Monday, September 28, 2009

Show me the money

Re-published from Malaysian Insider by Justin Ong

Sept 27 — Motorsports costs money. All sports, to some degree, cost money but more to the point, motorsports costs a lot of money. So much money that only the rich or very talented ever get to participate here in Malaysia.

First there’s the vehicle itself, but rather than being the bulk of your investment, it is merely the gaping hole into which you would proceed to pour all your money into. Modifications can and often do cost more than the car itself. Or even several times the cost of the car.

Once it’s up and running, you need more money to keep it going. Maintenance can be frightening, as things which last years on a normal car regularly run only two or three events, not to mention racing parts are often a magnitude more expensive than standard items. Beyond parts, you’ll also need a crew to keep the vehicle running. That’s money, too.

For the average guy thinking of trying to self-finance his own motorsport career, let me tell you now that it is a financially ruinous venture. Before you know, you’ll have pumped in more money than you actually have. And when you win, you discover the purse barely even covers your tyres.

I’ve seen some amateur participants at local events where it’s blatantly obvious there’s more heart than money. Sometimes that’s just life; these people are in it solely for the thrill. Other times, it’s a crying shame because some of the drivers, if they could find the money, might have gone somewhere.

That’s simply weekend warriors who harbour minor ambitions in auto racing. It’s saddest when professional drivers, people who have bet their lives and livelihoods on the sport, barely scrape enough money together to make the entrance fee. That’s not a shame, that’s a bloody disgrace.

While the country is now supposedly throwing its weight behind the Formula One team currently in conception, it didn’t do very much to help one who was already a proven winner and world champion. Karamjit Singh’s tale is not only poignant, it is the story of motorsports here in Malaysia: Good enough to win, but couldn’t afford the bus fare to get there.

If you followed the travesty of Karam’s troubles — which got so bad he couldn’t even pay to ship his car back from a race — you’ll know motorsports here in Malaysia is a non-starter. If you can’t wrangle enough sponsorship money when you already can show you’re a winner, what hope is there where you’re just starting out?

Maybe rallying is too mucky, too spectator-unfriendly. But then A1GP’s Team Malaysia hasn’t fared much better either.

If there was a motorsport where the whole country could get behind, A1GP has to be it. Billed as the World Cup of motorsports, it pits country against country on the circuits. Now doesn’t this sound like the type of competition that could fuel national pride?

But like most other forms of motorsport here, it’s barely managed to get any kind of serious sponsorship. Certainly not anywhere remotely near the kind of money that’s being touted for the upcoming Lotus F1 team. Though they carried Proton’s emblems on their cars, I don’t know if they ever got paid for it. Or if they did, whether they were paid very much.

Malaysians couldn’t be roused to support a Malaysian team battling it out against Indonesia, Singapore, China, et al. Is there any reason they would back Malaysia versus Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Toyota? I can’t say for sure; maybe they will or maybe they won’t.

But what’s for certain is the reason why Karam and A1GP Team Malaysia have had such a hard time finding sponsorship dollars is because, by and large, Malaysians don’t care for motorsports. Corporate sponsors know this and thus are reluctant to pump any kind of money into it.

Beyond just F1, Malaysia hosts numerous other racing events — both amateur and professional. While the disciplines are diverse, the one unifying characteristic that ties all these races together is the dearth of spectators. Few know about them, and fewer still attend.

It’s just not in our culture. It can be, of course. Just not how it currently is. But until there is concerted effort to promote, cultivate and support the races and racers we already have, it’s going to be hard to see why we should take the Lotus F1 team seriously as a Malaysian motorsport effort. And harder still to see where it can all go.

As a Malaysian-owned venture, sure. As a questionable advertising blitz, maybe. But as a team that’s supposed to mean something to Malaysians all over the country? 1 Malaysia F1 — DNS.


McLaren are back! Well, at least half of McLaren. Lewis Hamilton won the race from lights to finish in formidable form and without KERS. His start was impeccable and his lead was never threatened even when his KERS malfunctioned and with the numerous on track incidents with the safety car.

He started well off the line, controlling the pace after that being chased by Vettel and Rosberg. Rosberg also made a great start, overtaking Vettel into the first turn. Both Vettel and Rosberg pressured Lewis but Lewis kept his cool. Unfortunately, both Vettel and Rosberg suffered in the race which cost them a place on the podium.

Kovalainnen again disappoints. Not only did he start the race in tenth but he virtually disappeared fir the whole race. Not much coverage was on him and nobody talked about him in the live online blogs/forum.

Rosberg had a moment when exiting the pits at his first stop and crossed the white line thereby incurring a drive through penalty and Vettel damaged his car, first losing a rear view mirror then breaking off the rear diffuser and damaging the bottom of the car on a kerb. Both dropped down the order, Glock and Alonso benefiting with 2nd and 3rd respectively.

It seems that Singapore is a good hunting ground for Alonso. Both times here he finished on the podium, last year famoulsy winning the race with a little help from Nelson Piquet. This year, a few more incidents and another safety car helped him again.

The Brawns were not on the pace much, concentrating mainly on securing as many points as possible. It seems that the title race will be decided between Button and Barrichello as both Red Bulls screwed up their race this weekend. With no more engines for the rest of the season, it seems unlikely that they will pose much of a threat to the titlle ambitions of Brawn.

Much more of the pace and virtually unheard of during the race (as per Kovalainnen) were the Ferrari duo of Kimi Raikonnen and Giancarlo Fisichella. They were just fighting for scraps in the middle of the pack and were not seen or heard of much (which is the way I like it, I have to admit).

Other than that, the race was quite boring, as I imagined quite a few people will admit to. The track and atmosphere looks fantastic at night but seriously, the racing action is few and far in between. Even on the F1 simulator the track feels quite easy to master and not much of a challenge.

Looking forward to Suzuka next. That is a real racers track with its twists and turns.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the 2nd Singapore GP tonight with a blazing lap of 1.47.891 while Rubens Barrichello crashed into the barriers red-stopping the qualifying session with 30 seconds to go. Lewis was fast all night although it was possible that either Vettel for Rosberg could have beaten him to pole without the red flag.

It could have been a close fight with the pole sitter decided after the chequered flag had fallen as has happened many times before, which would have made it that much more exciting. In fact, Vettel was on fire on that last lap that Rubens crashed with a purple sector 1. But then again Lewis could have been unbeatable as his car was rebuilt overnight after some electrical problems and according to Lewis the car was fantastic to drive and he could have gone quicker if need be.

But that is racing and it does look like the start later could be an interesting one. Fuel weights could play a role later. We'll see.

The Brawns were quite a disappointment with Rubens crashing. Although he stayed at P5, he did change his gearbox and will take a 5 grid place penalty. That still puts him in front of Jensen Button who starts a disappointing P12. The championship battle seems to be between Barrichello and Button but with both Red Bulls in front of them, Vettel P2 and Webber P4, things could still go to the wire at the end of the season.

Kovalainnen again disappoints with a P10, not showing much life throughout the whole qualifying session. This does not bode well for his seat next year. Honestly, McLaren needs Rosberg or Vettel there next year as they can't win the constructors championship with just one driver scoring points.

Ferrari are in for another difficult race with Kimi P13 and Fisichella P18. It looks like the Ferraris are not well balanced here. Last year they left Singapore without any points as Kimi crashed and Massa finishing out of the points after the safety car came out and he tore his refuelling hose.

The 2 BMWs are looking strong with the new updates that they have and could finish in the points with both cars in the top ten after qualifying. These last few races are their chance to show that they can start strong next year and are worthy of a big sponsor. force India disappoints with both drivers languishing near the bottom, expected maybe that their car is not so good with higher downforce tracks.

Others are not even worth a mention as they were not even covered much by the TV cameras. Looking forward to the race later, something tells me with the very dusty track and tight turns there will probably be another safety car which will re-arrange the order halfway and throw out some strategies. Hopefully, some strategies does not include purposely crashing a car again.

01 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:47.891
02 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:48.204
03 N. Rosberg Williams 1:48.348
04 M. Webber Red Bull 1:48.722
05 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:48.828
06 F. Alonso Renault 1:49.054
07 T. Glock Toyota 1:49.180
08 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:49.307
09 R. Kubica BMW 1:49.514
10 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:49.778
11 K. Nakajima Williams 1:47.013
12 J. Button Brawn GP 1:47.141
13 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:47.177
14 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:47.369
15 J. Trulli Toyota 1:47.413
16 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:48.231
17 J. Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:48.340
18 G. Fisichella Ferrari 1:48.350
19 R. Grosjean Renault 1:48.544
20 V. Liuzzi Force India F1 1:48.792

Saturday, September 26, 2009


It seems we were wrong about the government wasting our money on an F1 team in next years' championship. Or are we? A news report, and this was published in Singapore not in Malaysia (I can't seem to find anything reported in the Malaysian press except by Paul Tan), says that the Malaysian government will not be funding the team. The arrangement is as follows:

The Malaysian Government has no equity directly or indirectly in the team, and the team will be funded by a group of companies including Litespeed (which submitted an application to join Formula 1 next year under the name Team Lotus), Naza, and the Tune Group, run by Tony Fernandes, current team principal. Petronas, a very familiar name in Formula 1 (BMW Sauber’s sponsor), is expected to join the team via its Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (a Petronas university in Malaysia), which will collaborate with the team together with UTM (University Teknologi Malaysia – a state owned university) to help develop future Malaysian engineers.

A company called Composites Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) will also be involved in the team. The Malaysian-based (92% owned by Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance and 8% by Petronas) company produces composite materials for companies like Airbus and Lotus (composite body shell for Lotus Europa S). Team Lotus will be run by Litespeed. Litespeed is an F3 team that is founded by Nino Singh Judge and Steve Kenchington, both ex-Lotus employees. As revealed earlier, the team is expected to introduce its driver line-up by the end of next month.

No equity directly or indirectly? That maybe the case but the government does own 92% of CTRM. And since CTRM will be involved in what I assume to be the carbon fibre components of the car, a lot of money will be spent as carbon fibre components are not cheap to produce.

The report also says that Proton will only license Lotus technology and/or name to the project. What kind of technology will Proton license? Lotus does have F1 heritage but all Lotus cars run around with a Toyota engine. The F1 engine to be used will probably be Cosworth as it is the cheapest one available and the FIA has insisted that new teams use them.

And the chassis will probably be from Litespeed which is not free or cheap. That obviously comes with a set of systems and support which is on a retainer basis. And these don't come at your basic retainer rates.

So, it seems that Naza and Tune will be footing the bill. All a billion of it. Does that make sense for Naza and Tune? Especially since Tune is also sponsoring Williams to the tune (pun intended) of a few million dollars a year. Can Naza or Tune afford the whole setup, maintenance and running of an F1 team? Somebody convince me my money will not be used in this mess?

Sauber confirmed to be using Ferrari power

Well, the horse has spoken from the mouth. Dr Mario Theissen has confirmed that if and when the new Sauber team gets on the grid next year, they will be using Ferrari engines.
And should the team make the grid, their 2010 challenger will be equipped with Ferrari engines. "It will run a Ferrari power-train," Theissen told Autosport.
Shame no more BMW engines on the grid. And I had so high expectations for my favorite car brand. Well, back to WTCC.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Lotus F1: World’s most expensive paddock club pass?

Re-published from Malaysian Insider

SEPT 20 — Alex Yoong. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see the name? If you’re anything like the average Malaysian, Yoong’s name will have become practically synonymous with an internationally broadcast debacle.

Which is a bit of a shame, really. Although Yoong did not make a very strong case for himself in that, the pinnacle of motor racing, he’s actually quite a handy racer. His numerous wins in touring cars are testament enough to his skill and talent behind the wheel. Make no mistake, Yoong was good. Just not good enough for F1.

I admit I was one of those baying for blood after I watched a struggling Yoong — running sixth in a Melbourne GP that looked more demolition derby than Formula One — meekly make way for seventh place Mika Salo, surrendering without a fight what would have been the sole championship point of his career. That was simply too much.

From then on, Yoong’s Formula One career was one embarrassment after another. It came to the point that television commentators, usually quite reverent of F1 drivers, began ridiculing him. The ignominy of it all...

After Yoong lost his F1 drive, I thought he would be consigned to oblivion. Who would want to be associated with a virtual emblem of failure? To his credit, Yoong persevered. For a time, he languished on the sidelines, with part-time drives in minor series, before he finally redeemed himself with a stellar showing in A1GP.

I’ve grown to respect the man. Not for what he did in Formula One, but for what he’s done since. A lesser person who have been crushed by the negativity of an entire nation weighing on him. Enough to maybe make peace with god before going down on a 12-gauge. Not Yoong; he got on with life, got on with the job.

Many, probably most, still associate Yoong with his craptacular performance in Formula One. That’s how life is: when you do good no one remembers, when you do bad no one forgets. And that’s also probably why the upcoming Lotus/1 Malaysia/ Formula One team has been so poorly received.

And I don’t even begin to blame them. Politics and innuendos of public monies being railroaded to fatten some crony’s pockets aside, Formula One is no free ride in the park. So far, we’ve heard figures ranging from RM160 million to RM1.6 billion being talked about as the annual cost of running the team.

The higher end is, of course, what it costs for the teams that want to win. The lower range is, unfortunately, what it’ll take just to come along for the ride. Remember also that this number is only what it will take to run the team. To set it all up, well, that’s going to be quite a bit more.

So where do we want the team to be? Actually challenging for victory or are we happy if we don’t end up holding the wooden spoon? Which then begs the question: If we’re not in it to win it, why are we even doing it at all? Just to be there? To simply make up the numbers? If that’s the case, I can’t see how it would be positive to have Malaysia associated with also-rans, unless that’s what the government is planning to market the country as: mediocre at best.

Because Proton is involved, there’s also talk of “technology transfer”. But seeing as A) they already own Lotus and B) the only thing an F1 car has in common with a road car is they both have four tyres and a steering wheel, you’ve got to wonder just what kind of technology is going to be transferred. Probably the kind that makes better badges — “Handling by Lotus F1”, that’s got to be worth another couple of thousand cars a year at least.

You know how all the companies that sponsor F1 (even if it’s just some sticker on a driver’s helmet) will tell you how their products have “F1 technology” or are developed from “experience earned on the race track”? Not to put it too bluntly, it’s all bullcrap. Nothing in F1 gets into your car, and nothing from your car is used in F1. It’s all chalk and cheese.

I have no idea how much money this entire exercise will cost Proton, but when comparative giants such as Honda and BMW cannot justify the expenditure, can Proton really do so? Also consider that these companies sell on a global scale, so they’ve got even more reason to be there. Proton, well, I guess we’re about due for another Special Edition...

Right now, the details are still sketchy so it’s too soon to point the finger of death at Lotus/1 Malaysia/ F1. Maybe it’ll all get going without the risk of us having to read about a RM12 billion Lotus/1 Malaysia/ F1 scandal a decade from now.

Maybe they’ll actually figure out some way to get up to speed without putting Alex Yoong at risk of losing his status as the butt of every joke involving a Malaysian F1 entry. If they do, they could probably sell the blueprint to Toyota, god knows they could do with one.

Right now, however, I can’t help but think the happiest man in the world goes by the name Alex Yoong.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


It seems that the Renault scandal decision was already decided before the WMSC hearing took place. Discussions were made behind closed doors and a decision was made to keep Renault in the championship in the interest of having more teams on the grid and keeping the money making machine rolling. According to Mohammed ben Sulayem, FIA vice-president and United Arab Emirates' automobile club president, "everybody" wanted Renault to stay in the sport.

Everyone with something to gain, that is. According to him, Abu Dhabi made sizable investments into the Abu Dhabi race and they wanted Renault as part of the show. Therefore, Renault couldn't be thrown out but instead they'll throw out justice and rule of law.
"We are not here to hang teams, we did our negotiations before and everybody is happy with the result.

"Protecting the investments Abu Dhabi has made into Formula One is my duty; it is a big show and it needs teams. But this is the pinnacle of motorsport and it needs teams to follow the rules.

"In the current crisis, you cannot go around hitting people and causing severe damage.

Funny, they hung McLaren out to dry and fed them to the dogs after that. It turns out that Sulayem is Jean Todt's man. Is this the kind of future FIA management of F1 that we want to have? Max Mosley controlling the sport from the shadows, manipulating it as he always has. If this is the future, then we are in for a stressful life indeed.

Doubts over Formula for unity

Re-published from The Sun

I AM not going to be a wet blanket, in prematurely criticising the government’s plan to enter Formula One.

The timing – in the midst of the global financial crisis – is probably questionable as this will cost us at least RM1 billion. The bulk of this money comes from national carmaker Proton, which in effect means the people are funding it.

There is a theory that the Finance Ministry will approve more special draws to help fund this venture.

However, in the long run, this may be one of our best investments; one of the best things Malaysia could have done in putting itself on the map. In terms of branding we are exposed 18 times a year – the number of races – to a global television audience of around 600 million.

Let’s not forget the potential tie-ups, endorsements and sponsorship deals which are a usual spin-off of a massive agreement such as this.

It also creates jobs and other opportunities through massive R&D investments, offering limitless prospects to local students for internships, training and attachments.

Ferrari, for instance, has a team of close to 800 people, including 200 frontline crew involved in pit and technical aspects of the race.

Now, with the Lotus name we cannot go wrong. The name itself evokes memories of the 79 grand prix wins that the team had before it folded and was bought by Proton.

But as the Malay saying goes, let this not be a case of "kera dapat bunga". In the hands of Datuk Tony Fernandes, one is more confident that our second foray into F1, albeit ambitious, will not go the way of our first venture with Team Minardi in 2001, with Alex Yoong being the country’s first ever F1 driver.

Minardi languished at the bottom and Yoong could boast of a position no higher than seventh place in Melbourne, when the other teams crashed out. Malaysia spent what is estimated at RM120 million in the tie-up and Yoong returned to the less competitive A1 race.

The worry is while we can impress with high-tech facilities and state-of-the-art headquarters complete with wind tunnel at the SIC (Sepang International Circuit), whether we can produce world-class performances from our drivers and technology is another story.

We can spend big bucks and pay millions for top notch drivers, but then, he will only be as good as the car he is driving.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, who is at the bottom of the drivers standings, cost Force India RM5 million a season, while Force’s chief engineer Mike Gascoyne is F1’s most expensive engineer at RM28.8 million a year.

Can we afford these kinds of salaries for average showings?

In our quest to put a Malaysian face in the cockpit, do we sacrifice quality and experience for Malaysia Boleh?

Probably, and we could end up a laughing stock languishing at the bottom of the 13-team race.

Hence, we need to be practical and ask ourselves what is the main motivation for the conception of the 1Malaysia F1 Team. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s explanation: "It will be a national team under the 1 Malaysia banner which stands as a unifying foundation for all Malaysians to come together in celebrating the cooperation between our multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious society through sports."

If one needed to use sports as a unifying factor, one only needs to go back in time to the era of the Malaysia Cup, the Thomas Cup and the Razak Cup to witness how for the sheer love of sports, Malaysians irrespective of ethnicity came together to cheer the multiethnic national teams.

The last time we witnessed a dramatic surge in national pride in the sporting arena was the 1998 KL Commonwealth Games.

Nicol David had succeeded to a certain measure in becoming a unifying factor through sports. The only set-back is that not many people follow squash.

If enhancing national unity is the main agenda, perhaps instead of spending RM200 million a year on an F1 team, we could explore strengthening the sports we already have.

Football has a tremendous following from Malaysians of all walks of life. It was only 30 years ago that we wore Pahang, Selangor and Kedah shirts with the same pride that we have today in adorning jerseys of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid.

Perhaps tweaking the organisation of sports associations and getting the deadwood out of the Football Association of Malaysia would be a cheaper and sure-fire way of getting football stadiums full again and reviving some of that national pride.

There is nothing to say Fernandes and the executives at Naza are not going to do a good job. Probably if anyone can get our F1 dreams on track it is the team unveiled by the prime minister on Tuesday. But at the end of the day, they are businessmen whose main focus is flying low-cost carriers and selling cars.

Malaysians would want to know what was the fine print when they signed on the dotted line and when do we pull the plug if this ends up draining our coffers yet again.


I say it again, the FIA is useless, fucking useless. The inconsistencies in their regulations and the way they enforce it is really making me sick to the core. I'm of course talking about the latest round of crap policing in the wake of the Nelson Piquet Jr/Renault race fixing scandal of the 2008 Singapore GP.

The excuse given by FIA president Max Mosley is so stupid it beggars belief. Even a non F1 person would find it hard to believe such stupid excuses given by Max. He said:
"The penalty that we have imposed is the harshest one we can inflict, which is disqualification, and it is complete expulsion from the sport," Mosley said. "However, because Renault demonstrated that they had absolutely no moral responsibility for what took place – that is to say Renault F1 the team did not know and still less did the company have any responsibility – it would be wrong in the circumstances to impose an immediate penalty. I think we've demonstrated that we've dealt with it."
Dealt with it? Nothing happened to Renault. Only Flavio and Pat Symonds bore the brunt of the action. Renault were only made to pay the costs of the investigation, which costs as much as Max's sex romp with a couple of prostitutes for an hour. It's unbelievable, Max called the punishment "unparalleled severity", the rest of the world feels it's more like "unparalleled leniency". Damon Hill says it's a crying shame and it's just a game by Bernie.
"Formula One has to ask itself, is it just a very expensive form of entertainment or a proper sport? There is a whole book on what's wrong with Formula One. It's called Bernie's Game and the history of this episode is typical."
What is needed is a radical change at the FIA with people who have some form of consistency and righteousness to manage the sport. Planet F1's editorial seems to have hit it spot on then they said:
The affair only reinforces the view that there needs to be a new broom at the FIA and that when Max Mosley retires, Ari Vatanen should take over. Most important is the consistent application of F1's rules. Had the Singapore race stewards enforced the rules that were so strictly adhered to in Belgium (about leaving the track) just two races previously, then Alonso would have been serving a drive-through not cheating his way to victory. Also, it was the poor framing of the Safety Car rules that led to Briatore and Symmonds being able to exploit a situation where cars couldn't pit for fuel when they needed to, without a penalty.
The only certainty that we have from this episode is that if it was McLaren, it would have been much much more severe. It shows what a fuckhead Max Mosley is and how insane are the powers that control the FIA are. Both Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone have to go for the good of the sport. Keith from F1Fanatic puts it squarely:

Max Mosley refused to acknowledge the craven manner in which the FIA backed down from punishing Renault yesterday.

He insisted the team received “the harshest [penalty] we can impose”, which was patently false given that they kept all the points and money earned by their ill-gotten victory, and have not been banned from any events.

With every race my enthusiasm drops by a point. I still love the technical aspect of the sport, the prowess of the drivers, the many other detailed things that make F1 great but seriously, the politicians in the sport must go. They are fucking up a great sport and entertainment for us fans just like politicians in Malaysia are fucking up a great country.

A lot of people have argued about Renault, Alonso, Piquet, Flavio, Symonds, cheating, can we believe what ever is happening on the track, is it all fixed? In the end, it all comes down to the FIA. The Fia has to be cleaned up. No more dodgy rules, no more dodgy race stewards, no more decisions that looks to be favoring one side only. The sport will fix itself because it won't have to play safe or try to cheat because the FIA is creating the wrong environment for it.

Clean up the FIA and the sport will clean itself up. We will have cleaner, fairer and more entertaining races. Real racing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Renault slapped with two-year suspended ban

What did I tell you? I'm somehow not surprised that they wouldn't be thrown out of the championship or receive a heavier penalty. What did we expect? Their team name does not spell McLaren. It seems to me that Flavio got out just in time and Max got his going away present. Perhaps losing BMW and the threat of Toyota leaving was just too much of a drain on the sport.

Seems that the rules can be bent for some people for not for others. Makes me sick just thinking about it. You can see how short this post is as I'm lost for words.


The WMSC has unveiled the provisional calendar for the 2010 World Championship and it has 19 races on it with Canada still awaiting approval. I do hope Canada is confirmed soon. So far it looks good with Korea the newest track there.

Formula One 2010 calendar
Mar 14 - Bahrain (Sakhir)
Mar 28 - Australia (Melbourne, starting at 1700 local time)
Apr 4 - Malaysia (Sepang, starting at 1600 local time)
Apr 18 - China (Shanghai)
May 9 - Spain (Barcelona)
May 23 - Monaco (Monte Carlo)
May 30 - Turkey (Istanbul)
Jun 13 - Canada (Montreal, provisional)
Jun 27 - Europe (Valencia)
Jul 11 - Great Britain (Donington Park)
Jul 25 - Germany (Hockenheim)
Aug 1 - Hungary (Budapest)
Aug 29 - Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps)
Sep 12 - Italy (Monza)
Sep 26 - Singapore (starting at 2000 local time)
Oct 3 - Japan (Suzuka)
Oct 17 - South Korea (Yongam)
Oct 31 - Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina, starting at 1700 local time)
Nov 14 - Brazil (Interlagos)

Monday, September 21, 2009


A lot of people are speculating about this issue, whether the Crashgate incident would have affected the 2008 championship. Of course Massa fans now are crying foul and speculating left, right and centre how Lewis didn't deserve the title and how Massa should have won it and now the proof is there with Crashgate. They will continue to whine about it with or without Crashgate anyway.

The way I look at it is that it didn't make a difference. As Lewis has stressed, he deserved the title and fought hard for it. He was hampered a few times by the rules but he still won anyway. There are a few things that could have happened with Crashgate:
  1. There were a few more races after Singapore, even if Massa won there Lewis could still win the other races or Massa could have screwed up and Lewis would still have been champion.
  2. Or Massa could have won the other races and become champion outright but he didn't. It still came down to the wire in Brazil.
  3. During the Singapore race, Massa/Ferrari screwed up and ripped the fuel hose thereby fucking up his pitstop. Without Crashgate, his race was still fucked and he didn't score points.
Actually, come to think of it, Crashgate had nothing to do with Massa losing the title. The fucked up pitstop did it. Everybody needs to get over it. Talking about this incident, now Alonso has been summoned to appear at the hearing today and was he surprised. I said before that it's impossible for him not to know something was going down.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Lewis is at it again. The last time he started by fighting with Alonso over who was better, at the hotel, on the road and almost everywhere else. They were both trumped by Mika in the end. Then Lewis tried it again with Steve McQueen. Now, he's arguing with Mika over whose idea it was to come out with the Johnny Walker Join The Pact. If you don't believe me, watch the video here. Picture courtesy of

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fernandes to quit as Lotus F1 team boss soon

What rubbish is this? Just announced the setting up of the team with his name as Team Principal then now saying he'll be TP for a few races. Just to taste the glamour of being TP is it? Able to hang around with Vijay and Martin on the pitwall for a few races. My advice is don't even bother. Let somebody like Gascoyne run the show from the start and get things moving.

Also, they announced the car will be ready by January and testing in February. 1 month of testing with last years' car is bad enough as we've seen before but this is suicide. I'm sorry to berate the team so much but I can just see their downfall. I just can't stand the wastefull lifestyle that these people lead. If they waste their money it's ok but this is our money. What the hell?

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Reports from German press are speculating that the new owners of BMW Sauber might be using Ferrari engines and transmissions when they line up on the grid next year. The entry is almost a certainty on then grid as the team has been sold for EUR80 million to Qadbak Investments and all the infrastructure is already in place.

I'm just sad to see no BMW engines will be on the grid next year. I'm such a fan of BMW (the car) and was hoping they'd be able to show their engineering prowess there but F1 is such that the whole has to be more the equal sum of its parts to succeed. Enter the Malaysian F1 team....sigh.


It's official, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have stepped down from their positions at Renault in the middle of all this crashgate fiasco. Or were they asked to leave by Carlos Ghosn the boss of Renault? Could be either way.

At the very least, Max got his going away present, that is to see another team boss axed. I'm not sure though whether this has any bearing on the on going trial for cheating by Renault F1. Renault has decided not to contest the charge which leads one to believe that they admitted to cheating and voluntarily causing the crash.
A statement from the team read: "The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
The radio transcripts were also released but did not show much. It does sound genuine but then again, there's always 2 sides to every story. If you were going to cheat, you wouldn't want to make it look like you were cheating right? It seems that in this case, anything goes. But the part that I dislike the most is that a lot of people are guessing that even if Renault were found guilty by the WMSC, they won't be thrown out of the championship like McLaren was 2 years ago. Now, how fair is that?
The FIA have the power to exclude Renault from the Championship, although it is anticipated such a strict penalty will not be administered.- Planet F1
This charge and the result of the actions during the Singapore GP 2008 was and is more serious than what happened with McLaren in the spygate saga. How can Renault not be thrown out of the championship and fined a record amount? That should be the minimum punishment. If the WMSC does not mete out this punishment then it would be clear to all that they and the FIA are not relevant anymore.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Malaysia’s own F1 team

Oh My God! That was my first reaction when I heard rumours about Malaysia wanting to have a F1 team. I fainted when the news came true. This is the last thing that we need. There are so many reasons why we shouldn't just jump into it like this.

I am so pissed off that these people actually thought about it. The first and most important reason that we shouldn't jump into this is because it was thought up, run by and will controlled by politicians. Like most Malaysian sports, it will be fucked up because these people are in charge.

Secondly, we have no racing history and knowledge to speak of. There are not that many Malaysians trained and with experience in motorsports of any level. We don't even have a proper grassroots program. The absence of such a program speaks volumes of the government's commitment to motorsports. What makes them think they can just create a F1 entry and become successful at it?

Thirdly, the Malaysian government's attitude is not like other countries especially Dubai where they get the best for the best results and give full control and creative freedom to achieve the targets. The Malaysian government is too scared to give freedom to the people assigned to do their jobs. Just look at how the many talks between Proton and VW that have failed. This attitude is what is hampering foreign investments and growth in this country.

Looking at the proposed structure of the F1 team, Mike Gascoyne has been made Technical Director but not Team Principal. That job goes to Tony Fernandes. See what I mean by control? Gascoyne will be frustrated within 6 months at all the bureaucracy bullshit and the team will get nowhere.

As a follower of F1, even without in depth knowledge of how the sport operates, I know that even with 1 element out of place the team will not succeed at much. The Malaysian team is the other way around, they probably only have 1 element that is working and not the rest. This looks like another huge waste of money again, something which the Malaysian politicians are so good at. They just want the glamour.

Another thing, the announcement came so fast that the Malaysian team has been accepted into the 2010 Championship ignoring other established and deserving teams like Prodrive. Even the BMW entry has been given the cold shoulder and might be considered later as a 14th entry. What does that tell you? That means that Bernie has some of my money already. How did Malaysia suddenly have so much influence at the FIA and FOM?

I'm really lost for words for these people. Something is wrong when they announced the entry and Petronas was not there. Petronas has years of experience being a sponsor of a team in F1 and they are missing. What does that tell you about this venture? Petronas not being around also means that the taxpayer is footing the bill.

I won't be saying that I'm from Malaysia anymore when I join online F1 forums from now on. Of course I want my national team to do well but this effort is just about glamour and sucking money from the country. The money is better spent on developing a national grassroots program starting with go karts. Somehow I just can't see it working out. And Lotus has a prestigious pedigree in F1, these people better not screw that up.

Monday, September 14, 2009


What can I say? It was shaping up to be a great race and in a way it was. Lewis was on pole, Sutil in the Force India was P2, even Liuzzi was up there in 7th. A lot of cars were on a one stopper which should have mixed up the strategies.

For the first time in years, the start of the Italian GP at Monza did not have a first turn smash up. That first turn is notoriuosly tight and is at the end of a long straight. Either there is a mash up there or people would be all over the place cutting corners. Surprisingly, everybody got through safely. The only close call was when a few cars touched here and there causing damage to front wings like Kubica.

The worth mention was Brawn GP and Ross Brawn. A brilliant strategy from Ross, with both his drivers starting from 6th and 7th but with a one stopper and the pace that they had, they managed to win the race with a 1-2.

The thing that wrecked my weekend was when after chasing down Button from 4s to 1.2s, Lewis was pushing too hard and crashed his car on the last lap. On the last lap. He should have known that with 1.2s apart and a lap to go, there was no way of catching and passing him. He should have just kept 3rd place. It would have been a good 6 points and kept Raikonnen from the podium. But both have lost their chance at the title this year and it could be over for the Red Bulls too.

And not helping was Kovalainnen who got overtaken so many times I lost count. He even got overtaken by Liuzzi at Parabolica. It looked like he was giving places for free all day. Seriously, McLaren cannot rely on just 1 driver to get the points next year.

Sutil was incredible, the Force India car is incredible able to keep pace with Raikonnen and sometimes kissing his ass. But that KERS was keeping him from swallowing Kimi up. Other than that, there was nothing much to shout about besides the fact that the 2 Toyotas were battling each other out like it was a do or die battle for the championship. Trulli made a mistake with Nakajima, lost position to Glovk and didn't want to back off. He slid off the track trying to overtake Glock on the outside of Lesmo. Crazy.

Now looking forward to Singapore. Wished that I could go there.

01 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:16.21.706
02 J. Button Brawn GP + 2.866
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari + 30.664
04 A. Sutil Force India F1 + 31.131
05 F. Alonso Renault + 59.182
06 H. Kovalainen McLaren + 1:00.693
07 N. Heidfeld BMW + 1:02.412
08 S. Vettel Red Bull + 1:05.407
09 G. Fisichella Ferrari + 1:06.856
10 K. Nakajima Williams + 2:42.163
11 T. Glock Toyota + 2:43.925
12 L. Hamilton McLaren + 1 lap(s)
13 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 lap(s)
14 J. Trulli Toyota + 1 lap(s)
15 R. Grosjean Renault + 1 lap(s)
16 N. Rosberg Williams + 2 lap(s)
Did not finish
17 V. Liuzzi Force India F1 + 31 lap(s)
18 J. Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso + 34 lap(s)
19 R. Kubica BMW + 38 lap(s)
20 M. Webber Red Bull + 53 lap(s)

Saturday, September 12, 2009


That was one of the tightest qualifying ever. It was bright and sunny in Monza, a perfect day for getting the tyres up to temperature and pushing the car through Parabolica. McLaren did an excellent strategy and both cars got into the groove pretty easily and quickly in every session. Q3 was the most interesting as Lewis did a fast 2 lap run on the soft tyres to make sure he stayed near the top and then with a few minutes remaining changed to the harder tyres for the banzai lap that got him the pole from Sutil. He was surprised though at his pace.

And talking about Sutil, what a performance. He was on fire the whole day and would have gotten pole if not for a small mistake in the last lap. In fact, the situation tells us a few facts about the current balance of power. It seems that Force Indis has found the sweet spot on their car since Spa. It has performed incredibly fast and well balanced. Not only was Sutil fast without KERS (a he managed to stay about 2 tenths apart from Lewis) but Liuzzi without testing could bring the car home in 7th.

Both force India cars are in the top 10 and that is great. It shakes up the grid and will give the front runners a fight. I can't wait to watch the race. I wonder if Fisichella is having nightmares now? He must be kicking himself in the ass for leaving Force India when they have a solid car that can compete with the likes of McLaren, Ferrari, Brawn or Red Bull. Imagine being beaten tomorrow by Sutil or not even scoring points while Sutil or even Liuzzi does.

Ferrari is there again hanging at Lewis' coatails. It seems that Kimi is always just behind Lewis. It will be interesting to see how the start pans out tomorrow with 3 KERS cars surrounding Sutil. I have a feeling he will get boxed in before the first turn.

Kovalainnen again is disappointing as he managed 4th in the same car as Lewis. Rosberg although languishing at the back somewhere must be grinning. with him in the other McLaren, not only will McLaren score more points as a team but Lewis will be pushed to achieve greater heights.

The Brawns are not a s strong as expected on a hot track today but they are just within reach so I'd not bet against them. Also Alonso as he has the KERS on his car this weekend. The Red Bulls were disappointing but it was expected as they have very little engines left and have to conserve them. a shame really as I wanted to see Vettel finish strongly this season. A stupid regulation scuppered his hopes and a fantastic battle ahead.

Surprising also was a double engine blow up for BMW. Both cars ended up in the midfield. And the worst of the pack was Williams with both cars at the back of the grid. Toyota also not looking good, doesn't bode well for their continued participation in F1.

All in all, an exciting qualifying because lewis was fighting a Force India for pole and pole was grabbed after the flag was thrown. The race is gonna be a cracker.

01 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:24.066
02 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:24.261
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:24.523
04 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:24.845
05 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:25.015
06 J. Button Brawn GP 1:25.030
07 V. Liuzzi Force India F1 1:25.043
08 F. Alonso Renault 1:25.072
09 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:25.180
10 M. Webber Red Bull 1:25.314
11 J. Trulli Toyota 1:23.611
12 R. Grosjean Renault 1:23.728
13 R. Kubica BMW 1:23.866
14 G. Fisichella Ferrari 1:23.901
15 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:24.275
16 T. Glock Toyota 1:24.036
17 K. Nakajima Williams 1:24.074
18 N. Rosberg Williams 1:24.121
19 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:24.220
20 J. Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:24.951

Friday, September 11, 2009


It seems now that Crashgate is confirmed as leaked transcript of the investigation interview with Piquet is available and reported widely. It's only a question of who is the culprit - was it Piquet or Flavio that suggested/instructed the crash. Either was, a deliberate crash was orchestrated and cheating happened at the 2008 Singapore GP.

Alonso has denied any knowledge of the planned crash, saying he was "shocked" to learn of this. Funny thing is, according to Piquet Alonso was put on an aggressive strategy where he would pit on lap 12 because the crash would happen on lap 13/14. This is what Piquet said:
"The key to this strategy resided in the fact that the near-knowledge that the safety car would be deployed in lap thirteen/fourteen allowed the Team to start Mr. Alonso's car with an aggressive fuel strategy using a light car containing enough fuel to arrive at lap twelve, but not much more.
I wonder why didn't Alonso question that strategy call? Didn't he feel funny to be pitting in so early compared to the others? A driver with his caliber and experience was totally oblivious to it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Well part 2 of this epic battle could start again when Ferrari reveal the worst kept secret in F1. I'm inclined to believe and have accepted the fact that Alonso will be moving to Ferrari soon. It could be next year or the year after that but the fact is he will move there. It has got closer now that Santander is officially signing with Ferrari.

With Renault now accused of race fixing, this move would be a good idea. Provided of course, Alonso doesn't get caught up with the whole sorry mess as he himself has denied it.

What is interesting is that Lewis is actually looking forward to the battle. With Alonso in a Ferarri, it would present a huge challenge to him and he likes challenges. Somehow, I would like to see it too. Yes Alonso is good and Ferrari are strong. But the stronger they are, the harder they fall. Go Lewis.


This is about Crashgate again. Beware though as the reports are currently unsubstantiated but it gets us drooling at the prospect, doesn't it?

These "reports" are now saying that :
Piquet Jnr is alleged to be claiming that he was told to deliberately crash his car at Turn 17 on either the 13th or 14 lap of the race. The exact timing of the incident was important because it would need to happen after Fernando Alonso hade made his pit-stop, while the location was vital because at Turn 17 there isn't a crane with which cars can be lifted to safety. In other words, the Safety Car would have to be deployed. For their part, while Briatore and Symonds admit that a meeting did take place, they allege that it was Piquet Jnr who came up with the cunning plan.

So the finger pointing has started. What is interesting is and this is if the reports are true, whatever the outcome and whoever is responsible, Renault did commit a crime. They did plan to cheat and they did cheat because the crash happened and Alonso won the race.

What gives credence to the case is that the FIA and World Motor Sports Council "would never have called the extraordinary meeting of the WMSC unless it had evidence other than that of a driver (and father) with an obvious grudge."



What is it with the teams suddenly especially Ferrari wanting 3 cars per team for next season? This talk about it has been going on for some time. I know historically, F1 has run 3 car teams because of a shortage of participating teams therefore not enough cars to make an exciting race.

But at the moment, there are more than enough cars on the grid and next year there will be 3 more new teams adding clutter to the grid. Why should 3 car teams be introduced? Why would we want 39 cars on the track at any one time? That's too many cars for my taste. 26 next year is fine. Or is it because Luca di Montezemolo wants Schumacher to race again? Because Ferrari sucked hard this year?

And I don't understand why is McLaren supporting the idea? In fact, wouldn't 3 cars increase the cost when everybody is talking and has implemented measures to reduce cost?

McLaren MP4-12C road car revealed

McLaren has finally revealed their new supercar for the road. It is called the MP4-12C, the naming convention follows their F1 cars. It seems that this car is slotted between their race winning MP4-12 and the world championship winning MP4-13 driven by Mika Hakinnen.

The engine is built by McLaren (3.8 V8 twin turbo pumping out 600bhp) which is interesting as the previous supercar built by McLaren had an engine supplied by BMW, the McLaren F1. It looks a beauty and if I had a few million bucks to spare, I would surely order one. For more images click here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


When Singapore says they are going to do something, you bet they will do it and do it right. Now after only their second year into hosting the F1 race, they are already talking about developing a motorsports hub with 3 proposals being put forward.

Sleepy Changi could soon stage motorcycling’s equivalent of Formula One, have a race driving academy whose graduates include top F1 drivers, or be transformed into a family-friendly shopping and entertainment destination.
When they plan something, they plan it properly from the start. A race track will not be much, it must be accompanied by other facilities to attract a bigger market. They know how to tap the thirst for motorsports there.

Sepang has been in existence for 11 years and nothing resembling a hub has come up. The government adn powers that be keep talking and wasting money. Soon Singapore will overtake us and again, money around the region will flow into Singapore. No wonder a small country with no natural resources is richer than us.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Porsche 911 outruns Boeing 747 at Changi

A bit off topic from F1 but still related. The Changi Airport Group, in promotion with the Singapore GP organised an event at the airport where a Porsche 911 GT3 was put alongside a Boeing 747 and the Porsche beat the jet after 200m with the jet airborne at that point. Power to weight ratio.


Renault have been summoned by the World Motorsport Council to answer charges that they orchestrated the Piquet accident at last years' Singapore GP in order to make Fernando Alonso win the race. The hearing is set for September 21st.

It seems quite logical for this to happen after watching the race. Immediately after the crash, I remember thinking to myself this was typical Piquet, that he couldn't handle the car but there was a niggling feeling at the back of my head that it could have been fixed. He could have done it on purpose. The accident looked fake even with Piquet's bad driving, he couldn't be that bad. To add fuel to the fire, Massa remarked to Flavio after the race, albeit in an accusing tone that the accident looked strange. What wasn't so strange was that Massa drove off with his fuel hose down the pitlane.

After the race, there was some discussions that he faked it, he crashed on purpose. Now the worms are out of the can and Renault could be in for a beating for this. Rumours are going around that it was Piquet who ratted out to the FIA after he was fired by Renault recently, which makes sense, he was rather pissed off. It could go either way but I have a strong feeling that nothing will happen because Renault is not McLaren. Then again, Max Mosley could be out to get Flavio as a going away present.

Could this be the end and the excuse for Renault i.e. Carlos Ghosn to back out of F1 and save a load of cash?

Friday, September 4, 2009


This is interesting. It's not wrong to dream and dream big at that. It seems that rumours are now circulating that Malaysia wants to have a sort of national F1 team. There's 3 possibilities.

One is via Lotus as what is happening now. Lotus has just recently brought in Dany Bahar as CEO. Dany was previously the Commercial and Brand Development & Partners director at Ferrari. I don't know what's so special with Bahar but he did work with Red Bull to setup their F1 strategy. And Lotus is owned by Proton.

Second is via Petronas buying up BMW Sauber and running it as its own team. This option is expensive as the whole team is ready to run but it is the best in terms of getting competitive straight away.

Thirdly, there is Team Meritus which is Malaysian based and is the most successful Asian motorsports team to date. The team has rapidly progressed up the Asian motorsport ladder, winning 32 international titles in just 12 years, and is currently the only Asian team granted a licence to race in the GP2 Asia series, an F1 feeder series.

While I laud any effort to get Malaysia on the F1 map and the world stage, I would offer caution first as Malaysia is known for talking big then falling flat on our faces. Well, to be accurate it's not Malaysia, it's more of our politicians.

Yesterday, Mailsport highlighted that a Malaysian consortium, led by several prominent individuals with the “blessings” of the government, are to bid for a spot in F1.

Prominent individuals in Malaysia are normally politically connected individuals and when politicians who are glamour crazy get involved, you can bet your last Ringgit that they will fuck it up. So be careful of your expectations.


Well, that pulled the carpet from under me. I know of the possibility of this happening because of the reported rumours but I didn't really put any thought into it. Now I'm pleasantly surprised. I'm really happy for Fisi now that he's got into his dream drive (being an Italian and all) and a competitive car.

The question has to be asked though, who will replace him at Force India? More importantly, will he remain a driver at Ferrari next year with the return of Massa and possible arrival of Alonso or will he become a test driver? I guess that depends on his performance but given his age and the lure of Alonso's potential, it's more than possible that he will become a test and reserve driver. And Stefano confirms it:
"Furthermore we considered what could be his role inside the team in the near future, also taking this year's experiences into account. He will be the reserve driver in 2010."
McLaren better wake up now, especially Heikki as they need to score as many points as possible to finish the season on top of Ferrari. They are currently 12 points behind and with Fisichella possibly scoring more, it's gonna be a tough fight.