Viewing entries tagged
Ferrari

Indian GP Preview: But It’s Just Not Cricket...

 

Fast developing countries need exciting and motivational events to raise their profiles and change outside perceptions. By tradition, India has always been a nation of tremendous contrast. Extreme wealth, once the preserve of the Maharajahs but now belonging to both commercial and industrial barons, stands starkly against a backdrop of abysmal poverty and it is this inherent imbalance that has created something of a moral dilemma. Yet, F1 is in India and it is heralded as a vital element of its modern infrastructure.

Race Review: Singapore Grand Prix

 

Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium after winning the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 23, 2012 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Another race, another shake up on the championship leaderboard. However, as unpredictable as the races have been, a pattern is emerging - Alonso on podium. Alonso may not win the number one spot, but he somehow always manages to get on to the podium.

How did it go down at the Singapore GP? It started with qualifying: Hamilton, after a perfect flying lap, landed the pole position. Trailing behind Hamilton in qualifying was Maldonado the Dangerous, then Vettel. Notice that Alonso is not even top 3 in Qualifying; he was P5.

With Maldonado's record, I was expecting a good battle at the front part of the grid at the start of the race. Hamilton defended his pole from Maldonado and got a clean getaway, while Vettel's slick maneuver got him ahead of Maldonado, and then Button also took a run on Maldonado and passed the Williams driver to take the 3rd position. It is as if a different Maldonado was in the Williams car altogether; where is his usual aggressive drive?

The Marina Bay Street circuit is notoriously difficult track to overtake - a car needs to be a few seconds ahead to overtake, which means tyres and pit stop strategy were paramount in giving a driver the advantage to get ahead. With 61 laps in the race, the most sensible way to manage is a two-stop strategy, which most cars opted for. In terms of tyres, the soft was more durable than the supersoft so most teams were trying to get the drivers to squeeze as much drive as possible from the soft tyres.

Hamilton's pit stop at lap 13 was incredibly fast at 2.9 sec, paired with his quick pace throughout the laps, he looked unbeatable in winning the race. However, it was not his day. In an unlikely turn of events, Hamilton's McLaren had a gearbox failure at lap 23, leaving him with a car but no drive. I would have thrown a hissy fit, but Hamilton handled it with unusual calmness, perhaps he was thinking this is a sign for him to leave McLaren and move to Mercedes.

Shortly after Hamilton's gutting moment, Maldonado's car also suffered an untimely end at lap 35. It's most unfortunate to see two cars that were on front rows on the grid that would likely battle out to the bitter end both retire early.

As most anticipated, the safety car made not one, but two, appearances at the Singapore GP. The safety car came out at Lap 34 when Karthikeyan crashed out, and at Lap 40 when Schumacher crashed into Vergne. The safety car rounds took quite a while, such that the race timed out and concluded at the 2-hour mark rather than completion of 61 laps.

Without a truly heated battle up at the front with Hamilton and Maldonado out, we end the race with Vettel, Button, and Alonso moving into podium for top 3. Alonso still leads the championship with Vettel now trailing in 2nd and Raikkonen in 3rd place. Who did you think will have the best drive at the Japanese GP on October 7th?

Race Preview: Belgium Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg enters Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps during the 2011 Belgium GP

Cornering to the right. Cornering to the left. Driving by the chicane. Accelerating on the straights. Aiming for the apex. Staying behind the slipstream of the car in front. Looking for an opportunity. Press the KERS button. Overtaking the car next to me. Victory is MINE!! Yes, this is what I think about when I drove to work the last few days. As you can imagine, after the long summer hiatus without races, Iam in a full on hungry-for-F1-races mode. The wait is driving me up the Pit wall (figuratively speaking, of course). I wish I have a Pit wall!

Qualifying Preview: Hungary

Lewis Hamilton has stepped up his game and shown great pace in Friday's sessions in Hungary (photo by HOCH ZWEI)
The last race weekend before the summer break kicked off with Lewis Hamilton commanding the field in both Friday practices, being the only driver to set a sub-1:22 time in a shortened wet-dry practice 2.  His teammate, Jenson Button, also showed his grit turning in the 2nd and 6th fastest times of the two sessions, just .1 seconds behind Hamilton in P1.  Championship points leader Fernando Alonso, who has been one with his car as of late, was fast enough for 3rd and 5th.  2007 Champion Kimi Raikkonen has yet to win a race since his return to F1 this year, but demonstrated he has the pace to reach the top step of the podium by finishing 2nd in practice 2, just .185 seconds behind Hamilton.

For Saturday’s qualifying session, look for arguably the most consistent driver of the field in Alonso to challenge for a third straight pole with a streaky Hamilton nipping at his heels.  Don’t count out Button though for pole though – while he may be all but out of championship contention, he drove a brilliant race in Germany to take 2nd from Sebastian Vettel and is among the fastest when his car is healthy.  Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber has been driving consistent enough to find himself in second place in the championship race, and arguably would have landed on the podium in Germany had he not been the victim of a 5-place grid penalty for an unexpected gearbox change before.  Look for him to make a qualifying statement to Alonso along the lines of “down but not out.”

Could we see another new race winner Sunday?  With 10 grands prix left in the season, the fans are sure to be delighted this weekend with a spirited battle for momentum into Belgium in one month.

Race Review: German Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso came in first while Sebastian Vettel took second position (though Seb was penalized for his overtake on Jenson Butto - Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Nothing throws a wrench into Race day grid positions like a bit of rain on Qualifying day. That is precisely what we had at the German Grand Prix this weekend. Some teams were prepared (or lucky) while others were slightly doomed (or not prepared). Alonso, the front-runner of the championship after British Grand Prix, was certainly prepared with a wet setup and capture Pole position. Not so lucky was Massa, Rosberg and Grosjean, none of them made Q3 Top-10 shootout.

To keep things interesting, Hokkenheim gave the German Grand Prix a sunny and dry race day. Alonso was on pole, followed by Vettel and Schumacher. With 4 wins in the pocket and a 3rd place on the grid, I had high hopes for Schumacher. However, ultimately it was just not meant to be. Schumacher ended the race at 7th.

Taking full advantage of the pole position, however, is Alonso. Alonso blew away the competition, surged ahead and never looked back from the moment the race started. Alonso seems to be ready for any challenge and made his strategy stick in recent races. Even in a seemingly less competitive car, Alonso has driven the wheels off of the Ferrari and took the top spot on the podium for the German Grand Prix. This is the 3rd win for Alonso at the Hokkenheim track. I think he may have shed some joyous tears on the podium. In my pre-race post, I've mentioned that the odds are in Schumacher, Alonso and Hamilton's favor at this Grand Prix, I'm mildly excited that my guesses are getting more accurate in this unpredictable season.

Hoping for a comeback from a disappointing finish last week, Hamilton started on 7th and ended up retiring at Lap 58 due to lack of pace and a puncture. With a bit of reversed fortune, Button did very well in the race, going from 6th to 3rd by lap 12 and just kept pushing up front. It certainly helped that McLaren has dramatically improved their pit stop time, with one of Button's stop taking a fleeting 2.31 seconds, fastest ever in the records. All these with some good driving nudged Button to 2nd near closing stage of the race. That was until Button started losing tyres performance. Vettel saw the weakness and decided to be naughty (and play innocent), attempted to pass Button on Lap 66, went wide AND off the track that give him some grip to slip in front of Button to take 2nd place on the podium.

Even though Vettel was on podium for 2nd, the stewards investigate the overtaking move and decided to give him a 20-second penalty which dropped him to Fifth. Quite the misfortune for Vettel at the home race. As a result, Button is 2nd, with Raikkonen taking 3rd in the 67-lap race. Button must be absolutely thrilled to be back on the podium after a drought of wins.

Honorable mentions of the Hokkenheim race are Kobayashi, who went up 7 spots with a 2-stop strategy to end the race in 5th, and Perez, went up a whopping 11 spots to 6th place. Both of these drivers are not always the front-runners, but are always driving their heart out with their cars, great pleasure to watch and definitely adds to the entertaining factor of the race to see them dual!

Grid girls, what's going on with the outfits? Is it because we're still in Europe that the last few races your outfit has not changed? It's still a red dress with a white bow-knot in the front and red heels. I was hoping that there'd be some new outfits, but alas. And who wins the Post-race Best hair award? That prize goes to none other than Button, who kept his cool on the podium with cool head and hair while waiting for the stewards to decide Vettel's illegal overtaking move.

That's all for the German Grand Prix! Can't wait for the Hungarian Grand Prix to come around July 27-29! Catch you then!

Race Preview: German Grand Prix

// This weekend we head to the famed Hockenheimring in the rural countryside of Germany. Here's a 3D Track Experience video from Pirelli.

Can you believe it's already the 10th race of the 2012 season? We're halfway through it, yet the season has been so action-packed that it's almost too good to be true. Continuing on with the European leg of the Grand Prix, this weekend the race will be at Hockenheim, Germany.

Mid-season is also the time when we have what I'd like to call the "Musical chair" part of the season. Top drivers talk to other top teams to explore options for next season and beyond. Hamilton is thought to have had talks with Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. Massa may depart Ferrari, Vettel was speculated to perhaps give Ferrari a try, and Webber was also rumored last week to want to leave Red Bull, meanwhile closing the deal with Red Bull this week. Maybe all the drivers should have 1-year contract only, that'll keep the "Musical chair" rumor mill going for the summer.

The front runner to win at Hockenheim this weekend, based purely on historical statistics, is Schumacher who has won four times at this track. Pretty impressive achievement! However, not to be outdone, Alonso and Hamilton have both won twice at this track before. I'm still holding out some hope for Iceman to win a Grand Prix and actually smile, we will have to wait and see how the race will go down this weekend. Can’t wait! Catch you again next week after the German Grand Prix!