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Reader's Comments

More races, more meeting and more changes to the rules. All the ones that made some sense, driver aids, launch control etc are history (until 2004 � unless they change their minds again) and the damn fool ones like pseudo qualifying, single wet tyre and parc ferme stay. In Austria we saw the results of this stupidity with Webber getting a stop-go penalty because da Matta�s launch control failed (OK � I know it was because of the second restart but it�s bloody dumb anyway). Bernie can at least claim dementia at his age; Max doesn�t have that excuse. When suggestions of drawing grids from hats start getting aired we know that they are getting desperate.

We are now almost � of the way through the season and there has been one race genuinely effected by the new rules, and it was boring! The qualifying was boring and the race was processional. After Spain�s effort lets get back to Real Racing so the Raikonnen�s of this world can start from the front and not have to (almost) negotiate their way around pretty green display units that are sitting down near the back of the grid.

Speaking of those pretty green cars isn�t it amazing that a company with all the resources of ford can fail so abominably at creating a launch control system that is driver proof. In �01 it was McLaren, this year it�s Jaguar. A car with millions of R&D Dollar�s, Pound�s, Shekel�s or whatever spent on it should not be left standing on the grid when the family hack that costs a pittance can be launched reliably by Fred or Peggy Sue every time. Mark Webber is proving his ability as a driver, damn shame their engineers can�t match him. da Matta showed in Austria that those other red cars are not immune to the same gremlins.

There has been a lot of hype about the new Ferrari, with many commentators claiming it�s not the quantum leap they were expecting. That Ferrari is very quick. Bibendum salvaged Spain and Monaco for the others. Rarely have we seen Bridgestone�s tyres so totally outmatched. With equal rubber I believe the Ferrari�s would have dominated in Spain, not just won first and third steps on the podium. Monaco may have seen a different grid too had Bridgestone measured up to Michelin. Michael won in Austria despite a slight warm-up in the pits and he showed with his 3 in a row that Ferrari can�t be discounted just yet. McLaren, and I still believe they are the only real competition Ferrari will meet this year, better heed the wake-up call. Despite Montoya�s great drive at Monaco, Williams will be fighting with Renault for 3rd step on the constructor�s ladder.

We won�t see the new McLaren just yet but I hope that history doesn�t repeat itself and this one hits the track running. Ron can�t afford to have any reliability issues or he can kiss any chance of keeping in the championship race goodbye. Michael can smell another Drivers Gong and the Ferrari can deliver it. At least it will take a lot longer than it did last year. After Canada we are onto a series of traditionally �Bridgestone Friendlier Circuits� and I believe we will chalk most of them up to Ferrari. Even Canada will, Bridgestone willing, be a hard win for anyone not driving a red car.

Michelin was kind to Williams BMW in Monaco, kind to Ralf on Saturday and kinder still to Juan Pablo on Sunday. Ralf remembered how to win on Saturday but the lesson obviously didn�t stick. Sir Frank must be very pleased with Ralf�s effort on race day. To only lose 4 spots from the unassailable position at the front of the grid on a track where it�s impossible to be overtaken takes a rare talent.

There are a number of drivers who won�t be very happy with their mid year report cards in 2003. While no driver will score an A+ a few will get passing grades. Raikkonen, Alonso and Schumacher are all pretty comfortable, as is Webber. They have all delivered enough to justify their respective salaries and reputations. The rest vary from satisfactory, through consistently ordinary to very ordinary. We may not have an Alex Yoong this year but the very mediocre performances of Coulthard and Michael�s baby brother (25 points each notwithstanding) at least give us a reference point to measure the hero�s against.

The teams too will not get many accolades for their performance to date. McLaren and Renault have lifted their games. Williams and Sauber have slipped and the rest have just filled the holes on the grid. Some, like Toyota and Jaguar, have shown potential and some, like Jordan, have lucked into the points. Despite 11 points on the board (see � the new scoring system does work, everybody gets some!) BAR has disappointed again. Button is outdriving Villeneuve but the bottom line is they aren�t causing the top teams any grief.

Oh, and a great big raspberry to all those (and I hasten to add I wasn't one of them) who decided that MS would pull the plug and retire this year because it wasn't easy any more. Much as I don't call myself a fan, Michael is one of the greats and Ferrari must be very happy that he has extended his contract (along with those of Jean Todt, Ross Braun et al) till 2006. The way things are going he might just want to be the LAST F1 champion, not just the wealthiest.

As for the season itself � I�m disappointed. The driver�s points say it has been exciting, the lack of racing and crowd attendances points in another direction. F1 has lost the plot and if they don�t fix it then it will wither and die.

The Quali-flyer
The Real Race Archive

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Reader's comments:

Hmmm. I'm picking up a general theme here of discontent with racing itself - both in this post and in many others. Maybe some people are a little saturated with racing or something? 
Anyway, I think that F1 is the most exciting it has been for years. We are seeing the ushering in of a new breed of drivers and some interesting new rules. I personally am looking forward to seeing who can challenge Mr M. Schumacher over the next 3 1/2 seasons - Montoya? Raikkonen? Alonso? Button? Webber? 
As an Aussie I am obviously happy about the loooooong awaited return of an Aussie to F1. But to me this is also an exciting time with this clear new bread of drivers that will be battling each other for a decade or more to come. Also, I think that Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Renault, Jaguar and BAR will be truely fighting for supremacy as well, with no particular team able to sustain any long term dominance - especially starting next year. With Toyota as an interesting looming giant! 
I think the current qualifying rules are excellent - I actually don't know why it took this long to work this out in hindsight. Why should a car qualify in any other way than it will start the race? It introduces a whole new set of tactical possibilities and the odd interesting situation of a hotshot starting from the rear of the grid. And it introduces the new artform of the 1 lap do or die lap! 
How does the driver approach this?! How does the team?! On the other hand, traction control I have always hated but I suppose it has application in the family sedan. 
Monaco is a race that I think you appreciate more as you get older. I hated it once too but I absolutely love it now. This narrow, undulating, scenic and unforgiving track is a must for a 1 off yearly departure from the "High Tech" tracks. Kid's wanna see Nascars swapping paint and doing cartwheels - Monaco is more the thinking man's race. I loved the tactical battle. Seeing a driver wringing his car's throat when the car just ahead has pitted and he knows he has 3 or so laps to get in front after his pit was great (Raikkonen behind Montoya). Watching Montoya fend off Raikkonen 'til the end was great! One mistake and.......


No discontent with racing, just a lot of discontent with a lack of racing.

F1 has been in decline for quite a few years now. With the accelerating importance of aerodynamics over mechanical grip, coupled with the (justifiable) modifications to tracks to improve safety, overtaking has become increasingly less possible. Attendances have been falling and the cycle of team relativity has seen one team dominate, Ferrari. That dominance has coincided with the emergence of a superb driver in Schumacher leading to boredom in the fans and a further decline in interest from the fans. Among the many outcomes of this decline have been the financial failure of some teams and reduced sponsorship funds threatening others.

These factors have justifiably led the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone to move to protect their interests, power and money.

All that I'm comfortable with. Where we part ways is the initiatives they have pursued to achieve their aims. Instead of trying to address the real problems (and by the way - I don't have the answers to how that should be achieved either) of re-establishing mechanical grip in cars that are now possibly too fast to be able to use it, they decided to attack the rising costs of R&D with some half arsed measures and introduce an element of randomness in the grids by playing with qualifying. Adding in a revised points system to penalize the winners has achieved something. It has rewarded mediocrity and caution (Ralf and David have 25 points each) and kept the second best car/driver at the top of the tree for a little longer.

I too think it is fantastic that we have drivers of the Alonso, Raikkonen mould in the sport, even more that they are getting to drive the fast cars this early in their careers. Think of how much more exciting watching this new breed would be if they were in an environment that allowed them to move off the racing line without destroying their tyres for 2 laps afterwards or to approach within 10 metres of the car in front of them without losing aerodynamic grip.

I half agree with you on Monaco, it is steeped in tradition and I would be sad to see it go. It is however an anachronism and safety issues will kill it eventually. I don't agree with your observations on the excitement of seeing Montoya 'fending off' Kimi. At Monaco, in the lead, you don't need rear view mirrors. Montoya had to concentrate on not hitting anything and getting the car to the flag. Kimi could have caught up to him at any time after the last pit stops and ....... well, followed him to the end, he certainly couldn't have passed him.

Finally, I was interested to see your list of teams fighting for supremacy. Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Renault I'm happy with. Jaguar and BAR would be more concerned about fighting for survival based on current performances and recent history. 

The Quali-flyer

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