It’s hard to write while avoiding the smell blowing across the land from the direction of Belgium, and the Spa track – apparently customs officials there have threatened to go on strike if they don’t get a bonus for passing a number of large brown paper parcels through unchecked, after the paper was accidentally torn on one and someone suggested the contents looked like red cars made in Italy, bound for anonymous recipients around the area of Spa.
A week later and there was farcical round of interviews, which fell into two distinct camps. Those who were in competition or hostile to Lewis Hamilton (surprise, that includes all the other drivers) – universally in favour of the passing penalty, and those who had nothing to do with him or were ambivalent – universally in condemnation of the penalty.
This week’s race in Italy shows how silly the ruling was, as everyone is suddenly following the rule that was invented last week, and faithfully avoiding any possibility of getting penalised for overtaking too quickly after giving back a position if gained by sliding past when missing or cutting a corner.
Getting back to the real business, the rain did indeed make things more interesting again this week. I should mention Vettel, who seemed to to a good job by holding things together after getting all the benefits going this weekend, but let’s not get carried away, and not forget that this is down to circumstances – but well done nevertheless.
McLaren and Hamilton have to go away and have a think about their combined performance this week at Italy – whatever they have to do to address their consistency needs to be done quickly as they simply to not have the time left in the season to start dropping things. It may just have been an unfortunate combination of a bad week and negative mental attitude after Spa, combined with a similarly unfortunate combination of weather, tyres, engine, and brakes – it can happen. But they can’t let it happen again, and need to get things in order.
That said, they were also lucky, and things could have gone a lot worse very easily, but as it was, all they really did this week was mount a successful damage limitation exercise, and you can’t win if that’s all you do.
One serious observation, and that’s to note that I find it incredible that the stewards are part-timers, and there’s no permanent members that travel with the F1 circus to ensure consistency from race to race – that has to change, and I’m surprised, given the money involved, that the drivers and manufacturers put up with such an amateur setup. It’s an understandable situation for local and domestic race meeting, but not at the level of F1.