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.


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.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Hungarian F1 ... bring the factor 50 with you.

Hello everyone it’s time to check those predictions and wonder how you’re going to climb up the table. There is still half a season to go here people, plenty of time to rescue some credibility.

Well it’s been an interesting couple of weeks off, we had the young driver/Pirelli test last week, with all the usual suspect up the top of the timing sheets. There wasn’t much to glean from the times as we had no idea who was running what fuel load or aero bits. Besides which, this test was essentially Pirelli trying out some new runner compounds and the replacement design for the one that exploded so spectacularly at Silverstone. Casting an eye over the reports it appears that the new rubber will suit the Lotus and Ferrari cars as well as Redbull (who had always wanted a return to the “old” design of tyre). Mercedes who had already tested on their own and got a slap wrist for doing so, were not at this test, but were given the same data from Pirelli that all the teams received.

Weather that will be of use is open to debate as all cars react differently to the tyres, especially cars that haven’t used that rubber as yet. Mercedes got a bit hot under the collar when it became obvious that rather than dodge a bullet by being told they couldn’t attend the young drivers test for cheating. The test was actually going to mean something as it turned into an emergency Pirelli face saving “safety” test. Just as Mercedes appeared to get a handle on their tyre issues and began owning the Saturday afternoon pole position, Pirelli go and change the tyres and Mercedes have no idea how it will affect their cars.

Sitting on the FIA naughty step for 3 day actually meant something for once.

So then to Hungary, for round 10 of the 2013 championship before the teams go on holiday for a month. This place is going to be hot, the prediction is for temperatures in the 30’s for race day and two hours round this place is going to sort the men from the boys. Its tight and twisty like Dave Cameron explaining how its all new labours fault and nothing what-so-ever to do with him and his shower of idiots. There isn’t a lot of racing to be had here, it’s about surviving and hoping the guy in front makes a mistake.

Pole wise, well the Merc have to be favourites on current form, test or no test they have the one lap speed required. Come the race and I suspect the resurgent Lotus might just sneak this one from Vettel. Kimi and especially Grosjean looked very racy in Germany I don’t see Ferrari taking the fight to Redbull and the Merc can’t look after its rear tyres on hot tracks.
Further back and things get a bit more uncertain. Force India seem to be either best of the rest or throwing away the points with Di Resta and Sutil taking it in turns to be rather good or be stabbed in the back by the boys on the pit wall. They’ve been talking their chances up this weekend with a suggestion they have the measure of McLaren and can breeze past them with ease. If they don’t screw it up I think they might be right.

Sauber appear to have sorted their money worries out after crawling cap in hand to some back street dive in the more seedy part of down town Moscow. No one is quite sure where the actual Rubles are coming from, or if the government is involved at all. But they’ve been handed a cheque with an awful lot of zeros after the number and some wet behind the ears hick form the rural Russian sticks as lead driver next year. The smart money is on Hulkenberg walking away from the team any minute now whilst he still has his knee caps. They went well in Germany with the new tyres on a hot track, I think the fact that they have now paid their employees might mean they have a motivated garage this weekend for a change. Gutierrez still won’t amount to much, but the Hulk needs to remind the other teams that he was once considered the “new bright young thing”. Hello Redbull !!!

Talking of Webbers Redbull seat, Ricciardo appears to be the front runner for the seat now. He got to test the car at Silverstone last week and didn’t bin it. The word is Kimi is asking too much and being picky about PR duties …. Redbull being essentially a life style brand they need happy smiley drivers to jump out of planes and ride up rock faces. Not pour the drink into a glass of Vodka and be photographed as they are thrown out of “Gentleman’s clubs” at 3am.

It’ll be a long race, tyres once again will be the talk of the paddock.  But the drama will be thin on the ground as the teams look forward to a couple of weeks R&R starting Monday morning.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Its all about the pit stop chess game.

Well there you go, Lotus are going to really struggle with these new tyres aren't they ..... oh, no wait .... the other thing.

Well to be fair they have always gone well when the track temps get up around the frighteningly hot level. However, normally it’s Kimi taking the fight to the front, not Roman who usually bins it before the end of the first lap. However, this time he was the class of the field to my eyes.  The team eventually had to tell him to get out of Kimi’s way to keep the Lotus team leader in the hunt for the title. Even then, he made Kimi work for it, only allowing his “faster” teammate to get by with a handful of laps left to chase Vettel down.
Ahh yes the current world champion, Sebastian once again showed that all he needs is a sniff of the front and he’s happy to deliver you a win. He was not quite fast enough to pip the Merc of Hamilton to the pole yet again, but he was leading the race before the end of the first corner. He had to work at it this time, but the pit wall worked its magic and Lotus once again lost the chess game for track position at the end of the race. 

So Vettel won yet again and didn’t seem overly perturbed by the new tyres.  Overall, I think he deserved this win The Redbull wasn’t the fastest thing in a straight line, but they had enough speed in the corners to hold off the faster Lotus cars. They played a better game of chess with the pit stops; popping Vettel out into clear air and covering Grosjean when he looked like taking the lead.  He now has a monstrous lead in the title hunt, and I’m not sure where the challenge is going to come from to stop him.
Kimi second, wasn’t as fast as his team mate and was gifted the position at the end.  Obviously the Lotus went well because it was a hot track, but both cars were there at the front this time, which suggest to me that that this was more than just a hot track issue. Maybe the car really likes these interim tyres more than the regular ones used at Silverstone. With only a week between the two races I doubt they had a load of new aero updates to bolt on so that leaves the tyres. Can they carry this on ? Well the Hungarian race in three weeks time is usually a hot race so I think a Lotus on the podium is a good bet.

Grosjean was third and my driver of the day. The TV missed much of his race until the end when they found him behind Vettel. As we all know he’s been on probation this year after his demolition derby antics last year. So he’s sort of been keeping his head down and his nose firmly attached to the car. Not always a successful strategy, but much better than last year’s mess. So it was good to see him up there on merit and then doing the team mate thing.

Alonso was fourth with another disappointing run. The Ferrari just is not fast enough in qualifying or the race. They have got to find some grip and speed it they want to win the title, because right now they are losing to Mercedes and Lotus and Alonso can only do so much with what he’s given. They didn’t bother with a time in final qualifying so they could start the race on the harder tyre and stay out for longer in the first stint. But then Grosjean made his soft tyres last longer than the Ferraris hard, and a podium was lost.  There will be a lot of head scratching at Ferrari HQ in the coming weeks.  He did get the fastest lap at the end of the race has he tried to chase the podium down.  But a wild lap in a car that’s running on fumes isn’t good enough.

Hamilton, started on pole with a cracking lap in qualifying. But as has happened too often this year the race was another story. They looked like they were the team to take the fight to Redbull at Silverstone. Here they were scrapping it out with the McLarens for mid table respectability.  Lewis did better than Nico who hadn’t even made it into Q3, but it was a pretty dismal result for a team that won with ease a week ago.

Button was sixth and was only passed by Hamilton on the last lap this was a much better job from the McLaren boys, with a car that was the runt of the litter at the beginning of the year. I don’t think they’re going to be chasing podiums any time soon, but it looks like they’ll be able to beat the Force India cars at least for the rest of the year. One of these days, McLaren will start a season with a car they don’t to resuscitate after one race.

Webber in seventh was lucky to be in the race at all after the team released him without the right rear bolted on.  The guy his tyre eventually smacked into was lucky to only break a collar bone.  When the pace car appeared, he was waved round to recover the lap he had lost being wheeled back down the pit to stick another right rear on.

Perez was eighth and that is a pretty good result after starting thirteenth.  I’m still not impressed with the Mexican though, I’ll admit he was a bit feisty at the start, but we didn’t see anything else of him until Button cruised past him at the end.  The second coming status seems to be slipping off his shoulder.

Rosberg was ninth and got in the way pretty much all afternoon.

Hulkenberg was tenth in a car that really looked like it was enjoying its new tyres. They made Redbull and Mercedes work hard to pass them, so maybe the car isn’t as rubbish as we thought. Certainly Torro Rosso will be sitting up and taking notice.

Finally Max was last I’m afraid. Almost five seconds behind Van der Garde.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

German GP

Sorry, but this will only be a short one this week due to various factors.

Right German GP this weekend.

Pirelli have thrown their toys out of the pram and gone on the offensive this week. The tyres exploding at Silverstone were to do with teams running the rubber outside of recommended parameters. i.e. on the wrong wheel, below the pressure range and with excessive camber. According to Pirelli its their own stupid fault for not following instructions and Pirelli are sick and tired of carrying the can for this.

So the FIA have waded in and told the teams to do as Pirelli say or they will be charged with bringing the sport in to disrepute or some such.

The upshot is that there will be new tyre compounds and designs for the rears and anyone that doesn't like it can go whistle dixie. Things are changing because the old design isn't up to the gig, especially when its abused by the sneaky teams. The Tyres are not expected to explode this weekend.

The highlight of all this has been Redbulls hilarious high moral grandstanding as a team that has been demanding changes since day one and if only the people in power had done as they wanted none of this sorry episode would have happened. Horner might not have had a bloody clue what Mark Webber was up too, but he knew full well those tyres were a death trap waiting to happen.

So, yes, with new tyres things will be a bit up in the air form book wise. Lotus and Force india are expected to be the big losers from all of this, Merc and Redbull the winner.

Merc especially are on a bit of a roll at the moment and Nico could well be a good bet for a podium or win if his luck holds out. the Merc is certainly a fast car and can give the Redbull a run for its money when Vettel isn't stripping teeth in his gearbox. My surprise this season is how flat Ferrari are looking, they were all over the show in practice last weekend with a car that looked like it only had a passing understanding of the word "Grip". Alonso is once again having to drive the balls off the car to stay in touch with the front runners, Merc and Redbull qualifying consistently ahead of he red cars isn't helping.

I think Lewis has got his mojo back now and would have cruised to the victory in Blighty but for the tyre. Even then he want from the back of the field to four in a ca rthat is supposed to eat its rear tyres. He might well be on a mission her to get a result and remind the Merc board of directors why he is being paid the big buck.

Merc for pole ... pretty much a given unless its wet ( I don't know what the forcast is at the moment)

Redbull and Alosno on the podium ... lotus mid top ten and i think the choice is between a McLaren and a Force India for the rest of the points.

Van der whatsit will still be last.