It was the Chinese grand prix last weekend – the first in the location and the last in the season. I canít speak with any authority on the 2005 season as I missed most races owing to job commitments, which is to say I had one. But here are my impressions.
I get steadily more impressed by Kimi Raikkonen, pain me though it does to side with Ron Dennis. When they were team-mates at Sauber I rated Nick Heidfelt above Kimi and thought Maclaren had picked the wrong dude, but Iím pleased to be wrong in this instance. In previous seasons Kimi has been the unluckiest driver I believe Iíve ever encountered (Mercedes are mostly to blame for this) so I truly hope he gets the championship next season. And heís buff.
Montoya was a disappointment. Iíve said this across the seasons, but the guy wonít be a great driver until he proves it for periods longer than about 3 laps. In the words of my sole F1 buddy ďfair play, he puts himself out there, if he could just stay on the track more often thatíd be awsomeĒ. And Jenson Button – yes! still average!
2) Michael Schumacher
Michael has had a pretty crummy season by his standards. It doesnít matter because the guy has nothing to prove. There are still whispers of Valentino Rossi taking Michaelís seat when he retires. It would certainly be a popular decision – Italian chassis, engine, driver – and it would be interesting to see. But regardless of who takes over no-one can take anything away from Schumacher. Heís driven some of the most breath-taking races Iíve ever witnessed – two that I particularly recall are Spain 1994 where he built up such a lead that he drove 2/3 race distance without 5th gear and still finished second; and some wet race back in the mid-90s when he won by staying out on slicks in a veritable Monsoon, thus avoiding two pit-stops when the track dried up some laps later. People forget it because itís said so often, but he is one of the greatest racing drivers ever.
This season went wrong because, in large part, to the tyres and car, which was simply not good enough. I donít know why anyone is surprised by this. All this fuss about Ferrari killing f1, and all the subsequent stupid rule changes … there is always a dominant team. Anyone who has any clue whatsoever about F1 could have told you that the Ferrari winning monopoly would end in the natural Brownian motion of the F1 hierarchy.
3) New Regulations & The Racing Experience
Admittedly it got dull for a couple of seasons (and Iíll be frank here, sometimes the most interesting part of the race weekend was the opening theme music). But every race canít be an edge-of-your-seat thriller, so there was no need for some of the more bizarre regulations introduced. Someone – I forget who, but some famous F1 bod of yore at any rate – said that the ideal f1 car should hold together until it crosses the finish line then collapse in a heap of carbon fibre/tungsten rubble. Engines lasting for 6 races? No no no no NO!
Oh, I know they masquerade it as cost-cutting for the smaller teams. Quite aside from the fact that Jordan, Minardi and Sauber are no more (at least not in their current format) some of the so-called Ďcost-cuttingí ideas proposed by Mosely and co are surely going to add expense? OK so you may not have to buy so many tyres – but what about replacing the cars wrecked as a result of crashes from severly-worn tyres? How about all the extra money thatíll have to be ploughed into developing tyres that will last a race distance? And a less powerful V8 engine – yeah, because its obviously not going to cost millions in development costs for a total change of engine format, right Max?
4) Perpetrators Of New Regulations
Ah, Max, Bernie … still here are you?
5) A Fanís View
In terms of entertainment this year was a big improvement on previous seasons. This wasnít hard. But we have had some exciting viewing – Japan last week for instance – and some great racing. There are just two points I wish to raise.
Firstly, a review of the 2005 season would not be complete without addressing Indianapolis – a crime against all fans of the sport. I will not discuss this atrocity in detail (previous rants can be found under entries for last spring) but only say that arrangements should have been in place for such a scenario and hundreds and thousands of fans not left out in the cold to watch a parade of 6 cars. I sincerely hope, for the sake of the sport, that they are in place now.
I also wish to mention in passing the disgrace that F1 is still on ITV. Its not so much the channel I object to – though lord knows they should have got rid of Tony Jardine last millenium and James Allen should never be allowed in the commentary box again – but the channelís treatment of F1. I donít care what ITV bosses say, advert breaks are NOT compulsory: Iím sure they wouldnít dream of disrupting even the most boring and trifling little football match for tedious minutes of engine oil and razor commercials. Hereís an idea – if they have to show a given quota of ads why not lump them all together in place of Jardineís pre-race waffle? Us fans would be happy to make this small sacrifice.
Well, thats my 2 pence, value for money given that Iíve only seen 3 races! If anyone reads this and gets to the end before falling into a coma, Iíd be interested to have some comments more informed than mine.