eytl wrote:A few comments from me in lieu of a race review. And no, I didn't even make it to the first corner, I just recorded the whole thing and watched it this morning.
The field spread this year has been really pronounced (compared to recent seasons), but I finally put some numbers to it. There's about 4 seconds per lap from the front of the field down to the tail end of the midfield, and then another 2-3 seconds back to the Virgins and HRTs. That's really been a huge contributing factor to why this season has petered out so badly. The effect of DRS, KERS and the Pirelli tyres is largely negated when the performance levels of the cars are so comparatively spread out.
And whilst the Pirellis still suffer more performance drop than the Bridgestones ever did, what happened to the cliff that everyone feared earlier in the season? Here you had tyres lasting 20-25 laps. I know Pirelli are still experimenting but they've gone a bit too conservative as the season has gone on.
I guess that the natural field spread has been compounded by the fact that a lot of teams, knowing where they would finish in the WCC, have slowed down or even stopped developing their cars this year.
After all, Ferrari effectively stopped development around Spa, McLaren were easing back on development around Japan (they've pushed on in some areas, but only where they can carry parts over to 2012), Mercedes has stopped development and Renault has heavily cut back development of their car because their front exiting exhaust rapidly proved out to offer fewer gains than expected and very expensive to develop. After all, about the only team trying to develop their car has been Toro Rosso, in their battel with Sauber, with a modified diffuser (and even that is rumoured to have been effectively gifted to them by Red Bull). Most of the team are already moving into 2012 testing mode - Mercedes are converting the W02 into a 2012 test hack in the Young Driver test - and given that at least the upper half of the field is fixed in position, why bother developing the car any further?
As for Pirelli, they did mention that they were going to be somewhat cautious at the newer venues because the data they had for those venues was much more limited than the earlier, and much more familiar, circuits this year. Besides, to a lesser extent I think that Pirelli's own preference was for a smaller number of pit stops, in the order of 2-3 stops a race; their logic is to make longer stints possible for the midfield teams gambling on stopping less frequently, in turn giving them the chance of making it into the upper points places. Added to that, there is a certain element of the teams adjusting their setups and driving styles to adjust to the tyres - we've routinely seen how the teams have coached their drivers to preserve their tyres in the races and avoid making extra stops, which is why Pirelli wants to make the tyres softer again for next year (to compensate for the adjustments that the teams have made).
eytl wrote:What's the deal as well with all this sycophantic sympathy for Vettel after his DNF? The guy looked like he was about to cry. 11 wins this season not enough? The fact that even Bernie went down to console him caused me to search for a bucket.
Given how valuable Vettel's youthful image is for avertising Formula 1, Bernie probably wanted to go and console somebody he views as a walking wallet for him. Added to that, Vettel is said to have been quite keen to cultivate links with Bernie - after the Japanese GP, when he won the title, the very first person he reputedly wanted to talk to after the race was Bernie - so I can see why Bernie would have moved to reassure Vettel.
Overall, though, I agree that the sympathy did seem a little excessive - where was that same degree of sympathy for the other drivers who have retired this season, be they championship contenders or not?
eytl wrote:Alonso's move on Button: just about his best (read: "only") moment of assertive aggression all year, other than at the run into the first corner?
I declare the battle for 6th in the constructors' championship over. It's now the shoot-out for 7th. Good work from Kobayashi and Sauber to sneak a point on their alternative strategy. That was the Sushi Chef's Son from Amagasaki's best race in a long time. Although I feel sorry for Buemi, second race in a row where he could have scored points but retired. He could have really capitalised here on a bad day for DJ Squire. Alguersuari's had a much stronger mid-season and end-of-season, but he's still not perfectly consistent, and Buemi's form hasn't dropped off as much as it has in previous years. Ricciardo continues to do well against Liuzzi, but well enough to warrant an STR drive? There's a tough decision to be made there by the Red Bull head-honchos.
Finally, a shout-out to Kovalainen - another fantastic weekend and for much of the race I really thought he could finish in front of (and embarrass) one or two of the midfielders. Believe me, he will be high up in this year's end-of-season rankings.
Lastly, just as an aside - do you think that Force India might just have an outside chance of beating Renault for 5th in the WDC in Brazil? The chances are slim, but Force India are only 15 points behind Renault. Finishing in 5th and 7th place would just be enough, so it would require more attrition than we've seen this year, but to be honest it would be in some ways fitting if Force India did beat Renault, given that Renault's podium finishes are increasingly distant memories and Force India's had more consistent form over the season.