Sunday, September 30, 2012


I have had to take some time to take in the events of the last couple of days since Lewis confirmed that he was moving to Mercedes GP Petronas for the 2013 season. It was quite a flurry of news in 1 day. It would seem that my previous analysis was off by a bit. Although, I still believe that Lewis should have stayed at McLaren.

I postulated that his reason for leaving was always because of the need to win. All F1 drivers are driven by that need to win, it's only the politics and money that sometimes decide where they go and stay. It made sense for Lewis to stay at McLaren because of their strong pedigree and ability to win championships, if not challenge strongly for it. Of course, all drivers want to win and there was an opportunity to do that with Mercedes since the rules would be rearranged in 2014.

The major rule changes in 2014 would mean an opportunity for Mercedes to come out with a winning car. They have the resources and Ross Brawn has been quietly building his team. They have the time to build on this throughout 2013. If Brawn has got it right, meaning he has the money, time, skills and the driver, Mercedes could spring a surprise in 2014 and take Lewis on to his second world championship. If it doesn't then Lewis could be languishing in the midfield.

Of course I am hopeful that all goes to plan as I'm sure Lewis made this calculated move. But there was a troubling bit of news yesterday from Pitpass. Pitpass is a well respected F1 website and they usually get it right most of the time. The have very good relations with Bernie and if they say something, you'd better listen. What they did say was not very encouraging.

Bernie Ecclestone was reported to have said to The Hindustan Times - “I listened to the noise of the engines in Maranello the other day, the new engine and the old engine, and even (Ferrari president) Luca di Montezemolo said it sounded terrible and didn’t like it,”. He added that Todt “will get rid of it. I think Luca is also saying we should suspend it for two or three years. I think it is sensible to get rid of it and stick with what we have got. It is much cheaper than the new one. It probably could be 30 percent of the price.”

So far this is not confirmed but if it does happen, then it will throw a spanner in the works for Lewis. If the new engine gets junked and F1 stays with the current engines, Mercedes might not be able to steal a march on everybody else. In fact, this uncertainty will cause some resources to be stretched thin to cover all outcomes.

Keep your fingers crossed. It's gonna be a wild ride for the next 1.5 years.

Friday, September 28, 2012


Well, it's been decided then. Barely a few minutes after writing my previous post and not having the chance to splatter it all over the internet, that particular post was rendered irrelevant. Lewis Hamilton has signed a 3 year contract to drive for Mercedes Petronas GP team from next season and partners Nico Rosberg (again..thye've been partners before in karting). And Sergio Perez replaces him at McLaren.

First off, I want to congratulate Lewis for making a decision that will change his life forever. It was a difficult one which showed on his face for the last few races, maybe even further back. As I have explained in my previous post, it is a difficult decision to make for an F1 driver. Especially one who is so driven to win and who only has 1 world championship title to his name while his younger competitor already has 2. Very frustrating indeed. And the older one might get his third this season.

It would seem that his decision to move has been influenced by 3 time world champion and elder statesman Niki Lauda. Perhaps Niki had some insider information about Mercedes' plans for 2014 and that Mercedes may have the upper hand when the new technical regulations come into force. The fact that Niki has also been drafted into Mercedes as Non-Executive Chairman of the board of the F1 team maybe helped Lewis decide. There could and probably is something going on in the background that they know best.

So the gamble is on then. Lewis will need next season to settle down into the team and help develop the 2014 car as that will be the car for him to challenge and attain another world championship. As we know it takes time to develop a car and a winning car at that. Ask Michael Schumacher, he's been at it for 3 years now. But since the next rules change is quite large, there will be an opportunity to grab on to something special and ride the wave to success as Brawn has proven in 2009.

There will be a major change in the regulations in 2014 where the heart of racing, the engine will be downgraded to a 1.6 liter turbocharged unit. That changes everything around it - gearbox, chassis, suspension, etc. This means that the playing field gets levelled and if Mercedes can come up with a strong package and innovation in most areas, they can steal a march on everybody else.

Mercedes (the car company) has already signed the Concorde agreement committing them to the sport for the next 8 years, so the money is there. The pitwall strategist is there in Ross Brawn. The pitstop crew will have to be worked on. It's looking good from here on in, anything can happen though and it is still some time to go.

In the meantime, we will have to lower our expectations for next year. If Lewis does surprise in the Mercedes next year, that would be great (I hope he does) but the real target is 2014. I do hope that everything falls into place as Lewis has planned it and he will achieve his 2nd world title then. But lookout for Perez next year, he will kill some giants.


There has been intense speculation these past 2 weeks about Lewis Hamilton's future. Will he stay at McLaren or will he go to Mercedes? Will he turn his back on the team that has nurtured him since he was 13 years old and made him world champion? Or will he go to a new team that has new promise for a new era of dominance?

I think it is difficult for the rest of us to speculate as we do not have access to insider information. All we can do is speculate the best we can based on our knowledge of how F1 works and information or opinions from F1 insiders or experienced F1 people.

Based on our own knowledge of how F1 works, changing a team for a driver such as Hamilton is a very difficult decision at this moment. It might be a simpler decision in a different season or it might be even harder. But based on what we know, this current season and the way things are at the moment, it is a very difficult decision for Hamilton to make.

An F1 driver is driven to win. That is it. It is never the money or the parties or the glamour (just ask Kimi). It is that inner drive and mad ambition to just win, win every race there is to win (ask Ayrton Senna). I have had the rare opportunity before of spending some private time with Lewis Hamilton in 2007 and 2008 where I have seen first hand the mentality of an F1 driver. There is no doubt in their minds that once they sit on the grid in their cars, there is no other conclusion but winning the race. Well, at least it was with Lewis.

In order to win though you need a very fast and reliable car that can be set up for most tracks, not to mention some luck coming your way once in a while. A fast and reliable pit stop crew, a good strategist on the pitwall and lots of money to sustain the championship onslaught. It seems that this combination is readily available at McLaren at the moment and well may continue for some time to come.

Mercedes on the other hand has a reliable and somewhat fast car but it has not been the class of the field this season, not by a long shot. Rosberg and Schumacher has not really been able to challenge the top 3 teams and are actually losing steam to be challenged by the midfielders.  If they are not careful  they might even lose their position to Sauber who look mighty fast, reliable and can take care of its tires very well.

So Mercedes does not really have the car nor the pitstop crew to match McLaren. They do have Ross Brawn on the pitwall who masterminded Michael Schumacher's world championships and Button's. As for Money, Mercedes the car company has lots of it but whether that money will continue to flow uninterrupted to the F1 team is always a debate. The bosses at HQ are known to be not really that happy to have their millions being sucked up by F1 every year without being able to justify or quantify it at the passenger car sales level.

Seems like Mercedes has been trumped, McLaren looks like a better bet then. But then again, Mercedes does have a trump card and it is called the 2014 Technical Regulations. There will be a major change in the regulations in 2014 (as if there are not that big a chance every other year, right) where the heart of racing, the engine will be downgraded to a 1.6 liter turbocharged unit. That changes everything around it - gearbox, chassis, suspension, etc. This means that the playing field gets levelled and if Mercedes can come up with a strong package and innovation in most areas, they can steal a march on everybody else.

But then again, so can McLaren. And Red Bull. And Ferrari. So weighing all these options up, I can see that staying at McLaren makes total sense for Lewis. It's not about the money. Mercedes' offer is only marginal. It's about winning. I feel that he will stay at McLaren. Although some people seem to think otherwise, of course everybody is entitled to their opinions. But this guy seems to have the answer already as he has published it out in the open. Is he a time traveller or what?

But my opinion is based on what I know, my information could be outdated by now anyway so it could go any other way. Even Martin Brundle with all his insider knowledge couldn't make a prediction:

I guess we'll have to just wait for it.


Since Suzuka is coming up and we all know how entertaining Suzuka can be, I'm sharing the top ten Suzuka showdowns as listed by F1Fanatic on his site. This should keep you busy for a while and stir some lively discussions everywhere. Enjoy! (Click on the picture to make the jump)

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Well what a year it has been. The action never stopped from the first race with many different winners, different teams, some surprise winners, surprise podiums, retirements and spectacular crashes. Some not so spectacular and some expected. But I'm glad that so far the championship is not lopsided like last year when Vettel won it at the Singapore GP.

This year it seems it could go down to the wire like in 2007 and 2008. Those were good years where the championship was won at the last race and even at the last corner. Although it was tension throughout the season and at every race as you just don't know if your supported driver is gonna win it or not. But that is the draw of Formula 1, that is the adrenalin rush we live on every 2 weeks.

I think this year it is about consistency. The most consistent driver and team will win it. It is no more about all out winning, just making sure you get on the podium or even top 5 is enough. To do this you would have to:

  1. Win the race or
  2. Get on the podium at every race or
  3. Get into the top 5 at every race or most importantly
  4. Stay away from Grosjean and/or Maldonado.
So far, Alonso has been the most consistent driver of all, finishing almost every race and almost always in the top 5. Even though his car is not the fastest on the grid, it is still pretty reliable. And reliability gets you to the finish line. So far the Ferrari 2012 has been able to make it into the top 10 in qualifying (in Alonso's hands of course) at almost every race, has been able to adjust to just about any track (low, medium or high downforce) and is just rock solid.

The greatest challenger to Alonso is Hamilton. He is something like Alonso where he can always get the best out of a good or bad car. Even Alonso admitted this saying Hamilton is "'..a strong driver and someone I respect as we know how good he can drive with a good car or a bad car and he is second in the standings." but the problem for Hamilton is McLaren and the car. So far, McLaren has got on top of their pitstop issues and have consistently cranked out amazing pitstop times which is good. They have not really got their strategies on top for the moment, although they're not bad.

The real problem at the moment is the car. It is the fastest car on the grid after their upgrades but the reliability is a shame. It seems in the last few races, only 1 car can finish the race. Hamilton and Button are taking turns collecting DNFs for McLaren. This is not helping Hamilton to fight Alonso but worse it is screwing up McLaren's challenge for the constructors big time.

Red Bull? They seem to have fallen off the bed. This year their pace is not bad but not that great either, not as dominant as last year. Which is good. Webber started well but has so far fallen off the pace and Vettel has lost a bit of his shine. But the real trouble with them is the car and its lack of reliability as well. It is not as fast as the McLaren and having an alternator that is unpredictable does not help. It could be their undoing in the end if they lose the constructors during the last 6 races remaining.

Mercedes and Lotus have lost the plot and are left to salvage what they can by defending against each other and the rest of the pack with Sauber really strongly in the fight.

So, who's gonna win it then? If the current form stays the way it is, I would have to say Alonso. But the title battle will really be between Alonso and Vettel at the moment, unless Alonso runs out of luck and Hamilton gets some of that luck. Vettel could be hanging around there to spoil the party. It's really between these 3.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Wow, it's been a very long time since I posted here. Some difficult times at the moment but I'm pulling through. I am now trying to start back this blog, post my opinions as much as I can. Hopefully I can cover every race until the end of this season. And hopefully will be able to get some guest postings and competitions where you can win some fantastic prizes as well.

What a race Singapore was. To be honest I was very upset as Lewis had another DNF. Seems like McLaren can only finish the races with one car. What is going on? They cannot win anything at this rate and with all the issues they have been having. They have to be more consistent.

Red Bull seems to have made a comeback with Vettel strong through the weekend and that sets up the battle in Suzuka. One of my favorite tracks, Suzuka is fast, flowing and throws up some crazy corners. Overtaking is also possible as Kobayashi has displayed more than once here.

Well, that is it for now. Need to get myself up to speed again for some better commentary. In the meantime, some news will follow before we get into the action at Suzuka next week. Wishing everybody a great week.