Monthly Archives: September 2013

Track Preview: Korean Grand Prix, Yeongam

All Rights Reserved to www.formula1.com

All Rights Reserved to http://www.formula1.com

Sebastian Vettel wins in Singapore, Fernando Alonso drives to second place and Kimi Raikkonen claims the final place on the podium after a good drive. McLaren yet again have made small improvements to their car in order to gain their way back to the front and gain some points. And Sauber and Force India also picked up some much needed points for their teams. And people are still wishing that the Mercedes or Vettel still do not have the pace in qualifying…

The Korean Grand Prix is not one of the favourite destinations for the teams and the drivers but they love the circuit. The circuit is quite demanding and does not have a flow like some of the previous new circuits introduced in the last few years. The circuit is not really used and is quite dusty and low on grip at the start of the weekend. The front right tyre gets a lot of pressure because of the loading of the circuit and it being anti-clockwise.

And here we go guys with fourteenth race of the Formula One season, the Korean Grand Prix in Yeongam…

Facts and Figures

  • Yeongam has hosted the Grand Prix since 2010.
  • Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver at the track with two wins.
  • Red Bull is the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with two wins.
  • Race distance: 308.63km (191.77 miles)
  • Number of turns: 18
  • Top speed: 318kph
  • Lap record: Sebastian Vettel- Red Bull (2011)- 1.39.605
  • Winners from pole 0/3 (0%)
  • Winners from last 3 Korean Grand Prix: 2010-Fernando Alonso, 2011-Sebastian Vettel, 2012-Sebastian Vettel

My top 5 Korean Grand Prix

Here are my top three Korean Grand Prix races (well there as only been three) and in no particular order:-

  1. 2012 Korean Grand Prix- Sebastian Vettel wins the race ahead of Webber and Alonso. Just a dominant race from Vettel from start to finish. [No video avaliable]
  2. 2011 Korean Grand Prix- Sebastian Vettel wins the race ahead of Hamilton and Webber. Another master class from Vettel. However, Hamilton broke Red Bull’s record of Pole Positions in this race. 
  3. 2010 Korean Grand Prix- Fernando Alonso wins the race ahead of Hamilton and Massa. The first race to be held in South Korea. A dominant display from Fernando. A great drive. 

If the Korean Grand Prix from last year is anything to go by from last year, we look set to witness a great race next weekend. Will Fernando be able to challenge Red Bull and Lotus to win again and gain the championship lead? Will Red Bull be able to achieve pole position and try to win the race Will Rosberg, Raikkonen, Massa, Button, Perez, Hamilton or be able to challenge them?

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every practice session, the qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and the BBC are also showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 1.45am and 5.45am [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 2.45am and 5am [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 5.30am
  • BBC- Saturday (Qualifying Highlights) 1.15pm, Sunday (Race Highlights) 2.00pm

My next blog post will be a full Race Report on the Korean Grand Prix by the end of next week. Loving the start of the weekend of Formula One, Hope you will be enjoying every single moment of the weekend as much as me!

2013 Singapore Grand Prix Race Weekend Review

Sebastian Vettel wins in Italy, Fernando Alonso with a good drive to second place and Mark Webber claims the final place on the podium after a good drive. McLaren yet again have made small improvements to their car in order to gain their way back to the front and score some much needed points. And people are still wishing that Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes’ drivers still do not have the pace with their cars in qualifying…

Prior to the Grand Prix, the biggest talking point is the news that Kimi Raikkonen is rejoining Ferrari in 2014 to partner Fernando Alonso. Kimi has publically stated in the media that the real reason why left Lotus was due to financial reasons. For me personally, I am really unsure about the decision that Kimi has made the correct decision. But we shall only see what happens next year and if Kimi has been rewarded.

Also, the new rumours circulating in the paddock is who is going to take Kimi’s place in the Lotus team for next year. The two contenders gunning for this place is Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa. You cannot also discount Paul Di Resta for the drive either. But we shall see in the next few weeks who Lotus will choose.

The Singapore Grand Prix is a special circuit that most drivers and teams look forward to visiting every year. The Grand Prix takes place in the night and makes a change for the teams and the drivers. The track lap is very long. It is a high down force track with some tricky bumps and kerbs that raises the ride height of the cars. The circuit is not very easy on brakes and challenges the drivers both physically and mentally due to the high temperatures and humidity.

This Grand Prix will be one full of questions of who again can go longer on their tyres, who can save the most tyres for the race on Sunday, which car has got their car set up the most competitive and race ready? Have McLaren and Williams made a significant step forward with their upgrades in their fight to get back to the front?

Alongside these questions, questions if Red Bull, Lotus or Mercedes will be able this weekend to help their own fight in the championships, can McLaren small improvements on their cars help them this weekend before Hungary where more upgrades are planned to take place on the car, who will be competitive from the off, who has the quickest car and who will win this race on Sunday?

The race weekend begins now….

Strap yourselves in. The new season begins now…

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Red Bull look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton top the timesheet with a time of 1.47.055 followed closely by Webber with a gap of 0.365 seconds, Vettel in third with a gap of 0.830 seconds, Rosberg in fourth with a gap of 1.184 seconds and Raikkonen in fifth with a gap of 1.299 seconds. Esteban Guiterrez impressed the paddock by topping the timesheets in 10th place with a gap of 2.300 seconds behind Hamilton.

Practice 2 saw Sebastian Vettel top the timesheets with a time of 1.44.249 followed by Webber with a gap of 0.604 seconds, Rosberg in third with a gap of 1.009 seconds, Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 1.119 seconds behind and Grosjean in fifth with a gap of 1.162 seconds behind Vettel. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez managed to achieve a top 10 finishes with an 7th place for Jenson and 10th place for Sergio  showing that McLaren may have the pace to get some good championship points this weekend. Alonso managed to get sixth place in the session.

Within Practice 2, Turn 21 on the circuit was a cause of concern for drivers wanting to push the limits. Both Mark Webber and Felipe Massa were dangerously close to hitting the barriers. Pastor Maldonado in the session had a spin in his Williams and suffered some front wing damage.

Practice 3 saw Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheet again with a time of 1.44.173 followed by Grosjean with a time of gap of 0.191 seconds behind, Rosberg in third with a gap of 0.568 seconds behind, Webber in fourth with a gap of 0.733 seconds behind and Hamilton in a fifth with a gap of 0.733 seconds behind. The surprise of the session is Nico Hulkenberg managing to grab 8th place showing that Sauber may have good pace within their cars. Button looks to be having a good weekend so far with claiming 9th place which show that McLaren might be able to get into Q3 with a fight and to gain some championship points on Sunday.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg and also Vettel to gain pole position again this weekend. As all three drivers seem to be excelling in qualifying at the moment and the momentum is with them from claiming Pole Positions in four rounds of the championship so far. Alonso, Massa, Webber and Raikkonen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top five places at the moment.

Button and Perez even with upgrade programme and making good and solid progress with points finishes in previous races, seem to have made an improvement.  It seems from looking at their performances that the pace is coming slowly and steadily and both drivers I will admit will struggle to even make Qualifying 2 or maybe even the points in the race and it will take a lot of skill and talent to do that in a car that is not capable, unless a bit of unexpected rain happens (which is very unlikely). However, I think that Toro Rosso, Force India or Sauber have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

Qualifying

It looks like Red Bull, Mercedes or even the Lotus’s are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session look set to challenge Ferrari, McLaren and the rest of the field for pole position today due to current form that they have shown. But Force India or Sauber may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions. And it is looking likely that it will be a challenge for the Williams drivers of Bottas and Maldonado to clear Q1 and also the McLaren drivers of Button and Perez to clear Q2 as both teams do not have the pace within their cars to challenge the top teams this weekend.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

In Q1, Hamilton tops the timesheets with a time of 1.44.196, Button was second with a gap of 0.813 seconds, Alonso was third with a gap of 0.919 seconds, Perez was fourth with a gap of 0.968 seconds and Rosberg was fifth with a gap of 1.012 seconds. Webber, Vettel, Riccardo, Hulkenberg and Guiterrez managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Di Resta, Maldonado, Pic, Van Der Garde, Bianchi, and Chilton.

During Practice 1, Gideo Van Der Garde in his Caterham hit the wall on track. Luckily Gideo was okay and the Caterham team look ahead to fixing the car ready for the race tomorrow.

In Q2, Vettel again tops the timesheets with a time of 1.42.905, Webber is second with a gap of 0.822 seconds behind, Rosberg is third with a gap of 0.286 seconds behind, Hamilton is fourth with a gap of 1.015 seconds behind and Grosjean is a credible fifth with a gap of 1.052 seconds behind. The big surprise of the session was Riccardo finished the session in 9th place. At the end of Q2, we lose Hulkenberg, Vergne, Raikkonen, Perez, Sutil and Bottas.

The battle for pole position is on…

In Q3, Vettel tops the timesheet and gets pole with a amazingly fast lap time of 1.42.841 ,Rosberg was second fastest with a gap of 0.091 seconds behind, Grosjean was third fastest with a gap of 0.217 seconds behind, Webber was fourth fastest with a gap of 0.311 seconds behind, Hamilton was fifth fastest with a gap of 0.413 seconds behind, Massa was sixth fastest with a gap of 1.049 seconds behind, Alonso was seventh fastest with a gap of 0.454 seconds behind, Button was a credible eighth fastest with a gap of 1.441 seconds behind, Riccardo was ninth fastest and Guiterrez was tenth fastest.

It would seem that Red Bull genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend which I am absolutely not thrilled about. However, both sets of drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Hamilton, Webber or Rosberg to be challenging also for the race win in order to keep their seasons off to a flying start. Alonso or Raikkonen could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes and Red Bull and Ferrari and Lotus to gain some points on his rivals for the championship.

Button, Perez, Vergne, Hulkenberg and Riccardo could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for McLaren, Sauber and Toro Rosso before heading to the next race in Singapore. Will it rain tomorrow? Maybe. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping for a Button win!). Who will lead the championship after this race? Will it be Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Alonso or Hamilton? I don’t know.  The Grand Prix has been set up nicely, just like the last race. Let’s see what happens…

Race

The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix will live up to expectations and who will be the winner? Here we go…

All 22 drivers are lined up on their grid positions, five red lights and its GO!!!!!!!!

Rosberg gets off the line quite well. Rosberg is now moving towards Vettel. Rosberg is now ahead of Vettel but has to late brake into Turns 1 and 2 and Vettel is able to re pass Nico. Alonso has had a blistering start and steaming through the field. Yet another of his perfect starts. Grosjean now finds himself challenged by Webber. Hamilton now finds himself challenged by Massa.

Webber is now able to pass Grosjean. Perez is now ahead of Guiterrez. Riccardo had a poor start and was bogged down getting off the line. Hamilton experiences an off the track and Webber had a late call on the brakes but manages to avoid an incident.

Lap 2 and Vettel leads Rosberg by 1.9 seconds. Raikkonen passes Di Resta on track. Hamilton has to give his place back to Massa but then looks set to re pass again. The next lap sees Guiterrez and Raikkonen battling for 11th place on the track and is able to pass Esteban on Lap 4.

Lap 7 sees Vettel leading the field by 6.7 seconds. The battle for 7th place between Button, Hulkenberg, Perez and Raikkonen is building on track. Lap 9 sees Grosjean catching Webber on track for fourth place. At the end of Lap 10, Raikkonen makes a pit stop with a time of 3.5 seconds and rejoins the race in 19th place.

Lap 11 and Vettel has extended his lead to 7.2 seconds. The battle for 11th place between Guiterrez and Di Resta builds up. At the end of the lap, Guiterrez and Vergne make their pit stops. Lap 12 sees the battle for second place between Rosberg and Alonso build up. At the end of the lap Massa makes his pit stop with a time of 2.9 seconds and rejoins the race in 13th place.

Lap 13 sees Vettel have a 7.3 gap to Rosberg. Raikkonen and Bottas are battling for 15th place and a few corners later Raikkonen passes Bottas. At the end of the lap Webber, Button and Hulkenberg make their pit stops. The next lap sees Riccardo and Webber battling for 8th place. Also Maldonado and Massa battle for 10th place. At the end of the lap, Alonso makes his pit stop with a time of 3.4 seconds and rejoins the race in 6th.

Lap 15 sees Alonso catching Di Resta for 5th place after his pit stop. At the end of the lap Rosberg, Grosjean and Hamilton make their pit stops. By Lap 16, Vettel has a 25.8 second gap to Rosberg in second place. The battle for 11th between Maldonado, Hulkenberg and Perez is ongoing.

Lap 17 sees Di Resta, Alonso and Webber battling for 3rd place on track. At the end of the lap Vettel makes his pit stop with a time of 2.8 seconds and regains his lead in this race. By Lap 19, Vettel has an 8 second gap to Rosberg. Hulkenberg is forced to give his place back to Perez. The end of Lap 20 sees Di Resta make his pit stop.

Lap 23 sees Vettel leading by 9.8 seconds. Alonso, Webber, Grosjean and Hamilton are now battling each other for the final place on the podium. Lap 25 sees Button and Raikkonen battling for 8th place in this race. Daniel Riccardo at Turn 18 puts his Toro Rosso into the wall after experiencing a lock up and hereby deploying the Safety Car. Alonso, Grosjean, Bottas, Massa, Button, Hulkenberg, Vergne and Perez all pit for new tyres under the Safety Car.

Lap 30 and we are back RACING again!!! On track, Massa is trying to get past Di Resta for position. By Lap 33 Vettel has built up a 5.5 second gap to Rosberg. Rosberg now finds himself under pressure from Webber for second place in this race. At the end of the lap, Grosjean pits and rejoins the race in 21st place.

Lap 35 and Vettel leads by 10.5 seconds. The battle for 3rd in the race between Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Di Resta and Massa is ongoing. By Lap 38 Vettel has further extended his lead to 16.5 seconds. Hamilton and Alonso are battling for fourth place.

Lap 40 sees Vettel leading by 20.4 seconds. At the end of the lap, Webber makes his pit stop with a time of 2.9 seconds and rejoins the race in 13th place. The next lap sees Rosberg make a pit stop with a time of 3.6 seconds and rejoins the race in 12th place. By the end of Lap 42 Massa and Di Resta have also made their pit stops.

Lap 43 sees Vettel leading Hamilton by 27.8 seconds. Webber and Rosberg are now battling each other for 11th place. At the end of the lap, Hamilton pits with a time of 4.1 seconds and rejoins the race in 10th place. Vettel now leads Alonso on Lap 44 by 28.5 seconds and at the end of the lap makes his stop with a time of 2.8 seconds and regains his lead in the race.

By Lap 46 Vettel leads the race by 5.1 seconds. Button and Raikkonen are battling for the final place on the podium. By Lap 48 sees Vettel leading by 9.3 seconds. The battle for 7th place is ongoing on the track between Guiterrez, Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton. The next lap sees Webber, Rosberg and Hamilton passing Guiterrez.

Lap 50 sees Vettel leading by 11.1 seconds. Di Resta is now catching Guiterrez and is able to pass him a few corners later due to Guiterrez suffering with no grip from his tyres. By Lap 53 Webber is catching up Hulkenberg. The battle for 5th between Perez, Hulkenberg and Webber is grabbing our attention.

Lap 54 and 15.9 seconds is now Vettel’s lead. Webber passes Hulkenberg for 6th place. Webber is now catching Perez quickly. Hulkenberg now finds himself battling Rosberg and Hamilton for 7th place. Raikkonen is now third after passing Button. The next lap sees Webber trying to pass Perez. Both Rosberg and Hamilton pass Hulkenberg successfully. And Di Resta sadly has to retire his Force India after putting the car into the barriers.

Lap 56 sees Vettel extending his lead to 19.6 seconds. Hamilton is now looking at being able to pass his team mate for position. The battle for 6th place builds up between Perez, Rosberg and Hamilton. Webber is finally able to pass Button’s McLaren. The next lap sees Massa catching Hamilton on track. Hamilton meanwhile is trying to pass Nico. Rosberg is able to pass Perez. Massa is now trying Hamilton.

Lap 58 sees Rosberg passing Button, Hamilton and Massa now passing Perez. The next lap sees Massa passing Button. Sutil meanwhile is trying to pass Hulkenberg for the final point on offer today.

Lap 60 sees Vettel leading by 28 seconds. Button, Perez, Hulkenberg and Sutil are battling each other for 8th place. Webber has lost 4 seconds quite rapidly to Rosberg. Webber then loses 4th place to Rosberg. Meanwhile Hamilton is quickly gaining on Webber and is able to pass him.

Lap 61 sees Massa passing Webber. And sadly after a good drive, Mark Webber has no choice to retire his Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel completes the final lap of the race and wins again in Singapore, Fernando Alonso gets second place 32.6 seconds behind Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen gets the final podium place in third 43.9 seconds behind Vettel, Rosberg is fourth after a good come back drive 51.1 seconds behind Vettel, Hamilton is fifth 53.1 seconds behind Vettel, Massa is a credible sixth 1.03.8 seconds behind Vettel, Button is seventh 1.23.3 seconds behind Vettel, Perez is eighth 1.23.8 seconds behind Vettel, Hulkenberg is ninth 1.24.2 seconds behind Vettel and Sutil grabs the final point for Force India 1.24.6 seconds behind Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel leads the Driver’s championship with 247 points, Alonso is second with 187 points, Hamilton is third with 151 points, Raikkonen is fourth with 149 points, Webber is fifth with 130 points, Rosberg is sixth with 116 points, Massa is seventh with 81 points, Grosjean is eighth with 57 points, Button is ninth with 54 points and Di Resta is tenth with 36 points.

Red Bull lead the Constructor’s championship with 377 points, Ferrari is second with 274 points, Mercedes is third with 267 points, Lotus is fourth with 206 points, McLaren is fifth with 76 points, Force India in sixth with 62 points, Toro Rosso in seventh with 31 points, Sauber are eighth with 19 points and Williams are ninth with 1 point.

Conclusion

The Grand Prix tested the drivers throughout the race with the high level of tyre degradation, just like the many races we have had this season. However, I am glad that the small changes that Pirelli made to the tyres have worked this weekend and they have not compromised safety or the racing.

I was happy that Jenson and Sergio did have some pace to challenge today and did score some points for the team. Jenson had a cracking battle all of the race and keeping drivers such as Hamilton and Massa at bay for a long period shows that he is a racer, no matter what is happening in the team at the moment.

This just shows how much they are making improvements at the moment. But it shows that McLaren are taking slow and steady progress to try and get to the front of the field once again. But I am happy that Jenson and Sergio managed to do his best this weekend for the team and they were rewarded with some good points. But they need to try and make the car competitive and understand the issues surrounding their problems and learn the lessons from this year’s car and focus on 2014.

The team this weekend I believe have made small steps into looking at solutions to help and cure this problem before the championships, race wins, podiums and even point finishes are no longer within their reach. As I said last race, I know McLaren will bounce back to the performance they and their fans crave and when that happens, it will make it all the more special.

Lotus this weekend may not have gained another victory this weekend but they have scored some good points from Kimi this weekend that will help their fight in the Constructors Championship. I was impressed with Raikkonen this weekend. He has not been on the pace all weekend and drove to my mind a good race despite problems with his back and also announcing that he is moving to Ferrari next year. However, Kimi now needs to build on this result and remain consistent for the rest of the season to get ready for 2014.

I was a bit surprised that Lotus was not able to challenge for the win this weekend, but consistency and points scoring keeps you in the hunt for the title, as Alonso proved last season. Despite the problems of this weekend, the Lotus team have managed to get again score some points, even though they are now fourth in the Constructor’s Championship.

Sutil again have had a solid weekend. First Adrian showing top 10 form in the Practice sessions and then battling throughout the field to gain some solid points. I think that Adrian and Force India when the car and pace is there are driving solidly this year and are improving their form from last year. But Adrian and the team need to keep improving the car until the end of the season if they want to regain 5th place in the Constructors back off McLaren.

The biggest surprises this weekend for me was the 9th place of Nico Hulkenberg. Firstly, Hulkenberg has had an impressive weekend but he has impressed me a lot this weekend yet again as in Italy. He drove a cracking race to bring home some much needed point for the team. I believe that Nico this year has learnt his lessons from his last and this season from the sport and is working harder than ever to impress with his performances in the sport this year and trying to get some much needed points for Sauber. I really believe that Nico when is good is a high quality driver that he is and I was happy to him get a point today after a great drive. But the question is, when will the top teams give this man a chance? Nico deserves in my view to be in a competitive car! Come on Lotus, give him a chance!

Alonso also drove solidly this weekend to claim second place. Even though he only managed to qualify in seventh place on Saturday, I believe that he did not the potential to challenge Vettel, Webber or both of the Mercedes drivers for the win even if he qualified further up the grid.  But Alonso really is the master of the starts at Grand Prix right now and his start today was one of the best I have seen. Alonso and Ferrari need to keep working on their qualifying pace as they have a really good car this year (especially in the race) and could challenge Vettel if this problem was rectified.

Massa, Rosberg and Hamilton do deserve a mention. Firstly, Ferrari seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year. They seem to be able to make sure that their qualifying performance is also consistent and reliable, while it seems they have improved their race pace today. And yet again Massa extends his and his team’s points into the championships today. While both of the Mercedes driver undoubtedly have the car to challenge Red Bull at qualifying on Saturdays but still need to work on the pace on Sundays. But I believe that Mercedes seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year and will get there eventually.  And I think that Lewis and Nico drove solidly despite battling what felt like every driver today and deserved to take some points for their efforts.

I would also like to say that Webber drove to my mind a really good race today and deserved to take some points home today. Mark drove through the field with the grit and determination that all fans and the paddock admire, respect and love about him until he had no choice but to retire his car. I really will miss Mark next year and I really hope that we can win a race before the end of the season.

All that is left to say about this race is that Vettel sadly deserved to win today. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. They seem to be able to make sure that their qualifying performance is also consistent and reliable, while it seems they have improved their race pace today. And yet again Vettel extends his and his team’s points into the championships today and people are now starting to believe that unless Vettel and Red Bull are challenged, the title is theirs for the taking.

Will Sebastian be able to win in Korea? Can Hamilton, Webber, Raikkonen, Grosjean or Alonso be able to challenge?  We shall see in a couple of weeks time!

My next post will be my Korean Grand Prix Track Preview which will be uploaded to the blog by the start of the Grand Prix weekend!

Track Preview: Singapore Grand Prix, Singapore

All Rights Reserved to www.formula1.com

All Rights Reserved to http://www.formula1.com

Sebastian Vettel wins in Italy, Fernando Alonso drives to second place and Mark Webber claims the final place on the podium after a good drive. McLaren yet again have made small improvements to their car in order to gain their way back to the front and gain some points. And Mercedes and Toro Rosso also picked up some much needed points for their teams. And people are still wishing that the Mercedes or Vettel still do not have the pace in qualifying…

The Singapore Grand Prix is a special circuit that most drivers and teams look forward to visiting every year. The Grand Prix takes place in the night and makes a change for the teams and the drivers. The track lap is very long. It is a high down force track with some tricky bumps and kerbs that raises the ride height of the cars. The circuit is not very easy on brakes and challenges the drivers both physically and mentally due to the high temperatures and humidity.

And here we go guys with thirteenth race of the Formula One season, the Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore…

Facts and Figures

  • Singapore has hosted the Grand Prix since 2008.
  • Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver at the track with three wins.
  • Red Bull is the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with three wins.
  • Race distance: 309.31km (192.20 miles)
  • Number of turns: 23
  • Top speed: 297kph
  • Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen- Ferrari (2008)- 1.45.599
  • Winners from pole 3/5 (60%)
  • Winners from last 5 Singapore Grand Prix: 2008-Fernando Alonso, 2009- Lewis Hamilton, 2010-Fernando Alonso, 2011-Sebastian Vettel, 2012-Sebastian Vettel

My top 5 Singapore Grand Prix

Here are my top five Singapore Grand Prix races and in no particular order:-

  1. 2012 Singapore Grand Prix- Sebastian Vettel wins the race ahead of Alonso and Raikkonen. This race will be remembered for Lewis Hamilton sadly retiring his McLaren after a dominant race leading which ultimately led to his decision a week later to leave McLaren from Mercedes 
  2. 2008 Singapore Grand Prix- Fernando Alonso wins the race ahead of Rosberg and Hamilton. This was the first ever Singapore Grand Prix and also the first night race in the history of the sport. Brilliant drive from Alonso. 
  3. 2011 Singapore Grand Prix- Sebastian Vettel wins the race ahead of Button and Webber. A dominant display from Vettel. 
  4. 2010 Singapore Grand Prix- Fernando Alonso wins the race ahead of Vettel and Webber. A dominant display from Fernando. A third from Webber also extended his championship lead at the time. 
  5. 2009 Singapore Grand Prix- Lewis Hamilton wins the race ahead of Timo Glock and Fernando Alonso. Brilliant drive from Lewis. Also, this was one of the podiums that did not have a Brawn GP or a Red Bull driver on in 2009. 

If the Singapore Grand Prix from last year is anything to go by from last year, we look set to witness a great race next weekend. Will Fernando be able to challenge Red Bull and Lotus to win again and gain the championship lead? Will Red Bull be able to achieve pole position and try to win the race Will Rosberg, Raikkonen, Massa, Button, Perez, Hamilton or be able to challenge them?

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every practice session, the qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and the BBC are also showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 8.45pm and 12.45pm [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 9.45pm and 12.00pm [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 11.30pm
  • BBC- Saturday (Qualifying Highlights) 5.00pm, Sunday (Race Highlights) 5.00pm

My next blog post will be a full Race Report on the Singapore Grand Prix by the end of next week. Loving the start of the weekend of Formula One, Hope you will be enjoying every single moment of the weekend as much as me!

2013 Italian Grand Prix Race Weekend Review

Sebastian Vettel wins in Belgium, Fernando Alonso with a good drive to second place and Lewis Hamilton claims the final place on the podium after a good drive. McLaren yet again have made small improvements to their car in order to gain their way back to the front and score some much needed points. And people are still wishing that Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes’ drivers still do not have the pace with their cars in qualifying…

Prior to the Grand Prix, the biggest talking point is the news that Daniel Riccardo has been confirmed as Vettel’s team mate at Red Bull for 2014. Riccardo has gone through the Red Bull Young Driver’s Development Programme for many years and has driven solidly for Toro Rosso at the latter stages of last year and this year so far. For me personally, I think Riccardo is a good choice as he has shown that he has the potential to develop and go far into the sport. I think just as many pundits and fans believe that if Red Bull denied either Riccardo or even Vergne the promotion to Webber’s seat at Red Bull then their programme for young drivers would not be worth continuing. But never the less, I am very happy for Daniel to be given the chance in a championship winning team.

Also, the new rumours circulating in the paddock is that Kimi Raikkonen may move to Ferrari in 2014 to partner Fernando Alonso. But Kimi may also have an option to stay at Lotus or even move back to McLaren. Personally, I think that either Kimi will move to Ferrari as it is the strongest option available on the grid right now due to financial problems with Lotus. Jenson Button is also awaiting an extension of his McLaren contract for 2014 and  James Calado is also making his first appearance in the sport today in Practice 1 for Force India.

The Italian Grand Prix is a special circuit that most drivers and teams look forward to visiting every year. The circuit enables the cars to be set up with extremely low downforce settings. The circuit offers very challenging high speed and low speed corners that you have to jump on the brakes quickly with no downforce.  The circuit has the highest top speed of the year and is not very easy on brakes.

This Grand Prix will be one full of questions of who again can go longer on their tyres, who can save the most tyres for the race on Sunday, which car has got their car set up the most competitive and race ready? Have McLaren and Williams made a significant step forward with their upgrades in their fight to get back to the front?

Alongside these questions, questions if Red Bull, Lotus or Mercedes will be able this weekend to help their own fight in the championships, can McLaren small improvements on their cars help them this weekend before Hungary where more upgrades are planned to take place on the car, who will be competitive from the off, who has the quickest car and who will win this race on Sunday?

The race weekend begins now….

Strap yourselves in. The new season begins now…

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Red Bull look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton top the timesheet with a time of 1.25.565 followed closely by Alonso with a gap of 0.035 seconds, Rosberg in third with a gap of 0.139 seconds, Vettel in fourth with a gap of 0.188 seconds and Raikkonen in fifth with a gap of 0.376 seconds. Pastor Maldonado impressed the paddock by topping the timesheets in 9th place with a gap of 0.584 seconds behind Hamilton.

Within Practice 1, an incident between Alonso and Massa at the end of the pit lane occurs. Alonso seems to have been doing a practice start at the end of the pit lane when the red light was on. And Massa realising that the red light is on at the end of the pit lane stops. This led to the team being fined for this incident.

Practice 2 saw Sebastian Vettel top the timesheets with a time of 1.24.453 followed by Webber with a gap of 0.623 seconds, Raikkonen in third with a gap of 0.663 seconds, Grosjean in fourth with a gap of 0.663 seconds behind and Alonso in fifth with a gap of 0.877 seconds behind Vettel. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez managed to achieve a top 10 finishes with an 9th place for Jenson and 10th place for Sergio  showing that McLaren may have the pace to get some good championship points this weekend. Hamilton managed to get sixth place in the session. Di Resta and Perez could only manage 11th and 12th places in the session.

Practice 3 saw Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheet again with a time of 1.24.360 followed by Alonso with a time of gap of 0.283 seconds behind, Webber in third with a gap of 0.317 seconds behind, Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 0.352 seconds behind and Perez in a fifth with a gap of 0.504 seconds behind. The surprise of the session is Daniel Riccardo and Pastor Maldonado managing to grab 6th and 9th places showing that they have good pace within their cars. Button looks to be having a good weekend so far with claiming 8th place and Perez in the top 5 which show that McLaren might be able to get into Q3 with a fight and to gain some championship points on Sunday,

Within Practice 3, Paul Di Resta crashed at the Parabollica corner due to losing the rear end of the car. At the moment, it may be believed that something may have gone wrong with the car. But this leaves Force India trying to fix the car before qualifying.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg and also Vettel to gain pole position again this weekend. As all three drivers seem to be excelling in qualifying at the moment and the momentum is with them from claiming Pole Positions in four rounds of the championship so far. Alonso, Massa, Webber and Raikkonen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top five places at the moment.

Button and Perez even with upgrade programme and making good and solid progress with points finishes in previous races, seem to have made an improvement.  It seems from looking at their performances that the pace is coming slowly and steadily and both drivers I will admit will struggle to even make Qualifying 2 or maybe even the points in the race and it will take a lot of skill and talent to do that in a car that is not capable, unless a bit of unexpected rain happens (which is very unlikely). However, I think that Toro Rosso have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

Qualifying

It looks like Mercedes and the Red Bull’s are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session look set to challenge Ferrari, Mercedes or Lotus for pole position today due to current form that they have shown. But Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions. And it is looking likely that it will be a challenge for the Williams drivers of Bottas and Maldonado to clear Q1 and also the McLaren drivers of Button and Perez to clear Q2 as both teams do not have the pace within their cars to challenge the top teams this weekend.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

In Q1, Vettel tops the timesheets with a time of 1.24.319, Rosberg was second with a gap of 0.208 seconds, Hamilton was third with a gap of 0.270 seconds, Vergne was fourth with a gap of 0.311 seconds and Perez was fifth with a gap of 0.316 seconds.  Riccardo, Alonso, Grosjean Button and Hulkenberg managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Guiterrez, Bottas, Van Der Garde, Pic, Bianchi, and Chilton.

In Q2, Vettel again tops the timesheets with a time of 1.23.977, Alonso is second with a gap of 0.250 seconds behind, Webber is third with a gap of 0.286 seconds behind, Riccardo is fourth with a gap of 0.313 seconds behind and Hulkenberg is a credible fifth with a gap of 0.405 seconds behind. The big surprise of the session was Vergne finished the session in 9th place. At the end of Q2, we lose Raikkonen, Hamilton, Grosjean, Sutil, Maldonado and Di Resta.

During Q2, Adrian Sutil while Lewis Hamilton was on a qualifying lap blocked him on several occasions. The stewards are now looking at the incident.

The battle for pole position is on…

In Q3, Vettel tops the timesheet and gets pole with a amazingly fast lap time of 1.23.755 , Webber was second fastest with a gap of 0.213 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was an amazing third fastest with a gap of 0.310 seconds behind, Massa was fourth fastest with a gap of 0.377 seconds behind, Alonso was fifth fastest with a gap of 0.387 seconds behind, Rosberg was sixth fastest with a gap of 0.437 seconds behind, Riccardo was a credible seventh fastest with a gap of 0.454 seconds behind, Perez was a credible eighth fastest with a gap of 0.747 seconds behind, Button was ninth fastest and Vergne was tenth fastest.

It would seem that Red Bull genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend which I am absolutely not thrilled about. However, both sets of drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Hamilton, Webber or Rosberg to be challenging also for the race win in order to keep their seasons off to a flying start. Alonso or Raikkonen could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes and Red Bull and Ferrari and Lotus to gain some points on his rivals for the championship.

Button, Perez, Vergne, Hulkenberg and Riccardo could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for McLaren, Sauber and Toro Rosso before heading to the next race in Singapore. Will it rain tomorrow? Maybe. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping for a Button win!). Who will lead the championship after this race? Will it be Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Alonso or Hamilton? I don’t know.  The Grand Prix has been set up nicely, just like the last race. Let’s see what happens…

Race

Prior to the race, Red Bull have announced that they will be conducting a permitted test for Pirelli in Barcelona after the Grand Prix in a 2011 car to test 2014 tyres. Also Jenson Button has KERS issues with his car and the McLaren team are trying to fix the problem before heading to the grid before the race. Adrian Sutil has also been penalised for his part in the incident with Lewis Hamilton in Q2. Sutil has been given a three grid place penalty.

The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2013 Italian Grand Prix will live up to expectations and who will be the winner? Here we go…

All 22 drivers are lined up on their grid positions, five red lights and its GO!!!!!!!!

Webber gets off the line quite well. Alonso switches to the right and looks set to battle and to pass Massa. Perez has contact somewhere on the track with Raikkonen. A battle with Button and Di Resta leaves to both drivers going under the speed bumps. Alonso is now shaping to take a look at Webber. Di Resta now goes off at the second chicane. Hamilton and Raikkonen are able to pass Button. Raikkonen pits at the end of the lap with the front wing missing.

Lap 2 and Vettel leads Massa by 1.4 seconds. Maldonado and Sutil have a little contact with each other on the track. The battle for 14th place between Guiterrez and Maldonado is taking place. The next lap sees the battle between Alonso and Webber build up and Alonso passes Webber with a brilliant move!

Lap 6 sees Vettel build up his lead to 2.8 seconds. Lewis Hamilton has been told by his team that they ‘cannot hear you’ over the team radio. Alonso is catching Massa on track. The battle for 6th between Rosberg, Riccardo, Perez, Vergne and Hamilton is building up nicely. The next lap sees Button catching Lewis on track.

Lap 8 sees the lead extend to 3.6 seconds. Alonso is able to pass Massa for 2nd place. Vergne and Button then pass Hamilton for 9th and 10th places in the race. Behind Hamilton, Grosjean is also shaping up to try and pass him on track. The next lap sees that Vettel is suffering with his right front tyre and is suffering from degradation.

Lap 10 sees the stewards announce that the Grosjean and Di Resta incident being investigated after the race. By Lap 11 sees Vettel holding a 5.2 gap to Alonso. The battle for 9th between Vergne, Button and Hamilton still continuing on track. Lap 12 sees Hamilton realising that he is suffering a slow puncture on his Mercedes. Lap 13 sees Lewis pit his Mercedes with a pit stop time of 3.1 seconds and rejoining the race in 18th place. Lap 15 sees Vettel lead by 6.2 seconds. Webber appears to be gaining on Massa lap by lap for third place. Jean Eric Vergne retires from the race.

Lap 18 sees Vettel leading the race by 6.6 seconds. Button and Grosjean are battling for ninth place. The next lap sees Riccardo and Perez battling for 7th place on the track. At the end of Lap 20 Grosjean pits with a time of 5.6 seconds and rejoining the race in 16th place.

Lap 21 and Vettel leads by 5.8 seconds. Massa and Webber are still battling for third place on the track. At the end of the lap, Button pits with a time of 3 seconds and rejoins the race in 14th place. The next few laps sees Riccardo, Perez, Vettel, Webber, Massa and Hulkenberg pit for new tyres.

Lap 25 and Alonso leads Rosberg by 8.3 seconds. The battle for 5th place between Webber, Massa, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Bottas taking place on the track. The next lap sees Bottas and Hamilton battling each other for 9th place. At the end of the lap, Rosberg pits for new tyres.

Lap 27 sees Alonso still leading the race from Vettel by 16.8 seconds but pits at the end of the lap with a time of 2.6 seconds and rejoins the race back in second place. The next lap sees Alonso battling with Vettel’s team mate Webber for second place in the race. By Lap 30, Raikkonen and Hulkenberg are battling for 5th place. At the end of the lap, Raikkonen pits with a time of 3.5 seconds and rejoins the race in 14th place.

Lap 31 sees Vettel leading the field by 10.3 seconds. On track, Hamilton tries to get past Hulkenberg for position and cannot do so. The next lap sees Hulkenberg defending his position with the best he can do. However, Hamilton is then able to pass him for 5th place. Riccardo, Button and Vergne are battling each other on track for 8th place.

Lap 36 sees Vettel leading Alonso by 11 seconds. The battle for 8th has now extended to Riccardo, Button, Perez and Grosjean. The following lap sees Grosjean passing Perez for 10th place. At the end of the lap, Hamilton pits with a time of 3.2 seconds and rejoins the race in 13th place.

By Lap 39, Alonso and Webber are still battling for second place in the race. But by Lap 41, it appears that Webber seems to be experiencing transmission issues especially with the second and third gears of his Red Bull.

Lap 43 sees Vettel leading by 12.3 seconds. On track, Sutil is able to pass Guiterrez. Guiterrez and Hamilton are battling for thirteenth place in the race. The next lap sees Vettel being told by his team on the radio that he needs to short shift in fifth and sixth gears… is Red Bull having serious problems that may not let them complete the race?? On track, Sutil passes Raikkonen for position and Hamilton is able to pass Guiterrez for 13th place.

Lap 45 sees Raikkonen, Hamilton and Grosjean able to pass Sutil for 11th, 12th and 13th places in the races. Also Grosjean is able to pass Button for eighth place. Lap 47 and Vettel leads by 10.7 seconds. Alonso and Webber are still battling for second place in the race. While Alonso and Webber are battling each other, Massa is starting to gain on the pair on the track. Also, Hamilton is catching Raikkonen on track who appears to be suffering from a problem with his KERS system in his Lotus.

Lap 49 and the battle for 7th is building up between Riccardo, Grosjean, Button, Perez and Raikkonen. Hamilton is able to pass Raikkonen. Perez is also looking at passing his team mate Button for position. By the next lap, Hamilton is able to pass Perez for 10th place and finds himself battling with his ex team mate Button for ninth place.

Lap 51 and Vettel leads the field by 8.3 seconds. Hamilton is able to pass Button for ninth place. The next lap sees Raikkonen passing Perez for 11th place. By Lap 53, Riccardo, Grosjean and Hamilton are battling for 7th place. Adrian Sutil has to retire his Force India from the race.

Lap 54 is completed and Sebastian Vettel wins in Italy, Fernando Alonso finishes in second 5.4 seconds behind Vettel, Mark Webber gets the final place on the podium 6.3 seconds behind Vettel, Massa finishes fourth 9.3 seconds behind Vettel, Hulkenberg finishes an amazing fifth for Sauber 10.3 seconds behind Vettel, Rosberg finishes sixth 10.9 seconds behind Vettel, Riccardo finishes an credible seventh 32.3 seconds behind Vettel, Grosjean finishes eighth place 33.1 seconds behind Vettel, Hamilton finishes ninth 33.5 seconds behind Vettel and Button gets the final point in tenth 38.2 seconds behind Vettel.

 

Sebastian Vettel leads the Driver’s championship with 222 points, Alonso is second with 169 points, Hamilton is third with 141 points, Raikkonen is fourth with 134 points, Webber is fifth with 130 points, Rosberg is sixth with 104 points, Massa is seventh with 79 points, Grosjean is eighth with 57 points, Button is ninth with 48 points and Di Resta is tenth with 36 points.

Red Bull lead the Constructor’s championship with 352 points, Ferrari is second with 248 points, Mercedes is third with 245 points, Lotus is fourth with 191 points, McLaren is fifth with 66 points, Force India in sixth with 61 points, Toro Rosso in seventh with 31 points, Sauber are eighth with 17 points and Williams are ninth with 1 point.

Conclusion

The Grand Prix tested the drivers throughout the race with the high level of tyre degradation, just like the many races we have had this season. However, I am glad that the small changes that Pirelli made to the tyres have worked this weekend and they have not compromised safety or the racing.

I was happy that Jenson and Sergio did have some pace to challenge today and did score some points for the team. Jenson had a cracking battle all of the race and keeping drivers such as Hamilton and Grosjean at bay for a long period shows that he is a racer, no matter what is happening in the team at the moment.

This just shows how much they are making improvements at the moment. But it shows that McLaren are taking slow and steady progress to try and get to the front of the field once again. But I am happy that Jenson and Sergio managed to do his best this weekend for the team and they were rewarded with some good points. But they need to try and make the car competitive and understand the issues surrounding their problems and learn the lessons from this year’s car and focus on 2014.

The team this weekend I believe have made small steps into looking at solutions to help and cure this problem before the championships, race wins, podiums and even point finishes are no longer within their reach. As I said last race, I know McLaren will bounce back to the performance they and their fans crave and when that happens, it will make it all the more special.

Lotus this weekend may not have gained another victory this weekend but they have scored some good points from Romain this weekend that will help their fight in the Constructors Championship. I was impressed with Grosjean this weekend. He has been on the pace all weekend and drove to my mind a good race. However, Romain now needs to build on this result and remain consistent for the rest of the season if he is to stay at Lotus for 2014.

I was a bit surprised that Lotus was not able to challenge for the win this weekend, but consistency and points scoring keeps you in the hunt for the title, as Alonso proved last season. Despite the problems of this weekend, the Lotus team have managed to get again score some points, even though they are now fourth in the Constructor’s Championship.

Riccardo, Rosberg and Hamilton all again have had solid weekends. First all of them showing top 10 form in the Practice sessions and then battling throughout the field to gain some solid points. I think that all of them are driving solidly this year and are improving their form from last year. I still cannot believe how Mark did the drive he did today, absolutely going to miss him next year.

The biggest surprises this weekend for me was the 5th place of Nico Hulkenberg. Firstly, Hulkenberg has had an impressive weekend but he has impressed me a lot this weekend yet again. He drove a fantastic lap in qualifying and drove a cracking race to bring home some much needed point for the team. I believe that Nico this year has learnt his lessons from his last and this season from the sport and is working harder than ever to impress with his performances in the sport this year and trying to get some much needed points for Sauber. I really believe that Nico when is good is a high quality driver that he is and I was happy to him get a point today after a great drive. But the question is, when will the top teams give this man a chance? Nico deserves in my view to be in a competitive car!

Alonso also drove solidly this weekend to claim second place. Even though he only managed to qualify in fifth place on Saturday, I believe that he did not the potential to challenge Vettel, Webber or both of the Mercedes drivers for the win even if he qualified further up the grid. Alonso and Ferrari need to keep working on their qualifying pace as they have a really good car this year (especially in the race) and could challenge Vettel if this problem was rectified.

Massa and Hamilton doe deserve a mention. Firstly, Ferrari seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year. They seem to be able to make sure that their qualifying performance is also consistent and reliable, while it seems they have improved their race pace today. And yet again Massa extends his and his team’s points into the championships today.

Ever since leaving for McLaren, not only has he been able to out-qualify his team mate but Lewis has been able to also consistently gain some good points for the Mercedes team. I believe that Lewis is carrying on the form he has shown from the latter half of the 2012 season and is driving solidly at the moment. Mercedes seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year. And I think that Lewis drove solidly despite battling what felt like every driver today and  deserved to take some points for his efforts.

All that is left to say about this race is that Vettel sadly deserved to win today. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. They seem to be able to make sure that their qualifying performance is also consistent and reliable, while it seems they have improved their race pace today. And yet again Vettel extends his and his team’s points into the championships today and people are now starting to believe that unless Vettel and Red Bull are challenged, the title is theirs for the taking.

Will Sebastian be able to win at Singapore? Can Hamilton, Webber, Raikkonen, Grosjean or Alonso be able to challenge?  We shall see in a couple of weeks time!

My next post will be my Singapore GP Track Preview!

Track Preview: Italian Grand Prix, Monza

All Rights Reserved to:- www.williamsf1.com

All Rights Reserved to:- http://www.williamsf1.com

Sebastian Vettel wins in Belgium, Fernando drives to second place and Lewis Hamilton claims the final place on the podium after a good drive. McLaren yet again have made small improvements to their car in order to gain their way back to the front and gain some points. And Mercedes and Toro Rosso also picked up some much needed points for their teams. And people are still wishing that the Mercedes or Vettel still do not have the pace in qualifying…

The Italian Grand Prix is a special circuit that most drivers and teams look forward to visiting every year. The circuit enables the cars to be set up with extremely low downforce settings. The circuit offers very challenging high speed and low speed corners that you have to jump on the brakes quickly with no downforce.  The circuit has the highest top speed of the year and is not very easy on brakes.

And here we go guys with twelfth race of the Formula One season, the Italian Grand Prix in Monza…

Facts and Figures

  • Italy has hosted the Grand Prix since 1950.
  • Michael Schumacher is the most successful driver at the track with five wins.
  • Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver currently to win the Grand Prix with three wins.
  • Ferrari is the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with nineteen wins.
  • Race distance: 306.72km (190.59 miles)
  • Number of turns:11
  • Top speed: 339kph
  • Lap record: Rubens Barrichello- Ferrari (2004)- 1.21.046
  • Winners from pole 21/62 (33%)
  • Winners from last 5 Italian Grand Prix: 2008-Sebastian Vettel, 2009- Rubens Barrichello, 2010-Fernando Alonso, 2011-Sebastian Vettel, 2012-Lewis Hamilton

My top 5 Italian Grand Prix

Here are my top five Italian Grand Prix races and in no particular order:-

  1. 1999 Italian Grand Prix- Heinz-Harald Frenzten wins ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Mika Salo. But the race will be forever remembered with Mika Hakkinen on Lap 30 spinning while selecting too low a gear. [No video avaliable]
  2. 2002 Italian Grand Prix- Rubens Barrichello wins the race ahead of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. A brilliant drive from Rubens to achieve a double finish for the Ferrari team. [No video avaliable]
  3. 2009 Italian Grand Prix- Rubens Barrichello wins the race for Brawn GP ahead of Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen. Just a brilliant drive from Rubens and Jenson to take the Grand Prix victory and second place for Brawn GP. [No video avaliable]
  4. 2012 Italian Grand Prix- Lewis Hamilton wins the race ahead of Perez and Alonso. What a race. Perez had a cracking drive to finish second place. McLaren that weekend also broke the record of sixty second front row lockout from Williams. Just a brilliant drive from Lewis! 
  5. 2001 Italian Grand Prix- Juan Pablo Montoya wins the race ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher. This was the first race win for Montoya. [No video avaliable]

If the Italian Grand Prix from last year is anything to go by from last year, we look set to witness a great race next weekend. Will Fernando be able to challenge Red Bull and Lotus to win again and gain the championship lead? Will Red Bull be able to achieve pole position and try to win the race Will Rosberg, Raikkonen, Massa, Button, Perez, Hamilton or be able to challenge them?

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted coverage of every practice session, the qualifying and race for the Grand Prix (and every race of the season) and the BBC are also showing coverage, details for both are below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 8.45pm and 12.45pm [Replays throughout Friday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 9.45pm and 12.00pm [Replays throughout Saturday], Sunday (Race) 11.30pm
  • BBC- Friday (Practice 1 and 2 on BBC 2) 8.55am and 1.00pm [Replays throughout Saturday], Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 9.55am and 1.00pm, Sunday (Race) 12.10pm

My next blog post will be a full Race Report on the Italian Grand Prix by the end of next week. Loving the start of the weekend of Formula One, Hope you will be enjoying every single moment of the weekend as much as me!

2013 Belgian Grand Prix Race Weekend Review

Lewis Hamilton wins in Hungary, Kimi Raikkonen with a good drive to second place and Sebastian Vettel claims the final place on the podium after a good drive. McLaren yet again have made small improvements to their car in order to gain their way back to the front and score some much needed points. And people are still wishing that Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes’ drivers still do not have the pace with their cars in qualifying…

Prior to the Grand Prix, the biggest talking point is who will replace Mark Webber at Red Bull for 2014? At the moment, it is looking like Kimi Raikkonen or Daniel Riccardo looking like the favourites. Red Bull have said that they are in no rush to make their decision but an announcement will be made before the end of the European season.

In terms of the circuit, The Belgium Grand Prix is a circuit that most drivers and teams look forward to visiting every year. The circuit offers a very interesting engineering point of view. The circuit offers very challenging high speed corners and you need to get the set up absolutely right to maintain good rhythm to get a good position on the grid. However, the track is easy on brakes and cooling but ride heights need to be set up carefully.

This Grand Prix will be one full of questions of who again can go longer on their tyres, who can save the most tyres for the race on Sunday, which car has got their car set up the most competitive and race ready? Have McLaren and Williams made a significant step forward with their upgrades in their fight to get back to the front?

Alongside these questions, questions if Red Bull, Lotus or Mercedes will be able this weekend to help their own fight in the championships, can McLaren small improvements on their cars help them this weekend before Hungary where more upgrades are planned to take place on the car, who will be competitive from the off, who has the quickest car and who will win this race on Sunday?

The race weekend begins now….

Strap yourselves in. The new season begins now…

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is Red Bull look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Practice 1 saw Fernando Alonso top the timesheets with a time of 1.55.198 followed closely by Di Resta with a gap of 0.026 seconds, Sutil in third with a gap of 0.175 seconds, Perez in fourth with a gap of 0.320 seconds and Rosberg in fifth with a gap of 0.416 seconds. Esteban Guiterrez impressed the paddock by topping the timesheets in 8th place with a gap of 0.756 seconds behind Vettel. The biggest surprise of the session was Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen only managing to top the timesheets in 15th and 21st places.

Within Practice 1, Vettel and Bottas at La Source had a little incident which was down to the drivers having no grip. Also Guiterrez had an incident with Hamilton.

Practice 2 saw Sebastian Vettel top the timesheets with a time of 1.49.331 followed by Webber with a gap of 0.059 seconds, Grosjean in third with a gap of 0.818 seconds, Massa in fourth with a gap of 0.833 seconds behind and Vergne in fifth with a gap of 0.922 seconds behind Vettel. Paul Di Resta managed to achieve a top 10 finish with an 10th place for him with a gap of 1.280 seconds behind Vettel showing that Force India may have the pace to get some good championship points this weekend. Hamilton managed to get seventh place in the session. Hamilton and Button could only manage 12th and 15th places in the session. Perez managed a strong 8th place indicating that both maybe do not have the pace needed to have a strong weekend in order to win, but could be in the hunt for some much needed points for the team and to carry on working through their upgrade programme.

Within Practice 2, Giedo Van Der Garde hit the tyre barriers on the track after losing control of the back end of the car. Giedo was luckily okay but leaving his team with a job to repair the car ready for Practice 3. Also, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso experienced a tyre blow out on the right rear tyre. After the session, Pirelli announced that some debris on the track caused this failure. This again has raised the question of the tyres and their safety once again and I hope that this does not affect any other driver for the rest of the weekend even though the drivers have every right to be sceptical after Silverstone.

Practice 3 saw Sebastian Vettel tops the timesheet with a time of 1.48.327 followed by Alonso with a time of gap of 0.105 seconds behind, Webber in third with a gap of 0.206 seconds behind, Vergne in fourth with a gap of 0.449 seconds behind and Massa in a fifth with a gap of 0.461 seconds behind. Again, the surprise of the session is Guiterrez managing to grab 7th place showing that they have good pace within the Sauber car. Button looks to be having a good weekend so far with claiming 6th place which show that McLaren may have a fight on their hands to get into Q3 and to gain some championship points today.

Within Practice 3, Lewis Hamilton at the Bus Stop chicane had a spin on the track caused by lack of rear grip that could highlight that he has a problem with the balance of his Mercedes under braking that he and the team will need to fix before qualifying.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg and also Vettel to gain pole position again this weekend. As all three drivers seem to be excelling in qualifying at the moment and the momentum is with them from claiming Pole Positions in four rounds of the championship so far. Alonso, Massa, Webber and Raikkonen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top five places at the moment.

Button and Perez even with upgrade programme and making good and solid progress with points finishes in previous races, seem to have made an improvement.  It seems from looking at their performances that the pace is coming slowly and steadily and both drivers I will admit will struggle to even make Qualifying 2 or maybe even the points in the race and it will take a lot of skill and talent to do that in a car that is not capable, unless a bit of unexpected rain happens (which is very unlikely). However, I think that Force India, Toro Rosso and Sauber have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

Qualifying

It looks like Mercedes and the Red Bull’s are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session look set to challenge Ferrari, Mercedes or Lotus for pole position today due to current form that they have shown. But Force India, Toro Rosso or Sauber may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions. And it is looking likely that it will be a challenge for the Williams drivers of Bottas and Maldonado to clear Q1 and also the McLaren drivers of Button and Perez to clear Q2 as both teams do not have the pace within their cars to challenge the top teams this weekend.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Prior to qualifying, it has announced that ex Lotus Technical Director James Allison has signed for Ferrari. This will come as a huge blow to Lotus but a massive gain for Ferrari. We will all wait and see what impact Allison will have next season with Ferrari.

In Q1, there was a queue of drivers waiting to go out on Intermediates tyres but Alonso tops the timesheets with a time of 2.00.190, Hamilton was second with a gap of 0.178 seconds, Van Der Garde was third with a gap of 0.374 seconds, Rosberg was fourth with a gap of 0.909 seconds and Raikkonen was fifth with a gap of 0.961 seconds.  Button, Massa, Webber, Hulkenberg and Vettel managed to get 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th places for their teams. At the end of Q1, we lose Maldonado, Vergne, Riccardo, Bottas, Guiterrez, and Pic.

In Q2, Raikkonen again tops the timesheets with a time of 1.48.296, Alonso is second with a gap of 0.013 seconds behind, Rosberg is third with a gap of 0.256 seconds behind, Webber is fourth with a gap of 0.345 seconds behind and Button is a credible fifth with a gap of 0.345 seconds behind. The big surprise of the session was Di Resta finished the session in 8th place. At the end of Q2, we lose Hulkenberg, Sutil, Perez, Van Der Garde, Bianchi and Chilton. The battle for pole position is on…

In Q3, Hamilton tops the timesheet and gets pole with a amazingly fast lap time of 2.01.012 , Vettel was second fastest with a gap of 0.188 seconds behind, Webber was third fastest with a gap of 0.313 seconds behind, Rosberg was fourth fastest with a gap of 1.239 seconds behind, Di Resta was fifth fastest with a gap of 1.320 seconds behind, Button was sixth fastest with a gap of 2.063 seconds behind, Grosjean was seventh fastest with a gap of 2.069 seconds behind, Raikkonen was a eighth fastest with a gap of 2.378 seconds behind, Alonso was ninth fastest and Massa was tenth fastest.

It would seem that Red Bull genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend which I am absolutely not thrilled about. However, both sets of drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Hamilton, Webber or Rosberg to be challenging also for the race win in order to keep their seasons off to a flying start. Alonso or Raikkonen could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes and Red Bull and Ferrari and Lotus to gain some points on his rivals for the championship.

Button, Sutil, Di Resta and Riccardo could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for Force India and Toro Rosso before heading to the next race in Germany. Will it rain tomorrow? Maybe. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping for a Button win!). Who will lead the championship after this race? Will it be Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Alonso or Hamilton? I don’t know.  The Grand Prix has been set up nicely, just like the last race. Let’s see what happens…

Race

Prior to the race, a Greenpeace protest is happening around the circuit. Everyone is concerned that something could happen before, during or after the race but the Belgian police are monitoring this closely.

The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix will live up to expectations and who will be the winner? Here we go…

All 22 drivers are lined up on their grid positions, five red lights and its GO!!!!!!!!

Hamilton gets off the line and has a good start on Vettel and leads into the first corner. Rosberg also gets a good start and is ahead of Webber. Webber has had a bad start and seems to have been bogged down. Jenson has had a cracking start and is on the outside at Turn 1. Raikkonen and Massa at Turn 1 have had contact. Also Hulkenberg and Massa also contact each other.

Button tries to pass Rosberg but cannot do so. Alonso then tries himself but cannot do so. Vettel is able easily to pass Hamilton and powers off into the lead. Di Resta has had a very poor start. Rosberg is trying with all his might to fend off Button. Alonso is able to pass Webber on track. Van Der Garde is still in fourteenth place and Chilton has also been the victim of a poor start.

Lap 2 and Vettel leads by 1.4 seconds to Hamilton. On track, Alonso tries to pass Button but cannot do so. Raikkonen is able to pass Grosjean for 9th place. The next lap sees Vettel leading by 2.8 seconds. Sutil tries to pass Massa on track for 12th place but cannot find a way past.

By Lap 4, Massa reports to his team that his KERS system is not working properly. On track, Alonso passes Button for 4th place. The next lap sees Button passed by Webber for 5th place leaving us all wondering why Jenson is going backwards, does he have a problem or no pace at this early stage of the race?

Lap 6 sees Vettel leading by 3.9 seconds. Alonso passes Rosberg for 3rd place in the race. Next lap sees a battle for 10th place on the track between Grosjean and Perez. Lap 8 sees Vettel extending his lead by 4.2 seconds. From the TV pictures, it looks like Raikkonen’s Lotus may look to have brake problems as the left front brakes seem to be ‘glowing’ and putting brake dust into the air. Perez is able to pass Grosjean for 10th place but did he push him off the track?

Lap 9 sees Vettel leading by 4.2 seconds. Hulkenberg is doing a good job keeping Raikkonen behind him to hang on for 8th place. Webber is starting to take a look at passing Rosberg for track position. Raikkonen at Les Combes is able to pass Hulkenberg for 8th place. The stewards are looking into the incident between Perez and Grosjean. At the end of the lap Massa and Hulkenberg pit for new tyres.

Lap 10 sees Vettel leading by 4.3 seconds. The battle for 4th place between Rosberg and Webber is building up. Raikkonen is also catching Di Resta at a quick rate. Charles Pic retires his Caterham due to a leak in his car. At the end of the lap, Di Resta and Vergne pit for new tyres.

By Lap 11, there is 60% chance of showers of rain that could take place in the race, will it rain? Perez receives a penalty from the stewards who believe that he did push Grosjean off the track when he passed him (will analyse this later). At the end of the lap, Hamilton pits with a stop time of 2.9 seconds.

Lap 12 and Vettel leads by 7 seconds to Alonso. The battle for 3rd between Rosberg and Webber. On track, Lewis passes Grosjean for position. At the end of the lap, Rosberg pits for fresh tyres and rejoins the race in 9th place. The next lap sees Grosjean passing Hamilton for track position. At the end of the lap, Alonso, Webber and Perez pit for new tyres.

Vettel on Lap 14 leads Button by 15.2 seconds. Lewis re-passes Grosjean again for track position and the battle for fourth with Alonso builds up. At the end of the lap, Vettel and Raikkonen pit. The next lap sees Jenson leading Vettel. Alonso is able to pass Hamilton on track. Hamilton tries to re pass Alonso but cannot do so. Vettel is then able to pass Button on track.

Lap 16 sees the battle for fifth between Grosjean and Rosberg hotting up. Rosberg is able a couple of laps later to pass Grosjean for position. Grosjean is now battling with Webber for sixth place.  Massa is also able to pass Guiterrez on track for ninth place. The battle between Raikkonen and Di Resta is very close now and Raikkonen is trying his best to pass Paul as quickly as he can.

5 seconds is the lead Vettel has built to Button on Lap 17. Webber passes Grosjean for 6th place. Perez is now under pressure from Raikkonen. Alonso takes second place away from Button. At the end of the lap, Button pits with a stop time of 2.5 seconds and rejoins the race in 8th place.

The next lap sees 3 drivers (Sutil, Perez and Di Resta) abreast into Eau Rouge. Perez is able to pass Di Resta. Raikkonen passes Guiterrez for 9th place. The next lap sees Sutil able to pass Guiterrez but something may have fell off his Force India for him to do so.

Lap 20 sees Vettel leading by 7.7 seconds. Button passes Massa for 7th place. At this stage of the race, Grosjean still has not made a pit stop for new rubber, how long can he go on for? Can he make a one stopper work? Lap 21 sees again Rosberg and Webber battling for fourth place on the track. Lap 22 sees Button pass Grosjean for 6th place. At the end of the lap, Grosjean pits for new rubber with a time of 3.2 seconds and rejoins the race in 13th place.

Lap 23 sees Vettel extend his lead to 8.6 seconds. The battle for 7th between Massa and Raikkonen is ongoing. The next lap sees Vergne and Hulkenberg pit. By Lap 25 Raikkonen pits. Lap 26 sees Kimi retiring from the race due to problems with his brakes as mentioned earlier in the race. This is really sad news for all Kimi fans after 38 consecutive finishes and 27 races in the points since his comeback. At the end of the lap, Hamilton and Massa pit.

Lap 27 sees Vettel leading the race by 9.8 seconds. The battle for 11th place between Maldonado, Guiterrez and Sutil is ongoing. Guiterrez is able to pass Sutil. The next lap sees Di Resta retire from the race after contact with Maldonado. Sutil is able to pass Guiterrez for 11th place. At the end of the lap, Alonso, Guiterrez and Bottas pit.

Lap 29 sees Vettel leading Webber by 24 seconds. Alonso, Button and Hamilton are battling for 3rd place on the track. At the end of the lap, Webber pits for tyres and rejoins the race back in 6th place. By Lap 30, stewards are looking at the incident between Maldonado and Di Resta. At the end of the lap, Vettel pits and rejoins the race ahead of Alonso and takes back the lead of the race.

Lap 33 sees Vettel leading Alonso by 7.6 seconds. Button and Hamilton are battling for 3rd place on the track. Chilton gets a drive through penalty. The next lap sees Webber gaining on Rosberg yet again. At the end of the lap, Button pits with a time of 3.3 seconds and rejoins the race in 6th place.

Lap 36 sees Vettel leading the race by 10 seconds. The battle for fourth between Rosberg and Webber is still ongoing. The next lap sees Maldonado receiving a 10 second stop-go penalty for his part in the incident between himself and Di Resta. Lap 38 sees a battle between Grosjean and Massa taking place for 7th place.

Lap 40 sees Vettel leading by 13 seconds from Alonso. Massa is now finally able to pass Grosjean for 7th place. The next lap sees Perez battling with Riccardo for the final point in 10th place. Riccardo a few corners later passing Perez.

Lap 44 and Vettel is leading Alonso by 16.9 seconds. And Vettel crosses the finish line to equal Nigel Mansell’s tally of victories within Formula One after a dominant drive all weekend, Alonso is second 16.8 seconds behind Vettel, Hamilton takes third 27.7 seconds behind Vettel, Rosberg is fourth 29.8 seconds behind Vettel, Webber is fifth 33.8 seconds behind Vettel, Button takes a credible sixth place 40.7 seconds behind Vettel, Massa is seventh 53.9 seconds behind Vettel, Grosjean is eighth 55.8 seconds behind Vettel, Sutil is ninth 1.09.5 seconds behind Vettel and Riccardo gets the final point in tenth 1.13.4 seconds behind Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel leads the Driver’s championship with 197 points, Alonso is second with 151 points, Hamilton is third with 139 points, Raikkonen is fourth with 134 points, Webber is fifth with 115 points, Rosberg is sixth with 96 points, Massa is seventh with 67 points, Grosjean is eighth with 53, Button is ninth with 47 points and Di Resta is tenth with 36 points.

Red Bull lead the Constructor’s championship with 312 points, Mercedes is second with 235 points, Ferrari is third with 218 points, Lotus is fourth with 187 points, McLaren is fifth with 65 points, Force India in sixth with 61 points, Toro Rosso in seventh with 25 points, Sauber are eighth with 7 points and Williams are ninth with 1 point.

Conclusion

The Grand Prix tested the drivers throughout the race with the high level of tyre degradation, just like the many races we have had this season. However, I am glad that Pirelli made to the tyres has worked this weekend despite the failures this weekend in Practice and they have not compromised safety or the racing.

I was happy that Jenson and Sergio did have some pace to challenge today and did score some points for the team. Jenson had a cracking start and drivers such as  Hamilton and Alonso at bay for a long period shows that he is a racer, no matter what is happening in the team at the moment.

This just shows how much they are making improvements at the moment. But it shows that McLaren are taking slow and steady progress to try and get to the front of the field once again. But I am happy that Jenson and Sergio managed to do his best this weekend for the team and they were rewarded with some good points. But they need to try and make the car competitive and understand the issues surrounding their problems or cut their losses, learn the lessons from this year’s car and focus on 2014.

The team this weekend I believe have made small steps into looking at solutions to help and cure this problem before the championships, race wins, podiums and even point finishes are no longer within their reach. As I said last race, I know McLaren will bounce back to the performance they and their fans crave and when that happens, it will make it all the more special. Bring on Italy where the team are bringing on more of their upgrade programme for the car!

Lotus this weekend may not have gained another victory this weekend but they have scored some good points from Romain this weekend that will help their fight in the Constructors Championship. I was impressed with Grosjean this weekend. He has been on the pace all weekend and drove to my mind a good race, despite the incident with Perez which in my case very harsh. However, Romain now needs to build on this result and remain consistent for the rest of the season.

I was a bit surprised that Lotus was not able to challenge for the win this weekend, but consistency and points scoring keeps you in the hunt for the title, as Alonso proved last season. Despite the problems of this weekend, the Lotus team have managed to get again score some points, even though they are now fourth in the Constructor’s Championship.

Sutil, Rosberg and Webber all again have had solid weekends. First all of them showing top 10 form in the Practice sessions and then battling throughout the field to gain some solid points. I think that all of them are driving solidly this year and are improving their form from last year.

The biggest surprises this weekend for me was the 10th place of Daniel Riccardo. Firstly, Riccardo has had an impressive weekend but he has impressed me a lot this weekend yet again. He did the best he could in qualifying and drove a cracking race to bring home some much needed point for the team. I believe that Daniel this year has learnt his lessons from his last and this season from the sport and is working harder than ever to impress with his performances in the sport this year and trying to get some much needed points for Toro Rosso. I really believe that Daniel when is good is a high quality driver that he is and I was happy to him get a point today after a great drive.

Alonso also drove solidly this weekend to claim second place. Even though he only managed to qualify in ninth place on Saturday, I believe that he did not the potential to challenge Vettel, Webber or both of the Mercedes drivers for the win even if he qualified further up the grid. Alonso and Ferrari need to keep working on their qualifying pace as they have a really good car this year (especially in the race) and could challenge Vettel if this problem was rectified.

Rosberg does deserve a mention. Rosberg was on form all weekend and seemed to be able to match the pace of the Red Bull team and its drivers this weekend. However, due to the bad start off the line on the first lap, he could had to battle for the points today, who knows what would have happened?

Hamilton does deserve a mention. Mercedes seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year. Ever since leaving for McLaren, not only has he been able to out-qualify his team mate but he has been able to also consistently gain some good points for the Mercedes team. I believe that Lewis is carrying on the form he has shown from the latter half of the 2012 season and is driving solidly at the moment. Mercedes seem to have a car that is undoubtedly better than their car last year. And I think that Lewis drove solidly despite battling the front runners after his pit stops in front of him deserved to get third today despite of the troubles with tyre wear today prevalent in the background.

All that is left to say about this race is that Sebastian deserved to win today, much as it pains me to write it. Red Bull seem to be able to make sure that their qualifying performance is also consistent and reliable, while it seems they have improved their race pace today at a track they tend not to do well at. And yet again Vettel extends his and his team’s lead into the championships today and people are now starting to believe that unless Vettel and Red Bull are challenged, the title is theirs for the taking. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race even behind Button, Vettel, Raikkonen and Grosjean.

Will Sebastian be able to win at Monza? A track that holds many memories for him? Can Sebastian, Webber, Raikkonen, Grosjean or Alonso be able to challenge?  We shall see in two weeks time!

My next post will be my Italian Grand Prix Track Preview which will be on the blog before the race.