Wednesday, 29 June 2011

F1: A Contradiction Competition

This morning I checked the F1 news page on the BBC website and was greeted by this article in which Lewis Hamilton states that he is aiming for McLaren to get a one-two at Silverstone. Brilliant, we all think, Lewis getting back on form. Well, I'm annoyed. Formula One seems to be full of contradictions lately and I for one am getting fed up. The mass of contradictions by drivers and officials is making the sport far more confusing than DRS and KERS overtakes ever were.

Let me first explain perhaps the most apparent instance of contradictions in F1: the Bahrain situation. Initially, the Bahrain GP was postponed because of unrest in the country. This is fair enough, as the people of a country come first (something stated by Mark Webber - one of the most vocal drivers about the Bahrain situation). A waiting game then ensued whereby meetings were held or pushed back to discuss and see how the situation would evolve in the country. A deadline was given to the country and FIA officials to decide whether the race could be held. Great, we all thought, we're going to get a firm "yes" or "no" on the 1st of May. Nope. The deadline was then extended by over a month. This was kind of annoying, however most of the fans understood. Eventually, after many meetings and much gossip the FIA took the decision to reschedule the Bahrain race. This seemed like a firm answer, and most fans thought the matter was solved. However, the teams called for a boycott of the race, and more negotiations ensued, along with the usual gossip which accompanies so many big decisions. The teams' protest was officially based on the logistics of the date of the rescheduled race, however many also felt that the ethical implications of going to a country in such a state would outweigh any benefit of F1 returning to the country. While the teams protested, the FIA sought to reassure them, stating that Bahrain was now safe. However, the teams couldn't be ignored and as such the Bahrain race was eventually cancelled - a move which many felt should have occurred in the first place.

When you see the number of articles saying that the race was off-on-off-on-off, you can see how annoying it was to watch this situation unfold. The whole process of decision making seemed completely unprofessional, as it appeared that the officials never spoke with the teams and decisions were made based purely on money alone. The contradictions made the situation so hard to follow, and many were simply relieved that it was over.

Anyway, we moved on from this and got on with the season. However, the drivers seem to have got into a competition for who can have the most contradictions. The first one I noticed was Fernando Alonso. Before the race at Valencia, Alonso was quoted as saying that Ferrari were having a bad year. After the race, during the press conference, Alonso said how well Ferrari had done during the last few races:

Monaco was a very good performance all weekend. We finished second. Canada was a very good performance. We didn't score any points there and here again very good weekend in terms of performance Felipe (Massa) and me and now both cars in the top five is a great team result so definitely moving in the right direction.

To add to this, another BBC article quoted Alonso as giving up on the title fight. So, what's Alonso's position? "Ferrari are bad - we're doing well - I've given up".

Now, to my final example. Lewis Hamilton has been all over the media. Given his run of bad luck lately, this isn't surprising. The previous article quoted Lewis as saying that he had pretty much given up on the next race at Silverstone, let alone the title. He said that he was "really not looking forward to Silverstone", that McLaren had "taken a step back" and that "It's finished really. In the sense of the title it's almost over". So, pretty pessimistic stuff. However, in the next breath Lewis has all of his optimism back and he's looking for the world championship! In terms of the Silverstone race, Lewis's initial comments of "we're just not quick enough to win there. I think we'll really struggle" have been forgotten, and he's now saying that McLaren can get a one-two finish there. In fact, he's said that "nothing is impossible", and the championship is far from over.

So what's going on with F1 lately? People were complaining at the start of the year that the races were confusing what with all the overtaking, but now it seems that the source of the confusion has very little to do with the on track action. Of course, I understand that the media isn't always accurate, but there must be a grain of truth in most of these articles and the drivers seem to be saying two things at once. I wish that the drivers and media would stop speculating, or at least stick with one point of view. For new fans, it must be excruciating to try and get into the sport with all this going on. Personally, I'm considering ignoring what each driver says, simply because I don't know whether they're being truthful or whether next week their views will be completely different. So, if I've sent a hundred links out to media spokespeople or drivers and you're reading this, I implore you to get your stories straight or say nothing at all - these contradictions are giving me a headache!