Sunday, 27 September 2015

This is a plea for my liver .. has anyone got a spare ??

Okay, not the most exciting race I've ever got up at some ungodly hour for, especially one I spent the previous night watching England being beaten by Wales, for. I was particularly bleary of eye and in fact I missed the only interesting bit, the first 200 yards of the race, as I managed to sleep through the alarm.

Musshed get up ... the race will be amazing.. mush get....up ....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So yeah, I missed Hamilton motor past Nico when the lights went out. Much the same as I slept through the first 40 minutes of qualifying. Don't get me wrong I really love Suzuka it's one of the world's great tracks and the fans are up there with their Italian and British brethren. But it starts at six in the morning and there was a lot of Rugby on Saturday night and a bottle of Port might have been opened.
Well done Wales by the way, you beat the English fair and square, I can't really complain. But don't expect me to wake up early the next morning and have a ready supply of bon mots for you. I'm getting too old for all of this I'm afraid.

Errrre yeah good point, motor racing.

From what I remember .. I missed the start, Hamilton over took Nico and some people banged into each other. Okay .. And I joined the race as Nico went into the pits in third or possibly fourth.  Then I think some other people went into the pits and Nico was second and Vettel was third.
I might have drifted off for a bit, then Alonso was making everyone in the entire world aware that he thought the Honda engine was a pile of dung and just about good enough for a GP2 car, which seems about right, if a little tactless at Hondas home circuit, maybe.
Then the race was over and Hamilton had got the same number of wins as Senna (41, one less than Vettel stat fans) which seemed to make him quite happy.
Then I watched Big Ron turn up on Sky to play down Alonso getting all angry about the rubbish Honda engine and the media's ongoing attempts to crucify McLaren for getting things very wrong.
I got up to go and walk the dog at that point. Watching red faced loon's texting in to "Crofty" to stick the knife into McLaren was too much, a company makes a mistake and some of the more unhinged members of society seem to feel like it was some sort of personal insult to the fans or something. The only thing more baffling is the FIA website. I really urge you to go and see just how appalling it is, just try and find the current drivers championship standings  .. I defy you to do it in less than 20 minutes.

Ho and indeed hum. Yay, Lewis won, anyone think Hamilton isn't going to win the title now? Thought not! Sure there are five races to go, but barring some sort of season ending injury he's pretty much home and dry now, Nico hasn't got his game face on at all.  He didn't get pole though, Nico managed that before Kvyat smeared his car down the road in the dying minutes of qualifying.  Hamilton was going faster (I think as I say I was kind of bleary eyed for that too). But it meant nothing as Lewis just steamed past when the lights went out and then he drove round really quickly and won. Easy peasy.

Nico was second, again, because he's a number two driver.

Vettel was third because he has the next best thing to a factory Merc engine.

Kimi was forth because even he can get the next best thing to a Merc engine past the best customer Merc engine.

Bottas was fifth with the best customer Merc engine.

Hulkenberg managed to avoid hitting Massa this time and made a much better start than his team mate, he was sixth.

Grosjean was seventh and has announced he's off to new boys Hass F1 (Ferrari number 2 factory squad) next year. Because he knows that if Lotus are quite prepared to give Maldonado a new contract then winning isn't what they're racing for anymore.

Maldonado eighth blahdy blah blah. Imagine what a good driver could do with that lotus!

Ninth for Verstappen who could be amazing in a well funded  Merc engined car, I imagine when Redbull do finally throw their toys out of the pram and flounce off because no one want to give spoilt attention seeking children an engine next year. There is going to be more than an unseemly fight by the big boys for Verstappen's signature. There's going to be a blood bath. Maybe that's why Big Ron was all smiles despite Alonso, maybe he's already got the kid signed and Honda are ready to unveil an almighty engine any minute now.

Yeah Sainz was tenth and he isn't Verstappen, he's the guy Verstappen doesn't get out of the way for.

Oh Hamilton got the fastest lap and Stevens got beaten by Rossi again, so he was last. Imagine (once again) you are Will Stevens and you have been beating your rubbish team mate for 6 month, then an upstart Yank gets parachuted in with a massive pay-check and whip yer ass two races running. That's got to hurt, hasn't it?

Two weeks to Sotchi, a race I am really looking forward too ... (no, no I'm not)

Love and hugs.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Its just a balloons worth of air really.


Quick one this week.

 Japanese GP looks like it is going to be a wet one again, so expect much tiptoeing around following a safety car for long periods.

Air pressures are going to be the big talking point of the weekend I am afraid. The FIA’s new random tyre pressure check now has some guidelines and defined parameters for the teams to get all prissy about. The knock on effect of this is Mercedes appear to have lost a good second off their lap times. It never ceases to amaze me just how infinitesimally small the margins are in F1, If you’ve ever played Gran Turimso or Forza or any of the myriad PC racing games, you’ll have messed around with the car settings. Now, if you’re honest with yourself you don’t really have much idea  what you’re doing do you, whack on some off camber, up the spring knock rate, turn down the anti-roll snaffle flange pin, lower the ride height and stick on some big fat wings.  Make any difference? Nope, though not.   

Yet in F1, upping the air pressure by 0.5psi and suddenly Mercedes are struggling to keep up with the Ferraris. Change the ride height by 2mm and Maldonado is skating off into the Armco … no wait that happens whatever. So yeah, Tyre pressures will be the talking point on track.

Off track and the woes for Lotus continue, due to a “late payment or two”. This meant there was a delay in the equipment arriving from Singapore and a lot of standing around looking annoyed for the Lotus set up personnel.  The cars will be there on Friday morning for first practice, just how ready they will be well, that is anyone’s guess.

In addition, anyone’s guess will be the whereabouts of Jenson next year, there were many rumours floating around the media world at the start of the week, that Button will announce his retirement from F1 this weekend. McLaren have had a torrid time of 2015, the engine is clearly more wrong than a Torro Rosso team order call and the car appears to have been designed by a gang of Albanian welders high on rubbing alcohol. Basically, it’s all an utter mess for the Woking team, so why would he want to stay, they messed him around last year about keeping his seat and they appear to be messing him around this year about keeping his seat.

If he’s going then most people expect him to announcing something this weekend. I hope he goes to WEC but I expect he’ll be setting up some iron man world series thing.


This track is a bit more old school with nice flowing bits and less stop start nonsense. I can’t see anyone touching the Merc for ole and the win, last weekend was just a set up blip, tyre pressures notwithstanding, they’re faster in the high speed stuff then Ferrari and Redbull. HOWEVER, if Ferrari were to be pole or the front row, then Hamilton’s 50 point championship lead might seem a bit too narrow for comfort on the Merc pit wall, and the Mercedes pit wall has been known to make mistakes when it feels under pressure. ~We might just have a race on our hands afterall.

Predictions need to be updated before midnight, good luck, 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Pole and win .. No .. not a Merc this time !!!!!

There you go, stick him at the front of the grid, give him half a chance and he'll win the race for you. That's why Ferrari poached Vettel from Redbull and you have to say given the results so far in 2015, it's going to be worth every single penny.

On a day when the talk was of Hamilton and how he was going to equal Senna's record of something or other, Vettel is the one that pops up and reminds us that he is walking in the footsteps of another great, another German that went to Ferrari and won a hat full of titles and made the template for greatness.  Senna, for all his natural talent might be lorded as the greatest driver ever, but the stats are dominated by Schumacher. 91 wins, most wins in a season 13 (tied with Vettel), 68 pole positions, 77 fastest laps. Schumacher finished 50% of the races he started on the podium.
Senna had natural talent sure.. But Schumacher has the cupboard full of silverware.
And yes, I know Senna was taken too early. But I still don't think he would have been able to beat Schumacher in the new digital age.

Anyway .. yes Vettel, right if you want to emulate a champion, then Schumacher would be top of the list. And Vettel leaving a very successful team to join Ferrari is doing just that.  I think next year, they could be the team to beat.
But what of Mercedes? Well, Lewis had an off day and Rosberg was his usual nothing spectacular self, I doubt this is the end of an era of anything but on paper there was nothing to suggest Merc would do anything other than win. Yet qualifying was a matter of survival and the race a case of hanging on. Hamilton suggested he had the car to win the race before the throttle problem but he's deluding himself. He had the third best car of the weekend there.
Why though? Why did the tyres suddenly turn to butter after a handful of laps, sure it's a hot circuit but no more than Bahrain and Spain where the Merc were perfectly fine.  Yeah hot like Malaysia where Vettel won though .. hmm Tight and twisty like Monaco yeah that's a street circuit like Singapore, but Hungary is tight and twisty where Vettel won ! Maybe the Merc do have a weakness after all. Vettel is only 49 points behind Hamilton now ...  Do you think the odd of the German taking the title might have shorted considerably tonight .. ?

Okay, Vettel won. Nice and easy. Danny boy was nowhere near him and even if some arse hadn't got lost looking for the toilet halfway through the race, Vettel was going to win this. He wins races he starts from pole, didn't Redbull remember that ?  

Danny Ricciardo second, Redbulls much vaunted "Singapore upgrade" striking pay dirt. And they didn't trouble Ferrari whose engine they're supposed to be getting next year either. Win win.

Kimi third to keep the Italian media sweat for a day or two.

Nico fourth, very quiet. The man is a husk of beateness. Vettel is going to be second in the championship race, just you wait and see.

Bottas, keeps Williams .. oh .. no he doesn't Bottas failes to keep Williams dreams of second in the championship  alive. And Redbull are going to have them soon too.

Kvyat, I 'm not sure but i think he might have been the victim of the safety car. To be honest i wasn't really concentrating.

Perez, missed talking out Hulkenberg at the start, Massa did the job for him. Perez looked pretty handy all weekend actually. Still dull though, you could let him drive your dear old mum with no qualms what so ever. Perfectly safe, just don't let him smile at her, all those teeth in one mouth .. its unnerving  I tell you.

Verstappen... Now, if you want to make a name for yourself, stall the car at the start, then drive back though the field to score a hatful of points. Extra bonus points for telling the team what it can do with its team order rubbishness in the closing stages.  That was a proper full on, "this is me announcing myself as the real deal" drive. And he got the luck with the safety car; you can't buy that sort of luck. If he wasn't on your radar as future world champion material he damn well should be now. This kid is the real deal.

Sainz Jr might well not be. 

Nasr in tenth absolutely did profit from the safety car.

Danny was fastest and low and behold Rossi did beat Stevens for last place. The American did alright there.

Japanese GP next weekend, I might have stuff to write before hand .. or maybe not. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Lewis Hamilton, then and now.

Do you remember this chubby faced little driver, the boy from Stevenage who done good and won a world title?
I used to think he was the second coming, I really did. He would get into the car week after week and absolutely spank it to the limit where even the angels get nervous.

That first year Hamilton rocked up there was a big hoopla about it all. This virtually unknown kid that had won a few lower formula races and stuff, the regular media had never heard of him, the F1 press pack kind of knew who he was. The only thing they had for Lewis was the fabled “I done told Ron Dennis I was going to drive for him one day" heart warming story. The day Lewis the karting prodigy walked up to Ron at the Autosport awards and buttonholed Mr McLaren for a job, it was precocious and heart warming all at once. How cute, how just like Lewis. Ron was instantly smitten with this boy with a gleam in his eye so he immediately wrote the boy a cheque and told him to come down the factory for a seat fitting on Monday morning. “You and me lad, we’ll go all the way. Natch".

When you think about it though, just how many people walk up to Ron and ask him for sponsorship of their fledging journey to F1 on a daily basis? Right now how many dads are calling the McLaren factory looking to impress the boss do you think, hundred? thousands? If you’ve ever called the McLaren PR department looking for a few caps to give away as prizes for instants, you’ll know they could teach the North Koreans a thing or two about stonewalling interested parties.

But the reality was Lewis was picked up by McLaren and fast tracked into F1 with much fanfare by a team riding high. He joined Alonso who was no fool and together they got on like a house on fire, a house full of fireworks and other highly explosive handbags. McLaren got caught cheating, Alonso spectacularly threw his toys out of the pram, Lewis almost won the title at his first go, there were accusation of favouritism, Hamilton and Alonso stopped talking to each other and Kimi sneaked the title from under the McLaren drivers noses. The narrative in 2007 was Lewis the rookie turning up and blowing the world champion out of the water, he was no respecter of titles, he was there to win and show the world what a plucky lad could do given half a chance.

I always used to think that it was Alonso that threw a hissy fit that year and Hamilton was an innocent victim of a spiteful hate campaign by the Spanish media. After Coughlin gate and Alonso’s big huff off to Renault, that became the accepted history, as time has gone on however, I’m starting to question that view.

The “Plucky young lad” image was cemented with the title winning run in 2008. He was almost robbed of the title by The FIA sticking their oar in, Massa player the villain to Hamilton’s young British hero role and we all lapped it up. The Evil FIA rooting for Ferrari and the swarthy Brazilian foreign type, against by the rules McLaren and our clean living  boy next door Brit, it was a great year with a title that went down to the last corner of the last race. It was an amazing year and you had to take sides, you were either old school dirty cheating Ferrari or stiff upper lip straight bat playing McLaren.  

The final image that year was a beaming Hamilton wet from champagne wrapped in the union jack, eyes gleaming and waving to the press pack as the Brazilian fans had gone home hours ago after witnessing Massa win the race, but lose the title in such a cruel way.

The years following that title winning season, were not good. Jenson rocked up in a car still being bolted together in Australia 2009 after Honda quite at the 11th hour and Mercedes lent the new Brawn team some second hand engines. It turned out the Brawn chassis had a few clever tricks under its skirts and blow the opposition away. Only Redbull in a portent of the seasons to come came close to stopping the Brawn fairy tale that year. Lewis tried really, really hard but McLaren had thrown everything at 2008 and failed to carry the momentum into 2009. Brawn had a good car while McLaren only had the best driver.  Lewis still went out and drove the nuts of the car each week, but he made mistakes and too often over drove the car.

And Lewis started to change; being champion gets you invited to swanky parties, people who have no idea the engine is in the back of on F1 car want to be seen with the cute kid from Englandhamshire who won that car race thing.  Suddenly what he wore was just as important as how far up the championship table he was. He got himself a celeb girlfriend and told his dad he was going to get himself a new manager. A manager who could get him invited to better parties and suddenly he was standing next to the likes of Sean Combs and Samuel L Jackson. Most notably Lewis started sporting earring studs, nothing to obvious or ostentatious just small black studs.

There just isn’t the same level of adulation in the UK for athletes and celebrities as there is in America. Especially for the black stars, the whole stiff upper lip, know your place, embarrassment thing. The biggest sporting celebration in the UK is the BBC sports personality award at the end of the year. An event where the 84 year old retired post mistress from Little Puddlington who teaches wheelchair bound kids to play tiddlywinks is given a longer standing ovation than the eventual Sports personality. In the UK being a billionaire, super fit, highly talented and driven world champion just isn't as good as the inspirational old lady smelling slightly of moth balls.

Lewis found he rather liked America and the adulation he gets there. He didn’t have to be the humble plucky lad from Blighty who lived in a quite village in the sticks any more. He could be the Formula one world champion Lewis Hamilton and hang out with Kanye west at the MTV video awards, he could meet black America and be accepted as an equal.

Back in the world of F1 the 2010 season was another to forget. Jenson joined him as Brawn turned into Mercedes. McLaren built a better car, but it wasn’t as good as the Redbull or the Ferraris this time.  Vettel sneaked it from Webber and Alonso, Lewis was distant and grumpy. Diamond studs appeared and the tattoos got bigger and more obvious.

2011 and the wheels really started to come off the car for Lewis, the on/off celeb girlfriend was all the media wanted to talk about when they weren’t asking why he kept hitting Massa. He spent more time in the steward's office than the podium that year.  He replied to the press pack questioning after yet another telling off with “maybe it is because I is black”. The red faced loons and F1 media failed to get the reference or the joke.  Vettel was unstoppable all year long taking back to back titles.

2012 and McLaren are in full on comedy team mode, the car was pretty good but McLaren contrived to lose the drivers title to Vettel yet again, with poor strategy calls and a pit crew straight out of the keystone cop. As Vettel breezed to his third straight title helped by the FIA failing to show any backbone and Pirellis capitulation to Redbulls “safety” concerns. Lewis feeling straight jacked by the McLaren hive mind PR machine, quit for Mercedes and a new start. He told the press the reason was he wasn't allowed to keep the trophies he won; he only got copies from McLaren weeks later.

2013 and every team apart from Redbull were building their new rules for 2014 cars back at the factory so weren’t really trying that year. Redbull and Vettel romped home virtually unchallenged. Ferrari desperate as ever to appear competitive put up a bit of a fight, but they failed as usual.  Lewis spent half the season designing a baseball cap that met his exacting standards. A hat … ! and that hat became part of a “look” Lewis adopted, A hat that never left his head and was used, with the big celeb dark glasses, to hide away from the press and fans alike. The year was not a total success, but nor was it a disaster with a win in Hungary and a handful of thirds, a respectable start with the new team. Freed from McLarens strict PR rules, Lewis could pick and choose the events he attended and who could interview him.  The narrative changed from humble plucky young lad to grizzled ex world champ, a loner, the intense young man with nothing but thoughts of victory and looking cool when he wins.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with win at all costs, just as long as you remember shake the beaten guys hand and don’t screw over your friends. The sort of friends you came up through the ranks with, good mates whose fathers are themselves ex world champions. Long days spent travelling all over Europe and beyond, sleeping in dingy hotels and more often than not the back of dad's car.  The sort of mate you measure yourself against in the beginning then realise you can beat with ease and keep him around to make you look good.  

Yeah, don’t screw those friends over or it makes you look like a brat.

In 2014 Lewis cut the ties with the old image, the old life and his friends. Nico suddenly was the enemy and just another person to beat, all those long hot summers learning their trade round the European tracks meant nothing when it came to the rub. Lewis now moved in the exalted circles of the triple A entertainment circuit. The earrings got bigger and brighter, much, much brighter. Big fat flash gold chains became the signature symbol of success. The humble English lad from the sticks became the humble God fearing Lewis Hamilton Brand #teamLH.

It took a bit of effort, but he won the title in 2014, Nico made him work for it, but it wasn’t really in any doubt. Everything he learnt as Alonso’s understudy that first year came into play. And it was Nico that was seen to be throwing his toys out of the pram this time. Nico that had to cheat to beat Lewis and Nico that made all the mistakes.

But it was Nico that, I think, came out of the season with the most respect. It was Nico that went to Lewis before the crowning of the world champion after the race and shock his hand. He was the first to congratulate the new champion and it was Nico that paid tribute to Lewis.

Now in 2015 Lewis is on course to cruise to the title this year. Vettel in the Ferrari is the only driver looking to take the fight to Mercedes as Nico is completely out qualified and raced. Lewis has already got the pole position trophy secures. The only race he has failed to make the podium so far was Hungary. The third in Monaco was only third because the team screwed up in the closing stages.

Yes, I know, to win the world championship takes a certain .... ruthlessness. You have to be prepared to sacrifice friends and loved ones to achieve the ultimate goal in single seat motor sports. It's not an easy thing to do and doing multiple times takes a single minded determination.

But let us turn to Vettel for a moment and the point of this little piece.

I'm prepared now, to admit that Vettel won the title in 2010 by being better than Alonso and Webber. Those two were looking at each other and missed the German Lad who won the race that mattered.

 I will always question how legitimate Redbulls cars were in 2011 and 2012. They were doing something clever with suspension and ride heights. The engines were clearly using off throttle over run far more effectively over Newey's exquisite bodywork.  

In 2013 no one else turned up to the party.

But Vettel, and this is painful to say .. wasn't that smug about it all really. No , no he wasn't. That's what we wanted, we wanted to dislike him because he was winning and it all looked too easy whilst Alonso and Hamilton couldn't get a look in. Okay he was a bit mean to Webber a couple of times. But he did it on the track. You never heard reports of him bad mouthing Webber, and he did sort of apologies afterwards.

Yes he waved that finger around, but he only does it when he's on the podium and he's won, when he actually has the right to do it.

But Vettel never paraded a flash private yet around or took to wearing more and more jewellery around the paddock. Check out the instagram accounts for both Vettel and Lewis, see who likes to display the trappings of success. For the Singapore GP Lewis is finally releasing some of his music he's been recording at home, the fabled rap album.

I think the tipping point for me was Monza and the drivers' tribute to Justin Wilson, and yes I know this moment has been done ad infinitum.

The camera cuts to the driver in the garage waiting to go out and pay the tribute. All gathered together talking and smiling, apart from the world champion who has his ear buds in, hat on and big old glasses coving that impassive race face. Lewis was off to the side not talking to anyone as Vettel strides in and tells Jenson that the drivers are going now. I didn't ask, he didn't check his watch and defer to the world champion. He confidently strode in and told the driver to start moving.
Out they troop onto the trailer to stand, heads bowed and uncovered as a mark or respect to a fallen comrade, killed so cruelly by a bit of flying debris a week earlier. Well almost all the heads were uncovered.

Lewis didn't uncover his because he had just dyed his hair blonde and wasn't showing anyone his new hair colour until he'd won the race! A little bit of me died there. It really did. His image was more important than showing some respect. Yeah, it's just a hat, I know, I know. But he walked passed everyone else because he was the last up there, talking on his phone, he saw them take their hats off. If he hadn't just dyed his hair would he have been so precious about the hat?

Its just bad form really. 

I still think he's one of the best drivers I've ever seen. And I'll always root for him, the same as I rooted for Nigel and his endless brummy whinging. But I'm not sure in the extremely unlikely event I'm ever offered the chance to have lunch with Lewis I would take it now, I think Vettel or Jenson or even Alonso would be more interesting and less self obsessed company. 

Right enough slaying of idols, Singapore this weekend. Lewis will probably win, but watch out for the Redbulls who are pinning their hopes on a slew of updates.  As Hungary showed when top speed isn't so important they've got a sweat handling car can take the fight to Ferrari and Williams.
Ferrari's engine update gave Mercedes something to think about at Monza, Vettel will be buzzing after that result so I think another podium is within easy reach.  Nico will be the one to lose out again.   
Williams need something to happen here. Ferrari has the beating of them now and Redbull are up for the fight. But the boys from Didcot are bringing their A game apparently, lots of sponsors to impress and third place in the championship to secure.

The on going "Whose going to buy Lotus this week" story will drag on. As an engineer working in an industry facing plenty of redundancies at the moment myself, I really feel for the workers back at the Lotus factory. Not knowing if you'll have a job next month is a terrible thing to have to live with. Whilst the money men argue over "historical payment" real people have mortgages to pay and school uniforms to buy. The sooner things get sorted out the better. 

Force India, Indian summer will continue as Perez continues to do a good job of reminding everyone he used to be thought off as something special.

The rest who cares, Mehri will we last as usual.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Holiday over, on with the show.


I’m back, sort of.

Let’s see, I'm a bit out of the loop now. I’ve still not seen the British or Hungarian races yet, which is probably a mistake as they sound like the two best races of the year so far. The results certainly suggest interesting stuff happen in Hungary; Lewis had a bit of a meltdown, Vettel continued to build his “SAVIOUR OF FERRARI” re brand and Redbull got their act together on a track where good handling always pays dividends.  I imagine I'll watch them one day but probably not this year.

So, after a four week break the circus returns to Europe for the Belgium Grand Prix.

Not a lot happened during those four weeks to trouble the serious F1 view, even Bernie managed to keep his PR machine under wraps and avoid bad mouthing the sport during the summer holiday.

The teams agreed to limit pit wall involvement in the start of the race, so no ideal clutch settings and no telling the driver where the puddles are.  Mercedes are expected to be the big losers here, and at the British GP Williams showed they weren't worried in the slightest.

Honda said they'd found a who bunch of speed and were almost as good as Ferrari now, McLaren then said they'd not been planning on using a B spec engine any time. Which suggests the engine now has the horse power is was missing at the start of the year, let's hope they find the reliability to go with it

The expectation was we would hear about Kimi's replacement by the Italian GP if not sooner. The Media have been writing him off since Vettel started winning and the grumpy Fin didn't. Failing to win in Hungary was seen as the last nail in Kimi's career coffin, so any day now he was going to be farmed off to some third rate team to try and offset the money Ferrari would pay Williams for Bottas.
Except, they didn't. ...I know, what a surprise ... or not. It was announced today (Wednesday) that Kimi has been retained for next year at least and I suspect until Bottas or Hulkenberg are out of contract.

Okay then, things to watch this weekend.

Lewis: More madness or level headed points gathering.
Rosberg: What excuse will he use to explain being beaten this time?
Ferrari: Flash in the pan or second coming?
Kimi: Will he be less grumpy now he has a 2016 contract?
 McLaren: will they get both cars home and in the points, will the new engine hand together.
Renault: trimmed out for the straight bits, hanging it out on the twisty boys. New shiny engine bits.
Williams: will be looking for a podium at the least here, expect Bottas to be gungho for pole.

Update your predictions before Friday :)

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Sorry about this.

Hi, sorry about this. Due to a massive family emergency I'm going to have to suspended the prediction game for the foreseeable future.

I'll give you more details later but for now I have more real world problems that need me.

Sorry again.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Ramble on ...

Ok then, time for a bit of perspective.
Is Formula one in trouble …. ?
Yes, yes of course it is. Half the teams are spending more time fighting creditors off with a finely tooled carbon prop shaft than chasing championship points. The racing is restricted by tyres that go off way too fast, fuel flow meters mean drivers have to lift and coast rather and nail it where the angels fear to tread. The muddy scum on the banking are kept well away from any contact with those paid to entertain them. Social media is a dirty word as other racing series fall over themselves to throw information at the punters, overload them with data and behind the scenes footage. F1 inc is taking down fans Youtube clips taken from six miles away on the banking, banning online F1 games that haven’t paid for the rights to use the drivers names or results of the races. There’s no attempt to engage with the audience, it’s only available to those prepared to pay through the nose for access and information. And that access and information is tightly controlled by just one man, a man dismissive of anyone that doesn’t have the money to buy a seat at his expensive race day tables. And a man who isn’t too concerned just where that money will have come from either. Dodgy third world dictator, not a problem, questionable attitude to human rights, come on in.
The only people telling you there isn’t a problem are those with a vested interest in things staying exactly as they are; Anyone connected with Mercedes, Bernie and his various tame media outlets, the FIA, Pirelli tyres, Ferrari. But not Redbull, especially not Redbull who are lying on the ground kicking their heels, throwing their toys at any passing media and screaming red faced at absolutely anyone that will listen about how unfair it is that they aren’t winning anymore.  It’s all particularly unseemly.
So yes, on and off track, it’s not looking too clever really. Talking of clever, where are the F-ducts and mass dampers? Those clever bits of thinking that can turn a midfield garagista into a front runner …. Banned.  The only difference now is buried deep under the carbon fibre skin, electrical systems tick and fizzle with innovation. KERS and ERHS powering man and machine faster for less fuel, more bang for your bucks. But all kept oh so secret, until it explodes then the fingers start pointing and shoulders are shrugged.
All this would be fine of course if there was a BUT next wouldn’t it ….. Nope I can’t think of one. The absolute highlight of the season so far, the biggest talking point, was Mercedes calling Hamilton in when he was leading the Monaco GP, oh and Maldonado crashing a lot.
Did you catch any of the other motor sport events I mentioned at the start of June ?
It all kicked off with the Canadian GP; Hamilton was the fastest, some cars almost hit some local wildlife. I fell asleep.
The following weekend was Le Mans and possibly one of the best races of the past decade, Porsche and Audi scrapping it out for the win, Toyota completely outgunned, Nissan getting a rude awakening and a social media kicking, the plucky KCMG squad from Hong Kong taking the LMP2 win with a faultless run ahead of much more experience teams. Then Corvette taking the honour in GT pro after a race long battle with Ferrari and a fleet of Aston Martins. Heartbreak for Aston in GT am with a crash for the leading car with less than an hour to go, Dempsey making in onto the podium in second behind the SMP Ferraris.  It had everything this year, racing all race long, beer,  Audi beaten at last, baguettes, Corvette winning, roast chicken. I hardly slept for 24 hours.

The Austrian GP: Roseberg was the fastest, I was in London having a good time with my son. So I didn’t fall asleep during the race this time, I fell asleep watching the highlights instead.

And finally I couldn’t find any live streams of Pikes peak. But I did watch the Formula E race from London, the final round of this new championship and it was an absolute belter. Buemi looked like he’d cruse to the title, but Piquet Jr drove a spectacular second race to hold onto the championship lead by two points.
Formula E is an odd thing, because the cars will only do half the race they have to swap cars at about half distance. So the driver has a choice weather to lift and coast to save power so they can get an extra lap to have more power with the second car at the end. Or go hell for leather at the start, build a big lead and then eak out the power of the second car to defend the lead. Where F1 is dull because the drivers are having to lift and coast from pretty much lap 4, Formula E manages to make this racing exciting. 
Putting up temporary circuits in cities around the world has brought the racing to people who wouldn’t normally see any live racing, okay the design of the circuits needs a little more thought. They were often too narrow for the bumpy city roads and parks and didn’t always promote much overtaking. But the cars looked fast on the narrow tracks, overtaking had to be about picking the right moment and often muscling past defensive minded drivers.  They might not have sounded very interesting, but the cars look different and the racing was exciting.

With both Le Mans and the Formula E races, social media was all over them like a rash!
I watched Le Mans from the comfort of my sofa, I had my nice big tv with its HD picture showing the two days of practice, and the entire 24 hour race. I had my PC set up showing a full timing service, Tweetdeck following all the major players who tweeted constantly, Facebook with various motorsport sites running race long threads. I watched live feeds from the 3 Nissan in car cameras with Nismo TV’s youtube feed. They had live reports from the pits, the cars, a studio at the back of the garage. Nissan had a great social media race if not an actual race.

Formula E actively encourages fans to get involved with their “Fan boost” via the FIA website.  Fans vote for their favourite driver and the top three get a five second power boast. It’s a bit simple, relies on the driver or teams PR department ability to reach out and do the FIA’s promotion for them. But as a direct result of this I’m now following Instagram feeds for Buemi and Bruno Senna and added dragon racing to my facebook time line. I’ve not watched the whole season, but I’ve watched races that I stumbled on whilst flicking though the tv channels.

So, formula one didn’t really shine in July, when the highlight of the month is Jean Todt telling Bernie to stop bad mouthing F1 to the Media and who is going to buy the rights to the series … you have a problem. There is no positive news from any of the teams or drivers or even the people charged with promoting the whole damn mass !

I have no idea what answer to all this is, but what F1 needs right now is someone to lead the thing whose primary concern isn’t his own ego, legacy or bank balance.

Okay, enough grumpy complaining .. We have the British GP this weekend to look forward to.
Well we do, and if you like watching Kimi being evasive in front of a frenzied media witch hunt you’re in for a proper treat.
The last few weeks have seen Kimi struggle to qualify well and then keep up with either of the Merc or his team mate Vettel. Normally this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, a number two driver is supposed to be there or there about’s and not put the highly paid number one under too much pressure. But this is Ferrari and any sign of weakness is jumped upon by the Italian media and eventually the rest join in. It’s a quite month, not a lot of on track action to write about, let’s pick on a driver make him feel bad about his perceived lack of performance.

So the media have been rumbling for a week or two now about how badly Kimi was doing, the usual “Ferrari number two poison chalice” stuff. If Ferrari isn’t coming first and second than clearly it’s the number two drivers fault. Then Arrivabene held a press conference to say no they weren’t looking to sign Bottas any time soon despite not being asked that question, and the interest in Kimi ramped up.
Vettel is doing a good job of looking renewed and exciting, he got a win and Kimi has failed to win anything and is thus now over the hill and ready for a job at Marussia apparently.
And this week, apparently Ricciardo thinks it’s “nice” that Ferrari are interested in signing him at some unspecified time despite a rock solid contract with Redbull. So the media circus is chasing Kimi around asking him when he’s going to be fired and why is he so rubbish now. Kimi, not the most charismatic media presence, is hiding behind his big glasses and muttering “no comment” whenever he’s asked about his future. Expect this weekend TV coverage to be dominated by this total non-story.

Right, yes, Silverstone .. total power circuit, so Merc win, and Ferrari close behind, the same as Austria and Canada really. I should imagine that Hamilton would like to get a win on home soil, it’s a circuit he likes and knows well. Nico will probably be right in his wheel tracks.
Errr Ferrari (Vettel) the Williams boys looking to put on a good show, Lotus with renewed vigour and I thinks its Perez’s turn to do well this weekend. Throw in a Torro Rosso for the laughs.

Things to look out for, how many engine changes Renault have across all their teams. How many laps the McLarens complete all weekend long and how many grid penalties they get starting from Friday practice one. Will Kimi make it to Q2. And how many minutes Redbull last before they start complaining about their Renault engine.

Once again, I have father/son duties to perform with a party for him and his mates. So the results might be a touch late.

Good luck.   

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Happy fathers day.

And yes it was, because I didn't subject myself to that tedium. No I was off enjoying some quality time with my boy a the Royal Academy Summer exhibition, and having a very enjoyable afternoon lunch above Covent gardens.

No dull motor racing here thank you.

OK, I did watch qualifying, which was interesting in a "just how did Kimi mess that up so badly!!" kind of  way. And wondering just how McLaren were going to be penalised 25 grid slots when they struggled to get out of Q1.
On a serious note here, yes I know it was supposed to stop teams slapping in a whizz bang qualifying engine on Saturday morning and changing it for a nice solid race engine on Sunday. But Honda have produced an utter piece of garbage! Cut the guys some slack, cut all the back marker teams some slack. Redbull are on their eleventy billionth engine I think, they're not troubling the front of the field so let them burn through engines till they find a solution.

So yeah Lewis lucked a hot lap after trying far to hard to catch Nico. Tried to defend it and spun yet again, only to be saved by Rosberg spinning try to beat him.

Come the race day I was in London with a glass of wine trying to make sense of modern art.

Is it the right way up ??

which made me question the struggle man has with nature ... I think ? I wasn't too sure. To be honest the wine was very nice, chilled perfectly and cheaper than the £10 they wanted for a Gin and Tonic.

£60,000 to you guv'ner.

I did check the F1 and some stage, The McLaren's went out early, Kimi tried to assault Alonso. eruum Hamilton wasn't as fast as Rosberg, err some stuff. I gave up and went back the art, which appeared to be mirroring my thoughts on F1 these days ...
Yes, yes you can polish art it seems.

But enough japes;

1. Rosberg - Very fast.

2. Hamilton - Not as fast

3. Massa - Bring your kids to work day

4. Vettel - Sticky nuts

5. Bottas - Somthing something pits

6. Hulkenberg - Second career starting nicely

7. Maldonado - Still fully loaded.

8. Verstappen - Max attack.

9. Perez - Nice smile

10. Ricciardo - Still smiling

Lewis got pole.

Nico got a fastest lap to prove a point

and Merhi continues to act as a mobile chicane in last place

Right, it's Silverstone next for the British GP and I promise to take more interest and try to be serious for that one, unless the misses goes into labour way too early. But until then, I'm going to the shed at the bottom of the garden to practice my Jackson Pollocks.

Good night.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Back to the grind I'm affraid.

Right. Okay, I'm afraid these are going to have to get a bit more focused and shorter now. It's one month till my wife is due to give birth, so I have a huge long list of stuff which I'm supposed to be sorting out. Rather than wasting my time away writing silly Formula one stuff.  
But I've sneaked a beer into the den and closed the door. I think I've got enough time to give you a preview of the weekends Austrian GP.

So then Mercedes will win .... Or will they ? Austria is very much like Canada, long fast bits with a couple of tight chicanes. It flows up and down the side of a mountain and fast times come from fast powerful engines; Mechanical grip is required as the teams trim the cars out to make them as slippery as possible.

Ferrari was right up Mercedes chuff in Canada, or they would have been if Vettels power unit had held together. Kimi normally qualifies a few tenths off Vettel and in Canada he was only half a second or so behind Nico's rear wing. If Vettel hadn't had his problems he would have been right up there making Mercedes work for their points. So Ferrari should be just as fast this time and a punt on some Vettel top step action isn't such a long shot. You certainly want at least one Ferrari on the podium.

But what about a Williams up there, I hear you cry. Well last year they should have sneaked a victory, but pragmatic point scoring trumped spirited racing. This year the car is just as fast and now more reliable, but the Mercs have pulled further ahead and Ferrari have got their engine working so the best they can reasonably hope for is a fourth but it'll probably be a fifth. Really they're waiting for last year's prize money to clear Bernie's "resting account" around the last third of the season. Next year it's going to be all about the Williams boys, trust me ;)
Lotus looked to have got their act together in Canada; Grosjean was beaten fair and square by Maldonado who managed to avoid hitting anything for a change. Austria being a power circuit I think a top ten is more than likely, and there's plenty of space for Pastor to charge around in.

Out of the points will be all the Renault drivers again. The Redbull A1 ring that Redbull pay to maintain, goes up the side of a mountain so if your engine runs out of puff on anything longer than 100 yards of straight road, you're in trouble. I've lost count of how many engines the various Redbull and Torro Rosso drivers are on but I expect someone will get a penalty for changing something this weekend. A Renault engine car in the top ten is a very long shot this weekend.

And finally Nico Hulkenberg, He's had a bit of a quite season thus far. So he went off and with the help of Porsche, British driver Nick Tandy and New Zealander Earl Bamber, only went and won Le Mans. It was mostly due to Nick Tandy who drove it like he stole it though the night. But this wasn't some seat of the pants, wing and a prayer, last man standing win. This was a gutsy, hard fought and well deserved win, beating the normally ruthless Audi winning machine. We all knew the Hulk was a top class driver and I hope he gets a bit more respect now, If he isn't in a factory LMP1 program next year, there's no justice in this world.

Right that's enough. Flip a coin to chose who follows Lewis home, Mercs and Ferraris up front, Williams best of the rest, throw in a Lotus and a Force India and then chose between the remaining Merc engine cars for the rest of the top ten.    

Oh one last thing ... McLaren Honda. The tension ramped up several notches in Canada. Alonso openly saying "Look the car is dog slow, unreliable and handles like a fat kid in a chocolate shop..... Now you're telling me its thirsty too.  Oh for f.... "

Alonso is not a happy camper. This is not the McLaren he signed up for and he can see no end to the pain he's having to endure at each round this year. There seems to be an awful lot of head scratching around the car and yet another bit melts, or falls off, or grenades itself, of just stops working.  Sure the other teams had these teething problems last year! But Honda had a year off testing whatever they wanted to for however long they wanted, they had no testing restrictions at all to sort these problems out.

The car is fundamentally wrong, the engine is going to take years to sort, meanwhile the Merc and Renault squads are getting further up the road. 

The Hulk goes off and wins Le Mans in the car Alonso was expected to be in, but was banned from racing by Big Ron. I wouldn't be surprised if Fernando burst into Ron's office and demonstrated his frustration to Ron using the medium of a clenched fist. Repeatedly.

Right no, that is it. Update your prediction before Friday please and good luck.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Nope, sorry, I fell asleep pretty early on

Okay, it's been a very long drunken weekend for this little lad and so I fell asleep at about the 10 lap mark. Woke up briefly when Nico started to catch Lewis, then didn't so the eyes grew heavy again and I think I saw the McLaren boys heading for yet another early bath ....

Which is all a shame really, the track and the fans deserve a better race in Canada. Further back there was some actual racing, but I think there were a lot of drivers managing fuel and brakes and tyres. All rather dull really .. ho hum.

Okay so Lewis won and pretty much deserved it, he got pole on Saturday with ease again. In the race the Ferrari attack never materialised and Williams knows its place behind their engine supplier. Nico had a pop but Lewis could answer it and never let the gap close to much more than a second. Fuel and brake managing and not coming in for any unnecessary pit stops this time, not the most exciting victory but a very important one for #teamLewis.

Rosberg Second and the team gave the impression he was allowed to race Lewis for much of it. But whenever he got close to the back of his team mate, suddenly his brakes started to wear out and he had to drop back. So he wasn't really racing anyone. Kimi sort of made him work, well he made Nico sweat when the lights went out at the start. Other than that, the day was a case of play follow the leader and make sure it's another Merc 1-2. Job done.

Bottas was third for Williams's first podium of the year. I think this was more due to the fact Kimi had a problem with a power spike and spin rather than a faster car. Williams claim the engine upgrade all the Merc teams got and some new aero tweaks have moved them ahead of the Ferrari boys. Certainly the car looked to have a bit more straight line cajoners but was it faster than Ferrari? I'm not convinced. Ferrari seems to have a few pit wall issues that are robbing them of better results. Vettel showed the car is fast, so I think Bottas was lucky rather than some sort of corner being turned by Williams.

Kimi was fourth and should really have been on the podium. But the car glitched as he was coming out of the hairpin onto the long back straight, that caused him to spin and gave Bottas enough time to get in and change his tyres ahead of the red car. Kimi used to be a driver you looked forward to watching, when the blood was up he was lighting far for lap after lap. And yes he did get the fastest lap of the race, But one again he was managing the brakes and fuel and never got the train going. I think it was telling that Arrivabene was standing at the back of the grid with Vettel as the cars were pushed onto the grid. Vettel was a long way back and the chance of a podium slim whilst Kimi was in third and was eyeing up a podium result. I think it demonstrates who Ferrari are pinning their future hopes on, we could be looking at Kimi's last year in red overalls.

Vettel was fifth and that isn't too shabby is it. He was a naughty boy in practice on Friday, overtaking when the red flag was being waved for Hamilton's accident. So he was starting a long way back in the race. He kept it sensible, passed people cleanly and hauled it back to the top five, as I say, not too shabby.  The Italian love affair continues.

Massa was another that had problems in qualifying and started a lowly 15th, again his drive back to sixth shows the car has made some improvements. Maybe not quite on a par with Ferrari then but certainly enough to keep Ferrari looking over their shoulder now.

Maldonado was seventh and didn't hit anyone surprisingly.

Hulkenberg showed what a Merc engine can do for you in eighth.

Kvyat was a creditable ninth with the underpowered Renault.

And tenth was Grosjean who demonstrated that it isn't just the young lads that can drive like a complete idiot. Carving up Stevens in the Manor Marussia, a car that is hopelessly slow, was just stupid. And to then get on the radio and shout "he hit me, he hit me", was pathetic. I thought he grown out of being a total tool, but apparently not.

And because he got nailed by Grosjean, Stevens was this weeks last place Johnny

Okay, it's late, time for bed. Le Mans next week. Join me here for all the fun.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Mike Hawthorn - Le Mans 1956 - Jaguar D-Type

The following day in the race, 83 people died when Pierre Levegh crashed into the back of a car and somersaulted into the banking in front of the pitlane grandstand.

Hawthorne always claimed he had nothing to do with the crash, but many say Levegh was trying to avoid his Jaguar and didn't see the car in front until it was too late.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

It's going to be a busy month !

June is the here and that means Motorsport heaven.

If the smell of burning four star, smells like victory to you and the sound of big grunty engines powering through the cool night air raises the hairs on the back of the neck. June is just ram packed with high octane fun for you.

We start this weekend with the Canadian GP, a proper old school track surrounded by fans who know where the engine is in an F1 car. I love this track, the first half is tight and flowing through the tree lined park. The run back to the start line is a flat out blat along the waterfront before the deceptively easy looking chicane and the wall of champions.   

Once we’re through with F1 in Canada, the focus pulls back to Europe and the Le Mans 24 hours world endurance race.  Which is my personal heaven; it’s a party with a race in the middle, a weeklong orgy of fast cars, beers, chips, and baguettes. Headlights and glowing brake discs, V8s, V10s, turbos and whisper quite diesels, runny cheese and smelly toilets. Think Glastonbury with slightly less mud and much better catering.
Eurosport are coving the whole thing on TV, There is a WEC app with live timing, highlights and commentary for your phones and tablets. Last year you could watch the whole race from inside the Audi or Porsche cars, with live telemetry beamed to your PC. This year Nissan have a whole suit of online content to impress you with and Corvette will have pits and car cams, pit wall audio. If Bernie think the new digital media world is a waste of time, he should see what the Endurance racing world is doing, there is so much content, you can’t fail to be impressed. Its inviting, it welcomes you to the party rather than demand the contents of your wallet and give you a warm sausage on an F1 branded cocktail stick.

We stay in Europe for weekend three and the Austria F1 GP at the reopened Redbull A1 ring. Last year was a nip and tuck fight between the Merc, but Williams missed their best chance of a spoiler. This year with Ferrari bringing a fast car to the party we could see their second win of the year.

And finally, the last weekend of June we have the Pikes peak hillclimb event in Colorado USA, the second oldest motorsport event in America, they’ve been racing up this hillside since 1916 testing man and machinery to the limit over 12.42 miles (19.99 km) through 156 turns, climbing 4,720 ft (1,440 m). And these aren’t boys in ratty Lotus sevens and clapped out minis, in 2013 Peugeot sent Sebastien Loeb up the hill in a 875 bhp 3.2ltr V6 monster in a time of 8:13.878 shattering the previous record by 44 seconds.

From one of the oldest motorsport events to a possible future for motor sport and the London round of the Formula E series. Now before you throw your arms in the arm and flounce off muttering about how electric cars sound awful and it’s just rubbish, rubbish I say. Have you actually watched any of the racing ? Because what I’ve seen has been pretty good so far, there is certainly more racing than F1 can muster these days. Yes, it’s a bit cack handed with swapping from one car to another half way through because the battery technology is a bit duff. The fan boost
is more about good social media skills than racing ability and yes some team are there to make the numbers up. But at its core its racing, it is exciting and it will only get better.

So that’s June for you. And it all kicks off this weekend in Canada.

The talking point is going to be Lewis and his relationship with the team here, which is a bit of a shame because as I said I really like this track and the racing is usually pretty good. It’s refreshingly old school, it doesn’t look like some bland industrial estate on the outskirts of a large urban splat in this month fashionable third world dictatorship. The fans in the seats are there by choice having bought tickets with their money and will fill all the stands. Thus providing what is increasingly becoming unique at F1 events these days, an atmosphere. We should be celebrating this, not asking weather Lewis is talking to Toto or who’s making the strategy calls on the pit wall.

Anyway, Merc blah blah blah, Lewis Pole and the win if there's any justice.  But Nico has had two wins on the bounce now, so you never know. They had a problem with their brakes in Canada last year and this year Lewis had problems with his brakes in Barcelona i think it was. So they may opt to play it say and not disappear off into the distance, if they play that game then Ferrari might try to push them the see how well their brakes hold up. The temperatures look like they're going to be high this weekend too, so we could see another tyre wear race.

Barcelona showed just how far the Mercs were ahead of the Ferraris, and I would expect to see the same sort of advantage here with Williams as usual next, Force India and maybe Lotus. Actually, I think Kimi could be on for a good one here. Yeah, i think he'll be on the podium here, for no other reason than I think it's his turn. The team can't keep screwing him over can they ?

The brave amongst you will put a Renault car in the top ten, Torro Rosso maybe might just sneak Verstappen or Sainz in if the other teams have problems. But Redbull are going to struggle on a power circuit with an underpowered engine and a car with handling issue. The Redbull PR machine has gone quite of late regarding how jolly unfair it all is for them, their threat to flounce off if Audi refused join them backfired when Audi said it had no plans to join F1. And then no one backed Helmet Markos' plans to let Redbull win because they were Redbull and really, really, really important. The drivers have been told to grumble about unfair engine rules to little effect. There was a sort of grudging acknowledgment that "yeah, Newey had built a bit of a dog this time" and then a shrug as they accepted they were going to get grid penalties for using too many engines.

I don't know if they're first +1 engine will get used this weekend but it wouldn't surprise me. So putting Ricciardo in the top ten is going to be very risky.

 Okay, enough random rubbish. Predictions in before Friday as per usual cheers.

And finally, I'm sort of thinking about a doing a one off prediction game for Le Mans this year. Top 15, pole, fastest lap and the total number of laps the winner completes. Drop me an email if you're interested, this would be a spread sheet one off so I'd need a fair few players to make it worthwhile.

Cheers all, and good luck.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Someone is in trouble tonight!

There wasn't a mugging, there was no day light robbery. That was a spectacular cock up, a dropping of the ball and a failure worthy of an English cricket team in full ashes collapse.
Hamilton had the race won! He'd done all the hard work on Saturday with a comfortable pole and a team mate floundering around the escape roads home. Ferrari had briefly threatened to upset the script with Vettel looking handy. But the cold track on Saturday had played into Mercedes hands and all Hamilton had to do was demonstrate just how fantastic he is. Sunday was just going to be a cruse in the sunshine, no chance of rain unfortunately, it was hot and clear blue skies as far as the eye could see. There was nothing, absolutely nothing there to stop Hamilton winning in Monaco and burying Nico's challenge stone cold dead.

I'd even drifted off it was so dull, the low drone of the engines, Martin Brundels soft voice like warm honey in the ear informing me just how easy this all was for Hamilton. The minor places being scrapped over by old boys and young bloods. McLaren having a good race for a change, Button into the top ten as Alonso has a Monaco to forget.
The Torro Rosso boys making a name for themselves; Sainz starting from the pit lane after the FIA threw the ban hammer at him for a minor misdemeanour in qualifying, was charging back through the field. Verstappen was harrying the lotus of Grosjean and my eyes were getting heavy, sleep was washing over me as the smell of freshly mown grass wafted through the open windows. A glass of chilled Soave glinting in the afternoon sun, Hamilton on the way to the chequered flag... sleep enveloping me like a warm comfortable blanket.

Then crash bang wallop, how's yer father, Grosjean has brake tested Verstappen into the first corner and sent the young scallywag barrowing into the Tecpro safer barrier; Sparks and wheels and bits of carbon spraying off in all directions! It's a big one, but the Dutch lad was able to walk away with only his pride injured.

Charlie up in race control threw a virtual safety car to begin with, where all the drivers have to stick to a set speed following each other, no overtaking, as the marshals clear the Torro Rosso away. But there were too many bits of old car on the racing line and they have to be removed by hand. So the safety car was sent out to pick up Hamilton and neutralise the race.
At this point, a soon to be ex employee of Mercedes racing gets it into his head that Hamilton has enough time to get back to the pits, change his tyres and get back out ahead of Rosberg, who has been quite unremarkable all afternoon, and Vettel who can't overtake because this is Monaco.
No he didn't. Ferrari weren't out in the pits about to change Vettels tyres, Mercedes knew Nico wasn't coming in. So why the Sam Hill bring Hamilton in? No one else pitted, no one else though "14 laps to go, we need nice new rubber for this".
Every single pit boss watched Mercedes stride out into the pit lane as Hamilton turned into the last corner and as one though "Why !?!?!?!?!. Every single person who had sat through 64 laps of tedium watched Hamilton drive down the pit lane on his own and though "Why !?!?!?!" Nico thought "Why?", Vettel thought "Why?" and then made sure he got to the pit lane exit line before Hamilton and thought "hahahahahaahahahahaahahahaha ...........mmmmmwwwhahahahahaahahahahaha"

The first rule of Monaco is  ... you can't pass at Monaco, unless the other guy screws up.

Vettel was never going to screw up with 10 laps of racing left. He's a four times world champion. He might not be brilliant, but he's not an idiot and he knows how to defend a position. What where Mercedes thinking? They knew Nico wasn't coming in and damn sure as mustard he wasn't going to hold back and let Hamilton cruse back into the lead.

So the safety car eventually goes back in and we get to watch Hamilton desperately try to overtake Vettel for a bit, the chilled Soave gets a bit too warm to be enjoyable anymore and Nico picks up what has to be the easiest victory of his entire career.
Nico didn't even have the good grace to look embarrassed about it all at the end. He was waving and jumping around like he's fought tooth and nail for every inch of that track. Instead of being blown away and generally tooling around until his team stunningly fumbled the ball handing him the win on a plate. He didn't even get the fastest lap! Ricciardo did that chasing Hamilton down at the end to make it even more uncomfortable with the unlucky Brit.

So Nico won, and he didn't really deserve it did he. He messed up qualifying, never looked like really being on terms with Hamilton on Saturday. Okay, I'm sure the team talk on Sunday morning was a straight, "Lewis got pole, don't do anything stupid lad, alright" chat. Nico wasn't going to jeopardise a Mercedes one-two at the most prestigious European race of the year after all, tail gunner duties set to Germany this weekend. Hamilton built up a nice lead and never looked like making any mistakes that Nico could capitalize on, he was well beaten this weekend and no amount of high fiving the team that handed him the win is going to change that.

Vettel didn't have the grunt to pass either Nico or Lewis and thusly was the only happy person on the podium with second place. He wasn't expecting that second and said as much in the post race interview. The Ferrari looked better than it did in Spain, but Monaco is a bit of a one off so you can't draw any conclusion about the car here. Vettel however is looking much happier with his switch to Italy and you can't really begrudge him the results so far.

Hamilton was shafted by the team and I have never seen a driver so gutted with third place at Monaco. He gets a lot of respect for saying well done Nico for the win, watching his team mate cavort around like it was the greatest victory of his life must have been galling. They'll be other races, but none as painful as this third place.

Kvyat was fourth despite Ricciardo taking the first to Hamilton at the end.  Apparently Riccy was given the chance to have a go for third only on the proviso that if he wasn't on the podium on the last lap, he had to give the place back to his team mate who had let him past after the safety car. Bizarre indeed, I doubt there are many drivers on the grid that would give the place back. But Redbull are fighting for pride alone now, Vettel has gone and it's a more harmonious garage these days. So Kvyat got his fourth back......

.... and Ricciardo was fifth.

Kimi was sixth and still needs to work on his qualifying.

Perez with a bucket of spares parts nailed together and powered by the sweat of desperate men, was seventh. Not a bad effort with a car that is in desperate need of some new bits. Monaco unique etc etc luck blah blah.

Button was eighth and the McLaren boys and girls deserved that. They've plugged away with a terrible engine and hybrid system, a chassis that twists and turns more than David Cameron at an EU summit.  Alonso had a Monaco to utterly forget with numerous engine failures and technical issues but Button almost made it into Q3 for the first time this year and was chipper and upbeat all weekend. They've not turned a corner of anything, but they've got some points now to cheers up the faithful.

Nasr was ninth, I think because Grosjean and Verstappen took each other out. It's a good result for Sauber who look like they're struggling again.

And finally Sainz was tenth with a feisty drive from the pits. Apparently he missed the random mandatory FIA car weight check during qualifying, so the stewards took away all his qualifying times and made him start from the pit lane. To get back to tenth at Monaco is no mean feat, the safety car was late in the race so didn't give him any help. That was a pretty good drive, and he didn't his anyone up the backside, like his more fancied team mate did you'll notice.

Okay Riccy fastest lap, and the last place driver was Will Stevens this week, in the Manor Marussia. Is it my imagination or does Stevens look like the delivery boy from the post room who got mistaken for a racing driver one day and no one has the heart to tell him the to go home? No, just me then.

Right, dull race then, the winner didn't deserve it and the best man was third. ho 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Monaco, its not just about the money.

Hello everyone. It's time to put on the best bib and tucker, dust of the loafers and hitch up that winning smile because we're all off the Monaco and the yearly European F1 trade show.

Don't worry about the racing, watch qualifying, that's your winner right there. No need for all that tedious round and round nonsense. Well there's the guessing at what point Maldonado inevitably smears it down the wall but other than that, qualifying will give you all you need.

No, Monaco I'm afraid is an anachronism these days; it's too narrow, has far too little run off to play with. The spectators don't really get to see much, other than who's there and who paid to be next to the Royal pavilion. Singapore meanwhile is fast turning into the city race course it's ok to like these days.

Monaco is little more than a trade show for the B list money men who can't afford to go to Singapore. What used to be the highlight of the social season has turned into an unseemly dash for a shrinking pool of money. The likes of Ferrari, Redbull and Mercedes will wing the super rich to the Raffles hotel for the best night race of the year. But the less financially stable will have reasonably priced boats moored in the Monaco harbour and pray the weather holds all weekend and doesn't upset the middle ranking CEOs and mildly VIP. Some of them might even watch the race, most will be there to be seen and wonder what time the taxi heads back to Nice.

Don't get me wrong here; there are real fans at Monaco. If you look really hard, as the cars turn into the pit entrance there is a slab sided hill off to the right as you look back out to sea. I'm told it's a sheer cliff face; you take your life in your hands getting down there. But it's free, and it affords one of the best views in Formula one.

From there you can practically taste the history of F1 racing. A view out over the harbour that has hardly changed from the days of Fangio and Moss, watch the daredevil drivers threading the eye of the needle through the Armco barriers.  Cars dancing out of Tabac, through the swimming pool complex into La Rascasse, Anthony Noghes and the long curving pit straight.  Those nitwit on the boats don't appreciate what's happening in front of them, the level of skill they could be witness too.
There might not be much overtaking and actual racing, but watch Alonso in a dog of a car, Kimi rekindling his love of racing and Hamilton at the top of his game and be damned impressed for they are gladiators, fighting for our entertainment.

It's looking like it'll be a wet weekend in the south of France, just to add spice to the event. Normally rain levels the playing field and the rubbish cars get a chance to shine. But at Monaco it just makes the whole thing a more of a lottery, skill will still will out and all so that a Merc or two at the front with a Ferrari or Williams shadow no doubt. The rest of the top ten is going to be far trickier to predict.

Force India has two excellent wet weather drivers.
Sauber has a fast car but two so so drivers.
Torro Rosso has thrusting young bucks and a handy little car.
Redbull will be able to turn the wick down and Danny has shone at wet races in the past.  

And what about McLaren ... if they're going to get anything this year, Monaco will be the place it happens. 

Please update your predictions before Wednesday midnight, due to Monaco starting the practice days on Thursday so they can have Friday off to get drunk I think.

Also this weekend in the Indy 500, four corners, speeds over 230 mph and a solid concrete wall if it all goes wrong. Hunt around for live feeds on the internet it might not have the global reach of F1, but those boys are racing at over 200mph 3 wide with no run off to save them. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Set aero to "unpassableness"

Well what do you think, is this the start of Rosbergs fight back? Or was that a prime example of where F1 has gone wrong?
Roll with me here, I thought this was supposed to be the age of the engine, energy recovery systems and cars actually racing for the win. But here we are four races into the season and we're back to four years ago and cars of similar speeds not being able to overtake each other. Because the moment a Merc gets up behind a Ferrari, on similar tyres, all the down force disappears from the front wing and the Merc can't follow the Ferrari through the long sweeping corners.

It's all about the aero again, sure the flappy rear wing thing will get the Merc past the likes of Torro Rosso and Lotus, but only if the Lotus has half its rear wing missing! And I don't think this is just this circuit, which the teams test on during the winter break and know like the back of their hand. This not being able to get close enough to overtake was evident in China, Malaysia and Bahrain. Those front wings are works of pure art, they are sculpted to within an inch of their lives. Multiple lines, element after element cascading in a spray of carbon fibre and Kevlar honeycomb, they are beautiful.  But they stop working the moment they get 20 foot from the car ahead.

I sometimes wonder if the aero designers, those oh so clever lads and lasses sitting in dark wind tunnel control rooms pouring over data screens looking for that millionth of a second difference. Do they ever stick another model in front of their new design and see what happens? Has no one explained to them that there are indeed other cars on track at the same time? And the chances are, their new front wing will have to negotiate Maldonado at some point.
I might only have a rudimentary grasp of aerodynamics from my HND at Farnborough tech back in 1989 but if I was the team boss of Sauber or Williams, I'd be telling the design office to make sure the front wing still worked six foot from the back of a Ferrari.

So anyway the race was less dull that I was expecting. Watching Hamilton is always exciting for me. His "rag it to the end" attitude encapsulated by the radio call at the end, wanting to know if it was just team orders to stop racing, or it actually was technically impossible catch Rosberg.  Sure there was plenty of whinging about not being able to catch and pass Vettel. And the usual old chestnut about not calling him when he's busy driving round corner and stuff. But all of that can be forgiven when the driver want the win not just the points.

And let's be fair to Nico here for a minute, he went out and got pole with a pretty special lap, that Hamilton couldn't get anywhere near. Off the line he didn't mess it up and then he just drove off. Ferrari's threw a shed load of upgrades at the car which didn't really make the car that much faster, certainly no faster than the Mercs anyway. So Nico did what Lewis did for the first four races, conserved his tyres, fuel and made it look easy, job done. Is the start of his fight back ... I don't know. If he can get his qualifying Mojo back then yeah sure, he'll keep Lewis honest. But realistically, I think this is Lewis's championship to lose still.  But we have Monaco next, and that has belonged to Nico these past few years.

Okay then, Rosberg won and made it look easy. Apparently he was less conservative in qualifying and just went for it like he did last year. So this time he hit the track running on Sunday, rather than worrying about how he was going to overtake Lewis.  

Lewis was second and had to break a sweat to do it. Too much wheel spin off the line and then a sticky wheel nut during the first pit stop and he was always going to be second. He complained all afternoon about not being able to pass Vettel and demonstrated when he had clear air that he had a smidge of a bit of a point. He got the fastest lap for his troubles, but on the same tyres as Vettels' Ferrari and four foot from the rear wing he was going nowhere.

Vettel was third and did the best he could. If debatable whether pitting early with Lewis would have helped, I think Vettel is still iffy in traffic and they knew they were comfortably ahead of the Williams.  Try the long middle stint and see what happens. Then Lewis started banging out fastest lap after fastest lap on the "slower" hard tyres and they knew the game was up. I think Ferrari is just happy they aren't fighting it out for tenth this year. To be just behind the Mercs is good enough right now.

Bottas was fourth and looking at the Williams social media stream you could be forgiven for thinking they'd won! Maybe they were just happy that their meagre upgrade kit had kept them in touch with Ferrari and Mercedes. They still don't have the cash to be building B spec cars, so to be there or there about is as good as a win for the plucky garagistas.

Kimi was fifth and I thought he was doing better than that, hmm. Anyway, the usual 1000 lines "I must do better in qualifying" on the headmasters desk Monday morning lad.

Massa, has some sort of issue in qualifying so only started from 9th, so something, something blah good show, instagram pictures of Massa Jr son all round, pick up the pay check. Goodnight.

Ricciardo didn't blow up for a change. Hurrah! and they managed to beat the junior team who had out qualified then by a country mile. People who know about these things said the pistons in the engine had been changed back to the old ones from the start of the year, rather than the supposedly better ones Renault took to Bahrain. Whatever the car ran faultlessly for a change and Danny gets himself some points,
Someone, I forget who, did mention that Redbull were basically running last year's car for the first four races and that was why they were so awful. It wasn't just the engine that was letting them down, this weekend they had a particularly fine new front wing and plenty of new aero pointy bits. I guess it worked for them.

Grosjean eighth and that lotus still looks a bit of a handful, especially in crazy Maldo's hands!

Sainz on home soil muscles his way past the team he hopes to drive for one day and lands ninth. Now the official FIA result I'm looking which was published at 18:45. Has Sainz ahead of Kvyat but these two were under investigation for being naughty at the end of the race ... hang on, I can check that ... wait there.......hmm I can't find anything to say Sainz was hit with the ban hammer. Oh well if the result changes later you can shake your fist at the FIA and curse their new Media chap who has screwed up the FIA web pages so now nothing is easy to find.

So Kvyat was tenth and fairly anonymous all race, until Sainz bashed into his and went past off the circuit. The young  Russian has had a bit of a tough time of it so far, the words "out of his depth" could be used by a less caring and more unfriendly commentator. But I just think it was a straight up choice between Putin's blood money and Vergne. Damned if they did and Vergne.

Right enough sarcasm. It's time to celebrate a new hero for this stupid game .. step forward Roberto Merhi who is a new Max "the Grin" Chilton. Roberto was four laps behind Rosberg this week. With a best time, that's the best time he could manage during 66 laps of the race, of 1:34:211 on lap 51. Hamilton's fastest lap by way of comparison was 1:28:270 on lap 54. Six seconds, I have no idea how far that actually equates to, but it may as well be the dark side of the moon for Merhi. Let's hope for our sake he gets to keep his seat a little longer. 

Roberto was bemused to learn he was racing now, and no longer testing