Monthly Archives: December 2012

F1 News 17th December-23rd December 2012

This week’s edition (and it’s Christmas don’t you know!) F1 news sees Luca Di Montezelmolo speak out on his views about Bernie Eccelstone, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, Max Chilton making his F1 debut in 2013 and also a very well liked driver not driving next season… we begin.

Chilton Bags Marussia Drive for 2013

I am happy to report that Marussia have finally signed their test and reserve driver this season Max Chilton for the 2013 season. Throughout the season (especially from his first outing in Practice 1 in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix), he has regularly impressed the team with his ‘ability and potential’ and that he settled into the team quite quickly and extremely well. Max has told the media that is he ‘delighted’ with the drive and that he is focusing all his preparation ‘…towards pre-season testing and continuing physical preparation…’ for the new season ahead.

I think it’s a brilliant step for Max. Personally, he has impressed me with his outings this year. Not only is he quick, willing to learn and has a natural talent for racing but he has the attitude that you need to succeed within the sport and I think that this will be important when he finally makes his F1 race debut in Australia next March.

Ferrari: We prefer Vettel over Hamilton

Ferrari Boss Luca Di Montezemolo has again publically spoken at a pre-Christmas media launch at the Ferrari team base his views (the next news headline is also included).

Firstly, Di Montezemolo has publically stated on many occasions that Fernando Alonso is the best driver in Formula One right now. However, the team boss has also made it clear that if Sebastian Vettel would be ‘good’ for the team if he had the opportunity to drive for the team.

Di Montezemolo has said that he and the team would prefer Vettel over Hamilton due to the fact that Vettel is ‘…not arrogant… [always] wants to win and [is much] younger than Hamilton…’ That may true yes. But I would if I was a team owner in Formula One have Lewis over Sebastian and I have three reasons:-

  1. Lewis has more experience, talent and natural ability than Vettel than comes with age and racing experience.
  2. Lewis also wants to win as much as he can with the best car that he possibly can have (that may not be the best car in the field)
  3. Lewis has the ability to motivate, challenge and lead a team and himself to glory.

I am not disputing Vettel’s achievements nor his talent. But I believe that Vettel has been in the right place at the right time and has not worked as hard as many of his peers to achieve the success that he has. I think the Ferrari boss may need to look at Lewis’s track record within the sport and ask himself them questions again…

This then leads onto the second piece of news surrounding Montezemolo…

Eccelstone Era going?

This is the second time this week Luca Di Montezemolo has spoken publically about an individual within the sport. Di Montezemolo has again spoken about the owner of Formula One Bernie Eccelstone to the press. Di Montezemolo has stated that he believes that Formula One ‘…needs a change of direction [and is close] to opening up a new page within the sport.’ This comes as Bernie as also made it clear that he is backing Thailand for a Grand Prix in 2014

The team boss has also made it clear that Bernie’s decisions to introduce new circuits to the Formula One calendar such as Abu Dhabi and India were not good for the sport and they didn’t ‘…generate any atmosphere.’ He then goes on further to suggest that figures such as Bernie in the sport (he is known as the godfather) do not exist in the sport anymore.  And Bernie may not ‘exist’ within the sport and may be presented with a conviction regarding a bribe to a Formula One team boss while selling the ownership of the sport.

He has also made comments about the teams at the back of the Formula One grid and the ban on on-season testing. On the subject of testing, the team boss has said that the lack of testing within the season gives ‘…no media coverage for sponsors and cannot develop a Formula One car.’ And Di Montezemolo is going to raise these matters to FIA boss Jean Todt for further discussion.

In my view, I believe that Bernie is crucial to securing new and further countries for Grand Prix’s in order for Formula One to survive and thrive in the current economic climate. Without Bernie, we wouldn’t be racing in countries such as India, America and Singapore (just to name a few). Until a new successor can be found or if Bernie gets convicted by a court of law, Di Montezemolo needs to watch what he is saying to the world press as there will come a time where he will need something from the sport, be it commercial or advertising from the sport and Bernie may not wish to help his cause. Or Bernie may wish to answer Luca back and trust me, a verbal war with the godfather of Formula One will not be a battle any team or boss would like to engage in. The Montezemolo speeches continue.

Can Vettel achieve a 4th title?

Sebastian Vettel has only just won his third consecutive driver’s championship and he has his sights set on his fourth title. Vettel has stated that he ‘…wants to be as successful as he was this year [and that motivation for the new season and the title] is in his nature.’

Considering the nature of how he won his third world title (Vettel achieved the necessary 6th place finish, even though Alonso finished 2nd in the race to secure the title) and also the complaint saga surrounding him after the Brazilian Grand Prix, Vettel states that he was not ‘…affected by it.’ Vettel goes on to say that he didn’t know about the complaint until team boss Christian Horner received a call saying that the Ferrari team had made a complaint about the overtaking move with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.

Grosjean stays at Lotus for 2013

Watch out to all drivers in the Formula One paddock! Romain Grosjean has been confirmed to stay at the Lotus team for the 2013 season. The Lotus team have delayed releasing this information until they had spoken to Grosjean personally. Romain has talked openly to the press about his delight at staying with the team next year stating that he is ‘…very happy with the support from the team. And I hope to prove the team right in their decision and hopefully try to score some points and improve in the Constructor’s championship.’

And I really do hope that Grosjean grabs this chance that the team have given him and run with it. As even though Grosjean has made some pretty bad mistakes during his rookie season (especially the accident at the start of the Belgium Grand Prix where he picked up a one race ban), but when he is on form, he is a great racing driver. I wish him all the best for the new season.

No Kobayashi in Formula One?

Yes, the biggest shock story of the week. Kamui Kobayashi has given up on trying to secure a drive within Formula One in 2013. Kobayashi has been trying since being dispatched by Sauber to secure a drive. Kobayashi’s fans and companies from his home town in Japan have managed to secure the driver a fund that would have been allocated to him to gain a drive with team. The only teams that took an interest in the Japanese driver was Lotus and Force India. With Grosjean staying at Lotus and Force India still not making a decision on who to pair Di Resta (Bruno Senna, Sutil, Alguersauri and Bianchi are still in the running as I went to press) up with for next season, Kamui dropped himself out of the running even though there is a seat at the Caterham team (which may go to Petrov).

However, it is with sadness that Kamui does not have a drive for next season. Kamui has thanked the people who have contributed to the fund and is saving his money in order to gain a drive back in the sport in 2014. I am personally very sad that Kamui is not going to be in the sport for next year. He is a driver with a special talent and ability to perform in the car and achieve some amazing overtaking moves and also results. And he is breathtaking to watch on TV! I hope that Kamui gets a chance for 2014 and I think the world will need Kobayashi… sooner rather than later!

Williams and Caterham lose important members of staff

And finally, the last news item of this week. Both Williams and Caterham have lost a crucial member of their team this week.

Williams have lost Mark Gillian who was recruited in 2011 to help deal and get the Williams team out of decline. And this year they have managed to win a race with Pastor Maldonado and achieve more points in the Constructor’s championship in 2011. Gillian has chosen to leave the team ‘to spend time with his family’ and is on gardening leave until the end of this month.

Caterham have lost their Sporting Director Steve Neilsen. Neilsen joined the team in 2011 under the leadership of Mike Gascoyne to help the team strengthen within the sport. The team are now currently looking for a replacement for Neilsen before the start of the new season. I wish both guys all the best in the future in whatever they do.

And that’s the news for this week. Throughout the Christmas period, I will be posting a McLaren feature of 2012 and also a F1 Season Review of 2012 that I am currently working on.

My next instalment of F1 News will be back on the 2nd January 2013. All that leaves me to say is to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and very best wishes for 2013!

Sarah x

F1 News 9th December-16th December 2012

This week, next year has been featured and talked about quite a lot: – be it in terms of drivers and their performance or circuit-related talks. This is all the latest Formula One news for this week. Let’s begin…

Schumacher returning to the sport a ‘mistake’?

Bernie Ecclestone has said that Michael Schumacher returning to Formula One in 2010 with Mercedes was a ‘mistake’. Bernie then extends by adding that Michael ‘…should have never come back…’ Michael has only managed a podium in the three years that he has been back into the sport and Bernie believes that his achievement would taint Michael’s achievements that he has had throughout his career and he would be remembered with this podium.

I believe that Michael (even though I am not his biggest fan) deserves some respect. To come back after retiring in 2006 to achieve a podium is a fantastic achievement. Yes it may not be the return the sport wanted from the seven times world champion. But in his defence, Mercedes did not have the car nor the performance to help Michael achieve the further success that he created. But I agree with Bernie the sport will miss Michael and everything he brought to the table throughout his career.

Ferrari bouncing back in 2013?

Ferrari’s Team Prinicipal Stephano Domelicali has stated that in 2013 Ferrari will bounce back. Domelicali has said that this year Alonso ‘…deserved the title this year with a car that wasn’t able to challenge week in week out.’ The whole Formula One world and myself included was shocked that Ferrari wasn’t able to challenge Red Bull or McLaren. But I think we was more shocked with how without the car behind them, they was able to pull the results Alonso managed to achieve. Personally, I think Ferrari was relying on Alonso and his ability as a driver to help the team perform. Yes, that is what a driver is meant to do. But if the driver doesn’t have the machinery behind him year after year, then results aren’t going to happen. Do I think Ferrari need to bounce back? Yes. Will they? I haven’t a clue.

Too many teams in Formula One?

Bernie Ecclestone has stated this week that there are ‘…too many teams in Formula One…’ at the moment. Bernie goes on to explain that ‘…ten teams are easier to handle in terms of travel arrangements etc…’

Also, this week the HRT team has gone into liquidation after struggling to find a buyer within the timeframe that was given to them. It is also been hinted that the HRT team owe a well known British manufacturing company a great deal of money which is being sorted out as we speak.

Haug leaves Mercedes

A shock of the week for the Formula One world. Director Norbert Haug from the Mercedes F1 team has stepped down from his role in the team by ‘mutual consent’. Haug has left the team due to the bad results that the Mercedes team have had over the past few years. Niki Lauda who has a non executive position in the Mercedes boardroom will take Haug’s place.

I completely understand Haug’s decision to leave the team. Obviously, it is costing the team a great deal of time, money and resources to keep their Formula One team and ambitions alive. They have one of the best Team Principals in the business that have had great success in teams such as Ferrari and Benetton. They have great facilities and personnel who try to create the best car that they can possibly achieve.

Sadly, they have not been able to deliver. But I do hope that Mercedes can have a better year than this year and with Lewis Hamilton in the team, they may well be the surprise of the year.

Which then leads us onto the next news item…

Schumacher’s shock at Haug’s shock exit

Leading on from the last news post, Michael Schumacher has expressed his shock and horror at Norbert Haug’s shock decision to leave the Mercedes boardroom. It has been known that Haug and Schumacher since the 1990’s have had a great working relationship and Schumacher believes that the team will have a ‘great hole’ with Norbert leaving the team.

2013 Circuit Talk

Firstly, Red Bull’s owner Mateschitz has expressed an interest to Bernie Eccelstone in putting their own Circuit Red Bull ring onto the Formula One calendar for next year. The decision will be made by both parties when the Red Bull’s owner returns from Fuji soon after Christmas.

The Turkish Grand Prix has I have mentioned in previous posts is still uncertain due to the government not being able to provide the much needed funds to host the Grand Prix next year.

Finally, there is likely to be 19 races next season according to Eccelstone even though he is trying to fill a gap that is currently available within the calendar for next year. Austria at the A1 Ring circuit has been rumoured to be coming back onto the calendar but Bernie has assured the paddock that this is not happening. I will update you more on this further as soon as I receive any further news on the Turkish Grand Prix or a new race being implemented onto the calendar.

Grosjean wins Race of Champions

Yeah, you read this right. Romain Grosjean has managed to win the Race of Champions that takes place at the end of the year every year. Romain beat Le Mans legend Tom Kirstensen to win and in the process knocked out Michael Schumacher out of the competition.

Also, Germany won the team Race of Champions this year in Bangkok. Vettel helped Germany secure the win with a team that included Michael Schumacher.

Webber wanting consistency in 2013

Mark Webber is hoping that the 2013 Formula One season will provide him with the most consistent season of his career. It has been suggested within the Formula One paddock that 2013 will be Mark Webber’s last season within the sport. Webber has publically announced that he has no intentions about his retirement what so ever at the moment.

Webber has stated that he wants a ‘…campaign…’ that he can achieve the world championship with consistent results. And I really hope that he can. Mark is a brilliant driver, never gives up, has a positive attitude and is always honest about his intentions within the sport. Let’s hope this is Mark’s year next year.

Is Formula One expensive?

The final bit of news for you this week. Peter Sauber who has stepped down as Team Principal of Sauber this year has stated that ‘Formula One is expensive… especially the commercial part.’ Peter Sauber throughout the years has publically spoken about how the sport needs to make progress to order in curb costs down within the sport. Sauber believes that a ‘budget gap’ would help solve this problem.

I agree with aspects of Peter Sauber’s view. I believe that there should be something done by the FIA to help teams cut down costs in order to take part in the sport. Throughout the years, Max Mosley (former FIA president) has tried to tackle this issue in the past. And yes, it should be dealt with as the amount of money a team needs for a full season in Formula One is a lot. And most of it is achieved through companies such as Santander and Vodafone giving a lot of money to teams.

However, I can see that if there was a ‘budget gap’ this would limit the progression of any Formula One team in a season. This would then not help the performance of the cars or the drivers to be the very best they can be together in unison. However, this would make the racing fairer and alot closer and that is a tantalising prospect. We shall see.

Tribute to Lewis Hamilton: His Best 10 Races to Date

As you all know, Lewis Hamilton has decided to leave the Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes team for 2013 to move to the Mercedes-AMG team. I decided to pay tribute to Lewis’s McLaren years by analysing his best 10 races of his Formula One career to date. All I want to say is a big thank you to Lewis for making the last few years for me amazing and great especially as a McLaren fan by providing some great wins and memories for me as an F1 fan.

It has been very hard to even judge the best ten races Lewis has done. But I have managed painfully to do it. The countdown begins now in ascending order…

10. Australian Grand Prix 2008

Superb win for Lewis. A brilliant race. Made his way through an accident at the start. Many incident occurred during the race with drivers such as David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen Brilliant battle between Alonso and Kovalainen. Best start to him winning the 2008 title and winning his fifth Grand Prix.

9. US Grand Prix 2012

What a debut US Grand Prix! Lewis on form all weekend, driving the best I have ever seen him drive. Lewis was pushing Vettel all the way for the victory, even though he was out of the championship race. This is Lewis doing what he does best!

8. Hungarian Grand Prix 2012

Lewis just drove a beautiful race. He got a perfect start from pole position. Kimi Raikkonen behind was pushing Lewis to the maximum. But Lewis kept calm and his composure to win!

7. Chinese Grand Prix 2011

Vettel has a poor start and is overtaken by Jenson and Lewis and ends up in third place. Button during one of his pitstops ends up in the wrong pit (ends up at the Red Bull pit). Lewis takes the lead away from Jenson with a fantastic overtaking move into Turn 1. Then after pitstops, Lewis takes the lead away from Vettel! I was absolutely over the moon with this win!

6. Italian Grand Prix 2012

Hamilton leads the race at the start but is challenged by a quick starting Massa in the Ferrari. A huge incident with Vergne in the Toro Rosso at the first corner on lap 9 of the Grand Prix. An incident between Vettel and Alonso happens that could decide the championship. Vettel retires from the race (YES!!!!). Brilliant drive from Lewis!

5. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2011

Lewis just drove a beautiful race. Vettel retires at the start of the first lap due to a spin (best 30 seconds of motorsport ever!). And this race ended his bad run of luck during this year! Fantastic!

4. Canadian Grand Prix 2007

The first win of Lewis’s career. What a race. Safety cars. Crashes. Crashes into the so called ‘Wall of Champions’. Battles in and out of the pitlane with the Ferrari team. Overtaking moves left, right and centre. Breathtaking  overtaking from Lewis. Just a superb maiden Grand Prix victory.

3. Canadian Grand Prix 2012

Lewis becomes the seventh different driver in the 2012 season to win a Grand Prix. Lewis drove a brilliant race overtaking Alonso and Vettel. Sergio Perez behind him coming through the field, Alonso and Vettel going down the field and Grosjean showing a solid third. But nothing could stop Lewis this day; I was so overjoyed with this win!

2. British Grand Prix 2008

In a very wet British Grand Prix, Lewis makes a blistering start to lead the Grand Prix into the first corner and then gets pushed into second place by his team mate. Drivers are trying to keep their cars into the wet track throughout the field. Plenty of overtaking from all drivers throughout the field. Plenty of aqua-paining from drivers such as Massa and Alonso.  But Lewis in front of the British crowd wins an tricky race showing the world why he is the quickest driver out there at the moment.

And Finally 1. Brazilian Grand Prix 2008

I know what your all thinking Lewis never won this race Felipe Massa did. With one of the best races I have ever seen, Brazil and its weather create a championship showdown between Massa and Lewis. Lewis is passed by Vettel when Kubica unlaps himself and all hopes of the championship is gone… unless Glock makes a mistake, promoting Lewis into the position that he needs to win the championship from Massa (regardless if Massa takes the win). Glock makes that mistake on the final lap while Massa crosses the line for the win, thinking he has won the world title. But Lewis manages to keep Glock at bay and becomes the 2008 world champion!!! I was so emotional that day, tears in my eyes, punching the air with Lewis! A great race!

or  (from 3.23 to end is the best bit!)

F1 News 3rd December-8th December 2012

This is a brand new feature that I have decided to do for the blog. Every week, I will be doing a F1 news catch up to keep you guys up to date on matters that are happening currently within the sport and the F1 paddock. Here is the latest news from the paddock this week…

Has Vettel been penalised?

After the Brazilian Grand Prix, it would seem that video evidence shows that when Vettel was trying to pass the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne, Vettel passed him under yellow flags. In case anyone reading the blog for the first time does not know, when the yellow flags are present in the race drivers cannot overtake any car. If Vettel has overtook Vergne through the yellow flags, it could lead to a penalty for him that could alter the result of the Grand Prix and also Vettel’s third world title been taken away from him.

See link to YouTube video of the incident here .

The FIA has looked at all the evidence gathered surrounding this claim and it has been announced that Vettel did not overtake through yellow flags and is allowed to keep his result from the Grand Prix and most importantly his third Driver’s title. I believe personally that the video evidence does not lie and that Vettel did pass him through yellow flags. But the FIA has made their decision regarding this incident and we all have to respect that.

Verbal War Between Di Montezemolo and Ecclestone?

This piece relates to the last piece of news I have written. It has been said that within the F1 paddock that Ferrari’s president Luca Di Montezemolo has publically criticised the owner of Formula One Bernie Eccelstone regarding the FIA’s decision with Vettel in Brazil.

Di Montezemolo has publically stated that the decision the FIA made regarding Vettel in Brazil was a ‘joke’ but they fully accept the decision made. However, Eccelstone has said in response to this that Ferrari should have raised this issue ‘behind closed doors’ instead of their public declaration. I think that Ferrari should have raised the matter privately instead of publically as it would seem to cast doubt over the power that the FIA has in regulating the sport.

But I do get why Ferrari did this. Not only does the video evidence back up their claims (see previous news section for more details), but because of this, Ferrari and more importantly Fernando Alonso lost this year’s driver’s championship. But then Ferrari cannot blame the FIA and their decision for losing this title. There have been many incidents for Alonso that has happened this year that may have affected his championship challenge (such as Belgium). Ferrari did not have the speed or the car underneath them to challenge Vettel and depended on the skill of Alonso to get the results that he did. But I do understand their reasons for doing this, even though it was not the right way to discuss this incident.

Turkish Grand Prix not going ahead?

This week it was announced that the Turkish government will not be funding next year’s Grand Prix with government money. This year’s event was funded with money that came from the government and also with government backing. However, the Turkish Grand Prix will needs to have government money in order to make sure it hosts the event for 2013. However, the Turkish government have said that if anyone in the private sector who wants to give the organisers the money to host the race next year is more than welcome to do so.

I really hope that the Turkish government and organisers can sort this out pretty quickly as it would be a shame for the sport to lose the Grand Prix. Even if the government can find half of the money with government funds and then the rest is given to them by private sector investors or companies, we would at least have the Grand Prix for another year. But only time will tell what happens, but I will keep you posted.

Date of the US Grand Prix changing?

Organisers of the US Grand Prix would like the date of the Grand Prix next year (current date is the 17th November 2013) to be changed. This is due to the Grand Prix interfering with a very important football match that is scheduled at the same time as the Grand Prix.

However, the organisers would like to find a solution for the Grand Prix as quickly as possible without disruption to the calendar which is really great news.

German GP Date Change

The date for the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim has been brought forward a week to July 7th 2013. This has lead to the World Motor Sport Council reserving the date of July 21st for another European Grand Prix. It has been claimed that the circuit of Paul Ricard and Magny-Cours in France may fill the slot that is currently in the calendar but I will update you on this situation as soon as there is anymore news.

New Technical Changes for 2013 and 2014

There have been amendments to the 2013 and 2014 Sporting and Technical Regulations as agreed by the World Motor Sport Council and the FIA. The removal of ‘force majeure’ in qualifying will be changed. This is due to incidents such as Hamilton in Spain and Vettel in Singapore not having enough fuel to make it back to the pits after qualifying. The FIA can now determine how much fuel each Formula One car needs to get back to the pits after qualifying and will be checking after each session.

Also, there are more stringent F1 wing tests that are going to be scheduled for next year. The FIA are also looking into limiting the use of DRS in specified zones of the tracks. And finally the team personnel curfews have been extended from 6 to 8 hours on Thursday nights. There’s also a decrease in the amount of exceptions that the team can use to extend their hours in the pit lane throughout the year (it has been reduced from 4 to 2).

Mercedes to win next year?

The Team Principal of Mercedes-AMG F1 team Ross Brawn has stated this week that he and the team are looking for wins next year, even though Lewis Hamilton has stated that he is keeping his expectations realistic. Brawn then goes on to state that Lewis ‘… is playing things down…’ but the team is working very hard to ‘…give Nico and Lewis a chance to win races’. But I agree with Brawn that the team needs to improve for 2013 dramatically in order to make sure they are competitive and can win more than 1 race in 2013 than they did in 2012.

Changes at Silverstone

Silverstone have announced that they are made changes to their traffic management systems after this year’s disaster with fans not making it into the circuit to watch the Grand Prix. They have made it clear that they do not want a repeat of this year’s ‘chaos’ and have made changes to the park and ride scheme that should avoid this happening again.

Raikkonen-Contender for 2013?

Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen has stated this week that he wants to challenge for the title in 2013. Ever since his comeback to Formula One, Kimi has had an impressive come back. Kimi has managed to get third place in the driver’s championship by being in the top 10 in every race this year bar from one race. If Raikkonen can take this form into the next season and Lotus can build on a strong foundation from this year and provide him with a great car, you never know…

Driver Movements in the pitlane

This week it was announced that sadly HRT may not make it to the grid in time for Australia after not finding a solution to saving the team with a brand new buyer. So that means that there are only a range of seats available for next year.

Firstly, it is expected that Romain Grosjean is to stay at Lotus Renault for another year at least but we are waiting for an announcement. Williams have announced that their test and reserve driver Bottas will be Pastor Maldonado’s team mate in 2013. This year Bottas has really impressed the F1 paddock with his speed and consistency while driving in Practice 1 on Fridays.

Sadly, Bruno Senna did not do enough to keep his seat at Williams and is trying to get the seat available at Force India. However, Bruno has competition for the seat at Force India from Sutil, Algersauri, Force India’s test and reserve driver Jules Bianchi. Force India at this moment have not made a decision yet and I will update you as soon I hear anything.

Kovalainen has been reported to have lost his seat at Caterham and is putting in a late challenge for the second Marussia seat that is available. However, it has been reported that he will have to fight Max Chilton for the seat that has been made vacant by Charles Pic.

An Optimistic Massa

Felipe Massa has stated that he feels ‘…optimistic going into the winter…’ ready for the 2013 season. Felipe has managed to turn his season around in the final stages, driving some of his best races and even managing to out qualify his team mate Alonso. Considering at the start of the year that Felipe was struggling with the car, struggling with the Pirelli tyres (like every driver for the first few races of the season) and struggling to get decent results in qualifying and the race, he has done brilliantly. And I believe that he has more than earned his chance of extending his contract with the Ferrari team for at least another year and he should be proud of the latter part of his season and his performance.

McLaren to Dominate next season?

Really? I truly hope so. Sam Michael who is the Sporting Director for McLaren has stated that he is optimistic that the team will have a great season next year. The team achieved the same amount of wins as Red Bull (which is 7) and the car was quick all season.

Looking at their performance throughout the season, the car when it was in form was quicker than anyone out there. And with Jenson and Lewis driving that is one amazing combination. This year I have seen that McLaren started the season in blistering style with Jenson winning in Australia and looked to have learnt their lessons from seasons previously. There was a dip in form and some mechanical and electronic failures for the team. But as a McLaren fan, to achieve 7 wins from 20 Grand Prix is a fantastic achievement. And I couldn’t have been more proud when they win as not only do McLaren win and lose as a team, so do the fans.

I really, really, really hope that McLaren take the fight to the Red Bull next year, building on what they have achieved this year, they have two quick drivers in Jenson and Sergio who will try and push as hard as they can to achieve race wins. Do I think they can do it? Absolutely and fundamentally yes. I cannot wait.

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix Race Weekend Review

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix Race Weekend Review

Here it is; the last race of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship at the Interlagos Circuit in Brazil. This is the place where all the teams can test Pirelli’s 2013 development tyre for the first time in order to gain crucial and important data that will shape their development for the new season ahead. Also, this weekend saw a few of the teams announce some of their drivers for the 2013 Formula One season.

Williams have announced that Pastor Maldonado is to stay with the team, but they do have one seat available for next year. At this stage of the season, we do not know who will be Maldonado’s teammate. But it seems that the two likely contenders for this seat will be Maldonado’s current teammate Bruno Senna and William’s current Test Driver Bottas (who will have taken Senna’s drive in Friday Practice 1 for the fifteenth time this year).

Sauber have announced that their Test and Reserve driver Estuban Guiterez will be replacing Kamui Kobayashi to partner Nico Hulkenberg for next year. This was to be expected by the F1 world as Kamui has struggled to keep up with the pace of Perez this year, but this leaves him without a drive for next season. Robert Frinz has also been announced by the team as the Test and Reserve driver for Sauber in 2013.

Caterham have announced that Charles Pic is moving to the team from Marussia for 2013 after a few decent performances throughout the year. Sadly, Vitaly Petrov is out of the team for next year, but will be a test driver for Pirelli in 2013. The second seat within the team has not yet been confirmed by the team and Kovalainen is trying his best to convince the team to stay on for another season.

Also, Michael Schumacher after this race will be retiring for the second time from the sport from the AMG-Mercedes Petronas team to make way for Lewis Hamilton moving from McLaren to partner Nico Rosberg for next year. I’m not the biggest Schumacher fan but I’m sure for most people who follow the sport as closely as I do will know the significance of one of the greatest drivers the sport has ever had retiring and effectively handing over the ‘baton’ to a new succession of drivers within the sport.

After an amazing debut Grand Prix for the Circuit of the Americas, the Driver’s World Championship fight is going to be decided in Sao Paulo. Sebastian Vettel still leads the championship fight with thirteen points over his rival Fernando Alonso. The race could make Vettel the youngest ever triple world champion or Alonso a triple world champions, joining an exclusive club of drivers such as Fangio, Schumacher and Prost.

Alonso if he wants to be a triple world champion and the champion of 2012 needs to take every available opportunity that is given towards him this weekend to win the title from Vettel. The statistics show that Vettel will become this year’s champion if he finishes within the top four positions in the Grand Prix, no matter where Alonso finishes. For Alonso to become this year’s champion, he needs to:-

  • Win the Grand Prix and Vettel needs to be outside the top 4
  • Alonso finishes second and Vettel needs to be outside the top 7
  • Alonso finishes third and Vettel needs to be outside the top 9

As we know in recent years, anything can happen in Brazil. And you can bet that Alonso is hoping the weather can come into play and give him a helping hand to secure the title for himself. There is no denying that Vettel is the strongest position possible to achieve his third world title, but will luck be on his side? We shall see.

Alongside the championship battle, there is a battle for second place and tenth place in the Constructor’s championship that could be decided this weekend. McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari are battling with each other for second place; meanwhile Marussia is struggling to keep the Caterham team at bay to keep a much needed tenth place- who will succeed?

This Grand Prix looks set to be a race that everything will be decided and finalised in one of the best, exciting and unpredictable seasons we’ve encountered. Strap yourselves in…

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from all the practice sessions is that McLaren are looking like the team to beat this weekend.

Practice 1 saw Hamilton top the timesheets with a time of 1.14.131 followed closely by Vettel with a gap of 0.009 seconds, Webber in third with a gap of 0.067 seconds, Button in fourth 0.086 seconds behind and Alonso in fifth 0.261 seconds behind. Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg impressed the paddock by topping the timesheets in 8th place (Di Resta) and 10th place (Hulkenberg) showing that Force India may have the pace to score some good points this weekend.

Practice 2 saw Hamilton top the timesheets again with a time of 1.14.026 followed by Vettel with a gap of 0.274 seconds, Webber in third with a gap of 0.497 seconds, Massa in fourth 0.527 seconds behind and Alonso in fifth 0.566 seconds behind. Button could only manage 8th place but Di Resta managed to keep the Force India within the top 10 in this season.

Within Practice 2, Charles Pic in his Marussia had to pull out of the session having lost power and drive while in 5th gear. This will leave Marussia with a lot of work to do overnight in order to fix the problem within the car and make sure Pic can get more of his programme done in Practice 3 and also qualifying on Saturday.

Practice 3 saw Button top the timesheet with a blisteringly quick time of 1.13.188 followed by Vettel with a time of 1.13.245, Webber in third with a time of 1.13.385, Hamilton in fourth with a time of 1.13.389 and Grosjean in fifth with a team of 1.13.420. Alonso could only manage to secure 8th place with a time of 1.13.691. However, Di Resta is the surprise of the session securing 6th place with an impressive time of 1.13.486.

I am as a McLaren fan pleased that both of the guys are up there and showing that they are stronger as they have been throughout the year , wanting to end the year on a high, to achieve pole position and then the race win. They seem to be in a strong position. But we have seen many times that McLaren’s form in Practice has not transformed into qualifying, but I am hoping that it does.

You would be stupid not to bet against Vettel to gain pole position. As he is the master of qualifying at the moment and the momentum is with him. Webber cannot also be discounted for the pole also as he is consistently within the top three at the moment. Alonso at the moment seems to be struggling. Alonso throughout the year has had to pull performances out of the bag in order to keep himself in the championship fight (especially in the races) and I admit it takes a lot of skill and talent to do that in a car that is not capable. However, I think that Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here. We all look forward to qualifying with excitement…

Qualifying

The last qualifying session of the season. It looks set to be a cracker. McLaren look to have the speed, with Red Bull racing them closely behind. Ferrari will have to hope for a miracle in order to keep Alonso fighting for the championship with a good qualifying spot and Force India look like they could qualify really well here in Brazil after their performances in all three Practices. Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

The main talking points within Q1 were two incidents that took place on the track. The first incident was between Glock and Kovalainen (who are trying for both of their teams to secure 10th place in the Constructor’s championship for Marussia or Caterham) trying to overtake each other on a slightly damp track. The second incident of the session was between Romain Grosjean and Pedro De La Rosa. Grosjean in his Lotus Renault while trying to overtake De La Rosa’s HRT ran into the back of him. Grosjean seems to have right front suspension damage, this ends Grosjean’s and De La Rosa’s qualifying session and the incident will be looked at after the session by the stewards.

In Q1, Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.15.075, Bruno Senna is second with a time of 1.15.333, Button is third with a time of 1.15.456, Hulkenberg is fourth with a time of 1.15.536 and Vettel is fifth with a time of 1.15.644. Alonso was tenth fastest with a time of 1.16.097. Di Resta set a blistering time in sixth with a time of 1.15.901. At the end of Q1, we lose Grosjean, Petrov, Kovalainen, Glock, Pic, Kartikeynan and De La Rosa.

Within Q2, Maldonado was asked by the stewards to come to the weighbridge during this session which is very unusual. However, Maldonado missed the FIA official in the pitlane pointing to Maldonado to come to the weighbridge. Maldonado has had 2 reprimands within the season from the FIA and this could lead to Maldonado receiving a very harsh penalty and is going to be looked at after this session by the FIA.

In Q2, Vettel tops the timesheet with a time of 1.13.209, Hamilton was second with a time of 1.13.398, Button was third fastest with a time of 1.13.515, Webber was fourth with a time of 1.13.667 and Raikkonen was fifth fastest with a time of 1.13.698. Alonso could only manage 9th with a time of 1.13.856. Hulkenberg also set a brilliant time of 1.13.704 to get 7th fastest. At the end of Q2, we lose Di Resta, Senna, Perez, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Riccardo and Vergne. The battle for pole position is on…

In Q3, Hamilton again tops the timesheet and claims pole position with a fantastic time of 1.12.458, Button was second fastest with a time of 1.12.513, Webber was third with a time of 1.12.581, Vettel was fourth fastest with a time of 1.12.760, Massa was fifth fastest with a time of 1.12.987, Maldonado was sixth fastest with a time of 1.13.174, Hulkenberg was seventh fastest with a time of 1.13.206, Alonso was eighth fastest with a time of 1.13.253, Raikkonen was ninth fastest with a time of 1.13.298 and Rosberg is tenth with a 1.13.489.

It would seem that McLaren genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win this weekend which I am absolutely thrilled about. Both drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Vettel or Webber to be challenging also for the race win in order for Vettel to become the youngest triple world champion. Alonso needs to have a strong race in his Ferrari in order to keep fighting for the championship and take the title away from Vettel (with help from his team mate Massa). Hulkenberg could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for Force India before heading to Sauber for next season. Maldonado’s time may or may not stand depending on how the stewards look at the incident that happened in Q2.

Will it rain tomorrow? Probably. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping it’s either Jenson or Lewis). Who will become world champion tomorrow? Will it be Vettel or Alonso? I don’t know. I simply cannot wait for this Grand Prix. This Grand Prix has all the makings for an epic show down that will would be the perfect end to an exciting season for Formula One fans. Bring it on!

Race

Prior to the race, Maldonado gets his third reprimand of the season for missing the weighbridge within Q2 and takes a ten place grid penalty. McLaren start the race with their 67th lockout of the grid (which is a new record in Formula One). The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix will live up to expectations and will crown the youngest triple world champion; will be it be Vettel or will it be Alonso? Here we go…

It is starting to rain while the drivers take to their grid positions. Five red lights and its GO!!!! Hamilton defends his lead from his team mate Jenson Button into the first corner. Alonso seems to have had a decent start off the line. Webber seems to be challenging both Alonso and Massa (Massa had a great start) and all drivers are battling each other towards Turn 1. Alonso takes 3rd place and Massa takes 2nd place away from Jenson. Vettel doesn’t seem to have had a good start and has Di Resta battling him for position. Then Vettel while trying to defend his position crashes due to Senna going into the side of him and damages the left side pod of his Red Bull. Vettel is really not to blame for his incident, leaves him in 20th place (by lap 2 Vettel is now in 5th place) and leaves Senna having to retire his Williams-Renault. Also Perez has to retire his Sauber.

Lap 5, the rain is getting heavier and wet tyres are now going to be needed by all the drivers. Also, Lewis leads by 1.093 seconds to Button. There is a battle for 4th place going on between Alonso, Webber, Massa and Di Resta. While this is going on Nico Hulkenberg passes the four drivers to take third place from Alonso. While Hulkenberg goes through, Webber, Alonso and Massa are challenging each other but Alonso manages to hold onto fourth position for now. The next lap sees Webber trying to pass Alonso for position but it doesn’t work out. Also Kobayashi is also trying to get past Di Resta. Grosjean in his Lotus Renault crashes from the race and is forced to retire his car. While Raikkonen and Schumacher pit for wet tyres.

Lap 8 sees a 0.659 gap to Button. Vettel at this stage of the race is up to 8th place after his spin into the first corner in the first lap. Vettel tries to pass Kobayashi for position but it doesn’t work. Meanwhile, after many laps of trying, Button passes Lewis for the lead of the race, but Lewis seems to have no grip what so ever. The next lap sees Kobayashi pit to change his front wing and tyres. Kovalainen is in 11th place which maybe enough for Caterham to claim 10th position in the Constructor’s championship at this stage in the race. On the track, Rosberg tries to overtake Vergne for position and there is a clash between the Toro Rosso drivers for position.

Lap 10, Button has a three second lead on his team mate. Webber pits for intermediate tyres with a pit stop of 5.3 seconds and comes out in 10th place. The next lap sees a range of drivers pit to change their tyres to intermediates. Hamilton and Di Resta pits for tyres. Ferrari pits Alonso for tyres with a pit stop of 3.6 seconds and comes out in 12th place. Vettel pits for tyres with a pit stop of 3.0 seconds and comes out in 16th place and having to fight his way through the field again with some considerable damage to this car.

Lap 12 sees Button have a 2.721 gap to Hulkenberg who hasn’t stopped for tyres yet. Kovalainen at this point is in 6th place but needs to pit for tyres. Kobayashi passes Glock for position, Vettel passes Raikkonen for position and Alonso is currently in 12th position. By the next lap, Vettel passes his team mate Webber for position and pressuring Rosberg for 11th place on the track. Alonso is currently in 9th position. Hamilton is currently in 3rd position and is having a strong race. Meanwhile, Pic goes off and has to retire his Marussia out of the race.

Lap 15, Button has a 1.120 second gap to Hulkenberg. Vettel is now is 8th place. Webber passes Rosberg for 9th place. Alonso now passes Vergne for position. The next lap sees Vettel taking 5th place away from Kobayashi, but did he pass him under yellows? Also, Hulkenberg is challenging Button for the lead of the Grand Prix and by lap 17; Hulkenberg has reduced the gap to 0.2 seconds.

Lap 19 sees Hulkenberg take the lead of the Grand Prix away from Button and builds up a 0.718 gap. Hamilton pits for fresh tyres. Alonso in the Ferrari now pits for dry tyres with a pit stop of 4.3 seconds. The next lap sees Vettel and Webber pit for dry tyres.

Lap 21 sees Hulkenberg have a 0.803 second gap to Button in second place with Button pushing Hulkenberg at every available chance he has around the circuit. Rosberg meanwhile suffers a right rear puncture on his Mercedes due to the debris that is over the track from incidents seen throughout the Grand Prix.

Lap 23 sees the Safety Car being deployed due to the amount of debris that is currently on the track. Jenson and Nico decide to pit for tyres under the Safety Car and Hulkenberg maintains his lead in the Grand Prix.

Lap 30 and we are back RACING!! Hulkenberg has a 0.843 gap to Button. There is a battle of Kobayashi, Webber and Vettel. Kobayashi maintains his position, Webber is really unlucky, goes off the track and ends up in 14th place. Di Resta also tries to have a go at Vettel for position. The next lap sees Hulkenberg lock up, Hamilton passing Button for 2nd place and Riccardo struggling to get past Massa.

Lap 32, Hulkenberg has a 2.992 gap to Hamilton. Alonso is under increasing pressure by Kobayashi and Kobayashi manages to pass Alonso with a good move. Massa is currently in 7th place. Lap 33 sees Raikkonen go off the race track. The battle for 4th is hotting up between Alonso, Kobayashi, Vettel and Massa.

Lap 36, the track seems to be drying out. Button is 1.6 behind Hulkenberg. The battle for 5th place between Kobayashi, Massa and Vettel is still ongoing. Further down the field, Raikkonen and Schumacher are into a thrilling battle for position. Felipe Massa has managed to get up to 5th place.

Lap 40, there is a two second gap between Hulkenberg and Button. The battle for 5th place is still continuing. Di Resta passes Michael Schumacher for 11th place. Lap 42 sees the gap to Button decrease to 1.9 seconds. At this stage of the Grand Prix, the position Alonso is in will not be enough for him to secure the championship.

Lap 45 the gap to Hamilton is down to 1.4 seconds. A second down the road is Button who is gaining very quickly. The battle between Kobayashi and Vettel is still ongoing, but Kobayashi is struggling. Three laps later, Hulkenberg spins onto the track and Lewis manages to take the lead of the Grand Prix.

Lap 49, Lewis leads Nico by 1.875 seconds. The rain is now again pouring onto the track. Jenson is still gaining on Hulkenberg quickly. Lewis by the next lap is pulling away from Hulkenberg quickly. Lap 52, there is a 1.6 gap to Hulkenberg. Rosberg pits for a set of intermediates tyres while Riccardo pits for dry tyres. The next lap sees Vettel pitting for medium tyres with a pitstop of 3.5 seconds and comes out in 10th place.

Lap 54, the gap has decreased to 1.1 seconds between Lewis and Hulkenberg. This is due to the amount of backmarkers that Lewis is having to pass. The next lap sees Hulkenberg trying to pass Lewis for the lead. Both drivers clash. The left front tyre is damaged on Lewis’s car. This then promotes Alonso onto the podium. Vettel then pits again for intermediates tyres.

Lap 57 sees Jenson Button leading the Grand Prix from Hulkenberg by 10.5 seconds. Vettel is up to 9th position. Hulkenberg receives a drive through penalty through the pit lane for the collusion with Lewis Hamilton a few laps previously. He comes back out into 5th place. The next lap sees Button pit for intermediate tyres.

Lap 61 sees Button leading the race by 16 seconds from Massa. Vettel is catching Michael Schumacher and his Mercedes for 6th position in the race. Lap 65 sees Button increasing the gap to Massa to 21.245 seconds. The next lap sees Marussia in 12th place and has 8 tenths of a second gap ahead of Petrov who is battling for this position for the Caterham team. Within the lap, Petrov passes Pic successfully. Two laps later Di Resta passes Vergne successfully for 9th place.

Lap 69 sees Button leading the Grand Prix by 20.3 seconds to Massa. Kobayashi spins on the track after touching Schumacher while battling for position. However, he does nearly collide with Vergne. Lap 70 sees the safety car deployed after Di Resta spins.

The final lap of the Grand Prix under the safety car. And under the safety car, Jenson Button wins the Brazilian Grand Prix with a brilliant drive, his third win of the season. Alonso finishes 2nd 2.754 seconds behind, Massa gets the final podium spot 3.615 seconds behind Button, Webber finishes fourth 4.936 seconds behind, Hulkenberg gets fifth 5.708 seconds behind, Vettel gets sixth place and secures his third world title and becomes the youngest ever triple world champion of the sport, Schumacher finishes in 7th place, Vergne in 8th place, Kobayashi in 9th place and Raikkonen manages to secure the final point in 10th place for Lotus. Petrov also beats Pic for 11th place and thereby promotes Caterham to 10th in the Constructor’s Championship which is a blow to the Marussia team who held onto the position for a while.

The Driver’s championship ended with Vettel taking his third world title with 281 points, Alonso an credible second place with 278 points, Raikkonen finished third with 207 points, Lewis finishes ahead of Button with 190, Button gets fifth place with 188 points, Webber is sixth with 179 points, Massa in seventh with 122 points and Grosjean with 96 points in 8th place.

The Constructor’s championship ended with Red Bull Racing taking the title in Austin but managed to increase their points tally with 460 points, Ferrari pimped McLaren to second place with 400 points, McLaren are third with 378 points, Lotus are fourth with 303 points, Mercedes are fifth with 142 points, Sauber are sixth with 126 points, Force India are seventh with 109 points and Williams are eighth with 76 points.

Conclusion

What a race! It didn’t disappoint. The Grand Prix tested the drivers throughout the race. I am absolutely thrilled that Jenson won the race. It was a brilliant drive and I think it is fitting that he finished the season on a high with a win and also starting the season with a win in Australia in March. This will drive Button into the winter wanting more of the same when the new season arrives next year.

I was also disappointed that Lewis had to retire from his last race as a McLaren driver. But he showed throughout this weekend that when the car is there, he is one of the fastest drivers out there. I am really sad to see Lewis leave the team that has helped him win his world title and gave them 6 years of loyal service. But I wish Lewis all the best for the very future with Mercedes.

Despite the many dramas that Hulkenberg endured in the race, his driving today was superb. Under great pressure from Hamilton and Button, Hulkenberg lead the Grand Prix in a race that many people thought wouldn’t even be in this position this year. That just shows how much Force India have improved year after year and that when the car is competitive, both drivers are there scoring points for the team. I really do hope that Di Resta is staying at the team for 2013 as in his two years in the sport, he has shown that he can bring the car home, is dependable and his talent is getting better and better every year. I also wish Hulkenberg every success with Sauber for next year. I can see why Sauber have signed him up. Nico is a great racing driver and is improving all the time. It’s only a matter of time before Nico is a race winner in Formula One.

It is very fitting that Michael Schumacher has scored some decent points in his final Grand Prix of his career. Throughout his second comeback, Michael has managed some decent performances but sadly the car has not been what everyone thought it would be. But even though I am not the biggest Schumacher fan, you cannot discount his contribution to the sport. He is the greatest driver currently with seven titles under his belt and the most Grand Prix wins of any driver. Today, we have seen Michael now pass the baton over to his fellow countryman Vettel. But I hope Michael has a happy retirement and I wish him very success in the future.

Caterham taking 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship! Well, that was a close battle with Marussia. I do feel sorry for Marussia as not only have they lost this position but they have also lost a considerable amount of money that comes from Bernie from gaining this position. But aside this, both teams have a lot to do in order to become competitive within Formula One over the next few years.

Raikkonen deserves a mention. Since his comeback, Raikkonen has been there slightly throughout the season scoring points for the Lotus Renault team and taking a well deserved victory. I think Raikkonen has made the right decision to come back into the sport and deserves his third position in the driver’s championship. You never know Raikkonen may just pose a threat for next year…

Considering Massa at the start of the year was not competitive at all, the latter part of the season he has shown the paddock what he can do. Massa has given some brilliant performances and does I believe deserve to stay at Ferrari for next season. I am not the biggest fan of Alonso but to take the fight to Vettel and Red Bull until the final round of the championship… I have nothing but respect. Alonso didn’t have the best car this year but by taking opportunities as they came, he managed to lead the championship for a while.

Do I think if Alonso didn’t suffer misfortunes in Suzuka and Belgium, would he have took the world championship… I really don’t know. But credit where credit is due, Alonso deserves his second place in the championship but it is going to be a hard battle for Ferrari to challenge Vettel for next year. Can they do it? We shall see.

Red Bull Racing and Vettel have done it again. Taking the Driver’s and Constructor’s title consecutively for the third year in a row. Considering their position a few years ago, this is an incredible achievement. And I think this all down to the team having the right people such as Newey designing a quick car. Webber this year has put in some performances that have shown the Formula One world that he can beat Vettel when luck is on his side. Vettel however is the youngest triple world champion in the sport and seems to be heading into the prime of his career. But can he do it again for the fourth year in a row? We shall see.

Overall, this year has been one of the most exciting years of Formula One for a few years. Seven different winners in seven different races. There have been highs, lows, controversy and bitter pills to swallow. But this is what makes Formula One the pinnacle of motor sport. This is why I love the sport so much. You never know what is going happen year by year, race by race. But what you do see is some of the best drivers in the world race each other and themselves to be the best driver they can be.

I look forward to 2013 with excitement. And I hope you do too. Bring on Melbourne! Bring on March! Bring on 2013!