Thursday, August 21, 2014

BELGIAN GP PREVIEW

The Belgian Grand Prix is an automobile race, part of the Formula One World Championship. The first national race of Belgium was held in 1925 at the Spa region's race course, an area of the country that had been associated with motor sport since the very early years of racing. To accommodate Grand Prix motor racing, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps race course was built in 1921 but it was only used for motorcycle racing until 1924. After the 1923 success of the new 24 hours of Le Mans in France, the Spa 24 Hours, a similar 24-hour endurance race, was run at the Spa track.

Since inception, Spa-Francorchamps has been known for its unpredictable weather. At one stage in its history it had rained at the Belgian Grand Prix for twenty years in a row. Frequently drivers confront a part of the course that is clear and bright while another stretch is rainy and slippery.

The Belgian Grand Prix was designated the European Grand Prix six times between 1925 and 1973, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one grand prix race in Europe. It is one of the most popular races on the Formula One calendar, due to the scenic and historical Spa-Francorchamps circuit being a favorite of drivers and fans.

Spa Francorchamps has many claims to fame; popularity among drivers, a superb collection of high speed corners, unpredictable weather. But the factor which will probably stand out this weekend is that it is the highest engine power factor circuit on the F1 calendar. The track is 70% full throttle and the run from La Source hairpin to the braking point for Les Combes features 23.5 seconds of constant full throttle. And in this first season of the hybrid turbo power units, that will have a significant bearing on the result.

Add to that the fact that, with only five engines per driver permitted for a season and some drivers already struggling with reliability, we could see some drivers saving engine mileage in Free practice and we could see some blow-ups as engines reach end of life. So engine strategies could be as important as race strategies this weekend.

TRACK CHARACTERISTICS
Track Length : 7.004 kilometres.
Race Distance : 44 laps (308.052 kilometres).
Corners : 19 corners in total.
Average speed : 238km/h. Circuit based on public roads.
Aerodynamic Setup : Medium to Low downforce.
Top speed : 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 312km/h without.
Full Throttle : 70% of the lap (high).
Time Spent Braking : 14% of lap.
Number Of Brake Zones : 9.
Brake Wear : Low.
Total Time Needed For Pit Stop : 21 seconds.
Lap Record: 1:47.263 (Vettel, Red Bull, 2009)

WEATHER FORECAST

The forecast for this weekend is for cloudy weather, with a chance of rain on Saturday qualifying day.
However this can change very quickly. It’s always a good idea to factor in a wet weather plan. Spa is notorious for fickle weather. With such a long lap, it can be raining on one part of the circuit and the rest can be dry. Also the temperatures can fluctuate dramatically, so it can be 25 degrees one day and 15 degrees the next. This can have a significant effect on the cars.

DRS

Like in previous years, there will be two DRS zones. The detection point for the first zone will be 240m before Turn 2, with the activation point 310m after Turn 4. The second detection point will be 160m before Turn 18, with the activation point 30m after Turn 19.


New debris fences have been installed at Turn 1 of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, the FIA has confirmed. In addition, the wall on the driver's left after Turn 11 has been renewed, while drainage has been installed or improved at Turns 2, 4, 8, 11, 16 and 17 – something that is rather critical given rain is a threat over the Spa weekend.

TYRES

Pirelli tyre choice for Spa: Medium and soft. This is the fifth time this season that Pirelli has brought this combination.

It is a more adventurous selection than the last two seasons, where Pirelli brought medium and hard tyres. This reflects a growing confidence on Pirelli’s side after the problems of 2013 with tyre failures. One of the key things for teams to establish in Friday practice is the fastest way to do the race and so getting the maximum preparation time in Free Practice is crucial.

The soft tyre is designed for higher temperatures, so crucial to getting a competitive lap time will be setting the car up so that it switches the tyres on in the all important middle sector.

SAFETY CAR

The chance of a safety car at Spa is statistically high at 80% and 1.4 per race. Rain is one reason, but also accidents tend to be high speed and so there can be quite a lot of debris.

CONCLUSIONS

Qualifying rarely determines the final race result; the pole sitter has only won the race four times in the last 13 years. Overtaking is not a problem at Spa and the DRS wing makes it very straightforward anyway. Throw in a more adventurous tyre selection from Pirelli than in the last couple of years at this track and you have multiple elements that could add up to an exciting race.

It's been a whole month since we've seen any F1 action so Spa is the best place to start off again with all the right ingredients in place.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

HUNGARIAN GP 2014 PREVIEW

The Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungarian: Magyar Nagydíj) is a motor race held annually in Hungary. Since 1986, the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held on June 21, 1936 over a 3.1-mile (5.0 km) track laid out in Népliget, a park in Budapest. The Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union, and the Alfa Romeo-equipped Ferrari teams all sent three cars and the event drew a very large crowd. However, politics and the ensuing war meant the end of Grand Prix motor racing in the country for fifty years.

The Hungaroring circuit is 19 km from the centre of Budapest, alongside the M3 motorway at the border of the village, Mogyoród. The track is in a natural valley, surrounded by 50 hectares of rolling hillside. With this exceptional natural advantage, almost 80 percent of the racetrack is visible from any point. This is the reason why it is called "The Shallow Plate", it is because the spectators are watching races sitting by the side of an imaginary plate.Hungary is a much maligned circuit, due to its tight low speed nature and the difficulty of overtaking, but it has produced a surprising number of exciting races.

The Hungaroring circuit is rarely used and so the track is usually dirty at the start of the F1 race weekend and the grip improves as the weekend goes on. This means that it’s very easy to be misled by the tyre performance on Friday and the only really meaningful work that can be done on car set up and planning race strategy is often the one hour session on Saturday morning.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 4.381km kilometres.
Race distance : 70 laps (306.630 kilometres).
Corners : 14 corners in total. Average speed of 190 km/h is the lowest of any permanent track on F1 calendar.
Aerodynamic setup : High downforce.
Top speed : 305 km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 295km/h without.
Full throttle : 55% of the lap (low).
Time spent braking : 14% of lap.
Number of brake zones : 11.
Brake wear : High.
Total time needed for pit stop : 16 seconds.
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.35 seconds (high).
Lap Record : 1:19.071 - M Schumacher (2004)

Weather Forecast

The forecast is for temperatures around 30 degrees on Friday and Saturday, but there are thunderstorms forecast for Sunday, which could bring rain, as we had here in 2011.

Once again the strongest chance of rain is on race day. It arrived on Sunday in Hockenheim but too early to affect the grand prix – although it did help produce a cracking GP2 race.

For Friday at least the conditions should be warm and sunny though not quite as hot as in Germany, around the high 20C mark.

Temperatures will rise slightly on Saturday but with cloud cover also increasing the possibility of thunderstorms is introduced. Sunday is most at-risk again, but the unpredictable nature of the storms makes it hard to say at this stage whether the race will be affected.

Tyres

Pirelli tyre choice for Budapest: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This is the same as the last two years. This combination of tyres was used in Australia, Bahrain and China. There was around 0.6s performance difference between them in Bahrain.

The Hungaroring circuit is rarely used and so the track is usually dirty at the start of the F1 race weekend and the grip improves as the weekend goes on. This means that it’s very easy to be misled by the tyre performance on Friday and the only really meaningful work that can be done on car set up and planning race strategy is often the one hour session on Saturday morning.

DRS

There will be two DRS zones sharing a detection point 5m before Turn 14. The activation points are 130m after the apex of Turn 14 and 6m after the apex of Turn 1.


The guardrail to the left of the run-off area at Turn 3 has been re-aligned to better protect the recovery vehicle and to allow space for a car that has been recovered. Also, speed bumps 50mm high have been installed two metres from the track edge in the run-off area at Turns 6/7, while new debris fencing has been installed close to the guardrail on the left between Turns 11 and 12 and around the outside of Turn 14.

Safety Car

Safety cars are surprisingly rare at the Hungaroring. One possible explanation is that there are few gravel traps for cars to get stranded in, with tarmac preferred through most corners. The chances of a safety car are only 10% and there have been only two in the last seven years.

Conclusion

A Hamilton victory could go a long way towards the 2008 world champion overhauling a points deficit to his rival for the second time this season, while another win for Rosberg could restore his points lead to the heights he enjoyed pre-Silverstone – and deliver a crucial psychological blow to his team mate.

Despite losing ten points to Rosberg last weekend, Hamilton will likely take heart from the fact that this weekend’s race takes place at a circuit where he has so often dominated – having taken four victories here in his career, including the last two Hungarian races.

Lewis Hamilton can become the first driver to win three successive Hungarian Grands Prix if he wins again at the Hungaroring on Sunday, which would make him become the first man to win three on the trot in Hungary, while it would also make him the most successful driver at the Hungaroring, with the British competitor locked on four wins alongside F1 icon Michael Schumacher. Hamilton has won back-to-back races in Budapest - a feat shared with past champions such as Nelson Piquet (1986-87), Ayrton Senna (1991-92), Jacques Villeneuve (1996-97) and Mika Hakkinen (1999-00).

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WINNERS AND LOSERS: GERMAN GP

A fantastic race, exciting with crazy overtaking up and down especially Lewis Hamilton's kamikaze slicing of the field to P3. Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

Not the best result, but Daniel Ricciardo drove the finest race of his F1 career on a storming afternoon at Hockenheim

Star of the Race
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 6th
What a guy! On the first lap he was run so wide avoiding the Felipe Massa accident that he put two wheels into the gravel and could have gone off, but he scrambled and finished the opening lap in 15th place. He steamed back though the field with Lewis Hamilton attached to his gearbox, cutting through the backmarkers and midfield almost as quickly as the Mercedes would have done it. Except the Mercedes was behind. He found a cheeky little way past Kimi Raikkonen much quicker than Lewis could get past the Ferrari, and he only succumbed to Lewis once his SuperSoft tyres started going off.

Dan didn't stop battling through the race; he put a fantastic move on Jenson Button on Lap 56, selling him a dummy that he was going up the outside of Turn 8 before diving for the inside to grab P5. It was a joy to watch. And if that wasn't enough, he did the same thing to another World Champion, Fernando Alonso, at the same place, while duelling with the Ferrari all the way from laps 58 through 61. In the end he had to give best to Alonso's fresher tyres, but bizarrely caught up with him on the finishing line - the timing screens registering that there was 0:0 between them. Alonso had no fuel left because Dan had pushed him so hard.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 5: Lewis Hamilton on Romain Grosjean for P13
There are regular editorials these days along the lines of 'What's Wrong With F1?' There's nothing wrong with F1, as evidenced by the serial overtaking moves and epic defences in this race and the one a fortnight ago at Silverstone. Lewis knew he had to get through the field quickly and that involved taking risks. He came across Grosjean on the Start/Finish straight on Lap 5 and instead of waiting for the run to Turn 2, (the sensible thing) decided to go up the inside of the Lotus into Turn 1. Turn 1 at Hockenheim is a bit like Copse at Silverstone - but even more dangerous. It's very rare you see an overtaking move there and Lewis pulled it off, but what a risk.

Winners

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1st
From the moment that Lewis Hamilton's new brake disc exploded on Saturday afternoon, Rosberg had this in the bag. The duo had already demonstrated that a lack of FRICS might have slowed the team up a touch, but they were still in charge. Thus after the start and Turn 1 negotiated for Rosberg, it was a question of keeping one eye on the weather for rain and another on a Safety Car once Lewis had cleared the pack and was up to the vicinity of P4, P3 or P2. Neither happened and he was clear for the win.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 2nd
Bottas didn't get to indulge in the kind of wheel-to-wheel action enjoyed by almost all of the cars behind him, but his greatest feat was to keep his tyres together, especially for the final stint. It looked to all the world that Hamilton would steamroller past him, but Valtteri had kept enough tyre life back to make his straight-line speed advantage count in the DRS zones. He also noticed that Lewis's left front was graining (a result of the wing damage) and so he was safe and could maximise his advantage through all the key right-handers.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 3rd
Pitched to the back of the grid through no fault of his own in qualifying (and it has to be said, while he was making a much better job of it than his team-mate, who had blown two laps in a row by running wide and was even forced into taking a set of SuperSofts to get into Q2) Lewis had a combative afternoon of getting back to the front. He almost, almost made it back to P2, but the early dive for his second set of SuperSofts, when by rights we should have had a second Safety Car, meant that he ran out of tyres (as David Gates might say) just when he needed them most.

Lewis has done this kind of roll-your-sleeves-up-and-get-stuck-in kind of drive before, now it's time for Rosberg to have a couple of grands prix when he gets demoted back there and see how he copes.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 4th
It's nice to hear that after all the radio bitching we had at Silverstone that Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso sat down afterwards and had a beer and laughed about their intense duel. And the two were together again for Hockenheim, although this time the different strategies meant they couldn't spend as much time together as before. Seb also got the second best radio message from an engineer in the event (after Sergio Perez): "Sebastian, respect the beeps in Turn 13"

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 5th
Yet another race where Fernando Alonso dragged his Ferrari forward, when the benchmark performance was probably about four or five places further back. He thought that it was his best race of 2014. "For the last stint I was saving fuel but I was battling with Ricciardo so I had to decide to give up the position and cross the line or fight with Ricciardo and be on the limit to cross the line. I decided to fight with Ricciardo to be in the position and then try to manage the fuel as well as I could. On the last lap I had to massively save fuel - I was in eighth gear all lap and was lucky the race wasn't 100m longer!"

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 7th
There was some fantastic onboard footage in the race after Nico Hulkenberg's race engineer, Bradley Joyce, had got the Force India User's Manual out and was trying to get Nico Hulkenberg to re-set his car to "Chassis 2". Hulkenberg spent most of the long back straight at 200mph flicking through buttons, knobs and dials, like he'd just been thrown out of Minecraft and was trying to get back in the action.

Jenson Button, Mclaren, 8th
Button put together a strong opening lap which was the foundation for a good result, that was then totally undermined by a weak McLaren strategy. It also didn't help that an overlong first pit-stop didn't manage to get him in front of Nico Hulkenberg. As for the incident with Hamilton, after the race Jenson expressed surprise that Lewis would think he was letting him though. Maybe he ought to sit down and listen to some of the races where engineers tell their drivers not to lose time fighting a driver coming through the field because they're not racing them. It was still Hamilton's fault that the two made contact and it was the Mercedes driver who came off worst.

Button could also listen to some of Dan Ricciardo's post-race interviews and have a motto inscribed on his steering wheel - 'Moan Less'.

Sergio Perez's Race engineer
Sergio Perez has got a reputation for being bit 'chippy' but the Force India pitwall were taking none of it in Hockenheim.
Engineer: "Lift and coast Checo, lift and coast."
Perez: "What about the rain. (it was forecast that it might rain towards the end of the race and thus fuel consumption would be lower)
Engineer: "We can't rely on that so please lift and coast. That's the last time I'm going to ask you..."

Losers

Charlie Whiting, FIA Race Director
Whiting must be relieved that nothing happened to the marshals after Adrian Sutil's car got stranded in the middle of the circuit after he spun it at Turn 1. What seemed like an inevitable Safety Car was handled under yellow flags and the marshals had to push the Sauber away with cars racing past at speed. Fernando Alonso was one of the many who couldn't understand it: "We were hoping they don't bring the Safety Car out because it was 17 laps to the end and if we put the super-softs on, 17 laps was tough. But being objective and honest, probably we were expecting a Safety Car in a normal situation. Sometimes they put the Safety Car out for a piece of front wing on the track and now it was a car there and it was not a Safety Car.

Apart from this misjudgement Whiting also set an unusual precedent, allowing both Mercedes cars to change brake discs in parc ferme before the race and not making them start from the pitlane. Although Lewis's was demonstrably for safety reasons, nothing had failed on Nico's car.

Felipe Massa, Williams, DNF
Broadcasters wanting to spice up the highlight tapes will be grateful for Felipe Massa's run of accidents and incidents (Montreal, Silverstone, Hockenheim) and he must be tempted to buy one of the Mario Balotelli T-shirts, 'Why Always Me?' Although he was pretty angry with Magnussen, it's hard to know what else the McLaren driver could have done with Bottas in between them.

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, DNF
Kvyat's great qualifying was undone by a rookie overtaking move round the outside of Perez, and then cutting off the line to the apex so that Checo had nowhere to go. Except tip him into a spin. As the Mexican rightly said: "What is he doing?"

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 11th
It's always an interesting race when Kimi gets angry on team radio and he had a lot to be angry about this race, as everyone passing him thought it was a NASCAR event and they had to rub bodywork. At one stage he had Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso pinballing his Ferrari F14T from either side into the hairpin. However he got most angry when asked to make his SuperSoft tyres last longer than necessary: "We have to stop! We HAVE TO STOP!" yelled the iceman.

Media Watch
There's so much more to a trucky's job these days than just driving the transporters between races. BBC's Jenny Gow talking about Kimi Raikkonen's car after Saturday's FP3: "They'll have to change over the fuel pump, which is a trucky procedure."

Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish introduced us to a new phrase that Eddie Jordan would have been proud of saying. "He's staring down the back of the barrel in 4th place..."

Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish: "As Ron Dennis looks on with an impassioned expression, a stoney face."

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WINNERS AND LOSERS: BRITISH GP

Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

It was a feast of brilliant overtaking at Silverstone with immaculate passes into Brooklands, Luffield, Copse, Stowe and Club:

STAR OF THE RACE

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st
Given the kind of start he got in Austria last time out, it was always likely that Lewis would have clear sight of his team-mate early in the race. And rather than put the hammer down straight away, he sat back and let the gap to Rosberg go out before pegging it back.

Yet again he got the faulty pit-stop, 4.1 seconds compared to 2.7, but on the hard tyre he was over a second quicker than Rosberg. However by then Nico had got his downshift problem, (although Nico still claimed a Fastest Lap on Lap 21 with the problem). It was one of those days when Hamilton looked totally dialled in, and Rosberg's retirement spoiled what could have been a lot of fun. One more retirement for Nico and a few duff tyre stops and the team-mates will have parity. Rosberg's absence allowed us to watch the battle of Alonso vs Vettel, whereas if he'd continued we'd be watching two silver arrows duke it out and recalling Mansell vs Piquet in '87 (as if that doesn't happen enough).

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 35: Fernando Alonso on Sebastian Vettel for P5
On a day when there were some spectacular overtaking moves all round the circuit the battle of Alonso vs Vettel took top billing. Alonso had already dispatched Magnussen into Copse, Ricciardo around the outside of Club and was homing in on Jenson Button's fourth place. When Vettel emerged from his second pit-stop, just in front of Alonso on fresh tyres, it looked as though the four-times World Champion only needed to keep in front down the Wellington Straight till Brooklands and that would be job done. Alonso had other ideas.

The Luffield complex of corners allows drivers to take varying lines through Woodcote and out onto the old start/finish straight and Fernando took it wide, cut back in to get the power down early though Woodcote. Vettel saw him coming, jinked right to stop him going down the inside and Alonso just steamed down the outside and overtook on the outside of Copse. For anyone who has stood on the outside of Copse and watched that happen in the race, it is a hair-standing-on-end moment. Even watching on television it was that kind of moment. It's what we all watch F1 for, whether or not you wear Scuderia red, it is simply awe-inspiring.


Alonso's subsequent defence of P5 was heroic and Vettel shouldn't really have been allowed to take the place back when he returned the favour on Lap 48. Vettel's move was equally as brave but started on the previous start/finish straight when he ran outrageously wide through Turn 18 to gain momentum and get into the DRS zone for the Wellington Straight, in which he closed up on Fernando and put his car alongside through Luffield.

Vettel got his car beautifully placed on the inside, made a similarly brave pass into Copse, but then ran wide, over the line, at the exit. So clearly he gained an advantage by running off the track limits. Whereas Race Director Charlie Whiting had been giving the drivers warnings, this was now a stewards' call and they didn't make it. Presumably because both drivers had been skirting very close to the white line and Alonso had already collected a warning not to transgress again.

However nothing will take away from the moment when Alonso passed Vettel on the outside into Copse, and sixth place was ultimately a handy reward given that they were thinking about retiring the car at one stage with battery and rear wing issues.

WINNERS

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 2nd
For a circuit that wasn't supposed to suit the Williams FW-36, Bottas got a great result, often barrelling down the outside of cars going into Stowe. In fact the top three all got the kind of result they might have expected in a wet race - 6th to 1st, 14th to 2nd and 8th to 3rd. Williams have now overhauled Force India, but they look to be the second best team on power circuits and the third best team overall.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 3rd
Dan held on despite the collective willpower of over 100,000 fans hoping that Jenson would be able to overhaul him and claim a podium in memory of his father. Ricciardo's tyres were going away at the end, but he made no mistakes and held on. He thought at the time: "If they have a sniff of DRS, especially with the ponies they've got behind them, then we're in trouble."

Jenson Button, McLaren, 4th
Before the race Jenson was doubtful whether the team could keep anything like the positions that he and Kevin Magnussen had qualified in, but he was only 0.8 seconds away from doing it. This was helped in no small part by his defence against Fernando Alonso earlier in the race. Given the Ferrari's practice pace it looked inevitable that Alonso would find a way past, but Button worked out his advantages and kept him at bay. Fourth still equals his best ever result at his home GP.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 5thSeb got a nightmare start and was lucky to be 5th on the opening lap. His early pit-stop looked to be in reaction to a potential Safety Car for the stricken Gutierrez, but that was a roll of the dice that didn't pay off. He then took so long to get past Alonso that when he did, Button was out of reach.

Like Perez, Button and Alonso, he was keen to share information about his rival exceeding the track limits but added playfully after the race: "I do not know who was keeping score on the list, obviously it was easier for me (to see) as I was behind Fernando. I don't know what the resolution of his mirrors is, but they must be very good."

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 7thMore points for Kevin but more importantly a few lessons on where to overtake at Silverstone. Vettel's pass of the Mclaren in Luffied going into Woodcote was genius.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 8thNeither Force Indias got a good start thanks to the team 'over-torqueing the rear wheels', but Nico has still scored points in every race this year. Only he and Alonso have done that.

BBC Race Coverage
If that wasn't a BAFTA-winning sports broadcast, I'd like to see one that was better. From the preview films, through to the commentary and post-race analysis, the BBC's coverage of the race was exceptional. Obviously we like to take the mickey out of EJ and Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish when they say the odd thing out of context (see below) but take nothing away from the overall package, it showcased F1 at its very best.

From the pre-race film of Jenson Button and David Coulthard touring round London on Harley Davidsons, and then DC and Lewis Hamilton going back to the Rye House karting track to race, plus the footage of Lewis 'skydiving' with Suzi Perry and the behind-the-scenes film piece of Susie Wolff's Friday, it made F1 look a very impressive sport.

LOSERS

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, DNF
Full marks for Rosberg for not giving up in Qualifying. That will be a learning curve for everyone, as Hamilton, Ricciardo and Perez all assumed the worst at the end of Q3. In the race he got an exemplary get-away, but looked to be losing out in what was presumably his middle stint (of a two-stopper), however it's difficult to know when his gear-shifting problem kicked in. Although the leader has the privilege of stopping first, this time round, by stopping first, Mercedes were able to see that there was actually quite a lot of life left in Rosberg's tyres and so Lewis was able to go much further.

Before anybody starts feeling sorry for Nico, he's had a 24-race run of finishing GPs. The kind of thing that Pastor and Esteban can only dream of.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, DNF
Raikkonen couldn't have imagined the bounce he was going to get when his Ferrari returned to the track and snapped to the right on the opening lap.

Felipe Massa, Williams, DNF
Not the best way to celebrate 200 races. When Jenson reached that landmark in 2011 he won the Hungarian GP. All Felipe had to show for making it into that rarest of motorsport clubs, the 200 Club, was a smart bit of Ferrari T-boning avoidance.

Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, DNF
Just as Gutierrez had been launched into the air by Maldonado in Bahrain, the Mexican got him back at Silverstone by launching Pastor with an inept move into Club. There was some impressive air beneath the Lotus chassis. In fact it was a tribute to the robustness of the Lotus that it continued as long as it did. Gutierrez's three-place grid penalty for the German GP was hardly enough, given his love of leaving the track.

Media Watch
The STBO Award
Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish gets two nominations. For the first he was speculating about the stresses on engines when they need to do multiple starts in 2015 instead of a rolling start behind the Safety Car:

"It's going to be hard - they've got five engines - that's the internal combustion engine..."

When Valtteri Bottas lost part of his engine cover on the Hangar Straight:

Allan thought he better fill us in on its function. "The engine cover is very light. It's made to - well - cover the engine."

Eddie Jordan: "The special thing about Silverstone is that the circuit is so close to the track."

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Lewis Hamilton fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

BRITISH GRAND PRIX 2014 PREVIEW

The British Grand Prix is a race in the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. It is currently held at the Silverstone Circuit near the village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire in England. The British and Italian Grands Prix are the oldest continuously staged Formula One World Championship Grands Prix. It was designated the European Grand Prix five times between 1950 and 1977, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one Grand Prix race in Europe. All British Grands Prix dating back to 1926 have been held in England; where the British motor racing industry is primarily located.

Silverstone this year will be interesting on a number of levels; with the teams using the hybrid turbo cars on the track for the first time, as it’s one of the lowest braking energy circuits on the calendar; only 9% of the lap is spent braking, so harvesting energy for the MGU-K unit will be an interesting challenge.

Silverstone has the fastest corner combinations on the F1 calendar and is loved by the drivers, but it can be a real headache for the engineers and strategists, as it shows up aerodynamic instabilities and it can be very difficult to get a good reading on the tyres, especially as there is usually some rain during the practice sessions.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 5.891km kilometres.
Race distance : 52 laps (306.198 kilometres).
Corners : 18 corners in total. A high speed circuit based on an old WWII airfield. Lots of high-speed corners, aerodynamically challenging, very easy on brakes.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 311km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 301km/h without.
Full throttle : 66% of the lap (medium).
Fuel consumption : High.
Time spent braking : 9% of lap (very low). 9 braking zones.
Brake wear : Low.
Total time needed for pit stop : 25 seconds.
Updates : The FIA has revealed that artificial grass has been removed from the exits of Turns 5, 8 and 9. While the wall to the driver's left before Turn 6 has been extended, drainage has also been improved at a number of places around the circuit.

Weather Forecast

The weather in England, even in summer, is notoriously hard to predict. Last year saw rain affecting the practice days. It could be warm and sunny, or cold and wet. The long range forecast for this weekend is for temperatures around 19 to 20 degrees, with rain showers forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

Tyres

Pirelli tyre choice for Silverstone: Medium and Hard. This is a similar combination to what we saw at Malaysia and Spain. This year the teams have not spent much time on the hard compound Pirelli tyres. They have been used only in Malaysia and Spain, where they were around 4/10th slower per lap than the medium tyres.

Pirelli - "Silverstone is one of the fastest circuits of the season with high energy loads going through the tyres. Because of this, the two hardest tyres in the range are best-suited to the British track."

The wear rate of the tyres at Silverstone is high because of the lateral loads through the high speed corners, like Copse and Abbey. The surface of the track is not particularly grippy or aggressive, unlike Barcelona, so this will lead to less rampant tyre degradation, while the cooler temperatures will also help with degradation, even if they make tyre warm up something of a challenge.

DRS

There will be two DRS zones at Silverstone. The detection point of the first is 25m before Turn Three, with the activation point 30m after Turn Five. The second detection point is at Turn 11 with the activation point 55m after Turn 14.


Pit Stops

Because the new pit lane at Silverstone is quite long, a stop is relatively slow by F1 standards at 25 seconds total pit lane time. This encourages teams to do less, rather than more stops.

Safety Car

Silverstone is a fast, open circuit with lots of run off areas. So for marshals it’s relatively safe to recover a broken car. The chances of a safety car are therefore quite low – 57%, with 0.6 safety cars per race.

British GP Fast Facts

► The British Grand Prix is one of two ever-present races on the Formula One World Championship calendar. The other race featuring every year since 1950 is the Italian Grand Prix.
► Three venues have hosted the British Grand Prix during the World Championship era. Silverstone shared the early races with Aintree, which held races in 1955, ’57, ’59 and 1961-2. Aintree was replaced by Brands Hatch, which held the British Grand Prix in even years between 1964-1986. Silverstone has hosted all of the other races.
► 2014 marks the 48th running of the Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The circuit, however, is celebrating it’s 50th race, having hosted pre-World Championship grands prix in 1948 and 1949. Both of those races were won by Maserati, courtesy of drivers Luigi Villoresi and Baron Emmanuel ‘Toulo’ de Graffenried respectively. Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina won the inaugural world championship race in 1950. Before Silverstone, a British Grand Prix was held at the Brooklands circuit in 1926 and 1927.
► Silverstone is situated in an area known as ‘Motorsport Valley’. Eight of the 11 F1 teams are clustered within 125km of the track. In order of distance they are McLaren (125km), Williams (65km), Caterham (59km), Lotus (40km), Red Bull  (33km), Marussia (24km) and Mercedes (13km), with Force India based a few hundred metres from the front gates of the circuit. Additionally, Mercedes High Performance Powertrains’ manufacturing facility is based 33km from the circuit and Toro Rosso’s wind tunnel is located 23km away.
► Mercedes have dominated 2014 with seven victories and seven poles from the eight races so far. Neither driver, however, has shown dominant form at Silverstone in the past. In Nico Rosberg’s eight races he has been outqualified by his various team-mates five times. Lewis Hamilton has been outqualified by his team-mates three times in seven attempts. As team-mates in 2013 Mercedes locked out the front row with Hamilton on pole – but Rosberg won the race after Hamilton suffered a tyre failure.
► Jim Clark (1962, ’63, ’64, ’65, ’67) and Alain Prost (1983, ’85, ’89, ’90, ’93) share top billing at the British Grand Prix with five victories each. One behind them is this weekend’s driver steward Nigel Mansell who won in 1986, ’87, ’91 and ’92. Mansell did, however claim five victories on home soil, winning the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch a year before winning the British Grand Prix at the same circuit. Mansell is one of only two drivers to have won differently titled grands prix at the same circuit (Nelson Piquet won the 1980 Italian and 1981 San Marino Grands Prix at Imola.)
► Austria marked Mercedes’ sixth one-two finish of the eight races so far this season. McLaren hold the record with 10, set in 1988 by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Conclusion

Silverstone this year will be interesting on a number of levels; with the teams using the hybrid turbo cars on the track for the first time, as it’s one of the lowest braking energy circuits on the calendar; only 9% of the lap is spent braking, so harvesting energy for the MGU-K unit will be an interesting challenge.

Traditionally Silverstone has been a circuit, which suits the Red Bull car, with its aerodynamic design very effective in high speed corners. Red Bull has won the race in three of the last five years. This year the Mercedes pair have won all but one of the eight races with Red Bull winning the other, due to reliability issues on the Mercedes cars.

It is looking like a Mercedes track so watch out for a resurgent Lewis Hamilton who really needs to cut down Nico Rosberg's advantage. And what a better place to do it then at your home race. This and the British weather. Should be a cracker of a race.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

AUSTRIAN GP 2014 PREVIEW

The Austrian Grand Prix (German: Großer Preis von Österreich) is a Formula One race held in 1964, 1970–1987 and 1997–2003. The Grand Prix is set to be revived at the Red Bull Ring during the 2014 Formula One season.

The Red Bull Ring is a motorsport circuit in Spielberg, Styria, Austria. The race circuit was founded as Österreichring and hosted the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix for 18 consecutive years, from 1970 to 1987. It was later shortened, rebuilt and renamed the A1-Ring, it hosted the Austrian Grand Prix again from 1997 to 2003. When Formula One outgrew the circuit, a plan was drawn up to extend the layout. Parts of the circuit, including the pits and main grandstand, were demolished, but construction work was stopped and the circuit remained unusable for several years before it was purchased by Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz and rebuilt. Renamed the Red Bull Ring the track was reopened on 15 May 2011 and subsequently hosted a round of the 2011 DTM season and a round of the 2011 F2 championship. Formula One will return to the circuit in the 2014 season.

It is essentially the same layout as the old (A1 Ring) circuit, very simple with just nine corners, four flat out stretches where the cars hit 300km/h and a very short lap time of around 68 seconds. Most teams have only simulations to go on and some of the details which will be important to deciding race strategy – such as the exact pit lane length and pit stop time – will be measured and worked out during practice on Friday.
It looks similar to Canada in terms of the amount of energy and loading going into the tyres, so Pirelli has brought the same soft and supersoft tyres and it predicts a two stop strategy to be the default for the race.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 4.326 kilometers
Race distance : 71 laps (307.146 kilometers)
Corners : 9 corners in total. A circuit made up of four straights and a few tight corners
Aerodynamic setup : Medium/High downforce
Top speed : 315km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 304km/h without
Full throttle : 70% of the lap (high), 10 seconds unbroken full throttle on main straight
Fuel consumption : High
Time spent braking : 14% of lap (high), 7 braking zones
Brake wear : High
Total time needed for pit stop at 80km/h (est) : 22 seconds

Weather Forecast

The forecast for this weekend looks good with temperatures in the high 20s and little chance of rain.

DRS

The Austrian Grand Prix, which returns to Formula 1 this weekend, will feature two DRS zones. Controlled by separate detection points, governing body the FIA has decided to place the two activation areas along the start/finish straight and between the Remus and Schlossgold corners of the Red Bull Ring circuit.


Tyres

Pirelli tyre choice for Austria: Prime tyre is Soft and Option tyre is Super Soft. This is the same combination as in Monaco and Montreal. This combination of Pirelli tyres in Monaco proved very durable and quite hard to warm up and this is likely to be repeated this weekend. This will be particularly noticeable for the fronts on the soft compound. The working temperature range of the soft is higher and the track temperatures may be a little low to get them working to the optimum. Pirelli is not sure until they test on Friday of the exact difference in lap time performance between the soft and supersoft tyres. The estimated range is between 0.7s/lap and 1.4s/lap.

Safety Car

As this is a revamped circuit, there is no current data for this.

Conclusion

Despite having four 300km/h straights and two DRS zones, overtaking might not be all that straightforward on this track due to the nature of the corners. Time will tell. So strategy will de decisive as it was in Montreal. Before a wheel has turned it looks as though a likely strategy could be to do an initial stint on the supersoft of around 14 laps and then two equal stints of around 28/29laps on soft. There could be some good racing as the cars, which have just stopped and are getting the front tyres up to temperature, struggle to hold back cars who have stayed out.

Mercedes is the dominant force at the moment with six wins and seven pole positions. This track is likely to be another strong circuit for them, with four 300km/h straights and traction out of slow corners another Mercedes strength

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Friday, June 6, 2014

CANADIAN GRAND PRIX 2014 PREVIEW

The Canadian Grand Prix (known in French as the Grand Prix du Canada), abbreviated as gpc, is an annual auto race held in Canada starting in 1961. It has been part of the Formula One World Championship since 1967. It was first staged at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario as a sports car event before it alternated between Mosport and Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Quebec after Formula One took over the event. After 1971, safety concerns led to the Grand Prix moving permanently to Mosport. In 1978, after similar safety concerns with Mosport, the Canadian Grand Prix moved to its current home at the Circuit Giles Villeneuve on Île Notre-Dame in Montreal.

In 2005, the Canadian Grand Prix was the most watched Formula One GP in the world. The race was also the third most watched sporting event worldwide, behind the first place Super Bowl XXXIX and the UEFA Champions League Final.

This weekend is the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal, one of the F1 fraternity’s favourite races and a solid favourite with many drivers. Montreal is unique, with its long straights and corners lined with walls, especially the “Wall of Champions” on the exit of the final chicane once hit by three World Champs in the same 1999 race.

With a combination of long straights, numerous chicanes and the close proximity of barriers to the track, the Montreal circuit places stress on engines and brakes as well as driver concentration. The track itself is bumpy and generally low grip, due to the fact that it is rarely used outside of the grand prix weekend. With the lack of long corners and emphasis on traction, tyre wear around Montreal is relatively low. Thanks to the configuration of the Montreal track, overtaking tended to be easier on it than at most circuits.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 4.36 kilometers
Race distance : 70 laps (305 kilometers)
Corners : 12 corners in total made up of straights, chicanes and a hairpin
Aerodynamic setup : Medium downforce
Top speed : 326km/h (with Dag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 316km/h without
Full throttle : 60% of the lap (quite high, 15 seconds unbroken full throttle on main straight)
Time spent braking : 17% of lap (high, 7 braking zones)
Brake wear : Very High
Total time needed for pit stop at 80km/h : 18.8 seconds

After the extreme of Monaco, qualifying is significantly less important at Montreal because overtaking is easy and with a short pit lane, this also has a big bearing on race strategy, generally pushing teams towards more stops rather than less.

Weather

Set on the St Lawrence seaway, Montreal can experience extremes of weather for the race; it can be very hot and humid, but also cold and wet, as it was in 2011. This will have a huge bearing on the tyres. It is common to see huge temperature variations – 15 degrees of track temperature on one day and 35 degrees on another. It is one of the most extreme circuit locations for this phenomenon.

Early forecasts for the Canadian Grand Prix weekend pointed to a strong chance of thunderstorms on the first day of practice. But as the start of the race weekend draws near the threat of rain has gradually receded. It’s now looking ever more likely the teams will get a dry start to the weekend, and conditions will remain fine after that.

There will be cloud cover and perhaps the occasional shower during the first day of running on Friday, with temperature reaching around 23C. By Saturday the cloud cover will have passed and under clear skies air temperatures are likely to be three or four degrees higher. It’s likely to be warmer than any of the three days last year, when track temperatures peaked at 33C during the race. Sunday is likely to bring more of the same.

The Montreal Plateau Webcam run by Adrian Platts is a useful way of keeping an eye on incoming weather systems at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, as it is located 2km west of the circuit and usually sees its incoming weather. Find it HERE.

Tyres

Pirelli tyre choice for Montreal: Prime tyre is Soft and Option tyre is Super Soft. This is the same combination as in Monaco. With the lack of long corners and emphasis on traction, tyre wear around Montreal is relatively low.

DRS

This weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix will once again have two DRS zones. Last year two DRS zone were used, but there was only one activation point – the first zone is 55m before Turn 12 (Casino Straight) and the second is 70m after Turn 14 (Start-Finish Straight). This year there will be two DRS zones as well. They share a single detection point, located 110m after T9. The first activation point is 55m before T12, the second 70m after T14.


Also ahead of this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix the FIA has revealed a number of changes to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Asphalt has replaced the gravel around the outside of Turns 10 and 13, while the barrier on the outside of Turn 13 (right of the pit entry), has been moved further back and a new debris fence has been installed. New guardrail posts have been added in order to ensure that no spacing is greater than two metres, while the speed bumps used in 2013 at the exit of Turn 9 and the final chicane will be in place again this year.

Safety Car

The chances of a safety car at Montreal are very high at 56%. Seven of the last 12 Canadian Grands Prix have featured at least one safety car. This is because, with the track lined with walls and several blind corners, there are frequent accidents and the conditions for the marshals when clearing debris from an accident are dangerous. Montreal has the highest rate of Safety Car deployments per race of any circuit bar Singapore.

Conclusion

It has taken just six races for the rivalry between the Mercedes team mates of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to transform into an intense and personal duel. Although there is two-thirds of the season still to run, the events of Monaco may prove to have been a turning point in the narrative of the 2014 championship.

And while Mercedes management will have done everything in their power to soothe any tensions between their drivers behind closed doors, once the lights go out on Sunday expect the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton to pick up where it left off. Personally I think Hamilton will have the advantage here as he has a very good track record at Montreal. Hamilton has three poles and three wins. Rosberg’s best qualifying is fourth and best race result is 5th.

Qualifying last year it was:
Lewis Hamilton: 1:25.512
Nico Rosberg 1:26.008

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

GOING NOWHERE FAST

Fantastic but simple analysis of what could be going on in Alonso's head and what are his options if Ferrari keep going down the toilet as they are right now by ESPN feature writer Nate Saunders. I was screaming in agony when I heard Alonso was going to Ferrari because at the time Ferrari were still quite strong and I knew what Alonso was capable of. But alas, the team has floundered.

I'm sharing this article in its entirety as I could have not written it any better than what Nate has done and I truly find it worthwhile reading so I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. The original article is HERE.

Ferrari's PR department may well have leapt for joy when they saw Nico Rosberg finish Monaco qualifying in the Mirabeau slip road. The bad blood which followed at Mercedes provided a compelling narrative for the rest of the weekend and buried the news everyone had been talking about earlier that week, which centred around a certain Fernando Alonso.

The news had triggered with Alonso's cryptic comments in response to praise from Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche, saying he did not feel like he received the same support from those closest to him. Ferrari issued a gushing reply from Luca di Montezemolo, stating Alonso is "the best driver in the world, who always gives 200% in races".

The statement suggested various things, notably that Montezemolo is terrified of losing Alonso after failing to provide him a competitive car yet again this season. Ferrari's reported big-money pursuit of Red Bull technical guru Adrian Newey would support that hypothesis. Alonso caused a stir in 2013 by joking that he would like "somebody else's car" for his birthday and he may well wish for similar this year.

If Alonso's eyes have started to wander again, ESPN looks at the likely destinations for the Spaniard and whether there is much hope of him finding a drive away from Maranello.

Mercedes

Mercedes kicked off the Alonso speculation in two ways; first came Toto Wolff's statement that Alonso was a "racing monster" capable of just about anything in a motor car, followed by chairman Zetsche saying Alonso was "probably the best driver" on the current grid. The statements were bound to cause a stir in the paddock, even before Montezemolo's response, and could be interpreted as an attempt to court a man who made very public his dissatisfaction at Ferrari in 2013.

On the surface it is hard not to like the idea. The only team-mate to genuinely challenge Alonso consistently in his career is Lewis Hamilton, so much so that it caused the Spaniard to destroy his opportunity at McLaren in 2007 and spend two years languishing at an uncompetitive Renault as a result. Hamilton was an incredible coup for Mercedes when they signed him in late 2012 so it is next to impossible to imagine the team would dump him so soon, meaning Nico Rosberg would appear the most likely to go.

But it seems equally unlikely Mercedes would turn its back on Rosberg, a German driver who has been with the team since the beginning in 2010 and has reportedly signed a two-year contract extension. Then there is the team harmony to consider. Mercedes has already spent the last weeks fighting fires between Hamilton and Rosberg. Replace Rosberg with Alonso and the situation could resemble something of a towering inferno.

Red Bull

The rumour mill was in overdrive half way through 2013 about Alonso replacing Mark Webber at Red Bull. By some accounts Alonso pushed hard to join and Red Bull gave serious consideration to the idea before opting for Daniel Ricciardo. It is hard to know what Vettel would have made of being team-mates with Alonso - he did a good job of staying tight-lipped on the subject last year - but his growing frustration this year suggests he would not have handled the challenge of a competitive former world champion all that well.

Choosing Ricciardo is already a decision which is paying dividends for Red Bull and meant the team continued its tried and tested formula of promoting youngsters from its drivers' programme. With Daniil Kvyat impressing for Toro Rosso and the likes of Alex Lynn and Carlos Sainz Jr also on the books in other series, if a seat was available it seems unlikely Red Bull would want to overlook one of its own junior drivers with F1 opportunities already at a premium.

Add to that the reputation Alonso brings as a man who likes to build a team around himself and you have a problem for a team which spent so long managing the frosty relationship between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

McLaren

Alonso's move to McLaren in 2007 was supposed to be a platform to a third world title but ended in acrimony after just one year, his reputation tarnished and his relationship with Ron Dennis seemingly damaged beyond repair. The problems stemmed from a rookie Hamilton having the gall to challenge Alonso not only for race wins but for the title, before taking an ugly turn when the Spaniard threatened to go to the FIA with information relating to the spygate scandal.

But there may yet be hope for Alonso yet. Despite their rocky relationship Dennis said "never say never" when asked about Alonso coming back to McLaren at the end of last year. The arrival of Honda engines could well open the door for Alonso if the engine manufacturer wanted to mark its return next season with a marquee driver signing.

Whether Alonso would see McLaren as a step sideways or backwards is another question. McLaren clearly has the resources to get back to the front but, like Ferrari, it has been a worryingly long time since it delivered its drivers a car with championship-winning potential. Jenson Button's contract runs until the end of this season but almost certainly has an option for another, while it would take a remarkable downturn in form for the team to consider dumping the promising Kevin Magnussen after just one season.

Conclusion

What do I think? I think his best option would be McLaren as Honda may just be able to produce a powerful powertrain (not engines anymore) to rival Mercedes as they will have this whole year to watch and learn. Plus they have a track record of powerful turbo engines in their history with McLaren.

I'm sharing this article in its entirety as I could have not written it any better than what Nate has done and I truly find it worthwhile reading so I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. The original article is HERE.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my t-shirt design for Fernando Alonso fans below (designs for other teams and drivers also available), click on image.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

MONACO GP : WINNERS AND LOSERS

Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

"Monaco is like cycling round your bathroom" is the classic quote. Now try doing it with one eye closed...

STAR OF THE RACE

Jules Bianchi, Marussia, 9th
A historic day in the tax dodgers' principality. One of the drivers who almost certainly doesn't earn enough to live there, managed to score the first ever points for Marussia. Jules Bianchi had to do some robust overtaking en route to his ninth place, but was able to fend off Jean-Eric Vergne (who nerfed him in the rear wing at the hairpin) for a time and finished in front of a McLaren and a Ferrari. He found a unique place to overtake rival Kamui Kobayashi, lunging up the inside into the Rascasse, then banging wheels three times on the way through. This might be the only two points that either Bianchi or Marussia ever score, so, an event not to go unmarked.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 32, Nico Hulkenberg, Force India on Kevin Magnussen, McLaren for P7
It's always been true of Monaco that you rely on co-operation from the car being overtaken to make a passing move stick. Should the overtaken car at any point decide that they'd like to maintain their normal braking point and the normal turn-in line, then it's tears. This was true of Adrian Sutil's cheeky little dinks into the Loew's/Grand Hotel Hairpin, or Bianchi vs Kobayashi.

Most audacious of all was Hulkenberg versus Magnussen on the first lap after the restart, with Nico shooting up the inside of the McLaren on the short sprint from Bas Mirabeau to Portier. Martin Brundle thought he'd never seen anyone overtake there before, but in 1998 Michael Schumacher had squeezed past Alex Wurz's Benetton there, although that was a carry-on from a move that started through the Loew's hairpin.

Hulkenberg was able to keep Jenson Button at bay despite his fast-degenerating SuperSoft tyres and put some more serious points for Sahara Force India. He must be so glad he didn't get the Lotus drive.

WINNERS

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1st
Toto Wolff explained the extraordinary sawing motion that Nico Rosberg did at the wheel of his Mercedes on his last lap of Qualifying as the natural reaction a driver would make after braking too late. Yeah, right. Any other explanation would have been a PR disaster for the Mercedes team. On the balance of probabilities, someone else would have made that mistake through Qualifying if it was such a great place to make up time, but, surprise surprise, they didn't. Nobody did it in the race either.

Rosberg didn't look the fastest Mercedes driver around Monaco, but such is the idiocy of the circuit that that never really matters much. He was the leading driver around the circuit and when it came to the pit-stops, they were premeditated by Adrian Sutil's crash, so had to be taken together.

F1 needs the Hamilton vs Rosberg battle to keep on going because it's the biggest show in town in 2014, so for that reason alone it was important for Nico to win.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2nd
Lewis Hamilton knows he really can't complain about a bit of skulduggery from the other side of the garage given that he used a verboten engine setting to win the race in Spain. What he got back in Monaco evened the score. What was probably eating him up more, was that after Barcelona he apologised whereas Rosberg didn't in Monaco. On Saturday he said he was going to deal with the incident "as Senna would". Mercedes weren't sure if that mean clattering into the barrier at Portier then walking home.

If Marussia's first ever points weren't such a defining moment, then Hamilton's defence of P2 with one eye shut was easily worthy of Star of the Race. In fact there were shades of the Monty Python film - The Holy Grail in his team radio messages. In the film, the character the Black Knight keeps getting limbs cut off him in a fight but won't give up. When disabled by having to close one eye around the most exacting F1 circuit on the calendar, where there is the smallest margin of error, Lewis wasn't interested in the gap to the car behind him, he still wanted to know his gap to Rosberg in front who he was never going to catch.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 3rd
A poor getaway could have relegated Daniel to P5 for the rest of the afternoon, but Max Chilton sorted Raikkonen out and Renault quality control removed his team-mate.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 4th
For once Fernando was outraced by his team-mate and had a long lonely afternoon, circulating a couple of pit-stops in front of Hulkenberg. Every race he is trying to find new ways of saying, "we are not fast enough".

Jenson Button, McLaren, 6th
Button's quick thinking and early pit-stop after the Adrian Sutil accident didn't give him the advantage it could have, but at least it meant that the team didn't have to double stop him behind Kevin Magnussen. He was the beneficiary of cars disappearing in front of him and his team-mate having an ERS issue.

Felipe Massa, Williams, 7th
Considering Felipe was down in 13th on the opening lap, to finish 7th was not a poor result - and he was right up with the Button vs Hulkenberg fight at the flag. It looked like the Williams team left him out on circuit during the first Safety Car, gambling on another Safety Car to make his second stop. Otherwise it was a bit strange that they left him out there.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 8th
On an afternoon when four other Renault engine units failed to make it to the flag, Romain banked more points for the Enstone team.

Max Chilton, Marussia, 14th
Max has still finished every F1 race he's ever taken part in, the run continues.

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 10th
Kevin Magnussen put in a fine qualifying performance and a great opening lap to finish it in P7. He may have got a bit of argy bargy from Raikkonen, but on balance, it's nothing he hasn't meted out to the Ferrari driver already this season.

Helmut Marko, Red BullThe promotion of Dan Ricciardo to the Red Bull Racing team has been one of the decisions of the year. The elevation of Daniil Kvyat above Antonio Felix da Costa another one. For a long time the Red Bull staircase of talent looked like an expensive gentle incline. Now, with Ricciardo outqualifying Vettel 5-1, and with Vergne (for whom Dan was on virtual parity last year) putting his car in the top 10 in Monaco, and Kvyat matching him all the way it looks like the Red Bull organisation have got four very strong drivers. Memories of Alguersuari, Buemi and Bourdais fading fast.

LOSERS

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, DNF
Vettel got a great start and got the jump on his normally-too-damn-fast team-mate, only to find that reliability let him down. Now he should be able to understand what Mark Webber felt like for all those years.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 12th
Kimi got the most brilliant Monaco start and there's no reason to suppose that he couldn't have hung on to P3 till the end of the race. That is until Max Chilton inexpertly unlapped himself during the Safety Car period and gave Raikkonen a puncture. Even after the calamity of a second pit-stop Kimi was making good progress back through the field and was up to P8 when he made a poor overtaking move on Magnussen, carrying too much speed into Loews and taking them both into the barrier.

Sauber, DNF
Sauber are now in the invidious position of lagging behind Marussia in the Constructors' table and may stay there for a few races to come.

Media Watch
Martin Brundle: "Being in the pit-stop window doesn't mean you have to jump through that window."

Eddie Jordan: Talking about Kimi Raikkonen's overtaking move - "You can see he's getting very bravado."

Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish: "He's adjusting some adjustments on his steering wheel."

Original article by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1 is HERE.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

MONACO GP 2014

The Monaco Grand Prix (French: Grand Prix de Monaco) is a Formula One motor race held each year on the Circuit de Monaco. Run since 1929, it is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious automobile races in the world, alongside the Indianapolis 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The circuit has been called "an exceptional location of glamour and prestige."

The race is held on a narrow course laid out in the streets of Monaco, with many elevation changes and tight corners as well as a tunnel, making it one of the most demanding tracks in Formula One. In spite of the relatively low average speeds, it is a dangerous place to race. It is the only Grand Prix that does not adhere to the FIA's mandated 305 kilometres (190 mi) minimum race distance.

The first race in 1929, was organised by Antony Noghès under the auspices of the "Automobile Club de Monaco", and was won by William Grover-Williams driving a Bugatti. The event was part of the pre-Second World War European Championship and was included in the first World Championship of Drivers in 1950. It was designated the European Grand Prix two times, 1955 and 1963, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one Grand Prix race in Europe. Graham Hill was known as "Mr. Monaco" due to his five Monaco wins in the 1960s. Brazil's Ayrton Senna won the race more times than any other driver, with six victories, winning five races consecutively between 1989 and 1993.

Monaco is unique and it’s not and easy race to win, even with the fastest car. And this year could be very eventful. The track layout is tight, with no high speed corners, two short straights and the lowest average lap speed of the season at 157 km/h (99mph). The only possible overtaking place is on the run between the exit of the tunnel and the chicane, but drivers must be careful as it is very dirty off line in the tunnel and they can lose grip by picking up dust and discarded rubber from the tyres.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 3.34 kilometres
Race distance : 78 laps (260.52 kilometres)
Corners : 19 corners in total
Average lap speed : 157km/h
Aerodynamic setup : High downforce
Top speed : 295km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 285km/h without
Full throttle : 45% of the lap (lowest of year)
Time spent braking : 21% of the lap (high)
Braking zones : 13
Brake wear : Medium; 48 gear changes per lap
Total time needed for pit stop : 25 seconds
Lap record : 1:14.439 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)

Weather Forecast

The forecast looks good with temperatures around 20 degrees and a low chance of rain. Being coastal however rain can arrive quite suddenly. More rain is forecast this weekend but, for the time being at least, it is not expected to interfere with the competitive sessions.

The first showers are expected in time for the beginning of first practice which, uniquely, is on Thursday instead of Friday. Further rainfall is expected in the run-up to the second practice session later in the day. The rain will lessen on Friday, when F1 cars do not run, and no further precipitation is expected over the remaining days.

Saturday is forecast to be fine and sunny, with clear skies and air temperatures exceeding 20C – ideal conditions for qualifying. Similar temperatures are expected on Sunday, though there will be cloud cover in the morning which should break up during the grand prix.

Tyres

Pirelli tyre choice for Monaco: Supersoft and Soft. Monaco is gentle on tyres, the track surface is smooth and there are no high energy corners.

The supersoft tyre makes its 2014 debut and looks like the tyre most runners will prefer. It goes without saying that perfect execution in qualifying is critical for a strong race performance. Pirelli has been very cautious and conservative so far in its tyre choices. Last year, for example, it used the supersoft in Australia, but this year it has held it back until now.

There is scope for teams that are kinder on their tyres than rivals, to pit early and attempt the undercut, at an early point in the race, knowing that their rivals will not be able to react and bring their car in because it will not make it to the finish from there on a single set of tyres.

DRS

The Monaco Grand Prix will again feature a single DRS zone this season, the FIA has confirmed. As has recently been the case in the principality, the detection point will be situated between Turns 16 and 17, while the activation marker is to be placed on the exit of the final corner (Turn 19) for the run to St. Devote. Monte-Carlo's sole zone breaks a trend, with 2014's opening five races featuring two DRS zones.


Safety Car

Very high; there is an 80% chance of a safety car and if it falls at the right time it can make your race. But if it falls at the wrong time, your victory plans fall apart – as they did for Jenson Button in 2011, who was trying to drive flat out uninterrupted on three stops, a risky plan given the likelihood of the safety car.

Conclusion

The Mercedes was the fastest car in Monaco last year and this year it has been unbeaten in the first five races. However the Red Bull will be closer on pace here as the power deficit from the engine will be less significant. The Red Bull chassis is very nimble. Red Bull has won the race for the three of the past four seasons

Ferrari will have a few problems unless they can sort out their issues with traction. Ferrari hasn’t won at Monaco since 2001, a drought of 14 years. Monaco requires a particular technique of driving close to the barriers and this is a venue where a driver can make a real difference. But the challenge will be even greater this year as the power delivery from the new hybrid turbo engines makes handling these cars a real challenge.

As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Monaco, all the world champions have won Monaco; Sebastian Vettel won in 2011, while other previous Monaco winners in the field are Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Nico Rosberg won last year from pole.

Only a few minor changes have been carried out to the circuit ahead of this year's Grand Prix at Monaco, where racing has taken place since 1929. The track has been resurfaced from the exit of the Casino until the start of the tunnel, while small sections before the Nouvelle Chicane and Tabac (Turn 12) have been resurfaced. The entire pit wall and debris fence has been renewed and the TecPro barrier at Turn 12 has been more efficiently constrained.

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