Favourite motorsport moment

Favourite motorsport moment in the last 25 years – ASI15 entry.

Jenson Button

The 2011 Formula 1 season wasn’t the greatest of years by all means, but it did showcase one of the finest races in the last decade: the Canadian Grand Prix.

Firmly cemented in the history books for generations stands an exceptional example of just why you shouldn’t – no matter what – give up.

What was just your average Sunday morning in Montreal proved to be an electrifying and somewhat, eye-opening display of race craft. Avoiding devastation by dancing around a slippy track with spray blinding the line of vision pushed some in the limelight, and others into the barriers.

But one man seemingly defied the odds. After a puncture, a drive through penalty and being almost a lap down, he ploughed passed his fellow participants and un-nerved Sebastian Vettel to emerge victorious.

A master class by one, Jenson Button.

You see, it’s not about being faultless. Everyone has their flaws and everyone makes mistakes. It’s how you deal with them, how you convert them and how you use them to your advantage, that counts. Jenson could very easily have given up. But he didn’t. Not because he thought he could go on to win (I’m sure most of us watching were not at all expecting that result) but because he truly believed that he could scrape something out of nothing.

It was that moment, that sheer determination, that sticks with me today. For that race had everything; excitement, disappointment, heartbreak, perplexity. Those are the best races. The ones where you experience almost every emotion. The unpredictable ones.

And for anyone that tells you, you can’t do something; remember Canada 2011, and politely tell them that they are so unbelievably wrong…

Top 10 moments of F1 2014 (so far…)

Despite the dominance of Mercedes and Mercedes-powered cars, this brand new era of Formula 1 has proven to be one of the most exciting years in recent times. The volume and pitch of the engines may have been turned down, but, the on-track action has been cranked up a notch. Fires, sparks and upside-down cars are just a handful of thrilling moments this year has had to offer – and we’re only half way into the season!

10. Bumps and bruises

There have been several collisions and mistakes this year, some of which have been caused by the new BBW (brake by wire) systems – Kamui Kobayashi’s incident at the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton’s failure whilst qualifying in Germany were both down to the new style of brakes. Whereas Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen have had spectacular crashes this year, with the former colliding with Sergio Perez in Canada. Not forgetting that Massa was one of two drivers (the other being Esteban Gutierrez) to have been flipped upside-down during a race – both drivers escaped with no injuries, thankfully.

9. Curse of the team orders

They’re back, again! Twice this year we have seen the dreaded calls over the radio to force one driver to allow their team-mate through. The first was in China where the Red Bull duo were on differing strategies, Sebastian Vettel replied “tough luck” but later yielded the position. With one more stop to make, Nico Rosberg found himself stuck behind Lewis Hamilton in Hungary, but despite the team asking Hamilton to let Rosberg through, the Briton stood firm and ignored them, knowing that Rosberg would finish ahead if he let him by.

011GgYzf

8. Susie Wolff’s F1 outing

Silverstone didn’t quite go according to plan and further problems in Hockenheim looked like it just wasn’t meant to be. But Williams got the car up to scratch and Wolff became the first woman in 22 years to take part in an F1 weekend. Her best lap was of 1:20:769, just 0.277 seconds behind Massa who finished the session in 11th place. Not bad!

7. Alonso vs. Ricciardo in Germany

Alonso and Ricciardo’s fight at Hockenheim was some of the best racing we’ve seen so far this season with the Ferrari coming out on top, on this occasion. Lets hope we get more wheel-to-wheel racing during the second half of the year!

6. Felipe Massa and Williams on pole

After an unusually messy session for the Mercedes’ drivers, it was the Williams duo who capitalised on their problems to produce two faultless laps to take the front row. It became Massa’s first pole in eight years and Williams’ first front row lock out since 2003. Unfortunately they couldn’t hold on to take the win, but it was nice to see Williams back where they belong.

5. Rosberg controversy

Nico Rosberg was forced into the spotlight after he – to some – purposely crashed in qualifying to secure pole position in Monaco. This rattled team-mate Hamilton who was quoted saying “we’re not friends” to a reporter despite knowing the German (or Monegasque?) since the pair were karting team-mates. They have since kissed and made up, although for how long?

003flweh

4. Marussia in the points

Following their debut in 2010 as Virgin Racing – now known as Marussia – the Banbury based team have been in a struggle to score their first points in Formula 1. However, after recruiting Max Chilton and Ferrari academy driver, Jules Bianchi, things slowly began to get better. And in Monaco of this year, Bianchi found himself in eighth place. A 5 second penalty was later added to his time for starting in the wrong grid slot, but the Frenchman took ninth place and scored his, and Marussia’s first ever F1 points.

3. Hamilton vs. Rosberg in Bahrain

Under the floodlights we finally got a feel of just how quick the Mercedes car was. But what also became evident, was just how evenly matched this team-mate partnership is. The respect between both drivers made it even better to watch with the two switching positions almost every lap. Two different driving styles at the same calibre gave us a fantastic end to the race and could make double points in Abu Dhabi even more important.

2. Ricciardo’s first win

It was once thought that Mercedes could win every race this year; that was until both cars were hit with reliability problems in Canada. But it was an unlikely candidate that took full advantage of the situation, for it was not the defending four time World Champion, but his new team-mate! Ricciardo managed his tyres well, pushed when he needed to, and proved that Mercedes weren’t unbeatable.

1. Alonso vs. Vettel in GB

Two World Champions wheel to wheel throughout Silverstone – what more could you want? Albeit, it would have been much better if the two weren’t moaning about one another over the radio, but they laughed about it afterwards.

GBcVT86b

(All cartoons courtesy of Chris Rathbone. See his website here, and follow him on twitter here)

What has been your favourite moment this year?

Austrian Grand Prix preview

AustriaTrack

Following months of speculation about the Austrian Grand Prix the wait for it’s return is finally over. After an absence of 10 years, Formula 1 and it’s junior series GP2 and GP3 are due to return to the famous circuit.

It’s fast, flowing track is back, only this time under a new name: the Red Bull Ring. The circuit is 4.326km long (2.68 miles) and will last for 71 laps. Michael Schumacher holds the lap record here of a 1:08:337 that he set in his Ferrari in 2003.

On the topic of Schumacher, recent news suggests he is out of a coma and has left Grenoble hospital to continue his rehabilitation. Whilst this is may appear to be a good sign, it has been stressed that Michael is still in a difficult state and his full recovery will not be quick, nor easy. Lets be patient and respect his privacy – Michael is a fighter and will not give up. I’m sure many of us are wishing him well on his first steps to recovery!

In the early days of F1, the Austrian Grand Prix was held at an airfield in Zeltweg. However, it was too bumpy and narrow. Spectators complained about the poor viewing areas and in 1969, deep into the Styrian mountains, the Osterreichring was built.

In 1975 Vittorio Brambilla took his first and only win in Formula 1 but crashed after he crossed the finish line when the race was stopped due to heavy rain. Two years later, in 1977, the fastest corner on the track was removed and a small chicane was put in it’s place.

The nature of the track proved too much and in 1987 the FIA deemed the track to be too unsafe and took it off the calendar for almost a decade. They said it had too many high speed corners and there was no protection from hitting trees or embankments. There was too many accidents on the narrow pit straight and increasing speeds were also problematic (Nelson Piquet averaged a speed of 159.457mph.)

It was later refurbished which allowed the race to run once again. Hermann Tilke redesigned the whole circuit and the long, sweeping high speed corners were lost. Hella-Licht chicane, Flatschach and Dr. Tiroch were taken out completely and, instead, a short straight that went directly to the second half of the uphill backstretch replaced them. The corner which was named after Jochen Rindt was made smaller and the Texaco bends (now known as Rauch and Wurth Kurve) were also made shorter and slower. After all of the changes, the track was then renamed after a sponsor: the A1 ring.

Rubens Barrichello was on his way to winning the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002, but Ferrari ordered him to allow team-mate M. Schumacher to pass him despite the German already leading the championship by some margin. This kicked up a lot of controversy but during the podium ceremony, Schumacher insisted that Barrichello should take the top step – an action that later saw Ferrari and the two drivers receive a one million dollars fine.

The Red Bull Ring is the same layout as the A1 ring – the name was changed again after the drinks company purchased the circuit in 2011.

Mercedes may have had mechanical failures at the last round in Canada, but this track is very much suited to them and could cause problems to teams powered by Renault. However, considering the circuits location, rain could play a part in the final result and give us an exciting race. With Force India and Williams looking strong don’t rule them out of a podium contention, nor Ferrari who seem to be lurking amongst the midfield teams.

Lewis Hamilton will be looking to get back the points he’s lost to team-mate Nico Rosberg, whereas Daniel Ricciardo will be trying to replicate his last performance. Sergio Perez was handed a 5 place grid penalty for causing a crash with Williams driver, Felipe Massa and will take that punishment during this weekends qualifying.

Pirelli have brought the two softest compound of tyres to this venue but, as mentioned earlier, the weathers unpredictability may spring a surprise.

Timetable: (UK time)
Friday:
F1 practice 1 – 09:00am
GP2 practice – 11:00am
F1 practice 2 – 13:00pm
GP2 qualifying – 14:55pm
GP3 practice – 16:50pm

Saturday:
GP3 qualifying – 08:45am
F1 practice 3 – 10:00am
F1 qualifying – 13:00pm
GP2 feature race – 14:40pm
GP3 race 1 – 16:20pm

Sunday:
GP3 race 2 – 08:25am
GP2 sprint race – 09:35am
F1 race – 13:00pm

Canadian Grand Prix summary

Bpo6OSJIgAAQb1h

The Canadian Grand Prix can always be relied on to throw up a exciting race, and it didn’t fail on this years visit either. After the two Mercedes had reliability problems, Daniel Ricciardo secured his first Formula 1 victory in style. A big crash between Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez took them out of a podium contention but Sebastian Vettel steered clear of contact and cruised to third place.

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P3 – RIC P6
Race – VET P3 – RIC P1

At one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar, the Red Bulls (that have had reliability problems since pre-season testing) drove a faultless race to finish on the top and bottom step of the podium. Vettel did well to avoid being collected by Massa’s Williams and despite being upset over the pit stops still reached the chequered flag in a solid position. Ricciardo capitalised on the Mercedes’ failures, but nonetheless a fantastic result for the Aussie – who couldn’t quite believe what had happened!

Mercedes:
Qualifying – HAM P2 – ROS P1
Race – HAM DNF – ROS P2

Rosberg going wide at the chicane would not have changed Hamilton’s result. A number of problems lead to an immediate brakes failure on Hamilton’s car and that’s the reason for his retirement. Rosberg didn’t get a penalty because he significantly slowed down towards turn 1 and 2 which the telemetry would have supported. The Briton however, is now 22 points behind his team-mate, but with 12 races left that’s more than catchable. Rosberg drove exceptionally – perhaps he was aided by Perez holding up the Red Bulls and Williams – but still, to finish second despite his problems is brilliant. Mercedes said that the MGU-K failure meant that the cars were losing up to 160bhp (or a second a lap) but were able to do just enough to finish high in the points.

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P7 – RAI P10
Race – ALO P6 – RAI P10

Another disappointing result and all the questions of “how long can this last for?” arise again. Alonso got a bit lucky with his position, and even though Raikkonen had brake problems their results aren’t good enough. Big changes need to be made.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P14 – MAL P17
Race – GRO DNF – MAL DNF

Double DNF’s are never good but what they were doing prior to their retirements looked to be quite promising. Maldonado was as high as eighth place when a loss of power forced him to stop. Grosjean was also running well but had to withdraw from the race due to a broken rear wing.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P9 – MAG P12
Race – BUT P4 – MAG P9

Button had a fantastic result considering McLaren’s recent form and jumped up to sixth after passing Alonso and Hulkenberg at the hairpin on the final lap. Magnussen didn’t have such a good race and was stuck behind a Toro Rosso, he did however secure some more points which have helped close the gap to Force India in the constructors.

Force India:
Qualifying – HUL P11 – PER P13
Race – HUL P5 – PER P11

Force India were on for one of their best results to date until the massive collision on the final lap. Perez was unlucky with his result, especially because he was suffering from brake problems throughout the latter of the race. He did well to keep Ricciardo behind him for so long but it eventually came to an end. Hulkenberg did another great job to get high in the points and also kept Alonso at bay.

Sauber:
Qualifying – GUT DNS – SUT P16
Race – GUT DNF – SUT P13

A loss of power brought Gutierrez’s race to an end. After starting from the pit lane, the Mexican got himself into a good position until he eventually had to stop. Sutil was way off the pace and couldn’t bring himself in points contention despite only 11 cars finishing the race.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – VER P8 – KVY P15
Race – VER P8 – KVY DNF

Vergne is slowly starting to fight back at his team-mate and looks to be trying to save his career in Formula 1. Kvyat was running behind Vergne throughout the race but had a drive failure after spinning his Toro Rosso.

Williams:
Qualifying – BOT P4 – MAS P5
Race – BOT P7 – MAS P12

What could have been. Bottas did well to avoid any problems or contact, but the pace Williams had in qualifying suggested he should have finished higher. Massa looked set on fighting for the lead until he and Perez clattered together. Regardless of any steering input, why would you get that close to a competitor on the final lap? Perez braked earlier than usual because he was having braking issues, but Massa had a lot of space on the left of the track. To me it was a 50:50 incident that could have easily been avoided. Couldn’t Massa have waited for the long straight with DRS to make the move?

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P19 – CHI P18
Race – BIA DNF – CHI DNF

Chilton’s first DNF in F1 and he took his team-mate out with him – oops! Thankfully, Bianchi is OK despite the heavy impact.

Caterham:
Qualifying – KOB P21 – ERI P20
Race – KOB DNF – ERI DNF

Kobayashi spun at turn 2 which caused damage to his suspension making him retire from the race. Ericsson was also told to stop with problems to his turbo. A disappointing result but neither Marussia finished either – can Caterham score points to challenge them?

My driver/s of the day are Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg. Who is yours?

Canadian Grand Prix preview

trackshot

Following a short period in Europe, F1 has jumped into North America to take part in the Canadian Grand Prix. A race that more often than not produces some drama, and after the recent controversies at one particular team, this year may be no different.

Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve is a 2.7 mile track which is made up of long straights and tight, low speed corners. The nature of the circuit puts a lot of stress upon the engine and brakes, so we can expect to see some retirements. There are 2 DRS zones here located right next to each other on the run up to the turn 13/14 chicane, and on the pit straight.

The wall of champions will be awaiting the drivers to catch them out at any moment. Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button (who recorded a special win here in 2011), Sebastian Vettel, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher have all been a victim of the wall amongst many others.

Schumacher tallied up 7 wins at the Canadian Grand Prix and with his condition to be no different, my thoughts remain with his friends and family. Robert Kubica also secured his first and only win here in 2008 after capitalising on Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen’s incident in the pit lane.

The 70 lap race could be an exciting one, with the two Mercedes drivers having that ever increasing advantage. Hamilton is looking to record is fourth win at this event, but team-mate Rosberg will also be in strong contention.

Raikkonen celebrates his 200th GP start this weekend and will be hoping for a better result. With both Ferrari and Red Bull’s recent improvements we can expect to see them fighting amongst themselves with the likes of Force India, Williams and McLaren also joining in.

Pirelli have brought the soft and super-soft tyres to this venue but with the uncertainty of Canada’s weather, we could see the intermediates or even the wets being put to use.

The Grand Prix is live on SkyF1 but don’t worry if you’ll miss it as the BBC will have their highlights show later in the day.

Timetable: (UK time)
Friday:
F1 FP1 – 3:00pm
F1 FP2 – 7:00pm

Saturday:
F1 FP3 – 3:00pm
F1 Qualifying – 6:00pm

Sunday:
F1 Race – 7:00pm

Monaco Grand Prix analysis

The F1 circus travelled to Monte Carlo to participate in one of the most glamorous sporting events to date. After Lewis Hamilton’s four consecutive wins it was up to team-mate Nico Rosberg to take control at the jewel in Formula 1’s crown, Monaco. Daniel Ricciardo took the fight to Hamilton with the Briton suffering with something in his eye, but it was yet another Mercedes 1, 2 with the German leading the way.

formula-1-grand-prix-monaco-monte-carlo-monte-carlo-nico-rosberg-mercedes-lewis_3147651

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P4 – RIC P3
Race – VET DNF – RIC P3

Ricciardo proved to be, yet again, the best of the rest and very nearly caught and passed Hamilton at the end to take second. Despite his average start, Ricciardo capitalised on the problems suffered by Vettel and Raikkonen and has surprised many people by being the familiar name to follow the two Mercedes drivers. Turbo and engine problems forced Vettel to make an early retirement, but the pace Ricciardo showed during the latter of the race is encouragable for Red Bull.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – HAM P2 – ROS P1
Race – HAM P2 – ROS P1

Many people deem Rosberg’s pole as ‘controversial’, but the pole lap itself was one of his best. Personally, I saw it as an honest mistake. Whatever you think, you can’t fault his race. He held off Hamilton despite having to conserve fuel and controlled the race from start to finish. Hamilton also had a strong race up until he had his own problems, but he still managed to fend off Ricciardo to maintain a 1, 2. However, he couldn’t even shake the hand of his team-mate on the podium. Tensions are rising high in the Mercedes team, but how long for?

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P5 – RAI P6
Race – ALO P4 – RAI P12

Raikkonen arguably would have finished ahead of Alonso if it wasn’t for an unnecessary puncture (caused by Chilton) that forced him to make another pit stop. He was really hard done by. Alonso steered clear of trouble and was one of two drivers to not get himself lapped by the Mercedes – the other being Ricciardo. It’s clear Ferrari have work to do, and Alonso is showing his class by putting that Ferrari where it’s pace doesn’t suggest it should be.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P14 – MAL P15
Race – GRO P8 – MAL DNF

Maldonado didn’t get off the grid to perform the formation lap due to a fuel pump issue so was unable to take part in the race. Grosjean had a good weekend though. Perhaps his position was aided by the amount of retirements, but nonetheless a great result for Lotus.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P12 – MAG P8
Race – BUT P6 – MAG P10

Magnussen had a great qualifying session whilst Button missed out on Q3, but both drivers managed to pull the cars into the points. Button was so close to passing Hulkenberg but because Monaco is such a difficult place to overtake, he had to settle for sixth. Magnussen deserved higher than 10th, but when Raikkonen attempted to pass him, he went too deep and sent them both into the barriers at the chicane. Fortunately both drivers were able to reverse and continue without damage, but Magnussen could have, and should have, finished higher.

Force India:
Qualifying – HUL P11 – PER P10
Race – HUL P5 – PER DNF

Hulkenberg did a great job to put himself in the high points, even though he was struggling towards the end. Before the problems, he did perform an impressive overtake on Magnussen at Portier for position. Perez’s race was brought to a very early end after he came together with Button, but he didn’t give the Briton much room and the contact was inevitable. The teams recent performances make them the second highest Mercedes powered cars, how long will they keep it up?

Sauber:
Qualifying – GUT P16 – SUT P17
Race – GUT DNF – SUT DNF

A double DNF is definitely not what you want. But two driver errors to take them both out is even worse. Sutil lost it on the exit of the tunnel, and Gutierrez hit the barrier at Racasse sending him into a spin. Canada can only be better for them…

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – VER P7 – KVY P9
Race – VER DNF – KVY DNF

Reliability problems made both drivers races come to an end. Both cars had exhaust related problems, with Vergne’s car leaving a smoke trail behind. Prior to that, both cars were running in points scoring positions, but that was hampered when Vergne was given a drive through penalty for an unsafe pit release. The team will very much be looking forwards to the next round.

Williams:
Qualifying – BOT P13 – MAS P16
Race – BOT DNF – MAS P7

Massa had an unfortunate qualifying and it would have been good to see what he could have done had he had the chance to qualify properly. Despite that, the Brazilian recovered well and maximised his strategy to finish well in the points. Bottas was running well until his power unit gave way, a disappointing weekend for the Fin.

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P19 – CHI P20
Race – P9 – CHI P14

At the start of every new season the big question was always “will Caterham or Marussia ever score points?”, and now it’s finally been answered. A well deserved couple of points for Bianchi who muscled his way passed Kobayashi to make sure the Marussia was ahead. Chilton continues to finish every race he’s started and the team have their hearts set on beating Sauber this year.

Caterham:
Qualifying – KOB P21 – ERI P22
Race – KOB P13 – ERI P11

After the success of Marussia, all eyes will be on Caterham to see if they can catch them. Reports suggest the team are up for sale and I’m not surprised. Kobayashi was disappointed that Bianchi barged his way through at Rascasse especially because it gave damage to the Japanese’s car. Ericsson did a good job to capitalise on those retirements and finished one place away from the points – an unnoticed performance from the rookie.

My driver of the day was Jules Bianchi, who was yours?

Did Rosberg purposely bring out yellow flags?

_75080082_022397886-1

First and foremost, are you judging this as a neutral or as a specific drivers fan? Sometimes people can be heavily influenced by their favoured driver and ignore all the other factors.

Monaco is a circuit that often highlights the exceptional drivers from the good drivers. It showcases not only car control, but also a drivers raw talent and confidence. Car manufacture plays less of a part as power and down force are the crucial ingredients to pull together a competitive lap.

Nico Rosberg jumped to the top after setting a time 0.059 seconds faster than team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Both drivers were able to circulate again, however as the German approached Mirabeau he broke too late which resulted in a lock up sending him into the escape road.

When cars take to the escape road, it’s not guaranteed to bring out yellow flags as the car is well clear of the track. Hamilton was behind Rosberg on the circuit and was improving his time until he reached the yellow flagged zone, where he had to back off. Throughout the weekend Hamilton’s best sector has been sector two, which is where Mirabeau is located.

Hamilton was on a personal best, however he was not going quicker than Rosberg’s provisional pole time in that sector.

If (emphasis on if) Rosberg wanted to deliberately bring out yellow flags, he would have put his Mercedes into the barriers or parked it on the track. Instead, he took it down the escape road out of harms way. He couldn’t park it there because he had to get back to Parc Ferme or else risk his pole time being stripped. Perhaps he could have waited longer to reverse, but the yellow flags were out anyway.

There’s no rule on whether you can reverse out of an escape road, but if he were to be punished then Fernando Alonso and Marcus Ericsson were also guilty of the same manoeuvre. The former doing so in FP1 and the latter in FP3.

These ‘dodgy’ steering motions were merely corrections for being out of shape at Casino Square which resulted in the German out-braking himself into Mirabeau. Rosberg was bettering his time up until that moment – why would he sacrifice his own hot lap, that could have potentially been better than his previous time, just to ruin Hamilton and everyone else’s lap? He wouldn’t, and Hamilton shouldn’t be so grumpy about being less than a tenth behind him.

It just shows how close this pair can be.

The drama has, unfortunately for Rosberg, overshadowed just how good his pole lap was. It similarly hid the efforts of Jean-Eric Vergne, who put in a lap just 3 tenths behind Kimi Raikonnen’s Ferrari to put him in seventh place for tomorrow’s race.

I think the real culprits here are the media who are over-hyping a story whilst trying to force a rivalry similar to what was seen between Prost and Senna in 1988. A rivalry which will almost certainly, never be matched.

Hamilton made some comments towards Rosberg, and insinuated that he may have purposely done it. But when you’ve lost pole in those circumstances, it’s understandable to be frustrated. What’s not understandable is the comments that his fans have left Rosberg. Some including death threats – which, regardless of F1’s history, is disgusting behaviour.

What needs to be mentioned is that pole position does not get you points. It’s an achievement, but it doesn’t help you in the championship at all. The race is more important. And instead of banging on about qualifying in P2 – which must be a ’terrible’ place to start – the main focus should be on his race start tomorrow. A place where Rosberg has been struggling.

The FIA have taken no action on Rosberg and rightly so. Tomorrow’s race is getting ever-more interesting with tensions rising high. Will Hamilton take the lead? Can Rosberg keep Hamilton behind? What can Ricciardo or Vettel do? Only time will tell…

What are your thoughts?

Monaco Grand Prix preview

Monaco trackshot

We are five races in and are fast approaching the most prestigious race on the calendar. The one everyone wants to travel to, the one that every driver wants to win and the one that’s surrounded by glorious scenery everywhere you look – Monte Carlo.

Earlier in the week news arose that three time World Champion, Sir Jack Brabham passed away peacefully at his home in Australia. The Aussie was a legend of Formula 1 in more ways than one and my thoughts are with the whole Brabham family. Likewise with the friends and family of Simon Andrews who succumbed to his injuries sustained in the NW200. A tough few days for Motorsport.

Circuit de Monaco is 2.075 miles long with 19 corners twisting through the streets of Monte Carlo. The race lasts for 161.879 miles (78 laps) and has one DRS zone located on the run up to Sainte Devote.

Since aerodynamics play less of a part here than other tracks, downforce will be key. Especially with the mass amounts of torque and decreased grip levels. Because of this, we’ll be seeing a lot of cars sliding through corners and drivers fighting to keep away from those all familiar barriers.

 

Pirelli have brought the soft and supersoft tyres to this event, although with rain forecast for Sunday, will the intermediates or wets be needed? Whatever happens, this weekend looks to be an exciting one! Practice 1 and 2 start on Thursday to allow public roads to reopen late on Friday. GP2 returns this weekend with WSR also joining the feeder series to Monaco.

Last year Nico Rosberg took a surprise pole and win and will be looking to replicate that success; especially with Lewis Hamilton on a winning streak. The Red Bulls look the closest to challenge the Mercedes duo, but can they pull together a strong enough race to displace them from the top spot?

Ferrari and McLaren may have a good weekend here as aerodynamics aren’t as important, like mentioned earlier. Engine power may aid them and others like Force India and Williams to a good result.

Times: (UK time)
Thursday:

WSR Practice – 08:30am
F1 Practice 1 – 09:00am
GP2 Practice – 11:00am
F1 Practice 2 – 13:00pm
GP2 Qualifying* (Group 1) – 15:15pm
GP2 Qualifying (Group 2) – 15:39pm

Friday:
GP2 Feature Race – 10:15am

Saturday:
WSR Qualifying (Group 1) – 09:00am
WSR Qualifying (Group 2) – 09:30am
F1 Practice 3 – 10:00am
F1 Qualifying – 13:00pm
GP2 Sprint Race – 15:10pm

Sunday:
WSR Race – 11:10am
F1 Race – 13:00pm

(* Since GP2 and WSR have a big field of drivers, their qualifying has been split into two groups to ensure each driver can set a competitive time without being held up.)

Spanish Grand Prix analysis

24687

After a brief break, F1 travelled to Spain to tackle it’s first stop of European races. Lewis Hamilton fended off a late charge from team-mate Nico Rosberg to take his fourth consecutive win of the season, whilst Daniel Ricciardo came home in third some 50 seconds behind.

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P15 (pen) – RIC P3
Race – VET P4 – RIC P3

Vettel proved just why he is a four time world champion. A gear box penalty forced him to start way down the order, but he came through the order to finish behind his team-mate in fourth. He probably silenced a lot of his critics with that performance, especially the ones who claim he can’t overtake. Ricciardo also had a great race proving to be ‘the best of the rest’. The Red Bull still lacks a lot of power on the straights and Ricciardo lost a lot of time stuck behind the Williams of Bottas.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – HAM P1 – ROS P2
Race – HAM P1 – ROS P2

Hamilton’s fourth win in a row means that he’s now five wins away from surpassing Nigel Mansell’s win tally to become the most successful British F1 driver. He didn’t have the win easy though; Rosberg gave it a good go despite being on the slower tyre strategy. Hamilton won’t win every race, Rosberg will have to be there for when he falters and in Rosberg’s defence, he is. In 2 out of 4 races the duo have been split by less than a second, another race Hamilton won dominantly, and the other is a race Rosberg won dominantly. It isn’t a one horse race and could be a thrilling battle all year!

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P7 – RAI P6
Race – ALO P6 – RAI P7

You could argue, sixth and seventh was the best that they could have done, maybe better than what was expected. Raikkonen was lapped by the Mercedes pair, which shows just how far back they are in comparison. Perhaps he was on the wrong strategy, but that doesn’t mask the improvements that they need to make. Alonso could only manage sixth and it’s just not good enough for a team like Ferrari.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P5 – MAL P22
Race – GRO P8 – MAL P15

Slowly but steadily improvements are being made and it’s a good sign. Grosjean is continuing to impress by getting the maximum out of his car, whilst Maldonado is left fighting at the back of the grid. He rightfully deserved the stop and go penalty for colliding with Ericsson and on top of that he received a penalty point.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P8 – MAG P14
Race – BUT P11 – MAG P12

I think Button’s comments were taken out of context. Yes, Magnussen is inexperienced but that has no effect on his performances. The car is lacking down force, that’s clear, and their results seems to be going downhill, but insinuating that your team-mate is letting the team down is either naïve (thinking media won‘t over exaggerate) or how he really feels. If it’s how he really feels, one wonders if he has to rely on his team-mate that much, rookie or not. With a team as strong as theirs, with personnel such as Ron Dennis, Sam Michael and Eric Boullier you’d think they’d be getting on top of this lag, but it seems to be taking longer than expected.

Force India:
Qualifying – HUL P10 – PER P11
Race – HUL P10 – PER P9

Getting both cars into points scoring positions is a good result, but ninth and tenth isn’t where their recent results suggest they should be. Monaco should be a good round for this team, especially with two skilled drivers in the cockpit of their cars.

Williams:
Qualifying – BOT P4 – MAS P9
Race – BOT P5 – MAS P13

It’s looking better! Bottas had a good race and did well when defending off Ricciardo. In the process, he finished in a joint career best position of fifth place whilst Massa was left out of the points. A disappointing weekend for the Brazilian.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – VER P21 (pen) – KVY P12
Race – VER DNF – KVY P14

Kvyat was only a few places away from scoring points, but the car just wasn’t quick enough to even get close. Vergne was unfortunate that his team didn’t secure his wheel which meant an automatic grid penalty, and then his retirement meant a bad weekend went worse.

Sauber:
Qualifying – GUT P13 – SUT P16
Race – GUT P16 – SUT 17

Another unsatisfactory race. It’s not looking good at all. I think they should get Giedo Van der Garde in the team, full time. At least he brings a presence to a team.

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P18 – CHI P17
Race – BIA P18 – CHI P19

They seem to have the upper hand on Caterham at the moment, and Chilton did a great job in qualifying despite Bianchi’s slight error. Both drivers finished in front of their rivals, and brought the cars home to maintain that all important 10th place.

Caterham:
Qualifying – KOB P20 – ERI P19
Race – KOB DNF – ERI P20

Ericsson was unfortunate to be hit by Maldonado, but since no damage was caused, he could have done better to get in front of at least one of the Marussia’s. Kobayashi had a brakes failure which forced his retirement early on.

My driver of the day was Sebastian Vettel, who was yours?

The two week wait now begins for one of the most anticipated races on the calendar. Next stop: Monaco.

Spanish Grand Prix preview

trackshot

After what seems like forever, the F1 circus has returned and has started it’s venture into Europe with it’s first stop, Spain.

Catalunya circuit in Barcelona is 2.89 miles long with 16 corners in total. It holds two DRS zones located on the pit straight and between turns nine and ten. The race lasts for 66 laps which is similar to driving 190.835 miles. Kimi Raikkonen holds the lap record of a 1:21:670 which he set in 2008 in his Ferrari.

Last year, Nico Rosberg took pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton who suffered a mass amount of tyre wear forcing him to finish the race down in 12th place. Fernando Alonso however cruised to victory ahead of Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

Many upgrades will be brought to Spain in the hope to catch the Mercedes pair. Hamilton – who is on top form – looks to be the favourite to win this years race, however Rosberg runs well here too, so shouldn’t be far behind. And of course, several teams will want to be there to pick up the pieces if something goes wrong for either of the Silver Arrows. Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, Force India and McLaren could all surprise this weekend with the 5 teams appearing evenly matched.

Pirelli have brought the medium and hard compound tyres to this venue so expect to see some differing strategies. F1’s feeder series GP2 and GP3 return this weekend, with the latter conducting it’s first race/s of the season.

The weekend is live on both SkyF1 and the BBC, so you can watch Eddie, DC and Suzi if you would rather.

Times: (UK time)
Friday:
F1 Practice 1 – 09:00am
GP2 Practice – 11:00am
F1 Practice 2 – 13:00pm
GP2 Qualifying – 14:55pm
GP3 Practice – 16:50pm

Saturday:
GP3 Qualifying – 08:45am
F1 Practice 3 – 10:00am
F1 Qualifying – 13:00pm
GP2 Feature Race – 14:40pm
GP2 Race 1 – 16:20pm

Sunday:
GP3 Race 2 – 08:25am
GP2 Sprint Race – 09:35am
F1 Race – 13:00pm

In memory of Ayrton Senna

ayrtonsenna24241

Truth be told, I don’t think we will ever ‘forget’ Senna. For a man whose influence continuously lives on despite his passing 20 years ago. A man whose presence captured the hearts of racing fans around the world.

There was a vulnerability and openness about him when he spoke. You’d really know and see how he was feeling. He wouldn’t avoid a question, he’d give a straight forward to-the-point answer of his real opinion. If he was annoyed, he’d tell you. If he was angry, you’d know. If he was upset, you’d see.

He had a desire, a dream, a vision and a determination that not many could match. He was ruthless and had the win at all costs mentality, because to him, second just wasn’t good enough.

Every story needs a hero and a villain. But Senna was so powerful because he was both. The aggression and hunger to win often overcame his driving style, but underneath his hard shell – underneath his helmet, was a gentle, compassionate and spiritual man.

His eyes would glimmer when talking about racing, and more-so when talking of his nephew, Bruno. But that was all because he was dedicated to Formula 1, and he devoted his life to it.

There was an instant commitment to driving. One that powered him to three world championships. Perhaps statistics aren’t in his favour against Juan-Manuel Fangio or Michael Schumacher but his career ended whilst in it’s peak, and could have gone on for much longer than it did.

asenna-aprost-rdennis

Sadly, Imola 1994 is etched into Formula 1 history for all the wrong reasons. But Senna – Ayrton Senna – is a powerful and provocative name in itself. As the years go on that will never change and Roland Ratzenberger, the rookie who never got to exploit his career, will live in our memories too.

His rivalry with Alain Prost (whom I believe, brought the best out of Senna). The orange and white liveried McLarens – particularly the MP4/4. His yellow helmet with the green and blue stripes are all iconic images that he’s left us.

Portugal 1985, Monaco 1988, Japan 1988, Brazil 1991 and Donnington 1993 are just a handful of examples of Senna at his best. Let the racing do the talking, as they say.

The Brazilian changed the face of Formula 1 and will forever be remembered as the one who set the ultimate standards. The light in his heart made him become a national treasure, but once inside the cockpit, he became a global icon.

Maybe some of us weren’t around to see him race live or in the flesh. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t admire who he was or what he achieved. Senna and his charisma are unforgettable and the mark he left on Formula 1 is far greater than what he could ever have imagined. His legacy is so strong that to this day, fans of all ages repeatedly ask “Ayrton Senna, what if..?”

A hero, an idol, an inspiration.

Ayrton Senna

Chinese Grand Prix analysis

2014-formula-1-ubs-chinese-grand-prix-podium

After a thrilling show in Bahrain, the F1 circus travelled to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix. It didn’t match the excitement of the previous rounds, but it did show just how quick the Mercedes cars are. Lewis Hamilton charged to victory, whilst Nico Rosberg fought hard to make it a Mercedes 1, 2. Fernando Alonso surprisingly came across the line in third, making it the first podium for Ferrari in 2014.

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P3 – RIC P2
Race – VET P5 – RIC P4

Ricciardo is continuing to impress following another impressive performance to finish ahead of his team-mate. Vettel however, seems to be struggling with his new car. For the second time in two races, he was told over the radio to let Ricciardo through, only this time, he wasn’t too impressed. Once he knew of the strategies he gave way, yet he’s still come under fire from many people – How come when Felipe Massa ignored team orders he was a hero, but when Vettel does it he’s a bad team player?

Mercedes:
Qualifying – HAM P1 – ROS P4
Race – HAM P1 – ROS P2

A pattern is starting to form and one hopes that Rosberg comes back fighting to give Hamilton something to worry about. Rosberg made an error in qualifying and a bad start in the race put him down in seventh. However, he came through the order to finish second – 18 seconds behind Hamilton; who has good momentum after winning his third race in a row.

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P5 – RAI P11
Race – ALO P3 – RAI P8

It’s good to have them back on the podium, although that’s not where their pace suggests they should be. Alonso somehow gets the absolute maximum out of that Ferrari, whereas Raikkonen is left scraping minor points. Not a great performance from the Fin, who will be looking to bounce back very soon.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P10 – MAL P22
Race – GRO DNF – MAL P14

I didn’t expect to see a Lotus in Q3, but that shows that the team are making improvements. Unfortunately a gearbox problem forced Grosjean to retire from the race, whilst Maldonado was only able to finish in 14th. What I don’t understand, is how he got away with flipping a driver. He received a five place grid penalty that he never served because he was already starting last due to a power unit problem in Qualifying. There surely should be an equivalent penalty to take for if something like that happens?

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P12 – MAG P15
Race – BUT P11 – MAG P13

After a great start to the year it appears that McLaren are back to under-performing. However, having said that, anything can happen in Australia and it’s only when you get to Bahrain and China where you truly see the pace of the cars. It’s clear that McLaren are still on the back foot and it’s not where they should be.

Force India:
Qualifying – HUL P8 – PER P16
Race – HUL P6 – PER P9

Consistent good performances are proving that they are the second best Mercedes powered team. They could possibly take the ‘best midfield team’ title too. Hulkenberg and Perez are a very strong driver line-up and have both done considerably well to put Force India third in the constructors. Though how long can they hold that position?

Sauber:
Qualifying – GUT P17 – SUT P14
Race – GUT P16 – SUT DNF

Another unimpressive weekend, and Sutil’s engine problem made it his third DNF in a row. Gutierrez was under the radar and Sauber have some serious improvements to make.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – VER P9 – KVY P13
Race – VER P12 – KVY P10

Vergne may have had a decent qualifying, but his race wasn’t good at all. Kvyat has out-raced Vergne yet again and drove a steady race to take the final point. The Russian is doing a great job and it’s only a matter of time until he puts in a surprising result.

Williams:
Qualifying – BOT P7 – MAS P6
Race – BOT P7 – MAS P15

Massa was extremely unlucky to have the pit stop dilemma and was never able to recover. Bottas put in a good race and took a good amount of points. Williams have improved on last year, but similarly to McLaren, it’s not as much as what was thought in Melbourne.

Caterham:
Qualifying – KOB P18 – ERI P20
Race – KOB P17 – ERI P20

Kobayashi has again been the best driver of the back markers, but despite that, Caterham couldn’t take back 10th in the constructors. Ericsson was very scarce and needs to improve his race pace come the next round in Spain.

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P19 – CHI P21
Race – BIA P18 – CHI P19

Bianchi has again out-raced Chilton making him a firm favourite for if Ferrari ever need to replace one of their drivers. Chilton’s 19th place keeps Marussia ahead of Caterham in the constructors which they’ll be hoping to maintain throughout the season.

Chinese Grand Prix preview

china trackshot

After the brilliant show that Bahrain put on two weeks ago, all eyes are on China to match, if not better, the performance.

We have reached the fourth round on the calendar, whereby the Formula 1 circus travels across the world to face the Shanghai International Circuit. It holds 16 corners and two DRS zones; which are located on the pit straight and on the long run up to turn 14 – a favoured overtaking spot.

The circuit is 3.39 miles long, whilst the race lasts up to 56 laps (driving just under 190 miles). Michael Schumacher holds the lap record of 1:32:238 that he set in 2004. Fernando Alonso took victory last year, however with Ferrari lacking pace it seems unlikely for the Spaniard to replicate his success this year. On the topic of Ferrari, a new face will be seen this weekend in the form of Marco Mattiacci who has replaced Stefano Domenicalli as team principal.

Here’s to hoping for another nail-biting race with action throughout the duration. Lewis Hamilton took pole here last year; can he do the same this year and take his third consecutive win? Or will Nico Rosberg take first place just as he did two years ago to record his first ever F1 win?

Red Bull, McLaren, Williams, Force India and Ferrari all look very similar, but who will be the ‘best of the rest’ or the one to take the fight to Mercedes? Could it be Daniel Ricciardo, whose appeal has not been successful regarding his disqualification from Australia? Or will it be a McLaren since Jenson Button confessed he had the second best car during the Bahrain Grand Prix?

Pirelli have brought the medium and the soft tyres to the venue, but as always with China, expect cold temperatures and threats of rain. The weekend is live on SkyF1, and the BBC has their highlights show on Saturday and Sunday.

Times (UK time):

Friday:
Practice 1 – 03:00am
Practice 2 – 07:00am

Saturday:
Practice 3 – 04:00am
Qualifying – 07:00am

Sunday:
Race – 08:00am

Bahrain Grand Prix analysis

BahrainGP

After the GP2 series kicked up a good couple of races, all eyes were on Formula 1 to match the exciting display. Nico Rosberg stormed to pole position after Lewis Hamilton failed to better his team-mate, and Valtteri Bottas capitalised on Daniel Ricciardo’s grid penalty by equalling his best qualifying position. Sunday produced one of the most heart-racing performances in a while, and – with F1 becoming under fire from its fans – what perfect timing to do so, too.

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P10 – RIC P13
Race – VET P6 – RIC P4

This team-mate battle just got interesting. Ignoring the team orders fiasco, Ricciardo proved through the duration of the weekend that he was the quicker driver. He qualified third for the second time (to then take a 10 place grid penalty) and charged through the pack to finish fourth in the race. Perhaps the safety car did aid the Red Bulls performance, but Vettel also progressed well to finish in sixth. Encouraging signs for the defending world champions.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – HAM P2 – ROS P1
Race – HAM P1 – ROS P2

You don’t get much closer racing than what these two gave us last weekend. Some have claimed it was fake, and some have said team orders were also given – Personally, I think neither are true. The radio message from Paddy Lowe was to simply bring the cars home, e.g race, but don’t crash into each other. Hamilton showed hunger to win that we haven’t seen since his early championship days, and Rosberg also showed his feisty side. It seems as if the title will be a Mercedes driver, but which one?

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P9 – RAI P5
Race – ALO P9 – RAI P10

It just goes from bad to worse. Fernando Alonso set his fastest lap of the race on lap 53 which was ultimately 2 seconds slower than that of the Mercedes duo, and 1 second slower than the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Every year you expect Ferrari to have a tidier package with the resources that they have, and every year they have problems. One wonders how much longer this will go on for – especially with results like what they achieved in Bahrain – before something changes.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P16 – MAL P17
Race – GRO P12 – MAL P14

Is it OK to say a good result is both cars finishing the race? Considering their success from last year, you’d think not. Grosjean was close to getting points, just not close enough. Maldonado is a lucky man, his penalty is very lenient. The reason why it’s a lesser penalty than what Ricciardo received is because since the wheel incident last year (when a tyre from Webber’s car hit a Marshal) the FIA have taken serious action. However, 3 points and a 5 place grid penalty for flipping a drive doesn’t seem severe enough…

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P6 – MAG P8
Race – BUT DNF – MAG DNF

Their run of finishes had to end at some point, and unfortunately for them it came on Sunday. The last time both McLaren’s didn’t finish was the USA Grand Prix in 2006, which shows just how reliable they have been in recent years. Both cars suffered from a clutch failure, but the next round in China can only be better. Button claimed that he had the second fastest car during the race, but we can only wait to see how much of that is true.

Force India:
Qualifying – HUL P11 – PER P5
Race – HUL P5 – PER P3

A podium will certainly boost the confidence of the team and Sergio Perez, and though the safety car may have helped their positions they still had both cars in the top five. You have to feel sorry for Hulkenberg – he’s so deserving of a podium but the one time he has a car capable of getting into that position, his team-mate peeked at the right time.

Sauber:
Qualifying – GUT P15 – SUT P22
Race – GUT DNF – SUT DNF

Yet another disappointing result. One of which was out of their hands, and I’m just thankful Gutierrez is OK! Despite that, they aren’t the best results. Time is on their side however, and they do have plenty of it to make some crucial upgrades.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – VER P14 – KVY P12
Race – VER DNF – KVY P11

Vergne was another ‘victim’ of something caused by Maldonado, and he didn’t seem too thrilled over the radio when he said “he tried to kill me!” either. How do you solve a problem like Maldonado – because he has had his fair share of incidents, but he’s also a proven race winner; can he make an improvement like Grosjean did? Kvyat has consistently bettered Vergne even if it’s by the slightest of margins, but you do have to worry for Vergne’s seat as it may become under pressure from da Costa or Sainz jr – or even Lynn if he has an impressive GP3 season like Kvyat.

Williams:
Qualifying – BOT P3 – MAS P7
Race – BOT P8 – MAS P7

On paper it’s a mediocre result, but both Williams’ drivers were affected by the safety car and were unable to come back through the pack. Regardless of that, they did show great pace and gave us an exciting inter-team battle. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep up this momentum and take the fight to Mercedes.

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P19 – CHI P21
Race – BIA P16 – CHI P13

Ricciardo isn’t the only driver dealing with bad luck, Bianchi is also in a similar state. After making contact with Sutil he took a drive through penalty and floor damage made it hard for him to make any progress. Chilton continues to set the record for consecutive race finishes, and his 13th place last weekend places Marussia ahead of Caterham once again.

Caterham:
Qualifying – KOB P18 – ERI P20
Race – KOB P15 – ERI DNF

Kobayashi was rather invisible throughout the race, but managed to keep ahead of Bianchi despite the Marussia having to take a drive through penalty. Ericsson was running in a steady position until a fuel leak forced him to retire. Not a great weekend for Caterham who will be looking to bounce back at the next round.

There were several stand out drivers during the Bahrain Grand Prix, but my driver of the day is Sergio Perez. Who is yours?

Bahrain Grand Prix preview

Trackshot

The third round of the Formula 1 calendar has arrived in Sakhir for the Bahrain Grand Prix. It’s tenth appearance on the calendar will be held under the floodlights for the first time. This means track temperatures throughout qualifying and the race will be constantly be dropping – it may help some teams, it may weaken others.

Bahrain International circuit holds 15 corners in total, and holds two DRS zones located on the pit straight and on the run up to turn 11. A lap is 3.36 miles with Pedro De La Rosa setting the lap record in 2005 with a 1:31:447. Drivers will circulate the track 57 times, which equates to driving 191.53 miles.

Pirelli have brought the medium and soft compound tyres to the venue, and with humidity being less of a problem now it’s being held in the evening, we could see some good racing. Mercedes look in the best place to take yet another victory, but will upgrades place Red Bull in a better position? And will McLaren, Williams or Ferrari be able to challenge them this weekend?

Jenson Button celebrates his 250th Grand Prix on Sunday, whilst Felipe Nasr, Robin Frijns and Giedo Van der Garde will all have outings in FP1 on Friday. Last year Nico Rosberg took pole position, but Mercedes tyre degradation issues placed him down ninth whilst Sebastian Vettel cruised to victory ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

GP2 fans, the wait is over! The series returns this weekend with a bunch of new faces including McLarens Stoffel Vandoorne and Ferraris Raffaele Marciello. The championship is set to be one of the most competitive seasons yet, do not miss this one!

All of the above is live on SkyF1, whilst BBC has the highlights being broadcasted later on.

Times: (UK Time)

Friday:
GP2 Practice – 10:00am
Practice 1 – 12:00pm
Practice 2 – 16:00pm
GP2 Qualifying – 18:00pm

Saturday:
GP2 Feature Race – 11:10am
Practice 3 – 13:00pm
Qualifying – 16:00pm

Sunday:
GP2 Sprint Race – 12:15pm
Race – 16:00pm

Malaysian Grand Prix analysis

Just like last year the Malaysian Grand Prix was full of drama and controversy. Back came the team orders and the speculation to follow it up, but this time the argument was not at Red Bull, but at Williams. Lewis Hamilton drove a faultless race with Nico Rosberg coming in second making it the first Mercedes 1, 2 since Italy 1955.

 

083165136

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P2 – RIC P5
Race – VET P3 – RIC DNF

Sebastian Vettel showed that Red Bull do have pace, and within time could take the fight to Mercedes. Red Bull are the quickest developers in the industry and could be on the back of Mercedes this weekend in Bahrain. Daniel Ricciardo unfortunately has Mark Webber’s bad luck and things just went from bad to worse for him. Prior to his pit stop mishap* Ricciardo drove a very good race keeping a steady fourth place. I’m not sure I agree with penalising the driver for a teams fault, but this is a ‘team sport’ and after the danger of last years unsafe releases, the FIA have taken serious action.

*Ricciardo retired before he was able to complete his 10 second stop and go penalty due to the unsafe release. He has thus been given a 10 place grid penalty to serve in Bahrain.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – HAM P1 – ROS P3
Race – HAM P1 – ROS P2

On Saturday, Lewis Hamilton equalled Jim Clark’s record of most pole positions from a British driver – however, as good a stat it is, you have to take into account that Jimmy’s career was cut short and he never got a chance to fully utilize his time in Formula 1. Mercedes should be very happy with both Hamilton’s and Rosberg’s performances last weekend. However, that all familiar tyre degradation (that they suffered from last year) hampered one of Rosberg‘s stints which is why Vettel was able to get so close to him in the middle of the race.

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P4 – RAI P6
Race – ALO P4 – RAI P12

Credit to the mechanics who fixed Alonso’s car in time for Q3 after the contact with Kvyat in qualifying. It’s clear that the Ferrari is lacking pace, but Alonso still seems to get the maximum out of it and gathered some solid points – fourth was perhaps the best he could have done. Kimi Raikkonen however dropped down to last place after contact with Magnussen gave him a puncture. The Fin was unable to recover and could only manage 12th place.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P16 – MAL P17
Race – GRO P11 – MAL DNF

Romain Grosjean was one place away from getting a point, which shows some progression. Pastor Maldonado was unlucky to be hit by Bianchi but damage to his car forced him to retire. It’ll be interesting to see what upgrades Lotus bring and if they can keep improving throughout the season.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P11 – MAG P8
Race – BUT P6 – MAG P9

A well dictated race from Jenson Button lead him to sixth place. On paper it’s a good result, but being 80 seconds behind the leader isn’t a great sign. Kevin Magnussen lost time due to his broken front wing after the contact with Raikkonen, but despite his penalty he made up the places to scrape a couple of points.

Force India:
Qualifying – HUL P7 – PER P14
Race – HUL P5 – PER DNS
The sensor on Sergio Perez’s car shut down after his engine was over-heating, and the team couldn’t fix it in time for him to start the race. Nico Hulkenberg had yet another decent race battling with Alonso but ultimately had to settle for fifth place. Hulkenberg always seems to be near – if not in – the top 5, and it’s started to go unnoticed because people just aren’t surprised by it anymore. Top drive by him.

Sauber:
Qualifying – GUT P12 – SUT P18
Race – GUT DNF – SUT DNF

I’ll be honest, I totally forgot about Sauber this weekend. Esteban Gutierrez retired due to a gearbox problem and Adrian Sutil stopped on track because of issues with his power unit. A double retirement is a poor weekend for the team, and they’ll be looking for a better weekend at the next round.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – VER P9 – KVY P11
Race – VER DNF – KVY P10

Daniil Kvyat is yet to shine, give him time and he will get the momentum and confidence to put in a stellar performance. Jean-Eric Vergne I feel has escaped a penalty – he was the one who made contact with Bianchi which gave him a puncture sending him into Maldonado. He retired from the race with faults in his power unit whilst Kvyat took the last point.

Williams:
Qualifying – BOT P15 – MAS P13
Race – BOT P8 – MAS P7

I’ve never liked the use of team orders. I understand that in the latter of the year when the championship is at stake it is necessary to use them, but at the second round of the year it confuses me. Felipe Massa had every right to ignore them, I don’t blame him for doing so at all. If Bottas was going as quickly as Williams had suggested he was, then why wasn’t he close enough to pass him? Despite that, they gathered some good points; perhaps not as many as what was thought from their pace in Melbourne, but still an improvement on last year.

Caterham:
Qualifying – KOB P20 – ERI P22
Race – KOB P13 – ERI P14

Kamui Kobayashi is a very likable character and qualified a whole second ahead of Marcus Ericsson – however, it was his first F1 qualifying session in the wet. To finish ahead of both Marussia’s in the race is a great result especially as it puts them in 10th place in the championship. Can they hold the position?

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P19 – CHI P21
Race – BIA DNF – CHI P15

I don’t agree with the penalty given to Bianchi. I feel like the contact with Maldonado was unavoidable after he received a puncture (as previously mentioned). Max Chilton however needs to do better, and needs to be ahead of at least one Caterham.

My driver of the day is Lewis Hamilton. Who is yours?

Malaysian Grand Prix preview

track shot

After a small delay, F1 returns this weekend for the second round of the 2014 season in Malaysia. Mercedes set the standards in Melbourne, now it’s up to the likes of Williams, McLaren and Red Bull to catch them.

The Sepang international circuit is one of the favoured Hermann Tilke designed tracks with its high speed turns and tight hairpins along with those two long back to back straights. There’s 15 corners in total and the DRS zones are located on the run up to turn 15, and on the pit straight.

Juan Pablo Montoya holds the lap record of a 1:34:223 which he set in 2004 in his McLaren. But it’s Ferrari that have been the most successful team here, racking up 6 wins. Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso both share three wins, along with Michael Schumacher who is still recovering from his worrying ski accident.

The circuit is 3.4 miles long, with the race distance equivalent of driving just over 192 miles (or 57 laps). Pirelli have brought the medium and hard compound tyres, although as always with Malaysia, rain could make an appearance.

Malaysia is very tough for the drivers as they fight with humidity and high temperatures, but that could also cause havoc to their cars which could force some retirements. The weekend is live on both SkyF1 and BBC, so if you would rather watch Suzi, Eddie, DC and co, head on over there.

Times: (UK time)

Friday:
Practice 1 – 02:00am
Practice 2 – 06:00am

Saturday:
Practice 3 – 05:00am
Qualifying – 08:00am

Sunday:
Race – 08:00am

Mercedes and Williams look in the best shape to take victory in Sepang, but can the McLarens or Red Bulls take the fight to them? Will rain shake up the order?

Fancy winning some RUSH and 1: Life on the Limit bits, enter my competition here

 

Win some RUSH and 1: Life on the Limit goodies

Back in September, RUSH hit our cinema screens for the very first time. It’s a Hollywood movie based on the rivalry of Niki Lauda and James Hunt (as if you didn’t already know…) from the 1976 Formula 1 season. It captivates your emotions and really gives you a feel of what the racing was like in the 70s whilst showing the true characters of Hunt and Lauda.

Shortly after RUSH was released, a documentary based F1 film also came out called 1: Life on the Limit. This film evokes the glamour, speed and danger of the sport, taking you through the times from when even the best of drivers were paying the price. You hear thoughts from some big names in racing like Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Sir Jackie Stewart, Jenson Button, Niki Lauda and many others.

My blog recently hit 30,000 views after just one year of blogging, and as a thank you StudioCanal have kindly supplied a couple of goodies to give away. You could win a BluRay or DVD copy of 1: Life on the Limit, as well as a RUSH designed cap or shirt.

DSCF1949

DSCF1948

To win any of the above prizes, just fill in the contact sheet below and good luck!

Both movies are on sale right now, so do get yourself to a near shop to pick up a copy of either films – you won’t be disappointed.

1 - LOTL 3D DVD ORING

 

Australian Grand Prix 2014 analysis

A new era of Formula 1 started last weekend, and what a way to kick start it too! The cars may not be as loud, nor as quick as they have previously been, but the beauty of this year is that it’s all about car control. It’s all about working at one with the car despite the massive amounts of torque and lack of down force – this year, if anything, will show the best drivers from just the good. It will prove why these guys are the best drivers in the world right now.

160320141213118885425_2

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P13 – RIC P2
Race – VET DNF – RIC DSQ

Sebastian Vettel was hampered by engine problems throughout the weekend, so I wouldn’t judge his performance just yet as I think he – and his RB10 – has a lot more to give. Daniel Ricciardo however, had a very pleasing weekend and surprised everyone when he qualified second in front of his home crowd. Hours after receiving his second place trophy, Ricciardo was disqualified from the race due to his car consistently exceeding the maximum fuel-flow rate. Red Bull are set to appeal against the decision. The team were informed by the FIA during the race that they were in excess of the limit, but they chose to ignore it. It’s gutting for Ricciardo, but it’s a clear breach of the regulations and I highly doubt that they will win their case.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – HAM P1 – ROS P3
Race – HAM DNF – ROS P1

A stunning lap from Lewis Hamilton put him on pole position for the Australian Grand Prix. In fact, the top three qualifiers all had sensational laps that put them over a second ahead of the remaining top ten. It was unfortunate that a misfiring cylinder ended Hamilton’s race early on, but Nico Rosberg’s controlled and dominant race proved just how quick that Mercedes can be. I guess the worrying thing is that Rosberg set his fastest lap on lap 19 – even if he did back off to conserve, he was still 25 seconds clear of P2 at the end of the race…

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P5 – RAI P12
Race – ALO P4 – RAI P7

Fernando Alonso ‘achieved’ his 30th P5 in qualifying on Saturday – whether that’s a good stat or not, I don’t know… Despite ending Q2 in the barriers at turn 3 Kimi Raikkonen made a good recovery to finish seventh. Considering their power problems during the race, fourth and seventh are satisfactory results. But the fact of the matter is, they’re almost half a second (per lap) slower than the Mercedes. You then have Williams, McLaren and Red Bull to throw into that equation, which could be problematic.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P21 – MAL P22
Race – GRO DNF – MAL DNF

Horrific weekend. You could tell from the anger of Romain Grosjean during the practice sessions that this race wasn’t going to go well, and it didn’t. Pastor Maldonado couldn’t even set a lap in qualifying because he kept coming off the track, and if that wasn’t bad enough, both cars had ERS (energy recovery system) failures in the race that forced them to retire. Perhaps what they can take from this race is that it can’t get much worse, can it?

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P11 – MAG P4
Race – BUT P3 – MAG P2

Dare I say McLaren are back? Because I think they’re almost there. They’re not as quick as say the Mercedes, but they are in a good position to fight for podiums as seen on Sunday. Has Ron’s presence made the difference? Jenson Button fell victim to the yellow flag in Q2 but his tactical approach to the race landed him a spot on the podium (well, sort of). But the real spot light was on his team-mate Kevin Magnussen who bettered Hamilton’s rookie debut by finishing in second. A superb weekend for the Dane and McLaren who finished with a 2, 3 finish. Not bad at all.

Force India:
Qualifying – HUL P7 – PER P16
Race – HUL P6 – PER P10

Nico Hulkenberg had a good overall weekend, picking up a good amount of points. He also had some thrilling battles on track with the Ferraris and Bottas which made for great viewing. Sergio Perez was unfortunate to pick up a puncture from contact with Gutierrez, but to come back and finish in the points is a good job on his behalf.

Sauber:
Qualifying – GUT P19 – SUT P14
Race – GUT P12 – SUT P11

Sauber look like the weaker midfield team this year, and didn’t look likely to score any points coming into the weekend. Esteban Gutierrez went too deep into turn 3 on the first lap and thus spun and hit Perez, forcing them both to make an early pit stop. It caused him some damage and he was unable to recover. Adrian Sutil was perhaps the most un-noticed driver of the day, doing nothing memorable apart from driving his car to the chequered flag.

Williams:
Qualifying – BOT P10 – MAS P9
Race – BOT P5 – MAS DNF

What a turn-around. Not only do Williams have a great looking car, they also look the most likely to challenge the Mercedes duo. Valtteri Bottas showed great pace throughout the race making 19 overtakes during the day. You do have to wonder where he would have finished had he not clipped the wall, but that’s an exciting thought to take to Malaysia. Felipe Massa was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Kobayashi came crashing into him, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do at the next round.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – VER P6 – KVY P8
Race – VER P8 – KVY P9

Both drivers pleasantly surprised me throughout the whole weekend and the car looks set on producing some similar results through the season. Vergne set an impressive lap to put him sixth on he grid, and Kvyat also did a great job to get to Q3 ahead of the likes of Button, Vettel and Raikkonen. Through most of the race both drivers were in battles for position, including brief fights with Raikkonen, which proves that they do have some pace and could take crucial points off other front runners later in the year.

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P18 – CHI P17
Race – BIA NC – CHI P13

Max Chilton did a good job in qualifying after setting a time five tenths quicker than his team-mate – which was slightly unexpected. But Jules Bianchi had problems of his own during the race, which put him eight laps down at the end. Chilton’s 13th place may come in handy at the end of the year if neither of the lower teams are able to score points.

Caterham:
Qualifying – KOB P15 – ERI P20
Race – KOB DNF – ERIC DNF

What a way for Kamui Kobayashi to return to F1. A stellar lap put him straight into Q2, leaving his team-mate Marcus Ericsson in 20th ahead of the Lotus’. Kobayashi had a rear brakes failure which sent him straight into Massa at turn 1 ending both of their races. Ericsson was running well until an oil pressure problem ended his race after completing 27 laps.

My driver of the day has to be Valtteri Bottas. Although commendable efforts from Kevin Magnussen and of course, the race winner: Nico Rosberg. Who is yours?

Australian Grand Prix 2014 preview

Trackshot

The wait is finally over and we’ve reached the first Grand Prix of 2014 – Australia. Prepare yourselves for early morning madness and what could be a thrilling start to the season.

Albert Park is one of my favourite tracks and has produced some stellar races during the past few years. Particularly Jenson Button’s charge from last to first place in 2011; a mighty performance from the Brit, that could be his most impressive drive to date.

The circuit has 16 corners (6 left, 10 right) and two DRS zones that are located on the pit straight and on the run up to turn three. Albert Park is just shy of 3.3 miles long, and drivers will lap 58 times on Sunday, which equates to driving 191.1 miles. Michael Schumacher holds the lap record which stands at a 1:24:125 that he set in 2004. (In a side note, I’d just like to send my best wishes to Michael and his family through this tough time. Keep fighting.)

We come into this weekend with a faint idea of how this year will pan out. Or so we think, anyway. Mercedes powered cars seem to have the upper hand, but I wouldn’t rule Red Bull or Lotus out just yet.

Pirelli have brought the medium and soft compound tyres to Melbourne, however, with rain forecast for Sunday, will the intermediate or wet tyres make an appearance?

Will Mercedes take victory? Are Williams back on top form? Will over-heating problems halt Red Bull? Does the Ferrari drink its fuel too quickly? So many questions that can only be answered when the cars hit the track – lucky for us, that’s very soon!

Times: (UK Time)

Friday:
Practice 1 – 01:30am
Practice 2 – 05:30am

Saturday:
Practice 3 – 03:00am
Qualifying – 06:00am

Sunday:
Race – 06:00am

Do Mercedes have the 2014 champion?

Just over 15 years ago, there were these two young aspiring race drivers – one British, and one German. They travelled the world in each others company progressing through the ranks, whilst dreaming of the day that they would rise to Formula 1. One after the other they won the Formula 3 title, then later became GP2 champions, and soon that dream became reality.

One became world champion. One out-raced a seven time world champion. One is extremely highly rated, whilst the other is often under-estimated. But both play a big part in being one of the strongest driver line-ups to date, and one could well be on his way to winning the 2014 championship.

No, not him – or his dogs (that seem to travel just about everywhere), I am referring to Nico Rosberg. The forgotten one if you like, or more-so, the misjudged one.

401890_10151692727414874_628146650_n

The world took note of Schumacher’s fall in form, but perhaps what should have been made evident, was Rosberg’s rise in success. He was yet again cast in the shadows when his old friend Lewis Hamilton joined him at Mercedes, but despite that, he made his breakthrough.

Monaco 2013.

The weekend that most assumed Sebastian Vettel would take his third win of the season, or Hamilton would show people how it’s done, but no. The other German who was on a small streak of pole positions was the one to take the limelight – 30 years after his father did the same thing – and he did so, in style.

2014s new regulations mean that drivers have to think much more than they have done before. Some will need to adapt to balancing out fuel consumption against tyre wear, against energy recovery; but juggling all of these components is something that comes naturally to Nico. He’s an intelligent racer in that respect. He knows that pushing too hard this year could prove costly, and that patience could be key.

The Mercedes duo work effectively because they are two very different drivers, and you can rely on them both to produce good, solid results. But this year Rosberg may have the upper hand. His precision and tactical approach may work in his favour, and match him with a competitive car and you could have a big threat to Vettel’s dominance.

969399_10151692726579874_428203953_n

However, if Vettel can’t get the respect that he truly deserves whilst he’s just braking records for the sake of it, what chance does Rosberg have of making his mark?

Apparently, none. But Rosberg has nothing to lose, he just has a lot to gain, and therefore won’t succumb to any type of pressure. He’s a pinpoint kind of driver. He envisions the circuit and works out where his car needs to be in what corner to set a good lap. He knows exactly what he wants from his car, and how he wants it to behave. And despite Mercedes being a multi-national team, Rosberg is able to speak to any engineer in their native language as he speaks five fluently – German, English, Spanish, Italian and French. Versatility at its best.

He’s sharp and very aware of his surroundings, because he’s a technical racer; unlike those around him who use the aggressive approach. But he also understands that every point matters, and that there is no need for silly mistakes – especially if the double point rule goes ahead. Reliability is the thing of most concern, and if the Mercedes car is able to finish every race, then whose to say they won’t be fighting right at the front?

Vettel is beatable, and Rosberg knows that. He has the intelligence to out-smart him, the ability to match him, and maybe, the car to beat him. A recipe for a champion, no? Taking his dad’s championship car number may be the extra bit of luck he needs, and if he takes all this and gives it more, this year could be very interesting.

Those who underestimate you, are the ones who don’t know what you are capable of.

556605_10151969265299874_1734822622_n

Are 2014 F1 cars really that bad?

There is not a lot that we can take from the Jerez pre-season tests, other than the fact that Renault, or more-to-the-point, Red Bull, appear to have some minor problems. However, I am sure they would rather have these issues now, than say during the Australian Grand Prix. Mercedes and Ferrari also looked fairly reliable after both teams, along with McLaren, were the only teams to complete more than 200 laps over the duration of the test. But aside from that, there was one thing that seemed to be getting a lot more attention.

I am, of course, referring to the uniquely interpreted designs of the 2014 nose regulations. Whether you label them as ‘anteater noses’ or ‘finger noses’, or perhaps the most obvious name – no thanks to the Ann Summers twitter account – ‘men’s appendages’. They are off-putting, and not what you’d expect from one of the most glamorous sports around the globe.

However, lets remember that these cars are not designed to be showcased at London fashion week, but are designed to be raced hard around the legendary Spa circuit, or to be flung around the streets of Monaco.

The 2014 cars could be worse, and here are a few examples of some previous designs that are, well, different…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Innovations aside, some of these are ghastly. So maybe this seasons cars do look inappropriate and vile, but if the racing is as good as say 2012, does it really matter? The beauty of the sport is the racing, and it should stay that way regardless of how ‘ugly’ these cars are.

JLF1car
(Picture courtesy of JackLeslieF1)

Lotus were not present at the test, but which is your favourite?

“Race cars are neither beautiful nor ugly. They become beautiful when they win” – Enzo Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher : Always a fighter

It seemed fitting to write something about Michael Schumacher. Perhaps for the wrong reasons, but when someone of such class and respect in motor-racing falls unwell or has an accident you truly realise the depth of a fan base. When Murray Walker was diagnosed with Cancer back in June, a large amount of fans came together to wish him well – in fact, during the British Grand Prix some fans sported get well soon Murray t-shirts and issued tributes to the legendary commentator. Similarly, the fan base united after the news of drivers passing away competing in the sports they love; Sean Edwards, Maria de Villota, Allan Simonsen and Wolf Silvester to name just a few. But the meaning of this post is to not highlight the dangers of the sport, but to focus on the man they all set out to beat, the one that they all want to be as successful as, and the one who set the benchmark.

Seven time world champion, winner of 91 races and a podium sitter ‘only’ 155 times it’s hard to dismiss Michael’s success. Controversial though he was, he is a man of great intelligence and worked well with his team to not only produce a race winning car, but to also lift the spirit of those around him. He knew every aspect of his car – all the technicalities, and was able to smooth out any imperfections to fight at the front of the field on a regular basis. He became renowned for his aggression and domination at Ferrari, and although he may not be the most loved driver, he was, and still is, a well admired one.

Aust Grand Prix.jpg

Michael has something that is different compared to every other driver. His racing attitude and perhaps perceived arrogance may have affected his popularity, but if you strip everything down to just the driver and their talent, Michael is incomparable. He had no distractions, wouldn’t lose focus, and in his prime was unstoppable. Yes, he had moments of controversy. But that was Michael. A win-at-all-costs kind of driver, who wouldn’t be happy with any result other than the top step of the podium.

His time at Mercedes wasn’t what was expected; but he returned to F1 calm, content and this time, it was to truly enjoy racing with no pressure. His comeback wasn’t bad as such – people just didn’t realise how much of a talent Nico Rosberg is. Michael was still the racer he was years before, he never lost that speed; in fact sticking his car on pole in Monaco 2012 (to later receive a penalty) proved that he was still the racer we all knew he was. To come back and face the new young talent is gutsy, but to match them – well that just proves why he’s a seven time world champion.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil

Fitness was a big thing for Michael. He worked extremely hard to get his body in shape so he could tackle every circuit with full strength. As cars evolved, Michael understood that he needed to train his body both physically and mentally so he could always drive flat out without feeling exhausted due to the substantial g-forces and muscle strain. Because of this, Michael’s mentality was very strong, and there was no way to break his concentration. Driving with a broken gear box (Spain 1994), winning a race in wet conditions despite racing on dry tyres (Belgium 1995), lapping all but two drivers (Spain 1996), and finishing on the podium during an entire season (2002) prove just how hard he raced. And even though his early years may be overshadowed by his ruthless side (Australia 1994 and Jerez 1997) he’ll always be thought of as the driver who never gave up.

He made some memorable mistakes and though they may never be justifiable, they’ll always be written down and remembered. The pros and cons of Michael Schumacher, if you like. But that doesn’t make him any less of a champion. His desperation to win, his work ethic and his natural racing ability all worked at one to produce one hell of a champion. He took over almost every landmark statistic in the sport and will always be considered as one of, if not the, greatest driver in Formula 1.

schumi7

Life is about passions, thank you for sharing mine.” – I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people when I wish you a speedy recovery. We are all routing for you to win your final and most important race.

Have the FIA gone too far with their new rules?

It’s no secret that the FIA have made some ‘irrational’ decisions this year, but today’s announcement hasn’t gone down well. For those of you who didn’t already know, the FIA have put the following in place:

  • A cost cap
  • A Pirelli tyre test – Bahrain, 17-19 December 2013
  • Permanent driver numbers
  • New penalties
  • Double points for the last race

For the full press release click here

There are two new rules that have been put in place that I find somewhat unnecessary. The first is the permanent numbers. I understand in other sports athletes are known for their numbers, and previous drivers like Nigel Mansell are known specifically for having the red five; but in this era, I don’t think it really matters.

Isn’t having a higher number on your car something of pride? Knowing that you’ve worked so hard to get a single digit for instance – it’s quite an important thing, and it highlights just how good your team has been. It also creates a bit of confusion, no disrespect but won’t it seem a bit wrong when a driver such as Max Chilton has the number two on his car, whereas Fernando Alonso has the number 21? But aside from that, I quite like the idea. I think that it’ll be fun to see what number which driver picks, and it almost gives the driver a ‘trademark’ – being known for driving the number 18 Lotus for example. 

The decision to make the final race in Abu Dhabi a double points scoring event, is nonsense. It wouldn’t have even made a difference as to who was the champion this year. The reasoning is what makes me laugh ‘to maximise focus on the championship until the end’ as if some drivers just give up because its the last race. Maybe it will bring a bit more excitement, especially if it was applied in seasons like 2007, 08 and 09, and when you think about it, if it’s a close season it will be very thrilling, but isn’t it also a bit unfair? One race shouldn’t make a champion. It’s about their season as a whole, and how they’ve compared to their competitors.

Drivers consistently try to score good points from the first race in Melbourne to the final race, and a no finish in Abu Dhabi could prove very costly. What if it’s a mechanical problem, such as an engine failure (which is very likely with the new engine regulations) or a collision that wasn’t the drivers fault? A stop and go penalty to the offending driver won’t say sorry enough for the other losing the championship. And lets not make this all about the champion, because as we know your place in the constructors defines how much prize money you receive at the end of the competition. A team shouldn’t lose out that easily, especially if it’s a team that have been struggling financially; who possibly deserve to have more money in their banks.

It’s not like there was ever anything wrong with the ‘old’ scoring system either. What even happened to earning points for pole position, or giving points to every driver who finished, or receiving a trophy for attaining the most poles? They’re more rewarding, are they not?

Maybe it’s so more spectators travel to Abu Dhabi to see the final race. But in my opinion, the final race should never have been taken from Brazil in the first place. Maybe it will make sure that teams constantly upgrade their cars up until the final round, but I just think that – without being disrespectful – the ‘Strategy Group and F1 commission’ (who actually consist of the teams, FOM and the FIA) have altered rules that didn’t need changing.

I do like that they are putting a cost cap in place. It gives every team a limit to how much they spend in the whole season. It puts them all at a level playing field, if you will. Where no one has a huge advantage over another. It also could boost ‘the show’ between the midfield, as they are constantly rotating through the lower points, but will it stop Sebastian Vettel’s domination? I’m not sure, but we can only wait and see…

Top 10 GP2 drivers of 2013

This years GP2 season has been one of the most interesting and exciting seasons ever. The championship went right down to the wire with both the drivers and constructors title’s up for grabs right until the closing round in Abu Dhabi. The new Pirelli spec tyres had an impact on the season where drivers had to save and look after their tyres much more than they have done before; this made the sprint races as exciting as ever. The season has been full of drama and thrill, but here are my top 10 drivers that have stood out this year.

1. Fabio Leimer
Fabio had a slow ‘ish’ start, but he soon gathered momentum and begun to get very consistent results. As the season went on, Fabio just got better and better, and didn’t fall victim to pressure during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. His consistency was what powered him to win the championship, and a well-deserved one at that.

9r302tr19t50321

2. Sam Bird
Sam’s experience and expertise has had a serious effect on his season. He jumped into this year’s car with no understanding of it, yet still took five wins including an unchallenged, dominant win in Monaco. He’s very much a team player, and put all of his focus on Russian Time during the final race in Abu Dhabi. Sam has a lot of talent, and in any series will be a serious threat.

Sam-Bird-durfte-schon-2012-in-Monaco-jubeln

3. James Calado
It was hard to watch James this year. He was one of the favourites to win this season’s championship and after a podium in the opening round it looked plausible. However, his car was just not up to scratch and it was struggling for pace; just look at Abt’s performance compared to James’ and you’ll see how much hard work and graft James had to do to just put his car in the top ten. His efforts paid off as he landed himself a reserve driver role with Force India, which could lead on to a full time role should he continue with the team.

Motor Racing - Formula One Young Drivers Test - Day Three - Silverstone, England

4. Felipe Nasr
Felipe’s season started off well with consecutive podium finishes. He’s a very mature driver, and does have a lot of talent; I just don’t see the extra bite that some of the other drivers have – perhaps that’s what has prevented him from winning a GP2 race, but regardless of that he was always there or thereabouts. Not winning a race didn’t stop him from being a title contender either, as he was in contention right up until the final round in Abu Dhabi.

Felipe-Nasr-Hungaroring-2013-c

5. Jolyon Palmer
His wins in Hungary and Singapore highlighted just how quick he can be. He’s entering his fourth season in GP2, and will be one of, if not, the most experienced driver on the grid, and with a team like DAMS (who powered Romain Grosjean and Davide Valsecchi’s championships) he may now have the equipment he needs to become a GP2 champion himself. One of the best overtakers out there, but inconsistency may fault him.

Jolyon-Palmer

6. Alexander Rossi
There’s a lot of buzz around Alexander at the moment, and if you follow GP2 you’ll understand why. In comparison to his team-mate, Rossi looks incredible, and to follow it up he was the quickest back marker in his FP1 practice session in the USA. He doesn’t make silly mistakes and has the raw pace and potential to make a brilliant race driver.

Alexander-Rossi-2013-GP2-Series-Abou-Dabi

7. Stefano Coletti
I can’t help but feel a bit gutted for Stefano, he had a mighty first half of the season and looked set on winning the championship quite early on. But something changed drastically, and his points scoring dropped to an extent where he only scored once after Silverstone. His points from the previous rounds were still good enough to leave him fifth in the championship, and despite the latter of the season, he still showed some great craft and skill.

AU1045516

8. Marcus Ericsson
Quite the opposite of Coletti. Marcus had an awful start to the year, where just about everything went wrong. However, after his first win in Germany he picked up the pieces and had one of the best comebacks of the year. By the midseason it was clear that Marcus wouldn’t be able to win the championship, but he consistently finished in the points and ended up sixth in the standings; which isn’t bad at all.

nurburgring-2013-german-grand-prix-gp2-marcus-ericsson-dams

9. Tom Dillmann
Tom has been overshadowed by Bird this season, but nonetheless has had some impressive drives. His drive in Spain was one of the best performances I have ever seen, and along with Sam brought home the constructors championship for Russian Time in just their rookie season. Luck wasn’t on his side, especially in Abu Dhabi, but he has proven to be a quick and reliable driver, and could be someone to watch if he stays in the championship next year.

Monza3

10. Mitch Evans
A double podium in Monaco is certainly commendable, and arguably would have won the British Grand Prix sprint race had he not had technical problems. Mitch was one of the most impressive rookies of this season, and could be a serious threat given the right car and the right team-mate. One does wonder what the New Zealander can achieve especially with an experienced and intelligent mentor in Mark Webber. He is definitely a driver who has a lot of talent, and could be a star in the future.

79P9763

Honorable mentions:
Robin Frijns – double podium in Spain, but other than that this season hasn’t been one of his best, however, he is still a driver of quality and deserves a seat in the championship.

Jon Lancaster – missed a few rounds due to funding, similar to Frijns, but Lancaster has a very level head and doesn’t crack under pressure. His back-to-back sprint race wins both came from a well-crafted race from the back of the grid in the feature race; two very credible performances.

Adrian Quaife-Hobbs – nine top ten finishes, two podiums from Monaco and Belgium and a win in Italy proved that he was a consistently quick driver. Swapping teams midseason wasn’t a problem and he adapted to both teams instantly; experience could be all he needs to be a serious title contender.

2013 season questions!

This season wasn’t as unpredictable as last year, nor was it as exciting, but there have been several highlights that I’m sure a lot of you will remember in years from now. I asked people on a number of social network sites a group of questions about this season, and here was the result…

Formula One World Championship - Brazilian Grand Prix

1. Who was your driver of the year?
Personally, it’s hard to look past Sebastian Vettel. He’s been consistently quick and on some circuits has been completely unchallenged – Singapore comes to mind. Some of his pole laps have been unbelievable, where he has set times that beat the driver in second place by almost half a second. Nine consecutive wins, and 13 wins in a single season is an incredible record, and I’m sure there is a lot more to come from him.
Result:
Vettel – 83 votes
Alonso – 12 votes
Hulkenberg – 6 votes
Hamilton – 5 votes
Grosjean – 4 votes
Rosberg – 3 votes
Webber – 2 votes

2. Who is your team of the year?
Similarly to the previous question, it’s hard to not choose Red Bull. They have produced two very quick cars that are capable of achieving pole position and race wins, and they have done for the past four years. They had a bit of a wobble on Webber’s car, what with his KERS failures and all the other faults you could list, but that didn’t stop either driver from finishing in the top three in the drivers championship.
Result:
Red Bull – 86 votes
Mercedes – 26 votes
Lotus – 2 votes
McLaren – 1 vote

3. Who is your most improved driver?
Last season even I was criticising this driver, and this year he’s come back to prove a point. Romain Grosjean has not only made it clear that he is a very competitive driver, but he’s also proved that last season was nothing but a one off. In the latter half of the year, Romain was the only real threat to either of the Red Bulls, and he was a regular podium contender.
Result:
Grosjean – 99 votes
Hulkenberg – 8 votes
Rosberg – 2 votes
Gutierrez – 2 votes
Massa – 1 vote
Ricciardo – 1 vote
Raikkonen – 1 vote
Vettel – 1 vote

4. Who is your most improved team?
Considering their plummet in form from last year, I have to say it’s Mercedes. This year they have been consistently at the top, with two strong drivers that took just over a third of the pole positions from 2013. They also won 3 races and achieved a handful of podiums which isn’t bad for a team that finished sixth in last year’s constructors championship.
Result:
Mercedes – 88 votes
Sauber – 15 votes
Lotus – 8 votes
Marussia – 2 votes
Force India – 1 vote
Red Bull – 1 vote

5. What was your drive/performance of the season?
There were so many to choose from, but the standout drive for me was Lewis Hamilton during the British Grand Prix. It was very close with Romain Grosjean in India, but that race was full of drama and Hamilton calved his way through the pack to finish fourth, just narrowly missing out on a podium. He arguably should have won that race, but nonetheless it was a fantastic recovery in front of his home crowd.
Result:
Hulkenberg in Korea – 20 votes
Grosjean in India – 16 votes
Hamilton in Britain – 15 votes
Rosberg in Monaco – 12 votes
Button in Brazil – 12 votes
Hamilton in Hungary – 10 votes
Vettel in Singapore – 7 votes
Alonso in Spain – 5 votes
Raikkonen in Australia – 4 votes
Grosjean in USA – 4 votes
Others – 5 votes

6. What was your overtake of the season?
I’m not a fan of DRS so I tried to ignore any overtakes that used it when I chose my answer. There were several that I almost chose like Hamilton on Webber in Hungary or Alonso on Hamilton in Spain, but I think Bottas on Gutierrez through the esses at COTA did it for me. It wasn’t the typical overtake spot, but Bottas pulled it off with ease!
Result:
Hamilton on Webber in Hungary – 24 votes
Sutil on Alonso in Monaco – 19 votes
Alonso’s start in Monza – 10 votes
Alonso on Hamilton in Spain – 8 votes
Perez on Button in Monaco – 6 votes
Bottas on Gutirrez in USA – 6 votes
Vettel on Webber in Malaysia – 5 votes
Alonso in Spa – 4 votes
Perez on Hamilton and Raikkonen in India – 3 votes
Raikkonen on Button in Singapore – 3 votes
Grosjean on Massa in Hungary – 3 votes
Button on Perez in Bahrain – 3 votes
Vettel on Alonso in Bahrain – 3 votes
Others – 18 votes

7. The funniest moment?
There have been a few moments this year that have given us something to laugh about, but my personal favourite was when a fire jeep went on to the track in Korea. No one knew it was there, and it was just so bizarre!
Result:
Hamilton entering the McLaren pit box – 33 votes
Raikkonen’s radio in India – 17 votes
Webber falling off the podium in Brazil – 15 votes
Fire jeep on track in Korea – 15 votes
Hamilton’s radio – 10 votes
Marussia rolling down the hill in Germany – 7 votes
Alonso and Webber’s taxi ride – 3 votes
The Sand Grand Prix – 3 votes
Webber in Malaysia – 2 votes
Multi 21 – 1 vote
Others – 9 votes

8. Best personality?
His honesty and ability to speak his mind is why I have always liked Mark Webber. It’s such a shame to see him leave the sport, especially because he’s been a driver in Formula 1 for as long as I can remember. He leaves F1 with 9 wins, 42 podiums and 13 pole positions, and who knows what will come when he enters his new chapter with Porsche?
Result:
Webber – 36 votes
Raikkonen – 17 votes
Hamilton – 13 votes
Vettel – 11 votes
Ricciardo – 8 votes
Button – 8 votes
Rosberg – 6 votes
Grosjean – 4 votes
Alonso – 4 votes
Bianchi – 3 votes
Massa – 3 votes
Pic – 1 vote
Hulkenberg – 1 vote

9. Finally, what was your favourite race of the season?
Considering I was there, I think it has to be the British Grand Prix, even if it is for all of the wrong reasons. It gave us drama, excitement and something to natter about for quite a while, and the atmosphere was indescribable. Who would have thought Silverstone would be a dry race?!
Result:
Britain – 29 votes
Brazil – 19 votes
Hungary – 17 votes
Monaco – 12 votes
Spain – 11 votes
Australia – 6 votes
Korea – 3 votes
USA – 3 votes
India – 3 votes
Abu Dhabi – 2 votes
Malaysia – 2 votes
Singapore – 2 votes
Bahrain – 2 votes
Others – 4 votes

Thank you to everyone who got involved, I hope you have a good winter break and if you haven’t already, take a look at my signed Caterham F1 top competition here!

Brazilian Grand Prix analysis

What an end to the season! It’s a shame the rain didn’t come for the race, but nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed the final race. Sebastian Vettel won the Brazilian Grand Prix despite the muddled up pit stop, and Mark Webber left Formula 1 in style after a great performance to get second place.

AUTO-F1-PRIX-BRAZIL-PODIUM

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P1 – WEB P4
Race – VET P1 – WEB P2
A perfect way to end the season for Red Bull, and the best way to wave farewell to Webber who had a great battle with Alonso throughout the race. Vettel has now set the record of the most wins in a season as he won his 13th race of 2013; he has also equalled Ascari’s record of most consecutive wins as they both now have 9. Webber had a bit of a stumble on the podium which made a few of us giggle, but it was an emotional goodbye and I wish Mark the best of luck in his new career!

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P3 – MAS P9
Race – ALO P3 – MAS P7
I was pleasantly surprised with Alonso, I didn’t expect him to maintain third place – maybe that’s because I thought Grosjean and Hamilton would breeze past him but I was wrong! It was nice to see him back on the podium, whereas his team-mates penalty left him at the lower end of the top ten. It’s a shame that Massa got his drive through penalty, but rules are rules and he left the track on more than one occasion. What’s worse is that Alonso said he would have let Massa have third so he could be on the podium at his home Grand Prix celebrating his last race with Ferrari.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P15 – PER P14 (P19 including grid penalty)
Race – BUT P4 – PER P6
There best race this season, and McLaren are the only team that have been classified in every single race in history. They have also beaten BMW’s record from 2008 after completing 99.17 of the seasons total distance (BMW completed 98.30). Button and Perez both recovered well from their grid spots, and to finish well in the top 10 is a great achievement, especially after a really underwhelming season.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P6 – KOV P11
Race – GRO DNF – KOV P14
Unfortunately an engine failure resulted in ending Grosjean’s last race, and to make matters worse for Lotus, Kovalainen just didn’t have the speed to creep into the top ten. Kovalainen has said he under-estimated the job that needed doing at Lotus, and I can’t help but wonder whether they chose the wrong man. By doing so, they have affected their relationship with reserve driver Davide Valsecchi.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – ROS P2 – HAM P5
Race – ROS P5 – HAM P9
Both Mercedes’ drivers had great starts, and Rosberg even put himself in first place at the first corner. Rosberg had balance problems and thus fell victim to the Red Bulls, his team mate and Alonso; however, he did well to finish in fifth. Hamilton made a rookie error that dropped him to ninth place when he should have finished in fourth. If he had he used his mirrors he would have known Bottas was alongside him – perhaps he didn’t expect the Fin to try and unlap himself, but you should always expect the unexpected in F1!

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P10 – GUT P18
Race – HUL P8 – GUT P12
A solid finish for Hulkenberg, I don’t think he could have achieved anything better than that. Similarly to the Mercedes’ drivers, Hulkenberg had the wrong set-up and was really vulnerable down the straights. Gutierrez did a good job, it’s a shame he couldn’t quite get into the points but finishing 12th from 18th is a satisfying recovery.

Force India:
Qualifying – DIR P12 – SUT P16
Race – DIR P11 – SUT P13
Di Resta very nearly made a two stop strategy work, but unluckily for him fell just one place short of a point. Sutil did OK despite starting from the lower end of the grid. I think rain would have played to Force India’s advantage, likewise a few other teams, but they’ve kept sixth in the constructor’s, and that’s all that’s important.

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P17 – BOT P13
Race – MAL P16 – BOT DNF
The Williams’ drivers had an eventful race, both drivers had a bit of contact but sadly for Bottas it ended his race. If you’re going to unlap yourself you have to take more care than that; he did have a bit of extra space, so you could argue that he could have avoided the collision had he moved over – however the penalty that Hamilton received was fair. Maldonado gave Vergne no room and ultimately the two came together, it was deemed a racing incident which I believe was the right thing to do.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P7 – VER P8
Race – RIC P10 – VER P15
Ricciardo did a good job to take the last point, and I’m very excited to see what he can do in Red Bull next year – just imagine the smiles on the podium! Vergne had an awful start and as a result came out of the top 15 after the pit stops, he came together with Maldonado towards the end of the race, but no penalty was given to either driver.

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC P19 – VDG P20
Race  – PIC DNF – VDG P18
It’s a unfortunate that they couldn’t snatch tenth back from Marussia, especially because they have been the better team in the last few rounds, but trying to finish 13th in the final race was a bit ambitious. Their driver line up for next year is still unknown, though I fully expect them to come back stronger!

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P21 – CHI P22
Race – BIA P17 – CHI P19
Credit to Marussia for producing a car that’s finished every race of the season, and credit to Chilton for bringing the car home on each occasion. Bianchi has been the best back marker for a while, and even though Caterham have been the quickest out of the two teams, Bianchi kept ahead of Van der Garde. Well done to Marussia for finishing tenth in the constructors and getting that all important money!

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Race

Brazilian Grand Prix – Preview

trackshot

Wow, where has the year gone? Seems like only a few weeks ago I was recovering from the sun stroke I picked up from Silverstone! There’s been some recent rumours that next year Abu Dhabi will replace Brazil as the season finale. Korea, New Jersey, India and Mexico have all been dropped from the provisional calendar, which adds up to 19 races next year, 8 of which would be back to back. Autosport released the suggested dates here.

Interlagos (Autódromo José Carlos Pace) has been one of my favourite tracks for many a year, as it never fails to throw up a special race. Let’s not forget the amount of championships that have been decided there, like last year for example. In fact, four of the past five championships have been decided during the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The track has 15 corners, and 2 DRS zones which are located on the pit straight and after turn 3 down Reta Oposta. Interlagos (the newer version) is 4.309km long, whilst Juan Pablo Montoya holds the lap record here, of a 1:11:473 which he set back in 2004. The drivers will circulate the track 71 times, which is equivalent of driving just over 190 miles.

Whilst Interlagos hosts it’s 31st race, we will be waving an emotional goodbye to Mark Webber, who will be leaving Formula 1 for the Porsche sportscar programme at the end of the year. I wrote a piece on Webber earlier this year on his career in F1, you can read that here. We will also be watching Felipe Massa’s last race with Ferrari, as next year he will be racing at Williams.

Massa is actually the only driver to have won from pole in the last 10 years (the rest were from second), he did so in 2006 and 2008 where he narrowly missed out on becoming world champion. In all of the years raced at the new Interlagos (the 4.3km, not the 8km track) only 8 of the 23 races have been won from pole. However, 11 of them have been won from second, and the other four were won from out of the top two.

Pirelli have brought the hard and medium compound tyres this weekend, but with rain on the radar, we could well be seeing the intermediate and wet tyres making an appearance. The racing weekend is live on both SkyF1 and BBC, so you can take your pick on which coverage to watch!

Timetable: (UK time)

Friday:
Practice 1 – 12:00pm
Practice 2 – 16:00pm

Saturday:
Practice 3 – 13:00pm
Qualifying – 16:00pm

Sunday:
Race – 16:00pm

USA Grand Prix analysis

Red Bulls dominance stays firmly in place after Sebastian Vettel’s eighth consecutive race win, and his twelfth of the season. Behind the race leader, it wasn’t as exciting as it was hoped, but strong performances by Romain Grosjean and Valtteri Bottas put both drivers in the spotlight.

BZUWplMCYAAGK8Z

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P1 – WEB P2
Race – VET P1 – WEB P3
A front row lock-out was always going to happen, both drivers seemed very comfortable with the circuit, and if Webber had just brought together the final few corners, he would have been the leading Red Bull. Another poor start from the Australian put both Grosjean and Hamilton in front at turn one, but he didn’t give up and was close to taking P2 back from Grosjean towards the end of the race. Vettel didn’t have it easy though, Grosjean and Webber weren’t too far away from the German at the end, but nonetheless a very dominant and controlled race from Vettel – one for the history books!

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P6 – MAS P15
Race – ALO P5 – MAS P12
Mixed feelings about Ferraris performance, on one hand it was a good job from Alonso, who arguably qualified and finished in the best place he could. But on the other, a very disappointing weekend for Massa, who not only didn’t make Q3 but also didn’t finish in the points. Kovalainen didn’t score either, which helps Ferrari in the constructors, but Grosjean is a big threat.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P13 – PER P7
Race – BUT P10 – PER P7
Originally, Button qualified in 13th, but after overtaking a car under red flags got given a 3 place grid penalty. I was pleasantly surprised with Perez’s efforts, I thought he did a great job considering the machinery he has, and he got some good points in the race as a reward. Button also impressed me in the race, given his starting position, and a one stop strategy, it was always going to be difficult to get into the top ten, but he did, even if it was the last point.

Lotus:
Qualifying – GRO P3 – KOV P8
Race – GRO P2 – KOV P14
At the moment, Grosjean is the only driver capable of challenging at least one of the Red Bulls. He’s come into a class of his own, and could definitely be one to watch out for next year. Technical problems prevented Kovalainen from making any progress in the race, which is a shame because he looked set to score some good points prior to the front wing change.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – ROS P14 – HAM P5
Race – ROS P9 – HAM P4
I thought in general, this wasn’t an awful race for Mercedes. They’ve stopped their development and are just focusing on finishing ahead of Ferrari, which they did. Set-up and balance problems stopped Rosberg from making Q3, however he showed good pace in the race and made some good overtakes – even if they were DRS assisted. Hamilton finished in the best place he could have, the Red Bulls were just too quick and Grosjean was too far out of reach as well.

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P4 – GUT P10
Race – HUL P6 – GUT P13
Don’t let the stat fool you, Gutierrez did qualify in tenth, but a 10 place grid penalty for impeding Maldonado dropped him to the lower end of the grid. He recovered well however, but had too much to do to get into the points. Hulkenberg was unlucky to not get back passed Alonso, he gave it a good go but unfortunately had to settle for sixth, which in it’s own, is a good result.

Force India:
Qualifying – DIR P12 – SUT P17
Race – DIR P15 – SUT DNF
Di Resta did a good job in qualifying, unfortunately he ruined his tyres during the race and was forced into a two stop strategy with just a few laps remaining. The Sutil crash is a tricky one, I think both drivers are at fault. The track is wide, they both had room, yet they were both focused on the line that they were on. It was an accident waiting to happen, and it brought an end to Sutil’s race.

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P18 – BOT P9
Race – MAL P17 – BOT P8
A poor race from Maldonado; the contact with Sutil damaged his race as he was forced to make a pit stop after being waved the black and orange flag. However, on the other side of the garage, Bottas did a fantastic job! Very impressed with him, and his overtake on Gutierrez through the esses was brilliant!

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P11 – VER P16
Race – RIC P11 – VER P16
I think Ricciardo will be just fine at Red Bull, he’s shown all season that he has pace and through the Austin GP he proved he has a feisty side – he did not want Button to get tenth place! Vergne very nearly pulled off his strategy by starting on the hard tyres, however after being hit with a 20 second penalty for causing a collision with Gutierrez ended up in 16th (he was just behind his team-mate in 12th before that).

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC P21 – VDG P19
Race – PIC P20 – VDG P19
Pic did a good job to finish ahead of Chilton despite his penalties (a gear-box penalty meant that he’d start from the back of the grid). Towards the end of the race he was given a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags, but yet he returned to the track still in 20th and ahead of Chilton. Van der Garde has been the better Caterham driver for a while now, and was only a few seconds off Bianchi at the end.

Marussia:
Qualifying – CHI P22 – BIA P20
Race – CHI P21 – BIA P18
Chilton is keeping up his rookie record, as he’s the only one to finish 18/18 races, and if he finishes the race in Brazil, he’ll be the only rookie to finish all of the races in his first season. Bianchi has been in a class of his own in terms of back markers, and he has been crucial to Marussia holding tenth place in the constructors championship.

Driver of the day: Bottas – whose yours?

USA Grand Prix – Preview

trackshot

Only two rounds remaining and we’ve finally reached one of my favourite tracks on this year’s calendar – Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The championships may well have been decided, what with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing being crowed champions yet again – but the biggest talking point is still on who will take second place?

Lotus have got themselves in a bit of a pickle at the moment (excuse the expression) because whilst Kimi Raikkonen has his surgery, they are left to choose the right man to replace him for the final races. It was thought that their reserve driver Davide Valsecchi would get the call, but the Italian has had next to no seat time and unfortunately was ruled out. Their test drivers Nicolas Prost and Jérôme D’Ambrosio will not be racing in place of Kimi either, which has brought up a lot of speculation. It’s been reported that Heikki Kovalainen has been given the job due to his experience and expertise, though there has been no official announcement.

COTA has two DRS zones, the first is located on the pit straight, and the second is positioned after turn 11 on the run up to turn 12. There are 20 corners all together, with the big uphill slope being home to the first corner that each driver will tackle. The circuit is approximately 3.2 miles, which added with 56 laps equates to driving 191.63 miles.

Sebastian Vettel stuck it on pole last year, and also set the lap record of a 1:39:347, however Lewis Hamilton eventually took the lead and the win from the German. Last year, the teams only needed to make their drivers pit once, and a one stop strategy is the favoured choice for this year too. Higher temperatures are forecast which may have an effect on the Pirelli tyres (hards and mediums have been selected for this race), which is why Friday testing will be crucial – a one stop strategy is 10 seconds quicker than a two stop. Jenson Button finished in fifth last year after starting on the hard tyres from 12th, will he be able to pull off something similar this time?

The weekend is live on SkyF1 as usual, whereas the highlights will be shown on the BBC. The race times are below:

Friday:
Practice 1 – 15:00pm
Practice 2 – 19:00pm

Saturday:
Practice 3 – 15:00pm
Qualifying – 18:00pm

Sunday:
Race – 19:00pm

Do you have any pre-race predictions?

Who is the best driver of my generation?

I was selected as an official blogger for the Austosport  International Show 2014 – Europe’s largest motosports show, that takes place in January at Birmingham NEC (more info here).  As a part of this, I was asked to write an article on who I think is the best driver of my generation…

Being the man with the most championships does not make you the best overall driver, it makes you successful. “Try not to be a man of success, but rather to be a man of value” as Albert Einstein once said.  Gilles Villeneuve, Tony Brooks, Carlos Reutemann, Francois Cervert, Ronnie Peterson, Sir Stirling Moss and Rubens Barrichello are all greats who haven’t won the world championship, and I truly believe that Robert Kubica can easily join that list.

12 podium appearances, winner of the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, and a driver who was more than capable of putting any car on the front row, it was clear that Kubica was someone special. He was able to challenge the leaders in an inferior car, and sometimes beat them when it came down to tracks where the driver made the biggest difference (Monaco, Belgium, and Japan). His accident may be preventing him from sitting in the cockpit of an F1 car, but it’s certainly not stopping him from becoming the next best rally driver.

KUB4

No, he didn’t win as many races as Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel, but it seemed too simple to choose those two, and in some cases, if you can make a name for yourself without the obvious world championships and record breaking achievements, then surely you are someone with an exceptional talent? 

Statistics and record braking numbers don’t define how good a driver is. If that were to be case, those who have never won world championships, like those previously mentioned, would look mediocre next to those with multiple titles. Jim Clark is renowned for having the most natural ability ever seen in a driver, and he only has two championships to his name – perhaps less than what he deserved to have.

Kubica was undoubtedly quick, extremely determined and very rarely made mistakes. He was someone who was valuable to a team, that’d work for hours on end with his engineers to perfect every minor detail on his car. His raw pace, work ethic and determination to win, were all qualities that the Polish driver had, and you have to wonder what he would have achieved had Ferrari signed him at the end of 2010.

It’s no wonder that Fernando Alonso once labelled him as the driver he feared most, and it doesn’t stop there. Another highly rated World Champion, by the name of Lewis Hamilton, stated that he was “very tough, but fair”, and the duo as well as Nico Rosberg go way back to their junior karting days. Toto Wolff (Mercedes AMG F1 Team Boss) has also said that Robert’s input has had a significant effect on Mercedes’ recent performance, with the simulator runs being beneficial to both the team and the Pole.

KUB3

They say the best drivers are those who can get the ultimate out of any car; Kubica was someone who pushed the limits and tried things that not every other driver would do. Natural talent is hard to come by, only few drivers have the special ability to be able to find time in a lap where no one else can (Ayrton Senna springs to mind). Kubica was effortlessly good. He consistently performed well, and never got himself into trouble.

It’s easy to say someone with multiple world championships is a good driver, because the statistics do the talking, but Robert is different, an exception if you will. Success isn’t just about what you accomplish; it’s about what you inspire others to do and the effect you leave on people. Since his rally crash in 2011, Robert has been working really hard to make his comeback, and though it may not become reality, I’d still like to hope that his return is imminent.

Robert Kubica – a Formula 1 World Champion that could have been…

KUB1

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix analysis

It’s strange how last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was so incident filled, but this year’s was much more relaxed; but nonetheless Yas Marina through up an interesting race. Yes, Sebastian Vettel disappeared off into the distance, but the battle between Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean was one to watch. Why? Because ignoring Lewis Hamilton’s set-up troubles (and assuming he’s back on form for the remaining races), they are the ones that are consistently fighting for second, third and fourth place. You can’t ignore either of the Ferraris either, however, if they’re not careful they could drop to fourth in the constructors championship.

podium500

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P2 – WEB P1
Race – VET P1 – WEB P2
Maybe we were hoping for Webber’s first win of the season, but you can’t fault Vettel. Neither of the Red Bulls had the best of starts, but defensive work on both drivers’ behalf’s kept Hamilton at and Grosjean at bay. Strategy and backmarkers worked in Webber’s favour as he was able to get passed Rosberg and keep second place. It’s one thing to be 30 seconds ahead of someone in second, but to be 30 seconds clear of your own team-mate who himself is in second place is another – a stellar job by Vettel.

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P11 – MAS P8
Race – ALO P5 – MAS P8
I think Qualifying was quite a shock for everyone, Ferrari fan or not, but Alonso recovered well, and his final stint on the soft tyres was a good call. The incident between Alonso and Vergne is a tricky one to call. You must treat the white lines on the pit exit like a wall, and Vergne was ahead of the Ferrari before he exited the pit lane, which suggests Vergne had the right of way. However, when you put a pit exit on the racing line, incidents like that will happen; the layout of the track isn’t great when you think about it – two DRS zones next to each other is just silly. The only good thing about Yas Marina is the setting and the fact that the race starts in the dusk and ends under the floodlights… Felipe had the wrong strategy; I don’t understand why Ferrari didn’t put both drivers on the soft tyres at the end, especially as Felipe’s tyres were fine. His pass on Hamilton and Sutil was brilliant too (even if it was DRS assisted).

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P13 – PER P9
Race – BUT P12 – PER P9
This is the second race in a row that Button has picked up damage on the first lap, and it’s also the second time in a row that Perez has been in the points whilst Button has not. There’s a bizarre rumour floating around that Magnussen will replace Perez next season (which I don’t think is true). Perez has been doing extremely well recently, and his reactions saved him from making contact with Maldonado during the Sutil incident.

Lotus:
Qualifying – RAI DSQ – GRO P7
Race – RAI DNF – GRO P4
All I can say is why did the team not start Raikkonen from the pit lane? If so, he probably wouldn’t have made contact with Pic and would never have retired from the race. It was quite amusing to see Kimi leaving straight away, but I was looking forward to seeing Kimi fighting through the order! Grosjean is continuing to impress, and I’m positive his first win is getting closer and closer.

Mercedes:
Qualifying –  ROS P3 – HAM P4
Race – ROS P3 – HAM P7
Rosberg’s bad luck has finally turned around, with his second third place in a row. In his video diary he said he had the wrong set-up through the second stint and he might have been able to re-pass Webber had he got that right. Hamilton also had the wrong set-up and was unable to pass the traffic (Hamilton’s top speed was 316.7 and Rosberg’s was 316.3), and the team have said they are looking into why that  happend. Hamilton is however the only driver to win COTA, but that could all change…

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P6 – GUT P17
Race – HUL P14 – GUT P13
A drive through penalty for an unsafe pit release ruined Hulkenberg’s chance of getting some points, but the car showed good pace as it was able to fend off the Lotus’ and Mercedes’ as Gutierrez proved. Gutierrez has been improving rapidly, and could well be team leader next year. The battle for sixth in the constructors is close with Sauber just 32 points behind Force India with 2 rounds remaining.

Force India:
Qualifying – DIR P12 – SUT P18
Race – DIR P6 – SUT P10
Di Resta is my driver of the day. Despite the one stop strategy being 10 seconds slower, he managed to pull it off, getting some strong points. Sutil however, had quite an eventful race. Should he have had a penalty? I think so. The thing is, the stewards said they were looking very closely at drivers exceeding track limits, and think it was clear that Sutil passed two cars off track, whether you were forced off track or not, surely you can’t keep the position/s?

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P15 – BOT P16
Race – MAL P11 – BOT P15
The disappointing thing is that Maldonado was just 2 seconds away from getting the last point. Bottas has been underwhelming, his race pace isn’t as strong as that of Maldonado, but that could improve given some time. It is such a shame to see Williams struggling so much, and I’m hopeful they come back stronger!

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P10 – VER P14
Race – RIC P16 – VER P17
I seriously hope Ricciardo can sort out his race starts; he could be a serious threat to Vettel next year if so, and we could get a good inter-team battle. As previously mentioned, I don’t think Vergne was in the wrong with the Alonso incident. Both drivers were entitled to race, and the bumpy ride clearly caused Alonso some pain, so perhaps that was his punishment.

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC P21 – VDG P19
Race – PIC P19 – VDG P18
The dreaded team orders again…the only difference being, it’s the end of the season (nearly) and Caterham are trying to get the all important tenth place in the constructors championship, and Van der Garde was lapping two seconds quicker than Pic. Maybe that was due to the contact with Raikkonen, but swapping the drivers wasn’t losing or gaining anything.

Marussia:
Qualifying – CHI P22 – BIA P20
Race – CHI P21 – BIA P20
Not a very pleasing weekend, neither drivers did anything special and couldn’t take the fight to Caterham. Chilton has broken a record in Formula 1, for the most consecutive finishes in a rookie season.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Preview

track

Yas Marina is a relatively new Grand Prix, with it’s first race being held just four years ago in 2009. It’s the only day/night race on the calendar, with the race starting at 17:00pm local time – it starts in the dusk and ends under the floodlights. Abu Dhabi has been one of my favourite Grands Prix for several years, due to its track layout and setting, plus I have it mastered on F12012 ;).

The circuit has multiple long straights, as well as 21 high and low speed corners. Drivers will circulate the track 55 times which equates to just over 189 miles. A single lap’s length is 3.45 miles, with the lap record being a 1:40:279, which was set by none other than Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel in fact is the only multiple winner here, and his recent form suggests he may be the one to beat going into the weekend. Lewis Hamilton also runs well here, the Briton won the race in 2011, and attained pole position in 2012 but reliability let him down in the race, as well as in 2009 where he possibly would have won. Kimi Raikkonen however, capitalised on Hamilton’s problems and went on to win the 2012 race despite threat from Fernando Alonso. Let’s not forget his comical radio messages either, like “Leave me alone I know what I’m doing”.

Last year’s race was quite dramatic, with two safety cars featuring after one spectacular crash between Narain Kathikeyan and Nico Rosberg, and another incident between Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber. Strategy wise, the one stop was the quicker choice, but with this year’s highly degradable tyres, two stops is much more likely. Pirelli have brought the soft and the medium compound tyres, much like what was seen in India, so the race might pan out in a similar way to last weekend.

GP2 and GP3 return for their final rounds this weekend, with both championships up for grabs. Fabio Leimer and Sam Bird are the duo in contention for the GP2 title, whilst Facu Regalia and next year’s Toro Rosso driver, Daniil Kvyat are the ones fighting it out for the GP3 crown. The whole weekend is live on the Sky F1 channel, whilst it’s only the highlights on BBC.

Friday:
GP2 Practice – 06:15am
GP3 Practice – 07:15am
F1 Practice 1 – 08:45am
F1 Practice 2 – 12:45am
GP2 Qualifying – 2:50pm

Saturday:
GP3 Qualifying – 06:00am
GP2 Feature Race – 08:05am
F1 Practice 3 – 09:45am
F1 Qualifying – 12:00pm
GP3 Race 1 – 2:30pm

Sunday :
GP3 Race 2 -07:55am
GP2 Sprint Race – 09:10am
F1 Race – 12:00pm

Do you have any pre-race predictions?

Indian Grand Prix analysis

It took a while for the race to fully kick in, but I thoroughly enjoyed the differing strategies. Red Bull clearly didn’t need to choose a specific strategy because before Webber’s problem he was running in a solid second, behind Vettel. Vettel in fact, put on another stellar performance, proving why he is now a four-time world champion. You just don’t win world championships by chance, and I’d like to congratulate Seb for his achievements so far…

BXlL2lECQAAZs9U

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P1 – WEB P4
Race – VET P1 – WEB DNF
Qualifying couldn’t have gone better for the team, Vettel was a massive 7 tenths quicker than his nearest competitors and Webber out-qualified some drivers despite being on the harder tyre whilst they were on softs (Massa and Raikkonen for example). Vettel was almost unchallenged throughout the race, and cruised his way to victory. Webber however, was in comfortable second place on the differing strategy, but alternator issues brought his race to an end. Red Bull are now four-time constructors champions, now it’s just about who comes second…

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P8 – MAS P6
Race – ALO P11 – MAS P4
I think it’s strange how Massa’s results have completely changed since he announced he was racing for himself, is this an example of how much Ferrari were holding him back? Alonso had a scrappy first lap and made contact with three different people, and just couldn’t get to grips with the car and finished out of the points. Ferrari have subsequently dropped to third in the constructors.

Lotus:
Qualifying – RAI P7 – GRO P17
Race – RAI P7 – GRO P3
Well, those radio messages were, interesting. Grosjean is my driver of the day by miles, sorry Seb, but to come from 17th to third is just incredible. I don’t know how he did it, but he did, and he’s silenced all the critics by doing so. Raikkonen was doing just fine until the final few laps, his tyre life had gone and because of this lost places to Rosberg, Grosjean, Massa, Perez and Hamilton. He set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap though, which is odd.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P10 – PER P9
Race – BUT P14 – PER P5
Mixed emotions for McLaren, a disappointing weekend for Button, but unfortunately the puncture from contact was something out of his control. On the plus side, Perez made his strategy work and ended up in a strong fifth place. Do you think Perez will stay next year.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – ROS P2 – HAM P3
Race – ROS P2 – HAM P6
A Mercedes’ driver has been on the front row for 15 out of 16 races, that’s how strong this duo are. Rosberg had a brilliant race, but couldn’t do anything about the Red Bulls, he did however jump Massa in the pit stops, but unfortunately for Lewis he couldn’t, and was stuck behind the Ferrari for the remainder of the race. The team were happy with their overall pace and think they’ll be more challenging through the rest of the races.

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P7 – GUT P16
Race – HUL P19 – GUT P15
Hulkenberg is continuing to impress and was running in a solid position inside of the top ten in the race,  until a brakes problem forced him to retire from the race with just five laps to go. He’s classified as 19th because he completed more than 90% of the race. Gutierrez was quite scarce throughout the race, and was running in tenth place until Ricciardo, Alonso and several others passed him towards the closing stages of the race.

Force India:
Qualifying – DIR P12 – SUT P13
Race – DIR P8 – SUT P9
A  better result for Force India (a much awaited weekend in some respects.) Neither driver made Q3, but their strategy paid off which left them in front of both Saubers, as well as in the points. I wonder if they can keep up the good results through the last remaining races…

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P18 – BOT P15
Race – MAL P12 – BOT P16
It’s hard to believe that this team won a race last season and this year they only have one point in the championship. There are rumours floating around that Maldonado will be leaving, possibly to Lotus, but who will fill the vacated seat? Massa is the favourite, though as I’ve previously said, I’d rather him return to Sauber.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P10 – VER P14
Race – RIC P10 – VER P13
It’s performances like this, that highlight why Red Bull chose Ricciardo over Vergne. Not only is Dan still popping into Q3, but his race pace is also drastically improving. He managed to do a long stint on the medium tyres which left him in second place prior to his pit stops. Dan could well have got eighth at the end of the race due to being close to the Force Indias. Vergne however had a pretty average weekend, and it’s almost certain that TR will attain eighth in the constructors championship.

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC P21 – VDG P20
Race – PIC DNF – VDG DNF
A disappointing weekend for Caterham, both drivers failed to finish the race which unfortunately isn’t ideal. It looks like they might miss out on tenth place in the constructors unless one of their drivers pulls a decent performance out of the bag!

Marussia:
Qualifying – BIA P19 – CHI P22
Race – BIA P18 – CHI P17
I thought both Caterham drivers’ would have the edge this weekend but Bianchi just beat them in qualifying, and fortunately both drivers kept ahead of the Caterhams which means they retain tenth in the championship – a big step up for the team.

Next race – Abu Dhabi.

Indian Grand Prix – Preview

trackshot

The Buddh International Circuit is the next round of the Formula 1 World Championship, where three time World Champion Sebastian Vettel could wrap up his fourth title. All the German has to do, is finish in fifth place. Vettel is in extremely good form at the moment after winning the last 5 rounds; he’s also won both of the past Indian Grand’s Prix and ignoring his DNF from Britain, his lowest race finish is just fourth place.

The Indian Grand Prix however will not appear on the 2015 calendar, and its place onwards is unknown due to financial reasons. The track has 16 corners, with the first sector being relatively slow compared to the flowing sector two and high speed sector three. The drivers complete 60 laps which equates to driving 307.25km, with a lap length of 5.125km (the lap record was set by Vettel in 2011, he set a 1:27:249). There are two DRS zones; the first is located just after turn 3 on the run up to turn 4, and the other is located on the pit straight.

At the previous races only one pit stop has been needed, so to shake things up Pirelli have brought the medium and soft tyres to India. The race could be very strategical, much like what was seen at Suzuka, with different teams choosing to run twice on the soft tyres, or twice on the medium tyres.  A pit stop costs teams of 21 seconds, and two stops is the likely choice.

In its two year period, no safety cars have ever featured, but anything can happen. Do you have any pre-race predictions? Do you think Vettel will finish the championship here?

Japanese Grand Prix analysis

I wasn’t expecting the race to be as strategical as it was, and at some moments I genuinely thought Romain Grosjean was on his way to his first win in Formula 1. Sebastian Vettel opted to do the two stop strategy; which lead him to his fifth consecutive win of the season, whereas Mark Webber and Grosjean chose to do three stops much like the rest of the grid.

podium

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P2 – WEB P1
Race – VET P1 – WEB P2
An extremely strong weekend for Red Bull, maybe the wrong driver was on the top step of the podium, but credit to Sebastian because he kept his tyres in good shape to be able to pull off a two stop – whereas Mark did three stops, perhaps reacting to Grosjean? A one, two finish in both qualifying and the race is the best result any team could want, and whether you want to accept it or not, Sebastian is more than deserving of this fourth championship.

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P8 – MAS P5
Race – ALO P4 – MAS P10
I had mixed feelings about Ferrari’s performance. Fernando’s qualification was awful and I have no idea why he was 3 tenths behind Felipe, and 7 tenths behind Sebastian – did he get caught up in traffic? But anyway, a solid fourth place has sent the title to the Indian Grand Prix, and Vettel only has to finish fifth or higher to win the championship. There’s been some speculation that Felipe ignored team orders, but isn’t he entitled to race for himself now? Fernando can’t really win the championship, so why should he have to budge? (it’s not doing him any favours though, you don’t want other teams to think you’ll ignore them too).

Lotus:
Qualifying – RAI P9 – GRO P3
Race – RAI P5 – GRO P3
I’m continuing to be impressed with Romain this year, and I am a little disappointed for him that he didn’t win the race, and he was arguably the only one who could keep up with the Red Bulls. Kimi’s qualifying was also a bit shocking, but he made up for it in the race when he finished just behind Fernando. The strong performances by both Lotus drivers has closed the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari in the constructors – maybe it’s been because of Mercedes’ recent bad luck, but at least they are capitalising on it.

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P10 – PER P11
Race – BUT P9 – PER P15
One McLaren in Q3 and one out of it, is that a surprise? McLaren have been quite vocal that they’re focusing on their future rather than this year’s car, and with Force India’s recent struggles it looks like they may be able to hold on to fifth place in the constructors. Jenson did well considering the return of the bad pit stops, and Checo was unlucky to be a bit of a magnet to Nico Rosberg (first the unsafe pit release, then the tyre puncture).

Mercedes:
Qualifying – ROS P6 – HAM P3
Race – ROS P8 – HAM DNF
I was quite surprised when Hamilton qualified in third because I thought Grosjean would better him. Nico’s sixth place wasn’t awful either when you consider that fourth to sixth place were all covered by just a tenth. A racing incident brought an end to Hamilton’s race during the first few laps of the race, which was unfortunately his first retirement of the season. Nico again had a lot of bad luck thrown at him. An unsafe pit release forced him to take a drive through penalty, and a three stop strategy only put him in eighth place, right behind Gutierrez. Four pit stops, and still finished in the points shows good pace however, and Hamilton surely would have been fighting for the last podium place had he not have had the contact with Vettel.

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P7 – GUT P14
Race – HUL P6 – GUT P7
Yet another strong race performance by both Sauber drivers, especially Esteban – who is actually my driver of the day. Hulkenberg is continuing to show good form in both qualifying and the race and it’s no wonder that he’s been linked with three different teams (Eddie Jordan said he’s going back to Force India, Crofty tweeted that he’s going to Ferrari and Martin Brundle was adamant it’s a done deal at Lotus). Do we think the new tyre’s have helped them a little bit, or is it genuinely because they’ve made some crucial improvements? Also, Esteban was the first rookie to score points this season!

Force India:
Qualifying – SUT P22 (pen) – DIR P12
Race – SUT P14 – DIR P11
Finally, a strong-ish qualifying performance for Di Resta. Yes he finished the race, but Paul really needs to get some points back on to the table because otherwise he may become vulnerable at the end of the season when the new talents come in – such as James Calado who is having three more FP1 sessions this year (Abu Dhabi, COTA and Brazil). Adrian Sutil was quite scarce throughout the race, but again, he needs to be in the top 10 to secure his seat next season.

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P15 – BOT P13
Race – MAL P16 – BOT P17
I really hate seeing a team like Williams struggling this much. It was only a few months ago that I was at Donnington F1 museum admiring some of their very iconic cars. Valtteri did a great job in qualifying, but was very angry at the end of the race after an incident between the Fin and his team-mate forced him (Bottas) off track whilst trying to make an overtake.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P16 – VER P17
Race – RIC P13 – VER P12
Vergne was very under the radar this weekend – he finished 12th despite the fire that broke out in his car during qualifying. Ricciardo was unlucky to get a drive through penalty for ‘gaining an advantage off track’. In my opinion, Dan had already passed Sutil way before he went off, and if anything, he lost a lot of time when he ran wide. Your thoughts on RIC’s penalty?

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC P21 (pen) – VDG P19
Race – PIC P18 – VDG DNF
The crash between Giedo and Jules wasn’t televised, and I don’t really know what happened between the duo, so I can’t really comment. Charles did a great job to finish ahead of Max despite having to take an early drive through penalty.

Marussia:
Qualifying – CHI P18 – BIA P20 (pen)
Race – CHI P19 – BIA DNF
Max surprised a lot of people when he qualified ahead of both Caterham’s and Jules, but I don’t think one good qualifying result is going to promote him to a better team, which is why I really don’t understand why Crofty thinks he’s going to Force India… Marussia are only ahead of Caterham in the constructors championship because of Bianchi’s P13 during the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier in the year, but I don’t think at the moment they’ve been the better team out of the back markers.

Driver of the day?

Remembering Maria de Villota.. R.I.P
mariaa

Next race – Indian Grand Prix.

Japanese Grand Prix – Preview

track!!!!
So I only just got my sleeping pattern back to normal, and now I’m back to being nocturnal as the Japanese Grand Prix has arrived.

This years GP could be the title decider, much like it was back in the day when Suzuka was the season finale, but if Sebastian Vettel wins the race with Fernando Alonso no higher than ninth, Vettel will be crowned champion – assuming Alonso doesn’t win every remaining race. Vettel only needs 49 more points to secure his 4th championship, but realistically, I think the title will be decided come India/Abu Dhabi.

The circuit is made up of 18 corners, with 10 of those being taken at speeds between 105-168mph. There’s only 1 DRS zone, which is located on the main straight after turn 18. The race lasts for 53 laps (307.471km) with the lap record being set by Kimi Raikkonen in 2005 when he completed a 1:31:540 [circuit length equating to 5.087km].

Sebastian Vettel is known to run well here winning 3 of the last 4 races, he also got the triple last year attaining pole position, the win and the fastest lap and surely he’s the favourite to take the win again this year. Lotus however were very challenging through the Korean GP, so I wonder whether they can keep momentum and power their drivers to some more impressive positions. Romain Grosjean’s first race win could be on the horizon?

There has been a safety car period in the last 4 races, so it’s very likely that they’ll make an appearance during the weekend. The tyres allocated are the medium and hard compounds, with a two stop strategy being the more favoured. It does however take an average of 20.8 seconds to perform a pit stop, so the likes of Lotus may try and play with strategy, particularly because they are lighter on their tyres than their competitors.

My dad happily shared some of his memories of the Japanese Grand Prix with me earlier today. Amongst them was when Ayrton Senna famously punched Eddie Irvine in 1993, who responded with “insurance claim there”.  He also remembers when Senna took out his team-mate (Prost) in 1990 to win the championship, but his favourite memory was when Damon Hill clenched the championship in 1996 after winning the final round at Suzuka!

Any pre-race predictions?

Korean Grand Prix analysis

I recently said that I would happily wave goodbye to the Korean Grand Prix, but if it continues to produce races with that much excitement then I re-tract that statement! A tyre explosion, some sparks and a fire; who would have thought that one up? Certainly not me… Maybe the tyre explosion was a bit of a worry, what with all the problems that have previously occurred this season, but what a good race it was (report here). Sebastian Vettel didn’t charge off with the win as easily as expected, but the battles behind him were much more thrilling anyway. A great job from Lotus put both of their boys on the podium, and a stellar performance from Nico Hulkenberg may have secured his seat with a better team for next season.

Untitled

Red Bull Racing -
Qualifying – VET P1 – WEB P13 (pen)
Race – VET P1 – WEB DNF
It’s hard to fault Vettel this season, and he looks unstoppable, a bit like Michael Schumacher in his prime. Maybe that’s why he’s got the ‘baby Schumi’ nickname. He got the triple this weekend, pole position, the win and the fastest lap and it seems that he’ll have this title done by India (if Fernando finishes lower than 9th, Vettel will win the championship in Japan). Webber however, has had a pretty disappointing weekend, though some of which were things out of his control. He was in the wrong place and the wrong time when Sutil collided into him during the race.

Ferrari -
Qualifying – ALO P5 – MAS P6
Race – ALO P6 – MAS P9
Not the best of weekends for Ferrari. You would have expected them to finish a lot higher than they did, and they didn’t capitalise on the problems that the Mercedes’ duo were having. Fernando had the pace at the end to finish ahead of Hulkenberg and Hamilton but couldn’t find his way passed. Felipe had a spin on the first lap that dropped him way down the order, but the Brazilian did well to claim 9th place at the end, especially after overtaking the likes of Maldonado, Gutierrez and Perez all on the last remaining laps.

Lotus -
Qualifying – RAI P9 – GRO P3
Race – RAI P2 – GRO P3
Romain Grosjean is continuing to impress me, and I have doubts in thinking that he’s more than capable of leading the team next year. Arguably should have finished ahead of Kimi, but the Finish driver made a jump on the Frenchman during the safety car start. As far as the team was concerned, it didn’t matter who finished ahead of who, as long as they didn’t collide, or at least that’s what I thought – the radio messages seemed to tell a different story…

McLaren -
Qualifying – BUT P11 – PER P10
Race – BUT P8 – PER P10
It’s still a shame to see McLaren in the lower half of the top ten, because what a fight the championship would have been if they were amongst the other top four teams! Sergio Perez’s seat has become under pressure, and I’m starting to wonder whether he’ll just become another Heikki Kovalainen (no disrespect)? Jenson is getting the absolute best out of his car, and I don’t really think he could have finished in a better position. With Force India’s double DNF, they’ve managed to secure some crucial points that could help them maintain fifth place.

Mercedes -
Qualifying – ROS P4 – HAM P2
Race – ROS P7 – HAM P5
It’s a shame because they were on for a 3, 4 finish prior to Nico’s front wing failure, but more importantly for them, they finished ahead of both Ferrari’s which has left them just a point behind them in the constructors. With Webber’s DNF Nico has been able to close up the gap to him in the driver’s championship (now just 8 points between them), and Lewis finished ahead of Alonso but behind Raikkonen, so has lost a place to the Fin in the driver’s championship. It is however very close for 2nd place with just 34 points separating the trio, who will claim the 2013 runner up?

Sauber -
Qualifying – HUL P7 – GUT P8
Race – HUL P4 – GUT P11
Nico Hulkenberg is a very highly rated driver, and when he puts in performances like the one he carried out last weekend in Korea, you have to wonder where he’d be finishing if he was in a more competitive car. Esteban has also upped his game, whether that’s because he’s finally gotten used to the way the car works, or because the Sauber worked a lot better around the Yeongam circuit. Unlucky to finish just out of the points, but overall a good weekend for Sauber!

Force India -
Qualifying – DIR P15 – SUT P14
Race – DIR DNF – SUT DNF
A weekend to forget for the team, qualifying wasn’t great and the race, well that was awful. Both drivers made errors which ended both of their races, and it’s almost unknown whether both of their seats are secured for next season. We all remember how long it took Force India to announce their second driver at the beginning of the season; could we be waiting for both drivers to be revealed for next season?

Williams -
Qualifying – MAL P18 – BOT P17
Race – MAL P13 – BOT P12
Not a bad weekend for Williams actually, they were in a big group battling for the final few points during the closing laps of the race, but subsequently lost out to Massa and Perez. Maldonado has also came out and said that he’d rather be sat at home, than race another year in the underperforming Williams, to which I say good riddance. I’m sorry but you’re a part of a team, and part of being in a team means going through both success and failure, and if you’re not prepared to help improve the team then you don’t deserve to be there.

Toro Rosso -
Qualifying – RIC P12 – VER P16
Race – RIC DNF – VER DNF
Again, another team who didn’t have a very good weekend. However, it’s not as bad as it seems. Both drivers had problems with parts on their cars overheating, and with the Japanese Grand Prix just a week away, it was in their best intention to retire both cars towards the end of the race in order to get a good performance during the following weekend. Obviously in their absence, Hulkenberg scored a hefty 12 points which puts both Toro Rosso and Sauber level on points in the constructors.

Caterham -
Qualifying – PIC P19 – VDG P20
Race – PIC P14 – VDG P15
Despite a drive through penalty, Giedo managed to finish just a second behind his team-mate at the end of the race, which may be due to the safety cars, but it’s still an impressive result. Both drivers finished ahead of the Marussia’s which makes the fight for 10th place in the constructors look a lot more exciting than it originally seemed!

Marussia -
Qualifying – CHI P21 – BIA P22 (pen)
Race – CHI P17 – BIA P16
They seem to be going more backwards than forwards, and I’m beginning to think that they may lose their position to Caterham in the constructors come the end of the season. It’s been confirmed that Bianchi will remain at Marussia next season; though I still believe he should be in a better team, as he has so much potential.

Korean Grand Prix – Preview

KORTRACK

Korea probably isn’t the most favoured race on the calendar, but it could be the race that decides the outcome of this season. Sebastian Vettel is 60 points clear of his nearest competitor Fernando Alonso, and if Vettel wins this race he would almost be uncatchable – he would need to have several DNF’s to enable Alonso to challenge him for the title.

News has hit the paddock that Rubens Barrichello (F1’s most experienced driver) has been linked to Sauber, with Monisha Kaltenborn confirming that the Brazilian is in contention. Marussia have also announced that they will be retaining Jules Bianchi for next season.

The Yeongam circuit was only introduced in 2010, but it’s previous race winners have been Alonso (1) and unsurprisingly Vettel (2). The track is 5.615km long, with last years pole position time reaching 1:37:272 set by Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing), the race however, is 308.630km long which equates to 55 laps. The circuit is made up of 18 corners and one long straight, though there are two DRS zones. The first zone is located after turn 2, and the second is located on the pit straight – though I’ve never liked the idea of two DRS zones in close proximity.

Teams are most likely going to run a two stop race (a stop will cost them 20 seconds), with the super-soft and medium tyres being allocated for this weekend. Rain has brought safety cars in two of the previous races here, and with a tropical storm due to hit Yeongam on Sunday or Monday could we see another? Sebastian Vettel has won the past two races, but an engine failure brought his race to an end during the 2010 visit here. Do you think he’ll win for the third time in a row, or do you think someone else will be victorious?

There are no support races this weekend, you’ll have to wait for Abu Dhabi to see the final rounds of GP2 and GP3. The weekend is live on the SkyF1 channel, with the BBC only able to show the highlights. You had better set those alarm clocks!

Timetable:

Friday -
F1 Practice 1 – 02.00am
F1 Practice 2 – 06.00am

Saturday -
F1 Practice 3 – 03.00am
F1 Qualifying – 06.00am

Sunday -
F1 Race – 07.00am

Rush film review

It seems like it was only a few weeks ago that ‘Rush’ had been announced, and after a much awaited release date, it’s finally arrived on our cinema screens! Several fans from the F1 community were eager to see the very first screening in their area, and the immediate response was excellent. It is a Formula 1 based story, but it’s certainly not just for petrol heads.

RUSH5

Ron Howard was the perfect man to take on a challenge like putting Hunt and Lauda’s breath-taking rivalry on to the big screen. It soon became very evident whilst watching the film, of how well it was put together. The pictures, the sound effects, the actors and the scenery were all very thrilling, and even the small extra bits of detail were faultless. Peter Morgan did a great job scripting the whole thing, and it doesn’t take long before you get deep into the film – the two hours seemed to fly by.

The overall piece was brilliant, and I couldn’t think of a better place to watch it than at the cinema. You get the full experience whilst you’re there, and the sound was just incomparable (unless you witnessed the real thing). I wouldn’t at all worry if you don’t know much about Lauda or Hunt, because the film is very clever in which it shows their real personalities without going too over the top.

The pictures were beautifully done and at some points it was as if Howard had used real footage. You are well and truly on the edge of your seat, even though you may know the outcome, and there’s no part in the film that makes you feel bored or uninterested. Even the parts that were off track were intriguing, and the footage of them racing was extremely adrenaline rushing.

RUSH1

I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect than Chris Hemsworth to play the role of James Hunt, and Daniel Bruhl got Niki Lauda down to a tee. The film puts emphasis on the drivers rather than the machinery, and because of that you really get to understand what it takes to be a world champion. It gave me chills when Lauda/Bruhl explained that Hunt was equally responsible for his comeback, likewise to when the commentator announced that Lauda had finished 4th in Italy. You really experience so many emotions during the movie.

I am however, quite a squeamish person, and I should point out that if you are like me (who is a bit rubbish with gore and blood) you will need to look away, as there are a few scenes that are very graphic. Niki Lauda’s hospital treatment scene was very hard to watch and the sound that went with it made me feel sick – brilliant acting on Bruhl’s behalf though! Francois Cervert’s crash was also very detailed, and not very pleasant, but those events are crucial to the 1976 season. Don’t let those scenes change your minds about viewing the film, because you’ll kick yourself if you don’t.

Rush keeps the suspense building until the last flag is waved at the Japanese Grand Prix and you really get to understand what the conditions were like back then. But the best thing about Rush, is at the end of it all, it shows real images and footage of both Hunt and Lauda. A real tear-jerking moment.

RUSH2

Have you seen Rush? What did you think?

Singapore Grand Prix analysis

The booing brought a sad end to the Singapore Grand Prix. Maybe the race wasn’t full of overtaking, and as much action as previous races, but Sebastian Vettel put on a stunning performance. If anyone says that man can’t drive, there’s a perfect example of what he’s truly capable of. A well deserved win for the German, with two credible drives from Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. The Mercedes duo gave us an exciting end to the race whilst they were making their way through the pack, whilst Felipe Massa came home in 6th. The McLaren’s were strong finishing in 7th and 8th, with Hulkenberg and Sutil rounding out the top 10.

singap9205707021

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P1 – WEB P4
Race – VET P1 – WEB P15
Sebastian Vettel is currently in a league of his own. His nearest contender finished more that 30 seconds behind him in the race, and even with the safety car period, he still managed to shoot off into the distance. There was a moment in qualifying when a few people could have stolen pole position from him, but they didn’t, and in my personal opinion, this has been one of the best drives of the season. Mark Webber had a mixed weekend, 4th place in qualifying was a good result being tipped by Rosberg and Grosjean, but during the middle of the race he was running in a strong 2nd place. Just like the two Mercedes, he fell victim to the safety car, and probably should have pitted as soon as it had came out – like Alonso and Raikkonen did. Webber’s engine failed when he started the final lap, which is very unfortunate, and because of the reprimand he received, has a 10 place grid penalty for Korea (3 reprimands = automatic grid penalty).

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P7 – MAS P6
Race – ALO P2 – MAS P6
Fernando really needs to sort out his qualifying, and next year Ferarri are going to be on the back foot for qualifying because neither of their drivers have been good over one lap. The only thing is, Fernando doesn’t need a good qualification to get himself some decent points, it’s just if he was higher up the order he may be able to be a lot closer to Vettel. In the past three races Vettel has won all three, but Fernando has finished in 2nd in all of those as well, so he’s not letting Vettel take the title that easily – though I do think this championship will be finished by Abu Dhabi. Felipe has said he’s racing for himself, but I still think that if needs be, he would give way for Fernando. 6th place in both qualifying and the race is a good result for the Brazillian, but can he keep it up? Ferrari haven’t won a race since Spain, will they even win another this season?

Lotus:
Qualifying – RAI P13 – GRO P3
Race – RAI P3 – GRO DNF Kimi’s ‘bad back’ was thought to be the reason why he didn’t get into Q3, but similar to Fernando, Kimi doesn’t need the best of qualifications to get a good race result. I was however very surprised that he finished in 3rd, I thought he may have been able to get the lower end of the points, but he proved me wrong! I was very disappointed for Romain, I thought he was doing really well up until he had to retire, and it’s a shame that his race had to end that way. He’s improved massively compared to last season, and I think he’s more than ready to lead the team next year, who is team-mate will be though is still unknown… Hulkenberg? Massa? Di Resta?

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P8 – PER P14
Race – BUT P7 – PER P8
You can tell improvements have been made, and you can tell the team are already looking at next year’s car and rightly so, I hope they can return to good form soon! Jenson was running in 3rd place for a while, and the twitter world was going a bit crazy, but at that point I think we all knew he wasn’t going to keep that place – though it would have been nice. 7th and 8th place aren’t where McLaren’s should be, but for this season, it’s a good result that will keep them ahead of Force India.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – ROS P2 – HAM P5
Race – ROS P4 – HAM P5
Lets be honest, no one was expecting Nico to qualify in 2nd, and no one expected him to be just a tenth off taking pole from Sebastian. Lewis however, is usually the better the qualifier, but Grosjean and Webber beat him, thus dropping him to 5th place. The safety car really hurt both the Mercedes’, they looked like they would have finished in 2nd and 3rd place, but strategy let them down which put Alonso and Raikkonen ahead of them. Rosberg and Hamilton did both pull of some stunning overtakes towards the closing stages off the race which proves that they do still have good pace. The battle for 2nd place in both championships are well and truly underway. I should point out that half of the cars that finished in the points were Mercedes engines, whereas two Renault engines had faults (Grosjean & Webber).

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P11 – GUT P10
Race – HUL P9 – GUT P12
Totally irrelevant, but I really think Hulkenberg could be the biggest person to lose out next season. I don’t think he’s going to get promoted, which leaves him without a seat. It could lead him into a test driver role, but we all know his abilities are capable of so much more which is a real shame. Putting himself in 9th place in the race was a great result, even when Esteban out qualified him for the first time this season. Esteban was running in the points until Webber, Rosberg and co caught him and others up to take the positions away, it was however his best race finish to date, so well done Esteban!

Force India:
Qualifying – DIR P17 – SUT P15
Race – DIR DNF – SUT P10
Awful qualifying yet again, but a super start from Di Resta put him in a strong points scoring position towards the end of the race. However, he did crash into the barriers which brought his Singapore GP to an end – had he not have crashed, he may have put himself back on the market for a top team drive. Sutil did well to scrape the last point, but like other teams, I imagine Force India are already looking at next season’s car. Let’s hope that they can find the pace that they had at the start of the season!

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P18 – BOT P16
Race – MAL P11 – BOT P13
Pastor was just 4 seconds off getting the last point, that may have been due to Di Resta and Webber’s late retirements, but it’s still a good positive to take from the weekend. Bottas again put in a good qualifying performance, and even though it was ages ago, I’m still gobsmacked that he qualified 3rd during the Canadian GP weekend. Will their driver line up stay the same next season, or stay the same? Only time will tell…

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P9 – VER P12
Race – RIC DNF – VER P14
Not the best of weekends for the team, a driver error brought an end to Ricciardo’s race, and Vergne was way off the pace needed to finish in the top 10. Ricciardo is clearly the better qualifier, but being responsible for the safety car wasn’t the best thing to do for his reputation. Vergne again was very under the radar, will he remain at Toro Rosso next year?

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC 19 – VDG P20
Race – PIC P19 – VDG P16
Giedo is continuing to impress me, he may have qualified behind his team-mate but he finished ahead of him in the race which is more important. With reports saying Heikki Kovalainen may be making a return, I’m unsure of who he would be replacing. Both drivers have had some good drives this season, but it’s Giedo that’s gotten in to Q2 twice..

Marussia:
Qualifying – CHI P22 – BIA P21
Race – CHI P17 – BIA P18
Bianchi made more stops than Chilton, and had some kind of problem, but nevertheless both finished ahead of Pic. They are also still ahead of Caterham in the Constructors championship, which is very promising! I wonder if they can keep it up..

singapo542857205

Next race – Korea (06.10.13)

Were Webber and Alonso’s reprimands unfair?

In a word, no. I would probably say unlucky rather than unfair. Until you see the on-board or the CCTV footage you will think the decision was stupid and unnecessary, and I too was one of the ones who jumped to conclusions after seeing the world feed. Originally, I thought that it was an act of sportsmanship and it was a great thing to see; Remember Senna and Mansell doing the same? In fact, in 2011 Webber had given Alonso a lift to the pits/podium at the German Grand Prix but that incident never became under fire from the stewards.

alonso-webber-passaggio5

This incident has been the big topic since the penalty was announced, and it’s not hard to see why. Mark Webber is probably one of the most unluckiest drivers this year, and it’s not the best way to end his last season in Formula 1. The reason Mark was given another reprimand is because he breached article 30.9b of the sporting regs because he “entered the track without the marshals permission between the commencement of the formation lap and the time when the last cars enters parc ferme”. Because this was his third reprimand of the season, this automatically meant that he would receive a 10 place grid penalty at the following race (Korea). His other reprimands were from Canada when he ignored yellow flags, and from Bahrain when he made contact with Nico Rosberg. His luck goes from bad to worse, but rules are rules – when a Pirelli tyre delamination broke Lewis Hamilton’s gear box he was forced to take a ‘harsh’ grid penalty at the Bahrain Grand Prix and look at the events since then; Silverstone for ex.

As for Alonso he “drove the car in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or to any other person.” In the CCTV footage you see both Mercedes’ having to swerve out of the way of Alonso who seemed to be near, if not on, the racing line. In the on-board footage from Alonso’s last lap you see Kimi Raikkonen having to take an evasive manoeuvre to avoid clipping the side of his future team-mate. It’s Alonso’s first reprimand of the season, so unlike Webber he doesn’t have to have a consequential grid penalty for the Korean GP. If I was Fernando I would be feeling extremely happy to get away with such a lenient penalty – stopping in such a dangerous place could have caused a horrific accident.

In this mornings GP2 sprint race, Fabio Leimer slammed into the side Alex Rossi after Alex turned in to go into the back gate to the paddock. Fabio along with Sam Bird and Marcus Ericsson were heading to the pits/podium, and the turning Caterham caught the Racing Engineering driver off guard. What would have happened if Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen or any other driver on track had been caught off guard going towards Alonso and Webber? It’s unimaginable, and I think the GP2 race incident had a big effect on the decision to give the reprimands. Don’t think Mark was handed a grid penalty, because he wasn’t, it’s just it’s the rules that 3 reprimands lead to a grid penalty and unfortunately for him that happened today.

On board footage – http://t.co/Rxf9XPGTbS
CCTV footage – http://www.blick.ch/sport/formel1/der-wahnsinn-von-singapur-im-video-id2450773.html

Webber penalty
(onboard with Lewis Hamilton on the last lap)

Thoughts?

Singapore Grand Prix – Preview

track

Finally we have reached one of my favourite circuits on the calendar – Marina Bay, Singapore. Why you might ask? Because of the sweeping corners through the heart of the city during the evening, is why! There’s nothing better than seeing those floodlights hit the cars as they make their way around the circuit – perfection (if you ignore the humidity).

Marina Bay is a street circuit, much like Monaco, though the latter will always be the more favoured; what with the history and the glamour etc. But Singapore is arguably one of the most challenging destinations to fly to – drivers and personnel live on European time which means they sleep during the day and work throughout the night, all whilst battling jet lag and the humidity.

Singapore is the first race to take place in Asia, and this is where championship leader Sebastian Vettel tends to excel. There has however been a change to the track, the well debated ‘Singapore Sling’ (turn 10) has been removed, and a long corner has been put in it’s place (see picture below). Could we have a new wall of champions?

BUJDIeaIEAADQbS

The first race held in Singapore was a very controversial one. Fernando Alonso won with Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton joining him on the podium. It emerged the following year that Renault had instructed his then team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr, to purposely crash his car so Fernando could win. Fernando later won in 2010, with Hamilton winning in 2009, and the ever impressing Sebastian Vettel won in 2011 and 2012.

Marina Bay has 23 corners, and unlike most, runs in an anti-clockwise direction. There are 2 DRS zones, the first is located just after turn 5, and the second (as usual) is during the main straight. Pirelli have chosen the Super-soft and the medium tyres to bring here, with an expected 2/3 pit stop strategy. Not only is this track hard on rear tyres, but it’s hard on the brakes too. There are very little straights, which means there’s not a lot of time for cooling which puts even more strain on the tyres!

A safety car has been featured at least once in every race that’s been held here, and with storms on the radar anything could happen. Kimi Raikkonen holds the lap record with a 1:45:599 (2008) which suggests he could be very strong here, likewise Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel.

See what the drivers have to say about this weekend here – http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2013/9/14977.html

Friday:
GP2 Practice – 09.45am
F1 Practice 1 – 11.00am
GP2 Qualifying – 13.00pm
F1 Practice 2 – 14.30pm

Saturday:
GP2 Race 1 – 09.05am
F1 Practice 3 – 11.00am
F1 Qualifying – 14.00pm

Sunday:
GP2 Race 2 – 09.10am
F1 Race – 13.00pm

Italian Grand Prix analysis

Last weekend possibly marked the end of the championship, with the main focus now on who finishes 2nd etc. News has recently broke out that next year Kimi Raikkonen is to return to Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso under a two year contract. Felipe Massa announced that he was to no longer drive for Ferrari in an emotional instagram post yesterday night (10/09/13), but whether he’s finished with F1 is unclear. It’s very possible that Felipe could return to Sauber, Williams, or even join Lotus with the financial backing that he has; he could potentially save one of the teams.

ita7425952

Red Bull:
Qualifying – VET P1 – WEB P2
Race – VET P1 – WEB P3
The team showed a very strong performance in Monza despite straight line speed previously being their weakness, and the worrying thing is, if they won at all of their least successful tracks, how are they going to perform in the Asian races where they excel? A 1, 2 qualifying was the perfect start to the weekend, and with both drivers appearing on the podium, it enabled the team to extend their lead in both the drivers and the constructors championships. I fear that both championships could be well and truly over, but who knows?!

Ferrari:
Qualifying – ALO P5 – MAS P4
Race – ALO P2 – MAS P4
So qualifying didn’t go for them as expected, and the tow technique failed miserably, but Alonso has previously shown that he doesn’t need a good grid start to get good points – he proved that last weekend. You do have to wonder however, if he started on the front row, could he have won? Massa has had an underwhelming season, and unfortunately it’s probably what has cost him his drive for next season, but finishing 4th is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, by finishing 2nd and 4th it’s placed Ferrari back ahead of Mercedes in the constructors championship!

Lotus:
Qualifying – RAI P11 – GRO P13
Race – RAI P11 – GRO P8
Another disappointing weekend for Lotus as they yet again scrape the bottom points. Qualifying really let them down, and contact between Kimi and Sergio Perez cost the Fin dearly; who failed to score any points. Grosjean however managed to finish in 8th place despite Paul Di Resta colliding into the back of his Lotus in the opening few laps. I imagine this is a weekend to forget for Lotus, but nonetheless, onwards and upwards!

McLaren:
Qualifying – BUT P9 – PER P8
Race – BUT P10 – PER P12
Qualifying wasn’t actually so bad considering both drivers had gotten into Q3, where some of the big names had dropped out, but it’s the race that put a downer on their weekend. It was known that Hamilton and Raikkonen would both climb through the order putting their positions in jeopardy, but 10th and 12th is really satisfactory.

Mercedes:
Qualifying – ROS P6 – HAM P12
Race – ROS P6 – HAM P9
Hamilton seemed pessimistic after qualifying considering he got held up by Adrian Sutil, but Hamilton stole the show for me. The way he fought back through the order, making overtakes here and there proves that he is a top quality driver. Rosberg’s qualifying wasn’t the worst he’s done, so he gave Mercedes some hope that there’s still life left in their car, but Nico should have gotten past Hulkenberg in the race. Because of all of that they lost 2nd place in the constructors title. Ferrari’s line-up next year is very strong and like Mercedes, both will have a slight head start with the new regulations next year. It could see a very good battle for the upcoming seasons.

Force India:
Qualifying – DIR P15 – SUT P17
Race – DIR DNF – SUT P16
It’s all gone downhill for the team. Originally, Sutil qualified in 14th but a grid drop after impeding Hamilton put him down the order. It also looked like Di Resta was the favourite to take a top team drive in the early stages of the season after a near podium finish in Bahrain, but neither drivers have impressed since the tyre change. As a result of this, McLaren have overtaken them in the constructors championship, which has left Force India in a difficult position. The car isn’t the best it’s been all year, and their drivers are getting more and more frustrated with it’s performances.

Sauber:
Qualifying – HUL P3 – GUT P17
Race – HUL P5 – GUT P13
Wow, what a shock. How Hulkenberg managed to drag that dog of a Sauber into 3rd place on the grid, and 5th place in the race is beyond me. It just proves that Nico is more than worthy of a better car, and I would really love to see him in Lotus next year. Gutierrez again is proving satisfactory, but if he and Sirotkin are the teams drivers next year, I’d be worrying. Both are very inexperienced and to be honest, Felipe Massa would be better suited to lead the team.

Williams:
Qualifying – MAL P15 – BOT P18
Race – MAL P14 – BOT P15
It’s quite hard to see a team like Williams struggling this much, and with rumours speculating that Maldonado could be moving next year who will fill his vacated seat? Bottas hasn’t been able to show his real abilities this season, and Maldonado has probably been the better driver of the two (wouldn’t have thought I’d ever say that). I really hope they can pick up the pieces, and produce a better car in the years to come.

Toro Rosso:
Qualifying – RIC P7 – VER P10
Race – RIC P7 – VER DNF
Toro Rosso, particularly Daniel Ricciardo seem to be frequent names in Q3 and the top 10 in the race, and it just proves that Red Bull may have made the right decision. I can’t wait to see Ricciardo there next year to see how he compares to Sebastian Vettel, and they could well be a very strong team. Vergne has arguably been the most unluckiest driver this season, he wasn’t picked up by Red Bull and has been overshadowed by Ricciardo, and his 5th place in Monaco is rarely mentioned. Will he be in Toro Rosso next year?

Caterham:
Qualifying – PIC P20 – VDG P19
Race – PIC P17 – VDG P18
Van der Garde has become a popular man recently, and it’s no wonder why, he’s a happy chap and has put in some good performances (getting into Q2 twice!). Pic is usually the better man in the race, and it’s clear that Caterham now have the upper hand on Marussia in the battle of the back markers, but they are yet to move ahead of them in the constructors championship, though for how long?

Marussia:
Qualifying – CHI P22 – BIA P21
Race – CHI 20 – BIA P19
Marussia are now on the back foot with Caterham beating them in both qualifying and the race, they need to make some key improvements to keep that all important 10th place in the constructors. For the drivers though, Bianchi still leads the back markers ahead of Pic and VDG, but Chilton is still trailing them all.

F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Race

McLaren: A great success story

Sometimes you don’t realise how fascinating something is, until you look a little bit deeper. McLaren are a team who have evolved from a small team in Surrey, to one of the most familiar names in Formula 1 – past and present. Though they may not be the oldest team on the current grid, McLaren do offer a lot of faith and passion.

You don’t just get wins, you earn and fight for them, and even though McLaren are very much on an uphill battle now, I have no hesitations when I say they will be back on top soon.

Bruce McLaren was not only a racer himself, but he was a keen analyst and engineer too. At just 16 years old he begun to modify his Formula 2 Cooper-Climax car to the stage of finishing as a runner up in the 1957 New Zealand championship. The next year he made his debut in Formula 1 with his modified Cooper-Climax and finished 5th out of 26 other drivers. It was in 1959 where he won his first Grand Prix, setting the record for the youngest person to do so at 22 years and 80 days (which was later beaten by Sebastian Vettel). In fact in the following year he also managed to finish 2nd in the championship behind his team-mate Jack Brabham.

MCL1

At the end of 1965 Bruce left Cooper and announced he was forming his own racing team. In 1968 Denny Hulme (who had won the championship the previous year) joined Bruce McLaren Motor Racing along with Ford, and the duo won 3 races that season putting McLaren 2nd in the Constructor’s Championship.

At this point, McLaren were proving themselves as a massive force to be reckoned with in the Can-Am series. They won 5 of the 6 races in 1967, 4 of the 6 races in 1968 and all 11 races in 1969. Prior to the Can-Am series, Bruce and Chris Amon had also won the 24 Hour race at Le Mans.

MCL

Sadly, Bruce passed away during an accident testing his new M8D at Goodwood. What the Kiwi doesn’t know, is how successful his original team have become. What was just a small group of people, has developed into a very glamorous, and desiring team.

Keke Rosberg, Juan-Pablo Montoya, Kimi Raikkonen, David Coulthard, John Surtees, Gilles Villeneuve and Mario Andretti are all amongst the long list of names who have driven for the infamous team, and that’s not to mention the 7 champions they have produced; Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton.

The rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, the amount of recognisable cars and drivers, the tradition to wear rocket red t-shirts after each victory, it all falls under the many reasons why they will always be a respectable and heart warming team.

Record:
Races Started – 734
Wins – 182
Pole Positions – 155
Podium Finishes – 483
Fastest Laps – 152
Drivers Championships – 12
Constructors Championships – 8

No matter who you support, you cannot help but respect how far this team have come. I may only be 18, but that doesn’t stop me from being able to appreciate the history that the team have produced. You see teams come and go but McLaren have always stood firm and produced strong competitive cars – Happy 50th anniversary!

MCL2

Italian Grand Prix – Preview

trackshot

The Autodrome di Monza is not only the fastest circuit on this years calendar, but it’s also the oldest, having hosted a Grand Prix from the very first season in 1950. Monza is a classic, high speed track and despite Ferrari historically doing well here, winning on 19 occasions, will Fernando Alonso be able to challenge the Red Bull?

With the tracks characteristics, car set-ups will be very low drag and low downforce. We know that Red Bull have never been the quickest car in a straight line, but that didn’t stop the triple world champion from dominant wins in Canada and Belgium. As for Mercedes, who are arguably another team that can challenge for victories, they are expected to perform more or less the same as they did in Spa. However they could play with strategy, and replicate Sergio Perez’s performance last year when he went from 12th to 2nd. Lotus who are usually light on their tyres could also pull of the one stop strategy.

Here in 2006 Michael Schumacher announced the first of his retirements, but he still holds the multiple wins record here after winning 5 times. His old team-mate Rubens Barrichello also ran well at Monza winning on 3 separate occasions, as well as attaining the lap record in 2004 after setting a 1:21:046 . There are only 3 drivers on the current grid that have won the Italian Grand Prix, and it’s no surprise that they are Fernando Alonso (2 times), Sebastian Vettel (2 times) and Lewis Hamilton (once). In fact, it was here that Vettel started to make a name for himself after famously winning here in 2008 with Toro Rosso.

Daniel Ricciardo is going into this weekend as the next Red Bull Racing driver for 2014, however will the pressure be too much for the Australian?

Monza is not a track that is typically hard on the tyres and one stop strategies are statistically quicker than the two stop. Monza’s biggest difficulty however, is tyre temperatures. Wheel rotation speeds are extremely high, and combined with high track temperatures this could cause a lot of overheating issues. The weather however (though does anyone trust forecasts?) says this weekend could be very similar to Spa, with dry running on Friday and Sunday, but wet running throughout Saturday including Qualifying. Because of this, we could see some big names fail to get into Q3. I also wonder if we’re going to see some drivers opt to not set a time in Q3 so they can start on the hard tyre.

The track is 3.59 miles long with a race distance of over 190 miles (or 53 laps). There’s a total of 11 corners, with drivers at 74% full throttle throughout a lap. In 2012 the FIA announced that Monza was to have two DRS zones, one located at turn 11 (Curva del Serraglio) and the other at the start finish straight (Rettifilo Tribune).

GP2 and GP3 are also racing here this weekend, as well as the Porsche Supercup. The Formula 1 weekend is live on both the SkyF1 channel as well as the BBC, so you have a choice on whose coverage you would rather watch!

Friday:
F1 Practice 1 – 09.00am
GP2 Practice – 11.00am
F1 Practice 2 – 13.00pm
GP2 Qualifying – 14.55pm
GP3 Practice – 16.50pm

Saturday:
GP3 Qualifying – 08.45am
F1 Practice 3 – 10.00am
F1 Qualifying – 13.00pm
GP2 Feature Race – 14.40pm
GP3 Race 1 – 16.20pm

Sunday:
GP3 Race 2 – 08.25am
GP3 Sprint Race – 09.35am
F1 Race – 13.00pm

Going into the weekend, do you have any pre-race predictions? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter or Facebook!

Have Ferrari put themselves in a difficult position?

Ferrari-new-SF-logo-01

When you think of the long term, why would a team like Ferrari want to keep their driver line-up as it is when they haven’t won a championship since 2007? It’s all well saying they’ve finished second and third and what not, but for a team like Ferrari that’s almost not good enough. At the moment, they are racing for the sake of it, not to win championships, and in a way they are becoming the F1 equivalent to Arsenal FC. All talk but no trophies.

So lets say for now, Ferrari do retain Felipe, which is a likely result because Stefano Domenicali insists that he is the favourite choice. Where would that leave the likes of Hulkenberg, Bianchi, Di Resta and Raikkonen?

Bianchi would probably stay with Marussia for perhaps another year, Raikkonen would stay at Lotus (providing Ricciardo does go to Red Bull) but what about Hulkenberg and Di Resta? Both have been linked with Ferrari and Lotus but if those seats aren’t up for grabs where will they go? Di Resta could stay with Force India but Hulkenberg isn’t likely to stay at Sauber, so could that see his F1 dream over?

Now lets say, Felipe and Ferrari part ways.

As previously mentioned, Di Resta, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen and Bianchi all have something extra give. But do Ferrari want a strong team-mate duo like the Mercedes team, or do they want someone to act as a support driver? If so, I would have thought that would rule Raikkonen out. The possibility of having Raikkonen and Alonso as team-mates could lead to great things, but it’d only work if the status was even, much like Rosberg and Hamilton at Mercedes. However, if Lotus start to improve, or at least show signs of improvement, Raikkonen will have no reasons to leave apart from a substantial pay cheque.

Nico Hulkenberg is probably the best option, in my opinion, to take over that seat. He has a talent that’s going to waste, and his choice of cars hasn’t been rewarding. Arguably, he would have been better off at Force India this season, but I have a feeling the move to Sauber was his route to Ferrari. Last year, both Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi were linked with the team who both ultimately went on to do different things, but realistically, Hulkenberg is the perfect man to sit alongside Alonso. My only worry though, is like Raikkonen, he would be best driving with split status, because after all what if Hulkenberg starts to out perform Alonso?

If what they really want is a support driver, cue Paul Di Resta. He is a consistent performer and is certainly deserving of a more competitive seat. In fact, after talking with several Ferrari fans (perhaps Alonso fans), they would prefer to have Di Resta as apposed to any of the other drivers previously mentioned because of his consistent abilities. Alonso and Di Resta would then be a very strong team, and could challenge the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes for the constructors title.

Bianchi is just in his rookie season, you have to remember that. A push to get him in a middle field team would be very beneficial to whoever signs the Frenchman, but I think his move to Ferrari will come as soon as Fernando hangs up his gloves. Staying at Marussia for another year would give Jules more experience, and then his move to Sauber or elsewhere could be within reach.

Ferrari haven’t got the best development scheme either. Davide Rigon tested for the team at the young drivers test at Silverstone, and has previously raced in many a series since 2003, but he’s failed to get the attention he needs to be promoted to that all important seat. If he were to get the call however, he would be the first Italian race driver since 2009 when Giancarlo Fisichella drove for both Force India and the Scuderia.

What Ferrari do have though, is a young rising star in the shape of Raffaele Marciello, who is currently dominating the European Formula 3 championships. It’s early days for the Italian, but could he be the next Fernando Alonso?

Belgium Grand Prix analysis

With a lot of people praying for rain, it’s fair to say there were a lot of disappointed fans. However, there was a lot of track action behind Vettel with several drivers switching positions throughout the race. Both McLaren’s seemed to be in the midst of things, but it was the Force India of Paul Di Resta who had the most bad luck after being taken out by Pastor Maldonado. Congratulations Vettel for the win, you may have possibly won the championship with that one, and well done to Alonso and Hamilton for appearing on the podium (which was one of the best podiums this year).

belgium8668978t

Red Bull -
Qualifying – VET P2 – WEB P3
Race – VET P1 – WEB P4
Probably Red Bull’s strongest qualifying performances this season, (arguably) due to track conditions Hamilton was able to get his 31st pole position denying Red Bull of a front row lock out. It was crucial for Vettel to get past Hamilton on the first lap, but he nearly lost a place to Jenson Button at turn 1. However, on the run up to Les Combes Vettel was able to pass the Mercedes. After that he charged off into the distance without any problems from any other challenger. Webber had a bad start due to problems with his clutch, but was able to crawl back up the order to 5th finish. The only problem Red Bull have, realistically, is Mercedes. They have possibly the strongest team-mates on the grid and if they continue to perform at this standard Red Bull may not be able keep the constructors. Because of this, Webber needs to make sure he finishes ahead of Rosberg in the upcoming races, unfortunately he couldn’t manage that during Spa.

Ferrari -
Qualifying – ALO P9 – MAS P10
Race – ALO P2 – MAS P7
A poor qualifying performance really cost Fernando from challenging for the win. He is definitely not out of the title hunt just yet, but their qualifying must improve. Currently Mercedes and Red Bull are dominating qualifying, particularly Vettel and Hamilton who just happen to be his other rivals. I was pleasantly surprised with Felipe’s performance, maybe he should have finished ahead of Button, but with a KERS failure there wasn’t a lot more that the Brazilian could do. I fear for his seat next season though, I think this may have been his last F1 race at Spa.

Lotus -
Qualifying – RAI P8 – GRO P7
Race – RAI DNF – GRO P8
I imagine this is a weekend to forget for Lotus. We knew that Lotus weren’t the best performers in changing track conditions like what was seen on Saturday during qualifying, but race pace wasn’t much of an improvement either. Considering they looked like they had strong form during Friday practice, it was a bit difficult to understand what had happened. Raikkonen’s retirement may have just seen his title hopes out of the window (excuse the metaphor), but at least Grosjean was able to pull of a one stop strategy scraping a few points at the end.

McLaren -
Qualifying – BUT P6 – PER P13
Race – BUT P6 – PER P11
Weather prevented Jenson from moving up the order and challenging for a podium, but 6th place in both qualifying and the race is a steady performance. Could it be a sign of improvement? It could well be. As we enter the Asian stages of the calendar, that’s when we’ll see the real progress. Perez looked set to take the final point, but towards the closing laps a charging Ricciardo came up from behind and stole it from him. Ideally, he (Perez) should of tried to stay in front.

Mercedes -
Qualifying – ROS P4 – HAM P1
Race – ROS P4 – HAM P3
I was surprised when Rosberg said he was disappointed with his qualifying result, I mean 4th isn’t bad is it? Maybe it’s because he was a further second behind his team-mate. Several people thought Mercedes were ‘sandbagging’ when they weren’t showing their full pace throughout the practice sessions, but it’s hard to tell when Spa is a compromising circuit. They were clearly running a more high speed set-up than more downforce and that’s what cost them from finishing higher. I did think at one point we could have had both Mercedes standing on the podium until Fernando came charging past, but 3rd and 4th is a strong result, and it’s especially key for the Constructors championship. Lewis’ main challenge aside from trying to win races, is to finish ahead of Sebastian for both the drivers and the constructors championships, Nico’s challenge is to stay ahead of Webber. Do you think they can win the constructors?

Sauber -
Qualifying – HUL P11 – GUT P21
Race – HUL P13 – GUT P14
I thought Hulkenberg might have gotten into Q3 with his past performances in those types of conditions, but clearly the Sauber just wasn’t cut out for it. Gutierrez had a terrible qualifying, but that was probably due to Marussia and Caterham trying out the slick tyres to put 3 of them into Q2! However the race result was not impressive, and I’m almost certain that they won’t be able to retain Hulkenberg for the 2014 season.

Force India -
Qualifying – DIR P5 – SUT P12
Race – DIR DNF – SUT P9
I did get a little excited when Di Resta made the call to go on intermediates. I then got even more excited when he had provisional pole. Unfortunately for him, the weather eased up by the end of the session and the Red Bull’s and Mercedes had the best track conditions which dropped him down to 5th. Some would say that was unfortunate, but it’s not bad considering he equalled his best qualifying result. Sutil got caught out in the weather too, but made up for it in the race. For a circuit that Force India have previously done well at, I did expect a little bit more from them. The new spec tyres have really affected their overall performance, and to top it all off Di Resta got taken out by Maldonado in the race.

Williams -
Qualifying – MAL P17 – BOT P20
Race – MAL P17 – BOT P15
Williams are another team that got caught out by the qualifying weather conditions. I would have liked to have seen them take the risk with the slick tyres just like Marussia and Caterham, because what have they got to lose now? Maldonado disappointed me in the race, his special awareness and common sense can sometimes be really small and that’s what caused him to receive the stop and go penalty. Bottas was quite scarce through the race though, but it’s the Williams pace that is preventing us from seeing what the rookie can really do.

Toro Rosso -
Qualifying – JEV P18 – RIC P19
Race – JEV P12 – RIC P9
Toro Rosso could have gambled with the tyres in Q1 as well, and it’s usually Ricciardo that outperforms JEV in terms of qualifying, but the weather really mixed up the whole grid with a lot of people out of position. Ricciardo is really trying to prove himself worthy for that Red Bull seat, and I think by moving himself into the points was a good way to do just that. JEV had a great Friday session, it’s just a shame he couldn’t manage to get in the points, it’s also a shame that he’s not even been considered for Webber’s seat.

Caterham -

Qualifying – PIC P22 – VDG P14
I think Pic made the decision to not go out on the slick tyres which is what really cost him, Giedo however had a really good result qualifying in 14th (he even beat the two Marussia’s in Q2)! An oil leak brought Pic’s race to an end, but 16th is a really strong position for Giedo. Caterham are still behind Marussia in the Constructors, and they really need to change that if they want that all important funding.

Marussia -
Qualifying – CHI P16 – BIA P15
Race – CHI P19 – BIA P18
A good call gave Marussia a really strong qualifying performance, but as expected they dropped down the order relatively quickly. The plus side is that they’re still ahead of their rivals (Caterham) in the constructors championship with Bianchi still leading the back markers in the drivers championship.

sebastian-vettel1_2652958b

Belgium Grand Prix – Preview

I thought I’d write this a little bit differently, just to see whether it’s worth changing the style or not (a trial run kind of).

Spa track

Spa-Francochamps is a classic track that most fans, drivers and teams love. Filled with history and the memorable Eau Rouge corner, it’s not hard to see why.

The track is made up of 19 corners, but because the first and third sectors are made up of mostly straights it doesn’t require high down force which may play into the hands of Mercedes. The drivers will circulate the circuit 44 times which is equivalent to just over 191 miles (with a lap lasting 4.32 miles).

With drivers at 80% throttle through the whole lap, tyre management could be vital. We will see a fair few differing strategies, but with several overtaking places we’re in for a treat. Lucky for non sky viewers, the whole weekend IS live on the BBC, so if you prefer DC, Eddie, Suzi et al head on over there!

It was probably the most dramatic race of last season, what with the horrific first corner accident involving Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and both of the Sauber’s . Because of that, this race is key for Romain; I would really like to see him perform well at the track that he caused most concern. Jenson Button was the man who won the race, with Vettel and Raikkonen joining him on the podium. Vettel in fact, holds the lap record here, setting a 1:47:263 in 2009.

Pirelli are taking the hard and medium compound tyres, but with the track being located deep into the Ardennes Forest the possibility of needing the intermediate or even wet tyres during the weekend may be quite high. Weather is so unpredictable here, so trusting the forecasts aren’t advised.

Force India tend to run well here, but like Ferrari after the tyre change seem to be struggling to find that extra pace. Despite that, Ferrari prove most competitive winning 16 times here, ahead of McLaren who have won 14 times. Kimi Raikkonen is the most successful current driver, winning 4 times – Michael Schumacher holds the overall record winning 6 times, followed by Ayrton Senna (5) and Jim Clark (4). Mercedes haven’t won at the Belgium Grand Prix since 1955 and Lotus haven’t won since 1985, can either of those be about to change?

For you GP2 and GP3 fans, both series are also competing here. Check what times below.

Friday:
F1 Practice 1 – 09.00am
GP2 Practice – 11.00am
F1 Practice 2 – 13.00pm
GP2 Qualifying – 14.55pm
GP3 Practice – 16.50pm

Saturday:
GP3 Qualifying – 08.45am
F1 Practice 3 – 10.00am
F1 Qualifying – 13.00pm
GP2 Feature Race – 14.55pm
GP3 Race 1 – 16.20pm

Sunday:
GP3 Race 2 – 08.25am
GP2 Sprint race – 09.35am
F1 race – 13.00pm

Going into the weekend, do you have any pre-race predictions? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter or Facebook!

The sporting rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt

As most of you are well aware, the Ron Howard movie ‘Rush’ is due on our cinema screens in a matter of weeks. From the trailers it looks very much like it’s telling a story, rather than a documentary film like ‘Senna’ was, so I’m really hoping they don’t go too over the top in trying to portray both Hunt and Lauda. However, because it’s not documentary based, it could appeal to a much bigger audience, as well as educate fans in a different way to ‘Senna’. The film looks like it revolves around the rivalry rather than one specific driver, and because of that it could be a very successful and dramatic film! My review for Rush is here.

I often label James Hunt as the coolest driver to ever grace the world of Formula 1. Sometimes I read people debating that Kimi Raikkonen could take over that role, but for me no one will ever come close to James. He had the glamorous lifestyle, often seen with a cigarette in one hand and a woman under his arm, which gave him the playboy image. He was also quite a humorous chap, blurting out one liners like the famous one he said to Niki Lauda shortly after his near fatal crash “you’re the only man I know who could be in a fire and come out better-looking”.

Niki was the total opposite of James. When you debate ‘pay’ or ‘paid’ drivers, does Niki ever spring to mind? Because despite what you may think, Niki was one of those drivers who paid his way to Formula 1 taking out bank loan after bank loan. It was only when he got his drive at Ferrari, that the debt was paid off and his results started to improve. It was Lauda’s own inexperience that cost ‘The Rat’ his first title during the 1974 season, but he later won the crown in style the following year.

HUNT&LAUDA2
In 1976 Lauda was on course to win back-to-back world championships, leading Hunt from 31 points going into the 10th round at the Nurburgring (Germany). Prior to the race, Lauda had tried to persuade the other drivers to boycott the race due to treacherous weather and safety conditions, but he was ruled out and the race went on. James was on pole, with Niki lining up next to him in 2nd place; it was all to play for. At the start Lauda’s team-mate Clay Regazzoni took the lead, though spun towards the closing stages of the lap dropping down to 4th, and because the weather started to clear up a number of drivers went to the pits to change tyres – Lauda was one of them.

Just before the Bergwerk right hand corner, Lauda’s car spun into the barriers and bounced back on to the track in flames. Guy Edwards narrowly missed hitting the wreck but two other drivers weren’t so lucky. All drivers involved except Niki were able to escape their cars, but Niki was left trapped in his burning Ferrari. Several drivers had stopped to help get Lauda out of his car, but because the Nurburgring was so long it took a while before ambulances could get to the scene. Niki suffered from serious burns to his body, and was left fighting for his life in hospital. Whereas Hunt [once the race had restarted], went on to win the round, as well as shorten the gap to Lauda in the championship.

HUNT&LAUDA1

Astonishingly, Lauda returned 6 weeks later, just in time for the Italian Grand Prix, and was determined to not let James [who had got the gap down to 17 points in his absense] take the title. James then went on to win both the Canadian and the USA Grand Prix’s and the last race of the season at Fuji (Japan) was to be the title decider.

Much like the Nurburgring, Fuji had some troubling weather conditions on race day and a big debate was taking place as to whether the race should be started. But because it was the title decider, organisers gave the nod and the race went ahead – much to Lauda’s discomfort. James took the lead when the lights went out, though after just three laps Lauda withdrew from the race due to the conditions and famously went on to say “my life is worth more than a title”. Larry Perkins, Carlos Pace and Emerson Fittipaldi later made the same judgement, but Hunt however, stayed out in the hope that the weather would clear. Because of Lauda’s retirement, all James had to do was finish third to win the championship.

The suspense was building, can he do it? or Has Lauda done enough? Patrick Depaillier suffered from a puncture, and Hunt too also had the same problems. Both drivers had to pit for a new set but Hunt who had been running in a championship winning place, had dropped down to 5th. Mario Andretti had a superb drive lapping all the drivers in the field, but now all eyes were on James as he begun to chase down Regazzoni and Alan Jones. On lap 71 Depaillier overtook both drivers moving him up to 2nd, and on the following lap, much to his surprise, so did James; thus winning the title after finishing in 3rd place.

HUNT&LAUDA5

Lauda’s recovery from the German Grand Prix was unimaginable. He had to have modifications to his helmet so it wouldn’t irritate the burns, and his balaclava was often blood stained .Yet the man still got on with his job. He was still racing even though he technically couldn’t afford it, and even though his family didn’t approve of it. James Hunt went on to do some commentating for the BBC alongside the legendary Murray Walker, who often recalls James turning up for work hung-over and shoeless.
What you see is what you get with James, he’s effortlessly cool and never tries to be that way.

I’ll always have infinite amounts of respect for these sorts of drivers, who raced when there was endless danger surrounding them, with a high possibility that a driver or drivers could pass away at any given moment. But the funny thing is, that’s what glued the fans to the action, and it’s what powered the adrenaline for the drivers racing.

Sadly, James passed away in 1993 but hopefully ‘Rush‘ will bring back a few memories of him for you older fans, and maybe it will help younger fans see him for who he really was. I hope you all enjoy ‘Rush’ when or if you go to see it, I know I’m excited for it already! R.I.P James Hunt..

RUSH
(‘Rush’ movie poster: Film is out September 13th)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,641 other followers