Forza! Finally someone on the grid decided they had enough of Vettel and his solo index finger, and it was none other than el Matador Fernando Alonso taking the first win of the season for himself and Ferrari at Silverstone. Coincidentally enough, Sunday’s British Grand Prix marked the 60th anniversary of Ferrari’s first win in F1 way back in 1951, and you’ll never guess where it took place. Silverstone! It’s as if the racing gods decided that balance needed to be restored to the F1 universe. If you have the time, here in its entirety is Alonso’s lap in the same Ferrari 375 that was driven by Jose Froilan Gonzales to victory 60 years ago.
Ahh, if only I was alive back then to experience the joy of watching racing when the cars were slow, dangerous, and off-throttle blown diffuserless(more on that later).
No point living in the past, not when F1 was able to serve up a scintillating weekend of race action. Despite a nearly disastrous run off the track in Q1, Alonso managed to put together a cracking lap in Q3 to put him in 3rd position for Sunday’s race, of course behind the two Red Bulls. Take a look.
Of greater significance than his 3rd place qualifying effort was the fact that Alonso was only .117 seconds behind pole sitter Mark Webber’s lap time. There’s no real point in recapping the race, if you’re reading this I’m assuming you saw for yourself Alonso’s emphatic 16 second victory over Vettel and Webber(more on this later). Before I digress, I think you know what’s coming…
It never gets old.
So as I alluded to earlier, Alonso finished practically 16 seconds ahead of both Vettel and Webber, which means Vettel and Webber finished 2-3 pretty much neck and neck. Despite his insistence in the past that team orders were not a part of their of operation and that both drivers received equal treatment, Red Bull principal Christian Horner made the radio call for all the world to hear for Webber to hold his position behind Vettel, essentially ordering him to not race his teammate and settle for 3rd place. That obviously didn’t sit well with Webber given the still lingering bitterness over last season’s course of events. Not to bombard you with videos, but here is Webber’s post race interview and reaction.
His expression at the end says it all. BBC pundit(and occasional pinhead) Eddie Jordan made the prophetic call of picking Alonso to win the race, and after the race he spoke out in defense of Horner, asserting that the collective objectives of the team came first. Mind you this is the same Eddie Jordan that slammed Ferrari for issuing a team order at last season’s German Grand Prix to Felipe Massa to let Alonso pass to take the race win. However, Damon Hill, an actual race car driver and former World Champion, spoke out in defense of Webber in a post race press conference hosted by Jordan, the rest of BBC crew, and with special guest none other than Christian Horner. Last video I promise, I just can’t help myself. To spare the boredom of watching the entire clip, jump forward to 6:30 for Hill’s opinion and watch until Jordan tries to break the subsequent awkward silence by changing the subject.
Enough of that. So despite another solid weekend of racing action, the one subject that unfortunately dominated the paddock rumor mill yet again was the dreaded d-word, the cursed diffuser. In yet another comical turn of events, the FIA before the start of the race weekend decided to “clarify” their ban on the use off-throttle blowing of exhaust gases and made a concession to several teams, most notably Renault, by allowing them to continue to leave their throttles partially open during the off-throttle stage. Renault claimed that off-throttle blowing was an integral design feature of their engine and that without it their powerplants would be “compromised.” This concession was rendered moot by Sunday, however, when supremo Bernie Ecclestone announced that the FIA and the F1 teams agreed to rescind the ban on off-throttling and return to their pre-Silverstone car setups. In the words of Vince Lombardi, what the hell is going on around here? First the FIA decides to impose a mid-season ban based off a technical design regulation which they should have issued before the season if they felt they needed to, then they partially retract it, and finally they rescind the ban altogether. Not to mention all this ensued after the ignominy of the Bahrain GP saga. Jean Todt, the president of the FIA since 2009, was supposed to restore stability and esteem to the position after the soap opera-like administration of Max Mosley. But now it seems every time the FIA is pressed with an important decision, they bungle it beyond all recognition.
Sunday’s race weekend should have been about Alonso and Ferrari finally making a stamp on this season and commemorating their 60 years of success in F1, the ongoing in house drama at Red Bull, and the mysterious negative progress by McLaren, but yet again the FIA managed to take center stage for all the wrong reasons. While it’s very likely that F1 will endure for another 60 years, will it still be the greatest sport in the world, or just a shadow of its former self? On second thought, maybe we finally won’t have cars by then, and the world will have moved on to rocket racing in space. But back to reality, and on to Germany!