Thursday, December 18, 2014

2015 CALENDAR

The 2015 calendar is out now and other than the surprise inclusion of Korea, which the World Motor Sport Council admits has yet to be confirmed, the only change to the provisional calendar announced in September is that which sees China change places with Bahrain. The Koreans were surprised they were included.

On the other hand, running the Korean and Spanish events back-to-back does appear ambitious, to put it mildly.

Date Race Circuit
15-Mar Australia Melbourne
29-Mar Malaysia Sepang
12-Apr China Shanghai International Circuit
19-Apr Bahrain Sakhir
03-May Korea* Yeongam
10-May Spain Barcelona
24-May Monaco Monaco
07-Jun Canada Montreal
21-Jun Austria Red Bull Ring
05-Jul Britain Silverstone
19-Jul Germany Nurburgring
26-Jul Hungary Hungaroring
23-Aug Belgium Spa Francorchamps
06-Sep Italy Monza
20-Sep Singapore Marina Bay
27-Sep Japan Suzuka
11-Oct Russia Sochi
25-Oct United States Austin
01-Nov Mexico Mexico City
15-Nov Brazil Interlagos
29-Nov Abu Dhabi Yas Marina

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TEN BIGGEST SHOCKS OF 2014

Article written by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

It may be the year of the Silver Arrows, but 2014 will also go down as The Year of Shocks in F1. Some of them were tragic, some of them were unexpected twists, but all stole headlines on the sports pages (and sometimes on the main news pages). We started the year with perhaps the saddest shock of all.

Michael Schumacher's ski accident
Michael's battle with a head injury from a Christmas skiing trip began in the last days of 2013, with the world's press camped outside a hospital in Grenoble well into the New Year. Michael survived and has begun the long, slow struggle back to functionality. What Corinne Schumacher and his long-time press secretary Sabine Kehm also have to fight, apart from health issues, is the ongoing battle to keep his recovery and his recuperation private. If one good thing can come out of the accident it's that all skiiers need ski helmets, because if someone as seemingly indestructible as Michael can suffer an injury with a helmet, what chances are there without...?

Daniel Ricciardo blasts Vettel out of Red Bull
When Mark Webber retired, the F1 press sighed that the immensely quotable Aussie was gone, to be replaced by a likeable guy, but a product of the Red Bull talent machine. He'd be a bit dull in comparison, surely? Not a bit of it. Daniel Ricciardo's stellar performance in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was just a foretaste of things to come, a season in which he mullah-ed a four-times World Champion, putting in a variety of the most sublime overtaking moves along the way and gaining the respect of drivers like Fernando Alonso - not an easy thing to do.

Adrian Newey quits frontline role
The greatest designer in F1 history, Adrian Newey, announced that he would be stepping back from his frontline role as technical chief of the Red Bull Racing team. There had been rumours (vigorously denied when they didn't come off) that Ferrari had tried to lure him to Maranello. Chris Evans' neighbour wasn't to be lured, instead he will take more of a mentoring role in the team. He has already designed the RB11 for 2015, but the RB12 in 2016 will be the work of a new team.

Nico Rosberg admits 'not avoiding' crash
Tensions in the Mercedes team had been tense after the Monaco Affair, but for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa they went off the scale. When Nico Rosberg tagged Lewis Hamilton's rear tyre at the Les Combes corner on the opening lap, he gave Lewis a puncture that would ultimately see him retire from the race. The stewards saw the bungled attempt as a racing accident, but afterwards Rosberg made the'mistake' of being perfectly honest about the clash. Whereas most drivers try and pin the blame on the other car Rosberg said he deliberately left his car in harm's way rather than concede the corner - thus denying Mercedes a potential 1-2.

Bernie isn't convicted of bribery
With one bound he was free. A German court had sentenced German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky to 8 years in prison for accepting a bribe from Bernie Ecclestone over the sale of F1's commercial rights to CVC. So it seemed pretty much a nailed-on certainty that another German court would find Bernie guilty of paying that bribe - for which someone was already in jail. However Bernie was able to reach in his pocket for $100 million and bring the trial to a halt. Isn't justice marvellous.

Sebastian Vettel quits Red Bull
Considering Sebastian had some pretty strong things to say about the ethics of the Ferrari team around the time of his 2012 title decider, it was a shock to find out that Seb was heading for Maranello in 2015. He had a Red Bull contract for 2016 after all. Not that he could say that was where he was going. Only Christian Horner could reveal the destination (and enjoyed doing so very much).

Fernando Alonso leaves Ferrari
With Sebastian Vettel's announcement and with Kimi Raikkonen contracted for 2016 it was soon obvious that the departing driver would be Fernando Alonso, the man who once said he would like to finish his driving career at the Scuderia. It was clear to El Nano that the problems of 2014, and the upheavals in the team, would cascade though to 2015 and he wasn't waiting around.

Luca Montezemolo leaves the revolving door of Ferrari
The man instrumental in the Ferrari domination of the Schumacher era quit the company after a less-than-satisfactory Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Earlier in the year Luca had replaced his team principal, Stefano Domenicali, with the successful boss of Ferrari North America, Marco Mattiacci. And at the final race of the season it was announced that Mattiacci would also be leaving. Thus in the space of twelve months Ferrari will lose Montezemolo, Alonso, Domenicali, Massa, Smedley and Mattiacci...

Jules Bianchi's freak accident at Suzuka
F1 got a serious safety wake-up call in Suzuka after Jules Bianchi's car left the track in a double-waved yellow section and hit the truck recovering Adrian Sutil's Sauber. At the time, the rain was light enough for some cars to be circulating on Intermediate tyres, so it seemed even more tragic for a serious accident to happen in what must have been manageable conditions. There were uncomfortable post-race questions for the FIA and Race Director Charlie Whiting about the lack of a Safety Car.

Marussia and Caterham go out of business
It was a shock that both Marussia and Caterham should have administrators called in so close to one another. What was an even bigger shock was how little Bernie Ecclestone did to keep them in business till season end. In the past Ecclestone has been the source of favoured loans for struggling teams (such as Jordan) to keep them on the grid and to provide a better 'show'. But this time he just likened the two teams to women who had overspent on their credit cards and left crowd-funding to supply the necessary to get Caterham to Abu Dhabi. Happy Christmas CVC (the first two letters don't actually stand for Complete Vultures, but they might as well).

Andrew Davies

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

WHO GOES WHERE 2015 - UPDATED!


UPDATE 12 DECEMBER!

Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso have been officially confirmed as drivers for McLaren in 2015. And Kevin Magnussen has been put into the test driver role. A pretty safe combo if you ask me.

So here we are going into the winter season and no action. This is gonna be a long winter again. As far as the drivers situation is concerned, most driver moves have been made. Some moved around, some were thrown out and brought in. Some are still in limbo like Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen. Very unlike McLaren to do this but when a double world champion and a new engine is concerned, I think they are probably thinking of doing a Mercedes.

I don't think Marussia or Manor will be racing. In fact their stuff has been put up for auction. Caterham has been given the green light to use this year's chassis for next year, so I don't see the point of that. Unless it was just to make it attractive for a buyer to have a ready F1 team to buy. But will they make it inside the 107% time during qualifying? Quite a mess F1 has gotten itself into.

DRIVER NAT ENTRANT CAR
Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes
Rosberg GER Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes
Ricciardo AUS Infiniti Red Bull Racing Red Bull-Renault
Kvyat RUS Infiniti Red Bull Racing Red Bull-Renault
Massa BRZ Williams Martini Racing Williams-Mercedes
Bottas FIN Williams Martini Racing Williams-Mercedes
Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari
Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari
Button GBR McLaren Honda McLaren-Honda
Alonso ESP McLaren Honda McLaren-Honda
Hulkenberg GER Sahara Force India F1 Team Force India-Mercedes
Perez MEX Sahara Force India F1 Team Force India-Mercedes
Verstappen NED Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso-Renault
Sainz ESP Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso-Renault
Maldonado VEN Lotus F1 Team Lotus-Mercedes
Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Team Lotus-Mercedes
Ericsson SWE Sauber F1 Team Sauber-Ferrari
Nasr BRZ Sauber F1 Team Sauber-Ferrari
TBC
CF1 Caterham F1 Team Caterham-Renault
TBC
CF1 Caterham F1 Team Caterham-Renault

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WINNERS AND LOSERS: ABU DHABI GP 2014

What a season. It was tight going into the final race. I was sweating until the start where Lewis pulled off that incredible getaway and I knew he had it in the bag. Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

Lewis Hamilton finally achieved the points difference that all his 2014 performances have justified.

Star of the Race
Felipe Massa, Williams, 2nd
As Rob Smedley said after the race, "not bad for an old guy". Given how far behind Williams have been behind the Silver Arrows in the last few races, this was a real star turn from Felipe. And what made it really close at the end of the race was Felipe's ability to preserve his Soft tyres in the middle stint, so that he could switch back to the SuperSofts at the end. Had he not run so long, or preserved his tyres so well, then he would have been back onto the Softs and it would have been a cruise to the line for Lewis. As it was, Felipe made the 'World Champion elect' work for it.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 12: Jean Eric-Vergne, Toro Rosso, and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
This was a score draw in terms of overtaking, Daniel Ricciardo, starting from the pitlane, was on a charge through the field and it looked like a formality that he would get past the Toro Rosso as he took a DRS tow down the second Yas Marina straight and dived past into Turn 11. Jean-Eric had other ideas and the cars went side by side through turns 11/12/13 but it still looked like Dan would claim the place... But just when you thought it was all over Jean-Eric dived up the inside into Turn 14 and Daniel had to drop back, respecting his team-mate of 2013. It was tough, close, contactless and perfect racing. And Dan got him the next lap anyway.

Winners
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st
The thing about F1 is that it never turns out how you expect it to. After Brazil, the commonly held start prediction for this race was synchronized excellence and Nico shading it into Turn 1. Lewis rated Abu Dhabi as his best start of the season and even though Yas Marina doesn't particularly favour the polesitter, Lewis would have been P1 into Turn 1 at any circuit this year such was the difference in starts of the two.

From that point on it was a question of keeping out of DRS range and edging out a small buffer that might account for a slightly scuffed pit-stop. Lewis also had the advantage in that he could stop first, and Nico had tyres from Q2 that were one lap older. The gap between the two went out from 1.7 seconds on Lap 6 to 2.7 seconds on Lap 9 with Lewis pitting on Lap 10.

Just before Nico's ERS problem kicked in, the gap on Lap 21 was 2.9 seconds and on Lap 22 it was 2.7 seconds. Then it went out to 3.9 and 7.1 on Laps 23 & 24 as the changed brake retardation caught Rosberg out. From that point on it was a question of driving with eyes in the mirrors and on the pitboard.

In the end 'double points' didn't spoil the title decider; in fact the gap of 67 points that it created between Lewis and Nico better reflected the season and the 11-5 score in race victories.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 3rd
Valtteri felt that his clutch wasn't right on the parade lap, and the adjustment he made still didn't fix it. As a result he got a poor start, slipped back early and spent the rest of the race returning to where he should have been. Shades of Ricciardo. Bottas finished his second season on the podium and was the major points earner in the team's best season since 2003. Their P2 and P3 was the first time two Williams drivers had been on the podium since 2005 with Messrs Webber and Heidfeld.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 4th
Another star performance from Daniel who worked his way through the field with a lot more concerted effort than his departing team-mate.

Jenson Button, McLaren, 5th
Button got a great start and was P4 on the opening lap from P6 on the grid. If this is to be his last season it was a good way to finish.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 6th
Sergio Perez, Force India, 7th
Nico's best result in a while and Force India's biggest ever points all in a single GP was not enough to overhaul Mclaren. But they certainly got the strategy right.

Losers

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 14th
Nico lost it the moment the red lights went out and he got too much wheelspin away from his gridbox. Hamilton, who's been prone to nerves at title deciders, hooked up the most immaculate start and that was virtually it. Job done. It was disappointing to see Rosberg's ERS pack up from Lap 23, and there might have been the slim chance we could have some fun had Rosberg been able to get in front of Hamilton at the second stops and back him up towards Felipe Massa, but it was the slimmest of the slim.

Nico was gracious in defeat and showed a sportsmanlike quality never witnessed before in intra-team title battles. And he does have the Pole trophy in recognition of the far superior job he's done on Saturdays in 2014.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 9th
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 10th
Ferrari finished the race in the positions they qualified in on Saturday - that is before the race stewards found that Red Bull had put a cheeky, suspicious-looking leaf spring-like mounting on their front wing. Although Fernando looked to have the better of Jenson Button he slipped back down the field and his afternoon was summed up by his struggle to outpace the Caterham down the back straight just after he'd taken on new tyres. Raikkonen circulated behind him for most of the race having lost out at the start.

It seems slightly unfair that Marco Mattiacci should comment on Fernando's lack of motivation in a season where he has comprehensively beaten his team-mate and after five years of constantly driving the nuts off any machine that was given to him. But then again there were rumours in the paddock that Marco's tenure as team boss may well be sleeping with the fishes.

This was the first season since 1967 when neither Ferrari, or McLaren and Williams had won a race between themselves.

Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 11th
Magnussen got mugged at the start and dropped behind both Force Indias which were starting on the same tyre (though it was surprising to see Perez keep his place after cutting a swathe across the run-off at Turns 5/6 and just filtering back in, hoping that no-one would notice). What was particularly surprising was Kevin's lack of speed on the SuperSoft tyres that he fitted in the middle stint.

Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, DNF
Pastor's final Renault engine went bang going underneath the hotel, and it was interesting to see the Lotus mechanics reaction. Instead of grim resignation there were smiles and laughter. Clearly there was some major betting money going down on whether Pastor would get to the end of the race without a flame-out. Although they're going to have to rebuild that for the test on Tuesday...

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Given that the organisers had arranged some pretty impressive support features, such as a Pharell Williams concert, the race is still hugely dependent on non-locals jetting in to watch. Now this may be true of the USGP when only 15% of the audience are made up of Texans, but the bulk of fans are from North America. There were many gaps in grandstands for this most important of races, so imagine how few they'd get if they ran it in the middle of the season, with music supplied by the Eddie Jordan band.

Media Watch
Suzi Perry "What a bone-tingling prospect this race is."
Eddie Jordan "It's fairy book stuff."

Eddie Jordan
"The first corner was a huge moment. It just lifted things off the top of his head."

Suzi Perry commenting after Lee McKenzie's interview with Fernando Alonso; "He looks more and more like a South American dictator every race. Do you think he's growing that for Ron (Dennis)? He doesn't like beards, does he."

After Eddie Jordan was 'flanned' by two of his former Jordan employees now working for Mercedes, David Coulthard adroitly caught his glasses which were sent flying
David Coulthard Did you see my reactions there?"
Suzi PerryYou were like a cat. Like a Woo-Woo girl."

Original article HERE.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

ABU DHABI GP 2014 PREVIEW

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a Formula One race. It was announced in early 2007 at the Abu Dhabi F1 Festival in the United Arab Emirates. The first race took place on November 1, 2009, held at the Hermann Tilke designed Yas Marina Circuit.

On June 25, 2008 the FIA announced the provisional 2009 Formula One calendar including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the 19th and final race of the season on November 15. On November 5, 2008, however, it was announced that the race would be held as the season finale on November 1, two weeks before the initially planned date, as the 17th and final race.

The inaugural race was Formula One's first ever day-night race, starting at 17:00 local time. Floodlights used to illuminate the circuit were switched on from the start of the event to ensure a seamless transition from daylight to darkness. Subsequent Abu Dhabi Grands Prix have also been day-night races.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is Formula 1’s original day/night race. The race begins at 17-00hrs local time, in the dusk and ends in darkness, with floodlights illuminating the track. The temperatures drop during the race and this has a significant bearing on tyre performance and thus race strategy. This was shown by the race in Bahrain, which also followed this format for the first time this season. The Yas Marina Circuit features six corners below 100 kph – only Monaco, Singapore and Valencia have more. The track surface is smooth.

TRACK CHARACTERISTICS

Track length : 5.554 kilometres.
Race distance : 55 laps (305.355 kilometres).
Corners : 21 corners in total. Average speed 197km/h. A marina based circuit hosting its fifth F1 Grand Prix.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 320km/h (with DRS open) 307km/h without.
Full throttle : 60% of the lap time (ave/high).
Fuel Consumption : Med/High (Max Downforce, lower average speed, frequent acceleration events).
Brake wear : Medium.
Number of braking events : 12.
Time spent braking : 17% of the lap. Third or fourth most severe circuit of the year on brakes.
Total time needed for a pit stop : 23 seconds.
Ease of Overtaking : Low (difficult to overtake even with double DRS zones).
Lap record : 1:40.279 (Germany Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2009).

WEATHER FORECAST

The forecast for the weekend is stable with temperatures in the low 30 degrees C. But as this is a dusk/night race it’s worth noting that the night time temperature is set to fall to 19 degrees C.

TYRES

Pirelli tyre choice for Abu Dhabi: Soft (yellow markings) and Supersoft (red markings). This combination was used in Monaco, Canada, Austria, Germany and Singapore.

The five events featuring super-soft tyres have produced most strategically varied races so far, with some 3 stoppers, so that could still be an outside possibility for this race, given a large enough performance difference.

The race starts at dusk and ends in the dark, so the track temperature falls as the race goes on and the teams have to factor this in. For teams looking to do longer runs at the end of the race, the temperature drop helps, so teams are encouraged to try some bold strategies to win. The added factor of double points will encourage some higher risk strategies.

DRS

Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has retained two DRS zones for this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. As in previous seasons, the first activation zone at the Yas Marina Circuit has been placed on the run between Turns 7 and 8, with the detection point situated just before Turn 7.


The second designated area follows on another sizeable run between Turns 10 and 11, controlled by a separate detection marker on the exit of the Turn 8/9 chicane. Monte-Carlo and Suzuka were the only circuits to feature just one DRS zone this season.

PIT STOPS

The expected Default strategy is two stops – Laps 12/32 SuperSoft/Soft/Soft). Last year saw a mixture of one and two stop strategies, with two being the more popular option. In 2012 most teams did a one-stop strategy as the tyre wear and degradation were not particularly high.

There have often been alternative strategies tried at this circuit and this is likely to happen this year with teams pushed to try more high risk strategies with double points on offer.

SAFETY CAR

Although at 40% the statistical chance of a safety car appears quite low, there have been three in five races at Yas Marina Circuit. The 2012 edition featured two safety cars and these proved game changers for Sebastian Vettel, who was coming through the field after starting from the pit lane. The timing of the safety cars is crucial, particularly if they fall in the pit stop windows.

CONCLUSION

As far as Yas Marina Circuit is concerned, Sebastian Vettel has won three of the five races to date with Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen winning the other two. This is a track where Lewis Hamilton has always been very fast; he has had two pole position, he won in 2011 and was twice leading when forced to retire. However last year he was outqualified here by Nico Rosberg. Fernando Alonso has had two podium finishes there for Ferrari. Jenson Button has been on the podium three times.

The championship that matters i.e. the drivers, has come down to the final race again after 4 years of Sebastian Vettel boringness. And it is not just one leading the other with a huge lead, with double points anything can happen. This will be a battle to the death as Nico is hungry for his first championship and Lewis is even hungrier after waiting so long for his second. We will be on tenterhooks watching this one.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TITLE PERMUTATIONS

Lewis Hamilton will win the World title if he finishes first or second in Abu Dhabi but what happens if he is third...Double points are on offer in the season finale in Abu Dhabi, which means Hamilton's 17-point lead could easily be negated by team-mate Nico Rosberg.

The Brit, though, is holding the advantage and an 11th race win for the season would see him secure his second Drivers' Championship.

Here is what Hamilton needs to win the title.

* A win or a P2

* To finish fifth or better and for Rosberg not to win

* Sixth or better and for Rosberg not to finish inside the top two

* Eighth or better and for Rosberg not to finish in the top three

* Ninth or better and for Rosberg to finish fifth or lower

* And if Rosberg is outside the top five, Hamilton will win the title even if he doesn't score.

Rosberg, meanwhile, cannot do it by himself as even a victory won't guarantee him the World title.

* He must win and hope Hamilton is third or lower

* If he is second, Hamilton must be sixth or lower

* If he is third, Hamilton must be seventh or lower

* If he is fourth, Hamilton must be ninth or lower

* If he is fifth, Hamilton must be 10th or lower.

Anyway, I know that Lewis is stronger and will win the championship. That's just me as I am a fan of Lewis but I'm sure Nico will give it all he's got. May the best man win!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WINNERS AND LOSERS: BRAZILIAN GP

I did not watch the race due to the time zone differences but read that it was a decent race and that Lewis had enough pace to beat Rosberg if not for the spin. He finished second, where he needed to so it's game on for the final. Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

Nico Rosberg kept his lock-ups to a minimum as Turn 4 came back to haunt Lewis Hamilton at Interlagos...(after his 2007 nightmare)

Star of the Race
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1st
From the moment he got an immaculate getaway from the line, Rosberg made few mistakes on his way to a fifth win of the season. The win crowned an almost perfect weekend; fastest in all free practice sessions, pole position and the win. The only thing he failed to pick up was the fastest lap which Lewis put in on Lap 62 (but not by much).

The most important thing that Nico had to prove today was that he could resist pressure and even though he wasn't the fastest driver on the day, he wasn't forced into a braking error as he has been in races past, despite having a team-mate at less than a second back for the final 19 laps of the race. It wasn't a faultless performance because there were at least two pretty trashed sets of tyres in there, and Interlagos isn't a heavy braking circuit (his weakness) but he made sure he didn't cock up Turn 4 and that's what counted the most

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 61: Jenson Button on Kimi Raikkonen - for P4
Raikkonen was in a pretty resolute mood today, as witnessed by his defence of P6 from Fernando Alonso, but Jenson Button has his eye on another P4. When the McLaren failed to get past into Turn 1, the cars edging through the very first part of the Senna Esses in close proximity it looked inevitable that JB would try the second DRS into Turn 4. Raikkonen saw him coming, claimed the inside line, but whereas he could keep his team-mate at bay with a crafty line through the corner, Jenson went round the outside of Kimi but kept enough momentum.

Winners

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2nd
This was certainly one that got away. Lewis has had his fair share of dramas into Turn 4, Lake Descent, over the years, but the spin on Lap 28 gave him too big a gap to close.

Hamilton demonstrated in the laps from Lap 29 to Lap 47 - when he reduced the gap to Rosberg from 7.4 seconds to 1.9 seconds - he was the quicker of the two drivers. But just as one key mistake ruined his pole lap, one key mistake on his in-lap ruined his race.

Felipe Massa, Williams, 3rd
Felipe Massa survived a pitlane speeding penalty and a trip into the McLaren pitbox to stand on a podium he probably thought he was never going to stand on again. Which is the happy ending we all wanted. Williams 0.2 deficit to Mercedes in Qualifying disappeared very quickly in race conditions. The chance of a Williams win was almost as likely as rain.

Jenson Button, McLaren, 4th
McLaren were not expecting to improve on JB's impressive P5 from Qualifying, especially when the track temperature approaching the start of the race was 53C. But with it clouding over and dropping to 44C Jenson was able to keep his tyres together and keep ahead of the Red Bull team

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 5th
Christian Horner (hammer of the smaller teams) speaks a large amount of rubbish, whining about engine power and one of his contentions - that Renault lost a second from the bottom of the hill at Juncao to the Interlagos finish line - was not borne out by Sebastian Vettel's speed in the race. Vettel's first lap wobble that allowed Magnussen and Alonso past, looked unlike the wobble of four-times World Champion - in fact it seems that both he and Lewis have bad feelings about Descida do Lago, a corner that keeps on tripping both of them up.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 6th
Fernando put some old school manners on (potential 2015 team-mate) Karismatic Kevin but struggled to get past Kimi until he could get his exit from Juncao right.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 7th
Kimi's best race in ages, and it was only a pitlane error by a hasty jack man that dropped him the time he needed to stay in front of Alonso. Raikkonen's defence of P6 from Alonso was masterful car-placing stuff, but the oddest thing of all was to see two Ferraris actually duelling it out wheel to wheel. A collector's item, that - bring on Abu Dhabi.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 8th
Nico raced sensibly to a lap time, but still went on the attack when he had the opportunity. There were shades of his accident with Lewis Hamilton as he entered a braking competition for Turn 1 with Valtteri Bottas and forced the Williams driver off track.

Losers

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 10th
On an afternoon when team-mate Felipe Massa scored a podium despite a 5-second pitlane penalty, Bottas should have been 4th or 5th ensuring Williams take P3 in the Constructors' Championship. The fact that he was back in 10th was thanks to a disastrous pit-stop which should have taken 22 seconds from pitlane entry to pitlane exit, but lasted 35.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, DNF
The self-styled 'honey badger' made an unexpectedly early return to the pits. 'Unexpected' because in reliability terms Daniel had finished all but seven of the total laps raced in 2014 and was the most consistent finisher. But his Brazilian GP was cut short after a front- brake problem meant that another 31 laps would have to be added to that amount.

Nelson Piquet
Bang goes the Sky Sports contract... As Rubens Barrichello is now a broadcaster you have to wonder why he wasn't up there doing the podium interviewers instead of a man who is as funny as haemorrhoids but thinks he's Brazil's answer to Frankie Boyle.

Media Watch
"We're looking at Nico Rosberg who's just put his helmet and his hands on." Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish

James Allen almost said this twice, but it was a sentence that really needed the word 'forget': "I was here on the final day of the season in 2008 - a day I'll never remember."

Regular readers of this column will know our love for James Allen's occasional 'Yoda-like' sentences, which we, for some, time aren't having. However Nico Rosberg obliged after Qualifying. Nico Rosberg "I'm not ecstatic. As important is tomorrow."

STBO Award
"Lewis Hamilton's got a flatsport on his front tyres and Nico Rosberg's got problems with his rear tyres at exactly the other end of the car." Allan McNish

Original article HERE.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

BRAZIL GP 2014 PREVIEW

The Brazilian Grand Prix (Portuguese: Grande Prêmio do Brasil) is a Formula One championship race which is currently held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos, a district in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. A Brazilian Grand Prix was first held in 1972 at Interlagos, although it was not part of the Formula One World Championship. Typical of European motorsports at the time, this race was done as a test to convince the FIA if the Interlagos circuit and its organizers could capably hold a Grand Prix. The following year, however, the race was first included in the official calendar, and it was won by defending world champion and São Paulo native Emerson Fittipaldi. In 1974, Fittipaldi won again in rain soaked conditions, and the year after, another São Paulo native, Carlos Pace, won the race in his Brabham, followed by Fittipaldi. 1977 was won by Reutemann, but the drivers began complaining about Interlagos's very rough surface, and the event was then relocated for a year to the new Jacarepaguá circuit in Rio de Janeiro.

Interlagos at just over 800 metres, the atmospheric pressure is 10% lower than at sea level and while this doesn’t sap power with a turbo engine, like it does with a normally aspirated one, it does make the Energy Recovery System work harder on the turbo side. This appeared to be an issue for Mercedes the last time it raced at altitude in Austria, the only time this year that the team failed to secure pole position.

Adding to the uncertainty this weekend is the newly resurfaced track. Teams were used to the tired old tarmac, with its low grip, but now they have to learn about a new surface and, as we saw in Sochi, that can have a very different impact on tyre performance than one expects. If it rains during Friday practice, as forecast, then teams will have no opportunity to learn how the soft and medium tyres will behave in the event that the race is dry. That would make for an extraordinary Grand Prix.

It is also the shortest lap of the season in terms of lap time, a quick lap there being under 1m 12 seconds, so the qualifying and racing have an intense quality about them. The circuit has a fast downhill sector one and final uphill sector three, with a tight infield sector in the middle.

TRACK CHARACTERISTICS

Track length : 4.309 kilometres.
Race distance : 71 laps (305.909 kilometres).
Corners : 15 corners in total
 Average speed : 210km/h. A classic circuit set in a natural bowl, in a suburb of Sao Paulo.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 323km/h (with DRS open) 311km/h without.
Full throttle : 60% of the lap time (ave/high).
Brake wear : light.
Number of braking events : 6, Time spent braking – 16% of the lap.
Total time needed for a pit stop : 20 seconds
Lap record : 1:11.473 (Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams BMW, 2004)

WEATHER FORECAST

Rain showers are a common occurrence in Sao Paolo at this time of year and many Brazilian Grands Prix have experienced sudden showers over the years. The forecast for the weekend is for wet weather all three days, especially Saturday. Temperatures around 20 degrees centigrade and an 80% chance of rain on Sunday.

DRS

There are two DRS zones. The first has a detection point at the apex of T2, with activation 20m after T3, while the second has its activation point 30m after T13, with an activation point 60m after T15.


The pitlane exit has been realigned further to the left to provide a run-off area around the outside of T2, while the pitlane entry has been realigned to the left in order to allow the pit wall start to be moved further away from the track. Finally a low kerb has been placed on the apex of T15 in order to prevent cars from cutting the corner.

TYRES

Pirelli tyre choice for Brazil: Medium (white markings) and soft (yellow markings). This combination has been the dominant selection this season and teams know these tyres very well now.
Pirelli changed the specifications from Medium and Hard to Soft and Meidum quite late on, after complaints from drivers, led by Williams’ Felipe Massa. The track has been completely resurfaced and this could have a significant effect on the outcome of the race. Teams knew the old surface well; worn and slippery as it was. Learning how the new surface interacts with the tyre is the key job for Friday practice. If that is rain affected but the race day is dry, then we will be in for a very interesting race with teams working in the dark on how the tyres will behave.

PIT STOPS

The revised pit lane entry, together with the new track surface mean that predictions are difficult, but two stops looks the most likely scenario with stops on Laps 20 and 45. However we saw in Austin that the soft was not the favoured race tyre. Overtaking at Interlagos isn’t too much of a problem, thanks to the long uphill straight leading to the Senna S. And the DRS wing certainly helps.

SAFETY CAR

The chances of a Safety Car are high at 63%. The Safety Car has been used in seven of the last 11 races. It is often called into action on the first lap, as it’s a short lap with 24 cars charging into tight corners. This makes the Safety Car an important element to factor into Race Strategy planning. It encourages teams to hedge their bets and split strategies, with one car doing a conventional two-stop plan and the other on a one-stop, a plan that would benefit from a safety car deployment. This is because a safety car would close up the field reducing any time loss and if timed well, would allow a one-stopping car to effectively get a free pit stop.

CONCLUSIONS

Nico Rosberg no longer has the world championship in his hands; two wins in Brazil and Abu Dhabi will not be enough on their own. At some point the German needs luck to intervene in his favour and work against title rival Lewis Hamilton. Interlagos, a circuit at which anything can happen due to unpredictable weather, tight run-off areas and the high chance of a safety car, might be the venue to provide it. There have been many upsets at this race in the past and it’s a relief when a race goes to plan, especially when a championship is at stake.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

WINNERS AND LOSERS: US GP

The race started off boring until lap 24 when Lewis Hamilton pulled an overtake at a hairpin on Nico Rosberg and hammered home his superiority. The battles behind were also fantastic especially Alonso vs Button. Here is the winners vs losers piece by Andrew Davies of PlanetF1. Original article HERE.

It was a gripping race in the Lone Star state with a clinical victory for Lewis Hamilton to make it five wins in a row...

Star of the Race
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1st
Lewis loves Austin and Austin loves Lewis. He's the Austin Ambassador. It was a carefully thought out race from Hamilton after an irregular front brake temperature cost him the chance of pole on Saturday. Once he'd got away from the dodgy side of the grid in front of both Williams then his fate was in his own hands. The lock-ups he'd suffered on Saturday had limited the life of his tyres in the first stint. And so he lost out when Mercedes pitted Nico late, dropping back to 2.5 secs down because he was obliged to stop after Rosberg, who had better life left in his Softs and as leader could choose his moment.

Once some wing was taken out at the first stop, the car was optimally balanced and he moved from 2.5 down on Lap 18, to 1.8, 1.4, 1.0, 0.7, 0.8 on Lap 23. When he suddenly scored a purple (fastest) first sector eight laps into a tyre stint, on Lap 24, you knew something like a Monza charge was on the way and he nailed Rosberg that lap.

From then on it was a question of tyre and engine management. In Qualifying the W05 had been 1.1 second per lap clear of anyone else, but Felipe Massa was only 4.9 seconds behind (now second place) Rosberg on Lap 30. In the final stint both cars began to push and show what they could really do - by Lap 46 they were lapping 1.6 seconds quicker than third place Daniel Ricciardo who was going flat out to keep in front of Massa. When Nico upped his pace, Lewis had the buffer to respond.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 50: Jean-Eric Verne on Romain Grosjean for P9
The stewards may have penalised him for the move, but the late-braking dive up the inside that JEV delivered to Romain Grosjean at Turn 1 was another example of the Frenchman's great racing ability. As Marussia reserve driver Alexander Rossi said, "It was a little bit NASCAR, and rubbin's racing, right...?"

Grosjean was clearly not watching, otherwise he wouldn't have gasped. "What was that?" immediately afterwards. He had his eyes firmly fixed on Jenson Button a few car lengths in front and whereas some overtaking moves require the overtaken car to take a different line, Grosjean had his head fixed so firmly on the car in front that that was never going to be a possibility. And if the stewards don't like the idea of contact then they should be consistent and penalise the wayward Pastor Maldonado for needlessly cannoning into Jenson Button's tyres in the closing stages after ignoring the blue flags and blocking Nico Rosberg.

JEV had earlier managed a pass on Sebastian Vettel at the improbable location of Turn 9 on Lap 26, and his swift pass on Jenson Button's McLaren was also a thing of beauty.

Winners
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 2nd
Nico Rosberg was bearing up after the race and said, with a smile on his face, "It sucks, you know, being passed like that with the same car." Rosberg did very little wrong in the race, apart from react far too late to Hamilton's charge down the inside at Turn 12 on Lap 24. By the time he began to move over both cars were already well into the braking zone.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 3rd
Daniel's comeback from a poor getaway started as early as the braking zone for Turn 1, as he came through and gave a friendly little nudge to Jenson Button before going round the outside of Kimi Raikkonen. He used his considerable racecraft to ease past Magnussen and Alonso, then left it to the engineers at Red Bull to pull the strategy needed to get past both Williams. This was supposed to be a circuit where the Mercedes grunt would put them out of reach.

Felipe Massa, Williams, 4th
Massa got a great start, fended of Fernando Alonso and jinked past his team-mate, but just lost out to the Wile E Coyote undercut strategy of the Red Bull team and Dan Ricciardo. It all came down to the pitstops. Bottas stopped on Lap 30, Ricciardo stopped on Lap 31 and Massa came in on Lap 32. Had Williams elected to bring Felipe in when he still had a two second advantage over Ricciardo on Lap 31, then they might have scraped a podium. As it is, they have all but cemented third place in the constructors' championship.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 5th
Valtteri has come a long way after scoring his first World Championship points at Austin in 2013. Given the Williams team's resurgence, fifth place is almost a disappointment.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 6th
Some epic racing from Fernando, who had a lot of fun with Jenson Button, not quite as much with Sebastian Vettel, and managed to keep in front of him right at the end despite a vibration that blurred his vision. On paper he delivered P6 from P6 on the grid, but he had to work very hard to keep his F14T where he started. There's also the small matter of finishing 64 seconds behind the P5 car.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 7th
When Red Bull brought Sebastian Vettel in for a pit-stop on Lap 49, with just seven laps to go, it looked like they might have encountered a sudden problem on the car. "Vettel bringing it in to retire it," thought BBC commentator Ben Edwards. But no, out he came again with a set of Softs, having dropped from P7 to P14, and hammered the Fastest Lap down to 1:41.379 on Lap 50. He then engaged in a series of muscular overtaking moves, picking off the stragglers doomed to run to the finish on fading tyres.

Losers
Sergio Perez, Force India, DNF
Checo almost managed to take out three cars in one corner with a bit of inexpert braking on Lap 1. Thankfully Raikkonen's car survived, but Adrian Sutil's did not. It must have been a huge blow for all the Mexican fans who had made the trip north to see their hero, but at least it was his own fault. And they must be getting used to it after his accident in Canada.

Adrian Sutil, Sauber, DNF
Adrian is still to complete a racing lap of Austin, though qualifying the car P9 must be a small compensation. Whether the Sauber could have maintained that pace in the race is anyone's guess, for once the Lotus cars were looking racy, (even though Romain Grosjean seemed to complete 25% of his race distance on the run-off tarmac).

Jenson Button, McLaren, 12th
Jenson did a lot of racing today for nil points and most of it was down to taking a gearbox penalty, which meant he couldn't start from his Qualifying position of P7. Which meant he was behind Magnussen not in front, which meant he got double-teamed at the first tyre stop, which meant he lost a few places, and which meant that when the second stops came round he stayed out too long and lost some more places, and yada yada yada.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 13th
For a lot of the race Kimi was not that far behind Fernando Alonso, but the Finn was plagued yet again by a sliding front-end that gave him constant understeer. "Japan was similar - we fight with understeer the whole weekend and whatever we do we can't seem to get rid of it. Then you can expect to destroy the front tyres." Which he did.

Media Watch
Jenny Gow posing a question to Red Bull boss Christian Horner. "Engines, what can you do about them? This is the 17th race of the weekend..."

Eddie Jordan was asked what he thought about the situation with Marussia and Caterham potentially going out of business (deep breath now): "Well, you have to ask Mr Ecclestone that. Because I believe what he said a few races ago, about diminishing the number of teams to run three cars absolutely made no sense to these young teams, because anyone who was either talking to a sponsor, or credibility, or even staff; anyone involved in drivers, the whole thing undermined their whole existence in my opinion and from that point, therefore, these teams were never given a chance. I don't think Bernie has embraced them. I don't think F1 has embraced them."

"People are running around me, down to the podium situation." Jenny Gow

Andrew Davies

Original article HERE.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

UNITED STATES GP 2014 PREVIEW

The United States Grand Prix is a motor race which has been run on and off since 1908, when it was known as the American Grand Prize. The race later became part of the Formula One World Championship. Over 43 editions, the race has been held at ten locations, most recently in 2013 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The Circuit of the Americas, which runs anti clockwise, is a wonderful mixture of many of the most famous circuits on the F1 calendar; it has more corners at over 250 km/h than Spa and more below 100kph than Hungary, which is quite a combination! It has one very long straight with a hairpin at either end. There were a total of 55 overtaking moves during the 2012 race, but only 18 in the 2013 edition. Strategy wise, the race has been a one stopper for both the previous races, due to a conservative choice of medium and hard tyres by Pirelli. This year they have opted for soft and medium.

TRACK CHARACTERISTICS
Circuit length : 5.516 kilometres.
Race distance : 56 laps (308.896 kilometres).
Corners : 20 corners in total. Average speed 197km/h.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 315km/h (with DRS open) 305km/h without.
Full throttle : 58% of lap.
Brake wear : medium/hard.
Number of braking events : 10 (Four heavy). At Turn 12 the drivers incur 5.5g in braking forces.
Time needed for a Pit stop : 21/22 seconds.
Lap record : 1:39.347 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2012)

WEATHER FORECAST

The forecast for the weekend is for warm weather, with temperatures of 24 to 26 Centigrade.

TYRES

Pirelli tyre choice for Austin: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings) This combination has been used six times already this season.

For the last two seasons, Pirelli has brought the medium and hard tyres to Austin and it has led to one-stop strategies. This year they have gone for the soft and medium tyres, but that is because the 2014 compounds are harder than last year’s. So we could have one or two stops as the preferred strategy, Pirelli thinks two. Tyre warm up has been a factor at this race track in the past as it can be very cool, in the mornings especially.

DRS

At the request of FIM, some of the asphalt run-off area around the outside of Turn 10 has been replaced by gravel, while a number of light panels will be mounted closer to the ground for improved visibility.


There are two DRS zones this weekend. The detection point of the first is 150 metres after Turn 10, with the activation point 320m after Turn 11, while the second zone’s detection point is 65m after Turn 18, with the activation point 80m after Turn 20, on the start/finish straight.

PIT STOPS

Typically with the harder compounds of the past in Austin one stop has been around 10 seconds faster than two stops. One stop has another advantage in that it offers track position in the final stint, so the two stopping car has to overtake it on fresher tyres in the closing stages. A typical one stop strategy is to start on soft tyres and pit around lap 20 for a new set of medium tyres.

Two stops would mean starting on the soft tyre, taking another set of softs around lap 15 and then a set of mediums around lap 37. Alternatively, two stints on the medium tyre if the wear on the soft was marginal and the medium had good pace.

SAFETY CAR

There have been two races so far and one safety car so the probability is 50%.

CONCLUSION

The world championship is finely balanced as F1 makes its third visit to Austin, Texas, which proved a huge hit with teams, drivers and fans last season. The two Mercedes drivers have scored 565 points between them – enough to secure the constructor’s championship already – but there are only 17 points separating Lewis Hamilton from his team mate Nico Rosberg.

There will be only nine teams participating in the Grand Prix after Caterham and Marussia went into administration.

The news that Sebastian Vettel may skip qualifying completely because he has to replace a whole power unit will suck for fans. The way this has been going just shows how poorly thought out the rules were by the FIA.

I'm looking forward to another clean sweep by Lewis Hamilton as he has been very good at this track and the flowing nature of the circuit suits the Mercedes power unit just fine.

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.