Formula One: Halfway point
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Lewis Hamilton says he is going to be lying on a beach somewhere over the next few weeks with a pina colada in hand and a smile on his face.
Nico Rosberg on the other hand may well be looking to buy a set of worry beads.
And so the “summer holidays“ for Formula 1 begin, with the next race being at the mighty Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium at the end of August.
As far as the mechanics and engineers are concerned, this break has not come soon enough. There has been a punishing schedule of races over the last couple of months.
So bad has it been with the workload that Formula 1 teams are concerned that many of these workers may well not return for another season preferring some semblance of family life to a life on the road with long hard hours in this most glamorous of sports.
Lewis Hamilton celebrates his German Grand Prix victory. Picture/AP
In this next month, each Formula 1 team’s base must be closed for at least 14 days for an “enforced shutdown” with no one concerned with the racing team allowed to be in any way involved with anything to do with building, designing, engineering, maintaining, or touching, a race car. Want to get the painters in to spruce up the factory walls or clean the windows, okay, but don’t think about touching a spanner nor going near a wind tunnel. The door to the “Computational Fluid Dynamics” facility will remain locked.
So, what have we learned from the first half of the season with another nine races to go?
●The Mercedes car is still the quickest, by far.
●Lewis Hamilton is a consummate racing car driver and has a huge edge in racing terms over Nico Rosberg. Rosberg simply does not have the ruthless hunger of Hamilton when the chips are down, and that has become more evident.
●The Red Bull team are slowly creeping closer to Mercedes on performance but the difference between the speed of the cars is still that of a can of sugary red liquid and a stein of “Schwaben Brau's Das Echte Schwarzbier” (a Stuttgart local beer).
●Scuderia Ferrari have been disappointing and now seem determined to self destruct. The team are in a mess and it appears to be getting messier of late with interference in the engineering side of the operation from the boss, a businessman who gives the impression he knows more about racing than the race team itself. Formula 1 needs a competitive Ferrari, a race winner, but that end result is looking ever more distant.
●McLaren / Honda haven’t managed to perform as they should be by now and the rumours surrounding Jenson Button’s exit from the F1 team gain ground with every race.
Max Verstappen in F1 action. Picture/AP
●Max Verstappen really is the goods. Exciting to watch and fast, really fast, with an uncompromising attitude on track.
●Unfortunately Daniil Kvyat seems to have proved the Red Bull team’s management correct in demoting him and now is looking at an exit from Formula 1. It seemed a raw deal but who is now to say they were wrong?
●Sebastian Vettel’s command of English swear words would do credit to a drunken sailor. The broadcaster’s “bleep” machine has been sent away for a service.
●Bernie Ecclestone, born October 1930, would you believe, still rules the F1 roost defeating all who may think of displacing him and has his finger on the pulse of the sport and every deal that goes on within it. Nothing moves without Bernie's approval.
●The Williams F1 team is still struggling, perhaps floundering would be a better word, even with a Mercedes power unit.
●Felipe Massa’s time in the F1 sunshine is now in the past and Valtteri Bottas is slipping into the world of F1 mediocrity.
●White lines delineating the track limits are now only a guide — except at Monaco of course.
●The evergreen words used universally in Formula 1 “for sure” now seem to have been replaced by “tough”. Everything is “tough," even in IndyCar racing the word is “tough”. Unless of course you are commentator and Ex F1 driver Johnny Herbert where the words are “sort of”.
●The politics of the sport have still been front and centre.
●Formula 1 is still too expensive for the teams and spectators alike.
●I still cannot really understand Kimi Raikkonen some of the time when he speaks.
●The teams seem to be making up the rules and not the FIA. “Turkeys and Christmas” comes to mind here.
●The sport is capable of making “U” turns at the drop of a hat by changing regulations to suit popular opinion. That is a good thing, right?
●The sport is still a confusing mess to almost any but the most hardened fan or insider, and then “the management” wonder why the television audience, as well as the fan numbers actually at the track, are diminishing.
●The cars are still ugly, the sound still underwhelming.
So, no change then and bring on the second half of the 2016 season. It is going to be great and I for one can’t wait.
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