The Badgerometer is where we compile a Top 5 things from the previous grand prix (or anything else we fancy when there’s no race). Sometimes the racing is barely featured. After a grand prix weekend in which Badger throughly exhausted its supply of puns we’re looking at the top five Turkish Delights (last one, we promise) of 2011.
The Return of GP2
No, it’s not F1, but it is very closely linked to it – and it was flippin’ brilliant this weekend. Yes, GP2 returned in Turkey and produced two top-notch races. Comeback kid Romain Grosjean nabbed pole and took victory in the feature race, but he was run extremely close by British racer Sam Bird. Unlike the grand prix, we didn’t quite know who was going to win until the flag fell.
The sprint race race was won – rather surprisingly – by Stefano Coletti and also saw Bird star (again) as he came from seventh on the grid to third at the finish, thus ensuring he shares the championship lead with Romain heading to round two in Spain.
And aside from the racing there were some big crashes and a few safety cars – something Badger’s own Tess Tarosa feels has been lacking from F1 this season. Fabio Leimer’s shunt (below) is worth watching again, not least because the young Swiss walked nonchalantly away from it, shrugging his shoulders as if he’d endured no more than a gentle spin in to the gravel. Welcome back GP2 – we missed you!
Eddie Jordan’s Morsel of Sadness
Morsel – noun – a small amount; a piece.
During the BBC’s post-race coverage Eddie Jordan described his emotions on Michael Schumacher’s ugly Turkish Grand Prix as ‘a morsel of sadness.’ Really, Eddie? A morsel of sadness. It was truly bizarre vernacular from the Irishman, leading us to wonder what he’ll dream up next: a ‘crumb of delight’ when Paul di Resta next shows up Adrian Sutil? A ‘slice of satisfaction’ when Mark Webber finally outqualifies Sebastian Vettel? A ‘smorgasbord of overtakes’ after the next DRS frenzied race? Actually that’s good. Leave that alone, EJ – it’s ours.
Red Bull Ruling the Roost
First off, that title isn’t a Turkey pun – got that? Good.
Anyway, it would be remiss of us not to mention Red Bull. The team have gone from the frankly useless Jaguar operation to the class of the F1 field in just a few years and after bossing the constructors’ championship and just sneaking the drivers’ crown with Sebastian Vettel last season now look nailed on to repeat both. In Turkey they were once again superb, taking their first one-two finish of the season and never looking particularly likely to achieve any less.
The Milton Keynes-based operation is first class, no one builds a better car than Adrian Newey and Christian Horner is as good a team boss as you could hope for. Add in Dietrich Matschiz’s billions and the driving abilities of the Vettel-Webber pairing and you have a team destined to dominate. Turkey was no exception, and we doff our caps to them for their triumph.
Remember the days when you could instantly reel off the result of a grand prix the following day because it had basically been the same throughout the race? Those days are gone, folks. It’s a brave new world and, for all its faults, it’s better than the one we left behind.
Formula One races have become scenes of organised chaos, with an almost constant slew of pitstops, overtaking moves and on-track collisions. One minute you had Michael Schumacher banging in to Vitaly Petrov, then a McLaren was struggling to shed its wheel in the pits and before you knew it Schumacher had hit someone else, Alonso had passed Webber only to be re-passed and the fastest lap had been bettered seven times. It was breathless!
Are the new regs good for the sport? You could argue that Turkey was a tad too much, but that was largely to do with the positioning of the DRS zone on a track of Istanbul’s nature. What is undoubtedly true is that it’s better than watching a processions. One driver has now won three of the four races run in 2011, and he’ll probably romp to the title, but that’s been tempered by the sheer amount of action going on behind him. Ultimately this can only be good for the spectacle, and lest we forget that Formula One survives on its ability to draw in a mass global audience.
Turkey saw a pair of great – and very different – inter-team squabbles on circuit, and it is they, good reader, that top this week’s Badgerometer. In terms of quality, you couldn’t beat the Lewis vs. Jenson ding-dong that took place early in the race, the two world champions passing and re-passing each other several times but never – and this is crucial – coming to blows. Jenson just looks so in control of his car these days, his vast experience and supposed inner calm really coming to the fore. Lewis meanwhile is just stupidly fast, making this line-up the best all-round combo in F1 right now. No arguments – McLaren’s duo are numero uno.
At the other end of the scale were the Renault boys, who had a bit of a barney when Heidfeld attempted a pass on Petrov. Wheels were banged, arms were waved and, after the race, diminutive Germans were not very happy at all.
“That’s not nice,” Nick told the BBC. “It shouldn’t happen. He just pushed me wide and we made contact. It’s not a safe thing to do.”
What’s this? Actual, open hostility between team-mates in the ultra-corporate world of 21st century F1? We thought those days were long gone. It just goes to show that it’s no good when team-mates collide, which gives us a chance to point you in the direction of last week’s Badgerometer, which was on just that topic.
The last slice of Turkey?
Indulge me, if you will, in a short personal rant. Rumours are ablaze at the moment about the future of the Turkish Grand Prix. Will it be on the calendar in 2012?
Nothing is confirmed yet, but here’s one perspective to look at it from: sure, it’s not popular with the local fans, but if F1 does leave Turkey it will have created an expensive white elephant, a facility made for F1 and thus demanding massive levels of upkeep. Perhaps Abu Dhabi – which has more than enough financial clout to write-off such follies – could cope; Silverstone, Spa or Monza would also survive, with a whole host of other series racing at those venues. Turkey has next to nothing and bare-minimum levels of interest.
When the sport talks about taking F1 to the world it doesn’t mention what will happen when it takes it away again. One to think about.