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Monthly Archives: December 2015

A word to all dog owners…

This has nothing to do with F1. This is a shout-out to all people owning a dog. If you leave the house with your slobbering waste of skin and organs, put a fucking leash on it, will ya? Having it hanging over your shoulder doesn’t fucking count, Einstein!
Someone in Villach, Austria is now freshly one dog down, because I killed the fucking thing. The jerk went around with two dogs, both of which were quite big, none of them on a leash, and one of them thought it was a good idea to growl at me and bite me in the leg. Well, it’s dead now. If I see someone with an unleashed dog again – it’s dead. End of.

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Posted by on December 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

F*** Overtaking, Real Men Do It Anyway

snarky_hippoMercedes’ Aldo Costa has had a public brainfart about how the faster 2017 cars are bad for the show as they won’t improve overtaking. I say BULLSHIT. The only thing you are concerned about is that maybe someone might challenge you. It’s so awfully convenient to lame to victory every other weekend with the rules keeping the other teams in check. Now, THAT is bad for the show, Einstein!

The thing is: The important thing about overtaking is, that it is supposed to be an achievement. Nobody would have taken notice of Max Verstappen, had he not overtaken where others couldn’t. That’s what separates the men from the quiche eaters, so let’s keep it at that.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

31 Years of injustice finally end…

Happy Hippo Is Happy

Happy Hippo Is Happy

Normally I’m not too keen on spreading my private life all across the interwebs, but in this case I’m making a exception, because I know there are more people out there, who suffered the same fate as I and I hope some of them take the same step as I did and revert an injustice that nearly always goes unpunished.

Today, coming home from work, I found a letter in my mailbox saying that I will get my birth name back. Some of you might wonder – “Dude, how do you lose something like that?” Well, the answer is – all you need is a lying, vindictive mother. Long story short, 32 years ago, my mother filed for divorce, accusing my father of adultery, which in itself wasn’t exactly unwarranted, my dad isn’t exactly a catholic priest, except for the fact that she forgot to mention that 9-year-old me had been a (very unwilling) witness to her fucking a guy who later should, after the divorce, become my step-father. BTW, by boning my mother, he cheated on his wife as well. Classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

A year after the divorce, my mother married her fellow adulterer and in the same moment issued a ban on any contact with my father, which I ignored. The result was physical violence. I was on the receiving end of it. Against the laws (even of then still existing East Germany), I was forced (quite violently so) to assume the surname of the adulterer and I had to live with it for 31 years against my will.

Now, 31 years later, my father is already retired and in bad health, but we finally have the same surname again, so folks, I know this sort of skullduggery has happened in the west as well. If you were robbed of your name: It takes a hard battle with beaurocracy, but it is worth fighting it. Many of my hairs turned grey over it, but I’m happy I did it.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Hippo’s Season Review – Part 1/1o Mercedes.

Bored Hippo is still bored

Bored Hippo is still bored

The Team

Normally, if a team dominates the whole season the way Mercedes have done, you’d be inclined to praise them for the great job they’ve done, if it wasn’t for the fact that by now it is well known, where that large gap comes from. Even people close to Mercedes do admit that they massively out-spent their competitors, both financially and in terms of how many people they threw at the problem. If it was really more than Ferrari and Renault combined, as claimed by many sources, remains speculation, but even if it was just 50% more than the others, it was – though legitimate – a direct perversion of what the rulechange had been introduced for – reducing development costs.

Nobody would remember that much if they gave us Bahrain 2014 style races whenever both their drivers brought their A game, but after accidentally revealing at that very venue last year just how large their gap really is, they started their unholy habit of stage-managing and micro-managing everything. For that alone, and subsequently making the season as dire as it was, I would rather chop a leg off than daring to declare them my team of the year, because they still remote-controlled their drivers in the last race where they couldn’t have possibly lost much, even if both cars would have nommed their engines. Yes, they gave Lewis more freedom in matters of strategy, but that cannot be more than a token gesture, when Lewis has long lost his edge and the artificially useless Pirelli tyres dictate that there is only one strategy that actually works. And besides, they still nannied the drivers as to how far they had to dumb down their engines.

What Merc are afraid off is re-enacting 2007, when Lewis and Fernando stole points off each other and subsequently put a ribbon and a bow around the drivers title and gave it to Kimi Räikkönen. Does it matter? Barely anyone remembers that. What people remember is a fight to the bitter end between the reigning world champion and a rookie who delivered despite the hype around him from day one. That’s what we want to see, but probably never will, because by now so much money is dependent on championship position that no team will ever put two such strong drivers in the same car again. The #1/#2 concept has proven way too effective for that to happen in a top team any time soon again.

While it is not Mercedes’ fault that Renault and Honda have made a complete dog’s dinner of a job that a large multi-national manufacturer can be expected to get done, and Ferrari only start to catch up, they have to face the reality that they can’t continue their suffocating dominance forever. Granted, the largest fanbase is happy as a clam at high tide, but there is no PR value in whooping a bunch of hapless opponents, who can’t really hit back because the rules say they’re not allowed to. Red Bull can sing a song about the backlash of negativity that results from winning too often, and that was at a time when they were not put under puppy protection by the rule book.

With another likely season of effortless dominance, some people at Mercedes need to sit down if it wouldn’t make sense to let their third consequtive title be decided on Sunday, not on Saturday. They missed their golden opportunity by not supplying Red Bull. That might have cost a few wins here and there, but they could have proven their worth against proper opposition. Unfortunately they were too afraid to play on a level playing field, something that will taint their wins, no matter how many records they smash next year.

The Drivers

Lewis Hamilton (Driver World Champion, #44)

He was completely untouchable until he accidentally donned his helmet back to front before the Hungarian GP. Not even a face-palm inducing blunder from the team at Monaco could unsettle him in his relentless punishment of the only competitor he had – his team mate. There was only a very remote chance that he would not defend his title, unless Rosberg got a miraculous mojo infusion, which he didn’t. It is of course nitpicking at the highest level, but as someone, who describes Ayrton Senna as the one he aspires to match, even Lewis himself has to admit that his big hero would not be awfully impressed by his sloppiness after the title was in the bag. When Senna relinquished pole position to a team mate once, it was prime-time news and even a man of Alain Prosts caliber could not beat him more than twice in a row. If he really wants to reach the heights to which the great Brazilian has risen, he needs to postpone his partying benders until after the season.

Apart from that there is nothing to criticise though. Not even a double-points finish would have kept this season open until the last race, such was Lewis’ authority over Rosberg. In that regard he was even more convincing than last year.

Nico Rosberg (Runner-up, #6)

It says a lot about Nico Rosberg that he has almost three times as many wins as his father, but one less world title. In the same sense it says actually nothing. Good ol’ Keke had no understanding of the concept of car handling. If his car handled like crap, he just drove it at break-neck speed until it spun, at which point he attempted to make a three-sixty and soldier on as if nothing happened, and he meant to do that. He once famously succeeded in 1983.

Working around problems was another concept that Keke never really got the hang of. Followers of the old DTM will remember a particularly memorable race during which Keke’s brakes packed in entirely at the fastest point of the Norisring. Faced with a problem that can hardly have hit him completely unprepared, he rammed the Alfa-Romeo of Michael Bartels sending both cars into the wall, which redecorated both of them so substantially, both chassis were write-offs. Asked about what the heck he was doing out there, Keke replied completely unmoved: “Had no brakes, so I used Bartels for brakes.” Apologies were another concept that Keke never fully grasped.

In that regard you may wonder why he’s never demanded a fatherhood test to make sure that Nico is really his. They couldn’t be more different if they were members of different species. That Nico has inherited at least a good portion of his dad’s talent becomes obvious if you remember that he clinched the fastest lap in his first F1 race ever in a car that was no match for the Ferraris and Renaults at the time and before Lewis he was only outscore by a team mate once – in his rookie season, by a single point, by Mark Webber, who then had not yet inexplicably decided to become useless. And even though Lewis outscored him in their first year as team mates in F1, Nico managed two wins to Lewis’ one. So, writing him off as mediocre is a grave lack of respect. However, he doesn’t have the luxury of the sort of natural speed that makes Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso stand out from the crowd and even hard work can only make up for so much. The more respect is due for how relatively well he’s taken the drubbing that Hamilton has administered ever since the Merc stopped being hopeless. He never gave up and whenever Lewis was not bringing his A game, he almost never failed to seize his chance.

By the time Austin came around, I was prepared to say that he’ll never come close, but the hattrick at the end of the season might finally offset the mental crack in his shell from the unfair treatment from Lauda and Wolff at Spa in 2014. I am keen to see if that motivation boost together with his feeling of ‘enough is enough’ after Lewis ran him out of road yet again at Austin, is just about enough to give him enough spunk to challenge Lewis harder than he’s done before. 2016 will be his last chance, because the powers that be would be stark raving mad not to have a plan B to make sure the new rules in 2017 properly nerf the Merc. Because that’s what they’ve always done to teams who became too dominant.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Reviews and Comments

 

My thoughts on a dire season

Bored Hippo Is Bored...

Bored Hippo Is Bored…

My best moment in 2015? Watching the Malaysian GP from a small room in a ramshackle, over-prized Hotel in London, knowing that just a few miles north in a much posher hotel in Cheshunt, an avid Hamfosi with a thorough dislike of Seb Vettel was being miserable, because he’d lost the karting turnament the day before and was now weeping into his beer as he could hardly believe his eyes. I’m not above Schadenfreude, sue me. I bet poor ol’ Spanners didn’t even have a beer to weep into, because he probably had a coffee. After all, it was early morning. For a German there is no such thing as a wrong time to drink beer, so I had four of them.

My driver of the year? I’m going with the one statement the Hamfosi are going to give me flak for. I think the driver of a rather dire season has got to be Sebastian Vettel. Granted, Lewis is a close second, but I’d say he ruined it for himself in the last three races, and only his nigh-on flawless first half of the season keeps him from ending up third behind Max Verstappen.

I can almost hear them cry out, scandalized how it is typical that the Vettel fans would of course say that, all three of them. First and foremost, Lewis was at a definitive disadvantage. Beating Rosberg was always going to be a modest and entirely expected achievement at best and that was all he could achieve unless he would have won each and every race. Or to put it bluntly, he had nothing to achieve other than scoring a goal from the penalty sport, against a goalkeeper who had his hands tied behind his back. If you want to impress anyone with that you have to make it spectacular, and he didn’t.

Vettel on the other hand had no chance and he used it three times. Not only was he the only driver other than Hamilton and Rosberg who managed to win a race, he also force-fed a substantial helping of humble pie to all his detractors, who had written him off after the disastrous 2014 campaign. While Lewis is without a doubt one if not the best driver of the current generation, if you base it on raw talent alone, he lacks several attributes of his great idol, that he loves to refer to, attributes that for instance the likes of Alonso, Schumacher, Senna, Mansell and Vettel have in abundance.

Can you imagine Senna giving away five consecutive pole positions to his team mate? Remember 2013? Vettel had the damn thing sown up in India. Can you remember a single report of Vettel cluttering into bunch of cars, because of sleep-deprevation from partying for a week flat? Schumacher once famously got hogwashly bladdered after winning the title, wrecked Suzuka’s hispotality area in a drunken stupor and that was it. Once the hangover was gone, he concentrated on the next season and was back testing at Fiorano as soon as the shaking hands were gone. Vettel continued to punish the field, even at the cost of getting even more boos.

Lewis schooled Rosberg every which way until he had the title sown up and then he suddenly looked like he couldn’t be arsed anymore. That’s all okay, if that’s what Lewis wants and he’s apparently happy with it. He has chosen to be remembered as a celebrity rather than a sportsman, but you can’t really have both. That’s why, in my opinion, he’s only a close second to Vettel in terms of my driver of the year, because he did what he had to, but not what he could have done.

Vettel, for starters, had only 3 off-days: Bahrain, Mexico and the brain-dead overtake under red flags in FP3 in Canada. For every other race he was more or less flawless. With the last three races and completely losing the plot in Hungary, Lewis has at least one race more where he was arguably not really on top of his game. Only six times all season Vettel wasn’t at least the best placed non-Mercedes driver, if not better. That consistency dwarfs even that of both Mercedes drivers. Scratch the Mercs from the table and he would have won a mammoth 13 races. Even with the best car and being given back the lost victory at Monaco, Lewis’ tally would be 11. Nobody achieved a finish position that reflected the full potential of the car as consistently as the German. It’s of course hard to do that for the Merc drivers, because using the car’s full potential for them means winning. Everything less is by default a defeat. But that’s the the other side of the same medal. Vettel was rarely voted driver of the race when his car was head and shoulders above the rest. Winning in the best car gets you a “job done”, rarely a “great job!”

And for the statistically inclined. Seb’s tally of 278 points that saw him end the season in third place, a solid 44 points behind Rosberg, would have been enough to clinch the title in all of his championship years, even 2012, where he would have ended up tied on points with Alonso, but would have won on count-back with his five wins to Alonso’s three. Such was his consistency and such was the insurmountable advantage of the Mercs. The gap to 4th-placed Räikkönen is a ridiculous 128 points, but the Iceman is arguably well past his sell-by-date. With that sort of form, I dare not think what Vettel would have done to the field in Hamilton’s place.

I’m coming back to what I said in the beginning, it is a trifle unfair a competition as far as Lewis is concerned. You can’t really achieve much if you are Germany in a world cup qualifier and the opponent marches in to the anthem of Malta or Liechtenstein. And this is not an analogy to Lewis and Nico, but rather Merc and the other teams. Winning the title by 50 points is a big margin, even with the current point scheme. Vettel trails Lewis by more than twice that and the Brit has substantially more than twice as many points as everybody else except for his team mate and Vettel.

Yet, the season did not necessarily have to be as dire as it was, and that is entirely Mercedes’ fault. People point at aero as a reason for lack of on-track overtaking, and Lewis was quick to jump the bandwaggon to excuse his lacklustre performance in Brazil. Max Verstappen disagrees. And the 2014 Bahrain GP was a thrilling experience, despite the fact that Rosberg never actually managed to overtake Lewis. It’s the fight that entertains the people, not meccessarily its conclusion.

If you ask a number of people why Merc go out of their way to avoid real racing between their two drivers, most will instinctively answer “Spa 2014”, but I don’t think so. What they really want to avoid is a repeat of Bahrain 2014. Back then the safety car pulled in 10 laps from home. After those ten laps they were 25 seconds ahead of a car powered by the same engine. They desperately seek to mask the fact that in reality they are probably more than two seconds clear of just about everyone else, except perhaps Ferrari. And the latter will gladly provide an explanation what happens if you are than far ahead. Your car will be under such a tight scrutiny they’ll eventually find something to ban and if that doesn’t help, they simply change the rules to nerf your car (Ferrari 2005, Red Bull 2012 for example).

Without really hard racing between Lewis and Nico, they can let their cars idle around in strat mode 10, which is good for reliability and still enough to pull away from everyone. To come back to the footballing analogy. It’s like Germany winning while leaving Neuer, Schweinsteiger and Özil on the bench, because the second tier is good enough to get the job done. It’s still a win, but viewers get only half the package and you won’t get much credit for beating Albania like that and nobody will be impressed if you still manage to get beaten by Denmark three times.

Some say they hope that Ferrari will challenge the Mercs next year, but that will only be a plaster where you need a bandage to get the job done. Nothing short of a miraculous return to former glory would bring Kimi Räikkönen anywhere near challanging even Rosberg. Basically we’d have the same like this year – Only three different winners, people getting thouroughly sick of the German anthem, and everyone else pays a fortune to compete for fifth at best – on a good day.

Of course you can’t ask Mercedes to go deliberately slowly. It would be pointless as they are doing that already. The reason why we don’t have an Alonso forcing Red Bull to wait for the big prize until the very last race or no Juan Pablo Montoya or Kimi Räikkönen making sure that Schumacher’s dominance didn’t become so bad that people were switching off is, that back then teams could bring updates at every race until they caught up to the runaway leader. These days the token system makes sure that no matter what, there’s practically no way to catch Merc entirely and with the reliability penalties you can bring a maximum of three engine updates in a year. Ferrari had a new evolution every second or third race when they kept the dominant McLarens honest in ’98 and ’99. That’s why, even in the most dominant Red Bull year – 2013 – we saw five different winners from four different teams. That’s one more in each category than the last two seasons combined.

With Merc having way more speed at hand than they have ever shown in this season, the chances for the Merc domination diminishing are next to nil. The car with arguably the best chassis is still hampered by having a useless bucket o’ bolts for an engine and Ferrari, although much improved, can only gain so much ground due the restrictions on engine development. Let’s just gracefully gloss over the monumental clusterf*** that was this year’s McLaren-Honda.

2016 will therefore probably be a race in itself. Will the season be over before the viewer numbers have plummeted so badly that broadcasters will question if it still worth handing over the equivalent of a 3rd world dictatorship’s GNP for the privilege of broadcasting something that makes watching curling a thrilling experience? German broadcaster RTL only very reluctantly renewed their contract that’s been running for 24 years, in a season where eight races were won by Germans and the German anthem was played at each and every race. That should give people something to think about.

2017 will be the make-or-break year, provided there still is a product that anyone is interested in. Lewis might have the biggest fanbase, but all the Hamfosi in the world are not enough to sustain F1 on their own.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Hippo's Rant