Monaco ePrix experience

The last time I went abroad was three years ago with my friend, Laura, when we went to Ibiza. However a couple of months ago, I had an email from my friend and colleague Chris suggesting a trip to Monaco in aid of his charity, “Zoom”. Most of you reading this may only recognise the name because of its association with Formula 1, but this year Chris and Caroline decided to move the idea forward and have a similar event for the brand new series, Formula E.

Zoom allows drivers, key personnel and personalities to take photographs of absolutely anything to then auction off in a bid to support its participating charities. Zoom raised thousands of pounds for Great Ormond Street Hospital back in January for its F1 event, and hopes to do the same for the Prince Albert Foundation and One Drop. Though instead of auctioning off the signed images individually, the Formula E snaps will be put in a collage and sold as one big image instead. Be sure to check out @ZoomAuction on Twitter for a glance at some of the photos including Nelson Piquet Jr’s underwater selfie!

Obviously, I forgot to replace my cameras SD card so I was without a camera on the Wednesday. Nonetheless I took lots of photos that I thought I would share. It’s almost like the Monaco you don’t see on the TV with cars racing around its streets.

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Did you watch the Monaco ePrix? What did you think?

The blog, the future and the mental illness.

For Beth, Katie & Caitlin.

I wasn’t sure whether to post this sort of blog, but it would seem that sometimes you just need to be honest with yourself before others can start to believe in you. I never wanted this to happen, I never asked for it, and I certainly don’t think I’ve ever done something to deserve it; but three years ago I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder. An illness I’d actually never heard of and couldn’t understand.

Before I knew what was happening I was having up to seven panic attacks a day. Mix that with a bit of asthma and it became unbearable. I felt like I was trapped. I couldn’t go to college, I would convince myself that I was actually stupidly ill with the flu or something until my mum or dad told me to have the day off. There were times that I was fine until I got out of my dad’s car and ended up running back to him and telling him to quickly drive away.

I ended up quitting college. My attendance was poor anyway – I think the highest it had been for the two years I’d been was about 88% and that was only because it was the first week. I quit because the course bored me. I was studying health and social care in the hopes of becoming a social worker so I could help others in similar situations to me (something I won’t go into). But I realised that if I couldn’t help myself, there was no way I could convince others to take my advice. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t have been able to manage.

I was at home for a year. Unable to leave the house, unable to leave my room, I may as well have been in a prison. I can’t imagine what my parents went through. I was unresponsive – locked inside my own head. The only way to get out was to stand on all of my worries and insecurities, pretending like they weren’t there, to only fall off and be right back where I started. It was a never-ending cycle that I couldn’t complete any longer.

My GP offered counselling and therapy. Both of which I tried and hated. I don’t particularly like talking about my problems. I felt like I was reminding myself of everything I wanted to forget. It was simply pointless. At that point I was my own therapist – if that’s even possible. I knew the only person who could help me, was myself. I was the one that knew when I was having a panic attack and how I could stop them or at least tone them down. I was the one who knew when I was feeling anxious.

Just when I thought I was getting on top of everything, it all went pear shaped. A ‘friend’ of mine told my best friend that it seemed like I was lying. That I’d missed another friends 18th birthday because I couldn’t be arsed to go. That hurt. The trust I had in anyone fell through and I couldn’t talk to anyone about general feelings let alone the anxiety, so I shut myself away – again.

The panic attacks came back, ten times worse this time and another half year had gone by. I was bored. I was bored of being home with nothing to do apart from paint my nails and brush my hair. So I did the only thing I could, and the only thing that I wanted to. I blogged about F1.

It seemed stupid at the time. “No one would read this”, “This is pointless” I would tell myself. Yet I carried on because it was keeping me occupied. My mind was focused on something other than negative thoughts. Soon after I dragged GP2 and GP3 into it and became pretty much obsessed with writing. I wanted to do it every day. I then got offers from websites asking to write for them freelance, so of course I said yes. It was almost a job.

Then I got my big break. I saw a careers advisor because my grades from high school were shocking. To give you a rough idea I only passed about 5 GCSE’s and failed science so badly that I only just scraped an overall E grade. The careers advisor forwarded me to a friend of his who was a sports journalist and worked at Staffs Uni. I emailed him, telling him everything and then went to meet him.

I was offered a position to do the Sports Journalism degree on the spot.

I ended up deferring a year because I simply wasn’t over the worst of my anxiety. The thought of being in lecture halls with hundreds of people freaked me out and I just couldn’t go.

The next year, or should I say this year however, has been totally different. I decided to live in halls so I had no way of leaving and so I wasn’t depending on my parents. The first week was definitely hard, but the first week is always scary. After that I seemed to forget about everything. I love my course, I love my friends, I love this University.

Since the New Year, I’ve had some pretty amazing opportunities. I attended the Zoom F1 charity auction, I’ve written in The Times and The Sunday Express. I’m due to fly to Monaco in May for the Formula E to help Chris with the Zoom event. And I’ll be going to Belgium, Hungary and potentially Italy to cover GP2 for Rumble Strip News. That’s four Grands Prix if you include going to Silverstone as a fan – everyone has to sit trackside for once and remember why they want to work in the sport, right?

The reason I decided to write and publish this is because mental health is a growing illness. More people have it than you know. It’s not ‘cute’ or ‘fashionable’ and it’s certainly not something to brag about it. Anyone suffering from anything from depression to anxiety should know there is a way out, but you need to trust and believe in yourself before you’ll find your help. I wish I could tell you that it’s easy, but I won’t lie to you. I wish I could say I’m completely over it, but truth is I still have days where I feel like anything and everything is going wrong. I get stressed and anxious about even the teeniest of things, but you learn to manage and cope. It just takes time and you have to be patient. You don’t have to go through anything alone.

“Give the fans a greater experience of motorsport.” – David Brabham

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Sir Jack Brabham remains the only man in history to have ever designed, built and raced his own championship-winning car. He is also the only man to have ever won the championship by pushing his car over the line, which saw him become 1959 champion – but that’s another story.

After a successful stint in Formula 1, Sir Jack’s team was sold; but now his family want to bring back the all-familiar race team; and bring back the illustrious name that is: Brabham. If one person can bring the name back to life, it’s the son of the three-time world champion, David. Getting help from outsiders like fans is a new, modern approach that may take some time. But despite the mammoth challenge that Project Brabham faces, within just seven weeks of the start-up the project raised £278,000 – more than the original target had set out – with donations coming from supporters of over 60 countries around the globe.

Autosport International was Project Brabham’s first public appearance where the team could truly showcase the project’s goals to the sports community. With the aim to include just about everybody, from fans to race drivers to business owners to engineers, the project fits the need of anyone wanting to be a part of something new and something different.

Speaking to David, he said: “I just felt that there was an opportunity for Brabham as a brand to come back into racing, but we’re going to do it differently. We’re going to open the door up completely. Lets give the fans a greater experience of motorsport with what goes on behind the scenes, but also for them to be engaged.

So we’ll go to the community like we have already and say ‘hey look, we’re thinking of A, B, C and D, what’s your vote?’ so the community vote on it and then we move forward, but then we move forward together, not just our own little team moving forward to doing our thing.”

Several key ingredients of the project are waiting to be finalised, including Brabham-Digital which is effectively a fan portal of getting unrivalled team access. Brabham-Driver which helps drivers learn and grow and Brabham-Engineer aims to inspire the next generation of engineers.

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In just a matter of months the project has transformed from an idea to reality. “The response from the media, the fans and people even within the industry has been great, they have said what a fantastic, refreshing, new idea it is going. Its been phenomenal since we started launching what we are doing, to where we are today.” David said.

Reaching Formula 1 is the ultimate goal, but David knows that may be far into the future and is just focusing on the small steps. He says that the next goal is to be racing in the World Endurance Championship in LMP2 and added: “In LMP2 we can go and buy a chassis and we can go racing. And, it’s on a world stage; we have 64 countries contributing to our campaign, so we really should be out in a world championship.

And the idea is to move then into LMP1, where things get a little more exciting because then we’ll start to develop our own car. But we’ll use a community of engineers from around the world to help develop that car.”

The big question is who will be driving for the team, but David was quick to say that there are no guarantees in terms of driver line-up. David’s son Sam, whose plans for the upcoming season are yet to be announced, jumped in and said: “I better be…”. Though all of the family in the team sounds like a dream, David remains level headed and explained: “All three Brabhams in the car, together, racing in a World Championship in Le Mans, it sounds great, but at the end of the day I have to put my team principal hat on and say, you know, is it going to work for us or not? And if it does, then great, if it doesn’t, then we’ll have to do something different, but there’s no guarantees at all in terms of driver line-up.”

It’s a long road from here with talks with more investors taking place, but the more fans that get on board the better. Brabham Digital is at the forefront where fans will be able to see what’s going on backstage at Project Brabham and by this time next year, the campaign may well be in full swing. “There’s a lot of work to be done” said David, “the main prospect is Brabham-Digital, because what we want to do is for our community and as we said, when we launched it, fans will get to see how we built this, you know, step by step so they’ll be able to log in on the website and be able to see what’s going on behind the scenes and contribute in ways that you can’t really do in today’s world of motorsport.”

Project Brabham takes pride in engaging the fans it has and continues to build its foundations on the self-subscription model it has made work with great effect. He also added: “When we grow and learn and we get better, people can also share that journey with us and maybe they’ll learn something that they’ll be able to adapt into their own lives and make that a benefit.”

David Brabham (AUS)

*Images courtesy of Jakob Ebery

To sign up to Project Brabham click here

Autosport show 2015 guide

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In just over a week hundreds of motorsport fans will gather to the NEC in Birmingham for the annual Autosport show; which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Special guests include former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard, BTCC champion Colin Turkington, WEC champion Anthony Davidson along with last year’s champion and former F1 pilot Allan McNish and of course, Rallycross champion Petter Solberg who is set to perform some stunning stunts in the live action arena.

SkyF1 commentator, David Croft will once again host the action in the arena as well as conduct interviews with the aforementioned personalities on the Autosport stage.

As the winter break takes place and the withdrawal from watching your favoured sports kicks in, the timing of ASI15 could not be any better. You can meet up with friends, see some of your favourite cars and drivers in the flesh and even get to meet some of the biggest names in motor-sport.

Top tips:

– Wear suitable clothing. Despite the freezing temperatures outside, once busy, the NEC can get rather warm. For the ladies reading this, I wouldn’t advice wearing your new six inch heels, instead pop on some comfy shoes as you’ll be walking around a lot!

– Take a notepad. Not all of the guests will have time to have pictures taken with every visitor, so take a notepad or something for them to sign and you can leave with a just as good, hand-signed autograph.

– Bring a camera. With so much on show, there’s so much to see, so take a camera and capture every angle.

2015 marks 50 years since Jim Clark became the only man to win the F1 title and the Indy500 in the same year. As a tribute, Lotus are displaying his Lotus 33 at the show – they are based in hall six at stand 6730.

Also in hall six, F1 racing are showcasing all the challengers from the 2014 season, including the dominant Mercedes W05. Autograph sessions are held just next door to the F1 racing stand, but don’t be last in the que!

The BTCC display is at stand 6440, not far from the F1 display at all and is even closer to the F1 fan village. Be sure to catch Andrew Jordan, Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden as well as Turkington whist you’re there.

Popbangcolour, Pirelli, McLaren, a driving simulator and Mercedes are close to the previously mentioned stands too.

Car fans will enjoy halls 19 and 20, which boasts several popular stands including the Historics, Mayfair Insurance Supercar display, Motorsport magazine (2670) and MotorsTV amongst others. And if you think you and your friends would make a good pit crew, you can try your hand out at the Alcatel Wheel Change Challenge (2750) which is very close to the Autosport entrance.

The Sean Edwards foundation and Project Brabham are both in hall 7, be sure to visit both of those. Also, it’s a good idea to look at the programme times when you first enter the show; just to check who’s on the Autosport stage when and what’s happening in the live arena at specific times too.

I won’t babble on about where anything else is, you can get lost on your own – all part of the fun! However the floor plan is on the Autosport show website, so if you want a nose of where everything is, head on over there. Don’t forget to join this Facebook event if you’re going, you may know some in attendance and send any photos, video’s or tweets to @autosport_show.

See you there!

Favourite motorsport moment

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

What has been your favourite moment this year?

Did Rosberg purposely bring out yellow flags?

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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?

In memory of Ayrton Senna

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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

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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…

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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

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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Have you seen Rush? What did you think?

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.

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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?

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.

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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.

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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!

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Have Ferrari put themselves in a difficult position?

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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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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

Why Mercedes have exceeded people’s expectations

If you were to have told me 6 months ago, that Mercedes would be fighting for the win, I would have laughed and told you ‘nonsense’. I also recall a vast majority of people (including myself) criticising and almost worrying about Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren. The born and bread McLaren racer decided to leave the team during last season, and instead moved alongside his old friend and team-mate Nico Rosberg at Mercedes (replacing Michael Schumacher). At the time, this raised a lot of eyebrows and was a big debate amongst the fans of the sport, but aren’t we all feeling a little bit embarrassed now? I know I am!

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To put things into perspective on how much Mercedes have improved, last year they finished the Constructors Championship in 5th place with 142 points. Now, just mid way through the season, they sit 2nd in the championship with 208 points and are just 69 points behind the leaders – Red Bull Racing. I think Mercedes could possibly be the ones to change Red Bull’s dominance, but in order to do that Nico Rosberg needs to finish ahead of Mark Webber in most of the remaining races. It’s all if’s and but’s but had Nico not had his retirements in the first two races, the gap between Red Bull and Mercedes would be very thin (obviously) but could they be the under-dogs this year?

So far this season, only 3 men have been able to put their car on pole. Lewis and Nico are two of them, and it’s no surprise when Lewis sticks it on the front row because he has the natural talent to be able to do so. It was however a surprise to a lot of people, when Nico had a consecutive pole streak from Bahrain to Monaco. I’ve watched ‘Britney’ for a few years now, and he’s always been an unrecognised talent. The win in Britain may have been down to a bit of luck, but the win in Monaco was flawless. Nico is very analytical, much like his Dad, and at a circuit like Monaco that sort of driving style works well. You have to know where the grip is, where the apex is, where you find time, all whilst narrowly missing the barriers that lurk around the whole track – one mistake and that’s it, game over. To make matters worse, Nico always had Sebastian in his mirrors, ready to take the leap if he made even the slightest of errors.

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Despite his 3 retirements, Nico is ahead on points on where he was this time last year, 84 points compared to 77 so surely that means Mercedes have made a step in the right direction? Lewis Hamilton surprisingly, is also ahead on points on where he was last year, even though he’s with a different team (124 points compared with 117). Lewis is also just 48 points behind Sebastian Vettel who is currently leading the championship, but is that too much of a gap to catch up? He’d have to finish nearly every race ahead of Sebastian to get close. (An interesting piece from Autosport compared all the teams and drivers on their performances so far this season with where they were last year, read it here – http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/109254)

So where has this sudden performance come from? Ignoring the tyre debate, the pace that Lewis showed during the Hungarian Grand Prix must have been a worry to the likes of Red Bull, especially if the team can keep up the good form. With a team consisting of Ross Brawn, Niki Lauda, Toto Wolff and now Paddy Lowe it’s no wonder that the team is getting ever so closer to bigger and better things. Attaining 7 pole positions in the last 10 rounds proved they have the raw pace over one lap and if they can keep momentum with consistent race pace then they could definitely be a strong title contender.

What do you think, can they do it? Can they catch Vettel and Red Bull?

HAM

Felipe Massa: a lost talent

In the eyes of the public, Felipe Massa isn’t considered to be one of the top drivers and is rarely ever tipped to win a race. In fact, the last time the Brazilian did win a race was back in 2008 at his home track Interlagos (São Paulo), where he narrowly missed out on becoming the World Champion.

Like his close friend Rubens Barrichello, Felipe is often considered as one of the best drivers to compete under second driver terms, but it was only in 2007 and 2008 where he really begun to show what he was capable of. His first pole and win actually came before this, as he dominated the weekend at Turkey in 2006. That same year, Felipe drove an outstanding race after going from 21st to 5th during the Malaysian Grand Prix – his team-mate Schumacher who had qualified 14th only managed 6th place.

He’s had some tough team-mates to compete with like: Nick Heidfeld, Michael Schumacher, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jacques Villeneuve, but he’s more commonly known to start alongside Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.

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In 2007 Felipe took 6th place during the Australian Grand Prix after starting from way back down the field in 22nd. He later took pole positions in Bahrain and Spain and converted them both into race wins. A 3rd place in Monaco put him 3rd in the championship standings behind both the McLaren’s of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. He then achieved 3 more podium finishes in the USA, France and the Nurburgring (European GP) but so had Lewis and Fernando and he was still 3rd in the standings.

It looked like the championship was going to one of the McLaren drivers, but Kimi Raikkonen then started to put in some impressive results and by the closing round in Brazil there was just 7 points separating the top three (Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen). Felipe looked like he was going to win his home race after starting from pole position, but crucially Hamilton was starting 2nd in front of Raikkonen. Hamilton dropped down the order, and it was looking more and more likely that Raikkonen could win the championship – Massa later yielded to let the Finn take the victory and the championship, but unfortunately for both McLaren’s they finished just a point away from taking the title.

The next year however was Massa’s time to shine. Fernando had moved back to Renault after a tough time partnering Hamilton at McLaren, and Massa was more determined to get to the top. Felipe had to retire from the first two races, which gave Hamilton a head start over him. Felipe won races in Bahrain, Turkey and France and was soon back on track to fight for the title. Back to back wins in Valencia and Belgium were making Felipe a big contender and the passion he was showing was overwhelming.

He then won his home grand prix in Brazil but Hamilton had done just enough to take back the title – just a point ahead of Felipe. The podium was extremely emotional, and it’s one that I’ll never forget witnessing. Sometimes I feel like the emotion of Formula 1 has drifted away as the political side takes over, and then I look at Felipe, who reminds me that it is still there.

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In 2009 the new Brawn GP car and Red Bull Racing started to dominate the races and the McLaren’s and Ferrari’s seemed to lack the pace that they’d previously shown. It saw Jenson Button take the championship, and to the present day Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull have dominated the results.

At the Hungarian Grand Prix in ’09, Felipe had a big accident after a spring had hit his helmet through a high speed part of the track. He subsequently hurled into the tyre wall, and had to be air lifted to the nearest hospital. He wasn’t able to take part for the rest of the reason due to the extent of his injuries and Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella filled in his vacated seat. He did appear at the Brazilian Grand Prix as he waved the chequered flag that saw Button crowned champion.

Ever since then, the Felipe I knew seemed to vanish and an unknown factor started to creep in. The confidence was lost, the ability to have faith in his car was gone, and it soon became evident that Felipe had been mentally affected by the accident. The fierce battle with Hamilton in 2011 put them both under some serious pressure, and both drivers didn’t have the best of seasons.

Despite all of the above, he’s still putting in good results, and though he may not be winning races, and may not be the most competitive driver on the grid, he is still doing what he loves – racing. He’s shown brief encounters of the way he used to drive, but nothing at all comparable to the days of ’07 and ’08. The glimmer in his eyes and his ‘special relationship’ with Rob Smedley are what his fans admire him for; that and his determination to keep going.

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The 2013 midway point

This season/year has actually gone quite fast and I find myself getting more and more excited for the latter stages of the season. It’s still not clear as to who will win either championships, so it seems like a good time to do a post on the mid-season point. Instead of doing a report on each drivers and teams performances, I thought I’d engage the fans and ask them a bunch of questions:

I asked twitter 5 questions to answer –
1. Anything surprised you?
2. Best win?
3. Who has impressed you?
4. Best performing rookie?
5. Anything disappointing?
(Twitter has a character limit, so apologies to the short questions)

1. Has anything surprised you?
McLaren’s lack of pace –
I think I speak like several others when I say I get headaches trying to figure out what’s happened. The main question is, How do you go from arguably the quickest car in the previous season, to a team struggling to stay in the top 10 in the next? A lot of people have said perhaps it’s the departure of Lewis Hamilton, because Lewis seemed to score points where Jenson would sometimes struggle. You also have to take into account Jenson didn’t always get in to Q3 last year – though it’s unclear as to whether that was down to driver or car performance.

Mercedes –
After an appalling second half to last season, I wasn’t expecting much from Mercedes. In fact I thought they’d be the ones fighting for 5th place in the standings with Sauber, but turns out it’s McLaren and Force India fighting for that position (who are two other surprising performers, Sauber not so impressing but Force India finding some extra pace). Rosberg’s win in Monaco was stunning, as was Lewis’ win in Hungary, and if they keep this up I expect they’ll be strong contenders to jumble up both championships.

Result from the fans :
McLaren’s lack of pace: 15 votes
Mercedes pace: 8 votes
Williams lack of pace: 4 votes
Ferrari’s lack of pace: 3 votes
Force India’s pace: 2 votes
Toro Rosso’s pace: 1 vote
Pirelli tyres: 1 vote
Sauber’s lack of pace: 1 vote
Mercedes tyre wear: 1 vote
Grosjean’s performance: 1 vote
Ricciardo’s performance: 1 vote

2. Best win?
I was really surprised at Lewis’ win in Hungary, just because of how mature the drive was, and how competitive the Mercedes seemed to be. Kimi’s win in Melbourne was brilliant as was Sebastian’s first win in Germany, but I think Rosberg’s win in Monaco does it for me. The first father, son duo to win there, and despite the number of safety cars, Nico still managed to control the race from start to finish.

Result:
Hamilton in Hungary: 13 votes
Kimi in Australia: 12 votes
Rosberg in Monaco: 6 votes
Rosberg in Britain: 5 votes
Alonso in Spain: 5 votes
Vettel in Germany: 3 votes

3. Who has impressed you?
Paul Di Resta –
Despite his qualifying woe’s, Paul still managed to scrape some points by the end of the race. He came so close to his first podium finish in Bahrain, and had he done that, he would have put himself in the eyes of the top teams. After a disappointing end to last year (not moving up to a better team) Paul was determined to make his mark this year, and if he sorts out his qualifying performances, then he might just be en route.

Romain Grosjean –
I think he is just misunderstood. His past in Formula 1 is getting in the way of his real talent, and there are several people out there who won’t give him that second chance to prove himself. I felt his drive through penalty was a bit harsh from overtaking Massa during the Hungarian Grand Prix, as there may have been a few other drivers who could have gained an advantage by going out of the white lines – but rules are rules! Maybe the Frenchman will be able to achieve his first win very soon.

Result:
Ricciardo: 9 votes
Di Resta: 8 votes
Grosjean: 5 votes
Raikkonen: 5 votes
Rosberg: 5 votes
Bianchi: 4 votes
Force India: 2 votes
Button: 1 vote
Bottas: 1 vote
Hamilton: 1 vote
Vergne: 1 vote
Vettel: 1 vote
Mercedes: 1 vote

4. Best performing rookie?
In all honesty, It’s between Bianchi and Bottas. The other three have been satisfactory, and they haven’t done anything special for me to be saying them. Mind you, Van der Garde is slowly getting there, he put his Caterham into Q2 in Monaco and achieved a career best of 14th place during the Hungarian Grand Prix. But for me, Valtteri Bottas is the one that has stood out. He qualified the underperforming Williams on the second row for the Canadian Grand Prix and has shown a lot of potential through the season. I wonder what he could do with a more competitive car…

Result:
Bottas: 16 votes
Bianchi: 14 votes
Gutierrez: 2 votes
Van der Garde: 1 vote
Chilton: 0 votes

5. Has anything disappointed you?
Pirelli tyres –
Not so much the actual tyres themselves, because apart from the dangerous delaminations from the British GP, there hasn’t been anything wrong with them. The FIA told them to make them degrade faster than they did last season, and that’s what they did. But anyway, Pirelli have disappointed me with the way they handled each situation. Almost like they were being bullied into changing something that didn’t need changing. Because of all of that nonsense, the relationship between the FIA and Pirelli has become strained, and it won’t surprise me if we have a different tyre manufacturer next year.

Mark Webber’s retirement –
I don’t think it’s a mistake as such, but I do think he should have had stayed in the sport for perhaps another season – even if it wasn’t to be with Red Bull. Mark doesn’t care about what he says, because he says what he wants, when he wants to. His personality will be missed, but he will have some good memories to take from his time in Formula 1. I wish him the best of luck in the Porsche Sports car Programme.

Result:
McLaren’s lack of pace: 16 votes
Pirelli: 12 votes
Williams lack of pace: 4 votes
Webber’s retirement: 2 votes
Vettel winning: 2 votes
Lotus pit stop in Germany: 1 vote
Mercedes tyre issues: 1 vote
Gutierrez: 1 vote
Chilton: 1 vote
No-one being able to challenge Vettel: 1 vote
How Vettel handled Malaysia: 1 vote

Thank you to everyone who sent in their answers! Have a good summer break, and I’ll hear from you all soon!

Donington F1 Museum

I took lots of photo’s today and couldn’t wait to upload them to show you! I’d previously gone to Coventry Transport Museum, and after seeing Mark Webber’s Jaguar, I just had to see more! If you are an Ayrton Senna fan, then you will probably like it here, there’s no MP4/4, but in the McLaren gallery there are pictures of Ayrton in almost every direction you look, it’s incredible.

At the entry to the exhibition, there’s a big statue/sculpture tribute to Ayrton Senna and Juan Manuel Fangio in the memorial garden. There was also some big wall art on display:

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When you enter the museum itself, you have the café to your left and the exhibition to your right; but smack in the middle of the room is David Coulthard’s RB4 from 2008. It’s the closest I’ve been to a more modern F1 car, and it was a stunning piece of equipment.

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You then enter a room with vehicles from the second world war? And I must say, some of them are huge!

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Then you step into the main entrance to the Formula 1 cars, titled ‘The Donington Collection’ and the first car on your left is a Brabham BT24, followed by a Maserati 8CM, Austin 7 Twin Cam, Mercedes W125, Auto Union Type A (which was tiny!!) and several other cars as you can see from the pictures.

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Jackie Stewarts Matra was next, and I was looking at it for quite a while (wrote a post on him not long ago, read it here) and as you can see, as well as Kogan’s next to it, they’re both gorgeous.

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Another few images from this hall:

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I was absolutely gobsmacked that the BAR Honda was here. It wasn’t Jenson Button’s, but it was Takuma Sato’s and this is the oldest car that I have vivid memories of, so I was really excited when I saw it!

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You then follow the room round, and you reach something called the ‘Williams hall’.

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It’s a no brainer as to what’s in the Williams hall, my Dad was completely in awe with the hall and it took him a while to leave. Filled with cars driven by Nico and Keke Rosberg, Damon Hill, Nigel Mansell, Jenson Button and several others, it took me a while to leave the history filled room as well. I mentioned it in my favourite cars post, but in person, Damon’s and Nigel’s Williams cars are even better up close and personal than they are in photo’s – especially Damon’s.

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At the end of the Williams hall, there’s a small Jaguar display, with a cool picture wall behind it!

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The McLaren hall is next, and you are greeted by a couple of Kimi Raikkonen’s cars, amongst several of the red and white liveried cars.

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Jody Scheckter, Denny Hulme, David Coulthard were all amongst the cars above, and then as you carried on walking down you just get a bit of a chill. The livery of these cars are just so iconic, it’s hard to not know which team they are. As I said before, this room is completely Senna based, and there’s pictures of him everywhere!

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You then come across a few cabinets full of race suits, helmets, gloves, memorabilia etc, it was actually really fascinating to look at. The difference between Stirling Moss’ helmet and David Coulthard’s is just bizarre (apologies for the reflections, the cabinets were facing a window).

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The last thing you come to is a BRM and Vanwall collection –

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I really advise you to go, I think it’s such a good place with a fantastic collection of cars. What do you think?

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Jochen Rindt – The world champion who never knew he was a world champion

This title has been sat in my drafts for a while now, and every time I come back to it I seem to find myself staring for hours on end at a blinking cursor because I just don’t know where to start.

I get overwhelmed with emotion when I read the name Jochen Rindt, and whilst several of you reading may be unfamiliar with his name, I seem to find myself wanting to read more and more about him. I’ve always said to an extent that he’s the most under-rated world champion, but maybe that’s because most people forget about him, or even because they are unaware of his existence.

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Jochen was raised by his grand-parents in Graz, Austria, after his parents lost their lives due to a bombing raid in Hamburg, during the Second World War. Rindt was never a full Austrian citizen, but still continued to race under an Austrian licence.  He was renowned for his car control and quick reflexes, and was soon able to promote himself to Formula 1 after proving successful in lower formula’s.

His ability to choose the right car to showcase his talent wasn’t great, and his debut with Rob Walker Racing in 1964 only lasted one race, at the Austrian Grand Prix. From 1965 to 1967 however, he drove for Cooper Car Company alongside the likes of Bruce McLaren, John Surtees and Pedro Rodriguez. 1966 was his best year with Cooper after finishing 3rd in the standings, and appearing on the podium 3 times (two second places and one third) but his first win was overdue, and he was yet to impress.

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In 1968 he moved from Cooper to Brabham, but technical problems only left him 12th in the standings. He then moved to Lotus in 1969, and then his talent started to shine. Like his old Brabham car, the Lotus was also extremely unreliable, and despite 6 retirements he still finished 4th in the overall standings. He attained 5 pole positions, with his lowest grid start being just 6th place (5 poles, 3 thirds, 1 second, 1 sixth), and he also achieved his first career win during the USA Grand Prix. He also finished 4th at the British Grand Prix, 2nd at the Italian Grand Prix and 3rd at the Canadian Grand Prix.

His relationship with Colin Chapman (founder of Lotus) was strong, but the two had different visions. Colin liked to be creative and inventive by trying out new parts, whereas Rindt wanted something more reliable that had already been tested. It was risky, the two would argue and they wanted different things, but when it all came together, the Lotus 72 was looking good with it’s new torsion bar suspension and high rear-mounted wing.

Rindt continued with Lotus during the 1970 season with Emerson Fittipaldi as his team-mate, but with the Ferrari’s being Lotus’ main threat all eyes were on Rindt. Unfortunately his season didn’t get off to a good start, a collision with Jack Brabham and then later suffering from engine issues forced him to retire. It didn’t get better at the Spanish Grand Prix either, Rindt became affected by ignition problems and had to add another retirement to his tally.

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At the Monaco Grand Prix, Rindt was determined to get his season back on track and with help from other retirements, found himself behind Brabham in 2nd place. He was on a charge and pressured Brabham into an error on the last lap at the last corner and was able to take his first win of the season. He was able to keep his form winning 4 consecutive races in Holland, France, Britain and Germany. During the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort (Holland) however, Rindt lost his good friend and driver Piers Courage (De Tomaso Ford) in a crash during the race, and it had led Rindt to consider retiring.

Rindt was to never take part in the next race in Monza, due to a fatal accident in the last free practice session. The championship was not over, even though Rindt was still leading, Jacky Ickx had a chance of taking the title. To do so, Jacky would have to win the final 3 rounds. He won the races in Canada and Mexico but Emerson Fittipaldi (Rindt’s team-mate) took the win during the USA Grand Prix, where Ickx could only finish 4th, thus handing the title to an unaware Jochen Rindt. His wife Nina collected his trophy, and Jochen became the first and only champion to ever win it posthumously.

Jochen Rindt and wife Nina after his fortuitous win at Brands Hatch. 20/7/70

Rindt’s achievements :
Races: 60 starts
Teams: Brabham, Cooper, Lotus
Active years: 1964-1970
Championships: 1 (1970)
Wins: 6
Podiums: 13
Pole positions: 10
Fastest laps: 3

All any Formula 1 driver wants to do, is to win the championship. You can see just how much it means to them when they do; the happy tears, the screams on the radio, the inability to stop saying thank you. Rindt was able to fulfil his dream, he just never knew about it. He may not have been the most successful champion, but he was an exceptional driver with outstanding car control and reflexes. He never experienced those emotions of lifting up his final trophy; the most important one. He’ll never know that his name is amongst the ever growing list of Formula 1 world champions, and the sad thing is (as I mentioned earlier) everyone forgets about him, as if he was never even there.

But not me, R.I.P champ.

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Hungarian Grand Prix – Preview

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The placing of this race is really strange, it has a 3 week gap both before and after it, however with an expected 3 new races (Russia, New Jersey & Austria) being added to the calendar, I doubt there will be any more big gaps as of next year (apart from the summer break).

Last years Hungarian Grand Prix saw Lewis Hamilton drive to victory with the two Lotus’ completing the podium. Hungary’s weather forecast looks like it’s going to be very hot with temperatures exceeding 35 degrees, and with the Lotus suiting hot conditions, maybe they can improve to the top step of the podium.

In the history at this track, McLaren have always been the team to watch due to their cars compatibility with the circuit’s flowing corners (11 overall wins here with 6 of those in the last 8 years). Michael Schumacher holds the most amount of wins here with 4 wins, but Lewis Hamilton is also quite successful here holding 3 wins, matching Ayrton Senna.

In terms of the circuits layout, it has 16 corners and 2 DRS zones located on the pit straight (after turn 16) and after turn 1. I still strongly believe having 2 DRS zones right next to each other is not only boring but also pointless, it gives the driver being overtaken at the first zone a way to come back and retake their position.

The Hungaroring’s circuit is 4.381km (2.722 miles), and it’s race distance is 306.630km long (190.531 miles) which lasts up 70 laps. Michael Schumacher unsurprisingly holds the lap record here, with a 1:19:071. Qualifying is key here because there aren’t many places to overtake, which may be a slight advantage to Mercedes who have proved that they have the quickest car over one lap, but would they be able to fend off the Lotus’, Red Bulls, or the Ferrari’s?

Pirelli are taking the new soft and the medium tyres that teams (apart from Mercedes) tested in Silverstone’s young drivers test. The race could be very similar to the Nurburgring where the battle for the win is between Lotus and Red Bull, what do you think?

Sir Jackie Stewart – A motor-racing hero

Sir Jackie’s era is one of the most credible, where racing was racing, and not as political as the sport is today. You made one slight error, and it could cost you your life – which was something Jackie had to deal with on a regular basis. It’s not just his racing achievements that have impressed, but his presence and impact on driver safety too. In the years that he raced in Formula 1, he won 3 world championships making him the most successful Brit in the history of the sport.

He was a smart man, declining a couple of opportunities to drive in Formula 1 to gain experience in Formula 3 and Formula 2; which drivers of today wouldn’t choose or couldn’t afford to do. He knew he was good enough, and he knew that when he was ready to move up to Formula 1, he would have a car to drive in. When he did move in 1965, he finished 3rd in the world drivers championship and after a near win in the 1966 Indianapolis 500 was named Rookie of the Year, despite Graham Hill also being involved in the same category.

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After a very dramatic, and unfortunate crash during the 1966 Belgian Grand Prix, Jackie made an important decision to improve driver safety. Jackie was trapped in his overturned BRM, with fuel leaking all over him. He was left in his car for 25 minutes with marshals unable to remove him even though there was a big fear of his car bursting into flames. Because the marshals didn’t have the right tools, Jackie was in his hazardous inverted car for much longer than he needed, and with the help of a spectators tool kit, Graham Hill and Bob Bondurant were able to take action. Things didn’t get better, once he was pulled to safety, an ambulance took Jackie to the nearest first aid point and was left on a stretcher on the ground surrounded by cigarette ends. Despite not receiving any major injuries an outraged Jackie fought back and said “I realised that if this was the best we had there was something sadly wrong: things wrong with the race track, the cars, the medical side, the fire-fighting, and the emergency crews. There were also grass banks that were launch pads, things you went straight into, trees that were unprotected and so on”.

Unreliability cost Jackie titles, his BRM could never be trusted and in 1968 his new Matra car failed on him as well, thus handing the championship to Graham Hill. That year however, Jackie showed great bravery and skill performing under difficult conditions in Zandvoort and the Nurburgring. Finally though, things begun to fall into place for the Brit, and his Matra MS80-Cosworth was raking in points. He won by over 2 laps at the Spanish Grand Prix, by a whole minute at Clemont-Ferrand and by over a lap at Silverstone. His abilities were starting to show with strong performances and wins at Kyalami, Zandvoort and Monza and was crowned the 1969 Formula 1 World Champion.

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In 1970 Jackie lost his close friend, and neighbour Jochen Rindt (who is the only posthumous champion). Jackie’s year however, only left him joint 5th in the standings, but after modifications, the new Tyrrell 003 looked to be a lot more promising and reliable than it’s closest rivals, and Jackie won 6 of the 11 races; making him a double world champion. Another unsuccessful year for Tyrrell after the mighty Lotus of Emerson Fittipaldi drove to take the championship. Jackie was leading the championship in 1973 but after the tragic death of his team-mate Francois Cervert, Jackie vowed to never race again – just before his 100th race. Nevertheless, Jackie did become the triple world champion.

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(Jackie Stewart and team-mate Francois Cervert)

Jackie’s Achievements:
Active years – 1965-1973
Races – 100 (99 starts)
Championships – 3 (1969, 1971, 1973)
Pole positions – 17
Wins – 27
Podiums – 43
Fastest laps – 17

His accomplishments speak for themselves, but this is not the main reason as to why I respect him. Though he is an excellent racer who excelled in tough conditions, Jackie continued to be involved in the sport. He had a brief spell commentating for NASCAR and the Indianapolis 500 on American TV. In partnership with his son, Jackie brought Stewart Grand Prix to Formula 1 with drivers like Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert driving for the team, and though the team wasn’t the most successful, it did power Barrichello to a 2nd place in Monaco as well as three other 3rd places. The teams first and only win was thanks to Herbert at the 1999 European Grand Prix. The team was later bought by Ford, which then became Jaguar Racing in 2000, which is now known as the more recognisable Red Bull Racing (from 2005).

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2001 was when Jackie received his well deserved knighthood, as well as previously acquiring the title of sports personality of the year, athlete of the year, sportsman of the year, as well as being awarded the honorary Doctor of Science. Jackie is responsible for making it mandatory to wear seat-belts, as well as bringing in full-face helmets for drivers. He also encouraged race tracks to install run off areas and barriers, as well as improving medical services by having doctors, ambulances and fire crews on site.

My respect levels for Jackie are very high, and I think if it wasn’t for him, Formula 1 would not be where it is today. The flying Scotsman will forever be in Formula 1 history, not just for his achievements, but for the impact on, and diligence towards safety.
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Vettel will soon get the respect he deserves

What is it about constant performers that we don’t like? Is it because we get bored easily? Or because we’re so used to change? Formula 1 is all about change, whether it’s the cars or the drivers, or the circuits or technology; it’s an ever growing sport with a slight fear of the unknown. So why do we get so annoyed when a driver dominates?

For the past 3 years Sebastian Vettel has been the main championship contender, though the likes of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton don’t consider him to be their biggest threat? Why? He’s won the last three championships, surely that means he is the biggest threat? But the main criticism that seems to hang over the head of the German, is that he has the best car. You may be asking, well why is that a reason to critique him? And the reason is simple. You cannot tell how good a driver is whilst he’s sat in the overall best car, the only way to evaluate it properly is if you put him/her in a less competitive car and see how they compare. The best drivers are the ones who can get the ultimate out of what ever car.

People argue that Vettel proved himself when he won the Italian Grand Prix in 2008 in his Toro Rosso. But what people seem to forget, is that whilst Vettel qualified on pole, his team-mate Sébastien Bourdais also qualified in 4th; it’s just because he was a second behind Vettel’s lap time, and that his pole position was such a shock that people don’t remember. But if Vettel wasn’t getting the most out of his car in 2008, why was he 8th in the standings, whereas his team-mate (the one with the same machinery) was 17th?

Critiques are also picking at Sergey Sirotkin, the 17 year old who looks to be one of the favourites to drive for Sauber next year, after Russian investors saved the team from possibly backing out of the sport. Do they not remember when Vettel (also 17 at the time) first tested for BMW Williams in 2005, and then a year later went on to test for BMW Sauber? He hasn’t even set foot in the Sauber yet, and they are already jumping to conclusions.

Dominance isn’t something that is new to Formula 1. Michael Schumacher won the championship 5 times in a row from 2000-2004 and previously won back to back championships with Benetton. The most successful man to ever compete in Formula 1. He was always a threat, even when he didn’t win the championship between 1996-1999, he was still able to challenge for strong points.

Michael Schumacher was disliked in his time because of his aggressive racing; the way he’d shunt people off the track in desperation to gain the best points. He’d also appear to be quite arrogant but racers don’t race to be sports personality of the year. They race to win and to do whatever it takes to be the best of the best. Not every driver can compose themselves in front of the camera, some say things that they later regret, some speak like robots and repeat what someone‘s written for them, but some say it how it is and face the raft of the media.

On track, Ayrton Senna wasn’t the most cautious man. He had a way of being able to almost scare people into moving out of his way, I recall Martin Brundle saying “he would put you in a compromising position, and leave you to make the decision, and if you didn’t run into him then psychologically you were buried and finished. He would then know that every time after that you showed your wheel, you’d jump out of the way”. Yet somehow, Ayrton is praised for this – if any driver were like that today they’d be severely punished.

Senna  is a big name in the world of motorsport, but what about Alain Prost? Everyone recalls their rivalry, yet Alain seems to be left in the shadows. At the time, this was a big sensitive issue, and you’d have the Senna fans arguing with the Prost fans, much like you do today. But despite his achievements, Prost doesn’t get much recognition, which is sad because both Senna and Prost made history together. I wasn’t around to witness the duo racing, and I can’t imagine how good the excitement and passion was, that was floating in the atmosphere in those days.

Despite how annoyingly good Vettel is, I am proud to be watching history being made. I can almost guarantee that when Vettel retires, he will get the respect he deserves, much like Schumacher, Senna, Stewart and Prost (amongst several others).

Favourite Formula 1 cars?

I often get asked this question, and almost every fan of Formula 1 including myself will reply with the same answer – the McLaren MP4/4. But what about my top 5 favourite cars? In the history of Formula 1 there are so many choose from, depending on if you go as far back as Fangio’s Mercedes W196 (which fetched £19.6m at an auction during Goodwood FOS) or you prefer the more modern cars like the Ferrari F138.

5. I had to incorporate these two under the same number, because I honestly don’t know which I like more than the other. From an engineers point, it’s hard to fault Nigel Mansell’s FW14, and given that a lot of the current regulations ban a lot of the components installed on that car, you could argue that it’s one of the most technology advanced cars that’s ever been built. It’s just not a surprise that Adrian Newey was the chief designer behind it all. The other car is also a Williams, but this time in the shape of Damon Hill’s FW16. It was the last car during the Williams dominance after both Hill and Newey left the team, and lets be honest, it does look beautiful.

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(from L to R Nigel Mansell in his FW14 and Damon Hill in the FW16)

4. I grew up in the Ferrari dominance era, so I feel obliged to say that the Ferrari F2004 is one of my favourites. With Michael Schumacher at the wheel, he was almost unbeatable, showing aggression, determination and passion. Personality aside, his ability to drive is unquestionable and even though he was a bit too eager to win, making errors here and there, he is definitely a household name in the world of Formula 1. As is his car, which was competitive but sleek, and it’s easy on the eye. With Michael Schumacher no longer in Formula 1 I’ll leave this one with a quote – “Life is about passions. Thank you for sharing mine.”
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3. The most recent car in my top 5, is the Brawn BGP-001. The livery is basic and subtle, yet so nice to look at. It’s probably one of my favourite car liveries and with two likable drivers by the names of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello it was hard to not want the Brawn team to succeed. Ross Brawn is an incredibly smart man, being the main man behind Schumacher’s titles as well as Jenson’s, it’s no wonder that at 58 he’s still involved in Formula 1.
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2. The older cars are usually the most interesting pieces of equipment to look at. That’s why I enjoy looking at the Mercedes W196 or any of the Cooper Climax cars, but it’s the Lotus 49 from 1967 that draws my attention. Maybe it’s because of the British racing green and the yellow stipe (not the Golden Leaf Team Lotus with the red, cream and gold livery). With two strong drivers at the wheel, Graham Hill and Jim Clark, it was almost the perfect British team. It’s a breath-taking car, and by far one of the best looking cars from it’s day.
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1. I’ve already mentioned my favourite car, and it’s no surprise that when I asked the people on twitter it came up more than 10 times. The McLaren MP4/4 isn’t just a ridiculously beautiful car, it also had two of the best drivers sitting in its cock pit – Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Ayrton is someone who doesn’t need describing, his charisma and legacy speak for itself but Alain almost gets unnoticed. I chose the MP4/4 to sit in this spot, not because of how it looked, and not because of it’s drivers; I chose it to be put here because of how dominant and strong it was. It won 15 out of the 16 races in 1988 and if that’s not credible, I don’t know what is.
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I asked the fans from twitter; What are your two favourite ever Formula 1 cars? The response –

@ipab_neh : MP4/4 & MP4/13 for obvious reasons

@Eoin_Harmon : 1) Jordan 191. Michael Schumacher + Irish pride = supreme awesomeness. Benetton had to step in and save F1 from the magnificence

@deadlycowpat95 : MP4/4, MP4-26

@loose89 : F2008 and MP4-20. Both fast and among the best looking F1 cars ever

@__Flick : Ferrari F2008 for the unbelievable number of aero components & Lotus 79 for the use of ground effect

@andyroberts82 : 1992 Williams and 2009 brawn, simple looks and v quick!!

@calum643 : MP4-22/ Lotus 49 :)

@Paul11F1 : McLaren MP4/4 from 1988 for its slick looks & amazing results. March CG891 from 1990, just a lovely looking car.

@madaboutgp : the Lotus 25 – first monocoque chasis and the McLaren MP4/4 – one of the most dominant cars ever

@MarcusBridgland : jaguar R5, loved the livery and thenBMW Sauber F1.08, my first favourite driver Nick Heidfeld, Kubica’s best season too!

@LeeF1Nut : The Lotus 49 and Lotus 72 both beautiful and innovative.  I have pics of both on my office wall. I’d sneak the Ferrari F2004 too

@CalumF1_Giroud : Brawn GP 001 and Red Bull RB6

Has Sergio Perez been too dangerous?

His driving style has come into question several times this season, but his potential is still there. Criticism has been hurled at the young Mexican for his manoeuvres in Monaco and Bahrain, and has even come under fire from his own team-mate, other drivers and even team principals.

I started talking to a fellow blogger called Chris Cassingham (check his blog out here – http://itsanf1life.com/) and we decided to have a discussion on this very subject. If you are tuned into the world of social networking, mainly twitter, you will have seen a lot of negativity towards certain drivers, of which Sergio is amongst. This is what inspired us to have blogger debate, so readers can see both sides.

Chris –

To some, Mexico is a very dangerous country. Their culture, or at least a large part of it, is mired in a despicable drug war that permeates nearly every aspect of the country’s citizens’ lives, as well as the international headlines.

If there ever was a time for this country to have a hero to look up to, it is now.

Mexico has not had a Formula One winner since 1970, when Pedro Rodriguez won the Belgian Grand Prix, and you can tell that the time is right for another to come along. Enter, Sergio Perez.

While he may not be a Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez has a lot to be proud of in his career in racing. But junior championships do not a legend make. The Mexican’s mark on the sport of Formula One is still a work in progress, but you can be sure he will do everything he can to guarantee that mark is made eventually.

2012 was Sergio’s breakthrough season. With the small Sauber team, he dragged a light-on-its-tires car to three podiums, all in spectacular fashion, while also remaining professional (for the most part). It was perhaps inevitable, then, that the eyes of the top teams would be drawn to this young star and the potential he still had yet to show.

When he was signed to Mclaren for 2013 and beyond, replacing 2008 champion, Lewis Hamilton, the pressure to emulate the predecessor’s performances mounted.

Let me take a minute here, though, to explain those pressures. Resting on the shoulders of Sergio Perez is the pride of a nation. The very pride of Mexico is in the hands of Sergio Perez and they way he performs on track. Were it not for the millions that the country’s billionaire president, Carlos Slim, has poured into Sergio’s racing career, then perhaps the pressure would not be quite so intense. But because so many monetary resources have been dumped into making sure Mexico has a presence on the international racing stage, the necessity of being the best is only magnified.

What do you do when you’re under immense pressure? Some will say that pressure helps them focus on the task at hand. They say that knowing the fate of one entity, large or small, rests on their abilities makes them perform their best. How much of that is the truth, though? There is a certain element of knowing you hold the fate of someone or something else in your hands that spawns an inherent level of indecisiveness, desperation even. This is what Sergio Perez has had to deal with since the day he made his Formula One debut.

After making headlines in 2012, the natural assumption was that, with an even better team, it was only a matter of time until we had the very first Mexican Formula One world champion. That assumption was certainly justified. But what we began to see at the end of 2012 was, as I referred to earlier, a level of desperation.

It was perhaps cruel irony that at the first race as a confirmed Mclaren driver, the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, Sergio Perez would spin out of the race in a desperate attempt to pass the very man he was replacing. Everyone went crazy. What were previously whoops for joy at the prospect of having Sergio in a Mclaren, soon turned to shouts of condemnation at the idea of having this senseless maniac behind the wheel of the best car on the grid. Sergio may have been feeling the pressure already, but audiences were doing him no favors whatsoever.

Turn to 2013. The Bahrain Grand Prix. After getting an earful from his boss, Martin Whitmarsh, for being to passive on track in the Chinese Grand Prix, Sergio made a commitment to himself to be more aggressive for the next race.

Sergio was lucky that his then recalcitrant Mclaren was feeling a bit more spritely for the desert island race, for the moves he made in that Grand Prix were perhaps justified only by the car’s competitiveness that weekend. The Mexican did step over the line at times during that race, but I commend him for his gutsy determination to continue to make his mark on the sport.

Some have called upon Mclaren to get rid of Sergio, though, for his lack of points compared to teammate, Jenson Button, along with his so-called “dangerous maneuvers” on track, aren’t shedding the best of light on the team at a time when they need all the good light they can get.

Sergio has been too aggressive at times, and he has accepted the consequences for those actions. But has he been dangerous? No. He is merely racing under the pressures and heightened anticipations of a country longing to have a champions, and can you blame him for making a few mistakes every once in a while?

I am not advocating all of Sergio’s behaviors. But I am advocating his continued fight for his country’s pride. If he needs inspiration, all he needs to do is put himself in the position of Pastor Maldonado when he won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix. The Venezuelan was in the same position as Sergio, but perhaps one year ahead.

After a miserable year in 2011, where a solitary point in the Belgian Grand Prix was all he had to show in a car Rubens Barrichello only managed to scrape 4 points out of, Pastor went into 2012 knowing his new car was much more competitive. When he beat Fernando Alonso in a straight fight for the win in Spain, all the pressure he was under from his home country melted away. Similarly vast amounts of money were poured into Pastor’s racing career by the Venezuelan government, just like Sergio’s, so Pastor knew exactly what it was like to understand the almost vital necessity to eventually perform.

Pastor is far from the perfect driver, but if Sergio can take in the experience Pastor had in 2012 and apply it to 2013 and beyond, there is no doubt in my mind that he will do his country proud.

Sergio Perez is not dangerous. Anyone who tells you that is misleading you. Sergio is fighting a valiant fight that his whole country wants him desperately to win. If he doesn’t take any risks to get there, then he is doing an injustice to all of his fans.

Keep on fighting, Sergio.

Kate –

You have to applaud Sergio for his efforts, and for his determination. He was one of two drivers that made the Monaco Grand Prix bearable, just because he tried something new, something creative and something risky. But was that perhaps a little too much?

During the 2012 season, you could argue he was one of the stand-out middle team drivers. Driving his way to 3 impressive podium finishes and being renowned for his tyre conservation, it wasn’t a surprise that the higher teams were keeping a watchful eye. Though as soon as the McLaren deal was announced, his ability to score points dropped away quite rapidly.

Despite the pressure, Sergio kept level-headed and continued to race, however a daft move in Abu Dhabi made me reconsider McLaren’s decision. His incident during that race is usually forgotten about because everyone’s eyes were on Sebastian Vettel powering through the order, and the huge collision between Narain Karthikeyan and Nico Rosberg.

Sergio and Paul Di Resta were battling it out for position with Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber right behind the duo and Pastor Maldonado and Kamui Kobayashi not far behind either. Sergio squeezed Paul over the kerb and then Sergio himself went wide and off track, he re-joined into the path of Grosjean at turn 11 and the two touched. Sergio spun, and Romain and Mark made contact that put them both out of the race. Pastor just narrowly missed being hit, as did Kamui. This incident earned Sergio a drive through penalty, 1 of 6 penalties he received that season (2 reprimands, 1 drive through, 1 stop and go, 1 grid drop, 1 no action taken).

Before the deal got announced, I genuinely thought Paul Di Resta may have had his break-through and would be signing for the team, though clearly, I was wrong to think so. It also dawned on me that the signing may be due to his financial backing, rather than his driver ability. His first half of the season was impressive, but it looked as if McLaren were too eager to replace Lewis and that they may have chosen the wrong man.

Enough of last year though, let’s move on to this season.

Lets be honest, Sergio would not have expected to be jumping into an underperforming McLaren – so if you’re theoretically not in the title fight, can you take more risks?

Risk taking is what shows the best drivers from the good drivers, and as I said earlier, Sergio and Adrian Sutil were the only drivers that made the Monaco Grand Prix enjoyable. I applaud Sergio for this race, due to the fact that he tried to overtake in different places whereas other drivers hesitated and waited for the DRS zone – the easier route past a driver. The Raikkonen incident is a tricky one, because both drivers could have done something to avoid the contact. Raikkonen could have given more space, but Sergio may have been a bit too ambitious – just because you made a pass there before, doesn’t mean you can pull it off again.

My main concern however, is not his ability to drive, because it’s quite clear the young Mexican does have a lot of potential. My concern is his aggression and respect to others. That’s not me having a dig at Sergio because it’s not, in terms of respect I mean that you have to respect the other drivers on track to be able to pull of moves that are potentially dangerous or risky. The sorts of moves that Mark Webber pulled on Fernando Alonso, or Kimi Raikkonen on Michael Schumacher both at Eau Rouge last season. Would someone like Sergio be able to pull that type of move off? I’m not entirely sure.

Although I am loving the inter-team battle between Sergio and Jenson, I feel that it’s somewhat unnecessary. It’s brilliant to watch, and keeps us fans very entertained, but for McLaren it must be very tense. The closest rivalry to the old days of Prost and Senna were close when Alonso and Hamilton were team-mates in 2007, and though no match will ever repeat the Senna/Prost rivalry, you have to think that if Hamilton and Alonso had continued to be team mates, a rivalry could have formed. The way Jenson and Sergio were going about each-other also made me think that things could turn sour, Jenson was talking about Sergio as if he was a young child that needed to go back to karting.

The least thing you want as a team, is to have your drivers crash into each other. Jenson and Lewis made contact in Canada 2011 which put Lewis out of the race, and Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber touched in Turkey 2010 which ended both the drivers hopes of winning, and stopped the Red Bulls from finishing 1 and 2. Those sorts of things do happen, but they can also be easily avoided, which is down to the team – depending on whether you’re pro team orders or not.

Sergio and Jenson already have made contact during the Bahrain Grand Prix, which Jenson labelled as dangerous driving. No matter what strategy either driver pulls, they both seem to end up racing each other. If I was a McLaren fan I would be biting my nails very nervously at the sight of the teams two drivers scrapping between themselves, but with Jenson’s experience, and Sergio’s potential it could prove to be the best inter-team battle of the season.

So in response to the title question – I wouldn’t go as far as saying he is dangerous, but I would say learn from those around you (Pastor Maldonado/Romain Grosjean) and tone down the aggression. Get rid of all the desperation of trying to impress, and convert it into determination. Once that all comes together, matched with a competitive McLaren, we definitely have a force to be reckoned with.

 

Pit lane safety drama

After the accident during the German Grand Prix, the FIA have announced that with immediate action anyone other than track marshals, or team personnel are to be banned from the pit lane. Paul Allen the FOM camera man is currently suffering from concussion as well as broken ribs and a broken collar bone from the loose tyre that came from Mark Webber’s car. The FIA is going to reduce pit lane speed limits and also make it mandatory to wear helmets for team members involved in the pit stops. In the statement, it said the pit lane speed limit will be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h, except in Australia, Monaco and Singapore, where it will be 60km/h.

The problem is not due to the pit lane speeds, nor will it make any difference when people in the pit lane are forced to wear helmets. The problem lies within the pit stop procedure. Each time a driver comes into change tyres, the pit crew are under immense pressure to take as little time as they can – pressure and stress lead to mistakes, and mistakes are what caused the incident last weekend.

Reports are saying that the traffic light system was at fault, [mechanics press a button when their tyre is fitted and a light goes green when all four buttons have been pressed] when the light went green even though 3 of the 4 had been done. Which takes me to the fact that you can not or should not rely on electronic technology, which is a shame because that’s how Formula 1 is developing. I would bring back the lollipop man, who is a much more reliable source than something running off wires.

The next suggestion is to not change pit lane speeds, but instead make it mandatory to say have a 5 second pit stop. This puts the team at a lower stress level, therefore harder for them to make simple mistakes. Mechanics were frantically waving that the wheel was not on, and in my previous suggestion, the lollipop man probably would have seen that. Why do you think there are rarely any accidents like a loose wheel during the other formula’s? Because they aren’t in such a rush.

The amount of people doing the pit stops is frustrating too, had there not been so many people, maybe the front jack man would have seen the rear tyre and not let the car down. It takes 20 people to take part in a pit stop (3 people on each wheel, 2 jack’s, 2 spare jack’s, 2 car steadies and two watchers) but if a front wing needs changing, that”s another handful of people undergoing one stop. That’s ridiculous, and could have a set number.

The injuries sustained by Paul Allen could be a lot worse, but that’s not the point. The point is that safety needs to change, and taking the camera men out of the pit lane won’t reduce those types of accidents, it just reduces excess people.

German Grand Prix analysis

I love races that end like this one; where multiple drivers are on different strategies and in the closing stages of the race, you can’t tell who will finish where. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for his 30th career win, which just so happens to be the first time he’s won his home Grand Prix! Also well done to Lewis Hamilton for achieving his 29th career pole position in yesterday’s Qualifying. Both very impressive achievements. Another well done to the Lotus team for getting Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean on to the podium. I also think we should take our hats off to Mark Webber, for coming out of the pits a lap down, to then finish 7th is a fantastic!

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(Thoughts go out to Paul Allen, the FOM camera man who got hit by the tyre).

Whilst writing this, it’s been announced that Red Bull Racing have been fined with €30,000 for an unsafe pit release. Which I think is a bit lenient given that Nico Rosberg’s unsafe pit release in 2010 (which was very similar to today’s accident) earned his team a €50,000 fine, and similarly a €50,000 was given to Renault in 2009. Why have Red Bull only received €30,000 when they’ve put Paul in hospital suffering from some broken bones? (the injuries could have been far worse, but the danger should have never happened)

I normally start my summaries going down the  constructors order, but because it was Williams’ 600th grand prix, I thought I’d start with them!

Williams –
Qualifying – MAL P18 – BOT P17
Race – MAL P15 – BOT P16
In fairness to Williams, they were running in the points until the last pit stop problems for both drivers. Though I doubt they would have been able to fend off Paul Di Resta, Nico Rosberg and Hulkenberg etc. It was a miserable qualifying for the team, with both drivers failing to make it through to Q2. I feel like Williams have lost motivation, they used to be so full of passion and enthusiasm and now it seems to have faded away. They have so many fantastic memories, and a credible history, I just hope they don’t lose all faith, and they come back fighting.

Red Bull –
Qualifying – VET P2 – WEB P3
Race – VET P1 – WEB P7
Vettel was quite disappointed with second place, but it’s not that his lap wasn’t good, because it was good – it’s just that Hamilton’s lap was perfect. He still put his car on the front row, so that gave him a good opportunity to take the lead into the first corner. Funnily enough, this was Mark Webber’s worst qualifying result here, and it’s only 3rd place. Any driver would be happy with that! Sadly though, problems in the pit made Marks chances of getting on the podium very unlikely, though to come back through the field to take 7th place is still an achievement. Vettel on the other hand drove a pretty faultless race, he overtook Hamilton at the first corner which was a key part in his win, and then he kept calm even when the two Lotus’ applied the pressure. It’s also his 30th win, not a bad days work!

Ferrari –
Qualifying – ALO P8 – MAS P7
Race – ALO P4 – MAS DNF
Ferrari had to play with strategy to get some decent points, and that’s exactly what they did. It was obvious during qualifying that, that was what they were doing, so their grid position was satisfactory. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. I don’t know where the Ferrari race pace has gone, but they need to find it because otherwise Sebastian will just walk away with this title. Felipe Massa hasn’t been having the best of seasons, he has scored some points, but he’s also had his fair share of faults – whether they were in the practice sessions/qualifying or the race it needs to be sorted out for Ferrari to have any chance on winning the constructors championship.

McLaren –
Qualifying – BUT P9 – PER P13
Race – BUT P6 – PER P8
To be honest, I was surprised that Jenson managed to get through to Q3, but the McLaren does look like it’s made some progress. Sergio obviously didn’t have a great qualifying session, but certainly made it up in the race. It’s the first time both McLaren’s have been in the points since Monaco, and because neither Force India drivers scored points they’ve closed the gap to them in the constructors championship. Though can they keep it up?

Lotus –
Qualifying – RAI P4 – GRO P5
Race – RAI P2 – GRO P3
Romain Grosjean’s pace seem to come out of no where, it appears he seems to be well on the pace, or well off it, and this weekend he was definitely on it. At one point, I did think he was going to catch Vettel for the lead, but then Raikkonen started to get quicker and obviously the two later swapped positions. In terms of qualifying, I think it was fairly obvious that it was a shoot out between the Red Bulls and Mercedes (well Hamilton) so 4th and 5th is very respectable. Track conditions worked in Lotus’ favour today, producing what looked to be the fastest car in terms of race pace, they just weren’t close enough to Vettel to take the lead. Overall, a brilliant day for the team with both drivers appearing on the podium. Very impressed with Grosjean’s performance today, and Raikkonen gave us an exciting last few laps!

Mercedes –
Qualifying – ROS P11 – HAM P1
Race – ROS P9 – HAM P5
A mixed result in qualifying, that possibly cost Nico Rosberg of some better points. Lewis’ qualifying lap was faultless, he really did push hard and it payed off, tipping Vettel for pole, making this Lewis’ 29th career pole. Unlike Lotus, track conditons weren’t in Mercedes’ favour, they looked to be very challenging yesterday but with the hot temperatures it just didn’t suit the W04. Tyre degration problems were the main reason why both drivers couldn’t get a better position. Lewis did however recover quite well on his last stint, moving from 10th to 5th within 15 laps. Nico was the biggest to miss out, though he did move himself up into the points, and made an impressive overtake on both Bottas and Ricciardo simultaneously at turn 2.

Force India –
Qualifying – DIR P12 – SUT P15
Race – DIR P11 – SUT P13
What a miserable result, after showing strong pace in Silverstone, I thought they might duplicate it here. But like Mercedes, track conditions played to their disadvantage. Their speed disappeared and as a result, failed to get in to Q3 and score any points. All isn’t lost though, the car still has a lot of potential, and I do still think Force India are capable of getting one of their drivers on the podium at some point this season. They are still ahead of McLaren in the constructors championship, though they have closed the gap to the Silverstone team to just 10 points.

Sauber –
Qualifying – HUL P10 – GUT P14
Race – HUL P10 – GUT P14
You have to consider that this time last season, Sauber had achieved 2 podium positions and had ten times as many points as they do now. So to drop back by that much, is terrible, especially as they are apparently in financial troubles, with a rumour floating about that Hulkenberg hasn’t been paid in a while. Despite this, looking at their results, Hulkenberg has to be doing something right to pull points out of a sluggish car. I think he deserves a better drive, and with speculation that he’s in talks with Lotus he could be on his way there. Esteban Gutierrez is still yet to surprise me, I’m not convinced that he was the best driver to choose. Obviously finishing where he started in today’s race isn’t a bad result, but it’s always best to move up the order. I do hope Sauber sort out their financial issues, it’d be a shame to lose them from the sport.

Toro Rosso –
Qualifying – VER P16 – RIC P6
Race – VER DNF – RIC P12
Like Force India and Ferrari, I was a bit confused as to where the pace from the car had gone. However, I was surprised at Ricciardo’s qualifying result, his joint best to date grid start (not inc the Silverstone promotion). It seems to me that Ricciardo is the better qualifier, and Vergne is the better racer, though which (if any) Red Bull might sign to replace Webber is still a mystery. I myself believe Ricciardo is the better option, he’s consistent and seems like a team player, though Vergne is still a big contender. It’s a shame a hydraulic problem put him out of this race, and a near collision with Paul Di Resta showed his quick reactions (Force India have recieved a €5,000 for an unsafe pit release due to this). A satisfactory result for the team, though no points were scored, lets see what they can do in Hungary!

Caterham –
Qualifying – PIC P19 – VDG P21
Race – PIC P17 – VDG P18
It seems to be quite predictable during qualifying that Pic and Bianchi are the leading two young team drivers, and Van der Garde usually starts ahead of Chilton. In qualifying though Pic lead the back markers and Van der Garde slotted in the middle of the Marussia’s. Caterham are another team that are struggling financially, though I’m hearing they should be OK for another season.  Van der Garde actually had the better start during the race and got himself in front of Bianchi, Pic also managed to keep in front of both his team-mate and the Marussia’s. Overall not a bad result for Caterham.

Marussia –
Qualifying – BIA P20 – CHI P23
Race – BIA DNF – CHI P19
I’ve put 19th for Chilton, but essentially that’s last, and that’s not where Max should be finishing. Like I said previously, the Marussia’ s and Caterham’s seem to split each other up during qualifying, but this time the Caterham’s had the upper edge. Bianchi was the driver who bought out the safety car after his car blew up in smoke and fire (maybe a bit exaggerated) and then after the smoke cleared started to roll down the hill with no driver in the cockpit. Not one of Marussia’s best performances.

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Pirelli drama continues

You know that feeling, where you just feel like closing your eyes, exhaling and shaking your head? That’s the way I’m starting to feel about Pirelli.

I started off supporting Pirelli saying that the teams asked them to changed the tyres, and that’s what they’ve done. However 6 tyre failures in one race, is just unacceptable. It cost Lewis Hamilton the win, Sebastian Vettel’s tyre turned out to be cut just before his pit stop, and Nico Rosberg’s was also starting to fail so made a precautionary pit stop. To deem them unsafe, is an understatement in my eyes. If we have to wait until someone gets hurt, then what on earth happened to driver safety? What happens if a tyre fails, and a driver slams into a barrier and gets injured? Pirelli can’t just stand there, say sorry, and blame something else.

They started off by saying that Silverstone’s circuit kerbs were the reason for the failures. If so, how come there were no incidents during any of the free practice sessions, or GP2, GP3 and the Porsche Supercars events? It doesn’t add up. It’s easy to blame someone else, but to blame something so irrelevant like a kerb is pointless. Pirelli then said that the tyres were ‘safe’. If they are safe, why are they taking the new construction tyres to Germany? Surely if they were safe, they wouldn’t need the new tyres? It doesn’t make any sense.

During the British Grand Prix there were 5 major tyre blow outs (Hamilton, Massa, Perez, Vergne, Gutierrez). I was watching Anthony Davidson on SkyF1 earlier, and he pointed out something I had been thinking previously. Cast your minds out to when we first started to see tyre delamination’s, like Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain or Paul Di Resta in Spain. When they delaminated, the steel belt from the tyre was still attached. To show you what I mean, here’s a comparison of Lewis’ tyre delamination’s –

Lewis Hamilton tyre
(the image on the left is from Bahrain, the image on the right is from Britain)

So what’s changed? How come they are more dangerous now, than they were 2 or 3 races ago? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Charlie Whiting even admitted that he was close to calling off the race after adding “It was quite close. It did occur to me that we might need to do that. We have not seen a failure like this before. Clearing up all that debris was putting marshals at risk, and that is not very satisfactory.” This has gotten so problematic that Jean Todt has told Pirelli that they need to participate in a sporting working group meeting, which will take place on Wednesday.

Adrian Newey has said “Safety-wise, there are potentially two issues. The car that has the failure but also suddenly you have three kilos of tread flying around. If that hits the following car in the helmet it doesn’t bear thinking about. But that has to be a risk, and as such there is a lesson that should be learned from today and I will be very surprised if it isn’t.”

Christian Horner and Stefano Domenicali have also suggested that the Young Driver Test should be scrapped and replaced with a fully-fledged tyre test, although Martin Whitmarsh wants something more urgent. Whitmarsh added that he wasn’t considering withdrawing (with reports suggesting teams will boycott) but it’s something all the teams and drivers will have to look at. He later said “we have to support Pirelli and make sure we give them all the information and enough time to make the right decisions.”

Here’s some images of Sergio Perez, Felipe Massa and Jean-Eric Vergne’s tyre blow outs from the weekend –

Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Race Day, Silverstone, England, Sunday 30 June 2013.

Tyre blow out checo

Tyre blow out

It’s not necessarily about pointing the finger at Pirelli and saying they’re to blame, because that’s no use. It’s about finding a solution, and taking these drivers out of a danger that doesn’t need to be there.

German Grand Prix – Preview

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This years Germany Grand Prix will be held at the Nurburgring (not to be confused as the whole Nordschleife).
The circuit is 5.148km long (3.199 miles) with the race being 308.638km long (199.768 miles)
The race will be 60 laps long
With 16 corners, consisting of both high speed and low speed technical corners.
Drivers make a total of 57 gear changes per lap, and are at 53% full throttle.
Michael Schumacher holds the lap record, of a 1:29:468 (2004, Ferrari)

Pirelli are taking the soft and medium tyres, along with intermediates and wets.
Ferrari hold the most wins for the German Grand Prix, winning a massive 22 times, compared to Williams who are 2nd with 9 wins.
With the Nurburgring being close to the Eifel mountain range, there is always a possibility that the weather could change.

In 2012 (at Hockenheimring) Fernando Alonso drove to victory, with Button and Raikkonen completing the top three. Funnily enoug, that year Hamilton retired from the race after receiving damage from a puncture (sound familiar?) However in 2011 (Nurburgring) Hamilton won the race, with Alonso and Webber finishing the podium.

Pirelli are also set to introduce tyres with Kevlar belts instead of steel for Sunday’s German Grand Prix, after the mess last weekend at Silverstone.

British Grand Prix – My experience

Sun stroke, dehydration and fatigue weren’t the things I was expecting to come back from the British Grand Prix with, especially the first two. I was expecting cool weather with clouds, but instead we got blue skies and hot sun, not something I’d expect to say! Not that I’m complaining though.. But my weekend, was absolutely brilliant.

It started off quite badly if I’m honest. We set off at around lunch time on Friday and got to our campsite at roughly 3 o’clock. We were going to be putting up the awning for our caravan, then setting off to the track to have a walk around and to familiarise ourselves with the place. But instead, it took us a further 1 and a half hours to put up the awning, because the pitch we were on was practically a gravel pit. For £25 for the weekend, I expected an area of grass with the electric hook up, not stones with a bit of mud in there. However, my dad found some heavy duty pegs, rather than those pathetic thin metal pegs that tents always supply you with, and we had the awning up in no time. It was about 5.30pm when we had set everything up, so it was too late to head to the track, and decided to just have tea and a chilled night in. Including a game of Trivial Pursuit, which by the way, I’m not very good at -insert unhappy face-.

On the Saturday me and my friend Leanne, woke up quite cold but excited. We must have woken up at about 4am because we could hear the birds tweeting, and it was pretty light from inside our inner tent in the awning, but we thought we’d go back to sleep anyway (because our alarms hadn’t gone off). When the alarms did go off, we woke up at 6.50am and made our way to the Park and Ride service for half past 8, though we were late getting ready because we wanted to go an hour earlier than we did (oopsie). I highly recommend using the Park and Ride service, It’s so much easier than driving in because you miss all the traffic and you go straight into Silverstone. You park your car at the designated site, for us it was Turkweston Aerodrome, and then the double decker bus takes you to the track, and it also brings you back to your car.

We arrived at Silverstone, the place I’d been dreaming of going for a number of years, and I was finally here. The vast amount of people did scare me at first (I suffer from Anxiety) but I soon moved past it. We got to the track in time for Free Practice 3, and Leanne and I left my parents to walk around on our own. As we were making our way up to Copse, we heard the sound of something incomparable. We turned to our right and a Caterham F1 car whizzed past us. We walked over to the fence just before the National Pits Straight grandstand, and our smiles stretched across our faces.

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SILVO

Just hearing the noise from those cars was exciting, even though it was just a free practice session. We did then carry on over to Copse, so we could sit down and take everything in, this was our view:

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(the Red Bull car is actually so stunning to look at)

We loved sitting here, however it was very difficult to read the screen, and we couldn’t hear the loud speaker because of the noise, so we didn’t have a clue on who was fastest until the session ended when the commentators summed it up. That was the reason why we decided to carry on moving around until we reached Becketts. Which in my opinion as well as Stowe, are the best places for people with General Admission tickets to sit. The Porsche supercar then came on for their qualifying, and they are beautiful cars, but I just wanted the Formula 1 qualifying to start. I wanted to hear those engines; once you hear them, you just can’t get enough of it.

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After a 20 minute break or so, F1 qualifying finally came on. Like I said before, we didn’t really know what was going on, because the screens were so small, but we could see who went first because when a driver goes 1st, the 1 is red on the screen. As for the people who dropped out of a session, that was a guess from the cars we didn’t see in the session after.

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The roar from the crowd when Lewis got pole position gives me goose-bumps. Every body who was near me, was standing, and the grand stand behind me was applauding and cheering. There was a tense moment for Lewis fans, when Sebastian Vettel was on his last flying lap, but when he went 3rd the clapping and cheers started again. When Lewis drove round on his slow out lap, a lot of people were stood up waving and clapping for him, it was an incredible atmosphere.

The GP2 race then came on, and we stayed at Becketts because we felt it was a great place, including the people around us. As Brits, both Leanne and I were cheering for them; James Calado, Sam Bird, Jolyon Palmer, Jon Lancaster and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. Again, the support for Sam Bird on his last lap, to win the first race was outstanding; there were lots of people stood up cheering.

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GP2

For the GP3 race, we took a long walk up to Stowe. There was a horrific crash during that race, and annoyingly it was at Becketts, the place where Leanne and I had just moved from! However, the view from Stowe was fantastic, I thoroughly recommend it. Though be careful, when you’re sat on a chair and you lean forwards there’s a chance you may fall off because you’re on a hill facing downwards. It was a brilliant day for Britain – Lewis Hamilton on pole, Sam Bird winning the GP2 race and Jack Harvey winning the GP3 race!

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On the Sunday, we again woke up a bit late, so missed both the GP2 and GP3 race, and as we were walking to Becketts the Porsche supercar race was on. Though we weren’t too fussed, because we were eager to see the Formula 1 – we were gutted about the GP2 & 3 race though! :-(

For the F1 race, we sat just passed the Becketts grand stand. It was the best view we had all weekend. I also forgot my camera on Saturday, so if the pictures look better now, it’s because they weren’t taken on my iPod like the previous pictures. Before the race, there was a fantastic air display from the Red Arrows [I have seen the Red Arrows several times before; as a kid I went to Air Shows with my dad, like Duxford, Cosford and Mildenhall].

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Red Arrows

Then came the drivers parade, and again my iPod took useless photo’s as the zoom control isn’t very good. But my trusty Kodak zoomed in, and shot this:

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(don’t ask me which driver is which, because I honestly don’t have a clue)

The formation lap came, and I shot this photo of Lewis and Nico in their Mercedes:

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So here are a few snaps of the race, they aren’t in an order because they are from both my iPod and my camera (there aren’t many because I was enjoying myself too much to bother with picture taking!) :

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I had a brilliant time – the support for Lewis and Jenson was just incredible. As Lewis crept back through the order, several people around me were on their feet cheering him on. The same goes to Paul Di Resta as well. If you have the money, I do recommend going to the British Grand Prix. Next on my list – Singapore or Monza, maybe I’ll see you there ;-)

Mark Webber – Not bad for a number 2

It was somewhat expected that Mark Webber was going to leave Formula 1, after the events and discomfort in Malaysia, but after reports said he was close to signing a new contract with Red Bull Racing, we were all a bit surprised at the news this morning. Porsche sports car programme announced earlier today that Mark had signed a multi year contract with the team, and is to take part in races like Le Mans 24 hours race.

During Mark’s time in Formula 1, he’s drove for Minardi, Jaguar, Williams and Red Bull. In 2002 Mark drove his Minardi to an impressive 5th place [Minardi’s first points since 1999], after suffering with damage to his differential he managed to defend off Mika Salo in a fast moving Toyota. During the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2003, Mark qualified his Jaguar in 3rd place, not only his career-best [at the time] but the best qualifying position for Jag in the 4 years that they’d raced in Formula 1.  In the aftermath of the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix, it emerged that Mark had been competing despite having a fractured rib that he picked up from the pre-season testing in Barcelona. That same year, Mark achieved his first podium position at the Monaco Grand Prix finishing 3rd, behind his team-mate Nick Heidfeld who was in 2nd.

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2007 was when we saw Mark move up to Red Bull Racing, and in the Japanese Grand Prix was still suffering from food poisoning – but a crash with soon to be team-mate Vettel put them both out of the race. In 2009 Mark achieved his first pole position and his first race win at the German Grand Prix, despite having to take a drive through penalty early on in the race. During the 2010 season Mark appeared on the podium 10 times, including 4 wins in Spain, Monaco, Britain and Hungary. 2011 saw his team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s dominance, but with the help from Mark, Red Bull picked up their first of three constructors championships. Last season Mark inherited pole position in Monaco, and won for the second time, as well as taking the win at the British Grand Prix.

Mark has been key to the Red Bull Racing dominance, producing a good flow of steady points, however his relationship with team-mate Sebastian Vettel has been tricky. Sebastian ignored team orders in Malaysia, and went on to pass Mark for the win, even though ‘multi-21′ was being repeated over the radio. The German initially apologised for his actions, but later went on to defend himself by saying ‘I was faster, I passed him, I won’ and later added that he may disobey orders again. Mark however has said that this wasn’t the reason for his departure, but instead he’s looking for a new challenge adding that ‘Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world’.

When you look back on his career, especially his early career with Jaguar, it’s clear that Mark will be happy with his time in Formula 1. He’s had some hefty crashes [Brazil 2003 & Valencia 2010] but it’s fair to say that this talent hasn’t gone to waste. His overtake on Fernando Alonso at Eau Rouge will always be one of my favourite manoeuvres, and let’s not forget his say-it-as-it-is attitude or his off track sense of humour – like labelling Romain Grosjean as a ‘first lap nutcase’. Or maybe his ‘not bad for a number two driver’ comment over the radio at the British Grand Prix in 2010.

Mark Webber

So, who would be replacing the Aussie? Kimi Raikkonen was once upon a time in with a shot, but since writing this, it was announced that Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso driver) was to replace the Australian. Daniil Kvyat will fill Dan’s vacated seat alongside Jean-Eric Vergne.

A quick Q&A with Josh Webster

After racing in Formula Renault, Josh moved himself up to GP3 with Status Grand Prix alongside Jimmy Eriksson and Adderly Fong.  During his time in Formula Renault, Josh achieved eight wins, and 22 podiums across some of the UK’s best tracks. He was also selected into the final six of the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the year Awards in February. Being a member of the BRDC Rising Stars and MSA UK Elite Drivers, Josh is definitely someone to watch out for.

josh-webster


1. Firstly, you started racing when you were in school –  Was it hard travelling to different area
’s in the UK as well as keeping up good grades? Did you have to sacrifice anything?

It was always going to make things a bit harder, however I tried really hard to catch up when I got back and I didn’t let it affect me too much. I recently went to Hertfordshire University to study Motorsport Technology, however after 6 months I realised that if I want to race in GP3 and commit fully, I would have to come back to Uni another time. It takes a lot of effort for both. You’ll probably hear from most drivers that the biggest sacrifice is actually the friendships you make in school. Being away almost every week racing definitely makes it harder to keep friends happy too! Luckily I had a good amount of friends who understood about my racing and were very supportive.

2. When did you first realise that you wanted a career in racing?

As a kid it became very apparent that I wasn’t exactly ‘talented’ at many sports… My mum found out when she came to pick me up from football practice and I was in goal swinging from the goalpost facing the wrong direction! At around 12 years of age I had a karting lesson for my birthday and from that moment I was hooked. I showed a flare for racing from the start and I’ve never looked back since!

3. So what has been the biggest difficult so far in your career?

I’d probably say dealing with frustration in testing this year. We had many problems with the car which meant I missed out on a lot of track time. As a rookie in GP3, and coming from Formula Renault BARC, it’s a big step for me and ideally I’m looking at a 2 year GP3 program. The team and I are working hard on the car and we are making vast improvements, but I have definitely learnt how to deal with frustration and things not going your way.

4. What did it feel like when you won your first championship?

I won the European Junior Rotax Championship in 2009 (age 15). It felt absolutely unbelievable. The biggest reward was crossing the line and the huge wave of relief, followed by excitement and a few tears. My family worked extremely hard that year (and still do!) and it was a fantastic feeling for all of us. It’s something that I’ll never forget.

5. How different was it when you transferred from karts to Formula Renault?

The biggest differences were raw power, a heavier vehicle and downforce. First of all it was a huge shock at how fast the Formula Renault was compared to a 25bhp Rotax. With a Formula Renault five times the weight of a kart, I learnt very quickly about managing the roll and balance of the race car. I felt I adapted quite quickly, and I loved every second of it. The more I trusted the car and the downforce, the better the experience was. To think that I am now driving a GP3 car with more than twice the power and downforce is crazy… and I still want more power now! I’m still on a huge learning curve even after 3 years of Formula Renault BARC… it shows you never stop learning as a driver.

6. Have any of the current or past Formula 1 drivers influenced you? Or do you have a motorsport icon that you aspire to be like?

There are many drivers that come to mind when I think about who inspires me. Definitely Ayrton Senna is in the list, as he was different to the rest and there was something unique about the way he drove. Jenson Button is another big influence, as he takes his fitness training extremely seriously and is a true athlete. His driving style is similar to mine, as he is very smooth and accurate. At least I try to be like that anyway!

7. Outside of the UK, which is your favourite track to race on?

Every new track that I visit outside of the UK keeps beating the previous. Right now, I’d say that Jerez is a favourite. But I can’t wait to visit Nurburgring, Spa, Monza and Abu Dhabi. They look awesome!

8. What has been your most memorable moment through your racing career?

Two moments stand out for me. One is the aforementioned moment when I won the European Karting Championship. The second was my first ever day in a race car in a Formula BMW at Pembrey. My parents came and it was a big moment for us. I was either going to go out and crash straight away or I was going to be competent and pick it up quickly. Luckily it was the latter!

9. With Status GP being based in Silverstone, do you spend a lot of time on track?


Unfortunately not. In GP3 we have a testing ban, which prevents any GP3 cars being driven except on official GP3 test days and race weekends. This prevents bigger and more financially stable teams and drivers doing lots of testing and gaining an unfair advantage on other drivers who can’t afford to do that. So in a way it’s a good thing. However, as a rookie, I need as much seat time as possible. Unlike some GP3 drivers who can go and test/race in F3, Renault World Series 3.5 and other formulas, we are limited to GP3 due to the massive costs of racing more than one race category. It was a very big task generating the budget for GP3, so we can’t stretch more than that. I am extremely grateful to Nine Group and my other sponsors for getting me on the grid this year in one of the best categories to race in!

10. Apart from racing, what do you do for fun? 

As a racing driver, you have to commit to pretty full on schedules of training and sponsorship management. This means I’m training six times a week with my personal trainer, and working with my parents to generate sponsorship to keep racing going. It’s going very well at the moment, but we know it’s going to get harder and harder. We are up for the challenge!

11. Is driving in GP3 your route to Formula 1, via GP2?

Yes, that’s how I see the ideal path anyway. Renault World Series 3.5 is also an option, as the cars are on par with GP2 in terms of speed and the platform. We are looking to do two years in GP3, and then assess what our options are for 2015. In racing you never know what can crop up at any time, and hopefully I will be in a higher category in 2015. My family, sponsors and I have never been so determined to make it happen!

12. Finally, if you could see yourself somewhere in 5 years time, where would you like to be?

The answer is a simple one… Formula 1! It’s my dream, and I believe if I keep making progress and put in some great performances, then one day I could find myself in a Formula 1 car. Right now all I can do is put 110% in!

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Watch Josh and the next GP3 round this weekend at the British Grand Prix!

A quick Q&A with Jennie Gow

Hi Jennie! How are you? Are you excited for the British Grand Prix?

Im great thanks and yes, really looking forward to the British Grand Prix.

1. So you’re a pit lane reporter, how did you go about that? Did you want to be a presenter at a young age?

I wanted to be a journalist when I was younger and worked really hard to make it happen. I qualified as a Journalist and then did LOADS of work experience everywhere and anywhere I could. I have had the pleasure of working in lots of different sports along the way but really love my role as F1 pit lane reporter.

2. I know you from Formula 1, but I do know that you used to present MotoGP! How was that? Do you enjoy bike racing?

I love racing in general and being in the world of MotoGP was brilliant. It was a hard year and there was an enormous amount to learn. It was a real experience and I’m glad I had the chance to do it. The paddock is a very different one to F1, for a start most people speak Spanish in MotoGP so it’s a lot harder in that respect. The first race I ever presented was Speedway – 2 wheeled action is exhilarating and if you’ve never been to an event I would highly recommend it.

3. Talk us through a grand prix weekend, how much prep goes into it?

I spend about two days prepping for a race weekend. I present the preview show on a Thursday night so there are times when I have to go and interview people ahead of that. It’s a busy weekend. We broadcast live for every session and then do lots of other spots into 5 Live and other programming across the BBC. I generally get up at about 6am and get to bed at about midnight on a race weekend – and then collapse on a Monday!

4. Do you have any predictions for this season? Or did you have any predictions coming into this season that haven’t gone the way you expected?

I thought Jenson Button was set for a better season than he is having. Who would have guessed that the McLaren car would be so poor this year. It worries me that Sebastian Vettel could walk away with the Championship. I know that would be great for him but I don’t think it would be great for F1 fans. We like to see it go down to the wire.

5. Has anything surprised you this season?

Again, the McLaren. The drama about Pirelli tyres this year. Oh, and Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg being so dominant this season. Everyone was worried about Lewis’ move away from McLaren but I guess he is the one smiling now.

6. Obviously you travel quite a lot. With 21 races on the calendar being the latest rumour (Russia and another USA race being added), what are your thoughts on this? And how hard will it be for you; jet-lag?

21 races will be incredibly hard. Not primarily for me but for the teams. The guys all work incredibly hard and adding another race as well as in season testing is going to be a real drain on their resources and energy levels. At the end of the season there aren’t many people in the paddock who aren’t completely shattered. This will only be worse as the number of races increases. But in general it’s great that F1 is trying to appeal to new audiences and taking the show on the road.

7. Do you have a favourite race on the calendar?

Austin and Silverstone. Austin was the race everyone was worried about last season. Would COTA be ready, would there be any fans, would it provide decent racing? All these things were answered in raptures and the city itself is AMAZING. Definitely one to go to for fans. Silverstone is of course a great experience. All the biggest names in racing come together and its a real celebration. Meeting all the fans of F1 and having a chance to see everyone is brilliant.

8. If you could interview any driver past or present, who would you choose and why?

Ayrton Senna. Simple. He was the most charismatic of drivers and I would loved to have met him and spoken about his passion for F1 with him.

9. In other formula’s, some drivers are struggling with funding, and actually in Formula 1 it’s been spoken about as well. Luiz Razia losing his seat, and the whole ‘paid’ or ‘pay’ drivers. What are your thoughts on this?

There have always been pay drivers. Niki Lauda was set to be one when he first entered F1. There are times when it feels a shame that people lose out if they don’t have the funding but in general if you are good you should be able to succeed. F1 wouldn’t survive without some drivers  paying and some being paid – it’s all about balance. Let’s just hope not too many talented people slip through the hole. I think more should be done for the junior formula though, that’s where we lose the most talented people before they even get a chance at F1. We have to make it more accessible for everyone.

10. Tyres are big talk this season, I’ll avoid the Mercedes/Pirelli ‘tyre-gate’ issues, but what are your thoughts on the general tyres? Do you think they needed to be changed/altered?

Safety is paramount and if tyres are delaminating and causing accidents that is a problem but I don’t understand how Pirelli and the teams are meant to improve the situation without testing. I think the standard of racing in general over the last 3 years has been really good though and I don’t think anyone would dispute that.

11. What do you like best about your job? What are your best/worst moments from working in Formula 1?

I love that I can share the world of F1 with everyone at home listening. Its a privileged world and I get to take you there and show you around. Meet the drivers and hopefully, bring you all the best bits from the weekend and the sport. There have been some ‘interesting’ moments though and they usually include me putting my foot right in my mouth – I was on the grid at Spa last year looking for Monisha Kaltenborn from Sauber and while I was talking I was trying to describe what I was seeing – saying I was looking at Kobayashi’s shiny red helmet wasn’t ideal!

12. If you could add/remove a race from the calendar, which would you choose?

I would add London city – that would be AMAZING. Can you imagine cars running around the Tower of London and Big Ben! I would probably take away Korea. It wasn’t as bad as some say but I don’t think the place is ready for F1 quite yet and the political situation makes it a volatile place to go.

13. Finally for all the aspiring writers/presenters/commentators; Have you got any tips to be a successful journalist?

Be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer and do as much work experience as you can. It’s important to get the right qualifications too. So check before you start any course that it is the right one. Most of us presenters are very happy to help where we can so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Things like Twitter and Facebook make it much easier to get in touch with people so if there is someone you really admire out there in the world you would like to work in, get to know them and ask them for a little help. It’s a great job but don’t expect it to be too glamorous – its not!

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Listen to Jennie on BBC5Live reporting from the F1 pit-lane.
(picture courtesy of the BBC)

The Best of the Brits

I was skimming through a few articles today and came across one piece that was titled ‘The Top 10 British F1 Legends’. Intrigued by this, I read on and whilst I agreed with some drivers positioning, I was quite surprised at others. I suppose everyone ranks people differently, because it’s a matter of opinion, but John Surtees was only ranked 9th. What shocked me even more (even though I am a huge fan) is that James Hunt was ranked 2nd. With it coming up to the British Grand Prix, I thought I would have a go.

10. Damon Hill – Like father like son
Son to Graham, but certainly worthy of being in the top 10. Damon started out on bikes but moved his way up to Williams F1 just before the death of Ayrton Senna. Despite the grief everyone was suffering, Damon picked up the team and lost the championship win after a controversial crash with Michael Schumacher. For the next two years Damon was named as Michael’s biggest title contender, and in 1996 beat the German along with Jacques Villeneuve for the crown. He currently works with SkyF1 giving his analysis. In his career, he attained 1 championship, 22 wins, 42 podiums and 20 pole positions. Damon Hill

9. Tony Brooks – The Racing Dentist
It’s frustrating, Tony left BRM and then the next year Graham Hill won the championship with them. So you could question where he would have come, had he stayed at the team. Having said that, Tony was a respectable driver and Jack Brabham thought very highly of his abilities. A long with Stirling Moss, they are considered the best drivers to not have won the world championship. Despite his 38 race starts, Tony did manage to win 6 races, as well as achieve 10 podiums and 3 pole positions. Stirling also considers him to be ‘the best driver in the world who nobody knows about’.Tony Brooks

8. Mike Hawthorn – The first British champion
At 6ft 2 it was hard to miss him, but his championship days didn’t last long. Good friend Peter Collins died at the German Grand Prix in 1958, so Mike decided to retire at the end of the season; The season he became the champion. Sadly after a road crash with a lorry, Mike passed away. Mike was known for having a heated rivalry with Luigi Musso, who like Collins and Hawthorn passed away in France that same year. He raced his way to 3 wins, 18 podiums and 4 pole positions.

Mike Hawthorn

7. Lewis Hamilton – The Rookie that shone
Despite what some people think, you can see a bit of Ayrton Senna in him . To miss out on the Formula 1 World Championship by one point in his first year, is just incredible. His personality is sometimes debated, but when it comes to his driving there’s just no question that he’s one of the best. His overtakes are mature, and well thought of. Considered to be one of ‘the top 3′ in the current championship, he will be one to watch for many years to come. Despite only having 1 championship in his name, Lewis has achieved 21 wins, 52 podiums, 27 pole positions and counting.Lewis Hamilton
6. Nigel Mansell – Brave, Stubborn but quick
Brave is an understatement, he raced his way to the Formula Ford championship…with a broken neck. He is undoubtedly quick, and in tricky situations Nigel shone. He took the fight to the likes of Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet sr, but after Alain took his seat at Williams he turned his back on Formula 1. He also raced in CART IndyCar series as well as a brief time in British Touring Cars. His skill earned him a world championship, as well as 31 wins, 59 podiums and 32 pole positions.
Nigel Mansell
5. Graham Hill – The Monaco King
One of the people’s favourites to watch in his time. He arrived at Lotus just after the deaths of Jim Clark and Mike Spence, and picked up the team to go on to win the world championship that year. A bit like Jim Clark, Graham also raced in other competitions like Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500. The only driver in fact to win all 3 competitions, which is known as the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’. He is also noted for being exceptional around the Monaco street circuit, winning 5 times. Graham and son Damon are the only father-son duo to win the Formula 1 world championship, and Damon’s son Josh is currently racing in Formula 3. Like the following 4 drivers, Graham was inducted into the International Motorsport Hall of Fame. A plane crash, ended his life, but with 14 wins, 36 podiums and 13 pole positions he left his mark.
Graham Hill
4. John Surtees – A champion on 2, and 4 wheels
You know you’re good when you can win championships in both Formula 1, and a motor bike championship (Blue Riband 500cc). You also must know you’re good, when your fans are petitioning for you to be knighted. John is an ambassador behind the Racing Steps Foundation. Familiar? That’s because drivers like Jack Harvey and James Calado (GP3&2 drivers) currently have backing from them. RSF helps drivers with talent and potential with funding. His bike career is more impressive than his time in Formula 1, but he did win a world championship with Ferrari, as well as attaining 6 wins, 24 podiums and 8 pole positions.
John Surtees
3. Sir Stirling Moss – Always a bridesmaid
Stirling Moss is a class act. He proves that you don’t need to have won a world championship, to be considered as one of the best. Sir Stirling competed in more than 80 cars in his day, in different formula’s. He had perfect sync with his cars, and knew exactly where to put the car into what corner. Sadly a near-fatal crash at Goodwood ended his career in racing. He is however still involved in the sport, doing presenting, driving historic cars and even presented Lewis Hamilton with his 2nd place trophy at the British Grand Prix in 2011. Despite not winning a championship, Stirling did achieve 16 wins, 24 podiums and 16 pole positions.
Stirling Moss
2. Sir Jackie Stewart – The Flying Scot
The knighthood was well deserved. Sir Jackie has done so much for the safety of Formula 1, which in itself is commemorable. But what makes him even more special, is that in his era of racing a small error could cost him his life. To still race despite all of that, shows how determined and passionate he was about the sport. His figures of what he achieved is extremely credible, racing himself to 3 World Championships, 27 wins, 43 podiums and 17 pole positions. During the Belgian Grand Prix of 1966 after a crash, he was left trapped in his car for almost an hour. Jackie campaigned for better safety and is credited with bringing in full-face helmets, drivers seatbelts, medical teams, safety barriers and bigger run-off areas. Jackie Stewart
1. Jim Clark – British Legend
Jim was renowned for being able to race any car, in any conditions. He not only raced in Formula 1, but also competed in NASCAR,  British Touring Cars, and Le Mans. Clark didn’t complain, he simply drove the car to the finish line. In 1967 Jim started from pole position at the Italian Grand Prix, but a puncture made him drop to the back of the grid. After having his wheel changed he was an entire lap down and came out in 16th place, though the race was not over. Clark charged through the field and soon re-took the lead, however on the last lap he ran out of fuel and finished 3rd.  Jim won 2 championships, and achieved 25 wins, 32 podiums and 33 pole positions. A crash at Hockenheimring (Germany) cost him his life, but his legacy in British F1 still stands.
Jim Clark

A quick Q&A with Arthur Pic

After moving from DAMS to AV Formula, Arthur looks to be a lot more challenging. He currently sits 7th in the FR3.5 championship, but with 10 more rounds to go, anything could happen. The next round is in Moscow, a track where he has previously won, so I wish him the best of luck!

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1. When did you first realise you wanted to be a racer? Did you watch motor-sports as a child, or were you inspired by someone etc?

Yes, since I was a child. I used to watch motorsport on the TV and began karting just for fun at around 11 years old.

2. In 2008, you achieved 9 out of 14 podium finishes, which of those was your most favourite/memorable?

2008 was indeed a very good year for me! My favourite moment was my double victory at Brno. It’s a track that I really like. In fact, I’ve raced there four times in total and won all of them. The other two were in 2010.

3. That same year, you became the Formul’Acadamy Euro series champion. What were your feelings like? Did this make you even more determined to race in higher ranks?

I was really happy as it was my first year in single-seaters and gave me the opportunity to race in Formula Renault 2.0 in 2009.

4. In 2010 you stayed in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, and achieved 7 consecutive pole positions, 4 fastest laps and 4 wins and the previous year you were the highest place rookie (impressive). What was your favourite part about racing in this formula? You seemed to do pretty well. 

I’ve already mentioned it actually! My favourite moment was scoring a double pole position and double race victory at Brno.

5. A lot of drivers say Spa is one of their favourite tracks. How did it feel when you won there? Do you enjoy the track too?

Yes, Spa is one of the world’s most impressive racetracks. It’s really fast and a place that all drivers seem to enjoy. Of course, it’s always nice to win there too!

6. What made you choose the Formula Renault route, instead of GP3/2 etc?

I chose to go down the Formula Renault route because you have more track time during a season compared to either GP2 or GP3. And I believe that in order to improve you need to drive as much as possible. Having said that, if you want to graduate to Formula 1 I also think it’s important to do GP2 in order to learn about the tyres.

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7. The next race is in Moscow, you won there last year, how confident are you feeling for that race this year? (@MissKaty_F1)

I’m feeling confident, especially as I like the circuit a lot. Of course I will be trying to repeat last year’s victory in an effort to catch the guys ahead of me in the championship.

8. Obviously, your brother Charles races in Formula 1 with Caterham. What’s it like having a sibling who is also a competitive racer? Do you push each other? Do you ever go to each others races?

No, I wouldn’t say that we push each other especially. But yes, we do go to see each other sometimes when we can, but it’s not easy with our schedules. When we’re together at home we try not to speak about racing too much!

9. Between races, what do you do for fun? 

I spend a lot of time in Barcelona where AV Formula is based, and also play a lot of sport to prepare myself.

10. What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? 

Hopefully in F1! It’s where every driver wants to race.

11. Finally, a bit of fun. If you could put together your perfect track using different sectors from different circuits in the world, which ones would you choose?

Sector 1: Moscow Raceway. Turn 1 is pretty fast but the rest of the sector is a bit more technical. Plus I won my first FR3.5 race there!

Sector 2: Motorland Aragon. Just somewhere I enjoy driving!

Sector 3: Brno. It’s a beautiful place to race and somewhere that I have always done well.

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(all pictures courtesy of Media52)

A quick Q&A with Seb Morris

Seb is a 17 year old British racing driver. In 2010 he was the youngest ever Junior Ginetta G40 winter series champion, in the following year he went on to win the Junior Ginetta championship, as well as becoming the winter series champion in Formula Renault. He also was the highest placed rookie in the winter series of the same formula. Last year he became a Ginetta Ambassador and was also named as a BRDC rising star.

Seb Morris2

1. What got you into racing? Was it watching the sport, or had you had an influence off someone?

I realised I had a passion for motorsport at Go Karting Parties. People noticed that I was quicker than all my friends so the Gentleman at Deeside Karting Ring (My Local Track) suggested I take it up professionally. It all progressed from there.


2. Do you have any motorsport icons that you aspire to be like?

Michael Schumacher – I like his demeanour/passion and aggression




3. How did it feel to be 3rd in BARC Formula Renault in your first season? You were also the highest rookie, which must have been a good motivator?

I was of course delighted to come Third in my first season in single seaters in the Formula Renault Barc Championship 2012. However with mid-season engine issues, I really felt in my heart of hearts I could have won this championship.

We learnt from the year and I wet on to win the Formula Renault Barc Winter Series 2012.




4. In 2008, you were the champion in 3 different karting leagues. Is that when you first realised that you wanted to competitively race?

Yes, I learnt my craft in Karting guided by Tony Theodore, I quickly thrived on winning and moving up the motor sport ladder. This made me want to progress into senior categories and see how far I could travel in the Sport I am passionate about.




5. What has been your most memorable career highlight?

Meeting Michael Schumacher and having over 40 minutes with him being able to gain knowledge and listen to his wise words.




6. Do you have a favourite circuit? Or one that you get excited to race on?

Oulton Park (from my Junior Ginetta Days) not only do I love the undulations of the track It’s also very close to home. As a racing driver spending so many nights away from home it’s always nice to be in your own bed.



7. With a lot of young drivers struggling with funding, how are you working your way around it?

Funding is always an issue for most drivers, no matter what level you are at. I have the backing of Liberty Properties, Ginetta, Legat Owen and Lloyds Animal feed, as each year passes and you move up the ladder you need more and more Funding. It is a constraint battle for every driver, but one which is very necessary within our chosen sport.




8. Since you started racing whilst you were in school, was it difficult to both travel across the UK racing, as well as keeping your grades up?

The Juggling act is immense. Not only does your school have to be totally understanding (I am grateful for Abbey Gates total commitment to help me get through my A Levels) you have a career and school work to manage.

As a driver you are juggling testing days, race weekends, fitness training. I also have the added commitments of being honoured as a BRDC Rising Star, which means additional Track Days to assist Charities and Companies. I am also part of the MSA Elite Programme for aspiring young drivers that topped off with an AASE NVQ at Loughborough this year make my time a rare commodity .
My time is very previous. I make every minute count!




9. If you make a mistake in Qualifying or in a race, how do you control yourself, and keep yourself motivated?

I am very Calm in and out of the Car I have learnt over the years that reactions are weak. Never show your card to your opponent. If their has been a mistake made learn from it. Make your next session in the car count.




10. Finally, where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I would like to see myself having a successful career within Motorsport. Having progressed up the Single Seater ladder to F1. I would like to have completed my education and achieved the best grades possible. But most importunely have my family and friends around me healthy and happy.

Seb Morris1
Seb currently races for Hillspeed in the BRDC Formula 4 championship!
Read more about Seb Morris on his website: http://www.sebmorris.com/
Or follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/SebMorris31

A quick Q&A with James Calado

James is a British 23 year old, who currently races in GP2 with ART. He has previously raced in series like Formula Renault 2.0 (winter series, Portugal winter series, UK & Eurocup), British Formula 3 and GP3. In 2008 he became the champion in the Formula Renault 2.0 UK winter series, and the Formula  Renault 2.0 Portugal winter series. In 2001 he was karting, and won the British Cadet Championship. He finished as a runner up in the 2009 British Formula Renault, the 2010 British Formula 3 and 2011 GP3. Last season he finished 5th in GP2 and looks to be one of the favourites to win the championship this year.

Hi James, thanks again for taking part! (questions sent via twitter)

1: What do you do to prepare for a race?
(CaitlinGeorgiaa)

Lots of physical and mental prep. That can include sim development and long debriefs.

2. What do you do between races for fun?
(Formula1extra)

I enjoy keeping fit, socialising.

3: Which current F1 driver, would you choose to be your team mate?
(dancotterellf1)

Hamilton

4: Which old F1 circuit would you bring back, if you could?
(JustinDiVito94)

Brands Hatch GP

5: What’s your favourite F1 car of all time?
(CalumF1_Giroud)

Cant really answer that at the moment. Although I can say I enjoyed the 80’s cars

6: You’re a big fan of the Isle of Man TT races, but what made you choose cars over bikes as a child?
(DomSmithF1)

Not really sure. I guess I adapted to karts pretty well although I learnt everything on bikes. I could ride a quad before I could walk!

7: Who is your favourite driver of all time?
(CoopsxD)

Ayrton Senna

8: After watching GP2 drivers who have come into F1, some of them have made accidents. Do you think you are ready for F1, or do you still need time in GP2 to prepare?

I’m ready now although I am fully focused on GP2

9: How confident are you in making it to F1 next year? Does seeing your 2012 team mate Gutirrez make a solid start give you confidence?
(sdalbiacf1)

F1 is a huge step and very different to GP2. Obviously I have interest from teams and we are are negotiating going forward next year

10: What has been your most favourite win?
(SlvAaron)

Winning the british cadet championship, Last race where we all crossed the line together. I won by 0.01 of a second, I was only 11

11: Which track do you most enjoy and why?
(GeorgeP1994)

Brands Hatch GP because to be fast you need to have lots of confidence in the high speed corners. Its a really good track, fantastic in a f3 car.

12: If you could choose 3 sectors from any race tracks in the world to make up a new one, which ones would they be?
(beth_f1)

Sector 1 from Spa
Sector 2 Brands Gp
Sector 3 Monaco

13: What is your most memorable moment on track?

Winning my first GP2 race in Abu Dhabi

14: How does it feel being the favourite to win the GP2 crown this year, does it add any pressure?
(Paul11F1)

No!

15: With such a talented group of potential British F1 drivers, who (apart from yourself of course!) do you think has the best chance of getting a seat?
(hedgeryhoops)

I guess it depends on the drivers who find the most money and deliver good results.. Not sure!

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