April 30, 2018

Horse 2405 - Mad Max Carries On Like A Pork Chop But It's Still Danny Ric's Fault

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix which is held on the streets of central Baku, is in my not very well paid opinion, one of the better street circuits out there. It has all of the usual problems with street circuits in that as cars speed through the concrete canyons, they risk biting them and their race comes to an end in an instant. I've always found that something so unforgiving is extremely disappointing because unlike other motor racing fans, I would rather see two hours of intense racing than eight seconds of someone crashing which is followed by the inevitable period of utter boredom.
Sometimes though, you see an incident which is not the fault of the track but the madness of the little grey cells encased in meat; encased in an Arai helmet; encased in a motor car. We saw such an incident yesterday when Daniel Ricciardo ran into the back of Max Verstappen, thus taking out both Red Bulls and causing a double Did Not Finish. From a team manager's perspective, having one car not finish is disappointing, having both cars not finishing is heartbreaking,  and having both cars fail to finish when they caused it is infuriating. Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner was so livid that when Sky Sports foolishly tried to interview him after the incident, he gave the utterly expected "no comment" and stormed off in a huff.

You can say what you like about Max Verstappen moving on or off line because really the difference is only a few feet at most, and whether or not that constitutes a breaking of the rules but as it currently stands, the FIA has not made any ruling in any direction and so without direction from the arbiters, I'm going to have to declare that in my opinion, this is Daniel Ricciardo's fault for failing to avoid an accident.

Even though Verstappen was acting like a total pork chop all afternoon, making stupid moves up the inside and banging wheels with Ricciardo on the exit of turn 1 at one point, I still think that in this example, Daniel Ricciardo is 100% at fault because rather than executing the move and passing through on the inside of a corner, he should have realised that the car in front was going to slow down at some point.
Ricciardo knew full well that Verstappen had been driving like a loon all afternoon and this should have informed his decision making process, when approaching the moving hazard.

If this incident had happened on a normal public road, then a judge would look at this and 99 times out of 100 declare that the car following was at fault for insurance purposes. When driving on a public road with that great unwashed mass of humanity that we call the general public, the directions that a judge will take are that unless there is really convincing evidence that the car in front is somehow negligent, then the fault of the accident falls on the car behind. When driving standards inspectors such as the race stewards look at an incident, then they generally take the opinion that unless an overtaking maneuver has been effected where the car behind has at least pulled up in front of the other cars b-pillar, or in the case of an open cockpit car the rollover hoop, then the same principle applies. It is usually the car which is following which is at fault and in this case, that is Daniel Ricciardo.

The thing is that when you point out the letter of the law and how they are generally applied, people are mostly immune to facts and reason. Already I've had people argue on social media that because Max Verstappen moved "twice" ten he is the one at fault, even though the definition of "moving" already has case examples as set out by the FIA and the definition of "moving" in cases like this is defined by moving significantly and by at least the width of a car. In this case, Max Verstappen has deviated but it still doesn't yet constitute "moving" to defend the line as per the examples proscribed by the FIA.

In the grander scheme of things, you'd have to assume that Christian Horner can not be very happy about his two drivers throwing their multi million dollarpound machines into walls and not getting results. A double DNF which was absolutely caused by a combination of both drivers is worth being infuriated over and I would suspect that he would like to be rid of one of them by the end of the season if it promotes team harmony.
My guess is that with Kimi Raikkonen most likely retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, that Daniel Ricciardo will be eyeing his old seat for 2019 with extreme interest. The 2018 Ferrari looks like it has come on in leaps and bounds since 2018, to the point where it is capable of challenging for and winning races. If Ricciardo is able to secure Kimi's seat in 2019, then I think that Christian Horner would probably let him go, if for no other reason than the current spat between him and Max Verstappen, is untenable.

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