A brilliant race in Turkey shows F1 is on the right track (Making F1 better)

The top three were covered by less than a second in Turkey

The top three were covered by less than a second in Turkey

The Turkish Grand Prix was a fantastic race – and it didn’t need a single drop of rain to liven things up.

F1 Fanatic readers rated the Turkish Grand Prix higher than any other dry race weekend since our “Rate the Race” polls began at the start of 2008.

After the criticisms of ‘boring F1′ following the Bahrain Grand Prix, what conclusions can we draw about the state of F1 fro the Turkish GP?

Why we saw a great race

Why did we see such a good race in Istanbul? Rob put forward one convincing explanation:

From my technically ignorant viewpoint, it seems that the McLaren and Red Bull cars? handling characteristics ?ǣ one faster in slow corners and in a straight line, the other faster in high-speed corners ?ǣ combined with a track which has a good variety of fast and slower sections, and the grid positions of the top four drivers all combined to keep them racing together.
Rob

Rob’s dead right. But there was one other element which conspired to keep the front runners close together.

The top three were covered by less than a second on some laps. And for that we have the refuelling ban to thank.

Last year Lewis Hamilton would have had a much easier job winning this race. McLaren would have fuelled him up for his middle stint, brought him in later for his final stop to leapfrog the Red Bulls and collected an easy victory.

The great strength of the refuelling ban is it forces drivers to to fight for their wins on the track.

And when F1 drivers spend lap after lap in close proximity with their rivals, you’re far more likely to get the kind of drama we saw on Sunday.

What F1 can learn from it

Just as it would have been foolish to rush into knee-jerk changes following the Bahrain Grand Prix, it would be wrong to conclude from one great race that everything is fine in Formula 1 at the moment.

It wasn’t just at the front of the field that we saw quicker cars trying to pass slower ones. But not only were passes for position still in short supply, there were several examples of how it was impossible for some drivers to get close enough to even try a pass.

And Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica crossed the line separated by less than two seconds – but it rarely looked as though any of them might try a move on the other.

Jaime Alguersuari caught the Sauber drivers by up to three seconds per lap at the end of the race, yet couldn’t get close enough to overtake.

This is the long-lamented aerodynamic problem again. If drivers cannot get close enough to their rivals to put pressure on them, we’re not going to see close racing.

We already know the teams are banning the powerful double diffusers next year to reduce the cars’ aerodynamic downforce. They should seriously consider further reductions in wing size to make it easier for cars to run closely together.

If all they do next year is push the balance further towards less grip and more power, that will be of far greater benefit to F1 than unnecessary changes to the race format. As John H put it:

This was a great race.

We always look to the past with rose-tinted spectacles (??look at this, wheel to wheel stuff they?re almost touching?? Mansell gets in there?? etc…??) but try to imagine Murray and Hunt commentating on today?s race and you?ll realise F1 is in good shape these days ?ǣ not bad.

We don?t need overtaking every five minutes to make a great race. Keep races long. Stay away Briatore!
John H

What do you think made the Turkish Grand Prix such a good race? Was it a one-off or the sign of things to come? have your say in the comments.

Race rating data

The chart below shows the result of over 67,000 votes cast rating the last 42 races out of ten:

F1 races rated out of ten, 2008-2010

F1 races rated out of ten, 2008-2010 (click to enlarge)

This is part of “Making F1 better”, a series of articles looking at ways to improve Formula 1. Fore more information see the introduction: Making F1 better: a discussion series

Making F1 better

Image (C) Red Bull/Getty images

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149 comments on A brilliant race in Turkey shows F1 is on the right track (Making F1 better)

  1. The cars were so close, but they were unable to pass… Fernando had to wait much and much time to pass Petrov and also Kubica has been unable to pass Rosberg who was in trouble with tyres

  2. TBone said on 2nd June 2010, 14:04

    Great race, though I still think they should place greater emphasis on the tracks rather than the aero problems. May not be quite what Macca’s after but look here for the circuits with the best record for overtaking:

    http://www.cliptheapex.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=51&t=822

    I personally loved the refuelling because it added that extra dimension to strategy, etc. Also, surely the reason the McLarens couldn’t get past the Red Bulls was because they fell back in turn 8 – this was nothing to do with the Red Bulls’ wake.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 16:15

      Also, surely the reason the McLarens couldn’t get past the Red Bulls was because they fell back in turn 8 – this was nothing to do with the Red Bulls’ wake.

      Fair point. In practice they were about 0.3s off in the second sector but I must say it looked like more than that in the race. Not got the data to hand though.

    • David A said on 3rd June 2010, 15:38

      It goes to prove how unfairly criticised the Fuji Speedway is. The last dry race there produced more overtaking than the last 14 races at Suzuka (including that 2005 race).

  3. Icthyes said on 2nd June 2010, 14:05

    Definitely on the money here in my view, Keith. The track did help, but the lack of fuel strategies helped even more.

    One point I disagree with is the ban on double diffusers being a good thing. By generating downforce at the rear of the car, it’s not as sensitive to turbulent air as the even greater downforce-generating device on the cars, the front wing. They should be reducing the front wing first and then the DDD if it’s still proving to be a problem in creating more wake (opinion is divided, like in your Adrian Newey article about the DDD ban) or merely because it further upsets the mech/aero balance. Those wings generate something like 75% more downforce than the diffusers, I read somewhere (possibly in one of John Beamer’s excellent articles).

  4. Alpha said on 2nd June 2010, 14:12

    I seriously doubt that Istanbul was a good Race. It was rated relatively higher than other race was probably because of the crash between Mark and Vettel. Before that, I was finding the race annoyingly boring. Cars cant pass cars…. Lewis would of gone pass Webber, Schumie would of been a lot closer to the front, and the Renault would surely have trouble keeping the Ferrari behind them if it wasnt 2010 rules…

    I miss refueling….. I want to see more team work involved, and more strategic move rather than pure racing…. You need a good car + good team + good strategy + good driver to win, in contrast, all we need in 2010 is a good car and a decent driver.

    • Christopher Vissing said on 2nd June 2010, 15:00

      Go get the “yes”-hat on again, bitte :D

      I think it was a fantastic race.. Like 100 times better than last years race!

    • Alex said on 2nd June 2010, 15:21

      Wait… so you’re saying that the race wouldn’t have been as interesting if one of the significant events of the race hadn’t happened? That’s very insightful :)

      I like to think that without the crash Hamilton would’ve passed Vettel or Vettel would’ve passed Webber and there’d have been another fight between Hamilton and Webber.

      Who can say for sure though?

      • Alpha said on 2nd June 2010, 16:54

        I didnt say not to happen. I just want to see a more significant involvement from the team. If racing is all about overtaking … then why’s f1 different to Nascar?

        In regard to Hamilton passing vettel, it is possible… and I beleive hamilton can do it, but it wasnt easy. Hamilton failed to pass webber on their first stints.

        I want more uncertainties, more surprises from the race.

      • Alpha said on 2nd June 2010, 16:57

        Maybe using another analogy… like Basketball… Not sure about you, but I wont like watching a pure One on One game as much as NBA, where teams vs teams with proper strategies used….. if u know what i mean.

        Its good to see drivers compete with each other, i just want to see a greater involvement from the teams over the race.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 16:18

      You need a good car + good team + good strategy + good driver to win, in contrast, all we need in 2010 is a good car and a decent driver.

      I don’t agree.

      Why did Hamilton fall behind Vettel in the pits? Because his team fumbled his tyre change.

      Why was Alguersuari able to pressure the Saubers at the end of the race? Because he ran a different strategy.

      • Alpha said on 2nd June 2010, 16:50

        I agree that strategy do play a role in 2010 season, as Keith has pointed out. However, what I meant was it isn’t as significant enough.

        Like Bahrain GP for example, teams are rushing in the pit at around the similar lap, similar pit stop time, and similar fuel load weight. It is good that it is fair, and the race is then depends on the drivers and the car, and thats racing… I think thats fair way to view it.

        But hope some of you can rethink what I said and try and understand my point of view. Racing isn’t all about “racing” only. I like to see strategy playing a larger role in f1 racing and also provide a bigger room for teams to use different strategy to generate different result. Some good strategy like Alonso’s pit stop in Monaco was something different to gain the advantage of the safety car.

        Maybe the life of the tyres can also alter this. I just dont want to see cars following each other and you know it isnt easy to overtake with the reliance of aerodynamics downforce in this year’s F1 cars.

        • Owen G said on 2nd June 2010, 17:51

          I agree, great strategy has a part to play in F1. But when running a lap or 2 longer in the middle stint became the teams’ sole method of overtaking, it needed getting rid of.

      • Frans said on 2nd June 2010, 16:52

        The pitstop is even more important this year. Usually they can get away with the mistake McLaren did on Hamilton pitstop, but right now everything counts. Combined with the safe release rule then the window for mistake is very little.

  5. Robert McKay said on 2nd June 2010, 14:22

    It’s kind of an odd one. It was a great race, no doubt, but on a different day perhaps all four would have simply been stuck where they were and cruised across the line all split by 2 seconds, and we’d have been sitting saying “well if we had refuelling there might have been some position changes or opportunities to switch things around”.

    That’s not a defence of refuelling, I agree with the ban. The point is the margins seem quite fine at the moment in determining good race/bad race.

    The fact is that Webber was not quick in the race, and there were three guys that could all run him hard. The fact that one of the greatest proponents of overtaking, Hamilton, struggled to pass him even with the F-duct is still a big problem.

    Having said that, attempted passing is still very exciting even if it doesn’t come off. Schumacher’s vigorous defence of Button in Barcelona was still pretty good to watch, even if no actual overtaking occurred. Same was true in Turkey – watching Hamilton hound Webber was still good, even if he couldn’t make it stick.

    Bahrain was dreadful because there wasn’t even any attempted passing, not really.

    Plus it’s rare these days that the leader seems to be slower than the guys behind him, which always helps in a battle for the lead, difficult aero or not.

  6. DaveW said on 2nd June 2010, 15:11

    Keith, look again to Rob. This race was sui generis. It says nothing to recommend the refueling ban.

    In fact, it suggests the opposite. You miss the context of the only passing among the top four, which totally undermines your argument. The passing was driven by the inability of the cars to make the distance at full power with fuel on board. This led to one (failed) pass that was contrived by RBR in a foolish attempt to address this situation, and one pass made possible by confusion at VMM about the instructions to NOT pass, made to permit the cars to finish. The only bona fide pass at the front was Hamilton on Button, which wouldn’t have been necessary except for the fuel situation, and would not have been less likely with refueling anyway. Oh, and Vettel’s pass of Hamilton in the pits, just like in olden days.

    If in fact the refueling ban forces drivers to pass on the track, rather than the pits, it was not the case in Turkey. What the refueling ban may do is force teams at certain tracks to concoct strategies to limit consumption, with perforce means forbidding teammates to race each other. Anyway, if this is the kind of drama we like, then allowing refueling would make it even more exciting, by allowing teams to manage the fuel to an advantage they can capitalize on the track by leapfrogging the other guy in the pits.

    As Rob said, the design of this track and the relative strengths of the cars, allowed VMM to exert a strategy, based on fuel consumption, that allowed them to push RBR from behind. This will not occur elsewhere, perhaps save Malaysia and Monza. And at the normal consumption tracks, like Barcelona, (in the dry) we will see the same sort of process: a leap-frog opportunity at 1/3 distance. Then a tire-preservation exercise to the end.

    As before, the refueling ban means the strategies for stopping are identical across the top of the field, and the only real opportunity to pass still occurs in the pits. This time there is only one such opportunity, and no opportunity to adjust fundamentally the strategy mid-stream.

    I also remember the suggestion that the ban would mean, toward the end of the race, different cars would be on vastly different paces due to differential skills in tire management and in set up. That also is not appearing to be the case, notwithstanding the illusory claims that Ferrari or whoever had awesome “race pace” and that people like Button would prosper because they were not impetuous and knew how to manage their tires.

    The refueling ban is a failure. It’s taken away elements of strategy and competition and added nothing.

    I know that the problem with passing is aerodynamics, because that is always what you add in defence of the ban. But that has nothing to do with the merits of refueling, as the cars would be fundamentally the same, aerodynmically, either way.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 16:32

      Hand on, I’m going to go look up sui generis and then I’ll get back to you…

      [...]

      “of it’s own kind, unique”

      Ah, OK.

      the refueling ban means the strategies for stopping are identical across the top of the field

      As I said to David earlier, I think it’s more the tyre rules and aerodynamic problem that are preventing variety in strategy:

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2010/06/02/a-brilliant-race-in-turkey-shows-f1-is-on-the-right-track-making-f1-better/comment-page-1/#comment-380591

      And again, I don’t see how a race where Hamilton would had the option of passing the Red Bulls by running a long middle stint and passing them via the pit stop would have been better. Like the Spanish or European GPs last year – look how popular those races were.

      • bosyber said on 2nd June 2010, 16:56

        Agree Keith. When they introduced refueling, it had some novelty value of how some teams were bad (williams, often), and others incredibly good (Schumi/Brawn) at getting the strategy right, but on track there was a lot less real racing happening. (I did very much enjoy Alonso/Ferrari strategy in Monaco, and how McLaren were first to counter with Hamilton, but that is not all I want to see in F1).

        I have to say, for me it is not really that I want a lot of overtaking to happen, but I do want to sit in anticipation of a nice move being attempted and being happily surprised about how well it is countered, or finally succeeds.
        If it is too easy or too hard, and thus becomes predictable, it just isn’t very interesting to watch.

        That is what has made Hamilton a pleasure to watch for me during the season (including Turkey), and Alonso as well in China/Australia.

        • Alpha said on 2nd June 2010, 17:05

          [quote]it is not really that I want a lot of overtaking to happen, but I do want to sit in anticipation of a nice move being attempted and being happily surprised about how well it is countered, or finally succeeds.
          If it is too easy or too hard, and thus becomes predictable, it just isn’t very interesting to watch.[/quote]

          totally agree mate! good point. well said

  7. DaveW said on 2nd June 2010, 15:16

    BTW, that chart of race ratings is excellent. You should compile these graphics, with your notations and comments, in a book for the end of the season. I’ll make my deposit when you are ready.

  8. F1Fan said on 2nd June 2010, 15:38

    So now we have come to a point in F1 where if there are two attempts to overtake in the whole race, the race is brilliant ???

    Come on Keith, you know better. If that was a brilliant race, then what were races of the past where we had 15-20 overtakes all over the field ?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 16:36

      I didn’t reach the conclusion that it was a good race on my own. 2,885 votes were counted for the Turkish GP poll. Of those, just 190 rated it lower than six. That’s pretty emphatic.

      • Glenn said on 2nd June 2010, 17:01

        I think many like myself rated the race very high for the Result fo the race. When the poll comes up right after a race you are on an emotional high that your favorite driver has won the race, that you make an emotional decision rather than a logical one.

        I’ll bet if the same number of overtakes happened and Hamilton did not win, the results of the Poll would have been much less.

        This is afterall a UK site. Not saying that there arent international people on it. But I’d say the fair majority of readers come from the UK.

        • BasCB said on 2nd June 2010, 19:25

          That was not true for me and from the posts here, there are quite a lot of non UK visitors (Australian, American, German, Italian, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese, cant remember any others right now, sorry).
          Second, i am not a Hamilton fan. For me what did it was:
          - the start was great with a nice first lap.
          - some action with Hamilton all over the back of Webber.
          - Pitstops where Webber countered Hamilton and Hamiltons crew messed up
          - nice shots of cars getting close and having a try at others
          - some tension weather there might actually fall rain
          - Vettel crashed into Webber bringing Lewis and Button in front
          - Button having a go at Lewis
          - Alonso passing Petrov
          - The comments made by Vettel and RBR treating him like a little boy who needs consoling for a big bad teammate
          - the press conference with Webber and Lewis on Vettel.

          All of it made it a great race for me. I don’t even care very much who won (but having a 5th winner is good).

        • F1Fan said on 2nd June 2010, 19:57

          Glenn,

          very good point, and I believe it does reflect reality.

          Keith will tell you that I was on his live chat during the race and at one point around the middle of it I commented that it was starting to get boring. The only thing that happened to spice it up a bit was the RBR incident and Button half-hearted attempt to pass Lewis. That was it.

          And we also have Alonso’s and Massa’s comments that their race was boring. This confirms that not much really happened elsewhere on the field except the RBR incident.

          So indeed this was far from a ‘brilliant’ race. And Keith knows it, even though he pretends he doesn’t.

          • Glenn said on 2nd June 2010, 20:15

            Hey I dont mean my post to go against Keith and everything that he does. In fact his site is the most informative on the Web for me and always entertaining to chat about something that we all love. I mean must of us are grown men and women sitting in between work and what have you to discuss F1. I think it brilliant. His information that he has (via his polls) give him information based on the fans of this site. Not his own beliefs. But I think the fans of this site, while some are very knowledgeable Id say the majority are just fans, Who will vote for the British Team and British drivers.

            I mean looking at the races that are voted the highest, How many of those races where won by Mclaren or a british driver?

            Now think of this. If there where a Italian equivilant of F1Fanatic on the web. Let say for ***** and giggles, F1fanatico.IT . And they rated the Turkey GP, Would you think it would fare the same result as this poll?

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd June 2010, 8:51

          Fair question:

          Over the past month, just over 30% of traffic to this site has been from the UK. The next largest sources are the USA, Australia, Canada and Poland, Spain and India, which together contribute about 31%.

          But what matters far more than nationality is intention. The vast majority of people who respond to the ‘rate the race’ polls understand that what we’re interested in is how good the race was, not whether their favourite driver won.

          If you look at the vote results I don’t think there is a correlation between which driver wins and how high a score a race gets. For example, the highest and lowest-rated races were both won by Felipe Massa.

          Lastly I would say, look at the highest rated races and ask were they the most exciting ones, and look at the lowest rated races and ask were they the least exciting ones. I think they are.

      • Alpha said on 2nd June 2010, 17:07

        It was rated good because they had too much red bull and crashed into each other.

        We should have a poll pin pointing how significant was the crash to the quality of the turkish race.

  9. Will said on 2nd June 2010, 15:44

    In my opinion Turkey was a great race. This is in part to McLarens’ development of their car and the circuit characterirstics. However I believe that what we need for better action to happen is for aero to be reduced to a 2004 level (with no flip-ups etc), stall development there into yearly or 6 monthly phases where design an developments can be added (so a high downforce package, medium and low downforce package produced at start of year for use until either next season or 6 months time for changes), increase tyre performance and increase tyre wear (make them faster and wear quicker – its a “little” boring watching the cars doing 1 stop as it reduces strategy and puts almost all cars in a 5 lap window), finally increase engine performance so it to has more effect on car performance but also make them less driveable so the driver has to have a bigger input into throttle application if this means increasing bhp and torque to make it difficult then so be it but make sure there is a bhp ceiling so 1 engine cant rule them all) Just an idea maybe it would work maybe it wouldn’t but it would reduce the aero problem as it were, The FIa pushed the teams down the aero route when they said no more engine development and only 1 tyre supplier. Also 2 or more tyre suppliers with more choice of tyres over weekend but less sets per drivers e.g soft medium or hard availible but fewer sets for whole weekend ( maybe 3 for race, 2 for quali and 5 for practice with teams choosing which sets to give up – thus choice, strategy and overtaking with any luck). just an idea sorry its so long winded…..

    • F1Fan said on 2nd June 2010, 20:00

      As a spectacle it was far from great. It was a decent race, but not great. In terms of results I can understand why people like you found out great, since your favorite team won. That’s good, but it does not make the spectacle of the race great. There was not much happening around the field, as Alonso and Massa said afterwards.

      • John H said on 3rd June 2010, 11:10

        I’d disagree. The top four were always within 10 seconds of each other the whole race and that’s what made the race ‘great’ I thought. There was always the possibility of something happening that meant more than the ‘battle for eighth’ because there were more points at stake.

        If it was Alonso and Massa battling the red bulls, I’d have felt exactly the same. Wheel to wheel action between teammates is always good – perhaps that’s why China got voted so highly too, because of Massa and Alonso in the pitlane.

        It’s too easy to say it’s because ‘your favourite team won.’ That’s a little patronising to be honest with you :)

  10. Prisoner Monkeys said on 2nd June 2010, 15:50

    Formula 1 hs certainly gotten better, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. To me, the ideal version of Formula 1 is one where driver skill takes priority over everything else. Get rid of aerodynamics, re-introduce KERS with more power and more options (ie 80bhp for twenty seconds per lap or 160bhp for ten) and ban shark fins on aesthetic grounds. Increase the number of races to twenty-four or twenty-five, and shorten the race weekend. Instead of having four hours’ practice over two days, give them two hours on Saturday morning. Make it as hard as possible for a driver to succeed; show us that they are the best drivers in the world.

    • PeriSoft said on 2nd June 2010, 15:58

      The introduction of blue shells which put the leader back to last, and banana peels drivers could fling to ward off their opponents, would also appeal to your ideals.

      In all seriousness: if you want a spec series with all emphasis placed on the driver, go watch NASCAR. Leave F1 to the people who understand it.

      • Glenn said on 2nd June 2010, 17:07

        IBTHESTORM FLAMESUIT ON BUDDY

      • dragon said on 3rd June 2010, 3:04

        The introduction of the old spiky blue shell, eh?

        got a lol from me :D

        HRT might have more success developing that than adding downforce to the car…

  11. Burt said on 2nd June 2010, 15:57

    Great race, but holding judgement for a few more races. Overtaking is still an issue, and it seems to be more about attrition be it tyres, brakes or fuel. Also team orders due to fuel robbed us of a ‘natural’ conclusion to the race.

    Hoping for more of the same in Canada, RBs qualify ahead of the Macs, Macs quicker in race pace… only this time they all have enough fuel to fight to the finish.

  12. mateuss said on 2nd June 2010, 16:06

    Hey, the Turkey onboard is up on F1.com with Hamiltons hotlap, pay attention to his left hand. Still think the RW80 is knee operated?

    • Burt said on 2nd June 2010, 16:21

      mateuss, sorry, couldn’t see him do anything unusual with his left hand other than reach down to adjust the brake bias shortly before turn 12. Did I miss something?

      • DanThorn said on 2nd June 2010, 16:37

        I saw Jenson doing the same at the final turn in Barcelona.

      • mateuss said on 2nd June 2010, 20:39

        Here I made some screenshots where it is obvious. http://i.imagehost.org/0976/ham.jpg

        • Magnificent Geoffrey said on 3rd June 2010, 7:26

          I’m fairly sure that what Jenson is operating there is the brake balance controls. We used to see that happen (drivers changing something with their left hand) prior to the F-Duct ever coming into existance.

          • disjunto said on 3rd June 2010, 12:38

            I’m pretty sure Jenson isn’t in that picture…

            also, his hand is on the bottom of the wheel, not past it/below where they would go to adjust brake balance. it’s a lot more obvious if you watch the video :D

    • disjunto said on 3rd June 2010, 9:49

      when you mentioned this I thought this was a brake bias adjustment. but, watching the lap it doesn’t seem that way.

      every straight he hold the low part of the wheel with his left hand and seems to keep that arm perfectly still. I’m starting to think it is operated by the elbow or something.

      • mateuss said on 3rd June 2010, 12:34

        Yes, atleast somebody spotted what I was talking about. But I dont think he is using his elbow but defenetly his arm or hand in some way.

  13. theRoswellite said on 2nd June 2010, 16:32

    Enjoyed the race immensely, especially as it reflected on the inter-team relations at both RB and McL. And, after seeing the debacle of the front runners, the attempted pass by Button was icing on our cake.

    I would also guess that Hamilton’s reassertion of his leading position might be more than just a “statement”, as it seemed quite authoritative.

    It’s too bad, that we seem to, of late, be having our best racing between teammates. (considering, however, the portent for an evolving post race drama, my complaint must be filed under..”Dim and Feeble”.)

  14. wasiF1 said on 2nd June 2010, 16:36

    No doubt it is a great track, & after seeing that amount of racing this season I am sure that it will be on the calender for a very long time just as Bernie has hinted us yesterday. As I said in the past the only thing that is required is to do more publicity of F1 to local & especially they need to make it affordable to the local.

    But still the FIA need to put more emphasis on reducing the aero effect of the car.

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