F1 Season 2010 Review

So the 2010 season of Formula One ended about a month ago, with Sebastian Vettel taking the crown after a magnificent final dash, and a final race with four drivers with the potential to take the championship. As I did with the mid-season look a few months ago, I’m going to dwell on a few parts of the season I think are worth discussing. Not everything though, because otherwise we’d be here forever. Also, sorry if some of these repeat things I’ve said in my analysis of the season at the halfway point before, as most are similar topics and a lot of my feelings are probably unchanged. So without further ado…

F1 2010. Now in Ed-Criticised form!

Did The Rule Changes Work?
As I touched on last time, the refuelling rule seems like another rule approved with no real consideration as to how it would affect the strategy of the races and how interesting it’d make it for the audiences watching. Granted it probably does save the teams a lot more money and I applaud the decisions to cut down on the costs. In fact, the refuelling isn’t such a massive loss when you consider the teams are somehow able to perform seconds a lap quicker on fresh tyres and show the kind of speed some teams weren’t able to show on empty tanks in the days of old.
The problem comes from the fact that the rule changes don’t work as efficiently because they eliminate strategy to a simple couple of points. Most strategy in the races, especially in the latter stages of the season seemed to be running until the tyres stopped working or until another frontrunner pit first, then every other driver in the running pitting reactionarily and everyone running until the end of the race on the same tyres after a third of the race distance or so. There were virtually no gambits in qualifying. Every driver in the top ten qualifying would simply run on the soft tyres that they’d have to use in the race too and battle the odds, especially if they weren’t likely to get much higher than tenth on the grid. No one was willing to risk sacrificing a couple of starting positions to run on the hard tyres and run much longer than the drivers with soft tyres and swapping for soft tyres in the later half like some of the back markers tried to gain points. Everyone in the top ten ran the same strategy as each other and everyone below tenth ran the same strategy time after time, meaning there were few risks (though admittedly, many risks ending poorly, especially for the Mercedes team) and therefore resulting in the same predictable races time and time again. Even the wet races turned out fewer surprises than they normally would.
Granted, that’s not entirely down to the lack of refuelling. The most exciting race of the year was by far the Canadian Grand Prix and that was because the Bridgestone tyres stopped working and teams had no idea when the cars would need tyre changes. That’s what we needed more often and what Pirelli should aim to achieve – tyres that don’t last long enough and could potentially go off at any point with more differences between the harder and softer tyre varieties. Not soft tyres that drivers can last over half the race distance on, or hard tyres they can last an entire race on. It seems weird to criticise Bridgestone for making their product so bulletproof that it resulted in processional, dull races, but if Pirelli can do themselves justice, it’ll be by giving the soft and hard compounds much smaller fuses which then allow more strategy and less follow the leader.

What About That Team Orders Thing?
In the German Grand Prix, Massa and Alonso switched places, allowing Alonso to take the lead and helped catapult him back into the title hunt. Of course, it was so obviously a team order (which was of course outlawed) that everyone in the F1 media seemed to latch onto it for as long as they could and make it out to be worst thing ever… right up until nearly every team supported what they did and called out the rule. Then it became about how stupid the rule was in the first place and a partial siding with Ferrari, whilst simultaneously trying to find any single link they could to bring up the incident again, even months after it happened. You’d think nothing else had happened of interest the entire season or something.

No Briatore, not that kind of team order…

The thing is, what they did wasn’t particularly bad, and its all mostly a bunch of what-if scenarios that follow it. What if they hadn’t asked Massa to pull over? Alonso was faster on the track and probably would have overtaken him the good old fashioned way. Or, they could have collided like the Red Bulls did in Turkey (talk of another incident no one could let go of). What if Massa finished first? Alonso would have been frustrated but he may still have had the momentum to pull out the string of excellent results he achieved later in the season. He is after all a driver who puts in a lot of effort and has his heart and soul constantly in the sport. That’s why he’s such an emotional character. It’d almost be ludicrous to suggest not winning would have killed his momentum entirely, but he needed those points more than Massa. By that stage of the season, Massa was nowhere near close to being a title contender, but Alonso was just still in the hunt. It made sense for the team to keep their leading driver in the title hunt rather than support both and lose a shot at a title. It wasn’t nice to Massa at all, and you get the feeling he’s going to be shafted from the team as soon as they get a chance anyway, but as bad as you feel for him, letting him have that win wouldn’t have given the team much more, but by taking it away they lost a lot more than that. They lost his support and given him a bad mentality that can’t do anything but negatively affect his outlook in the team.
Team orders are legal again next year, so at least teams don’t have to pussy about and give coded messages and the like. We can finally have them being honest, rather than the viewer rolling his eyes everytime you hear a message that basically amounts to team orders without saying it. It won’t make as much of a difference to the sport and after the backlash from that race and the races years ago which caused the rule, no team is going to be stupid enough to cause another incident like this, right?

…right? =/

Woooaaaaahhhh, your car is on firreeeeee….

And The New Teams?
I think it’s a shame none of them achieved any great results that weren’t due to luck, but I still think it was also ludicrous of Ecclestone to write them all off for failing to score a single point in their debut years. You’re talking about a ragtag group of teams that didn’t have much of a budget to run a team on or to get results withs.
The thing is though, is as Ecclestone says: It’s Mosley’s fault for tricking them into thinking they can feasibly operate teams on a shoestring budget and achieve on a similar level to the other teams on the grid. That was never going to be a likely scenario, no.
On the other hand, I think it’s a shame no new teams are going to be entering next year, either. Granted, they’re not going to set the stage alight either, but it’d give the bottom teams someone to compete against, rather than themselves. Hispania were a joke, with a car that never updated and their driver seats turning into musical chairs in the latter end of the season. But that’s also a fault of lack of testing. Teams either have to risk throwing a driver unprepared into a seat or they don’t at all and they don’t find out if the driver is better or not.
I still think we’re not going to see any true potential in the teams until next year, but I also think it’s going to be a make or break season for those teams too before they either stay on or pass hands.
As for Hispania, if they don’t buck their ideas up I don’t even see them finishing an entire season.

What About Schumacher?
There’s not much to say that I didn’t already say last time. He was the greatest driver of all time who came back for another last shot at glory, and was promptly attacked practically every single race by anyone who could. No, his driving wasn’t up to scratch this year, and he learnt the hard way there are some moves and some tactics you can’t get away with before, and it really highlighted how a lot of the racing has changed since he’s left.
But at the same time, there were still plenty of amazing moments and times when his cunning showed up again and took people by surprise. He’s still got it in him to get some future glory, and what stopped him this year was a lack of testing, a car he wasn’t suited to driving, inexperience with the qualifying format and the new rules that came in during his absence. Next year there are another set of rules coming in which he may be able to work to his advantage or not, but towards the end of the season he found himself coming into his own a little. And as I said before – for him to be able to take all of that criticism in his stride, smile and joke and still enjoy it is remarkable. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t care about the glory at all, but just wants to be able to enjoy the thrill of driving a few years longer before he’s truly no longer able to do it.

Schumacher, shortly before telling us to ‘forget about it’ and hitting a jukebox into life.

And The Elephant In The Room?
I’ll still stand behind the BBC’s coverage. The forum is excellent, the driver tracker is one of the greatest additions to watching the sport in recent years, and if they added a telemetry chart somewhere I’d be able to geek out horrendously and die of happiness inside, despite such a thing being ultimately useless to me when I’m watching a race. I have no problems with the pundits because they’re enthusiastic and care about the sport, and the race with Lee Mackenzie hosting was very well done apart from some of the people who went the stereotypical path of slobbering over the fact there was a woman there (I’m looking at you, Horner).
However, the elephant in the room is in dire need of extermination, otherwise it’s going to kill my enjoyment of the sport.
Jonathan Legard. I don’t know if you’re a nice person or not, and it’s never nice to be told you’re not good at what you love doing, but you’re a genuinely dire commentator and if I ever have to hear your voice again, it will be too soon and part of me will die inside. In fact, if you’re commentating on the next season, I may have to bring forward my suicide plan and skydive into an active volcano now instead of at 40. Alternatively, I can just swap to the BBC Radio 5 Live commentary. That’d also be an acceptable solution, I guess.
The thing is, I’ve tried now for two years to put up with your commentary, and it’s hopeless. Better people than I can make better jokes and analogies of how terrible your commentary is, and I’d be inclined to agree with it all. You’re full of inane ramblings, you have literally no chemistry with Brundle (who literally carries the commentary) and interrupt him all the time. Then there’s the repetition of everything you say to the point people have literally made a Bingo game from things you say. If people played a drinking variation you’d cause their deaths.

[Click image to enlarge] Whoever made this image, I salute you.

You’ve had two years to prove yourself and all it’s proved is that I’m having to say something I thought I never would: I’d rather listen to James Allen. All of my feelings from halfway through the season apply too.
The highlight of the commentary in Japan was when technical difficulties caused Radio 5 Live’s commentary to play instead and I didn’t have to put up with you, and in the Korean Grand Prix it got so bad I had to switch to that commentary because the alternative was turning off the TV and sleeping like a normal person. I don’t want to have to do that every race, Brundle is one of the best commentators around and I don’t want to miss his insights just because you’re to effective commentary as Uwe Boll is to making movies.

Did The Best Man Win?
Sebastian Vettel is the Formula One Driver’s Champion. Honestly, that’s not a sentence I expected to say for another year, because I’d earlier maintained that he wasn’t a worthy champion if he won out. Then he managed to pull back his deficit in the title race and pulled such an impressive string of final results that I had to eat humble pie. He went from a man who would only have won due to having the car to a man who won because he showed promise and class the likes of which the rest of the field couldn’t match up to. Also the car. Yeah, he barely overtook anyone this season and the Red Bulls were so dominant it was almost boring to watch them (something the director must have agreed on considering how little they’d show up in coverage once they were in the lead). But considering that races before the end many people had him down as an outside bet and that the championship would go to Alonso or Webber, he pulled it out to take the crown when it counted, during the final race. Did the best man win though?

He’d just remembered that he left the gas on…

Alonso drove some fantastic races this year, but he also showed some of the most erratic behaviour and if he’d have won many people would have been in uproar even if he’d won by more than 7 points (the difference between the first he gained in Germany and the second many feel he should have been given) simply because of that incident. Also because he’d also shown many situations where he was less than worthy of winning a third time. I have no doubts he’ll do it eventually, but considering he kept it down to the final race in a car that was much slower than the Red Bulls is a sterling achievement and he should at least be applauded for that.
Then there’s Webber. I still believe that he’s a dickless, spineless tosser for what he did to the Red Bull team and the way he treated them, especially when it continued to increase the closer he got to championship glory. It was a strange gambit to basically throw everything the team did for him back in their face time and time again, but one that probably would have pulled off if he’d won the championship. He’d have been the champion who fought against bias in the team and raced against the odds to prove himself when others wouldn’t believe in him. It’d almost have been a halfway cliche movie plot the way it was winding out. Sadly for him, he lost at the final hurdle to his teammate who utterly outclassed him and instead Webber came out looking like a whining, spoilt baby throwing his toys out of the pram. To do what he did and then lose reflects horribly on him and makes him come across as one of the most ungrateful drivers around. I have no respect for the man and while I’m hesitant to claim (like others have) that that was his last realistic opportunity to become a champion, I’d rather say that his behaviour this season pretty much proves that he’s not a worthy champion and if he keeps this up then he wouldn’t be worthy of it next year.
Then we come to the British duo, Button and Hamilton. I was pushing them very hard at the start whenever anyone asked me who I thought would win the championship, and I’m kind of disappointed neither did. Button drove like a champion at points this season with strategic calls many others would wish they could come up with themselves and some drives to justify his crown last year. It’s made him a much better driver overall and even though he’s rarely had the qualifying pace to support it I feel this year was possibly his best in terms of the skills he showed and how much he managed to give Hamilton a run for his money.
With Hamilton, I’d genuinely go as far as to say that I feel that this was probably his best season in terms of the skills and the driving he exhibited and it’s only bad luck and other drivers that prevented it. Who knows? If Hamilton hadn’t been taken off in Australia and Singapore by Webber and he hadn’t been such an idiot in Monza he’d have made Brazil the championship-crowning track for another year running. Or at least that’s how I feel. In any case, Button and Hamilton proved themselves to be worthy champions and showed possibly their best this year, but sadly came up short.
So, Vettel then. As I’ve said, he simply had the fastest car, made some silly mistakes and found it difficult to overtake. But then he was simply one of the fastest men on the grid and showed such an impressive charge to win that even though it may be a year premature for some, this can only help him in the long road to prove how worthy he was to come up trumps and be crowned World Champion.

“Mate, with a jug this big, this is going to be an Oktoberfest to remember!

That’s my view of the F1 2010 Season, hope you enjoyed and I’ll be looking forward to next year! :D
<3 Ed.

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