Monday, 25 November 2013

This is the end ... sorry.

So there you go., Its all over for another year.

I have to be honest, Pirelli and the FIA won it for Redbull, not Vettel. Before the race at Silverstone, the Redbull was winning, but it wasn’t a steamroller crushing all before it. The Merc won a couple and Kimi was having a bash at looking respectable. It was shaping up to be a good season.

Then the tyres exploded, Redbull threw its hands in the air and told everyone that would listen that this was exactly what they said would happen when they ran the tyres on the wrong wheels and with the pressures lower than advised and it was all Pirellis fault and it was dangerous and it they could just have the tyres back from last year then it would all be fine.

The FIA, weather because they were sick of listening to Redbull whinge on and on about it, or because letting the teams run the tyres outside of the correct manufacture's parameters was too difficult to police. Stepped in and told Pirelli to make the tyres the way Redbull wanted.

And that effectively ended the season as a spectacle.

And about the point I gave up with it all.

Then i was reminded that there are some things more important than silly car racing and I lost all interest in this so called sport I’m afraid. I’m tired of watching the same teams win and the same drivers complain. The real talents like Hulkenberg and Di Resta (Yeah he is, maybe not a world champion, but he’s a damn sight better than Perez or Maldonado). Are being lost because its about the money now. All credit to McLaren who have made the brave decision to bring in Kevin Magnusson next year and ditch Perez because talent and points are more important than than money. Team like Sauber have gotten so used to just surviving to the next paycheck that they’ve forgotten why they’re there in the first place. Paying to sit in the middle of the pack is no way to go racing.

And i blame Bernie firmly and squarely for this state of affairs. Selling a sport to a bunch of investors ? They only want to take as much money out of the sport to pay their shareholders as is legally possible. They don’t care at all about the punters in the stands or the teams going to the wall. Teams like Sauber and Lotus should not have to go begging to dodgy individuals looking to off load a bit of capital or “build business to business relationships with strategically placed core business financiers” whatever that means.

This isn’t just a rose tinted view back to the good old days when Ken Tyrrell could knock up an F1 car in the lockup down the road and take on the might of Ferrari. The lord knows those days were just as much about the money and surviving from week to week. But the teams spent money on going racing and a smart engineer could come up with a cleaver widget and suddenly they were winning races.
Now the likes of Redbull have bought up all the top talent and have them grinding away to find all those tenths of a second, and if they can;t find them, they find the loophole that beat the system and pay the best lawyers to argue that it is legal.

Too much money is being concentrated into too few teams. None of the teams trust each other, the midfield teams don’t trust the big boys, the big boys can’t afford to give the little guys a chance. Bernie controls the whole show to make money for himself from what i can tell. Bernie PLC and CVC investors.

Innovation has gone out of the window. Innovation has been stamped on because it gives the little guys a chance.

And don;t think next year will be any different. No, Redbull can afford to build and test a 2014 car. The only glimmer is that Renault will produce a bit of dud and Mercedes or Ferrari will have something special. Ha ha imagine 10 years ago wishing Ferrari could win some races and a championship. We were all so bored of Schumacher winning week after week. We all thought he was unbeatable, turns out is was the team and the car. Stick him in an unremarkable midfielder and he loses and lot of that golden glow doesn’t he.


Anyway. I didn’t really watch the Brazilian race because i couldn’t be bothered to watch Vettel win again, Mark to almost win and some one else join them on the podium.

I’m not even going to bother with a season review I’m afraid. I just don’t care anymore.

oh all right... just a quick one. So in championship wining order ....

1. Vettel, four championships in a row, I guess you have to say he;s the best driver of this generation with the best car and the best team. He Robbed Webber of the Malaysian win and as it turns out he didn’t need to. I don;t think he’s very good under pressure, I think he’s annoying and far too smug.

2 Alonso, once again takes a lacklustre Ferrari and is the best of the rest. Still the best pound for pound driver out there for my money. If he’s been in a Redbull for the last four years he’d have been unstoppable.

3. Webber, when he got sucker punched by Vettel in Malaysia and the team did absolutely nothing about it. He should have smack the smug German on the chin and walked away there and then. As it is he’s off to Porsche to race at Le Mans then makes him a Hero in my book.

4. Hamilton, not a bad year, certainly not his worst. But Lewis likes to take a car and thrash it for all its worth. Having to sit there and be passed by car after car to save the tyres isn’t on his action plan. He lost heart after the surprise win in Hungary and then lost his girlfriend. Maybe next year will be the old Lewis we love to watch.

5. Kimi. Didn’t get paid for delivering Lotus a hat full of points, then got told to get out of the way when he flounced off the Ferrari. Not a classic season for the iceman. Back to Ferrari next year we’ll see how he gets on with Alonso shall we.

6. Nico, came of age this year with plenty of great races, he seemed to try to stay focused for the whole season. Whilst Lewis got the attention, he got on with things and proved that he’s got the talent if the car can deliver. Next year could be a good one for him.

7. Grosjean, really hit his stride this year and announced himself as proper grade a driver. He was the best of the rest to Redbull in the second half of the season (possible tyre related, or Kimi had had enough of not being paid, you decide). I think he’s successfully shaken that accident waiting to happen tag off now, lets see how he goes next year, like Rosberg it could be a good one.

8. Massa, Ferrari finally called it a day and he gets to go and work out his retirement at Williams next year. Williams need him more than he needs them, I think he’s done alright this year and as always he’s got on with things and kept his mouth shut, despite the snipping from the side lines.

9. Button, didn’t really step up and lead the team in the post Hamilton era. but did enough to keep his job for one more year.

10. Hulkenberg. Far and away the best talent without a decent drive. If he doesn’t go to Lotus there will is no justice in this world and it will confirm everything I have come to hate about this sport.

11. Perez, yes, it turns out he is a talent vacuum and i was right all along. The fact Whitmarch has been phoning it up all the other teams trying to off load him and not one has take him, tells you everything you need to know. I fully expect his to turn up in a Caterham or a Marussia next year with all that money of his. But he’s still not worth it.

12. Di Resta, apparently off to Indy car to replace his cousin Francitti or DTM to drive a Merc either way i think it’s a lost to F1. He didn’t really get the break he deserved and it all fell apart in the second half of the season after the tyre change. The team didn’t really do him any favours and him being all moody and glaring at the camera didn’t help himself. McLaren should have taken him to replace Button, but there you go.

13. Sutil, also getting the old heave hoe i believe, unless he can come up with some money. He did alright but it wasn’t anything special was it.

14. Ricciardo, how long will he last at Redbull ? I don’t think he’ll see his contract out to be honest. I think they’ve only taken him because so many people have questioned the Redbull driver program and what the point of it was when they only ever seem to fire them for not being Vettel. He’s all right, but he’s not going to be challenging the German anytime soon is he ? Maybe that's what they want now, a driver that will just do as he’s told and get out of Vettels way without having to be told to move over. I think there are far, far better drivers available right now and Riccy is a very, very lucky boy.

15. Vergne, not as good as Ricciardo, and unlikely to see the rest of his contract out in 2014.

16. Gutierrez, give the lad another year. Needs a bit more race craft and learn to look in his mirrors a bit more. But he did alright, nothing special but nothing particularly bad springs to mind.

17. Bottas YES YES YES YES, he beat Maldonado, and for that I am eternally grateful.

18. hahahahahahahhaha Pastor hahahaha even a half arsed Williams doesn’t want him, even a Williams about to go to the wall and with no money, would rather have a Brazilian with double vision and no money than this sorry excuse for a driver. He’s got no race craft, lucked into a win last year and failed to do anything meaningful since, has bad mouthed the team and driven like an idiot pretty much every time he got behind the wheel. The fact that his money might well take him to Lotus is a travesty in my book. Williams are certainly better off without him.

19. Bianchi, Meh he was better than the rest of the back markers, but didn’t really live up the hype did he. Ferrari certainly don’t think so. lets see if he gets another year.

20. Pic .... nope, i’ve still got nothing. Did he actually race this year ?

21. Kovalainen, suber sub that was a bit soggy and looked like it should have been left on the shelf after close inspection. But he probably did enough to get Pic’s job next year.

22. Van Der Garde, seems to have spent the year complaining about Marussia drivers driving into him or getting in his way. Once he found his feet he was better than Max, dammed with faint praise indeed.

23 finally its Max ‘the chin’ Chilton who was rubbish all year long and consistently 2 laps behind the winner. So was Bianchi, but he’s 19th and Max isn’t. Max has a great name and no talent, his dad has a whole shed load of cash and as Maldonado has proved that can open any door these days. I hope he comes back next year because his happy gormless smiling face at the end of every race always cheered me up. His unfettered ability to be positive about being so last was refreshing and gives hope to those of us who know we a rubbish but if we could just get that big break we’d prove all those doubters wrong. Well done Max, you are an inspiration to all those delusional folk out there who think they have what it takes to be a winner.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Vettel, makes it look easy .... again.

Hi, i’m afraid this one is going to be very short. I had a bit of a family crisis this weekend so I didn’t really get to see enough of the F1 weekend to make much comment on it.

Vettel won and takes the championship, Newey rolled up on TV and said it was all down to the tyre change mid season. The tyre change they’d been demanding for the first half of the season. Since that change they have only lost one race and even then in Hungry Vettel was third.
So, well the teams try to work every rule to their advantage, you might say it was all a bit unfair and it devalued what had been an interesting championship up to that point. And you would be bag on the money.
It’ll have a think about all and write something a bit more considered in a bit. Right now, I’m exhausted after what has been a bit of a roller coaster for me and my family.

Vettel – four in a row, was it teh car or the driver or the designer ?
Rosberg – Hey remember him, he still drivers for Mercedes ... who knew.
Grosjean – cocked up qualifying, raced back to a podium, it’s a break out year for the Frenchman.
Massa – Why does he drive so well when he needs a contract ?
Perez – takes a leaf out of Massa’s book, might keep his McLaren seat yet.
Hamilton – out drove by Rosberg this weekend, not a happy bunny all weekend apparently.
Kimi – “get out of the f’in way you judas” does as he was told for a change.
Di Resta – Gets to finish a race for a change, still might not be enough.
Sutil – beaten by his unfancied team mate for a change. Blames the car.
Ricciardo – Back in the points again.

Kimi got the fastest lap after changing tyres with 1 lap left and nailing it like a hero. Lotus still unimpressed.

Finally Bianchi was dead last and got beaten by Chilton for a change.

So there you go, its Abu Dhabi next and there is still some interest to be had race fans.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

An India Takeaway for Bernie..


Hello all, sorry this is going to be a short one I’m afraid, due to the pressure of work and house full of builders…

 

 

Errr right it’s the Indian F1 race this weekend and this time I don’t particularly like this track. Yes, yes I know I said last week that these sort of places should get a break and be given a chance to grow and develop. But not in India’s case, it’s a terrible track, it looks half finished, in fact the whole place looks half finished.

The initial “!ooooh F1 cars wow!!!” factor has gone and the ticket sales with it. Not helped by the fact your average Indian fan can’t afford Bernie’s astronomical entry price or the fact its not cricket, means this is the last time we’ll be heading to the Indian sub continent.

 

And, well its another industrial estate in the middle of nowhere with half empty stands. The track is unappealing, it looks the same where ever the camera looks and its just a bit dull. Couple that with the labyrinthine Bureaucracy of the local government, all adds up to a  paddock that has told Bernie they have no wish to ever turn up here ever again … ever.

 

On the track, well Vettel will win the championship this weekend, as long as he finishes in the top ten or ahead of Alonso … I think. I’m not sure, I don’t really care to be honest. Its just a matter of time before he wins it, so the sooner he gets his hands on the cup the better.

 

Worth watching, however, the Force India v McLaren battle.  Jobs are on the line here. And head honcho jobs not the grunts in the fields cannon fodder in the technical office variety. McLaren who can be considered one of the big shot teams are heading into a transmission year and need to finish well to secure the sponsorship to tide them over until the Honda money kicks in. Force India have been hamstrung by the mid season tyre change ruling. What was looking like a relatively good year has nosed dived into acrimony and finger pointing. At the moment neither driver is certain for 2014, Di Resta hasn’t finished the last four races, not always his fault, but it’s mostly his fault. It’s looking likely they he won’t even get a drive with any team next year, so low has his star fallen. Sutil might have the money to keep his. Over at McLaren Perez is on very shaky ground, the results and technical feedback have not been up to snuff and the Mexican money he was supposed to bring isn’t looking quite so secure as the season draws to a close. We also so a return of the McLaren comedy clown pit stop team in Japan with a right rear wheel that just didn’t want to come off either car.

 

McLaren used to be a by word for slick ruthless professionalism didn’t they, not any more. So anyway, both teams need to beat the other to salvage something from a dismal year.  

 

Also having a bit of a nightmare, Williams and their decidedly unstar like star driver Maldonado. There is a rumour floating around in various financial periodicals, that all that lovely state money is about to dry up. Williams have been less than impressed with Pastor who has achieved the sum total off now’t  since the win last year. the word is he thinks his talents are wasted at Williams and if only he could leave, one of the big 3 would snap him up. So far no one but him thinks this.

 

Okay enough talk get your updates in before midnight. Good luck

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Vettel, had to actually work a bit for it this week.

Well that wasn’t really worth getting up early for was it?

Well it was interesting from a “who needs a seat for next year” kind of way. However, as a race, well did you think anyone other than Vettel was going to win? I think he looked as ragged as ever when he tried to overtake anyone, and resorted to the usual fall back and pass them all during the pit stop phase when the tracks clear routine. But I don’t think there was much doubt in the result. Especially when Webber was called in early for his last pit stop and “unfortunately” ended up behind Grosjean. 

Even with a massive lead in the championship, Webber isn’t allowed to jeopardise Vettel’s chances of lifting that winners’ cup is he. You have to admire just how ruthless Redbull are prepared to be. Not even a sympathy win for Mark in Japan, no, they want it all done and dusted with a handful of races to go, give them some time to work on the 2014 car perhaps

It’s odd though, Webber spent longer behind Grosjean on better tyres than Vettel did, if the car is doing all the work for a supposed “lucky” driver like Vettel, why couldn’t Mark make it past if he’s such a better driver ? Webber took the fight to Grosjean, harried him into corner after corner and kept the pressure up until he could make that clean pass. In the process of course, he used the best of his soft tyres and lost any chance of talking the fight to Vettel. 

He claimed after the event that he had been called in early for that last stop and with a couple of more laps under his belt he would have been able to pass the Lotus with ease. 

Or you could surmise that Grosjean is no pushover and Webber is past his best days, but that might be  a bit unkind .

So yeah, off to India next and Vettel just needs nine more points than Alonso to take the title.

Vettel first  – Will defiantly have it all wrapped up in India.

Webber second – Pole axed by the team to make sure Vettel won. Got fastest lap though

Grosjean third – Was the only driver taking the fight to Redbull after Lewis got a bit too feisty off the line. He made a good go of it, made both Vettel and Webber work for their points and I don’t think Eric will be giving him a talking to after this race. Results like this are what secure funding for the following year.

Alonso – Still no pace, mathematically require snookers to win the championship now.

Raikkonen – Team Lotus just doesn’t care what he does now he’s off to Ferrari and he was always in the back foot after Fridays off in practice.

Hulkenberg – looks almost certain to be Lotus bound now ... but what about McLaren ? There are strong rumour he’s Woking bound and I think they could do a lot worse than take the Hulk on (sticking with Perez, for instance ) the revised tyres defiantly suit the Sauber don’t they.

Guiterrez -  The tyres, and talent back on track. A feisty drive and more than enough to keep his seat for next year. 

Rosberg – capped a disappointing race for Mercedes after Hamilton binned any chance of taking the title this year. Nico jumped the pit stop red light and got a perfectly justified drive through, then only just made it to the finish line with enough fuel for the FIA to test. 

Button – Still tooling around, it looks like he’s done enough to keep his seat for 2014 now. The word is Perez will be given his marching orders at the end of the season, thus I was right all along and he is actually rubbish after all. 

Massa – I don’t think he did enough to get a seat for next year. Maybe he’ll head into the sunset with webber to endurance racing and join up with Fisi in the Ferrari GT squad, and do some proper racing again. 

And Max was last after his opposition, Van Der Garde and Bianchi, took each other out at the start of the race. Pic gave him a run for his money, but the plucky English lad pulled it out of the bag and collects the last place driver points for you all once again. 

Whilst we are down this end of the grid I’d just like to mention Maria De Villota, who passed away on Friday morning. She was a test driver for Marussia, which had more to do with money and PR than any chance of taking part in an F1 race. But she had a chance to promote female drivers in the top rank of motorsport and she took it with both hands.  However, during that chance, she was involved in a horrific accident last year that almost killed her, the back lift of a lorry had been left at just the right height to almost decapitate her and it was only luck that she survived with the loss of her right eye after lengthy surgery on serious head and facial injuries 

She battled back with determination and supreme character, to write a book about her experience, which she was set to promote in the next few weeks. However, it appears she didn’t quite escape that crash. In a statement, the family said a forensic doctor told them she had died "as a consequence of the neurological injuries she suffered" in the incident.

A timely reminder, not that it was ever needed, that this is a dangerous sport, even for those that get to flirt briefly in the rarified atmosphere of  Formula One

Right, off to India in a couple of weeks. Till then, stay safe.  

Friday, 11 October 2013

Maria De Villota

There was a time when the year would start with a number of drivers, and end with a different number. Or a different set of drivers in the really bad old days.

But over time, that changed. Things improved with safety and circuits. Attitudes changed as the money flowed on, gone were the days when watching a man burn to death was considered acceptable, it wasn't good from a PR perspective to have your brand associated with a writhing body on a Sunday afternoon.
So the F1 world and motorsport in general cleaned up its act and people forgot that this thing can kill. Drivers still got hurt. But more often than not they got pulled out of the wreckage and if not walked away, usually hobbled to the car.

Then Roland died and everyone was shocked. Then Ayrton died the next day and people were reminded that those drivers out there were not indestructible after all. And the process of making things safer for everyone was renewed, until today when were reminded that its not always the race track that can kill.
Maria De Villota, was never likely to make it into an F1 race. But she did drive and F1 car and almost lost her life in the process. A stupid dumb accident (none of which was her fault it should be emphasised) blinded her in one eye and almost killed her. But it didn't and she recovered and got on with a new life. All those safety measures that started with those drivers in the 70's saying enough was enough, helped save her life that day.

But they couldn't help save her life today. At the time of writing I have no idea why she died. I can't imagine for a moment that she would take her own life, she had a book about the experience of almost dyeing to promote, she was a passionate speaker on women in motorsport and she had a new found love of living a life almost prematurely ended. So no, I don't think she would have chosen to end it all on a whim.
Which leaves the fear that F1 might have claimed her after all.

Whatever the cause Maria De Villota was part of a vanguard to blaze a trail into the top echelons on motorport, she wasn't the first but by God she had better not be the last.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

It could be all over before the end of October

Okay then, this is the make or break race. We're either going to get a bit of a race for the end of he season, or its going to be all over as a spectacle on Sunday.

If Vettel wins, he'll be champion, waving that finger around like he's miss-wiped and doesn't want it to touch anything. The crowd will cheer, the Redbull boys and girls will cheer and spray champagne around . The rest of the paddock with roll its eyes and get back to packing up. The old hands have seen it all before .... not too long ago either, though it was a red car then.

If he loses, and that's not very likely to happen now is it, then we'll move on to India and the job will be completed there. I've not worked the numbers out, but I think Alonso has to win, and Vettel not finish for the rest of the season. Or Hamilton has to win and Vettel be fired out of a cannon towards Jupiter and be deducted 200 points. Basically there isn't much chance of Vettel not being world champions, it's all just a matter of time now.

And to be honest if he's going to do it, it may as well be here in Japan where at least they appreciate the talent and effort. This is the place that gives the Italians a run for their money in the "crazy obsessive stalking fans" stakes. Despite not actually having any cultural connection with F1 these days (Infiniti not with standing), The Japanese are absolutely nuts about this sport.

Mostly I think it's because they have a proper amphitheatre to flock to and celebrate the spectacle. Not some carpark in the back lot of trading estate in a swamp next to a dockyard.
I like Suzuka its odd, different, idiosyncratic and a real challenge for the drivers. Get it wrong here and there won't be miles and miles of run off to save the blushes. I confidently predict Maldonado or Perez will smack the wall at least once this weekend. All the money in the world can't buy you the talent to take 130R flat, thread the car through the Degner Curves and keep the momentum round that long, long sweeping spoon curve.

Up front, Alonso, Kimi, Lewis (wondering where the pace went come the race) .... and Vettel of course. 

Is it the car ? clever engineering and a whole shed load of cash ? is it talent ? and do we still question that talent purely because he gets out of the best car on the grid and waves that finger around at us, no humble apology, no "hey I'm just lucky to have a great team"  or a shy smile and witty quip. 

There are moves within Redbull to try and temper this victory celebration. Maybe the booing of the last few month has got through to the PR department. Time for a charm offensive. 

The problem is, Vettel doesn't seem to care what the crowd thinks, he still gets out of the that car smiles that big Smile and waves his finger around. 

anyway, I've rambled on long enough. update your prediction before Friday and good luck everyone. 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

They didn't boo him this time ....

Well that wasn’t too bad was it. ... Well alright maybe it was for the lead and the win. Nevertheless, the rest of it was interesting in a “will he won’t he get past” kind of way, if not in actual racing.
Post race, Hamilton had this to say “It’s strange, you know,” he said. “Me and Fernando in fifth and sixth at the end, and having our own little race, we are of a higher calibre than that, we should be further ahead, and fighting with the World Champions at the front, and with Sebastian. I guess that just shows where the sport is today.”
What do you think ? I don’t think there’s any doubt that Alonso and Hamilton are a cut above the likes of Grosjean and Hulkenberg. But the Hulk knew what he was doing out there today, he had the drive and the top speed to keep the Merc driver behind him, he didn’t weave around and drive like some nutter showing off to his pregnant girlfriend in the local Asda car park. Nico is a class act and he should really be in a car worthy of his talent. Therefore, I think it is a bit disingenuous of Lewis to dismiss his efforts as some third rate loser getting in his way to the front. Besides which he has to realise that Nico is looking for a top line drive next year, he’s going to take every opportunity to impress isn’t he.
So I thought it was an interesting race for the rest of the top ten, and for those that didn’t quite cut it. Like Mr Di Resta who once again drove off the circuit all on his lonesome. If it is possible for a star to fall out of a bargain bucket, then Pauls has crashed through the floor and is heading to the centre of the earth as we speak. From a talent that was fated as the next Scottish world champion it’s all gone so horrible wrong. He seems to have a bit of a blind spot about qualifying and the idea of going  “as quickly as possible” and staying on the circuit during the whole of the race. Oh I’m sure he’ll blame the tyre change and the 2012 rules or sum such m’larky. But the reality is he’s alright in a tintop, but he’s not got the chops for a the open wheel world.
Just like Maldonado, who got over taken by everyone, It’s not the care people it’s the lack of talent behind the wheel. Fire his sorry backside and get Suzie Wolf in there pronto you fools.

Talking of idiots in charge of a sinking ship, I suspect we have just seen our last Korean F1, a shame I as I said at the start of the gig. Sending a random VIP 4x4 up the track to have a look at a burning Redbull, is not the sort of thing that gets Bernie to sign on the dotted line of a new contract. On what planet do they send an incident vehicle onto a track to have a look at a burning F1 car, unless they had the fire extinguisher that the marshals appeared to lack on the side of the track. Webber could have pitched a tent and broken out the toasting forks to the fans in the stands whilst he waited for some assistance.
Well that’s if he could find any fans of course, Friday and Saturday you were hard pressed to spot anyone in the seat, cheap or not. Sunday was a little bit better, but there were whole sections with seat after seat of emptiness. You can’t afford to host a GP if you’re playing to empty stands, the numbers just don’t add up, Bernie wants the reddies not the wrong cars on track.

So then Vettel yeah, I have no idea what they’re doing with the car, but it’s working. Well its working for Vettel, not for Webber who was always going to struggle after a ten place grid penalty for the track invasion in Singapore. Vettel was just so much faster than anyone else wasn’t he, out of the corners especially you’ll have noticed. And he was knocking out fastest lap after faster lap at the end, whilst everyone else was driving to protect their right front tyre. That’ not suspicions now is it. Well no not really, he didn’t have to spend lap after lap behind anyone else ragging his tyres, and when you’re there its easy. As he proved. Yet again ..... At least they didn’t boo him this time.  

Kimi was second after showing Grosjean how its done. Then the pit wall told him to let his soon to be ex teammate past, and he told them what they could do with that plan. You have just got to love Kimi.

Grosjean third, he nipped past Lewis at the restart, and couldn’t stop Kimi schooling him in the ways of a proper racing driver. Still it’s another race where we get to talk about him finishing rather than taking someone else out. So I think the future might be bright for him, until Hulkenberg climbs inot the car next year of course, then he’s going to get nailed and that’ll be that.

Hulkenberg storms it to fourth and that was a top draw, “please dear Lord give me the drive I deserve, do you see that Ferrari that’s what you threw away”, drive, and you will be able to tell your children in years to come that you saw it. He had one corner to save his race lap after lap, and he just made Hamilton look ordinary. That Sauber had the right gearing for the long straight and the right gear to get out of turn one through two to leave the third most expensive car on the grid eating its dust.  He could have so easily locked it all up into turn one and thrown it all away. He was parking it up on the apex, Hamilton had to check his momentum into the corner and that was enough for Nico to get the power down. Then with the long gear, he had enough grunt to neutralise the advantage Lewis got from the DRS, but he still had to get the thing stopped at the end of the straight, not lock out and flat spot that front right.  I really rate Hulkenberg, he should be in a top line car, this is the race that’ll get him there.

Hamilton fifth, oh look, fast on Friday and Saturday then not so good on Sunday. Does that sound familiar? The Hulk made him look ordinary and he can complain to the media all he likes, but when it became obvious that he was never going to make the pass into turn one stick, why didn’t he drop back and driver through turns one and turn and dive it up the inside of turn three ? Asking the pit wall wasn’t working, and he’s a better driver than that.

Alonso, another race to forget in sixth. He had a couple of halfhearted goes at Lewis but the front of that Ferrari just didn’t want to go into any corner the way he wanted it to.
Rosberg seventh and he was lucky to make it to the end. He had Hamilton licked, then the nose fell off the car and that should have been that, but the safety car saved Mercedes blushes and  Nico did well to get it back to the top ten. The team dynamic at Mercedes is interesting these days, Rosberg isn’t being blown anyway and he’s certainly not in any sort of awe of Hamilton, the lucks just not gone his way this year. Meanwhile Hamilton, to my ears, still isn’t quite ready to trust the pit wall, asking them if they have any ideas how to pass Hulkenberg , really. He’s the one being paid the big bucks to go racing, he’s there in the singular moment. The pit wall can tell him where he’s fast and what lap to pit on, but not the best way to get past the car in front. Something he doesn’t normally have a problem with. I think the question was less to do with his talent and more to do with a team that isn’t short of a bob or two being shown the way home by a team scraping around to make the drivers wages next month. If the car doesn’t match the engine next year which is expect to be the leader of the pack,  It will be interesting to see how the two drivers deal with it.

Button eighth, picking up the pay check again.

Massa ninth, and that’s not a bad drive from the Brazilian. Okay the start was a bit rubbish, as he spun into turn three and ended up at the back of the field. But after than he drove a pretty strong race and got back to the top ten. Not something to be sniffed out, it’s just a shame he couldn’t do this sort of thing all year.

And Perez was tenth. Lucky.

Finally Max was last this week, a mere five seconds behind Bianci and a life time away from Vettel.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Give Korea a chance ... no really

Right hello, first things first then.

This is a whacking great big white elephant in the middle of a swamp. The only things you will find in Yeongam for the rest of the year are mosquitoes and lost souls looking for a reason to end it all. No one comes to this place looking for a good time, even the F1 circus is camped an hour down the road avoiding the dockyards and low rents ladies of ill repute.
And because the place has absolutely no soul what so ever, apart from the them lost ones looking for a way out. It has no atmosphere, glitz, showmanship, or anything. There is a reason the teams and the FIA don’t want to come back this way ever again. Its utter rubbish.
Which is odd, because I rather like the circuit! Not in a classic Spa or Le Mans or Suzuka kind of way, because it has absolutely no history, romance, or any of those things that draws the race fan back year after year. If I’m honest the circuit is a bit Mickey Mouse in places, the stands are mostly empty and it looks like a windswept trading estate in Dulwich on a wet Sunday afternoon in November.
But, and this is a pretty hefty but, if they built the marina around it, or better still picked it up and moved it to some south of France seaside town .. It wouldn’t be a bad circuit. Its problem is that it’s between Singapore which just looks fantastic in super neon Technicolor 24 hour HD o’vision. And Japan which will be packed to the rafters with F1 fans even more fanatical than the Italians and more knowledgeable than the Brits.  These places need time and effort to have a history, like Turkey, which I thought, was a pretty good circuit too, they need time to change and evolve. The Silverstone of 2013 bears no resemblance to that first ever F1 race in 1950 does it. Then it was just the perimeter road of a disused WW2 bomber airfield. Okay it is still a muddy windswept field in Northampton but that just shows these places can work.
The other problem is it costs more money than NASA spent putting man on the moon to put an F1 event on these days. Bernie, despite whatever he may say to the Media, is screwing as much money out of the circuit owners to pay the teams and more importantly the Rights holders of F1, CVC, than ever before. They bought into Bernie’s dream and they want to see a nice tidy massive profit at the end of each season. Sod the circuits that can’t pay through the nose for these races, these infant countries with no history and thriving grass roots culture of motorsport. Nope they have to pay up like everyone else.
Back to Silverstone, imagine Bernie telling a cash strapped post war England that it had to pay more next year to host its GP. That the cost of a weekend ticket next year would roughly equal the monthly wage packet of your average race fan .. F1 would have died on its feet. No one would have gone, the money wouldn’t have been there to invest in the infrastructure and F1 would have gone back to being a minority sport for the super rich around Europe.
Its Bernie’s desperate bid to make as much money as is humanly possible that is grinding this sport down, the stakes are so massive now, so astronomical high that these new circuits like Korea, like Turkey and India aren’t give the time to grow and learn what it takes to be successful. I have no problem when the cynical attempts at money generation like Valencia get culled, that was never going to work was it. There are far better circuits in Spain than a fish market in a dockyard in an industrial port city. That was always doomed to failure. But Despite being designed by Herman “long straight tight bend” Tilke, Yeongam isn’t a bad race track, its only half finished and it’s in the wrong place but that last sweeping section has potential, stick a couple of hills in it and shorten the back straight a little and it could be a circuit people want to go to.

But who am I kidding, it won’t be on the calendar next year will it.

Much like Marussia by all accounts who have posted the largest financial loss in the history of F1! Lotus tried hard by losing £56 million in 2012, but Marrusia trumped them with a whopping £57.6 million loss last year. But don’t worry, all that lovely Russian money will clear any day now and clear than small matter of the £130 million debt they have. But they are in good company, last year saw McLaren make its first financial loss in a number of years, though that was mostly due to the loss of Mercedes engine money and Jenson seniors bar bill.
They can’t keep this up can they, It’s all going to come crashing down around Bernie’s ears one of these days.

Anyway, oh yeah, Redbull will win … Vettel will win I should say. Webber is winding down for proper racing next year.  Ferrari is the first to admit they will be testing 2014 bit in practice from now on, so they’ve given up.  Mercedes will fail to deliver again and be mystified where the speed and handling have gone. Lotus , well Lotus historically don’t go well on cold wet circuits, I see no reason to doubt that, But Ferrari not trying anymore and Merc scratching around for consistency might see Kimi on the podium.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Give the cup to Vettel and lets go home.

Well that was all pretty dull yet again.

Look I’m not trying to take anything away from Vettel here. However, it is dull watching a driver disappear off into the distance with no one to actually race with.  And i’m just not sure why no one is there taking the fight to the German? Webber was there or there about until the engine in the Redbull FlambĂ©ed itself at the end of the race.
Alonso did hid usual thing of dragging a reluctant car to the front of the race .... for the love of God why can’t Ferrari just give this man a car to race with, why do we have to watch such a superb talent waste his time chasing after a driver that is a bit iffy under pressure and even more suspect when it comes to overtaking ?
Look even Kimi who was whacked up on painkillers after picking up his new Ferrari contract and putting his back out, was up there behind Alonso, as once again the Mercs failed to turn up and deliver on some of that mid season promise.
Which is all a big shame because i think F1 cars look absolutely stunning in HD under the lights in Singapore and a bit of paint swapping at high speed was what you really want to see here. Not yet more dust from Vettel as he wonders off to collect yet another trophy.
But hey, its Korea next and that always throws up exciting races ... doesn’t it !

Vettel won then, ho hum he was just that much faster than anyone else. Even the safety car just served to underline how much faster he was when it went in and he disappeared up the road. I don’t think there’s  really any doubt that the championship is his to lose now .. is there ?

Alonso second again, He was 32 seconds further back, but it may as well have been a whole continent away.  It’s still impressive that he was there though, if you saw any of the Friday practice sessions where he spent the three hours of running fighting a car that resolutely didn’t want to go round any corners. It looked like he was trying to wrestle with a bag of angry cats, sawing away at the steering wheel with a sort of blind hope that the back end would follow the front into the corner. It looked jolly spectacular, but not very fast. So second is something of a testament to his skill and that of the team that they got it on the podium at the end.

Kimi, third and I don’t think anyone expected that after he finished qualifying in thirteenth.  Apparently, he tweaked a nerve in his back at some point and there were some doubts of his participation in the race. Some of the more humorous elements of the media suggested it had more to do with Lotus still failing to pay its star driver even after he signed to drive for Ferrari in 2013. Whatever the reason for his reluctance to race on Sunday, he managed to bring the car home on the podium and looked just as surprised to be there as Vettel and Alonso did.

Rosberg was fourth, and he almost made a race of it. He almost beat Vettel to the pole and he almost beat the Redbull driver off the lone ... but he didn’t and after that he just sort of watched Vettel drive away from him.  However, he beat Hamilton this weekend so I guess he will be happy with that. But a podium was there for the taking and he failed to deliver .... again.

Lewis was all bubbly and happy on Friday, disappointed on Saturday and dejected on Sunday. And to think some people were talking of the Brit making a fight of the championship. That is two races now where the car has worked out of the box on day one then got progressively worse as the weekend has gone on. Is it Lewis struggling to set up and develop this car over a race weekend or a more fundamental problem with the car not following the evolution of the track? It’s in stark contrast to Redbull who are always off the pace at the start and on the podium at the end of a weekend.

Massa sixth, he struggled even more than Alonso with a misbehaving car on Friday, but still qualified ahead of Alonso on Saturday, which seeing has he’s just been fired for Kimi, must have been sweet. However, once the race started he didn’t really go anywhere. He’s hoping to get a competitive drive in 2014, I’m not sure where that is going to come from.  Lotus maybe, as long as he doesn’t expect to be paid I suppose.

Button in seventh, they rolled the dice, tried to get to the end with used tyres and pick up a podium. They failed again and I still don’t see that changing. The whole “make it to the end on these tyres Jenson”  Did smack of desperation to a certain extent, didn’t it. After the BBC had caused a minor storm in a very small tea cup when they blew Whitmarsh’s perfectly ordinary comment that “yes, any team would take Alonso at the drop of a hat” into BUTTON TO BE FIRED ANY MINUTE NOW AS MCLAREN SIGN ALONSO THIS AFTERNOOON YOU HEARD IT ON THE BBC FIRST SHOCKER!Q!!!!!!!!21”!!!!!! media storm.
Martin had to spend the whole weekend telling every media outlet that “No, we have no plans to sign Alonso ....ever” It’s turning into a long old season for the boys and girls from Woking. Imagine walking into any meeting looking for sponsorship, with the knowledge that this is going to be the worst season the team has ever had. No podiums and just picking up point where they can, they’re not racing each weekend at the moment, just surviving.

Perez, still no idea what anyone sees in him  ... a geriatric Button is beating him !!! The word is he’s going to be given his marching orders at the end of the season and Hulkenberg signed up. What do you think ?

Hey look, Hulkenberg was ninth. Ferrari don’t want him,  Lotus look like they’re interested in signing Massa, Sauber are getting some Russian embryo to drive with their Russian money next year ... He must have McLaren on speed dial right now, or we’re going to lose a pretty handy talent at the end of the year.

Sutil was tenth and I don’t think anyone cares anymore.

Amazingly Pic was last, not Bianci who had to change a steering wheel pretty early on, or even Max. 


As I say Korea next at early o’clock in the morning and I do not intend to get up early to watch another Redbull fest.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Wake me up when Hamilton gets back to the top 10.


An F1 fan this afternoon.

Not the most exciting of races again, only Ferrari cocking up the drafting in qualifying once again and Hamilton driving it old school to keep it interesting.

Actually I feel asleep at about the first third point and woke up again for the last third, so I'm not entirely sure what happened. I saw Hamilton go into the pits for the slow puncture, which didn’t seem to be that bad as he missed the pit entry for three laps after someone forgot to replace the batteries in his radio before the start of the race. I feel asleep then as it was pretty much over as a spectacle for me, to wake up to find he’s got all the way to the top ten ... hurrah. Then he stopped to change his tyres again and he was all the way back in nowheresville....booooo.
Then, sans radio he drove it like a proper racing driver with balls and vim and grit and determination and stuff, Vettel please take note. So yeah that was entertaining, whilst Vettel calmly went about his usual gig of driving away from the rest of the field. Apparently they had some sort of gearbox issue and a slightly wobbly tyre for a bit of the race. Didn’t seem to  make much difference to his pace though.
Oh well
Alonso tried, but the Ferrari just wasn’t going to catch Vettel once he was ahead.

Vettel wins after a pretty easy pole (I think, I fell asleep for that too).beat Webber off the line and flat spotted the front right into turn one, the vibrations messed up his dyed blond hair a little bit.  He then won by a country mile.  Dull dull dull dull dull dullness.

Alonso gave it some beans, bit of a banzai move for second from Webber in the opening laps. Decided to ignore the team and stay out for aaages when he should have come in for his tyre stop. Would have still come second regardless. Ho and indeed hum

Webber gets on the podium for the first and last time in his F1 career.  He didn’t really do anything wrong, but he might have tried a bit harder to take second from Alonso. Maybe he was worried about being lynched by the Tifosi after the race. Anyway, I don’t think he’s particularly bothered now; he’s off so Redbull wouldn’t let him win and Seb is pretty much nailed on to the championship win so why risk an accident.

Massa, who everyone is expecting to get fired on Wednesday at the team meeting before they head off round the world, showed once again that when he gets threatened with the sack, he goes really well. To be fair the Mercs and Lotus cars had problems so he had a clear run, but it’s always nice to see him up there on merit.

Hulkenberg was fifth with a fine drive that didn’t require too much actual racing, once again he benefited from the other top line cars not being there. Still he was third on the grid on merit and if that doesn’t put him front and centre for the Ferrari seat, I have no idea what will. Kimi might be that little bit faster, but the Hulk will always keep trying however rubbish the car is.

Rosberg sixth had that better weekend he’d been looking for. But look at Hamilton and what he got out of the car, Nico just sort of tooled round and didn’t get in the way of Lewis as he went past. His engineer told him to use Hamilton to drag him up the field, but he failed to do that. I think he was ahead of his team mate by default, not because he deserved it.

Ricciardo seventh, yeah okay pretty good.

Grosjean eighth more of the same really.

Hamilton’s ninth was the drive of the day in my book. AND the drivers these days have a pit wall telling them when to push, how they’re doing, where they can go faster, which bit of their car Webber knocked off etc. Lewis had to do the whole race with no one telling him how to do his job. He went out there a spanked it, not even a slowly deflating tyre put him off his stride. He was driving like they used to do it in the good old days, by the seat of his pants and a state of the art steering wheel dashboard. Next time you’re on the motorway, passing a sign for a turn off to some backwater Hicksville area. Imagine you’re doing 200 miles an hour, the car is vibrating all around you, and there is another driver in front of your weaving around to break the tow and stop you slipstreaming past (for the purposes of not being blamed for someone causing a multi car pileup on the M6 on Monday .. don’t actually do this) But the sign is being changed each time you go past it. With messages about who’s in front of you and when you have to stop and have a cup of coffee at the little chef.  There is a reason they developed state of the art pit to car radio systems. Waving a board at a car travelling past at 200 mph is pretty much waving a hope he saw you.
So I was dead impressed with what Lewis did. That fast that he apologised to the team for not getting a better result makes me love him even more. That is a proper racing driver, one with passion and heart.
Oh yeah and he got the fastest lap, at the end of the race. See even at the end he was still trying!

Button, tenth and still dull. Actually its been highly amusing watching him tell anyone that will listen and anyone that doesn’t care than he loves McLaren so much and how he desperately wants to stay at McLaren and he wants to drive a McLaren Honda so much and he really admires McLaren and thinks they are really, really ace and he thinks’ it’s his perfect team ... and dear lord please don’t fire my sorry ass McLaren.  

Max was last, i think we can kiss goodbye to Van Der Garde for last place now, he’s doing alright and Caterham have invested a bit of money in the car at last. The Marussia boys are going to be scrapping it out for the last spot now ... and that means its Max all the way. So you should all get a least five points a race now ....



Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Monza; It's more than just "fast"

Righty ho then Monza up next.

First off the bat and Ferrari are really, really going to have to pull something pretty special out of the bag to win here. Unless they bolt the thinnest of thin wings on that thing and rely on Fernando to do his black magic thing in the (few) twisty bits, they’re looking at second or third. Which is a shame because it you want to see the very definition of “Passionate” then you want to be at Monza on the Sunday that a Ferrari wins, because Ferrari really is a national team like no other. No other team is so identified with a country and a national identity. But the car just doesn’t cut it in a straight line and whilst Alonso was second in Spa, I think that was due to Mercedes having problems rather than Ferrari speed.

So yeah Vettel has to be favourite here; he went like a rocket in Spa and importantly like a rocket on the very fast bits. Job done, unless he gets too cocky and makes a hash of it somehow.

Hamilton has been talking this race up a bit on the social media world, If they have figured out why the car is so awful with full tanks he could be there. As ever Nico “could“ have one of his those weekend where he gets it all right and beats Lewis. well Maybe.
McLaren have been telling anyone that will listen that they don’t stand a change of even getting a podium this year. Which is probably true, they might feel the need to roll the dice a bit and try something different, so you never know. They went well in Spa, well Jenson did, I don’t know really, I'm not expecting them to be in top ten, six or seven maybe. Depends how Force India go really.

Which leaves Kimi and Grosjean, who will be praying for a nice hot track.


As for the rest, no idea. This one is a bit of a lottery because the cars are pretty much specials for this event and the form book should be regarded as a vague guide rather than a road map to the result. Apart from Vettel winning obviously, I think that’s a given ....isn’t it ?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Our hero goes mountain bike racing ....


“There are only 5 miles left, that’s 3 miles gone, keep going “

It was 9.30 pm in the dark of Minley wood on Sunday night. Matt  had talked Daryl and myself into the “TORQ till you sleep “ 12 hour mountain bike enduro event, and the couple shouting the helpful news to me were trying hard to be encouraging.

Matt is an old hand at these enduro events and has organised a semi regular mountain bike evening at work over the summer. He had urged Daryl and I to join in the race whilst on one of these evening bike rides,

In the warm evening sunshine on Tuesday evening we’d gently rolled around the Minley course, as Matt explained what was involved in a 12 hours race. “Oh it’s easy” he’d said, “the laps take about 40 minutes, we won’t be going for a win or any sort of prizes and it’s just a bit of fun”

“But I’ve never entered a mountain bike race before, I’m far too old for that sort of thing” I’d replied. “Don’t be silly, you’re never too old for a bit of a laugh” he joked, “besides which, you only have to do a minimum of 2 laps. There’ll be four of us my mate is a pro he and I will do most of the actually racing”. I looked thoughtfully at him and replied “two laps .. That sounds easy” and we were in.

That conversation returned to haunt me on my third lap. It was dark and the light I had borrowed wasn’t doing the job. I was having to rely on Jedi senses and the numerous serious riders passing me with their gazillion watt lights to illuminate the path. My lungs were bursting, I‘d lost my water bottle avoiding a tree root that had leapt out at me, and I wasn’t sure where the trail went next.

“There are only 5 miles left, that’s 3 miles gone, keep going “ the couple shouted out of the darkness at me. “Cheers” I managed to puff back in reply. “Okay only 5 to go, that’s up the big climb then and through the technical single track section” I thought.

I was sort of enjoying myself. The first lap had been nothing but pain to a body used to a gentle roll though the countryside. The second lap had been easier as my body knew what had been required of it . The third however was proving difficult. Delirium had set in from lack of water and talent and I was talking to the bike, urging her to get me home and not let me injure myself. The light on the handlebars flicked and bounced around just catching the board to mark the end of the seventh mile. Even in the cool darkness the sweat was running off me in rivulets, blinding me as it ran from my forehead into me eyes. “Come on, its all down hill from here Julian” I huffed. “Just that vicious little climb before the finish line” I gritted my teeth and dug deep.

The tree must have been waiting for me. Round the corner I came, thoughts of the finish line and a drink coursing through my mind, when my shoulder thudded into the tree trunk and I was knocked sideways. Time slowed, images flashed through my mind, my wife fast asleep at home, my son waiting for at the finish line to cheer me. Matt telling me how easy this would be. Then the second tree lunged at me, knocking me upright and I wobbled on my way bruised but still on the bike, riding through the night.

I finished my last lap at 9.50pm. I was sore, bruised, tired sweaty but really happy that I’d made it. There were still 2 hours to go but I wasn’t going anywhere near the course again, my job was done. Three 1 hour laps was more than enough for me, I handed over the wrist band to Daryl and waved him off into the darkness.

“See that was fun wasn’t it” Matt beamed at me, “Now how do you fancy joining a 10 man team for the 24 hour next year ?”

We eventually finished 30th out of 43 team, only 6 laps behind the leaders. But I like to think we had more fun then them.

 



 

 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Lewis gets pole, Vettel gets the victory, predictable and dull.

Hello everyone, sorry about the delay. Real life got in the way. But I have watched the race and it wasn’t worth it really. Bit dull, only Maldonado being a complete tool as ever, to liven things up ... where’s the rain when you need it !!
Vettel won without too much effort. He mugged Lewis out of eau rouge and didn’t look back. Redbull had trimmed the car out with the Monza spec tin tray rear wing and the thing was like a rocket on the straight bits.  Worryingly for the rest it was still fast in the tight twisty bits. That’s now 2000 laps Vettel has led, which puts him in the same league as Senna, Prost and Mansell. Well maybe not Senna or Prost, but probably Mansell ... with less facial hair.  He’s now pretty much two wins ahead of the rest of the pack and i think set fair for the silverware. Roll on 2014.

Alonso was second with another sterling drive, and he still believes he has a chance of championship... how quaint.

Hamilton third, now you have to admit that if the pole in Hungary was a bit of a surprise, this was pure luck. The car was nowhere in all the other practice sessions and only just scrapped into Q1. Anyone who thought they had miraculously found a whole world of speed was kidding themselves. Everyone was going faster at the end of Q1 Lewis was just the one last across the line. That’s not to say it wasn’t a great pole and one of his very best, he still had to feel the level of grip and know when to push and when to back off. But, I think he would be the first to agree that any other of the top 5 drivers could have delivered the pole in the same situation ... Not the likes of Maldonado, but an Alonso or even a Webber if they have been the last car to cross the line, they would have expected to have pole.  
So when all the pundits said “Mercedes obviously have a fast car now, the win will be easy” I thought, Merc will be lucky to be on the podium.  And that’s what happened. With a dry race Lewis couldn’t live with Vettel or Alonso, and only Rosberg keeping Webber behind him stopped the grumpy Ozzy being on the podium too. It was still a good job by Hamilton, but he only did what the car was capable of delivering. He was a second a lap slower than Vettel at one stage. I don’t think they’ll be any closer in Monza to be honest. Though pole might be still on the cards, you never know.

Rosberg fourth, and another weekened when he should have beaten Lewis. He was faster in all the practice sessions and in much if qualifying, but then when the umbrellas came down Nico was behind his team mate and destined to play second fiddle again. Could he have over taken the Brit in the closing stages? I don’t think he would have been allowed.

Webber fifth and not as fast as Vettel, he was slow off the line and spent the rest of the race trying to catch up.

Button, amazingly, has the best result for McLaren this year in sixth; I think the last time McLaren failed to even get a podium during a racing season was something like 1983.  What’s the betting there’s a shakeup in personal if it happens this year? They were almost there but a late stop and Button was out of the top five. It was a plucky effort but like Mercedes I think they needed some rain to level the playing field out a bit.

Massa was seventh and had to work pretty hard for that.

Grosjean ... Now I'm not Perez’s biggest fan, but there was no way that he deserved that drive through for knocking Grosjean off the circuit! The dopey French get was well beaten for the corner and made a stupid lunge up the outside on the marbles and simply ran out of talent way past the breaking zone. He trundled off the track all on his lonesome and I have no idea why the FIA waded in and threw the book at Perez for that. Grosjean however did alright with what he had and at least made it home, unlike Kimi who destroyed his brakes and had to retire.

Sutil, was lucky to get ninth after Maldonado demonstrate how rubbish he is yet again. Once again a driver ran out of talent and made a mess of someone else’s race.  Sutil got tagged and Di Resta was punted out of the race. Sutil benefited from the carnage.

Ricciardo was tenth and I still have no idea why Vettel would want this driver in particular to replace Webber. I can’t think why he wouldn’t prefer a proven race winner like Kimi or a real talent like the Hulk, can you think of a reason ?

Vettel got the fastest lap pretty much at the end of the race just to rub it in.


And Max was last despite getting into Q2 with a ballsy bit of driving on slicks on a wet track. Well done him, good effort lad. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Its late and i'm tired.

Right, yes, sorry. I made mention of a half term review and ... well I didn’t get round to writing one I'm afraid. So this will have to do.

So far then...
Seb has got: 3 poles, 3 fastest laps and 4 wins
Lewis has got: 4 poles, no fastest laps and 1 win
Nico has got: 3 poles, no fastest laps and 2 wins
Kimi has: no poles, 1 fastest lap and 1 win
Alonso has: no poles, 1 fastest lap and 2 wins.

The rest of the fastest laps are Perez - 1, Gutierrez - 1 and Webber - 3.
Which all adds up to:
Vettel : 172
Kimi: 134
Alonso: 13
Hamilton: 124
Webber: 105
Nico: 84
So then... well from those stats you have to wonder how Vettel leading and Kimi chasing him hard. And the answer as ever is consistency and lady Luck and her Chum Miss Reliability.
Vettel has had 1 retirement this year and never been lower than fourth whilst Kimi has had no retirements with just the one win, 5 second places and a bunch of top ten finishes. Fernando 5 podiums one retirement and the rest are some top ten finishes. Lewis has had 4 podiums one 12th and the rest top 5 finishes. Webber and Nico have had a lot of bad luck and bounced around the top ten.

So Vettel and Kimi have kept the points ticking over, not tangled their cars against any other drivers or trackside distractions.
But the momentum is with Mercedes, they have made pole position virtually theirs this season, apart from the first two races and Canada, no one other than a Merc driver has started from pole. Only Vettel seems to be able to live with the Merc on Saturday afternoon. But come the race and the German cars are struggling to stay in front of the Redbull cars. And generally, one or other of them will be the one that finds the sweet spot. What I mean is if Lewis is on the podium Nico retires or scrapes into the top ten. Whilst a good weekend for Nico sees Lewis off the podium but with top fives to his name. Lewis is more consistent, and seems to have really got his mind around the way the car handles. Nico is either on tuned into the circuit or struggling to make the tyres work for him.

The Lotus, meanwhile has struggled on cold circuits with fast corners. They need a melting track to really get the car working for them. The win in Australia is always a bit of a lottery so we can sort of discount that one as luck; the seventh on Malaysia a week later would tend to confirm that. Then three straight seconds in China, Bahrain and Spain suggested a fast car on the silly twisty bland circuits, but a 10th in Monaco followed by a 9th in Canada and a 5th as Silverstone indicated they had lost their way a little bit, maybe the car wasn’t quite as sorted as the earlier podiums suggested. Then the tyres got changed and low and behold two more 2nds in Germany and Hungary which they could have won with a smidgen more luck, and maybe they aren’t dead and buried just yet.
What might distract Lotus and Kimi from the title hunt is “where is Kimi going to be next year”? It looks like the Redbull seat is going to go to Ricciardo now, I guess the amount of PR he was willing to do compared to the ever ebullient Fin was too much of a no brainer for Mr Marko and friends.  Suddenly Kimi is being linked with the soon to be vacant seat at Ferrari  ... or maybe he’ll stay with Lotus ... but a return to Ferrari would be cool wouldn’t it ... but Lotus have had more success recently... or not... in fact both have been a bit rubbish at times. ..... But Ferrari is, well ... it’s FERRARI. Remember last year, when Hamilton was humming and erring about his signature on a new McLaren contract? Yeah, remember how many races he won whilst the media was blowing that all out of proportion? The sum total of none at all. Personally I think he’d be a fool to go back to Ferrari, I'm pretty sure there are elements of the team that remember how enthusiastic he was  the last time the car wasn’t all that, and how much development effort he put in to get it up to snuff.

But what of Ferrari... Fernando is once again trying very, very hard to salvage something; but it’s a losing battle. Merc have over taken them, Lotus is ahead and Redbull are just too far ahead now. Well yeah, sure Vettel could have a really bad run of retirements or something, but it’s not in Redbulls nature to have reliability issues is it. They’re car just keeps working. Even the Alternator works reliably now. No I think Ferrari are going to look for a face saving win in Monza and maybe something in Abu Dhabi, and meanwhile start testing bits for next year’s car.
The fact that Monty has slapped Fernando down for daring to criticise the teams direction and commitment, means only one thing, “Shut up son and get on with your job, we’ll do our”. Ferrari is never going to admit in public that they don’t stand a chance and they take great exception to driver questioning their motives and direction. Prost a 3 times world champion got fired for daring to say they didn’t know what they were doing. The driver is paid to drive, not tell the media how bad things are.   
Well I think they’re going to keep trying to make something of the season, but not too hard.  

What about the rest of them then? Let’s see
Vettel – difficult to stop now I think.
Kimi – how much of a distraction will his future be?
Alonso – flogging yet another dead horse
Lewis – got the bit between his teeth again and no distractions anymore.
Webber, okay, Webber then. Well after the shafting he got in Malaysia, he’s off to proper racing with Porsche in the WEC championship and I hope he has a long and successful career. I’ve never thought he was anything but a solid number two, but I think he’ll be great asset to Porsche and sports car racing. He needs a challenge and he can develop a car and he can be very fast when it all clicks for him. Porsche knows what they’re doing in Sports cars and the new car looks stunning, so with any luck he can go racing without all the politics and finally someone will beat Audi... I’d even take a different German team these days.
Nico, started badly, had a bit of resurgent, but it’s the same old problem, come Sunday and sometimes you struggle to remember if he even started. He’s got lots of poles, but not really done anything with them. And now Lewis has got his act together, and the team are starting to understand what he wants, things are starting to look a bit  ... number two driver for poor old Nico. He blew a tired and jaded Schumacher away, but Lewis is proving a tougher nut to crack.

Massa, well he started alright with top fives, then 15th a third place podium then a retirement and the rest have been lower top 10 finishes. I think his fragile resurgence got a bit of a knock and he struggled to find a balance with the car and the results stopped coming. I'm pretty sure Ferrari has told him that there are no more life lines and this will be his last year with them.  If it’s not Kimi then it’ll be the Hulk or maybe di Resta. But it won’t be the likable Brazilian in the red car next year. He’s had to put up with a world of abuse from the Media and the whole world it seems at times and you know what, you never see him complaining to the papers or bad mouthing anyone on TV, I think he deserves a bit of a break.

Grosjean, hmmm I still don’t know. Is he a danger to himself and everyone else on the track? Did he cop a lot of flak for some incidents last year that were 50/50 at worse? A couple of podiums and some top ten spots, suggest to me a solid number two in the mould of Webber or Massa. Good at things when the package suits him, but not a Hamilton or an Alonso that can make things happen and deliver results the car shouldn’t be getting. The jury is still out for Mr G.

 Button... is it the car that is terrible or is Button phoning in his performance each race? Perez is making him look dull at times. We all though Lewis was mad for leaving for Mercedes; look who’s laughing now. Yeah the car is pretty terrible, it’s slow and the sweet spot is nigh on impossible to find at some track. But Button has been on the blower all year complaining about the handling and the tyres and the ugly spectators and the sun and his team mate and the tyres and the handling and this and that and just shut up already.  I can’t see the rest of the season being any different either.

Di Resta has done alright with crappy pit wall work from his team and he’s whinged about it a LOT. Every damn week he’s standing there quietly fuming to the camera as the cars go out for Q2 and he’s at the back of the grid because the team didn’t tell him to driver faster. Maybe he should, oh I don’t know, driver faster before the chequered flag come out for the end of qualifying. A novel approach I know, but one that might get some results. Anyway. Yeah. He’s been a bit rubbish in qualifying, but then he’s gone on and delivered a few choice results from now where.... actually looking at the results a fourth in Bahrain is pretty much the only one of note. But it could have been better is the team had got its act together. Maybe if he quietly fumes at them BEFORE Q1 starts, he’ll get a better result.

Sutil, see above... with less quiet fuming and more floppy hand waving and pursed lips.

Perez. See.... he IS rubbish. Stop kidding yourselves that he’s got any talent. He’s all teeth and no trousers.

Vergne... he isn’t going to get the Redbull seat and his team mate is. How do you think that will make him feel? Do you care? Well you’re heartless than, right, but terrible heartless.

Ricciardo. No I have no idea why Redbull would want to put him in the best car on the grid after spending a gazillion dollars on him. Kimi would have been a better choice but there you go. He’s done alright and I imagine they think he’ll do as he’s told and not complain like Webber did when he was told to move over for Vettel. I’ve seen nothing to suggest he’s a champion yet.

Hulkenberg has done alright actually. The car is a dog, but he’s plugged away and the new tyres might suit it a bit more. The fact he hasn’t been paid until recently and the team are seconds away from financial ruin hasn’t helped, but the Hulk has got on with things and shown he can driver a bad car to good results. I think he’s in with a shout for that Ferrari seat.

Maldonado. I really, really dislike Maldonado. I think he’s irritating, he’s only there because of the money and I think he’s a liability. I think Suzie Wolff could do a better job than Pastor. I think if Williams had the balls to put her in the car she would get more points than this idiot. He’s got one top ten finish in 10 races; it’s just not good enough!
Bottas in the other Williams ... still don’t know about him. He driven the nuts off the car a couple of times, qualifying third in Canada, but the car isn’t there for him. Okay Maldonado has to drive the thing as well so it obviously not the drivers fault they’re so far back, it is a dog. But Bottas has at least shown flashes of talent and guts.  I really hope he beats Maldonado by the end of the season. Really I do ... lots and lots.

Gutierrez is rubbish; he’s got more money than talent.

Bianchi is the pick or the rubbish cars bunch. Best finish was 13th in Malaysia and he’s comfortably beating Max.

Pic  ... perhaps not
Van Der Garde... hopeless
Max ... is living the dream.

Right that’s the lot. Spa this weekend. My money is on Vettel... or maybe the Mercs. Or Kimi ... yeah one of them.


Good luck 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Lewis shows Vettel how is should be done.

Well then, if you want to win a race you need talent. If you want to sit behind lots of people in slower cars and once again prove that you can’t actually overtake people without fumbling it more often than not, yet still win ... no hang on sorry ... luck into a bunch of Championships... Get Adrian Newey to design you a car.

Lewis gets his first win for Mercedes and this one has to be his most unlikely win of his career to date. When he got pole is was a bit of a surprise, he spent the evening and Sunday morning telling all and sundry he’d be amazed if he was still leading after the warm up lap. Except when the lights went out at the start, Vettel was too busy trying to drive Grosjean off the circuit then actually drive like a champion. It set the tone really for Vettels afternoon as he spent the day not overtaking people and generally acting like a he was driving a Vauxhall Corsa round the local Asda car park to impress the less educated members of society.  Then to top it all off, he complained when Kimi wouldn’t let him past at the end ... hahahahaha what a knob!

Now, also having a fun old time of it was our great friends Grosjean. Who we all know has a bit of previous and certainly to the stewards he looked like he was back to his old ways this weekend.
But you know I think he might just have got a bit of a bum wrap here.  First off the overtake on Jenson. He got a pretty good drive out of the long fast right hand sweeper turn five and a run on Button into the hairpin entry turn six. And he’s pretty much past the McLaren as he drifts back across to the racing line, which was his mistake. He clipped the front right wheel of Buttons car and there’s a bit of tyre smoke and I think an end plate might have been moved, but pretty much both cars were okay.  Jenson as usual was all arms in the air and ranting on the radio about how dangerous the Lotus driver was and they should throw the book at him this instant. But in all honesty Button was beaten and should have got his sorry backside out of the way because he was never going to get the place back was he! He was just going to get in the way well and low and behold that’s exactly what happened. Grosjean will probably get a grid penalty for that.
Then we have the Massa over take into turn four which to my eyes was top draw stuff, except the mistake this time was to avoid tagging Massa and letting the car run 2 inches over the white line marking the edge of the track. By doing so he managed to miss hitting Massa who hadn’t given him enough room to make it round the corner cleanly, and he broke the letter of the law about respecting track limits. If you watched the rest of the race as I did and paid particular attention to the exit of turn four and the number of cars “not respecting the track limits” it’s a wonder that half the field didn’t get a drive through penalty isn’t it! But I guess those other drivers hadn’t been blamed for a bunch of fifty/fifty racing incident the previous year.
Now I don’t want to suggest in any way that I think Grosjean is some sort of talented driver here. But give the guy a break now, he was doing what he’s paid to do, which is over take slower drivers. Not pussy foot around and complain to his pit wall that the bigger boys won’t get out of his way. I think the drive through penalty was a bit harsh and if he’s made to sit on the naughty step next race for tripping over Button I think he’ll have a right to feel aggrieved.

Anyway.

Lewis wins and I think he was more surprised than anyone when it happened.   Considering he spent Friday and Saturday looking at the car and shaking his head wondering where all the speed had gone, then poking the rear tyres with a disconsolate finger and asking why they were melting so quickly.  He wasn’t the only one expecting the Merc to go backwards when the lights went out. But he drove a solid race. AND he showed that to achieve a win you have to overtake the car in front. You can’t sit there; make a couple of half arsed moves and then whinge “it’s all too difficult” and wait for the pit stops.  You might argue that he was lucky Grosjean was hit with the FIA naughty hammer and Vettel got “stuck” behind Button, but you’d be wrong and I'm not going to listen to you rubbish my favourite driver. He won and he’s ace, that all there is to it.

Kimi was second and annoyed Vettel when he didn’t let the German breeze on past. So he’s my second favourite driver.

Vettel was damn lucky to be third and he didn’t deserve it in the slightest. Really, he can’t overtake and he thinks he God’s gift to racing.

Webber was fourth, he did alright after he was hobbled in qualifying with a misfiring KERS unit and gearbox that wasn’t playing the game. Eighth to fourth is pretty good really on a track that is notoriously difficult to pass on if you’re German and a knob.  

Alonso is pretty much dead and buried in the Championship in fifth. This stallion needs taking out the back and putting out of its misery. It is dead, it is an ex title hunt, it is no more. Pack up and go back to Maranello lads, this one isn’t coming back with you. Apparently they still don’t have a wind tunnel that bares any resemblance to the real world. This is the same problem that had last year, new aero bits that were supposed to sort out one problem, caused another problem, usually even worse than the first. They are throwing enough money at this to feed a small West Country primary School for six months, yet still they fail to qualify up the front or take the race to the front. Why ? ...answers on a post card to Maranello marked “get your act together you idiots”

Grosjean was eventually sixth and as I say I think he was a bit picked on here. Yeah, yeah all you Button apologists can throw your hands in the air all you like, but he was well beaten and Grosjean was showing him how it’s done. He got a 20 second penalty as well as the drive through, but it didn’t make any difference to the overall result.  He might get away with a slap wrist here and be fine in Spa, but the FIA do like to wade in with the ban hammer at least once a year, so you never know.

Button was tired and over the hill years ago ...hahahahahaha .. but yeah, seventh in the end.

Massa eighth

Perez, what an excellent signing for McLaren he’s turning into isn’t he. There are rumours that Whitmarsh is going to get the boot at the end of the year unless they get some serious points soon. Perez isn’t going to deliver them now is he? Counting down the days till Honda turn up.

And low and behold look who it is !! the last great white hope and not at all a liability masquerading as a racing driver with a whole shed load of foreign money Maldonado in tenth. Who would have believed they could turn that heap of junk around and actually get a point! And with Maldonado at the wheel too. There must have been some serious planet alignment in a far distant galaxy on the edge of the universe or something. It’s really the only plausible explanation I can think of.

Okay .. oh yeah Webber got the fastest lap

And Max was our last placed driver, The Marussia team had a press conference recently and said they were really happy with Max and his money and had no plans to get a driver with some talent in anytime soon. Good news for Max there.

Right, three week break to come and I might write a half term report on the drivers if you’re lucky and I can afford the red wine. Till then, keep watching the skies and stay vigilant.