F2B? Two Brits on F1

F1B is known for its lineup of two Americans and two Brits. You get to hear Grace and I prattle on about F1 from the American side and Andrew and Mark have their video (Frantic F1) and audio (F1B Fringe Report) respectively. But rare is the time that the two Brits team up to provide their thoughts on the fly-away races and state of F1. That is exactly what we have here. Enjoy.

The 2 Brits 2009 teams so far.

Well we are 4 races in and what better time to get some words of wisdom off our co-contributors of the site? The opening fly away races now done for now as we enter a 9 race European run Mark and Andy talk about what they think of each team so far…

Brawn GP

Championship position 1st 50 points

Wins 3
Drivers. Jenson Button (1st) Rubens Barrichello (2nd)
Random Fact: The Brawn car name “001” is Brawns tribute to Tyrell the team that was brought out by BAR, Honda then Brawn himself, infact when deciding on what to call the team itself Ross was thinking about calling it “Tyrell” but Brawn’s legal secretary suggested Ross named it after himself thus “Brawn GP” was born.

Andrew Says- Wow first of all just looking at the standing in the constructors its as if F1 is on an ipod and someone hit the “shuffle” button. What Brawn Gp is doing might make up for the 2 years of hell Honda put its fans through. No doubt the drivers are glad the team survived and whilst its future is not so clear (will it find a permanent buyer or find ways to continue on) the results it is getting make it a strong candidate for the overall title. A lot of people say Honda must be feeling pretty fed up that Brawn Gp is getting the success with a car that hey funded but the flip side of that is would Honda of got the same results with an engine that was thought to not be on the level of the Mercedes even in a freeze. The other thought if that the late start and lack of testing did Brawn good as being in the tests with everyone from the get go would of let the other teams see the design of the car see it early on and probably copied a lot of it. Of course copying and understanding aero like that are two different things just because you stuck on you car doesn’t mean it will go quicker if your not sure how it makes the difference but after Bahrain where Brawn were considered to of lost the early advantage they had in Melbourne shows how quick teams develop in a testing ban. However the Brawn cars were compromised by the higher than expected temperatures and found themselves having to cut chunks out of the car to help the cooling which never helps air flow yet they were still able to win. Even then you have to remember the cars that Brawn dominated with at Ferrari were not the ultimate fastest cars on 1 lap as 2002 with Williams and Montoya taking most the poles. What they did have was far superior race pace and as Brawn and Ferrari knew points are given out on the Sunday not Saturday maybe he could pass that on to Toyota! With a revitalised Button that has reinvented himself and Barrichello making most of what he can in what may turn out to be his last chance in a top car this is a feel good story. 2010 is another worry however as Brawn wont be developing he car as early as they have this one and certainty not as heavily as the 001 this might turn out to be the best shot they will have as manufactures sort themselves out. But for now there is no doubt they are the top team and they deserve all the success they can get.

Mark Says- 2000:1 – those were the odds on Jenson Button for World Champion when the Brawn buyout of Honda was announced. How I wish that bet were still open! ‘Fairy tale’ hardly even begins to describe the Brawn GP story. While the reality is not as improbable as the story makes it seem, Brawn’s rise to the top is still remarkable. Yes, the car was developed on Honda money, yes, it has a great lump in it, and yes, it’s the first car to which Ross Brawn got to really contribute, but still the team had hardly any testing time, and would have had every excuse for an unreliable and inconsistent start to the season. As you know, the reality has been quite different. The car’s been reliable and the drivers have looked rejuvenated, especially Jenson Button. My only criticism: while it’s wonderful to see Jenson back on top of his game in a great car, I can’t shake the feeling that he had given up in 2007 and 2008 when his former employer really needed him. Suddenly Rubens can’t keep up, why is that a new story?

Rating- 9/10- the car to beat with an early lead that will I think turn out to be key as the season moves on. My only concern would be that Jenson clearly has the edge on Rubens right now and that Barrichello needs to make sure he can keep up with his team-mate if he is to have his own shot at the drivers title.

Red Bull.
Wins 1 (2nd 27.5 points)

Drivers. Sebastian Vettel (3rd 18 points) Mark Webber (6th 9.5 points)
Random fact. Red Bulls highest points total for a season date back to there first year in 2005! Whilst there best finishing position was 5th in 2007 with just 24 points With 27.5 already will they finally beat that total this year?

Andrew Says- At the start of the year I thought Vettel’s best chance of Vettel keeping his reputation intact was to just destroy Mark Webber. Red Bull’s reliability in the past had been poor and the fact it was beaten by Toro Rosso its B team in 07 where Vettel was leaving led me to think they would be mid field at best and would damage his “next big super star” reputation (See Jenson Button after leaving Williams in 00) however it seems so far so good Vettel has quickly established himself in the team how much of that is down to Mark Webber being out of action because of his leg and more seriously shoulder injuries is unknown but Vettel is apparently very good at getting what he wants such is the determination of the German so maybe Marks time out has nothing to do with it. As for Webber I think he has done a solid job so far but Bahrain showed that his bad luck is still there with that block from Sutil costing him the rest of his weekend effectively. As for the car itself Newey has created one of the best looking cars and there is no doubt it had everyone excited when it launched, it just seem to have something the others didn’t then the focus was on Brawn GP after that but Red Bull has got on with producing the fastest non double diffuser car. Vettel was on for 3rd at worst in Melbourne before his clash with Kubica one wonders how much those lost 6 points may equal at the end of this season. All this has been achieved with no KERS no double diffuser and no moveable front wing. It’s just a beautifully flowing design minus all the gadgets people think you must have, same as the guy who made it lets not forget Mr. Newey draws his cars on paper not on a computer.

Mark Says- As a Williams fan, I miss Adrian Newey, but I’d started to wonder if the magic was gone. Wrong! If it hadn’t been for the double-decker diffuser confusion, the RBR 5 might have been unstoppable. Of course, a certain young German driver is playing his part too, but it seems Vettel has a really special car this year. I hope that he and Webber can remain as chummy all season as they seem to be now, but I can’t help thinking that there will be tension between the two. For now, though, Red Bull has a killer car, and one of the best driver pairings on the grid. Will we crown another youngest World Champion of all time in Abu Dhabi?

Rating- 8/10. The only team right now to be looking at really pushing Brawn, one wonders how much the trick diffuser will add to a car not designed for it?

Best Result 3rd (x3)

Fastest laps 0
Drivers Jarno Trulli 4th (14.5 points) Timo Glock 5th (12 points)
Random Fact. Jarno Trulli has achieved all 3 of Toyotas pole positions in Formula 1.

Andrew – Every year Toyota say they will make progress and every year they under perform. Not Honda levels but a lot less for a team that has been in the sport since 2002 and considering the cash spent. That’s not news to anyone that has followed them but this year they have all the potential and some of the same problems that have held them back for instance, terrible strategy this was no more evident than at Bahrain where they simply were out foxed by being too light on fuel and then bad tyre choice at the all important mid stint, whilst the top teams went soft-soft-hard Toyota decided to go soft-hard-soft and by the time they were back on the softs the damage was done. I guess its easier to comment with hindsight yes but the point is you get no feeling of any master mind on the pit wall that is making the smart brawn-like calls. Maybe the pressure to win might have something to do with it after all it was a good call to put Glock on intermediates in Malaysia whist everyone else seemed to go into panic mode The driver pairing is stronger and Timo Glock is proving to be a driver growing in confidence in every race, but will Toyota do that or just fall back as the season goes on?

Mark- I never thought I’d see the day when Toyota would be third in the constructors’ championship, and yet would still have every reason to ponder what might have been. Toyota could be doing even better. They’ve had three cars sent to the back of the grid, and they’ve had poor strategy ruin a potential podium run, yet the Cologne crew are still contenders. Surely this year they’ll finally win one, or several?

Mclaren 4th (13 points)

Random Fact- It seems that Mclaren/Ferrari started a small trend with car numbers, 22 Lewis number last year is now the number of Button’s car whilst the “1” has gone on to Mclarens seems to of jinxed it a little.
Andrew- To avoid the scorn of Grace I will keep this short. A car that clearly is not the finest to have the letters “Mp4” preceding it and for the team that claims to have the best technical centre should be able to sort it soon. The fall out from Australia and the team’s actions have been well documented and we shall see how the “culture of change” will work. In theory the handing over from Ron to Martin should not be noticeable a big thing as how they produce the cars and go racing Martin has long been at the team and should run smoother than Ferrari’s transition. Heikki seems to of fell off the map almost and any extra attention he needed to help him bring more points home will now be focused on getting the car right in the first place which will not help him or the fact Mclaren comes across as a one car team. Lewis? Well no doubt this will be a character-building season if it hasn’t been already. I am interested as to how strong his ties at Mclaren after liegate and if the car continues to be off the pace. Anyone can be a good winner, lets see ho he handles losing.

We lie as a team, we lose as a team, but Lewis succeeds alone. Now that the car’s mediocre, McLaren looks even more like a one-man team than last year. Like the Renault, McLaren’s car currently has no business at the sharp end of the grid, at least not at the moment. On the positive side, the team has amassed a reasonable points haul – it would have been very reasonable were it not for internal idiocy (sorry, but I want to close all F1’s gates until the season ends) – and is bound to bounce back. How long until Kovalainen files for unemployment benefit?

Rating – 5/10 half marks for a team with half the speed of last year but perhaps with more problems with its drivers?

Renault. 5th 5 points.
Random Fact- Piquet has yet to out qualify his teammate since 07 and Alonso is the only driver on the grid yet to be beat by his team mate in qualifying.
Andrew- Alonso is no doubt unhappy with his car because it’s not a winner. You wouldn’t expect any less from a double world champ. But I feel what has been missed is that Renault like Ferrari and Mclaren kept developing the 08 car. Why? To keep Alonso happy for one so if Mclaren and Ferrari are suffering then maybe Alonso has too blame himself a little for the cars performance. On thing is clear he has to do something soon. Alonso is a mega talent and as much as I enjoy seeing his skills of dragging an uncompetitive car up the grid its sad that such talent is being wasted in average machinery when he could be fighting for the title you only get one career. Instead its almost as if he is wasting his time. Speaking wasting time that brings me to Piquet Jr. im amazed he got a seat in 09 and im amazed he still has it. If threatened with the sack (again) is the only way he turns it up a little then there are plenty of drivers capable of taking his place.

Mark- Flavio likes a good story, but he must be sick of watching the hare and the tortoise by now. Twenty to zero, as a qualifying score, is a joke. Alonso can out-qualify his teammate when he’s sick, comfortably! That, too, is sick. The good news is that with Alonso behind the wheel, Renault might produce enough magic this year to stay in the sport in 2010. The bad news is that Renault’s pure pace seemingly won’t do that. No wonder Flavio’s so riled up about the diffuser trio, but why is he staying that iron fist and acidic tongue of his when it comes to his number two driver?

Rating 5/10 ad that 5 is purely all due to Alonso.

BMW Sauber 6th 4 points
Random Fact- Heidfeld made in 25 finishes in a row in Bahrain with his 19th place beating the record held by Michael Schumacher of 24

This team has proved that the “Brawn/Honda” way of spending a long time on the following years car does not always work. It was so heavily behind KERS that it had no choice but to go with it and they never seemed to stop to look at the fact it actually disadvantaged there highly rated driver. You could say that alarm bells rang when our own Mark interviewed Heidfeld and he said the team did develop the 08 car but nothing worked a sign it had lost its way then? Both Kubica and Heidfeld have squeezed the maximum out of that car and Heidfeld snatched a lucky podium in Malaysia whilst Kubica was looking for a win when he should of made sure he sorted out 2nd place first in Australia. The fact being that the half points Heidfeld scored are the only points so far shows that nothing is certain. And you know with every race that goes wrong Kubica will get more and more annoyed and think of the chance he felt was taken away from him in 08.

Mark- BMW are nearly my disappointment of the year. 2009 was to be the Bavarians’ year, and instead they disappear. Mercifully for BMW, whenever there’s chaos in an F1 race, Nick Heidfeld is near the front when the dust has settled. If it weren’t for that golden rule of motorsport, BMW would be nowhere at all. Where are the White Knights?

Rating 3/10 Disaster every way you look at it.

7th Toro Rosso 4 points
Random Fact. Of the 48 points scored since Toro Rosso began in 2006 44 of them have been scored by a “Seb” the other 4 were scored by Vitantonio Liuzzi (1 point USA 06 3 points China 07)

Andrew- Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised after all the STR 04 is this year RBR with new paint on it. But they have done well for what we expected was the team that would score no points really. Buemi is also doing well and I was wrong to write him off. Though he does seem a little hit and miss points or crash maybe. It’s too early to say though. My big disappointment is Le Seb, I expected a return to slicks would help him and a 2nd year in F1 he would prove himself instead he is doing a Jr. which means he crashes out in Q1 whilst his team mate makes Q3. The fact some people can’t decide if he or Piquet will get the chop first speaks volumes.

Mark- Pleasantly surprising. I thought they’d disappear without der Seb, but l’autre Seb has been extremely solid and the chassis is clearly one of the best out there. So why can’t Bourdais drive it?

Rating- 6/10 prove you can do well even if the parent team take your German superstar driver.

8th Williams 8 3,5 points.
Random Fact. Williams was Founded in 1977 making it the 3rd oldest tem in F1 today only Mclaren and Ferrari have lasted longer.
Andrew- I don’t get it. To top 1 practice maybe is a fluke but to top so many and still not come away with results is odd. Nico is fast but the car just seems to disappear down the order in the races. After a solid first year it seems so far Nakajima is going a bit “crash Sato” and Williams do not need that. Such a shame I had hoped for so much more from them.

Mark- this is excruciating for a Williams fan to watch. Good car (relatively speaking), horrific results. I fear that Williams have missed their chance and that their rivals are catching/passing/passed. An unbalanced driver pairing can’t help, and the boys from the Grove haven’t had much luck, but one question remains for Williams: What’s gone wrong?

Rating 3/10 if this were a school report it would say “must try harder and keep concentration”

9th Ferrari 3 points
Random Fact. If you think this is bad for Ferrari then you have to go back to 1980 when the team only scored 8 points all year and finished 10th out of 11 in the constructors championship.
Andrew- Suffer from 08 development? Fine. But bad calls (Massa in Malaysia?) god awful strategy (full wets on a bone dry track?) the team is in disarray. Malaysia summed them up in full. Its been the same in F1 since the dawn of the championship that the track gets faster the more laps that are done so why on earth did they not send Massa out in a car that they know is not the quickest? Massa is trying but I still feel Kimi is asleep at the wheel. Still no fire from the iceman and that is simply not on. No team can afford a 21 year slump and Ferrari at the moment look like they are trying to repeat it.

Mark- Not as bad as it looks. Ferrari is consistently hitting Q3, has two world class drivers, and has cash on its side. If it weren’t for repeated brain fades on race day, the team would have already put up respectable numbers this season, considering the massive shake up in the running order. I think the Scuderia will improve a lot this season, winning races. Eight constructors’ titles in ten years means people expect too much of the red cars. They’ll bounce back, but they won’t fly quite so high in 2009. But does that really mean it’s the beginning of the end?

10th Force India 0 points.
Random Fact. The last time this team scored a point was back in 2007 at china when it was called Spyker.

Andrew- they did well to get a car within 2 seconds of the pole time but I feel it is fair to add I question VJ’s sense. Sacking Gascoyne and restarting development on the 09 car so late was a strange move. If he wants podiums at his home race next year he needs to do something special. Fisichella is in his last season I feel he was at the back whilst Sutil was in a points paying position in China. But then I feel Sutil has had long enough to prove he is a talent. Alonso managed to in a Minardi yet far too often we see Sutil sticking it in the barrier.

Mark- even when you turn the F1 order upside down, Force India are still at the bottom. It’s really sad. If there is a silver lining for Vijay’s outfit – and for all three of the bottom teams – it’s that Force India are better than the scoreboard suggests. They really are less than a second off the lead pace, at the moment. I can’t see the team ever getting off the bottom step this year (who would they surpass?), but I can see them scoring points before the season’s through. But the real litmus test for FIF1 is qualifying: Can they become a regular feature in Q2?

Rating- 3/10 At least they have made a car that’s not completely at the back all the time. But still at the back…

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