So it has been some time since I have posted anything, and while 2010 is not completely over, I think we have some pretty solid contenders for top 10 disappointments of 2010. This feature is going to cover every series that we cover on the site. We all know that WRC, IndyCar, ALMS, F1, and even our beloved Rally America or Rally Car series has had some moments they would choose to forget, but we are not going to let them just yet. This list is not necessarily in the order of rank.
1. Ford’s WRC Season
This being the final year of the World Rally Car in the WRC, we were expecting Ford to pull out all of the stops and have a fantastic year. We did not necessarily expect them to beat Citroen, but we were hoping for at least a challenge. After Mikko Hirvonen’s end of season run and his phenomenal start to 2010 with Monte Carlo and Sweden, we thought that Sebastien Loeb was going to get a run for his money. Ford failed to even deliver a title challenge to the Citroens. The Citroen Junior Squad out performed the BP Abu Dhabi squad with Sebastian Ogier alone. The French factory effort crushed the opposition and even Petter Solberg’s performance this year burned brighter. We knew that Ford would struggle on the tarmac, but even on the gravel there were issues. I will give Jarr-Matti Latvala mad respect for his efforts this year, but with Mikko Hirvonen performing as bad as he did, it was all for not. Ford is high on their 2011 Fiesta RS and thinks they really have something for the Citroen boys. We will have to wait and see.
Remember back to the beginning of the year when all of the new teams were struggling to have a car on the grid for Bahrain? USF1 would not and would also offer one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory. While the challenges of having a US based F1 team were none to be slim, the USF1 squad went away from their initial doctrine and began to show more signs of a run of the mill F1 team with foreign headquarters and foreign drivers. Kind of fitting on this election day don’t you think (false promises). Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor would proceed to drag the US motorsport reputation through the mud in their failed attempts. I know I was outraged as was a number of fans that were truly hoping the US would make an appearance on the grid. Failed sponsorship along with no name driver signings would constantly hit the media until weeks before the season we would find out the bad news. While maybe not all that surprising to many, it still ranks as one of the top disappointments of the year.
3. ALMS Prototypes
This would have to be slated as one of the lesser disappointments on the list in my opinion, but disappointing none the less. We knew that due to economic issues beyond the motorsports community, ALMS LMP racing would be a little thin. The LMP1 and LMP2 classes would mix together to form one and hopefully bring with it a good car count. That would in fact not really be the case. With the loss of the Deferran Racing Acura and Audi/Peugeot still on the side line from a full US schedule, it was up to a handful of cars to put on the show. Highcroft would switch to the smaller LMP2 car and Mazda, Porsche, and Lola/Judd, sometimes Aston Martin were all we really had. It would be the GT class that would hold interest for fans as the prototypes looked like they were just there for the car count. The racing would improve later in the year and with recent news about 2011, we have a lot to look forward to. 2010 however would prove to be another year that ALMS prototypes would choose to forget.
4. Korean GP Buildup
While the 2010 Korean Grand Prix would prove to be the race that would turn the points table on its head, the buildup to the race was not only disappointing, but down right embarrassing for FOM and the FIA as a whole. With only a couple weeks left before cars were due on track in anger, the Korean facility was getting its last checks to even make sure a race could happen. Their was uncertainty amongst many in the F1 community as if the race was going to happen and teams were preparing for the worst case scenario. Headlines wrung out about a potential “Daytona” situation where the tarmac would be pulled from the track causing massive potholes and an even more dangerous situation. The track would be the least of the teams worries as they fought the elements all weekend, but all in all the situation did not look good and the Korean promoters will be looking to forget their efforts and work toward building towards the future.
I for the life of me cannot understand this one. From a complete and objective point of view this just does not make any sense. When news hit of Michael Schumacher returning to the F1 grid in 2010 with Mercedes, tickets started selling and people were excited to see how the cobbler would do against the best F1 had to offer since his departure. Schumacher has had no pole positions, no wins, and has finished a season high 4th. While those numbers are not Schumacher numbers, it is what it is. The reason this is such a disappointment is how big the media built this return. We made mention of it originally and probably helped to fuel the fire, but the level of stories regarding the 7 time champion were usually ridiculous. What was even more ridiculous was the mid season press that constantly streamed about Michael leaving the team even though Michael said a number of times he was staying. Michael does not remind me of a Brett Favre type of star in the sense that he usually sticks by what he says. What could one expect with a new team, new management, and new car characteristics? I think the bigger disappointment in 2010 could be labled Michael Schumacher media coverage.
6. 2011 WRC Calendar
Riding on a wave of momentum during the mid season point, many eagerly awaited the WRC 2011 calendar in hopes that old trends would be broken. Perhaps this would be the end of the rally rotation that had taken so many rallies away. Also, news had come about in regards to Monte Carlo even returning. A rally that had opened the last two IRC championships and one that desperately needed to return to the WRC. We had made a number of points on the podcast and in articles showing that the dominance the WRC enjoyed since it had departed. It was all for not however as the FiA announced that rally rotations would continue and Monte Carlo was not coming back for the next season. It would appear that the FiA does not in fact learn from their mistakes and would rather choose to run the series into the ground. I mean, what is the point of having a promotional body make decisions if the governing body is going to shoot them all down?
7. IZOD IndyCar Series Safety
For a series that prides itself on safety, 2010 will be a black mark on the IndyCar Series for a number of events that happened over the year. While this is motorsports and things do happen, their were clear violations of practice this year for the Holmatro Safety Team and the IndyCar race control. Indianapolis 500 has Will Power up to speed with a fuel rig hanging off the car. Has the spring that nearly ended Felipe Massa’s life shown us anything? It should have shown us that if an object like a fuel rig comes off at 218 mph, it is going to cause catastrophic damage to driver and machine. Yet the race control department let it go for nearly two laps before Will stopped to have what was left removed. Mike Conway would then suffer a huge crash that would see a wheel bouncing around a spectator area under the stands. As has been mentioned on the show, the IICS cannot afford a death at the race. Any negative PR like that would kill the series. Then see the Simona accident in Texas. The safety team was not prepared for the fire and boy did it show. Nearly 30 seconds would pass before Simona was pulled from a fire ball of a car. While the crew is usually on point, this year saw a couple issues that the IICS would care to forget.
8. Edmonton Blocking
The Edmonton blocking issue involving Helio Castroneves and Will Power was very disappointing from the fan stand point. While a rule is a rule and should be enforced, the fact of the matter is the rule is dumb and the ruling turned the series off to the group IndyCar needs the most. Many casual fans will not tolerate a race being settled off the track and that ruling did in fact settle the race off the track and in race control. Further, the block was not even really a block as it was Helio did not offer the preferred line and that was the major issue.
9. 13th F1 Team
Remember back a couple months ago when the FiA was looking at who would replace the before mentioned USF1? A search was on and entries were pushed to the FiA from folks like Durango/Villenueve, Epsilon Euskadi, and other entries that failed to materialize like the Cypher Group were taken into consideration. The problem being the decision was taking to long and the FiA was really pushing this new team to the edge in terms of having a car in time for next season. We all sat patiently to find out who the winner would be and when the long awaited day came, nobody was worthy of the FiA’s last entry. The fact that the process was this long for nothing is a disappointment. The way the FiA should have handled it was just say nobody gets it right away. We already knew at the time that Virgin, HRT, and to a lesser extent Lotus were well off the pace and presented safety issues. At that very moment you should have said the grid is full of slow cars at the moment and we will wait a couple years for them to get up to speed.
10. Graham Rahal Situation
http://openpaddock.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Rahal-StPete-JimHaines-135×100.jpgThis has to be one of the biggest disappointments of the year in my opinion. A fresh faced American driver who also happens to be the son of a legend and has his own talent mind you, rideless. After having success with Newman-Haas, young Rahal spent 2010 between a couple outfits. Running with his dad for some races like the Indy 500, with Sarah Fisher Racing and even raced a couple for Newman-Haas. He had limited success but was able to show that he deserved to be in the series at a full time capacity. This is one thing the IndyCar does need to fix. Talents like this cannot afford to be on the sideline while the likes of Milka Duno are on track. Since the season finale, Rahal announced he will be in full time in 2011 with rumors even linking his sponsorship to Target Ganassi Racing. His personal sponsorship are apparently offering the $10 million necessary to run with Ganassi.
So there you have it. The top 10 disappointments of 2010. Agree/disagree? Do you have anything that failed to make the list that you would like added? Post in the comment box what you think and have your share!