Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Singapore, 2017

2017 title fight should have been closer – Alonso

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso gives his thoughts on the 2017 title fight and whether this year’s could go down to the wire.

Alonso was asked whether he expects this year’s title fight will be close:

Hopefully, it’s what we want. But I think this is the same thing every year. Last year, arguably, Ferrari was better in many of the races, [had] more performance on their car, so it was a very close fight in a way until Singapore when the two Ferraris crashed [into] each other. They were leading the championship, they were in front.

If we have some kind of tight fight this year it’s good for the fans but I think it was last year as well and people didn’t enjoy at the end. They want to have the last race the decisive race and that’s very difficult in F1.

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Comment of the day

Neil takes issue with the claim there were as many as 15 overtaking moves in the Australian Grand Prix.

Are Mercedes counting stuff like cars passing Verstappen when he spun, and Sainz when he ran off, or counting first-lap position changes, and counting the Alonso/Verstappen safety car line mixup as two overtakes?

Unless the producers were several steps below useless, there’s no way there were 15 normal overtakes in that race.
Neil (@neilosjames)

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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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  • 62 comments on “2017 title fight should have been closer – Alonso”

    1. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
      2nd April 2018, 0:40

      Alonso never misses a chance to take a jab at Ferrari. Where’s his McLaren been all these years?

      1. Really? Sounds like he’s blaming the drivers…….looking for a seat there.

        1. Sounds like he is stating what happened, I don’t even see where that quote comes from – “2017 title fight should have been close”. I guess there is more, not only that brief paragraph

          1. @johnmilk @peppermint-lemon Factual Alonso, always right, yet never honest with his feelings.

      2. Indeed. But he has a point. Ferrari had a good car, they messed up and of course you can’t make too many mistakes when you have top competition from a great Mercedes car driven by one of the greatest drivers ever.

      3. I think It was Vettel in Singapore who ‘took a jab at Ferrari’.
        Alonso is merely starting the facts.

      4. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        2nd April 2018, 8:59

        Actually I think Alonso is spot on. A fair summary of how the championship played out. Personally I didn’t read into any “jab” at Ferrari, not sure where you got that from?

    2. chris97 (@chrismichaelaoun)
      2nd April 2018, 0:50

      F1 in a nutshell;

      Reporter asks a driver for their opinion. Driver gives opinion. Fans criticise driver thinking driver is outspoken as if driver ran to the media screaming their thoughts.

      In before all the posts of “oh and where has he been? he cant talk, hes in a mclaren. Overrated driver. wa wa wa wa wa”

      1. And people complain drivers can’t say what they want

        1. That is the funniest thing to me. People complain that these drivers are like robots, but whenever they speak their opinion, they get slaughtered for it.

      2. You know, people have opinions, what would have been the point of a site like this if they didn’t

        1. I would argue dissing drivers on a site called F1 Fanatic or RaceFans is not in the spirit of said site.

          1. On the contrary, dear. Fanatics are driven by emotion.

            1. Emotion that should move them to defend rather than scorn the object of their fanaticism, surely.

        2. To have opinions on opinions is a bit lame, IMO. You can disagree with Alonso about how he sees the 2017 season, but if your only opinion is that he cannot talk about Ferrari, Mercedes or Redbull just because McLaren was awful, you opinion adds zero.

          That kind of mechanics leads to football-like empty opinions: “the race was too tight, we are 20 drivers, very difficult, race by race we aproach the end of the season, no small rivals, etc.”

    3. DanRic stating the obvious but ignored truth re car width but damages cred by pushing the team line on engines, understandable though, it must be frustrating to know that even if you work a miracle and get alongside you’re likely to be out-dragged to the next corner.

      1. Hill never had the talent Ric has, and Ric is in great position with Bot on shaky ground and with kimi’s age not to mention RB still wanting him!! Not sure what Hill is on about

        1. Hill has it right.. Ric should focusing on beating his teammate. If so all doors are open.
          If he has his focus wrong he will loose his intra team battle and his future.

          1. As I see it DR has options, and I don’t really see him being distracted from driving well this season, however, I’m not sure he’s in an ideal situation, yet still ok all things considered.

            I personally think Max will best him this year at RBR, just as he did last year in all but points. That said though it was Max who had the more ragged weekend in Australia, but on average I only see Max improving. So if DR stays there he might be playing catch up all the time.

            Assuming Mercedes and Ferrari might be interested in replacing VB or KR with DR, I think he’d also always be playing catch up there too.

            So for me, as it stands today, I think DR should be talking to Mercedes and hoping to go there, since if he’s going to play second fiddle it might as well be in the car that will give him the biggest chance for wins, that being the benchmark car these days.

            1. True, not really sure if ferrari is better than red bull this year and remember that in a season in general red bull improves more than ferrari, so even if he might have more chance to outperform vettel than hamilton, the only real upgrade from red bull now might be mercedes.

              I also consider verstappen faster and overall better, for now ricciardo is having a better 2018 season on points on merit, hopefully reliability is even this time.

    4. I’m not sure the car width necisarily has that much of an impact on overtaking or the closeness of the racing. The current cars are lets not forget no wider than they were prior to 1998 & tyres no wider than what was seen up until 1993 & back then racing was closer & overtaking more possible despite the circuits of the time been on average narrower than more modern venues.

      Cars were made narrower in 1998 yet there was less overtaking than season compared to what was seen the previous year with the wider cars & statistically for most of the narrow car era (1998-2016) there was less overtaking than there had been with the wider cars, Despite modern circuits introduced during that time been significantly wider than the classic venues.

      1. The ‘issue’ preventing closer racing & better overtaking possibilities isn’t engine or car/tyre width it’s purely how sensitive the modern cars are to turbulent air.

        If you took a 2018 car, Put narrower tyres on it & took the width back to 1998-2016 levels but retained all the aero the racing would be no closer & overtaking possibilities no better because the car/tyre width simply isn’t the root of the problem.

        1. @stefmeister, You are quite correct about the turbulent air being the main problem but we could also have had wider tyres without wider overall cars (and wings). 10+ years ago the aero was less developed than now and cars could run closer, and could attack by feinting to one side and switching to the other or not, now an attack has to come from a long way back and with the combined extra 40cm width the leading driver can block with 40cm less deviation in course making it even harder for the attacking driver.

          1. Hm, @hohum, but the wider tyres mean more drag, which in turn does mean that there is a larger slipstream as well. And track width is only an issue on some tracks. I think that for the most part the likes of Bahrain, China, Silverstone, COTA etc the width really is not the issue, as @stefmeister mentions. It will be a larger issue in say Monaco, Australia, probably also in some parts of Baku and Sochi as well as Singapore.

            1. @bascb, that is correct but as ANON has mentioned there is no single cause/cure, so every change to the rules should be analyzed on a + – performance basis, we have to ask whether a car with the low cg. and massive downforce of an F1 car gains enough in stability to compensate for the additional drag of a wider track, and then consider the effect on other cars as well. What we are seeing in F1 is a cascade effect, extra drag compounding tyre degradation etc.

      2. @stefmeister, on the other hand, the era between 1993 and 1996 saw overtaking continue on the persistent decline that it had been on since 1984, before finally levelling out from 1996 to 2009 to about 10-11 overtakes per race.

        Whilst you say that “back then racing was closer & overtaking more possible”, both of those factors were reducing quite rapidly in the 1980’s and 1990’s, despite the apparently simpler aerodynamics that you hail as being responsible for enabling “closer racing and more overtaking” featuring in that era; the mid to late 1990’s were no better than today, and sometimes worse, in terms of overtaking statistics.

        You will still find quite a few races from that era being described as processional and boring: it’s just that we tend to forget about those boring races in favour of the races we want to remember, and then, with that inherent bias in our memories, make the mistake of thinking that the races we remember were what all the races were like.

        1. ANON, what happened in 1984 to reduce overtaking ? In the 90’s of course we had refuelling and the computer aided tactics that went with it to move passing off the track and into the pits.

          1. @hohum, isn’t that point incumbent on @stefmeister to explain if he is proposing that those regulations would be an ideal solution to generate more passing, even if there was a consistent year on year trend of declining overtaking in that era that would seem to go against his argument?

            Equally, you’re focussing too much on individual aspects and seem to want to reduce everything to a single simple answer in the elusive quest for that singular cause that doesn’t exist. For example, you say that “In the 90’s of course we had refuelling”, as if you want to pin the blame onto that, but given that the majority of the decline in overtaking had actually taken place prior to 1994, at best you are heavily overstating the importance of refuelling.

        2. I think You ignore an important factor re 1984-1996: back then there were no silly restrictions on qualifying like parc ferme, knockout, single-lap, basically everyone could go for his Optimum pace, then prepared the car for the race in an optimal fashion and could then again give his optimum performance in the race without silly restrictions like worn tires or mandatory pit stops. In short, it was way more unlikely that a car started out of position. With everyone starting sorted by true pace it stands to reason there won’t be too much overtaking.

          1. @mrboerns, the problem with that theory is that would also be true in the period before 1984, but the evidence from the coverage of that era shows that, despite some fairly major regulation changes (the removal of ground effects, for example), overtaking was relatively consistent in the years before that.

            Again, I feel that you are trying to oversimplify the situation by trying to find a single singular cause, even where it conflicts against recorded evidence, because it is human nature to want to simplify things down to a single simple answer: a simple wrong answer is often far more seductive than a complex truth.

    5. Yeah, and should have passed Vitaly Petrov. Im still upset.

      1. You must be new to F1 if you don’t know why he couldn’t pass Petrov, here is a another fact for you, passing Petrov wasn’t enough, he had to pass more cars in a year where overtaking was really hard in that circuit.

        1. Agree. Many of these posters have no clue what happened leading up to and during the race. And some who do know still try to pin Alonso’s failure to pass Petrov as the reason he lost when Ferrari’s bad pit strategy (matching Webber’s stop instead of Vettel) cost Alonso a WDC.
          Ferrari knew they screwed up (see below) and the Tifosi also know and that is why Alonso is still revered.
          It’s sad that Alonso’s detractors contrive to discredit him at every chance to the point they fabricate.
          A bunch of losers indeed.

          https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2010/11/how-did-ferrari-make-that-strategy-mistake-with-alonso/

          1. Indeed, don’t remember exactly but I think he had to pass at least petrov’s team mate too who was in front of him, must be kubica.

          2. he still should have passed him, but he didnt

    6. Unsure if this has been discussed yet, but the Chinese Grand Prix weekend will see the introduction of an official F1 mascot. Introducing……….Axel.

      And no, its April 2 here in New Zealand.

    7. Some are stil watching f1 just like they visit their grandmas: out of habit and childhood memories.

      1. Most older watchers fall into this category. Others have given up over time, rightly so. The small number of new supporters are largely nerds. There is no mainstream appeal like in the 70s and 80s.

      2. Norbert Herbert
        2nd April 2018, 7:09

        My, what big teeth you have granny!

      3. And some people like to complain even though they are sure that nothing in the past could be better, even if they have never seen it.

      4. I enjoy visiting my grandparents

    8. I agree with COTD.

      “You could follow, you could pass. As far as overtakes went, I thought 2014 was good.”
      – Yeah, but the cars of that season (and 2015 as well) are very slow for F1’s standards lap time-wise, so I wouldn’t really want to go back to that.

      1. I love that today’s F1 cars are now fast enough to break circuit records again. I know some people say that they can’t feel the difference but to me I can tell that they look faster. I’m still hopeful that Ross Brawn and his team do find a solution (through ground effects and some simplification of the front wing, I’d expect)

        @jerejj the passing seemed to decrease in 2015 compared to 2014, the main regulation change that year was the further lowering of the noses (mainly to counteract against the phallic noses that season). That change seemed to affect the passing negatively. I think that Hamilton chasing down and passing Rosberg in the 2014 USGP in Austin was a good demonstration that equal cars on similar tyres could still have the driver make a difference (it was a DRS pass in the end) but Hamilton was able to keep up with Rosberg through the rest of the lap, including the esses. I wish that when they were altering the regulations, they’d tried to encourage noses like the 2014 Mercedes, which I thought was a very elegant solution, I suppose they didn’t want to hand Mercedes an advantage in that area given how far ahead they were. Maybe raising the noses to 2014 levels would help to some degree

        1. @3dom

          the passing seemed to decrease in 2015 compared to 2014, the main regulation change that year was the further lowering of the noses (mainly to counteract against the phallic noses that season). That change seemed to affect the passing negatively.

          That’s interesting. Overtaking was still reasonable easy in 2014, but then in 2015 it got considerably harder. We had a couple of battles for the lead in 2014, but in 2015 they were pretty much absent. Do you think that a small regulation change made all the difference? How exactly did the lower noses make following harder? By allowing less air underneath the car, resulting in a weaker ground effect?

          1. @f1infigures yeah I think exactly that. Now this comes with the caveat that I’m not an expert in aerodynamics, but I do find aero really interesting, so I regularly follow the work of several F1 journalists such as Craig Scarborough, Will Tyson, Matthew Somerfield and Giorgio Piola (I hope this makes sense fellas). From their work, I gleaned that teams were raising the cars’ noses higher and higher prior to 2014 to get as much clean (uninterrupted) airflow under the nose, around the side of the car and over the top of the diffuser to create a greater pressure gradient between the areas above and below the diffuser (with the area underneath the diffuser having the lower pressure), and so increasing how much the diffuser sucks the car down, and as you said increasing the ground effect of the diffuser. The diffuser gives way less drag penalty per point of downforce than most other parts of the car too, so getting clean air to it gives massive benefit.

            As they lowered the noses in 2014, and again in 2015, it seemed that teams had to rely more on directing the airflow to the back of the car using the front wings and turning vanes, but as you know those elements are much more sensitive to turbulent airflow than the previous wide open spaces under the noses. That’s why the phallic noses and thumb tipped noses appeared, as teams attempted to keep a large space under the nose, but satisfy the nose cross section regulations. Since 2015 Mercedes have had the lowest nose of the field, they’ve also seemed to be affected very heavily by following in turbulent air behind another car. Other teams may have slight higher noses with their thumb tips but will probably have been affected a fair bit too.

            1. @3dom Thank you for the explanation, it makes sense.

              I remember those stepped noses in 2012 all too well. I thought it was a funny (but ugly) response to the regulation changes, and it showed the importance of directing the airflow to the diffuser. It’s interesting that these high noses not only enhanced the car’s performance, but also reduced the car’s sensitivity to dirty air (or maybe it is the amount of dirty air the car produced)? So the rules aimed at making the cars look better in 2014 and 2015 sadly had a negative effect on racing.

    9. @jerejj, Ooooh I knooooow, it gets so boring waiting that extra 3 seconds for them to come past again.

      1. 3 minutes per lap is still 3 minutes per race and 1 hour per season. That means you’ll miss half a race ; )

      2. And yet people seem to forget all of the complaints at the time that the cars were too slow and too easy to drive!

      3. @Hohum i tell you one thing, have the three seconds, but i much rather stare at 2017 cars following one another than at 2015 cars overtaking. Damn the 2009-2016 cars must have easily been the ugliest cars in history, easily beating the halo (which i hate, not for idea but for poor execution) in the process.

        1. @mrboerns, Hey don’t blame me for ugly cars, in F1 I’m an anarchist, all those design rules are for 2 things, from the FIA; safety/reducing speed. From FOM keeping the cars fastest but not too expensive (don’t laugh), remember Bernie wanted to keep a Dollar for himself and give each team 10 cents, so he had to limit how much they could spend by restricting the various avenues of R&D.

        2. @mrboerns Agreed. I definitely prefer the 2017-present cars over the older ones (especially 2014 and ’15) as well.

    10. @neilosjames I think you’d answered yourself in the COTD. The director was indeed beyond useless. Did you see Leclerc overtaking Stroll for example? No? Me neither. Yet it happened on track. Bottas overtook 4 cars on track, yet I only saw 1 of these on TV. So that’s 4 missed already. i’m too busy looking up more but I’m sure there are others.

      1. @montreal95 Indeed. Liberty and all are racking their brains for how to make F1 more appealing, yet just hiring a top flite director can change the spectacle completely and cost very little (relatively).

    11. I was only just starting to get into F1 when Damon Hill won the championship, I never found out why he ended up leaving Williams at the end of his championship winning year in 1996. Does anyone know the reason?

      1. @3dom

        Poor negotiation and Williams not being offered what he and his management thought he was now worth.
        His mananger/accountant said that Williams made him a “derogatory offer”, i.e they wanted him on the cheap knowing they could get Frentzen. I think Hill’s manager mentioned he was worth around 6-7 million after winning the WDC. Hill ended up getting 4 million from Arrows iirc when Williams wouldnt budge.
        I remember Tom Walkinshaw claiming Hill was good value for money for the exposure and Williams showing some regrets due to Frentzen dissapointing.

      2. @3dom, some would suggest that Hill was offered a derisory offer by Williams that he felt undervalued his worth, with Williams taking the attitude that it was the car that had made Hill a champion and they could simply slot Frentzen into Hill place, resulting in Hill looking to go elsewhere (though there are suggestions that, whilst other teams did talk to him, it seems that only Arrows offered him a deal that was closer to what he was looking for).

        It’s also been suggested Williams had been looking to replace him because they felt that he really should have won the title in 1995 given that the FW17 was considered by pretty much everybody in the paddock to be superior to the B195. Hill was involved in several rather clumsy moves on track in 1995, particularly when he crashed into Schumacher in both the British and Italian GP’s – the Italian GP being particularly clumsy, where Hill claims that he was distracted by Inoue (whom he was lapping) and drove straight into the back of Schumacher, earning him a suspended ban for reckless driving.

        There is a suggestion that Williams, being disappointed with how badly he performed in 1995, had already decided that they wouldn’t extend his contract at the end of the 1996 season, irrespective of how it played out. In that case, even though Hill won the title in 1996, it almost feels as if Williams thought that they won despite Hill racing for them and deliberately made him an offer they knew he’d reject, enabling them to open negotiations with Frentzen.

    12. When it comes to overtaking & how much more there was ‘in the old days’, The discussion is always about aerodynamics, dirty air, the wide of the cars, size of the tyres & stuff. However there is one thing that never gets brought up & that is blocking & defending.

      Nowadays if you are the lead car & have another close behind you the default action is to move to the inside to defend/block against the most likely overtaking opportunity the car behind has. However up until the 1980’s that sort of thing wasn’t something you really ever saw in the top tier categories like F1.
      In the ‘old days’ if a car behind was faster & Got a run on you you didn’t move to the inside to block him, You accepted he was faster & tried to hold your position by staying where you were & outbraking him.

      If you go back & watch the Arnox/Villeneuve Dijon 1979 race you see this. The reason there is an overtake into turn 1 almost every lap is because the inside line is always kept open. Had the lead car blocked the inside there wouldn’t have been as much overtaking between those 2 as there was over the final few laps. The most you get is a slight faint to the middle of the track & a squeeze to the apex of the corner when there alongside.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtZ0wv1I8yc

      It was the same in CART/Indycar. I can remember many of the older drivers that had been around since the 1960’s/1970’s been quite outspoken about the unsporting & dangerous blocking/defending style that was coming over from the European junior formula racers who moved over to the US through the 1980’s.

      I think this is just one often overlooked factor that also plays into the overtaking decrease since the early 1980’s.

      1. @gt-racer Great points. A different etiquette.

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