit perfect, whilst Renault did not.

One thing that will be interesting is that I had absolutely no idea before the Netflix show how much Magnusson and Hulkenberg despise one another. When Magnusson ran Hulkenberg off one of the tracks last year, Hulkenberg grabbed Magnusson in the media pit and sarcastically called him a gentleman racer. Magnusson's decidedly-less eloquent response was, "Suck my balls, mate." Hulkenberg actually reported Magnusson for dangerous driving on track, which Magnusson got infuriated by.

Actually, the Netflix documentary is great for showing other sides of people. Magnusson comes across as an absolute tool (he seems to think he's the "bad boy of Formula One", which I'm pretty sure absolutely no-one else on Earth thinks) and Grosjean is actually quite sympathetic, especially after he talks about how his first disastrous season in F1 saw him consult a psychologist about his mental health. Christian Horner comes across as someone who can dish out the jokes and sarcasm, but absolutely cannot take it. His smirk when telling Renault they've been dumped was one thing, but he got incredibly pissed off when Cyril poached Riccardio off him in turn after the last minute, leaving Red Bull seriously screwed for driver's options (I get the impression that promoting Gasly was an act of pure desperation, they don't seem to think he's ready for the big chair yet but they had no other options available), although all Cyril did was repeat the same joke back to him he'd made in the first place.

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Decent race. Bottas was driving as if he was in a different formula - really impressive and I hope this is him saying "I know this is my last season with Mercedes - I'm making it count". Hamilton was lost for words pretty much and we saw with Rosberg that he can be beaten. If this track is anything to go by we need Bottas fighting with Hamilton as Mercedes had a clear advantage. Although I guess Hamilton, Max and the Ferraris were evenly matched at least. It suggests something wasn't quite right with Hamilton's car.

Norris had a positive debut although it's painful to watch the Williams drivers.

And the bonus point for fastest lap seems to be a really positive addition as several drivers were clearly wanting that extra point and it was interesting to see Bottas risk tyres to ensure he got it. If this is anything to go by it will keep the last few laps interesting. Although I don't think Ferrari have caught onto the concept yet because with Leclerc stuck behind Vettel and with a pitstop+ distance for the driver behind him they should have really brought Leclerc in but the optimum tyres on and get that extra point which would have been a free point on paper (I imagine the Ferrari with fresh best tyres on would be faster than bottas with old tyres on). Those bonus points could make a big difference by the end of the season so teams need to be wise to grabbing them when in the situation Leclerc was in (as I very much doubt Ferrari were allowing him and Vettel to race in those final laps.)

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12 hours ago, Werthead said:

One thing that will be interesting is that I had absolutely no idea before the Netflix show how much Magnusson and Hulkenberg despise one another. When Magnusson ran Hulkenberg off one of the tracks last year, Hulkenberg grabbed Magnusson in the media pit and sarcastically called him a gentleman racer. Magnusson's decidedly-less eloquent response was, "Suck my balls, mate." Hulkenberg actually reported Magnusson for dangerous driving on track, which Magnusson got infuriated by.

Actually, the Netflix documentary is great for showing other sides of people. Magnusson comes across as an absolute tool (he seems to think he's the "bad boy of Formula One", which I'm pretty sure absolutely no-one else on Earth thinks)

The commentators have in the past suggested the other drivers are unimpressed with some of Magnusson's driving. That said, as 'bad boys of F1' go, he's no Pastor Maldonado.

It was an interesting race, even if it's a bit disappointing that Mercedes seem to have a clear pace advantage. Bottas drove a pretty much perfect race, hopefully he can put up a sustained challenge to Hamilton this year. Verstappen should also be very satisfied with overtaking Vettel and having similar pace to Hamilton. Ferrari's lack of pace was surprising, although I know Melbourne isn't a particularly representative track so it might be a different story at other circuits. Leclerc did seem to be making a point by zooming up behind Vettel.

1 hour ago, red snow said:

Although I don't think Ferrari have caught onto the concept yet because with Leclerc stuck behind Vettel and with a pitstop+ distance for the driver behind him they should have really brought Leclerc in but the optimum tyres on and get that extra point which would have been a free point on paper (I imagine the Ferrari with fresh best tyres on would be faster than bottas with old tyres on). Those bonus points could make a big difference by the end of the season so teams need to be wise to grabbing them when in the situation Leclerc was in (as I very much doubt Ferrari were allowing him and Vettel to race in those final laps.)

I agree it was surprising that Leclerc didn't make the attempt, since it would be a net gain of two if they can prevent Mercedes getting the point and if they ended up losing the Constructor's title by 1 or 2 points then they're going to regret missing out here.

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I hadn't even considered it being net gain of 2 given they'd be taking it off mercedes. Good point and makes it more valuable.

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Yeah, the fastest lap point actually made the end of the race a bit more interesting. If effectively bolted a qualifying session onto the end of the race which made things more interesting as Bottas romped home with a dominant victory.

Melbourne is an odd track though, particularly in terms of surface consistency. It's a lot rougher than some (maybe most) of the other tracks and isn't representative of the rest of the tracks. It's also unpredictable in how it treats tyres, which has led to it being a track where strategy calls can go wrong a lot. The commentors were cautioning reading too much into this result and assuming that Mercedes will be dominant all season long.

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If Vettel somehow wasn't taking Le Clerc's challenge seriously before, he definitely will be now after being beaten to pole. Now we'll see whether Le Clerc can convert it into his first victory. Ferrari seem much more competitive on this track than in Australia, I wouldn't count Mercedes out yet but it's going to be challenging for them to win.

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F1 have put up a "Ten years ago" thing from the Australian F1 Grand Prix 2009, which is when Brawn GP came out of nowhere (er, the ruins of Honda) to win a massively unexpected (apart from the technical people at half of the other teams, who got wind of the diffuser and started shitting themselves) victory and storm to a major upset.

Not sure if this is the best idea, as 2009 and 2010 were arguably the last excellent "anything can happen" seasons where there were multiple teams and drivers in with a chance of winning the championship and they took it until quite late in the season. Not to say that other seasons since then haven't been good, but they've been straight-up races between two drivers and two teams, with everyone else well out of the running.

Quote

 

Brundle – Jenson, can you do this?
Button – Yes.
Brundle – How?
Button – By crossing the line first at the end of the race.

 

Thanks Brundle. So glad he's been exiled to Sky. His analysis was poor and his interviewing technique absolutely terrible. I still enjoy the pre-race interviews where he barged another interviewer out of the way (who was live on air!) to talk to Nico Rosberg and Rosberg told him in no uncertain terms to fuck off.

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13 hours ago, Werthead said:

F1 have put up a "Ten years ago" thing from the Australian F1 Grand Prix 2009, which is when Brawn GP came out of nowhere (er, the ruins of Honda) to win a massively unexpected (apart from the technical people at half of the other teams, who got wind of the diffuser and started shitting themselves) victory and storm to a major upset.

Not sure if this is the best idea, as 2009 and 2010 were arguably the last excellent "anything can happen" seasons where there were multiple teams and drivers in with a chance of winning the championship and they took it until quite late in the season. Not to say that other seasons since then haven't been good, but they've been straight-up races between two drivers and two teams, with everyone else well out of the running.

Thanks Brundle. So glad he's been exiled to Sky. His analysis was poor and his interviewing technique absolutely terrible. I still enjoy the pre-race interviews where he barged another interviewer out of the way (who was live on air!) to talk to Nico Rosberg and Rosberg told him in no uncertain terms to fuck off.

The sky crew in general is awful. There's an awful stench of "boy's club" about them probably due to the age of most of them eg brundle, herbert and Hill. Jenson has his work cut out for him.

Just a massive shame channel 4 has been reduced to basically being an advert for switching to sky for full coverage as their team is lot friendlier and modern with a good mix of ages and opinions eg crazy irvine, old school coulthard, free-speaking Webber and Susie Wolff with the main anchor being good at herding them all. I'm definitely watching non live events with channel 4. 

Sky should really consider porting the channel 4 team over.

Good to see Ferrari have an edge this weekend, hopefully it's back and forward depending on tracks. Also good to see the b drivers showing the msin driver a challenge.

Reassuring to finally see McLaren moving forward. Typical it happens once Alonso has gone. Then again him doing the testing is clearly a way for him to guage where the car is. It's still not a race winning car but is starting to look like a mid range car

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That was an unusual race. It was an exciting race with lots happening in it and a genuine battle for the lead. It's a shame that Le Clerc's Ferrari was ailing towards the end because he did deserve the win, having recovered from a poor first couple of laps. I suspect it won't be long until he does end up being a race winner. Vettel had a very poor race, at one point it looked like he might have a comfortable win but everything seemed to unravel after that, and the spin was clumsy even if he was a bit unlucky to lose his front wing despite not hitting anything. The Renaults synchronised retirements was also weird.

Mercedes got lucky here, neither driver had a perfect race but they still managed to come out on top.

I think it could be a fascinating year, it looks as if the Ferrari and Mercedes pace is close enough that there could be frequent four-way battles for the lead.

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Interesting to see how the season has unfolded. Ferrari genuinely don't have a clue on how to handle this situation where their #2 driver is demonstrably better than their #1 driver, and by imposing team orders they've actually hurt themselves and scored less points than they should have done. If they hadn't swapped the drivers in China, they'd have finished 3/4 (Leclerc/Vettel) rather than  3/5 (Vettle/Leclerc), so they hurt their own championship placement for no real reason.

Mercedes have been lucky to have gotten four 1/2s in a row, but they've also been much more strategically and tactically on it than Ferrari, or even compared to their previous performance. The big surprise is Bottas stepping up to the plate massively and delivering a really, really strong opening to the season. I don't think anyone was expecting that. Whether he can sustain it, especially when Hamilton hits his strongest tracks in the middle and latter part of the season, is another question, but right now he's maximised the potential for the team in four races on the trot which is very impressive. That doesn't help Ocon's chances of getting back in the car next year though.

Ricciardo making dumb-ass rookie mistakes (revising into a stationary parked car?). He's clearly struggling with the step down to Renault, not helped by Renault apparently screwing up their aero package and delivering a car inferior to McLaren (who have also impressively stepped up this year, although not as much as might be hoped). Gasly being totally woeful as well. He has the car to finish Top 6 every race and isn't delivering. If this keeps up, I can see Marko switching him for Albon, who has had a great start for Toro Rosso.

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Both Ricciardo and Horner are probably wishing they'd done more to secure his place with red bull for 2019. Ricciardo is overdriving the car leading to errors but the car apparently us very poor under braking which is probably the key aspect of ricciardo's driving style.

Norris is massively impressing with McLaren. Very strong start for a rookie and also great to see McLaren moving forward.

Agree with Ferrari. Le clerc dhould be a lot closer, he list out on a win due to reluabity issues and i think he'd have been a contender for this race if he hadn't crashed in Q2. Vettel is driving like raikonnen was for Ferrari in the sense he's just there but nothing special.

Thank god bottas has stepped up as the season could be very dull otherwise.

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11 hours ago, Loge said:

RIP Niki Lauda.

 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48345660

He's had health issues ever since that accident. Amazing how long a career he still had.

What he managed to achieve despite the injuries suffered was extraordinary - particularly the speed of his comeback after the accident.

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Terrible, terrible decision that ruined a rare race this season. There has to be an inquest on that decision as that wasn't a crowd of Ferrari fans booing the podium - it was fans angry at being robbed of a race.

Vettel denied the rumours about him retiring before the race weekend but after this race i bet he's considering it.

Yes, he made an error but he wasn't in control if the car. Jensen button thinks there would have been an accident if Vettel had tried to stay to the left if the track.

Not a good look for the sport, again

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