Category Archives: General F1

From Marussia With Not Much Love

Oh Timo, what have you done?

Two and a bit years since Toyota stopped F1 operations, and a huge gamble in joining one of the three new teams, Timo Glock seems to have made a huge mistake. Marussia are now in a mess, a massive mess, a mess so big finally Hispania can actually look down on a team. On Monday they failed part of their crash test, will miss the final test session in Barcelona and it will be the first practice in Australia on March 16th when we finally see what they have produced.

And it’s hard to expect much from it. The team, first under it’s incarnation of Virgin Racing and it’s current form in Marussia are on one impressive downhill slope, failure in that crash test puts their season into turmoil, this stage last year, with HRT were in a similar boat, the Spanish team failed to qualify in Australia. Even after that, HRT went on to be decent competition against Virgin Racing, on some occasion justifiably beating them on pace. And for all the stick HRT gets, it is pretty embarrassing for Virgin Racing, and especially a good driver in Glock.

It wasn’t too long ago he came close to even winning the odd race, prior to his ‘injury’ in Japan (I will maintain he was never actually injured and they only brought in Kobayashi as a desperate plee to keep Toyota going), he finished in a brilliant second in Singapore, equalling his best finish in an F1 race. In the period between his first second place finish, in Hungary 2008, and his second, Singapore 2009, his team mate Trulli couldn’t match it, despite starting on pole in Bahrain.

So the kid has potential, and little of it has been shown at Virgin Racing so far. He can’t show it really, it’ll be damn near impossible to. How do you when the car is left pottering around at the back trying and struggling to beat a team everyone laughs at. It won’t be long before the tide turns, and everyone is laughing at Marussia.

Glock doesn’t deserve to be at the team when it does happen, he gambled a lot to go to Marussia. By all accounts the Renault job was up for grabs at the time, and I was certainly one of the main people trying to persuade him to go to them. He has the talent for the top five team, but the risk he took to take a new team up the ranks has to be respected. Usually though it’s hard to respect when it goes horribly wrong, and you have to wonder where his career could be if he had just said yes to Renault.

Last year he struggled somewhat to the less inexperienced Jerome D’Ambrosio who, unfairly, got the boot for 2012. This could show his desire to race for the team is diminishing, or a strong talent in D’Ambrosio which wasn’t fully shown in the car, or even noticed in the teams chequebook (I think those still exist).  I like to believe its a bit of both, and with Marussia fading into obscurity and behind the 107% rule territory. Glock can’t stay there, he shouldn’t stay there. He is still a good driver, a very good driver.

But jobs for 2013 seem to be limited to those with sponsors and those who are already in a good team. Very few roles seem to be genuinely up for grabs. And not that I wouldn’t love him to go to Sauber when Sergio Perez goes to Ferrari and Kamui Kobayashi gets the boot, but realistically it seems that team is the only viable alternative. IndyCar would not be alien to a driver who won Champ Car Rookie of the Year in 2005, and naturally endurance racing is always an option. But Timo Glock could have been a very good Formula 1 driver, but he has practically destroyed that chance by remaining in the Marussia.

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You Can Always Break The Chain

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I was on holiday when I heard the news. And in Italy, it was an oddly rainy morning. I say oddly, to be fair, there was a surprising amount of rain in that week. The rain gave me an excuse to check my phone, twinned with trying to watch NCIS in Italian, and see Twitter full of fury and rage.

And it wasn’t about the Greek’s failing to pay up (again), or Harry Redknapp trying to pursue Phil Neville (again), but the fact that the coverage of Formula 1 would be shared between its current providers, the BBC, and the pay per view service, Sky.

I’m sure everyone who gives a damn about this knows about the deal inside out. Sky get coverage of all twenty races from next year, from Australia through to Brazil, and covering the new race in Austin, Texas. The BBC only get to show ten races, these including the season opener and finale, as well as the British Grand Prix. They will also show either full race re-runs or extended highlights several hours after the chequered flag on the ten races exclusive to Sky.

To those outside it should seem fine, however to watch content on Sky, you have to pay. And this on top of the enforced BBC license fee. For some, Sky isn’t an option, it just costs too much. And you can’t really argue about that, there is no alternative for what is a sizeable chunk of viewers of the current BBC audience.

But that isn’t my argument. I’m not here to discuss the inside and outside of the deal, I’m not here to defend the decision, I’m not even here to feel sympathy. All I’m saying is thank God F1 is going to Sky.

One of the first feelings I had when reading the reactions of people, is what right did Formula 1 have to be on terrestrial television? I’ll answer that for you, none. It isn’t part of the listed rights Group A sports mentioned in the 1996 Broadcasting Act. The Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, and of course, the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, all have to be aired on either the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or 5. Formula 1 isn’t even mentioned in Group B, which forces highlights to be aired on the five channels (this list includes the Commonwealth Games and the Six Nations). Formula 1 is given no divine right to be on terrestrial television, it isn’t special, or any better than any other sport at the end of the day. Should Sky want to, they could easily just take it all away from the BBC. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the BBC happily accept.

I’d be glad to. For me, the BBC coverage, something which started so fresh and promising after years of dire we were subjected to from ITV, has become stale and repetitive. It is fraught by smug, poor, and downright annoying people glaring into the camera each week.

The coverage has few redeeming features. Martin Brundle stepped up this year to replace the ever unpopular Jonathan Legard, and has fitted into the role superbly alongside David Coulthard. Part of me is disappointed, if the rumours are true, that the duo won’t be able to continue and develop into their respective roles. There are few genuinely good commentary partnerships in the UK, this could have been one of them. Should David Croft and Brundle go off to Sky like reported, then I remain to be convinced. Both are fine individual commentators, but together I don’t feel convinced about it just yet.

I can’t yet believe how Eddie Jordan is still employed. Between reminding us how he discovered half of the current F1 field (that includes Narain Karthikeyan people), he offers up far too many cringeworthy moments that litter the coverage. Lee McKenzie has also failed to add to her one standard question in her interviews. I feel bitterly disappointed for her. (Cheap and poor, I know.)

Jake Humphrey has provided to be no better, especially after the announcement. His loyalty to the cause is admirable, but each little mention of the viewing figures and clear moments where he wants Formula 1 to have all 2012 races on the BBC have made him virtually unfollowable for me, at least.

And realistically the only thing saving the BBC right now is the fact there is no ad breaks. Something which Sky promise to deliver when they air their first race. The BBC could have developed their coverage into something spectacular, something worth keeping. And while it is still much better than ITV ever achieved, it lacks the ambition of going further. Since 2009, very little has changed in terms of coverage and personnel, and I’m equally tired of hearing the tiresome voice of Christian Horner every race. In some regards the quality has gone down. At the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix, I remember Peter Sauber, who speaks poor English, doing a rare interview in the English language. I feel you wouldn’t get close to that now. I can’t pull myself to watch the coverage anymore, it isn’t worth it. Although this could be well down to my current view of Formula 1 at the moment, or at least qualifying. On purpose, instead of watching the qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, you could find me lying in bed dreaming about scoring the winning goal in the Europa League Final. Sort of.

With the BBC only getting ten races from next year, the coverage will only go downhill even further. The lack of drive, and the ‘talented’ Humphrey no doubt becoming one of the faces of the highly anticipated Olympic Games, and potentially other things, the last shred of decency is fading. The potential new commentators to replace Martin Brundle don’t sound so exciting. I’ve yet to see a favourable review of Leigh Diffey, who just sounds like a foreign Jonathan Legard.

I’m not going to say Sky is going to be perfect. It does cost to get the coverage to start off, and expected anchors and pundits are so far less than inspiring. But the potential is there, the same potential that the BBC had. If they do something similar to their shows in terms of rugby, an extra show to discuss events in more detail, then it will only be an improvement.

Yet Sky will throw money and effort into their coverage, something similar to what they do for the football, both codes of rugby, the cricket. Assumptions based on their over motorsport events are unfair, IndyCars and Speedway don’t attract the same audience, they don’t get the same money that F1 will get.

The BBC could have done so much with Formula 1, but it didn’t, and for me, it has left me very disillusioned with the coverage. Roll on Sky, I can’t wait to see what you can do.

Sixth Sense

kobispa

Sebastian Vettel has won the Championship. Lets face it, whilst it isn’t mathematically assured, only a miracle will see anyone else lift the trophy.

The racing has at least, been enthralling. And if you want an exciting battle there are two very tight ones going on. But while Mark Webber, Jenson Button and the rest of them fight it out over second in the Drivers Championship. An intriguing battle can be found over sixth place in the Constructors.

A few months ago Sauber were flying. Points were frequent, the performances were spectacular and memorable and everyone was happy. I may have even said that they might as well paint 11 and 12 on the C31 because 6th looked guaranteed.

Sometimes I wonder why I open my mouth.

In the last three races, zero points have been scored. That includes three retirements and Kobayashi and Perez hitting too many of the opposition. The 6th place that looked nailed on is now no longer theirs, with Force India leading the Swiss by a point. And there’s also Toro Rosso lurking in the background, being there mainly on the basis that their qualifying is bad enough the tyres are nice and fresh for the race.

Where has it all gone so wrong?

Of course, the Italian Grand Prix was a cruel piece of luck. Kobayashi was fighting for the last few points when his Ferrari gear box decided it didn’t want to function anymore. Then later on in the race, while Perez still hadn’t pitted and was looking good for a 7th or an 8th, his Ferrari gear box decided to pack up as well. It would have put to an end the horrible run that the team we’re going on but it only prolonged the issue to a track Sauber have never performed spectacularly well at in the past, Singapore. Last year, Michael Schumacher was seemingly attracted to the shiny white a little too much, being a major part of the retirements of both cars.

The bad run can be traced back to Hungary, both cars were sent out too long on the medium tyres, which culminated in the somewhat humiliating moment where Kobayashi was overtaken by four cars on the straight near to the end of the race. Belgium was just a crash-fest in reality, both Perez and Kobayashi being involved with Sebastian Buemi, and then most notably, where Lewis Hamilton cut off Kobayashi and found himself heading for the Armco. Although Kobayashi could continue (Perez would later retire), no points were to be scored.

And this bad run came at the same time Force India came to the fore. In Hungary, Paul di Resta finished in a career best 7th. This was followed by a 7th in Belgium by Adrian Sutil, and a further four points being scored for the Scot in Italy. In three races, Force India have scored sixteen points, which is just less than half of their entire total for the season.

Without doubt the impressive ability of Paul di Resta has been a crucial factor in their improvements. While Perez is struggling at times in the Sauber, di Resta has taken to Formula 1 like a duck to water, with a clear ability and the fact he is getting some really impressive results. It isn’t to say Perez has been poor, his 7th in Britain was fantastic, and a similar performance could have been on the cards in Italy. But his core performance isn’t at the same level as the Scot.

The key battle could though come down to how it fares between the supposed team leaders. While Kobayashi has put in performances which have shown him to be more than a crazy kid who has balls, Sutil has shown himself to be the average driver that he is. He’s been outqualified by di Resta, and he’s also only higher in the standings because of his ability to finish high. But in my eyes he isn’t performing brilliantly, and generally, isn’t the best option available to them. Granted he has got them the majority of the points, but I don’t think they have been enough for Sutil.

While Toro Rosso look unlikely to catch up to them, they have been in the points frequently of late. Most notably being the team that I like to put money on qualifying in 18th and shockingly getting in the points. At the weekend, the BBC gave Jaime Alguersuari his second Driver of the Day, both of those drives came from him when he started 18th and he got into the points. Granted it does require some race craft and ability, but it does feel like a loophole. So far this season, the drivers who have been knocked out in Q1, have improved in races in China (Mark Webber, qualified 18th, finished 3rd), Turkey (Kobayashi, 24th to 10th), Spain (Heidfeld, 24th to 8th), Canada (Alguersuari, pitlane to 8th), Europe (Alguersuari, 18th to 8th), Britain (Alguersuari, 18th to 10th), Germany (Kobayashi, 17th to 10th), Hungary (Buemi, 23rd to 9th), Belgium (Schumacher, 23rd to 5th) and Italy (Alguersuari, 18th to 8th). I think it might be more than a coincidence.

At the end of the day though, Toro Rosso are taking full advantage and are scoring points because of it. And that’s why they have an outside hope of finishing 6th.

The battle though could go down to the wire, both Sauber and Force India have positives and negatives. Assuming Sauber can get out of the slump and put pressure on Force India, it could be an intriguing battle, and it could be interesting to see how Toro Rosso fit themselves into the jigsaw.

Sebastian who?

The Italian and the Indian

chandeuro I don’t like Team Lotus at the best of times. I can’t stand Tony Fernandes or Mike Gascoyne, I hate the fact that they decided they had to enter Formula 1 using the Lotus name and the battle with Danny Bahar has done my head in hoping they would both just shut up for once.

But now, they’ve given me a pile of ammunition to stick in my gun and fire at them. They have decided that the best course of action for the German Grand Prix would be to drop Jarno Trulli and replace him with Karun Chandhok.

Now call me cynical, but I don’t think this is a racing matter.

The decision, as said by Team Lotus themselves, is for Chandhok to prove himself in the car. Most likely for, wait for it, this will shock you, the Indian Grand Prix in October. In theory it is a fair idea, if he does well, the seat will pretty much be secure for him come the race, but what if he performs poorly? What if he is further off Kovalainen than Trulli ever was? What if he struggles in the race? It does sound like a lot of what if’s, but they are all plausible, because for me, Karun Chandhok is nowhere near the racer Jarno Trulli is, or ever was.

Jarno Trulli is a race winner, one time only at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. Of course there were many more races he had won in the junior formulae, as well as proving himself to be a one-lap specialist in qualifying, often given a midfield car a position it didn’t really deserved. His race pace wasn’t the greatest, leading to the infamous Trulli Train’s which plagued many tracks in the 2000s. But ultimately he was a good driver, good enough certainly to have raced in 15 full seasons (and half of 2011 as well).

Karun Chandhok obviously hasn’t really had the opportunity yet to show himself in Formula 1, half a season in the slowest car of the grid at Hispania before being replaced by the slowest driver on the grid Sakon Yamamoto. He has won championships in the junior series, but this against considerably weaker opposition. Take for example the 2006 Formula Renault V6 Series, which he eventually won. The second place driver, New Zealander Matthew Halliday, is now struggling in the Porsche Supercup. The third place driver, Ananda Mikola, doesn’t seem to have anything about him since 2009. The only time Chandhok has come across any decent competition aside from F1 is his three years in GP"2, where he won two races overall and never finished higher than tenth in the Championship. This despite the fact his team mate in 2008, Bruno Senna, went on to finish as runner-up that year. Realistically, Chandhok has shown nothing to prove himself, he’s capable of getting fair results in GP2, that is clear, but not enough to show he can cut it at the big level, unlike, say, Jarno Trulli.

Yes, I understand that the Italian is having probably his worst season. His one-lap pace is being obliterated by a talented Heikki Kovalainen (who does deserve to be in a faster car than the Lotus), he is making complaints about the car left, right and centre, which I can’t imagine is pleasing the team and especially the mechanics. I do feel Trulli should be realising that he is well past his peak and his performances are only hampering the progress of Team Lotus in the long term. If Chandhok ends up taking the seat altogether from Trulli (at this stage it is only a one off, but if he somehow manages to have a good race for example) though, the progress would only be further hurt. It would give a chance for both Virgin and Hispania to see a weak link in the Lotus armoury and give them some hope they can go after that all elusive tenth place, which gives them a lot of money. All Hispania need is another 13th and their best finish will be equal to Team Lotus. And imagine that, being beaten in the Championship by the team everybody laughs at for being awful. I wouldn’t count it out either, give it a bit of rain and anything can happen.

So why do this then? Chandhok isn’t going to be the driver that will get you results. He also is going to give some hope to Virgin and Hispania. And while he is at it, for the second year in a row, he’s ruining my New Team’s Championship.

Again, there is a massive chance this is a massive marketing ploy by Team Lotus. India is a huge market. Huge. The potential to make money from there is spectacular, and so far very few teams have opted to use it. The big and prime example is Force India, but have ultimately failed to gain much of the market, mainly because of the struggle for good Indian drivers. I don’t see one coming in anytime soon either, especially after Vijay Mallya said that Karthikeyan and Chandhok weren’t good enough for Formula 1. After some brief research, the next best Indian is Armaan Ebrahim, who is currently 15th in the Formula 2. Which isn’t that great a series. So the options are limited really between Karthikeyan and Chandhok, which is odd, because I still wouldn’t touch them with a stick. There are better options out there, of course they aren’t Indian, so Fernandes would go for them if he wasn’t trying to appease this large Indian market.

There is the fact that this isn’t really for Chandhok at all, rather a rather large hint towards Jarno Trulli saying ‘buck your ideas up kid or this will happen again’. As I’ve said, he has been very poor this season, and probably does deserve some warning that his future at the team is at stake. I don’t think he should be replaced mid-season however, despite his constant complaints, he has managed to get the car to the finish line all but twice, compare this to his team mate Heikki Kovalainen who has retired four times. So something is obviously working on his car, and something on it wants him to do well. Why does he complain all the time then? Is he really expecting perfection from a team in their second year chasing the back of the midfield, it’s insane, this is a long term gain not short term. And with his years running out, why is he bothering then? Go, ultimately then you’d be better off without them, I’m sure the mechanics are giving it hell trying to make the car the best and all he does is complain about their work basically. It’s hardly the right thing to do to keep team harmony at a high level.

But it looks almost as if he is staying, for a bizarre reason, talks with Trulli staying in 2012 are apparently at an advanced stage and looking likely to happen. So why Chandhok, now? If you are happy enough with Trulli do you really have to replace him with Chandhok for one race. It is just a odd decision to make, why Germany? Why not the race before the Indian Grand Prix, to give the fairest indication about Chandhok’s frame of mind before what would effectively be his home grand prix. Why do they even need to take another race out? He has experience with this car thanks to his Friday practice sessions, and if they have trust in him so much for him to drive in one race, then why not just for India. Is this some attempt from Fernandes to save face and make the decision for him to race in India look less like a blatant marketing ploy? And does he plan on using Chandhok further in 2012? No doubt he’ll want to keep Heikki Kovalainen, the only driver in the entire team who looks of any ability to catch the Toro Rosso’s and Williams’ of this world. Then Chandhok for the Indian market and Trulli for some other reason. Three drivers into two doesn’t work, ask Red Bull in 2005, which ended painfully for Vitantonio Liuzzi.

So let’s put it simply. Trulli isn’t driving well enough to continue driving for Team Lotus, Chandhok has never shown he is good enough to drive for Team Lotus. But for some reason, they’ll both be staying, both will end up racing and some good up and coming talent will be totally ignored by Team Lotus by Tony Fernandes. I’m not sure Team Lotus can come out looking good from this.

F1 in 2011

It is another Bloggers Swap Shop post today, and while I’ll be writing for F1 Weekender, here is Kayleigh from Kayleigh’s Bits and Pieces about what she is looking forward too F1 wise in 2011.

When I write for my blog it’s easy, the posts write themselves as my thoughts and ramblings that have been going around my head for a few days come tumbling out onto the page. But to give me a bit of a challenge I thought it would be great to have the opportunity to write for someone else’s blog and so I signed up for The Bloggers Swap Shop. Luckily I ended up with the chance to write for the Northern Waffler, one the blogs I read regularly (and I’m not just saying that I promise RG!).

I have mulled over what to write for this post for a few days now, initially I was going to write about my favourite driver Kimi Raikkonen (using the link of making his debut in F1 all thanks to Peter Sauber), but to be honest I’m sure you all know it all anyway!

So instead of looking back I have decided to look forward, and tell you a bit about what I’m looking forward to in the 2011 F1 season.

1. Can anyone design a better car than Red Bull?

Over the past couple of seasons the Red Bull car has been pretty much the fastest car of the field, so I’m looking forward to seeing if any of the other teams can change that this season.

2. Technical Regulation Changes

The new season is bringing with it some new (and not so new) regulations. Back after a year on the sideline, KERS should allow the drivers more chances to overtake, with the boost of power that the system brings. For me this is only worthwhile when the teams are at different stages of their development. When they all have KERS working, then it is almost back to a level playing field.

Totally new for 2011 is the adjustable flap on rear wing (with an aim similar to the FDuct, affecting the air flow over the rear wing on straights to lose drag and make the car faster). The adjustable rear wing should make it easy to overtake the car in front, but the tight regulations about its use could see confusion.

3. Lotus Renault GP

This should be at number 1 really but I’m trying not to be too biased! I can’t wait for the season to start to see how good the Renault car is compared to the other teams. It’s going to be great watching Kubica in action again and hopefully Petrov can improve on last year, and with two points scoring drivers, we can fight for 3rd place (at least!).

4. Pirellis

New year, new rubber. For me the way the tyres hold up will make or break the season. Dramatic I know! The problem is tyre companies are in a difficult position. They want to look good by making durable tyres but as spectators we want the tyres to degrade quickly to make the racing more interesting. Pirelli are saying the right things about making the racing better so fingers crossed it doesn’t go too far the other way and the tyres fall apart too quickly causing accidents.

5. Media & the Lotus vs Lotus Saga

The whole Lotus Renault vs Team Lotus is going to drag and drag all season long and most F1 fans will have a strong opinion on this, as do I, but several fans are most definitely going to be confused. The media are vital in minimising this confusion, after all nobody gets confused with Red Bull and Torro Rosso. Obviously the Lotus situation is very different as they are entirely separate entities.

Lotus Renault GP is the full name of the rebranded Renault F1 Team and the important thing for me is that the car is still called Renault. Very few people called McLaren by their full Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, so I don’t see why the LRGP should be called anything other than Renault. I think it is clear that Group Lotus intend on being more than a title sponsor (after investing in the team), but I don’t think they should push the matter in this first year. Commentators and the media should call the team Renault so that the casual and confused fans can still see that the black and gold cars are Renault.

I think how the media portray this battle is going to be vital. Mouthing off in the press isn’t going to do anyone favours and building a good reputation will be important. Lots of fans see Team Lotus (Lotus Racing in 2010) as having the spirit of the original Lotus but all I see is a canny businessman trying to build a brand & a fan base very quickly, so bought a name thought would offer this. They are no more the ‘real’ Lotus than the Group Lotus backed Renault will be, so it is vital that nobody makes this claim.

6. Schumacher

I was never a Schumacher fan, I always happened to support his opposition (Hill, Hakkinen and then Raikkonen), but I realised that I missed him when I found myself cheering him on at a Race of Champions event. I was really excited for his comeback but unfortunately that hasn’t worked out as well as hoped. I’m interested to see what he can do next year – he will need all his experience to ensure that he gets on top of things very quickly this year or else I can see another dire year like 2010.

7. Can HRT make it to the grid?

I’m not so sure. Using the 2010 car in testing is not that unusual (remember we didn’t always get new cars till the European season kicked off a few years ago) but I can’t see how they will have a new car at all to race in 2011, never mind the resources to carry on as essentially a DTM team one week and an F1 team the next.

8. Will Wirth’s CFD approach work?

Wirth have used Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD for short) software to design extremely successful sports cars. I don’t think it’s the CFD approach that is hurting them so far (I think it is more the lack of current F1 knowledge – what works in sports cars doesn’t necessarily work in F1), so in 2011 it will be interesting to see how much they’ve improved. The difficulty will be whilst the Virgin car will be much better than the 2010 car, as always it’s the gap to the other teams that they will be judged on.

9. Hamilton vs Button

Last year I think everyone expected Hamilton to blow Button out the water, regardless of which is your preferred driver, because McLaren is built up around Hamilton at the moment & Hamilton is a great driver. Button more than held his own although he tailed off towards the end of year. This year I’d like to see him beating Hamilton all season!

10. Massa

Last year was a bad year for Massa. Not as bad as the year before of course but he really needs to show what he can do in 2011 and stand up to Alonso.

11. Politics

I love the politics of F1 & I am interested to see after a quiet 2010 what kicks off this year. There’s bound to be lots of it, with Lotus vs Lotus court cases, Ferrari threatening again to leave, 2013 rules to be agreed on and a new Concorde agreement. Still, with all this bubbling in the background I hope the majority of the action is on the track!

What are you looking forward to in Formula 1 in 2011?

The Malaysian Monsoons

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Race

When the rain came during the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix, everyone knew it would end up as a downpour. Just a few laps after the initial drops fell, the race was red flagged, with Jenson Button the winner. Half points were awarded after an hour’s delay, the race was criticised for the poor timing.

Fast forward a year and the situation seems to be exactly the same. Weather predictions are eyeing up torrential rain for during the race. The same thing is almost certainly going to happen, once again, a waste of a race.

But why is Bernie Ecclestone allowing the torrential rain to get in the way of racing? Some may say that he has put it an hour earlier to avoid the rain, but has been outsmarted by Mother Nature. Well, sorry Bernie, that is no excuse.

For starters, March in Kuala Lumpur sees an average of 240.9mm of precipitation, this is amongst the worst months, which include April, May, October, November and December.

There seems to be a pattern developing, I believe it might be that they are in two groups, with quite a big gap in between May and October.  These months get a lot less precipitation, less monsoons. The ideal chance of a good weather comes in June and July, between them just 19 days of rain, a significantly lower amount of rainfall. It won’t get stopped mid race before half points are awarded.

I’m a genius, have a fly away three races between Canada, Malaysia and somewhere else in the middle of the European fixture. This makes so much logical sense it will sadly never happen in Formula 1.

Bernie Ecclestone, move the race. Moving the time will not make a difference, it needs to be chucked in the middle of the season, no issues. End of.

For Timo Glock

Sports News - March 26, 2010

It has been a tough year for Timo Glock. The move to Virgin Racing so far hasn’t worked out, and has retired from both races to date. So, to motivate him, I have decided to do something a little different. So, have this in the background and enjoy.

Dim the lights, roll the music:

You’re The Best

Try to be fast
‘Cause your just a driver
And a driver’s gotta learn to take it
 
Try to believe
When the car breaks down
That you gotta hang till Yas Marina
 
History repeats itself
Drive and you’ll succeed
 
Never doubt that you’ll get points
And you can beat Lotus!
 
You’re the fastest!
Around!
Not even Virgin’s gonna keep you down
You’re the fastest!
Around!
Not even Virgin’s gonna keep you down
You’re the fastest!
Around!
Not even Virgin’s gonna keep you dow-ow-ow-own
 
Drive ‘til the flag
Cause your race could drag
If you don’t have the pace in the car
 
Ah you gotta be strong
And just drive along
When the odds are stacked against you
 
Try your best to get tenth place
And in a moment you will notice
You’ll be the one that’s driving there
With more points than Lotus!
 
You’re the fastest!
Around!
Not even Virgin’s gonna keep you down
You’re the fastest!
Around!
Not even Virgin’s gonna keep you down
You’re the fastest!
Around!
Not even Virgin’s gonna keep you dow-ow-ow-own
 
Guitar followed by repeat of last verse
 
Drive ‘til you drop
Never Stop
Can’t give up
Til you reach tenth (DRIVE!)
You’re the best in Hungary (DRIVE!)
Listen to the engine
Give a little more that you got
It’ll never bring you down
 
You’re the fastest!
Around!
Not even Virgin’s gonna keep you down
You’re the fastest!
Around!
 
Now if that doesn’t work, nothing will.

The Desert Classic

Sports News - March 11, 2010

Sunday 14th March 2010, 12pm GMT, while I play in an obscure football match, 24 cars will be lining side by side each other in Bahrain, in anticipation for the start of the new Formula 1 season, which only 8 months ago looked in doubt whether the best teams would be in it, as controversy reigned supreme. The usual really.

Then deals were signed, three new teams entered, two regulars pulled out, the champions bought out, another new team came in, one more returned and a new team dropping out. And the amount of driver changes has been massive as well, with only three teams keeping the exact same team that finished the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix back in November (Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso).

The new teams have sadly took the most of the attention away from what should be a very exciting title fight. Back in the Summer, Manor Motorsport, Campos Meta 1 and USF1 were all chosen from a massive group to be the three new teams to compete for the 2010 championship. Ironically, none of those teams have kept that identity now. Manor are now Virgin Racing, Campos are now Hispania and USF1 fail to exist at all.

Then, with the departure of BMW Sauber, the familiar name of Lotus returned, despite really being anything but Lotus, quite frankly the only thing in common is the name Lotus, and the sort of desperate attempt of copying the old style livery. Managing to get in two one-time race winners in Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, will surely help the team, especially regarding the hiring of Trulli, the qualifying expert who will be most likely be the first driver from the new teams to get into Q2.

Hispania (Or HRT for the lazy people) were so close to not making it at all, Adrian Campos dream of owning a F1 team shattered weeks before Bahrain. But it was the best for the team and the FIA selection committee, as they wouldn’t have made it in any case. With the chassis made by Dallara, they could have been one of the best new teams this season, instead, with delays, lack of money and crucially, no testing. The lack of money shows, the hiring of well-paid drivers Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna will give them the stability, probably not the results.

And finally there is Virgin Racing, the clever little team trying to use computers and not wind tunnels. The snazzy Red and black car has unfortunately been in the wars more times than they hoped. Timo Glock managing to last just ten minutes before the front wing came off in their first test session. They did do well in bringing in Timo Glock, the German who manages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (notably at Toyota for the last two years) and Lucas di Grassi, a solid little GP2 driver.

In all fairness, the new boys are unlikely to score a point. You only have to look at Force India and the fact it took them 19 races before their first points in Belgium, that was with 2 less cars as well. It is hard to see how they will get any points at all, unless there is a repeat of the 1996 Monaco GP. Which must be a very rare chance.

Toro Rosso this year are going to be in a league of their own. Not exactly in too good a sense, whilst they will be better than Virgin, Lotus and HRT, they won’t be as impressive as the rest of the field. The team remain with the young drivers in Buemi and Alguesuari, who last season picked up just a few points, mainly from Buemi (and a couple from Bourdais). The team have an updated RB5 under them, which should help, but I don’t think the drivers are good enough to do anything with it.

Last year for Force India was quite impressive, albeit if the amazing moments came in just two races. Giancarlo Fisichella stunned the world when he put that Force India on pole, then stunned them even more when he finished 2nd. That was followed up by Adrian Sutil in Italy and his 4th place. Vitantonio Liuzzi could have got some points in the same race, if he had some more luck. This year, little has changed on the car, it looks likely it will be the same one trick pony good on the tracks like Spa-Francorchamps or Monza. Its a shame for a decent driver like Liuzzi, its standard for an overrated driver like Sutil.

If you know me well, you would know that the end of last season wasn’t easy. It looked likely that my favourite team in F1 would cease to exist, with no one seemingly pulling out and the anonymity of the new owners QADBAK. Then, two miracles in one happened. Toyota pulled out, freeing up a space and then the legend that is Peter Sauber regained control. Despite no name change (although it sounds like Sauber Motorsport is the likely choice). Testing seems promising, although that may be the fact I’m refusing to listen to anyone who says its just low fuel laps to generate sponsors. They might not be one of the top 4 teams, probably 5th or 6th overall, but I’m still confident the team can do something pretty special at some race this year. Despite the unique paring of Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi, I think the experienced and youth duo can help each other and despite the small chances of it all, I think it’ll blossom.

Then there are Renault, a team I have absolutely no idea how to talk about them. Despite new ownership, the team name remains, but Alonso and Grosjean are out. Replacing them are the first Pole in F1 Robert Kubica and the first Russian in F1 Vitaly Petrov. I fully expect Kubica to impress in the car, which will probably be distinctly average. Petrov on the other hand, is a tough cookie to predict. Having seen exactly nothing of him and my only previous mention of the name was to spread a big rumour around the internet. He might get the odd point, but I don’t think there will be anymore. Probably all before he quietly slips out of F1 to be replaced by someone else with some promise (and money).

Williams seem to be knocking on the big four door. They have a neat little car, two very impressive drivers and a strong shout of improving on some poor recent years. Testing has looked promising for them. Rubens Barrichello may have been in F1 since 1993, but last year showed he still had it in him to win races. Nico Hulkenberg won the GP2 championship, all the GP2 champions have gone on to do very well the following season in F1 (except for Giorgio Pantano). I think Williams could sneak a win in this season, watch out for them, they are the Tottenham Hotspur to the Premier League top 4, the Wigan Warriors to the St. Helens and Leeds Rhinos domination in Rugby League. Threats. And big ones at that.

As mentioned thousands of times, there is a distinct big 4 this season. McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. These are the four teams with probably the best 8 drivers on the grid, all who could win a race, some who have experienced winning a championship, others coming very close. Some have the determination and others have skill. From these 8, I would not be surprised if all 8 win at least one race.

Red Bull set the standard for one of the best cars of 2009. It won plaudits and has been copied by many teams for this year. But some feel this years version hasn’t advanced far enough. Sebastian Vettel looks good once again, and with Mark Webber finally getting wins on the board, will he now take the battle to Vettel. The only concern for the team is reliability, which is what they suffered from last season.

Ferrari had a poor season by their high standards. While some would love to finish in 4th, it is somewhere Ferrari haven’t been since 1993, when they had Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger. Last year was marred by the awful accident to Felipe Massa, but he returns along with two time champion Fernando Alonso. For the first time in two years, Alonso has been given a competitive car and a competitive team mate. The Alonso-Massa partnership will be under scrutiny from the word go, we all know how Alonso fared with Lewis Hamilton in 2007. But a competitive team mate should bring out the best out of Alonso and Massa. The two might not get on too well, but Ferrari could reap the benefits out of it all.

This time last year, Ross Brawn had saved the Honda team, kept Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello and plonked a Mercedes engine on the back of the Honda designed car. Little did anyone know that in 9 months time they would be World Champions (including me, who also this time last year thought they only had quick times in testing due to getting sponsors in and such). It was just a one year stand for Brawn GP as Mercedes bought the team out. Out goes Champion Button and Barrichello. In comes Nico Rosberg from Williams, and a certain Michael Schumacher from retirement. Hardly anyone saw it coming, but his failed return for Ferrari last year showed his desire to return to racing at the highest level. There is no doubt from testing that he is equal if not better than Rosberg. Despite the team saying they will not be winning races straight away, I think they might nick off with a few points before winning in Spain or Monaco. They won’t win the championship, but they will be a very good challenge.

And finally, we move from Team Germany to Team Great Britain. McLaren offer a patriotic feel to it all, with 2009 Champion Jenson Button and 2008 Champion Lewis Hamilton at the team. Couldn’t possibly have got a better team I don’t think. Hamilton is an excellent driver and better than Jenson Button. But Button will be determined to prove everyone wrong. As well as that, they’ve sneaked in some aerodynamics that could put them on top, just.

So that’s my recap of the 2010 grid. Whilst its not all positive (imagine if Stefan GP had made it?), I hope it helps to show my views on the runners and riders. And now, a definitive list of predictions right from the World Champion to the winner of the Wooden Spoon.

  1. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
  2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
  3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
  5. Jenson Button (McLaren)
  6. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
  7. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
  8. Rubens Barrichello (Williams)
  9. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  10. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
  11. Nico Hulkenberg (Williams)
  12. Robert Kubica (Renault)
  13. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber)
  14. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India)
  15. Sebastian Buemi (Toro Rosso)
  16. Adrian Sutil (Force India)
  17. Vitaly Petrov (Renault)
  18. Jaime Alguesuari (Toro Rosso)
  19. Timo Glock (Virgin Racing)*
  20. Lucas di Grassi (Virgin Racing)*
  21. Jarno Trulli (Lotus)*
  22. Heikki Kovalainen (Louts)*
  23. Karun Chandhok (HRT)*
  24. Bruno Senna (HRT)*

*All 0 points **In assumption of driver changes, this is the order as if there were none

  • First driver to be sacked: Jaime Alguesuari
  • First crash of the season: Petrov, di Grassi, Kovalainen, Sutil, Senna, first corner, Bahrain
  • First new team to reach Q2: Lotus (With Trulli)
  • Maiden Winners: Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi
  • Big Controversy: 2010 Chinese Grand Prix

And there we have it, my season preview completed. Free Practice 1 starts at the ridiculously early time of 7am GMT. Or for those who see sense, Qualifying starts at 11am GMT, just before the Tottenham v Blackburn game, so you won’t miss that.

I’ll get back to you in a months time, when I note that a prediction has been horribly wrong. Its going to be like 2009, but more insane.