Formula 1: We're All Going on a Summer Holiday - The Top 5

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Formula 1: We're All Going on a Summer Holiday - The Top 5

Let me just reach out for my BIG dictionary and hit you with some definitions before we get cracking, something to think about if you will, now try to concentrate:

  • Impetus [Im-pit-uss] Noun
  1. An incentive or impulse.
  2. (Physics) The force that starts a body moving or that tends to resist changes in its speed or direction once it is moving.

[Latin – Attack]

  • Momentum [Moh-men-tum] Noun
  1. The impetus to go forward, develop, or get stronger.
  2. The impetus of a moving body.
  3. (Physics) The product of a body’s mass and its velocity.

[Latin – Movement]

Source – The Collins Essential English Dictionary – 2nd Edition 2006, HarperCollins Publishers 2004, 2006.

Hopefully that has cleared a few things up before I crack on and will prevent me from having to explain my wording.

After 11 rounds, 708 laps and over 17 hours of fast-fueled racing, we are now in what I am calling the ‘Summer Holiday’ for F1. It’s a three-week break until the next race, which will be held at the brand-new street circuit in Valencia.

The purpose of my article is to investigate the teams that are going into the break with some momentum and others that maybe have the impetus to gain some momentum. Are you with me so far? I hope so.

So we leave Hungary with some occurrences that leave us thinking about certain teams and just where they stand right now, especially given the fact that any testing to be done over the summer holiday will have to be done using computer models and wind tunnels. No track tests are permitted until the next testing meeting, which is in Monza  on Aug. 27.

Let’s take a look at the current Top Five teams:

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Scuderia Ferrari

I am going to start with my old friends Scuderia Ferrari, for all you Tifosi reading, this could get rough, but I will be gentle, I promise.

Ferrari have had somewhat of a lacklustre time as of late and haven’t really been producing.

As a direct result, they have seen their lead in the constructors championship cut down to just 11 points, given the recent gain in form of ‘so called’ No. 2 driver Heikki Kovalainen alongside the ever-threatening Lewis Hamilton, this could be a worrying margin.

The last race saw some tough times, as the McLaren was a much faster car in both practice and qualifying, so much so that McLaren had a front-row lockout.

Come race day, the Ferraris all of a sudden found some pace, I have no idea how, but they were on it, and in lap one Felipe Massa managed to leapfrog from third on the grid up to first in the space of one corner.

Current WDC Kimi Raikkonen, who seems to be in a slump of form right now, started the race in sixth and seemed to be having great difficulty in overtaking former world champion Fernando Alonso.

He only managed to gain that position through a pit overlap, so questions are still being asked of the Finn this season.

Ferrari had Massa’s car RPM turned down in the slowdown of the race due to the massive lead he had accumulated, but then three laps from the end, Felipe’s car gave up and decided to pour its feelings out the rear of the car.

Reconstruction: “Okay Felipe, you are leading the race with Heikki a whole 18 seconds behind you, just turn the engine RPM down and take it easy, save your tyres and bring that car home, we have your beans on toast ready for you

** Seconds Later **

BOOM... Is that smoke coming out of the back of Felipe’s car?

Race over for the No. 2 car, so close and so very unlucky after such a great drive. The No. 1 car of Kimi Raikkonen had also been given the orders to turn down the engine but for a completely different engine problem.

At this crucial time in the season, do the Ferrari’s really need more reliability issues like they did in the early stages of this amazing season?

Just when we all think we have a race on our hands, the red cars that we so commonly see dominating, throw a spanner into the works to make us question just where do they stand in terms of pace. Ferrari certainly has the impetus.

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BMW Sauber

Another tricky one here, BMW were making some tasty headlines in tabloids, and word on the street was that Robert Kubica was going to be Mr. Reliable and Mr. Consistent and be the one to say that this year there would be a BMW in the fight.

After a maiden victory in Canada, our mate Bobby was even being tagged with headlines that had the word ‘Champion’ in them.

To tie in with this maiden win, BMW scored themselves a 1-2 victory, something that only Ferrari have managed to do this year. A lot of F1 fans were beginning to mutter the unthinkable, yes that's right. Bobby might become F1’s youngest-ever champion.

But it doesn’t seem to be as it has been quoted and then re-quoted and then re-re-quoted all over again, saying that BMW will be concentrating on 2009, or would they, or wouldn’t they, but then again would they? Who honestly knows?

Big Mario had the following to say: “We won't reduce our development pace for the remainder of the season. Our goal for the remaining three European rounds and four overseas races is to build on the good results scored in the first half of the season. We still have several improvements in the pipeline that should help us return to the road to success.

Up until last week, BMW were sitting in second place in the constructors table, but with recent form being slightly dire, the points have started to dry up.

So again we have another team in limbo. What do we, the fans, think? Are the boys at BMW going to have a strong finish and give us that fight we want, or will they pick up on 2009 development and write this year off?

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Renault

This is a difficult one to judge with Renault, because they are touch and go and have been all season.

We have Fernando who blows hot and cold, finishing behind the rookie one week and the next week putting in an amazing display to fend off the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen for 75 percent of a race in a technically slower car.

Young Piquet is now starting to find his feet and some form, so are the boys in the R28’s going to start pulling their weight and churning out some results for big Flava Flav?

I think they have to prove themselves in the light of the recent form that Toyota has found if they want to be kings of the midfield, because right now they are playing second fiddle.

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Toyota

Toyota are looking pretty good right now. They have been churning out some great results. Glock’s first podium in Hungaroring was nothing short of astonishing, and it made himself out to be many people’s driver of the day, including mine, I may add.

Meanwhile, Trulli IS Mr. Consistent and has only been out of the points on three occasions this season, putting him nicely in the top seven drivers. That is a great result so far for Toyota, I am sure most will agree.

They don’t seem to have been developing the car as much as other teams, although they did introduce the anvil/shark fin engine cover for Round 11 in Hungary.

It seemed to have worked a treat because the Toyota defied all odds and finished up on the second step of the podium. It was nothing short of an inspired drive by Glock, and this has no doubt contributed to the good news that he will be staying on at Toyota for the 2009 season (allegedly).

Can the consistent form be continued on into the latter part of the season, thus FINALLY stamping the arrival of Toyota into F1 motor racing? God knows for the investment these results are long overdue.

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McLaren Mercedes

McLaren seem to be the team going into the summer holidays with the most form and momentum, granted that I am under no illusions that the Hungary win wasn’t handed to them on a silver platter with a side order of ‘Ha ha ha’ and lashings of ‘Payback is a bitch’.

McLaren have won three on the trot now, with three 5th place finishes to back those wins up. That's 42 points out of a possible 54, in comparison to closest rival Ferrari’s 20 points.

Those results bring them within sniffing distance of the Ferrari smoke that is pouring out of the back of their cars. Things are certainly staying tight at the top, as I put it not so long ago.

In terms of development of the cars, it again seems to be McLaren that are holding the torch, showing drastic improvements to the MP4-23 to bring it not only back in line with its rival F2008 but perhaps overtaking it in terms of performance (no solid evidence to support this claim).

Development has always been a strong point of McLaren's and, at this pace, will they soon have a second per lap on their Italian friends unless something is done?

Heikki Kovalainen gets his first win of the season and Lewis Hamilton driving exquisitely of late are two factors that will feature very heavily in the McLaren campaign. They will be a formidable opposition come Valencia. Watch out for a continuation of form.

Here is how the teams stand over the summer holidays.

Drivers Championship (Top):

  1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) - 62
  2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 57
  3. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) - 54
  4. Robert Kubica (BMW) - 49
  5. Nick Heidfeld (BMW) - 41
  6. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) - 38
  7. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) - 22
  8. Fernando Alonso (Renault) -18
  9. Mark Webber (Red Bull) - 18
  10. Timo Glock (Toyota) – 13

Constructors Championship Standings:

  1. Ferrari - 111
  2. McLaren-Mercedes - 100
  3. BMW Sauber - 90
  4. Toyota - 35
  5. Renault - 31
  6. Red Bull-Renault - 24
  7. Williams-Toyota - 16
  8. Honda - 14
  9. STR-Ferrari - 8
  10. Force India-Ferrari – 0

The tables give us lots to ponder over but will form have anything to do with the season as the guys take to the cars after their cruel summer?

One thing is for sure...those boys in the factories will not be on holiday, “You snooze, you lose!” They will be working round the clock on developments for their cars and running tests on them with their computers and wind tunnels.

For the last three years the driver/team who won the race before the summer holiday did NOT win in the first race back.

Of course the trend was broken if we go back one further year, when Michael Schumacher managed to put those wins together even with all that suntan lotion on his gloves.

So will the trend continue? If so, that means that McLaren will not win in Valencia and one of the teams with a bigger impetus will take the top step. Alternatively, will McLaren break the trend and carry the momentum through after the summer break with further advancements to the MP4-23 and take another minimum 10 points for the campaign?

Guys its over to you on this one, as usual, don’t forget stars and POTD if you wish and as always, all comments whether they be negative or positive are welcomed. Let’s spark up the debate.

Part 2 in the series which details "The Bottom 5" can be found by clicking here - enjoy!

Ben, Over and Out!

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