Clip The Apex
It seems to me for the past 25 years or so the pattern has been one of long-term domination of the sport by one team and car.
There were a few hiccups in that period when the leading cars were a bit more more even such as the 2005-2009 period but otherwise F1's been notable for long periods of uninterrupted periods of unbroken dominance lasting several years within which others are reduced to grabbing the odd win here and there.
Looking back it seems to me 1988 was something of a turning point. The year where only Senna's collision with Schlesser with three laps in to go combined with Prost's earlier engine failure in the Italian GP prevented McLaren from completing a clean sweep of race wins that year.
Ever since then multiple-year team domination has been the norm. The McLaren era preceeded the Williams-Renault, Beneton, McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, with each era seemingly lasting ever-longer.
This is of course an over-simplification. There has over the years been many opportunities to witness on-track battles between two or more similarly-competitive cars. But these a becoming fewer ad fewer whereas they were once the norm. If you look at the past 15 years it's quite clear that long-period supremacy by one car is the norm. It is only really apparent when you look at it from the perspective of the entire history of the WDC since 1950.
Having just read the thread on the potential revival of Brabham and seeing a picture of Lotus 80 I thought it worth starting a thread on some design escapades in F1 which seemed like a good idea at the time but, ultimately, failed miserably. I'll start you off with a couple from my youth.
I'm not sure how many of you know the history of the Arrows team but they were an off shoot of Shadow Racing.Their first car, the FA1, had to be scrapped and rebuilt as the A1 as the FIA agreed that the design was basically copied from the Shadow car from where most of the team members had come (I think they left with many parts from the Shadow car in their pockets) . This was the time of ground effect and Dave Wass (designer) took a long hard look at what Colin Chapman was up to and thought "I can do that". The A2 was born.
The car was very similar in concept to the Lotus 80. It had no front wing and the rear wing was integral to the body shape. The side skirts ran full length and the suspension was hidden inside devices designed to increase downforce. The engine was even placed at a 4 degree angle to give more space for the huge venturi tunnels which ran under the car.
It created downforce by the bucket load, in fact so much that it would suck the car down on to the track, the low pressure are under the car would then release and the car would spring up (affectionately known as porpoising). This was the days before serious wind tunnels and CFD was a twinkle in the eye of an engineer.
Arrows struggled with the car for 8 races in the 1979 season before locking it away in a shed and building the far more simple A3 design. It did, at least, run in more races than the Lotus 80 and Jochen Mass even dragged it into the points on two occasions.
Lewis Hamilton is quoted as saying that whilst some are interested in getting the winning trophies from the F1 classics of Monaco and Monza he is much more interested in winning the ‘modern classics’ such as Silverstone, Spa and Suzuka. The fact that Suzuka is now a classic F1 race is not in doubt in my mind and whilst there was a move for it to be shared with Toyota’s home track in the late noughties it has been a staple diet on the F1 calendar since the 80’s. It has a much fabled history and was setting for the most talked about battle blows between Prost and Senna and whilst it won’t decide the championship this season it has been the deciding round on many occasions. Track wise its not the easiest one to pass on but it is unique in being a figure of eight and having a cross over point. It also has the much fabled 130R and I for one am looking forward to seeing how the 2014 spec F1 cars look going through it this year.
Last season was the first time since 1987 that the manic Japanese fans did not have a home driver to cheer on but, barring a sudden Caterham driver change, this year they will have Kobayashi to cheer on. In fact there is an official Kobayashi stand at the track this year. Kobi has very much been a legend with overtakes and performance on this track however you would think that he has his work cut out in the shopping trolley like Caterham car this year. The other home interest is of course Jenson Button who is judged as being Japanese through marriage. JB has always been good round here and whilst the Mclaren is not a race winner this year it does seem to be getting better and Button’s form has actually, whilst unheralded, has been very good this year and I expect him to push for a top 6 finish.
Championship wise this is a complete opposite to Singapore with neither Merc drivers having good form on this track. Results wise this is Lewis Hamilton’s worst track with a 3rd in 2009 behind Vettel and Jarno Trulli in a Toyota (!) being his best result. That’s not to say he hasn’t been quick round here but its just that the results have not come. Nico Rosberg meanwhile has never got higher than eighth but will have the bit between his teeth after a nightmare Sunday at Singapore. I expect the race win to be a battle between the two Mercs and if I had to put money on it then I’d give it to Hamilton but then I’d have said that at every round this year.
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