pondělí 26. listopadu 2012

The Evidence: Alonso Should Win F1 2012 Driver‘s Title Instead of Vettel ('15 Update)

As you may know, "Grande Prêmio Petrobras do Brasil 2012" took place in São Paulo yesterday. There were many reasons to expect an attractive race from the spectator's point of view. It was not only a last chance to watch Formula One race this year. The Brazilian track is known for its unwelcoming weather conditions too. And what was most important - we still didn't know the name of the driver's championship's winner. There were two possibilities who will take the crown this time: Fernando Alonso of Ferrari or temporary leader of the charts, Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull Racing team. The latter one also had a precious chance to join Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio. Till that day, they were the only two drivers who were able to win the F1 championship for three times in a row. The race is over today and, officially, the prestigious company consists of three gentlemen now. But... nothing is that simple as it seems, since FIA aroused serious doubts over the final results by a particular controversial decision made during the race.

Vettel is celebrating his third F1 driver's championship title

22nd February 2015 update: I tried to review the events with two years distance. The case was closed by FIA back in 2012 with an explanation that flags have higher priority over lights, no matter whether they are placed on dashboard or on the side of the track. Since I haven't found anything in F1 rules about a priority of flags over lights, I still consider the overtake maneuver heavily controversial. In case there is a conflict between flags and lights, the drivers do not have equal conditions, which is unfair. The only fair solution is to RELY ON DASH LIGHTS, BECAUSE EVERY DRIVER CAN SEE THE CHANGE OF THE RACE MODE AT HIS SPECIFIC LOCATION ON THE TRACK AT THE SAME TIME! (End of the update.)

Evening, 30th November 2012 update: After two days of many people fighting without relevant evidence, there we finally have a new one! This video shows that the presumed marshall waving green a flag on Vettel's onboard blurry video (sorry, I'm still unable to clearly recognize it) waves the flag ONLY when a car leaves the box zone, which suggests that the flag was not relevant for the drivers on track, but only for those who were leaving the pit-lane. You are getting into trouble, FIA! (End of the update.)

Afternoon, 30th November 2012 update): Scuderia Ferrari team has accepted the official FIA statement that Vettel's questionable overtake was legal. However, there are no new videos, photos, pictures, telemetry data, Race Control voice records or anything else. Doubts still remain there.

Official FIA Logo

Personally, I can't stand FIA's arrogant approach to F1 fans. I refuse to respect the assessment till we get some evidence. (End of the update.)

Late afternoon, 29th November 2012 update: There is another interesting find. The dashbord lights turned off in the previous (3rd) lap when Vettel passed the marshall's station. Claims that the dashboard lights update only in "light flag section" are untrue. The "obvious" mystery around fake GIF was cleared up too: the video mistakenly compares lap 3 and 4, so the stills are not identical. (End of the update.)

Afternoon, 29th November 2012 update): Race director Charlie Whiting claims that "Vettel responded to the flag and did everything right." In order to minimize doubts, I expect FIA to reveal some credible proof. I haven't seen one yet. There are still more things to explain:

1) Was there really a green flag?
2) How could the dashboard lights be wrong?
3) Where does this thing come from?

Charlie Whiting: Formula One Race Director and Safety Delegate

Details about possible Ferrari's official protest are still unavailable too. (End of the update.)

Morning, 29th November 2012 update: After me publishing the article (I haven't found any sign that someone surpassed me at least, which means a lot for my self-confidence :-D), a storm of arguments took place all over the place. I took part in the comments section under the YouTube video linked below, but Google staff deleted it today (because of infringing FIA's copyright or some shit like that...). The matter still remains highly questionable. Some people claim that there was a green flag waved before the overtake took place (focus on the green booth on the left side of the track) and that it has higher priority than what the dashboard lights say. At the moment, knowing all of the counter-arguments, I'm afraid it is not possible for a spectator to find out who is the bad guy and who is the good guy, because there is not enough of convincing evidence available (especially from the other side) and very-highly-detailed knowledge of F1 regulations is required to judge the incident fairly. What is most important - the word was spread enough to reach FIA officials, who will very likely examine the situation on their own in the next days. Let's see what will happen... (End of the update.)

27th November 2012 update: Some videos (dead link already) on the same matter (dead link already) started to pop up. Except YouTube comments place, there is also a dedicated forum on Planet-F1.com. (End of the update.)

Track Marshall waves the yellow flag to warn drivers

The race started under a condition when Alonso lagged 13 points behind Vettel. There were many possible scenarios, but one thing stood clear: in order to - at least have a chance - to bend the current progress backwards - Alonso had to beat Vettel in the race no matter what. As he finished on 2nd and Vettel on 6th position, he fulfilled the mission. But in overall, it was not enough: he remained three points behind him. Alonso would celebrate the triumph only if Vettel would finish 8th at best, which he didn't. But he could. But he didn't. But he could. Ehm..., what is the point? According to regulations, he SHOULD finish 8th or 9th (depending on the source of the race summary) and hereby lose his title in Alonso's favor! Why? See the surprising conclusion with evidence below...

Let's put unpredictable weather conditions, dramatic crashes and rushed strategy changes, which affected the race progress in a heavy way, aside and focus on Vettel's "crime". If you are not familiar with FIA's regulations, this is a quick summary of F1 conventions that are relevant to this case:

Alonso had to beat Vettel in the race. As he finished 2nd and Vettel 6th, he fulfilled the mission. But it was not enough. Alonso would celebrate the triumph only if Vettel would finish 8th at best, which he didn't. But he could.

● All F1 races are supervised by so-called "Track Marshalls". These authorities are stationed at various places of the track and take responsibility for fair-play and safety. One of their instruments is an ability to communicate with each other & individual teams and control the race progress by dividing the track into certain coloured sections during the session. The basic colours for Race Control are yellow, blue and red. The yellow ones indicate danger, such as a stranded car, ahead. Most importantly, overtaking is prohibited in these yellow sections for safety reasons. These changes are communicated with teams and drivers via flags, which are waved by the marshalls, by turning on the lights of LED signs that are spread around the track and... by transmitting a wireless signal right into cockpit of any single car so every driver is acknowledged about the current situation (it's sad that even the former F1 champion Damon Hill, who co-hosted the TV broadcast by Sky Sports, didn't mention that).

● Violating this particular "overtaking prohibited" regulation is usually penalized by driving through pitlane. This leads to a loss of approximately 20 seconds for the guilty driver.

Lewis Hamilton is driving through pit lane in Istanbul

● If you're a driver and use a flag or a sign held by marshalls as a reference, it is unclear whether the given section starts, continues or ends. In bad weather conditions like we saw this year in Brazil, it is very difficult to EVEN RESPOND SOMEHOW to these notices because you hardly see the track in front of your car. The compulsory "GPS marshalling" diodes near the steering wheel - right in front of driver's nose - are much more precise on that (when you enter a yellow section, the LED diode lights on, when you're inside, it remains active and when you leave it, it dims) and there is no room for excuses.

 ● This warning system integration may vary slightly from team to team. Red Bull Racing integrated these light diodes exactly as shown on the picture (some real photos from different angles). Notice those six < > shaped, mirrored diodes on the left and right side of the informational display with "BEST 4 RACE" sign.  The pair of yellow lights stands on the top, a blue pair lays a little lower and the red pair is placed at the bottom.

GPS Marshall system integration varies from team to team

● Sometimes, racing incidents are examined after the race is over because some situations require more time to be analyzed. The driver or team can be punished by several ways by FIA officials. The corresponding substitution for drive-through penalty means adding 20 seconds to the final race time.

In Abu Dhabi, Vettel acted like crazy behind the Safety Car. At the beginning of the season, he was handed a drive through penalty for ignoring yellow flags in Spain in the fashion described above. In Brazil, most of the F1 commentators focused on similar "yellow flag" incident between Vettel and Kamui Kobayashi. Based on the facts above and an indisputable evidence below (1280x720), you can see that this overtake was actually clear (all LEDs including yellow are OFF during the overtake):

"Vettel vs. Kobayashi": all clear (click + symbol for detail)

But! Vettel obviously took a fancy on excesses like that, because, as I found out after analyzing the available footage, he repeated the same illegal behavior in another incindent in South America, this time when he overtook Toro Rosso. On an indisputable evidence below (1280x720), you can finally spot THE sequence proving that Alonso should win F1 2012 driver‘s championship instead of Vettel, because this particular overtake was clearly illegal and FIA didn't respond in any way (yellow LEDs on the top - the same ones used when the race is neutralized by Safety Car accompanied by yellow flags waving from all over the place - are ON during the overtake maneuver):

Vettel's overtake of Toro Rosso was clearly illegal

On picture 3, you can also see where the green section of the track begins... It's much further than where an incident took place, which suggests that Vettel actually overtook his opponent in non-green section.

P.S.: I'm not a fan of Alonso nor Vettel. I prefer Hamilton, McLaren and fair-play. :-)