Thursday 29 August 2013

Further thoughts on the Belgian Grand Prix

Sometimes a puncture is just a puncture
The figure of Sigmund Freud is synonymous with the hidden meaning, and today the everyday language associates his name with the inadvertent revelation of the subtext; the real deep-down implicit meanings that perhaps we'd rather not show. But even he said (or rather possibly said, as the quote may be apocryphal) that 'sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar'.

Pirelli is getting little benefit of the doubt right now
Photo: Octane Photography
And perhaps those in and around F1 should take heed. Not so much about cigars, but rather about punctures. For as long as wheels on cars are inflatable they will puncture sometimes. Always have, always will. This may be because of debris, contact or even, shock horror, that the tyre supplier has made a mistake. Just as drivers sometimes make a mistake, as do teams. As do any of us.

Right now however, if Friday practice last weekend in Spa was anything to do by, all of this is barely being considered, at least by some.

There were sharp gasps in Spa's media room as, towards the end of the second practice session, Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull could be seen trundling into the pits with a rear wheel shredded. The tension got more acute when almost immediately – and with eery redolence of Silverstone’s one tyre failure following another – Giedo van der Garde crashed at Stavelot. Fernando Alonso noted afterwards that he too had experienced a puncture in that session, and it also was revealed that other cars had cuts in their rubber. Before you knew it, the F1 drivers were demanding reassurance from race director Charlie Whiting that Pirelli understands the problem.

Giedo van der Garde's practice accident caused a flutter
Photo: Octane Photography
It's all understandable to a large extent, given we're only a handful of weeks on from the British Grand Prix's harrowing events. So we're right to be vigilant. And as for the drivers given where they sit they have my every sympathy in terms of minimising unnecessary additional risks. But my perception at Spa was that we've somewhere down the line swung the pendulum too far, and forgotten that punctures are unavoidable, part of motor sport, and that seeing them doesn't mean we should jump to the conclusion that Silverstone is happening all over again.

The worst manifestation of this was when I overheard journalists sat near to me insisting, upon seeing replays of van der Garde's accident, that they could see a tyre deflating on screen. But they couldn't, they only thought they could. I seemed a classic instance of seeing what you assumed was there.

And so it was as Pirelli's investigation found that the cuts were caused by a piece of debris that had dropped off Kimi Raikkonen's car, as well as that it was confirmed that van der Garde's accident had exactly nothing to do with the tyres.

In F1, even right now, sometimes a puncture is just a puncture.

1 comment:

  1. All said and done, it wasn't a very exciting race, shame