May 28, 2006

Why did Shumi do it?: At the tail end of Saturday's qualifying session, provisional pole sitter Michael Schumacher apparently decided to park his F1 in the middle of the track, in order to prevent Fernando Alonso from having a shot at first place on the grid. Keke Rosberg called it "the cheapest, dirtiest thing I have ever seen in Formula One", while Max Mosley wants us to "take this thing in its context". The most successful driver in F1 history is no stranger to controversy.

posted by qbert72 to auto racing at 07:03 PM - 29 comments

Schumi was moved to the back of the grid by the race officials. Incredibly, he still managed to finish the race in fifth place, on a track notorious for its absence of overtaking.

posted by qbert72 at 07:06 PM on May 28, 2006

Well, at least Alonso won after all. Amd Schumacher's always been kind of a selfish prick, at least to my memory. Is there any recourse, even hypothetically, for assholiness like this?

posted by chicobangs at 07:34 PM on May 28, 2006

Schumi has always been a kind of patron, to use the cycling term for someone who bosses around the rest of the pack, and this particular fit of pique reminded me of an aging patron pulling off a stunt. Richard Williams talks about the two Schumachers, but I don't think it's schizoid: in a way, his performance from the back of the grid -- at Monaco, a no-passing zone at most times -- managed to steal some of Alonso's headlines.

posted by etagloh at 08:16 PM on May 28, 2006

Agree with the above. Schumi used to be able to get away with this stuff. No more. I was really impressed with Coulthard's performance, given the equipment he was running.

posted by machaus at 08:19 PM on May 28, 2006

This kind of thing is why I won't follow F-1. Pulling over so that your team mate wins the race, stopping in the middle of the track so that a fellow racer can't have a shot at the pole. Granted, Nascar has it's flaws, but you will never see anything like that happen in one of their races.

posted by latemodelrocket at 10:12 PM on May 28, 2006

Sorry, I don't understand racing at all and the stories presuppose some knowledge - what happened? He stopped and tried to pretend it was an accident so that someone who was going to finish ahead of him, wouldn't? And he thought he would end up ahead of the other guy even though he had this accident?

posted by loquax at 11:20 PM on May 28, 2006

The only reason Schumacher got to where he finished was because of some big retirements in front of him, and his fuel strategy. He never overtook anyone I don't think after he caught Button. If you look in psych texts and the criterior for whether someone is a sociopatch, Schumacher fulfills an alarming number of them. I'm just amazed that the FIA actually had the balls to do it. Given previous nonsense, like "You're excluded from the championship but all your results still stand", it was great to see a meaningful punishment. I loved what Keke said. "He should retire right now, in shame." I always did like Keke. Hopefully the fact that pretty much everyone hates him now will mean he'll sod off and not come back. Latemodelrocket: Don't let the actions of that shithead put you off. He'll be gone sooner rather than later now I think. (Apparently he's really upset by the reaction this weekend. Boo fucking hoo. Shouldn't be a cheating scumbag then.) As for NASCAR, yeah, because it's not like a driver recently said he didn't want to risk a pass for the lead because he'd just started establishing a decent fanbase... NASCAR is just as retarded as F1.

posted by Drood at 11:20 PM on May 28, 2006

Loquax: It was the last minute of qualifying. Schumacher had set the pole time. He deliberately parked his car near the end of the lap. This brought out yellow flags. Under the rules a driver HAS to slow down when yellow flags are waving. Thus three drivers who could have very easily beaten his time had their laps destroyed because of his parking it while they were behind on the track, on their last flying lap (the way F1 works, the fastest times are always set in the dying minutes of a session, and Alonso was already 3 tenths of second up on Schumacher at the second split time.) There's a video of it. Schumacher had a history of doing things like this in his early days in lower series, so it's not like this is a first.

posted by Drood at 11:24 PM on May 28, 2006

Thanks Drood! That makes more sense...

posted by loquax at 11:28 PM on May 28, 2006

For some reason I can't edit the earlier comment. Anyway, what I wanted to add was that his acolytes are claiming he couldn't turn the car, which may be correct at other circuits, but for Monaco, the cars are specially modified to make the tightest corner in F1 (the former Loews Hairpin, which I believe is now the Fairmont Hairpin). So we're to believe he could make it round a crazy 180 degree hairpin, but somehow couldn't turn his car when it was stopped and quite clearly NOT touching the wall... Yeah, right... Loquax: I'm an F1 junkie, so you're more than welcome:)

posted by Drood at 11:31 PM on May 28, 2006

Oh I'd LOVE to see him go to NASCAR and try this shit. They'd eat him alive. Can you imagine what Tony Stewart would do to him?!

posted by Drood at 12:04 AM on May 29, 2006

Thing is, Drood, it would only be a fair comparison in the owner and administrator of NASCAR were in love with Schumacher and the team he raced for, giving him repeat free passes and criticising his main racing opponents.

posted by rodgerd at 12:33 AM on May 29, 2006

HAHA! Very true:) So you mean like Junior then;) (Couldn't resist. I still remember how a bunch of people I know figured the Daytona race he own after his Dad died was fixed so he would...)

posted by Drood at 12:41 AM on May 29, 2006

Schumacher's Monaco stunt is just one more reason I've never accepted him as F1's greatest driver, I don't care how many championships he's won. I have no respect for him whatsoever. He's very obviously aware that Alonso is now the better driver, and smug enough to think the FIA would look the other way for a 7-time WC. If that's how he wants to claim poles, then his pole record doesn't mean crap either. You hang around enough years and you're going to break some kind of record eventually. 65 poles in 10 years....Schumacher didn't even come close to that accomplishment.

posted by eccsport78 at 01:44 AM on May 29, 2006

I can see why Schumacher was willing to cheat to win qualifying: it pretty much decides the race. I've never watched much F1, but I was able to watch a race recently, and I was shocked by two things: 1. The speed. It is breathtaking. 2. That the racing itself is incredibly boring. It was a parade. A very, very fast parade with one or two passes. The race seemed to be won on qualifying and fuel strategy, and the in-between laps seemed to consist of mostly trying not to screw up.

posted by dusted at 02:53 AM on May 29, 2006

Dusted: Yep, the racing this year, barring the season opener, has been crap. I've been watching for 20 years, and have been turning the races off this year after the final pitstops. It's shaping up to be the dullest season I've seen. Even 1988 wasn't this dull. (McLaren winning 15 of 16 races.) Eccsport: Yep, same here. His pole record is crap anyway. Two reasons. 1) They've arsed with qualifying so much that any numbers set since the ridiculous race fuel rule was introduced make it meaningless. I mean for gods sake, in France a few years ago, in the first session, a Minardi was fastest! That right there shows how it's complete nonsense. 2) It measures quantity, not quality. Sure, he beat Senna's record, but how many times has Schumacher qualified over a second faster than everyone else, like Senna did? Is it really fair to count a gap to second of 0.002 seconds the same as you'd count one of 1.002? And you mention what is number 3. He didn't do it anywhere near the same time. When Senna did it, qualifying was a real test of man and machine. Now it's just a test of who has the emptiest fuel tank. Oh yeah, another thing: Level of competition. Only now is Schumacher getting some decent competition. Look at who Senna was up against. Prost, Mansell etc... Legends of the sport. Schumacher beat the likes of Hill and Hakkinen. (I'm a massive Damon Hill fan, but am the first to admit he is not a legend.)

posted by Drood at 04:54 AM on May 29, 2006

This kind of thing is why I won't follow F-1. But you're missing all the drama! Seriously, following F1 is almost as much about the storylines as it is about the racing, and Schumi the Supervilain is a major contributor on both counts. The only reason Schumacher got to where he finished was because of some big retirements in front of him, and his fuel strategy. Hmm, I think you have the wrong guy. You've just described how Coulthard ended up on the podium. Schumacher, on the other hand, made up 17 positions. There were 5 retirements in front of him. Apart from Fisichella, all the other drivers he jumped were one-stopping just like him, and most of them were able to use the Safety Car's outlap for their pitstops, unlike Schumi who stopped earlier. He never overtook anyone I don't think after he caught Button. He passed Villeneuve on the track in the second part of the race, which makes for a total of seven (7) on-track overtakings. (And yes, I am not counting Massa as a pass.) Compare that to Coulthard's embarrassing performance behind Bernoldi at Monaco in 2001. Speaking of Coulthard, did anyone else notice that Michael made up a whole lap on him in less than 30 laps, after the restart? Schumi was smoking. Although I don't think he would have gotten by Barrichello and Coulthard, even with a few more laps. It was a parade. A very, very fast parade with one or two passes. Nothing against you, dusted, but I hate this attitude. I liken it to people dismissing soccer because there's not enough goals. It's all in the buildup, in the details. And then... the racing this year, barring the season opener, has been crap there's always misguided nostalgia. It was always better before, right? When was the last time you saw 10 overtaking manoeuvers in Monaco? What exactly is going to satisfy you? Back to the topic at hand, what amazes me the most about Schumi's qualifying disgrace is how incredibly daft it was. For all his evilness, couldn't he think of something a little more subtle to end up on the pole? It's so stupid you almost want to believe him that it wasn't intentional. But maybe that was part of the plan. "People know I'm a smart man, they'll never believe I'd be so dumb as to resort to this kind of bush league stuff." The other striking thing about Schumi is the unrelentness with which he will not repent. If he'd just come clean and apologize once in a while, he'd get a lot more respect. But he never does that, always staying true to his supervillain persona. I appreciate that. Now if only Alonso would let his anger come out...

posted by qbert72 at 08:00 AM on May 29, 2006

Your "Misguided nostalgia" comment is horseshit. I've got a TON of old races from the mid 80's onwards. I've gone back and watched a fair few of them, watched every FIA season review since they started putting them out, and it's not just nostalgia. It WAS better then. Especially prior to refuelling being bought back. Drivers actually had to fight for position rather than let their pitcrew win it. (I notice you don't quote that to start trouble.) And overtaking does not always make good racing. NASCAR has a ton of it and bores the hell out of me. Close RACING makes good racing. Action and excitement makes good racing. See Senna vs Mansell at Monaco in 1992 for example. Or Panis' win. Hell, even the GP2 race had more actual racing than the F1 "follow my leader". I am getting extremely sick of people who make the accusation that it's nostalgia that makes you think the past was better. If you had the inability to return to the older racing and watch it again, then fair enough, but as I said, I've watched a load. (Just a few weeks ago I watched the 1991 French Grand Prix for example.) F1 still had dull races in days of yore, but they were mostly the exception to the rule, unlike today where the opposite is true. The biggest problem is the circuits. Fucking Tilke is a cancer on F1, and for every good circuit (Istanbul), he's created some absolute travesties. (Too numerous to mention.) Dump refuelling. That alone would mean drivers would have to go back to fighting on track, because they'll all be on the same fuel load. The FIA did their big research survey last year, and it seems they promptly said "That's nice", binned the research, and went their own way anyway.

posted by Drood at 01:05 PM on May 29, 2006

"Can you imagine what Tony Stewart would do to him?!" Whine about him, I would guess, then intentionally wreck him and claim it was Schumacher's fault.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 01:10 PM on May 29, 2006

While it pains me to even bring it up, being a tremendous fan of the late Ayrton Senna, I'm surprised nobody has brought up the 1990 Japanese GP incident between Senna and Prost. The situtations are different, but in a way, the same. A former WC trying to regain the title, and taking deliberate actions to try and achieve that goal. Senna later admitted that he intentionally took Prost out, as revenge for a year earlier at the same race, but it still didn't justify his actions. The FIA did nothing to Senna, partly because he had threatened to quit F1 a year earlier over the first incident and I believe would have done so had he been DQ'd in 1990, and I think the FIA realized it as well. As for Schumacher, the FIA I think has had enough of him, and he has no power at this point to challenge Mosley over these types of incidents. So he takes his position on the back row and moves on. And as for all the comments about not watching F1 for these reasons and that it wouldn't happen in NASCAR--sorry, I forgot that there is no cheating in NASCAR......

posted by eccsport78 at 01:55 PM on May 29, 2006

sorry, I forgot that there is no cheating in NASCAR...... Thanks for the chuckle eccsport :-)

posted by Folkways at 02:50 PM on May 29, 2006

Nothing against you, dusted, but I hate this attitude. I liken it to people dismissing soccer because there's not enough goals. It's all in the buildup, in the details. And then... That doesn't seem like a very good comparison. In soccer there is always the possibility of a goal. Sure, most of the time the goal isn't scored, but it might, so the buildup is always there. In the race I saw, there was little chance of a pass, and if there was, you could see it coming for laps. For an enthusiast like you, the storylines and details may be enough to keep you interested. For an outsider like me unaware of the storylines and probably missing the details, all I've got to watch is the racing. And it's not very interesting. I'm a big motorcycle racing (MotoGP and WSB) fan. They're much smaller machines and much more evenly matched, so the racing is tighter. There are ten guys that can win any given race, regardless of qualifying position. To see the F1s on the same tracks doing what amounted to a fast parade was, like I said, a shock.

posted by dusted at 03:36 PM on May 29, 2006

dusted: The tracks are a big part of the problem. Too many of them simply don't have enough room for modern machines to overtake. I love the history behing places like Monaco and suchlike, but too many F1 tracks seem to have been designed for the 1950s, and not enough for a contemporary car.

posted by rodgerd at 04:42 PM on May 29, 2006

Drood, I was raised listening to Gilles Villeneuve race reports on the radio, and watching highlights on L'Univers des Sports, so I know what exciting racing is, and I totally agree with you that the current era is no match for that time. I just think this year is nowhere near the most boring ever. Some races are boring, as always, but overall overtaking is up, there are some exciting rookies, and we may get a real championship battle. The Mika Hakkinen years were a total bore, in comparison. Also, I understand Schumacher isn't the most popular guy in the world, but can we at least be consistent in our evaluation of the guy? A few weeks ago, we were all moaning about his lack of on-track overtaking. Yesterday he did a bunch of passing, on the hardest track, and he got fifth "just because of retirements and fuel strategy". Come on! As for fixing F1 in general, the answer has been known for a long time: ban wings and carbon brakes. Presto! (And much easier than building 20 new tracks to boot.)

posted by qbert72 at 07:57 PM on May 29, 2006

That's a great answer, qbert72: Let's make F1 look more like dumbed-down car designs. Oooooh, ooooh, I know, let's make them race only cars with a street version! We can give them all Ariel Atoms!

posted by rodgerd at 09:46 PM on May 29, 2006

We can give them all Ariel Atoms! Had to look that one up. Learn something every day.

posted by justgary at 12:45 AM on May 30, 2006

rodgerd, there are thousands of innovations that have subsequently been banned by the FIA in order to slow down cars and enhance competition. If not, we'd have ground-effects, turbo-powered monsters running around Monaco in under 50 seconds, and very little overtaking if at all. Banning wings and carbon brakes is a little bit too simplistic, but I was always in favor of Damon Hill's point of view: "I have always argued for bigger tyres, more mechanical grip and less aerodynamic downforce." And changing the cars is a lot more realistic than changing the tracks, there's not arguing about this. Ariel Atoms rock. I know you mean it in jest, but I'm certain that an Atoms race with F1 drivers would be great entertainment.

posted by qbert72 at 07:22 AM on May 30, 2006

That video was awesome, I want one so freakin bad... I had never heard of that car before yesterday.

posted by everett at 07:33 AM on May 30, 2006

Sure, a race with F1 drivers in Atoms would be great. So would a race with F1 drivers in MX-5s. Drivers are part of the F1 equation, but so is having a variety of teams trying to engineer the best cars. The distinction between F1 and so many other motorsports is that they aren't required to base their cars on, eg, road-going models, and there's a freedom to try to approach the pinnacle of vehicle design. Take that away and you're left with nothing more compelling than one-marque races.

posted by rodgerd at 06:14 PM on May 30, 2006

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