One thing that never ceases to impress me is the ability of the Formula 1 teams to build complex prototype machinery that go on track and almost immediately are able to complete 100 laps without a glitch.
There are inevitably some teams that do have “teething problems”, but the majority of them run perfectly from the start. Even allowing for the many rigs and dynos that exist at F1 factories these days, this is still an impressive achievement and a tribute to the precision engineering skills of those involved, both the designers and those who are manufacturing the cars to the tiniest of tolerances.
One can argue that the reliability of the modern F1 cars is one of the things that detracts from the spectacle of the sport, because even 30 years ago there were still relatively high attrition rates, with leading cars retiring unexpectedly and creating completely new scenarios. That just does not happen these days, at least not on a regular basis. The number of drivers who score in race after race after race is impressively high.
The return of Rubens Barrichello
When Rubens Barrichello arrived in F1 at the age of 20, he was racing against 39-year-old veteran Riccardo Patrese, who had begun his F1 career on the day before Barrichello's fifth birthday. By the time Rubens left F1 at the end of 2011 he was in the same situation as Patrese had once been in.
Now 40, Barrichello spent 2012 in America, after the Williams team decided to take drivers with sponsorship and potential rather than relying on a known quantity such as Rubens. His season in the IndyCar Series was not a great success and Barrichello has decided that he prefers to do something else this year and so has signed a deal to race in the Brazilian stock car championship with Maurício Ferreira's Full Time Sports, which runs Peugeot 408s, sponsored by the Medley Indústria Farmacêutica company, which is an offshoot of France's Sanofi-Aventis.
Ironically, the opportunity came about because the team’s former driver Marcos Gomes failed a drugs test! This year, if rumours are to be believed, Rubens will be back in F1 again taking part in 10 grands prix as a television commentator with Brazil’s Globo TV. He will share the job with his longtime mate Luciano Burti.
Falling on a lucrative sword
Despite the departure from F1 of Bruno Senna, who is off to race for Aston Martin in GTs, Brazil will have two F1 drivers this year following the announcement that Luiz Razia has signed to drive for the Russian-owned Marussia F1 team.
Walk into Marussia F1 headquarters in Banbury and start speaking Russian and you are likely to get some nice tea and biscuits (because they will assume you are someone important), but you are unlikely to find anyone who will understand a word you say, as the accent inside the team is rather more Sheffield than it is Schevchenko.
It is a team that has its feet firmly on the ground and it was this that led to the decision to ask Timo Glock to stand down to allow the team to get the money it needed to complete its 2013 budget. Glock had a contract but the team could not sensibly afford to pay him when there was a great deal of money on offer from elsewhere.
Glock agreed that it was in the best interests of the team for him NOT to race for it and agreed to a sensible settlement and then landed a lucrative BMW DTM contract for the season ahead.
At 30, Timo was realistic enough to recognise that his career with Marussia is not really going to take him anywhere in Formula 1 and that it was best to look ahead for work which will potentially keep him busy for the next ten years.