Tag: Formula 1

Sky F1: A narrative pushed too far?

Sky F1: A narrative pushed too far?

It’s fair to say Formula One hasn’t had the easiest of weeks, given it’s had to deal with the repercussions of the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and the backlash by many towards Vettel. Many fans have moved on since the incident, while many more chose to move on after Vettel’s hearing with the FIA over said incident, in which he received no further punishment. Despite this, much of Sky Sports’ coverage at this week’s Austrian Grand Prix has focused on the aftermath of this incident. A driver relationship has been scrutinised over and over, as if there is an obligation to delve into the fine details of this and find something to dig at, a desperate attempt to create a narrative for this season.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s fair to say Sky have made Lewis Hamilton the poster boy of their coverage, and it’s hardly a surprise given there is no restrictions into how a private media organisation such as Sky sways in order to appeal to an audience, just take BT Sport’s coverage of MotoGP and their favouring of British riders as proof of this occurring in motorsport. But for Sky desperately trying to make an issue of a non-issue, especially an issue that was proven to be over by the FIA’s own standards, can only be detrimental to Sky’s own coverage.

You can go onto Sky Sports’ website and can see a story over whether Hamilton and Vettel refused to shake each other’s hands after qualifying in Austria, despite there being video footage proving otherwise. It’s as if they want there to be an issue between the pair, tension like what we’ve seen so often in the past with Sky with the intra-team rivalry of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Sky can only go so far in pushing this specific agenda before it turns away viewers, and for the benefit of the sport in this country, that may have long-term problems.

Currently there is a viable alternative to Sky’s coverage of F1, this being Channel 4. However, Sky will eventually gain exclusivity rights over F1 coverage in the UK in 2019, and this comes with an element of responsibility. Yes, it is perfectly acceptable for a British organisation to slightly favour British drivers in the sport, as I’m sure the German & French media do to their respective drivers. Yet to paint certain drivers in a bad light, like we’ve seen with the seeming vilification of Vettel after the Baku incident and its aftermath, is such an irresponsible move for an organisation that will eventually have to lead by example in promoting F1 in this country.

While the ‘hardcore’ F1 fans won’t think twice about subscribing to Sky’s coverage, there is also has to be an appeal to the casual viewer that may plan on watching given there will be no free-to-air alternative for these casual viewers to watch, unless you include “legal” sources. It is already a given that F1 viewing figures in this country will decline should the planned exclusivity deal with Sky go ahead, and this is without considering the casual viewer, not to mention the never-ending saga into the future of the British Grand Prix.

Sky Sports has the potential to define the future of Formula One in this country for a generation. While many (including myself) have expressed concerns over the exclusivity deal, it needs to show itself as a leading partner of F1 & that starts with giving everyone in the sport a fair share of the credit. Of course as a British organisation appealing to a British audience, it is acceptable to focus on the British drivers in the sport. However, to create pantomime villains like we’ve seen so often with Sky, like with Vettel and Rosberg, will only frustrate the fan base. Cracks are already very visible from those aware of the tricks that Sky try to slyly (or not) pull, and this will only deepen further once the pay wall takes full effect in 2019.

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Carlos Sainz: The push to glory

Carlos Sainz: The push to glory

When you think of drivers in Formula One who go beyond the ability of their car on a regular basis, you think of the same names every time. Fernando Alonso with his poorly powered McLaren-Honda car, Nico Hulkenberg with his Renault in a team rebuilding to become a force once more, and even Esteban Ocon in the Force India given his lack of experience at the pinnacle of motorsport. But one driver that doesn’t get nearly enough credit that he deserves in my opinion is Carlos Sainz, and let me explain why.

It’s often said that a driver’s main rival is the driver opposite him in the garage in his team-mate. With Sainz’s Toro Rosso team-mate in Daniil Kvyat, Sainz has comfortably come out ahead of him so far this season, with a number of brilliant performances including a 6th place in Monaco where he successfully held off Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the process.

In a team that should be amongst the least successful in the sport given the lack of performance Renault engines has compared to Mercedes power, Carlos Sainz has almost single-handedly carried Toro Rosso to a solid mid-table position in the constructor’s standings, even challenging Williams for 5th place. From a driver standing perspective, it looks even better from Sainz’s perspective. He is ahead of both Williams drivers in the championship, including F1 veteran Felipe Massa. He is only 6 points behind Esteban Ocon in the Force India and only 16 behind Max Verstappen in the senior Red Bull team!

It is obvious that Carlos Sainz has demonstrated his immense talent so far in his career, and many are saying he is ready for the step up into a top team challenging for podiums, wins and even championships. But this step up may not be as simple as first thought. Red Bull have chosen to promote from within for many years and it would be foolish to say that Sainz isn’t top of the list should there be the need to recruit a new driver. But the Red Bull pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen already have contracts for the 2018 season, so they’re not going anywhere soon unless Ferrari follow through with the rumours and try and pick up Ricciardo, although this is unlikely.

There have also been rumours of Ferrari going for Sainz. Again, this may prove difficult given Red Bull don’t want their rivals to take their top talents, but then again Ferrari may choose for someone more experienced to come into the team. While Valtteri Bottas may not be under contract at Mercedes next season, it would be expected that he would receive another deal given his solid performances so far in 2017. The only viable option of an “upgrade” would be for Sainz to go to the factory Renault outfit, but the competitiveness of the team next season would be guesswork at this stage.

I remember saying in a previous article of mine that Daniel Ricciardo’s career was at a crossroads in 2015, with greater clarity needed to show what direction his career was going. Carlos Sainz has exactly the same problem. While Sainz may have time on his hands (He only turns 23 in September), he has a golden opportunity to stake his claim as a future F1 great if he can forge the right career path. But as has been discussed, this won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Unless Ricciardo decides to become team-mates again with Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, the Red Bull door is firmly closed for the 2018 season.

Sainz doesn’t have to act immediately, but he would benefit massively if he was able to establish himself at the top of the sport before he tries to take it by the scruff of its neck. There is zero chance of him claiming any glory at Toro Rosso while he is there, but there may be the slightest chance if he pushes forward at a top team. Hopefully he will get the chance sooner rather than later, otherwise he may become another “What could’ve been”.

The Baku fallout

The Baku fallout

As I write this piece, the FIA have just announced that they are re-opening the investigation into the incident between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton that occurred at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. While Vettel may have received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty during the race, the FIA have decided to investigate the incident further to understand whether Vettel’s actions deserve further punishment. This is a strange move, not only because of the punishments they have already issued Vettel in the stop-and-go penalty as well as 3 penalty points, but because of the potential ramifications it could have on the Drivers and Constructors championships.

While a race ban may not be completely off the table, it would be a remarkable course of action to issue should the FIA choose to do so, at least that’s what I think anyway. A decision to ban Vettel from racing at a Grand Prix would give Lewis Hamilton a free shot at taking 25 points in the championship, essentially free points as Vettel can’t do any damage limitation should he win. Given the driver’s championships are more often than not, decided by the slimmest of points margins, especially when more than one team is involved as has been the case this season, any decision including a race ban could possibly dictate the direction of the championship. That’s a bad precedent that I’m sure the FIA do not want, and I’m sure Lewis Hamilton & Mercedes would not want either should they eventually win their respective championships.

I’ve seen some reactions on social media where many are comparing this decision to investigate further to Michael Schumacher’s disqualification from the 1997 World Championship, where he was found to deliberately crash into Jacques Villeneuve at the European Grand Prix in an attempt to determine the final championship standings in his favour. This incident and Vettel’s has stark comparisons, most notably Vettel’s collision with Hamilton had little bearing on the championship nor was it Vettel’s intention to do so. Moreover, Schumacher did not receive any form of penalty until he was summoned to the FIA meeting after the championship had been concluded, whereas Vettel did receive penalties both in the race and on his racing licence.

Thankfully, Formula One is not used to these situations because they do not happen very often, with the last race disqualification for racing behaviour being Takuma Sato at the 2005 Japanese Grand Prix. However this incident was always going to trigger a seismic reaction given Vettel’s indifferent popularity among the British supporters, not to mention his championship rivalry with one of the sport’s all-time leading figures in Lewis Hamilton.

I’m struggling to see any justification for re-investigating the incident, let alone issuing Vettel with further punishment. Any further punishment will likely be met with an appeal from Vettel & Ferrari, if not to the FIA then to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A very similar incident occurred in MotoGP not too long ago, where Valentino Rossi was issued 3 penalty points for deliberately causing a collision with Marc Marquez, forcing him to start from the back of the grid at the final race of the season. Although Rossi’s subsequent appeals proved to be unsuccessful, it set a precedent that many still believe is felt in MotoGP today. Marquez is still “unforgiven” for his part in the incident, with his popularity amongst some Rossi fans still non-existent today. This decision to penalise Rossi had a huge impact on the direction of the championship, regardless of whether the penalty was justified. It was a championship ultimately decided in the court room and not on the track, and you can’t help but think that it would be exactly the same if Vettel does receive further punishment. Let’s hope it does not come to this situation.

 

Vettel vs Hamilton: It’s on…unfortunately

Vettel vs Hamilton: It’s on…unfortunately

The 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix turned into a sensational race whatever angle you look at it from. Daniel Ricciardo coming from an early pit-stop, near retirement due to brake issues and leaving him second last, to have a complete reversal of fortunes to win comfortably. Valtteri Bottas, like Ricciardo having to come from the back of the field after a Lap 1 collision with Kimi Raikkonen, stole 2nd place on the line from…Lance Stroll of all people, benefiting from the chaos to claim a simply incredible debut podium finish, becoming the youngest podium finisher in Formula One history at 18 years and 239 days old in the process. Lower down the field, the Force India pairing of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon once again having dramas between each other for the second race in succession, and a McLaren-Honda scored points. Huzzah! (#HondaOut)

But this race won’t be remembered for Ricciardo’s brilliant comeback. Nor will it be for Stroll’s moment to shine. It will be remembered for the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, two perennial rivals that have seemingly finally been able to battle head-to-head despite them both being in their 11th full season in the sport. When Vettel collided with Hamilton as the safety car was coming back into the pits, there was a sense of provocation, a belief that mind-games were being played with a ‘brake-test’ from Hamilton’s part, and an incensed fury from Vettel’s part that resulted in him gesticulating beside Hamilton’s car before bumping wheels, inadvertently or not is up to personal opinion.

But this wasn’t the case at all. The FIA decided Vettel was entirely at fault for the collision, deeming it to be ‘dangerous driving’ and resulted in a 10-second Stop and Go penalty for the Ferrari driver, ending any chance of a crucial victory that would’ve bolstered his championship hopes. Not only that, but the FIA after the race released telemetry of Hamilton’s speed at the time of the incident, showing there was no reduction in speed, no ‘brake-test’, that Vettel was adamant about. A damning justification that left Vettel with what looked like the entire F1 community at odds with him.

But we’ve seen this before, also involving Hamilton. When Nico Rosberg made contact with Hamilton at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, not only did it end Hamilton’s race but it also made Rosberg a scapegoat. It made a friendly rivalry between team-mates turn into “war”, as if it became a no-holds barred street fight where it was every man for himself, or at least that’s what the British media made it out to be. Despite Rosberg being his normal charming self for the remainder of his career, there was always a small minority that branded him a cheat, still not forgiven for that moment despite it having zero bearing on the final championship standing.

You can’t help but get the same feeling from the Hamilton-Vettel collision that we just saw in Azerbaijan. Two seemingly friendly rivals turned into bitter enemies on the brink of breaking point despite it being nothing more than an error of judgement from Vettel. We’re also seeing the same characteristics from the British media, desperate to create a narrative from this moment and paint Vettel as the heel, and fuelled by Hamilton’s post-race comments where he claimed Vettel “disgraced himself”.

The reaction from fans has only reflected this portrayal. Many during the race were calling for a disqualification for his actions, although the reluctance by race stewards to issue drivers with the black flag (We haven’t seen one for dangerous driving since 2005) suggests this was more complicated than many people think, while many more were demanding Vettel receive a race ban for these actions. While the FIA have further issued Vettel with 3 penalty points, risking a ban from the British Grand Prix should he commit similar actions at the next Grand Prix in Austria, this still hasn’t been well-received by the die-hard Hamilton fans, perhaps reminiscing over the rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg in the previous 3 years.

Vettel deserved his penalty at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, as well as the 3 penalty points applied to his licence. It may have been an error of judgement, but it was a massive over-reaction to what he believed was a misdemeanor by Lewis Hamilton. But if you are still wishing for a friendly rivalry between the pair, like the one that Hamilton himself was hoping for earlier in the season, it’s fair to say that is very much gone away. Even if the two are together in a positive atmosphere, the media spin will always relate back to that moment in Azerbaijan, where the ‘boiling point’ was at its peak temperature and when it got ugly. We’ve got our narrative for the rest of the season, perhaps longer.

Top 5: Formula One races of the 21st Century

Top 5: Formula One races of the 21st Century

I thought I’d write up something a bit different to a standard blog post. This being a Top 5 list, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good list to get ourselves thinking?! I’ve been watching Formula 1 for about 16 years now (Started in 2001/02) and in this time, F1 has served out some crazily good races. But what do I think are my favourites? On with the list!

5) 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix

I’ll be honest with you guys now: I am a massive Jenson Button fan, so this is partly the reason why this race is named in this list. But aside from Championship drama, this turned out into a surprisingly entertaining race. Jenson Button went into this race knowing that a 5th place finish would secure his maiden (and what would be, only) World Championship with a race to spare, something he was determined to do before a possible title finale in Abu Dhabi. But the sky unfortunately had other ideas in qualifying, with heavy rain mixing the grid up and leaving Button 14th on the grid, although fortunately his main title rival Sebastian Vettel was behind him in 16th after struggling as well.

The race started and already there was drama. Adrian Sutil and Jarno Trulli had a coming together on Lap 1 and both retired, something Trulli wasn’t prepared to let Sutil get away with.As well as them two, Fernando Alonso also retired after having a ‘wrong place, wrong time’ moment when Sutil collected his car with him.

Jenson Button had a tremendous start in pursuit of the Championship, going from 14th to 8th by the end of Lap 1. Risky overtakes on Sebastian Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi pushed him ever closer to that elusive title, which was gifted to him so unfortunately by his team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Barrichello was in what seemed like a millionth attempt to win his home Grand Prix, but a struggling Barrichello failed to capitalise on his pole position before a puncture after an accidental collision with Lewis Hamilton put him behind Button.

This was enough for Button to claim the 5th place he needed to win the championship after 10 seasons in Formula 1. A remarkable achievement given he was without a drive 12 months prior after Honda’s withdrawal from the sport (I bet they wish they stayed away forever!). Somewhat under the radar, the race was won by Mark Webber, dominant after the first round of pit stops to cruise home over 7 seconds clear and take his 2nd career win. Also, Felipe Massa returned in the public spotlight to wave the chequered flag at the end of the race, 4 months after his life-threatening crash in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

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4) 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

We’re back in Brazil for another title showdown, this time between Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, both aiming for their 3rd world title. It was very much advantage Vettel going into the race, with a 13-point lead meaning Alonso needed at least a podium finish to have any chance of winning the title.

The race began under light rain although all cars chose to start on dry tyres. Like in 2009 there was drama from the off, only this time it involved the main title challenger. Sebastian Vettel was tagged by Bruno Senna going into Turn 3, causing him to spin and leaving him stone-dead last and with a damaged sidepod, although this was not sufficient reason for him to retire. Going into Lap 2, Alonso made a sensational double overtake on Mark Webber and his team-mate Felipe Massa, even more impressive given the increasingly heavier rain on track and the dry tyres fitted on the cars.

All the cars came in to switch to intermediate tyres apart from two. Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg decided to take a chance on dry’s and hope the rain eased off, which proved to be an inspired choice. Both cars lead by nearly a minute at one stage, before debris forced a safety car to come out and bunch the field once more. Once the race resumed, Lewis Hamilton overhauled his team-mate Button into 2nd and challenge Hulkenberg for the race, taking the lead from Hulkenberg a few laps later after a mistake by the Force India driver. However, it ended disastrously for the pair. An ‘opportunistic’ lunge at the McLaren driver into Turn 1 damaged the suspension on Hamilton’s car, leaving Hamilton to retire in his final race for McLaren while Hulkenberg served a drive through. The return of the rain, as well as the retirement of Paul Di Resta, meant for a pedestrian end to the race ultimately won by Jenson Button.

Amid all the drama at the front, Vettel performed superbly to recover to 7th place. A poignant moment in his race was with the overtake of Michael Schumacher in the 7-time world champion’s final ever race, a ‘passing the baton’ moment if ever the F1 world saw one.

This race was captivating right from the off. While the championship fight was dwindling once Alonso struggled to keep up with the leaders, it remained a thrilling dry-wet race with a fairytale ending for a certain Red Bull driver.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil

3) 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

Formula One went into this weekend in a sombre mood after the news of the death of Jules Bianchi, who died from injuries relating to a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Everyone was keen to put on a spectacle in honour of Jules, and boy did they not disappoint.

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As the lights went off, the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen made fantastic starts compared to the Mercedes’ pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in front, both overtaking the pair to lead into Turn 1. Later on in the lap, Hamilton ran wide and came back to the circuit in 10th, an age away from his pole position the day previous.

As the race wore on, Vettel was cruising at the front and setting fastest lap after fastest lap in true-Vettel fashion. Raikkonen followed his team-mate behind, while the Red Bull pair of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo were ahead of the Mercedes of Rosberg, in a complete reversal of the form book that developed over the last 18 months. Midway into the race, Nico Hulkenberg’s front wing fell off due to damage from the kerbs and the Safety Car was deployed, with Ricciardo challenging Hamilton, who benefited hugely from the preceding Virtual Safety Car, for position after the Safety Car came in. A collision occurred between the two and Hamilton was handed a drive-through penalty, essentially ending any hopes for a win despite his resurgence throughout the race.

With 7 laps to go, a thrilling finish was set up front with Vettel, Rosberg and Ricciardo all being within 1 and a half seconds between one another. As Ricciardo unsuccessfully attempted to pass Rosberg into Turn 1, Rosberg tried to defend going into Turn 2 but caused himself to get a puncture after clipping RIcciardo’s front wing, condemning both of them to the pits and leaving Sebastian Vettel to claim his 41st career F1 win, his 2nd for Ferrari and level with Ayrton Senna for Career F1 wins. Ricciardo recovered to earn himself 3rd place, with the pair split on the podium by Daniil Kvyat, who celebrated his maiden podium finish despite a time penalty.

This was a race that F1 needed BADLY. The passing of Jules Bianchi was devastating for all areas of F1. The dominance of Mercedes over the previous 18 months was turning casual fans away from the sport because of among other reasons, boredom at seeing the same two drivers win every race. Formula One needed a race to spark all that is good about the sport. The drama, the entertainment, the thrills. This race had it all. Every driver had to earn their position despite their advantage. The leader in Vettel was seemingly comfortable at the front, but come the end of the race risked losing all his hard work in the blink of an eye. The coming’s together between drivers was example that tight margins determine the difference between becoming a hero and losing everything. This was to put it simply, a remarkable event to witness.

2) 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix

The 2003 season saw regulation change in an effort to cut costs in the sport. One of these changes was limiting teams to one wet compound tyre for a race weekend, these being either the intermediate or full wet tyre. When the 3rd race of the season came around, it was a rainy weekend in Brazil as we have grown accustomed to. Unfortunately for the teams who used Bridgestone tyres, they decided to bring the intermediate tyres to the race, which became more and more unsuitable as the weekend progressed.

The race began under the safety car and showed us one of the worst restarts in living memory for Rubens Barrichello, leaving his restart WAY too late and allowing David Coulthard to take the lead into Turn One. On Lap 18, Ralph Firman’s Jordan had a front suspension failure, sliding halfway down the main straight into retirement, taking Toyota’s Olivier Panis and nearly his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella with him in the process.

Turn 3 proved to be a nightmare for a number of drivers, with the lack of drainage leaving the corner more like a swimming pool rather than part of a motor racing circuit. Drivers including Antonio Pizzonia, Juan Pablo Montoya and even reigning world champion Michael Schumacher were caught out by the treacherous conditions, effectively turning Turn 3 into a very expensive car park!

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On lap 53, Mark Webber lost control of his car going up the hill onto the main straight, crashing heavily into the tyre barrier with half the barrier scattered over the track. This was unfortunate for Fernando Alonso, who hit a lone tyre on the race track and had an enormous shunt into another tyre barrier, being enough for a red flag to be shown and proved to be the end of the race. Thankfully for Alonso, any injury he suffered wasn’t serious, but brought an end to a truly bonkers race…

But that’s not the end of the chaos! When the race was declared, Kimi Raikkonen was considered the winner of the race with Giancarlo Fisichella in 2nd place and the stricken Fernando Alonso in 3rd. The result was eventually confirmed days later by the FIA with Fisichella winning instead, meaning nobody on the original podium was in their original positions. Kimi was on the top step when he finished 2nd, Fisichella vice-versa and Alonso wasn’t even on the podium as he was in the medical centre. Fisichella’s car ended up catching fire in parc ferme, and this ridiculous Grand Prix was brought to an end with a very awkward photo at the next race at Imola of Ron Dennis giving the winner’s trophy to Eddie Jordan. It’s fair to say F1 hasn’t had that many days like that and frankly ever will. However…

1) 2011 Canadian Grand Prix

For me personally, this race had literally everything you can ask for in a Grand Prix. It had my favourite driver having to go through the pit lane six times and STILL ended up winning the race, team-mates and championship rivals colliding throughout, tense drama right to the last lap, the legendary Michael Schumacher pushing so hard for his first podium finish since he returned from retirement. All of this was under the presence of torrential rain, which eventually cleared and left a grandstand finish. We even had a bird watch on Live TV while the red flag was out! (I’m convinced it was an American Robin).

The race began under the Safety Car as a result of heavy rain, with pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel keeping the lead on the restart. Cars behind were dicing for position throughout as they set about finding traction in the treacherous conditions. Drama number one occurred on lap 7. Button and team-mate Lewis Hamilton were fighting for position when Button tried an *cough* ambitious overtake on Hamilton. This left Hamilton with a damaged rear-wheel and subsequent retirement, Button with a drive-through penalty after he sped in the pit lane when pitting for repairs, a Safety Car to come out and a number of teams with carbon fibre stuck in their pit boards.

Lap 20 came around and so apparently did the wrath of the weather Gods. A ferocious weather front arrived at the circuit, so much so that the race was suspended and didn’t restart for two hours. Cue the various TV crews desperately searching for some form of filler in their coverage while the cars sat on the grid, whether it be bird-spotting as was the BBC’s case, making a fuss over Rihanna being at the Grand Prix, or even giving over-the-top media coverage to the backmarkers of Jerome D’Ambrosio and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Anything for TV ratings, eh?

Onwards to Lap 47, Fernando Alonso and Button were fighting for position when disaster struck for the Ferrari man. Another *cough* ambitious manoeuvre by the McLaren spun Alonso and left the Ferrari stricken, leaving Button with another visit to the pits for his troubles and yet another Safety Car. But the troubles for Button didn’t put him off despite being 21st and last place at one point. Another safety car after the expert parking job from Nick Heidfeld after colliding with Paul Di Resta (Seriously, check it out. It’s impressive.) bunched the field once more and a pack of three emerged for 2nd place. Button, Schumacher and Mark Webber all squabbled for the next-best prize in Grand Prix racing but it was Button who came out on top, something he had seemed to be a master of in changeable conditions.

Jenson Button

Constantly eating away into Vettel’s lead, the pressure paid off when Vettel touched the wet part of the track on the final lap and went wide (Good save for what it’s worth), leaving Button to overcome every adversity thrown at him in that race to sensationally win the Canadian Grand Prix!

To recap, Jenson Button won the longest race in Formula One history at 4 hours, 4 minutes and 39 seconds. He won it at the lowest average speed ever recorded at 46.5 mph and with the most pit-stops by a race winner at 6. I don’t think words can truly do this race justice. It had everything a racing fan wants from a Grand Prix, even had rain for extra measure. It had the plot that only Hollywood could ever think about producing, a marvel of sport that would require something biblical to ever surpass. If there was ever a race that was anything close to matching this in terms of a spectacle, then sign me up!

Manor Racing: The end of the road

Manor Racing: The end of the road

1st October 2015. This was the day that Mercedes-Benz announced they would be supplying Manor with power-units for the 2016 season. There was talk about a change in fortunes for Formula 1’s backmarker team, with highly-rated rookie Pascal Wehrlein being given a chance to show his talents on the grandest stage of all, and predictions of Manor becoming a midfield team 7 seasons after they debuted under Virgin Racing. It therefore comes as a surprise that 14 months later, it has been announced that Manor have folded as a team and become the 3rd and final casualty of teams introduced into the sport in 2010 failing to deliver on their aspirations. But given the constant outcry for the model F1 is based on to be revamped and for more equal distribution of funding, should we be surprised at all?

Much of the debate surrounding the running of Formula 1 recently has concerned the prize money constructors receive for finishing in their respective positions in the standings. Naturally, it is perfectly acceptable to see the most successful teams receive the most for achieving the greatest success. However, the constructor that finishes bottom of the standings receives no money for their efforts despite investing millions throughout the season, offering nothing but constant struggle to raise revenue to effectively ‘make up’ for the lost revenue. Manor were in a position to receive prize money as they were ahead of Sauber in the standings. However a very impressive drive by Felipe Nasr at Brazil in the penultimate round of the season condemned Manor to the wooden spoon, and this lack of cash ultimately put the final nail in the coffin for the team. It must also be mentioned that the 3 teams introduced into F1 in 2010 (Manor, Lotus & HRT) only entered the sport on the promise of a cost-cap to help the smooth running of the teams and keep competition close, however this soon escaped attention once then-FIA President Max Mosley quit, with no sign of a cost cap in sight.

Taking example from other sport, poor performance from a team is often resulted by support from the authorities to stay operating as a team. The Premier League currently enforces a ‘Parachute Payment’ scheme, where teams relegated from the League receive financial support for the next 4 years to ensure they don’t fall into oblivion, with funding given being in the region of £65 million. Now I’m not suggesting a similar system be implemented in Formula 1 because ultimately, someone has to come last, but with Liberty Media taking control of the sport this week, this has to be a time for action of some variety. When team owners like Gene Haas admitting he’s prepared to lose £100 million a year to keep them afloat, this gives an impression of the feeling from within the F1 sphere and frankly, it’s very concerning. Will any change happen in the near future? That’s quite hard to predict. Any changes to the funding structure have to be unanimously approved by all teams, and unsurprisingly the leading constructors such as Mercedes and Ferrari aren’t so keen on changing that, more so Ferrari who receive $100 million by the FIA just for taking part! Clearly there are many areas that need reviewing. Whether this happens in the next few months or years, your guess is as good as mine.

Manor developed into favourites for many F1 fans over the years. Partly it can be attributed to incidents outside of their control such as the tragic deaths of Maria de Villota and Jules Bianchi, the latter scoring the team’s first points at the Monaco Grand Prix. But many warmed to the team for being the little team that wouldn’t quit, that pushed the boundaries by even their own standards such as the points scoring finishes by Bianchi and Wehrlein and reaching the 2nd stage of qualifying on multiple occasions, often knocking out teams such as McLaren and Toro Rosso on the way. It’s never nice seeing teams fall from grace because they could not survive by themselves, especially when considering many staff members have been made redundant as a result. But they’re among the best in the world at what they do, so teams would be foolish not to pick up their expertise. Before I ramble on for any longer, I’ll finish up with this. Thanks for the memories Manor. From tragedy to euphoria, you’ve been a major part in one of the most captivating periods in F1 history.