A fair, All-American assessment of what Manor just did

Manor didn’t sign Alexander Rossi. They did sign Rio Haryanto. This is fine EVERYTHING IS FINE CALM DOWN R.J.

Today, Manor Racing completed their driver lineup for the 2016 Formula 1 season. With new Mercedes power units, a revamped technical staff and management, and two new drivers, it’s expected to be a big year for both Manor and their drivers, the reigning DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein, and the American driver who impressed in his five race slate at the end of 2015, Alexander Rossi. They’re expected to surge up the running order this coming se-

Wait. Wait. Wait wait wait wait WAIT. Hold up. They signed WHO!? 

DAMNIT MANOR

OH GOD DAMNIT! Continue reading “A fair, All-American assessment of what Manor just did”

Adios, Pastor

There is a more complex legacy that Pastor Maldonado leaves behind in Formula 1 than just being the sport’s most prolific crasher.

Maldonado Spa 2014 BW
Image Credit – © Lotus F1 Team

If you’re reading this today, you now know that Pastor Maldonado is not racing for Renault F1 Team this season. And you know that we may have now seen the last of Maldonado as a Formula 1 driver.

We knew that before Renault could officially confirm Kevin Magnussen as his replacement at their team launch, because Maldonado confirmed it himself in an open statement on Twitter this Monday. A statement which almost reads like a full-on retirement speech, not just an announcement of missing one F1 campaign. He even said he’d try to come back next year, but I’m not optimistic about that.

I’ll admit that I’m way more of a fan of Pastor Maldonado, the F1 driver, than a lot of people who’ve followed the sport for any length of time into today. So for me, quite frankly? It sucks. A lot.

You see, there’s a much more complex legacy that Maldonado leaves behind in Formula 1, if this is indeed his bowing out of the sport – which is highly likely – than that of being the modern-day crash king of F1. Continue reading “Adios, Pastor”

Tarso Marques turns 40

marques 1997 header

I would feel awful if I didn’t acknowledge the landmark 40th birthday of one of my favorite drivers of all time. A driver who despite every attempt to reason with me and convince me that I can find better favorites to root for, remains solidly in my all-time favorite drivers list. It’s really tough to explain the admiration I have for former F1 backmarker Tarso Anibal Santanna Marques, that has somehow grown even after his days in the racing limelight have ended. Continue reading “Tarso Marques turns 40”

F1 Fancy Stats: Lap 1 Baseline Retention

belgian gp startjpg

This article on advanced statistics applied to Formula 1 focuses on baseline position retention after the first lap of a grand prix race. Baseline position retention is simply a measure of how often a driver is able to retain or move up from their starting position after the first lap of the race.

This statistic complements the widely-used positions gained and lost off after lap one in determining a driver’s opening-lap efficiency and effectiveness, and one of the advantages that it holds over position net gain/loss is that it fairly rewards the polesitter for executing the start properly and retaining first place after the opening lap, in general it is more if not entirely driver-dependent, and there are only two possible outcomes. Continue reading “F1 Fancy Stats: Lap 1 Baseline Retention”

The Right Time to Retire a Number

Jules+Bianchi+F1+Grand+Prix+Hungary+Practice+s1MQRpvSUlVl

The number 17 of Jules Bianchi will never again be carried by another Formula 1 driver. FIA president Jean Todt has decided to retire the number from the Formula 1 World Championship in honor and in memory of Bianchi, who passed away in the early hours on Saturday, 18 July 2015.

This is absolutely the right time and context in which to do this.

Formula 1 adopted the current numbering system just last year, giving drivers their choice of any number they would carry with them for the remainder of their F1 careers at any team they may race for now and into the future. The idea came from the motorcycle Grand Prix circuit, MotoGP, where riders have their choice of number to use throughout their career. It is virtually impossible to distinguish the number 46 with anyone – not just in motorcycle racing, but in all of motorsport – but its greatest champion, Valentino Rossi. It is also a series that has tragically lost three of its riders in this millenium, each of whom were also very much inseparable from the numbers they chose to ride with. Continue reading “The Right Time to Retire a Number”

A Loss Too Great

I sit here typing away, with the never-ceasing dull pain in my heart and an emptiness in my soul the likes of which I have not felt in years, trying to express my feelings about the loss of a man who was only four months older than me, yet lived a life that was infinitely more fulfilling in the short time he was with us than I could ever hope to even if I lived a hundred years.

Jules Bianchi is gone. Well and truly gone after spending the last nine months in a comatose state for nine months, his family in an unimaginable scenario wherein his state of “living” – if you can even call it that – was described as “unbearable”, “a daily torture”, and “worse than if he had died” on the afternoon of October 5th, 2014, by his own father. And yet, as the weeks turned into months spent clinging to life, as the hope of a full recovery withered into nothing, then the hope of any sort of recovery died along with it, the confirmation of his death last night still caused me to break down as if it was a sudden instance.

I lost one of my favorite drivers in Formula 1. Continue reading “A Loss Too Great”

No Longer Convinced

d_reinhard_aus_300dpi125

I’ve once made a point in previous entries on A Motorsports Blog that I feel that the generally negative reception towards Sauber F1 Team principal and CEO Monisha Kaltenborn’s tenure in both positions since 2012 is not motivated solely by the team’s recent sharp decline in performance, but enhanced by the fact that she is the only woman of colour who has ever held a major position of leadership in Formula 1’s sixty-six year history.

In the wake of the decision of the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, which ruled that Sauber’s former test driver Giedo van der Garde must now race for the team which has already signed rookie Felipe Nasr and second-year driver Marcus Ericsson to full-season deals, I no longer feel that the enhanced backlash towards Kaltenborn, her gender, and ethnic background are not somehow connected.

As covered extensively by veteran F1 reporter Adam Cooper, the terms are that Van der Garde, per the original terms of a contract he had signed in 2014 when he joined Sauber as the third driver behind Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez, is obligated to run the full 2015 season, and not either Ericsson or Nasr, who each come with their own wealthy investors behind them who can issue an appeal just as Sauber did, and it would be expedited. In Ericsson’s case, their backers already paid for him to race in 2015 with an estimated budget of as much as €60 million.

I’ve made the point that Van der Garde, in the grand scheme of the overall pool of talent of drivers that are racing, or could be racing in Formula 1, has yet to prove that his merit at the highest level on a consistent basis. Brilliant mixed-weather drives in Monaco and Belgium two years ago aside, the Dutch driver still scored below 50% in every major intra-team statistical category in 2013, against a teammate in Charles Pic who is considered by all but a small handful of avid F1 followers to be a borderline F1-caliber talent. Comparatively speaking, Felipe Nasr has accomplished way more as an F1 prospect, and Marcus Ericsson drove against far more experienced and capable teammates last year.

It’s all water under the bridge now. Van der Garde will race in Australia, and either Nasr or Ericsson will not. In the first case of a driver winning back his contractually-guaranteed race seat since Alex Caffi used his power of attorney to reinstate his seat at Footwork Grand Prix – which also deposed another Swedish driver, Stefan Johansson, in the process – Van der Garde has now been deemed justified in taking his case to the supreme court of two different countries who have both ruled in his favor. And no amount of arguing based solely on esoteric advanced sporting metrics can override a double whammy of a trans-national judicial ruling.

This is no longer about Van der Garde for me. It’s about Kaltenborn. It’s about the fact that while her team’s legal defense of why the plaintiff should not be allowed to race on the grounds of safety is full of holes, and while she is ultimately responsible for the contractual calamity that resulted in this case going to court on the week of the race, the accompanying commentary running along the lines of “I have never liked Monisha Kaltenborn and this sequence of events reinforces this opinion,” or “Monisha Kaltenborn has destroyed a once proud organization,” or “This would never happen if Peter Sauber still ran the team,” is uncomfortably commonplace, and I am no longer sure that this is not further fueled by Kaltenborn’s gender or ethnicity. Continue reading “No Longer Convinced”