Saturday, December 27, 2008

(53) 2008 in review

Well, it's been a little over a year since I decided I wanted to be a racing driver. I started out knowing pretty much nothing about cars. I learned a lot this year. I learned that speed is relative, I learned that sometimes going fast means going slow, I learned that I'm "danger-stupid" (according to the government) and that obviously since I'm a professionally trained driver I'm completely inadequate when compared to the old woman who can't parallel park so obviously I'm not fit to coexist in this society of rocket engineer drivers (just like the guy that merges with freeway traffic going 30 MPH because he thinks going full-throttle is for hooligans).

Yeah, I'm still pissed about failing my test (twice).

I had two main goals this year, get a podium finish (which I did, twice), and finish the driver's championship in the top ten (which I did, in 9th spot, so barely).

Goals for next year? Well, there's a few (in order of priority). There's of course the never ending goal of finishing in first place, and then get into the top-5 in the driver's championship. Then I need to buy my own car as well as pass my driving test. I also want to do some track days with my own car and get my competition license for semiprofessional racing (NASA or SCCA). Assuming I make enough money, I also want to buy my own race car and hire a team, but I'm counting those as secondary concerns.

2009 will be a busy year for me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

(52) Not again...

I failed my driving test AGAIN. I changed lanes in front of a guy and he had to adjust his speed a little bit and the examiner deemed this dangerous. He was at least 3 car lengths back if not more and we were only going about 30. He only had to slow just a couple miles an hour.

I swear, these tests are so redundant because you have to drive so reserved for it, and if you did that all the time you'd crash every Tuesday. It's just a big song and dance dreamed up by bureaucrats, and, unfortunately, I can't sing and I can't dance.

I'm really pissed about it and normally I wouldn't be, but getting a road license is kind of critical to a few things, like a good job, and a race license. If I don't get my driving license, I can't exactly move forward. I'll get there eventually, it's just a question of how long.

Friday, December 5, 2008

(51) Changing the Formula

I suppose it's about time I talked about Formula 1, huh? Where to start...

Well, Honda is pulling out completely and they're up for sale, Bernie Ecclestone, CEO and "Supremo" of F1, wants medals instead of points for victories and to make qualifying more complicated and less about putting the fastest man on pole, the cars are getting less downforce and more mechanical grip through slick tires, as well as the new "KERS" system which basically means the cars are hybrids, and Max Mosley, President of FIA and the man responsible for the pitiful 6 cars on the grid at the 2005 US Grand Prix, wants Cosworth to make standard engines for teams to "elect to use" in 2010 or 2011.

Most people are up in arms about all this. I'm not too worried about it. I think the changes to the cars are a good thing. Less downforce means the cars show how hard they are to drive, the cars aren't on rails through the corners. Less downforce means more passing. Slick tires means more tire strategy and more consequence when they get worn down, you'll see a lot more cars sideways. You'll be able to tell when the car is at or beyond maximum.

KERS, however, I don't know about. The system takes energy produced under braking and stores it for the driver to use at will. I suppose you could look at A1GP or Formula Palmer Audi for the effects of the "boost button". But limiting that boost with braking performance? I don't think anyone will be able to predict what effect that will have on the racing.

But now we get to the nitty-gritty stupid-stupid.

Medals? How dumb is that? Points ensures that the man with the most points is the winningest driver already. So what if the driver with the most points only has to finish 5th at the final Grand Prix? He earned that leeway by winning more than the last guy and building up his points. If you go back in history and look at some of the greats that have won Grand Prix season championships with points, and then you apply the medal system to their placing, a lot of those legends would never have won a single championship, and that's a real shame. Out of all of these new changes, the medals is the one I most want to crash and burn.

And the new qualifying... ugh. Just give the drivers 20 minutes, put them on the track and the fastest dude at the end gets to be up front. Everybody's happy.

The Cosworth engines... Now, this gets a little convoluted. Basically, Cosworth will build a spec engine, and a spec transmission will be supplied along with it in 2010. It's a whole drive train. Teams can then choose to buy the engine for about 6 million Euros and that includes 30,000 kilometers of testing and a full season of track support with Cosworth engineers. The teams don't have to buy the engine if they don't want to. They can still choose to build their own.

The problem then is, the Cosworth engine becomes the defacto standard. The engine that, say, Ferrari builds cannot be more powerful than the Cosworth standard. But, they still all have to use the standard transmission package. So, even if you choose to build your own engine it wouldn't do you any good from a marketing standpoint because no matter what you build or spend, it won't be any better than the budget standard.

So what Mr. Mosley has done, is address the concerns from Mercedes and Ferrari about branding their engines, while still negating any benefit they might have gained by building one themselves.

How idiotic is that? Formula 1 is, and has always been a technical exercise. What Ferrari learn on the Formula 1 grid, they take to their street cars as well. If you limit the engine standard like that, progress comes to a standstill. Not only will Formula 1 become stagnant in terms of technical advancement, but also the road cars that benefit from the experience of the F1 teams will also slow in development. The Bugatti Veyron, for example, would not be possible without the Ricardo transmission, and Ricardo only learned how to withstand 1000 horsepower by being in F1. And similar things can be said for every other supercar that has been made.

It just makes me sick. It's a load of bureaucracy. So why then, did I say that I'm not bothered? Well, if F1 goes down the tubes, at least there's good racing in GP2.

And finally, Honda. Well, it's a real shame, to say the least. Honda engines took Ayrton Senna to most of his championship wins. So their influence has been pretty much undeniable.