NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturday: Teammate Turmoil & More Ahead of the British GP

Welcome back to some more Formula 1.  In previous years it was rare to have back-to-back race weekends, but this year there’s five, with this one being the second.  Then again, there’s also 21 races this season which seems to be the series at its threshold with regard to the number of events it should hold.  One of the benefits of the schedule is that the number of races brings about certain elements of drama.  That leads to teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

This season is playing out in a similar fashion to last year’s.  The two were atop the standings last year at this point as well.  But they didn’t engage in the same kind of on-track hostilities as they have this season.  While the incident at the Spanish Grand Prix may have been one of those ‘racing deals’ last Sunday’s collision seemed to rest squarely on Rosberg’s shoulders, brake issue or not.  

Having both drivers in position to win the championship is a great problem to have – until they start mistaking their rides for bumper cars.  The on-track issues, and the likely possibility that the two may not get along all that well in team meetings, have led to discussions about enacting team orders.  

Team orders makes sense, somewhat, for the team as it would ensure that both drivers avoid each other.  But from a racing perspective, team orders would kill the competition.  McLaren’s Fernando Alonso said that Mercedes will win the championship without team orders, a statement that hovers in the area of obvious  So if the real championship battle is between these two drivers, Mercedes should just let them race as it’s better for everyone.

Teammates not getting along is nothing new to Formula 1, or any other series of racing.  Red Bull featured the most recent and lasting acrimony between teammates when Sebastian Vettel was winning championships and Mark Webber was getting frustrated.  That’s not to say that Renault this year hasn’t faced some of the similar issues, but feuding teammates really gets highlighted only when the team is poised to win titles.  That’s why the Mercedes team brings so much drama.  

The hope is that Mercedes continues to let the duo race, regardless of whatever inanity they get into over the next few weeks.

Odds & Sods

Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen just killed silly season.  Or pretty close to it.  Ferrari decided to sign the Finnish driver to another year of driving the prancing pony.  Raikkonen is a confounding driver, one with loads of talent yet also one that seems to exist in his own world at times.  Those aspects recognized, he’s also been a stabile teammate, a better than decent driver (for a team that continues to underperform) while also being rather entertaining at times.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09. 02.03.2016. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain. Wednesday.  - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Rew / XPB Images
Sergio Perez is staying put at Force India (Copyright: Rew / XPB Images)

Keeping Raikkonen on is actually a solid move, though one that many question.  Ferrari can expect another solid performance out of him next year as it continues to either monitor who might be available or develop their own replacement.  In addition, his expertise may help to develop their car going forward.  

– With the news of the Raikkonen signing, Force India let it be known that Sergio Perez was never going anywhere.  Perez will be back with the team for next year, as will Nico Hulkenberg, who had also been rumored to be going to Ferrari at one point.  That’s how the dominos are falling at this point.  With the Ferrari seat settled, and now the line-up at Force India set, there’s not that much left to determine.  The focus shifts to McLaren and Jenson Button, though his ride is likely going to Stoffel Vandoorne, and whether or not Felipe Massa keeps his ride at Williams.  So much for the fun of silly season.  

– When F1 introduced the V6 engine and all of its technological marvels last year, much of the outcry came about do to the engine’s noise.  Often ignored in the story was the lap times, as the focus was on the six components (six components?!) that make up the power unit.  Well, one of the best trends in F1 has been that times are up across all races this year with the current car posting laps that are up to three seconds faster.  The times are getting comparable to those of ten years ago when F1 began wondering if the speeds were too fast but offers a scintillating look at how the teams can tinker with something and continue to find speed.

– Ferrari broke out the Halo device in practice this weekend to give it testing moving forward for next year.  This aspect of the car is a conflicted one.  Everyone wants the drivers to be as safe as possible.  But one of the beauties of F1 is the cars and their elegance and the halo, well, it just looks kind of stupid.  For now, it’s what the series is choosing to go with, but one just thinks that with all of the smart minds in the sport that they may have found something else.  

The Race
The track is built on the grounds of a former World War II bomber airport.  It’s 3.66 miles in length, high speed, and features 18 turns.  The track came into existence in 1950, and Alain Prost leads the way with 5 wins.  As for current drivers, Hamilton leads everyone with three wins at Silverstone.  

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