Tuesday, 1 December 2015

It's all a numbers game really.

Here's a fun one for you, the 2015 season in numbers from the BBC.

It underlines just how much Lewis and Mercedes dominated the the year and how much Ferrari and Vettel bounced back from their previous poor years.

But ultimately .. Mercedes 703 points, the highest ever points haul in F1; a feat not even Redbull in their pomp could achieve, says it all.  

The 2015 F1 year in numbers.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

At last, its all over ...

And so it all comes to an end, it’s been a long year this one, we’re traversed the world a dozen times to some far flung places to watch cars go round and round past half empty grandstands.

We’ve listened to Redbull bleat on endlessly about its engine woes, how the Renault was so bad, how no one would give them an engine. Then we had the frankly ridiculous sight of the team owner of one of the richest teams in the sports history, who owns a company that makes more money per minute than most third world countries spend on healthcare, whining that Mercedes and Ferrari wanted upwards of 30 million Euros for a year’s supply of engine.  An engine with a  winning pedigree you will note and ultimately this complaining about having to spend too much money by the richest team on the grid lead the FIA to propose plans for a Tescos value engine in 2017. Other value brands will be available, check local stores for details.

Thankfully the budget plan was binned and the engine manufactures agreed to lower the cost of their engines and share the supply round a bit more. Redbull went back to  Renault and pretty much begged to buy unbadged French engines with no yellow logos or Infiniti sponsorship. If they think they had a bad year in 2015, next year is going to be all kinds of pain.

This year was yet another where the racing was over shadowed by talk of money. Who had it, who wanted it, and who was taking it out of the sport?  But then, it didn’t take too much to overshadow the racing this year. One poor punter even attempted to find something interesting to watch by walking on the track during the race at Singapore.

Far too often our eyes drooped lower and lower as the processional races dragged on. Cars simply can't follow and over take one another unless there is a massive difference in top speed. The fact that a McLaren 20 mph in a straight line less than a Williams can't be passed at a place like Abu Dhabi, tells you everything you need to know.

 Formula one continued to keep all the goodies to itself unless you were prepared to pay a hefty wedge for it. The £20 for the app was the tip of the iceberg, Germany bailed when it couldn’t afford to pay the sanctioning fee and later the circuit of the Americas in Texan said they were going to struggle when state funding was cut next year. F1 is moving further and further away from its European heartland. Next year we’re going to Azerbaijan and a new street circuit round Baku, because of the rich and vibrant heritage of motorsport in the former Soviet satellite state.
But given how close it is to the hot spots of the Middle East and with the horror in Paris still fresh in our minds, let’s see if we actually go next year shall we.  

The BBC are making noises about not showing any live F1 next year. With the need to cut cost as licence fee negotiations drag on with the government, an expensive program carting a ton of equipment and personal around the world looks like an unnecessary expense to the suits in Whitehall. With Bernie’s absolute reluctance to countenance any live internet feed that can’t be monetised  soon the only way you’ll be able to see a race live will be through satellite pay walls. F1 is getting expensive and someone has to pay to keep the whole mess rolling along.

What has struck me the most this year has been the startling lack of fans in the stands. Hugh swaths of seating were empty on Friday and Saturday and only marginally livelier on Sunday for the race.  If you watched any of the GP2 action this year, there were times when a driver would be lucky to see a handful of spectators as he raced around. Now I don’t have any figures to hand because it’s a big faff to go hunting for them but I’ll put good money on this year being seen by the fewest people since the 80’s, well maybe the Vettel and Schumacher years had lower numbers. But my point is F1 is dying as a spectator sport, it costs too much to go and watch the show live because Bernie is screwing every dime out of the circuits and promoters. Then you can’t watch it live on TV unless you’re paying Sky or whatever local service you have, who are also paying through the nose to Bernie.

F1 was always a pretty exclusive, but these days the only people that can afford to follow it are the sort that turn up to the hospitality box after the port and cheese course around lap 40.

We, the muddy scum, are pushed back further and further behind more and more advertising hoarding and asked to pay higher and higher entrance fees. It’s almost like they don’t actually want us there! Go to a WEC race and you can wonder the pits during the race. Talk to drivers and sit where you like. Sure. I know there are far fewer people at an endurance race that isn’t Le Mans. But you feel like the ACO who organise the race want you there, actively encourage you to follow drivers, teams and the championship.  This year Porsche beat Audi to win the drivers and constructors title, it came down to the last hour of the last race. It was fantastic and it was everything F1 wasn’t.

F1 racing in 2015 was mostly dull, prescribed and artificial.  The rich teams were out the front and the poor teams (and McLaren) were at the back. Customer teams never challenged the works squads, it was difficult to see a team other than Mercedes winning and generally that was Hamilton. Nico rallied at the end with a career best three in a row, but it was far too late to make a difference to the entertainment. Ferrari did win races, but only when the Merc had problems, the German winning machine was never raced for the lead or beaten for pace. Well maybe in Singapore.

Reading that back it all seems a bit depressing doesn't it? Let's have a look at the drivers and see if we can find something a bit more upbeat.

So in reverse championship order, this is how they did.

Will Stevens - Marussia - Zero points.

Not as much fun as Super Max was last year, Will was sort of there and couldn't beat his regular team mate Merhi. He apparently has enough money for a seat next year when the team gets the Merc engine.

Alexander Rossi/Roberto Merhi - Marussia - Zero.

Merhi seemed to be last an awful lot but actually got a 12th at Silverstone and Rossi also got a 12th in America. Again both where sort of there, mostly getting out of the way of the big boys of the upper sixth form. I can't remember them doing anything much of note, well maybe we should give Rossi some props for turning up and not being yet another awful American driver. I thought he did alright to get in the car and be as competitive as Stevens was. We might see either of them again, but as usual it will depend on who has the money.

Marcus Ericsson - Sauber - 9.

Marcus showed some moments of class, but more often than not was out shone by his team mate. his best result of 8th was in Australia and it wasn't until Italy before he got close to that, usually he'd finish somewhere between 12th and 14th, nothing exciting, just a solid driver in an average car.

Fernando Alonso - McLaren - 11

Hey look it's the end of the season and here we are wondering if Fernando will be on the grid next year yet again! But can you blame him? Abu Dhabi saw him passed by two Ferraris racing for third place whilst he plodded on to a lowly 17th. He was in that car last year and now here he is tooling around in an ill handling car at the back of the grid, he only just beat Ericsson in the Sauber. He only troubled the top ten twice all year 5th in Hungary and 10th in England. This was not the plan when he told Ferrari what it could do with its 2015 racing plan. He kept a lid on things until Japan when the frustration burst forth to tell the team just what he thought of the Honda power unit. Poor old Alonso, he is a great talent, but he's getting old and another season like this will be his last.

Jenson Button - McLaren - 16

Where Alonso got grumpier and grumpier as the season wore on Jenson's grin just seemed to get wider and wider. Sure he was scrapping with the Saubers and Marussias, but he always managed to find something positive and still be honest with the media and fans. Sure the car was a dog, but he had fun and made it to the top ten four times.  He just got on with things and accepted this wasn't going to be a glorious season. You had to admire him, and if you watched each interview carefully you could see him hitching the Bonhomie up just before checking the stiff upper lip was in place.
Yes a year to forget for McLaren, but it's in the past now and things can only get better.

Carlos Sainz - Torro Rosso - 18

Carlos was in grave danger of being lost in the hubbub of Verstappen praise at time this year in any other year and he would have been Rookie of the year, but a four race mid season dip just as Max hit his stride saw Sainz fade into the background. Which was a shame because where Max was balls out gungho glory is forever, Sainz was measured and tried to guarantee the points rather than go out in a blaze of glory.  He is a talent and I can see him and max fighting for titles in years to come, he just needs a bit more of Lady Lucks attention.

Pastor Maldonado - Lotus - 27

I still don't know why Pasto has a super licence! Than man proved yet again this year that he is a liability in any car you put him in. He doesn't appear to be able to learn to be sensible and the just accept the car in front is in the way of him. Too often we saw bit of carbon fibre hanging off Maldonado's car and another driver left behind facing the wrong direction or scrapping bits of carbon fibre off the road. The word is Lotus has now been bought by Renault for a bag of chips and a boiled sweet, so this nutcase and his massive pay check are free to race again next year ... no, i have no idea why either.

Filipe Nasr - Sauber - 27

I think Nasr get the place above Maldonado because he isn't an idiot.  He's entirely forgettable, but he's not a danger to other drivers. Filipe did alright, again another rookie that showed promise, nothing too exciting but good solid mid table skills. He'll be in a Williams or Force India in three or four years.

Max Verstappen - Torro Rosso - 49

It took just one move at one race to nail him tot eh title "best rookie since Hamilton, maybe even Senna". Round the outside of Nasr at Spa as they raced through Blanchemont! That one move, that moment of sublime skill made the big boys sit up and take notice. That was a move that required more than blind luck and steady nerve. You need the skills to make a move like that out there. Get it wrong and you're lucky to walk away to pick the bits up. He'll be a F1 champion one day. He's the real deal.

Romain Grosjean - Lotus - 51

Grosjean had a difficult year with a team on the edge of going under at any second. Lotus had bailiffs ready to kick the door in numerous times all year. There were times when they didn't know if the car would make it through the front gate without someone demanding payment for work undertaken of parts delivered. Yet Romain raced his little heart out and scored a memorable podium at Spa. And then as the only French driver on the grid he had to speak for the people of Paris after the terrorist attack in November. Next year he's off to the Ferrari satellite team of Hass, an America team build its cars in America far, far away from the carbon triangle in the UK where everyone else (Except Ferrari) builds or runs their cars from. I hope it's a success for him because the lad deserves a break.

Nico Hulkenberg  - Force India - 58

Went to Le Mans on his weekend off and won the race with Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber. So as far as I'm concerned he's brilliant. A mixed season in F1, always hamstrung with Force India's weird race strategies, he showed he can run at the front when he has a works car it was just a shame it had Porsche written on it.

Sergio Perez - Force India - 78

Yeah okay Perez did a good job this year, he reminded everyone why McLaren though he as the next big thing. He isn't, but he can keep a car on old tyres racing longer than anyone else out there. The third in Russia was well deserved and even a bit feisty. There were actually moments where I started to warm to the guy, I might even start to like him eventually.

Daniel Ricciardo - Redbull - 92

Last year if the Mercs dropped the ball, Riccky would be there to take the win. This year he just didn't seem to have the car under him to give him a chance. He picked up a third in Hungary when everyone else was messing around, but Redbull seemed far more interested in complaining about how unfair it was they weren't winning rather than getting on with trying to race. Ricciardo did alright, but he was racing with a car that didn't have much grunt and was apparently made from chocolate. I think they had almost as many grid penalties as McLaren for engine changes this year, not what you need to mount a challenge.

Daniil Kvyat - Redbull - 95

Daniil sort of grew into a roll he wasn't expecting to be in last year. When Vettel flounced off to Ferrari with barely a backwards glance, Kvyat was push in front of the media to learn he was going to be the replacement. The year started a bit shakily, but as it went on he grew in confidence and started to put some good weekends together, the highlight was a second place in Hungary (a race I still haven't seen so I have no idea how much he did to earn it). He was solid all year and managed to get more than Ricciardo out of the car. Luck, or skill ? I'm not sure.

Filipe Massa - Williams -121

Massa again, did alright with a team that failed to capitalise on last year's form, but it was a solid year with few fireworks and plenty of social media pictures of his lad. You know I've said it before that there is nothing wrong with being a solid midfield driver, but Filipe isn't getting any younger and a driver like Verstappen in a Williams on song would be perfect. Massa is a nice guy and all but it's time to pack the kit bag away now lad. Go out on a high of two third places, nothing embarrassing about that.

Valtteri Bottas - Williams - 136

Bottas is my most disappointing driver of the year, two thirds and a handful of fourth places were just sort of insipid and lack any real guts. He is a better driver than this and he sould have been up there fighting for wins. Williams seemed surprised that Ferrari had leapfrogged then and just didn't have an answer, they didn't try anything spectacular, it was just a case of "the computer says no" and Bottas drove for the points finishes. Then there was Kimi who seemed to get on Valtteris wick, they spent too many races bumping into each other. Mostly it was Kimi doing the bumping, because he was going for it and trying to get some extra points. Bottas was just boring for large parts of the year.

Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 150

Kimi on the other hand was his usual "Not giving a toss what you think buddy" self. He had probably his best year in a while, but once again rocked up had a laugh, did some racing, stared blankly at interviewers asking stupid questions and collected the Ferrari pay check. He got the usual Italian press "You're not trying hard enough" headlines but continued to not care. We used to think he was invincible, the best driver with more fastest laps to his name than anyone in history .. EVER. Probably. But he has become the consummate Solid number two driver. He gets out of the way, doesn't complain and picks up his pay packed. Where Alonso did nothing but complain about every little thing wrong, Kimi smiled, grunted and now he's got 150 points and Alonso has 11. Who do you think had the better game plan in the end ?

Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 278

Sebastian was the only creditable challenger to Mercedes all year, but only when they dropped the ball. He was there; aided by the team telling Kimi to get out of the way, to take three wins and generally do a good job of repairing the credibility he lost last year. And you know what, I warmed to the guy, sure he waved that finger around, but he didn't ponce around the paddock reminding everyone he was a four time world champion, he didn't make a big deal out of doing so well, he answered questions and remained a pretty grounded individual. He had some pretty witty one line put downs for Rosberg in the post race interviews and didn't seem to be taking things too seriously; he looked like he was having fun watching the Merc boys fronting up to each other. I'm sure behind closed doors it was all a bit more shouty and demanding, but the team seem to have warmed to him and they appreciated it when he gave them the credit for good results.
The truth is, Vettel is a damn good driver and this year proved he doesn't need to have Redbull logo on his chest to win.

Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - 322

The Merc boys were just miles ahead of everyone else all year and the only thing they raced was each other. Nico lost the title this year because, I personally suspect, his wife was pregnant. The car suited Lewis more at the start of the year, but Nico just didn't seem to be there some weekend, which is a complaint I've had throughout his F1 career. I said at the start of the year this season was going to come down to who had the most off circuit distraction, and it was Nico and his concerns for his wife; which is all perfectly understandable. Its still a shame really, if he had got his act together just a couple of races earlier we might have had a different to the season, but alas no. How much the end of season was down to Lewis not caring or pushing for that final 100th of a second we'll never know. But the last three race weekend were totally dominated by Nico, he looked like a champion for those weekend, he just needs to do it for a whole year.

Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 381

After last years, “Have at it lads!” which got rather out of hand towards the end for which the drivers required a stiff talking to, this year was far more sanitised. Mercedes had a 968 page book of “Do’s and definitely don’ts chaps” each race. Written in large bold type on page one was the legend, “Don’t drive into your teammate you numpties!”. Underneath that it said in slightly smaller type, “Yes, that included you Lewis. No, don’t say anything buddy, just don’t do it!”.

For much of the season Lewis and Nico kept a very respectful distance between their cars. But as the season wore on and it became more obvious that Lewis was going to win it eventually, the gap got narrower and narrower. Now, depending on weather you are #TeamLH or #teamNicoWasRobbed, Lewis was making sure of the pass or Nico was lucky to avoid being driven into the wall, The move in Japan was a touch close, but the nudge in America Lewis menat. It was intended to say, "Enough now little boy, this is my title".  Lewis didn't have any self doubt this year, it was a lesson in winning a championship, he just know it was his for the taking and nico wasn't going to get in the way.

 At times it all looked so easy. He wasn't off the podium until race 10 in Hungary, only retired once in Singapore when a thrupeny bit failed. If he didn't win he was still picking up points he was fast, consistent and lucky. That all you need to win a championship. He has a team of people around him that support him and make him feel special; he does a lot of charity work, keeps sponsorships happy and knows how to have a good time. He won with ease this year and it always looked like a "when" not "if" championship run.
 But the hat thing irks me still and the chains and the pious attitude.  I'm sure when he hangs out with his mates he's great company and a generous chap. But I just can't put my finger on what it is that is starting to irritate me about Lewis.  He was far and away the best driver of the year; you don't win titles back to back by winging it. Maybe it's just my English reserve that's getting in the way, his need to demonstrate the trappings of success, that cherry red jet, rather than talk of taking the mechanics out for a curry and beer in Brackley.  He never failed to thank the team for all its hard work and made the point that he wins because of their hard work, but you sort of get the feeling he'd rather be in Miami have a good time than shaking hands in a cold Northamptonshire factory of a Monday morning.
 I still love his driving, his never give up attitude and the way he just keeps going without compromise. I want drivers to race, and I want them to be annoyed that all they can do is follow the car behind. Lewis does all that, he want to be the winner; he argues with the team to give him the best strategy and makes damn sure that if given a sniff he'll take the points. Right now, he is the best driver in F1.  

Okay. Maybe not a classic year then but, well the right man won the title and Mercedes completely dominated. Next year might be different, who knows.

And now the personal bit. 

This has been a difficult year for me and my family. As you know we lost our baby for the second time and it was the last chance we had for another child. It's not a particularly nice thing to happen to anyone and to have it happen twice in quick succession is extremely hard to deal with.

But there is a charity that supports families and helps them come to terms with the loss.
They are called SANDS - the Stillborn and neonatal death charity. They are very kind people and don't get nearly as much recognition as they deserve.

The SANDS website.

Thankfully most families never need to call on them for support.

If you have enjoyed this years prediction game and my rambling words then please help us support the local SANDS group by donating to help them raise money for a memorial garden at Aldershot Crematorium:

A special Garden project.

In memory of Clara and Jamie Bowdidge.

Thank you.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Crank it up one last time

Hurrah, it's the last race of the season. The longest in living memory, you though Mao took a long time to march from one end of china to the other, well that's nothing compared to how long this season has been going on. I was a young, vibrant man in the first flush of 44, my prime years many would argue when this started. And here now this interminable season is almost finally over as I begin my 45th year. This season has literally aged me one whole year. A year I will never get back ... thank you Bernie .. Thanks for nothing !!!

"Come on lads, almost there "
By the holy  beard of Jenson Button I can't wait for this season to end so I can spend Sunday afternoon asleep on the sofa rather than dragging out this raw passionate (often badly spelt I'll grant you) prose, for you my dear an loyal readers. Without who, this would only be read by my brother (possibly) and maybe one or two people stumbling around the back reaches of Blogger late on a Sunday evening.... They say man is the sum of the things he leaves behind. I think I add up to a damaged liver and a vented spleen. 

But passionate prose, yes if nothing it's passionate prose, I've meant every word of this too. I hope I have entertained you this year, and helped to cast some light on those at the back of the grid.  It has been fun to watch Sainz and Verstappen rock up and impress with their grit and determination.  It's been sad too with the utter failure of McLaren, who have gamely got on with things and never stopped trying.  Drivers with lesser metal would have packed up and walked away complaining to anyone who would listen, and to be fair to Alonso here, he only really let it all spill out by Japan, when everyone had realised how much of a mess it all was. By the time they got to Japan, we all knew the engine wasn't up to it, no point denying it anymore.

I hope I have encouraged some of you to follow Webber and Hulkenberg to Le Mans. Maybe catch a bit of the Australian V8's and perhaps look beyond the jaded horizon of Formula One. The WEC had possibly one of the best years of racing I've ever seen.  If you went looking for good racing it was out there, Bernie didn't kill everything off.

But yes we have one more race this year in Abu Dhabi and the Yas Marina circuit. It's the day night race, round the harbour and that building that lights up .. yeah you know the one. It was quite dramatic last year with Nico losing the title to Hamilton. You're not going to get that much drama this year. There is nothing left to race for now; I think all the pride might have been raced for too.  
But F1 cars do look pretty nice under a gazillion watts of street lighting, even if the track does look somewhat empty at times during the race. And the sun going down makes things a little bit more dramatic. 

So it'll all be worth watching, come on, one last go. See if you can get your highest score this week.

ooooh is it my turn again !?!

Good luck.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

End of season larks.

Okay so not the most exciting race for the win really but there was some cracking action for the minor places.

If only Nico could do this sort of thing for a whole year and not just when is doesn't matter anymore. Yes I know he's not had the rub of the green this year with more mechanical issue than Lewis. But like a lot of his career in F1 he just spent some races sleep walking though the weekend. And yes I know his wife had some issues with the pregnancy and that would obviously take his mind off the gig. But after last year and having the thing go down to the last race. This year has been something of an anticlimaxs. Only Vettel has made it interesting at times.

But all that's for the end of year final rant.

Well done Nico on a top of the draw race result. Pole was pretty easy after Lewis had sort of dominated the practice sessions; and it was much like last year in that respect Nico taking the spoils after Lewis won the battles, a Lewis who had turned up under something of a cloud too. A bit of late night partying left three cars with damage and the recently crowned world champion advised to rest up for a day or two with his "fever". Not very media friendly and Mercedes were at pains to limit any adverse publicity; Lewis waved it all off as just a bit of thing and it didn't appear to affect his performance on track. But being beaten yet again to pole, the fifth time in a row, Hamilton didn't bother to stand out front with Nico and Vettel for the obligatory photo call. You could call it petulance, I couldn't possible comment.

Maybe he was off enjoying the latest Alonso meme to go viral

Now you may not have noticed, but McLaren are having a bit of a bad year. Yes, that's why the boys haven't been seen around the podium much this year. And to give them their dues, neither Jenson nor Alonso have really thrown a tantrum about. Alonso made few disparaging remarks about the Honda engine in Japan for which Big Ron had to confirm Jenson was going to get a drive next year in an attempt to deflect some of the flac.  But generally the lads have been honest in front of the media and just said "Yeah sure, the car is a bit of a mess and the engine needs some work. But the whole team is working on this and it is a problem we'll fix together". They've tried to put a bit of positive spin on an otherwise hopeless situation.

Until now that is, it seems Alonso has had enough of jumping out of a smoking car and when the car expired yet again at the start of qualifying he cried "enough". Without even a look back at the failed McLaren Honda, he trudged up the hill and sat down on one of the marshal's chairs to calmly watch the rest of Q1.  But then the chair was moved and Alonso had an impromptu photo shoot in the sun with qualifying for a backdrop. Rather than throw a strop and flounce off to shout at someone, he sat and he waited.

A lazy afternoon in Brazil
Looks relaxing doesn't it. He looks peaceful, at rest in a turbulent world, the cares of a career falling apart and three world titles forgotten in the mire of racing against year old Marussias.
This image was too good to resist and before Nico had taken pole the #wherewouldalonsoratherbe meme was going viral across the internet.

Relaxing with friends earlier
Then to cap it all the boys staged a podium invasion, just to remind themselves what it used to be like standing on the top step.

What a jolly good wheeze.

And so to the race; Well Nico won, Lewis tried to catch him but couldn't pass him and Vettel had the team tell Kimi to get out of the way.
The only highlight was Verstappen over taking anyone who got in his way and is looking more and more like future world champion with every lap.
It wasn't the most exciting race I've ever watched, but it was interesting to See Nico give Lewis a bit of a lesson on how to control a race. But there wasn't much Lewis could do really, after last year and the accusations of unfair team tactics, this year booth cars run exactly the same strategy so neither can accuse the team of favouritism. The only way Hamilton could pass Rosberg is if he changed his strategy and tried a short of long middle stint. The team told him that wasn't going to happen so he had a half hearted attack and settled for second. Not as I say terrible exciting, but Merc want to make sure of the PR result. Not "drivers take each other out" headlines.

So then Nico won and made it look easy. The result secured second place in the championship. Which is nice.

Lewis made it look hard work in second.

Vettel had a lonely race to third after Kimi got out of his way. He has now secured third place in the championship, which is a damn sight more than he would have got with Redbull this year.

Kimi was the perfect team mate in fourth.

Bottas was William only saving grace as it turned out in fifth

It was Hulkenberg's turn to be the best Force India driver this week in sixth.
Kvyat was hamstrung with a Renault engine in seventh.

Now.... on the road Massa was eighth. But according to the result from the FIA he has been excluded for a technical infringement. What happened was; the FIA take the temperature and pressure of random cars just before the race starts. This week it was Massa's turn and to quote technical document 40 from the FIA

"On the grid the tread temperature and minimum tyre starting pressure of the right hand side rear tyre was checked on car number 19 after the “5-minutes” signal was given.

The temperature measured on the tread of the right hand side rear tyre of car number 19 was 137°C, 27 °C above the maximum tread temperature of 110 °C allowed by the official tyre supplier. The corresponding tyre pressure at 137 °C was 20.6 psi, 0.1 psi above the minimum starting pressure"

Which basically means the tyre was too hot and the pressure too low. When the race started and the tyre cooled down the pressure would drop below the minimum required by Pirelli to stop teams' whinging when they explode. Now you might ask why only one tyre was that hot and clearly that must mean there was a problem with the tyre blanket. Tyres should just not be that hot.
But rules is rules and the FIA do like to throw their weight around to remind everyone that actually they're the ones in charge .. Not Bernie or the teams.

So now Grosjean is eighth and jolly well done to him on what must have been a difficult weekend for him.

Verstappen makes it to ninth and was the most exciting driver out there.

And Crazy Maldonado was tenth despite getting a five second penalty for being an arse yet again.

Stevens beat Rossi for a change so the America is our last placed driver four laps behind the Mercs. That's got to hurt hasn't? All that money and effort to still be a country mile away from the action!

I'm not even going to bother qualifying. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Here she comes ....

This might give you some idea of what a rally is like to watch.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

On and on and on and on ... will it never end ?!!?!?!

It’s November already … damn it November and we still have two races to go. Two pointless races let’s not forget, effectively live test seasons for next year for pretty much everyone. Well maybe not Nico, he’s got something or other to prove to whoever picks up his contract in a year or two’s time. We could all pack up and go home now, nothing is going to change, no one is going to pull out an amazing update to go two seconds a lap faster all of a sudden.

But the circus has rocked up to Brazil, so I suppose we should take a look at the boys and girls, see what is on offer.

First up and Suzie Wolff has announced she is no longer going to pretend that she was ever going to get a ride in a William on a race weekend. Now I personally think this is a bit of a shame, from what I’ve seen of her career she was tenacious and single minded enough to earn the right to be there on merit. She might not have been the kind of driver you just watched because you knew she could pull something special out of the car. But she wasn’t tooling around at the back of the pack getting in the way of the leaders trying to lap her. Solid midfield, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all.  For every Lewis Hamilton there are 15 Ericcson’s and Grosjean’s. Drivers that could have the odd extraordinary race once in a while, even Maldonado won a race once, so to dismiss Mrs Wolff as a rubbish for just being a girl is narrow minded and  rather pathetic. I think she would have been a good ambassador for the sport, erudite, informative and knowledgeable. The sport needs people like Mrs Wolff, but alas it is the usual tale of not enough money for that final step. Hopefully the next lady to arrive with a race suit and the talent will finally get the backing she needs.

Redbull’s 2016 engine saga took a new twist this week with the news they plan to make their own engine now. Quite why a drinks manufacture , yes a very successful and possibly the biggest drinks manufacture in the world, needs an engine making department is anyone’s guess. Maybe they want to put it into the Vettel signature edition Infiniti FX50. Yeah that crazy ultimate street SUV you’ve never heard of that no one wanted, not even the driver with the signature on the dash board.

About as desirable as piles ...
Ferrari makes cars, McLaren makes cars, Mercedes even makes cars whilst Williams and Sauber sell engineering know how to car manufactures. Redbull makes a sickly brown fizzy liquid that rots your teeth and keeps you awake all night. They do not in any way, shape or form sell anything engineering … unless it’s how to put little bubbles into metal cans and sell the resulting toxic waste to all and sundry.
Sure Redbull as an extreme sport, “high five dude, that was gnarly bro” brand. But that’s just on cloths,  baseball caps and snappy paint jobs. It’s not the tinkering in shed out back mob,  those people that know which end of the spark plug goes in first, they’re all for a mug a tea and bacon butty. Partying all night with a tray of Vodka Redbull is something the kids get up to. And the muddy scum standing on the backing at Monaco and Monza are most certainly not dreaming of the day they breeze into an Infiniti dealership and drive out with a new low slung whip.

So why are Redbull going down the own brand engine route. There was talk of Aston Martin poking around looking for a bit of qualify F1 branding a few months back. They’ve got a bit of Arab oil money these days and need something a bit more high profile than GT cars at Le Mans. Their attempt to design their own engine and top flight LMP1 car for Le mans was an utter disaster, a mess from start to finish and almost destroyed the companies reputation. So if they stump up a bit of cash to Redbull, let them use the design centre at Aston martin and stick their name on the engines. Redbull gets a prestige motor manufacture name on the side of the car, they get to design an engine specifically for themselves with no compromises to any other team and if it all goes wrong they can blame someone else, Redbull don’t have to build an engine design centre, they just use the one Aston Martin already have. If it all goes right, then everyone comes out of it smell off high grade four star.  win win.

The next few weeks could be interesting.

Then they announced they’re going to apologies to Renault and gracefully accept their engines next year.

Right Brazil then, which i believe might have had a bit of a makeover.  Well it was supposed to be having a one, the plan was to move the pits to the lower section of the circuit and tidy up the bumps and stuff. But I can’t find anything online to show the result, so maybe they didn’t change it after all.

Anyway, I think Nico might win this, he’s got pride as his co pilot and Lewis has his name on the trophy. The rest ... much the same as before ... But still not predictable enough for some of you. Good luck kids

Don’t forget to update your predictions before Friday.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Here you go, this is what I mean  ......

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Rallying is for true petrolheads

It’s not all grandstand seats and five course meals in hospitality you know.

There are the rally boys and girls.

These are the real bedrock of any national motorsport scene, and what I love about this disparate subset are the fans. Sitting on the windswept banking of Silverstone watching a two hour F1 race once a year doesn’t qualify you as a real proper petrol head I’m afraid. That sort of fandom just takes money, the ability to carry a cool box of beer for half a mile to your chosen viewing spot and a willingness to queue for three days to get out of the car park.

No, what sorts the hospitality ponces from the muddy scum fan is a willingness to cling to the edge of a windswept hillside for six hours watching a ramshackle collection of historic cars and yesterdays international high tech machinery slide around a freezing wet muddy forest track which usually after the first half dozen cars, is less a track and more a rutted ditch of mud and gravel. These are my kind of people, the ones out in all weathers, standing around chatting to each other, jovial voices raised in laughter between snarling, spitting Imprezas and Mk2 Escorts

With circuit racing you roll up to the windswept disused airfield in central England then sit watching race after race spin round the circuit for lap after lap. It is all presented nicely for you and there is no real need to move away from the cool box full of beer and sandwiches. It is all too easy. The toilets even have comfy bum bog roll in (well during the morning at least) and the burger van still has some sugar left for your brew

To be a spectator of a national rally, requires skill, daring and a willingness to stand around a damp forest with little to no idea of what, when or if the next car will arrive.

There are no signposts in the forest, other than the odd length of tape to stop the stupid from getting too close to the action. The event website might have a spectator guide for you to download, but that usually just points you towards the expensive car park next to the health and safety approved spectator “entertainment” zone.

The diehard rally fans can be found clambering over lichen covered fences and jumping putrid ditched of mosquito-infested water deep in the forest. Now and again a ragtag assortment of orange jackets “marshals” and mates of a mate of a mate who knows someone whose co driving car 131 will be positioned at a junction or tricky corner and they will point out the the best place to stand and not get killed. You’ll smell them before you see them, little knots of usually bearded men gathered around battered Land Rovers or ancient Subaru, a grimy primer stove cooking bacon sarnies and brewing endless cups of tea. A crackly walkie talkie sputters into life occasionally with updates on when the next car might appear.

You can stop to chat, check what time the next group of cars is due past and from which direction. A marshal with a clipboard and wearing 15 coats will remind you to keep away from the outside of corners and not stand in the way of the gravel spraying from the back of the cars., then everyone smiles and the you moves on to continues to hunt for that perfect view deeper in the wood.

Once you find that perfect view, you wait. There is no race radio to listen too, no diamond vision screen to show replays of practice and the season so far. And don’t expect to purchase a glossy spectator program to keep you informed. The marshal told you when the first car is supposed to be due through, but this is club rallying, time is flexible round these parts, a 3.20pm start time could well mean 4.30pm. Therefore, you stand or sit and while away the time checking your camera settings, cursing the alleged waterproof rating of your trousers/jacket/boots and wonder why you are not at home in front of the TV and warm.

Then the sound of a distant marshal’s whistle breaks the silence, people get to their feet around you and cameras are clicked to ready. You wait, tense and quite, listening for the first car.

 A low insistent mechanical noise starts up, a growl and a pop floating on the wind, indistinct through the wet trees.
Then a bang like a firework going off and the sound of an engine angrily demanding the use of a higher gear, grows rapidly nearer. Travelling fast through the tunnel of trees, the noise bouncing back and forth, the turbo chatters and whines, unspent fuel igniting in load flashy pops and bangs, the engine barks as a foot is mashed to a bulkhead.

Suddenly there it is, rushing headlong towards you, lights blazing, flames erupt from the turbo exhaust as the driver lifts off, dabs the brake to lift the rear of the car urging it all to swap ends, then hard on the loud peddle the rear digs back in showering the road with mud and gravel powering it on towards your vantage point. You raise your camera ready to capture the ferocity of this fire breathing beast that thunders towards you faster and faster. You catch your breath, squeeze the shutter button, capture the moment, the light and noise explode around you, turn away quick or get a face full of gravel spray, red tail lights flash past, then gone, the engine still protesting deep into the dark forest.

The next car will be here in a minuet or so, do you stay put or move, always looking for that perfect picture, the picture that convey the majesty of a car dancing through a dark wet forest.

This is how a proper petrol heads experiences motorsport.

This weekend sees the annual Tempest rally around the Aldershot military land. It's easy to go and find and definitely worth the effort.  

Check out the website for start times and maps of the special stages.

Take a coat and water proof shoes, its muddy out there.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Nice smiles or grubby hands: Which one do you like ?

Hello all, busy, busy, busy, on to Mexico.

Hamilton’s championship win has opened up something of a debate;

Is formula One about the Engineering or the drivers?

There is a camp which would have it that F1 has always been just about the teams and the desire to build faster and sexier cars. It is a sport mostly supported by men that enjoy the mechanical and technical aspect of the sport more than the personalities that drive the cars.  Yes, we all remember the great drivers, those that transcend the ordinary bounds of physics that we mere mortals have to live with and who dance with the angels out there on the limits. But name those backmarkers that bring money to mid table teams to carve out a career being merely ‘solid’. Things start to get a bit tricky don’t they?
Without looking at Wikipedia or one of the myriad F1 books of motorsport you have on the shelf behind you, name three drivers that drove for Osella? A team that raced from 1980 to 1990, entered 253 races, employed 17 drivers who qualified to race 172 times.  They were a perennial backmarker team that never achieved much and were pretty hopeless.
Now give me three engines that Williams F1 have used since 1980, I’ll bet more of you can do that off the top of your head.

Hamilton, and this was something I touched on before, is stepping out of that car oriented support to connect with people that are unsure where the engine is in an F1 car. Musicians, fashionisters, film stars all want to be seen with him in a way they never wanted with Senna, Mansell or Schumacher. Vettel never showed Ferrell Williams around his Redbull car, wasn’t seen front row at Paris Fashion week or had a four page spread in GQ. No, Hamilton is also talking to those people that think engineering is a grubby little profession best left to men in cold sheds. ERS is what you do when the Barista asks if you want sprinkles on the decaf mocha Frappuccino lite to go. DRS … Isn’t he that banging DJ from NY?

Hats, yes, yes, I know back to the hat thing. How many different hats did Hamilton wear over the weekend in America? And which hat did he choose to show off retaining his world title?  

A nice hat
An America branded Merc cap. It looked quite good actually but the point is that hats speak more to some people than the number of laps he got out of his intermediate tyres. They’re wrong of course; the tyres were the key to the race. But a flash hat appears to connect better with some strange people, just ask Nico.

The number of eyeballs watching F1 is dropping, the switch to a pay TV model has reduced the number of weekly viewers, those that would watch it on a Sunday afternoon because there was nothing else on have moved to cash in the attic, these days you have to pony up if you want to witness the spectacle. And if you’re willing to pay to watch it, chances are you’re already paying for the Football or Moto GP or even cricket. It’s a crowded market and dull races with an odds on favourite will struggle to raise much interested. 

So having a driver out there who is happy to pose on a beach in Miami with a bunch of hat wearing mates who look vaguely aspirationel , draws in the social media savvy generation with their disposable income and appreciation of branded hats. The likes of you and me knowing Williams has used Supertec, Honda and BMW engines or that Eddie Cheever, Nicola Larini or Alex Caffi drove for Osella in the 80’s, isn’t enough to keep Bernie and CVC in sharp suits and corporate jets for very long.

Yes there’s a place for the technical minutiae of the number of elements on a Sauber front wing, but the Merc engine can’t tell you how it felt to pass the Ferrari. The Renault engine can’t explain why it’s not got the legs for a race on a dry track. We need the drivers to stand there and tell us how exciting it really is. And I want a driver to tell me it was difficult, I want to hear Alonso call the Honda engine no better than a GP2  engine, I want Nico to throw the hat back and look miffed by the celebration; because then I know they’re human, they’ve got the same passion for it all that I have. I even want Hamilton to stand there under his hat and say “Yeah, that felt good man”.

The money shot.
So then the drivers and constructors championships are done and dusted and there isn't much left to play for. Nico need to get some pride back by beating Vettel, who want to build up a head of steam to challenge Lewis next year. There is only a four point difference between them so the race for the best of the rest will be worth watching.
 All the big teams have drivers signed up for next year now so no one has to try and impress the boss. Well maybe not, there is still some doubt over what engine the Redbulls and Torro Rosso's will be running next year, or if they're coming back. So Ricciardo, Kvyat, Verstappen and Sainz could do with keeping their stock high just in case they suddenly have a big window in their 2016 calendars.

Everyone else is just sort of planning where they're going to be for Christmas this year.  

The smart teams will be testing 2016 bits now and trying to avoid spending unnecessary money rebuilding 2015 cars. "Keep it calm lads! Remember, no one needs to be a hero ok" will be final thing the drivers hear before the starting lights go out.

I have no idea what this new Mexican track has to offer, back in the good old days it used to have this amazing 180 degree slightly banked final corner that would try to kill the unwary. But they built a baseball stadium on top of it a few years ago so now we have a bit of a Mickey Mouse ending to the lap instead. It goes under the grandstand ... woooooo novel.
The best thing about the place was the track used to resemble a ploughed field and not in a good way. This used to be a circuit that active suspension was designed for; few cars came back with all the nuts and bolts still attached at the end of the race.  I might be wrong but I think it was built on a reclaimed swamp or something. So yeah, it might test some of these new blood brought up on billiard ball smooth European tracks.

Mexico Yesterday

So it is going to be a bit of a lottery, apart from Merc and Ferrari up front. The high altitude means the air is a bit thinner than the usual European tracks, so engines already a bit wheezy will struggle. Don't expect too much from the Renault boys and McLaren has already said they're only turning up because they have too.

 There you go, good luck, see you on the other side.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The land of the free

Saddle up compadres we’re off to the good old US or A, Yee and indeed Haar good buddies!

So, four rounds left, USA, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi – Two good tracks, an unknown and the perpetually dull  last middle eastern hurrah before three days holiday.

Yeah I like the Circuit of the Americas, an unusual stance from me I know. Sure it’s got no atmosphere, but it looks pretty good in an empty bit of America kind of way, it’s got that lovely fast flowing section off the start line hill, a balls out high speed straight and a technical arena section. I even like the silly tower thing it’s all kinds of quirky. What is especially important is it doesn’t look like a car park or an industrial estate in some grim northern service town off the M42 near Solihull. 

And the racing has generally been pretty good here. It rewards drivers willing to go out there and spank it, not sit there and wait for the race to come to them. It’s got a bit of give in it. It’s a lot like Istanbul used to be, which long term players will remember as a circuit that I would have happily had in France or Germany, anywhere but Turkey, but that’s by the by. I hope CoTA gets to stay on the calendar for long enough to get established. Rather than be tossed aside for the next third world dictator who rocks up with a shed full of cash and a pesky human rights record that needs a bit of a PR make over.  

Give it time to establish and it’ll get an atmosphere, some heritage and a bit of personality. And it’ll show the Americans that they don’t need to throw a full course yellow whenever race control needs to nip off for a cup of coffee. If you’ve ever seen any other America motorsport than you have my sympathies, NASCAR and INDY races are generally two to three hours or so, plenty of overtaking for the lead and if you ignore the fact they just turn left constantly its pretty good racing. But then someone does something silly and a bit of body work gets knocked off, in Europe that’s not a problem, wave a yellow flag and send the work experience lad out to pick it up, everyone carries on racing. Not so in America, they throw a full course yellow and everyone slows down behind a pace car, then and this is the bit I don’t get, they send a marshal out in a big Ford pickup truck, who stops next to the bit of  debris picks it up and then drives back. We then have 2o minutes of pits opening, then closing then opening a little bit then all those drivers who weren’t fast enough earlier get waved round to join the back of the leading pack and one lucky driver gets waved round a couple of times. Then race control packs away the coffee things, nips to the toilet, gives the fans a chance to get back form the beer tent (please drink responsibly)  and we go racing again. A typical 2 hour INDY street race can have at best 30 minutes of actual green flag racing.  Don’t even get me started on the “yellow flags for a dirty track but we actually need to have a commercial now” in NASCAR.

You think we have too many safety cars in F1, we have it lucky, we really do.

So yeah, the Circuit of the Americas, a bit of a pretentious name, for a pretentious champion to be re crowned. Anyone following Hamilton’s social media world will have seen his Miami beach buddies photo this week, we are most definitely not in Stevenage now. Still, he’s earned it this year, well really he earned all this with the last two championships, this one has been a bit of a cruise, I think he needs a hand full of points to beat Vettel and maybe a few more to stop Rosberg. Basically a win and he’s done it. anything less and he’ll win it in Mexico. Vettel looks like he’s got the momentum to keep second place in the championship, which sets 2016 up nicely if nothing else. A resurgent Ferrari battling an all-conquering Mercedes. Vettel V Hamilton, the finger versus the bling chains. That could be just a little bit tasty.

Further back Force India are pushing Redbull who are chasing Williams. Last year it was Williams swanking around the pits looking smug and giving it the “check it out ladies” best of the rest smile to the media, they had opportunities to beat Merc but fumbled the ball on the line but still held their heads up high at the end of the year. 2015 was going to be their comeback year to the top step. Except it hasn’t really happened, Valtteri has looked pretty handy at times, but I think the interest Ferrari showed in him rather took Williams eye off the ball and before they knew it Ferrari were past and off up the road without even a cheery wave of thanks. Now Redbull, with a couple of plucky mid seasons runs are starting to give the strategy boys a Williams a few sleepless nights. 

But Force India have finally got they’re car all peachy keen and they’re got Redbull in their sights. If only they can get both of their drivers to have weekend to remember. Imagine the Hulk and Smiles flanking Hamilton on the top step this weekend, wouldn’t that be something to behold, unlikely I know, but we can all dream.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Not as dull as expected shocker.

Well I'll be, that wasn't too bad in the end. Well okay I did fall asleep for a lap or two in the middle. But I've been up since midnight watching the WEC race from Japan which was, by the way an absolute belter.
Okay, well this is going to be a bit short I'm afraid as the France v Ireland game kicks off in a bit so I have to be ready for that.

Firstly congratulation to Mercedes for securing the Constructors world title today, they needed Kimi to t bone Bottas and get a time penalty to achieve it, but let's be honest it was pretty much a forgone conclusion from about Australia wasn't it. Ferrari had a go at making a fight of it, but the only thing that was going to beat them was reliability, certainly not a Renault or Ferrari engine.

Almost but not quite there, Lewis has one hand on the big silver trophy tonight. He needs to beat Nico by 10 points and Sebastian by 2 in the next race in America and he's home free, given how well he's driving at the moment,  I can't see there being much problem for him .. Once again the only thing that could stop him is reliability.  
And that's the tricky one it's the little things inside the cars that's causing problems for Mercedes at the moment, Lewis failed to finish in Singapore for want a 3 penny spring in the engine.  Now Nico fails to finish because of a washer in the throttle control.  Small stuff that ruins the race and can rob a driver of the title, so it's not all cut and dried just yet!

So Lewis inherited his win, but would probably have passed Nico at some point, or not, who knows. He failed to get pole as like everyone else he couldn't dial the car into the circuit. The limited running they all had meant they had to make a few guesses along the way and Lewis operates best when the car is right underneath him. Nico is the one that can take a loose car and adapt his driving style, it's probably the only thing he's better than Lewis at.   But it was all mote when the throttle stopped working on Hamilton's only real opposition, the Williams didn't have the Legs and Vettel was too far back to push the Merc. So it was a relatively easy win in the end, although there was a slight question about the rear win in the closing laps as Lewis reported it might be loose.  See Lady Luck is a cheeky Minx.

Vettel was second and had to remind Kimi just who was in charge. He got the fastest lap at the end chasing Hamilton.

Perez was third and looked like he'd just won the world championship. Okay he had to rely on Kimi taking out Bottas (lots of people will be buying Kimi a beer on the plan home tonight I suspect) but he put himself there with a trade mark "looking after the tyres on a long run" race. Something he's had a lot of practice at over the years and no, it's not pretty but it gets the results and Force India deserves a break.

Massa was largely anonymous driving from the back of the field to fourth, a poor  qualifying  making life difficult for the Williams driver.

Home boy Kvyat was fifth on a bad day for Renault engine drivers.

Nasr has a good run to sixth to remind everyone that Sauber are still there.

Maldonado wasn't the one to smear a Lotus down the wall this week. Hurrah, he was seventh at the end and the team felt he could have tried just a little bit harder.  

Kimi is eventually classified eighth, the stewards gave him a stiff talking too about driving standards and handed him a 30 second "stop, hold and go" penalty. I think he also gets a grid penalty for a third stiff talking too and points on his licence or something. But I'll check that before we get to America.

Button was ninth with a rubbish underpowered dog of a car and engine. The McLaren headquarters has this big atrium area with all the cars they are most proud of, Le Mans winners and the cars Bruce McLaren designed, stuff like that. The 2015 F1 McLaren Honda should be front and centre, the very first car all the employees should see first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Just to remind them how badly they all got it wrong and how it feels to fail so abjectly. No one ever improved looking at the things that went right, you learn from the things that humiliate you in front of the world.

And finally tenth goes to Verstappen because even though Alonso finished tenth on the road, he didn't feel the need to respect the track limits repeatedly even after the stewards told him to stop being so naughty.   So he got a post race five second penalty and Verstappen beat him to the points by 2.786 seconds.  Tough, tough but fair.

Okay last man standing was Will Stevens who is rapidly becoming Max like in his ability to be rubbish.

Right the rugby is about to start so I'll end it there. See you in two weeks for the crowning of a new champion in Texas.  

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Back in the USSR, Crimea a river.

Hello you lovely people.

So the days are getting shorter as the warm summer breeze starts to turn damp and just a bit chilly. It’s the time of year for long walks in the woods, kicking up the leaves, collecting conkers and big roast dinners with the family, then falling asleep in front of the TV and thankfully the F1 circus rocks up to the interminably dull Sochi circuit.  

Russia has many fantastic cities; Moscow with its Red Square, St Petersburg  with the Hermitage and Sochi with its errrr .. with that thing the .. errrum. Oh yeah the industrial truck park round the back. No wait .. there’s that big round international flag thing, yeah that was interesting. A big long corner with no overtaking on it .. yeah. That corner was … well it looked nice, the one between that Aldi super store and Ikea outlet depot. Its supposed to be a the track winding its way through what is apparently the 2014 winter Olympic village, but it just looks like a brutalist theme park to me.
Yet another track shoehorned around an out of town shopping centre to promote a country by showing a really dull 2.4 miles of its car parks.  I mean Russia is a pretty big place, there is an awful lot of it and not an awful lot of people living on vast chunks of it. So why slap a street circuit around one of the least visually appealing ones?

[insert pictures of Dollars here]

Monaco  works because it has the weight of history behind it. Its slap bang in the middle of the city and it uses the landmarks to promote the city. It looks exciting, it looks dangerous and you can see the drivers having to work for their money.
Singapore works because it’s in the middle of the night, its brash bright neon lit, loud, fast, dangerous and exciting. You can’t really see the actual city but you can imagine it behind the floodlights and grandstands as an exciting place to visit. It has mystery and the lure of the orient about it.

Sochi meanwhile, looks like you can get a good two for one offer on cabbages soup, if the highly visible, highly armed and very mean looking troops don’t turn you away first. Oh it looks bright and sparkly new … but would you actually want to go there?

No this weekend has far more interesting things happening than a stodgy old race in Russia, trust me. But I’m afraid you’re going to need satellite TV to catch it, starting at midnight on Saturday we have the Australian V8 from Bathurst. One of the truly great race tracks in the world. An absolutely amazing ribbon of tarmac carved up the side of Mount Panorama in New South Wales. This is a real circuit for real proper drivers with grit and determination. Go and look for it on YouTube, type in Bathurst 1000 and marvel at what a car can do when its driven on the edge of reason round a mountain.

I have a bucket list of races I’m going to attend before the red wine catches up with my liver. Bathurst is front and centre top 3, behind a Le mans hospitality suite and grandstand seats over the start finish line at the Indy 500. As events go, the V8’s round Bathurst has to be seen to be believed. The fans drink enough booze to sink the titanic, they even had to limit the amount of beer being brought onto the circuit to 24 cans per person.

Next up and following right behind the Ozzy V8’s,  round 6 of the WEC from the Fuji international circuit in Japan. Yes I know it’s turning into a bit of a Porsche benefit year, but trust me, it’ll be worth getting up for, Fuji is a beautiful circuit.

Okay, watch those two if you can, then when the F1 start you won’t mind if it’s as dull as an English Rugby second half performance.

Other news … Bernie reckons the whole shebang will be sold off to the highest bidder before the end of the year ! Yes, odd news this, it might just be Bernie dangling a line during a slow news week to the more na├»ve elements of the press pack. But who knows with Bernie! Maybe CVC have had enough of teams asking for more money, they’re currently loading the cars with all the loot they can carry, Kevin has been sent back to check under the sofas in the staff canteen to look for any loose change they may have missed. The Big boss is sitting in the driver’s seat nervously checking his watch, the EU could be round any minute asking difficult questions  and he’s not the one who’s going down for this blag.
If CVC were to sell the right to F1 to some other shadowy group of faceless money men, Bernie would get a whole new shed full of dirty cash and no doubt be left in charge, despite being one hundred and eleventy stupid.  oooh sure Its’s all probably just more Bernie smoke and mirrors .. time as ever, will tell.

Good news for the Lotus peeps. Renault have said they’ll buy the gig and have signed something that keeps her Majesties customs and excise from the door until the end of the season. There is still no actual official announcement on what’s actually been bought and whose paying for what.  There are apparently several creditors with noses out of shape, you’d think they’d be used to that, having bank rolled Maldonado these past two years. One theory is, Renault will withdraw the team for 2016 so there are no Renault engines on the grid, which means they can redesign the whole thing and restart the team in 2017 with a brand new engine thus avoiding the whole tokens/points/money FIA mess thing.

Because they have told Redbull and by extension Torro Rosso what it can do with its engine contract. Tired of being blamed for the teams problems and passed over when  the glory is being handed out, Renault will not be supplying engines to either team in 2016. Now as I’m sure you’re all aware a car without an engine isn’t much of a race car. It’s not really a car at all is it? it’s a sled, and that’s about it. So Redbull have been flouncing around and waving their hands in the air and threatening to hold their breath and generally acting like spoilt children. See they treated Renault appallingly badly for years, and when they went knocking on the doors of other engine manufactures “demanding” no less, that they “give them an engine and it better be damn good mind you”  No company appears to be ready to deal with this petulant team.
They told Audi it had better give them an engine and stop with all the WEC nonsense right away, Audi mumbled something about being busy and winning and not needing the grief. Then VW who sort of own Audi got caught cheating on their road car emission tests and suddenly F1 with a team not known for hushing up engine problems, was not the place for a toxic brand.
So they went to Ferrari who said they had a couple of old units knocking around they could have at cost. Redbull said no Ferrari were to give them the best newest engines for free or they’d tell Bernie Ferrari was being mean. Ferrari laughed and told them to get lost.  
So Redbull knocked on Mercedes door demanding the same engines as the works team and this time they brought Bernie along. But Mercedes are winning and they don’t need the grief either. Bernie wasn’t happy about this and so in Japan, quite unrelated of course you understand, Mercedes who won the race at a canter were strangely absent from our television screens. Mercedes just shrugged and said “No, Redbull are not getting our engines in 2016”.

There’s always Honda I suppose ……. Hahahahahahahahaahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

Ok, Sochi then, Merc and Ferrari, chased by Redbull and Williams .. Lotus now it’s got some money and Force India with something to prove. Verstappen will be the only thing worth watching if Mercedes don’t get any air time again.

Good luck