Was David Reynolds too kind on Mark Winterbottom in the closing stages of Saturday’s race? And why did Fabian Coulthard get that odd spinning wheels penalty on Sunday? Tony D’Alberto tucks into it all in the latest Driver’s Eye View.
Saturday’s race in Townsville was pretty strategic, and because of that it took a while to really hit its straps. But when it did, we saw a good little battle between out-of-contract David Reynolds, and championship leader (and Prodrive team-mate) Mark Winterbottom.
In the end, Reynolds essentially made the call to follow Frosty home, let him have the points and eliminate any risk of an intra-team blow-up.
It was a sensible move, but… Dave’s fighting for his career at the moment. He’s having to prove himself, prove that he’s worth keeping in the team.
I don’t know if he was obeying team orders or not, but I think he should have been more selfish. Dave’s racing for a championship as well, he had the quicker car – if he could do it safely, he should have had a real go.
At the same time, I’m sure it was in the back of his mind a little bit that if he had a crack, and didn’t get it right, it would have made contract re-negotiations pretty tough from there on in.
But at the end there, when Fabian Coulthard was coming along pretty fast, Reynolds was putting a lot of pressure on Frosty, and it was pretty obvious that the had the faster car.
To me, he had an opportunity to win that race… and I have to say he should have taken it.
A little dash of distraction
On Sunday, we saw Reynolds run wide at Turn 1 while once again scrapping over the lead with Frosty, a mistake he put down to being distracted by a warning on the dash.
Around a circuit like Townsville, you’re very busy at the wheel of a V8 Supercar. You don’t get much of a chance to clear you dash, or focus in on any warnings.
So it’s no surprise that something has flashed up on his dash and he’s missed that braking marker by a little bit.
It’s a very easy mistake to make, he just made it a very telling part of the race. It’s just losing concentration for a fraction of a second.
Speaking from experience, these guys are on the absolute limit the whole race. As the leader, Reynolds would have been totally focussed on keeping the car on the limit, and on the road… and then something has come up unexpectedly and ruined his concentration.
You can’t deal with everything all of the time. That was just bad luck for Dave.
The spinning wheels penalty
Back in the day, once the stop was done the drivers would get the wheels spinning and try and launch before the car had dropped. So now we have a bit of a ruling to avoid that, and any potential danger that could come with it, by penalising drivers for having the rear wheels spinning while on the jacks.
And that’s what ruined Fabian’s day on Sunday.
In Fabian’s case, the wheel spin was so minor. But where do there officials draw the line? If it’s a dragging clutch, or spinning at 2000rpm, it’s difficult to always make the right call. So the officials have decided that any wheel spin while in the air will get a penalty.
When I saw it, I thought it was harsh. But the officials have to make a call there, for consistency’s sake, so it was the right call.
I prefer to sit with the car in first gear during a pit-stop, so I don’t run into dramas trying to get first when it’s go time. But when the car is sitting there taking on fuel, it only takes a tiny bit of movement on the clutch and the wheels are going to spin straight away. Running my own team, we always had a handbrake to keep the rears in one place
I don’t know what Fabian’s pit-stop procedure is, but he probably wouldn’t have had any throttle on at that stage. I’d say it was just a minute bit of movement in the clutch – and it ruined his whole day.
He seemed to have a pretty quick car, too. We saw that on Saturday. Who knows, it could come down to those few points at the business end of the season.