Sunday, March 19, 2006 4:38:41 AM
I don't particularly understand everything going on in F1. One thing that is obvious is money. The more money you have, the better your chances. The FIA or whomever is responsible has decided to introduce new rules this year. Let's see if I can't sum them up. Realise that I may have some of these wrong because they are a little tricky.
The first is tires (they call them tyres). They are now allowed to change them unlike last year. Not changing tires is like removing rollercoasters from amusement parks. It's not the whole thing, but it really sucks when it's not there. Seven sets of dry weather tires, four sets of wet tires, and three sets of extreme weather. They have to pick the compound before the race for dry tires. Harder compounds last longer, but have less grip. Softer compound have more grip, but wear down faster. I think these amounts are per race and per team. So the two drivers may have to share, but I'm not sure on this last point.
Next is engines. V8's only unless you're broke. Then you can "turn off" two cylinders from a V10. Limited to 200bph. Whatever that b means.
Then there is the qualifying. Now that I've seen it, I can better explain although some parts confuse me. There are three sessions. So the total 22 cars running is also split into three sections after the fact. All 22 go around for 15 minutes using whatever fuel and tires they want and try to get the fastest laps they can to not be in the bottom 6. The bottom 6 lap times after 15 minutes start on the grid in position 17 to 22 come the actual race day. They are now out of qualifying and will not participate in the following two rounds.
The second part of qualifying is exactly like the first filling the next 6 spots from grid position 11 to 16. These drivers are now out too and will not participate in the final qualifying session. Only the remaining 10 drivers will participate. Note that in all sessions, the drivers can go out at any time, but must finish their laps before the time runs out.
The last session is different. Of course it is! The FIA wouldn't have it any other way. First, it's a 20 minute time limit. And you can finish your last lap after the time runs out as long as you're already on the track. Then it gets weirder. Whatever amount of fuel you put into your tank at the start of this final qualifying session is what you will start the race with. So you will be allowed to refill your tank at before race time to what it was when you started this qualifying session. The other 12 drivers do not have this limitation and can put whatever fuel they want come race day. But what happens now is that for over 15 minutes, the drivers burn fuel in order to get lighter and get faster lap times. Not only that, but it's unlikely to be as lively as the second session because everyone has heavier fuel loads so lap times are down from the previous session. Each of the three qualifying sessions is independant. So this last one is slower than the second. And it's quite boring for the first part, so the TV stations cut to MANY commercials during this time. Not only that, but you can't follow every car because they're all on the track at the same time, especially during the initial round with all 22 cars out on the track. And drivers will slow each other down if they meet making things rather frustrating on all accounts.
However, it does hold some entertainment value, if only for the circus act that everyone must go through. My personal feeling is that the fuel load thing puts a kink in the qualifying. Not just this year, but the past couple years. If everyone was limited by fuel load, then laps would get progressively faster near the end. Or take it away completely. I'm not really sure what this fuel load thing adds. Some are even contemplating lapping in at 11th if they're not confident they can get in the first 6 grid positions at race time. That way, they're free to use whatever fuel strategy they wish or alter it if they so choose.
As to the races, there's only been one so far, so it's a little early to say how it's going to go. But there doesn't seem to be any real surprises. Alonso is still hot. Kimi is still ticked about hardware failure (not just the computer kind although it has happened). Villeneuve appears to have moved up to 10th rather than his usual 14th. Rather frustrating that he's limited by the hardware again. Heidfeld is getting similar times, so it's obvious that they can drive faster if they had a faster car. Now they also have reliability problems with Villeneuve's engine going up in flames. Speaking of which, we had what? 4 or 5 engine failures? Ralf blowing his during qualifying. That's gotta suck.
That's another rule, if you blow your engine during the week, then you lose 10 positions on the grid for the next race. And your engine has to last at least two events before you can change it. BUT!!! didn't think it was that easy, did you? If you blow your engine during the race by no fault of the driver's or mechanics or whatnot, and can't complete the race, then you are not penalised. That's why Villeneuve is not penalised, but everyone else is. Villeneuve's engine went up in flames rather impressively during the race, but everyone one else's engine failed at other times.
It's rather like watching two child siblings make up the rules as they go when they're playing because they just want an edge on the other. You just can't figure out who's going to win because the rules are so whacked! This is what F1 has turned into.
F1, although exciting in some areas, is a downer in most others. It's rarely exciting because the passing is rather difficult and with people like good ol' Michael Schumacher who will not let you pass unless you're willing to end up on the pitch. I wouldn't mind Schumacher much, but people saying that he's the best driver ever in F1 is just plain wrong. The only way to determine that is by having both drivers in the same car. Not at the same time. That would be disturbing. In any case, it would be boring if everyone had the same car. No disrespect to NASCAR, but that crap is boring as hell. The accidents are cool. Whoever thought of putting 80 cars on the same track is nuts.
At least this year, we'll have tire changes again. Without the possibility of racers changing position, it's no longer a race. That's what made some of recent years quite boring. With all the crazy ideas that the FIA had lately, I'm surprised they haven't allowed tracks with multiple courses. Where you can go one way or the other, but you must travel both the same number of times. That would be cool and would allow for some interesting possibilities. Maybe have it that you can't use the same road more than 5 times in a row. It would cause problems with the track heating up too if everyone went the same way. When entering the new section for the first time, you'd have to be careful. Hey, accidents works for NASCAR. It should work for F1 too.
I'll post another entry after the race. Doubt anyone will catch this entry in time. But let's see if Kimi gets explosive this year too!