After the Spanish Grand Prix was dominated by Jenson Button and the Brawn Mercedes, many new reports have begun to spring up about the future of F1.
This past weekend saw another dominating victory from the two Brawn Mercedes of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. The race was won by Jenson when the Brawn team decided to switch his race strategy a third of the way through. Rubens led away at the start and started to hightail it away from Button. Both of the cars were supposed to be on three-stop race strategies when the bigwigs at Brawn decided to led Jenson run a two-stop race. What this meant for Rubens, who was leading at the time, was that he would have to push every lap for the rest of the race to try and gap Jenson enough that he could stay in front of him when he came out of the pits for the third time. This didn’t happen though, and Jenson passed Rubens in the pits and went on to score his fourth victory out of five races. This win, to me at least, has cemented the Brit as the next world champion. Anyone who can go out and win four of the first five races is going to be the champion. At least, that’s what the record books say. The record books also say that Rubens is the second driver, even though he doesn’t want to be. Rubens was visibly mad on the podium and was not very pleased in the driver’s interview room. In fact, he has stated that he will quit the team outright if it comes out that this race was given to Jenson, when he had a legitimate chance to take the victory. I feel for Rubens in this situation. He is obviously a very nice guy, but has always been treated as the “second guy.” I think that he thought this time would be different, and so far, it hasn’t turned out that way. He is playing second fiddle, on a team that shouldn’t have a number one or a number two driver. I say look for Rubens to win the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks so that he calms down a bit within the team. Third place went to Mark Webber who had a very quiet afternoon. In fact, his race was so quiet, that I didn’t even realize he was in third until the final pit stops. I was quite surprised that he managed to slip past Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel with pit lane strategy.
Speaking of Massa, what the f is up with him and the Ferrari squad this year? My god. First they go and give him a ton of fuel to start the race with, he ends up fourth on the grid, gets away from the line with KERS and into third, then they short fill him in the pit lane to keep ahead of Vettel, but forget how many laps the race is? How can a grand prix team that has a prancing horse on it be so inept? My only theory is that when you get an Italian team that is run by Italians, it tends to go bad. If you didn’t see the race, what happened was that Massa, running in fourth after the final pit stops, was told by his team that he didn’t have enough fuel to finish the race. This all went down while he was being doggedly pursued by Sebastian Vettel. A brief transmission was broadcast wherein his race engineer told him that he had to try and conserve fuel because he was a lap short. Massa then came on the radio and pleaded with his crew as to what to do, and they finally told him to let Vettel past to at least make it to the end of the race. So he lets him go by and is told that he has a 14 second gap back to crowd darling Fernando Alonso. So now he has the home crowd totally against him and Alonso bearing down on him as well. Eventually, to conserve fuel, Alonso passed him and the crowd went wild. Thankfully, Massa did cross the finish line, but the snafu cost him two places, and perhaps even a podium finish – at least in a perfect world. It was reported that he ran out of fuel on the cool down lap and didn’t even make it back to the pits. This is a sorry state of affairs for the Maranello squad and one that is trying to reverse itself, but not this year.
Boy if you like segues, you’ll love this one. It is turning into a sorry state of affairs in the pit lane in general. The FIA and FOTA are still at odds over the proposed budget caps that are supposed to be in place next year. The FIA wants a mandated $40 million budget cap for all of the teams. However, they have a provision that says if you choose not to use the budget cap, you will be very restricted as to what you can and can’t do with your car. What the teams are saying is that this will prove to make a two-tiered racing series, and many of the teams don’t like it. In fact, some of the teams have gone so far as to say that they will not sign up for next year if this budget cap is approved. Toyota and Red Bull have stated they will quit F1 if the proposal is passed. The only teams who have decided that they don’t care about the budget cap are Williams, Brawn and Force India. All the other teams say that this cap is a mistake and that they don’t want any part of it. Heated exchanges have been going on between the FIA and FOTA for awhile now, and this will only serve to intensify it. It will be interesting to see what the teams actually do, although they are calling for a meeting between the FIA and FOTA before the next round of the championship in two weeks in Monaco. As I have said many times, this is going to be an interesting season, both on and off the track. I don’t know what is going to happen, but it seems like FOTA and the FIA are heading for a showdown and the only thing that will determine what happens next is who blinks first.