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Stuck in reverse

31st May 2010

Vicissitude: a change or variation; the quality of being changeable; mutability.

The fortunes of teams ebb and flow, but the capacity for rapid change is one of the most important virtues in what must surely be the most focused, driven and ultra-competitive environment in the world of sport: the Formula 1 pitlane.

Of course it was always the case that designers, aerodynamicists and engineers push the boundaries of what’s possible, both within and without the rules, but F1 2010 is raising the bar to new heights.

Red Bull’s seemingly desperate desire to clinch both titles has unleashed an F1 arms race of extreme intensity. Keeping up is priority number one; falling behind is just not an option.

So where’s the Scuderia?

While McLaren – typically  – turn the screw, ramping up the pressure on their rivals, Ferrari appear to be falling apart.

Rewind just a couple months and all seemed rosy in their scarlet garden.

Impressive testing times (so we thought) and an opening race win pointed to a banner year. Fernando Alonso even hailed the F10 as “the best car I’ve ever driven.”

Yeah, right!

Not so good now, is it? Apparently all technical work – other than that to develop their shonky version of McLaren’s ‘F-duct’ – has been put on hold, resulting in an inevitable decline to mid-table mediocrity.

Team technical director Aldo Costa must be a worried man. Technology is, after all, not an excuse to relax or rely on computers; design is very much about the ideas and the people who have them.

And in Formula 1, if you don’t deliver you likely won’t last.

Good team spirit plays its part in cushioning the effects of failure on underachievers, but the Italian team seem bereft of good news in that department, too.

Perhaps the 2005/6 world champion is the problem?

The Spaniard appears to wear a constant hangdog expression, skulking around with a dark cloud overhead as he strives to evade the Italian media.

And imagine the toxic effect his never-ending mind games – so as to destabilise his nice-guy Brazilian team-mate – are having within the team.

An example: Friday afternoon, Felipe Massa runs wide out of Istanbul Park’s awesome Turn 8, looks in his mirrors and waits for the following car to pass before rejoining the track. It’s Alonso and he ain’t letting this chance for some Machiavellian behaviour pass him by. Slowing to a crawl, he pulls up alongside Massa, turns his head and stares at this team-mate, just to let him know…

Walk past the Ferrari garage during practice time and you’ll be sure to see the result of Fernando’s shenanigans. Felipe sits slouched and round-shouldered, with a downturned mouth, watching and waiting as his mechanics fettle his not-so-fast car, miserably contemplating the hell of it all.

Oh yes, something needs to change…

 

Please now take a few minutes to enjoy my pictures from the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix by clicking here.

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