back to article Software gremlin robs Formula 1 world champ of season's first win

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was left fuming after a software glitch denied him an easy win in the first race of the 2018 season on Sunday. Hamilton held a comfortable lead in Australia's Melbourne grand prix from the start. Then third-place Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was able to temporarily take pole …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Bummer

    I don't know how I'd handle that situation if I was in Lewis' shoes - certainly not as calmly as he seems to have done!

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Bummer

      He did seem genuinely confused by the whole thing in the post race interviews.

      It would be nice if this sort of thing happened a bit more often to make the results less predictable though.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Bummer

      Do you think you'd have had a big sulk?

  2. Herby Silver badge

    Follows old adage...

    To err is human, to really foul things up requires a computer.

    Looks like this was a classic foul-up. Augmented by really too many computers.

    I long for the days when cars didn't have such things (like the 60's).

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Follows old adage...

      "I long for the days when cars didn't have such things (like the 60's)."

      I'd settle for the days when the teams had a good deal more freedom.

      - Swept volume is x litres and configuration is what you want (remember BRM trying out an H16?).

      - Use whatever tyres you want on whatever wheels you want and work out what you think is the best strategy (whe was it who built the 6-wheeler?).

      Nowadays it seems that if the (bar) stewards found an engine ingested a stray fly during practice they'd give a 3 place grid penalty.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Follows old adage...

        Inclined to agree - except that it would allow the rich teams to build a different car optimised for each circuit, or (cough 1980s Renault) a car which would only last one race.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Follows old adage...

          "it would allow the rich teams to build a different car optimised for each circuit"

          It would also allow somebody with a really good idea to come in and trounce everybody. A really good idea like moving the engine from the front to the middle of the car which revolutionised the entire sport.

          "or (cough 1980s Renault) a car which would only last one race."

          Did they always last a whole race? McLaren would have been envious of an engine that did that last year.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Follows old adage...

        Tyrell Elf built the 6 wheeler, the P34.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Follows old adage...

          Tyrell Elf built the 6 wheeler, the P34.

          Two of them still around and in working order. If you watch closely, they both make cameo appearances in the Ron Howard movie "Rush".

          1. graeme leggett

            Re: Follows old adage...

            "Rush" is a cracking good film in my opinion.

            Makes F1 look as exciting and dangerous as it seemed at the time.

            And the old cars gave me a dose of nostalgia - but then I was always a sucker for the paint job of the Lotus John Player Special.

      3. Patrician

        Re: Follows old adage...

        Have to agree with you, I'd love to see the tams given back the freedom to innovate and try different things; in the last years we've seen triple diffusers, blown diffusers, F-Ducts and all manor of innovations banned under some grey area of the rule book. All in the name of making F1 cheaper, but F1 was never "cheap" to be a part of and it shouldn't be; it's supposed to be the pinnacle on motor sport, not just for driver ability but for innovation in engineering and design to, and at the moment it's being smothered by this drive for "cheapness".

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Follows old adage...

          Talking about teams having freedom to innovate....which team was it that built a car with a GBFO fan that sucked the car down onto the track? IIRC correctly it totally dominated one race and then the car design was withdrawn because it was seen to be *too* competitive, like bringing a (machine) gun to a knife fight.

          1. commonsense

            Re: Follows old adage...

            Brabham BT46. The 'Fan Car'. Also banned because it threw up stones and other detritus

            1. FlossyThePig
              Holmes

              Re: Follows old adage...

              The BT46, designed by Gordon Murray, was not banned. He proved that the majority of the fan use was to provide cooling. It was dropped after one race, which it won, because it wasn't suitable for all the circuits of the time which meant a completely different car would have to be designed and built.

              The other race car with a fan was the Chapparal 2J which was banned after 1 unsuccessful season. It was faster than other cars but very unreliable.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Follows old adage...

            There was also the (never raced) CVT that had circuit times that were utterly unbelieveable and was banned before the season even started.

          3. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: Follows old adage...

            Lotus were the first to make 'Ground Effect' really work ( can't remember the year) they caned Ferrari in a race or two who did their usual bitching and had it banned.

            A mention above of the BRM 'H' 16, I have some engineering drawings for that somewhere.

      4. theOtherJT

        Re: Follows old adage...

        Williams also made a 6 wheeler - two of them, in fact, although I'm not sure they ever raced:

        https://www.racefans.net/2011/07/14/williams-fw08b-sixwheeled-f1-car/

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Follows old adage...

      There is an even older saying, a poor workman blames his tools.

      It seems the teams rely too much on technology and don't actually look around them. Surely, being in the same pit lane as Ferrari, they would have seen when Vettel came in and went back out, you don't need a damned TV feed to see what is happening directly in front of your eyes!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Follows old adage...

      "I long for the days when cars didn't have such things (like the 60's)."

      Though there was a very sobering documentary on BBC a few years ago which covered the experience of drivers in this era when 20-30 drivers would turn up at the first GP knowning that by the end of the season (probably only ~12 GPs later) 3 or 4 of them would have been killed. I remember in particular a driver recounting a Monaco GP where a driver had crashed into the hay bales at the chicane and the car had caught fire ... every lap they drove past the crashed car and from the smell of burnt flesh knew the driver had been killed in the fire.

  3. tfewster Silver badge

    Sorry, I still don't get it...

    > Vettel ducked into the pit lane, where the virtual car's speed rules did not apply...

    Sure, but the pit lane is limited to 100km/h anyway, while the cars on the track were still doing about 65% of their normal speed under the VSC?

    Can someone enlighten me?

    1. The Dogs Meevonks

      Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

      Only the middle part of the pit lane is limited. the entrance and exits before/after the speed limit markers aren't covered by a limit. This means that cars can enter the pit lane at near race speeds and rejoin the track at near race speeds.

      So whilst LH was going around at the VSC speed of let's say 130kmh (arbitrary and guesswork figure), SV was able to enter the pit lane faster and leave faster... and providing his sector times were within acceptable limits he was fine... and because he was in the pit lane... he never crossed the start/finish line to end that 3rd sector or start the 1st one on the next lap in the same manner a car on the track would have.

      We've seen this time and time again, a lucky pit stop when a safety car has been deployed (virtual or actual) can make or break a race for a driver.

      What I'd actually like to see is cars going back to mechanical grip rather than aerodynamic which disturbs the air so much that cars cannot follow close enough to be able to overtake... which makes the races dull and predictable and relies on overtaking gimmicks like KERS and DRS that don't really add anything useful.

      If they removed 50% of the aero packages currently in use and allowed things like active suspension again... You see closer racing, higher speeds and hopefully more over taking and exciting races.

      I had hoped that the new owners were going to bring some of that to the sport... But it may take so long to make the sport good again... that my interest in it may be something that cannot be reignited.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        Mr Dogs Meevonks,

        You have a point about cutting downforce. But there's a limit to how much mechanical grip they want to give the cars, because that really increases cornering speed (and g forces) - and thus danger in accidents.

        Active suspension is against the idea of cutting down on driver aids. I mean, they don't even have ABS nowadays. Active suspension is also supposed to be terrifying.

        Hopefully they'll do a bit. But also maybe cut out a few of the crappier tracks that Bernie only took on because they bunged him loads of cash. Also maybe get rid of the artificial and shit tyre rules, and encourage people to race by being on the same strategy.

      2. Enno

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        Of course the teams hate the idea of losing the aerodynamic surfaces not because of the effect on the cars but because of the sheer amount of advertising they carry. If you want to get rid of wings, then ban ads on them. Then the team principals will no longer care.

      3. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        We've seen this time and time again, a lucky pit stop when a safety car has been deployed (virtual or actual) can make or break a race for a driver.

        Yes, it was astonishingly lucky that the Ferrari funded Haas cars both got sent out of the pits with their wheels not done up about a lap before Ferrari #1 driver wanted to pit.

        As dodgy as Nelson Jr smacking the wall whilst going down a straight in Malaysia.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

          Just look at the face of the guy on the wheel gun after the second pitstop in the slow motion replays, when he realizes he fu-d up. That wasn't intentional. They poor guy looked like he'd accidentally stepped on a cute kitten.

          Ferrari got lucky, Mercedes dropped the ball (though given the situation, I doubt they could have done all that much to prevent it happening).

      4. itzman

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        If they removed 50% of the aero packages currently in use and allowed things like active suspension again...

        Active suspension WAS all about aero.

        Keeping the car base close to the ground to suck it onto the track.

        You have fallen into the leftist trap of thinking that the solution to regulations that dont work is more regulations.

        Frankly they should simply have a standard tank of fuel, be made to meet standard safety regs and let everything else be free.

    2. Vince

      Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

      I believe, but may be wrong, that the entry to (before the pit officially starts and speed restrictions apply) and exit of, is outside the restrictions so time can be gained in that area?

      Is it possibly also a shorter distance to travel?

      1. The Dogs Meevonks

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        On some tracks the pit lane is shorter and quicker when under a safety car scenario... But I couldn't tell you which ones exactly. I think Silverstone may be one of them though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

          "On some tracks the pit lane is shorter and quicker when under a safety car scenario"

          VSC rules cover this by saying you can only enter pit lane under VSC to change tyres so you can speed into pit lane andnot stop for tyres. However, I assume that the fact that the pit lane entrance is not covered by the VSC speed rules (as they are defined by "marshalled sections") is one of the technilical loopholes in the rules that F1 teams are renowned for finding and get closed shortly after they are first used.

        2. Rainman

          Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

          It's not at all about being faster than under the VSC whilst in the pit lane.

          It's about the time you loose when pitting relative to the pace that the rest of the field are running. VSC or not, your time to pit will be fairly similar excluding entry and exit speed - your slowest points are under pit lane limits plus the time to complete the stop, and these parts are relatively constant and similar across most of the field. The larger difference is dictated by the relative pace of the rest of the cars at the time of your stop. You loose less time relative to full race pace because track speed is slower when under VSC. If you pit under VSC you loose less time (a net gain) against the competition, and you loose even less time by pitting under the real safety car because it is even slower.

          The reason we have VSC is because the real safety car is so slow compared to the operating window of an F1 car on slicks, so much so that tyre temps quickly drop out of the operating window which ultimately causes more crashes when the race restarts - you suddenly have 19 cars (because one just crashed) bunched up behind the safety car with cold tyres ready to gun it the moment the safety car pulls in. So, VSC allows cars to keep tyres closer to their operating window by allowing a pace that the real safety car just can't achieve, therefore hopefully less crashes with yet more safety cars making a bad situation worse.

          Yours, a former F1 consultant.

      2. itzman

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        This is all irrelevant. The point is that Vettel was ahead because he hadn't pitted. At normal car speeds a pit stop costs you 20 seconds or so in total, relative to a car at full race speed

        But under VSC conditions its much less. Not because you can go faster in the pit lane than on the track, but because the pitstop itself - typically under 3 seconds, is not the problem, it is the slowing down and the pit-lane speed limits that cost you the time. but they dont cost you any MORE times if VSC is in operation.

        But the VSC DOES cost the car that stays out, time.

        *shrug* exploiting the rules is how you win in F1. Pitting under safety is a well known trick. Vettel was likley behind both Hamilton and Raikonnen, when Fate smiled. Or someone bribed the Haas mechanics.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

          I'm not convinced that "software fault cost Mercedes the race" unless there VSC mode was imposing a greater limit than the rules required (which I find difficult to believe) so I think its more like "software fault meant Mercedes were surprised that Ferrari could stay ahead after tyre change" as it looks like there gap modelling failed to take account of the seeming loophole in the rules that meant the pit lane was nmot covered by the VSC speed limits.

        2. Patrick R
          Holmes

          Re: Sorry, I still don't get it... because the article is wrong.

          "Second-placed Vettel" was NOT second placed. As Itzman says, "The point is that Vettel was ahead because he hadn't pitted".

          Vettel was ahead ans staid ahead. He did not pass Hamilton through the pit lane.

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Re: Patrick R

            The point we were trying to make is that although Vettel was ahead of Hamilton, the Ferrari driver had yet to pit so wasn't really 1st. However, due to the timing cockup, Vettel was able to maintain pole position anyway.

            I've tweaked the article to make it clearer.

            Don't forget to email corrections@theregister.com if you spot anything you think is wrong. We see those instantly, whereas we don't have time to read through every comment - there are thousands a month.

            C.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

      The issue is that when you stop for tyres, your whole pit stop is somewhere in the 20 - 25 ish seconds (depends on circuit) which is the time spent travelling at the pit lane speed limit and the few seconds that you are stationary.

      When Lewis stopped for tyres, Vettel could keep going at full racing speed on the circuit so built up about 20ish seconds of track distance. When Vettel stopped, Lewis was limited to the VSC speed, so could only cover about half the track distance that Vettel could in the same time frame. This effectively gifted about 10 seconds worth of track distance to Vettel, enough to bring him out in front.

      The rule needs to be rethought. It was brought in after the Bianchi tragedy to neutralise the race while marshals are on the track. The idea is that nobody gains an advantage, not to gift the driver in 3rd place an easy victory.

      I mostly feel for Kimi. He had been in front of Vettel all weekend and ended up behind, although knowing the way Ferrari operate he would probably have been instructed to give up his place anyway if the VSC incident hadn't happened.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        Thanks guys - The Melbourne pit lane parallels the start/finish straight, so no advantage in distance. I think what I was missing was that, of course Vettel was in front after Hamiltons pit-stop, so it wasn't a matter of over (under) taking, just not losing all of his 20s temporary "lead".

        Plus going full speed to open the gap in the 3rd sector before diving into the pit lane would help, though I'm not suggesting Vettel gamed the VSC that way. Or even entered/exited the pits at race speeds.

        I guess Hamilton could have sped up at the start of the following sector 1 and then slowed and blocked Vettel from passing, but that would have technically been "overtaking during a VSC".

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

          There's a speed limit as well as a sector time limit on the track.

          For a good explanation see this article from Martin Brundle

      2. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        "knowing the way Ferrari operate he would probably have been instructed to give up his place anyway".

        I doubt that as this was after all the first race. If the difference in points climb things might change for the top teams.

        Ferrari was simply smarter this time, or should we assume their computer told them to pit. Some of the engine etc. problems are probably due to computer errors too.

        I also wonder a bit about this sentence "causing the Brit to slow down more than was necessary", was he actually asked to slow down.

        Somebody spoke of 1ookmh but it's like this.

        "Exceeding the Pit Lane Speed Limit (from season 2014 - 60kph in practice and qualifying, 80kph during the race)".

        PS, I find rally driving quite interesting too although there is no overtaking and perhaps we find qualifying in F1 interesting too, and for some reason I find the drivers less "prima donna" like than some of the F1 drivers over the years and more cool confronted with problems during the race. Could that be because they earn less and that most of the errors are of their own making and it's harder to claim otherwise.

      3. commonsense

        Re: Sorry, I still don't get it...

        The simple answer to the problem is to close the pit lane under VSC. We're not in the days of refuelling when cars *had* to pit or conk out on the track.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not ban pit stops when the safety car is out.

    Everyone holds position and no-one jumps the queue.

    1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      Re: Why not ban pit stops when the safety car is out.

      Safety. If a car is an unsafe condition, such as dangerously worn tyres, then the driver must still be able to pit and change them. Sure, that means pit stops are gamed as Vettel did, but safety has to be their priority.

      1. Tromos

        Re: Why not ban pit stops when the safety car is out.

        They have to allow pitting as pointed out, but they could restrict the entry and exit speed to that of the virtual safety car and reduce the pit lane speed to maintain the time cost of pitting.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why not ban pit stops when the safety car is out.

        You could close the pit lane for routine pit stops, but allow stops for exceptional circumstances. This would need to be policed to avoid being gamed. Pit lanes are closed in other formula and used to be closed for the first couple of laps of a safety car in F1.

        Alternatively, while under VSC conditions, any cars that pit could be held in their pit box at or the end of the pit lane until the position they would have occupied had they stayed on track comes around. They can then be released back onto the track without gaining an advantage.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Why not ban pit stops when the safety car is out.

          How about a simpler solution, and don't allow cars to gain position by making a pit stop during cautions? If they come out "too early" they have to fall in line behind the car they were behind before. If they come out too late and lose position, too bad (no different than a normal pit stop but since cars are moving more slowly at least you lose less)

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Why not ban pit stops when the safety car is out.

            DougS,

            Wasn't Vettel ahead though? So in this case he didn't gain position. He was just lucky with the timing of the safety car between him pitting and Hamilton doing so.

            I suspect that whatever system you introduce with safety cars, some poor bugger will always lose out. They created the virtual safety car so the person who'd carefully built up a lead (possibly spending their tyres to do so) didn't then lose their track advantage. Perhaps the answer is a pits time penalty, to mean pitting gains you no advantage in track position? I don't think you can ban pitting - as in this case Vettel probably had to pit around that time anyway, given Hamilton had just done his.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Patrician

      Re: Why not ban pit stops when the safety car is out.

      Because then tactics couldn't come into play; bottom line is Mercedes and Hamilton were out thought by Ferrari at this race. If the roles had been reversed and Mercedes/Hamilton had taken an advantage from this VSC would there be as much wringing of hands?

      The really sad thing that this indecent highlights is that, due to knee-jerk reactions for Senna's death back in 1994, F1 has been smothered by the rule-book and on-track overtaking is now a rarity in F1; and that is not a good thing.

  5. Tromos

    What robbed Hamilton was the decision to use virtual safety car rather than deploy the real safety car which they had to do anyway. Most of the time the virtual safety car is useless as cars are spread out all over the track and don't allow easy and safe access. The real safety car bunches up the field and gives a window of a couple of minutes after the last car has passed until they come round again.

    This would have been to Hamilton's advantage as he would then have closed up on Vettel who would then drop behind by around 23 seconds when he pitted. As it stood the virtual safety car cut the pit time loss to around 10 seconds as the car in the pit lane entry and exit could go faster than the ones on track, and although limited in the pit lane itself, the cars on track are going much slower than normal.

    I just long for the days when the lead changed hands on track rather than via the pit lane, currently all the excitement tends to be for the single digit points places where there is some racing rather than a procession.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: F1 borefest

      Just go watch Superbikes (or any bike racing for that matter). Lots of overtaking there.

      F1 is like the Touring Car champs... ruined by rule changes. 15 years ago, the touring car champs were like stock cars. Lots of body contact and overtaking. Now it is a snorefest by comparison. I used to go to Thruxton as I only live 10 miles away but haven't been for years. I go to other types of events these days. Even Hillclimbs are more exciting than F1.

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: re: F1 borefest

        Even Hillclimbs are more exciting than F1.

        Struggling to think of much that isn't more exciting than F1. Tiddlywinks - easily more exciting. An episode of Gardeners World (I hate gardening) - borderline. Going shopping with the Mrs - OK now there's something where I'd rather be watching F1.

      2. Inspector71

        Re: re: F1 borefest

        Agreed, if you want cutting edge machines and fabulous racing then it has to be Moto GP. Never tire of watching The Doctor at work, win or lose.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same concept...

    ...as passing in the Pit Lane. Highway Exits as passing lanes.

    I've (or perhaps it was: Somebody I know has) done the same sort of thing on the highway.

    Somebody (intentionally or unintentionally) is acting as a rolling roadblock (or two doing so on a 4-lane road (dual carriageway). Not uncommon with truckers. Very annoying after a while...

    At the next Exit, exit from the highway, accelerate to Mach 0.2 on the off-ramp, stop at the stop sign at the crossroad overpass, look both ways and carefully drive straight across, then accelerate to Mach 0.2 on the on-ramp, and then rejoin the highway before the rolling roadblock(s) have even made it as far as the underpass.

    For extra points, the intentional rolling roadblock on the highway notices and knows exactly what you're doing, but he still can't round up enough horses to do anything about it. Even with the full stop at the stop sign. Yee haw.

    Peace through superior horsepower.

    Works more reliably in areas with low population density, where it's not likely that any 3rd party on the on ramp would accidentally derail the plan.

    1. smudge Silver badge

      Re: Same concept...

      Works more reliably in areas with low population density, where it's not likely that any 3rd party on the on ramp would accidentally derail the plan.

      Have used that many times to cut down wait time in traffic jams on the M25 around London.

      Though you have to know which junctions have roundabouts above them, so that you can get back on, and which have non-intersecting slip roads,when you find yourself heading away to points unknown :)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Same concept...

        "Have used that many times to cut down wait time in traffic jams on the M25 around London."

        ISTR the Rickmansworth junction being very good for that.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Same concept...

        @Smudge

        Yeah, YOU save a couple of seconds on the M25. All the added merging traffic causes the jam to get even worse and everybody ELSE is slower. Great job...

        1. smudge Silver badge

          Re: Same concept...

          So explain why, in really heavy traffic, the inside lane or lanes nearly always move faster than the outside lanes.

          If I am in the outside lane and see a three-lane jam ahead of me, first thing I try to do is get into the middle lane - then take it from there.

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Same concept...

            Because some traffic actually leaves the highway from the inside lane, allowing it to move a bit. All those people then joining however don't want to stay behind/between the trucks on the inside lane or make room for the cars taking the next exit and all the extra weaving causes traffic on the outside lanes to slow to an even lower pace. The inside lane is also often occupied by trucks. Since truckers have a much better overview generally and have enough patience not to go *THROTTLE**BRAKES*THROTTLE**BRAKES*etc, like all those other plonkers out there and let their vehicle coast with some space to the vehicle in front, the flow on the inside lanes is usually better.

            1. smudge Silver badge
              Go

              Re: Same concept...

              ...the flow on the inside lanes is usually better.

              I leave and rejoin the inside lane, and I don't move into lanes further out until it is obvious even to an arsehole like me that they are moving faster and will remain that way. So thank you for your detailed justification of my tactics!

              I'll wave next time I am passing.

              1. tfewster Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: Same concept...

                [Shh - Don't mention the One Weird Trick!]

                **Ahem** - Ignore the previous comments folks, it's just clickbait. You're important, you have a right to be in the fast lane, the slow lane is just for losers and trucks.

                [Phew, I think we got away with it]

                It's a car, what did you see? ----------------->

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

    I'm definitely not a Lewis Hamilton fan due to his dirty driving, lies, etc. but the reason he actually lost is due to the regulations currently allowing cars that pit to re-enter the track ahead of the drivers who were in front of them. The whole point of a virtual safety car is so that all cars hold station. As such no driver should be able to pass other cars by pitting. The FIA needs to correct this mess immediately. Hamilton would have likely won but Kimi was faster than Vettel all weekend and he might have challenged Hamilton in the end depending on tire degradation.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

      Sure, don't be a fan of Hamilton. I agree that he's a bit of a dick.

      Lets be fair though, when it comes to being a dick, Vettel gets the oscar on the current grid, taking on the role since Schumacher left.

      1. Grim...

        Re: Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

        Since leaving RB in 15 Vettel has become a bit of a legend.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

      "I'm definitely not a Lewis Hamilton fan due to his dirty driving, lies, etc."

      For real? He is one of the honest drivers out there, a true gentleman (I have met him), and a huge inspiration.

      The TV doesn't show many things, like how Lewis is often the last to leave circuits in some of the poorer regions, instead doing charity work with local kids charities.

      He is also pretty much the only driver to get where he is through skill and determination, rather than most others who got to f1 via daddy's money or daddy's connections, or daddy's F1 career.

      If you had to point to a single person to demonstrate the principal of believe in your dreams, work hard and with a sprinkling of luck, literally anything is possible, Lewis Hamilton would be it. A black kid from a council estate with no Motorsport family connections, with a dad working 3 jobs and the pair of them an attitude to try anyway, against all the odds...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

        "A black kid from a council estate... "

        ...to an apartment in low taxation Monaco

        Hamilton started karting while in middle school*. Talent there was what got him noticed and his advance to F1.

        *I see Räikkönen, Häkkinen, Vettel, and Alonso also started in karting,

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

          Pretty much ALL F1 drivers (at least those that are employed because they have talent) started in Karting. It's where talent scouts come to find out how has talent. If you can be really fast in a Kart you might be fast in other (faster) vehicles.

        2. Dr Mantis Toboggan

          Re: Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

          A black kid from the council estates, that showed a screw you to all his peers from privileged and connected backgrounds. I think he deserves to act like a knob sometimes and own a pad in Monaco.

      2. Grim...

        Re: Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

        "He is also pretty much the only driver to get where he is through skill and determination, rather than most others who got to f1 via daddy's money or daddy's connections, or daddy's F1 career."

        Hahahahah what?! That's horsecrap.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a Lewis Hamilton fan

    See title

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Uber?

    The cars go where they're told by the computer, at the speed they're told by the computer, and occasionally play interesting games with the regulations? Is it Uber that's in charge?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Uber?

      No, Uber isn't in charge. How can you tell?

      These drivers are not being paid less than the minimum wage for a 12 hour day.

  10. lesession

    Everything that is wrong with Formula 1 right there

    What kind of 'sport' determines its winners and losers according to algorithmic calculations about how long it takes to get to the garage and back?

    Calling F1 a 'sport' and the individual episode a 'race' should be done by the Trades Description Act.

    Make the tracks wider so that the drivers can actually overtake, reduce all the in-race telemetry to the absolute minimum required for driver & crowd safety (by all means analyse the heck out of the gathered data afterwards), and cut the rule book down by 700 pages throwing out all the nonsense that means the start order is rarely actually determined by the qualifying laps, and then maybe you'd have something that was actually getting somewhere within a chance of being called a *sport*.

  11. Da Weezil

    "Safety Marshals"? Oh dear the Americanisation of F! has started.

    We are "Marshals"... period.. while the designation may include specifying the job undertaken by the individual (Incident Marshal) we have not yet reached the banality of Americanised terminology... next they will be expecting us to run round to incidents in pick up trucks like a bunch of good ol rednecks.

  12. wolfetone Silver badge

    Easy to blame the VSC

    But as Hamilton closed up on Vettel he had to back off.

    Why? Mercedes designed a car that would be in the lead all the time with maximum undisturbed air flow. That didn't happen in Australia, so when Hamilton got close to Vettel his engine and other components started to overheat, meaning his engineer ordering him to back off to cool every thing down. To my knowledge the same thing occurred to Bottas who struggled in the midfield, which is uncharacteristic of him.

    1. PerlyKing Bronze badge

      Re: Easy to blame the VSC

      The same thing (not being able to follow closely) seems to have affected at least half the field according to the post-race interviews (Force India and Red Bull "for sure"), and is definitely the bane of modern F1 for me.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Easy to blame the VSC

        "being able to follow closely... is definitely the bane of modern F1"

        One of them. Handing out grid penalties is another. All the artificiality around tyres is a third.

      2. Patrician

        Re: Easy to blame the VSC

        I believe that most of the teams have spent some time trying to reducing the size of the air intake apertures in this years car designs; it looks like they may have gone to far.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Easy to blame the VSC

      To my knowledge the same thing occurred to Bottas who struggled in the midfield, which is uncharacteristic of him.

      Is it really? I've seen quite a fair few races lately where he doesn't impress and gets stuck midfield. Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if Bottas gets replaced next year.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Easy to blame the VSC

        "The same thing (not being able to follow closely) seems to have affected at least half the field according to the post-race interviews (Force India and Red Bull "for sure"), and is definitely the bane of modern F1 for me."

        I took that as the cars became unstable in the dirty air so they lost power. I think Hamilton had the car to over take the Ferrari but couldn't because the car kept over heating.

        "Is it really? I've seen quite a fair few races lately where he doesn't impress and gets stuck midfield. Frankly I wouldn't be surprised if Bottas gets replaced next year."

        That's how I saw it, he's had some good races and Austrailia, for me, was out of character. But he'll be replaced anyway with Ocon or Wehrlein.

  13. Oh Matron!

    Fool me twice....

    This may come back and bite LH / Merc in the ass twice. With only three engines for the season, having run the engine in party mode for some time, this may have increased the chances of LH's engine doing a 'honda'....

  14. iron Silver badge
    FAIL

    HaHa give it up F1

    Virtual safety cars? Computer control? This is not motor racing.

    Give it up F1, MotoGP does everything better than the parody you laughingly call racing.

  15. deconstructionist

    F1 is in the pits

    Sad to see the only way to do an overtake in F1 is through a pits stop and reliance on computers failing to tell them what to do and when .

    Yawn, no wonder my 3 kids think it is the dullest thing on the planet .

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: F1 is in the pits

      Show them the on board footage of Senna qualifying on a wet Monaco track in 1989 (And turn up the volume). Maybe then they'll understand why in the past people watched F1 races.

  16. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    As far as I understand it, the article is slightly wrong. Unless more information has been revealed since Sunday.

    From what was said, it was not the software in the car, or information provided to the car which was wrong, nor was it timings for his driving while under the VSC. What was miscalculated was the "VSC pit window": the gap LH needed to be within to SV for him to come out behind them on track if he were to pit under VSC conditions.

    All the software was saying that LH was safe, and that he would be ahead of SV in such a situation. Therefore, having made an early pit stop to cover off KR, he was driving at a reduced pace to save the life of his tyres. Had the software "fault" not occurred, he could have closed the gap by a couple more seconds to be safe.

  17. Geoff Campbell
    Black Helicopters

    Hmmmm, were I more cynical...

    ...I might ponder on which cars caused the VSC that handed Ferrari the win. Haas, you say? The only team on the grid to owe Ferrari a huge favour?

    Nah, can't be that, could it?

    GJC

    1. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Hmmmm, were I more cynical...

      I see I've upset the Ferrari fans.

      Good.

      GJC

  18. BoldMan

    Just stop making tracks that don't allow overtaking and none of this would matter - the better car and driver would be able to overtake and win. Look at the procession behind Alonso's McCLaren - he did not deserve 5th place but because Melbourne is a 'notoriously difficult track to overtake on' nobody could get past.

    STOP USING 'notoriously difficult track to overtake on' TRACKS!!!!!!!

  19. Peter Christy

    Frankly, that the Australian GP was boring, even by current F1 standards! Whatever happened to *racing*? It all seems to be about strategy, software and knowing every tiny nuance of the rule book these days. When someone actually manages to overtake (and it doesn't happen very often!), it is the highlight of the event! (I hesitate to call what I watched on Sunday a "race").

    For heaven's sake - do away with all the telemetry and computers. Give the driver the car and let him get on with it. Team radio should *ONLY* be used to warn of safety hazards, not coaching the driver.

    I sincerely hope the rest of the season isn't as dreary as Australia proved to be.....

    1. FatGerman

      F1 is about the teams, not the drivers. It's a dick-waving contest, the drivers are just software these days, a tool used to make sure the TV cameras focus on the rolling adverts processing round the track. It's not a sport, it's a business, and it is run like a business - minimal risk, no excitement, and lots of dirty tricks.

  20. Nunyabiznes

    Good racing

    TL;DR

    There are lots of other forms of motorsport that ARE entertaining. Watch and support them.

    I've pretty much given up on all forms of pavement racing outside of MotoGP and Australian Super Car. Oh the 12 and 24 hour endurance racing is good too - especially LeMans of course.

    But for sheer entertainment I prefer dirt track stock car racing. The little local tracks that have a bunch of people (men and women typically, although fewer women) that work for a living also funding their own programs out of pocket. They are the chief engineer, car owner, driver, janitor...If they are lucky their spouse is the pit crew. I am the flagman at a local track - so biased obviously.

    Alternatively, if you like off road racing the new combined Lucas Off Road Racing series is pretty good stuff. They also have regional racing for amateurs and up and coming drivers. I race a regional series so I'm partial. ;)

    Robby Gordon's SST series is fantastic to watch. You have to hustle those trucks around.

    See also WRC.

    See also Dakar.

  21. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Could have been worse

    They could have had "vi" and "emacs" ad stickers on their cars.

  22. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Some simple subtraction, in-head, would give the answer, no computer needed.

    Pathetic.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber design, I expect!

    Better switch to self-driving F1 cars!

  24. Herby Silver badge

    Health and Safety...???

    I'm a bit surprised that H&S hasn't invaded. They might limit the speed to 80 kph for the entire track just to be "safe".

    On the other hand, if you want to go "full computer", just give all the drivers an Xbox/Playstation and let it go from there. Animate for TV coverage.

    Probably not, but it could happen. Lots of reasons one might be "for the environment" or something as silly.

    1. Anonymous Cowtard

      Re: Health and Safety...???

      "Probably not, but it could happen"

      It has already happened, they call it F1 e-sport.

  25. fwadman

    So many mistakes in the article

    1) Vettel was leading the race when he came into the pits .. not in second place

    2) Hamilton had already pitted (when he was leading) and it the VSC had not been activated would have taken the lead when Vettel pitted

    3) The sector time when under a VSC is fixed so it's not like Hamilton could have done anything about this once the VSC came out

    4) The teams would have been running calculations telling Hamilton how close he needed to be to Vettel to ensure he came out ahead when Vettel made a pit stop

    5) This calculations had wrong inputs for the time of a pitstop under a VSC

    6) If they had the correct inputs Hamilton could have been told to push harder to close up the gap in the laps before the VSC came out

    7) Even with this Hamilton might not have been able to do this

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: So many mistakes in the article

      1) No, Vettel was in front, but not "leading" as he had yet to make his pit stop. It was that distinction that threw me, as I didn't see it in the highlights and no writers mentioned it. Maybe it was TOO obvious to a real F1 fan ;-)

      2-7) Yep, even I got that. Though the 20-25s lost while pitting doesn't actually change under a VSC, the impact relative to other cars is less.

      I think the VSC is better than a real safety car, where any gap you've built up gets wiped out. VSC does need additional refinement, but this scenario where a VSC happened at just the right/wrong time, was pretty unlikely anyway. And to be fair to Ferrari, they've always been brilliant on tactics.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: So many mistakes in the article

      The point we were trying to make is that although Vettel was technically in the lead, he had yet to pit so wasn't really 1st. Due to the timing cockup for Hamilton, Vettel was able to unexpectedly secure that lead.

      I've tweaked the piece to make it clearer.

      Don't forget to email corrections@theregister.com if you spot anything wrong - those go to the top of our todo list, whereas we don't have time to check every comment.

      C.

  26. fixit_f

    Is "Party Mode" like "Super Pursuit Mode" on Knight Rider?

  27. Geekpride

    Importance of teammates

    Arguably, what really led to Hamilton losing the race was not having a teammate in a relevant position. If Bottas had been in the top 4 and had pitted around the same time as Hamilton, Ferrari would have had to pit Vettel in response. As it is, Vettel was under no real pressure and could stay out for longer in the hope of a safety car / VSC. Yes, he got lucky, but the opportunity had been set up by qualifying and Bottas being unable to overtake and catch up.

    I'm not actually criticising Bottas. Crashes happen in qualifying, it's when drivers really push the limits. As long as it doesn't happen too often it's not a big deal. And he wasn't the only one struggling to overtake in the race. I'm hoping the lack of overtaking was due to Melbourne being a street circuit and that other tracks will give more exciting racing. We'll just have to wait & see.

  28. pdebarra

    "...the reigning British world champion."

    Which is he?

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