Monday, September 27, 2010

Alonso wins Singapore Grand Prix

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso won under the lights of Singapore, the only night race in the F1 calendar. He also moves into the second position in the Championship standings. Of the last 5 races, he has been the most successful driver, scoring 93 of a possible 125 points and the current Championship leader Mark Webber scoring 74.

Alonso's other main threat and former team-mate, Lewis Hamilton has had several dismal races recently. Two retirements in two races, and only scoring 37 points in the last five races. He conceded that it is now very difficult to see himself winning the WDC.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Five Contenders: A Win at all Costs

Mathematically, eight drivers remain in the fight for this year's World Drivers Championship but most F1-realists would narrow the list to five main contenders: Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Button and Vettel. Each of these drivers have strong motivations to strive for a win this year even though 3 of them are recent World Champions. Button won in 2009, Hamilton in 2008, Alonso is a two-time champion (2005 and 2006), and holds the title of being the youngest double champion.

This article examines the motivations of these 5 drivers to secure a win this year, and why this year's title will be just as nail-biting as Lewis' win in 2008. The drivers' current standings before the Singapore GP are in ().

Webber (1st): The oldest driver in contention for this year's Championship at 34 years old, has been the most consistent and has only had 1 retirement so far this season.
Coming back after a serious leg injury, he has risen above the 'perceived' favouritism in his team towards his team-mate to maximise the performance of his RedBull car, and has held onto the lead of the Championship table several times this year. He is ready for his first WDC since his debut in the sport 8 years ago; to be the first Australian winner since Alan Jones 30 years ago, and to proclaim himself as the ACTUAL Number 1 driver in his team.
Potential Record: Third ever Australian WDC, and first Australian winner in 30 years

Hamilton (2nd): Current youngest World Driver Championship (WDC) winner at 23years 300 days, beat Alonso's record of 24years 58 days in 2008. The following year was a year to forget, he just didn't have the car to deliver after the high of 2008.

He is back with a vengenance in 2010. The McLaren car is not the fastest on the track but it has proven to be quite reliable, which has been to Hamilton's advantage. He has been as aggressive as always and he now has a competitive, yet cooperative team-mate in Button to motivate him. Two retirements so far this season, but he admits Monza's could have been avoided.

With both McLaren drivers' contracts ending in 2012 and the team principal already scouting other teams, he needs another WDC win to convince McLaren to extend his contract: not just for his history with the team but because he deserves it.
Potential Record: Third Briton with 'just' 2 WDC titles

Alonso (3rd): is the highest earner in the paddock, reportedly earning 30million euros. Ferrari has entrusted him to revive their dominance in the sport and although the middle of the season was lacklustre, Alonso has remained within touching distance of the RedBull and McLaren drivers all season.

On a personal note, he will be looking for his 3rd title after a near-win in 2007 and several team changes since his last win with Renault.
Potential Record: Youngest three-time WDC winner

Button (4th): First WDC win in 2009 with the superb Brawn car. His move to McLaren has been smooth sailing by all accounts and he is demonstrating that having a different driving style to your team-mate is not necessarily detrimental to your success. He has made terrific tyre choices and set-up decisions, and has shown maturity in this driving and personal life. But some would argue that his passion and determination to win again is muted.

However, a win this year would make him the first Briton to win consecutive WDC. Surely, the prospect of that is worth getting fired up for.
Potential Record: First Briton to win the Championship in consective years.

Vettel (5th): On the other side to the paddock from Mark Webber is the man dubbed "Baby Schumi". Having demonstrated tremendous wet racing skills and being the youngest ever winner of a Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel has won plaudits from everyone in the paddock. However within THIS season, he has made several catastrophic racing errors which have called his skills into question; Turkey and Belgium being the most memorable.

This year is his last hope if he wants to claim Hamilton's record of being the youngest F1 Champion. Vettel will be 23 years 131 days in Abu Dhabi on 12th November which would beat Hamilton's record by 169 days.
Potential Record: Youngest F1 WDC winner

The three other drivers still mathematically in contention are Massa (6th), Kubica (7th) and Rosberg (8th). With the exception of Massa, the other two are undoubtedly outperforming their team-mates in their respective teams; but Nico Rosberg has a bigger challenge on his hands; to demonstrate his skills without being intimidate by his 'legendary' team-mate (the 7-time F1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher) and gain recognition as a talented driver in his own right.

Massa has been the 'unofficial' Number 2 driver for a few years. Although he came close to winning the WDC in 2008, he has a mighty task ahead of him if he wants to win his first title this year, as Ferrari favours his team-mate and are not averse to some overt car-shuffling on the track.

Images from:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lewis Hamilton in India (Madras), Sept 17

Lewis Hamilton is in India today as part of a promotional event for his team-sponsors, Vodafone. The event called "Hot Laps with Lewis Hamilton" will see competition winners get a ride in a SL 63 AMG Mercedes on the Madras Motor Sports Club track with the 2008 F1 Championship winner.

These videos show similar events held at Goodwood in 2007 and at the TopGear track in 2008, so these lucky winners have a fantastic day ahead of them.

Having this much fun in a non-F1 car might just be the remedy Lewis needs for last week's upset at Monza.

More details and Photos to follow....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Alonso wins Italian GP, Webber regains lead in F1 Championship table

The Italian Grand Prix has delivered for the home fans or 'tifosi'. It couldn't have been a better race for the Ferrari team; losing the lead at the start line to Button but Alonso kept close to the McLaren driver and confidently regained the lead by leapfrogging Button with a perfect pitstop.

Massa also held his own to keep his 3rd position and finish on the podium. Webber is the biggest winner from this race being the only leadership contender to collect points in the last 2 races. Webber now has 187 points, 5 clear of his closest rival, Lewis Hamilton, who suffered right front tyre damage early on the race from a collision with Massa and did not finish the race.

Mathematically speaking, two more drivers fall out of the Championship fight ,with 5 races to go to the end of the season - Sutil and Schumacher. This should signal to Mercedes to get behind Schumacher's team-mate, Nico Rosberg, for a fight with the leaders. The top 8 drivers are separated by 79 points, which is just over 3 race wins.

As the F1 circus leaves the last European race of the calendar, RedBulls are poised to dominate in the rest of the races and will be hoping for better luck with their reliability to pick up their first Driver and Constructor's Championship.

Next race Singapore in a fortnight on 24 - 26th September.

(Image from

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hamilton rues F-Duct decision

Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix is complete and Alonso has delighted the "tifosi" by topping the timesheets to claim pole position for his team's home grand prix. His team-mate also gets a good start tomorrow, having qualified 3rd.

However an interesting situation is brewing at the McLaren garage: both drivers decided to have different set-ups for the qualifying season and the results has been significant enough to cause some head-scratching.

Button, the current World Champion, who is the newbie at McLaren, decided to run the 'F-Duct' device during this afternoon's session. The F-Duct, pioneered by McLaren cuts drag and helps with straight-line acceleration. He describes his set-up as having higher downforce (@ 00.56s in this clip).

On the other hand, Hamilton decided to ditch the device, having found no significant advantage over the practice sessions on Friday. This meant his set-up was of a lower downforce than his team-mate's and meant the corners were tricky for him. He would later describe his car as "sliding everywhere".

In Q1, where the slowest 7 drivers are knocked out, Lewis posted a time of 1:22.830, 0.255s faster than Button. In Q2, Button was faster than his team-mate by just 0.04s. In Q3, where the top 10 drivers' starting position for the race tomorrow is decided, Button dramatically increased his gap to Lewis by 0.539seconds!

Button starts in 2nd place tomorrow, while Hamilton starts in fifth. We do not know how much of an effect tyre-choice or the increasing track temperature might have played but it does seem like one side of the McLaren garage will be head-scratching overnight. Nonetheless, the race is tomorrow and we all know how different race day is to the qualifying sessions.

(image from

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Provisional 2011 F1 Calendar

The provisional 20 race calendar for the 2011 season has been released by the FIA. Notable changes are a new venue in India and the swap between Brazil and Abu Dhabi at the end of the season.

13 March - Bahrain
27 March - Australia
10 April - Malaysia
17 April - China
8 May - Turkey
22 May - Spain
29 May - Monaco
12 June - Canada
26 June - Europe
10 July - Great Britain
24 July - Germany
31 July - Hungary
28 August - Belgium
11 September - Italy
25 September - Singapore
9 October - Japan
16 October - Korea
30 October - India*
13 November - Abu Dhabi
27 November - Brazil

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ferrari Team-Order hearing

Ferrari team-order saga will finally be heard by the World Motor Sport Council on Wednesday 8th September after they were accused of orchestrating a win for Alonso, by a coded message to Massa asking him to move aside for his team-mate.

Having already been fined $100,000, there is speculation on what extra penalties they will incur. Some say that Ferrari might be docked their Constructor's Championship points while the drivers retain their points (similar to what happened after McLaren's Spy-gate affair), the drivers could lose their points from that race or Ferrari might get another hefty fine.

If the second option is selected, then this would promote Vettel to pole position (gain 10 points) and the other championship contenders i.e. Hamilton, Button and Webber would also gain several points. The main effect of this would be that:
(a) the gap between 1st and 5th driver in the standings increases from 41 to 72!
(b) Vettel's gap to Hamilton is reduced by 4 points, from 31 to 27
(c) Kubica and Rosberg leapfrog Massa in the standings.

However this is highly unlikely, but Vettel must be hoping for a change in his fortunes to put him back in contention for the Championship this year.

Roll on Wednesday 8th; Ferrari could really do without THIS impetus to perform well at their home-race at the Autodromo di Monza, Italy which is on the weekend after the hearing.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In or Out? Mathematically speaking....

With six races left in the F1 2010 calendar, most teams have already started focusing their design efforts on next year's car as they are mathematically out of the running for the Championship - short of a bizarre deduction of points from the current Championship leaders (the 3 new teams never had a shot, to be honest!).

So those that still have a chance are the top 10 scorers in the table. Although most F1 fans and pundits are concentrating on the top 5 drivers (Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Button and Alonso) seperated by 41 points, given that their teams are still developing THIS year's car and cannot afford to become complacent with the title race.