Friday, 10 May 2013

Spanish GP - Preview

The F1 roadshow hits Europe
The F1 roadshow hits Europe

Dear people who run F1 – please can you fix it (ooops is that now un-PC?) for the F1 calendar not to have a THREE WEEK break after only 2 races and then another THREE WEEK freaking break after the next 2 races. I desperately need a new F1 race in my life like now to help blot out the True Unmitigated Horror that is the (non) House Move from Hell*. I also think its quite important for Barcelona to come round so I can prove to the 5 year old that Sebastian Vettel isn’t really half-Darth Vader and nor is any other driver half-Darth Vader either. In all fairness, he sees this as an entirely positive thing but I’m not sure its very healthy in the long run. Under immense pressure (as it was by far THE most £££ option we considered) I have relented and booked a go-kart party for his 6th birthday. I am ever so slightly nervous at just how competitive he will be on the day. Insert car crash joke here.

*re (non) House Move from Hell – looks like we’re now moving in June. Note to husband: your first job will be to ensure we have Sky F1 in time for the British Grand Prix.

But I digress. Aside from the frenzied round-the-clock work on upgrades and developments which we can expect to see unveiled at Barcelona this weekend, what else has been going on?

F1 is a dog eat dog world (well hopefully not literally)
F1 is a dog eat dog world (well hopefully not literally)

I appear to have been deluged with a plethora of interviews with Lewis Hamilton. This is not necessarily a good thing. I feel quite indebted to McLaren for their control-freak ways in sparing us all these endless pontifications from Lewis over the years. Joyously his dog is in Barcelona for the race weekend. This won’t be mentioned at all (like several hundred times) during the build-up to the race.

So moving on quickly, James Allison, Technical Director at Lotus, is leaving and is currently on gardening leave (and is a no-show at Barcelona). His likely destination is Ferrari where he worked for 5 years back in the Golden Schumacher Age of 2000-2004. Lotus have announced a replacement in Nick Chester but the loss of Allison is a big blow.

The man in demand
The hottest signing in F1 (on more than one level)

And possibly EVEN WORSE for Lotus fans (who count their husband among their number), rumours are gathering apace that Kimi Raikkonen could be moving to Red Bull next season. Mark Webber is due to meet Dietrich Mateschitz next month for contract negotiations and I think we can predict how that one is going to go. Ba-ba-ba-byeeeee Mark. So Kimi and Seb in the same team. Good luck with that one Christian! Mind you as long as they don’t want to kill each other that’ll be an improvement on the current driver line up. Helpfully Lauda waded into the rumour-mill cesspit by saying “If I was Red Bull and wanted to change something with the drivers, then I would definitely go for Kimi.” This will further shatter the husband’s fragile nerves. The poor husband is already on Suicide Watch following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. These are indeed Anxious Times in Power Towers.

Farewell to a legend
Farewell to a legend

So here’s what I’m looking forward to seeing this weekend:
  1. Upgrades – One thing’s for sure, Spain will see the biggest upgrade packages of the year for most of the teams and we could see some subtle changes to the pecking order. Or Sebastian Vettel could just zoom off into the distance. Dear god, please no.

  2. Ferrari’s performance – This is a HUGELY important race for Alonso even aside from the fact it is his Home Race. In order to get his title challenge back on track, he needs to start gobbling into the ominously large lead of Vettel before its too late.

  3. Lotus – Will Kimi continue where he left off before the 3 week break? He is looking like the dark horse in this year’s title challenge but will everyone else’s upgrades cancel out Lotus’ performance edge? Losing your technical director is not a good start.

  4. McLaren – Will they emerge as a force this season after a raft of upgrades? My guess is no but we shall see.

  5. Mercedes – After a surprisingly good start, they have announced their intention to deploy half their workforce to work on the 2014 car. Is this the point where the season starts falling off a cliff. Much like last year really.

  6. Tyres – There will only be hard and medium tyre options in Spain and Pirelli have modified the hards to bring them close to the 2012 model.  Potentially bad news for Lotus (hopefully the husband has stopped reading by now).
The last twelve races in Spain have been won from pole which tells you that these races aren’t usually the Stuff of Legend. But it always feels good to be in Barcelona (even if I’m living the dream only vicariously from deepest, darkest Kent) as it means we’re back in Europe at historic tracks with races at sensible times.

The F1 season is really about to ignite. Hold on for the ride.

Gorgeous, beautiful Barcelona
Gorgeous Barcelona!

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