BBC BLOGS - Andrew Benson

Archives for December 2011

Better racing - but is it fake?

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Andrew Benson | 15:10 UK time, Thursday, 29 December 2011

In Monaco before Christmas, Formula 1's governing body held a meeting to discuss one of the key and most controversial aspects of 2011 - the Drag Reduction System or DRS.

Introduced amid much controversy and no small amount of trepidation in some quarters, questions about the validity of the overtaking aid, not to mention the wisdom of employing it, decreased during the season. So much so that, at the Monaco meeting, it was decided that only small refinements needed to be made to its use for the 2012 campaign.

But while the FIA and the teams all agree that DRS has played a valuable role in improving F1 as a spectacle, they are determined to ensure it performs in the way intended. In particular, no-one wants to cheapen one of the central aspects of a driver's skill by making overtaking too easy.

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Dominant car? Great driver? Or a bit of both?

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Andrew Benson | 11:35 UK time, Friday, 23 December 2011

Sebastian Vettel's second world championship title was as remarkable for its control as much as the blinding speed of the German and his Red Bull.

Vettel based his season on a strategy of taking pole position, blitzing the first two laps and from then on going only as fast as he needed to.

The plan generally worked to perfection - Vettel took 11 wins and 15 poles from 19 grands prix - but it left you wondering just how fast he and the Red Bull could have gone.

In Brazil, I asked him if, with the title already in the bag, he had ever been tempted to just go for it, to really push the car and himself to the absolute limits. He replied that he had done just that in Korea and India, the scenes of two of his most dominant wins. "We were able to explore and sometimes take a little bit more risk," Vettel told me.

Despite Vettel's domination in 2011, there were very few of the runaway wins normally seen when one car is superior to the rest. Quite often, the races looked competitive, with Vettel tantalisingly close to - but frustratingly just out of reach of - his leading rivals.

Vettel and team boss Christian Horner often insisted the Red Bull had less of an advantage over McLaren and Ferrari in 2011 than in 2010. Yet Vettel won only five races and recorded 10 poles in 2010 on his way to winning the championship for the first time.

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Red Bull set to dominate?

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Andrew Benson | 11:09 UK time, Tuesday, 6 December 2011

To some, the decision of Red Bull and Ferrari to pull out of the Formula 1 Teams' Association, the umbrella group that represents the teams' interests, could look innocuous enough. In reality it could have far-reaching consequences.

The F1 teams have put a brave public face on it, but behind the scenes there are serious concerns that it could lead to a period of Red Bull domination about which their rivals can do little.

The move by two of F1's most powerful teams was provoked by continuing distrust about whether all of the competitors were adhering to the terms of a document called the Resource Restriction Agreement.

The RRA sets out limits on the amount of staff, external spend and aerodynamic research teams can employ and covers work on the design of the car - with drivers' salaries, marketing and engines excluded.

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