Standpat or Copycat

An Irish poet/playwright Oscar Wilde wrote this quote: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

Can you imitate anything greater than 6-time double world champion, Mercedes? I’ll answer that for you, no.

For Racing Point, this is the first time since their acquisition of Force India in the summer of 2018; they seem to be embracing a new team philosophy for the characteristic of their cars. “Let’s do something different, try something different, start with a clean sheet of paper and let’s do something new.” stated Racing Point’s Technical Director Andrew Green in reference to the last year of the current regulations. “Though we were adding performance to the car [since 2014] and it was getting better, it had this underlying Achilles’ heel that we were really struggling to get rid of… the gains we were making were getting slower and slower; the fundamental characteristic of the car wasn’t changing.”

Now, referencing the featured image, I think the similarities are pretty clear. The rounded nose piece, the shape of the front wings, side pods, and even the mirrors have the same angles. The only difference I can see with my “technical expertise” is the size and shape of the rear wing.

When responding to the comparisons between Racing Point’s “RP20 and the Mercedes “W10” that won both the 2019 driver’s and constructor’s championships, Sergio Perez said, “I hope it will perform like their car, but it is still very early days.”

When questioned about the similarities, Andrew Green defended his creation by stating, “I can tell you absolutely, categorically all those designs are Racing Point from absolute scratch, there has been no transfer of information on listed parts from Mercedes. They have never contemplated it, we have never asked for it.” Green has emphasized that what is seen as similarities between the two cars is composed of photos that are accessible to everyone, and they “utilized that information.”

Racing Point has been open in disclosing that the “RP20” will be using the front and rear suspension pieces from last year’s Mercedes but assure us that the chassis is all original. Green told Autosport Magazine, “We decided that anything to do with the chassis – which is effectively a non-transferable component, a listed part – we would prefer to keep all that in house, because it’s all linked.”

This car is an original chassis that is influenced heavily by the successful Mercedes “W10” with no substantial information given to them from their technical partners of Mercedes. Now, I do not doubt that their mid-team rivals of McLaren and Renault might have something negative say about this; but if you are Racing Point, was there anything left to lose? If this works, they stay ahead of their mid-team rivals. If not, then the 2021 regulations will have everyone on a theoretical, even playing field.

The world of motorsports is a “monkey see, monkey do” business, and if the pre-season test was anything to go by, Racing Point is trying to do.

Scott Masom

photo credit: Motorsports Network

 

Death: The Inherent Danger of Motorsports

‘I didn’t have a Plan B in life.’ I was in pursuit of my dream from the very beginning. It’s all about desire and passion. At all costs.- Mario Andretti

Anthoine Hubert succumbed to his injuries after a lap-two incident during the 17th round of the Formula 2 championship at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. The Frenchman was 22-years old. Juan-Manuel Correa and Giuliano Alesi were also involved in the incident.

Correa’s impact of Hubert happened at high-speed after cresting the uphill turn of Raidillon. Hubert’s car careened off the wall after trying to avoid Alesi and came back toward the racing line. Correa had no time to react to Hubert, and the impact split Hubert’s car in half as the monocoque separated from the chassis. According to an FIA statement, Correa was sent to Liege hospital “in stable condition.”

Giuliano Alesi was deemed fit at the track’s medical center.

The race was not resumed and the Formula 2 race for that following Sunday was canceled out of respect for Hubert and his family. The FIA is currently investigating the incident. Hubert’s passing is the first death due to an incident since Jules Bianchi succumbed to his injuries from the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Bianchi passed on the following July.

Racing is dangerous. Always has been and always will be.

I admit that as a current fan who has grown-up in arguably the safest time in motorsports, I tend to forget this. The advances in safety in the last 20 years have been incredible. Unfortunately, this is a sport that is continuously reactive instead of proactive when it comes to saftey. Notable required safety items like the HANS device, SAFER barriers, and HALO have all be a direct effect from death within the sport.

Often, this reaction happens after losing the sport’s biggest names.

My thoughts are with Anthoine Hubert, his family, and friends. He was a young talent that was taken too soon.

But that doesn’t ever make the pill easier to swallow.

Scott Masom

photo credit: Anthoine Hubert’s Twitter

 

 

 

Understanding Life Through My Favorite Racing Quotes

School starts for me this week, and I didn’t want to miss a chance on creating one more post before it got going.

I love quotes. They can be snippets of clarity and inspiration or moments of cloudy judgment or anger; there seems to be no in-between when it comes to them, and that is what makes them great.

I want to share some of my favorite racing quotes that I have come across over the years that have given me some real inspiration.

“Sometimes you’ve just gotta lick the stamp and send it.”- Daniel Ricciardo

A daring move, late on the brakes to pass Valtteri Bottas for the top step of the podium during the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix is what concocted this beautiful quote from the self-proclaimed “Honey Badger” of Formula One.

This quote is my absolute favorite. It inspired me to branch out and apply for other jobs and be more daring in my writing. This quote is about having the right mentality, and when he saw an opening to pass Bottas, he took it. At the time, he didn’t know if it would work, but he took the chance anyway.

Take a chance. Lick the stamp.

“When you put on your helmet… you’re invincible.” – John Force

Is this the thing that has kept John Force racing for so many years? Achieving his 150th NHRA win at the age of 75, one might argue that it is.

When you are genuinely in your environment, whether that is as a professional or as a hobbyist, there is no better feeling. I’m starting to find mine within this blog, and it is something I hope everyone can discover for themselves.

“You will never know the feeling of a driver when winning a race. The helmet hides feelings that can not be understood.”- Aryton Senna

We revere our favorite race car drivers as genuine heroes-they are the men behind the mask that wheel machinery only a few can fathom.

We do not see the fear in a driver’s eyes, nor do we see their confidence. Only the driver knows the truth of their emotions. Winning is everything to these drivers; it is the purest form of validation.

Only you know your genuine emotions. Only you know when you’ve achieved validation.

“If you don’t come walking back to the pits every once in a while holding a steering wheel in your hands, you’re not trying hard enough.”- Mario Andretti

It is okay to give everything you have and still fail because failing is a part of life. It is better to try for more than to never try at all because being content is not acceptable when you can do more; be more.

Sometimes, you’ve just got to leave it all on the track.

“Simply racing a Formula One car is an achievement”- Sebastian Vettel

It is essential to have a perspective on life. We all have plans of becoming the best in our fields. We want to become the race winner, the champion, the legend. In our endless pursuit to try and be the best, we often forget that what we have achieved is monumental in itself.

I have a medium to express my thoughts on motorsports, and for right now, this is a considerable achievement.

Scott Masom

Is This the Way to Have Continued Growth in Formula One?

Ok, so former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and I have a very similar idea. It is a shame that he was able to get it out before I did but none the less, I want to elaborate and expand upon this idea that I have.

I’ve thought about what would happen if Formula One created two separate championships for their teams to compete in. One for manufactures, like Ferrari and Mercedes, and one for privateer teams like HAAS and Williams.

Manufactures would be defined as teams that create and build their engines, chassis, and collection of assorted parts. This classification wouldn’t be limited. It could range anywhere from brakes to front and back wings. These teams would have an incredibly large budget cap to create the best cars that not only they can own, but their customers could own as well.

I mirror this to the GT system we see in place today for endurance racing. For instance, if I wanted to race a Porsche, I can buy the car and necessary parts from the manufacturer and be ready to go racing the very next weekend. In return, the manufacture gets another car on the race track to continue the rigorous Research and Development program that car manufacturers go through to find success on and off the track. Not to mention, the money manufacturers would receive from their customers would help go toward upgrades or build more chassis.

To compete in the privateer championship, these teams would have a low capped budget. (HAAS is documented to have a $120 million budget currently) With this budget, these teams would buy engines, chassis, and parts from a single manufacturer of their choice. This restriction would mean that there would be no need to develop, build, and produce a car from scratch.

I ask, how many new privateer teams have we seen continuously fail in Formula One in recent memory? Teams such as Virgin, Marussia, Manor, HRT, Caterham, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the newly minted Racing Point be added to this list at some point.

Why do we see these teams continue to fail?

The cost of developing a race team and the cars from scratch to become the backmarker of a Formula One field is absurdly expensive. Couple that with not earning any constructors money within your first year(s) of Formula One and you are looking at a steep mountain to climb when searching for any compensation.

That doesn’t sound very appealing if you are a potential owner.

HASS has proven that a privateer system like this could work, albeit, it wasn’t without controversy. By having a strong technical alliance with Ferrari, HAAS bought and competed with numerous Ferrari built parts. With these parts, they were able to score points in their team debut. HAAS became the first team to secure points in their debut since Panasonic Toyota Racing did it back in 2002. Their 6th place finish awarded HAAS eight points. That is more points in one race than Virgin, Marussia, Manor, HRT, and even Caterham scored in their entire stints combined in Formula One.

See why it was controversial to other teams that HAAS bought their parts instead of following the traditional route of developing, building, and producing their own? I thought it was a fantastic idea.

I do believe that this path is the one that Liberty Media, the FIA, and Formula One as a governing body need to pursue to build and sustain healthy growth. These organizations continually express their desire to expand the field of cars on the F1 grid. They also continually sabotage themselves by not giving these privateer teams a chance to thrive so they can survive.

How would Formula One look like if we converted to this system?

Honestly, it would appear unaltered. The points system would stay the same. The drivers’ championship would still be a collection of points gained throughout the season, and there would still be an overall driver champion. The only difference would be an extra constructors championship designed to spread the wealth of constructor money and create something that drivers of these teams can compete for during the season.

The top teams like Ferrari and Mercedes would still be at the front of the field. What would change is the fight for the best of the rest (7th place) might be more of a battle for the podium and more importantly, a possible championship for themselves. Privateer teams would still need to maximize their performances to beat any of the top teams. But if one of those top teams should have a terrible day, who’s to say that a privateer team shouldn’t be in the contention for a win. Possibly collect 25 points toward their championship?

The midfield battle has been the best part of the Grand Prix weekends so far in 2019. I wish that those exciting battles would go towards something more significant than a “feel good” 7th place finish.

Scott Masom

photo credit: Getty Images

The Penalty Heard Around the World

Section 27.3 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations of 2019 reads as follows:

Should a car leave the track, the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage. At the absolute discretion of the race director, a driver may be given the opportunity to give back the whole of any advantage he gained by leaving the track.

Don’t believe me, well here’s the link https://www.fia.com/regulation/category/110

The FIA Stewards assigned Sebastian Vettel a five-second time penalty for re-joining the track in an unsafe manner. This mistake by Vettel forced Lewis Hamilton off-track, causing him to take evasive action to avoid an accident. This penalty ruined Vettel’s chances of winning the Canadian Grand Prix and handed the win to Lewis Hamilton on a beautiful and shiny platter.

I’m in the minority of thinking that a penalty should have been assigned, but I don’t believe that the time fits the crime. Get it because it was a time penalty.

For those saying it was hard racing, I’m going to disagree with you wholeheartedly. Hamilton pressuring Vettel into a mistake was good racing. Vettel re-joining the track and then coming onto the racing line in front of Hamilton who was at racing speed is not good racing; that was blocking. No, if’s, and’s, or buts about it. Vettel’s advantage wasn’t made up in time but in keeping himself in front of Hamilton’s Mercedes. It would have been different if the two drivers were side by side coming out of the chicane and Vettel was trying to attempt to squeeze Hamilton out of position. It could have been a battle of both drivers having to fight for position. Instead, Hamilton had to evade Vettel who was in full desperation mode due to his own doing. Vettel impeded Hamilton’s progress.

And I understand those that say there was nothing Vettel could do. The track is narrow, he was in the grass, the car was oversteering and unsettling, he had his hands full, but that was the price for making a mistake. For Hamilton, he ran the racing line like he was supposed to. Precedence has dictated that the driver on the racing line will get the preferential treatment from The FIA stewards.  We’ve seen this time and time again, and we saw it play out again last Sunday. Vettel’s radio transmission to his team at the end of the race, he asked them, “where the hell am I suppose to go?”

The race track. These mistakes have become a knack for Vettel as of late.

Again, I agree that a penalty should have been given, but I do not agree on the ruling of the penalty. Section 38.3 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations of 2019 states that:

The stewards may impose any one of the penalties below on any driver involved in an Incident:

a)  A five-second time penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane, stop in his pit stop position for at least five seconds, and then re-join the race. The relevant driver may, however, elect not to stop, provided he carries out no further pit stop before the end of the race. In such cases, five seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of the driver concerned.
b)  A ten second time penalty. The driver must enter the pit lane, stop in his pit stop position for at least ten seconds, and then re-join the race. The relevant driver may, however, elect not to stop, provided he carries out no further pit stop before the end of the race. In such cases, ten seconds will be added to the elapsed race time of the driver concerned.

There are no other kinds of penalties to give. I believe that this is where the frustration of the fans, drivers (former and current), and media members are left to shake their heads in disbelief. The five-second penalty had all but sealed the deal in Vettel having no chance to make up for his mistake. It took away a race that Formula One had desperately needed during this lackluster of a season. If they had made Vettel swap positions with Hamilton, that would have given Vettel a chance to fight for the win, and we would all feel different about the outcome.

But this is the box that The FIA has encased the stewards in. If you want to be technical, and we all know that Formula One is nothing but, then this was the only decision the Stewards could have made based on the regulations given to them.

I know we are getting subjective because no one knows what Vettel was thinking at the time of the incident. But in this instance, at this moment, it is where we hate the game and not the player. Hamilton shouldn’t have been booed when he took the podium.

If Vettel never made a mistake in the first place, we would be talking about a dominate Ferrari victory. Instead, we get the most significant storyline of the Formula One season.

Scott Masom

photo credit: Motorsport Images

Can Society Continue to Withstand 600 Mile Races?

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, I scrolled across an article from autoweek.com written by Greg Engle where Denny Hamlin stated that NASCAR doesn’t need a 600-mile race. Denny added on to his statements by saying, “I don’t think that anything is totally necessary.” “If the race was 300 miles, you’re going to have the same, I believe, core group watch the race and possibly even more that are interested because it’s not five hours long.”

Denny Hamlin seemed to be in the tiny minority on this thought. NASCAR Series Champions Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch have been in unison about wanting to protect the history and tradition of the Coca-Cola 600. To that, Denny Hamlin says “Tradition, ‘shmadition.’” “It’s whatever. All sports adapt and change. I hate it when people say, ‘Well, that’s the way it always was.’ Things are different. I’d be just as happy with a Coke 300 trophy as a Coke 600, to be honest with you.”

I agree with Denny Hamlin to a point; sports do ebb and flow. They change and adapt with the times, and there isn’t a better example of that in sports than the three-point line in basketball. While The Cola-Cola 600 might not be the same test of man vs. machine it had the reputation of being throughout the race’s history, I rebuttal Danny Hamlin by saying why not have a 600-mile race? NASCAR is a pinnacle of motor racing, and I believe there needs to be something that tests not only the equipment but the drivers and their crews as well.

However, this subject of lessening the miles/time of a race does entice a couple of interesting questions from me. Those are what will be the next adaptation to auto racing and who will be their target audience going forward?

NASCAR has been on the leading edge of adaptation with the chase/playoff system, the stage racing, and the lucky dogs. Have they been bad adaptations to the sport of auto racing? Some might say yes and that these changes have tarnished racing forever, but to me, they have only added to the excitement. (The word “added” being key there) We have yet to see other racing series adapt to a similar style and I believe that is because of two reasons:

#1. No one likes a copycat.

But more seriously,

#2. Other series have not been as committed to trying to attract a specific audience other than hardcore race fans. (i.e., casual fans or younger generations)

Changing an entire sport that can conform to the social norms of our point and click, instant gratification, and ever-growing impatient lifestyles are what sporting leagues around the world are currently trying to do. Instead, these leagues are finding that this balance between being cutting edge and keeping to the traditions and history of the game is not as clear cut as it may have initially seemed.

In baseball, their league executives believe shorting the number of innings played during the game is the solution. The NBA is looking into shorting their total time played in their games from 48 minutes to 40. These are just examples of some of the changes to try and satisfy the societal need for instant gratification. To try and cooperate with short attention spans that go along with the glamorization of the casual fan.

Often, this glamorization will leave those who are loyal to the sport with no place to voice their opinion. Leagues and series continue to turn a blind eye toward them in favor of the short-term gain casual fans can often provide. Again, look no farther than NASCAR for being a prime example. They have admitted to doing this to what used to be a strong, unified, and loyal fan base.

I believe several other factors contributed to the loss of fans for NASCAR. For example, the passing of Dale Earnhardt, the loss of the “good ol’ boys” mentality, the emphasis put on mile and a half-tracks, the 2009 stock market crash, and the weird and somewhat awkward introduction to the beginning of the “Car of Tomorrow” era but more on this in a possible future posting.

Can racing conform to these growing social norms? Do we have to concede to having shorter races to stay relevant? Is it possible that The Indianapolis 500 becomes The Indianapolis 250 one day? Or the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans be changed to the 2.4 Hours of Le Mans? The Coca-Cola 300 has an excellent ring to it according to Denny Hamlin.

Doesn’t all of that sound absurd?

Well, that’s because it is but auto racing has been at the forefront of using social media platforms, like YouTube, to illustrate the balance between satisfying the hardcore fans and the casual. Many series like NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and Formula E upload not only races in their entirety but various lengths of recaps and highlights. This kind of adaptation allows fans to watch when they want, where they want, and however they want. Not to mention, social media has allowed fans to access drivers and teams for instant practice, qualifying or racing updates. This type of availability has become perfect for today’s point and click, instant gratification, and ever-growing impatient lifestyle without having to change the sport for the hardcore fans.

Significant events like those on Memorial Day will always attract casual fans but just as easy as they can come, they go. No amount of changing a sport will retain casual fans throughout the season. The only way to convert the casual fan into an avid fan and then into a hardcore fan is by having that fan make a personal connection to the sport. I say this as a warning to other leagues by asking if the addition by subtraction is the addition they need?

Racing is in a stable place within the sports world. There is no need to make it unstable with something like The Coca-Cola 300.

Scott Masom

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Triple Crown For You!

WOW.

McLaren, a Goliath within the racing world, has failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 by 0.019mph! McLaren and their driver, two-time Formula One Champion, Fernando Alonso were bumped out of the #fastest33 by David himself: Juncos Racing. One of the smallest teams racing on the IndyCar grid. Oh yeah, I can’t fail to mention that Juncos lost two significant sponsors earlier in the week.

Is anyone looking for a place to spend their advertising dollars? I may know of a car that will be getting plenty of on-air screen time.

What does this failure mean for McLaren and their future endeavors in the NTT IndyCar series? Does Fernando Alonso cut his ties with McLaren for his next attempt in The Indy 500? Does Zak Brown’s seat as McLaren Racing Chief Executive Officer get a little hotter? How does this failure affect any alliances they may have in the future? I have so many questions, and there is so much speculation swirling through Gasoline Ally. And at the moment, the comforts of my couch.

The first question I have for McLaren is, are there any second thoughts to joining in 2020 as they have planned? They have been very open to the fact that they would like to purchase or form an alliance with an existing team. Rumor has it that Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports are McLaren’s prime target for either possibility. Both co-owners of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have adamantly stated that the team is not for sale. McLaren has also declined to provide a comment on the matter. In a lighthearted response, Ric Peterson of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports said that “he has finally got their heads above water” as they have signed a five year deal with Arrow earlier this year. Coincidentally, Arrow partnered with McLaren Racing to not only be on their car for the 500 but their Formula One car as well. It wouldn’t be too far out of reach to see an alliance between SPM and McLaren if and when McLaren join full-time next season.

Or in any capacity for that matter.

McLaren opted not to have an alliance with Andretti Autosports and the Honda power unit used during their last 500 attempt. Instead, they decided to enter this year as an independent entry with a Chevrolet engine powering their Dallara IR-12 chassis. According to many reports, this team showed the inexperience and lack of preparation that is needed for The Indy 500. Perhaps an alliance would have done them some good this year. Perhaps their success in 2017 was more Andretti than McLaren themselves.

Is that a hot take?

My second question is will Fernando Alonso cut his ties with McLaren for his next attempt to achieve the Triple Crown of Motorsports? Perhaps he looks toward an experienced team like Penske, Andretti, or Ganassi that can put him in proven equipment to accomplish this feat. Alonso is 37 and seems far from retiring, but how much longer does Alonso want to pursue this as a one-off event? I still have the belief that he will announce his commitment to the NTT IndyCar Series full-time. It does have to come with serious thought as to what McLaren can offer him in his immediate future.

Zak Brown, is your seat getting a little warmer? Not more than 24 hours since the disappointment of not making IndyCar’s most prestigious event, Bob Fernley, team principal of McLaren’s IndyCar operation was relieved of his duties. Again, their lack of preparation and inexperience were echoed by “The Golden Boy” Alonso himself. He has stated that their pace was slow, not only on the race track but in the garage as well. He compared themselves to the team of Juncos Racing and their ability and competency in putting their car back together overnight. Whereas Alonso wrecked on Wednesday afternoon and McLaren didn’t have the car ready until Friday morning. This inability to fix the car quickly resulted in McLaren losing a day of valuable and precious track time for the one-off team.

Failure in this sport doesn’t always boil down to just one person. When it does, it is typically the driver. When you are a one-off team, and your name is McLaren, there needs to be a scapegoat, and unfortunately for Bob Fernley, they found one.

The scapegoat sure as hell wasn’t going to be Alonso. At least, not this time around, or perhaps, ever.

For Zak Brown, I believe the fire isn’t as hot as some expect. We’ve got to remember, IndyCar is the noncommittal side project that has as much (or more) to do with Alonso than it does McLaren. While missing “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is not a good look for McLaren, their cars are fourth in F1 constructor standings, and that is their main priority. Zak Brown is on record during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend stating that joining the IndyCar Series is “more of a when not if.”

So when will it be McLaren? Does this setback delay any thoughts? More importantly, did this failure delay any possible future financial commitments? I’m sure these questions will only be answered with time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a cruel mistress. She rewards those that work hard, put in the time, effort, and respect the incredible wonder that she is. Not everyone gets in because not everyone deserves to get in. McLaren will not buy Alonso a seat to enter the race. Good, because they didn’t earn their way into the race in the first place.

Scott Masom

The Other Disappointing Team of F1

With everyone writing about how disappointing Ferrari has been, I would like to take the time to write about the other disappointing team of Renault.

Renault was expected to be on the rise this season. They had a fantastic offseason were they nabbed Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull. McLaren announced how pleased they were after their first year of using a Renault power unit. Which helped give Renault a positive image after their very public and messy divorce from Ricciardo’s former employers of Red Bull. They also restructured their operations during the winter, reworked their budget, and came away from winter testing in Barcelona as the third-fastest team based on average lap times.

The world seemed primed to be their oyster.

Instead, Renault finds themselves currently eighth in the constructors’ standings. That’s two above the bottom dwellers of Williams. Four places below their engine customers of McLaren and five places below their exes of Red Bull. For comparison, Renault claimed the fourth position in the constructors last season with 122 points.

Only 12 points have been collected between the two drivers of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg. Individually, both drivers have managed a 7th place finish, but collectively, they have achieved 5 DNF’s and finished outside the points 8 times through the first five races of the season.

To make things worse, the speed that Renault showed in Barcelona has been nonexistent. They are failing to qualify both cars within the top-ten in all five races. Renault is a works team that has been promising results with nothing to show for it. They’ve said it themselves that this is the most productive winter they’ve had in developing in an engine. The only problem is that they are proving it with their customer cars instead of their own.

This debacle of Renault isn’t as sexy or exciting when compared to Ferrari’s issues against themselves and their rivals Mercedes. But it does need to be noted that Renault is failing their 2019 season.

Scott Masom

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Say Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions

To Formula One, the FIA, and Liberty Media,

It is time to get serious about finding solutions as to why there is no overtaking. The past five race weekends have been utterly disheartening. You’re selling me this idea that these are the best racing drivers in the world that are capable of driving wheel-to-wheel.

Instead, I’m watching a procession that follows this particular order: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, HAAS, McLaren, Toro Rosso, Renault, Alfa Romero, Racing Point, and unfortunately, Williams.

Do we even need to watch the races anymore?

We all know that Mercedes have their act together while Ferrari will shoot themselves in the foot. The mid-field will not fight for a win but claim the sad title of “best of the rest,” and Williams will be two laps down.

Pretty accurate race recap for any Grand Prix this year, I know.

Fans want to preserve the tradition of manufacturers building their cars because that has been woven into Formula One DNA since their inception in the 1950s. I concede to that notion, even though I believe spec regulations would make Formula One teams closer and more competitive. The sanctioning body continues to try and reduce winglets, add or subtract downforce, and even add DRS to promote racing and it has done quite the opposite, especially this season.

So I, obviously in a place to change the rules and regulations within a F1 weekend, will give you the solution(s) that F1 needs to employ to make their racing great again.

Only have two different tire compounds.
Increase the degradation of the tire compounds.
Allow these cars to be refueled.
Make the cars smaller in width and length.
Incorporate some kind of Push to Pass option.

Yes, two and only two compounds. It always boggled my mind as to why Formula One continues to give the teams three different compounds to choose from throughout the race weekend. The strategies typically call for only one pitstop the majority of the time. Even then, teams can take a soft tire compound and manage them to last 40 plus laps, which leads to my next point.

Tire degradation needs to be more profound. Seeing drivers maintain a consistent race pace while being 25 laps into a stint is impressive in terms of technological achievement but for racing, not so much. Having varying degradation between the two tire compounds would add an element of necessary tire management that could be the difference in being within the points or not.

Are you telling me that the pinnacle of motorsports cannot figure out a way to refuel their cars? Yes, I know the potential harm. But we see IndyCar, NASCAR, WEC, IMSA and many more refuel their cars safely with relatively little to no accidents throughout their entire season. This idea would be seen as significant incorporation, as drivers could race flat out or like the tires, try to conserve fuel to stretch out a stint a few laps longer.

I believe the lack of racing could also be contributed to the dimensions of the current cars themselves. The cars have become wider and longer to compensate for the larger fuel tanks, as they have expanded from 105kg to 110kg to allow the drivers to race with “full power” without having to save fuel. Counterproductive if you can refuel, am I right? When you think about it in terms of trying to pass one another, extra inches in either direction at 180 mph might as well be a football field. Shrink the cars, and you instantly create more racing room.

Lastly, does DRS work? For passing yes, for racing, no. I want my drivers to defend from a pass, as well as attempt a pass. DRS is too restrictive. For instance, with Push to Pass, if a driver knows they quicker in sector two compared to the driver in front, why not be able to gain a little boost and push harder in that sector to try and make up some time? Why not push harder on fresher tires to do the same? Or, call me crazy, the attack zone from Formula E makes its way into the pinnacle of motorsports. Either way, give the drivers more control.

What is lacking within Formula One is the strategy, and these components provide not only that but actual racing. Can you imagine if McLaren or Renault sneak their way onto the podium or possibly a win by having a great strategy? If Formula One looked across the pond to IndyCar and took a couple of pages from them, they could see lower-tiered teams like Harding-Steinbrenner Racing winning their first race in Austin, Texas. How about Mayer Shank Racing coming away from the Indy Grand Prix with their first podium because of great a strategic call.

Don’t be like Ferrari and underestimate how important a great strategy can be.

Scott Masom

 

 

 

 

Like Father, Like Son?

What images do you see when I write the name Schumacher? Go ahead, reminisce.

For me, it’s a glorious blur of a Ferrari whizzing past the TV camera. It has that high-pitched V10 whine that we all hold so dear, as the car climbs the hill and heads into Massenet, centimeters away from the Armco railing that defines the circuit of Monaco.

Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, is following his father’s footsteps by joining the Ferrari Driver Academy. Mick was able to participate in his first Formula One test session at the Bahrain Circuit. He drove the prancing horse his father took to five consecutive Formula One Championships.

AND THE MEDIA BLEW UP!

Everyone was analyzing, deciphering, and breaking down his every move. His time during the session was second to only Max Verstappen by .597s but was 2.11s slower than the pole time set by current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Now, testing times aren’t an accurate representation to the pace of a race weekend, but Verstappen did his test session time on a compound of tire that was reported to be two steps harder than Mick’s. Again, we don’t know what Ferrari was testing, and that could have accounted for the slower times, but I say, can we pump the brakes on this kid?

Yes, he is a Formula 3 champion, and yes, his father is Michael Schumacher. Yes, he was driving a Ferrari. Yes, he did say all of the heart-warming things he could about Ferrari but did he prove anything during that test? Other than he can drive a Formula One car around a circuit, I don’t believe so.

I write this because I want to protect all the Schumacher fans that are expecting the championships, the pole positions, podiums, and the victories because they will undoubtedly set the bar incredibly high. The Formula One world is already expecting Mick to do extraordinary things because his father did and frequently, that isn’t the case.

Examples? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Marco Andretti
Kyle Petty
Nico Prost
Gary and David Brabham
Paul Stewart
Steve Wallace
Graham Rahal
Nelson Piquet Jr.
Can it be like father, like son? Sure it could.

Is it possible that two generational talents can come from the same bloodline? Absolutely.

Should we pump the brakes on this kid? I urge that we all do.

Scott Masom