Thursday, 30 October 2014

There's a deafening silence from the FIA isn't there !

We live in interesting times.

Right now there are a lot of people wondering round the F1 paddock nervously glancing at their generic mobile devices, checking to see if their team is next to call in the administrators. On Wednesday last week the lads and lasses of Caterham arrived at the factory to find the doors locked and a message on twitter about administrators and trying to get the team refinanced. The word was Bernie had agreed to the team missing the next two races due to them having no money. Then over the weekend rumours started that Marussia wouldn’t be at the US GP either. Monday morning saw confirmation on social media that the team was in the hands of the administrators who were also looking to refinance.

You wait years for a team to buy at rock bottom prices than two turn up at once! except there are no buyers out there for two failed teams. The only thing they have of value is that they are F1 teams. And that only works if they pay for that entry … and turn up to every event. On November 1st the FIA will expect a cheque for £60,000 from Caterham and slightly more from Marussia to pay for their entry next year. Oddly the entry fee is based on the number of points the team got the previous year. So Marussia having got those two world championship point, have to pay more than Caterham who have nothing.

There is also a question mark over weather Marussia signed up to the concord agreement before 2009, after that date any team that goes into insolvency (and why would you be calling the administrators in, if you weren’t insolvent). Is automatically banned from taking part in any future races. It was Manor racing which originally formed the team as Virgin, but that all got sold to the Russians and the key question is; was the signing of the agreement by the old team or the new team. If the consensus is no Marussia signed after 2009, they won’t even have an F1 entry to sell, it’ll all be over.

From what I've heard, the debt Marussia currently has could conceivable keep a small third world dictatorship in electric nipple clamps and gold plated AK-47 for a very long time. These boys have an eye watering large debt that isn't the sort of thing an "investment company" will want to take on. 

Which is a real shame in my opinion. For Jules, for the team and for Max, who is never going to get another drive in F1 … ever. And we can all kiss goodbye to that five point banker each race!

With Sauber being touted as the next team to call in the administrators and Lotus not long after that, we could be looking at a grid of 16 cars next year, and then we have this vague promise of three cars teams. An idea only Bernie and CVC seem enthusiastic about. There are rules apparently for all of this to happen, but they are deadly top secret and no one is allowed to tell us, the paying public, what those rules are.

What I think there is, is a total vacuum if ideas and love for the sport at the top. CVC are just trying to rape the thing for all its cash and don’t appear to give a shit how much blood is getting sloshed around to achieve that. Two teams have almost certainly gone to the wall and Bernie is wittering onto the Daily Mail business section (that bastion of calm, considered, fact based investigative journalism) about the upper fifth form selling old cars to the lower third. But only if they let them have their tuck privileges and Fotherington-smyth is allowed to drive the car because he’s driven his dads Audi R8 at least twice.

Someone, not necessarily anyone who actually knows the truth, says the teams need 60 days’ notice before they can roll out these third cars. Which means we almost certainly won’t see this at the last race. But if the teams continue to fall by the way side at the current rate, next year could be interesting. And by interesting, I mean a whole idiots convention of stupidness, If you think a double points finale is pushing the limit of plausibility then the 2015 season is going to be a real humdinger for you. A return to the glory days of the FIA/CVC/Bernie sticking their oar when they don’t like the results and random rule changes.

I think we should all be worried about where F1 is going. Patched up grids, no idea who wins and who gets what points, new cars appearing for a few races, the big boys getting further and further ahead. Even multiclass racing has been suggested as a way to fill the grids, with GP2 teams filling in for missing teams. Make no mistake here, F1 is at a real crisis point, there is too little money concentrate at the top, what money that is available is being withheld from the teams that need it most. The sport is being run as a business to make money, not as a way of promoting excellence through engineering and skill.

But all that is just depressing isn’t it. Let’s look at the racing instead, at least that’s been good this year.

I rather like this American track; The drag off the line up the hill is made for TV, then the high speed sweeping curves to play follow the leader. A couple of off camber right angle overtaking zones, then a nice fast straight into a challenging technical section made for cars with balance and poise to dance through. The cars need plenty of grunt for the long bits, but a well-balanced car can make up time in the sweeping and technical corners.

It gets bonus points for not being on some industrial estate or down town car park and with a crowd that is pretty good. These aren't he fans that are leaving NASCAR in droves either, these are the knowledgeable types that like to see a good race and have a good time. 

So yeah, I think its pretty good track with lots of potential for a good race.

Do you remember the first time we came here ? it was brand spanking new and the track had yet to be rubbered in, so it was like a skating rink. That was the first big event on the track and it made it a bit of a lottery. Well, the feeling is, these new torquey cars of 2014 might well struggle to find enough grip this weekend. 

Mercedes have been making a big song and dance all over the social media world about winning the 2014 constructors title, a bit of good news in all the doom and gloom, the expectation now is that they'll let the boys have a proper go at racing this weekend. there has been a lot of discussion about Nico and his lost win in Russia. Lots of "pundits" would have you believe that he'd beaten Lewis off the line and would have cruised to and easy win, if only he hadn't made a tiny silly little mistake. I think that's not the first tiny little mistake he's made this year and probably won't be his last.

In a straight fight, Lewis has made less mistakes on the track than Nico. Rosberg has made more unforced errors this year, the missed turn in Monaco, braking too late in Monza twice, braking far too late again in Sochi and fumbling the pass on Lewis in Spa and almost taking them both out. Call it a lack of maturity or not responding well to the pressure if yo like, but its not the best way to win a world championship.
He's still as fast as Lewis and if he keeps it all together has just as much chance as his team mate of winning this weekend. 

Okay, so The Merc up front, Williams next, Danny could be on for a podium if he can keep up with the Williams. Vettel driving for the Lolz now and Ferrari trying to impress in a key market.

Torro Rosso, Lotus and Sauber racing with one eye on the hot line to the accountants. 

REMEMBER ... There are no Caterhams or Marussias to come last here, it will be a new face at the back this week. This could be your chance to make up some points on those that haven't bothered to update their teams. 

Choose from Maldonardo, Sutil and That Mexican chap. Grosjean is better than all of them so he's safe. An outside bet would be Kvyat or Vergne. But i think realistically, baring any last lap idiocy, it'll be a Lotus or Sauber driver. 

Right that's long enough, time for bed   

Don't forget to update your predictions before friday. Good luck.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Follow the money trail

I am an engineer, a mechanical engineer which means I know how engines and aero work. The flow of life giving air over the sculpted flanks of a carbon fibre body before it is sucked into the heart of the beast. To spin the exquisitely designed and detailed turbo and thrust this symphony power and violence down a strip of tarmac as fast as possible.
Human minds design these things. People who were  bullied at school for being "smart", who sat in French lessons and drew pictures of cars with wings and big fat sticky tyres.
People who know stuff okay, honest to goodness people who identify problems and fix them.
Right now the honest to goodness people of Caterham are locked out of their work place. Not entirely sure of what tomorrow will bring.
Far away, suits argue about who said what and desperately try to cover their fat backsides from recrimination. Things will rumble on for six months or so, eventually they'll all walk away from this a little bloodied maybe a few million poorer, but essentially OK. Whilst the boys and girls back home who turned the suits and their accountants impossible demands and unintelligible spreadsheets into something approaching reality try to pick up their lives.
Okay it was ever thus, but back the day it was a half a dozen lads who could walk up the pit lane and start spannering for the next wannabe playboy. There are around 200 people at Caterham who face the very real prospect of redundancy in the next few days.
The administrator has said they will release the cars for the American GP next weekend if the creditors are paid in a timely fashion. At this point in time no one thinks that's going to happen. And where will Bernie be during all of this you may wonder? I can't imagine he's on the phone to Switzerland or Fernandez demanding the staff are properly looked after. Its a dog eat dog world out there after all, there has to be a natural culling of the deadwood.
So when it all finally comes crashing down and the media has picked over the rotting carcass, just remember that there are people like you and me involved here, not just fantastically rich men with airlines and palaces in Saudi Arabia.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Dull ... that is all

Dull dull dull dull dull  .. no really that was dull in an absolutely and totally “this is the very definition of the word dull” dull race.

I watched a bit of the practice session and established that;

  • A.  The track looks like a big car park for most of the circuit
  • B.  There was hardly any grandstands or vantage points for the spectators so it looked like an empty car park for most of the race/practice.
  • C.  It’s a dull track.
You are not here to enjoy yourself comrade !!!

So I didn’t see qualifying and Hamilton still got pole.

I watch the race and that is two hours of my life I’ll never get back. The only highlight was Rosberg locking up his brakes into turn 1 and robbing us of any actual racing. Then, rather than watch him drive back through the field in an exciting “I have the best car of the grid hear me roar” type entertainment, we watched cars follow each other around for the afore mentioned two hours.

If you watched it too and didn’t fall asleep, congratulations, It wasn’t even interesting in a “will his tyres last?” because everyone else was running out of Go juice and couldn’t race anyway.
Turn three looked just about alright, but I won’t be counting down the days till the next Russian GP, I can assure you that.

Hamilton won at a canter and only had to avoid Nico running out of talent to extent his lead in the championship. To be fair he looked like he had this place nailed form the moment FP1 started. It’s exactly the sort of track he thrives on and he didn't fail to deliver. The win pretty much sealed the constructors’ championship for Mercedes with three races to go and you have to say they fully deserved it. Redbull pushed them at times but really it was Mercs to lose really.

Nico’s second was more a demonstration of just how good the 2014 F1 Mercedes car is than his skill, he didn’t break a sweat coming from the back of the field to the podium, the car just looked awesome. Shame we didn’t see any of it on the TV, it was the only thing of interest if you had the timing and scoring app going.

Bottas was third, he almost got pole apparently, He followed Hamilton for most of the race and tried to pretend he was racing for second with Nico at the end. All he did was confirm the Williams is fast in a straight line.

Button was forth and might have got a podium with a bit more luck. He’s another driver trying to demonstrate at the end of the year how much better he should have been at the start of the year. The feeling is he might have done enough too.

Magnussen was fifth with another plucky run, I think he’s done enough to justify another year with McLaren, he’s had a few duff races but in the main he’s been feisty and gone out there to get points.

Alonso is dying the slow death of a thousand rumours. This week, he’s going to buy half of the Lotus team with a fat wad of Spanish sponsors money and be a team manager come driver. Because that always works out for the best, doesn’t it Mr Prost. I think driver and team are just counting down the days till they can walk away from each other now.

Ricciardo was seventh on a day when Renault’s lack of straight line speed was shown up in all its glory. Being stuck behind Vettel for half the race didn’t help either.  

Vettel working out his notice, was eighth

Kimi was ninth on the way to picking up his pay cheque

And Perez was tenth was a petrol tank dangerously close to empty I suspect. He was getting calls to save petrol from about the half way point. Which always makes for exciting wheel to wheel action doesn’t it.

Okay so Ericsson was last as Max and the Marussia boys didn't look like they really wanted to be there this weekend, a perfectly understandable attitude given the situation I thought.
And Bottas got the fastest lap on the last hurrah for him.

Okay, well not the most exciting of races, but after the distress of Suzuka, it was probably what the sport needed. There were no dramas, no worrying moments and all the drivers that started walked away at the end.  We have a three week break now as the team’s head off to America, let’s hope we have some good news from Japan and Alonso finally tells us where he is going next year.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Putin on the Ritz .. Russian GP preview

Hello all you lovely people that read this nonsense, it’s because of you I have to drag myself to the keyboard time and again, not that many of you ever give me any feedback! This is a blog you know, there’s a comments box down there for a reason. Come on, my ego needs a boast if nothing else, tell me what you like, don’t tell me about the rubbish bits, I don’t need that kind of pressure.

Right yeah, anyway motor racing, that’s why we’re here.

I’m not going to talk about Jules Bianchi too much. There is a video out there that if you are particularly voyeuristic, which shows the crash and I have no intentions of viewing it myself. By all accounts it’s pretty grim watching. There are also pictures of the aftermath, the top of the car is missing and most of the left hand side is a mess, the general consensus being the likeable French lad is lucky to be alive.

The Bianchi family released a statement today, Jules suffered “A diffuse axonal injury” when the two halves of the brain are pulled apart in the accident, causing tares in the soft tissue. This is very common in side impact collisions and the most common cause of death in road traffic accidents. Those side impact air bags that manufactures go on about on your car, well they’re there to stop these injuries. They try to stop your brain sloshing around inside your skull by slowing down the impact with the window/door pillar. I imagine at 200 kmp/h or whatever speed poor Jules hit the tractor, he didn’t stand much chance. 90% of the time victims just don’t wake up after unconsciousness, those that do are usually permanently damaged. It’s about the worst accident you can have.

As to what happens next, I have my thoughts as does every other fan and pundit with access to the social media world. And I think it’s maybe best to wait to see what the FIA have to say about the accident before wringing the hands and demanding this and that immediate action. There’s opinion out there to agree or disagree with as you feel.

One final thing, a closed cockpit probably wouldn’t have made any difference here, he hit the tractor at over a 100 mph sideways. It was that sideways impact that did the damage.

Shall we move on then? What about Vettel then! He’s proper shafted Alonso hasn’t he ho ho! There was Fernando stringing Ferrari, McLaren and the worlds media along, “ I haze not made a decision por favor, I love a thez Ferrari and I want to ay win ay again with ay them, gracias”.

Ferrari had apparently released the grumpy Spaniard from his contract (read: got sick and tired of having Alonso messing them around for week after week so fired his sorry ass) and told Vettel that if he was going to come to Ferrari then this was his last chance, a well beaten ex world champion was no good to them, they already had one of those. Sometime between the Singapore race and the start for the Japanese weekend Vettel confirmed he’d join them.

Then Vettel calls up his boss Horner on the Friday night before the Japanese GP and calmly announces he’s had enough of being beaten by Danny and being made to look petulant and ordinary, so he’s off.

Redbull immediately call a press conference for Saturday morning to tell the worlds media that Sebastian is off to Ferrari and they’ve promoted Kvyat to the A team! The Russian looks a bit bemused but happy, Vergne can be seen visibly spitting blood in the background and quite rightly points out he’s been the bread winner at Torro Rosso so far this year. All too late of course the deal has been done and no one knows who he is or what the strange angry man is doing in a Torro Rosso team shirt.

Ferrari caught rather on the hop, not expecting Vettel to tell his team the news for a few weeks or Redbull to announce Ferrari’s new driver line for them, denied EVERYTHING. Alonso smiled awkwardly and said, “errrr” a lot whilst Kimi wondered if he could get an ice cream.

Pretty much everyone has their money on Button getting his marching order so Alonso can slot in beside Kev at McLaren Honda. The crazy money (and this would be mine) puts Alonso in an LMP1 car next year, either with Porsche and his good mate Webber. Because Porsche ARE going to win Le Mans next year and if Alonso wants to do it then now is the ideal time to pick up an easy ride. OR and this is very left field, with Nissan and their absolutely brand spanking new LMP1 program. It’s a long shot but he has ties with Nissan through the Renault connection. The Japanese manufacturer has been making lots of noise since they announced they were going to go back to Le Mans about getting the best F1 drivers on board from the off. Who better than the driver universally considered the best of the current generation? Unlikely, but if that does happen you all owe me a pint. Cheers.

How will Vettel do at Ferrari? … Well let’s put it this way, Alonso, head and shoulders the best driver out there, couldn’t drag this pony to the championship winning line for the last four years. Do you think Vettel will do a better job than the Spaniard? Because I don’t think he will.

“But what about his mentor Schumacher?” you all cry, “He took a rubbish Ferrari back to the top table and dominated for 5 years !!?!?!?!”!”?!”!!!””!£!”£!”

Pish and indeed tish to your “Schumacher did it” nonsense. They had a dream team join at about the same time and a driver that could develop a car and who was prepared to win by any means. Vettel is inheriting a team that’s just lost its well respected manager for a used car salesman, and Fiat have effectively fired Monty for being a nut ball. They don’t have a plan, there’s no grand vision and super squad of engineers and brains to drive the thing to the championship. Vettel is the last roll of the dice for a desperate board scrabbling around for a miracle. Yeah he had to go somewhere, but the Tifosi will crucify him when he doesn’t deliver, they only barely tolerated Mickey in his heyday. Vettels a spent force, or at the very best soiled goods.  

He’ll turn out to have a renaissance now as Ferrari build their best ever car in 2015, just to spite me the jammy buggers.

Okay enough with the Vettel hate.  Good luck to him, a driver is only as good as his last race and the cocky git won four championships by fair means or foul. He still had to actually do the driving after all. And Ferrari is still the biggest thing in F1, any driver worth his fire proof overalls would jump at the chance to drive for them.

So it’s Russia and the brand new Sochi circuit. You remember Valencia, yeah, how utterly awful it was? The highlight of the part time dockyard circuit being the old fish market, how the beaches were full next door as the stands were empty?

Well this place looks just as awful except we have the whiff of power and corruption stinking up the show. Why the FIA have allowed this one to happen is entirely explained by money.
There is no reason on earth to come here, especially as the rest of Europe is currently piling on economic sanctions as Russia continues to invade Eastern Ukraine.  Oh but sport and politics should never be mixed blah blah blah.. bollocks to that!
There’s a clause in the FIA charter somewhere about no event to be used for political purposes by the host country.  I guarantee you this weekend will see a lot of Russian military might being paraded around for “security issues”. And no doubt Putin will be on the podium or visit the pits to congratulate the boy Kvyat on his new promotion. With lots of pictures of happy flag waving locals smiling at the Russian Premier, if he turns up to the Marussia pits with a wreath I'm turning it off straight away.

NO ..... Bernard, Kvyat will win and my tanks will come second. Do you understand ?

It is, I'm afraid, going to be another sordid chapter in the FIA history book of shame.

Still there’s a race for a championship on so let’s at least focus on that shall we.  Hamilton’s win in Japan was clearly overshadowed by events, but it now means he’s leading Rosberg by 10 points. I’ve seen the track layout and watch the simulator trip of this Tilke track and there is nothing of any real note about it. Its round the Olympic park last seen this winter, so at least its new and sparkly. But really it just looks like yet another industrial/techno park somewhere in central Europe. It’s a “road” course like Valencia was and Canada is. So sort of purpose built but temporary.

Mercedes had a big upgrade in Japan and were two seconds ahead of everyone else again, so one of them is going to win (unless Putin rolls the tanks in a Kvyat is declared the winner of course).    As for the rest, well your guess is as good as mine, I don’t know how the circuit will pan out, though there word is it’s going to be heavy on the brakes. High speed and long, Possible Williams do well and McLaren to improve. The Redbulls were fast in Japan, but only because they went for a really wet set up.

It’s going to be down to adaptability and the drivers that can read the feel of the car as the track evolves.

Time to dust off that looking glass and prepare to make your predictions. .. Good luck.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Japanese GP

Ok, At the time of writing this, Jules Bianchi is in hospital undergoing emergency surgery after colliding with a recovery vehicle. The tractor had come on to remove Sutils car from the barrier on the outside of the Dunlop curve. It’s a fast uphill left hand corner that goes on and on, the exit is blind and even in the dry pretty tricky.  
The reports are that as the tractor was lifting Sutils car back behind the tyre wall, Bianchi lost control, spinning the car under the rear of the tractor, which suggest there was no impact structure to bear the brunt of the crash, the first thing to hit was probably Jules’s head. I don’t even want to imagine what that must have done.  

It’s never easy to know what to write in these circumstances, I'm old enough to remember the years when you could expect at least one driver to be lost due to an accident on or off the track, it was almost expected. But the 80’s saw the introduction of more and more safety features for the cars, drivers and the tracks. Accidents because less frequent and we though the bad days were gone. Then Senna died and the safety efforts we increased again, some said to the detriment to the sport that things were being sanitised and the danger was missing. But then Kubica crashed horrifically at high speed in Canada, the car disintegrating down the wall in a shower of carbon fibre and engine bits. Amazingly Kubica all but walked away and everyone congratulated the rule makers for making things safe again. Lessons seemed to have been learnt.
But it seems as though whatever the rule makers do, the drivers head is always going to be vulnerable, Massa was lucky to be alive after hitting a spring that had fallen of Barrichello’s Brawn during qualifying in Hungary in 2009. Tethers were introduced to stop stray wheels bouncing around the open cockpits. Higher sides with deformable crash structure padding were added to stop heads bouncing from side to side and HANS devices made mandatory to stop heads being slammed into the steering wheels.
It looks like Jules was just in the wrong place at the wrong time; I just hope he will be return to F1

So there was a race, Hamilton survived his own crash on Saturday morning but couldn’t beat his team mate to pole in the dry.
The race on Sunday started in the wet behind a safety car, we got 2 laps before they brought everyone in to wait for the rain to stop. When they restarted behind the safety car half an hour later we got a hatful of laps as the track dried before the racing started.
Rosberg scampered off, but burnt his tyres out as Lewis pegged him back and passed with ease and then never looked back.  Button looked like he could get a podium, but the Redbulls with their wet set up were able to haul him in a Vettel got to follow the Merc boys for a change.

Then Sutil lost it and Bianchi followed a lap later, this brought out the safety car and eventually the red flag as the extent of Bianchi accident became clear.  As the cars parked up and the drivers were told of the reason why, no one wanted to celebrate the race. They were wet, cold and one of their own was being rushed to hospital. Some things are more important than champagne and points.

Hamilton wins and made it look effortless

Rosberg was second and was well beaten

Vettel was third after Redbull set the car up for a very wet race. – I’ll talk about his move to Ferrari later.

Ricciardo was fourth and unlucky, he pitted for new tyres just before the safety car and lost his place to Vettel when they counted back one lap.

Button fifth always goes well in changeable conditions. He made Riccy work his points with a feisty drive.

Bottas was sixth and was clearly struggling with a Willimas lacking downforce.
Massa was seventh and had the same problem as Bottas

Hulkenberg is classified eighth even though he’s stopped at pit exit. I think he was in the pit box when they took the lap before the red flag so get to keep his finish.

Vergne irate in ninth with his team for promoting Kvyat to the A team when he’s got more points than the Russian and out qualified him.

Perez was tenth.

Kobayashi was the last  driver to finish.

Sorry it’s a bit short and sombre this week, I’ll talk about Alonso’s future, Vettels move to Ferrari and Kvyats promotion next week, for now let’s just hope Bianchi is going to be alright. The FIA just put out a press release to say;

“Suzuka, October 5th
- On lap 42, Adrian Sutil lost control of his car, spun and hit the tyre barrier on the outside of Turn 7. The marshals displayed double waved yellow flags before the corner to warn drivers of the incident. A recovery vehicle was despatched in order to lift the car and take it to a place of safety behind the guardrail. While this was being done the driver of car 17, Jules Bianchi, lost control of his car, travelled across the run-off area and hit the back of the tractor.
Once the marshals reported that the driver was injured, medical teams were despatched and the Safety Car was deployed. These were followed by an extrication team and an ambulance.
The driver was removed from the car, taken to the circuit medical centre and then by ambulance to Mie General Hospital.
The CT scan shows that he has suffered a severe head injury and he is currently undergoing surgery. Following this he will be moved to intensive care where he will be monitored.

Mie General Hospital will issue an update as soon as further information becomes available.”

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Scarpper lads it's the rozzers !!!

Just when it looked like things couldn't get much worse for the caterham boys and girls, it appears the law has turned up and started asking awkward question of the accounts department.

What this means to team in Japan is anyone's guess, but given it looks like HMRC have got involved I don't think you should be banking on any actual caterham points this weekend.

The team has issued a swift denial of any problems with the law, but not through their official website, only via twitter. So the race is on then between Sauber and Caterham, who will go to the wall first ? 

130R .. It's proper scary !

Right, we’re back to struggling though an alcoholic haze to get up really early or pulling an all nighter, depending on how much red wine you have on Saturday night.  But it’s all worth it, well the first one is … because this is a big hairy chested manly circuit that likes to strut around with its pecks thrust out daring ne’er do wells to “have at it”.  

Suzuka is one of those circuits that likes to separate the talent from the money. Its fast, narrow and rewards drivers that like to go and attack the tarmac, cocking around being dangerous is a guaranteed trip to the wall. Respect the black stuff as you thrash the car for its impertinent remarks about matrons risqué hemline.
Japan is worth the trouble to get up early to watch, you can imagine the likes of Surtees, Lauda and Hunt thundering around the place in cars that regularly killed their drivers. In places there is little or no run off, no sop to the digital generation that must have their mistakes caressed and kissed away. If you go off line you go into the wall hard. The circuit sweeps and dives around the hill in a figure of eight until the cars reach the end of the lap and the fearsome 130R. There are so many sanitised corners around the worlds tracks now, no real sense of danger to them, in today’s digital cars a driver merely has to turn the wheel and let the electronics do the rest.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m an engineer and  I’m constantly in awe of a. the minds that created these technical marvels, and b. The modern drivers that can adjust brake bias, change the engine mapping programme, adjust their entry and exit speed of any given corner to save fuel and still avoid Maldonado spinning across their past at 180mph. Even Max is a better driver than we mere mortals, for some of you changing the  radio station and driving in a straight line can prove ‘challenging’ after all.

But Suzuka and its 130R, sorts the committed drivers from those that can shake hands and smile at suits really, really well. The driver approaches the corner though a tunnel of concrete and catch fencing as the speed builds to an eye watering 310km/h, the entry is blind the over the brow of a hill, a twitch of the computer console in the drivers hands flicks the car left. The really committed, the special few that are tilting for a pole lap, grab a lung full of air  before the lateral load builds to 6G and breathing is impossible for a split second. Driver and car flash under the gantry above the exit of the corner, before it’s all over and the left foot stamps on the anchors to get the car slowed for the turn in to the hairpin.  It’s a corner that demands respect and the driver to have total faith in the carbon fibre and metal machine under him.  

This  .. this is what it’s all about. This is why you wake up and watch it all live.

So then what’s been happening around the circus.

Well the frothing about Alonso’s future continues. With claim and counter claim being fired at the internet by  every hack with a laptop and some time to kill. McLaren Honda, stay with Ferrari, off to Porsche and a Le Mans drive etc etc. Who knows, I not sure Fernando knows to be honest.

Button has been jumping up and down at the back of the room with his hand in the air telling everyone that “Sir, sir .. please sir, Honda needs an experienced man that knows Honda and McLaren .. just like me in fact sir”. For all the world giving the impression he wants to stay for another year!

 Meanwhile Honda have released a few picture of what their new engine will look like before its slipped into the soft pouting confines of a McLaren MCP-dodarr-12-F-43-GB-JP-FAX F1 car.

Guten tag boys ..eeerrr I mean Konnichiwa  

 And if I didn’t know better I’d say it has more than a passing resemblance to the very successful Mercedes engine. Intercooler at the front, turbo at the rear. So maybe a year on the side lines has paid off after all, though the idea they have only now decided on the design and hasn’t even been built yet, is quite frankly laughable. They’ll have had half a dozen version run into the ground before the press got to see this one.  Still we shall see how it goes, which is expected to be the young drivers test at the end of the season in Dubai.

Also of note this weekend, the news that young Verstappen will get his big debut this weekend in Fridays free practice one. Lots of people will tell you he’s too young, other that he’s got the skills to pay the bills. He’s certainly got the cash to buy his Torro Rosso seat so let’s see how the youngest ever F1 driver copes with whole piranha pit shall we. Do you remember when you we 17 ? All I thought about back then was the contents of Juliet Browns cardigan and where I could get some cheap cider from. Which might explain why I’m writing this from an office in Yateley and not the Ferrari hospitality suit. Ho hum. Anyway .. good luck to him, there’s plenty of time to be rude about him next year.  

Over in Sauber land things look like they’re about to reach crunch time. Simona De Silvestro, the next lady to get a pop at an F1 drive and who some consider to be on a par with the mid field boys at least. Was supposed to be getting a seat in the car next year, but it looks like the Sauber boys were asking just too much money. Contract negotiations have broken down, much like the car this year, apparently the problem is on her side and I suspect she’s been outbid for next year’s car. Given how well Sutil has gone this year, that might not be a bad result for her career anyway.

Okay enough, the race is on at some ungodly hour of the morning, If you have Sky and motors TV then this weekend also see the final American Le mans series race at Road Atlanta on Saturday night.  (I know its TUSCC now but most of these people will have no idea what that means, pipe down at the back). Endurance racing at its not quite best, it’s worth watching if you want to hear big grunty V8 and Ferrari V12 being ragged through the American countryside.

Done forget to update your predictions … yes some of you really do need to .. and good luck.