Tires, face-punching and late braking

As the teams slide into Canada this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix, the talking points are interesting if not tense. First, there is the continued saga over Mercedes and Pirelli testing. The topic has become dogeared to be honest as no date has been given for this International Tribunal the FIA keeps muttering about.

The issue is only festering because of the art of parsing words. Nico says he knew which tires he was testing while Ross Brawn said they didn’t because there were codes. The tension is palpable and who can be sure of what was gained? According to Sebastian Vettel, the team gained a lot from the test and I’m inclined to agree with him but not necessarily on the issue of the tires. Getting to run three grand prix lengths in the 2013 chassis gives unprecedented access to all the systems and devices ont he car and you don’t run 1,000km and not learn something. Vettel said:

“We all know how important testing is in the winter. The quality of the testing is not the same because the conditions are different.

“The cars are very early in their development so if you have the chance somewhere in the middle of the season to have a test, or three days, then it’s a big help.”

Some rumors have Vettel as the person who learned of the private test from compatriot Nico Rosberg at a Grand Prix Driver’s Association. the claim has be adamantly denied.

Then there is the parsing of words over the incident between McLaren driver Sergio Perez and Lotus F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen. Perez, arguable, spoiled the Monaco Grand Prix for Raikkonen with a dive bomb attempt at a pass into the chicane which damaged the Lotus and necessitated a pit stop for the Finnish driver. After the race, Raikkonen suggested Perez needed to be punched int eh face but time has passed now right? Raikkonen was furious and still is:

“I don’t feel any different now,” he said. “It doesn’t change the fact that he messed our race up.

“Even if you ask one year from now, it will still have the same ending. We got one point back, but it still doesn’t take away the thing that it wasn’t right.”

It is an interesting issue as the race stewards called it a ‘racing incident’ and went home but in the past, we’ve seen penalties handed out for incidents that impact the world championship and Kimi is/was very much in the hunt. The impact cost lotus F1 and Raikkonen dearly and that has traditionally been punished in the past but in this case, it was nothing more than a racing incident.

For Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton, it seems I have discovered what he may have meant when he said he had confidence issues that weekend in the post-qualifying press conference. The Brit could have meant his late-braking style and the current Mercede MW04 chassis. Lewis explained:

“I have always been the latest of brakers and it is definitely a track where late braking helps,” Hamilton said. “But I haven’t particularity been the latest of brakers this year in the car that I am in.

“It is an area that I am trying to improve on. I see it being a problem for me for quite some time until I figure it out, which I haven’t done yet.”

That would be a relatively drastic change to what Hamilton was used to as Paul Charsley explained in our recent podcast. It is a fundamental driving style change and that, I could imagine, is certainly something that will take time for Lewis to get on top of. That makes a lot more sense but I’m reading between the lines here… or at least, parsing words like everyone else.

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