These days, everybody uses radios. Even the TV guys get into the act during parade laps or caution periods: “Hey Jimmie, DW here. You copy?”
Now, it’s one thing to bother a racing driver when he or she is going slowly. Quite another when they’re going a thousand miles an hour.
Last Sunday, during the Grand Prix of Malaysia, Mexican driver Sergio Perez was running down the leader, Fernando Alonso of Spain. In a matter of a few laps, he’d closed the gap from 7.7 seconds to 2.5 and it was obvious that before long he was going to be right behind the two-time world champion and planning to pass him.
Suddenly, Perez had to listen to a radio transmission from his employer’s pit: “Checo…be careful, we need this position, we need this position.”
Conspiracy theorists have had a field day since trying to decipher exactly what the message conveyed:
- Did the Sauber team tell him that he was heading for the best Formula One finish in the history of that organization and so he shouldn’t do anything that might screw it up?
- Or did they tell him that since they got their engines from Ferrari, it wouldn’t be wise to pass Alonso’s Ferrari (as David Coulthard suggested during the TV presentation)?
People have been talking since Sunday about what Sauber really meant by that message and there still isn’t a consensus.
So you can imagine how troubling it must have been for Perez, who had to decipher the symbolism of what he’d just heard while continuing to drive his racing car at ten-tenths-plus.
Here he was, closing in on Alonso, driving the best race of his young F1 career, driving for a team that’s never won a race, knowing he could beat that guy ahead of him, and . . . what’s that they’re telling me?
And I think that’s the reason that Sergio Perez suddenly found his car up on a curb and heading for a gravel trap. I think it was because he was thinking so hard about what he’d just heard that he lost his concentration ever so briefly.
I suggest that the radio transmission not only cost him a victory but it very nearly put him out of the race.
It was a classic case of distracted driving of the kind ordinary motorists witness (or contribute to) dozens of times a day on highways and byways around the world.
Perhaps Sauber (and everybody else in racing) should review their radio transmission policy and restrict the messaging to those times when the cars are going past the pits, just like in the old days.
Will Force India be able to finish the season? Or is Bernie E. already beating the bushes for another billionaire with a big ego to step in and take it over?
What once was Eddie Jordan’s team has had three owners since 2005 and I bet the fourth isn't too far off.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will be in action again this weekend at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama and it will be interesting to see if the intensity of the racing ramps up at all.
While I thought it was a pretty good show at St. Petersburg last weekend, many critics have suggested it was more of a parade than anything else and the reason was because some teams don’t have any spare engines (Lotus) and there are not a lot of spare parts around for the new Dallara chassis.
Let’s hope this particular situation is resolved well before this year’s Honda Indy Toronto, which is scheduled for the CNE grounds July 6-8. Why? Because the Indianapolis 500 on May 27 will be the first of five consecutive weekends of racing through to the end of June and of those five races, four of them will be on oval tracks (Indy, Texas, Milwaukee and Iowa).
Ovals are always harder on race cars than road courses and the last thing IndyCar needs heading into the heart of the summer is for some teams being unable to race because of equipment difficulties or else the racing is dull because hardly anybody wants to take any chances for fear of damaging something.
The format for the NASCAR All-Star Race in May has been changed again. Nobody understood it before and nobody understands it now. One thing remains the same: the driver leading at the finish will be the winner.