Formula One Season Diary by Mark Blundell : Part 2

May 24, 2011

I’ve just come back from Barcelona where I was the driver steward for the Formula One race.  Due to the nature of the role I’m afraid that I can’t comment on the decisions that were made over the course of the weekend but it was a huge privilege to have been asked to do the job.  After having previously been both an F1 driver and an analyst for when ITV covered F1, it was also interesting to see another side of the sport.

So now it’s the usual frantic rush to get all the race equipment from Barcelona to Monte Carlo in readiness for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.  Monaco is like no other race on the calendar and it’s going to be interesting to see the impact the new regulations have on this year’s race.

We’ve had five races in the season so far and there seems to be pretty much universal agreement among fans, teams and pundits that this is one of the most exciting starts to a season in a very long time. A big part of the excitement of the first five races is the new regulations which we’re starting to see the effects of.

As is often the case with the introduction of any new regulation, it takes a while for everything to run smoothly.  We’ve had many occasions where DRS and KERS have either malfunctioned or simply not worked on the cars.  Red Bull’s Vettel, for example, has still not had one race where his KERS has worked perfectly.

We’ve also seen that the FIA have had to make some tweaks to the new regulations as the season has progressed (as they are able to see the effects of them).  For example, it has been announced that there will be two DRS activation zones in Montreal and Valencia, rather than the one zone in the first five races.  There’s also been mixed opinions over whether there should be a DRS zone in Monaco and at one stage there was talk of it being banned; but there will be a zone and it will be up to the individual driver whether he uses his DRS.  The FIA will continue to monitor the regulations at each and every race so we could well see some more tweaks made before the end of the year.

So far it’s the tyres that are causing the biggest shake up to this year’s racing.  Tyre strategy is playing a vital part from qualifying right through the race; as teams have to make the right call on when to use their soft and hard compounds as well as deciding on how many pit stops to make, and of course when!  One of the main complaints coming from drivers this year are the marbles that are being produced by the new tyres.  Off the racing line you can clearly see the build up of marbles as the race progresses which cause a nightmare for any drivers running through them.

I think it’s going to be a while longer before we can truly judge which teams are making the most of the regulations.  Vettel has had an incredible start to the year but, as I mentioned earlier, the team still haven’t managed to make the KERS work perfectly at every race so he hasn’t been able to maximise the new regulations.  McLaren have really started to fight back and we could see in Barcelona how Jenson made his tyre strategy work perfectly to move up to P3, while Lewis used a combination of KERS and DRS to help close the gap on Vettel.  But the regulations are still very new and we’re going to need to sit back and see how everything pans out throughout the rest of the season.  Next stop Monaco!

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