Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I didn't understand Multi 21, I'm German..
The dust has settled in Sepang and we have to wait for another 3 weeks for the next race where we'll throw up some more dust and swish it around. Ah yes, the life of a Formula 1 fan. But until then what shall we dine on? Any goodies left over? But of course. If there aren't any goodies lying around, we'll just whip up the pan and cook us up something tasty.

So what do we have for supper then? Why, the Vettel Creme Supreme. It keeps in the fridge for at least 6 months so we can enjoy it longer. The net is awash with stories - some not quite true - but still awash with stories of the crime that is team orders during the Malaysian Grand Prix. Newspaper headlines were all shouting for blood and editors were all duly out with their sharp silverware.

The common theme running throughout the headlines is one of war, with 'Red Bull at war' (The Telegraph), 'Webber and Vettel at war' (The Guardian) and 'Red Bull duo in civil war' (Daily Mail) added to by 'Truce over as Webber fumes at Vettel's grand theft' (The Independent) ando 'Vettel victory out of order for Red Bull' (The Times).

The best bits can be found in the editorial comment section, where Vettel's reputation is cut to shreds, marinated overnight and cooked to perfection.

Kevin Eason, The Times
"There is the team order and then there is the double-cross. One was given and disobeyed yesterday as Sebastian Vettel showed a side of his character that defied the cuddly, cheery image of the sport's youngest three-times world champion,"

"You expect a man as young as Vettel to have a backbone of steel to have been so successful at the age of 25. But he exposed himself as ruthless to the point of immorality as he defied his Red Bull team and jumped Mark Webber, his team-mate, for the victory in Malaysia.

"There was plenty of contrition afterwards and the usual extrovert language to underline his apology. "I f***ed up," Vettel told a packed press conference. By then, he had collected his winner's trophy and banked the 25 points that took him into the lead in the World Championship standings. He will not be that sorry if he is champion for the fourth time in November."

David Tremayne, The Independent
"Immediately afterwards, [Vettel] explained that it was not until he and Webber were in parc ferme prior to the podium celebrations that he realised he had committed a cardinal sin. But that's where his post-race damage limitation strategy was revealed as duplicitous subterfuge."

"An apology was the right and humble thing to do. But the truth was that we were already well aware even before he passed Webber that he was going against the orders of his team, because Horner was telling him to stop being silly and to back off. And once the deed was done, Horner warned him that he had plenty of explaining to do. So he knew full well what he had done, and the suggestion that he hadn't acted deliberately but had "made a mistake," was risible.

"His conduct was unbecoming, the petulant act of a man who simply wants to win at all costs."

Paul Weaver, The Guardian
"Even if the Malaysian Grand Prix does not herald the immediate end of the strained but highly successful Sebastian Vettel-Mark Webber partnership at Red Bull, it does represent a new fissure, deeper and more damaging than anything we have seen before. It has also changed the way we will view Vettel.

The German's greatness as a driver was already assured when, last year, he became only the third driver to win three successive world championships. But on Sunday, by ignoring team instructions from his employer, Christian Horner, and choosing instead to chase down Webber to secure his 27th win, he also joined another, darker list.

We can now count Vettel as one of the most ruthlessly single-minded drivers the cacophonous old circus has ever seen. Being in one club, of course, does not preclude membership of the other. Vettel merely moves in alongside Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher in that respect. Maybe the ruthlessness underlines the greatness."

Byron Young, Daily Mirror
"Vettel's manoeuvre in the Malaysian Grand Prix was straight out of Michael Schumacher's book of world domination: utterly ruthless and morally reprehensible."


F1 star John Watson has gone one step further, urging Red Bull to ban its three-time world champion for breaking team orders. Who the hell is John Watson? According to Wikipedia:

John Marshall Watson MBE is a British former racing driver from Northern Ireland. He competed in Formula One, winning five Grands Prix and also in the World Sportscar Championship. He currently works for Sky Sports.
You lying sack of shit you..I got your number dude
He seems to have a very strong opinion about Vettel's actions on Sunday and did not mince his words. He puts it nicely as follows:
"The only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say: 'You will stand out one race'. I know that if other drivers in other teams disobeyed a team order they would be suspended or even fired. If Christian Horner doesn't reassert his authority in the team, because he has been totally subjugated by Sebastian Vettel, then his position in the team is not exactly the role it is designed to be. The only conclusion I can reach is that Vettel should be suspended for the next grand prix.
You can't take the points away from him and give them to Mark Webber, that's now history and Sebastian has the benefit of those seven additional points. You can't really fine him, it is almost irrelevant to fine him, so the only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say: 'You will stand out one race'."
Tasty. Too strong a medicine? Ask Webber, he's on medication as well. Anyway, nobody gets fired nowadays unless your sponsor doesn't cough up the dough. But Vettel isn't going anywhere John.


Team orders in F1 are a controversial thing and it really fires us fans up, whether we agree with it or not. But F1 has always been a team sport. And teams want to maximise their positions. So sometimes team orders are inevitable, more so in F1. You'd be surprised at the amount of team orders. It's not just Ferrari who have a full menu of team orders including their house specialty - "Fernando is faster than you, do you understand?". Other teams have them too.

Keith of F1 Fanatic has done a fantastic article on team orders. And based on extra toppings of radio chatter has compiled it here. Among the interesting ones which we didn't hear during the race from Vettel's engineer Rocky is this:
“Sebastian you need to get out of the KERS button, get out of the KERS overtake button, the system won’t take it. No KERS overtake button. Use KERS normally.” Later he added: “Sebastian be careful of front tyre wear, front tyre wear is high, both front and rear high wear.”

What the fuck is Multi 21?
And from the Mercedes platter we have this:

“Fantastic job this weekend guys,” said Hamilton before adding it “definitely didn’t feel right for me”.

After complimenting Rosberg on a “good drive” Brawn added: “We’ll discuss the last stint later.” Rosberg’s parting shot was simply: “Remember this one”.

God, remind Ross later for me..

Phew I'm stuffed. Those were really good. But I'll be hungry again tomorrow as we have a long way to go to Shanghai. So what did you think of the buffet spread? Pretty good eh? I'm sure you can whip up some nice ones on your own as well. We're all master chefs but remember too many cooks will spoil the broth.

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Monday, March 25, 2013


What the fuck was that then mate! Multi 21!!
First off, what did I think of the 2013 Malaysian GP? Well, it wasn't a washout. The threat of rain was pretty big and the rain did come but not enough to wash out the race. Not enough to cause a Safety Car start or having to start on the full wets. Instead we had an intermediate start with half the track wet and the other half dry. Personally it was a pretty good race with lots of overtaking, dueling  strategy changes and unexpected happenings. Much better than previous years of processions or washout.

The story of the day was always going to be about Vettel and Webber. And Rosberg and Hamilton. Those 2 teams provided the gist of the whole race really. And what happened at the end was the icing on the cake. Hell, it took the cake! A lot of people have a lot of different opinions, fans of each team and driver of course being the most hardcore as their team or driver cannot do any wrong. But I've read a lot of other divergent and sometimes logical opinions as well.

The race itself was pretty good. The start was clean with only Alonso being caught out by Vettel into turn 2, hitting Vettels back and breaking one of the wing pylons. His broken wing was scraping the track all the way around and you would have thought that Alonso would have pitted for a new wing. But he just went on trying to do a few more laps before changing tires to the slicks as he didn't want to be pitting twice in 4 laps. Makes sense but the wing didn't think so. It broke and exploded underneath the car coming into lap 2, Alonso going straight into the gravel, almost hitting Webber.

One title contender out of the race, which was good news for Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren plus Lotus and Massa. Massa didn't do too well either, most of the afternoon he spent out of the camera and attention. A sign that someone is not doing well enough to warrant the attention of the race director.

Kimi Raikkonen didn't do too well either. Starting P10 and losing one position at the start he was always stuck in traffic and his Melbourne pace was nowhere to be found. Seems we were all too eager to predict a Lotus championship this year then. But Lotus quietly went about their race and finished P6 (Gro) and P7 (Rai). Not too bad for the points.

McLaren had a better shot with Button launching into attack mode at the start, made some places and could have made a 3 stop strategy with other teams going for a 4 stop. Unfortunately on his final stop the team again botched up their pitstop with a right front tire not being put on properly. Button had to be pushed back into the pitbox to do a refit and wasted so much time. In the end he retired anyway from the race. At least Perez managed to score his maiden points with McLaren by finishing P9.

The interesting part of the race started after everybody changed to the slicks when the track dried up. There were purple sectors everywhere and many drivers were trading FLAPs. It was raining purples. That's when the race order was shaping up properly. It was obvious that this was a 4 horse race, a close fight between the Red Bulls and Mercedes. Mercedes' pace in this race was very encouraging with them able to keep pace with Red Bull and even outpacing them on some laps.

Webber made a critical move at the start when he made an uncharacteristic start by launching himself into a good position by the first corner and P2 by the second lap, aided of course by Alonso flying off the track. And Webber jumped Vettel at the first stop and lead the race from there on. The positions changed throughout between Webber and Vettel, and between Hamilton and Rosberg but in the final showdown it was Webber leading Vettel and Hamilton leading Rosberg.

This is where it got really interesting. Webber was in a comfortable lead and was poised to win the race. It seems that the team have agreed that by that time whoever was leading will be allowed to win the race with both cars turning down their engine to make it safely to the finish. Vettel of course had other ideas. He showed his desire to take the win for himself at half distance when he asked the team over the radio to move Webber out of the way.
"Get him out of the way, he's too slow,"
Fuck Webber, it's MY team!
Wow, sounded like a team owner who is also the driver. Webber responded with a faster lap after that while Vettel's engineer told him it's only half way through and to be patient. He of course did not listen and was cunningly positioning himself for an attack towards the end of the race when he knew they were supposed to turn down their engines and cruise to the flag.

On lap 46 Vettel made his move, overtaking Webber who wouldn't yield of course and the fight ensued over a number of corners and into another lap. It was fantastic racing to watch and they nearly came to blows. Christian Horner had to come on the radio twice to tell Vettel to back off but Vettel was not listening. He finally took Webber and Webber did not fight back after that, probably protecting his tires and wanting to finish the race. The Mercedes duo were also behind them and could mount an attack.

Fuck you matey! For once the finger is on the other hand..
The Mercedes duo were also having a battle of their own. Rosberg was having good pace while Hamilton was low on fuel with the team telling him to "lift and coast" to save fuel. That was the reason Vettel took him earlier and went after Webber. Now Rosberg and Hamilton were trading places with DRS over a few laps. It seemed useless having DRS as it just made them change position until the end. Well, until Rosberg got fedup and asked Ross Brawn to let him past.

The answer was a stern "Negative Nico, Negative". Again Rosberg asked and Brawn had to explain to him that Lewis could also go faster but he (Brawn) had asked Lewis not too. At this point we know that Lewis was low on fuel and had to conserve but we didn't know if the same was for Rosberg. He could have gone after Vettel. After the race while parking his car, Rosberg managed to mutter "Remember this one". He will probably want to cash in on his sacrifice this time later on in the season.

Lewis on the podium did let out that Rosberg was faster and that he thought Rosberg should be the one on the podium.
"The team did a fantastic job if I am honest I really feel Nico should be standing here, he had a better race than me. I can't say it's the best feeling being up here but racing is racing."
Really nice of Lewis to say that, he couldn't hide his shame on the podium. Upon receiving the trophy his body language just says "this is wrong". He probably knew that he was on fuel save mode while Rosberg was not. Rosberg could have taken P3 and maybe even chased down Vettel or Webber for P2. Not sure what Brawn was doing there or whether he had a choice in the matter. My thoughts is that Niki Lauda might have had something to do with it.

It wasn't me Nico. I was in the McLaren pitbox..
As for the 2 Red Bull drivers, the atmosphere in the drivers room before the podium ceremony says it all. Webber was really pissed while looking at Vettel and asking him "multi-21" twice. What that means we'll never know but I suspect it was an agreed finishing position depending on the order at the time.He then proceeded to slam down a drink bottle on the table. And even on the podium with Webber not mincing his words.
"Seb made his own decisions and will have protection as usual,"
Team principal Christian Horner had this to say:
"There was no point. He had made it quite clear what his intention was by making the move. He knew what the communication was. He had had the communication. He chose to ignore it. He put his interest beyond what the team's position was. He was focused on those seven points difference between second and first place - which was wrong. He has accepted it was wrong. From our point of view as soon as that last pitstop was completed the instruction was given to both cars effectively to hold position. At that point Sebastian has chosen to ignore that."
Webber will go back to Australia to surf while waiting for China and who knows what he will be thinking about. It will definitely be about whether he wants to continue at Red Bull or not. It is "Seb's team" after all. As for Sebastian who apologised to Webber and the team after the race and who said that he didn't do it deliberately, I have no idea what he is talking about.
"It doesn't help his feelings right now. Apologies to Mark and now result is there, but all I can say is that I didn't do it deliberately."
An F1 driver who can process a lot of information at 200mph had information of how the race was supposed to end based on the order at the last 10 laps. His team principal went over the radio twice to tell him no to do it and he said it like this - "This is silly, c'mon Seb". Vettel then proceeded to do it anyway and he is claiming he made a mistake (yes definitely) and didn't do it deliberately? Overtaking in F1 is difficult, it's even harder to do it by accident.

Interesting times we live in. Anyway, what's done is done and we now move on to China where Rosberg had his maiden F1 victory last year. Hopefully he won't have to "lift and coast" there.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013


Fernando, Massa is faster than you now..
Qualifying for the 2013 Malaysian GP is done and guess what? Vettel took pole again in changeable conditions. Yeah I know, Vettel again? Beggining to look like 2011 all over again where Vettel took 14 pole positions. But then again maybe not. I think it was more due to a smart decision based on the conditions.

The Red Bulls started Q1 on the Medium tires which was strange as almost all the top runners used the Hards. It was common sense to use the harder tire for Q1 so as to graduate to the faster Mediums later in Q2 and Q3. Most of the time in Q2 the top teams would still be using the softer of the 2 compounds because they know they can get into Q3 with those tires. No problem.

But here both Red Bulls started Q1 with the Mediums leading most people to think that they either had a tire issue or we trying to save the hard tires for the race. It was a strange decision indeed but upon closer inspection, turned out to be a smart decision as the Sepang track is quite heavy on the tires.

Starting on the mediums would guarantee them into Q2 and if they could just use 1 set then better as they can save more tires. In Q2 the Bulls again used the medium tires but this time Vettel managed to time his run somewhere in the middle of Q2 so as to just egt into Q3 with 1 set of the mediums. And his trick was to use a used set of the mediums from Q1. Smart. Webber for some reason had no choice but to use a new set.

Better believe it for race day..
In Q3 it stared to rain, well in fact it started to rain towards the end of Q2. A few dirvers got caught out and didn't make it to Q3 such as Grosjean and di Resta. di Resta tried to make it desperately going on with his mediums in the slippery conditions but just ended spinning. Q3 started with a wet track and all went out with the intermediate tires.

Vettel made a smart move by going out slightly later than everyone else, which does not raise any eyebrows as we've got accustomed to the Bulls doing this the last 3 years. But that decision would prove pivotal in his pole. He managed to do a respectable time on his first set of intermediates with 1 lap but crucially made the decision to pit for another new set as the track was drying up slightly - not enough for slicks but not too dry for intermediates. He must have felt that it was good enough for the intermediates to survive yet give good traction. That's why he secured pole with almost 1 second from Massa.

That was a smart move, I have to raise my hat to him. The 2 Ferraris followed suit by going for new intermediates after Vettel and suitably landed P2 and P3. This proves that a newer set of intermediate was perfectly suited for the track at that time. All good and proper then and makes sense going by the order. But this means Vettel, Massa and Alonso have used up 1 extra set of intermediate compared to Lewis Hamilton just behind in P4. And we know how important it is to have extra wet tires in Malaysia.

Will he make a difference?
They gambled on being up front because if it rains, you'll get less spray in your face. Which is good. But Hamilton being in P4 with the same intermediate tires bodes well for him as it means he has an extra set if it rains. It also means his pace is quite good on those tires as he managed P4 with used intermediates compared against the top 3 who used a new set.

Surprisingly Raikkonen who also pitted for a fresh set of intermediates could not produce the pace to even beat Hamilton and ended up P7. He starts P7 again in a row and depending on the weather tomorrow, may not be able to make up the number of places he did in Melbourne.

So, there you have it. It will rain again tomorrow at the start of the race or maybe during it, that I can assure you. The teams all have free choice now on what tires to start the race as they qualified on the intermediate. it will be interesting to see what they do then.

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:49.674
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:50.587 +0.913
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:50.727 +1.053
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:51.699 +2.025
5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:52.244 +2.570
6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:52.519 +2.845
7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1:52.970 +3.296
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:53.175 +3.501
9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:53.439 +3.765
10. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:54.136 +4.462
11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:37.636 +1.446
12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.125 +1.935
13. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.822 +2.632
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.221 +3.031
15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:44.509 +8.319
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault no time
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.157 +1.348
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:38.207 +1.398
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:38.434 +1.625
20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:39.314 +2.505
21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.672 +2.863
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:39.932s +3.123

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Thursday, March 21, 2013


A very real possibility..
The race week is here! It is a back to back race weekend with Australia and quite tiring for the teams but fantastic for the fans. It is my home race as I am from Malaysia. Our capitol Kuala Lumpur is full of activities this week, lots to do.

First included in the Formula One World Championship in 1999, the current Malaysian Grand Prix is held at the Sepang International Circuit at Sepang, Malaysia. FIA-sanctioned racing in Malaysia has existed since the 1960s. But only from 1999 did Malaysia get a proper world class F1 track with the one built in Sepang.

The Sepang International Circuit is located near Kuala Lumpur International Airport, approximately 60 km south of the capital city Kuala Lumpur. It is the venue used for the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix, Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix and other major motorsport events. The circuit was designed by German designer Hermann Tilke, who would subsequently design the new facilities in Shanghai, Bahrain, Turkey, Valencia, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Korea, India and Austin, TX.

The main circuit, normally raced in a clockwise direction, is 5.543 kilometres long, and is noted for its sweeping corners and wide straights. The layout is quite unusual, with a very long back straight separated from the pit straight by just one very tight hairpin.

Other configurations of the Sepang circuit can also be used. The north circuit is also raced in a clockwise direction. It is basically the first half of the main circuit. The course turns back towards the pit straight after turn 6 and is 2.71 kilometres long in total.

The south circuit is the other half of the racecourse. The back straight of the main circuit becomes the pit straight when the south circuit is in use, and joins onto turn 8 of the main circuit to form a hairpin turn. Also run clockwise, this circuit is 2.61 km in length.

Tire Choice

Pirelli tire choice for Sepang: Medium (Option) and Hard (Prime) – this is the same choice as in 2012. Pirelli has chosen to bring the medium and hard tires to Sepang, the hardest compounds in the range, to cope with the high temperatures, abrasive surface and faster corners. The opening stint with 150 kilos of fuel on board, likely to be on medium tires for most cars, is very hard on the tires.


The Sepang circuit will feature two DRS zones for the first time this year and each will have its own detection point. A single DRS zone on the start/finish straight has been used for the last two Malaysian Grands Prix. For this year a second DRS zone has been added on the straight which leads to the last corner.

The detection line for Zone 1 has been placed between Turns 12 and 13, with DRS usage permitted along the penultimate straight. The second zone, preceded by its Turn 15 detection point, runs from the beginning to the end of the start-finish straight.
Track Information

Location : Sepang, Malaysia
Track Length: 5.542 km
Race Distance : 56 laps (310 kilometres)
No. Of Turns : 15 corners in total (Left 5, Right 10), a mixture of slow, medium and fast
No. of Pits : 30 units
Grandstand Capacity : 30,000
General Admission : 80,000
Width : 16m (T1:18m; T2:20m; T15: 25m)
Longest Straight : 928m (T15 toT1)
Lap record 1:34.223 (Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams, 2004)
Aerodynamic setup – Medium/high downforce.
Top speed 312km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 300km/h without.

Full throttle – 70% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 153 kilos.
Time spent braking: 15% of the lap. 8 braking zones. Brake wear: Medium.
Loss time for a Pit stop = 16.5 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 22.5 seconds.
The pit lane speed limit in Sepang is 100km/h, which means faster pit stops than Melbourne.
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.36 seconds (average/high)

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Australian GP: Winners and Losers

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

Red Bull got the wake-up call, Kimi Raikkonen got the points and the win, but it was Adrian Sutil who got the glory...

Star of the Race
Adrian Sutil, Force India, 7th

Whoever took the ultimate decision to hire Adrian Sutil must have been in line for a few cheeky Kingfishers after the result in Melbourne. It was the story of the race. Raikkonen did well, but described his race wins as one of his easiest. Staring at the telemetry in the closing stages to see what kind of impression Alonso was making on Raikkonen, the data did seem to bear that out. Kimi seemed able to respond to a fast lap from Alonso almost at will.

Starting from P12 Sutil made his medium tyres last and was not fazed by having a triple World Champion behind him. Around Lap 14 he was putting in 1:33.7s while Perez, on the same compound, was only just managing 1:34.9s and had been as high as 1:35 and 1:36.

He managed to hold off Vettel who was on tyres that were seven laps fresher, and in fact from Laps 17 through to 19 he increased the gap from 1.1 to 1.2 to 1.4 seconds. All this without compromising the tyre life. The team might have done even better if they'd had allowed him to stay out slightly longer on his second set of mediums, because 12 laps on the super-soft tyres, even with low fuel loads, looked like four or five laps too many. But it was a hell of a return to F1 from what had been a very dark place. Had the coin fallen in favour of Bianchi - who also did well on his debut - then we wouldn't have seen Adrian Sutil in an F1 car again. And he led the race twice.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 2, Kimi Raikkonen on Lewis Hamilton, Turn 13

Kimi Raikkonen needed to get past Lewis Hamilton in a hurry (think back to all the drivers stuck behind Mercedes last year) and after having a couple of looks put a move up the outside going into Turn 13 on Lap 2. Last year Raikkonen had been hesitant when chances had arisen, but this time there was no messing about. Curiously, he thought he'd been quite patient waiting till Lap 2, coming up with: "I took my time with Lewis to make sure there wasn't any contact."

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1st

With tyre preservation the ultimate virtue in F1 right now, the Lotus E21 seems to be the most virtuous of them all. Had this been a flat-out charge to the checkered flag then Raikkonen could probably have been fifteen seconds clear - every time Alonso put in a fast lap towards the end of the race, Raikkonen seemed to react a lap later. Matter-of-factness is his stock in trade, but you can believe that his fastest race lap at the end was just to concrete the gap between himself and Alonso.

Another good thing was that he didn't get upset about the blue flags waved at him this year, even though the marshals were still waving them at cars that weren't being lapped - such as Sutil.

A Raikkonen win at the opening race was the precursor to the 2007 season, which is when he won the World Championship, so that's a good omen. From an F1 PR point-of-view it was perhaps good that the opening race wasn't won by Vettel or Red Bull, because that would be a familiar story to the casual viewer who needs luring back.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2nd
Alonso gambled that an early second pit-stop would reap rewards and he was certainly proved right, the move on Lap 20 helping him to leapfrog Massa, Vettel and effectively Sutil. Which is why he is such a formidable driver, he is not only fast he can drive around problems. And talking about driving around, there was no driving around Felipe Massa this year. Both he and Massa got amazing starts and whereas last year they were doing it from further down the grid, this year it looks like they're going to be catapulted into clear air.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 3rd
Before we get onto the race, Vettel's timing in Q3 was immaculate, he crossed the line with just one second to go for his final lap. That is the perfect timing for a drying track qualifying session. As the race proved, starting from P1 in Melbourne wasn't the same as starting from P1 in Monaco and having sprinted off for his familiar two-second lead at the end of Lap 1, that was as big as it got. He was unlucky to get stuck behind Sutil for as long as he did, and then find Sutil pitting on the lap he came in. But on a street track all kinds of unforeseen inequalities can arise, particularly from Safety Cars - and we didn't get one of those.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 4th
Like Lewis Hamilton in Q1, Felipe Massa was lucky to get away with an off-track excursion and a very violent impact on the barriers that removed his front wing in Saturday qualifying. He used his good fortune well, outqualifying his team-mate and out-starting him (Alonso was keen to say that actually he got a better start than Massa, he just had nowhere to go as the space he was aiming for got closed down). Massa stuck to Plan A and unfortunately Plan A+ was the one that worked. Felipe relies on his engineer for guidance far more than Fernando and engineers aren't going to take the risks that an Alonso or a Button might. Still, he showed a lot of determination in holding onto his second place in the early stages and Alonso will have taken note.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 5th
Wreathed in smiles for most of the weekend, Lewis was like someone who'd swapped from the school with really tough rules (and a crap school uniform) to a school where you could set your own timetable. He was allowed to wear his own jeans instead of the regulation trousers, what's more the Mercedes Petronas gear wasn't nearly as bad as some of the red piping on the 2013 McLaren kit. It was like he'd had a spiritual awakening - everything about his new team was wonderful and he gave interviews, wrote columns, enthused to anyone who would listen, smitten as he was with 'new best friend syndrome'.

Given that he admitted to saying a prayer for Adrian Sutil's return perhaps he has been blessed with a shining light from above. That would certainly fit with his escape from Q1 on Saturday where he so nearly stranded his Mercedes on the sodden grass just feet off the circuit (a la Shanghai 2007). He got going, stuck it into P3 and had a reasonably good race.

However if there's anything to be learnt from Albert Park and a non-typical race circuit it's that it's pointless wasting tyre mileage and tyre life by trying to resist drivers you're not racing against. This year that message will be at a premium. Lewis ended up with 'Flatspot of the Day' locking up into Turn 13 in front of Alonso and had to pit immediately.However his team had told him to try and stay in front of Alonso.

Mark Webber, Red Bull, 6th
Given the serial issues that Mark Webber had to deal with during his race it's amazing he managed to get where he did. Misfunctioning KERS, (not activated till lap 20) a lack of telemetry, the inability to re-set the clutch bite point, all contributed to a bad start and a torrid afternoon in front of his home crowd. With Vettel unable to get more than a distant third, the only places Mark could have aspired to were 4th or 5th - so 6th with problems is no small achievement.

Paul Di Resta, Force India, 8th
Having done a better job in qualifying than his team-mate Paul would have felt frustrated to become a bit-part player in the Adrian Sutil show and when the team told him to stay behind at the end it evoked the word "robbed" from him afterwards. This is going to be a pretty full-on team-mate battle.

Jenson Button, McLaren, 9th
Immediately after Q3 had finished Jenson was cursing the vanity of chasing a front-three-rows grid start on super-softs instead of accepting that they were going to have to play the long game and do a slow lap on mediums. Buoyed by finishing P4 in Q2 on Inters he was the earliest onto slicks in Q3 and despite being second last man on a drying track he still ended up P10 with awful tyres. So the fact that he could finish the opening lap in P9 was some achievement and the fact that he could resist Mark Webber (now with KERS) and Grosjean for most of/all of the race was encouraging. He has become the latest driver to score 1000 career points with two of the least memorable he'll probably ever get. Whether we will have the MP4-27 back by Bahrain is anyone's guess.

Pirelli have been vindicated in their Keep Calm and Carry On attitude to the 2013 tyres after teams and some of the drivers got a bit scared in winter testing and predicted that there would be seven or eight stops in Melbourne (Perez).

The medium Pirellis managed to last for two stints after an initial set of super-softs, but lets' not kid ourselves that this is anything but a tyre management formula. All the drivers could have gone significantly quicker for most of the race, but had to reign themselves in.

Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber, DNS

Sauber seldom do well in Australia and the curse of Albert Park struck again. It's very rare for a car to be too dangerous to drive after it gets fired up in the modern era, when retirements are few, but it's a reminder that it happens. Nico Hulkenberg will have imagined himself putting in a Sutil-like performance.

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 10th
Grosjean reported that his car simply lacked performance but couldn't work out why. He still did better than he did last year and kept his bodywork intact, even though he had a bit of side-by-side with old nemesis Perez late on. The tenth place was a gift from the gravel-bound Vergne who left the road with a single point and rejoined without.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, DNF
Rosberg looked so good for most of the weekend and was heading for P6 when his battery gave out. Despite the retirement it was a positive start for the Mercedes team, especially given how light they were with their tyre wear. Aldo Costa's suspension system, like the innovative Lotus suspension, might be beginning to show dividends.

Sergio Perez, McLaren, 12th
It may well be that Perez's experience at finishing around 12th place for Sauber will stand him in good stead with the MP4-28 this season.

Pastor Maldonado, Williams, DNF
I think it's fair to say that Pastor Maldonado is not the biggest fan of the new Williams FW-35, but fair play to the car, if you try and brake with one wheel on the grass, it's not going to give you the ideal turn-in.

The great news for BBC Radio 5 listeners is that consummate professional James Allen looks like he's back behind the microphone all season. In Melbourne he had to speak for an unexpectedly long time and the water started seeping into everything.

James Allen does Yoda: "So much water is there lying on the race track."

James does whimsy: "Noah and his ark are not very far away."

James does inadvertent water analogy: "Vettel has poured out onto the race track."

Suzy Perry had a good debut replacing the much-missed Jake Humphrey, though there wasn't much roaming around (presumably that comes with the 'live' show). David Coulthard was keen to reassure her about Mclaren's ability to fight back from their dismal start: "They've got depth in strength" said DC, without blinking.

However the BBC's Jenny Gow won the prize for word substitution of the day. Just before the race she reported."The fans get to their feet for the Australian national anthem. The patriotism here is tantamount."

(She meant tangible).

Andrew Davies/FrankHopkinson


As usual James Allen has come out with his excellent Race Strategy Reports with the assistance of Mark Gillan. Since we are having back to back races, time is of the essence. Here I will share with you the report which gives good insight into the pace of the top 3 teams in Melbourne - Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull and what we can look forward to this weekend.

Some interesting points to ponder:


The impressive note was that Raikkonen set the fastest lap near the end, 1.2 seconds faster than the Red Bull, having been 1.2 seconds slower in qualifying than Vettel.


There were plenty of positives for Mercedes to take away, but in Malaysia they will surely be working more carefully studying tyre life on long runs during Friday practice.


Massa had outqualified and outstarted his team mate so was in position on merit and he had the fastest pit stops. But it definitely took something away from Alonso’s race effort. It’s debatable whether Alonso could have beaten Raikkonen had he been clear, probably not.


With a slower than expected car and clearly some problems to deal with, it looked like there was an element of desperation about their moves; shake the tree and hope something happens.

Red Bull

Considering Vettel’s pace, it’s clear from this graph that the Red Bull didn’t have anything like the pace in race conditions that it had in qualifying. This could be due to a number of factors, but thermal tyre management is the most likely culprit.

This excellent report together with the fuel adjusted graph can be found here.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013


WOW! That's what I can say about the first race of this season in Melbourne last weekend. I mean, the Melbourne race is usually good as it is the first race, the temperatures are quite high and the track hard on the tires (due to it being half a public road and half unused track).

But this race was even more interesting as the use of the supersoft tires and the different ways each car treats its tires made for a very exciting race to watch. WOW! From an F1 PR point-of-view it was perhaps good that the opening race wasn't won by Vettel or Red Bull, because that would be a familiar story to the casual viewer who needs luring back.

Lotus blooms

To be honest, I did not expect Lotus to all. Sorry Lotus fans. Congratulations to Lotus and Raikkonen, it was a masterclass of strategy, driving and car design. Raikkonen drove a measured race that balanced aggression with intelligence (he does know what he is doing after all). According to him it was "easy".
“It was quite simple; probably one of my easiest wins. You can’t start the season much better than winning the first race and of course we hope we can be fighting at the front of the Championship, but there’s a long way to go.”
Have you tried sitting in a very tight seat for 1 hour and 30 minutes or so? I sat in a simulator fibreglass seat for 20 minutes before and my ass just up and left. I couldn't feel it anymore. And that was in an air conditioned room. Easy...

I told you I knew what I was doing
The team created a car that is an evolution of the fast car they had last year while engineering into it the ability to manage the tires very well. Of course this depends on many factors such as the weather, track surface, the track (how many corners, left or right track configuration, average speed, corner cambers, etc) and many other factors but Lotus got it right last weekend. But Lotus team principal Eric Boullier gave some interesting insight into the car's performance:
“It was exactly what we planned – the strategy was agreed before the race. The car has been designed successfully to save the tyres."
Designed to save the tires? We know from last season the E20 was very gentle on its tires, actually the Lotus was always gentle on its tires from day one. We've always known that, maybe they haven't been so good at the rest of the car but overall they have gotten stronger and stronger. But that is interesting, "designed" to save the tires. You can have the most powerful engine or the most downforce but if your tires are gone with 5 laps to go, you''ll be overtaken.

The car was so good with its tires that Raikkonen could just manage his pace during the last 10 laps with a 6 to 7 seconds gap to Alonso and even set the fastest lap in the end. This means he still had tires and pace in hand. This also meant that the team could make their 2 stop strategy work when all the other top teams had to make do with a 3 stop strategy. James Allen puts it nicely:
Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus sent out a powerful message to rivals by managing a two-stop strategy to perfection and taking a thrilling victory in Melbourne, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. And to rub it in, Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the race at the end, showing that he had more life left in his tyres.
We will have to see how this car adapts to different tracks and different weather conditions. As Malaysia is much hotter and humid than Australia, we will see how the Lotus will adapt to that. One good thing is that the Sepang track is smoother than Albert Park so should be gentler on the tires although if it gets really hot, track temperatures can go over 50c. So I foresee Lotus using strategy again to their advantage in coming races as they know they can save the tires during the race. Strategy will win it for them. Whether they can win the world championship, that depends on many factors.

Ferrari Returns?

The Ferraris who showed promise during winter testing duly delivered. They started the race P4 and P5 (Massa 3 thousands of a second ahead of Alonso, of course this didn't last very long) and immediately got a good start taking over Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. At one point I thought OMG, not another 2011 as Vettel stretched a 2 second lead but then the Ferraris reeled him in and kept close for most of the race. Alonso made some clever moves such as pitting early to jump Massa and Vettel.

Easy eh Kimi? Ooh, I got something for you in Malaysia
I was cheering (with a raised clenched fist) when Alonso came out of the pits in front of Vettel. Then I found myself looking at myself. It was an awkward moment, never thought it would happen. But I guess it is because we as F1 fans cannot have the same man winning the championship 3 years in a row, much less 5 or  (God forbid) 7.

But from what I can see from this race, Ferrari has got the car right. It is fast out of the box even though it needs to manage the tires better and the team will need to come up with better strategies. One thing that has not changed is Felipe Massa. No, not his driving. His driving has changed for the better, he is fast and determined again. Just that he pitted at the wrong time which compromised his race. I honestly thought it was a team order again but Massa himself denied this, saying Alonso made a good call.
"When you're fighting with the guy at the front and then you lose two positions, you're always disappointed. Honestly it was a little bit too early to stop. We were planning to stop maybe three or four laps after. Looking at the degradation on the tyres, it was quite high. But he took a risk and it worked."
Red Bull has lost its' pace?

Vettel and Red Bull looked unbeatable in qualifying as they have always been. Vettel had looked set to again dominate from the outset after opening up a two second lead early on, but he was quickly hauled in by a quick starting Massa and Alonso. Vettel was on a 3 stop strategy as was the Ferraris but had no real pace to match Raikkonen or Alonso. I don't remember him having too many purple sectors during the race either. It is probably the tire wear on the red Bull, which is not as good as the Lotus or even the Ferrari.

Where's my pace? Who took my pace?
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted to the high wear but is not concerned. They are always like that, aren't they? Of course they can't show their true feelings. I can't say much for Martin Whitmarsh though, he had a clear worried look on his face and in his voice. Horner is of the opinion that the high tire wear was the result of cooler conditions mixed with the set-up direction the team chose, and therefore curable for future races.
"Seb got a good start, built up the lead we wanted and then it was quite clear that the car was pretty heavy on the tyre. Then when you run in a bit of traffic as well that puts more stress on to the tyre. But I think probably the conditions were a significant factor today and we were just out of the window. All things considered, third place is actually a very, very good result."
Good save Christian. But say what you may, Red Bull did not have the race pace to match its qualifying efforts and with Webber ending the race in sixth place after KERS issues contributed to another poor start, it looks to be hard for Red Bull. But as we all know, Melbourne is not really an indicator of the season ahead. So it will be very interesting to see how they'll do in Sepang.

McLaren fallen to the wayside?

I have always been a fan of McLaren. But this year they have fallen way off. Their qualifying pace was not strong and worse was they still are making wrong decisions, like putting Perez on supersofts and then when it rained harder, pitting him for more supersofts. That was mind boggling. For once, McLaren started the race like a midfield team - Button started P10 and Perez P15. If Lewis was there, they would surely have had a car in the top 5.

They did not have much pace throughout the race, was stuck in traffic battling midfielders and their tires didn't last much either. The MP-28 is a different car than the MP4-27, McLaren ditched that car for a completely new one. They have admitted that they are facing issues understanding the new car, might revert back to the one (this says a lot) and made a mistake in testing in Jerez.

Mark, you got it the other way round mate....or did we?
A team of McLaren's calibre making rudimentary mistakes? Yes I like McLaren but they've been making too many mistakes since 2009. Maybe that's why Lewis left. But this mistake defies belief. It was revealed that a suspension component had been fitted incorrectly at the first pre-season test, a mistake which gave a false impression of the MP4-28's pace. The brilliant lap-time produced by Jenson Button at Jerez was the consequence of the team bolting on a new piece of suspension the wrong way round. But for Melbourne (and probably the rest of the season) the mistake had to be rectified because it made the MP4-28 sit too low on the road.

So Melbourne told the story for McLaren. The car now fitted correctly is too slow..period. The worried look on Martin Whitmarsh's face said it all.

Mercedes looking ahead

Mercedes are an improved team this year. We can see that from their testing pace and from the results of the first race. The car is fast (though not as fast as others at this race at least), it is somewhat reliable (at least in Lewis' hands, not sure why Rosberg keeps getting the reliability problems) and not too bad on its tires (although that didn't work out for Lewis in the final stint).

The Mercedes cars didn't really have a good start, especially for Lewis. He seemed to have bogged down a bit, although not as bad as Webber. Or maybe his grip was not really there at the start as Rosberg had a better start. Lewis lost 2 positions to the fast charging Ferraris at the start and then also to a cool Raikkonen. So that basically compromised his race. Still the raw pace showed by him and the steely determination to fight for positions will be good for Mercedes. As long as reliability stays good.

I'm gunning for y'all..
Lewis tried to go for a 2 stop strategy like Raikkonen but we saw that the W04 is not as kind to its tires as the E21 is. Lewis had to pit for another set after the first set of mediums were shot. Funny though that he managed to keep the supersofts on for 12 laps before that. Sometimes track evolution does strange things. Although overall he is happy with 5th and so am I. Imagine if he was still at McLaren? With the MP-28 the way it is. James Allen puts it succinctly:
Hamilton in his first race for Mercedes attempted an ambitious two-stop strategy but was forced in to a late tyre change to stop himself from dropping down the order. He lost out to both Ferraris at the start and did not quite have the pace to match the front-runners. However, it will still be a satisfying result for the Briton with his former employers much further down the order.
With the proper development, I feel that Mercedes will move up the grid as the season presses on. With proper tire management and strategies, we will see Lewis win at least one race this year. An intriguing and exciting prospect indeed. As for Rosberg, if he can get rid of the "Schumacher jinx", he might be able to finish races and score some points for the team.


How strange was that race for Sutil then? Force India started with the right strategy, Sutil started on the mediums because he was P11, the fastest of the midfield runners. He managed to stretch the tires on a very long first stint, holding back some fast cars such as Vettel and Alonso for many laps before swapping tires. Of course he needed to use the supersofts once in the race and Force India decided to it on the last stint to the finish, not knowing that the supersofts would fall to pieces and Sutil then proceeded to lose places at the end. But his mediums were still good to go, they should have pitted maybe around lap 54.

I'm back!
Sutil was a candidate for driver of the day with his return marked by leading the race twice. He would have lost his 7th place if not for team orders. Paul di Resta was coming up on him very fast and would have easily ovrtaken him if not for an order to hold station. di Resta was obviously not happy, referring to being "robbed".

As for the rest, well to be frank I didn't notice the rest. I was too engrossed by the top 5 teams that I lost track of the rest. Even McLaren was off the radar for long periods of time. Usually you can see how a team is doing in a race by the amount of time the race director focuses on them which corresponds to the amount of memory you have of them. But again as I've siad, this has been on of the more thrilling Australian GP I've seen. Thanks to Pirelli for the tire choice and construction.

Australia wasn't quite the story of the tortoise and the hare, but with Red Bull's sheer speed battered into submission by Lotus' clever cunning, it was certainly one of the most intriguing opening chapters read for many a year. Game on then, bring on Sepang!!

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, 58 laps, Dry throughout

1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1h30m03.225s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 12.451s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull + 22.346s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 33.577s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561s
6. Mark Webber Red Bull + 46.800s
7. Adrian Sutil Force India + 1m05.068s
8. Paul di Resta Force India + 1m08.449s
9. Jenson Button McLaren + 1m21.630s
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus + 1m22.759s
11. Sergio Perez McLaren + 1m23.367s
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso + 1m23.857s
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber + 1 lap
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams + 1 lap
15. Jules Bianchi Marussia + 1 lap
16. Charles Pic Caterham + 2 laps
17. Max Chilton Marussia + 2 laps
18. Giedo van der Garde Caterham + 2 laps

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Friday, March 15, 2013


Friday practice came and went. After 4 months of waiting, it was gone in a flash. FP1 didn't really show us much again as the medium tires held up well in the hot temperatures (which is good). Lewis was 4th fastest in the Mercedes, not too far away from Vettel. As expected, after all that sandbagging in testing, red Bull unleashed their power in both practice session and topped the timesheets with Vettel leading the way on both.

FP2 was where the supersofts came out as the teams needed to understand how they're going to attack qualifying with those. And how to go for a longer first stint with full fuel. Lewis set the 8th fastest time although his running was hampered by a crash that ruined his attempts.

For a full report on FP1 click here. For full FP1 times, click here.

For a full report on FP1 click here. For full FP1 times, click here.

Now what worries me more is not Mercedes' reliability as Rosberg had to stop just before the end of FP2 with a gearbox problem but what happened to Lewis with the supersoft tires. As fantastically put by Keith of F1Fanatic:
Hamilton looked like he might threaten Vettel’s time after a quick run through the first sector on super-softs. But he locked his brakes on the bumpy run into turn nine and took to the run-off area. His subsequent lap on now rather worn super-softs was only four thousandths of a second faster than his medium-tyre effort had been.
Those supersofts only last for one lap? Of course locking his brakes on the first attempt didn't help but going into the second lap the tires were gone. Which means in qualifying, there is only one chance to get it right, a banzai lap. With traffic and 5 rookies in slow cars, Q1 and Q2 will be interesting to watch. But even with just 10 cars in Q3, traffic still could be an issue.

But on the positive side, at least I know that Lewis could have narrowed down his gap to Vettel and gotten closer to him if he:

1. Didn't lock his brakes on his first lap. That lap could have brought him to within 3/10s of Vettel.
2. The brakes didn't fail on tghe subsequent lap.

But seriously, any Lewis Hamilton fan out there must accept the fact - the Mercedes is no match for the Red Bull. Of course in the hands of Lewis Hamilton it can get close in qualifying and depending on how the weather pans out on race day, it might give the RB9 a close run for its money. A bit more development maybe around the European leg of the championship might do it. We'll see. Can't wait for race day!!

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Thursday, March 14, 2013


By plane of course. That would be the literal answer to the question of how teams will approach Melbourne. But we're being literal in another sense. How they will approach the race weekend. How they will consider their strategies. How they will setup everything they need in order to get the best results. How would they do it? Beats me, I don't have access to the pits. But I know who does.

James Allen does. And Mark Gillan does. Who's Mark Gillan? That guy who used to work with Williams F1. And McLaren. And Jaguar/Red Bull. And Toyota. So he knows a bit of what he is saying. Just a bit mind you. And he is advising James Allen now. So James knows what is talking about too.

James Allen is one of the most experienced and insightful broadcasters and journalists working in Formula 1 today. He is currently the F1 correspondent for BBC Radio 5 Live and is the network’s lead F1 commentator. He is also F1 correspondent for the Financial Times and presents the on-site coverage for Australian TV Network 10. James was born into a racing family: His father Bill was a works Lotus driver in the 1960s, enjoying success in sportscar events like the Le Mans 24 Hours. He is a Trustee of the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust and has been a patron of the children’s engineering challenge, F1 in Schools, for over a decade.

So, this post is really to share with you folks (who do not know James or have not come across his site) his interesting article on the upcoming Melbourne GP. I found it too interesting not to share. Some of the more interesting bits are below. For the full article, go here.

Track characteristics

Albert Park Circuit; 5.303 kilometres. Race distance: 58 laps = 307.574 kilometres; 16 corners in total, none particularly fast.

Aerodynamic setup – Medium/high downforce. Top speed 318km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 308km/h without.

Full throttle – 65% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 152 kilos.

Time spent braking: 13% of the lap. 8 braking zones. Brake wear: High.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 20 seconds

Total time needed for pit stop: 25 seconds.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.34 seconds

Weather forecast

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday is for a warm dry day with temperatures around 21-22 degrees and only 20% chance of rain on Saturday.

Likely tyre performance

Pirelli tyre choice for Melbourne: SuperSoft and Medium.

Pirelli has changed the tyres for 2013 and they are taking some getting used to; the teams will still be learning about them in Melbourne. It’s the first time that Pirelli has brought the softest compound in the range for Melbourne. They hope that the step between the compounds will ensure a performance gap of around 1 second per lap between the cars that will increase the importance of strategy.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

As the pitlane in Melbourne is the longest of the season (just a fraction more than Singapore) because of the 60km\h limit it is not desirable to make multiple stops, even if the tyre degradation is very high.

Chance of a safety car

The chance of a safety car at Albert Park is 57%, although there have been safety cars in four of the last five years. The average number of safety car interventions for the race is 1.7 (in 2006 there were four).

Recent start performance of drivers and teams

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result.

For thoughts from Mark Gillan, have a go at the podcast here.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Bernie can dream, can't he?
Somebody has been able to produce an F1 car for 2 dollars!! Yes, you heard right, 2 dollars!! USD2!! Now this is something the teams and especially the FIA has been rattling on about for a long time. We have to reduce the costs in F1 as it was getting ridiculous. Teams could spend an obscene amount of money on everything. If they didn't have the technology or ability to compete, they would just go out and buy it.

Some would call it the golden age of F1, some call it the dark ages. To me it was a vulgar period where money talks and the team with the most money would be able to trample on everybody else. So the FIA curtailed that and the idea of customer cars came along. They wanted to have a situation where there was more participation from teams who wanted to go racing for racing's sake. Not a 100 billion dollar motoring empire trying to stamp their mark on racing and off-loading a few million cars in the process.

I like the idea of smaller, agile and innovative teams joining the grid. It would be even better if they could shake up the established order once in a while. But in order for these teams to exist and survive the costs have to be brought down or the sponsorships must come in. Alas, the latter is not happening, not in this day and economy.

Lo and behold, the solution has arrived. And just in time. The 2014 turbo season is upon us. With this cheaper F1 car, teams will be able to compete with the likes of Ferrari or McLaren or Red Bull. Hell, anybody can form a team and compete now. Bernie, eat your heart out.

Although upon closer inspection, I suspect this new F1 car won't go very fast. Or anywhere. Yes it is very cheap, it costs only USD2 to make. Yes, USD2 to make. Literally. It is made of 2 pieces of US 1 dollar notes. No..really. It was made by DeviatArt artist orudorumagi11. It took him a month to do and it looks fantastic. He also has a USD10 F1 racer for those of you who want to go a bit faster. To have a closer look at his work visit here.

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Monday, March 11, 2013


I'm the fastest!!
Ok, winter testing is over. It came and went so quickly like it never came. Just 12 days to iron out the kinks and make the design work, plus understand new tires. the weather didn't help much with 2 days of rain and cold but the last 2 days was better with dry and sunny conditions. So now, we're all pumped for the first race, I'm especially looking forward to the first Friday session in Melbourne as so far most of the top teams especially red Bull has not shown their hand. But sooner or later they will have to and Friday in Melbourne will be it.

Again, it is difficult to see who will be fast come race day in Melbourne. Testing times are compromised due to different teams running different fuel loads, different settings, different tires. Even though we may speculate that they are running about the same things, the weather changes affects the running as each team might have been running equal setups but at different times of the day, hence different outcomes.

After much more thought and feedback, I have come to my senses and realised that Red Bull will be in front, the team to beat. Whether you like it (if you are a Red Bull fan) or not (if you're not a Red Bull fan), they will be in front. It's ridiculous to wish them to suddenly fall 2 or 3 seconds behind from last season. The fact is they are hiding their potential. 

An analysis done by James Allen using lap graphs shows as much, which you can find here:
Vettel’s graph shows consistency, with shorter runs. In the morning the team was working on its passive DRS system as well as trying different floors and in the afternoon a development passive DRS, according to sources. This is consistent with this kind of run plan. At no stage do they show their hand performance wise, because they are working on trying out different things.
This shows two things: they are pushing hard to get the passive DRS working, as they clearly see significant gains from it, but also it shows that they are confident their basic car is fast enough to compete in Melbourne. For all that Vettel said it hadn’t been a great test, this run plan looks like a team that feels it has a good car to start the season, but is pushing the envelope hard for the future.

Matt Sommerfield of Pitpass had this to say:

The RB9 continues to be an evolution of the original 2009 RB5 concept and uses the foundations laid down by the championship winning RB8. From the outset the '9' appears to have had little more than a lick of paint and a dash of additional Infiniti logo's placed on the car but although it shares the same DNA the team have once again pushed the car's development forward.
Red Bull has never been a team willing to show its full hand in pre-season testing but it is clear from its times that the team is once again consistent and arguably the team to beat.
We know the RB8 was not the fastest car at the end of last season, that honor belongs to McLaren. But the RB8 was fast and stable in the turns due to it's awesome downforce capabilities. But the killer app for the RB8 was it was able to maintain this consistency lap after lap. That makes it hard to beat when setting qualifying times or even during the race.

No, it is me!

Ex-F1 racer Christian Klein had this to say:
Maybe Ferrari looks a little closer than it was this time last year but I think Red Bull is holding something in reserve. They seem to be focusing on long runs, which will hide their true speed a little bit. McLaren is also looking strong, so there's no real change at the top.
BBC technical analyst Gary Anderson, who has been watching the cars through the high-speed turns of Barcelona believes the Red Bull to have the most downforce and be the most planted of the 2013 cars. From looking at their long run pace, we do know Red Bull run quite a lot of fuel in the car throughout testing.

Obviously they are very confident in their car, so confident that they didn't bother to test it on a single qualifying run. It's like 2 years ago when Vettel was so dominant in qualifying that he only does a single banzai lap in Q3 and still takes pole (that was quite annoying really).

So I know the RB9 will be fast in Melbourne, that's for sure. How fast? I don't know. Not too fast I hope. What about Mercedes then? Rosberg set the fastest time in the whole Barcelona qualifying. And Hamilton blitzed the times on day 3 with his usual style. Matt Sommerfield makes an interesting case:
The runs that featured the quickest times were extremely short stints with massive time drop offs after the quick laps, suggesting that they had destroyed the tyres in doing the runs which were also done on Soft tyres (equivalent to last years Super Softs) which by Pirelli's reckoning should be good for a gain of 0.5-0.8 second gain per lap.
Furthermore I'd expect all of the teams to be able to lap in the region of 2 seconds quicker than their respective 2012 runs as that's the sort of time the teams will be looking to gain over a season. We, of course, have to factor in the loss of unlimited DRS usage when compared to the 2012 times but whilst Mercedes used DRS during these runs in the designated zones it appears some of the other teams weren't (as they weren't doing qualifying simulations).
If he is right, then Mercedes either went for a glory run or showed their hand at qualifying. If we were to assume that others did not go for a flat out run, then Alonso being 3/10s away is worryingly quick. And Vettel being 2.067s away with 2 seconds in hand is even more scary.

Dude, you know it's me!
I'm not going to speculate this and that because there are a million ways it can go in Melbourne. What we can be happy about is that most of the cars are reliable, that means less chances of a breakdown spoiling our opening race of the season in Melbourne. How fast each of them will be, we will find out on Friday. Even though people always tell me Friday practice sessions don't mean anything, it usually points to how the weekend is going to turn out. Not always accurate but at least an indication of direction.

You all got it wrong, you'll see soon..muahahahaha!
And although every driver for every team will not tell you if they have any problems or worries, they actually know how is their car doing (whether bad or good). And they also know how the other teams are doing as well. Experienced F1 people such as Gary Anderson knows by just looking at different cars going through the same corner which one is better and will be fast.

Christian Klein again:
A driver knows if a car is good or bad within the first few laps, but it is almost impossible for us to know. The teams will all say their car is strong and they expect a good season because they have to keep their sponsors happy.
Most won't yet be running everything they will take to Melbourne; the bigger teams like McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull will bring little bits and pieces for this test, and again for the next test, but will only show their true speed in qualifying in Australia.
But being a fan, of course I can't help but hope as well. Of course I'm hoping that Mercedes has true pace as showed by Rosberg and Hamilton. I'm not sure whether Vettel was playing mind games when he said Mercedes are "dangerous" or when Button was "impressed" by Mercedes's pace. But I hope it is true. The best quote I've heard so far about Mercedes is from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner:
Mercedes have recorded some head-turning times with the programme they have been operating to. Their car looks quick, and with Lewis joining the team they will naturally take a step forward. He is worth lap time, which is why they signed him.
So, fans of the fastest cars on the planet, where do we stand? The first race of the season beckons us in about 10 days time (after 4 months off our diet we need it now!!). Who will be on pole in Melbourne then? Who knows? That is what makes it so exciting. Of course that doesn't stop us from willing on our chosen warrior to take pole then the win. Go! Go! Go!

Woo Hoo!!!
Following are the times from the second Barcelona test for your viewing and dissecting pleasure. Derive what conclusion you may from it.

Day 1

WebberRed BullS901:22.693125.926 mph
VergneToro RossoM591:25.0172.324
Di RestaForce IndiaM571:27.1074.414

Day 2

GrosjeanLotusS881:22.716125.891 mph
VettelRed BullM651:23.7431.027
SutilForce IndiaM621:24.2151.499
RicciardoToro RossoS611:25.4832.767
Van der GardeCaterhamM481:26.3163.600

Day 3

HamiltonMercedesS1171:20.558129.264 mph
SutilForce IndiaS1091:21.6271.069
WebberRed BullS591:22.6582.100
VergneToro RossoS1141:23.2232.665
Van der GardeCaterhamS1261:24.2353.677

Day 4

RosbergMercedesS1311:20.130129.954 mph
Di RestaForce IndiaS1121:21.6641.534
VettelRed BullS1001:22.5142.384
RicciardoToro RossoS911:23.6283.498

Combined Times

03-MarRosbergMercedesS1:20.130129.954 mph
02-MarSutilForce IndiaS1:21.6271.497
03-MarDi RestaForce IndiaS1:21.6641.534
20-FebVettelRed BullS1:22.1972.067
02-MarWebberRed BullS1:22.6582.528
02-MarVergneToro RossoS1:23.2233.093
03-MarRicciardoToro RossoS1:23.6283.498
02-MarVan der GardeCaterhamS1:24.2354.105
22-FebBianchiForce IndiaM1:25.7325.602

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