Monday, June 13, 2011

It's F1 guys... but not as we know it!

As I write this blog, we have just jetted off from the runway into the dark Turkish sky, I've set my watch back two hours to UK time and I'm thinking of rejecting the sausage and mash for a G&T and a few hours' much-needed kip.

As I look out of the window and the lights of our latest destination disappear in the haze far below us, and the music on my phone keeping me awake, I always get a little philosophical about what has gone on over the past few hours.

It sounds silly to say it, but at the time, despite being at the centre of it, there is so much going on that it's only now, a few hours later, that I can actually draw breath and appreciate what we've seen.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning the Turkish Grand Prix

While Schumacher struggles to turn back time, Vettel continues to show he is the sport's shining light. Photo: Getty

One of the things that usually hits me after a race is how transient this sport is, perhaps all sport. It is no exaggeration to say that just seconds after, or perhaps even during Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso's podium celebrations, the mindset of the sport had already moved on.

We on the BBC have the luxury of re-living replay after HD replay and picking up on the minutiae of the race, from a dodgy pit stop to a collision at 200mph, slowed down so David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan can analyse it in detail.

For the teams and drivers though, it is suddenly about the next race.

Right now, if you went to that track, the security checkpoints, advertising hoardings, glamour and glitz will already be gone. Vettel will have his memories, and the record books will forever show he took the flag, but that's it. It's over that quickly, time waits for no one, and I just hope that while he's at the top he takes the time to savour it.

Michael Schumacher is perhaps the prime example that taking on time itself, gambling with your legacy, is a high stakes game.

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I was really sad to hear Schumacher say he's no longer enjoying Formula 1 after this race. People often say we're biased against Michael, but that's simply incorrect. He has given the sport so much, rewritten the record books, made us reassess what success actually is, and I am certainly not qualified to judge his personal decision to come back. But when the fun and the results are lacking, I feel for him, as what else is there?

I also felt for his former team-mate, Felipe Massa. I've just been chatting to his race engineer Rob Smedley. He's a really good lad and I like him even more after his 'Boro team helped Norwich to Premier League promotion (did you spot my reference to it in the show?).

Smedley was telling me that of Massa's four stops, something went wrong on three of them, slowing him down and releasing him into traffic. That meant battling cars to regain position - and it happened three times!

Sadly for all the teams and drivers, the new-style F1 leaves very little margin for error. It's so close on track, and with up to four stops per race, the smallest margin will have the biggest effect on the race.

Smedely was also saying how exhausted he was. Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhock agreed. He was commentating for 5 live while Anthony Davidson won another sportscar trophy - well done, Ant - and Chandhok said he, too, was shattered.

I loved the race. It gives us masses to discuss post-race; Lewis Hamilton couldn't even recall how many time he'd pitted, and he only had his race to think about!

For my money it gives us better on-track action, longer, less-predictable racing and gets people excited about the sport. We're lucky, in the same way Twenty20 cricket has revolutionised that sport, I expect F1 will benefit to a similar degree.

As for the moveable rear wing - or DRS - system, remember, governing body the FIA can tweak it until it's perfect.

The FIA is coming from a position that overtaking had become too hard and it is aiming for DRS to make overtaking possible - but not too easy.

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The feeling seems to be that in Australia its wasn't powerful enough, in Malaysia and China it was just about right, but that in Turkey it was too powerful. It's a learning process, as the top people in F1 have always said it would be.

Personally, I had great fun this weekend.

At the end if last year, we sadly waved goodbye to producer Sunil Patel, who was the master of our VTs - or pre-cut films - last season. That role has been taken on by Tim Boyd - or Boydy, as he is known. In BBC Sport there seems to be a rule that we take a surname and add a Y on the end. It doesn't work with mine, though!

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks to Boydy and his team, particularly for the effort that went into the Williams front wing piece that we transmitted on Saturday.

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That is the kind off access that brings you guys closer to the sport, breeds greater understanding. But it is also the kind off access that is incredibly hard to get so it's great to see the teams opening up to us. In the long run it benefits everyone.

Also, please do keep your ideas coming in to this blog, my Twitter and on e-mail, as we do read and act upon your thoughts.

It's great to get your response to our programmes, too. Sometimes with all the travel and prep you can get into a bubble where you don't get a true appreciation of people watching our output, as you're never at home to watch it!

However, the weekend before Turkey, I went to watch Lewis Hamilton's brother Nic, who was racing a Clio at Thruxton, and I was blown away. Not only was it great to see grassroots motorsport in this country and what a strong, loyal, knowledgeable following it has, but it also gave me a chance to meet stacks of people not lucky enough to make it to a grand prix, and who follow the racing totally via our output.

We on the BBC team have been delighted with viewing figures being higher than ever this year but, trust me, we're always looking for ways to make it better.

Anyway, have a great couple of weeks. Next up it's Barcelona. Four races in, no big incident at the start, no rain, no safety cars, yet racing so hectic and dramatic that it's hard to keep up.

It's F1 guys... but not as we know it!


Gianni Morbidelli Roberto Moreno Dave Morgan Silvio Moser Bill Moss Stirling Moss Gino Munaron

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