Future looks bleak for Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel is a 4-time Formula 1 champion. He is the first ballot hall of fame in the future with his trophy cabinet and the record of the youngest pole sitter ever. He has been the lead driver in Ferrari since 2015, and up to, possibly, today. In the Italian Grand Prix today, Vettel started fourth behind the Mercedes drivers and his much younger and less experienced teammate Charles Leclerc. Instead of fighting in the top, he spun, came back to the track dangerously, hit Lance Stroll and received a 10-second stop and go penalty, the most severe punishment behind only disqualification. His race was over at the point. Luckily for Ferrari and all the Tifosis, Charles Leclerc withstood the assaults from the Silver Arrows to win the race, first for Ferrari since 2010. As a result, Leclerc has now beaten Vettel in qualifying 7 races in a row, leapfrogged the German in the driver standing and been responsible for Ferrari’s two wins this season. The changing of the guards seems completed.

What went wrong for the 4-time champion? Every problem and mistake he has made for the past months looks to stem from his disastrous race in Germany last year. He was cruising to the win, but crashed out of the race on his own. Since then, he hasn’t been himself. Mistake after mistake and after each one, the pressure kept piling on. There is an argument that Vettel can’t cope with hungrier and younger teammates. At Red Bull, he was thoroughly beaten y Ricciardo. Now, Charles Leclerc has gotten the better of him. The pressure to win at Ferrari is incredible. His failure to win a world title with the Reds isn’t completely his fault. The team failed to give him a competitive car all year long. But his mistakes recently have been nobody’s but his and his alone.

Ferrari repeatedly said he would still race for the Red team next year and I am confident that is the case. Nonetheless, what if next year will be even worse since Leclerc will likely be more settled at Ferrari. He won’t secure a drive at Mercedes. Nor will he at Red Bull now that Max is the team leader and Red Bull is known for promoting drivers internally. Where would he go? Rumors of retirement have been circulating around the paddock and I would hate to see him retire at 33. He has still much to offer. But I think Ferrari should take him off the grid for the remainder of 2019 and install a young driver next to Charles. Doing so will give Vettel time to collect himself and get ready for next year as well as test a potential option in case the German walks after 2020. If a break can’t get him back to his formidable old self, I doubt leaving him on track for the rest of the season will do him any better.

Nonetheless, I wish for his sake and the team’s (I have been a Ferrari fan since 2005 and the last 10 years has been rough) that Vettel would find his way back to the top of the echelon of F1 soon.

If you are intellectually curious, these facts about Formula 1 will intrigue you

I am a Formula 1 fanatic. The sport is unpredictable, exciting and intellectually intriguing. Everything about the drivers and the cars is about maximizing every last drop of performance and gaining even one hundredth or one tenth of a second. The level of attention to details and state-of-the-art technologies that go to every aspect of the sport is astonishing. Here are a few clips that I found very helpful in understanding the sport. Even if you are not interested in the racing, I think it’s interesting when you are just curious about how stuff works

Car setup

A car setup is instrumental to the performance of the car. It’s more of an art and trial-error than science and there are a lot that go into the setup such as the nature of the tracks, driver preference, strengths & weaknesses of the cars, weather, tyre…The video below explains how one millimeter can mean the world in a car setup!

Braking System

Brakes are crucial in racing, even in commuter cars. As F1 cars travel at such a high speed and brake multiple times in one lap, brakes can get hot and fail, causing drivers to crash and fall out of races. The video below from Mercedes explains how brakes work and how setting up brake systems in certain races can be an engineering nightmare. For instance, Monaco Grand Prix is a twisty street track where speed is low and brakes are applied almost constantly. After every corner, brakes get increasingly hot. Cooling down brakes is a challenge as they are usually cooled when drivers accelerate in straights; which is, as mentioned, not what happens in Monaco.

In Baku Grand Prix, the challenge is different. Half of the track is made of long straights and the other half is a street circuit. At the end of long straights, brakes are cold and drivers run the risk of not having the best performance from brakes for the twisty part. Then, during the twisty part, there is not enough cooling for the brakes.

Logistics

A F1 calendar consists of around 21 races a year, spanning across the globe over a period of 9 months. Teams have to manage car parts, communication equipment, hospitality settings, fuel, kitchen, etc… Managing the logistics of a race, especially back-to-back races in different countries miles away from each other is a daunting challenge. This video explains very well this aspect of Formula 1

Steering wheel

Do you think you can remember how all the buttons work and make them work while driving at 180mph?

British GP – Some of The Best of F1

I have a love-hate relationship with F1. Normally, I am a crazy fan of the sport that is unpredictable, exciting, glamorous and sophisticated. To win a race, let alone a long season, a team/driver needs a perfect weekend, starting from preparation, practice to qualifying and the real race. Factors that play a significant role in a race include tires, strategy, luck, weather, drivers, pit crews and circuits. Nonetheless, F1 tends to be dominated by one or two teams before regulation changes. In the past, it was Ferrari with Schumacher, followed by McClaren, Red Bull and Mercedes. Some races are incredibly boring as there is no overtaking (I am talking about you street circuits and Australian GP)

The very last Grand Prix in UK featured some of the best F1 has to offer. The fastest pit stop ever is 1.91 seconds. In that insanely short amount of time, the pit crew lifted the car up, removed the old wheels, fitted in the new ones, lowered the car down, signaled to the driver and got out of the way. The muscle memory and the collaboration are unreal. Pit crew work can play a tremendous factor in a team’s success as you will see later on, but first enjoy the world’s record pit stop

The next highlight is the battle between two great young stars Charles LeClerc and Max Verstappen. Both of them are 21 years old or younger. The battle was enthralling and showed the talent two young men possessed. It’s incredible they fought at 180mph with the masterful control and techniques

Weekly Readings – 16th March 2019

How the epic ‘Lord of the Rings’ deal explains Amazon’s slow-burning media strategy. Interesting insights into angles Amazon may be pursuing in their media strategy. I am curious to know the activities to which Amazon prefers users watching videos.

How Equifax neglected cybersecurity and suffered a devastating data breach. I encourage you to read or at least skim it. The data breach affected more than 140 million accounts. So, there is a high chance that you are one of the affected. As one of the three main Consumer Reporting Agencies, Equifax is important in our lives, yet it displayed a shocking lack of care about our sensitive data. According to the report, Equifax didn’t have proper documentation or policy in place. It had 8,000 vulnerabilities that were past the due dates for patching. It didn’t even track the expiration date of SSL certificates, something that is definitely not rocket-science. Upton notice of an Apache vulnerability, Equifax failed to respond in a timely manner. The other two CRAs did and as a result, avoided a similar fate.

Writing is thinking. I don’t think I need to elaborate more on this. I love writing and it’s one of the reasons why I have this blog.

The Clear Case for Capitalism. I am a fan of true capitalism. With emphasis on the word “true”. There I said it. The article lays out the benefits that we can gain and have gained from capitalism. I urge you to read the article before listening to politicians or anyone talk about capitalism.

Lyft IPO: Cautiously Optimistic Unit Economics Despite Significant Losses. I have a pessimistic view on the outlook of Lyft after reading their S-1. However, this is an interesting and positive take on the ride-sharing company’s unit economics.

Where Warren’s Wrong. A 4,900-word masterpiece by Ben on Senator Warren’s proposal to break up big techs.

Microsoft, Facebook, trust and privacy. I find it great for us to have folks like Ben Evans, who has a lot of years of experience in tech and business. His experience, reflection, connecting the past and the present, the writing and multi-dimensional view are always helpful and informative. I agree with him that even though the new change in vision may render it irrelevant the strategic issues Facebook is facing, the new vision asks as many questions as it answers.

Formula 1: The secret aerodynamicist reveals design concepts. Formula 1 isn’t a popular sport in America even though the country features one of the best tracks in the world and has one world champion back in 1980. Formula 1, as people usually say, is the pinnacle of motorsports. It has arguably the fastest cars, at least in corners, and the most advanced technologies. The post will reveal great information on the aerodynamics of the cars.

Don’t Read This If You’re Bullish About Lyft. The title is quite self-explanatory.

Fernando Alonso

The final race of the 2018 Formula 1 season will be this Sunday at Abu Dhabi. It’s also the final race, possibly ever, of one of the greatest drivers who ever drove a Formula 1 car: Fernando Alonso. Tributes of the man by news outlets have already begun. Though there are still a few days away, I already have goosebumps and feel a bit sad. 

Alonso is a two-time world champion from Spain. Even though his race wins or pole laps never fully reflect the talent of the man, he is well-regarded on the paddock and more than 10 years of watching the sport, I have never heard or read even once that his talent is ever doubted. All I have read is one of the greatest drivers in the history whose career is littered with driving the wheels off his cars, taking a car’s capacity beyond its limits, ill-informed decisions and utterly bad luck. 

I was super elated when he decided to drive for Ferrari, my favorite team. He won in the first ever race with the team! The first 3 years, especially 2010 and 2012, were remarkable and bittersweet. He and the team lost two championships on the final race twice and through bad luck despite having an uncompetitive car. Per BBC in their 5-part story on the man

In the fourth-fastest car, Alonso led the championship for much of the season, taking three outstanding victories along the way in Malaysia, Valencia and Germany. He was overtaken by Vettel in a burst of four consecutive wins by the German in a run of races in Asia in the closing stages of the season. But Alonso lost the title only because of two instances of bad luck.


He was taken out at the start of both the Belgian and Japanese Grands Prix: in Spa by Romain Grosjean’s flying Lotus after the Frenchman tangled with Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren; at Suzuka when the front wing of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus punctured his left rear tyre.


Had only one of those incidents not happened, Alonso would have been champion.

The two championships lost in 2010 and 2012 sadden me to this day. I cannot re-watch the final races of those two years again ever. It’s just too difficult to take. 

Though in the middle of two Capstones, I cannot wait to watch, for one last time, one of the greats. Hopefully his McClaren will give him and all the fans, myself included, two hours of Fernando Alonso. 

This is his favorite race win and mine. A spectacular win from 11th position

Vietnam GP in 2020

Well, it’s finally and officially here! Formula 1 Vietnam Grand Prix is officially the latest addition to the calendar in 2020. As a long-time F1 fanatic, I am thrilled by this news. Our country will have an international sport event that will attract tourists and increase our country’s brand awareness. It’s not surprising to me any more that many people don’t know much about Vietnam. Hopefully, this event and all the publicity that comes with it will help make Vietnam more known on the world stage.

Formula 1 put together a cool video that shows the streets in Hanoi, where the race will take place. Check it out:

This is the track circuit. I am not a fan of street circuits, except Baku with its magical long straight and turn 1. I hope this track will be just as exciting

 

Initiatives in the Tourism Industry in Vietnam

First of all, if you are looking for a website to learn more about Vietnam and particularly Saigon, I highly recommend this website – Saigoneer. Its section on street food is a great start. It’s in English and has lots of details.

There are a few upcoming initiatives announced recently in the industry:

  • There will be bi-weekly direct flights form Zurich to Saigon
  • Vietnam Airlines will soon operate direct flights from Danang to Japan
  • Vietnam Airlines is exploring the possibility of direct flights from Vietnam to America
  • Vietnam Tourism Association will soon carry out exams to classify tour guides in the country. Tour guides will be given 3 to 5 stars based on the results of the exams which will be free of charge and voluntary. Also, freelance tour guides are now mandated to be under contracts with authorized tour companies in order to do business
  • BBC Sport reported that a 2020 race in Hanoi, Vietnam was now secured barring an official announcement

Three points here. First, the tourism industry brought in $13 billion in the first half of 2018, an increase of 22% compared to last year. It is huge for a country like Vietnam. We have a lot to offer. A long coast throughout the country. An authentic and exotic cuisine. We have beaches, mountains and Mekong Delta, everything that a tourist can hope to experience. But our tourism has been plagued by the lack of standards in services leading to the poor return rate of guests. Our country is pretty much a myth that is worth exploring once and no more. In business, it costs 6 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. This is the same case. Even though the tour guide exam’s effectiveness remains to be seen (we Vietnamese are not known for world class execution), it is a small step towards the right direction. If we want to compete and have more guests return, maintaining high service standards is instrumental.

Secondly, having more direct flights is huge. Thailand and Singapore have two airport hubs in the region and look what the airports have done to their tourism. Direct flights will reduce the hesitation from guests when they have to make a decision on where to visit. Vietnam’s two biggest airports sorely need major upgrade. It’s a pity that some bureaucracy red tape has prevented the expansion of the airport in Ho Chi Minh City. We have the land to do so and the airport is ridiculously right next to the city center. I have been to quite some airports and I haven’t seen one that close to a city center. Nonetheless, having more direct flights will increase our appeal as a destination.

Lastly, I have been hoping for annual international event in Vietnam for years. Singapore’s F1 Grand Prix has been a remarkable success since its debut in 2008. Otherwise, Singapore wouldn’t keep hosting it. A race is usually a combination of music concerts, press conference, other activities and of course the racing itself. With the reach of Formula 1, Vietnam’s brand awareness which has been under-marketed due to lackluster branding and marketing efforts will hopefully be boosted.