F1 – Look to Bahrain for True Pace

bahrainBahrain may be the first pure grand prix of the season. As always, Melbourne was a safety-car stunted crash fest where the only true pace we got to observe was the FIA’s snail speed bureaucracy which still hasn’t finished its proceedings with the hapless McLaren team.

Sepang has traditionally been the race that everybody starts to see how the championship is going to unfold, but this year Bernie, in his infinite wisdom, decided to push back the start of the race so that it would end at twilight despite protests from local organizers that they get monsoon rain every day in the late afternoon. So we got to discuss safety cars, red flags and half points for the lead up to China.

Before the Chinese Grand Prix, the FIA deemed to finally rule on the diffuser issue which it had know about for months ahead of time. Why this was even up for appeal is beyond me, since the diffuser cars passed scrutineering. Why is it that the teams have to lodge protests to get the FIA to actually rule on questionable legality? Why wasn’t it made known to all participants before the season started whether their cars were legal or not? Seems like a bad way to run a multi-billion dollar sport.

So, heading into this weekends grand prix in Bahrain, we may finally have a chance to have a race that isn’t stunted by safety cars, rain, and results of pending appeals, save the outstanding McLaren situation. McLaren will meet with the WMSC on Wednesday, April 29th to hear of their fate for the lie-for-a-point scandal. Based on the FIA’s treatment of the team in the past and on their apparent lack of pace so far, it would be safe to assume that the Paragon squad will be out of contention for either championship this year.

All eyes will be on Brawn and Red Bull this weekend to see just how fast these cars really are without the encumbrances of the previous races as they have clearly placed themselves in unlikely contention for the driver’s and constructor’s championships. But let’s not forget that Toyota and William’s are following close behind.

The irony of this season so far is that while Max Mosely is calling for radical cost saving proposals, it is business as usual with the teams who are spending millions on development of the KERS system that is seeing limited use so far and on rear diffuser development now that the FIA has greenlighted the double decker interpretation.

It remains to be seen though if these massive investments will pay off for the rest of the grid since Brawn already has pulled out to a dominant lead despite the circumstances of the previous grands prix. We may behold Schumacher style yawner races with Button and Barichello sprinting out to a comfortable 1/2 lap lead. Catch up may not be possible for the rest of the grid, but for Ferrari and McLaren, saving face may be far more important.

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