Category Archives: Controversy

This category includes posts about driver and team arguments, movements and trends in the sports, rulings, and statements considered controversial.

Kovalainen: A Possible Replacement for Massa?

Ferrari’s has left the Formula 1 world in suspense by allowing Felipe Massa’s contract option to expire. This option would have allowed Felipe Massa to extend his contract with Scuderia Ferrari. If Felipe Massa is to continue racing with the team, he must negotiate a brand new contract.The expiration of this option has shown that Ferrari are at least considering other drivers for 2012.

Massa has failed to produce for Ferrari, having not finished on the podium since he Korean Grand Prix in 2010 (

Several drivers have already been linked to a seat alongside Fernando Alonso. There have been rumors of Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Jenson Button, and even Lewis Hamilton piloting the second scarlet car. Around this time of year, it is common to hear rumors concerning vacant seats and expiring contracts. However, I am convinced that Ferrari are seriously looking for a replacement for Massa, and may be considering Heikki Kovalainen as their replacement.




Kovalainen reportedly ‘smiled’ when asked about Ferrari rumors, leading some to believe that there has been contact between the two parties. He also stated that he “has what it takes” to compete in a top team ( These actions could mean nothing, and predictions should not be based on a statement given in front of the media.


Under further examination however, Kovalainen seems a completely viable option for Ferrari to pursue. Ferrari would undoubtedly be looking for a driver who could rise to fill the gaps left by an underperforming Felipe Massa. One of Massa’s weakest areas has been in qualifying, an area in which Kovalainen has been most impressive recently. So far in 2012, he has outqualified his team mate 9 times from 11, with an average advantage of over 3.5 tenths of a second throughout the course of the season. In 2011, Kovalainen qualified higher than his team mates in 17 of 19 races. Furthermore, Kovalainen has made Q2 twice already this year, making him the only driver in the “new teams” to have made Q2. Where Massa has fallen short in qualifying, Kovalainen surely has the potential to bring the second Ferrari higher up the grid.

Kovalainen has been stellar in qualifying at Lotus and Caterham (

Another area where Kovalainen has proved successful is in his consistency and his overall pace. Ferrari have found in Fernando Alonso a driver that can recover from a poor qualifying performance. A great example of this skill was in Valencia, where Alonso was able to fight back through the field to win the race despite qualifying 11th on the grid. Felipe Massa seems to hover around his grid position through out the race, or do more damage to the team’s championship hopes by losing ground and failing to recover. Kovalainen has proven to be a very efficient, consistent driver. Rarely has Kovalainen retired from a race due to driver error. In fact, Kovalainen could have finished in the points this year in the European Grand Prix, had it not been for a collision caused by Jean Eric Vergne that required Kovalainen to pit, and eventually finish 13th. Results like these show Kovalainen’s potential to punch above his car’s weight, as well as fight through the field efficiently and consistently.

Kovalainen was given a puncture by Jean-Eric Vergne in Valencia (

There are some cases to be made against Kovalainen, the first being that there are alternative drivers. Drivers such as Button, Hamilton, and Raikkonen are superb drivers and are considered among the best in F1. If Ferrari have the option to hire such a high-calibre driver, they may choose a Hamilton or a Raikkonen over Kovalainen. A second problem is that any driver going to Ferrari know that they will most likely play number 2 to Fernando Alonso, as Felipe Massa is doing currently. Whether Kovalainen would be willing to do this or not is unclear. Finally, it has been three seasons since Kovalainen has driven for a competitive team (McLaren). Some people say his experience in quicker cars has been beneficial, but driving for three years at the back of the grid may have offset some of the experience he may have gained earlier in his career.

Ferrari may choose a higher-reputation driver, such as Jenson Button (

In my opinion, Kovalainen would be a very valuable asset for Ferrari. His three years at the back of the grid would unlikely have a large impact. Kimi Raikkonen did not race in F1 at all for two years, and upon his return he was up to speed very quickly. Kovalainen’s strong qualifying performance, coupled with consistently strong race performances could provide Ferrari with a much more stable driver in their second car. Although there are other possibilities for Ferrari drivers next year, Kovalainen must be taken into consideration. His performance at Lotus/Caterham has been most impressive, and he has matured as a driver since his McLaren days. Ferrari would be making a right decision by hiring Kovalainen as a second driver.



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Eventually We’ll End Up With A One-Make Series!

It was recently confirmed that the Double-DRS system will be banned for the 2013 season. The system was pioneered by Mercedes AMG Petronas team at the onset of the 2012 season, and another Double-DRS system is currently being developed by Lotus. Lotus originally protested against the system at the Chinese Grand Prix, only to have their protest rejected. They are currently the only other team besides Mercedes who have developed a Double-DRS.

A diagram of the Mercedes Double-DRS System (

Cost-cutting is the root cause of the ban of any Double-DRS mechanism; for several years now Formula 1 has been looking for any unnecessary expenses that can be removed from the sport. Formula 1 wants to avoid situations which may put teams in a ‘development race,’ and increase the cost of racing. For instance, the blown exhausts of 2011 were deemed a necessity up and down the pit lane, and millions of pounds were spent to find the perfect positioning of the exhaust pipes on the floor of the cars. This is the sort of engineering war that can raise the cost of racing for every team on the grid.


Ross Brawn disagrees with the idea that Double-DRS is too expensive (

The F1 Technical Working Group has decided that the Double-DRS system is too expensive a path for Formula 1 teams to take, and the majority of teams agreed that it should be banned for the 2013 season. Ross Brawn disagreed by stating, “People talk about the huge cost, but there isn’t really a huge cost. You all know that there are a couple of carbon pipes running down the car, and the man on the street will tell you that they cost a few thousands pounds – they are not millions of pounds.” Are the majority of teams really agreeing in order to cut costs?



Mercedes and Lotus have spent an unspecified amount of time and money developing their systems, and should now have the right to use these systems throughout the season. I completely agree with the fact that F1 costs are too high, and there are solutions to solving the cost problem. However, clever and (according to Ross Brawn) relatively inexpensive technological advancements should not be put to waste so quickly.

A look at Lotus’ Double-DRS system, likely to be used in the Belgian Grand Prix

The money that Lotus and Mercedes have spent developing their systems has effectively gone down the drain, and they are now left spending more of their money on other areas of the car, without any advantage given to them. Furthermore, the “majority” of other teams who voted to ban the device from F1 in 2013 now gain a relative advantage over Mercedes and Lotus, considering that they have spent less money and will share the same benefits brought by the original DRS system. Where is the sense in that? It must be noted that this is not an FIA decision. This decision was agreed upon by the majority of F1 teams, and I get the sense that several teams vote to ban the system in order to hold Mercedes and Lotus back. It is the logical thing to do in such a competitive sport, but it ruins some of the development and innovation in F1.


Surely the cost of motorhomes can be reduced? (

Costs in F1 can be reduced in other areas. Everywhere we look in F1, there are massive cost-cutting opportunities. In the    pits, the motor homes, the garages. By reducing several smaller factors in F1, one could significantly reduce the cost of racing all while keeping the development of the cars razor sharp. Without any room for development, eventually all F1 cars will approach identical aerodynamic designs, ruining the uniqueness of a multi-make series. F1 fans across the globe can only hope that reductions in cost are found elsewhere, and F1 engineers can be free to design new, exciting solutions.

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Why Are F1 Fans So Critical Of IndyCar?

Three days ago, I watched the IndyCar street race through Toronto. I left the couch wondering why more F1 fans don’t watch Indy. Not only do many F1 fans ignore IndyCar as a whole, but they criticize the sport as being boring and talentless.

Will Power at the Toronto IndyCar race

A year ago, I would have done the same. I would have watched two laps of a typical Indy race and mocked the sport. After being a little more open-minded (and somewhat bored), I sat down to watch the Toronto race and found myself deeply enthralled in a fascinating race. I thought to myself, “Many F1 fans appreciate different forms of motorsport, why are they so critical of IndyCar? Of course, there are fans of both series out there. But there seems to be some strange, mysterious disrespect between the two series, so I set out to find reasons as to why this would happen.

IndyCar is potentially an American overload for European fans

First of all, IndyCar is incredibly American in it’s presentation. The fans are American, the announcers are American, and the teams are American as well. I hate to say it, but this could be seen as a problem, mostly from European fans. Unfortunately, the American presenters tend to dumb down the technical aspects of the cars and focus on the spectacle, and are usually very exuberant in doing so. After watching F1 and interacting with European fans and supporters, it is clear to me why Americanized motorsport could be a turn-off.

Although the presentation of the sport is incredibly American, the drivers themselves come from around the world. There are only six American drivers in a field of twenty. Other nationalities include Spanish, Brazilian, Japanese, British, Australian, and several others. In terms of driver diversity, IndyCar is certainly on par with Formula 1.

European drivers such as Dario Franchitti are common in IndyCar

Another frequent complaint concerns the oval racing. IndyCar is criticized as being boring because the cars only turn left. It is very clear as to why F1 fans would find this boring. However, it is unfair to critique oval racers as being talentless. Their throttle inputs and positioning of the car is incredibly skillful and should not go unnoticed. Also, oval racing makes for incredibly close battles up and down the field that can last for dozens of laps, unlike F1 scraps. When racing at 220 miles per hour, the incredible precision used by the drivers during overtaking maneuvers is fantastic to watch.

Incredibly close racing at the Indianapolis 500, the Monaco of IndyCar

Not only can oval racing be exciting, but the road courses in the IndyCar schedule are fantastic to watch. Throughout the season, there are only 5 oval races. The majority of races in IndyCar are now on circuits and street courses. The races are fantastic to watch, and even though the cars are not as fast or sophisticated as F1 cars, the racing is still tight. Motorsport fans should appreciate a good race, no matter how quickly the cars are going.

One can not deny the fact that IndyCars are less technologically advanced than F1 cars. F1 is, and will always be the pinnacle of motorsport. IndyCars chassis are supplied all by one company, and therefore there is no variation in the design aspect from team to team. This is a large negative aspect of F1, as it allows for no in-season development as we have in F1, and no variation in strategy from an aerodynamics point of view. However, similar to the GP2 series, a single manufacturer leads to closer racing and a more competitive field. This should be considered a benefit, no matter what racing series you watch.

Dallara provides a chassis for the whole field, creating exciting, tight racing

The list of ‘problems’ went on and on in my head. But I found that for each argument I made against IndyCar, I found a counter argument in its favor. I understand why F1 fans don’t watch IndyCar; the simple issue of broadcasting often limits motor racing fans from certain series. However, after watching the Toronto race, it was impossible for me to tell why F1 fans can be so critical of IndyCar. The drivers are talented. They go through years of training just like F1 drivers. The racing is extremely close due to a large field and a single supplier. No matter what the series, a fan of motorsports should be able to appreciate a competitive race, rather than criticize everything about it. I’m sure I can’t change whether or not people will watch IndyCar, but I encourage others to watch an IndyCar race in the hopes that they will respect it for what it is: good racing.


Filed under Controversy, For Fun

Should Anything Happen to Maldonado?

A thrilling British Grand Prix saw Mark Webber climb to the top of the podium this year for the second time, beating out pole sitter Fernando Alonso in the last stage of the race. Unfortunately, the race also saw Pastor Maldonado involved in an incident that brought another driver’s race to an end for the second time in a row.

Webber was the star of the day -certainly more popular than Maldonado

Ever since his win in Barcelona, Maldonado’s public support has collapsed. His reputation was dealt a huge blow when he crashed with Hamilton in the final laps of the race, bringing Hamilton’s race to an end. In Monaco, Maldonado put Sergio Perez in danger during practice by suddenly cutting in front of the Sauber driver. And finally today was an incident between Maldonado and Sergio Perez, causing Perez to crash out of the race.

Perez was the victim of an incident between he and Maldonado at the British Grand Prix

Perez was attempting to overtake Maldonado after the DRS zone into Brooklands corner. Perez tried to take the outside line all the way through the corner to overtake, but made contact with Maldonado midway through the corner. Maldonado was able to limp back to the pits and finish a lonely sixteenth, while Perez was out of the race then and there. Watching the incident for the first time, I immediately blamed Maldonado for the incident. I assumed he was attempting to push Perez out onto a dirty line and take the better line for the next corner. However, I watched the incident several times and in my opinion, Maldonado should not take all the blame.


Perez put his car on the outside of Maldonado’s. By doing this, he is putting himself at risk of having an accident. F1 cars run wide frequently, and Perez knows this. On entry into the corner, Maldonado lost the back end of the car and slid wide by a couple of feet. Had Perez not been there, Maldonado would most likely have recovered and carried on racing. Rather than an over-aggressive maneuver to push Perez wide, the accident was a result of Maldonado losing control of the rear of his car. One would argue that a good driver should have maintained control of the car, but under such pressure every driver has made mistakes. Maldonado was not making an aggressive move as he did in Valencia. He was taking a normal racing line, attempting to defend his position, and lost control while doing so. This is the reason why this collision should be ruled a racing incident.

The moment of contact: Maldonado lost control and slid wide into Perez

Perez went on a rant at the end of the race about how Maldonado makes errors and ruined the races of both Perez and Hamilton. He went on to call Maldonado a “very stupid driver.” Most likely, Perez was incredibly frustrated at the time of this statement, and probably had not watched the footage of the incident. Perez has a strong reason to be angry at Maldonado, especially after their completely unnecessary coming-together in Monaco. Don’t get me wrong, I still acknowledge that Maldonado is a particularly aggressive, possibly dangerous driver. In this case however, he should not take the blame completely.

Maldonado is an accident-prone driver. Bring more wings, Williams.

Immediately after the crash, fans were full of anger toward Pastor Maldonado, criticizing his dangerous behavior and his reckless driving. It was somewhat unfortunate, because I believe that Maldonado was blamed for this incident simply because of his history with other incidents. There are accident-prone drivers, and Maldonado is certainly one of them. But I find it unfair that he be blamed immediately for this incident due to his reputation, as he was not entirely at fault for this collision today. In my opinion, he should receive no penalty for his collision today.

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Do Tires Play Too Much of a Role in F1?

Could Sauber win a Grand Prix this year? To answer simply: Yes, they could. However, the question this year should be something along the lines of: Can Sauber hit the Pirelli sweet spot? This year in F1 is so unique in the way that it revolves mostly around the tires. As always in F1, the chassis development does play a massive role in determining the championship. But for the 2012 season, it is more critical than ever to be able to manage tires in their optimum temperature zone.


Pirelli tires have arguably become the most critical factor in 2012


Take McLaren for example. The 2012 Canadian Grand Prix demonstrated exactly the ‘issue’ of tires playing a dominant role in F1. Lewis Hamilton was setting blistering lap times throughout the whole Grand Prix from start to finish. Jenson Button on the other hand struggled to get any pace at all in his McLaren. Button did miss out on practice on Friday, but this would not cause him to be overlapped by his team mate while running in 16th position in the lower midfield. The problem was the tires; Button was unable to work the tires into their correct operational window, and therefore had no pace at all.


Button seems to have lost the edge he had in 2011

The Canadian Grand Prix provides us with an interesting perspective from which we can either criticize or praise the role of tires in F1. In 2011, Jenson Button won the race in what many fans claimed was the best drive of the year. He was in last place at over half-distance, and came through the pack to overtake Sebastian Vettel in the final sector of the race. Some fans were expecting a similar performance from Button in 2012; they expected him to bounce back after wasting away behind the Caterham of Heikki Kovalainen in Monaco. The tires squelched what could have been another strong performance from Button in Canada.


Should Button be fighting with Kovalainen if he can’t get his tires to work?


Should tires have such a commanding role in F1? Of course, they should determine race results to an extent; drivers such as Sergio Perez, who manages his tires exceptionally, should be rewarded. In my opinion, the tires this year have gone too far in determining which drivers are winning races. People have referred to this season as a ‘lottery,’ and it seems to me that tires have somewhat negated driving talent. This year, drivers who are able to keep their tires in their optimum temperature window are the ones who win races. We know how skilled Jenson Button is, we saw it in 2011. Now we are seeing him being punished terribly for being unable to find maintain the operational window for his tires.

Drivers such as Perez should be awarded for their tire management skills, but by how much?

Then again, one could argue that tires in F1 are fair as long as each driver has identical tires available to him. It should be the driver’s job to adapt to the tires. Some fans claim that it is a driver’s job to optimize their tire use and strategy in order to be as quick as possible. But in my opinion, the role of tires in F1 has grown too large. Stellar drivers are being relegated to the midfield by failing to work the tires up to temperature, and drivers who happen to be able to turn their tires on are winning races. When one team mate is overlapping the other, the dominance of tires over a Grand Prix has gone too far.

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Will F1 Work in America?

This year, we will see Formula 1 make a return to the United States in the Austin Grand Prix in November. Over the past decade, Formula 1 has expanded to many new places, mostly in developing countries. F1 will return to the United States for the first time in 2007, meaning that the sport has been absent for five years now. With a race in New Jersey planned for the 2013 season, the reaction from the viewers in the United States, and also around the world, is critical.

F1 will return to the US for the first time in 5 years

Many new races, such as Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, have been criticized heavily by Formula 1 fans as boring tracks designed specifically to make money for the F1 franchise. Whether this is true or not, many F1 fans prefer the classic European tracks such as Monza, Spa, and Silverstone. The fact that Spa will now alternate with a French GP every year has made several fans upset, and many fans asking for Formula 1 to return to its European roots. Will the new races in the United States be a further digression from the classical European F1, or will the United States provide exciting races that attract both international and domestic approval?

Races such as Bahrain have been criticized for being boring

I spent last night watching the Sao Paolo 300 Indycar race. It was the first Indycar race I was able to watch this season (I live in India and usually do not get the opportunity to watch American races). I was curious to see the race firstly because it was a street race, and also because I wanted to see how Rubens Barrichello was coping with his debut season in the Indycar season. I was happy to see that Rubens finished in 10th position, and was running up in 5th at one point during the race; he looked quite competitive.

Rubens looked to be adapting well to a completely new series

The more important factor here, however, is the racing. It was great. I was somewhat confused and naive at points as I know nothing about the teams, drivers, or strategies. Despite this, the racing was close, exciting, and left me wondering why I didn’t spent more time following the Indycar series.

The Sao Paolo 300 provided thrilling racing

Watching this race made me think -Will F1 work in the United States? If American motorsports fans already have their own “F1” to watch, why should they be interested in attending an F1 race. There are two sides to the coin on this question. A pessimistic opinion would claim that American fans should have no interest in F1 since they already have their own super-competitive series to watch, and know nothing about the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, and Vettel, and therefore will have no interest. A more positive outlook would say that American fans are curious to witness the “pinnacle of motorsport” for themselves, and will be hooked if the races are exciting.

If Austin provides an exciting race, they can gain a huge following for F1

There is a motorsport following in America, there really is. European fans often criticize Americans of watching cars go around in circles for hours, a feat that many claim takes no skill at all. Many European fans have never watched a Nascar or Indycar race, and haven’t noticed that the racing is always close, always rough, and always thrilling, even if the cars are driving around one ring. I hope that the American population will be open to the F1 races coming to Texas and to New Jersey, and I am sure that if they see an F1 race in person, they are incredibly likely to follow the sport for good. I encourage anyone who has never watched an Indycar or Nascar race (especially a circuit race such as Infineon) to do the same. True fans of racing will love both series.


Filed under Controversy, For Fun

German Grand Prix Analysis

We’ve just passed the halfway point of the 2011 F1 season, with Lewis Hamilton being the latest driver to stand on the top step at the German Grand Prix. So far this season we’ve seen domination of the field both in qualifying and often in race pace as well by the Red Bull Racing RB7. Sebastian Vettel in particular has had a commanding run, winning 6 out of 10 races so far. However, there has been a recent shift in momentum between the constructors.

Vettel will most likely come out on top this season

Sebastian Vettel is still miles ahead of the competition, with the closest competitor being his own team mate -Mark Webber. This is a comfortable position to be in, especially when drivers like Webber, Hamilton, and Alonso are very evenly matched at the moment. We’ve seen three different race winners aside from Vettel, which means that no one is consistently winning like Vettel does, allowing the Red Bull racer to widen the gap. When Alonso won at Silverstone, the gap still widened because Sebastian Vettel beat Webber who was his closest team mate. It seems that no matter what the result is, his advantage increases. The only times that his lead has decreased was in China when Hamilton won, and in Germany when Hamilton won again. That said, Sebastian seems to have trouble when racing wheel to wheel. Many have said he is unable to overtake, and is only a great driver when out in front. There is some evidence to show; Button forced a mistake from Vettel in Canada, Vettel made many errors while running in 5th position in Germany. I’m not entirely sure I believe it, but it could be true. With an increase in pace from Ferrari recently, we may be able to evaluate how he drives wheel to wheel more certainly.

A rare error from Vettel gives Button a victory

Webber is also looking reasonably strong. He secured pole position in the past two grand prix, but was unable to convert them into victories, securing third in both Britain and Germany. His starts this year haven’t been brilliant; he has lost positions at the start more than he has gained. His race pace, however, has been quite good. He must be pleased with the fact that he is matching his team mate in both qualifying and race pace, especially in Germany when Vettel finished behind Webber for the first time this season. It is almost certain according to both Webber and team boss Christian Horner that Webber will be racing for Red Bull in 2012. Hopefully he will be able to put up more of a fight next season.

Webber has shown impressive pace recently

Ferrari have had a great run in the past few Grand Prix. They have scored more points than any other team in the past two races, and Fernando Alonso has scored more points than any other driver in the last three. Fernando Alonso is still in the title race, but he says he will “need the help of McLaren” to try to tame the Red Bull team. The chances of Ferrari winning either the driver’s or constructor’s championship is quite slim. If I were at Ferrari, I would accept the fact that Red Bull have the best car this year, and start work on the 2012 machine, which Ferrari have promised will be “aggressive.” Time will tell.

Great victory from Alonso in Silverstone

McLaren have also had spots of success; Hamilton won the third race in China, Button in Canada, and Hamilton again in Germany. They have the most wins after Red Bull, but it seems that they cannot convert great performances into great team results. Although they had victories in Germany and Canada, in both races only one of their cars crossed the line. A team like McLaren cannot afford to be only “running” one car, because they have two great drivers both capable of podium positions and victories. Button claimed he is “not fighting” for the championship anymore, and will just “do the best he can” at each upcoming venue. If McLaren doesn’t raise their consistency, Hamilton could be the next to follow Button’s path.

An error from Mclaren means Button leaves the pits with an insecure wheel

Renault have had problems recently. Their season should have been great, and has gone downhill since the start. Ace driver Kubica suffered a horrible rally crash before the season, and was lucky to escape with his life. Whether he’ll be back in 2012 or not is not clear, let alone returning to his previous performance levels. With Petrov and Heidfeld scoring podiums in the first two races, one could imagine that Kubica could have been much stronger. Renault have not had great results since those two podiums; the most points they’ve scored in a race since the first two was ten points in Canada and Turkey. If they want to have any chance at beating Mercedes this year, they have to step up their game, bring both cars across the line, and increase their qualifying performance.

Kubica should be on the podium in 2011, but suffered a heavy rally crash meaning he probably will not race this year

All in all, I think this is Red Bull’s year. Other teams have too much ground to cover to catch up to Red Bull. The chances of Red Bull winning both titles this year is very high, so one should not risk next year’s car in an attempt to catch up RBR this year -they will most likely fail. Ferrari have promised an “aggressive” car for 2012, they should get working on that and accept that Red Bull have it in the bag.

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