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.