Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Well there it goes, another season ends and another one awaits. It has been a long season with ups and downs, many new records set, new controversies achieved, new rules being made and broken in the same season but the defining topic has been Sebastian Vettel's domination...again. In a word..boring. The season was over about halfway when Vettel was just unchallenged from pole to flag. I did not bother to watch the last 2 races as I knew what I would read the following morning.

James Allen put it nicely to recap what this season means with so many "eras" ending:
It was the end of an era in many respects; the last race for V8 engines, the last race for Mark Webber and possibly a few others who don’t know it yet, like Paul di Resta, depending on driver market movements in the coming weeks.

It was the last race, for the moment at least, for Cosworth engines and Felipe Massa’s last race for Ferrari. And maybe Ross Brawn’s last race at the helm of Mercedes. If so, will he return in a different shirt?

These – apart from the change of engine formula – are the normal comings and goings of a sport which is like real life on fast forward, always restless and changing. The real question is, will the 2013 season be looked back on as the end of the Sebastian Vettel/Red Bull era, or just a staging post?
Just a staging post? I hope not, for our sakes. Lets not have Red Bull pull out another trick to dominate next year all over again. I'm praying for Mercedes to come out with a fantastic car that will allow them to win next year's championship for a change.

I never liked Ferrari nor Fernando Alonso but in a way, his words ring true during his BBC interview recently. He said:
"He is 26 years old, so when he will have a car like the others, if he wins, he will have a great recognition and be one of the legends in F1. When one day he has a car like the others and he is fourth, fifth, seventh, these four titles will be bad news for him because people will take these four titles even in a worse manner than they are doing now."
For me, struggling and putting your all into something which then produces results just makes it that much sweeter. When Alonso does win his third title it will be regarded as legendary. Alonso will join the ranks of those lgenedary racers such as Fangio, Clark or Moss. Vettel on the other hand will be regarded as superficial as although he has said it many times that it is not easy even with a superior car and team. For me a legend is someone who can achieve great results with poor resources. That is what Alonso has showed for many years now.

Of course Vettel fans will shout blasphemy or dismiss my thoughts as a non-Vettel fan frustration. But as I said, I do not like Alonso since his McLaren days but I have to admit he is a very good driver, a legendary driver in waiting. Don't get me wrong, Vettel is a good driver too. Most F1 drivers are good, if not they wouldn't be where they are now. But to be truly great you have to win with odds agaisnt you, not riding a superior wave.

So here's looking to 2014 with great trepidation and hope. Hope of a mixed up grid and a serious challenge from all the other teams to Red Bull. It will be a long winter.

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Friday, November 22, 2013


The Brazilian Grand Prix (Portuguese: Grande Prêmio do Brasil) is a Formula One championship race which occurs at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos, a district in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.

The Brazilian Grand Prix was first held in 1972 at the bumpy and demanding Interlagos circuit, located in São Paulo, although it was not part of the Formula One World Championship. The following year, however, the race was first included in the official calendar, and it was won by defending world champion and São Paulo local Emerson Fittipaldi. In 1978 the Brazilian Grand Prix moved to Jacarepaguá in Rio de Janeiro. Argentine Carlos Reutemann dominated in his Ferrari, which was equipped with superior Michelin tires. This proved to be the famed French rubber marque's first victory in Formula One. Reutemann was followed by home favorite Fittipaldi and defending champion Niki Lauda.

The race returned to Interlagos for the next two seasons. But in 1980, the neighborhood of Interlagos was becoming increasingly run-down and the growing slums surrounding the circuit did not look good for the glamorous image of Formula One; and the drivers were dissatisfied with the safety conditions of the very bumpy 5-mile Interlagos circuit, and Jody Scheckter attempted to stop the race from going ahead; but this did not work and the race ended up being won by Frenchman Rene Arnoux.

After the emergence in 1980 of Rio de Janeiro racer Nelson Piquet and the retirement of Fittipaldi, Brazilian fans lobbied to host the Brazilian GP in Piquet's home town. The flat Jacarepaguá circuit, like Interlagos before it, proved to be extremely demanding: most corners were long and fast, some were slightly banked and the track had a very abrasive surface, thus rewarding high performing pilots and punishing those who were not up to the challenge. Due to the FIA calendar, which invariably had the Brazilian GP at the beginning of the season thus in the Southern hemisphere summer, most races were held under very high temperatures. Due to all of those circumstances, Grands Prix at Rio were epic affairs and most drivers who won it were exhausted in the end.

Paulista Ayrton Senna's success thus far in Formula One had city officials working hard to revamp the Interlagos circuit in a $15 million investment to shorten and smooth over the circuit. In 1990 the Grand Prix returned to a shortened Interlagos, where it has stayed since.

The Interlagos circuit has created some of the most exciting and memorable races in recent Formula One history, and is regarded as one of the most challenging and exciting circuits on the F1 calendar. Along with Spa-Francorchamps, it is rare in that the circuit in its modern form is one of the few with a lengthy history in the sport not considered to have lost much of its mystique or challenge in its adaptation for the modern, much more safety-conscious era of 21st century Formula One.

The Brazilian Grand Prix is often looked on by engineers and strategists in F1 as the biggest uncertainty of the season – it’s a very difficult race to plan for.

The weather often plays a part; last year was a perfect example. It was the championship deciding race, held in tricky wet/dry conditions. When it rains it is very hard to predict how long it will last and how hard it will rain. Then when it stops, there can be dry parts of the circuit and rivers running across other areas. Last year’s race was won by not switching to wet tyres when it rained!


Track length : 4.309 kilometres
Race distance : 71 laps (305.909 kilometres)
Corners : 15 corners in total
Average speed : 210km/hAerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce
Top speed : 323km/h (with DRS open) 311km/h without
Full throttle : 61% of the lap time (ave/high)
Total fuel needed for race distance : 134 kilos (ave/low)
Fuel consumption : 1.9 kg per lap (low)
Brake wear : light
Number of braking events : 6
Time spent braking : 16% of the lap
Total time needed for a pit stop : 18 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.31 seconds (ave)


The forecast for this weekend is for temperatures around 30-33 degrees with little chance of rain. Rain showers are a common occurrence in Sao Paolo at this time of year and many Brazilian Grands Prix have experienced sudden showers over the years and no-one will factor rain out of their planning.


Pirelli tyre choice for Brazil: Medium (white markings) and Hard (Orange markings). This combination has been seen several times including Austin, Spa, Monza and Suzuka. Last year the key strategy call was to stay out when rain started to fall in the early stages with the dry tyres on which the race had been started, but few teams were able to do that, as they could not generate enough temperature in the tyres. Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg managed it and it set Button up for the win.


The chances of a Safety Car are high at 63%. The Safety Car has been used in seven of the last ten races. It is often called into action on the first lap, as it’s a short lap with 24 cars charging into tight corners. This makes the Safety Car an important element to factor into Race Strategy planning and having plenty of different plans is advisable.


Two DRS zones will be set up on the Interlagos circuit for this weekend’s race, the first time multiple zones have been used at the track. To the existing zone on the Reta Oposta straight an additional DRS activation point on the pit straight will be added. Drivers will be able to activate DRS 60 metres before the turn 15 kink which marks the end of the lap.

The previous DRS zone on the straight leading to Descida do Lago will be shortened by 153 metres. Drivers will not only be able to use DRS after they have exited turn three.


Last year’s race was won by McLaren’s Jenson Button, with McLaren taking a front row lock out in qualifying. Red Bull won the race for the previous three years, Mark Webber, who is making his final Grand Prix start, won in 2011 and in 2009, while Sebastian Vettel won in 2010. Felipe Massa won the race for Ferrari in 2006 and 2008, Kimi Raikkonen won the race in 2007.

Will I be watching? NO! Didn't watch the Austin race either, so predictable that Vettel will win again and set another record (yawn). Lewis Hamilton said it as much:
"If he doesn't finish, that's the best chance! Even if it rains he still has more downforce, the car works much better. It's going to be better in whatever weather, even if it snows! So there's not really a huge amount of hope in that sense."
So here we are at the end of another (boring) season. Next year will bring a lot of changes and hopefully Red Bull won't be so dominant again. I can't really bear to go through another season like this.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013



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Friday, November 15, 2013


The world championship has been decided, but Formula 1 still has plenty of energy for its second visit to Austin, Texas, which proved a huge hit with teams, drivers and fans last season. Austin is the tenth different venue for the Formula 1 US Grand Prix, but this one is considered a real winner. The new Circuit of the Americas, which runs anti clockwise, is a wonderful mixture of many of the most famous circuits on the F1 calendar; it has more corners at over 250 km/h than Spa and more below 100kph than Hungary, which is quite a combination!

The United States Grand Prix is a motor race which has been run on and off since 1908, when it was known as the American Grand Prize. The race later became part of the Formula One World Championship. Over 42 editions, the race has been held at ten locations, most recently in 2012 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Circuit of the Americas often abbreviated as COTA is a 3.427-mile (5.515 km) motor racing circuit near Austin, Texas. It hosted the Formula One United States Grand Prix on November 18, 2012, the penultimate round of the 2012 season. The circuit will also host the Texas Motorcycle Grand Prix, a round of the Road Racing World Championship—commonly known as MotoGP—in addition to the Australian V8 Supercars series, the FIA World Endurance Championship, the American Le Mans Series, and the Rolex Sports Car Series, all of which will make their debuts at the circuit in 2013.

The circuit and Grand Prix were first proposed in the middle of 2010. The circuit was the first in the United States to be purpose-built for Formula One. The layout was conceived by promoter Tavo Hellmund and 1993 Motorcycle World Champion Kevin Schwantz with the assistance of German architect and circuit designer Hermann Tilke, who has also designed the Sepang, Shanghai, Yas Marina, Istanbul, Bahrain, Yeongam, and Buddh circuits, as well as the reprofiling of the Hockenheimring and Fuji Speedway. The Grand Plaza, Observation Structure, Tower Amphitheater, and Main Grandstand were designed by Austin-based architectural firm Miró Rivera Architects. Spectator capacity was estimated to be 100,000 utilizing permanent and temporary seating facilities but a crowd of 117,429 watched the Formula One race in November 2012.


Track length : 5.516 kilometres
Race distance : 56 laps (308.896 kilometres)
Corners : 20 corners in total
Average speed : 197km/h
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce
Top speed : 315km/h (with DRS open) 305km/h without
Total fuel needed for race distance : 142.8 kilos (ave/high)
Fuel consumption : 2.7kg per lap (ave/high)
Full throttle : 58% of lap
Brake wear : medium/hard
Number of braking events : 8 (At Turn 12 the drivers incur 5.5g in braking)
Time needed for a Pit stop : 21 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.38 seconds (ave/high)


The forecast for the weekend is for warm weather, with temperatures in the high 20 degrees C. Thunderstorms are forecast for Saturday – qualifying day.


There will be two DRS zones at COTA. The detection point of the first will be 150 metres after Turn 10, with the activation point 320m after Turn 11.

The second zone’s detection point will be 65m after Turn 18, with the activation point 80m after Turn 20, just before the start/finish line.

Changes to the circuit since 2012 – Removable kerbs, 50mm high, similar to those used at the apex of Turns Eight and Nine in Abu Dhabi, have been installed at the apex of Turns Three, Four and Five. Similar kerbs, 75mm high, have been placed at the apex of Turns Seven and Nine.


Pirelli tyre choice for Austin: Medium (white markings) and Hard (orange markings). This combination was seen in Japan, Belgium and Italy.

Despite aiming for two stops from most races, for this race Pirelli has gone for the two hardest tyres in the range, so it’s likely that the race will be one stop, as it was last year. The temperatures are set to be higher than in 2012, so that may make a difference, if thermal degradation is encountered.


As this is only the second race and there was no Safety car last year, the chance of a safety car has yet to be established.


Will I be watching the race? Even though the track is a good track for racing, I won't be watching as the championship is decided and the race is too late here. Hoping for a Hamilton win though and Vettel not to break another record.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013



Hulkenberg is now confirmed at Force India. Guess he had nowhere to go really.

So far the 2014 driver lineup has been much waiting and not much confirmation as teams play the cat and mouse game. Some drivers are confirmed, some are waiting for the right time to move, some are not sure what is going on, some think they know what is going on. At least one driver is confirmed for now and it is Felipe Massa who will be moving to Williams. So how does the driver line up look so far?

We've had a flurry of news yesterday about driver seats and some quite unexpected. Perez is out of McLaren, something I didn't expect. They've given the seat to Kevin Magnussen. Heikki Kovalainen replaces Kimi Raikkonen for the last 2 races but will stay at Caterham for next season.

No Driver Entrant Constructor
1 Vettel Red Bull Racing Red Bull-Renault
2 Ricciardo Red Bull Racing Red Bull-Renault
3 Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team Mercedes
4 Hamilton Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team Mercedes
5 Alonso Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari
6 Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari
7 Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Lotus-Renault
8 Kovalainnen* Lotus F1 Team Lotus-Renault
9 Button Vodafone McLaren Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes
10 Magnussen Vodafone McLaren Mercedes McLaren-Mercedes
11 Hulkenberg Sahara Force India F1 Team Force India-Mercedes
Sahara Force India F1 Team Force India-Mercedes
Sauber F1 Team Sauber-Ferrari
Sauber F1 Team Sauber-Ferrari
16 Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso-Renault
17 Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Toro Rosso-Renault
18 Massa Williams F1 Team Williams-Mercedes
19 Bottas Williams F1 Team Williams-Mercedes
20 Bianchi Marussia F1 Team Marussia-Ferrari
Marussia F1 Team Marussia-Ferrari
Caterham F1 Team Caterham Renault
Caterham F1 Team Caterham Renault
Massa had this to say:
When I was a kid, I always dreamed of racing for Williams, Ferrari or McLaren and I'm glad to be signing with another icon of the sport. The team wants to grow. It is already a big team but they are really pushing hard to go back to what they were in the past. It is a team to fight for the championships and good results and I really want to be a part of it. I understand what they are doing to get stronger. I think we can be very successful and I believe it is the best choice compared to the other choices I had.
I think he doesn't have that much of a choice so basically it was PR talk.

Team founder and principal Sir Frank Williams says Massa is "an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the track", while his daughter Claire, the deputy team principal, said: "Felipe has demonstrated his talent and speed over the years, as well as his ability to motivate and drive a team to championship success."

Claire Williams added that acquiring Massa's services was "a key step towards our goal of returning Williams to the front of the grid and part of our ongoing plans to ensure we are stronger in 2014 and beyond".

We'll see, won't we. Williams just needs some more money and a faster car. Perhaps the Brazilian oil and gas company Petrobras will consider replacing PDVSA now that a Brazilian is there again.

Perez had this to say:
"It (McLaren's decision) wasn't what I was expecting. But this is life, and sometimes life doesn't go the way you want it to go - and this is a perfect example - so you have to take another route. I'm still young, I still have a lot to give to the sport, and I have my whole career in front of me. I just have to take another route now to keep aiming for my goals in Formula One to become a World Champion."
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Friday, November 8, 2013


We've been seeing it the past few seasons. We've also seen it more pronounced this season. Vettel seemingly able to spurt ahead at the starts, then pull out a 2 second gap by lap 2 then pull away sometimes up to 30 seconds by three quarters of the race, pulling away 1.5 to 2 seconds a lap and still setting fastest laps near the end of the race. All this while Mark Webber, virtually in the same car can't. How does he do it? Is it the car? Is it some tricks Red Bull have hidden in the car? Is Vettel superhuman?

Well, James Allen has gotten hold of his F1 buddies to come out with an analysis and it seems to explain how that is possible. Although the cynic in me still is not happy for 1 person to monopolise the championship for 4 years running.

Read the full article HERE.

Never one to hand out praise readily to his team mate, Mark Webber said after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, “Seb was on another planet today and was very, very strong in the first stint. He was in another category today.

“He was super quick and his tyres didn’t wear out, which is a recipe for disaster for the rest of the opposition, me included.”

Indeed the opening stint is a talking point; not only Vettel’s pace but the length of the run at 14 laps.

Webber had taken pole position confidently on the Saturday in the same car, his second in three races, indicating that he is driving well at the moment and is hooked up with the car, as he himself has acknowledges. So how did Vettel manage to perform so far ahead of his team mate (and everyone else) in the opening stint of the race, in the same car with no adjustments made overnight?

Read the full article HERE.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013


I know the Abu Dhabi race is over. All the excitement is gone, if you can call Vettel cruising to another victory "excitement". But the race track is still there. The track is still exciting with all sorts of fast racing activities you can do there. What's that? You're in Mongolia and can't go to Abu Dhabi? No worries matey, I got you covered. You can drive the track virtually.

Etihad Airways are inviting Formula 1 racing fans from around the world to experience the iconic Yas Marina circuit with the release of their online interactive race course. The interactive circuit features fantastic facts about the official home of the 2013 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. Visitors will be greeted with images, videos and statistics about the circuit over 14 points as they complete a full lap around the animated track.

Some of the features included in the interactive race course include:

  • Images from the circuit including the pits, grandstands and previous winners
  • Facts about the circuit such as the technology and manpower behind the construction
  • Statistics about key elements that can make the difference between winning and losing at the Yas Marina circuit
  • Information on Abu Dhabi’s most popular landmarks
  • Details on this year’s free after-race concerts, including Jay Z, Muse and Depeche Mode

Additional features include the ability to switch between a day and night version of the circuit as well as allowing visitors to “jump into the driver’s seat” by uploading an image of themselves which is displayed as they race and can also be shared on Facebook.

To race through Yas Marina, one of the most advanced motor racing tracks in the world, head over to RACE THROUGH YAS MARINA CIRCUIT.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Here is another fantastic race strategy analysis by James Allen with input and data from several F1 teams, from JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan and from Pirelli.

For the full article, click HERE.

Although Sebastian Vettel made a mistake in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his rivals were not able to press home their advantage and control him on race day, as he took the lead at the start from team-mate Mark Webber.

Any chance of his rivals being able to work with strategy to prevent Vettel from taking his seventh consecutive victory went out of the window there. Vettel was able to pull out a lead and preserve the tyres at the same time in the opening stint and then, because he had not used the medium tyres at all in qualifying, he was able to do two stints on new medium tyres in the race.

But behind the top three battle there were some interesting strategy plays and we will focus on these in this UBS Race Strategy report.

For the full article, click HERE.

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Friday, November 1, 2013


The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was announced in early 2007 at the Abu Dhabi F1 Festival in the United Arab Emirates. The first race took place on November 1, 2009, held at the Hermann Tilke designed Yas Marina Circuit. On June 25, 2008 the FIA announced the provisional 2009 Formula One calendar including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the 19th and final race of the season on November 15. On November 5, 2008, however, it was announced that the race would be held as the season finale on November 1, two weeks before the initially planned date, as the 17th and final race.

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

Yas Marina is another Herman Tilke designed circuit with two long straights and some tight turns which take the track underneath the landmark Yas Hotel and around the marina. The Yas Marina Circuit features six corners below 100 kph – only Monaco, Singapore and Valencia have more.


Track length : 5.554 kilometres
Race distance : 55 laps (305.355 kilometres)
Corners : 21 corners in total
Average speed : 197km/h
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce
Top speed 320km/h (with DRS open) 307km/h without
Full throttle : 60% of the lap time (ave/high)
Total fuel needed for race distance : 151.25 kilos (ave/high)
Fuel consumption : 2.75 kg per lap (ave/high)
Brake wear : Medium
Number of braking events : 12
Time spent braking : 16% of the lap
Total time needed for a pit stop : 21.2 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.4 seconds (ave/high)


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


Pirelli tyre choice for Abu Dhabi: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This combination was used in India last week, with mixed results as the soft tyre blistered on a number of cars and Pirelli issued guidance on maximum usage for both compounds, which Force India and Lotus ignored.

Abu Dhabi is unique in that the race starts at dusk and ends in the dark, so the track temperature falls as the race goes on and the teams have to factor this in. For teams looking to do longer runs at the end of the race, the temperature drop helps, so teams are encouraged to try some bold strategies to win. There are few high speed corners, but a number of low speed corners so wheelspin on corner exit is the thing to watch out for.


There have been four races at Yas Marina Circuit, the 2009 and 2011 races did not feature a safety car, while the second one in 2010 featured five laps under the safety car after a crash at the start of the race.

However the 2012 edition featured two safety cars and these proved game changers for Sebastian Vettel, who was coming through the field after starting from the pit lane. The timing of the safety cars is crucial, particularly if they fall in the pit stop windows.


The Yas Marina circuit of Abu Dhabi will feature a slightly longer first DRS zone at this weekend’s Formula 1 Grand Prix. The DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones at Yas Marina are on the two back straights. The first zone has a detection point 40m before Turn 7, with activation 390m after Turn 7. This means that the DRS zone will be 80m longer than last year.

The second zone’s detection point is 50m after Turn 9 with activation at the apex of Turn 10. Additionally, speed bumps similar to those used around the first chicane at Monza have been installed two metres from the track edge around the outside of Turns 8 and 11.


This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has many points of interest, despite the 2013 drivers’ and constructors’ championships already having been decided. There is a tight battle for second, third and fourth places in the constructors’ race between Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus, which is worth a significant amount of money to the teams involved. Force India and Sauber are also fighting for sixth position.

So do we watch the race or not since the championship has already been decided? I'll watch it just because I've been to the inaugural race in 2009 and enjoyed it so the Abu Dhabi race holds a pretty special place in my heart.

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