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Motorsport

With the world focussed on sports that where men play with balls, we'd rather focus on one where you need them (at least figuratively). If it doesn't have an engine, it's not here.

F1 is a team sport and that means that, sometimes, hard decisions produce results that prejudice one or other side of the garage. Team orders are both a necessary evil and a despicable trick. Gamblers hate team orders (serves them right for trying to fly in the face of the nature of the sport then whining when it goes against them), fans of pure racing hate them (but those who are fans of the sport, per se, acknowledge their importance) and casual watchers don't understand them. Yes, they interfere with the spectacle and yes, they leave a bad taste in the mouth. And the 2018 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi left a taste that even the victory champagne could not wash away for either the man who came in second nor, importantly, the winner. And that's sad for the events eclipsed a truly great race, but that's not this story.

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The 2018 Russian Grand Prix got off to a farcical start minutes before qualifying began. Five cars parked in the pit lane, engines off, drivers in, waiting to restart the cars shortly before the session started. Why, who gained and who lost out?

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In 2010, in the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Jenson Button's McLaren Mercedes did not have the pace of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari. At his best, with a car that is good enough, Button was one of F1's fastest drivers and he proved it with a pole position that took everyone, including his team-mate Hamilton, by surprise. His only chance for victory in the race was to get in front before the first corner and hold position for the entire race, knowing that he would be under constant pressure from the Ferraris in particular....

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The last of the Formula One team backed by entrepreneurs with connections to airlines has announced that it has entered administration. Virgin sold out, Team Lotus/Caterham (backed by AirAsia's Tony Fernandez) went into liquidation and now Force India, backed by Vijay Mallya has had the late Friday knock on the doors after creditors appointed administrators. The only surprise is that it's taken so long.

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Some months ago, we produced a series of our views of some of the ways that Formula One could be improved to avoid it becoming a high-speed procession around circuits that are, often, not very interesting from a spectators' point of view. One of those was a system where the fastest drivers were rewarded for being fastest but started at the back. In the past few races, without the incentives, that's what we've seen and yesterday's German Grand Prix demonstrated why it's such an excellent concept, even when the stewards act to spoil it.

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The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai often throws up things that seem like anomalies but after 14 years of doing it, the strange is becoming the norm. And it's that unpredictability that makes this the race where, so often, the season comes alive. This year was no exception: while loyalty would have had some fans predicting the winner, no amount of analysis of form of driver or team would have identified the winner nor the final result down to tenth place. It was a race of derring-do, bravery and magical overtaking by experts and dismal failures when others tried identical moves. Literally edge of the seat stuff with multiple battles right through the field.

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er.. Wow. I thought I'd miss the Grid Girls (amazingly, I didn't notice they weren't there until someone pointed out that the parade as they left the grid carrying their signboards aloft didn't happen) and I thought I'd hate the halo (I did, until the racing started and then, except for one novelty moment, forgot it was there). I thought I'd be confused by the names of the tyres (I was, so I ignored it and it became irrelevant chatter) and I thought I'd be bemoaning yet another procession (actually, that was kind of true but it was a procession with enough drama to keep it interesting). Aside from the obvious colour changes, team changes and the halo, what's so different? The answer is "lots."

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Here we are at the last part of this five part series on reform of Formula One from 2020 to improve the spectacle, decrease the cost (and so allow more entrants) and to keep the competitive spirit alive for both the manufacturers' and drivers' championship, while not touching on the commercial aspects of the sport.

To read the previous four parts, click on 2020 Vision in the tags list.

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We ended last week noting the problem of "marbles," those small bits of rubber that fly off racing tyres and line the track. There is nothing good about marbles, although there is an argument that the cause of marbles is potentially a good thing.

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While aero helps the car at the front of a queue to remain stable both in a straight line and under braking, and it helps the car behind to go faster using less power, that's the only good news. Aero creates a range of problems for both cars and, if there are others behind the second car, those problems are compounded.

In Part 3 of Bryan Edwards' look at a 2020 vision for F1, aero is both hero and villain.

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Bryan Edwards examines Formula One, explains some of it in very simple terms and suggests ways to improve the racing. Continued from Part 1 yesterday.

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In this series, Bryan Edwards looks at the state of Formula One and comes up with some radical ideas that could be brought into effect as soon as 2020 and would actually reduce the cost of the sport while improving the spectacle and technical benefits outside F1.

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Was it madness, bravery or simply feeling that all the bad stuff that could happen had already happened? Lewis Hamilton, so often almost dismissive of his achievements, is collecting records, awards and accolades with every race. But in Mexico Hamilton, directed to the place where the top three cars were parked despite finishing ninth, was beside himself with joy. Unable to give a proper interview to the persistent and increasingly irritated David Coulthard, all Hamilton wanted to to was to get back to his team. And so, as the crowd swarmed onto the track, he turned and ran. There was no personal security, no looking around: just Hamilton running the long way back without a care in the world. Now, perhaps, the world will start to like him.

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Sebastian Vettel, F1's spoiled brat, had tears in his eyes as he got a hug from Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. For his part, Arrivabene, already subject to some kind of gagging order from his bosses, has some explaining to do and he'd better come up with something better than his last excuse: a third party delivered sub-standard components and the team didn't notice before they failed. But it might be that the real reason that things are going tits up for the German driver are more intangible than the latest official reason of a failing spark plug. Renault and Torro Rosso are being taught a lesson, too. Welcome to the mystical East.

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There are simply no superlatives left: the race around the public roads around Mount Panorama is perfect. From the fly-pasts to Deltra Goodrem showing that National Anthems at sporting events don't have to be cringe-worthy demonstrations of ego to the fact that races that last 1000km around a circuit that is, on a good day, dangerous and, this year, beyond that, are decided by, usually, at most seconds and, often fractions of a second, to the tear-jerking losses and outsider wins this is the consummate racing event. And then there's the party and the partisan crowd. Mercedes turned their back on the series, so have Volvo although the reasons for that are different, whipped by the perennial battle between Ford and Holden, a battle made all the more poignant by the decisions by both companies to withdraw manufacturing from Australia and support from Aussie motorsport.

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