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GP Week : Issue 30
>>F1singapore The Lollipop Saga Chupa Chumps ACCORDING to Ferrari, it was an individual member of the team who made the mistake to turn the traffic light green at Felipe Massa’s ill-fated first pit-stop in Singapore. It was an individual who cost Massa the chance of victory, caused a dangerous release from the box into the path of Adrian Sutil, led to the fuel hose being wrenched out of the rig, bringing down a number of Ferrari mechanics in the process. But was it? Or was it, rather, the team’s reliance on unnecessary and potentially dangerous technology which seems utterly superfluous to most other people in the sport? Not for the first time this year, Ferrari’s traffic light system for releasing drivers from their pit-stops has come in for a barrage of abuse. In Valencia, Massa was released into Sutil’s path after his stop in an unsafe manner. On that occasion the team was fined. On this occasion Massa was handed a drive-through. But given the recent arbitrary nature of steward’s decisions, that should have come as little surprise. Then there was Raikkonen’s almost carbon copy pit exit in Valencia to Massa’s in Singapore, where the fuel man was pulled to the ground following an early exit from the box. On that occasion, however, it was Raikkonen’s own fault as the light was still red. In Singapore, Massa’s light had turned green. But really, isn’t this all a bit bloody silly? After all, what’s wrong with a lollipop? OK, it’s not all that high tech. But if the individual involved, who has the responsibility of turning on a green light, or lifting a lollipop, makes a mistake, which is the easiest to rectify? F1 drivers work off micro-second decisions. If they see a green light, they go and don’t look back. If they have a carbon-fibre lollipop slapped into their face, they stop. Simple as that. And what’s this traffic light system saving them? Timewise, the theory is possibly a few tenths of a second at the most. On Sunday, however, its use, over traditional methods, cost them far more. It cost Massa a potential race victory. It cost him the potential lead of the world championship. It lost Ferrari its lead of the world championship. It may ultimately have served to have cost them both in the long run, when things play out at the conclusion of the season. When we arrive in Japan, Ferrari will have needed to ask itself a pretty serious question. Do they risk losing two world championships, on which they have committed time, expense and expertise in, for the sake of a piece of technology which may or may not save them a few tenths of a second in the pits? As the old adage screams. If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it. Pos # Driver 1 5 FORMULA 1 Round 15 singApORe Team Fernando Alonso 2 7 Nico Rosberg 3 22 Lewis Hamilton 4 12 Timo Glock 5 15 Sebastian Vettel 6 3 Nick Heidfeld 7 9 8 8 9 16 Jenson Button Robert Kubica Felipe Massa David Coulthard Renault Williams-Toyota STR-Ferrari BMW Sauber Red Bull-Renault Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota Honda BMW Sauber Ferrari 12 14 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 13 2 Kimi Räikkönen Ret 11 Jarno Trulli Ret 20 Adrian Sutil Ret 10 Mark Webber Nelson Piquet Ferrari Toyota Laps 61 61 McLaren-Mercedes 61 Toyota 61 61 61 61 61 61 10 23 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 61 11 4 61 61 61 14 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 61 15 1 57 50 Force India-Ferrari 49 Red Bull-Renault Ret 17 Rubens Barrichello Honda Ret 6 Renault 29 14 13 Time 1:57:16.304 +2.9s +5.9s +8.1s +10.2s +11.1s +16.3s +18.4s +19.8s +26.9s +27.9s +29.4s +35.1s +43.5s Accident Hydraulics Accident Transmission Engine Accident Grid 15 8 2 7 6 9 14 10 12 5 4 17 1 20 3 11 19 13 18 16 Points – Drivers: Hamilton 84, Massa 77, Kubica 64, Raikkonen 57, Heidfeld 56, Kovalainen 51, Alonso 38, Vettel 27, Trulli 26, Glock 20. Manufacturers: McLaren-Mercedes 135, Ferrari 134, BMW 120, Renault 51, Toyota 46, Toro Rosso 31, Red Bull 28, Williams-Toyota 26, Honda 14. 29