Monthly Archives: September 2014

Verstappen passes medical ahead of FP1 run in Japan

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It has been announced today that Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen has been “scanned and screened” from “head to toes” ahead of his Toro Rosso run in Friday’s first practice in Japan.

Verstappen who will race for the team next season, underwent a full physical earlier this month ahead of his first competitive outing in an F1 car. In an interview with the media today, Verstappen confirmed that he passed his medical:-

‘In Finland they’ve tested my physical health and thankfully all is well. They scanned and screened me head to toes and the medical team were happy with my health and fitness.’

To hear the news that Verstappen has passed his medical and has been given the all clear to race is great news for him and for the Toro Rosso team. With Verstappen passing his medical to race, this just shows just how seriously the teams on the grid and the FIA take health and fitness and also highlights just how important getting tests like this are.

And although the soon-to-be 17-year-old has not had much time in a F1 car ahead of Friday’s outing at the Suzuka circuit, he has spent some time in Red Bull’s simulator. Further in his interview, Verstappen has revealed that he has spent time in the simulator. He added the following:-

‘Thus far, I’ve driven the simulator in the Red Bull Technology Centre twice. You basically spend the whole day, from morning till evening, driving. The last time, we practised the Suzuka track, in preparation for free practice 1 at the Japanese Grand Prix. I’ve have to say it’s a tricky track to master.’

Even though Verstappen has spent quite a lot of time in the simulator driving and putting in the graft before he makes his F1 debut in FP1 in Japan this weekend, it is clear that he feels that Suzuka is still a tricky track to perform at, even though he hasn’t even got to the track yet.

But while the simulator may be able to recreate a lot of the driving experience, Verstappen admits it is not spot on. In the latter stages of his interview, Verstappen said the following:-

‘It’s almost impossible to recreate the G-forces of a real racing car. However, acceleration, wheel spin, the feeling when turning a corner as well as the braking feel and force come close to driving a real car on a real track. Overall, the simulator provides me with a solid basis and I can’t wait until my next F1 outing!’

As Verstappen says, it is impossible for a simulator to generate everything that he will experience while on the track racing, it does at least provide him with a starting point and foundation to build on when he gets the track. And I am sure that Verstappen will use what he has achieved in the simulator and will try to achieve the best possible result that he can on his debut.

In conclusion, we will now see Verstappen making his F1 debut in Japan this weekend in FP1 after passing his medical with flying colours and that is a fantastic achievement for him. There is no doubt that Verstappen will use what he has worked towards in the simulator and try and transfer that onto the track in order to show what he can do, achieve the best result possible and gain experience ready for next season.

This will be a very special moment for Max and it’ll be one that he never forgets. And he will be ensuring that he gets the best result that he can possibly achieve during the session and hopefully show the talent and potential that made Toro Rosso sign him in the first place for 2015.

The spotlight will be upon him on Friday in FP1 to perform and many will be watching Verstappen very closely indeed and wondering if the all the ‘hype’ surrounding him and his talent is true. Let’s see what happens on Friday and I’m very much looking forward to how he will perform and hearing about his F1 debut after the session has ended too.

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Caterham announce they are ‘fully committed’ to F1

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It has been announced today that the Caterham team is already testing its 2015 car and says it is “fully committed” to staying in Formula One.

The future of Caterham remains uncertain despite its takeover in July by a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors. Bernie Ecclestone recently said three-car teams could be a possibility next year, which will happen in the event two or more teams disappeared from the grid.

But Caterham Team Principal Manfredi Ravetto, the man who replaced Christijan Albers in the wake of his sudden departure in early September, fully expects the team to remain. In his interview with the media, Ravetto stated the following on the subject:-

‘We are currently testing our 2015 car in Cologne, at Toyota’s wind tunnel. Obviously you cannot run your car in Cologne just because of our extremely nice attitude. You only can do this with an injection of cash – which we did. And if we do this it means that we are fully committed to being here next year. Let me explain some of the reasoning: a Formula One team and a Formula One entry are huge assets, and therefore you have to do your maximum to protect these assets.’

It would seem that Caterham already starting work on their 2015 using Toyota’s wind tunnel shows that the team are indeed fully committed to being in Formula One next year. But as Ravetto rightly says, you need investment in order to do this and with the spotlight firmly on the Caterham team and their finances at the moment, he feels that this could be the only way to try and help keep the team in the sport while protecting the value of the team too.

Though he believes the new ownership can deliver “miracles” for Caterham, Ravetto’s main focus in the present is make sure Caterham goes into 2015 on solid footing. Further on in his interview, Ravetto added the following:-

‘I hope that soon there will be some stabilising moments. This is our main goal: to stabilise the patient! We are currently trying to keep developing our current car. We want to introduce some more new bits and pieces because the 10th place in the constructors’ championship is our focus. P10 [in the constructors’] is of highest importance to us – but it is not vital.

‘We have a plan in place regardless of the place, as we want to give the company a future. We have restructured the technical department and put it under the control of John Iley and his staff, which was not the case before we arrived. And it already shows very interesting data. But of course we will not build the world championship-winning car.’

Even though Caterham want to challenge for P10 in the Constructors, their car this season I believe is just not competitive enough to do so, even if the team bring as many upgrades to the car as possible. But to say that the position in the Constructors is not vital when clearly it is and with everything that brings, this could show to people that Caterham do not care about their result, even if it is obvious that they do.

And I believe that stabilising the team as Ravetto puts it might be the right thing for Caterham to do. It would seem that there is a plan in place to give the company a future and I do hope that is the case. After their restructure, it is clear that Ravetto believes that they are making steps forward but is realistic that it won’t be to the win the championship.

But overall, it would seem that even though the spotlight is firmly on the Caterham team and it’s financial troubles, they are trying to create a solid structure and plan in order to remain in the sport in future. Ravetto believes that they are making steps forward but is realistic of what they can achieve in the sport.

But for me, Caterham’s main objective is what Ravetto has stated which is to stabilise the team, plan for their future and sort their issues out and then challenge on the track once again for tenth in the Constructor’s Championship. Only then when the Caterham team is in a better position, their attention can focus on what truly matters; which is racing in Formula One. Let’s hope that this is the start of Caterham getting back on track.

Magnussen: ‘Make or break’ for me

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In an interview with the media today, McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen does not believe he will deserve to continue in Formula One if he gets dropped by McLaren at the end of his “make-or-break” rookie season.

Magnussen has failed to return to the podium since his debut outing in Melbourne with McLaren struggling to compete at the top of the order. Both Magnussen and team-mate Jenson Button are being made to sweat on their futures as McLaren weighs up the “best options available”, with Fernando Alonso reportedly a target for the McLaren team.

In his interview with the media today, Magnussen believes that he has always known that if he doesn’t deliver in the sport, then that is his chance gone. Magnussen stated the following:-

‘The way I see it is I’ve always known that if I don’t deliver this year then that’s it. I’ve got one chance and I think I’m doing OK. It does put pressure on you because when the press starts talking about it, it makes many people talk about it and you can feel a bit of negative energy coming from that.

‘But you have to deal with it and it’s not a massive problem because I knew when I pushed to get this seat that if I go for this seat it’s my one opportunity and it’s going to be make-or-break. I knew what I was going in to and I think I’m doing OK.’

As Magnussen says, he knows that this is his one chance to impress in the sport with a team full of history and prestige like McLaren and I really do believe that Magnussen is doing better than okay considering the circumstances. Magnussen knows the risk that he took when signing for McLaren this season and I believe that he is doing as well as he can be with the car that McLaren have provided him with. As he says, there will always be pressure within the press about your performance on the track, but you have to deal with it and that is what Magnussen is doing.

Though other seats would possibly be available if Magnussen was dropped, Magnussen does not believe he would have warranted a second chance in those circumstances. Magnussen added the following:-

‘With this opportunity that I have with McLaren, the way I look at it is if I can’t succeed straightaway with McLaren now and be good enough for them then I won’t ever be good enough. So there’s no reason for me to go for a smaller team and work my way up because if I can’t do it straight away then I’ll never be world champion. I’m not here for anything other than world championships. I don’t want to be here driving around and finishing races and scoring points.

‘I only want to win and if I can’t do that – if I can’t see that I have a future with wins and championships – then I’m not up for Formula One, I’ll do something else where I can win. I believe I can win, I’ve proved to myself that I know I can do this. It was a big change but at least I’m convinced, so I need to just keep doing hard work and show that I’m doing everything I can in every race.’

Even though I understand where Magnussen is coming from regarding the situation, I feel that he has performed well enough to be at McLaren next season. He has shown that there is potential there and that simply he is talented enough to be there. Magnussen may not want to go to a smaller team and work his way up in the sport, but if that is the only way to stay in the sport if McLaren do not retain him, he should seriously consider the option.

As Magnussen says, he wants to become world champion but in order to achieve that, he will need to finish races and score points and that is what he has to remember. Of course Magnussen will only want to win, he is a racing driver after all. But he is being realistic and knows if he hasn’t got the right opportunity to win and win championships, he will look into his options and go somewhere that provides him with the opportunity.

All he can do is show in the remaining races is to achieve the best possible performance on the track and show what he can do in the car. It is clear that Magnussen is confident that he can achieve success in Formula One and he needs to translate his perspective onto the track as much as possible.

Overall, I do believe that Magnussen is worthy to be in Formula One next season, even if it’s with McLaren or not. In his rookie season so far, Magnussen has shown that if he has the car underneath him, he can deliver and deliver well. He has also been able to outperform his team mate on a regular basis and that is no mean feat especially when your team mate is Jenson Button.

Also, we have seen Magnussen in the second half of the season so far showing his confidence and showing that he can race just as well as the existing drivers. To keep drivers such as Fernando Alonso at bay is an achievement and he did it well. And I do feel that Magnussen has done enough to stay with McLaren for the 2015 season.

But I do believe that if Magnussen is not retained by McLaren for next season, he does still have a future in the sport. Of course Magnussen has stated that he doesn’t want to just score points and finish races, he wants to win championships. And that is every racing drivers’ dream. And I do truly think that Magnussen should look at what’s available on the grid next season before turning his attentions to other forms of motorsport that he believes provides him with the opportunity to be successful.

But Magnussen today has impressed me once again with what he has stated in his interview. Magnussen has shown that the desire to stay in Formula One and be successful is clear, but he has also shown that if that is not the case, he is realistic enough to know that he can be successful elsewhere in motorsport. And for me, I really hope that Magnussen is retained by McLaren for next season.

If not, then I really hope that another team signs Magnussen up as I do feel that Magnussen has real potential in Formula One and will succeed if he has a competitive car underneath him. It is now imperative that Magnussen shows what he can do in the last races of the 2014 season and show that he is worthy to be in the sport for 2015 and beyond.

And he needs to believe that it is not the end of the world if he is not retained by McLaren for next season and that he deserves to be in Formula One with another team who realise his talent and potential, he really does.

Classic #jonesonF1: 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

The Malaysian Grand Prix: Round 2 of 17 in the 2001 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher lead the Drivers’ Championship with 10 points, ahead of McLaren driver David Coulthard 6 points in second place and his team mate Rubens Barrichello in third on 4 points.

In one of the most interesting qualifying sessions of the 2001 season, Michael Schumacher qualified on Pole Position (his 6th in a row) ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Behind the two Ferrari’s was not a McLaren that many expected but it was instead the Williams of Ralf Schumacher who was only 0.3 seconds behind his brother.

Ralf Schumacher in Qulaifying for the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

Ralf Schumacher in Qulaifying for the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

It would seem that the Williams drivers and their car appears well suited to the demands of the Sepang circuit and it would seem that the Michelin tyres are helping but it is not the only reason for their pace.

McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen was 4th ahead of Jarno Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya. The pace of the McLaren’s is certainly a surprise with both Coulthard and Hakkinen struggling throughout the session. It was only on Hakkinen’s final run that he was able to move into 4th. Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Olivier Panis finished the top ten in Qualifying.

Outside the top 10, Nick Heidfeld finished the session in 11th place with Eddie Irvine qualifying in 12th place. It must have been disappointing for Irvine as he looked stronger during practice. Meanwhile, Jean Alesi did well to finish in 13th place while Kimi Raikkonen qualified in 14th place while Luciano Burti ended the session in 15th place.
It must be very hard for Benetton to be in 16th and 17th places with Ginacarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button as they are positions that they are simply not used to be in. The Arrows pair of Jos Verstappen and Enrique Bernoldi make 18th and 19th ahead of Gaston Mazzacane who is ahead of the Minardi’s of Tarso Marques and Fernando Alonso.

However after qualifying was finished, Enrique Bernoldi’s time was deleted after his car was found to have a front wing dimensional infringement. He qualified in 19th place but will now start from the back of the grid.

On race day, Jordan driver Heinz-Harald Frenzten slowed during the parade lap due to a computer-hardware error. It was thought he would fail to make the start. However, Benetton driver Giancarlo Fisichella bought him some time when he lined up on the incorrect side of the grid and failed to take his correct grid point after attempting to cross the grid. This caused an aborted start, allowing both the drivers to take the restart.

That was not the end of the dramatic start however:  Juan-Pablo Montoya’s Williams then broke down and refused to fire. He was forced to take to the T-Car and start from the pitlane.

The start of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

The start of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

When the race finally got going, Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher had a great start from pole position to maintain a large gap after the first corner. Meanwhile his team mate Rubens Barrichello did not have such a start and had slipped from second to fourth by the approach to the first corner. Barrichello managed to overtake Jordan driver Jarno Trulli on the outside, but immediately after tapped the back end of Ralf Schumacher’s Williams.

Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello spinning on Lap __ of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello spinning on Lap 1 of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

This forced Ralf into a spin which put him from second to the back of the pack, after he had started fourth. McLaren driver David Coulthard had a great start, going from eighth to fourth within the first two corners. Sauber driver Kimi Raikkonen a driveshaft failure which left him stuck on the grid. Also, Arrows driver Jos Verstappen had a superb start, moving from eighteenth on the grid to sixth position after one lap.

On the third lap, rain began to fall and both Ferraris ran wide across the gravel allowing Trulli to take the lead. This may have been caused by the oil leak from Olivier Panis’s BAR– Honda which retired on lap 1. Schumacher ran further across the gravel than Barrichello which meant he fell behind his teammate. Thus, the order became on Lap 3: Trulli, Coulthard, Barrichello, Frentzen, Verstappen, Villeneuve, Schumacher and Hakkinen.

The safety car came out on Lap 4 to cope with the downpour which had suddenly occurred. Race Leader Trulli went off the track and slipped down the order soon after this. Barrichello pitted and endured a one minute twelve second pit-stop, with Schumacher queueing behind.

Giancarlo Fisichella in the early laps of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

Giancarlo Fisichella in the early laps of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

After the chaos of the safety car period and all the pit-stops which it included, the order had changed to: Coulthard, Frentzen, Verstappen, Häkkinen, Trulli,  Alesi, Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher when the race restarted on Lap 10.  Also, several drivers retired on this lap including Jacques Villeneuve, Nick Heidfeld, Juan Pablo Montoya, Eddie Irvine and Enrique Bernoldi.

The two Ferraris had dropped to tenth and eleventh, and Barrichello was soon overtaken by Schumacher. Frentzen lost places to Verstappen, Häkkinen, and Ralf Schumacher to fall to fifth within the next few laps. It was not long before the two Ferraris were on the back of Frentzen, and Schumacher pulled an overtaking move around the outside.

Schumacher was going quickly and overtook Häkkinen, again around the outside of the final corner. Barrichello soon overtook both Frentzen and Häkkinen too. Schumacher then overtook Verstappen and Coulthard to take the lead on Lap 15 as the track began to dry.

Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard and Ruben Barrichello in the early stages of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

Michael Schumacher leads David Coulthard and Ruben Barrichello in the early stages of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

As the circuit dried out Schumacher put five seconds a lap between himself and Coulthard for the next four laps with Barrichello riding shotgun midway between them. The demolition job continued until lap 25, when Coulthard joined the many pitting for new dry rubber but by that stage Schumacher had lapped everyone up to seventh-placed Frentzen, and although he was on treaded tires on a dry circuit Schumacher – as at Indianapolis last year – continued to stay out and building his lead.

Finally on Lap 30 Schumacher pitted and was over a minute clear of his team mate Barrichello. This being his only stop for fuel, this saw Schumacher drive out to complete the remaining laps at his leisure, although Barrichello did narrow the gap as best he could, smarting from Schumacher’s earlier dismissal of him behind Trulli.

Jos Verstappen defending from Mika Hakkinen in the final stages of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

Jos Verstappen defending from Mika Hakkinen in the final stages of the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix

A long, long way behind Giancarlo Fisichella parked the Benetton with no fuel pressure on Lap 31 and retired from the Grand Prix.  Also towards the latter stages of the race, Hakkinen was putting pressure on Verstappen for the final point of the race. This ended up Hakkinen taking the final point away from Verstappen in the final few laps of the race.

Michael Schumacher wins the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Rubens Barrichello in second place and David Coulthard in third place

Michael Schumacher wins the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Rubens Barrichello in second place and David Coulthard in third place

Many drivers then pitted for fresh tyres during the race, but Schumacher stayed out and stretched his lead to more than a minute over Barrichello and lapping at three seconds faster a lap on occasion and won the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of his team mate Barrichello and finishing 23.6 seconds down the road.

David Coulthard completed the podium by finishing in third place. Ralf Schumacher overtook Häkkinen and Verstappen to take fifth place before the pair started a battle of their own which allowed Frentzen to overtake then both at once at the final corner; Verstappen just managed to edge back in front on the straight. Verstappen would however, slip down to seventh, when Häkkinen took the final point position of sixth place.

Two laps down were Button suffering from spins and Mazzacane whose lack of pace was compounded by refuelling problems while the Minardis finished three and four laps behind and were glad to have two cars home especially after last man Marques had a Michelin lose its tread in much the same way Jenson Button’s did in practice in Australia. Even again this is considering that Marques didn’t pit until Lap 43 for fresh tyres!

The 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix will also be remembered as the race where only the top seven finishers ended the race on the same lap. This is due to Verstappen pitting for a third time on Lap 43 to get to the end of the race in seventh with Trulli, Alesi and Burti coming home behind. 

Also, this was the sixth consecutive win from Pole Position for Michael Schumacher and showed once again why he was a three time world champion of the sport and he drove a great race to win in the mixed conditions that the Sepang circuit threw at him during the race.

And as the 2000 World Championship leaded towards the next round in Brazil at the Interlagos circuit, Schumacher was still leading the Driver’s Championship by 20 points ahead of Barrichello in second place with 10 points and Coulthard in third place with 10 points.

‘Foreign substance’ caused Rosberg DNF in Singapore

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This morning the Mercedes team have revealed that a “foreign substance” in Nico Rosberg’s steering column electronics caused a short circuit that led to his Singapore DNF.

Minutes before the start of Sunday’s Singapore GP, Mercedes rushed to change Rosberg’s steering wheel after the German encountered problems. That however did not fix the problem and Rosberg was unable to get going off the grid forcing him to start the grand prix from the pit lane.

And although Rosberg joined the race, he retired while down in 20th place. As a result, Rosberg lost the lead in the Drivers’ Championship to team-mate Lewis Hamilton who now leads by three points having won the race.

Explaining what went wrong for Rosberg, Mercedes tweeted the following:-

‘Forensic analysis has revealed that the steering column electronic circuits were contaminated with a foreign substance. The contamination was not visible and did not manifest itself until Sunday as Nico went to the grid.

‘The result was an intermittent short circuit in the electronic circuits meaning @nico_rosberg could not command clutch or engine settings. Fresh parts will be used at the forthcoming races. Our hard work on reliability processes will continue at the same intensive level. To clarify, the contaminant was a substance used in normal pre-event servicing of the component.’

From what Mercedes have tweeted regarding finding a “foreign substance” in his car that stopped from taking part in the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend, it is a great shame that it affected Rosberg’s car and ruined his race effectively. But throughout this week, Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff has publically stated that suffering these reliability issues on both of his drivers’ cars is not acceptable and the team need to push to work hard on fixing these issues as quickly as possible.

And there is no question that the Mercedes team will be working as hard as ever to ensure that this is the case and that they build on what they have achieved this season which is leading and dominating at the front which has ultimately allowed both of their both drivers fighting for the championship. And it would be a shame to see a championship decided on reliability issues and I really hope that it isn’t the case and we see both of their drivers fighting and deciding this matter on the race track where it belongs.

Caterham announces new front wing for Suzuka

The new Caterham front wing announced for Suzuka on Twitter.

The new Caterham front wing announced for Suzuka on Twitter.

Yesterday it was announced that the Caterham F1 team will take a new front wing to Suzuka next week for the Japanese Grand Prix.  The developments follow those that were made for the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August – with a new nose the most notable change.

On Twitter, the Caterham team announced that they would be bringing a new front wing to Suzuka. The team tweeted the following:-

‘Working hard before Japan, where we will be bringing a new front wing.’

Meanwhile, new team principal Manfredi Ravetto has reiterated that the squad hasn’t given up on taking tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship. In his interview with the media yesterday, Ravetto stated the following:-

‘We are currently trying to keep developing our current car. We want to introduce some more new bits and pieces because the tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship is our focus.

‘P10 is of highest importance to us – but it is not vital,” he added. “We have a plan in place regardless of the place, as we want to give the company a future. We have restructured the technical department and put it under the control of John Iley and his staff, which was not the case before we arrived. And it already shows very interesting data.’

Even though it is imperative that Caterham are fighting for tenth place in the Constructors Championship and are doing everything they can by bringing new upgrades to the car, Ravetto is giving us mixed messages in his interview. It would seem that fighting for tenth place in the Constructors is important to them and then by stating that it is not of importance could bring that into question.

Ravetto believes that the team have a plan in place to give the company a future and with all the speculation that is surrounding the team, gaining tenth in the Constructors would certainly help them prepare for the future. And it would help them with their financial situation for sure. But with the restructure that is still ongoing at Caterham alongside other issues, it is clear that they are trying to prepare for a future in the sport but it is still very much uncertain.

Ravetto also added further on in his interview that Caterham was on the brink before the takeover on the eve of the British Grand Prix, when a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors (advised by former F1 team principal Colin Kolles) bought the team from Tony Fernandes. 

‘My feeling is that with the previous owners having already pulled the plug in a quite evident way, the team did not believe anymore that they would race at Silverstone. There is some additional evidence for that. But not only did we manage to race at Silverstone, we also did the test at Silverstone and made it to Singapore. 

‘In the meantime we have also made some significant improvements to the car – some significant improvements in terms of restructuring – and we keep fighting. But I would like to be clear: we take it as it comes. We are very relaxed. I think we have done a small miracle to bring it to where it is. I think we also did a small miracle by improving the performance and being ahead of Marussia in terms of speed and very close to Lotus and Sauber. We are set to deliver miracles!’ 

It is clear that Ravetto believing that many thought that they wouldn’t race at Silverstone was a bit of a concern for them or be at Singapore last weekend was also worrying. But they managed to achieve it and I’m sure that many within the team were pleased that this happened.

But it would seem that Caterham are bringing as many upgrades to the car as they can while also still undergoing a restructure within the team are taking it a one step at a time and rightly so. And from Singapore last weekend, as Ravetto says, it would appear that they are making small steps to catch up with their rivals but I fear it just won’t be enough to get tenth in the Constructors Championship.

And as for Ravetto stating they will be delivering miracles, I find that very far-fetched considering the team’s current position and troubles surrounding it and I feel they have been very lucky to survive so far.

But the main concern for the Caterham team is that they have yet to confirm its driver line-up for the Japanese Grand Prix, with former Suzuka podium winner Kamui Kobayashi’s seat still seemingly under threat despite the huge support he is likely to receive from the partisan crowd.

But with the Caterham team taking their time to decide the second seat for next weekend, it poses the question; once again will Kobayashi race next weekend or will he be replaced? We shall have to wait for the official announcement within the next week regarding this matter.

Overall, Caterham bringing a new front wing to Suzuka is a good sign and a sign that they are at least trying to catch up to their rivals, but I fear it just won’t be enough for them. They are just too far behind to truly fight for tenth place and haven’t got the budget either. But if they are able to survive next season, by running these upgrades it will give them data to improve, adapt it to their car for 2015 and more importantly sort out their current troubles and get back to racing in Formula One as best as they can. 

Mallya: I’m relishing battle with McLaren

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In an interview with the media yesterday, Force India Team Principal Vijay Mallya is ‘loving’ this season’s ongoing scrap with McLaren, admitting that battling the ‘big boys’ provides an added ‘high’ to life in F1.

Force India outscored McLaren by eight points in last Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix, reversing their positions in the battle for fifth place in the constructors’ standings with five races remaining, and Mallya has vowed to take the fight right through the double-points finale in Abu Dhabi.

In his interview with the media yesterday, Mallya stated the following on the battle between his team and the McLaren team:-

‘Of course I’m loving it. Let’s make it clear… when you race with the big boys and are ahead of them, it gives you that extra bit of a high, doesn’t it? I’m a racer myself and I get excited about these things…

‘I refer to McLaren as the ‘great McLaren’ and I truly believe that that’s a world championship team, so I’m not going to take them for granted. I’m going to throw everything I have at it and fight like hell and, at the end of the day, we’ll see [what happens]. But, for a team like Force India to be engaged in such a competitive battle with a team like the great McLaren says a lot about us and I feel quite proud about it.’

Of course Mallya is loving the fact that his team is challenging in his words the ‘great’ McLaren and that will satisfy him and also the team a lot. But he is realistic and knows not to take the situation for granted. Mallya is going to give the team every possible chance to fight McLaren and see if they can stay ahead of them and as he rightly points out, it really does say a lot about Force India and how they managed this season to be beating them at the moment and he should be proud of it too.

Things didn’t look too promising after both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez trailed the McLarens in qualifying, but Mallya and the team knew that there would be more to come on Sunday.  Further in his interview Mallya stated the following about his team’s performance:-

‘Qualifying wasn’t the most encouraging sign, but I have to say that, for whatever reason, this year’s car has never been good over one lap. Somehow we’ve never qualified well, but we have strong race pace and that is what has enabled us to score the points that we have – 117 points is the highest in the history of this team ever, so I am particularly delighted, but to be fifth in the constructors, ahead of a great team like McLaren, is even sweeter.’

Even though qualifying wasn’t good for his team, as Mallya points out, they have struggled with this over the course of the season. But despite this, they are able to perform on the track when it matters, which is in the race on Sundays. But this season has seen them acquire the most points in their history and the fact that they are ahead of McLaren just makes it better for them.
In order to ensure that his team is given the best chance of staying ahead of its main rival, Mallya has sanctioned continued development of the VJM07, although he knows that there are likely to be more long-term benefits to that decision too. In the latter stages of his interview, Mallya said the following:-

‘McLaren cannot be taken for granted. They’re going to fight, so we have to continue the fight to the last race. We have a few updates coming and I’m sure they have too.

‘I don’t have the budget that McLaren has – that’s a known fact and something I don’t have to prove or disprove. I don’t know what they do, or how they spend their money, but I certainly keep a tight watch on how we spend our money. I know there is another upgrade coming for later on this season and that’s all part of the plan.

‘The only reason I am approving this development up to the last race, which I never did before in previous seasons, is because, whatever we are doing now in terms of development, can be carried forward into next year’s car. If it was full stop at the end of this season, and start again for next year, I may not have bothered to do what I am doing. But, because all the development that’s happening as we speak can actually carry forward until 2015, it’s also an investment in next year’s car, which is why we’re continuing the development.’

As Mallya says, McLaren are going to be fighting back and will want to regain the place they have lost to Force India and Mallya understands and expects that from the McLaren team. With McLaren having a bigger budget than Force India, Mallya understands that this could be the crucial difference for the fifth place in the Constructors. But the fact that Mallya is investing in an upgrade shows that they are trying as much as their budget allows to keep McLaren at bay. 

Even though Force India hasn’t been able to push development on their car in the latter stages of the seasons previously, the fact that Mallya has provided them with the finances to do so show that Force India know how important this position is to them. But as Mallya points out, next season will be the same regulations and next year’s car will be an evolution of this season’s car and this upgrade could help them improve for next season. 

Overall, of course Mallya should be pleased with where they are but he is realistic and understands that with McLaren being a bigger team and with a bigger budget than himself, they will also be striving to bring upgrades in order to battle with them. But all Mallya can do is bring and push as many upgrades as possible to the last races of this season and give his team the best possible chance to defend their position ahead of McLaren.

But with Mallya approving funding for an upgrade, will this be enough for Force India to remain where they are in the Constructors and stay ahead of McLaren? I’m unsure but the time is now crucial for Force India to show what they can do on the track and take the fight to McLaren as much as they possibly can.