Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Button does it again!!!!!

Yet again rain affected the Chinese Grand Prix and yet again the Red Bulls locked out the front row but this year it was a McLaren that crossed the line to take victory in what was a hectic Chinese Grand Prix.

I have to say I'm impressed by Button this year he has got a car that lets him prove his ability as a driver more so than last year and he has also shown us his brilliant skill of being able to judge the conditions as he made another inspired tyre choice.

He was pushed quite a bit towards the end by Hamilton but in the end it was Hamilton's tyres that hindered his push for the win. Mclaren's first one two since 2007 will definitely come as a relief particularly after their disappointing qualifying performance.

Fernando Alonso certainly has had a tough time in the last two races. He retired with a blown engine in Malaysia and another tough race in China. He jumped the start and had to take a penalty for that which meant he had a real fight on his hands to get a good points finish.

  Start of the Chinese Grand Prix

 Mercedes had a mixed race. It was another struggle for Michael Schumacher who had a tough end to the race with worn tyres resulting in him loosing a lot of positions and eventually struggling home in tenth place to scrape a point. Rosberg could well have won the race today and indeed led the race for a considerable amount of time  but a mistake and tyre issues meant he slipped down to third but another podium for Mercedes I'm sure is very welcome. Watch out for them in Spain.

Speaking of which there is speculation that the Spanish Grand Prix may have to be postponed due to the ash from the volcano eruption in Iceland and indeed many of the teams personnel are trapped in China because of the airports being closed. It's not till the ninth of May so there are a few weeks left for the ash to disperse but there could be a situation where the teams may have to go straight to Barcelona and not go back to their bases. This could mean that the scheduled updates for the cars may have to wait till the Monaco Grand Prix.

There is one thing for sure. The 2010 season has definitely improved since Bahrain!! Lets hope it continues into Spain!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Final two laps of the Austrian Grand Prix

The 2002 Austrian Grand Prix was one of the most controversial grand Prixs of the last ten years. It was the race that proved that Ferrari didn't play fair with their drivers. Rubens Barrichello was only there to back up Michael Schumacher.

Barrichello had dominated the race and would have been a deserved winner but as both of the Ferrari approached the finish line Barrichello moved over and let Schumacher take the victory. Everyone was stunned and the spectators at the track let their feelings out. Jeers and boos rang out around the circuit when the drivers took to the podium.

Schumacher tried some damage control by telling Barrichello to take the top spot on the podium and also he handed him the winners trophy.

Ferrari had really shot themselves in the foot and at the next race the FIA had announced rules that made team orders illegal but the damage had been done. Ironically the only thing Ferrari got reprimanded for was Schumacher's actions on the podium for which they were fined a million dollars.

Years later Barrichello told a Brazilian TV show that he had been told by his team that he would be risking his contract if he didn't move over for Schumacher. At the time Schumacher claimed he had nothing to do with the decision but in the interview Barrichello claimed that he had documents to prove that he had known about the decision.

The incident put the sport, which was already suffering from Ferrari's dominance that year, in a bad light. The backlash from the fans was such that the FIA thought it necessary to act on the incident and change the rules.

I think it really highlighted that Ferrari didn't have the sports interest at heart and were heavily criticized by the rest of the teams.

Lets hope its not an incident that ever happens again!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Button wins a thrilling Australian GP!!!!

Who would have guessed it!!?? After a dismally boring round 1 in Bahrain we got an absolute classic in Australia! It had everything: rain, lots of overtaking, and leading retirements among others.

Congratulations to Jenson Button who wins for McLaren for the first time. It's hard to believe that this is his first victory since Turkey last year. I think what makes this win even more impressive is the fact that he won the race strategically and on the track. It was his decision, not his team, to come in and change onto dry tyres and everyone at the time (including me) thought he had made a terrible mistake. These thoughts were justified when he slid off the road at turn three on his out lap.

But it turned out to be a stroke of genius because he got faster and faster as the track dried out and soon everyone else followed suit. After this he was in second place and looked comfortable for a podium finish but then Vettel slid off the road due to a badly fitted wheel wearing down the front left brake disc. He was out. All Jenson had to do was bring it home and he did.

It was a great race but there is no doubt that the rain helped spice up the action. Towards the end of the race we saw some of the same problems that we saw in Bahrain with regards the aerodynamics hindering the overtaking attempts. Hamilton caught up to the Ferraris’ with ease but then couldn't get passed them and then Mark Webber punted him off the road.

There are some changes that still need to be made because when we go the types of tracks that have very little overtaking opportunities we could see the same processional bore that we saw in Bahrain. For this weekend in Malaysia there is a chance of thunderstorms so we could get another classic or we could have a repeat of last year when the race couldn't be completed due to the heavy downpour and the lack of light.

Of course I’m sure many of you would have heard about Hamilton's little run in with the police. He had his car was impounded for doing burnouts and fishtails in downtown Melbourne. I read this morning that the Victorian roads minister labelling him a "dickhead"!!! The rest of his weekend didn't go exactly according to plan as he qualified eleventh and finished in sixth although he did drive a very impressive race but a combination of a bad strategy and Mark Webber crashing into the back of him really ruined his race.

Can't wait for Malaysia now!! I'd say one man to watch will be Michael Schumacher. He looked set for a decent showing in Australia but was involved in a first corner incident. He spent the rest of the race fighting with backmarkers so he will really be out to change his fortunes around. The Malaysian Grand Prix is this Sunday. Watch it because it’s going to be epic!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Countdown to Melbourne

Please let the Australian Grand Prix be an improvement on Round1!!! It’s less than a week away to round 2 of the championship in Melbourne Australia and the main headlines since last week have been of course the processional affair that was the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lots of calls for the rules to undergo an emergency change but also a lot of people telling us to give the rules a chance. After my rant last week about the Bahrain grand prix I’ve finally calmed down and decided wait a few races before passing judgement. After all we are heading for Albert Park, one of the more exciting race circuits on the calendar.

Who can forget some of the classic races we have seen here over the years. 1996, the first time F1 graced Melbourne was definitely one to remember. The race was only seconds old when Martin Brundle launched his Jordan into the air and barrel rolled into the gravel trap at turn three splitting the car in half! The race will also be remembered for Jacques Villeneuve's incredible debut: starting from pole, leading for most of the race only to have to relinquish the lead because of an oil leak. It’s a circuit that has played host to a number of impressive debuts over the years. Lewis Hamilton's in 2007 and of course Brawn GP'S debut last year.

In 2010 McLaren find themselves in a bit of a dilemma, as a do a few other teams. They have been ordered by the FIA to modify their diffuser as it was deemed to give them an unfair advantage and with Martin Whitmarsh saying that the team is only bringing minimal upgrades for the car the question has to be asked will their pace improve over Bahrain. Hamilton finished third in Bahrain which he was quite pleased with which seems to suggest that the car wasn't expected to perform as well so with a new diffuser how will that effect performance.

There have been a number of stories coming out this week about fuel consumption. It has been suggested in the media that Ferrari’s cars are quite bad on the fuel consumption and are using more than their rivals but if Ron Denis is to be believed then Red Bull may also have the same problem. Denis believes that the spark plug problem that the team reported wasn’t true and he reckons that the car's ECU put it into safe mode in order to save fuel. If it's true then it will be interesting to see if the other teams can capitalise on this especially Mercedes who have been disappointing so far. Rosberg far outperformed Schumacher in Bahrain and it will be interesting to see if the forty one year old German can react. It certainly wouldn't look good for his comeback if the seven time world champion was out performed by a man who hasn’t won a grand prix yet.

Let’s hope that all this results in an exciting Australian Grand Prix this year. The track is a lot more unforgiving than Bahrain so hopefully that will add a bit if spice to the action. Also hopefully the Hispania team can get to the finish of their second grand prix; mileage is going to be their biggest ally. Virgin and Sauber have to sort out their reliability issues as well as Lotus capitalised on that last time out to be the only new team to get a car across the finish line. Round 2 is only a few days away!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Something is horribly wrong!! - 2010 Bahrain Grain Prix

I think it’s pretty clear to say that that was the dullest F1 season opener we have seen in a long time, possibly ever. It's clear that the new rules are just not working. If Sebastian Vettel had not had his exhaust issues then the race would have been decided by the first corner.

its not just me that is calling for an immediate change, go onto any F1 forum and you will see hundreds of comments demanding for something to be done to improve the show, also some of the drivers are complaining that the new rules make overtaking almost impossible.

Towards the end of the race the main aim of the drivers seemed to be to just save the tyres and bring the car home. What is this a leisurely Sunday drive???? This is suppose to be the pinnacle of motorsport, these are suppose to be the best drivers in the world!! Clearly the sport has forgotten the definition of the word "racing".

Ironically the best action was to be seen towards the back of the field where we saw good battles between the new boys, the Torro Rossos and Hulkenberg’s Williams. But this was all over shadowed by the processional "racing" we had gong on at the front of the field.

The thing that really annoyed me was when Alonso started closing on Vettel in order to make a move for the lead. Once he got within a second of the Red Bull he had to drop back because the hot air coming from the engine of the Red Bull and the turbulent air from the aerodynamics were causing Alonso's Ferrari’s tyres to over heat.

The main reason there was so much emphasis on saving the tyres was because most of the field were one stopping and their stops were taken after about sixteen laps or so which basically meant that most people had to complete most of the race on the same set of tyres.

A number of drivers have said that this F1 season could be a processional bore unless changes are brought in immediately including seven times world champion Michael Schumacher who finished in 6th place. He said that overtaking was basically impossible and that we can expect similar racing with this kind of strategy environment. There you go FIA, sort it out!!!!!

To concentrate on other aspects of the race in is obvious that the new teams still have reliability issues to sort out with only Lotus getting a car across the finish line. Jarno Truilli's Lotus, Lucas Di Grassi's Virgin and both BMW Saubers succumbed to hydraulic issues. Timo Glock's Virgin had gearbox issues, Bruno Senna's HRT over heated and Karon Chandok crashed out two laps into the race.

To finish off the Formula 1 Teams Association (FOTA) is set to meet on Thursday and its been suggested that the talks will be held with regards improving the show so fingers crossed something good will come out of it! Till next week SEE YA!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

F1 is almost back!!!

Well were almost there!! Next weekend marks the start of one of the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 seasons ever. Michael Schumacher has returned, Hamilton against Button at McLaren, Alonso in a Ferrari, Massa back after his accident and intent on proving a point to Alonso, this season just has so many exciting prospects!!!

Let’s start with Schumacher and Mercedes. The seven time world champion is coming in the new season with a car that doesn't seem to be as dominant as it was at the start of last year. The Mercedes is, at the moment, about fourth fastest behind Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull but if any man can change things around it's Schumacher. It may not be a probable winner at the moment but as the season goes on expect to see that team make vast improvements. They've got a new aero update coming for Bahrain and who knows maybe I will have to eat my words, maybe they will challenge for the win this weekend. Their new diffuser has certainly caught the attention of a lot of people before it has even been seen with people expecting  controversy over it, we may see a repeat of the controversy surrounding the legality of the double diffusers last year. McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull are the three other top teams and if the testing times are anything to go by they all have the potential to win. Hamilton and Button (which I covered in an earlier blog), two latest world champions, are going to push each other to the limit. The result: either some fantastic performances or an embarrassing collision between them. At Ferrari you have Fernando Alonso who has endured a few rough seasons . He didn't enjoy his time at Mclaren and had two poor seasons with Renault so this is a man who is determined to get his career back on track and appears to go into the season as the title favourite for the moment. Then there is Felipe Massa. The Brazilian who returns to the cockpit after his horror crash in Hungary last year will have a point to prove. He's grown up and matured as a driver since debuting for Ferrari in 2006 and certainly out performed Raikkonen in 2008 and up until his accident last year. He knows how Alonso reacted when Hamilton outperformed him in 2007 and I'm sure he will want to give the Spaniard the same surprise, and he's well capable of it. Red Bull finished runner up to Brawn last year so they go into the new season hungry for success. It was obvious last year that Vettel will accept nothing other than victory so expect to see him more determined than ever in Bahrain. Webber notched up two race wins last year and had a good season by his standards but this season he’s up against a lot of tough competition and out of the eight drivers in the top teams he's probably in the bottom two.

Moving down the order we have Williams, Force India, Sauber, Renault and Torro Rosso. Sauber have impressed me the most in pre-season testing, they seemed to be up at the top end of the time sheets and seem to have a good package. This could be a good opportunity for Pedro De la Rosa who had some good performances with the Mclaren team when he substituted for Montoya a few years ago. Kamui Kobayashi impressed me a lot in the two races he competed in last year, he put up a good fight against Button in Brazil and overtook him in Abu Dhabi, admittedly it does go a bit down hill when you mention that he ran Nakajima off the road but you live and learn! He has the opportunity to really shine this year. He has a car that looks capable of scoring good solid points and maybe steal a podium or two. Force India is a team that I'm definitely excited about. They made amazing improvements last year and if they have carried that pace over to this year they can definitely be an example for the new teams to follow. They have the same driver line up as the end of last year so the drivers have the advantage of being in a familiar set up, a luxury a lot of drivers don't have this season as we have had a lot of moves. Williams have signed up Barrichello for this season and with that they have signed a driver with a lot of experience. They have mixed that with the fresh youth of Nico Hulkenberg, who won the GP2 title last year. A nice mix which could deliver a lot of points. Let’s hope they can improve on their recent record. As for Renault they go into a very important season for them. The team isn't even the full works Renault team any more as Genii Capital has taken them over. The have recruited Vitaly Petrov as (from where I'm standing) nothing more than a pay driver. Robert Kubica seems to be there light at the end of the tunnel. The 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner has the talent and is now the clear lead driver in a team; hopefully he can deliver the results. Torro Rosso come in to the new season as a full constructor for the first time. I'm really interested to see how the car will perform this season. Like Force India they also have retained their driver line up so fingers crossed they can do the business.

Finally we come to the new teams, and lets face it, it doesn't look like there is going to be a repeat of Brawn GP's story. Virgin and Lotus were well off the pace in pre-season testing and HRT's car hasn't even turned a wheel!!! It seems in Bahrain these cars are just going to make up the numbers but reliability will be their biggest strength particularly at the first race. If they can keep their cars in the race while others around them fail them they could score points. I am looking forward to seeing Bruno Senna. Hopefully the fact that he hasn't tested the new car won't hinder him too much. He claims the car is faster than Virgin and Lotus but even if that’s true no testing means that this weekend will probably be plagued by teething problems.

Whatever happens it’s a season that I'm really looking forward to and the long winter break is nearly over. So many questions will soon be answered so make sure to tune in at the weekend!! Only six days to go!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Final Entry list

Well I guess we can finally close the chapter regarding the 2010 entry list. USF1 are dead and gone and Stefan GP are left in the cold, as far as I'm concerned ITS A TRAVESTY!!!! Stefan GP should have gotten the last place on the grid, they were ready for it, it just doesn't make sense. The result from all of this is that we have twenty four cars lining up in Bahrain. On a different note Campos have been renamed Hispania F1 after their take over. Well at least with the uncertainty over who will be racing out of the way we can get down to the business of racing. The difference in time between the top teams and the bottom teams is going to be a lot bigger from last year so expect to see Virgin and Lotus and probably Hispania F1 struggling to make it out of Q1 which by the way will see cars from seventeenth to twenty fourth being eliminated as opposed to cars from eighteenth to twenty sixth. I'm hoping that it is not going to be like past seasons, 1995 for example,  when we had the likes of Forti something around ten seconds of the pace!! Remember Jean Denise Deletraz? He was so slow in his Pacific that he was lapped after just seven laps!! With regards Bruno Senna his place seems to be secure althought there is nothing official. I think its so important to get the Senna name back into F1. As Martin Brundle says when he lifts up his visor he looks exactly like Ayrton. Hopefully it will also help us get over the embarrassment that has been the USF1 fiasco. Lets have a look at the front. At the moment it seems to be between  McLaren and Ferrari with Red Bull and Mercedes slightly behind them. There are a number of upgrades coming for different teams at Bahrain so we wont really now the true pace until qualifying on the Saturday. I'm excited by how well Sauber and Force India are shaping up. Force India are a team I really admire. They started out in 2008 as a back marker failing to score any points and as they went through 2009 they made great strides in their development and ended up with a second place finish in Belgium and a few other points finishes as well. If  they can keep that momentum going into this season I think we will regularly see them in the points.  Just over a week to go!!!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Is the USF1 fiasco finally over?

Finally we appear to have come to the end of the USF1 story, for now at least. Reports on a number of different websites said that the team had deferred their entry till next season. At last!!! This is something that everyone was expecting for some time. USF1 have been the laughing stock of the championship for the last few months and if I'm perfectly honest I'm not going to miss them. I was in support of them at the start of their incarnation but it came to the point where I couldn't take them seriously anymore. It’s so frustrating!!!! Why did the FIA choose this team over some very respectable teams? It was just one of the last ridiculous decisions Max Mosley took as President of the FIA. I am hoping now that they appear to have withdrawn from the 2010 championship that this will open the door for Stefan GP. The Serbian team had to cancel their shakedown session because they couldn't get F1 supplied tyres because they weren't officially taking part in the championship. They appear to have a good set up and they are suffering from the arrogance of others. As for their deferral I find it hard to believe that the FIA would defer USF1's entry till next year. This is the kind of sport that can be very unforgiving if you falter. USF1 haven't been good for the image of F1 especially in America. I thought if this team was successful that it might open the door for the US Grand Prix to return to the championship but that thought has gone out the window at this stage. I was surprised to learn that they has also signed British driver and ex Honda test driver James Rossiter. Apparently he had agreed terms with the team in December but withdrew from the team a week before Anderson asked for USF1 to miss the first four races. As the dust settles on the USF1 saga lets hope that Stefan GP get the entry because time is running out. There is now less than two weeks to the first round in Bahrain and the Serbian outfit still have to shakedown their car. Campos seem to have gotten things together and should be in Bahrain but probably won't be able to shakedown their car until then. Also Bruno Senna's seat is also in jeopardy and if he lost his seat it would be a real shame. I have been looking forward to seeing the Senna name return to F1. The new teams that have been able to test are also having their problems. The Virgin team have been plagued with hydraulic problems and Lotus' drivers have been complaining about their cars. I'm not surprised their five seconds off the pace of the fastest cars!! Hopefully we will get a clearer picture of the grid in the next week so we can concentrate on the racing! Less than two weeks to go!!!!!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Will the USF1 situation ever end???!!!!!

Just when we thought they were dead and gone USF1 have decided to finally brake their silence and tell the world that they are not dead BUT they wish to skip four Grand Prix. I'll admit I was a fan of USF1 for a long time but now I am starting to get fed up of their dire Formula 1 attempt. I'd be a bit more sympathetic if they were in Lotus' position and only got the entry late last year but USF1 have been planning their assault on the championship since the start of 2009!! I'm praying that the FIA see a bit of sense and give the entry to Stefan GP. Besides if money is the big issue for them then surely missing four races would bring even more financial strain to them in the form of fines. Remember when the FIA clarified Jean Todt's announcement declaring it OK to miss three races? They made it clear that any team absent from a Grand Prix would be punished in some way. Its been a long time since any team has had to miss a Grand Prix because of financial problems. Remember Arrows' last season in 2002? At the French Grand Prix that year they deliberately failed to qualify because of financial issues which subsequently led to their withdrawal a few weeks later. A better example would probably be Forti. The little Italian team was famous for being well of the pace in their first season in 1995 which was a big reason that the FIA brought in the 107% rule in which a car had to qualify within a 107% of the pole sitters time or they would not be aloud to start. So in some respects they were responsible for their own dreadful performance for the 1996 season where both cars failed to qualify for four of the ten races they participated in. By the British Grand Prix they had no money and Cosworth had stopped supplying engines. To avoid a massive fine from the FIA Cosworth allowed them to complete a few miserable laps and then withdraw from the event. I think the thing that is ironic about these teams is they were both powered by Cosworth engines!! Lets hope this isn't a curse they carry with them for badly funded teams!! I think for the good of the sport we should see Stefan GP get the spot because there's nothing worse than seeing a team fold halfway through the season while another team who had the resources were rejected an entry . It results in the rest of the paddock not taking them seriously. Maybe the FIA should listen to Stefanovich and increase the grid to 28 cars. At least that way Stefan Gp will get the slot regardless of USF1's situation and if the American team do make it to the grid eventually they will still have a shot at the rest of the championship. Either way it will be an interesting few weeks with regards the 2010 season. Just three weeks to go!!!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

USF1 Dead and gone??

I thought I'd make an extra post this week to address a certain rumour that seems almost certain to become reality. Reports have been appearing on a number of websites that are saying that USF1's hopes of participating in the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship are dead. Let's be honest it is the news that was expected for a long time. There has been no press releases or communication of any sort from the team in a number of weeks. Apparently Peter Windsor (Team Co-Principle) told the team's only signed driver, Jose Maria Lopez, that his services were no longer required. The history of teams struggling in F1 is quite a long one but if this becomes official then USF1 will become the most unsuccessful team in the history of F1. MasterCard Lola are the team who have held the title since 1997 and any Formula 1 fan will tell you how much of an abomination they were!! These were the guys who arrived in Australia for Round 1 of the championship and failed to qualify. They were over ten seconds off the pole time set by Jacques Villeneuve, who incidentally has been linked with Stefan GP. MasterCard Lola showed up in Brazil for round 2 of the championship but didn't even bother trying to qualify and quickly withdrew from the championship. But at least those guys made it to the grid!!! What baffles me the most about USF1 is that Windsor has been planning the team's assault at the 2010 championship since early 2009. Lotus got their entry towards the end of last year and they're in Spain testing with the rest of the field.
Its a real shame because I thought this team could reignite America's interest in F1 which had been infamously tarnished at the 2005 US GP. This begs the question will Stefan GP get the go ahead to compete in the championship. They had been campaigning to get onto the grid as the fourteenth team and they have Bernie Ecceslstone's approval which is a big plus for them. They seem to have a more complete package and have sent equipment to Bahrain and Malaysia for the start of the season so they certainly don't lack determination anyway! Also Campos seem to have a takeover secured in which case their participation in the championship seems to be secured also. Hopefully now Bruno Senna will get a shot at F1 at last!

Getting back to USF1. You have to feel a little sympathy for their driver Lopez. The Argentinian was set to make his debut in the championship and had the backing of the Argentinian Government. But having said that with his racing history maybe this is saving himself the embarrassment. He has very little experience in single seaters so jumping into a Formula 1 car and not become a mobile chicane maybe a big ask but he has gone to Europe in search of one of the few remaining seats left for 2010. USF1 appears to be nothing more than another example of how not to run an F1 team so lets hope Stefan GP gets the spot so we can still have twenty six cars on the grid!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Testing Round 2!!

Finally one of the new teams takes to the track in an official test!! Albeit with problems. Virgin F1' s testing program got off to a troubled start and for a while I thought Virgin were in trouble. If you didn't read about it their front wing failed shortly into the first day after only a handful of laps and a lack of spare parts meant that they had to sit out the rest of day 1. It wasn't until late the next day that they got back into the action and even then there wasn't much mileage done. It wasn't until the final day on Saturday that they got a good number of laps under their belt. Talk about a big wake up call!!! Ive been focusing on how USF1 and Campos Meta are struggling to even make it to the first Grand Prix never mind test and completely forgot that the new teams that are ready to test may encounter problems like this. At least on the final day they got a good number of laps under their belt and they also have the final test (which starts on Wednesday) to try and weed out any other problems as well. Having seen Virgin's first test problems it will be really interesting to see how Lotus' car will fair and to see if they have as many problems. Lotus who were the latest of the new teams to launch their new car could well have a mountain to climb and it will be a very important four days testing for them. All of this puts into perspective what a challenge it is going to be for Campos and USF1 when , or should I say if, they make it to Bahrain. They will no doubt experience the normal teething problems that comes with a new car and with the practice sessions being the only proper testing they're going to be able to do. Its not inconceivable to think that they are going to be mobile chicanes and with pay drivers like Jose Maria Lopez who doesn't have a lot of experience in single seaters they could be the new Master card Lola team!!!! I look forward to hearing Martin Brundle's comments on their performance, at the moment he doesn't believe they will make it to round 1!! As for the rest of the teams it was a busy week. I'm encouraged by McLaren's performance they seem to have improved a lot over this time last year and hopefully it will continue. But we won't really know what the situation is fully until Bahrain. Michael Schumacher believes that there are four teams in with a shout this year and that is a mouth watering prospect. Its four weeks from yesterday to the first grand prix I can't wait!!!!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Testing week 1 conclusions

I have to say at the end of the first pre-season testing session in Valencia the results were not what I would have expected. For the moment at least Ferrari's claims that their car may under perform have shown no signs of truth. The F10 was easily quickest of the lot on all three days. Its only the first test and the times mightn't necessarily reflect the true pace of the car for a number of reasons, fuel load being the main reason, but you have to say they're off to a good start. Mercedes seemed to get off to a disappointing start which is something that even they admit with Ross Brawn saying that they were off the pace. It mightn't be the magical return Schumacher was hoping for but he did prove one thing. He seems to have more pace than Rosberg in the Mercedes for the minute. Again, it was only the first week of testing but it was certainly a morale boost for the German. Sauber impressed me the most this week and although a lot of people are saying that they were running with a low fuel load in order to get to the top of the time sheets in order to encourage sponsors to invest in the team their long runs seemed quite impressive. If the current trend continues Sauber could be the dark horse in terms of race victories this year. Mclaren's testing was centralised around getting to know the car and getting all the problems ironed out. The new car looks stunning and is easily the most radical of the cars launched so far, I lot of people are predicting big things for the team that had a disappointing 2010. Renault and Williams got off to quiet starts. Renault's new pay driver Vitaly Petrov spent the last day getting used to his new car and was second last in the time sheets. Lets hope that he does not live up to the reputation of the traditional pay driver in which money overtakes talent! Williams also had a quiet start apart from the last day in which Hulkenberg had a collision with Pedro De La Rosa. Hopefully they can challenge for a better amount of points this year and with Cosworth engines back in the car hopefully that will help them. Finally one of the new teams launched their car this week albeit with a bit of difficulty! Their online streaming of the new car failed and so we only got to see pictures of the new car. I can't wait to see how this car fairs in Jerez, the second test track. It was tested at the stowe section of Silverstone at the end of the week but the true indication of where it lies will be seen then. Force India, Lotus and Red Bull are to launch this week. At Last!! It is a bit of a worry that Red Bull missed the first test session because it means less time to iron out the problems, even though it was the same last year. The problem is the weather forecast for Jerez is supposed to be rainy so it would hinder them even more. I was very surprised to hear during the week that Force India's participation this year was thrown into question apparently because of financial issues but thankfully it seems to be all sorted now. Who could forget Lotus. The team (albeit rum by a Malaysian consortium) will launch its first car since in withdrew from F1 in 1994. Its another car I'm excited to see in action and hopefully it can live up to the massive history this team has in F1. And so we come to the last two team who yet again show no signs of announcing any car related news. Campos and USF1's participation are still in doubt but the signs are showing that things may be improving. For Campos' sake I hope so, Adam Carroll is rumoured to be signing for them!! The Portadown man has been rumoured to have been recommended by Tony Teixeira. I'm sorry I'm Irish!! We crave some sort of representation in the sport even if Carroll is technically British!! He is seen as Irish in a lot of Irish people's eyes particularly after representing us in A1 GP. But if the rumours are true then Campos' participation may well be dead already if Stefan GP have their way. The Serbian team have bought the remains of the 2010 Toyota project and are looking to boot one of the new teams out to get an entry for themselves. I say bring back pre-qualifying!! That way everyone gets a chance at racing! Its another exciting week in prospect, I can't wait to see how it unfolds! Cya next week!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pre Season Testing finally begins

In the time between the last blog seven teams have fully launched their cars. Its Monday the first of February which mean only one thing. Pre-season testing is finally here!! A three month drought of main driver action will be sorted today as the cars take to the track at Valencia to get their first shakedowns. One of the interesting things to come out of the launches last week is that the new Ferrari could be in trouble already. If rumours are to be believed then a B spec version of the new car is already in development back at Marenello. Apparently the new car lacks pace. Here's hoping that this bit of news will shut Luca de Montezemello up after his outspokenness at the Ferrari launch. Montezemello ranted about the fact that testing was limited and that the FIA should allow more of it. Many who know the history of the Ferrari F1 team will know that they are big fans of blowing cash on testing. In many respects it could be their economic superiority over their rivals that helps them stand out from the crowd in terms of performance. He also gave out about the fact that the three car rule wasn't introduced in which every team would run three cars each. (He also went as far as saying that Schumacher would have remained at Marenello for 2010 if such a rule was brought in.) This proposed rule is so economically ridiculous that there is no way it would ever be introduced. As mentioned in previous posts some teams are struggling to even make the grid this year with two cars. Not to mention that some teams would surely miss out on a grid slot as well. (thirteen teams with three cars each equals thirty nine cars!!)
Renault raised a few eyebrows when it launched at Valencia on Sunday as well. Their new car, the R30, was very similar to its predecessor the R29 and there were suggestions that it may well be the R29 and that the public had been fooled. But this isn't the most striking thing about the car. The new yellow and black (and a bit of red) livery is a breath of fresh air to the horrific colours we have seen from Renault in the past. Renault also announced that Vitaly Petrov would drive the second Renault which he paid quite handsomely for (reportedly around seven percent of Renault's overall budget!!)
Sauber also launched their new car at Valencia..... excuse me, BMW Sauber launched their new car. Yes the old name remains, even though BMW's involvement with the team is gone the team is to retain the name (strangely) for the season. With De La Rossa and Kobayashi as the drivers it could be an interesting season with a mix of experience and youthful determination.
McLaren launched its challenger the day after Ferrari and this is the team I'm most excited about seeing in action. The two most recent world champions who both are real racers going at it in the same team. They've both stressed the importance of team work so I guess they know what question is on every one's mind. Are they going to fall out? It will be one of the more interesting stories of the new season. Mercedes finally launched their new car after releasing their livery last Monday. It has all the trademarks of a title challenger. Impressive design and great drivers, look out for these lads they won't disappoint. Williams and Torro Rosso also launched on Monday. Williams, always a team that will go a different way on their design had similar features to the rest of the grid apart from an extra air intake. Torro Rosso have entered 2010 as a constructor for the first time, meaning they haven't gotten assistance from Red Bull. It will be interesting to see if they can cut it on their own.
Testing starts today and all the preparation, building and design start to show their results in the next few weeks. I'll be back next week to round up the first week of testing and hopefully some of these areas will have answers. Till then, cya!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Launch Season is Finally here!!

Arriving slightly later than usual the launch season finally got underway today with Mercedes GP. Probably one of the more eagerly anticipated launches I was delighted to finally get to see the first Mercedes F1 car in 55 years in its all new livery. A lot of talk has surrounded the drivers and there statuses within the team. Now its no secret the Schumacher is used to having the number 1 status within the team (Johnny Herbert and Rubens Barrichello will let you know how it feels to be playing second fiddle) and Rosberg has made no secret of his concern over whether the drivers will be equal and as far as the team personnel is concerned it seems that that is the way things will be. But Schumacher's desire to changed his number 4 to Rosberg's number 3 has raised a few eyebrows including my own. His official reason is that he feels odd numbers are lucky. (Me thinks not!!) This is a little game Schumi likes to play. "Mind Games". Something which he perfected during his 16 year career in F1. I often think if Schumacher was a football manager it would be quite a show seeing him "speak" it off with Alex Ferguson. But you do get the impression that Rosberg may be trying to take the game to Schumi with regards mind games. When questioned about Schumacher's return he laughed off any worries about favouritism or the number changing. He is quoted as saying: "When I win in Bahrain, we will care less about the number which is on my car and more about the driver who's inside it!" When I win in Bahrain??? Its natural for a driver to talk up his chances at the start of a season but surely there is a line you should refrain from crossing!! The guy is going up against arguably the best driver in the history of F1 not to mention a number of other past world champions without a victory to his name and he thinks victory in Round 1 is a given? Nico, I think you need to be a bit more careful in the way you handle the media as most of them don't take any prisoners should things go wrong. For all you nostalgic hardcore motor sport fans it was something special to see Schumacher back in Mercedes overalls. (Mercedes of course helped his career massively in the days before Formula 1 even helping him get a seat with Jordan) Of course it is important to note that it was only the livery that was unveiled today (displayed on the old Brawn Gp), its also worth pointing out that Schumacher is back with his old buddy Ross Brawn and we all know how much of a success that partnership is and I've no doubt that that success will not have diminished!!! We are going to have to wait another week before we can see the new car in all its glory. Next up will be the new Ferrari unveiled on Thursday. That will start the main group of launches happening over next weekend. You won't want to miss it!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

New teams in 2010

With the new season just around the corner I want to cover a topic that has been talked about a lot over the last few weeks and that is the new teams that are coming into F1 this year.

Campos, Lotus, Virgin and USF1 will make there debut in Bahrain in March, or will they? There has been a lot of talk that Campos in particular won't make the season opener in Bahrain. With regards USF1 the doubts have surrounded around the silence of Peter Windsor towards the end of last year in relation to the F1 project. I think a lot of the criticism behind the team is unfounded and you get the impression that it’s because they are a new team based outside of Europe. Moving away from the rumours the news reports seems to suggest that the development of the new car is going well. They are the only team that we have seen real parts of the new car so for the time being they seem to be on track. (No pun intended!!) However they remain the only new team that hasn't signed a driver yet. Jose Maria Lopez has been rumoured to be in with a chance of securing a seat and is understood to have an agreement with USF1 in which he must secure a sponsorship deal in the region of 8 million dollars. Pedro De la Rosa and Alex Wurz have also been rumoured to be in contention for a place but De la Rosa appears to be staying as the McLaren test and reserve driver and Wurz has denied any desire to return to F1. There has been a number of different names mentioned but nothing concrete yet. One important thing to note is that if USF1 do well this season they might help in the attempt to bring F1 to America. There inclusion in the championship definitely can’t hurt the chances.

Campos is the second new team into the championship and as far as everyone is concerned this is the team that everyone thinks will fail. I'd hate to be Bruno Senna right now. A possible seat with Honda went out the door when they pulled out from the sport and now that he has landed a seat there is an uncertainty of them making the first race. With regards Campos their signing of Senna seems to be the only good news story to come out of the team so far. With all the talk of them not being able to find sponsors and looking for buyers they could well be the new "Simtek", or "Forti". The situation in my opinion got even more dire when Tony Teixeira was linked with a buy in to the team, he is the man who owns A1 GP or should that be "owned" A1 GP as it now seems no more thanks to financial problems. They have yet to sign a second driver but believe me whoever he is would want to have a lot of money!

Virgin and Lotus seem to be the more stable of the three. Richard Branson is a big supporter of the underdog so it was no surprise when he bought into the Manor Grand Prix team. They have Timo Glock and Lucas Di Grassi as there drivers and its a nice blend of F1 experience and young talent. Incidentally Di Grassi finished runner up to Glock in GP2 in 2007 so there is going to be a good rivalry between those to which could make for some good racing. They also seem to have a good sponsorship package including Lloyd's Banking Group. Lotus' entrance is funded by the Malaysian government and a group of Malaysian entrepreneurs but there is still very much a British feel to the team. In terms of drivers they have the strongest line up of the four teams in Jarno Trulli and Heiki Kovalainnen. The two combined have 271 Grand Prix under their belts. With a new team experience is what they need. They also have that in Technical director Mike Gasgoyne.

In summary I think its going to be between Lotus and Virgin as to who comes out on top. I think USF1 might spring a surprise and I really hope they do. An American team in the sport is important. With regards Campos we might not see them make the end of the season. Its sad to say but unless they secure a big sponsorship package the season will be more about survival. That’s it for now!! See you next week!!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Button V Hamilton

Hey everyone!!! Hope you enjoyed Christmas!! Its just over 2 months to the start of the new season and I wanted to start this blog by talking about the reigning world champion. Jenson Button surprised everyone when he signed for Mclaren (not least myself) but does he really stand a chance against Hamilton. Last year he had the edge over Barichello but compared to Hamilton he was an easier adversary. Hamilton went up against Alonso in his first season (the reigning world champion at the time) and ended up beating him in the championship. (Although I wouldn't see he was as strong against Alonso as Hamilton himself claims!! http://www.planetf1.com/story/0,18954,3213_5850810,00.html ) and the following year he trounced his team mate Kovailinen to become world champion. Now I don't want to sound too hard but I do feel that is was the car and not Button that played the biggest part in Button winning the world championship last year. I think the fact that after the Turkish Grand Prix he didn't win another race for the rest of the season shows this. The rest of the field had caught up with the Brawn in terms of development and pace and Button started falling down the field. Hamilton's performance last year in an off the pace car was quite impressive winning two races. He dragged everything out of that car and the improvements to the car really showed. Hamilton has a lot more experience and history with Mclaren than Button does and hopefully this won't hinder Button's introduction to the team. This year will be a real test for Button, he has so many obstacles to overcome Hamilton just being one of them. He is adjusting to a new team, he also comes into the season as defending champion, also he has a lot of criticisers who were very much against his move away from his championship winning team so it will be interesting to see how he handles it all. Personally I think Hamilton will have the edge over him. Hamilton loves a challenge and he has so many of them this season. He's got Schumacher coming back to the sport for the year and that is definitely something he will relish under. Whatever happens we will have a very exciting battle on our hands and who knows maybe Button will prove me wrong!!!