Thoughts on Barcelona or An unavailing search for the greener grass

Formula One is now back to normal. Pirelli are back on top of the list of hot topics, namely. It is tempting to blame tyres for the lack of racing, but it is too easy, don’t you think?

Depending on their position, every team and every driver has complained about the tyres at some point. These complains are encouraged by the media as well as by the fans. At the end of the day it’s always nice to have some higher power to blame for your failure. Voices saying that it’s a job of the teams and the drivers to maximise their performance with what’s given are becoming louder with every single race. I can get the point, it sounds rational, but I still cannot get rid of the feeling that it is wrong.

Media are not blameless in all the attention which Pirelli get. “Isn’t it a shame when real fight is with your tyres rather than with other racers?” was the first question Jenson Button got from the Sky reporters after the race. And it was both a question and an answer. Sometimes I have a feeling that the media don’t really care, what the drivers actually think. I have an impression that they frame the questions in a way that would best fit their “story”. I bet there would be a lot less tyre talks if it was not for the media.

Spanish GP was about tyres, as every race in the past couple of years, but the difference is that there actually were drivers who were driving in the limit throughout the whole race. The Ferraris. With a four-stop-strategy both Alonso and Massa had to push on every single lap making up for the time spent in the pits. And both drivers did it brilliantly. And  Fernando Alonso pulled out a great win. It wasn’t the most spectacular one, for sure, but it was important one. This made a couple of people in the grandstands smile.

Massa is getting more and more impressive with every single race, and his podium finish from the 9th on the grid is a great sign of the Brazilian’s form. It is also incredibly nice seeing the display of almost affection between Massa and Smedley. One of the aspect I love F1 for is interpersonal relationships, and this caring attitude which Rob appears to have towards Felipe is extremely nice to observe. DC’s comments on the “bromance” made me smile too: “I could always go to talk to Michael, when no one else would”. DC is a great character with a great sense of humour, he makes the BBC coverage worth watching.

Another amazing part of the BBC coverage was the interview with Mark and Fernando. I love the experienced drivers in Formula One, something that you learn to value with the amount of the rookies on the grid. The mutual respect the drivers like Mark, Fernando or Jenson have is incredible, but some people seem to be learning better than others. And the battle between Raikkonen and Vettel today was a good one. Unfortunately there wasn’t too much overtaking going on in the race. The first lap was entertaining, though.

One has to feel for Mercedes. To finish where Nico and Lewis did starting from the front row must be disappointing. And even though I probably like Mercedes even less than I like Ferrari, I can’t help but to feel for the team. It was painful to hear Lewis on the radio, and once again, hearing a racing driver say, he can’t go any slower just feels wrong.

If I am honest, my biggest disappointment were McLaren. Both cars have finished in the points, after the disastrous qualifying – especially for Button – it is a good result, but it is not the result I am disappointed with. It’s the team orders. One can say that McLaren learned their lesson from China. There is no need to rationalize it, it is obvious that the order was the best thing the team could do, but I can’t help but feel disappointed. Maybe not even by the order per se, but by the fact that it was too conservative. Exactly what the Mercedes did back in Malaysia. I probably wouldn’t be happy if the team would ask Jenson to let Checo pass to enable him chase the force India, but this would send a completely different message. I somehow feel that that the team could risk and gain another place, but they decided not to. I also think that it is not too good for the mood in the team and I fear that McLaren risk to demotivate Perez by taming him. For me as a Button fan it was painful to see him being outqualified by his younger team mate, I have mixed feelings about the McLaren situation altogether, but not for a second I think the team should favour Button over Perez. Was today’s order favouritism or just conservatism, I don’t know. But what I know for sure, I am disappointed. Jenson’s comment that with the support the team receives, it’s embarrassing only to be able to finish 8th, was adorable. I somehow can’t help but to adore Button’s ability to manage the communication with the press and to remain classy even in defeat.

A couple of days ago I came across a picture saying “Formula One just doesn’t feel right this season”, and I really feel tempted to agree, despite being aware of the irrationality of it. Maybe it is because of the tyres, but the tyres were as much of a topic in 2012 as they are now, maybe even worse; maybe because the drivers and the teams I tend to support are far away from where I expect them to be. I don’t know. Or maybe it’s just me arriving at that embarrassing point when you start talking about the grass being greener.

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