As the sun sets on the glorious track at Abu Dhabi, we are left to dissect the events which have shaped the drivers and constructors championship.  Kimi Raikkonen secured the first win in a Lotus car since 1987 and the first since his comeback in a grand prix full of incident and tension. 

The race quickly descended into a demolition derby with the list of casualties increasing with each laps. Charles Pic, Romain Grosjean, Narin Karthikeyan, Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber. The track looked more reminiscent of a debris field as we saw two separate safety cars. Narain narrowly escaped being decapitated by the soaring wreckage that was Rosberg's Mercedes.

Williams put in a good performance with both Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna finishing in the top ten, fifth and eighth respectively, securing valuable constructors points for the team. Sebastian picked his way through the field to collect third from a start in the pit lane. His team mate fared less well and after a slow start, a team order ignored which led to a mis placed pit stop and an incident fueled race, he retired after being embroiled in the three way tangle between DiResta, Perez and Grosjean. His retirement meant that Red Bull would have to wait to seal the deal on the Constructors Championship.
A faultless Hamilton retired early on due to mechanical issues putting the final nail in the coffin of his championship hopes. Team mate Jenson maneuvered himself up into third but lost out with only a few laps to go to finish fourth.
Fernando Alonso now remains as the only driver who can dash Vettel's title hopes with two races remaining. He took second but couldn't catch Kimi, who put in a perfect performance to take the top spot in an excitement filled grand prix. 

04/11/12 image copyright - http://kaw.stb.s-msn.com/i/BF/128978957A131D5C3996EFBE2B27E6.jpg

"I was just trying to avoid any contact - it didn't work. It was a stupid crash."

Those were the words echoed by Lotus driver Romain Grosjean as he defended himself against the criticism after being involved in yet another first lap incident this time at the Japanese Grand Prix.

 Romain, who is rapidly becoming more recognizable as the first driver to be banned for a race since Schumacher in 1994 rather than his driving ability, can now add a stop/go penalty to his ever increasing rap sheet. He was slapped with the penalty after the stewards reviewed his crash with Mark Webber.

 

 An incensed Webber raged that ‘The guys confirmed that it was the first-lap nutcase again — Grosjean, and added that ‘The rest of us are trying to fight for some decent results each weekend but he is trying to get to the third corner as fast as he can at every race’ before suggesting an appropriate solution - ‘One start for him and one for the rest of us’

 

The Australian started second on the grid and after the contact was relegated to the pits and rejoined from the back of the grid. He pulled in a strong performance to finish in ninth but it’s a far cry from the front of the grid. One must wonder whether he has perhaps been placed in f1 to assist in spicing up the championship table as he has had a hand in shaping the championship leaders by drastically affecting their races. Others simply described it as “Classic Grosjean” [Martin Whitmarsh]

 Of the fourteen races in the 2012 season so far he has caused or been directly involved in nine incidents, seven of which occurred within the first lap. Surely now it’s time to take a long hard look at his credibility on the grid. His talent is under no question but what is seems to be his reactions and instinct on the start line. He received his one race ban for causing a chain reaction when he hit Lewis Hamilton and ricocheted into Fernando Alonso, dragging Sergio Perez into the carnage.

 I remember not so long ago when calls were heard for tougher measures to curb reckless drivers, at the time the driver with a target on his back was Pastor Maldonado. The ban for Grosjean seemed to give Pastor a wake up call but Romain either isn’t capable at negotiating his car through the tussle or isn’t willing to curb it. Either way, it poses a dangerous situation for the other drivers on the grid.

Now Webber isn’t exactly Mr Tact but he does have a valid argument and he’s not alone. Hamilton managed to bite his tongue after his race ruining incident in Spa but others were very vocal about this distaste for the 26 year olds driving style. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domencali, upon reflection of the incident called for more stringent action on young drivers coming up through Formula One’s feeder series.

“In my view, the most important thing is looking at the behavior of drivers. It has to start in the championships before Formula One,” Domenicali said.

“You see it too often in the other series that drivers are very aggressive and try to do something almost over what it is possible, so it is important to be very strict from when they start racing and then they will arrive in F1 in a better condition for that” - Stefano Domencali

 It seems to that the drivers being involved in key incidents are those who lack the experience to recover and instincts to avoid. Pastor Maldonado, Bruno Senna, Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean. All of which are undoubtedly fantastic drivers and of course everyone has to be a rookie. I agree with Stefano and his statement.

Experience is invaluable and has to be garnered through mistakes and errors in judgment. However there must also be a time to cut your losses. I don’t feel that further bans will help Romain at this point. During interviews he seemed genuinely stirred by the criticism. He needs support from the team but if they’re not willing to provide it and instead opt for fresh meat then I fear it will be the end of the line for Romain. With guidance, he has the pace and talent to take a victory but a growing reputation which threatens to destroy that. 

Sebastian Vettel may have claimed a runaway victory with Felipe Massa scooping a much needed and deserved second and home favouraite Kamui Kobayashi finally grabbing that elusive podium in third but none of it took the attention away from Romain for more than a few minutes.

"The most worrying thing is he doesn't seem to be learning from his mistakes”           

– Christian Horner                                             

"These things don't happen by coincidence, his judgement is clearly wrong in close combat and I don't know what he can do about it   because it's such an instinctive thing down there [in racing situations].” – Martin Brundle

 The situation is such that even Jenson Button who benefited from the chaos echoed the sentiments shared by Webber and his team principle Christian Horner.

‘Unbelievable, isn’t it?’ said Button. ‘I don’t know what you can do. Is it for Formula One to do something about it? Or should he just take a good look at himself and sort his s**t out because that’s what he needs to do. He’s quick, he’s very talented in terms of speed and results he’s had already this year. But you can’t do that.

‘We saw it a lot in GP2 with him. He’d either win or crash and it seems he has the same philosophy. If he had finished fourth or fifth instead of going for that third, it’s massive for his team and massive for his career.’

He may have kept his nose clean in Singapour but with the warning issued by Webber on the eve of that grand prix, I fear there will be tears in the paddock. He needs to be weary of ostracising himself from the other drivers.

"Yeah, he's okay. He knows I've a good right hook on me so he will stay away from me. But he better put his sneakers on if he hits me." - Webber

However one must consider that there have been many occasions in previous seasons when Grosjean afflicted drivers found themselves constantly at the centre of collisions. Time has passed since Hamilton and Pastor vied for the title of Naughtiest drivers of 2011. Hamilton won with nine penalties, Pastor claimed second place with six. Both have now been eclipsed by incident prone Romain. Webber himself has been forced to use the speed misjudgement defense in Valencia 2010 when he sailed over the top of Kovalinen. That was a mistake. Grosjean is a repeat offender. This seems to be developing as a conscious issue. No one is accusing him of deliberately driving into competitors and he does not appear vindictive in any way shape or form. So it seems more palatable that his special awareness is not great. He seems to be unable to focus on the big picture. Zoning in simply on one obstacle and leaving little attention for the rest. With twenty four cars on the grid, that leaves a lot of room for error.

With five races left to go until the final curtain call, one thing is for sure, Romain must either shape up or risk being shipped out. If pressure is the root cause then unfortunately if you can’t stand the heat, it’s wise to keep out of the kitchen.

Grosjean's First Lap Incident Time Line

  • Australia – Romain collides with Pastor Maldonado on lap two
  • Malaysia - sends Michael Schumacher into a spin
  • Spain - taps Sergio Perez and punctures his rear tyre
  • Monaco - squeezes Schumacher into the barriers at the start
  • Britain - clips Paul di Resta, puncturing his right rear tyre
  • Germany – has a tussle with Bruno Senna coming down to the hairpin which results in a puncture
  • Belgium - hits Lewis Hamilton and his out of control Lotus slams into Fernando Alonso, inches away from his head.
  • Japan – T-Bones Webber, relegating the Red Bull driver to the back of the field

Battle Lines Drawn In Spa

Jenson Button relished a surge in recent form to take the top spot at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa. It’s the Britons 14th victory and offers the driver and his fans a welcome glimmer of hope as the season returns after the summer break. Aftering initially starting off the season well with the first win in Australia, Jenson seemed to lack the pace in both qualifying and races and found himself lagging behind his team mate in the Championship stakes. He now sits in 6th as he races to recover his points.

 Disappointment swept across the track in the form of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus. After initial contact with Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, sending it soaring into the unsuspecting Fernando Alonso, the Lotus spiraled out of control and into Alonso and Perez. All four cars piled up to leave a battlefield and reckage on track. Vettle lost places as he was forced to maneuver the tentative field of debris. Previously rejoicing Kamui Kobayashi avoided serious damage and whilst caught up in the incident, he was able to drive back onto the track. His podium hopes dashed as he was forced to fight at the back of the pack and up into a disappointing 13th. After a stewards enquiry, Romain Grosjean has been handed a one race ban for causing the incident. 

Image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk

 "The stewards regard this incident as an extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to others."

"It eliminated leading championship contenders from the race."

"The stewards note the team conceded the action was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement. Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty." – FIA

Fernando Alonso conceded that he is lucky to be unhurt after the incident but also that he does not harbour any resentmen or anger towards Romain.

"No-one do this on purpose. They were fighting, two aggressive drivers on the start, Lewis and Romain and this time it was us in the wrong place and the wrong moment and we were hit.” - Alonso

 1 Fernando Alonso - Spanish - Ferrari  - 164

2 Sebastian Vettel - German - Red Bull Racing -Renault - 140

3 Mark Webber - Australian - Red Bull Racing-Renault - 132

4 Kimi Räikkönen - Finnish - Lotus-Renault  - 131

5 Lewis Hamilton - British - McLaren-Mercedes - 117

Image copyright of (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The DNF result suffered by Alonso means that although his remains in front, his lead has been eaten into by Sebastian, who has jumped into the second place previously occupied by Mark Webber. Interestingly enough, the steady performance from Massa’s means that he is now tied on points with Michael Schumacher. Kimi enjoyed a ferocious on track battle with a charging Schumacher, a battle to which he was the victor, taking the third podium spot as Michael, forced to pit after the Mercedes team strategy of a one stop on both cars failed, on both cars. Both were forced to settle with 7th for Michael and a respectable 11th for Nico, considering he started at the back of the grid after receiving a 5 place grid penalty for a gear box change.

 Suffering the same fate was Mark Webber. Out qualifying his team mate once again, originally in 7th, he started the race in 12th, behind his team mate. A mis judgement in strategy meant that whilst Seb bulldozed his way to 2nd, he struggled to pass the likes of on form Bruno Senna and Felipe Massa, who crossed the line in 5th in front of the red bull.  Bruno Senna, the only remaining William’s in the race after Pastor’s retirement minus his front wing put in a good performance, keeping the biting teeth of Vettle, Webber and Schumacher at bay. The one stop strategy couldn’t be kept up by the William’s and forced to pit only a few laps from the finish, Bruno slide from the points, although he did put in the fastest lap of the race.

 Nico Hulkenberg chalked up a fantastic position of 4th after a race long battle with Kimi, Schumacher, Webber and Vettle. His team mate DiResta never seemed to have the pace he displayed in qualifying and after qualifying 9th, he finished 10th.
CStreet 02/09/12

Fernando Extends Championship Lead After Victory In Germany...

Fernando Alonso claimed his third victory of the 2012 season in Germany, after fending off challenges from both the new found form carried by Jenson Button and podium hungry Sebastian Vettel.

Off the line contact between Massa and Daniel Ricciardo caused carnage on the track and left Hamilton nursing his ailing McLaren for the remainder of the race. The carbon fibre debris left on the track meant that Lewis, Massa, Senna and Grosjean all had unscheduled meetings with their respective pit crews.

 As Vettel and a rejuvenated Schumacher tussled for position it freed Alonso to take a comfortable lead. A lead which he maintained well for a vast part of the race, keeping both Sebastian and Jenson Button at arms length.  Mark Webber spent a majority of the race missing in action. Alienated from the battle at the front and experiencing a disappointing weekend since qualifying when his gear box change meant a grid place penalty. He finished in the top 10, clutching 3 championship points from 8th.  Still, he fared better than Hamilton, who on a one stop strategy managed to recover some places but was forced to retire on lap 58.

 Whilst Kimi Raikkonen found himself in the mix, battling with Schumacher and Vettel, pulling some fantastically skilful over takes, his team mate, Romain seemed to be holding a one man campaign to race on the grass. Towards the latter stages of the race, his campaign seemed to gain momentum with Webber, Vettel and others joining him. The Sauber’s put in a collectively impressive performance, displaying race pace and skill with Kobayashi scooping 5th as Perez hot on his heels held 6th claiming eleven places. Kobayashi’s faster lap times prompted Mercedes to throw in a last ditch attempt to propel Nico Roseberg from 11th.

             “We know that we are still not the quickest and we need to work for that"   - Fernando Alonso

At 12 laps to go, negotiating the cars around the circuit became harder and harder with the Caterhams almost entangling themselves and more rouge drivers seemingly joining Grosjean’s on the grass campaign. With Schumacher checking in fastest laps and Rosberg gaining momentum and places, their three stop strategy went into it’s final act as Jenson Button displayed signs of a charge on leader Fernando. Sebastian could be nothing more than a mere spectator to the battle as he continued to curse his intermittent KERS system. That is until Button and Alonso went into control mode on the cusp of approaching ‘the cliff.’ Spurred on by his race engineer and the lure of P2, he caught them with relative ease and it became a stale mate at the front. As Button’s advantage dissipated, his focus became protecting his richly earned place. On the penultimate lap, Sebastian passed him, demoting the Briton back to 3rd and opening himself up for a stewards enquiry.

 It was a quiet race for Maldonado who kept himself quiet at the back of the pack, hovering in 15th with his bruise cruiser; it seems the penalty dished out previously has given him some food for thought. Bruno Senna kept him company in 17tth  after suffering with body work damage in the early laps. The Force India’s of Hulkenburg and DiResta came home in respectable 9th and 11 now only 1 point separates the mid field battle between them and Williams. The three stop strategy utilised by Mercedes gave Rosberg an impressive finish of 10th when considered he began from 21st with Michael collecting some points from 7th.


Mixed Blessings   

 The mixed fortunes of McLaren continue with Button tasting the champagne as Lewis received the second DNF of the season, denting further his plan of consistency for 2012. Jenson was keeping his thoughts about the biggest incident of the race private…

                          “…At least it shows that the car was quick enough this weekend” -  Lewis Hamilton     


                                     "That’s the only bit of the race I don’t want to talk about, the rest  of it was great.”  -  Jenson Button

 Amidst the engine controversy and final lap overtake, Red Bull celebrated Sebsastian’s podium as Webber lamented his balance away from prying eyes.

                                               “He didn’t complain to me…”                                    “The only intention was not to crash and give him enough” 

                                                                     - Sebastian Vettel                                                                                          - Sebastian Vettel

 Christian Horner's assessment...... "I think it’s a racing incident.”    

                                                                                                                                                                      He suggests we slow the footage down which would show Seb as already having positioned his car ahead of Jenson's, at which point Damon Hill wishes him good luck in relaying his case to the stewards. Both Jenson and Martin Whitmarsh opted not to publicise their thoughts, whilst Seb and Christian were quick to defend their position. The sense of irritation between McLaren and Red Bull seems to be in a heightened state in the midst of the engine mapping controversy and the over take in the off track breathing space.With the Stewards ruling that the team conforms to he rules as written with regards to the topic of engine plan, the jury has yet to rule on Seb.

As those two teams continue to squabble with Mercedes throwing in their two cents when they feel like it, it’s little surprise that Ferrari are in a class of their own at the moment with Lotus in hot pursuit.

 How The Driver’s Championship shapes up now….

Seb has closed the gap to Webber to 2 points, pending the stewards review, with Fernando extending his lead to 34 points. Kimi Raikkonen leap frogged Hamilton for 4th.

1. FERNANDO ALONSO                               2. MARK WEBBER

3. SEBASTIAN VETTEL                                                4. KIMI RAIKKONEN                                               5. LEWIS HAMILTON

 CStreet 22/07/12


A Fond Farewell...

This weekend Valencia plays host to the eight grand prix on the calendar. After the European grand prix was reintroduced in the mid 80s, it has been held regularly since 1999 with Valencia hosting the event since 2008.

Red Bull are historically the most successful constructor at the circuit with Sebastian Vettel scooping the last two victories. Rubens Barrichello and his fellow Brazilian Felipe Massa took to previous victories. The fastest lap record is currently held by Timo Glock (1:38.683) unchallenged since 2009.

Wrapped around the city’s harbor and industrial port with

57 laps covering a race distance of 308.883km the street circuit holds very few overtaking opportunities with only four noted since the inaugural race. The circuit can draw parallels with Monaco as teams are forced to focus on qualifying to hold a strong starting position on the grid in preparation for the race.

A rollercoaster of twists and turns will certainly test the driver’s metal but good straight line speed is vital with no high speed corners present. The application of the brakes is essential as is brake cooling. The tight corners demand they perform at optimum temperature.

This will be the last European Grand Prix race hosted in Valencia for the foreseeable future with the announcement that the street circuit will be removed from the calendar after displaying poor ticket sales and fan reviews.

Could this prove to be an iconic final farewell?

The question on every fans lips is whether the streets of Valencia can deliver yet another chapter in this record breaking season and yield the eighth different winner? The general consensus seems to be that the streak will end here. I however feel that in a season laced with surprises we cannot write off anyone. With the teams still lacking consistency and reliability issues plaguing them the field remains far more even.

CStreet 20-06-12

 Webber Storms to victory in Monaco

This is certainly shaping up to be on of the most unpredictable season we have seen in recent years. Mark Webber's storming victory crowns him the sixth different driver to secure a win in the past six races. When reading the list of winners we see a nice change to the usual suspects. Following on from Jenson's drive to the number one spot in Australia was Fernando Alonso who took the trophy in Malaysia. Nico Rosberg clinched his first win in China. Defending champion Sebastian Vettel was next in Bahrain. In Barcelona Pastor Maldonado drove a blistering drive to give Williams their first win since 2004 and now we have the charging bull of Mark Webber ticking over in the number one spot. Webber's run was effortless, faultless and allowed his confidence to scream through to us. Seemingly leaving his history of bad starts behind him, he led off the start line.  

To say the Driver's Championship looks interesting is somewhat of an understatement. With the two Red Bull team mates now tied on points. No one can yet discount a collected Lewis Hamilton, quietly collecting points in 4th.

“An incredible day; this place gives you such amazing memories. There were different parts of the race where I had to be incredibly focused and make sure we really capitalised on the positioning we had. A good friend of mine sent me a text message this morning and said ‘You’re in charge, you’re in front and in charge’ and we were, but you can get bitten here very quickly. There were a few key stages around the stops that were interesting. Sebastian had his tyres very hot and was quick at that point and I couldn’t get mine going, but once he pitted I reverted my attention back to Nico and just looked after the rears until the end of the race. Then the rain came, which around here is very, very tough. But we had composure and experience and great team work on the pit wall. It’s a tough nut to crack this race, but we did it again. I had both hands on it today and I wasn’t going to let go.”

- Mark Webber


The streets of Monaco also afforded a wonderful opportunity for Felipe Massa to silence the pit lane whispers of late with a strong 6th place finish. With the early retirmentment of team mate Pastor Maldonado, Bruno Senna managed to snatch a championship point with a top ten finish behind Kimmi's Lotus. Misfortune continues to plague the McLaren team as Jenson Button's poor qualifying session resulted in a difficult race. His attempts to pass Heikki Kovalinene's Caterham left him with an ailing car and retirement. His team mate fare better with a 4th place finish but was left disappointed with the car's overall performance.

 I simply cannot wait for Canada, nor would I dare bet on the outcome.

 29/05/12 Cstreet

Back On The Right Track For Hamilton?

No one can deny the talent which seeps from the very pores of Lewis Hamilton when given a Formula One car and track but many can and have challenged whether he holds the mind set fit for that of a Champion.

In the past, he has done little to aide his cause. Public and frequent displays of inappropriately placed comments and criticism eventually cascaded into on track bad behavior. True, he did appear to be receiving an awful lot of penalties but then it has to be said that some penalties were given after warnings for similar action displayed in previous seasons. He served all the penalties dealt whether dished out justly or not but it was the manner in which he reacted to them that irked many fans. For those loyal fans that had supported him from the beginning, it was becoming an increasingly bitter pill to swallow as it seemed apparent that some factions of both the media and also peers had begun a campaign to vilify him.

As 2012 pre season testing swung round again, a hot topic of constant conversation was the change in mindset which Lewis desperately needed to apply if he had any hope of regaining his title. Testing came and went with little noise from Hamilton aside from a number of quotes to express his delight and comfort in the new car.

From the first race of 2012 we have been shown a new Hamilton. A calm Hamilton. A consistent Hamilton. A Champion. His new approach appears to be working and it is a great delight to see the new more mature attitude and driving style he displays.

From the past five races he has garnered 53 points, only 8 away from leader Vettel. He has attained these from 3 podium finishes and two top ten positions. We have seen in previous years, the Briton allowing his frustration to gain the better of him resulting in DNF results and multiple on track tangles. He is known for his aggressive driving style, it is the factor that many fans find so interesting about his performances to watch. The calls to rein him have come and gone without gaining much momentum. He has always been a breath of fresh air, displaying unparalleled confidence in the car in the wet conditions and also when over taking. The 2010 season in fact yielded 32 overtakes from 4 races.

It’s no secret that a number unnamed personal problems have hindered his progress and being a recurring factor when discussing his performance from 2011. Now it seems for all intent and purposes that Hamilton has re shifted his focus to the race track. Engaging in wheel to wheel racing and acknowledging potential errors and praise in equal measure. If Hamilton continues on this newly acquired path of enlightenment we could see a return in not only fortune, admiration and grace but also to the top of the Championship.

In Barcelona there is one quote I would single out a clear indicator of his maturity as a driver.

"It was an incredibly tough challenge, and I’m told I’m the only one to do a two stop strategy. People are always commenting how aggressive my driving style is, so I think today I proved them wrong."

- Lewis Hamilton

He’s absolutely true in what he says. He is often unduly criticized and when drawing exhausting comparisons to team mate Jenson Button, it is for the advantage of decreased tyre wear and management.

In this quote he argued that today’s performance has challenged that opinion. He did so in a calm, polite and respectable quote, uttered with a grin on his face.

Hats off to the lad, if he can come back after the critics bashing and bad feeling then he deserves a fair crack of the whip. He remains one of the most exciting and talented drivers to grace the track. If he can keep his attitude in check, little will stop him from achieving the accolades which await in a long and fruitful career.

Cstreet 15/05/12

The Red Bull's Wings Clipped?

It was certainly an exciting race yielded by Shanghai. In my honest opinion, the most exciting one of the season so far. Not only did it provide edge of your seat, nail biting wheel to wheel racing but it also provided a shake of up of the grid and only served to reiterate just how tight the teams are this season.

While Nico Rosberg sailed to a long overdue victory in his silver arrow, the McLaren occupied the second and third spot, catapulting Hamilton the the top of The Driver's Championship. The Ferrari's took a step back from an impressive victory In Malaysia but what of the charging Red Bulls?

After a disappointing qualifying for twice world champ Sebastian Vettel in which was eliminated from Q2, he started in the unfamiliar grid spot of 11th to keep Felipe Massa company. With team mate Mark Webber in 6th, sandwiched between the McLaren's of Hamilton and Button.

As the race got underway and the drivers yo-yoed up and down, vying for position, we heard next to no trace of the man who had previously dominated each and every race of 2011. As he scrapped at the back his teammate was dicing with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Webber, emanating a new found confidence in both himself and the car solidified his position within the team by not only out qualifying his team mate but again finishing ahead of him thanks to a great pass on the final lap.

Vettel's strategist opted for a two stop, whilst Mark rolled the dice as first of the big guns to pit. The others took his lead and followed suit. His gamble ensured that he could remain one of the fastest on the track. Whilst Seb's decision to run with an older spec version of the RB8 may not have played to his advantage, his strategy did fair better. He was potentially in contention for a podium position but the reliance on having to look after his tyres meant he lacked ability for any serious wheel to wheel battles and subsequently lost position to a charging Button. Lap 54 saw a competitive Hamilton pass him to take 3rd with Webber following suit for 4th. His strategy would be consistent with a race leaders but when you are battling for position, ailing tyres are of little use. That said, he did ac-rue valuable points from 15th to 5th but maybe he needs to be more prepared to fight his way through than he's used to.

It's certainly evident that the innovative team who reigned over the past two seasons as constructors champions have their finger slightly left of the pulse. The car is still capable and the drivers talent remains but they simply have to push harder for the wins now and no doubt it can be an adjustment. They have never been a team to take success lightly so I'm sure that they are grateful of the positives taken from each race so far. It is also worth noting that perhaps it is not simply a case of Red Bull producing a car with less performance capabilities but the fact that the other teams, across all of the feild have taken a massive step up. Teams such as Mercedes are scooping podiums over Mclaren's and Red Bulls with Sauber's sneaking podiums and Lotus Renault teasing with the idea. A team which did not chalk up a single point last season is already sat in 7th with 18 points for the Constructors. The gap between Ferrari, who sit in 3rd with 37points and 6th place sitters Lotus Renalt with 24 points is a mere 13 points. Sauber (31pts) and Mercedes (26pts) managed 4th and 5th respectively. The frightening reality for Red Bull is that if Mercedes hasn't had such reliability issues with the car and William's hadn't collectively collided with one third of the grid and barrier, the overall gap between them would be substantially decreased.

Last season, the Bull's closest challenger was the MP4-26 but with Hamilton under performing, the responsibility fell upon Jenson Button to chase down that finger. Now, with a more focused Hamilton side by side with the gentlemen Jenson and a fresh challenge in the form of his gritty Aussie team mate, it could be that Sebastian, coupled with a less than effective car is struggling with the pressure.

In contrast, Mark's battles for position with Lewis, Kimi Raikkonen and Bruno made for some truly excellent racing and hair raising moments.

The role reversal at Red Bull continues to hinder Sebastian's performance, in truth he has not looked happy since testing in the car began but they are still in second with 64 points. With McLaren sat in first with 88 there is only a difference of 24 points. The equivalent of one race win. With the races now more unpredictable than ever, one race win and a rivals retirement is not that much of a stretch and we have witnessed time and time again how quickly the tables and fortunes can turn.

Whilst it is right to question the reasons behind the lack of pace they are showing at the moment, it's not wise to right them off entirely. We've seen the damage a Red Bull can cause when firing on all cylinders and piloted by an on form driver. They are an industrious lot and it strikes me that they will be able to whip something from their sleeve in the next few races. If it is to be something of concrete value then Mclaren are right to consider them a current threat.

I believe that we will see a continual improvement from the team as they continue to tweak and learn on a race by race basis. However if it is a case of Red Bull underestimating their competitors then they may find themselves more than a little to the left of the technology and unrecoverable behind.

CStreet  15/04/12

 The Clock Ticking On Massa's Dash

 After the congratulations have been distributed and the triumph recognised, attentions turn to the analysis. For teams such as Sauber, Williams and Ferrari much of the analysis will be as to how the car was correctly utilized and steps in progression to be taken ahead of China. For others, the analysis will be of the errors for a poor performance. Ferrari will be one a handful of teams dissecting either side of the card. Never one to confirm to critics, Fernando Alonso stormed to victory in a grand prix which kept us all on the edge of our seats until the last car crossed the finish line. The surprise of the day was Sergio Perez, who built upon a strong performance in Australia to take second place on the podium for Sauber. Third place was secured by Mclaren , piloted by Lewis Hamilton who after losing pole did manage to maintain his pace and hold onto a podium and point finish. Riding the other red arrow was Brazils own Felipe Massa who has struggled to reclaim the pace he once enjoyed. He followed a poor start to the season in Australia with a poor race finish as he limped the car into 15th place. More than 95 seconds behind winner and team mate Fernando Alonso.

Minutes after the race had ended the whispers and chatter become deafening - that the decision to replace Massa is being considered and the podium place achieved by closest contender Perez had now sealed the deal. We are led to believe that all that is to decide is the fairest and easiest way of maneuvering Massa out of the equation.

When people compare Massa and Alonso they forget that this is the same driver that was once vying with Hamilton for the championship. It’s no secret that he has lost his pace and is running out of places to hide as the critics claw at his every move, stripping away any possible glimmer of speed, awaiting his move for new talent. It is also no secret that he is a very talented driver.

After experiencing an accident such as the one which befell him in July 09, it’s clear to see this has affected him. Opportunities to be taken, he will not act upon and possibly reacting to a situation with a heightened sense for fear of similar repercussions. Wouldn't you? Granted, if he hasn't recovered mentally perhaps in a formula one car is not the ideal place for him to be. Ferrari must have hoped to ignite his passion otherwise they would surely have removed him from the team by now. I fear the pressure from the outside of the team may ultimately prove too much and any opportunity that he finds will be mishandled and squandered. It is also worth noting that on the occasions he did show pace, he was ordered to put a stop to it. He has a team mate who has praised the driver he struggled the most with last season and is a strong competitor in his own right.

Team principle Stefano Domenicali however assures is that as the sharks circle, Ferrari has not yet casted him aside.

"In my view the problem is that this car is quite difficult, not easy. It can be very good and it can also be quite difficult.

We showed this today that in certain conditions you have to have a certain

driving style and you can be very, very good, and in other conditions you can destroy the tyres.”

 

"The priority for me and what I need to make sure is that Felipe has

around him the protection of the team that tries to work hard with him.”

If we want to look at direct comparison between Massa and apparently the most likely man to be his successor, it would be prudent to look at some of Felipe’s results from 2008 seasons when he was on good form.

With eleven wins and 33 podiums to his name from 156 starts, Felipe Massa is a talented driver and a great asset to the sport but unfortunately Formula one is not in the business of forgiving and allow recuperation.  As the past twenty three races have yielded no podium finish, it is likely that his time is running out.

Let’s not forget that while Ferrari may very well be looking at Perez, he may be content in Sauber, at least for the time being anyway. Judging by the emotional reactions of the team, they would certainly be reluctant to let him go. With one podium from twenty one races, he is displaying good form and will no doubt continue to have follow up with many more.

Williams will be in high spirits as they have already achieved in two grand prix more points and a higher constructors finish than they did over the entire of last season. That’s not too shabby, considering that they only finished one of the two races in question. With 8 valuable points, the team has officially logged into entry into the fight for midfield and with it Bruno Senna has made up for the disappointment of last week by scooping himself 8th on the Championship table. No doubt Pastor will be bitterly disappointed at having the chance of yet more points taken away after a retirement with engine failure but he will have plenty more opportunities at points in a very competitive car.

Carly Street 27/02/2012 - image:http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/massa_ferr_nurb_07_fm.jpg

 The Australian Grand Prix -  Time To Show Your Hand

As the dust settles on the track and the teams focus turns to the next race, we can finally get a handle on the provisional pecking order of the teams. The race itself was a welcome change in pace from the usual predetermined pecking order of the front runners with the McLaren's appearing to under gone a role reversal with the Red Bulls.

However it also allowed us to see the true development of the cars and the impact of the team’s successes on the Constructor’s Championship.

 Though Button took a faultless victory, he seemed to simply leave the rest of the grid for dead. His overtake of Hamilton into the first corner sealed his fate and with the emergence of a safety car, resulting in a restart, he ensured that he headed the advice of his team and remained calm, collected and focused on the task in hand – utilise the power and speed of the car and guide the tyres home, error free. A command which he executed effortlessly to a well deserved, comfortable victory.

Sergio Perez, after receiving a grid penalty was forced to begin the race at the back of the grid. Skill fully working his way through the backmarkers he managed to take his Sauber into 8th and spent a decent amount of time giving the likes of Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton a headache. His finishing position from 24th is a clear mark of the talent itching to be unleashed to its full potential in a car to match. Indications show that the 2012 car could be the partner he needs to do just that.  With his team mate Kobayashi finishing in an impressive 6th, they scooped a total of 12 points for Sauber

 

~ Back Marker Battle Field ~

 

Another team causing the bigger fish to reach for the aspirin was Williams which from a personal perspective is great to see. Not only because I stuck my neck on the chopping board by declaring them as one to watch on numerous avenues but also because it’s wonderful to see the team finally on a brighter path. The car looked reliable in testing and the drivers themselves were certainly put through their paces to challenge the perception of inexperience as the car clocked up the most mileage.

Bruno Senna’s race didn’t go according to plan with an early collision forcing an impromptu pit stop. His race did seem to be perking up as he clawed back places lost to a highest position of 13th, one higher than his qualifying but a tussle with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa meant a return to the pits.

The FW34 returned to the track, believed to be relatively unscathed but a lap 54 the team made the decision to retire the car after discovering debris from the incident had become sucked into the sidepods and water temperature rose.

I had a great start, but I tried to take the outside line at the first corner and I felt someone make contact with me. I then had to do an extra pit stop which made things difficult. My race was looking better but then I had a tangle with Massa so luck wasn’t on our side today. That’s racing though, and we now look forward to making up for it in Malaysia next weekend.– Bruno Senna

His teammate, although ultimately didn’t finish the race, certainly had better fortune and race pace. Pastor Maldonado not only qualified in 8th place but he gained 2 positions through the race and held the car in 6th for a large portion of the race. The Williams was in constant pursuit of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. The Venezuelan refused the yield to Lotus’s Romain Grosjean and fended off advances from Kobayashi.

He would have been on course for a finishing position of 6th until an ambitious final push to snatch P5 from Alonso resulted in him clipping the corner and careering into the wall. Luckily he was without injury but it meant that the team were classified in 13th and 16th place.

The car looked good today. Our pace was quick and consistent and we were looking competitive right up until the moment I had on the last lap, which is very important. Unfortunately, I just lost the back of the car while pushing Alonso and I had nowhere to go.  – Pastor Maldonado

Realistically, without incident I think it’s fair to assume they could have scored 6 valuable Constructors points which would have put them ahead of the finishing teams of Torro Rosso, Force India, Marrussia and Mercedes as well as giving them more points in a single race than the entire season of 2011. The contributing factors to the end of both drivers’ racers were a mix of misfortune and driver error/inexperience. In the days after the announcement of the line up, the team took harsh critism that the line up was too inexperienced and wouldn’t match up to race circumstances. It’s worth remembering that although they are the least experienced line up on the grid, both drivers have a lot of experience of racing and winning in other series. Maldonado needs that passion but needs to learn when to real it in and Senna needs to hone his reflexes in wheel to wheel racing. The speed he showed in practice sessions seemed to elude him. It was great to see a Williams and Ferrari scrap it out on track for position, with the last time being 1997, it made for a tense and reminiscent battle.


Another worthy advisory has taken the form of former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. After disappointing qualifying session which saw him eliminated and starting the race from  18th,  he stormed his way through the midfield and took the Lotus up into 7th ahead of the Mercedes of Rosberg and the Saubers. With the disappointing race of Romain Grosjean, he has brought the team a welcome 6 points.

Clearly less experienced drivers will be predisposed to errors but they all must experience these issues to improve. Even top band drivers aren’t immune. If the team can iron out these issues early into the season, a reasonable mid table finishing position could be on the cards.

Sauber, Williams and Lotus on the surface appear to be able to give the mighty Ferrari a good challenge. The next few races will see the battle lines drawn and with the teams so tightly matched, it’s going to be a tough one to call.

CStreet – 18/03/2012 

Full list of sources to be updated shortly - Saube image - http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/saub_pere_melb_2012-5-470x313.jpg

Sky v BBC ; The Gloves Are Off

March 9th, the day that many Formula One fans had been lamenting for months. It was of course, the lanch of the exclusive Sky channel, dedicated to Formula One past and present. Singalling the end of the BBC's exclusivity to coverage and of course making it pay to view live for half of the season.

If we push aside momentarily the issue of the subscription and look at the actual coverage in direct comparison to the BBC, we can already see that Sky are attempting to not only satisfy the fans desperate for more in depth and behind the scenes coverage of current races on the calender but also the fans who have been looking for an arena to reminisce on the days gone by.

 

The live race coverage at this stage of course, has yet to be fully unveiled but we are constatntly being shown the variety of arenas for coverage and also the amount that will become available to us at quite literally a push of a button. According the previews, we can not only view sections of the race from any in car interior but there will also be a range of statistics available. We can watch in HD via our box, I-Pad, I-Phone or website, if we find ourselves unable to any of the previously mentioned we will have ample opportunity to catch numerous highlight and analysis programs. The many platforms from which we can view can only be good, as many of us, no matter how hard we organise or how well we ignore things, will eventually wind up missing either a part or the whole of a race during the course of a season.

In the days prior to the official launch we have been given tasters of the delights that await us with previews of F1 Legends covered and a time lapse video showing construction of the Williams. Something which myself and a number of others admit to finding mesmerising.

The preview program spent a large portion of time ensuring that the viewer understood every aspect of the sport, even the more technical aspects. The use of a 3D McLaren car to illustrate was certainly an impressive feature, one which I'm aware a number of fans enjoyed. The interview features were also a welcome relief as they featured drivers the BBC have tended to push aside. The team features gave us a wonderful insight into the sometimes faceless team members who drive the production and race but the studio segments do feel somewhat lifeless at the moment.

It seems to be that Sky want to show us F1 broken down into sections. The drivers, the mechanics, the engineers, construction, statistics, fans. Giving us a greater understanding of each mechanism, each cog that turns to create a race finish. This is a wonderful convention to bring the sport to a larger audience. Someone who feels the rules are to complex or struggles to follow the teams or why they have a variety of cars may gradually have their interest sparked as each question is answered in often, the simplest manner possible. Which at times, did feel a little 'dumbed down'.

Already Sky seem to be grabbing all available platforms with both hands and throwing it to the fans. Having viewed their season review of 2011, we can already see how much more in depth it actually is. The mere fact that it has been split over four installments speaks volumes. They also include far more than previously seen from the BBC, such as in gargage reactions and radio transmissions with subtitles. Its apparent that both the driver and team coverage is more even than that previously as its always worth remembering there are more than three teams competing. The fights for position towards the back of the grid are often just as gripping as those of the front runners but are briefly touched upon. It's nice to see the struggle of the teams so we can truly appreciate what they're fighting for - to stay in the sport, not just a podium.

The F1 Legends series are also a welcome addition to while away the time between races. They don't match the emotion and complexity of one off BBC series such as "The Killer Years" but do provide accurate and interesting insight into the heroes of days gone. Its a nice inclusion on the listings to see season reviews of previous years, affording us the opportunity to reflect and relive the races that had us on the edge of our seats or first captured our hearts and made us fans. Sky are allowing the topic to creep into its channel listings on Sky Atlantic with a new series delving deeper into the archives to explore the history of the sport from its origins with "The Petrol Years".

The inclusion of testing round ups from Ted Kravitz gave us a tanatilising glimpse of the cars and teams and serves to wet the appetite as we wait in anticipation for Melbourne. With Sky promising the provide us with unprecedented access and coverage like never before, they must use all available means to make good on such a promise.

 Half an hour prior to the launch show from Sky, Jake Humphreys and David Coulthard appeared on The One Show providing insight into their plans to continue to bring the BBC viewers the best coverage they can. This is a personal perspective but from their body language it seemed apparent that even they realise the struggles they face to challenge the monopoly Sky now holds over the sport, even for the simplest of interviews. They make mention of their intention to continue the grid walk with the accompaniment of Eddie Jordan. I would prefer to watch their grid walk over that of Martin Brundle simply for the banter. I do think Sky will struggle to replicate the boyish charm and sometimes childish antics of the BBC team. Something which made for endless entertainment and gave us a chance to see the personality of the drivers and teams once the stresses and strains of the weekend had lapsed. The interviews were conducted seriously when required but also allowed a lighthearted tone to seep through where appropriate. Features were insightful and in depth and a great prelude to the race itself. I do hope that the presenters are forced to vie for the attentions of teams and drivers causing a descent into a fight for coverage, as it will only serve to hinder the races that will only be permitted to be covered through highlights. I'm not particularly concerned about the highlight programs as the beeb have always provided good coverage and the forum classed as unmissable. During the race, the commentary from David Coulthard continually complemented the on track action and gave us insight into not only the possible mindsets of drivers but also aiding us to understand the logic behind incidents and actions. I have always enjoyed the presence of Eddie Jordan. His pre-race predictions are often spot on and the post race analysis in-depth and brutally honest.

It remains to be seen whether the ensembles sky team can recapture the charm and fun of the BBC team but no doubt that is certainly on their check list. Judging by the feedback from fans already, it seems that Sky are certainly on the right track. They are aware the fans are the heart of the sport and in order to keep the coverage exclusive they must impress and continue to impress.

Its a shame the BBC have lost exclusivity but its also not something which we can change, despite best efforts to. Aryton Senna hit the nail on the head "...it's political and it is money..." It does however appear that Sky are taking their responsibility seriously and giving the fans what they want - every aspect of Formula One. The coverage so far is certainly more in depth than anything previously orchestrated by the BBC but whether it is worth the subscription fee is another discussion. I for one will still be keeping up to date with the BBC, if only to find out the latest monstrosity Eddie Jordan has deemed an article of clothing.

CStreet 13/03/12

Pre-Season testing ~ An Overview

Now that the pre-season testing has wrapped up, the next time we shall see the teams will be in Melborne on March 18th.

Though the testing has served to quench the thirst of many fans, it has also provided a glimpse, if only slight into the mindsets of the drivers and an idea of the cars they will run in 2012. As we all are aware, lap times are no indication of the teams actual race pace as teams will be running various set ups and fuel loads throughout testing and many will be working hard to mask their true pace so I want to take a look at something which is less easily hidden and that is the drivers themselves. Confidence in themselves and the car can be a major element to season success.

As the current world champion, Sebastian Vettel is the man with the most pressure. It seems that as his accolades increase as does the call to see him lower down the grid, proving his wheel to wheel race talent. The redesigning of the cars following the rule changes may also bring a change in fortunes for the teams and the fans may be granted that wish. The quotes obtained from team mate Mark Webber show a new found confidence in both himself and his rivals. No doubt it is this which has spured him slightly as a tighter grid we will mean more chance of his team mate missing pole and an increased chance of him being afforded an on track battle with him. This is clearly where Mark feels he will have the upper hand over the double world champion. Webber appears to be optimistic but realistic and as ever, honest.

"I think it is going to be really tight. The racing will be between several teams for sure and it is difficult to understand who is doing what at the moment, because we have such a big variation in fuel and tyre conditions and all sorts of stuff." - Mark Webber

"All in all, it wasn’t a bad day at all. Not the smoothest of mornings and we didnt get too many laps done there, but in the afternoon the race simulation went OK. Were still learning plenty. It would have been nice to have done a few more laps, but I think everyone always wants to get 20 or 30 more and, even with the problem this morning, there were loads of positives to look at. Were a very ambitious team, so well keep working on that." - Mark Webber

"Today we got through a lot of stuff! We tested a lot of elements and everything worked well, especially since we had such a big programme. That can mean not a lot of laps and a lot of garage time, but we gathered a lot of good information today and that’s a pleasing way to finish the week. We have a lot of work to do back in Milton Keynes over the next few days to get the car ready for the next test. Weve done well over these two first tests and the feeling is pretty good." - Mark Webber

"I think Mark will be the guy who will threaten him (Vettel) if anybody" Bernie Ecclestone was quoted as saying when asked his thoughts on Webber by The Australian Newspaper. "The last time I spoke to him about it, he was really motivated"

Vettel appears to be keeping his cards closer to his chest with regards to predictions indicating the he expects a fight on his hands also. Nevertheless, he still remains the man the grid fear the most with his back to back world titles.

"At the moment we do not know where we all are, which is why I don't want to talk about the first race or the championship." - Sebastian Vettel

"It’s been two months since we were in the car, so it does take a couple of laps to get back in the rhythm, but the car feels fine and as we expected. Theres quite a loss of grip due to the regulation changes, but you get used to it quickly and then start to explore how the new car feels. So far we can be happy, we had a couple of issues, but its normal when the car is new." - Sebastian Vettel

"Obviously I can judge for myself that the feeling [on my car] is fine but I don't know whether that is good enough or not.." - Sebastian Vettel

"It’s clear the cars have less grip than last year, but we try to come back from that slowly. Its difficult to judge where we are compared with the others right now. Its all based on feeling and the feeling I have inside the car at the moment is fine. I think we had a good day today, with no trouble. We had a long lunch break when we made some changes, but not because anything broke down. All in all, it was a good day." - Sebastian Vettel

"It’s been two months since we were in the car, so it does take a couple of laps to get back in the rhythm, but the car feels fine and as we expected. Theres quite a loss of grip due to the regulation changes, but you get used to it quickly and then start to explore how the new car feels. So far we can be happy, we had a couple of issues, but its normal when the car is new." - Sebastian Vettel

Both drivers are united in their concern over the ability of the MacLaren and its drivers, with Mark warning of a resurgence in the fortunes of rival Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian seemed to have taken early note of the potential of the car with Christian Horner believing the greatest threat to the team is Jenson.

"It's normal for a sportsman or woman to go through some headwinds in their career -- particularly someone like him who had so much success so early, and he's black, and he's got interest, and he's got a girlfriend of profile....Let's hope he's strong but not too strong. As a competitor you hope he can realise his potential but clearly we still want to beat him," - Mark Webber on Hamilton

"I think the McLaren looks quite competitive….. I think they will be strong straight from the beginning of the season." - Vettel on The Maclaren

Whilst the driver focus more on themselves than the specs of the car in testing, in contrast the McLaren drivers seem to have a renewed sense of confidence in their car and for Lewis, also in his ability.

"I don’t think Red Bull will have the same kind of head start they had at the beginning of the last season. But Sebastian is of course the favorite, as he should be he won the past two championships."  Jenson Button

"Today felt pretty good considering it was my first time in the new car. My initial feelings are pretty positive, despite going through a long, tough program of initial tests – there were no nasty surprises, which is pleasing. This years car feels a bit different from last years: in 2011, we had so much stability from the rear-end, particularly in the high-speed corners but were now having to find that grip elsewhere, or, at least, take grip off the front and somehow offload it at the rear. This cars baseline is something we can really work with. I know the men and women back at the factory will take a lot from this test and translate it into something new and even better for the next test. The car feels reasonably quick and thats a nice feeling " - Lewis Hamilton

"To have completed more than 1000km in the past two days is incredibly encouraging – the whole team should feel proud. The car behaves really well in the high-speed corners I think the baseline of our car is higher than it was last year and its better overall at high-speed. Its performing well in Turns Three and Nine, too. We dont know the fuel-loads of the other cars, so its still hard to determine the pecking order. We didnt bring any upgrades here, but our understanding of the car has developed since the test in Jerez. Were learning more about how the tyres work, how the temperatures behave and how to balance the car using set-up. Its been an extremely productive few days and I think Jenson will continue to improve the car tomorrow. Now, Im just looking forward to the final test its where you get a really good feeling of where the car will be. Its also exciting because its the last stop before the first race!" - Lewis Hamilton 

It appears from the interviews given so far that Hamilton has managed to re-evalutate many aspects of his life outside of formula one and off set any negative influences. If this truly is the case and this mindset continues then Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel have a very serious problem on their hands, as does Jenson Button. The equilibrium at McLaren could be restored and see a tighter challenge for experienced Button to out perform his younger team mate.

"It’s been a good day: this morning, we ran through our installation and systems checks and the running was good. Weve been gathering data on aerodynamics, downforce levels, temperatures and the feeling inside the cockpit. We did a 15-lap timed run this afternoon, which is a good starting point for us and the consistency was okay. Its been a positive day: there are no niggly areas with the car, which is nice. Overall, today was just a starting point, and was all about putting miles on the car. There are some promising signs, so Im happy. Its now important for us to get a clean day of running tomorrow, put some miles on the car and find a direction that we like. Todays a very good basis for the next few days." - Jenson Button

"We’ve done a lot of reliability work over the past three days more than 100 laps on each day. Most of that has been longer runs, getting used to the feeling of the car over a long-run and setup work for the longer runs. Weve also been really working hard to understand this years Pirelli tyres and getting the car to work efficiently around them. Thats a key part of the program this winter. There are a lot of cars out there that look competitive: so well keep pushing" - Jenson Button

 Sauber’s Sergio Perez and Kamui Koboyashi appear to have a well balanced car with potential to emerge at the front of the midfield. Perez, missing his time on track since Brazil, is continually trying to learn and improve his consistency on track.

"For me it was a positive day. It was great to be back on track after the winter break and so far I’m happy with the new car. I feel confident. It was a shame that we lost track time due to the fuel system problem in the afternoon, but I think we can catch up tomorrow. We have a huge programme for Thursday and Im looking forward to it very much. Compared to yesterday we have already learnt a great deal more about the C31." - Sergio Perez

"It wasn’t an easy day for us. Nevertheless during the 66 laps we collected some very useful data, which we will analyse tonight, so in this regard it was still a satisfying day. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow and I hope we can get a lot more work done then." - Sergio Perez

"Today was a lot better, even though in the end we lost a bit of track time because of the exhaust problem. I am happy with how things went, we have gathered plenty of information to go through now and I believe we are working in the right direction. I hope we get some more work done with Kamui driving the next two days, and then we will be well prepared for next week’s final pre-season test session." - Sergio Perez 

The C301 covered a distance of 4,922.74 over 1072 laps, sitting behind Ferrari and above McLaren, in the distance covered. Kamui Kobayashi set the track alight and ended on a high making an appearance at the top of the time sheets. Though dissmissed as irrelevent, he appears to have a lot of confidence in the performance of the car.

"I'm happy. The new car feels fine. We managed good mileage today despite a small problem in the morning session. Running today wasnt about performance but focused on checking systems and reliability. Nevertheless I got the impression the new Pirelli tyres might be good for us. I am looking forward to the next tests and to further work on the car." - Kamui Kobayashi

"If I look at the whole picture I am happy with the first test. For sure we have found the right direction to go in. The car didn’t surprise us with any big issues, which allowed us to work on improvements straight away. We lost track time due to small problems and I want to thank the mechanics for all their work. Today especially they did a great job to get me out on track again. In the end I did 76 laps today which isnt too bad. We have some ideas of what our next steps will be and Im very much looking forward.." - Kamui Kobayashi

"We had no noteworthy problems all day and went through a lot of test items. I can feel we have made some progress compared to the test in Jerez. But, of course, we have a lot more work to do and there is room for improvement." - Kamui Kobayashi

"I’m quite happy. We achieved a very good mileage today. The set up changes we did in the morning meant an improvement in lap times, which, of course, is very positive. There is still a lot of work to do in terms of understanding the car and the different tyre compounds at different fuel levels, but we are working in the right direction. I think it was a good test for us." - Kamui Kobayashi

Force Indias Paul Di Resta after setting an impressive first season, will be hoping to push even harder with the team. He has used testing to not only assess the cars performance but also his own.

"A good start to our winter test programme with 101 laps completed, which allowed us to get through all our objectives and a bit more. The baseline balance felt pretty good and the car performed consistently over the longer runs, which was useful for collecting the data we need. So I think we can be positive heading into tomorrow and the next three days will be interesting as we have more test items to evaluate. On a personal level it’s also nice to spend such a busy day in the car to shake off the rust and assess my fitness level." - Paul DiResta

"Quite an intense day and a very busy afternoon, but the main thing is that we achieved the objectives for the day. There will be a lot of analysing tonight to see what we can learn, especially trying to understand the data from the long runs this afternoon. Once we’ve been through the numbers, it should give us a direction for tomorrow. As I said in Jerez, its nice to have a car with such a good baseline because it makes it easier to experiment with the set-up and thats what were trying to do at the moment." - Paul DiResta

"It was another successful day and a good way to end the week. I had a small trip through the gravel in the morning, but nothing that caused too much of an issue, although we lost half an hour of running. The important thing is that we still managed to do our long runs in the afternoon and I could feel the changes we made compared to yesterday. It’s given me a good impression of the cars balance and consistency, and weve seen that our long run pace is improving step by step." - Paul DiResta

His team mate Nico Hulkenberg also kept himself busy in the car as he got to grips with the car. The team in the  VJM05 completed 1045 laps between them.

"A busy first day in the car and good to get so many laps under my belt. It was my first time in the new car so I concentrated on getting comfortable and up to speed. The long runs were useful for that and it also allowed me to start understanding the new tyres. There is still a massive amount to learn and lots of data to look at, but it feels like we have a good baseline to develop from and I’m pleased with how the day went." - Nico Hulkenberg

"Once gain it’s good to do so many laps and Im pleased with how things went today. It was only my second day in the car and Im still bedding in and getting used to things, but after each run I felt a bit more comfortable. We started with some aero runs and more data gathering this morning, and then moved to longer runs in the afternoon. The car feels consistent and the drivability is good so I feel positive heading into tomorrow." - Nico Hulkenberg

  

Marussia ‘s Timo Glock was pleased to be back on track evaluating his own performance. Unfortunately testing for the team was cut shorter than their competitors after failing to pass their crash test in the 2012 model.

"It’s good to be back on track again after the long winter break and to start our preparations for the new season. Although we are still using the old car it has been really useful to work through the tyre evaluation programme and have the team working together again trackside. Im looking forward to driving the new car now" - Timo Glock

See full size image

Charles Pic seemed to relish his opportunity in the car but also suffered after testing was brought to a premature end after a total of 338 laps in the MVR02 .

"It has been a very good first day for me and a positive way to begin the new season. The car has worked very well all day so we were able to push through with the programme. We made a lot of pit stops this morning and practiced all the procedures, which was very helpful for me, and this afternoon we completed a race simulation. I learned a lot from the day and I’m looking forward to running again tomorrow." -Charles Pic

 

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham has kept himself fit and tweaking his driving style to suit the needs of the car in 2012.

"I think that was a pretty positive day. We completed 69 laps and got through most of what we had planned. This morning we had a couple of issues with the seating position and the brakes, but you expect that from a new car and they were little things that we were able to fix quickly. In the afternoon we put in a few more long runs and thatll give us a lot of data to work on tonight and I think tomorrow it will be more of the same. Physically I feel really good. Its obviously been a while since Ive been in a car, but Ive kept up my fitness levels and I enjoyed myself on track, so its a good first day back. One thing I have noticed is that this car behaves a little differently from my previous experience and I think I may have to adjust my driving style to get the best out of it Ive been quite aggressive before, but I think this car responds better to smoother inputs, so thats something I can work on, and work with the engineers on.

Lets see what we can come up with for tomorrow."  - Vitaly Petrov

See full size image

Heikki Kovalainen, acknowledges the car may have issues to be smoothed out but believes this is certainly achievable. The CT01 ran 990 laps over a distance of 4,527.18km just below the Torro Rosso.

"This is the sort of test you look back on and think we’re pleased to have got behind us, but we have still learnt a lot here and have ironed out quite a few issues that could have been more serious later in the season. Things havent exactly gone as we would have liked, but I think we all know where the car can and should be when it gets real in Australia, so now the challenge is to regroup in time for next week and make sure we come back here ready to put in a final week of hard work on track and get back to where we want to be." - Heikki Kovalainen 

 

Toro Rosso’s new line up, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo have been enjoying their time in the car and both are looking forward to getting down to business in Melbourne. The STR7 completed 1000 laps in total. 

 

"It was a good day with 76 laps under my belt. In the morning, apart from working on the overall development of the car, we were also getting ready for Melbourne, running through various procedures, working to a set time scale, as if it was a race weekend. That went well and in the afternoon, we did some race-type runs which were successful until the car stopped with just the final hour to go." - Daniel Ricciardo

"I am much more confident in the car now than I was by the end of the Jerez test. We worked on many different aspects of the job and for example, today I had a much better understanding of the pit stops than I did after trying them yesterday for the first time. We did some good work today, acquiring plenty of data and I expect this will help us to improve still further next week." Jean-Eric Vergne

CStreet 10/03/12

 "My initial feelings with our new car are certainly good. I’m happy with the different evaluations that we have done over the last week, but obviously with the rule changes, we wont know more until later. Its certainly an improvement and we have worked hard on the areas we had defined last year. The aerodynamics figures look good so Im not worried about the shape of the nose! Even though we had the hydraulic problem today, Im pleased with all the mileage we have achieved so far with the new car." - Michael Schumacher

Fernando Alonso is either working hard to help Ferrari mask their pace from their competitors or has taken a refreshingly frank approach to the information relayed to the fans. With the radical design of the F2012, I would imagine it could hoenstly be either. With the teams believing the Ferrari is not as weak as its being portrayed to be, Pat Fry was forced to wade in and declare them out of contention for a podium in Australia.

"At the moment, we are not where we want to be, nor where we want to be in Australia, but I remain optimistic" - Fernando Alonso

"The change we made last week to the exhaust position has put us a little bit on the back foot and we're trying to optimise to that,”  - Fernando Alonso

"I suppose that I am always slightly pessimistic. I am disappointed by out performance level at the moment and I think that we have a lot of work to do.”

"I think we've still got a reasonable amount of work to do."

 -  Pat Fry, Technical Chief

Lotus are raising a few eyebrows with their impressive 2012 car. Kimi Raikkonens confidence seems to be soaring as he continues to emphasis his fitness and reliability in the car. The Finn was quick to play down his reappearance at the top of the time sheets on day one.

"Im happy with the balance of the car, which feels good, and the fact that we didnt have any major issues. Also, I did more than a race distance today and did not have any physical problems at all, which is good. Im looking forward to making further progress with the car"

- Kimi Raikkonen  

"It makes no difference…I mean it’s the first day, and it would make a difference if it were a race weekend, but here it means nothing." - Kimi Raikkonen

 He hopes that testing has yielded not only valuable information in reguards to the tyre compounds and spec equipment for the team but also for himself as he reacclimatizes to the sport and car.

"When they are new they seem to be pretty nice tyres. Of course they probably go away more than in the past, but its the same for everybody and in a long run you try to save them as much as you can and get the best out of it"

- Kimi Raikkonen  

" …. It was a good day and we completed some long runs and good mileage. Physically, I felt fine after 117 laps. Conditions were quite windy on track but despite this I got a better feeling from the car. There was a lot of difference between the tyres. We used three compounds, but it was hard to get all of them working with the cooler temperatures today. When the tyres are working we seem to have a good car and I have a positive feeling.."

- Kimi Raikkonen   

"I'm looking forward to Melbourne. I'm looking forward to start the event with the whole team. The atmosphere is really good and I think everybody has the same experience: we want to get the best out the car, we want to work together and that's really great"

- Romain Grosjean

The most inexperienced line up on the grid seems to be the team making up the most mileage, at least where Jerez was concerned. As their laps fell away, they became more focused on pit stops. Generally working towards putting their drivers through their paces and race situations. With 1163 laps completed in the FW34 the team racked up the most laps over 5,329.55km. 

"The car felt good and the systems were all working well this morning. I like the feel of the new Renault engine as well. Its still too early to make any predictions, but we are pushing hard and working to understand the car better." - Pastor Maldonado

"We ran through our test programme and covered everything we needed to today. We did some long runs this afternoon and the car is looking good. We will now spend some time analysing all of the data we have gathered. Its good to put more mileage on the FW34 and we now aim to continue that throughout the next two days." - Pastor Maldonado

"The car is progressing well and I feel everything is going in the right direction." - Pastor Maldonado

"It has been a positive test for the team. We’ve had no problems with the car, getting in some good mileage" - Pastor Maldonado

Nico Rosberg appears to be very confident with his handling of the car. If Rosberg feels that he has a car which is capable of carrying him to a victory, he will surely grab it with both hands.

"Our test programme went well this week and we have made evident progress each day. In terms of reliability, the car is performing pretty much as we expected which is really important as we can concentrate on improving the performance. Of course its difficult at this stage to predict how we will fare in race conditions against our competitors but overall Im pleased with the start that we have made." - Nico Rosberg 

 Michael Scumacher also appears to be content in both himself and the progress of the car. The former seven time world champion may feel he has an opportunity this season to throw his hat into the ring as a serious contender. If Rosberg can finally break away from the middle field and so do, it is certain that Michael will be in close succession.

After a long break, it feels terrific being back in the car and hitting the circuit again. Our main job was to get a first impression of the tyres for 2012 and to start understanding them. They feel like a step forward, more consistent and comfortable to drive, and the biggest difference is with the rear tyre. Thanks to everybody at Pirelli for their good job this winter. Let’s see what we can learn tomorrow."

- Michael Schumacher 

Fernando's team mate and unfortunately more often than not, forgotten entity, Felipe Massa, seems to have a few more positives to highlight than his team mate but a lot less quotes in order to say it. He will no doubt be feeling the mounting pressure from within the team as well as outside of it and wishes to simply focus on data collection.

"The car is definitely better compared to Jerez and we are beginning to define how we must move forward to continue to improve. I ran all the time on the hardest tyres and I am reasonably pleased with the work we did. Tomorrow, I will try the other compounds and we will work on fine tuning the car. It will be important to do a lot of kilometres over these final five days to be as well prepared as possible for the first race of the season." - Felipe Massa

"Red Bull is definitely strong, as is normal in fact, given how they have gone over the past three years, but you can’t say that Maclaren or Mercedes for example, who seem to be behind, are not strong themselves. Maybe even more so than Red Bull." - Fernando Alonso

"Where will we be in Melbourne? No idea….From what we have seen so far, the highlight of the car is that it heats up the tyres so that you can use them to the maximum from the first lap, which is something we could not do last season." - Fernando Alonso

"We still have much to do in the area of the aerodynamics and, above all, the reliability"

- Fernando Alonso 

Team mate Romain Grosjean was all smiles after his name occupied the top spot for two consecutive days but it was the race simulation which seemed to spark the most interest from the Frenchman.

"We are quite happy. We're very happy that the car was reliable from the run no problem, so that was good, and it's very encouraging for Melbourne." - Romain Grosjean

"It's always difficult to compare cars when you're not in sync, but I think ours was pretty good and I think the Ferrari seems to struggle a little bit more at the end but nothing is sure." - Romain Grosjean

"Everything is feeling good. This morning we tried a number of different things on the car, including my first run on the soft tyre. In the afternoon we tried longer runs. Once it warmed up, the track temperature was hotter than yesterday which helps our understanding of the E20 in different conditions. Its strange to think that we are already a third of the way through pre-season testing. We are pushing to get as much achieved as possible. Im really enjoying being in the car even though it is hard work. So far my fitness has been good, my necks not too bad, but well see how it feels tomorrow! I think everyone will benefit from next week away from the circuit so we can reflect on the data…" - Romain Grosjean

"We completed a few aero runs and then started timed runs, but I was very quickly aware that the car wasn’t responding as it should. Its not ideal to lose track time, but fortunately we will have the chassis which ran perfectly in Jerez so I should get some good track time tomorrow. Its far better that we have an issue like this now rather than in Melbourne." - Romain Grosjean  

It seems the two contrasting drivers have been able to create a happy medium and both have positive outlooks when discussing their own personal ability and that of the teams. Their combined goal is to ensure that the car is the best they can possibly create and the results reflect the work and achievement of the team. After a hiccup with the chasse the team were able to resolve and return to the top of the time sheets.

 

Pastor Maldonado will be hoping to improve on last season and develop his hit and miss qualifying into solid race position.

Whilst team mate Bruno Senna, has been quick to reiterate the potential in not only the car but himself, taking every available opportunity for race simulation and preparation possible.

"It was a great day today. Although there is a lot of work to do outside the car as well as in it, it was very satisfying to finally get behind the wheel. We have had a very productive day and managed to cover all of the things we needed to. We found some interesting things out about the tyres in particular. I feel that there is a lot of potential in the FW34 and also in myself driving the car. The team has done a great job and I’m happy we have had a trouble-free day. Im now looking forward to continuing our test program tomorrow to learn more about the car." - Bruno Senna

"It’s been another productive day with us testing a number of different set-up directions and finding out a lot more about the car. The car has continued to show good reliability as we completed 124 laps today, which is very satisfying. Im happy to have started my first two days in the car for Williams on a very good note."

 - Bruno Senna

"The car is progressing well and I feel everything is going in the right direction." - Pastor Maldonado

CStreet 08/03/2012

 Rosberg, A Quiet Contender

I am and always will be a vocal fan of Webber and although I have high hopes of him finally being crowned a World Champion I would like to take a moment to discuss another driver whom I feel could be a quiet contender to snatch the victories. He has fallen in and out of contention season upon season. A great prospect and talent but never seeming able to fulfill his potential to a victory. That is Nico Rosberg.

He seems to always begin the season very well. Initially establishing a lead of his team mate, six times world champion, Michael but then the pace slows and he falls into a lull of consistent but unimpressive finishes.  He can usually be found around the 9th – 5th place on the grid and has the attributes to make him a champion. He is calm, collected and always with his car under firm control. He rarely places it where it shouldn’t be and each move and lap is as controlled as the last. Perhaps this is where the problem lies. The one thing he desperately lacks in my opinion is passion.


Paired with statistically the greatest driver the sport has seen, he reigns victorious. In 2011 he finished one place above his team mate at 7th with 89 points. Schumacher has been and will continue to receive critism for many things but wheel to wheel racing cannot be one of the topics. He will at every opportunity put his car in the optimum place with the highest possibility of making a move. Drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso will do the same. This is one of the deciding factors for their championship wins. I feel that if Rosberg, in a more competitive car adopted a similar mindset he would seize the opportunities and find himself on the podium. Tasting that ever converted champagne.


CStreet 14/02/12

image courtesy of: http://answers.bettor.com/images/Articles/thumbs/extralarge/Mercedes-Nico-Rosberg-named-the-winner-of-the-2011-Bandini-Trophy-Formula-1-update-57869.jpg 

 Jerez Insights

As the dust settles back down on the track and the teams pour over reams of data, so begins the inevitable analysis and critic of car structure, design and performance.

It stands to reason that supporters of Team X will wave lap times in the faces of Team Y fans but lets take a moment to explore what I find to be the most interesting facts to arise from Jerez and that is individual performances within the same team. I will touch upon the three teams I feel have the most interesting relationships. 

Many will pour over the numbers to try and garner insight into who will be the front runners and dark horses but with the teams adopting different focus points very little can truly be established on pre-season testing alone, making it a largely irrelevant exercise however team member against team member affords a little more illumination.

Bruno and Pastor with the new FW34
  Williams seem to want to use the first allocation of testing for car reliability with Senna and Maldonado’s objectives as ‘set-up and long runs’.

Maldonado lagged behind on the endurance front managing 122 laps from the two days in comparison to Senna’s 250.  Though, the first day of testing Pastor was forced to return his FW34 to the care of the mechanics, riddled with a technical issue. Day 2 proved to be much more fruitful for the Venezuelan who after 97 laps finished on a lap best of 1:21.197 landing him 10th an improvement from the previous days best of 1:23.371 garnered from only 25 laps. Bruno, charged with the additional objective of mileage in the car racked up an impressive 125 laps on each day as set-up checks and race simulation continued. He continued to occupy the spot at 8th over both days with a lap of 1:21.293 on Thursday and an improved 1:20.132 on Friday.

It would appear from this data that the Brazilian has the edge over his team mate in the consistency and time categories but the technical issues which plagued Maldonado’s time in the car put him at a disadvantage and he is certainly capable of matching the times shown by Senna in Friday’s sessions.

Day 1 (07/02) P Maldonado     1:23.371  After 25 laps finished 11th

Day 2 (08/02)P Maldonado      1:21.197  After 97 laps finished 10th

Day 3 (09/02) B Senna         1:21.293  After 125 laps finished 8th

Day 4 (10/02) B Senna         1:20.132  After 125 laps finished 8th

 Mercedes focal point seemed to be outright speed of the car with focus on comparisons of the soft and hard compound Pirelli tyres. With only three of the four days in testing both drivers clocked 174 laps each in the previous seasons car. 

Rosberg has the upper hand in terms of speed after his blistering run of 1:17.613 was almost a second quicker than Schumacher’s best set the day before. This internal power struggle may prove to be the hardest to call and most explosive to watch as it unfolds. What Michael may lack in speed he more than makes up for with experience and grit.                                                                                                   

                                                                      Nico and Michael proudly with the MGP W02

Day 1 (07/02) N Rosberg      1:20.219 After 56 laps finished 3rd

Day 1 (07/02) M Schumacher   1:20.794  After 42 laps finished 6th

 Day 2 (08/02) M Schumacher   1:18.561  After 132 laps finished 1st

  Day 3 (09/02)N Rosberg       1:17.613  After 118 laps finished 1st

 


Red Bull were forced to accumulate data on both speed and reliability. The two keys areas each driver suffered with in 2011.                                                                                            

Sebastian’s speed barely faltered until hit with reliance issues whereas Mark was at times speed hungry and hindered with reliability problems. The four days saw a slight shift in fortunes with Sebastian’s turn in the RB8 not yielding the speed of Webber’s previous attempts. With the seat vacated for Seb, he managed to put in more consistent times but failed to surpass Webber’s run of 1:19.184.

The recently unveiled RB8

Vettel just fell behind Webber in the lap stakes with his 146 to Marks 150 but clawed precious time in the car back after experiencing an electrical issue in the morning of Day 3 which saw the RB8 retreat into the garage for maintenance.

With only four laps between the two, it certainly seems to indicate that the speed which has at times alluded him can be found and sustained but he has Seb snapping at his heels as he continues to prove that he can be consistent in his delivery of fast times. The most interesting attribute for both is the confidence Webber seems to have gained. It could be the deciding factor in their on track battle as he’s been seen to struggled to establish himself as priority within the team.

Day 1 (07/02) M Webber     1:20.496  After 53 laps finished 4th

Day 2 (08/02) M Webber     1:19.184  After 97 laps finished 2nd

Day 3 (09/02)S Vettel      1:19.297  After 96 laps finished 3rd

Day 4 (10/02)S Vettel      1.19.606  After 50 laps finished 3rd

                                                                                       

CStreet 11/02/12

~ Reigniting The Senna Spark In The William's Fire ~ 

In recent weeks the internet has been dominated by Williams as news broke of the appointment of Bruno Senna to their race line up for the 2012 season. I thought I would let the dust settle before I again added to the chatter. The announcement everyone suspected officially arrived January 17th. Although, unconfirmed reports filtered through from various avenues in the days prior to this. Intercepted phone chatter and clandestine meetings at The Williams factory in Grove set the forums abuzz.

Speculation was rife that Rubens had been cast aside in favour of ‘pay driver’ Senna. Both Williams and Senna are clearly concerned this is the general feeling amongst fans as both went to great pains to reiterate that money was secondary to raw talent. Now, as we near winter testing, the forums being to reignite as everyone keeps their ears close to the ground, desperate of a sniff of his performance. The fact remains that no camp will have their arguments validated until the season commences. So I turn my attentions to what I feel to be a very important and positive impact on the fan community. It is something which was only recently brought to light by a friend of mine and recent advocate in the world of Formula One. 

                                     My friend has sat through endless races with me. Wearing her best ‘If I keep smiling and cheer when she cheers, she’ll think I get it’ expression. It was only brought to my attention after the end of the last season that she really had little clue as to what was happening. After this revelation, I tediously went through each team, each driver, each race and each stop. We discussed strategies, success, rivalries and standings. After these meticulous sessions she began to appreciate it as a sport and take enjoyment from the races as she re-watched them with fresh eyes. 

Whilst discussing our thoughts on The Williams announcement she made mention of the fact that she had never been witness to the legendary Ayrton Senna, other than video footage that is. It had never occurred to me, thought it may seem somewhat of an obvious statement but neither have I. Have you? I would wager that there are many new formula one enthusiasts who have never been so fortunate as to witness his majesty. She, a relative novice in all things motorsport related express enthusiasm at being able to say she witnessed a Senna on the track in her lifetime.

You know what? I’m pretty damn excited about that too.


 One of the largest arguments against the appointment of Bruno, slipping the money issue to the side, has been the attachment of the surname. Many feel that it is unwarranted for him to race under the name as it is an insult to the legends memory. It bewilders me to see how this can be, surely there is no one else qualified to brandish the name than his nephew. It’s his heritage, his God given right. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that it’s wonderful news to see the Senna name return to the drivers board. Their is an enormous amount of respect, admiration and affection for the name and this will be a continuation of a legacy. I can imagine the moment of seeing a podium finish will tug on the heart strings of many fans and all will unite in celebration of the spirit of a great man and his spirit living on in the nephew he loved so dearly.    

Of course, I mean to take nothing away from Bruno himself. We must take a moment to remember that through all the critism and comparisons to various drivers competing in formula one, he is already set at an immediate disadvantage.

He has effectively missed 10 years of driver development. Practically every other driver on the grid has more experience than him, even those younger than him. Considering he almost secured a drive at Honda back in 2008/09, this elusive opportunity has been on the cards for a long time. Come what may, I feel his inclusion as a full time member of The Williams Team will undoubtedly attract new fans from all over the world and serve to reignite the dwindling passions of fans of yesteryear. 

CStreet 28/01/12 

 As One Chapter Closes.... Image text here

                              Another Begins....

Well, that’s it, the rumours everyone had heard something about have finally been confirmed by The Williams Team. Bruno Senna has been selected as occupier of the second Williams seat for 2012. This announcement not only brings about the tide of change for the ailing team but also for the other man considered to have been in contention, Ruben’s Barcichello.

                    Although many had hoped to see 39-year old Rubens enter a 20th season on the grid, it become less and less likely that would be the case as ‘insiders’ went into overdrive with emerging news of visits to the garage and hushed conversations. It’s a crying shame that a driver of Barichello’s caliber, talent and determination should go to waste. I and a number of others have discussed in recent days that an all Brazilian line up for 2012 would have been the more logical option. Surely the experience Senna could have garnered from Rubens would have proven invaluable to the team to take forward to future successes? I truly believe that Rubens would have relished the opportunity to nurture him as a driver, leaving his lasting legacy on the team. Much in the same way, David Coulthard speared to with his position in Red Bull. I sense that Senna, would have realised the value in such an opportunity and welcomed such guidance.

We have not even surpassed the 24-hour mark for the confirmation and a few fans have been vocal in their distaste over the Senna appointment. It appears that many seem to still believe he only got this appointment based on his sponsorship commitments and surname. I don’t know about you but if someone phoned me up wanting to drive in my car with the equivalent of my lifetimes earnings in the bag, that I had a sneaking suspicion could drive it adequately, my response would simply be ‘How quick can you get here?’ But It is worth noting that the reasoning behind the delay for any official announcement seems to be largely due to the fact that Senna was undergoing some grueling sessions in the simulator in an effort to legitimately challenge his suitability and performance as he acknowledges the concerns over his lack of accurate performance data.

 

"We have done this both on track and in our simulator and he has proven quick,

technically insightful and above all capable of learning and applying his learning quickly and consistently.”

– Frank Williams

"The circumstances of Bruno's two seasons in Formula One have not given him an ideal opportunity to deliver consistently” – Frank Williams

“The evaluation process has been intense and methodical, but the time I have spent in the factory has demonstrated the team has great people and all the resources needed to achieve better things this season.”

 – Bruno Senna "

"… It was essential we spent as much time with him as possible to understand and evaluate him as a driver.”

– Frank Williams

One thing is for sure, the debate of his suitability for the role will continue to rage as an overwhelming feeling of sadness for Rubens takes hold. A man who has been witness to many drivers fleeting encounters with the world of formula one. He will be greatly missed if unable to occupy the one remaining HRT seat. A truly unfitting end to a glorious career.

With all things of this nature, ultimately the proof is in the pudding. No one will know for sure whether Bruno's appointment will be the catalyst for the resurgence of The Williams Team, or a step on the ladder of their downfall until the season commences. I believe that Williams’s newest recruit is more than capable of rising to the challenge. In doing so he will answer the critics, repeadedly citing him to prove his worth and that the backing is warranted. I’m glad an opportunity has arisen to do so but also greatly saddened a warrior had to suffer in order for it to happen. I hope to hear news in the coming days of the dawn of a new age for Williams and for Rubens. The wheels have been set in motion for Senna who will embark on his new venture from February 9th, when he commences the first set of winter testing. As for Rubens?

No one can say what the future holds but I sincerely hope that it's bright.

C.Street 17/01/12 -        Image - courtesy of http://www1.skysports.com/formula-1/news/12476/7441761/Bruno-Senna-Q-A 69 views

Senna Now On Course For 2nd Seat

Only a mere two days have passed since my last blog on this subject and the rumour mill seems to have gone into virtual meltdown in the time lapsed since then.                                                     image

Numerous rumours are in circulation but all seem to be geared towards the general concencess that Williams are now just days away from securing Bruno Senna's signature on the dotted line. Word is that he not only impressed them with his performance at the tail end of the season in the Renault but he proves to be a very popular personality within the team and sponsors alike.

No one wants to see a career as prolific as the one carved out by Rubens Barichello ended so swifly but I'm certain that he would want no one other than a Senna to be the one holding open the door. I've heard many a suggestion of a lap shootout between Rubens, Senna and Sutil, who seems to have been casted to one side rather abruptly in recent days. Although I think this would be wonderful one off feature for fans, I don't think it's the fairest way to decide between drivers of such varied callibre. Perhaps we could have an Apprentice-style program aired in which all drivers in contention compete in 'heats' and 'tasks'. It'd give the beeb something to air in the run up to the start of the season.

 

I want to momentarily touch back on the tentative subject of Adrian Sutil. Many assume his sudden and inexplicable removal from contentian to be largely due to the reports that indicate he will stand trial over an altercation in Shanghai last April.  The former driver for Force India will stand trial in Germany on 30th - 31st January according to a Munch court spokeswoman.  This news could not have come at worst time for the German, who after being replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, was vying hard for the coverted second seat at Williams. This news seems to have pushed him from the running all together now.

 image

Sutil's seeming departure from the rumour mill has left it a two horsed race for the Williams seat between the two Brazillian's.

As the tide continues to shift, almost daily. The racing community has been made well aware of Rubens desires to remain in the sport as he, himself has been very prolific about the stock and value he believes is the key for turning the fortunes of the ailing team.

"With all the changes for next year on the engine side and engineers," he said at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, "it would be clever from the team to keep the drivers and keep on going. I'm not pushing them, I'm just trying to show them that is the way to do it."

However, 28 year old Senna, has kept his cards a little closer to his chest on the subject. All the murmurs from his camp indicate he is still battling for a seat.  And despite a statement from his own facebook page playing down rumours of the move, reports continue to flood the internet suggesting that an announcement is immenent.

"Despite some rumours, my situation remains the same as before," said Senna on his Facebook page. "In other words, I am still not confirmed with any team so I'm still battling for a place in F1."

It was also suggested to me that perhaps this is in fact an elaborate bluff instigated by Bruno's management to creat a 'buzz' about a potential move in order to illustrate to the decision makers within Williams fan reaction. Or of course, it could always just be a few reporters getting a little over excited, more tag along to fan the flames. Couple that with uncharacteristic silence and lots of fan opion to express and the next thing you know, Rubens is in charge of WIlliams, has made Maldanardo the pot washer and Senna races as he pleases between parties. What is evident is that Williams are struggling to make the all in important decision otherwise they would surely have approached Barichello by now. Lets not forget there IS stil another seat up for grabs at HRT.

image

In other news, Karun Chandhok, after two seasons of paying for the privilidge of a race with HRT and a spell as the Lotus' reserve driver has secured a drive with the JRM team, competing FIA ensurance sports car races. A role for which he will recieve payment from the team for his services.

                                                         

"In F1, the money came only from endorsements and not from the team. So it will be nice to race and get paid for it."

  - Karun Chandhok

 

According to interviews, Chandhok is still hoping to split his time between his new position and a Friday role in formula one. I for one, certainly enjoy his technical insights and commentary and hope he can manage both without too much of a clash.

 

CStreet 14/01/12

 A Seat Of Controversy

So it seems that just a Bruno Senna takes some time to quash the unfaltering rumour mill about his appointment at Williams for 2012, unconfirmed reports begin to circulate that the happiest man in F1, Mr Rubens Barrichello is back at the fore front for the 2nd seat. This presents Williams with a somewhat problematic issue to resolve and limited time in which to do so.

image

 

Do they stick with the familiar?

 

A good, solid driver with a proven track record. In depth and accurate knowledge of developing the car. A popular driver with a brilliant attitude and work ethic on a par with few others.

 

     Image - Rubens Barichello

image 

Or do they take more of a risk?

 

A driver with similar attributes to Rubens, with the exception of experience and car development. But it is clear that for what he lacks in this department, he makes up for by the gallon in increased sponsors and revenue. Not to mention the fact that a vast majority of fans will want to at least see him given a fair crack of the whip of showing what he's capable of.

 

Image - Bruno Senna   

I personally, would like to see the seat be given to Senna. For the simple fact that I think he could be a fantastic asset to the sport if used correctly. Granted, he got races in 2011 but expectations seemed to be too high for a driver who bears a surname of such magnitude which undoubtedly prompts such affection from the fans. It is fair to say that he may have been seen to waste a good opportunity bestowed upon him but on the other side of the coin, perhaps it was simply too much, too soon. I always feel a pang of sorrow for him whenever I hear discussions about his driving abilities. It is assumed by many that he should already be a perfected and polished driver because of his DNA. Yes, the passion is bred into him however but I would imagine so is a certain amount of self-doubt. How can he ever be expected to mature and develop as an individual if he is constantly compared to arguably one of the greatest drivers to ever grace the track? It seems the surname is more of a hindrance than a help in most cases and I for one will give him kudos for standing up and making his presence known.

Please do not take for one moment that I wish to bid farewell to Rubens. I feel he continues to be a good role model and representative for the sport across the world. But with limited seats, I fear given the choice, young blood should be allowed to breath.  Which raises another somewhat controversial point - If Barrichello is deemed too 'old' to occupy a seat, where does that leave Mr Schumacher? Statistics speak for themselves in this instance but surely the benefit for his return is being out weighed by the need for new opportunities for younger drivers to rise through the ranks?

 CStreet 11/01/2012

 

Mark Webber Set To Step Out Of The Shadows In 2012?


With the forums and fan sites abuzz with the news of the Williams Teams latest recruit, I thought I would take a few moments to revisit the team responsible for the most noise last season, Red Bull. I turn my attentions, not to Sebastian Vettel but instead to the man, many hope, will break out from the suffocating shadow cast by his team mate in 2012.

Fundamentally there is nothing new that I can tell you about Seb, the statistics, performances and subsequent shower of accolades speak for themselves but I feel Mark Webber’s prospects can be further assessed.

I am a vocal supporter of Mark Webber, I always have been and always will be tucked up in his corner, fighting the masses. I can’t help it; I’m a sucker for the underdog. I would say he is one of the very few drivers who appears free to speak his mind and appear to the public in his natural form – i.e. not being spoon fed quotes. He will give honest feedback on his performance just aswell as others and to be fair, will own up to driver errors on his part which in all honesty is something many others cannot attest. I hope his victory in Brazil, the last race of the season is a sign of fortunes to come.

 

I’ve heard the old ‘he’s in the same car as Vettel and cannot do what he does’ regurgitated countless times. Ok, it’s a valid point but I have seen some of the finest over takes and driver battles as a result of Webber’s poor qualifying and race mistakes. He is a fighter, clearly. As fast as Vettel – no but you would be a thief to take away credit from him given some of his track battles with Alonso have made for enthralling highlights in some otherwise uneventful races. Speaking of Alonso I find the relationship between him and Mark to be a curious one, in many a race last season we saw clean, fair, respectable track battles between the two drivers. Some have been known to criticise both drivers in the past for racing incidents and on occasion with good reason but in 2011 we were not privy to this  scenario with both showing that they have considerable trust in the others ability. This is a valuable asset which  allows them the freedom to take the gaps they may not ordinarily risk on others and in turn provide us with edge of your seat moments, the overtake made by Webber on Alonso into Eau Rouge was one such white knuckle moment.

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Mark has repeatedly opted to go against the grain on different strategies, more often than not the gamble has not given the best return but he is one of the few drivers that will take the punt and will never be defeated until he puts all four wheels over the finish line. A good example of this can be found if we cast our minds back to China. He came all that way up from eighteenth on the grid after he failed to get through the first session of qualifying to finish in third. He has repeatedly nursed his wounded beast into respectable podiums and point finishes.

Considering critics will slate his results as near to pitiful, let’s take a few moments to really assess Mark’s recent performances. He managed to finish up in third with 258 points, not too shabby considering he only won one race, this putting him ahead of respected rivals Hamilton and Alonso. He was only beaten by the uncompromising winning streak led by Seb and the magnificent exploits of Jenson Button, who I think it’s appropriate to note has also been fantastic this year. His duels have resonated with fans and I am under no doubt that he will certainly provide a challenge to Sebastian in 2012.

Of the 650 points Red Bull cavorted, Webber collected 258 of them. Yes, the larger proportion came from the race wins of Vettel but those points are every bit as valuable as any others and the combined score is the one that won the constructors. Webber missed out on the Drivers Championship because he didn’t accumilate the wins with his average position two places behind his team-mate. His position in the championship reflects this accordingly.

“It’s very difficult going up against a driver of Sebastian’s calibre, being matched and measured against somebody of his standard,” – Christian Horner, Team Principle, Red Bull, on the critics

The 2010 season, was far more favourable for Webber, which is why many have retaliated to his 2011 campaign with harsh criticism. The last race in 2010, at Abu Dhabi, crowned Vettel as World Champion, outscoring Webber at 256 to 242 but Webber had throughout the season been consistently above his team-mate and had led the table on more than one occasion.

He is playing second fiddle at the moment and this is mainly due his own performance with the average time gap between their qualifying position being ten times more than the year before at 0.517 seconds. The tag of Vettel’s wing man is clearly not a title he appears to embrace and looking a little deeper we can see why.

With the re-introduction of a the ‘Marmite’ system that is KERS system, this left less weight ballast to manoeuvre and virtually no gain for him. Webber is engaged in a constant battle with his own body, his height and weight are already a black marker against him, couple that with the admittance at a recurring issue with starts and inexplicable lack of race pace against his team-mate and the problems become evident as to why 2011 displayed such a contrast between the two team mates. Towards the latter part of the season, a steady improvement can be seen as the hours of extra work and reignited passion begins to come to fruition.

For all the criticism Red Bull have received over the team orders issue, they stuck to their guns and when the boot was on the other foot they gave Webber the green light to put his foot on it. That is something which even I didn’t think they would honour.

Perhaps it was only because The Drivers Championship and Constructors was safely sat in their ever-expanding trophy cabinet. Maybe they wanted to manoeuvre Mark as high up the point total as possible. Or maybe it was because they genuinely will not favour one driver over another when the playing field is even, we will find out when the season commences.

The 2011 season was a learning curve for Webber, a lesson which culminated into a tantalising victory in Brazil where he was awarded that glorious number one for the hard work and tribulations. Granted, he can no longer afford many more of those but I think it will ultimately prove to be the best thing to happen to his career. It might be the catalyst to turning round his fortunes and becoming a force to be reckoned with in 2012.

“He has gone away and trained hard through the winter and his enthusiasm has rejuvenated and I think 2012 could be a very strong year for Mark.” – Christian Horner, Team Principle, Red Bull on Mark Webber

Mark has grit and he has determination. After months of criticism and doubt, he chalked off the final race calendar with a win. Will fortune favor him in 2012? I think so. And if not, all rumblings from the Red Bull camp indicate the race pace which has eluded him for much of 2011 has finally been unearthed.

CStreet 21/01/12 

 

13 views 

Sources -  Testing - an overview -
Sources ;http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/mar/01/mark-webber-red-bull-australia-gp/
http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/97621/ http://uk.autoblog.com/2012/03/02/webber-backs-hamilton-to-bounce-back/ http://ferraricircuit.com/2012-02-24/f1-vettel-alonso-cautious-on-2012-title-prospects/ http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/quote/index.htmlsearch=Search;keyword=whom;quoteSrcBox=jenson+button/ http://ferraricircuit.com/2012-02-13/f1-new-ferrari-20pc-ready-after-jerez-test-alonso/ http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/71929.html?CMP=OTC-RSS/ http://www1.skysports.com/formula-1/news/12473/7563836/Grosjean-Feeling-is-very-good images ; http://www.whtimes.co.uk/polopoly_fs/mclaren_mp4_27_technical_launch_2012_1106_1_1227332!image/2161738718.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_490/2161738718.jpg/http://img.ibtimes.com/www/data/images/full/2012/02/12/230908-red-bull-formula-one-driver-sebastian-vettel-of-germany-drives-the-rb8.jpg / http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/merc_rosb_jere_2012_31.jpg / http://www.gpnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/ferrari-formula-1-testing-jerez-2012-372x235.jpg / http://www.newsmakertoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Kimi-Raikkonens-First-Test-Drive-on-Lotus-Renault-F-1-Car.jpg / http://www.redbull.com/cs/RedBull/RBImages/000/000/292/180/photo610x343/Senna%20Williams%20Day%20one%20Testing%20Barcelona%202012.jpg / http://www.redbull.com/cs/RedBull/RBImages/000/000/870/14/photo610x343/Perez%20Sauber%20Barcelona%20Testing%202%20Day%20one.JPG / http://www.automobilsport.com/uploads/_neustart2/formula1-2011/sahara-force-india-nico-hulkenberg-action2.jpg
http://beyondtheredline.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Vitaly-Petrov-barcelona-Test-Day-11.jpg / http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/120207023052-ricciardo-vergne-toro-rosso-horizontal-gallery.jpg / http://rt.com/files/sport/motorsports/marussia-car-test-new-car-887/racing-mvr-02-team-marussia.n.jpg

Jerez Insights article -
http://www.f1network.net/main/s107/st175083.htm day 1 stats / http://www.f1network.net/main/s107/st175125.htm day 2 / http://www.f1network.net/main/s107/st175166.htm day 3 stats / http://www.f1zone.net/news/williams-jerez-test-day-1/12077/ day 4 stats / Images - http://cdn.images.autosport.com/editorial/1328604396.jpg / http://www.grandprix.com/jpeg/misc/redbull2012launch1-lg.jpg / http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/201102/mercedes-gp-mgp-w02-2_460x0w.jpg

Webber set to break from shadows -
Images courtesy of...
http://resources0.news.com.au/images/2010/12/07/1225966/745792-mark-webber-sebastian-vettel-fernando-alonso.jpg / http://carsroute.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Sebastian-Vettel-and-Mark-Webber.jpg / http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/55046000/jpg/_55046878_webber.jpg / http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2009/09/14/1225772/467563-mark-webber.jpg Sources: http://www.f1revs.com/2012/01/vettel-vs-webber-stats-so-far.html

Reigniting the Senna Spark In Williams Fire -

images courtesy of http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-E_Su8hz54ho/TxWPAw9YnFI/AAAAAAAAAwI/dUTS19aUdl0/s1600/Bruno-Senna-1.jpg

http://images.mirror.co.uk/upl/m4/feb2010/5/6/image-1-for-f1-drivers-for-2010-gallery-714772451.jpg / http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/55297000/jpg/_55297595_senna.jpg

Senna now on second course-

Images coutesy of... http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Sport/Pix/pictures/2011/2/8/1297192037041/Adrian-Sutil-Force-India-007.jpg / http://www.topnews.in/sports/files/Karun%20Chandhok.jpghttp://www.sennafile.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/barrichello_bruno_senna-300x227.jpg - 14 views

Saet Of Controversy -
Images courtesy of :
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Sport/Pix/pictures/2009/7/14/1247606327098/Rubens-Barrichello-001.jpg / http://www.f1racingfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/2010-Bruno-Senna-A.jp IMAGES -  http://whatculture.com/sport/f1-qualifying-china-2012-nico-rosberg-takes-pole.php

http://www.yallaf1.com/2012/04/14/webber-coping-better-than-vettel-in-2012-says-engineer/

Hamilton - Image courtesy of ;http://www.topnews.in/sports/files/lewis-hamilton.jpg