Thursday, November 29, 2012

THOUGHTS ON 2012 AND THE LAST RACE

I can't believe sometimes that the season is over. Some days it feels very long with 20 races. Some days I'm surprised it is over, the last race was done and dusted just last week. What a season it has been with many different race winners, teams moving up and down the grid, accidents, dramas, unexpected news and the title battle being dragged to the final race.

2012 would be remembered as a watershed year for F1 as Sebastian Vettel won his 3rd drivers title in a row, not only going into the record books as the youngest 3 time world champion but also the only other driver besides Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio to have won 3 titles in a row, a hatrick.

The Red Bull RB8 is a strong car and fast. It was strong and fast since 2010, even better in 2011 as Vettel swept the title with ease then. But this year has been different. The RB8 started not as strong, that's why there were 7 different winners in the first part of the season.

But as the season progressed, Red Bull got on top of their issues and from Singapore onwards, they were dominant again. The car is also very strong, even with accidents during the race it would not break down or even lose pace. That is an incredible car to be winning in. I have noticed in several races where Vettel has been hit or has hit something on the track, the car refuses to break down or even slow down.

What is it with that car? Mark Webber breaks down or slows down, does that mean that Vettel is the better driver as he can drive a wounded car better? Of course he has had his share of break downs but I'm referring to damage to the car that would usually slow it down or even make it stop. Like in Brazil when he was hit by Senna and we could see his exhaust was exposed with the floor area broken or shredded. And still the car goes fast.

If I were to say it would be easy to win with a car like that, Vettel fans would get angry and say that the driver is good, that's why he can still drive it with that kind of performance. But what if it was the car? No matter how you try to break it, it is just fast. Consider that.

Jaime Alguersuari in his column on the BBC Sport website said:
When I saw Vettel get a bad start and slip down into the lower positions after the first corner, I thought the race was going to be very difficult for him, and then when he got hit by Bruno Senna's Williams I thought that was his race over.
He was very, very lucky that was not the case - and after that he did a great job.
Very, very lucky? What kind of luck did he have? A car that is fast and refuses to breakdown? What if he didn't have this car? Hmmm....

Alright, alright, settle down..it's only 3!
As for the last race, what can I say? It was good to have the title battle dragged to the last race as it should. Nobody wants to have a repeat of 2011 where Vettel won the title with 4 races or so to spare. And what better place to have it than Interlagos, which always guarantees mixed weather to spice things up.

As it went, the race was fantastic to watch. It was tense from the beginning and continued to be so until the second safety car on lap 70 killed the climax. It was great to watch both title protagonist battling it out for position as their race ending positions would determine who would be world champion.

Massa covered Alonso and Webber helped Vettel, although we knew that Webber would not help much as he did. He was not really in a position to help anyway, so that helps in clearing his conscience as he said he would just concentrate on his own race. it also looked like the Torro Rossos were also helping Vettel a bit as he manages to pass them without much trouble.

But the most intriguing and I'm sure the one incident that really makes Vettel fans happy and other fans hot under the collar was when Michael Schumacher helped Vettel by giving up his 6th place so that Vettel moved from 7th to 6th. Not that Vettel needed it as he was already safe to win the championship but Schumacher made sure of it by doing so.
Thanks for early Christmas present dad..

It was a parting gift to his successor which was very obvious as even before Vettel completed the move on Schumacher, the race commentators were already making the assumption. At that point of the race, it was clear who was going to be world champion. Alonso had no chance whatsoever. I question the skills of a top driver with a very fast and unbreakable car needing that kind of helping hand.

At the end, it was a great season. It was great not just because of all the scrapping for positions during the races but more importantly because Red Bull did not dominate like in 2011. Hopefully they do not dominate again in 2013, I don't think I can take another few years of the same driver and team winning all the time as Mario Theissen would like.

Now on to 2013 and 2014, these should be exciting years as the rules changes drastically in 2014 and the teams all have to prepare for that during 2013. Lewis Hamilton has moved to Mercedes, lets hope he can mould that car to his liking and charge up the 2014 season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winner and Losers: Brazilian GP

This article is written by Andrew Davies and published on PlanetF1.com. It is re-produced here in its entirety. For the original article, click here.

Jenson Button proved that he is Der Mixed-ConditionsMeister at Interlagos while Felipe had another miserable Brazilian podium.



Star of the Race
Jenson Button, McLaren, 1st

Button showed just who is the better McLaren driver in mixed conditions on Sunday after he stalked Lewis Hamilton over the opening laps and then made the decisive move on Lap 8. He and Hulkenberg were 45 seconds clear of Hamilton and 64 seconds in front of Alonso when the Safety Car came out on Lap 23. Although the Force India driver managed to dispose of his team-mate, it's likely that as the rain came down again Button would have re-established his superiority.

Despite winning the last race, McLaren are the big losers of 2013. They had the fastest car - Hamilton scored the most poles of any driver (not even counting Barcelona) - yet they didn't get a driver in the top three and were third in the constructors' championship. They may have scored the highest number of wins since their formation in the 1960s, (after the USGP win) but the major success is still eluding them.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 36: Felipe Massa on Kamui Kobayashi

You could probably fill a grid with the number of drivers who have tried to make an overtaking move around the outside of Lake Descent and found themselves actually descending towards the lake and not continuing round the track. The fact that Felipe Massa managed it around the outside of Kobayashi - who needed a result - shows how bullish and on top of his game he was at Interlagos. Korea, USA and Brazil have shown him at his very best and also reinforced Stefano Domenicali's judgement in signing him for 2013. Had he been leaving the team after this race and this performance, then the Ferrari team might not have got out of the country. There will probably be some post-race recriminations aimed at Domenicali from the hard-to-please Luca Montezemolo, but as Stefano said before the race: "what more you can do?"

Sat on the Naughty Step
Bruno Senna, Williams, DNF

Bruno Senna was more contrite about his first lap accident in the BBC forum than he was during the race. Coming down the straight to Lake Descent he was behind Raikkonen, and Di Resta with Vettel two places in front. He made a move on Raikkonen, tried to get DiResta and thumped into Vettel. It wasn't an overtaking move it was a total misjudgement. As Bruno confessed afterwards: "When I saw it was Sebastian I thought - uhoh, that's a bad one."

On a day when it was difficult controlling the horsepower, four of the five members of the Carbon Fibre Club were out within the first four laps: Senna, Perez, Grosjean and Maldonado. Only Kobayashi managed to keep his car on the island, although he did manage to put in two commendable bumps in the race, including a farewell Kamui Kiss for Michael Schumacher.

Winners

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2nd

Alonso did virtually everything he could to conjure a result in the race but came up short. The position he ended up in was flattering. During the race he was never faster than the front-runners, and it was only in the final few laps when Button started to take it easy that he began to reduce the gap between himself and anybody seriously in front of him who wasn't his team-mate. Even then Felipe Massa was driving solely as Alonso's domestique and if he could have gone back to the team car and fetched some water half way through the race, he would have.

Alonso got away with running wide off track early on and if he'd come in for inters on Lap56, when Felipe inadvertently got in front of him again, then he might have been closer to Jenson, but he was never going to get close. As it was, Fernando - or Tenacious-F as he's known in the PF1 office - didn't see his greatest opportunity for the win. Button's car snapped away from him in the same standing water that threw Paul Di Resta at the barriers, but the Brit held it. That would have been one hell of an ending.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 5th
Hulkenberg had a fantastic race but threw away a podium place by bouncing into Hamilton. Up until Lap 23 he was virtually guaranteed a magnum of champagne having braved it out with Button when all around were diving for inters and it had become a two-horse race. When told he had a drive-through penalty he claimed he didn't know what it was for. Yeah, right. He's got quite a few months to watch replays before we're back in Melbourne next year to see exactly where he went wrong.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 6th
An epic drive, in an epic race. This is why we love F1 so much. Before the lights went out Seb was the overwhelming favourite to be World Champ. By Turn 4 he was in last place with a pretty damaged car that had sustained a double impact and Alonso was heading for P3. Even when Seb is being hit by another car he is still thinking and instead of applying the brakes allowed his car to roll down the hill to put himself further away from the turn so that cars following could see him and go either side. "When you are heading down the M25 the wrong way, it's not a comfortable feeling," he admitted.

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 7th
Another farewell in Brazil, another puncture, but Michael managed to break the unenviable run of pointless Mercedes races. And he beat his team-mate, too.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 10th
"Leave me alone. I know where I'm going!" We're trying to imagine what Kimi said to his race engineer when he tried to get back onto the circuit. Raikkonen went off track on Lap 52 and headed for what he thought was an escape road, before having to turn round and go back the way he'd come.

"Where I went off you can get back on the track by going through the support race pitlane, but you have to go through a gate. I know this as I did the same thing in 2001 and the gate was open that year. Somebody closed it this time."

Anway he was just deliberately time-wasting. What Kimi was secretly hoping was that Lewis would win the race and come third in the drivers' title so that he wouldn't have to attend the FIA awards dinner in Paris and receive a trophy he didn't want. Nico Hulkenberg put an end to all that.

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham, 11th
It would be interesting to know what the atmosphere was like in the Marussia garage when Charles Pic (off to Caterham in 2013) got back in, having been overtaken by Vitaly Petrov for the place that gave Caterham 10th in the constructors' championship and several million dollars. Despite Vitaly taking the vitally important position, he may still find himself without a seat in 2013.

Podium Ceremony Interviews
It'll be an improvement for 2013 if all of the podium interviews can be done in Portuguese. As that nice boy Ben Edwards commented on Felipe's speech: "I can't understand it, but it was lovely."

Losers

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, DNF

Lewis would dearly have loved to have been on the podium for his McLaren swansong, but it wasn't meant to be. When he got clobbered by the Force India it would have been interesting to see how Lewis's car could have obeyed the laws of physics, stayed in front of Hulkenberg and got past the Caterham that was directly in front of him.

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 4th
Christian Horner must have been on auto-pilot/auto-quote after the race when he called Mark Webber a great team player. It's hard to know what help he was at the start when he moved across and blocked Vettel's line, forcing him to give up places to Alonso and Hulkenberg. That was the one thing he had to do, make sure Seb got a clean get away and he blocked him. It's not like he didn't know Vettel was going to be there.

Then on the re-start after the Safety Car he attacked his team-mate into Turn 1 and put him under the kind of pressure he really didn't need. As it was he ran wide and dropped from 7th to 11th. Had he kept it together then he would have ended the race on the podium, he was catching Massa by a second a lap towards the end.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, DNF
Both Lotus cars showed a tendency to head off track at the slightest inclination (or declination in this case) and Romain was off into the scenery on Lap 5 for quite a hefty 9g impact.

Conclusions From The Brazil GP

This article is written by Pete Gill and published on PlanetF1.com. It is re-produced here in its entirety. For the original article, click here.

No matter who won the Championship they were going to be worthy of it but for different reasons...

Alonso loses out to a worthy champion
Oh 2012, how we're going to miss you. Brazil's epic conclusion was a fitting finale for an epic season which had everything and which just kept on giving.

The victor was deserved, but that conclusion was guaranteed long before the curtain fell; only Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel could have been crowned champion at Interlagos and just because Ferrari's brilliant Spaniard warranted the title doesn't mean the German didn't deserve the crown for himself as well.

In very different ways, with polar-opposite styles of personality, and usually starting from different parts of the grid, the genius and the jester were united by their shared claim for the elite ranking of triple World Champion. The beautiful satisfaction of 2012 was that no matter how it ended, it had to end well.

Partly because of Alonso's undisputed brilliance and partly because of the nagging unease that Vettel has had it a little too easy so far in his career, it's been easy to overlook just how well Sebastian has driven this year.

He has made very few mistakes, run into form at a stage of the season when many of his peers have run out of steam, and triumphed in a car which, although usually far faster than Alonso's, was far from dominant. Nonetheless, he's won more races than any other driver this term, with five to Alonso's three, a statistic which ought to carry a degree of weight in the final reckoning. And in two of the last three races, he's come from the back of the field to finish in the points. Luck has played its own beneficial role, but a good champion makes his own luck.

Without question, Alonso has transcended his machinery, but he's also had the advantage of being partnered by a team-mate who only found pace and a degree of competitiveness in the final third of the campaign. Even then, Felipe Massa remained wholly subordinate to his superior, ceding grid position in America and then running as Alonso's rear-gunner in Brazil. By consistent contrast, Webber was far more of a match and a challenge to Vettel.

Moreover, the shortcomings of the F2012 have surely been exaggerated. Yes, Alonso's car was almost always a dog on Saturdays, but time after time it found its bite on race day and, with the honest-exception of a broken roll bar at Monza, never once did it betray its master. While two alternator failures cost Vettel over forty points, Alonso's Ferrari remained a bullet-proof model of reliability for eight successive months. That shouldn't be so readily overlooked when considering their respective claims to the title.

The pity is that there could only be one winner and that one man's just desserts was always going to end with a bitter pill for the other. Unlike at Abu Dhabi three years ago when a botched strategy cost him the title, Alonso at least has the satisfaction of knowing he could have done no more this year. Nor could have Lewis Hamilton, whose season was encapsulated by his luckless demise from the lead of Sunday's race. He, like Alonso, deserved better. That's just the way sport is sometimes. And that's not to say Vettel is an underserved champion.

The difficulty of seeing what you want to see
If there is nothing on this planet as myopic as man, there is surely nobody quite as accomplished at the art of seeing what they want to see as a sports fan. It's a guarantee already confirmed that while Vettel fans will consider his pass on Kamui Kobayashi to have been unequivocally legal, Alonso supporters will view the incident as taking place under yellow flags.

All that can be said with any degree of certainty is that the footage is ambiguous and the wonder is that it can ever be acceptable for a system of semaphore to be open to interpretation and ambiguity. Put bluntly: shouldn't the marshals try a few different colours rather than involve yellow twice? There's also surely a pertinent question to be asked about the need for a warning that the track is slippery after rain. If drivers need advice of that ilk they probably shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of any type of motor vehicle, never mind a very fast one.

The disappointment, all the while, is that in the absence of transparency from the stewards' office so much official scrutiny is left open to another layer of interpretation. Where, for stark illustration, was the confirmation that they were aware of the lap-nine Kobayashi incident but deemed it legal? And, moving on, how to tally the stewards' near-instantaneous punishment of Hulkenberg with their apparent refusal to give Vettel's collision into the side of Bruno Senna's Williams on the first lap another look?

It was a clumsy piece of driving, very possibly borne of panic, and, given that a precedent was set in Spa for stewards to punish first-lap infringements, Vettel was almost as fortunate to escape official sanction as he was not to suffer race-ending damage. Had roles been reversed, Senna would surely have been punished in much the same way that Grosjean was suspended for "eliminating leading championship contenders" at the start in Belgium.

One rule for them, one for the also-rans? Maybe not, because, in another under-publicised ruling, the Interlagos stewards concluded that Grosjean's tangle during qualifying with Pedro de la Rosa was a racing incident. Taking a consistent line, Vettel's lunge for the Turn Four apex might have been interpreted along similar lines. It was clumsy, yes, but perhaps not so bad as to deserve a penalty.

Either way, a little clarity and the occasional explanation along the way would be a very welcome thing.

Connections run deep in F1
Nico Hulkenberg has a lot to answer for. From McLaren's perspective, he has almost £15m of lost prize money to account for after Hamilton's retirement, brought about by his leery slide into the crippled MP4-27, cost them second place in the Constructors' Championship above Ferrari. The Scuderia, conversely, will be thankful for the tenuous endorsement of their one-driver team philosophy.

For his part, Hamilton has accepted the loss of what could have been his final win in quite a while with good grace after Hulkenberg personally delivered an apology, but his CV will forever be tainted by the statistic that, over the course of their three years at team-mates, he was out-pointed by Jenson Button by a score of 672 to 657. The crash also meant he finished fourth rather that third in the Drivers' Championship behind Kimi Raikkonen, although that's something which matters rather less.

Yet the real significance of Hulkenberg's ill-judged manoeuvre was very arguably at the back of the grid, with the retirements of Hamilton and Paul di Resta, whose reputation has crumbled this season, propelling Vitaly Petrov into eleventh for Caterham. The consequences of that minor-sounding matter are in fact far reaching, with Marussia demoted a position in the Constructors' Championship and Caterham collecting an additional £10m of prize money at their expense.

In a head-spinning irony, that unexpected bonus might yet offer the F1 career of Heikki Kovalainen an unexpected lifeline, even though it was Kovalainen who Force India believed was primarily at fault for Hulkenberg's crash into the side of Hamilton.

It's a tangled affair is this F1 lark.

Hamilton and McLaren make family their first rival
It's a perversity entirely in keeping with the reasoning behind his decision to depart for the muddy grass of Mercedes and even the nature of his own mercurial talent that it's taken the prospect of leaving home for Lewis Hamilton to appreciate that there is no place like home.

As he prepares his final goodbyes, the bond tying him to McLaren seems stronger than ever. You won't be alone in suspecting that we probably haven't seen the last of him in McLaren colours just yet.

But as of January, Hamilton is a Mercedes man and it's another perversity that the more he endorses the team, and the more he becomes synonymous with their reputation, the more essential it becomes for them to beat him next season. 2013, it's over to you, because in this 'him' versus 'them' scenario there can only be one winner in 2013. The path of true love never run smooth.

Good just isn't good enough any more
So barring something remarkable - which, to all intents and purposes means Kamui Kobayashi jumping the long queue in front of him to grab the second seat at Force India - there won't be a Japanese driver on the 2013 grid.

It's a landscape which was unthinkable just a few years ago when Toyota and Honda were at the forefront of the sport while another Japanese team, Super Aguri, brought up the rear. Even the prospect Kobayashi losing his seat for 2013 was barely imagined at the start of this year. Yet time changes quickly in F1. Somehow, and very unfortunately, Japan has been left behind by F1 - an impression summed up by Kobayashi's expulsion from Sauber two months after scoring his maiden podium at Suzuka. Japan has lost its influence.

Kobayashi's foremost problem, of course, is that he is a paid driver rather than a pay. But it goes a little further than that because, as remarked previously, it doesn't make sense that while Perez has been promoted into the big league with McLaren, Kamui has been left behind altogether. 2012 ends with Perez out-scoring Kobayashi by 66 points to 60 and out-qualifying him by eleven to nine. Bottom line: there is nothing in those stats to account for why their careers are heading in such polar opposite directions.

The only explanation of sorts is that imprecise impression that Perez is considered to have the potential to be a champion and Kobayashi isn't. There is a vast no-man's growing in the midfield of F1 in which a surplus of good-but-not-great drivers means that the size - and direction - of the remuneration has become the only way to compile a pecking order.

Pay drivers are bad news for F1, but if the result is that being good isn't good enough any more, it's not all bad news.

BRAZIL 2012 REVIEW

This review of the final race at Interlagos in 2012 was done by Gary Anderson and posted originally here. Gary Anderson, BBC F1's technical analyst, is the former technical director of the Jordan, Stewart and Jaguar teams.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso did not lose the world championship to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in Brazil on Sunday - it was gone long before that. Thirteen points is a lot to make up in one race. Alonso almost managed it - he ended the season just three points behind - but in the end it was too much to do.

The Brazilian Grand Prix was a lottery; races run in changeable conditions always are. It could have gone many different ways. Winner Jenson Button did two stops, Alonso did three, and Vettel did four. That sort of thing can change the outcome of the race dramatically.

Everything went wrong for Vettel - although he was lucky he did not have to retire as a result of his first-lap collision with Williams's Bruno Senna - and Alonso could very easily have walked away with the championship. Ferrari might look back and wonder whether they might have won the race - and the championship - had they played it differently.

Alonso - like Vettel and Lewis Hamilton - came in to the pits to fit intermediate tyres when it started to rain after about 10 laps. But Button and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg did not. A few laps later, Alonso and the others needed to come back in for dry tyres. That lost Alonso 40 seconds to the leaders in a race he really needed to win, even if that deficit was wiped out by the safety car later.

He would have had to have beaten a faster car in the McLaren and in Button a driver who excels in such conditions. But 40 seconds is a large amount of time to throw away.

Alonso and Ferrari

There are two championships in Formula 1 - the constructors' and the drivers'.

With Red Bull's two drivers, and their total commitment to development of the car, they certainly deserve to win constructors. But there is a sense that Vettel won the drivers' championship because the Red Bull was a better car than the Ferrari and was better developed.

That's OK, because that's what happens, but if Alonso had won the championship it would have been a true drivers' championship because it would have been in a car that wasn't worthy of it. The Ferrari was really not very good at the start of the year but, in all the confusion the teams were having over how best to use the new Pirelli tyre, Alonso was able to pull some results out of it. He was very good at picking up the characteristics of the tyre. He just knew what to do with it.

The Pirellis don't like it when a driver tries to brake and turn in at the same time. Alonso picked that up in no time and adapted himself to it. So he was able to pull out some really good results even though the car wasn't competitive.

Through Spain, Monaco and Canada, the Ferrari had a bit of an update that made it reasonable. That was really the package with which they should have started the season. From there on, it was down to Ferrari to find the solutions to the car's problems.

It's strange that while Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa was struggling with the car at the start of the year, he was able to drive it well at the end. Massa's biggest problem is probably that he over-drives the car - so he ends up making a lot of mistakes.

But Ferrari's development direction through the season gave them a car Massa could drive and at that point Alonso fell back a bit, in terms of being able to use his talent to drag something out of the car. That suggests that initially they had a car with very peaky downforce but that if you had a driver who could feel it - ie Alonso - it was quicker relative to the opposition. It seems Ferrari made the car more driveable but lost out-and-out performance.

They need to worry about having made Massa into as good a driver as Alonso. I believe Alonso is better, so it's strange that is the case. They need to regroup for next year and understand what happened, because for the last third of the season you'd have to say they probably threw away the championship by not developing the car enough when Red Bull were coming on strong.

Alonso got them into a position they should never have been in. They got to a point where he was bringing in decent points and had a 40-point lead in the championship and I think they stood back a bit. They have been fiddling about with the rear wing since the Singapore Grand Prix, trying to fix an aerodynamic problem at the rear of the car.

The wing they ran in Brazil has been around for five races on and off and last weekend was the first time they'd actually raced it. If it was good to race it in Brazil, it was good to race five races ago. It looks like they don't understand how to fix the problem they have, and are just poking around a bit.

Alonso did have some bad luck in crashing out in Japan and Belgium when it was not his fault. But Vettel had two alternator failures in races. OK, they are things the team have influence over but he still lost as many races as Alonso.

Equally, Red Bull allow their drivers to race early in the season, whereas Ferrari have a defined number one. If you take Red Bull and give Vettel their big points from every race, Vettel thrashes Alonso comprehensively.

But Ferrari shouldn't go away from Brazil unhappy. They definitely have some good stuff on that car somewhere, even though there is a lot of stuff that's not good.

Vettel has won his three championships in three different scenarios.

In 2010 he won from behind, keeping his head down and delivering the results after losing points to reliability problems and errors early in the season.

In 2011 he won it from the front, which is a different set of pressures.

In 2012 it was a bit of both - he had to catch up, did and then took the pressure on the way.

I win again! Again! Again!
Red Bull started 2012 poorly by their standards. Their toys were taken away, in the form of the exhaust-blown diffuser around which the aerodynamic philosophy of their car was developed. As a result of that, the car lacked out-and-out performance on new tyres in qualifying which affected their philosophy of how they run the car, which is to stick it on pole and control the race from the front.

At the start of the season, they didn't have a car to exploit that approach. But they turned it around and that's what it's about. You're going into a new season and if you haven't shown you can turn it around, how can you have confidence in what you're doing?

Vettel turned around his season compared to Webber, who was a bit stronger in the first half of the season. Red Bull developed the car to suit Vettel, as they're always going to do. They are Vettel fans. He drives the Red Bull concept - he turns in on the brakes, which gives understeer, then when he gets the brakes off, the front grips, the car rotates around the nose and he nails the throttle because he's got confidence that the rear aerodynamics will make the back grip.

Alonso could drive like this, too. But the Ferrari doesn't have the rear downforce to allow it.

Following the big developments at the rear that Red Bull made from Singapore onwards, that's what happened with the car again, even if not to the same extent as in 2011. That's what design chief Adrian Newey told Vettel would happen if he drove that way - and Vettel believed him and did it. But Webber does not have the confidence to drive that way - it's counter-intuitive.

McLaren

McLaren ended the season as they started it - locking out the front row and Jenson Button winning the race. Overall they had the quickest car and so should have a lot of confidence for next year. I would imagine they'll raise the underside of the chassis so it is as high as on other cars - there is still a tenth of a second or two in that for them.

McLaren have lost their strongest asset in Hamilton but Button proved in 2009 that if you give him a car he likes he's a rocket ship and now they only have one driver to listen to. For the last three years they had two - but Button and Hamilton drive their cars differently, and you have to believe in one driver to follow a development direction. So in some ways Hamilton leaving might help.

F1 should be a contest between Red Bull and McLaren next year - if Ferrari can do anything to get on to the back of them they haven't shown it.

Expect it to be a fantastic battle.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

2013 DRIVER LINE UP UPDATED 2





Williams has confirmed Valterri Bottas as their new driver for 2013 replacing Bruno Senna and partnering Pastor Maldonado today. That leaves Senna without a seat for hext year. So below is the latest update of the driver line up for 2013, there are still seats available. We will post updates as soon as they become available.

Below list has been updated as of today (Bold = Officially confirmed)

Driver
Entrant
Constructor
Vettel
Red Bull Racing
RBR-Renault
Webber
Red Bull Racing
RBR-Renault
Button
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
McLaren Mercedes
Perez
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
McLaren Mercedes
Alonso
Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari
Massa
Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari
Hamilton
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Mercedes
Rosberg
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Mercedes
Raikkonen
Lotus F1 Team
Lotus-Renault
Grosjean
Lotus F1 Team
Lotus-Renault
Di Resta
Sahara Force India F1 Team
Force India-Mercedes
Sutil
Sahara Force India F1 Team
Force India-Mercedes
Hulkenberg
Sauber F1 Team
Sauber-Ferrari
Gutierrez
Sauber F1 Team
Sauber-Ferrari
Ricciardo
Scuderia Toro Rosso
STR-Ferrari
Vergne
Scuderia Toro Rosso
STR-Ferrari
Maldonado
Williams F1
Williams-Renault
Bottas
Williams F1
Williams-Renault
Kovalainen
Team Caterham
Caterham Renault
Pic
Team Caterham
Caterham Renault
De la Rosa
HRT F1 Team
HRT-Cosworth

HRT F1 Team
HRT-Cosworth
Glock
Marussia F1 Team
Marussia-Cosworth
Chilton
Marussia F1 Team
Marussia-Cosworth

Friday, November 23, 2012

May The Best Man Win

This is an article written by ex-F1 racer Christian Klien who now guest writes on www.pitpass.com. It is reproduced here in its entirety. The original article can be found here.

Christian Klien (born 7 February 1983) is an Austrian former Formula One racing driver. In total he has scored 14 points in 49 Formula One starts. Klien currently drives for Aston Martin Racing in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.

With just one race to go the championship could not have been set up any better. It's been a long season with a lot of back-to-back races, a lot of them fly-aways outside of Europe, which is tough on everyone involved in the sport, especially the mechanics.

Last weekend Formula One returned to the United States for the first time in five years. The US is an important market for Formula One, and I must say I was impressed with what I saw of the Circuit of the Americas. It reminded me a lot of Istanbul; very modern but with a lot of challenging corners and undulation. It looked a real driver's circuit and one I hope I have the good fortune to race on in the future.

Because it was so new there wasn't a lot of grip, but I wonder if perhaps Hermann Tilke chose a surface that was deliberately slippery. I know Hermann well, and know he likes to use the same mixture for the tarmac for all his circuits but using local stones, which creates different grip levels.

Perhaps the American stones are smoother and give less grip, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - many of the best Formula One races are in wet and slippery conditions, and the US Grand Prix was one of the best races I've seen all year.

Of course one of the big talking points over the weekend was Ferrari choosing to penalise Felipe Massa to help Fernando Alonso. With Alonso fighting for the championship and Massa having lost a lot of points earlier in the season it was something the team really had to do, especially since Ferrari didn't have the pace of Red Bull. I think it was a clever move and in the end it paid off. Alonso got a fantastic start and was perhaps a little lucky to be on the podium, but it kept the championship alive, and that was the important thing for him and the team.

It was also good to see Lewis Hamilton win at last. He retired from the lead in both Singapore and Abu Dhabi with mechanical problems so it was good that he finally got the win. If Hamilton hadn't had those reliability problems it probably would have helped Alonso in the championship because Vettel wouldn't have scored quite as many points, reducing the advantage he was able to build with that phenomenal run of wins.

But Alonso is driving brilliantly, better than I ever remember seeing him drive. He's got such a cool head in the car and can absorb so much pressure, and I think that could be important in Brazil this weekend. The Ferrari hasn't been the fastest car all year but Alonso's been pushing the team, like Michael Schumacher used to, and that's been important.

It's something I don't think Vettel is able to do. Vettel is an amazing qualifier and usually if he gets pole he will go on to win, but I think he gets more flustered in the car than Alonso. I also don't think he's as good in traffic, which could be important this weekend.

I think the Red Bull has been the best car for a lot of the season, along with the McLaren, so on balance you have to say that Alonso has got more out of his package than Vettel. I dread to think what Fernando could do in a Red Bull; nobody would see him!

Even so Vettel has to start as favourite for the championship this weekend. The Interlagos circuit is fast and bumpy, so a car that can ride the bumps but is still stiff enough to corner well is important, and I think that suits the Red Bull more than the Ferrari.

There are a lot of long high speed sections out of corners, like up the hill on to the start/finish straight, so traction and corner exits are critical for a fast lap. There's a lot of time to be made or lost in the infield section too, where it's important to ride the kerbs to get the best lap time.

People talk about the fact it's an anti-clockwise circuit and how that is physically tough on drivers, but it's more the sheer number of left hand corners that's taxing. If the circuit had more right hand corners than left it would still hurt the driver's neck, so I don't think that causes too much of an issue. Plus all the drivers are incredibly fit, so they will be up for the challenge.

The weather suggests rain, which will make it interesting. I think this is Alonso's only hope because if it's a dry race I don't think he can stay with Vettel. But, if it's wet, Alonso's such a calm, experienced driver, and Ferrari has been good with strategy for much of the year, that I think he could just pip Vettel to the post. Whatever happens it's been a fantastic year and whoever does win the championship will have earned it.

Christian Klien

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BRAZILIAN GP AT INTERLAGOS 2012

The week is finally winding down towards Friday where first practice will take place at the final grand prix of this very long season. It is the 20th race of the year and it will decide the winner of the world championship battle this year between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

The Brazilian GP takes place at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace or better known to F1 fans as the Interlagos circuit. The track is located in the city of São Paulo, renamed after Carlos Pace, a Brazilian Formula One driver who had died in a 1977 plane crash. The circuit is one of a minority of non-oval racing circuits to go in an anti-clockwise direction (Austin, Imola, Istanbul Park, Yas Marina Circuit, Laguna Seca, Singapore, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Korea International Circuit, Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, and Miller Motorsports Park being notable others).

The circuit is known for its many inclines and formerly bumpy surface, which could take its toll on F1 cars because they have a very low ride height and little suspension travel. The track is therefore very tough on the car and also physically tough on the drivers, especially since the circuit is anti-clockwise, where the centrifugal forces in the many hard left turns push the drivers' necks to the right, instead of left as in the majority of circuits on the F1 calendar. (This is frequently a topic of broadcast commentary at this circuit as well as at Istanbul Park.)


Interlagos has one of the longest pit-lanes ever used in Formula One, starting just before the start-finish straight and rejoining the main course after Curva do Sol. Funny enough, it is one of the shortest tracks on the calendar with a lap time of below 1.15.xxx. Sebastian Vettel qualified here in 2011 with a time of 1.11.918.

Track Details
Location : Sao Paolo, Brazil
Capacity : 119,000
Length : 4.309 km
Turns : 15
Race distance : 71 laps (305.909 km)
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce
Average speed : 210km/h
Top speed : 323km/h (with DRS open) 311km/h without
Full throttle : 60% of the lap time (ave/high)
Total fuel needed for race distance : 144 kilos (ave/low)
Fuel consumption : 2.10 kg per lap (low)
Brake wear : light
Number of braking events : 6
Time spent braking : 16% of the lap
Loss time for a Pit stop : 15.5 seconds
Total time needed for a pit stop : 20 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.27 seconds (ave)

As for the DRS zone this race, The FIA has confirmed that there will be one DRS zone at Interlagos this weekend for the 2012 world championship finale. As in 2011, the activation zone is on the back straight leading from Curva do Sol (Turn 3) to Descida do Lago (Turn 4), with the detection zone at the apex of Turn 2.

Changes to the circuit ahead of thisd year's race include the installation of new debris fences on both sides of the track between turns 3 and 4, while a kerb has been installed on the apex of turn 15. Tube inserts have also been placed in the tyre barrier at the end of the wall at the pit entry.

This race is also famous for its fanatical fans who turn up in the thousands and who literally fill the place to the brim. The roar of fans can drown out the sound of an F1 car at full throttle sometimes. Even the drivers can hear them while driving!

WHO's GONNA WIN IT - FINAL PART

I'm gonna have you for breakfast in Brazil!
The Formula One world championship couldn't ask for a more epic backdrop to the title decider than the sweeps and valleys of Interlagos. It has been a long season and a long time coming but here we are, a few more days until the battle gets under way and the championship gets decided. It has not been like this for a few years.

The championships were close and went down to the final race at Interlagos for a few seasons before. It was really close in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Kimi Raikkonen won the championship by a point with teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso tripping over each other the whole year. In 2008, Lewis Hamilton won by a point as well from Felipe Massa on the last corner of the last lap. That was a very intense final few seconds of my life!

The 2009 season was won at Interlagos by Jenson Button but that wasn't the final race. It was the penultimate race of the season as Abu Dhabi hosted their first race that year and were handed the final race of the season. Sebastian Vettel won the 2010 championship at the final race in Abu Dhabi and the 2011 championship in Japan with 4 races remaining. That made him the sport's youngest double world champion.

Will he become the sport's youngest triple world champion this weekend? That is a very interesting possibility. And the chances are high that will happen. The United States GP has only lost Alonso 3 points to Vettel and the fight is still open for both men to take the title.

Vettel has the obvious advantage. He is leading with 13 points, his car is still the fastest in qualifying and very strong on race pace, also it is difficult to break. Red Bull is the form team at Interlagos, having won this race for the last three years in a row. Alonso although not having the fastest car is very experienced, determined and able to do the almost impossible on track. It will take a very strong weekend though for him to beat Vettel.

Looking at the facts i.e. points, car, team and track, it would seem almost impossible for Alonso to beat Vettel. So it would look like a sure thing for Vettel to claim his third title in as many years. But Interlagos is no ordinary track. And the weather there is also not ordinary as we have seen before many times. The prediction for this weekend is in Alonso's favor, that is it will probably rain. How much and how heavy remains to be seen.

Rain, rain, come to play!
And the other thing that can really screw up Vettel's chances is the same thing that would or should bring him his third title and that is his alternator. Yes that dreaded little thing that cost Mark Webber the last race and has caused Vettel 2 DNFs so far in Monza and Valencia. Red Bull have indicated that they are worried about the last race as the alternator has failed 3 times so far from both old and new batches. Red Bull's technical chief Adrian Newey admits: 
"Reliability is a concern, it's unfortunately our third alternator failure this year which is a ticking time bomb. You never know when that one is going to strike. Renault haven't managed to find a proper solution to that one so that's a continual worry in the back of our minds as is the rest of the reliability. The cars are very complicated and keeping them going around is anything but guaranteed."
Not forgetting outside interference during race day as not only does Vettel and Alonso want to it but Hamilton wants to win at Interlagos as well, he has never won here despite winning his world title here. If the McLaren can get competitive again here then we're in for one hell of a race. And then there is Perez, Maldonado, Grosjean and of course Karthikeyan.

So, how will either men win it this Sunday? The permutations are not as complicated as in 2008.

Vettel will win the title if...
* He finishes in the top four
* He finishes fifth, sixth or seventh and Alonso is second or lower
* He finishes eighth or ninth and Alonso is third or lower
* He finishes 10th or lower and Alonso fails to make it onto the podium

Alonso will win the title if...
* He wins the race and Vettel is fifth or lower
* He finishes second and Vettel is eighth or lower
* He finishes third and Vettel is 10th or lower

Ok race fans, get your armchair comfy, load up on the chips and make sure your internet connections are not shared on race day. This will be the mother of all battles. May the best man win.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Winners and Losers: US Grand Prix

This article is written by Andrew Davies and published on PlanetF1.com. It is re-produced here in its entirety. For the original article, click here.

The US GP in Texas was launched in mighty fine style - proving that if you build it, they will come...

Star of the Race
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1st


In his penultimate drive before his wilderness years Lewis showed just how exciting the championship might have been if McLaren could have kept their car from breaking down all year. It might have been a three-way fight going to Interlagos had the MP4-27 not believed it was a TVR. Lewis was on it all the way from lights to flag and got the one bit of luck he needed with the intervention of an HRT on Lap 42.

Overtaking Move of the Race

Lap 13: Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus on Nico Hulkenberg, Force India for P5
Kimi Raikkonen helped show that the Circuit of the Americas doesn't need a DRS to provide great overtaking moves when he put one up the inside of Nico Hulkenberg going into Turn 1. The two battled it out side by side through Turn 2 before Hulkenberg had to give way before the high-speed sweeps. And there was no touching.

Sat on The Naughty Step

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, 16th
Schumacher's attempted block of Jenson Button on Lap 10 was a return to the days of the Schu-weave, which in the past he's administered to his brother (proving that there's nothing personal in it) and most famously with Rubens Barrichello at the Hungaroring. The Mercedes travelled a fair old distant left to try and crowd Jenson Button back into the pitlane exit and even then he failed. Button was having none of it and kept his foot in.

The Big What If...

What would have happened if Alonso had started from P8 on the dirty side of the grid?
Ferrari were entering the desperation stakes in Austin when they decided to send Felipe Massa five places down the grid in order to give Fernando Alonso a start from the clean side of the grid. There was banter in the PF1 office (following our qualifying report) that this is what they'd do. When we heard that drivers who qualified on the clean side, such as Mark Webber, were lobbying for a clean-up operation the view was that they probably wouldn't bother. Much the same was said about the grid in Korea and the fears had been groundless.

The move by Ferrari was a bit like legal tax avoidance schemes - it's within the rules to do it, but everyone thinks you're a bit like Jimmy Carr afterwards. Team orders are one thing when it's just asking one of your drivers to move over for the other, but Massa moving five places back also shifted Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Senna onto the dirty side of the grid, whereas they'd qualified on the clean side.

What was puzzling about the affair was that Stefano Domenicali thought the team deserved credit for admitting that they had done it deliberately, as though this somehow made it better.

In truth, the FIA really should make sure that both sides of the grid are equally grippy because it makes a mockery of exerting all that effort in qualifying for it to become a lottery based on whether you end up with an odd or an even number.

Where would Fernando have finished? He was just off the pace of the top three drivers, and with Felipe Massa coming through to fourth from 11th on the grid you've got to think that Alonso would have made his way up to 4th behind Hamilton, Vettel and Massa - and then Massa would have given him third. From an F1 Public Relations point-of-view, it's probably much better that Ferrari made the switch on the grid than in the race.

Winners

Sebastian Vettel, 2nd
Narain has never forgiven Seb for calling him "stupid" earlier in the year and today it was payback time. But seriously, Vettel shouldn't look at the lost win as seven points lost, more like 18 points gained. Because it could have been his Red Bull that slowed and stopped on lap 17 not Mark's.

On his slowing down lap he radioed back, "we should be very happy" in the kind of heavy tone that was so deadbeat it made Winnie The Pooh's Eyore sound like some evangelist Christian missionary who'd swallowed a whole tube of Berocca.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 3rd
Alonso was slower than Massa for only the second time this season. He was fortunate that Mark Webber failed to finish and that Jenson Button qualified where he did. As we head towards Brazil the long-range weather forecast for Sao Paulo for next Saturday and Sunday is thunderstorms on both days.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 4th
Massa's best race of the season and next week we'll be at the place where he's always a contender. Asking him to take a five place grid penalty next weekend might be a bit more tricky to explain to the local fans.

Jenson Button, McLaren, 5th
Jenson had a "fun" race. What was interesting was that he was keen to get it on team radio that: "I'm wasting a lot of time not being able to use all the KERS". That sounded less like a message to his engineers, who would have known precisely what he was losing and where, and more like a broadcast to tell people why he couldn't catch Massa.

Button proved that you can have non-DRS overtaking into Turn 16 as well as Turns 1 and 12.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 6th
Kimi was probably disappointed that the team had Matt Le Blanc as a guest of the Lotus team when he would have preferred Jennifer Aniston. When Kimi radioed in wanting to know if Daniel Ricciardo had to stop you wanted his engineer to radio back, "Leave me alone!"

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 7th
Didn't crash but tried to.

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 8th
Another mature drive from Hulkenberg who resisted late surges from both Williams drivers.

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 9th
He was robust but not stupid and as a result he's now putting in consistent points finishes. How long is it since we've had an entire race with everyone finishing with the aerodynamic parts they started with? Perhaps it's something to do with that pure, bright Texan light - no misty smog like Korea or India.

Pirelli
The Pirelli Stetsons were a great idea for the podium ceremony and surely something that F1 should expand on. We should have Pirelli national hats for most grands prix. In Canada Pirelli Mounties' hats, in Britain Pirelli bowler hats, in Belgium Pirelli berets, in Australia Pirelli bushranger hats with corks and in India Pirelli turbans.

Circuit of the AmericasThere's a saying in Texas. "I wasn't born here, but I got here as fast as I could." That could be said of the US GP. This is the first proper U.S. race since Watkins Glen and at last a worthy home for the event. It's a great credit to the organisers who hauled the race back from the brink when it looked like falling through. And because it's in America, there's every chance that it will become an ongoing success, not just a political vanity project for national or regional politicians, as it has been in other countries. The fact that it was a near sell-out should give hope to any waverers in New Jersey.

Losers

Mark Webber, Red Bull, DNF
What have Mark Webber's KERS and the British entry to the Eurovision Song Contest got in common? Answer: Nobody's really that surprised when it fails.

Sergio Perez, Sauber, 11th
It was a shame that with so much Mexican support for Sergio in Austin that he couldn't get his Sauber into the points, especially after a brilliant (if characteristically risky) opening lap where he jumped up to P11.

Carnage Mongers
The widely prophesied CARNAGE at Turn 1 failed to show up. No Jean-Eric Vergne in the air, no Kobayashi committing Kamuicide, it was all very calm. Thankfully the news clips had some great racing to compile.

Mercedes, 13th and 16th
After a brilliant qualifying performance (with the new, evolved car) Michael's race slipped backwards into two stops. Nico had the old car of four months ago and qualified poorly, but his strategy took him past Schumi. What the Merc engineers will learn from this side-by-side comparison is hard to fathom. That's five pointless races now.

Andrew Davies

Conclusions From The United States

This article is written by Pete Gill and published on PlanetF1.com. It is re-produced here in its entirety. For the original article, click here.

Lewis Hamilton's brilliance provides his employers of present and future with uncomfortable questions to answer.

Hamilton leaves McLaren as a leading light
So that's why Lewis Hamilton is so widely regarded as being the fastest driver in F1 - and why it isn't just McLaren who should mourn his departure to Mercedes.

The sport will rival Hamilton himself as the big loser from the transfer if, as seems disconcertingly and increasingly likely, Mercedes prove ill-fitting of his talents and the challenge he seeks turns out to be a dead-end street for his career.

But let's not go there just yet, because the sight of Hamilton wringing every last drop of pace out of his MP4-27 as he defeated both Red Bulls around the wonderful Circuit of The Americas was one of the highlights of the season, his pursuit of Vettel an ultra-fast, slow-burning riveting demonstration of speed, precision and determination.

Even in a race which did not feature a single incident requiring the intervention of the stewards, Hamilton and Vettel were a class above and a class apart. As they crossed the line, with the dogged Vettel still within a couple of tenths of the McLaren after refusing to accept that Hamilton's pass thirteen laps previously should have signalled his surrender, the third-placed Fernando Alonso was nearly half a lap behind.

In isolation, their duel was brilliant. In their personal circumstances, it was better still, with Vettel refusing to play safe in deference to his championship considerations and driving with supreme skill to shackle Hamilton until being caught at the Karthikeyan mobile chicane, and Hamilton wonderfully committed to a McLaren cause he is about to abandon. "It's not even possible Seb wanted it as much as I did," said an understandably-elated Hamilton afterwards. He'd better be careful: such non-diva behavior isn't going to fit with the caricature his critics like to fabricate.

All credit to Lewis, he deserved this victory like no other on a circuit which deserved the stunning race it hosted. The same might not be true of a McLaren team which has let Hamilton down far too frequently this term and but for their spate of mistakes - operational and mechanical - he would surely be departing for Brazil as a title contender. Instead, he is departing for a Mercedes team which hasn't scored a single point in the last five races and only received a mention in dispatches from Austin as the one team requiring two pit-stops. If the rest of the field was a world away from Hamilton and Vettel on Sunday, Mercedes were in a different orbit.

The shame of 2012 is that, for all the allure of a title showdown at Brazil between Alonso and Vettel, it will only be a two-way fight. The greater pity, in future hindsight, might prove to be that one third of F1's glittering elite has opted to sign away the next three years of his career on a hunch.

Ferrari lose sight of the ultimate big picture
Desperate times make for the most desperate of measures. The best that could be said of Ferrari's decision to deliberately weaken one of their drivers in order to help the other ahead of Sunday's U.S. GP is that the ploy proved just how serious they are about winning the championship. And the worst? That it showed contempt for Felipe Massa and F1 on what was arguably the sport's most important weekend this year.

The truth, as ever, fell in the vast chasm in between. It was cynical rather than contemptuous, cunning not cheating. In F1, the rulebook is a flexible friend, made to bend, especially in the sort of exceptional circumstances presented at Austin with Ferrari compelled to play dirty because of the amount of dirt off the racing line. Moreover, as Massa already knew only too well, F1 is first and foremost a team game. Ferrari might not have been in the right, but it doesn't necessarily follow that they did wrong.

Yet the scene depicted in the bigger picture was a murkier matter. While Ferrari were at least open about their motivations, their desperation also clearly exposed their failings. Having been unable to build a car for Alonso capable of beating the Red Bulls, they resorted to sabotaging one of their own. And then there was the even bigger picture, the one which saw F1 in the last-chance saloon to win over the vast untapped market of America this weekend, and the sobering realisation that, after the Indy debacle of 2005, the last thing F1 wanted America to wake up to on race day was this sort of baffling and demeaning collusion. For a while, as speculation raged that Red Bull, and or others, would respond in kind, the sport was staring down the barrel and a potentially-fatal bullet was only dodged when Christian Horner confirmed his team would not be following Ferrari's suit.

No driver, as Ferrari reminded Massa this weekend, is bigger than the team. But the uncomfortable question to be asked of Ferrari is whether at any point on Sunday morning they asked themselves if any team is bigger than the sport.

Only rain or unreliability can save Alonso
Back to purely sporting matters, and it's little wonder that Ferrari and Fernando have already started a rain dance for Brazil. To wrestle the title out of Sebastian's grasp, a podium-finish in Brazil is the minimum requirement. And, as the Spaniard acknowledged before departing Austin on Sunday night, "if it's dry and we have a normal race, one can expect Red Bull to be in front of everyone and us on the third or fourth row."

The brutal reality is that the title is out of his hands because only the gods above with rain or the possible devils below in Vettel's car can save him. Both scenarios are eminently possible, with showers forecast for race day and Mark Webber's RB8, made of the same components as Vettel's, suffering a raft of problems in recent weeks. It can't always be him, can it?

Yet the core point remains that, for all Ferrari's efforts and mammoth investment, their car is still lacking pace and at least five years have passed since the team boasted the fastest machine on the grid. Consider it from this perspective: of Alonso's last five wins, four have been in the wet, and the other, in Valencia this year, was won from eleventh on the grid. This is no way to win a championship.

The Spaniard's genius has disguised Ferrari's aerodynamic failings, but there will be nowhere for the team to hide if Brazil ends without a miracle. The toll being levied on Alonso might also be beginning to tell. Saturday marked only the second occasion this season when Massa had out-qualified the sister car and as Alonso generously but accurately acknowledged "Felipe was fantastic all weekend, quicker than me in all three qualifying sessions." Needing a fast sprint at the finish, is Fernando finally running out of steam?

HRT lose direction in a one-nation multi-national sport
So where now for HRT? The news that the team is seeking fresh investment - a euphemism for being put up for sale - has been greeted with no surprise in the paddock and almost as little sympathy. Few, it seems, will be sad to see them go (if, that is, they do eventually go). Though Marussia and Caterham also remain scoreless since their entry into the sport three years ago, HRT have increasingly become to be seen as an unspecial case in unsplendid isolation of their own, neither charming nor convincing. A HRT fan must be a model of loneliness.

The team's stalled story is not a new one; over a hundred teams have come and gone from F1 since the sport's birth in the 1950s. F1 is a tough business - and tougher still when, as HRT did, they buck the established trend by relocating to a country without any established F1 infrastructure. Yet even if HRT's decision to build their base in Madrid was their naïve undoing, it's a jarring thought that any newcomer to the sport will struggle unless they join the herd clustered around the shires and Surrey.

F1, for all its pursuit of overseas markets and globetrotting adventures, remains stubbornly English at its core.

It's a team game, but winning the Drivers' is all that really counts
With Red Bull securing a third successive teams' title this weekend, there is no longer any argument about the identity of F1's leading outfit. Yet their subdued reaction on Sunday night, so restrained that it scarcely amounted to a celebration, presented a telling insight into how F1 values its two championships. There is no argument about who is F1's leading light because, in blunt terms, nobody on the outside cares much. Sorry.

Pete Gill

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS TOWER

The Tower
Much has been said about the home of the Formula 1 race in the United States at the Circuit Of The Americas at Austin, Texas. It is a fantatstic looking circuit with first class facilities and a menacing looking track layout. First time the word 'menacing' has been used for a Tilke track. We'll see on race day.

The most interesting thing besides the track layout is the Tower. There is a viewing tower next to the track with a glass floor to watch F1 cars zoom by.

This tower is 251 feet (77m) high, designed by Miró Rivera Architects as a landmark for the venue. The structure of the tower consists of an elevator hoist-way surrounded by a double-helix staircase, both of which lead to an observation platform 230 feet (70m) above ground level. The platform will provide a 360-degree panorama of the circuit, as well as views to downtown Austin, Texas. In addition, a "veil" consisting of 18 steel tubes runs nearly the full height of the tower, acting as a canopy for both the observation platform and the stage below.
View From Top of Alonso

The elevator has only two buttons – 1, for the ground floor, and 2, for the second floor, which happens to be 22 stories up. The observation tower at the Circuit of the Americas, immediately the tallest structure in Elroy, Texas, gives up to 100 people a superb view of the new Formula One track, though you still can't see a few key areas, such as the start-finish line.

It is available only to those who have booked special packages – there will be no ticket booth at the bottom selling elevator rides (or, there's a staircase if you prefer).

A track spokesman says that eventually the circuit will sell “naming rights” to the facility, but it seems odd that on the cusp of the biggest race the track will ever host, it isn't already named, so journalists would already be referring to it as the “Shell Tower” or “Red Bull Tower.”

The front of the platform has a glass floor, but it all seems quite sturdy. For reasons that are not immediately evident, Miró Rivera Architects have the tower 18 red steel tubes that run from top to bottom, then flare out, making the tower appear to have a red mullet haircut.

Pretty Scary

US GP PICTURES

Free practice 1 and 2 have been done at the Circuit Of The Americas and here are some pictures of the event. The circuit looks fantastic and the turns will provide a nice challenge for the drivers, although it remains to be seen whether this track will produce an entertaining race or not. It would seem the tyre choice was too conservative, most probably this race will be a 1 stopper.










Thursday, November 15, 2012

'VETTEL REACTS LIKE A CHILD'

Grow up Vettel!
 Ah yes, Jacques Villeneuve. 1 time F1 world champion who masquerades as an amateur musician and outspoken critic of other drivers. Although, he has set a records of sorts. Jacques Villeneuve won the 1995 CART Championship, the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1997 Formula One World Championship, making him only the third driver after Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi to achieve such a feat.

Might be the reason he talks a lot. I mean other drivers talk a lot as well (except Kimi) but this guy has a penchant for saying what he thinks without a care in the world. In a way, sometimes I agree with him as we do need some things to be said and somebody's gotta do the dirty work, right?

The latest comment by Jacques is reflecting on our 2 world championship contenders - Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel - specifically Vettel though. He believes that World Champion Seb Vettel still behaves in an immature manner and has a lot of growing up to do.

"For me, it has confirmed what I think about Vettel," Villeneuve told Autosprint of the race in Abu Dhabi. "These are facts: while recovering from the back, he first got in contact with Senna who was ahead of him and damaged his front wing.

"Then he lost control of his car and crashed under the safety car. A very serious error that had light consequences. As for the rest, he has shown to be super quick, but he was lucky and I'm not changing my mind: Alonso deserves the 2012 title more."

Is he nuts? I've got 2 titles
When it comes to a head to head comparison between the two, Villeneuve is of the opinion that Alonso is superior mentally and emotionally, meaning that the Ferrari man is a better driver who is able to react effectively to different situations.

"I have no doubts: Fernando Alonso is the best, that's why I root for him," said the 1997 title winner.

"Seb is super quick, but there is a difference with Fernando that emerges in case of an unfavourable situation.

"Alonso remains calm, cool, and rational, while Vettel most of times gets upset, angry, screams and flicks the middle finger. He reacts like a child.

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!
"These behaviours indicate two different states of maturity but, let's be clear, Sebastian is an ace too; however, he struggles more in critical situations.

"He looks almost unbeatable when he leads, but if he needs to catch up he becomes vulnerable."