Ecclestone vows Bahrain return as journalists arrested

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the F1 Fanatic round-up: Bernie Ecclestone says the Bahrain Grand Prix will remain on the calendar.

Meanwhile journalists attempting to report on the situation in the country are arrested following the Grand Prix.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Bahrain has a secure F1 future, says Ecclestone (Reuters)

“Asked whether the race would stay on the calendar, the 81-year-old Briton told Reuters: ‘Absolutely. Forever. No problem.'”

Ben de Pear (Channel 4 News foreign editor) via Twitter

“Bahraini authorities and Ecclestone say journalists free to report in Bahrain, but we along with many media organisations were refused entry. Team arrested, surrounded by masked men and the driver assaulted taken away separately, last seen bleeding from his arms and we [are very] concerned.”

Channel 4 News team arrested in Bahrain (Channel 4 News)

“Channel 4 News has been in contact with him and his team, and are concerned about the welfare of the team’s local driver who was arrested and assaulted in front of the team, and then separated from them. When last seen he appeared to be bleeding from slashes to his arms.”

William Hague (British foreign secretary) via Twitter

“Very concerned about detention of Channel 4 journalists in Bahrain. Our Embassy is seeking urgent consular access.”

Bahrain Grand Prix passes amid surreal atmosphere with little disruption (The Guardian)

“[Bahrain International Circuit chairman Zayed al Zayani gave] some seriously implausible figures. He claimed that 28,000 spectators attended the race, even though the empty stands suggested that Bahrain had voted with it’s weary feet. It was claimed that 70,000 had come to the three days of racing, surely another gross exaggeration.”

Martin Rowson on the Bahrain Grand Prix controversy – cartoon (The Guardian)

More criticism of yesterday’s race.

Truth survives the teargas and tantrums (The Times, subscription required)

“But [Jean Todt] got lucky: the circuit was safe, mainly because it was locked up tighter than Fort Knox, and the only price to pay was the life of the young protester ? "Freedom, not Formula One", they shout ? allegedly shot by security forces on Friday.”

Bahrain F1 race completed amid tight security (FT – registration required)

“Tight security at checkpoints on the way to the track caused tailbacks as the authorities tried to curtail attempts by protesters to bring their pro-democracy demands into the heart of the event.”

Fuming Schumi slams Pirelli (Sky)

“The main thing I feel unhappy about is everyone has to drive well below a driver’s, and in particular, the car’s limits to maintain the tyres.”

Pirelli responds to Schumacher criticism (Autosport)

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery: “I’m disappointed to hear those comments from someone of Michael’s experience. Others were getting on with the job and getting their tyres to work. His comments during winter testing were that he was very happy with the tyres, and now he seems to have changed his tune.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner surprised by good start to 2012 (BBC)

“That puts us in the lead of the drivers’ and constructors’ championships after the flyaways [long-haul races], which is certainly not we were expecting after the first couple of races.”

Comment of the day

Was Nico Rosberg’s defensive driving really so bad? Slr says not:

At the time I saw it as Rosberg defending one side, and Hamilton and Alonso deciding to pass down the same side anyway. If it was like Schumacher and Barrichello at Hungary, then a penalty might have been just.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Wonderduck!

Update: And happy birthday to BenH too!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the crash which brought Stirling Moss’s Grand Prix career to an end.

Moss crashed while racing a Lotus in the Glover Trophy race at Goodwood today in 1962. He had lost time earlier in the race with mechnical problems, and was chasing the fastest lap record when he came off the track, crashed into a banking and had to be cut from his car.

Moss suffered head injuries and later announced his retirement from racing. However he continued to compete until historic events until last year.

Image © Lotus F1 Team/LAT

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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128 comments on “Ecclestone vows Bahrain return as journalists arrested”

  1. Just seen the Channel 4 journalists have been deported:!/millerC4/status/194184594097053698

    Minus their belongings:!/millerC4/status/194190535102169088

    And still concerned over others who were detained:

    1. @keithcollantine The link for “Martin Rowson on the Bahrain Grand Prix controversy – cartoon (The Guardian)” doesn’t work. It’s missing the protocol prefix.

      1. @xxiinophobia
        The link contained the F1 fanatic URL before it, the following should work.

      2. @xxiinophobia Sorted it, thanks.

    2. Good on you Keith for keeping your head high this weekend. Some of the stuff that’s passed through the comments must have made it difficult not to get riled up, so A+ for composure.

    3. A+ for composure, D- for accuracy. Confronted with the fact that the race went off without a hitch, there was little/no contact with any rioter or protester by any team or media personnel involved with the race save one car of mechanics, how can any F1 stand against this race for the supposed “violence” which was non-existent? Without being there, how can you say what actually happened?

      Composure be damned, the race was fine. The country is doing well, but adjusting. F1 is being politicized by both sides, yes, and if cancelled it should have been done so for the fact that both sides of the Bahraini conflict were politicizing it, not because of any fear of safety.

      1. And these “journalists” came into the country illegally on tourist visas and were arrested properly. Absolutely sensationlist rubbish and I expect better of this site.

        1. And these “journalists” came into the country illegally on tourist visas and were arrested properly.

          Which of course nothing at all to do with journalists being refused visas, right? And they were being refused visas because… well clearly because the Bahraini government felt that there just so little happening in the streets that it wanted to save correspondents the trouble of coming, bless them. So when these sensationalists came in on tourist visas and then tried to report on how calm and uneventful everything was, it was only natural to arrest them. Makes sense to me.

          Just because nothing actually happened at the racetrack doesn’t mean that the potential risk (if we want to keep the arguments to risk) was worth taking.

      2. @d3v0

        how can any F1 stand against this race for the supposed “violence” which was non-existent

        If you’re going to lecture someone one “accuracy”, you should take greater care to get the facts right yourself.

        I never made a case against the race on the grounds of a threat of violence. I made the case against the race on the grounds of morality and the political situation.

        That much was abundantly clear in the article I wrote before the race weekend began:

        The Bahrain Grand Prix: A matter of conscience

        1. @keith-collantine

          I am not lecturing, I am upset about the misplaced opposition to this event – which appeared to be regarding the safety of the event. I was not referring to your much larger post, but rather the generalized notion regarding this GP which was misplaced.

          The facts argument is about the journalists, although your post about the journalists may have been before more facts came out. But it appears that it was made based upon your already-decided opinion on the race – which had had made before the weekend happened.

          1. Team personnel requested to leave the country because of safety fears, and a team missed a practice session. How can you claim safety didn’t impact F1?

          2. There is also the wider context of the lack of spectators, not just here but at other circuits also. An excellent article on Eurosport summed up the prospects for F1’s future

          3. Thanks for the link @ceevee . I like the quote when talking about Valencia: “Basically, you could move the event to Slough Trading Estate and nobody would notice” ;)

  2. “I’m disappointed to hear those comments from someone of Michael’s experience. Others were getting on with the job and getting their tyres to work. His comments during winter testing were that he was very happy with the tyres, and now he seems to have changed his tune.”

    OUCH, that hurt!. He’s right, though… frustration talking? I think Pirelli’s job has been brilliant ever since they returned to the sport. This kind of racing is all because of the tyres, not the KERS or the DRS.

    1. What kind of racing? I mean, it’s entertaining, but the racing this season is certainly lacking. Schumacher is spot on, to be perfectly frank. Pirelli need to reassess their artificially degrading tires. Moments where cars are pushing to the limit to catch another car or to make their strategy work simply won’t happen any more. No more Schumacher in Hungary 98, no more Webber in Hungary 2010 (obviously many more, but these popped into my head). I hate it

      1. Absolutely! The driver cant keep pushing, which is what we want to see, which is what F1 should be all about.

        1. That’s the reason why we don’t have any accidents this year ….. except Maldonados incident in Melbourne where he was pushing like crazy for Fernados position because he had younger and softer tyres (plus he is crazyyyyy!).

          In 2011 the tyres had bigger “window of operation” and lasted longer. This year they don’t have “window of operation”…… they have a “tiny slot” and they are even softer!!!!! This is due to achieve the “fall of the cliff”, the sudden loss of performance. So drivers who push in 100% for the whole race (Lewis, Massa, MSC) can’t do what they are good at. If they do it, they should stop for tyres every 7 laps…..

          1. We know all that, whats your point?

      2. Completely agree. Finally someone has come out and said what I’ve been thinking and from a man that’s raced on all sorts of different tyres and under different regulations. I want to see RACING from the best drivers in the world. At the moment, the driver is fixated with nursing the tyres through to the next pit stop, not in catching the car ahead. Formula 1 has become more like Le Mans – an endurance race.
        For example when I saw Hamilton’s move on Roberg, my first thought was – I hope he hasn’t pushed too hard early on and damaged the tyres. This isn’t what racing is about!!
        I hear all of the people that say there’s more overtaking but is there really? Most of the overtakes aren’t competitive but are highly one sided due to the state of the car’s tyres.
        For those of you out there that enjoy this current form of “racing” then good luck to you. For me it’s artificial, dumbed-down and doesn’t allow us to see the true talent of the drivers out there.

      3. So you hated it when we had more than one tyre manufacturer in F1 then? Because that’s what happened, your tyres wore out, you pusher harder they wore out faster. The current situation is as close to proper racing on the tyres as you can get with a single tyre manufacturer.

        1. I’m with this man.

          Tyres are essential in all motorsports. Some(many) people need to get a clue. All the current F1 drivers get the idea that tyres are there to be pushed or taken care of(whatever situation requires) from the day they started driving in Karting.

        2. No what you have here is the ATTEMPT to create “proper” racing. Having grown up and raced in may forms of motor racing I understand the importance of looking after tyres, engine, gearbox etc. This is part and parcel of motor racing. But when you see racing drivers obsessed with preserving tyres to the detriment of RACING you know you’ve got the balance in the sport wrong. That’s the point Schumacher was making and i agree whole heartedly. I’m sure it creates some fun and entertainment for lots of non-racers out there, but I for one will never get excited by the current tyre management needed in F1 – it’s playing far too dominant a role at the moment.

      4. I’m with Schumacher, Pirelli tyres are getting way too much attention. Drivers should be given the opportunity to push their cars to the limit.

        1. Either you have tyres that force drivers to kook after them or you have tyres that don’t require replacing. Take you pick.

    2. I agree with Schumacher.
      The only point (IMHO) is I believe Bernie Ecclestone is behind this. It is not Pirelli’s fault.

    3. Everyone always goes on about how DRS is artificial, but IMO the way in which the tyres need to be placed into a certain “heat zone” that is completely out of a drivers hands to even work makes the racing even more artificial than the effect the DRS has.

      1. @infy It has always been possible for a driver to overheat or insufficiently heat their tyres. The difference now is it’s been made more difficult.

        Which, given that we’re talking about a sport for professional racing drivers, seems to me to be a good thing.

        1. But the point is its playing far too dominant role at the moment. The skill set of an F1 driver is extensive – lightning reflexes, amazing car control, ability to turn and brake to incredibly consistencies each lap, to feel the grip and balance in a car, and to manage the car and its tyres. At the moment, if you get the sweetspot of the tyres right then none of these other skills matter too much – Sunday was a perfect example of this as was Rosberg last week.
          Tyre management is a skill but it’s just way too dominant at the moment and it’s detracting from the racing. That was Michael’s point and of all the drivers on the grid (past and present) he’s pretty well qualified to make such a judgement.

        2. But that is the problem. The way the car makes the tyres work through the design of the car, completely takes that control out of the drivers hands. Sure the driver still has about 10% margin to work with, but 90% of it is due to the car.

          Look at when Parez too 2nd – It was not due to his ability to warm the tires up, it was due to his cars design.

          1. F1 has always been 80-90% outside driver control. Car, team pit stops, strategy re fuel & no stops

    4. @fer-no65 I must admit I smiled when I read that. There’s a rebuttal for you!

      However when I first heard about Schumacher’s complaints I was expecting worse from him. I thought his complaint was actually quite measured and reasonable. Not sure if I agree with him though.

    5. For the first time ever, I agree 100% with Schumi

    6. It’s not really about the degradation of the tyres but more about the “sweet spot” of the tyre. It almost turns to luck race, one team having the luck to operate in that sweet spot will have an incredible race and have a subsential advantage. Some people will repply that it is up to the team to reach and operate in that sweet spot but as any change are allowed to the car between saturday and sunday, it’s quite ridiculous as the weather could change enough to modify how those tyres will work (as we heard 2-3 °C are enough to be in or out the optimal use of tyres).

      Maybe that’s what can be worked on … But definitly tyre degradation and tyre management would always be big part of the race. And the best way to avoid the luck of the sweet spot would be to widen the window of operation

    7. I completely agree with Schumi… Tyres have made this season and last one more interesting but it’s not racing anymore! it’s becoming sort of calculation and strategy. I say we have to try DRS and KERS with some lasting tyres…Pirelli took all the credit for close racing last season and I think they’re deliberately making tyres harder to maintain, so they remain the only reason for excitement of the show.

      1. My first comment would be to MS that Pirelli is only doing what they have been asked to do by the FIA. Make soft degrady tires. ie. provide mechanical grip. It is not toward Pirelli that MS should direct his complaints, and perhaps he has in fact complained to the FIA as well.

        MS should know all about having tires that suit vs. having tires that don’t suit…for a long time he had the luxury of designer tires on his car and everyone else was left to figure out how to make them work on their cars. That was in an era when there wasn’t even much passing on the track. Much of MS’s numbers compilation occured with him never having to pass a car on the track, but simply through pitting strategies. So I can see where he is frustrated now, just as others have been frustrated in the past when he(MS) benefitted from durable designer tires that were always there for him.

        I too wish there wasn’t such a small window of optimum operation for these tires, but if they were to be made more durable I would not want it to be by much…and I would ask that along with more stable yet grippy tires, they also take away DRS, take away their rear diffusers completely ie. greatly curtail the still-present over-dependance on aero, and then we will truly see some racing by the seat of driver’s pants.

        I also think that given some more races with these tires, the teams will start to figure out more setup possibilities, and just as they were new to everyone last year and yet by mid-season there were no surprises, same with this year…I think by mid-season the tires may no longer hold any surprises.

        And at least it is the same for everyone. Perhaps we will have to see how the ratings are come the end of the season to see if the people enjoyed more a season of the type we are experiencing so far with 4 races and 4 different winners. And if MS is still unhappy, but come the end of the day the ratings are up, his complaints will look as being more selfish than for the collective good of racing.

  3. the only difference between what rosberg and michael did was the lack of wall…tho more scary was that jutting out armco barrier. would of been horrible to hit that full speed as its not designed to hit at that angle.

    if what nico did was fine, then great but they need to be consistent for the rest of the season when michael, perez, petrov, lewis or alonso do it.

    but u know they wont.

    1. There is a significant difference – Schumi was alongside Barrichello when he moved to the right, forcing Barrichello nearly into the wall. However in both incidents today, Rosberg was fully ahead, without either Hamilton or Alonso being alongside him. Tough but fair defending if you ask me.

      1. You might want to look at the Schumacher incident again Casanova, it was very much like Rosbergs, he started moving over while Barrichello was still gaining on him.

        Similarly, Hamliton managed to get alongside before going off track, not completely but enough to warrant space as also mentioned by Alonso in his later incident. Further, why did Rosberg continue moving right when Hamilton was off the track? He moved so far across that he himself had two wheels off the circuit… That’s not defending, that’s blind aggression – akin to Schumacher in Hungary.

        His driving was extreme, as pointed out by (former driver and advisor to the stewards) Johnny Herbert.

        1. he himself had two wheels off the circuit

          Exactly. This clearly demonstrates the blind aggressivity of his action. At that point his move had nothing to do with fair defending, just driving the other car off the track.

          This fact alone would have merited a penalty for Rosberg.

        2. Take a look at both Schumacher’s and Rosberg’s incidents again. Rosberg dived to the inside line as soon as he made the turn, and closed the door completely before the following driver got beside him.

          Schumacher covered the inside line after the last turn, but gave enough space for a driver to still squeeze on the inside. Once Barrichello got down the inside, beside Schumacher’s car, Schumacher decided to close the door further… knowing that there is a WALL there.

          There is a huge difference between shutting the door immediately (like Rosberg did)… and leaving a little space like Schumacher did, only to squeeze the driver when he is beside him, and into a WALL.

          1. HewisLamilton
            23rd April 2012, 16:17

            You make a fine point, but I am having trouble interpreting the rules to fit the scenerio you lay out. Where do the rules state at which point in a turn or straight can a driver make a move to defend? I don’t think it matters where you are on track, the rule is static.

        3. I agree mate. In Hungary 2010, Schumacher was moving towards the wall but he never swiped across Rubens very aggressively. If you watched the video, it was Rubens who decided to go further on the inside. I am not saying that Schumi didn’t deserved a penalty but it was Rubens who decided to go on the inside in spite knowing that there was a wall and Schumi was heading in that direction itself.

          What Rosberg did was legally correct (unfortunately) but in racing terms, it was dirty!

    2. schumacher left enough room.

      didnt look like he was going to, but he did.

    3. The explanation from the stewards provides instructive insight into the differences between Rosberg’s driving yesterday and Schumacher’s at the Hungaroring in 2010:

      Rosberg, Hamilton and Alonso cleared over incidents

  4. I thought I might re-post this story that I found yesterday, but people might not have it see yet: McLaren team wins a seat on the board as float of Formula 1 looms.

    My theory about the new Concorde Agreement is that Bernie wants to reset the historical multiplier. We know that teams get paid more at the end of the year based on their historical value to the championship. Only three teams – Ferrari, McLaren and Williams – really benefit from this, because they’ve each been in the sport for more than thirty years. But neither McLaren nor Williams have won anything since the 1990s, so we’re in a very unusual situation in which they are basically being paid more than other teams simply because they showed up. This is particularly evident in the case of Williams, who scored five points in 2011, but were probably paid more than teams like Force India and Toro Rosso. I think Bernie is trying to bring the historical multiplier forward to 2000, and restructure the payment system to reward recent success. Teams that win World Championships would be entitled to a share in the sport. Personally, I think this is a much better system, and one that has been long overdue. If it goes ahead this way, then I think it will guarantee the future of the sport.

    The problem is that the al Khalifa family own 40% of McLaren, and so they represent a major barrier to Bernie’s plans. McLaren have not won a World Constructors’ Championship since the 1990s (though they did score a World Drivers’ Championship in 2008), so asking them to give up the money they would automatically be entitled to is asking a lot. The article suggests that in exchange for the al Khalifas throwing their support behind the new Concorde, Bernie had to make sure the Bahrain Grand Prix took place. With Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren in hand, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get everyone else to agree.

    It’s not a perfect theory. There are no doubt gaping holes in it that I’ve overlooked. But it is the only thing that I can think of that explains Bernie’s actions in offering one of the oldest and one of the youngest teams the same deal, why McLaren were so vote for it despite it being a seemingly-bad deal (McLaren only gave their support in China, when the FIA confirmed Bahrain was going ahead) and why the race in Bahrain took place despite all logic and reason. So if it is true, the question now becomes a case of whether or not holding the race in Bahrain was worth getting the al Khalifa’s vote through McLaren to guarantee a new Concorde.

    1. You have argued as a trained expert that 40% is not a controlling interest, so I ask you, why should Mclaren and Bernie care about NOT going to Bahrain. Otherwise a plausible conclusion.

      1. 40% is not a controlling interest, but the remaining 60% is divided between Ron Dennis and TAG. Individually, they don’t have the power to override the al Khalifas – and it would be very bad for the team to have a shareholder with a 40% stake in the team disagreeing with the other shareholders. It could potentially divide the team in two.

        1. I rest my case.

          1. What case? If the al Khalifas did not approve of the proposal under the new Concorde – whatever it might be – then it could slow down the entire negotiation process and jeopardise McLaren’s future in the sport. The owners of the team would need to reconcile their differences before McLaren could agree to anything, because the al Khalifas could reasonably do anything with their 40% stake. And while negotiations over the Concorde could progress even with McLaren in an indecisive state, Bernie needs them on-board – along with Ferrari and Red Bull – as soon as possible. Especially since Mercedes are being difficult. McLaren are the biggest team in FOTA, and they still have a lot of pull with a lot of the smaller, non-manufacturer teams. Force India and Marussia both have technical partnerships with McLaren, so they may wait to see what McLaren does first before committing one way or another to a new Concorde. The whole process could grind to a halt with as many as three teams (plus Mercedes) in a holding pattern until McLaren’s issues are resolved. That’s why Bernie needs them on-side as soon as possible, and it may explain why he agreed to hold the Bahrain Grand Prix.

        2. The case I argued with you last week that the al Khalifas 40% of Mclaren was a controlling interest ,or good as re. Mclarens support of Bahrain .

        3. @prisoner-monkeys According to Joe Saward the Mumtalakat is currently holding 50% of the shares.

          1. According to this press release Mumtalakat owned 42% of McLaren Group, 50% of McLaren Automotive in 2010

        4. TAG and Ron Dennis have an agreement to always vote together though, making their 60% always overrule the 40 % @prisoner-monkeys

      2. Controlling interests are not defined by the percentage, but the detail of the contracts of investment. Something we probably cannot know. Some organisations require 75% agreement on certain issues otherwide they cannot proceed.

        Re: Ownership of F1 rights and distribution of income.
        This is a highly complex matter, and since no one ever gets to see the concorde agreements (1 was published in 2005 – I think it was the 1997 agreement) , we can glean what we can from registered companies financial accounts and reports.

        The Group that owns the rights to F1 is owned ultimately by Delta Topco, a Jersey–based company owned by CVC Capital Partners’ funds (approximately 70%) and JPMorgan (approximately 20%). Bernie Ecclestone’s family trust owns the remainder apart from small shares held by financial advisers and Ecclestone himself.

        Without getting into the complex web of comapnies in this group, the commercial rights to F1 have been granted for in effect 100 years. This was an agreement between Max Moseley (as then head of FIA) and Bernie Ecclestone.

        Max was Bernies legal advisor in the times of what is referred to as the FISA-FOCA war (1979-1981).
        FOCA and Bernie represented the teams
        FISA was an organization subordinate to the FIA which was at that time the rule-making body for Formula One

        This “war” resulted in several races being cancelled. Goodyear threatened to withdraw entirely from Formula One, an event which would have been commercially disastrous for the sport, so Ecclestone organized a meeting of team managers, and FISA representatives at the offices of the FIA in the Place de la Concorde, Paris, France. On January 19, 1981, after thirteen straight hours of negotiation, all parties present signed the first Concorde Agreement, named after the plaza in Paris where the discussions took place.

        The real purpose of the concorde agreements was to stop the uncertainty (eg races cancelled etc) and the teams would commit to appear at every race scheduled and in turn receive a % of the commercia revenues. This allowed rights to be sold to TV company’s etc to generate incremental revenue for F1.

        Later Max became head of the FIA, and some say returned the favour to Bernie in the granting of the commercial rights for 100 years for $1m a year.
        the fourth concorde agreementIn 1995 the FIA decided to transfer Formula One’s commercial rights from FOCA to Formula One Administration for a 14-year period. In exchange, Ecclestone would provide an annual payment. McLaren, Williams and Tyrrell, protested by rejecting the proposed Concorde Agreement (negotiations for which started as early as 1993). Ken Tyrrell in particular was enraged by the fact that Ecclestone, as President of FOCA had negotiated the transfer of the rights from the organization to his own company. Tyrrell also objected to the addendum to the Agreement being secret, arguing that secrecy surrounding the agreement benefited only Ecclestone (by weakening the bargaining power of the other parties).

        The three teams refused to sign the proposed Concorde Agreement, initially with the support of the remaining teams. However on September 5, 1996 the new Concorde Agreement was signed by all the teams except McLaren, Williams and Tyrrell. The agreement was to run from January 1, 1997 to 2002 (1)
        The fifth concorde agreementBy taking a stand against the actions of Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA and the wider commercial aspects of Formula One, McLaren, Williams and Tyrrell lost both influence in the sport and income which they would have received as signatories. A compromise was reached and on August 27, 1998, the 1998 Concorde Agreement was signed which accommodated the three teams and which expired on December 31, 2007 (2)

        In 2009 after a row over rules, the teams threatened to form a breakaway World Championship (with the exception of Williams and Force India who had contractual arrangements with the FIA).

        This matter was resolved and the 6th concorde agreement was signed.

        The holders of the commercial rights are believed to make $500-750m profit a year.

        In conclusion, regardless of what happened between Max Moseley and Bernie Ecclestone over the commercial rights, the teams always have the option to form a new Championship by not signing the concorde agreement this year. But time is running out.

        1. sorry sources (1) Wikipedia: 4th Concorde Agreement
          (2) Wikipedia 5th concorde agreement
          (and should have been quotes too – editing a bit tricky on the site)

          1. Thank you for the research and clear precis. Whatever way you slice it the rights holders get way to much money for the service they perform.

  5. Schumacher couldn’t be more right. Admittedly, the grands prix have been relatively exciting so far this season, but the racing itself has been pretty lacklustre. I want to see these drivers race, and not just tip toe around the circuit waiting for each other’s tires to fall off to make a DRS pass. I certainly think that tyre conservation should play a role in grands prix, but the Pirellis have taken too extreme of an approach. It seems like cars take all of Friday setting up their cars for the race, but if the temperature drops 5 degrees, the tires just don’t work. I want to see these guys go wheel to wheel and push their cars to the limits, knowing their tires won’t just fall off a cliff.

    1. We didn’t see any wheel to wheel racing with the Bridgestones, whereas we do with the Pirellis. If the tyres were a single bit more stable, every team would follow the same trend and we’d have a dull season, as we did with the Bridgestones.

      1. @fer-no65 I know, I could hardly stay awake during 2010…

        1. @nick-uk – Much like 2007, the championship was close, but the individual races weren’t great in 2010. By far the best rated races were the wet ones, and the one where the tyres went off too quickly.

    2. I have been enjoying the races so far this season, but I do see your point. Bridgestone seem to be getting a rough ride here, but when I think to some of the races like Suzuka 2005, Imola 2005/06, Spa 2008, where the driver behind could really push to catch the driver in front for the lead towards the end of the race without having to worry that they might burn out the tyres, I do think Pirelli have maybe gone too far with this.

      Yesterday I felt that Raikkonen was faster than Vettel and that we were going to see one of those great end of race battles for the lead that Kimi has so often been involved in. And yet, I just felt that he could never really push on in that final stint for fear of wearing out the tyres and it was frustrating to watch. Of course, Vettel would have had to nurse his tyres too, but when the deciding factor becomes who has to nurse their tyres the most, I think it’s gone a bit too far.

      And for those who say about dull seasons on the Bridgestones – I have to say that I didn’t find any of their final six seasons boring from 2005 to 2010. In fact, I’ve been watching Formula 1 since 1998 and personally I think 2008 was the best season I’ve ever seen. And then there was 2009 – a season like this one is shaping up to be – where the balance of power swings wildly from race to race and you can never quite predict who will be on top next time out. That season was run on Bridgestones too.

      That’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying the races this season, I have enjoyed them very much. I just feel that sometimes, like yesterday, the Pirellis can detract from the action rather than add to it. Having said that, without the tyres working the way they do, would we have even seen Raikkonen and Vettel where they were in the first place? That’s a question we will never know the answer too.

  6. Interesting comment here from Franz Tost:
    “First of all, I want to thank His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa Crown Prince, the FIA, its President Jean Todt as well as Bernie Ecclestone and the organisers, especially their Chairman Zayed R. Alzayani for their work in ensuring this race took place. From our perspective, we encountered no problems, neither at the race track nor in Manama.”

    He was the only team boss that saw fit to comment on the matter after the race, and said that before even commenting on his team#s performance. Why are STR so keen to kiss up to the powers that be?

    1. prob slipped him a couple of mill to say nice things

    2. Isn’t STR looking for a buyer?

    3. I believe they’ve had some recent Middle-Eastern investment on top of the Cepsa deal.

  7. I would like to support Schumi re tyres, I do not blame Pirrelli , they have shown immense skill in delivering exactly what Bernie asked for as an alternative to engine development.
    My preference is for a team to be able to opt for a no stop strategy on a tyre consistently good for the whole race with the option-tyre being slightly faster but lasting a little less than half distance. This would allow for 3 different strategies but minimal tyre conservation. You can work it out.

    1. +1. I agree with just about everybody on this. I appreciate those that say they don’t like the artificiality of the racing the tyres brings and I also appreciate those that say the racing is exciting and better than having a bridgstone bullet proof tyres.

      The only problem I have is what is the alternative to what we have bearing in mind we want action on track but want/need it to be cheap.

      1. I say slightly more durable tires, but only slightly…no DRS, no rear diffusers at all, ie. much less aero dependancy…grippy and not bullet-proof tires. Cheap solutions to action on the track.

  8. Agree completely with SChui! The tyres should be able to be pushed without degrading! Wearing out is a different matter alltogether.

  9. Even the main grandstand looked empty, the back straight stand looked closed except for a couple of what could have been cleaners or, more likely, security guards.

  10. Is it just me, or have all the concerns and complaints about tyres only started to come up now that Vettel has won a race? Outside each team trying to understand how the tyres behaved, nobody cared too much in Australia, Malaysia and China. But now that Vettel has won a race, there’s suddenly all this talk that there is too much emphasis on tyre management. I’m not just talking about Schumacher’s comments; I’ve seen a lot of fans start complaining about it almost overnight, many of whom I know liked the tyres in the first three races.

    I guess it just goes to show that Vettel is even more of a polarising figure in Formula 1 than Hamilton and Alonso and Raikkonen have been in the past.

    1. MSC knows that he has a race winning car, but is unable to exploit it perfectly. So given the current situation, his frustration comes out in the open. Now we all know what unites people in this forum, mutual hatred for Vettel

      1. Great stuff Schummi!

        In China Pirelli help them to win GP, cause other drivers were busy fighting and using up their tyres and as result not pressuring Rosberg – it’s all great.

        Now result goes against them – it’s bad.

        I think Pirelli’s press release regarding Schumii’s statement explains it all.

        Not only we get wheel to wheel racing, we also get close racing where drivers are able to dice without taking each other out cause there was no leverage in tyres. Now if they want to do a risky move they know they have to pay for it in term of degradation.

        Kimi starting 11th flew through everyone to 2nd. Shummi in same situation and even slower cars in front was not able to repeat the feat, I don’t think tyres are to blame.

        1. In fairness, Schumacher did gain 12 positions and only qualified back there due to car issues. I think his comments are out of frustration that he’s retired from 2 podium finishes with mechanical failures and was spun out of the other race by Grosjean.

          1. True. I think Michael is the unluckiest driver of 2012 so far and he’s just venting his frustration.

        2. “Now if they want to do a risky move they know they have to pay for it in term of degradation”.

          And here in lies the flaw in your argument. If you like scalectrix and synchronised overtaking then these tyres are great. If you want genuine racing with people pushing the cars and each other to limit….watch something else. Personally i’m getting sick of the watching le mans racing in the form of formula 1.

    2. It’s just you, there have been numerous criticisms of the tyres unpredictability and the way the marbles build up. Schui just confirmed what many of us feared, that drivers trying to pass a competitive car will lose out to tyre wear if they continue to skirmish, better to form a train and hope to pass in the pits.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys
        It has absolutely nothing to do with Vettel winning. I, and numerous others, raised this issue on Friday. The problem has been slowly growing on me, and I felt I needed to express it this weekend.

        What Pirelli did in 2011 was certainly a breath of fresh air, and heightened the entertainment, but what they’ve done this year has simply gone too far. Steve Matchet commented that teams are no longer pushing the limits of their car when they race- the drivers are simply matching a delta time set up by their engineers to make sure their tires last for a suitable time. No more “let’s push it, driver x” or “We can hunt him down”, it’s now “tires are looking good, don’t push too hard”, or “keep this pace, we think his tires will wear out before yours”. I just think there’s something fundamentally wrong with that. The only time a 3 stop strategy should be used in a race is when a driver chooses to do so because he’s gonna push like hell in all 4 stints, rather than because he has no other choice because his tires will fall apart.

        I guess my main problem is that this artificial degrading tires are just that- artificial. They’re just a completely artificial handicap. Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear- all these companies sought to make the besttires that would be used on hopefully the bestcar with the bestdriver. The idea that a tire supplier should not do its job to make the best product possible for the teams, and to create tires that are incredibly temperamental and purposely poor, just is not what F1 is about.

        Most of all, I hate to see the real racers affected by this. Guys like Button look like geniuses now because the tires suit his (relatively) slow and gentle driving style. Other drivers, like Schumacher, Webber, and Hamilton, have simply been neutered by these stupid rules. It’s kind of like the governing body for track and field telling all athletes that running shoes are now banned, so those who can inherently run more gently will now win because their feet won’t blister. I, for one, would be completely okay with the races being slightly less wheel to wheel and exciting if that meant the sport would be more pure and let the fastest drivers win.

        1. I think it’s too soon to judge 2012 Pirellis.

          What I’m sure about that I enjoy watching drivers being able to follow each other close to set up overtakes, rather than cars rely on pit stops to do the overtaking. It’s sad that in China actual racing line was so narrow that you didn’t have much space. Bahrain on other hand provided good action.

          I think Pirelli did exactly what F1 asked them to do, we’ll have to wait till 2013, maybe by then we we’ll know what we want :)

          1. Great comment Alex. I didn’t see yesterdays race, but from the racing we had so far this year, it seems that Pirelli certainly did what F1 asked them to do so far, which is provide close racing.

            I do think that it is important to watch for a balance, as it wouldn’t be good if every one just hung behind others until their tyres got old enough, or pit-stops happen, which could be the case if the tyres are too fragile for too many drivers/teams, but a tyre that last the race w/o problem is the other extreme, and not a good thing, as Bridgestone showed us.

        2. Beautifully put. At this rate they should change the title from World Drivers’ Champion to Worlds’ Most Gentle on Tyres Champion. If we keep going down this route Jenson Button will have more world championships than Ayrton Senna. That says it all.

          1. sure because JB only won those astonishing races last year because he was keen on looking after his tires…. not because he was a beast when needed— or take Australia for example, where he outpaced the rest of the field like no other…..

    3. @prisoner-monkeys To be honest I’d say it was more to do with the fact that a driver finally hit out against the tyres and people now have a news story to discuss and express their opinion on.

      I’m in two minds over the tyres. I understand the complaints and to an extent agree with them. I also think they have potentially cost drivers like Hamilton and Webber future titles as their style just isn’t suited to this type of racing.

    4. We’ve heard lots of talk about tyres at every GP this year! But it is a complete surprise to hear Schumacher complaining about the need to take care of them so much, at the expense of racing full out.

    5. Is it just me, or have all the concerns and complaints about tyres only started to come up now that Vettel has won a race?

      It’s just you. We’ve had this debate many times over the last 2 years. Obviously, now that a driver has come out and said something it makes things different, but I doubt that Schumacher has chosen now to say something because Vettel won a race, more like he’s just fed up with coasting around preserving the tyres.

      Interestingly, on James Allen’s blog more people agree than disagree with Schumacher.

      1. Yeah it seems Merc as one example has been explaining all along that in race one and two the situation was the variable temperatures throughout the weekend which caught them out with the wrong setup to achieve optimum tire performance come Sunday. Race three was obviously night and day different for them. And now race four has held another result that more resembles struggle. ie. I don’t think we are just hearing about this now that SV has won a race.

        I don’t thing MS is wrong is wanting more stable tires, but I don’t think it is up to Pirelli to go against the FIA’s mandate on their own. MS should be complaining to the FIA to see if he can get them to have Pirelli change their tires. And maybe he has.

        I too would like to see drivers able to push their cars to the limit on more stable tires, but I also want to see the DRS removed, and I wonder what MS would have to say about that…of course for now he would love better tires AND to keep their DRS and trick front wing. But I don’t think it should be both. I think we need mechanical grip for seat of the pants passing and they need to get away from aero dependancy. MS wants tires to not be an issue to hard racing, and he wants the benefit of DRS too presumably. I say one or the other but not both. They have to get away from aero dependancy and more toward emphasizing mechanical grip.

  11. Im with Schumacher on the tyres, we are back to the reason why re-fueling was banned, most passes happen in the pitting stage then 70% of on track passes are “fake” DRS passes, I wonder what Senna would think of “fake” tires and DRS passes?

    1. Active suspension, not controlled electronic regulations and when all fails, change direction 5 times to avoid being overtaken. What are you talking about?

      Your comment about re-fulling is exactly why overtaking was so bad. You had bridgestone tyres that can be pushed to it’s limit every single lap same as carbon brakes vs iron. This escalates importance of aerodynamics and makes it very difficult for guy behind you to overtake cause he is already on limit of his physical grip and any slight change in his downforce will result in total loss of mechanical grip, not just reduction. Unless you had straight line advantage it was difficult to follow car through corners to set up an overtake.

      At the end of the day, rules same for all teams.

    2. @harvs Assuming you mean Ayrton Senna I doubt it really matters what he would really think. Besides, he went to Williams when they had active suspension just before it was banned so he’s just as ‘guilty’ as anyone else.

  12. Great comment from Hempbrey. Sure, Schumacher can voice his opinion, that’s important. However, the tyres won’t be changing any time soon, why would they? No one else has complained.

    1. I vaguely remember Hamilton complaining when the tyres first came in but I don’t think he’s said anything sense.

  13. I think “tire comment” coming from the-guy-who-came-back-but-haven’t-been-on-podium-for-two-seasons-and-counting.. is not because of the Finger Boy’s return (also one commenter corretly noted that tires was super-mega in last GP where teammate won), but because the-other-guy-who-came-back-on-his-fourth-race-is-on-podium.

    1. Seems indeed like a likelier explanation @maldikons, if any more than just Schumacher being frustrated with not getting a good result from any of the four races we had is needed :)

    2. Or Rosberg winning last week of course.

    1. Bernie’s comments about Albert Park not being neede are just standard Bernie tactics. There’s still three years on the contract, and Bernie no doubt wants the Australian Grand Prix organisers to get things sorted out because every year (with the exception of 2012, oddly), there is a local political uproar over the cost of the race going ahead.

  14. Thanks for the Comment of the Day Keith :)

  15. @mpw1985 Firstly we used to have tyres that were made of granite covered with rubber, they were called the Bridgestones. Pirelli have actually tried to reduce the performance gap between the tyre compounds and they said so at the beginning of the year.

    Secondly, why is it that some drivers could extract so much out of their tyres? Di Resta successfully executed a 2 stop strategy, although the tyres were gone at the end as he said. Perez and Kobayashi do it with success on many occaisions. Even last year Vettel could manage his tyres. You say that such a characteristic does not suit Hamilton, Webber and Schumi, but isn’t that part of the skill required. A race lasts 55 laps on average. What made yesterday interesting was that tyre degradation differs from car to car. Its one of the few mechanical variables left in this sport.

    Lastly, many people thought about bringing back the tyre war era. I haven’t seen races from that period so I wouldn’t know but from a perspective of the sport I think doing so would only make this sport costlier. When tyres were made for Ferrari and Schumi, they dominated the sport for 5 years, without giving anyone a chance. There is no telling such a situation wont occur again. You’ve had 4 winners from 4 teams from 4 races this year. If anything tyre wear helped majorly in that. Also, tyre wear probably allowed Perez to gain 2nd, something I doubt would happen if the top teams paid top bucks to design their own spec tyres.

  16. Wow, 28000 people attended the race. Just think, the British GP has been under threat so often, but yet always has a big crowd of FANS. I think this just says it all about F1 really and what it now stands for.

    1. 88,000 fans attended Friday free practice at Silverstone last year.

  17. below a driver’s, and in particular, the car’s limits to maintain the tyres.”

    I just see it as there is a new limit that everyone has to adjust to. I never had a problem with the Bridgestone tyres really as I loved seeing the drivers go flat out but Pirelli so far have been great for entertainment.

    Congrats on COTD Slr

  18. I think drivers having to go deliberately slowly to now ruin their tyres is, frankly, an insult to racing fans. I accept it is the same for everyone etc. etc, but when the very fastest drivers are effectively penalized for their talent it seems to me something has gone very wrong.

    1. @paulguitar – I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill here. If we look back at Bahrain, there were extenuating circumstances that might explain why the Pirellis were hyper-sensitive to change:

      1) The teams had no data on how the Pirelli tyres would behave. Whatever data they did have was at least three years out of date (as the race used the extended circuit in 2010).

      2) The temperatures were consistently high all weekend. The track surface was at least forty degrees Celsius on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Moreover, it was dry; Singapore and Sepang might be hot, but they’re also in the tropics, which makes them humid. As far as I know, the Pirelli tyres have never been used in such extreme conditions.

      3) The circuit has not been used in two years. The surface has since been exposed to the elements; just look at how much sand was coating the circuit when the teams first arrived.

      So in the end, I don’t think this is a case of drivers being forced to run at 90% of what they are truly capable of for fear of damaging their tyres. I think that there are certain anomalous incidents that come together to form a very challenging set of circumstances for drivers to manage their tyres in. Utimately, the degradation experienced in Bahrain will prove to be the exception, and not the rule.

      1. Interesting stuff. I certainly hope you’re right, and that Bahrain was something of a ‘one-off’ situation.

        1. Well, I’m not totally downplaying the sensitivity of the Pirellis. They are sensitive, but I don’t think they should be changed because of that. Tyre management has always been an essential skill for drivers, since the tyres are (ideally) the only part of the car in contact with the circuit. So the idea that a driver needs to figure out how to get the most out of them is nothing new – just look at the 1980s, where we saw the super-sticky qualifying tyres that were good for two laps: the out-lap and the flying lap. A single error would cost a driver dearly. I think that’s an element of racing that shouldn’t be overlooked, because if you take that away, then you’ll start taking away other elements of racing. Pit stops? They slow drivers down, so they can’t be good. The grid? The drivers at the back are at a disadvantage, so everyone should start alongside one another. Corners? A driver might make a mistake, so let’s get rid of them, too. Eventually, it’s jsut glorified drag racing.

          Formula 1 drivers are supposed to be the best drivers in the world. When they’re getting paid millions of dollars, you kind of expect them to be able to earn their keep. So I think life on the track should be as difficult as possible for them.

          1. Well, I understand what you are saying, and I also enjoyed the witty way you make your point. As a purist though, what I really want to see is drivers being able to attack without compromise. What worries me is that qualifying will be the only real chance these days to see what a driver can do totally on ability alone, without worrying about wrecking his tyres.

  19. In the wake of all the Bahrain fallout, this story slipped under the radar – Bernie says a deal has been done with the French to hold a race at Paul Ricard in 2013. All that remains now is the signing of the contract.

    1. Meanwhile Sarkozy’s behind in the first round of voting so perhaps it’s not such a done deal.

      1. I sense a repeat of Valencia is on the cards – Bernie will wait until the new government comes in before finalising anything. The difference is that the incumbent party probably won’t stay in power, but Bernie will have thought of that. When he’s dealing with the French government, it would be hard to ignore the upcoming elections and public opinion of the people he is dealing with when he is trying to secure a race. For all his criticisms, he hasn’t gotten to where he is by making a glaring oversight like ignoring the possibility that the people signing the contract might not be around for much longer and their successors may not be open to the idea of a race using public money. At the very least, he will have approached the strongest candidates running for the presidency and gotten their assurances that if they win, they will be open to the idea of supporting a race.

    2. another Bernie owned track huh?

  20. Schumacher’s comment about Pirelli exposes the fragile nature of an old man who is unable to capitalize on a race-win worthy car. If Pirelli is the sole reason preventing drivers from pushing others (no reference to Nico), then why is his 2010 record so abysmal? Three 4th places in which at least one of the leading cars crashed out and finishing 9th, 64 points adrift of Kubica(not comparing to Nico) and finishing in the middle of nowhere. Having watched races in the refueling era, no tyre change era and the Bridgestone era, Pirelli is the best thing to have happened to Formula one in a very long time for one single reason – quality of action, something Bridgestone failed to deliver. Either you get quality racing or rock hard tyres, never both.
    As for Nico’s action involving Hamilton and Alonso, what he did was within the rule book, but that doesn’t necessarily mean what he did was right.
    On a completely different story, the usual hatred for Vettel seems to have dissipated and it comes as a surprise that McLaren fans are taking sides and fighting among themselves. This championship (both WCC and WDC) is McLaren’s to lose. They have the car, they have the drivers, and they just don’t have the results. At least their inability to extract the best from the car so far has created a very good championship battle. Too early, but McLaren are still the favorites because in the development race McLaren are the frontrunners. Red Bull has fluffed 3 straight chances at the Chinese GP starting 2010, but that didn’t create that much of a furor compared to the Bahrain pit-stop debacle. Hamilton trailing Vettel just shows that race wins matter more than consistency, hopefully the old (pre-2009) Lewis will be back.

    1. Pirelli is the best thing to have happened to Formula one in a very long time for one single reason – quality of action

      I think you’re confusing quality with quantity. The quality of the passing has been pretty average these last 2 years from what I remember because people are worried about damaging their tyres. You can forget your gutsy wobbly back end management by throwing one up the inside, now just wait until your opponents tyres go off, get better traction out of turn N and sail past – thus creating another ‘overtake’ to enter into your excel spreadsheet of F1 entertainment.

      I appreciate that most people seem to love these Pirelli tyres and the random action it has created, but there is a minority out there that need to speak up and make themselves heard – thankfully Schumacher has opened up the debate.

      1. The minority hero Schumacher has opened up because he has the same points as Ferrari’s poor driver Massa. Other than that nothing.

        1. I’m sure you’re right actually @ridiculous about that, he’s also probably frustrated after Nico won last week of course. The reasons why he spoke out doesn’t make his point any less valid however.

          I understand your point of view, hopefully you understand mine too?

          1. Yeah, for sure, Shumi is having a bit of a cry over the Pirelli tyres. To me, it’s not so much the tyres that are the problem, its the refuelling ban. It obviously, makes no sense, to have tyres that last, say 10 laps, yet put 60 laps of fuel in. Just have 10 laps of fuel & tyres that only last 10 laps and blast around like that.

    2. Nobody using the name Karthikeyan should be calling Michael Schumacher slow.

  21. FIA should ask Pirelli to improve the durability of their tyres. Now F1 is all about tyres and its getting frustrating. Schumacher is spot on. We no more see drivers pushing 100% and always in tyre-saving mode. This is not real F1, this is not the pinnacle of motorsport. I think Bridgestone like tyres + DRS is a better choice, better balance of racing and show. Currently the balance between racing and show or racing and saving tyres is not right. Also this tyre-saving thing is hurting the hard racers like Hamilton, Schumacher, Kobyashi…etc because they are always in tyre saving mode and their on the limit driving superiority gets evened out.

  22. Well i do not think that we can not have a good season without pirelli’s tyres. C’mon when you look in the past the cars weren’t that concentrated on aerodynamics the tyres weren’t falling off after 10 laps but we did have good racing. A real formula 1 fan doesn’t mind when a driver can not overtake one because the other is defending so well thats racing, racers do not lover tyres falling off, drs and etc. which makes it too easy to overtake.

    1. Overtaking should not be artificially hard either.

  23. Had a few texts today from friends in 2 different teams. General consensus is whatever Bernie says they’re not going to Bahrain next year. One of them has had pressure from sponsors re: Brand damagement.

  24. Congratulations on a principled stand, Keith!

  25. I found Michael Schumacher’s comments interesting but at the same time I think he is trying to make excuses for not achieving the level of success he did in years gone by. Before I get torn apart by all the Schumacher fans out there, lets get on thing straight! Michael Schumacher is still, statistically, the most successfull F1 driver of all time with 91 wins and seven drivers titles. No one can take that away from him.
    However, the fact remains that since his return to F1 at the beginning of 2010 he has yet to achieve a podium finish nevermind a grands prix win. If anything, Nico Rosberg’s maiden victory in China recently only increases the pressure on a man who less than a decade ago was the high water mark in motorsports. When Schumacher was at Ferrari, he was the driver everybody wanted to beat year after year, and the man who won Ferrari’s first championship since 1979. It all seems along time ago now.
    Since Michael left the sport back in 2006, other drivers have come into the sport in the form of Hamilton and Vettel and have gone onto win titles. One can not help but look at Schumacher now, the only driver left in the sport who has raced against the likes of Senna and Prost, and think that he is yesterday’s news. Past his prime, and that maybe, just maybe, he should have stayed retired and allowed some young buck to partner Rosberg at Mercedes. Some will scoff at this!
    Kimi Raikkonen has returned after a two year layoff and almost won the Bahrain Grands Prix on Sunday. If he can do it, surely Michael can? In that, the big difference I can see is that Raikkonen is a decade younger than Schumacher. That is a huge gap in terms of fitness and what one can expect a person’s body to be able to do. Schumacher has always been super fit, but he is forty three years old, and is racing against some drivers who are young enough to be his children.
    I can understand the nostalgia of having Schumacher back in F1. Two years ago I thought it was great to see him back behind the wheel, and he still has that star appeal. However, when you read comments like these, I fear that this ship has finally sailed. How sad it would be if, like in Rubens Barrichello case, Schumacher’s F1 career ended in a wimper instead of something more befitting his talents.

    1. Further to what you have said…I’m not convinced it is an age thing, although your point is well made that KR is 10 years younger in his return to F1. And MS is old enough to have fathered some of the drivers on the track. But I think last year and this year he has shown pace. Enough pace to be competitive. I think it might only be a matter of him having the car hooked up like NR had in China.

      But there lies the rub. The tires, and getting hooked up.

      I too think MS is under pressure, having been outpointed by NR two years in a row, and now so far this season we all know what has transpired. This is unprecedented turf for MS. Virtually never in his F1 career has he not had the upper hand on his team. Even before contracts at Ferrari saw to it, he was strongarming his team to favour him and shutting out his teammates from getting his data, while insisting he have full access to theirs. ie. it has always been very one-sided in MS’s favour…the extreme example, unprecedented before and I predict never to be repeated again, was MS/Ferrari, and the numbers are reflected in it.

      So I think more significant than his age, which at worst might only be costing him a few tenths, is that as you point out it was a different time. MS had the best of the best treatment a driver can ever expect, including designer tires, but especially he had the equation of a competing teammate taken away from him by contract. Never did he have to have one sleepless night worrying about a teammate in the same car beating him…didn’t even matter if on occasion said driver outqualified him, defeat in the race was not an option by team design. That had a huge effect of removing a huge psychological burden from him, from race one of each season, season after season. Even if you agree with that team philosophy and are fine that we were robbed of true racing at MS/Ferrari (the opposite of Senna/Prost at Mac), the fact remains MS had it easy in a lot of ways. The most lavished, the most resourced, the most designer built car and tires a driver ever had, the contracted teammate, and still the bully. Even if you say he earned it and deserved it, they are still the facts.

      Now it is night and day different. MS’s presence alone at Mercedes has proved not to be enough to thwart NR. And without the designer car and tires on a team that is not the most resourced, with a teammate that not only is not under any contract to not compete, is in fact doing extremely well and has put MS in an uncomfortable and unprecedented spot.

      MS can lament the tires, and perhaps he is not wrong that they should be able to push their cars more and not be limited by said tires, but they are the same for everyone, and when he had designer tires everyone else had to adapt to his tires and try to make them work as well as he could in the car for which they were really built.

      I think MS lamenting the tires now, after having said he was happy with them in testing, is a sign of frustration all right…he needs to push now more than ever at a time when that can cost you the race…so it’s difficult…and it feels like a crapshoot…nail the setup/optimum tire performance window, or miss it completely and be handcuffed…and no more passing through pit strategies for the win like days of yore. Not even any more starting from the back and working yourself up in short order like last year. That now requires much more work and is a much more formidable task in a tighter field than last year.

      Sooooo night and day from how he had it. Life in F1 is so much more difficult now than how he had it. I think it is the stark difference, something KR as one example never had so doesn’t now have it in his past to lament over, that is showing itself in MS’s frustrated comments.

      1. Taking it a little further, and going with your comment about MS’s career potentially ending in a wimper, I think that may be what is on MS’s mind too. Imho, if MS has a pretty good year and he and NR end up pretty much equal with both of them sorting out the tire thing and getting some podiums, I can see MS doing a contract extension.

        But if it continues to go as it has been so far, NR outpointing him, while he spends the season not being able to push the car, having to baby the tires instead, making it only more frustrating as the season goes along, I think he will call it a career. He will have to see improvement in the current situation, and a reason for hope for next year, if he is going to consider continuing on. If eventually all he can envision for next year is more of being limited by the tires, as he sees it today, then I think he will not want to fight that fight.

        I believe it will get better for MS this year…he has had some bad luck and unreliability at a time when NR has had the weekend of his career…I think MS’s bad luck will improve, I think the team will start to get a better handle on the tires, but I also observe that for now NR is 6th in the WDC, MS is 15th…and the team is 5th in the WCC…worse than last year at a time when they have shown to have an effective F-duct front wing tied to the DRS that has shown great straightline speed. As I say, they have shown to have a race-winning car, so I think their standings in the WDC and WCC will improve this year from where they are, but I’m not convinced it will improve enough for MS to keep him in F1. Not given his competition on the other side of the garage.

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