Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014 GP Of Abu Dhabi And Gratuitous Thoughts on 2015

The new regulations haven't improved the looks of the cars as much as I'd hoped.  But Martini & Rossi has always
used stylish graphics on the cars it sponsors, and makes a current F-1 car about as good-looking as it can be.  And,
to my surprise at least, Williams came up with the "best of the rest" chassis in a year in which Mercedes was as
dominant, or more, as any legendary dominance since Formula 1 began.  And both Felipe Massa (who's driving
career was supposed to be over) and Valtteri Bottas ("who?") delivered some impressive drives to give the three-
pointed star its only nail-biting moments of the season.

Claire Williams's title is Deputy Team Principal, but she and Rob Smedley (Chief Engineer) are the brain trust behind the
Williams comeback.  Frank Williams has, so far, remained Team Principal, but his health is not good.  Claire and Rob
Smedley run the team on a day-to-day basis.  They made some race strategy mis-calls in 2014 that probably won't be
repeated in 2015.

David Hobbs likes the Abu Dhabi course, and prefers it to Brazil for a season finale.  I can't agree.  Abu Dhabi is flat and featureless.  I say: move Brazil adjacent to the Canadian and U.S. GP's on the schedule, and revert the finale to Japan's marvelous Suzuka.  Some of the cookie-cutter GP's in the Far East can lead up to Suzuka.  While I'm at it, let's lose "double points" for the last race of the season and other hype-generators which ruin the pure competition.

For that matter, 19 races is too many.  The season is too long and Formula 1 has cheapened itself.
Mark Webber, who was unceremoniously dumped by Red Bull last year, Tweeted to Jensen Button, who might be unceremoniously dumped by McLaren this year, "come on over to the World Endurance Championship where we do 10-12 races per season.  There's life after Formula 1, WEC is fun and competitive, and I've gotten my personal life back with a 10-12 race season."  I understand Webber completely, and would watch the WEC on TV if it were available here in the States.

Speaking of McLaren, it's just as surprising that Fernando Alonso is returning there, after 5 years with Ferrari, as it was that Ferrari fired Alonso.  He was the only bright spot in a dismal season for the Scuderia and as I've written here before, nobody gets more out of his car on race day than Fernando.  The Talking Heads say that Alonso was the price of Honda's (new) exclusive engine deal with McLaren, which is McLaren's only chance to leapfrog its Mercedes-engined competitors.  It's not too much to say that Alonso and Ron Dennis (who has returned to active management of the McLaren F-1 team) detest each other.  I hope Dennis has the sense to retain Button, who is a very good test and development driver, and who has an excellent relationship with Honda.  Button just might win another Championship while the rest of the team implodes under an Alonso/Dennis contest of wills.

But McLaren will need a silver bullet or two.  Mercedes looks to be as dominant in 2015 as it was in 2014.  And Williams, who has the only car that can even compete with Mercedes, returns with the same personnel and a year's worth of experience in managing race strategy at the sharp end of the grid.

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