Friday, December 16, 2011

Why I stopped watching F1

When it was announced that Formula 1 coverage would be shared between BBC and Sky (this corporation will be referred to as S*y in the rest of the article) many fans were outraged to lose part of the previously free-to-air coverage, and even more so when details of the price of S*y Package would cost them. F1 fans would have to pay £45/month for the S*y Sports package or they can get the HD package, which costs an additional £15 a month on top of a basic subscription.

I too am annoyed about this “deal” for two main reasons. Firstly, several Formula 1 fans in the UK already enduring a tough economic crisis, will miss out the coverage from next year due to the relatively high cost of a subscription. Secondly, others who can afford the subscription fee but have a strong dislike of the Murdoch empire, now have no choice on whom to receive the service from.

F1 on TV
I started watching F1 regularly in 2007 on ITV, a terrestrial UK channel. Advertisement-breaks in the middle of exciting races were annoying but one got used to it. Besides, there was no alternative medium and unfortunately no Twitter updates. When BBC took over in 2009, I was pleasantly surprised how much better the coverage was and how the lack of adverts made it a more enjoyable experience.
Pit Lane

After just two years on the BBC, it was announced on 29th of July 2011 that the coverage would be split between the BBC and S*y from 2012 to 2018. I don’t profess to have in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of corporate finance, but I have always disliked Rupert Murdoch and his media empire. This feeling was further compounded by the recent phone hacking enquiry and the resulting closure of News of the World Newspaper.

For those who may not be aware of the link, Murdoch is the founder, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation – the parent company of Fox News, News of the World and it owns 39.1% of BSkyB (which trades as S*y).

Don’t get me wrong, I admire business people and entrepreneurs but I believe that one can thrive in business without resorting to dubious tactics. For instance, I would much rather Richard Branson’s Virgin Media got the rights to broadcast the sport. I like Branson’s enthusiastic and engaging style of business and Virgin Media would be a much better fit to F1 especially since one of its “sister companies” sponsor(ed) a F1 Team (Marussia Virgin – soon to be renamed Marussia).

No doubt S*y will have more resources to keep the sport exciting; with extended coverage, analysis, in-depth discussions and commentary from BBC presenters who have defected. But those are not enough to persuade me to “increase the empire’s revenue”.

So, hard as it may be, I will not be taking out a S*y subscription to watch F1. Nor will I be looking for a pub which has a subscription. Perhaps the experience will be too different without live coverage for entire race calendar and I lose interest in the sport gradually. Or maybe I’ll fall off my “ethical wagon” after a few races and look for S*y footage...... but I would have at least TRIED to stick to my convictions.
Besides the BBC is planning to show highlights of all the races shown on S*y and I’ve got Twitter to keep me updated on the race or better yet, this would be a good reason to get tickets and watch the races live!

Belgian GP, Spa 2009

Hole punch
Those who might miss out on F1 due to affordability of the subscription fee can easily find pubs/sport bars willing to cater to their needs. In fact, @f1inpubs has just been set up to help fans find places showing F1 races, and should encourage fans to meet up regularly to watch and discuss races.

You could punch holes in my decision or stance – you could argue: “why boycott S*y, why not boycott F1 as a whole?” We know it isn’t the fairest or the most ethical sport or business to be engaged in. To that, I’d argue (albeit weakly) that “that ship has sailed” in terms of my love for the sport. Besides, I don’t see anyone else turning their backs on cricket after several “No Balls” allegations or on football for “Diving for Penalties”.

But corruption and phone-hacking is in another league. It is unethical and incredibly voracious of Murdoch’s newspaper journalists to go to such lengths for “exclusive” stories.

This is not meant to be a piece on ethics in F1; but in the near future, it might just explain why I stopped watching F1. I do wonder how many people who were outraged by the News of the World tactics, would happily take out a S*y subscription?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Season Finale and Review

Bloggers, Reporters and Journalists didn’t need much encouragement to use puns such as “close shave” or “smooth run” during the seaon-finale in Brazil despite the event being the anti-climax it was destined to be after the WDC and WCC were decided several races ago. 
Vettel started on pole after breaking Nigel Mansell’s record of most poles in a season on the penultimate session of the season. Though many were quick to point out that he was still trailing Mansell’s record in terms of % poles per races. Hamilton qualified 4th and was beside his team-mate on the grid.

Brazil GP (photo via @F1PaddockPass)

Button lost ground at the start of the race on Sunday, and was soon overtaken by Alonso. He then struggled to keep up with the Ferrari. Vettel was told he had a gearbox problem and had to “short-shift” for the rest of the race. He continued to drive as normal, pulling out a gap on other drivers until he slowed down enough for his team-mate Webber to overtake him. 
Conspiracy theorists then inferred that his gearbox problem was “manufactured” to hand his team-mate the win. Several other drivers suffered gear-box problems; Hamilton had to retire mid way through the race, after a  season he will be in a hurry to forget. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Monza Rally

It is the season-finale of the 2011 Formula 1 season in Brazil and this coincides with Monza Rally in Italy. This event features recently crowned 8-time WRC Champion Sebastian Loeb and MotoGP star Valentino Rossi. I personally have been impressed with Rossi's skills in a 4-wheel vehicle, given that his "true calling" is on 2-wheels.

I posted a comment on Twitter after seeing footage from Monza Rally - saying Rossi should quit MotoGP and do rally full time. To my surprise, Valentino retweeted it to his 265,000 followers. The reaction I got was mostly friendly but some MotoGP fans were very reluctant to entertain the idea of him quitting the 2-wheeler sport. It was not my intention to cause controversy, but Rossi must be happy to know he has passionate fans and supporters whether he chooses to race in 2- or 4-wheel vehicles.

Retweeted by Rossi and 90+ others

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abu Dhabi Experience

Both WDC & WCC Titles are already won and some people have lost interest in the 2011 F1 season so I'm taking a different tack from usual this week.
Instead of writing a regular race review, I have "interviewed" three people that went to Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from different countries. #1 is a "local" from Dubai, #2 is from France and #3 is from the UK. Here are their Abu Dhabi experiences...

Booking Flights and Accomodation
DU: Thankfully I live in Dubai so it was down to driving to the location for each of the days which takes approximately 45 minutes. The one thing that I needed to make sure about was tickets, we went for the full 3-day pass which gave access to the pit walk on the Friday. I have a feeling that the tickets to the Abu Dhabi GP must be the most expensive of the season, we paid just shy of AED2000 ($545) for the Marina Grandstand. 
FR: 480€ for return flights. I had booked 15 days before the event + 680€ with taxes for 6 nights in appart-hotel at AD center, I booked 1 month ago
UK: I didn't have a budget and I booked everything in August

On arrival in Abu Dhabi...
DU: Temperature was wonderful this time around, better than 2009 which I had also attended and was a lot warmer. The best way to describe the weather is as a western summer with temps around the 30 degrees celsius during the day and the 20s in the evening.
The food quality was good but the menu was very limited, you had the option of hotdog, shwarma, burger, falafel, pies and that’s about it really in terms of hot food. There are food stands all over the race venue but they all carried the same menu, you did have additional stands for frozen yogurt,
crepes and ice cream.

FR: I landed in the rain! But it was hot and I was very welcomed by the locals. Plenty of food choices too: Italian, local, Asian, Mexican...and more. 
UK: Locals were friendly and very organised (both at airport and hotel). Temperature was fab (nice and waaarrrmm. Plenty of fast food / snack food stalls around. But variety was very poor - just fatty fast food. You could go out to the nearby hotels for food but that was a little inconvenient.

Race Day
Track Atmosphere
DU: I sat with a few friends from South Africa, had some other friends all scattered across the various stands. The atmosphere was great, you can see when there are new people to F1 around and how they react when they see the cars for the first time. Most of the grand stands seemed rather busy.
The commentary was a mix of both English and Arabic, a good combination to suit the UAE. As with F1 it is hard to hear the commentators when the race is going, but for the race day I was listening to the radio frequency 102.2FM with headphones so I could keep more informed.
FR: There was a mix, the Brits, Locals, Italians, Indians...I was in a hospitality suite above the stands, then to the Paddock Club. The atmosphere was special, really beautiful by differents light around the track, but it remains superficial...lot of people were not there for F1, just for to show their "argent"! Not really was a "Paddock Club mood" :( 
UK: I was with a mixture of all sorts (friends I was with / Brits / Germans / other nationalities / some locals). Great mood and atmosphere

Impressive Cars at 'Twilight' 
DU: Have to say the look of McLaren once the sun had set and the lights were on that awesome paint work, is by far the best-looking car there. 
The race was better than last year as there was some overtaking, but many attempts were reverted in the 2nd DRS zone as drivers were too eager to pass at the first opportunity without considering that there was a 2nd zone where the driver just been overtaken would be passed again. It seems like they did not consider that and possibly the main reason for the negative comments from some of the drivers about overtaking at Yas. 
I found it amazing how Vettel had such bad luck, but my orange McLaren Shirt came to use as they took 1st and 3rd on the day, well done boys!!!!
FR: [Same here] McLaren

Post Race Entertainment
DU: One of the greatest added benefits to the Abu Dhabi F1 weekend is that you get free access to all the concerts that are been held, this time around it was Britney Spears on Friday, Incubus and The Cult on Saturday and Sir Paul McCartney on Sunday. The concert venue is wonderful and within a few hundred meters of the North Grand Stand. I must say the number of staff that they have on hand for crowd control and transportation truly is impressive and allows for a smooth running event. 

Would you recommend the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
DU: Definitely, there is a lot of talk of it being one of the best organized events on the calendar, sadly I won't be able to confirm that as it is the only event that I have been too. I must say though that it is very well organized, with traffic control and crowd control been great. You hardly feel like you are waiting anywhere for a long time. Also with the added benefits of the concerts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can make a great weekend of it.
FR: Yes, I would recommend it because it is a beautiful experience. The place is beautiful but you have to go to the center of Abu Dhabi for more fun and visit, or while Dubai is 1 hour drive from Yas.
UK: Yes, definitely!!!!

Any negatives?
DU: Unfortunately, lack of FanVision was a problem, we had a bad angle to a screen and could only pick it up with binoculars to see what the positions where. Definitely need to get those Kangaroo TV/Fanvision for next time. That’s one way to be completely informed the whole time.
UK: Sadly there was no "track invasion" after the race (unlike at Spa, where fans can pour onto the track)

So there you have it. Abu Dhabi GP is well worth visiting; track facilities are good and well organised and the racing is... well, ....improving. Thanks to the contributors for sharing their experiences and photos. If you would like more information about this event, please leave a comment or tweet @duskyblogF1, @VGSears or @sonia_maalem.
SPECIAL MESSAGE: If in Abu Dhabi next year, some team wants to show my dad and myself in for his 60th birthday, then please tweet @VGSears. 

Photos are by @VGSears.

Friday, November 11, 2011

1st Poll Results

Following an article about Hamilton's performance against his team-mates, I conducted a poll on how Hamilton would perform this season, and these are the results.

Will Hamilton finish with more points than his team-mate in 2011?

Total Votes: 50

Yes, he has always out-performed his team-mates
  12 (24%)
No, he has made too many mistakes this year
  23 (46%)
Maybe but it'll be close
  15 (30%)

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 Season Review Cards

In preparation for the end of the season, I've invited my Twitter and Twitpic followers to submit Season Review cards for drivers. These "cards" are created by selecting options from 4 columns to describe different drivers' 2011 season.

For example: Massa: A, b, 7, vi
Objective: Beat my team-mate
Satisfied with Performance?: No, not at all
Areas to improve on: Avoid that Silver and Red car
Rate your season: 4/10

To see the Season Review cards already submitted, click here for my Twitpic page.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Indian GP: Qualifying

Narain Karthikeyan replaces Tonio Liuzzi in the HRT to be the only Indian on track for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. In the drop out zone after Q1 were KOB, KOV, TRU, RIC, KAR, DAM, GLO. 

Solo Indian at inaugural Indian Grand Prix

Out of Q2 were: PET, MSC, DIR, MAL, SEN, BAR, PER and the top 10 were VET, HAM, WEB, ALO, BUT, MAS, ROS, SUT, BUE, ALG.

The Indian Grand Prix starting grid looks like this after penalties have been applied:
Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Button, Hamilton (3 place grid drop), Rosberg, Sutil, Buemi, Alguersuari, Schumacher, di Resta, Maldonado, Senna, Barichello, Petrov (5 place grid drop), Kobayashi, Kovalainen, Trulli, Perez (3 place grid drop), D'Ambrosio, Riccardo, Karthikeyan (5 place grid drop), Glock.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Inaugural Indian Grand Prix: Preview

As one of the fastest growing economies of the world and a sport-loving country, it is no surprise that India is the latest country to host a Formula 1 Grand Prix, the pinnacle of motorsport. There is already a huge amount of interest in Formula 1 in India; from the sale of Spyker to Force India (headed by Vijay Mallya of the Kingfisher Group), two Indian drivers (Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan) and an Indian-born Monisha Kaltenborn being the CEO of Sauber F1 team.

Preparations began for this momentous event began several years ago and there has been several promotional events to get the locals 'buzzing with excitement'. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Daniel Ricciardo (HRT/Toro Rosso) are two drivers who have recently participated in sponsor promo days in Banglalore and Delhi.

Ricciardo in India

Several Twitter accounts including @IndianGPF1 and @IndianGP have been updating fans of the event and regular photos have been posted by locals. Demo cars have been on display at Delhi airport for several weeks; the Force India car proving popular as it seems to have been 'harassed by fans' as this photo from @abrahamRohan shows it being held together by superglue!

F.India demo car stuck together with superglue
RedBull/Toro Rosso test driver Neel Jani (a Swiss of Indian descent) drove on the Buddh International Circuit a few days before the press and drivers arrived (see video below).

Video by NextgenAutoVideos

Track Preparations
Just 19 days ago, the track looked like this. The first wave of foreign visitors to the track have not been complimentary about the facilities, but teething problems are not uncommon on new tracks.

Video by PropertyWala

But the work is almost finished and @5LiveF1 posted these photos on Wednesday 26th October 2011.

Pit Lane (photo by @5LiveF1)
Safety Car Indian GP (photo by @5LiveF1)

Indian(s) on Track
Narain Karthikeyan (Indian driver) will replace Vitantonio Liuzzi for HRT, but unfortunately he'll be the only Indian on track during Sunday's race as Team Lotus decided NOT to let their Indian reserve driver and a big promoter of the Indian Grand Prix, Karun Chandhok race - to the dismay of several fans and F1 pundits. He will however participate in Friday's Practice session.

More details and photos to come soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Korean GP: Race Summary

Lewis Hamilton started from pole position but he lost the lead to recently crowned Double World Drivers Champion, Sebastian Vettel by the fourth corner of the first lap. A collision between Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher on lap 18 caused the deployment of the Safety car and the cars 'bunched' up behind Vettel.

However at the restart, Vettel retained the lead and Lewis Hamilton spent the second half of the race fighting to fend off Webber and stay in 2nd place. A final-lap overtake by Alguersuari on Rosberg (who seemed to be running out of fuel) bagged the young Spaniard 7th place and the accolade of "Driver of the Day". Paul di Resta was the only rookie to score points in this race.

Winner's Trophy (photo by @leeStevo1)
The top three drivers were Vettel, Hamilton and Webber. RedBull's 1st and 3rd clinched them their 2nd World Constructor's Championship and two weekends of partying. Hamilton seemed content (he only managed a wry smile) to have finished 2nd and ahead of his team-mate, and even managed a quip at the start of his interview with BBC's Lee McKenzie.

Petrov got a 5-place grid drop and a reprimand for his collision with Schumacher. See Stewards' press release here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Korean GP: Qualifying

Both Friday practice sessions were in the wet but Saturday morning was dry and gave the drivers a better indicator of their true pace.

Korean GP (photo from @MyTeamLotus)

Out after Q1 were Barrichello, Kovalainen, Trulli, Glock, D'Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Ricciardo. Ricciardo did not set a time as his car developed a problem before Qualifying.

In the second Qualifying session, Alguersuari, Schumacher, Buemi, Kobayashi, Senna, Maldonado, Perez qualified 11th to 18th, leaving Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Button, Massa, Alonso, Rosberg, Petrov, Sutil and Di Resta to fight for the top 10 places.

Fight for top 10 resulted in this order for tomorrow's race: Hamilton (1:35.820s), Vettel, Button, Webber, Massa, Alonso, Rosberg, Petrov, Di Resta and Sutil. 

Top 3 drivers at Korean GP (photo by @thefifthDriver)

Vettel is not in the middle (photo by @thefifthDriver)

Hamilton breaks RedBull streak of pole positions and this is on the weekend his team celebrates their 700th Grand Prix. Hope a race win tomorrow can finally bring a smile to his face. Goodness knows, he needs a great deal of a morale boost.

Addendum: Sebastian Vettel took a shortcut while racing back to the pits in preparation for a last run in Q3. The stewards ruled that no penalty would be applied since he started with 17 seconds before end of session. See photo below for Stewards' ruling.

Stewards Ruling (photo from @F1Kate)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Alternative Definitions in F1

In preparation for the lull in the F1 season, I have decided to create ‘An Alternative F1 Dictionary’ inspired by a game on my favourite BBC Radio comedy show ‘I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' (ISIHAC). The game is often called the 'Uxbridge English Dictionary', Twitter hashtag #ued.

"Yes, I said 'Destroy' but I meant it in a nice way"
Just a bit of information for those who don’t know about this game; you take an English word and find a different humorous definition for it, based on its pronounciation. Examples can be found on this ISIHAC fan site and this one, and a small sample is provided here:

GHOULISH (n): A little bit Goulash
CIRCUMSPECT (n): Point of view of a Rabbi
FLATULENCE (n): An emergency vehicle that picks you up after you’ve been run over by a steam-roller
CELIBATE (n): A Virgin fish
WALLABY (n): Someone aspiring to be a kangaroo
DENTIST (n): Guy who fixes your car

So this got me thinking about an "Alternative F1 Dictionary" and if you would like to submit words used in F1 (or Driving in general), which can be defined in a different way.

General rules:
  • It must be an English word related to F1 or Driving
  • Its definition may or may not be related to F1 or Driving
  • The new definition must be humorous and non-offensive
  • Where possible, include links or videos to quotes or a possible use of the word in a sentence 
      We have about 5 months before the start of next season, so please send in as many words as you wish. The best will be selected and will appear on my blog and reTweeted if the author is on Twitter. Post them as comments on this page or use hashtag #aF1D so I can find your entries on Twitter.

      Example of F1/Driving Alternative Definitions are:

      TARMAC (n): Scottish Gratitude
      HYDRAULICS (n): To conceal the things that you rest your oars in
      PISTON (n): Humiliated
      INTERCONTINENTAL (n): One who has wet themselves all over the world

      First entry is from @andrewdobbUK: DESTROY (v) - to like and get close to
      A good one from @angryshopMan: RACIST- someone who hates racing
      One from me @duskyblogF1: MANOEUVRE (v) 
      Another from @elenaF1: WHEELNUT (n)
      Smelly one from @duskyblogF1: PITSTOP (n)
      Drag Reduction System: removing dresses and make-up from drivers' luggage
      Pole Position - wherever Robert Kubica is 
      CROFTY - a cunning attempt to imitate 'Tomb Raider'
      Alguersuari - what Sean Connery would call a party for algae
      Qualifying - what F1 bosses do when they think they've said something they shouldn't.
      Q1/Q2/Q3 - where you wait at airports for check-in, baggage checking and the airport gate respectively.
      Overtaking (1) - when out of a whole group, one person ate all the pies.
      Overtaking (2) - default state of powerful money-orientated people.
      Rev Limiter: A bouncer at the local church (by @duskyBlogF1) 
      Drive Through - what Massa does to Hamilton and vice-versa (by @duskyBlogF1)
      Traction - "Repulsion" (i.e. Not At-traction) (by @duskyBlogF1)
      Supervisor (n) - On front of super crash helmet (by @TomFoxTom)

      Wings - What RedBull claims to give you, but RedBullracing never will (to their competitors!)

      A bit odd - Rubbish e.g. Karun Chandhok: "The pit exit (Korean GP) is a bit odd"
      Chassis and Spare Chassis: Wife and Mistress e.g. "The chassis was looking a bit tired so I took the spare chassis out for a spin"
      I give up - as said by Fernando Alonso at penultimate lap of 2011 Korean GP means "Don't you f***ing dare leave me behind Felipe again" by @F1Zone
      Headwind (n): The breaking point of a relationship

      Sunday, October 9, 2011

      Japanese GP: Race Summary (Vettel wins 2nd WDC)

      Fireworks and Champagne greets Vettel in Japan, as he became the youngest ever Double World Champion. He finished in 3rd position behind Button and Alonso, scoring 14 points more than what he required to secure the title.
      In 2010, Vettel took Hamilton's title of being youngest ever WDC and this year, Alonso's youngest double WDC record has been broken by almost a year (Vettel is 24 years and 98 days today).

      Vettel already holds the record for being the youngest polesitter at 21 years, 72 days old when he qualified in first place for the 2008 Italian Grand Prix and for being the youngest WDC runners-up. According to German publication Bild, Vettel will receive a £5million pound bonus for winning his 2nd title.

      As the lights went out, Vettel moved right to cover Button's brilliant start and pushed the McLaren driver onto the grass. This gave Hamilton some room to to move up close to Vettel and he held 2nd position until a slow puncture forced him to pit for new tyres. Button later regained 1st place during the pit stop phase.

      Massa and Hamilton had a coming together which resulted in parts of the Brazilian's Ferrari to break off but the stewards decided not to investigate the incident further. Clearing up this debris resulted in a Safety car deployment and Button managed the snake of cars behind him skillfully.

      There was only one retirement of the race; Sebastian Buemi's tyres were not fitted properly and he had to retire. Rosberg who started from 23rd and had his full tyre allocation at his disposal, drove well to finish 10th.

      Top 10 drivers were: BUT, ALO, VET, WEB, HAM, MSC, MAS, PER, PET, ROS.

      Saturday, October 8, 2011

      Japanese GP: Qualifying

      Japanese Qualifying had some elements of surprise but not for who got pole position. McLaren's Hamilton found some good pace that he didn't have during Practice sessions. Jenson had been fastest in Friday practice and seemed at ease at his 'second home Grand Prix'.

      Nico Rosberg's car developed a hydraulics failure and he starts tomorrow's race in 23rd position. The general concensus in the paddock was that Hamilton had the pace for pole position but an 'misjudgement' error meant he didn't make it to the start/finish line in time to put in a lap-time which could have toppled Vettel off pole position. Button's qualifying time was 9/1000th off Vettel's pole lap time of 1min 30.466.

      Top 3 Qualifiers (photo from

      Top 10 drivers were: VET, BUT, HAM, MAS, ALO, WEB, KOB*, MSC, SEN, PET. 

      *Kobayashi (the only remaining Japanese driver on the grid) was 'promoted' to 7th place even though he didn't set a time but because he had started a flying lap by the time the chequered flag fell.Click here for the rules on Qualifying rules for drivers who don't set a time.

      Vettel just needs one point to win the 2011 World Drivers Championship but the McLaren drivers will try their utmost to delay the Red Bull celebrations as much as possible and to take the World Constructors Championship down to the wire.

      Wednesday, October 5, 2011

      Byte Blog: BadgerGP Debate

      I submitted a response to @BadgerGP's 'Scrutineering Bay' feature on their website. Here is the piece I wrote which is currently on their website too.

      "Would Lewis be beating Seb if both were at Red Bull?"

      The short answer is UNEQUIVOCALLY YES.

      The long answer is most teams adopt a 'split strategy' i.e. sign two drivers with different driving styles, run different strategies with tyre choices etc to cover most eventualities and maximise their 'success rate'. 

      I think Vettel and Hamilton have quite similar driving styles and although both of them at Red Bull sounds like an interesting prospect, it will probably never come to be.

      Nonetheless if Hamilton was at RBR in a car designed by Newey, he would have THE best car on the grid. Compared to Vettel, I'd say he is marginally more aggressive in seizing opportunities to overtake but he'd be doing very little of that since he'd be qualifying on pole. Both drivers are skilled in wet conditions but Hamilton has a slight edge on Vettel, as the following video demonstrates...
      Japanese Grand Prix, 2007

      So their relative performance would come down to their Race Starts and Tyre Management. Tyre Management is considered by most as Hamilton's weakness but his race starts are fairly good.

      So with all this considered, I'd say Lewis would be beating Sebastian but the gap wouldn't be as big as the chasm between Vettel and Webber at the moment!

      Sunday, October 2, 2011

      Drivers' Meeting at Suzuka

      Given Lewis Hamilton's several issues this season, it is unsurprising that some drivers feel his driving is too aggressive and that he could be a danger to them. One of those drivers is Felipe Massa who had some 'choice words' for Hamilton after the Singapore Grand Prix (click here for articles [1] [2] [3]).

      Also, Italian blog "Autosprint" and the BBC website reported that Formula 1 drivers had called a meeting with Charlie Whiting in Suzuka to discuss Hamilton's driving. According to F1 blogger Kate Walker, (from girlRacer and, these meetings are not uncommon but there is a lot of attention on this one because it will be about an exciting yet controversial driver.

      I tweeted Heikki Kovalainen to enquire if all drivers would attend this meeting and the Finn (a straight-talking driver who regularly interacts with his followers and fans on Twitter) replied to say: 
      "I'm not, I have no problem" - click here for Twitter quote
      RacingNewsFlash website also reported his remarks (Finnish website).

      Heikki speaks his mind
      If this meeting does go ahead, it would be interesting to know what 'recommendations' - if any - the race director makes to Hamilton and his team, even though Hamilton has repeatedly declared that he has no intention of changing the way he drives.

      Addendum (4th October 2011):
      James Allen spoke on TalkSport about this 'meeting'. Listen to the interview here (courtesy of @iamlewis4fake)

      Tuesday, September 27, 2011

      Lewis in India

      Lewis Hamilton was to India on Tuesday after the Singapore Grand Prix for a Vodafone India promotional event. Given the great turn out (40,000 spectators) it would have been a great distraction from his 'tussle' with a Brazilian on Sunday.

      Lewis Hamilton in India

      From Bengaluru, photo by @thefifthDriver

      Video of an interview with Indian TV

      Fan video (apologies for poor quality)

      Monday, September 26, 2011

      Singapore GP: Race Summary

      First the 'vanilla' news: Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix and needs just 1 more point to clinch his second World Drivers' Championship. Button came second and Webber finished in third place. There was only 1 Safety car deployment after an ambitious (read: unnecessary) overtake attempt by Schumacher on Perez.

      Vettel tires of finger-pointing (photo from
      Now for the 'tastier' stuff: Lewis Hamilton clipped his front wing on Felipe Massa's wheel while justling for position and both required a visit to the pits for repairs. This incident resulted in a drive-through penalty for Hamilton. The Brit eventually visited the pit-lanes 5 times during the race and made several overtakes to finish 5th. Massa on the other hand, finished in 9th place and made his feelings about the Hamilton incident clear for all to see by interrupting Hamilton's interview saying “Good job, man, well done” with a sarcastic thumbs-up.

      Video by SixtyBuckss

      Other notable drives were by Paul Di Resta (6th position), whose rookie year continues to impress everyone in the paddock and Heikki Kovalainen (Team Lotus) who finished ahead of a Lotus-Renault. Sweet revenge against the team his is currently embroiled in a legal battle with.

      More 'tastier' stuff, albeit strange was Anthony Hamilton's comments about his son's management (XIX Entertainment) and their non-appearance at his races. It is understood that he said: 
      “You look up and down the pit lane and every driver, except for Lewis, has a driver-manager in his life, not people from a company". “I am sure his management are very good – I don’t know – but Formula One drivers need people personally involved in the driver’s lives because it is a big pressure" - Interview by Tom Cary
      Vettel may have won the race at Singapore but another driver is dominating newspaper's columns. 

      For more photos and a fan's experience of the Singapore Grand Prix, check out @nicolaheartsF1's blog and Please continue to vote in my poll on the right-hand tool bar.

      Sunday, September 18, 2011

      Hamilton versus... (II)

      Most people admit Lewis Hamilton is an interesting and exciting driver. His aggressive driving style has been his trademark since his debut year (2007) and has provided viewers with exciting races even though some of his overtaking moves have not been successful. Nonetheless, to date, Hamilton has constantly out-performed his team-mates. 

      An article I wrote in October 2010 (Hamilton versus...) shows a graph with Hamilton's performance against all his team-mates since 2007 (his debut year) i.e. Alonso, Kovalainen and Button. (Hamilton eventually finished 26 points ahead of Button in 2010).

      Relative Performance of Hamilton against his team-mates

      By the 2011 season, Hamilton's current team-mate, Jenson Button admitted that he is more comfortable with his technical team and even his car seat has been customised for him. And recently, he has been doing better than Hamilton on the track, prompting pundits to comment that Hamilton is now playing second fiddle* at McLaren. A very public 'chat' with another team principal has also added weight to the idea that Hamilton is no longer happy at McLaren. Perhaps frustrated by Ron Dennis's replacement's approach to design developments?

      After the Italian Grand Prix (a race at which a more aggressive Button pull off an overtake on Michael Schumacher, that a seemingly more conservative Hamilton could not manage), it is looking more probable that Lewis Hamilton will lose his crown as the 'leading driver at McLaren'. Also, as things stand Vettel already has a finger on the 2011 WDC trophy and this season might be the first one Hamilton is not in mathematical contention for the champioship by the last race. So one wonders;
      • is this the beginning of a downward spiral in terms of his future F1 performance, given that alternative options for him are limited i.e. other championship winning teams like RedBull and Ferrari are unlikely to sign him for various reasons, OR
      • if he is out-performed in 2011, will that be the impetus he needs to buck up and come back stronger and drive a more calculated race in 2012, perhaps tempering his naturally aggressive style to increase his chances of succeeding and possibly winning another WDC?
      I would appreciate your participation in the poll running on this blog and your comments on this blog article. 

      *second fiddlen - someone who serves in a subordinate capacity or plays a secondary role

      Monday, September 12, 2011

      Italian GP: Race Summary

      For me, these three words describe the 2011 Italian Grand Prix:  
      Unfortunate: for Rosberg and Petrov who didn't get the chance to complete a lap of the race. They retired due to a collision caused by Liuzzi.
      Agonising: Lewis Hamilton got stuck behind Schumacher for several laps and had to cope with illegal defensive moves from the German. He lost a place to his team-mate and had an unsuccessful last-lap attempt to overtake Alonso to gain a podium place.
      Emotional: Bruno Senna scored his first F1 WDC points in his newly acquired seat in Lotus-Renault and the Senna name makes an apperance on the points board for the first time in 18 years.

      Alonso had a great start which delighted the Ferrari 'tifosi'. Both McLarens were sluggish off the line and they dropped several places at start. Liuzzi's crash within a few minutes of race-start brought out the safety car, and at the re-start, Schumacher got ahead of Hamilton. And there began the British driver's race woes.

      Loyal Tifosi in Ferrari red (photo by @ilariaF1)
      Hamilton (running 5th) was 'stuck' behind a relatively evenly-paced Mercedes of Schumacher (4th) and because of the scarcity of braking zones at Monza, there weren't many opportunities to harvest energy for KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System). 
      Schumacher had to be 'reminded' by his team-boss to leave enough room for the Brit and while trying to make a pass past the German, Hamilton lost 4th place to his team-mate, Button.

      Hamilton eventually made it past Schumacher several laps later (by which time the leading pack had built a decent gap to the rest of the field), and almost chased down Alonso in the last few laps. He finally crossed the line in 4th place - to the delight of the tifosi - who were happy to see a Ferrari driver on the podium.

      Italian GP Podium (photo via
      Hamilton refrained from commenting on the Schumacher incident and just seemed content and grateful just to finish a race after his latest run of bad luck

      Video from Sixtybuckss YouTube Channel (via

      Top 10 drivers: VET, BUT, ALO, BUT, SCH, MAS, ALG, DIR, SEN, BUE.

      Notable Drives
      Of the rookies, Di Resta was the only one to score points, finishing in 7th place. Kovalainen equalled his best finish of 13th and both Toro Rosso drivers finished in points-scoring positions, having started from 16th (Buemi) and 18th (Alguersuari). My drivers of the day were Alguersuari and Di Resta.

      Saturday, September 10, 2011

      Italian GP: Qualifying (Italiano)

      Formula Uno ritorna a Monza questa fine settimana, una citta nel nord dall'Italia. Forse la prima gara di secco per un po, cosi le il passo dei piloti e le scelte di gomma avra' un grande ruolo per decidere i risultati. 
      Italian GP Paddock (foto di @VoxVocis)
      Il weekend è iniziato con 'cambergate' e dopo il FIA ha forzata un regola per il camber di gomme di 3.25°, perche RedBull hanno soffrire eccessivamente alla gara scorsa.

      Nella prima parte della sessione di qualifiche, Trulli è stato il primo piloto di uscire sulla pista di Monza. I soliti sospetti di RBR, McLaren e Ferrari hanno scambiati il tempo migliore ed è stata una bandiera gialla per "l'escursione" di Pastor Maldonado. I piloti che non passato dal sessione seconda era Alguersuari, Trulli, Kovalainen, Glock, D'Ambrosio, Ricciardo, Liuzzi.
      Nel Q2, il tempo migliore di 1min22.914 è stata fissato dal pilota Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel (nessuna sorpresa). Di Resta, Sutil, Barrichello, Maldonado, Perez, Buemi, Kobayashi sono i piloti nel posizione 11° al 18°. Di Resta (il pilota di Force India) appena perso il posizione 10° da Bruno Senna, che continua di mostrare buono ritmo di qualifica, dopo la sostituzione di Nick Heidfeld nella squadra di Lotus-Renault.
      Bruno Senna (foto di RM)
      Ferrari è stata la prima squadra fuori nel Q3 e sono arrivato da applausi dei tifosi. Ogni piloti sembrava essere alla cerca di altri piloti per un 'tow'. Ma alle fine, Vettel preso pole position dal Hamilton. Altri piloti nella Top 10 sono Button, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Petrov, Schumacher, Rosberg and Senna.
      McLaren Pitwall (
      Primi tre piloti per Italian GP (foto di BBC Website)
      I tifosi spera un vittoria della Ferrari ed entrambi piloti alla posizione 4° (Alonso) e 6° (Massa) cerchera tutto per non deludere i tifosi adoranti.

      Italian GP: Qualifying

      Apologies for missing out the Belgian Grand Prix, but F1 returns to the northern Italian town of Monza this weekend. Possibly the first dry race for a while so drivers' race pace and tyre choices will play a big role in deciding the results. 
      Italian GP Paddock (photo by @VoxVocis)
      The weekend started with 'cambergate' after which FIA enforced a tyre camber setting of 3.25° after RedBull's tyres blistered excessively in the last race.

      The first part of Qualifying session Q1 saw Trulli first to step out onto the Monza track. The usual suspects of RBR, McLaren and Ferrari swapped places at the top of the timesheets and the session was momentarily yellow-flagged due to Pastor Maldonado's excursion. Drivers who dropped out after Q1 were Alguersuari, Trulli, Kovalainen, Glock, D'Ambrosio, Ricciardo, Liuzzi. 

      In Q2, the best time of 1min22.914 was set by (no surprise) Red Bull driver, Sebastian Vettel. Drivers who didn't make it into Q3 were di Resta, Sutil, Barrichello, Maldonado, Perez, Buemi, Kobayashi. Di Resta was knocked out of Q3 in the last few seconds of the session by Bruno Senna, who continues to show great qualifying pace after replacing Nick Heidfeld in the Lotus-Renault team.
      Bruno Senna (photo by RM)
      Ferrari was the first car out in Q3 in the 10-minute session and were greated by loud applause from the fans. Every driver seemed to be seeking out other drivers to derive a tow from. But eventually, Vettel took pole position from Hamilton. Other drivers making the Top 10 are Button, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Petrov, Schumacher, Rosberg and Senna.

      McLaren Pitwall (
      Top Three Drivers for Italian GP (photo from BBC Website)
      The Italian fans (tifosi) will be hoping for a win by Ferrari and both drivers starting from 4th (Alonso) and 6th (Massa) will try all they can not to disappoint the adoring fans.

      Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Guest Blog on 'Inconsistent Penalties'

      Entire article and data/graphs are guest blogger's own words. @saltireF1,   

      During the search for bloggers and hosts for the Summer Swap Shop, Duskyblogger mentioned that he was interested in “someone else’s view of inconsistent penalties in F1” so, eager to please, I thought I’d have a go at making some sense of the statistics. 

      I’ve blogged on penalty statistics for the 2008 and 2009 seasons before but here was a chance to bring the results up to date. There is however a problem with this years’ statistics; normally the FIA put details of every steward’s decision on their website after the race but this season they haven’t routinely been updating them. I note penalties as they occur during the race and check the motorsports news sites for details of incidents I might have missed. As a result, the 2011 statistics may not be 100% accurate but all “Drive Throughs” and “Stop and Gos” are recorded.

      The statistics here are slightly simplified, I’ve not included disqualifications (because they are so rare), grid drops for gearbox changes or penalties for speeding in the pitlane during free practice sessions. I’ve confined the analysis to 4 categories: Stop and Go, Drive Through, Grid Drop and Reprimands; penalties that add 20 or 25 seconds post race to the elapsed time have been classified as Drive Through. The statistics here cover the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons’ plus the eleven races held so far this year, a total of 65 races. We should bear in mind that the composition of the stewards’ panel has changed over recent years, gone is the permanent steward (and assistants) and in their place we currently have a driver steward and a combination of national and international stewards... so much for internal consistency and just one of the reasons that makes comparisons difficult.

      If you look at averaged data (the number of penalties per season divided by the number of races that year) it’s obvious that the predominant type of penalty has changed over the four years; Drive Through’s have increased year on year (more than doubling this year) whilst Reprimands, which followed a similar pattern until 2010 seem to have been replaced by the harsher Drive Through penalty. Grid drops’ have also reduced this year, so what could account for the changes? The obvious candidates are that more incidents are being sent to the stewards for investigation and/or the data they have available to them has changed. The latest FIA In Motion magazine gives details of new Racewatch monitoring software available to Race Control so that may help to explain some of the recent changes. The full list of penalties for each of the categories can be found here and they do make interesting reading, but they can they give us any information about inconsistency between teams?

      This is a difficult question to answer but looking at the top three teams (Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari) McLaren drivers have received the most Drive Through penalties, with 11 compared with 5 each for Red Bull and Ferrari. I’ve included a summary table for those three teams, blue for Red Bull, red for Ferrari and grey for McLaren drivers, Kovalainen who drove for McLaren in 08-09, Raikkonen (Ferrari 08-09) and Coulthard (Red Bull 08) also appear in the table with the appropriate colour for their years’ of service.

      Surprisingly, none of the top three teams have accrued Stop and Go penalties; McLaren drivers have 4 Grid Drop penalties between them whilst the other teams have none. For Reprimands, Red Bull have 5, McLaren 5 and once again, Ferrari have none.

      So, on the face of it there is inconsistency in the number of penalties applied. Yes, Lewis Hamilton has gained the most penalties across the various categories than any other driver. Is that to do with some sort of inherent bias in the stewarding process or is it simply a case of a driver who simply pushes his car and his chances to the maximum, intent on gaining every single tenth of a second he can within the rules? I’d suggest that it’s the latter and that it’s within his game plan to push to the maximum and to expect a few penalties along the way, he’s said as much in response to criticism of his aggressive driving style. Sometimes the dice will fall in his favour and sometimes not but he has to try and we the fans are richer for his involvement, rule breaking or not.

      My aim was to present to you the basic statistics and to leave the interpretation of the results to you, the reader. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.