So Near Yet So Far!

The Malaysian Grand Prix was a fantastic experience for me! I had hoped to meet and greet my favourite driver Kimi Raikkonen during the Driver Autograph Session.

Unfortunately the dream remained a dream but I did manage to get some photos of other drivers.

Thank you TOURISM MALAYSIA for the experience. I shall cherish this always

The Malaysian Sojourn

Malaysia has been so good to me and I have no words to express how thankful I am to TOURISM MALAYSIA for the 2 day race tickets. I never thought I would bump into so many accomplished people on this short trip.

It was only a 3 day trip but I will cherish every minute of it!

Day 1 : 24th March 2012

I reached my Hotel Mandarin Oriental around 9 in the morning and was simply awed by the location. Right next to the Petronas Towers and the Designer Laden Suria KLCC, I knew I had booked the Right place!

I entered the Lobby and couldn't believe what I saw! This hotel was packed with Formula 1 teams, FIA Members and even Footballers!

I first met the Legendary Sir Jackie Stewart!! The Triple World Champion also called the Flying Scotsman was very kind and I had the privilege of getting a photograph with him!

My Wait to be checked into my room turned out to be a Blessing in Disguise!

Michel Salgado was the next Celebrity I met! The Ex-Real Madrid and Spanish Defender had recently visited India for a Blackburn Rovers event ( His current club ) and we had a healty conversation.

I then met a Fellow Manchester United Supporters Mr. & Mrs. Wong  and we couldn't stop talking about the club we loved! We shared experiences and opinions about the club and more importantly talked about Formula 1.  

The Hotel Room was lavish! Mandarin Oriental is the best Hotel there. My room overlooked the Petronas Towers and the KLCC Mall which has Solar Energy for majority of its Energy needs.

I spent the rest of the day at Sepang watching the Saturday Practice and the Qualifying. I did a quick tour of the KLCC Mall when I returned and Met Fabio Cannavaro!!

This was followed by a sumptuous dinner at Lai Po Heen, the Award winning Chinese Restaurant of Mandarin Oriental. I ended the day with a recce of the rest of the hotel and more importantly.. its Cake Shop!

 

Day 2 : 25th March 2012 - RACEDAY :

Post Breakfast I made my way to the lobby and many celebrities were waiting for their rides to the circuit. Fernando Morientes was the next to oblige me with a Photo! I wished the Spaniard the best and my jaw dropped when I reached the Hotel Driveway.

Ferraris, Maserati, Porsches dominated the driveway. I couldn't stop gazing at them!

After Attending a Fantastic Grand Prix I Spent my evening at Mosaic the Coffee Shop of Mandarin Oriental and got a picture with Johnny Herbert ( Ex F1 Driver, Sky - Sports Co-presenter, Herbie Blash - FIA Deputy Race Director Charlie Whiting - FIA  Race Director!!

Day 3: 26th March 2012 :

I spent the morning exploring the Mall and had High Tea at the Lounge on the Park ( Courtesy AMEX Platinum Services ) before checking out of the Hotel.

It was a great trip. Never Expected to meet so many celebrities as Formula 1 teams prefer staying near the circuit and this hotel was an hour's drive away.

I must say Mandarin Oriental is the Best Property in Kuala Lumpur!  

A Big Thank you to TOURISM MALAYSIA for giving me the opportunity to enjoy the Malaysian Grand Prix.

MALAYSIA, TRULY ASIA !! 

The Malaysian Surprise!!

March had been full of Surprises for me & the Tickets for Malaysian GP was the biggest surprise!!

I had never dreamt of attending the Malaysian GP this year and TOURISM MALAYSIA Surprised me with a fantastic gift - a 2 day Grandstand Ticket!! A big thank you to them because this GP had it all and I had the Privilege to see it all !!

Saturday was a hot and humid day. Hamilton and Jenson Button locked the front row for Mclaren and Schumacher qualifying third ensured that the Mercedes Engines were in for a strong race. Kimi qualified 5th but a gear-box change demoted him to 10th.

Sunday showed similar weather conditons one hour prior to the race. However 15 minutes to the race and the sky had become overcast. A Straightforward dry race was definitely in jeopardy. HRTs were the exceptions as they opted for the Blue Banded wet tyres while the others considered Intermediates as the wiser option. The Five lights went out and what followed was one of the most amazing races I had ever seen!!

Grosjean starting from 7th, made a good start and was third into turn 1. Schumacher and Grosjean made contact at turn 4 and both spun, losing several postions in the process and Grosjean eventaully retired on lap 4 after spinning into a gravel trap. On the first lap, turn 9 to 11 was almost completely dry but the rest of the track was very wet. Perez stopped after the first lap to change to full wets in a move that would elevate him to an eventual podium scoring position. All drivers had pitted onto full wets by laps 5 as the pitwall radar showed "the intensity will increase to 4 from time to time" meaning heavy rain was still to come.

The safety car was deployed on the 7th lap, purely because of the heavy rain, and the race was suspended on lap 9.
This worked in favour of Jean-Eric Vergne, the only driver still running on intermediates, who was able to change to full wets (as required by race officials) without the necessity of a pit stop. The HRT of Karthikeyan benifited from starting the race on full wets, having not needed to pit stop and was in tenth when the race was suspended.
Grosjean's car was rescued from the gravel and brought back in the pits, another disappointment for the Frenchman. The race suspension lasted for fifty minutes and in that time many drivers opted to leave their car. The cars were suspended on the grid and the fans witnessed an innovative way that teams adopted to keep their cars & equipment dry - THE GAZEBOS!

The race restarted under the safety car. 4 laps behind the safety car & majority of the drivers once again pitted to change to intermediate tyres. Vettel lost radio contact with the pits. On lap 15, Jenson Button clumsily locked up the rear wheels and made contact with Karthikeyan, forcing him to pit again to change the front wing, ending his podium chances. Subsequently he made up a few places but was unable to finish in the top 10.

Alonso emerged from this as the new leader when he overtook Sergio Perez on lap 16, a lead he only briefly relinquished with a lap 40 pit stop. Rosberg was in fourth on lap 23 but slowly slipped backwards when his tyres overheated and he consequently pitted early for more intermediates. As the track slowy dried further, the top five all had comfortable gaps between them.

The Heavier rain that was forecasted never came ( Lap 31 ). After being 8 seconds behind Alonso in 2nd, Perez begun to set consecutive fastest laps and was closing the gap to the leader. The rain forecast prevented most cars from changing to slicks when the track was dry.

Daniel Ricciardo was the first to take the gamble and change to dry tyres on lap 37. He set the fastest lap by some three seconds on Perez and that initiated the change from wet to dry tyres for everyone else.

Perez on the prime tyre consistently cut down on Alonso's (medium tyre) lead to within half a second. However Perez was told on the radio "Sergio, we need this position, I Repeat we need this position." referring to the 18 points on offer for 2nd place. On the same lap Perez took too much curb on turn 14 and ran wide! This cost him at least five seconds and ensured that Alonso retained his lead.

Commentators questioned whether Sauber - whose engine is supplied by Ferrari - gave a coded message to Perez asking him to allow the engine supplier to take victory. Sauber denied this emphatically after the race. Could the Factory Ferrari instruct the Customer Ferrari to back off and let the former win? Well the Speculation will go on...

Late in the race, Vettel received a puncture against the front wing of Narain Karthikeyan, and he pitted from 4th place, finishing 11th; Karthikeyan was given a 20 second post-race penalty for his part in the collision. Pastor Maldonado, who was running 10th, was forced to retire on the penultimate lap when his engine gave way, allowing Michael Schumacher his first points of the season.

The Hero of the Day though was clearly Fernando Alonso.The Ferraris were struggling and didn't seem to have any chance of winning. However the rain always brings surprises and Alonso deserved the Victory. Sergio Perez left everyone astonished with his performace and the Sauber Ferrari will not be a pushover this season. They have plenty in reserve! Hamilton salvaged some pride for McLaren in 3rd but Button's incident with Karthikeyan simply spoilt the Brit's race.

 

Webber finished a strong 4th and it seems his consistency is finally rewarding him. Kimi had quite an entertaining race as he wrestled up the order to finish a commendable 5th. Bruno Senna, Paul Di Resta, Jean Eric Vergne impressed everyone with their drives finishing 6th, 7th & 8th respectively. They are definite champions in the making! Hulkenburg and Schumacher completed the Top Ten, a good day for Force India with both drivers finishing in point scoring positions.

Vettel seems to be under pressure. The German's incident with Karthikeyan demoted him from 4th to 11th. His post-race outburst using Derogatory terms at the HRT driver didn't go down well. Vettel is not getting a walkover this time! Massa put in a very disappointing shift again and it seems that Ferrari will be searching the market for a better teammate for Alonso. Maldanonado suffered heartbreak as his engine gave up the ghost, the Venezuelan failing to finish again...

China is the next stop for Formula 1 and is yet another Herman Tilke designed track. This season is going to be a close contested one and Red Bull has work to do to dominate again.

I hope Kimi does well in China...

The Fans of The ICEMAN!!

2009 was the year Kimi Raikkonen left Formula 1. Ferrari in its enthusiasm to bring in Fernando Alonso didn't let the Finn complete his contract which would have ended in 2010. Kimi who would have stayed in Formula 1 had to leave the sport and start Rallying which wasn't as rewarding.

Many Fans had given up but the rumours of his return in 2011 encouraged us to hope and pray.

End of 2011 and Kimi was seen at the Williams' Factory during the Singapore GP Weekend. 

Then Came the news!! Kimi Returns to F1 with Lotus F1 with a 2 year deal!! He had got his rightful place and I hoped that I would meet him one day... & I almost did.

TOURISM MALAYSIA had been very kind to offer me a 2 day Grandstand ticket to watch the action at Sepang.

Come Saturday and I went Searching through the F1 Village to find something that would show my support to Kimi. Alas there wasn't anything..

Sunday however would be an unforgettable day for me. I had seen many fans wearing a Lotus Tshirt with the words "Iceman Kimi is Back" on the back.

I met a Fan wearing the same on Sunday. He revealed that they were a part of a European group who had come down to show Kimi their support at the GP ! He was kind enough to introduce me to the group.

I showcased all the prints and the poem I made for Kimi. To my Surprise Daniel a fan took off his Tshirt and gifted it to me!! It was so overwhelming.

I had struck a bond with the group. We were one in our support and love for Kimi Raikkonen. It was an honour to meet them all ; an experience that I shall always cherish and treasure. 2 weeks have gone by and still their chants of " Kimi Raikkonen .. Kimi Raikkonen" ring in my ears!

I hope I meet them again and this post is a small tribute to fans of Kimi Raikkonen from the Finnish Homeland!

 

All Hail King Kimi! Make way for the Iceman Cometh!!

 

The Australian Review and The Malaysian Preview!

The Stands were packed, The Paddock tense, The Drivers lined up on the Grid and the Five Red Lights went out to Start the 2012 season in Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. The Weekend had sprung a lot of Surprises.

QUALIFYING :

The HRTs didn't make the grid on Sunday after failiing to qualify within the 107 % rule. Kimi Raikkonen's return was marred by a miscommunication and timing problem relegating him to 18th. The Ferraris struggled too as Massa Qualified a disappointing 16th and Alonso beached his Ferrari in Q2 to finish 12th.

The day however belonged to the McLaren duo as Lewis and Jenson topped the timesheets and Romain Grosjean sprung a big surprise qualifying 3rd. Schumacher, Webber & Vettel completed the top 6. The pace of the Mercedes GP, Sauber Ferrari & the Williams clearly showed that the first would be exciting.

RACE :

Button jumped Hamilton at the start and Grosjean dropped 3 places into the first turn. Webber was hit from both sides and suffered some damage. Contact at the rear affected Senna. The main beneficiaries were Perez, Alonso and Raikkonen, Perez jumping 12 places in the first two laps. Grosjean's race ended after contact with Maldonado's car, the Frenchman suffering a wrecked suspension. Schumacher was running third before his gearbox failed.

A retired Caterham brought out the safety car and Vettel jumped Hamilton for second place. The restart produced more incidents - most notably the contact between Senna and Massa knocking both out of the race.

The last lap had surprises of its own as Maldonado who had come close to challenging Alonso for 5th place ran too wide on the kerb and was spun into the wall thus wrecking his race. Rosberg suffered a puncture on the same lap when Perez tried a move, the front wing clipping the rear tyre.

Jenson Button won the race. Vettel, Hamilton completed the podium. Webber the home hero produced his best result at home in 4th. Alonso flattered the Tifosi finishing 5th in the car that just doesn't seem competitive. Kamui Kobayashi and Kimi Raikkonen benefitted from the last lap incidents finishing 6th and 7th respectively. Perez, Ricciardo & Di Resta took the final point scoring positions.

The race does indicate how team performances are going to be. The Australian GP done and dusted, it is now time to turn our attention to the First Race in Asia, the highly technical and one of the Best Drivers' circuits - THE MALAYSIAN GP AT SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT.

LOOKING AHEAD TO MALAYSIA :

Sepang is a very technical circuit with fast sweeping corners and a couple of really slow ones. The famed back straight has seen a lot of overtaking. All these circuit characteristics can only point to one designer - THE GREAT HERMANN TILKE!

The Malaysian GP is known to produce some of the greatest races of the season. The rains feature a lot on race weekends and races have been stopped or curtailed thanks to heavy downpours.The 2009 season was curtailed rewarding drivers only half the points.

So what does this year's race have in store for us?

Well the weather forecast shows storms throughout the weekend! We can't stop the monsoons can we? Rain always spices things up and evens out the field.

The first two races are on consecutive weekends. So teams won't have much to improve on the cars they used in Australia.

The McLarens are the favourite to win this race too and I think Button will overwhelm Hamilton again. He is consistent performer like Vettel and a better driver. So beating him would be difficult. Hamilton is ragged and can produce some magical drives but consistency would be needed from him to challenge his compatriot.

Vettel and Webber would be hoping to get some new components in their car to match the McLarens but this seems unlikely this weekend. The Ban of Blown Diffusers has affected the Milton Keyes team this year and changing wind conditons can affect the Red Bull which is more dependent on aerodynamics for performance.

Retirement for Schumacher and the last lap puncture for Rosberg didn't show the true pace of the Mercedes GP. Schumacher is called the Regenmeister ( rain master ) and if he qualifies strongly... you never know.

The Ferraris of Alonso and Massa will struggle according to me. Massa needs a good car to perform and Alonso has proved his driving prowess on more than one occasion by finishing in places that simply flatter Ferrari. Sorry to all the Tifosi fans but I don't see Ferrari on the podium.

Sauber Ferrari seems to be giving the Factory Ferrari a run for their money. The return of some experts of F1 ( retired from other teams ) have helped the team build a strong car. A podium finish for Kobayashi or Perez would be difficult but they seem better equipped than the other mid table runners.

Williams have had reshuffling at the top and the team seem to be slowly returning to the good old days. Maldonado needs to finish and stop making mistakes. He is a great prospect and can get the team a lot of points - provided he finishes! Bruno Senna is quick but has to settle in to return favourable results for the team.

Kimi Raikkonen & Romain Grosjean have got mixed resuts in the previous race for Lotus F1. An ardent fan of Kimi, I would love to see him on the top step of the podium but as it looks a Podium would be a very strong result for Lotus. Kimi showed great race pace as he climbed from 17th to finish a strong 7th, Grosjean's race cut short by the incident with Maldonado. Watch out for the Frenchman though.

The other teams have work to do and I dont see them in the points. Sahara Force India F1 and Scuderia Toro Rosso might just sneak in though.

This will be the first race of the season that I shall be attending!!

TOURISM MALAYSIA have been kind enough to offer me the privilege of watching the qualifying & the race in the grandstands. It's going to be an unforgettable experience for sure.

Can't Wait!!

 

Photo Credits : www.aneyeforindia.com - Santosh Verma Photography

Preview, Preferences & Prophecies

 

The 2012 Formula 1 Season is just a few hours away, the opening round to be held in Albert Park, Melbourne Australia. So what better a time to preview what promises to be the most exciting season yet!!

LONGEST F1 SEASON :

20 Races spread over 5 Continents!  This year poses a mammoth challenge to all the teams across the grid. Reliability is going to be of utmost importance as teams battle it out for supremacy.

United States makes a return with a new track in Austin, Texas and Bahrain would feature once again after the Race was Cancelled due to political turmoil the previous year.

RULE CHANGES :

1) No Restriction on Tyre Usage. Teams would have the liberty to test Tyre compounds chosen by Pirelli for the weekend that would suit their car setups. This should definitely reduce the Lap Time Differences between teams.

2) Mid Season Testing returns this year and Mugello is the Track chosen for the same on May 1.

Everyone specially the newer teams would benefit from this. The teams will only be permitted to do fifteen days of testing over the course of the season, the pre-season winter testing schedule has been cut back to accommodate the Mugello test.

3) The banning of blown diffusers has meant all teams had to redevelop the exit of the exhaust.

4)  FIA banned the use of "reactive ride-height".The reduction in the height of the nose led to several teams using a "platypus" nose design. Some of the designs really look ugly. Mclaren & Marussia though have adopted a different design.

5) All cars had to pass their mandatory FIA crash tests before being allowed to take part in pre-season testing. Previously, passing the crash tests was only a requirement prior to the first race of the season. Crash tests for the 2012 season will also be more rigorous than in previous years.

THE CONTENDERS :

Red Bull Racing Renault ( AUT ) 

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Mark Webber
Test Driver : Sebastien Buemi


VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES (GBR)
McLaren Mercedes
 

3. Jenson Button
4. Lewis Hamilton
Test Driver : Gary Paffett

SCUDERIA FERRARI (ITA)
Ferrari

5. Fernando Alonso
6. Felipe Massa
Test Driver : Jules Bianchi


MERCEDES GP PETRONAS F1 TEAM (DEU)
Mercedes

7. Michael Schumacher
8. Nico Rosberg


LOTUS F1 TEAM (GBR)
Lotus Renault
9. Kimi Raikkonen
10. Romain Grosjean


SAHARA FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND)
Force India Mercedes

11. Paul Di Resta
12. Nico Hulkenberg


SAUBER F1 TEAM (CHE)
Sauber Ferrari

14. Kamui Kobayashi
15. Sergio Perez Mendoza
Test Driver : Esteban Gutierrez


SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (ITA)
STR Ferrari

16. Daniel Ricciardo
17. Jean-Eric Vergne
Test Driver : Sebastien Buemi


AT&T WILLIAMS (GBR)
Williams Renault

18. Pastor Maldonado
19. Bruno Senna
Test Driver : Valtteri Bottas


TEAM CATERHAM (MAL)
Caterham Renault

20. Heikki Kovalainen
21. Jarno Trulli


HRT F1 TEAM (ESP)
22. Pedro de la Rosa
23. Narain Karthikeyan


MARUSSIA F1 TEAM (RUS)
Marussia Cosworth

24. Timo Glock
25. Charles Pic

 

SIX CHAMPIONS ON THE GRID :

A season featuring 6 World Champions brings in so much excitement. Vettel ( 2010, 2011 ), Button ( 2009 ), Hamilton ( 2008 ), Raikkonen ( 2007 ), Alonso ( 2005, 2006 ), Schumacher ( 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1995, 1994 ).

Vettel has been a confident driver for the last 2 seasons thanks to a very reliable and quick Red Bull. He certainly has no intent of stopping at 2 titles. He seems to be the man to win it again.

Button has been a consistent performer in the 2011 season and hasn't done much wrong in earlier seasons either. Mclaren are a great team to be in and I see him giving Vettel a run for his money.

Hamilton has been erratic and very rash in his driving techniques leading to many bust-ups with co-drivers on the paddock. He has the ability to accomplish what he did in 2008 and only time will tell how the Brit will perform this season. Button as a team-mate would not make things comfortable for him.

Raikkonen - The Iceman, The Flying Finn and My Personal Favourite has made a return to Formula 1 this season in a team that is in a rebuilding phase after the successful 2005-2006 seasons. They have had a strong pre-season but it would be an exaggeration to say he would be successful to the point of winning a title. As Keke Rosberg once said " If you want to win, Get a Finn! "

Alonso has lead the charge for Ferrari from 2010 after Raikkonen's exit in 2009. However Ferrari have failed to give him a car that would match the credentials of a Red Bull. The results from pre-season aren't encouraging either. The Maranello team has work to do.

Schumacher has been the most successful Formula 1 driver. Accolades and Records adorn a fantastic career. However his participation shouldn't rattle his compatriot VETTEL. He has achieved what he could in Formula 1. His participation however brings in millions of viewers from all parts of the world.

 

PERSONAL PREDICTIONS :

Pre - Season testing has clearly indicated that the RED BULL is the most consistent in performance over long periods. They haven't been the quickest, but the RB8 will be more than a match to the others. As Steve Slater reports " The only potential good news for their rivals is that after the Red Bull team unveiled an upgraded exhaust system and gearbox assembly to improve rear-end aerodynamic performance at the final test, they suffered gearbox problems."

Red Bull is going to still run the "B-spec" in Melbourne so reliability can be an issue. 

Mclaren, Lotus, Mercedes GP have been quick on individual days but Mclaren seem to be the only worthy contender. However Kimi Raikkonen in a LOTUS F1 car will be more than a handful for the rest.

FERRARI have a lot of work to do as the feedback by both Alonso & Massa clearly underline the shortcomings of this year's car. ALONSO is no pushover and he will leave no stone unturned to fight for the crown.

MERCEDES PETRONAS have two able contenders for the crown. NICO ROSBERG would want to prove his worth and MICHAEL SCHUMACHER as a team - mate will compel him to give his best.SCHUMACHER with his 7 Titles and more importantly Experience can never be written off.

MID - FIELD Battles are going to be enthralling too as cash - strapped Force India, Sauber, Williams would find it difficult to sustain progress. This will bring in Toro Rosso & Caterham closer to the trio. HRT failed the Crash tests and will enter the season almost untested. The same can be said for the newcomer Marussia, but Formula 1 is never short of surprises, 2009 season a clear testimony of this fact.

Well we aren't far from finding this out! So Bring it on!

FORMULA 1 is BACK!!

Formula 1 2011 - A Season of Dominance

 

Photo Credit : Santosh Verma Photography www.aneyeforindia.com

Red Bull gives you wings!! Most of us never believed this when the commercial came on air. Well Red Bull Racing went all the way to prove this to us in the 2011 season.

2010 was a very competitive season with Red Bull, Ferrari & Mclaren Mercedes fighting for top honours till the end of the season. However the Bulls prevailed and Sebastien Vettel was crowned the youngest Formula 1 champion!

2011 witnessed a number of changes -

a) Return of the 107 % Qualifying Rule. The Qualifying is divided into 3 sessions; this rule was applicable for Q1.  Under this arrangement, any driver who fails to set a time within 107% of the fastest lap in Q1 may not be permitted to take part in the race i.e. if the fastest Q1 time is 1 min 40 sec, the slowest driver has to be quicker than 1 min 47sec. A driver could however race if he suffered Mechanical Failures prior / during Q1 and was within the 107 % limit in Practice - at Marshall's Discretion.

b) The Biggest change in Formula 1 - Pirelli replacing Bridgestone as the Sole Tyre Supplier to the teams. Pirelli had reentered the sport after 20 years, the last season being 1991. Pirelli introduced 3 tyre compounds for dry races - Super - Soft ( Red Banded ), Soft ( Yellow Banded ) and the Hard ( White Banded ), the Hard Compound rarely used. Pirelli designed a higher wearing tyre leading to 3 stops for many races. Many incidents of Blistering were reported most notably in the Belgian Grand Prix.

c) KERS made a return. Kinetic Energy Recovery System was introduced in 2009, a 35 kg addition to the car's kerb weight. The Principle was simple : The Loss of Power due to braking into a corner would be transmitted via the brakes to a storage battery and this would be returned at the touch of a button causing quicker acceleration and better top speeds on starights. The KERS Battery would be refreshed at the end of each lap. 2011 rules allowed only 20kgs to be added. Most teams used KERS although Red Bull suffered many malfunctions with KERS. Other teams also had mixed results but when it worked flawlessly KERS was Fantastic for the cars.

d) The F Duct system devised by McLaren and Copied by others was banned but DRS was introduced. DRS - Drag Reduction System negates the Downforce flowing over the rear wing. This can be achieved by opening the rear wing and offering the driver an additional 15km/hr. DRS could be used freely during Free Practice and Qualifiying but the use was restricted in racing. Wet Track conditions prohibited the use of DRS. DRS could be enabled only after 2 laps of race completion. The chasing driver needs to be within one second in the Detection zone before he attempts an overtaking move. DRS zones were marked on track and DRS did a fine job of spicing things up in races.

e) Team Orders were Banned. "Fernando is faster than you". 2010 Hockenheim GP was the bone of contention. Rob Smedly, Felippe Massa's Race Engineer gave him this message and a couple of turns later he conceded the race lead to his teammate. Mark Webber was also asked to stop pressurizing his teammate Sebastien Vettel and this didn't go down well with the Australian.

 

2011 Season kicked off with Victory for Sebastien Vettel. The sheer pace of the Team from Milton Keyes amazed everyone. It looked ominous for Ferrari and Mclaren Mercedes - the true contenders to Red Bull's crown. The expertise of Christian Horner, Adrian Newey was proving fruitful to the team as Vettel Notched up Pole Positions in Qualifying and converting them to Victories. The gap was increasing and the others were struggling to play catchup. A victory for Alonso, Hamilton and Button didn't do much to dent Vettel's hopes for a second title as the German always ensured that he finished on the podium in every race.

Sebastien's consistency coupled with the Red Bull's sheer pace and Reliability help them open a considerable gap in the first part of the season. KERS malfunctioned more than once but the Aerodynamic Experience of Adrian Newey made the Red Bulls literally untouchable. Nine Races into the season and Vettel's lowest finishing position was 2nd !! Germany was the only race in which he finished 4th and the Tyre Burst at Abu Dhabi was his only retirement of the season. The German broke Nigel Mansell's Record of 15 poles at the season ending Brazilian GP but failed to beat Compatriot Michael Schumacher's record of 14 victories from pole. This however was nothing short of special from the German. He won his 2nd title at the Japanese Grand Prix to become the youngest Double World Champion.

Webber played a good wingman to Vettel's title charge although he was unlucky not to get a car as capable as his team mate's. His resurgence in the second half of the season helped him claim 3rd position in the Championship Standings.

Lewis Hamilton had a very troublesome season though. His antics on track didn't gain him many admirers. His duels with Massa were incident packed affecting both in the championship and causing a lot of friction between the two who were once good pals. Lewis' driving style was being questioned as more incidents plagued his races, most notably the one with Team mate Jenson Button in Canada. The Contact between the two wrecked Lewis' race and compromised Button's pretty badly though the latter went on to win thanks to the temporary suspension of the race due to rain. The Formula 1 Drivers Association had planned to discuss Lewis' driving tactics before the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, the details of which are unknown.

 Jenson Button performed commendably and overshadowed Lewis' performances. Although both the McLaren Drivers won 3 races apiece, Button's consistency helped him finish 43 points ahead of his team-mate. The Canadian Grand Prix was Special for the Brit as he went on to win the race from the back of the grid - thanks to a rare error by Vettel on the last lap. 2nd place in the championship was all that Button could achieve this season even though McLaren had caught up with Red Bull in the 2nd half of the season.

Ferrari had another dismal season. Fernando Alonso had only the solo victory at Great Britain to show for his efforts. A few podiums helped him finish 4th in the standings, 1 point behind Mark Webber. Felippe Massa didn't manage a single podium in the entire season!! The man who finished 2nd on 2008 a mere shadow of himself. His position in the team could also be in jeopardy if the Brazilian fails to perform in 2012. Steve Slater, the Famous TV Commentator for ESPN Star Sports made a very important point post the Brazilian GP - " If Felippe Massa had scored another 80-90 points, Ferrari would have displaced McLaren Mercedes for the Second Spot in the Constructors."

Mercedes GP were the best amongst the rest as Nico Rosberg finished ahead of the 7 time World Championship winning team-mate Michael Schumacher. The German Duo performed well for the Factory Mercedes and won the 4th position in the Constructors quite comfortably.

The others only became "Also rans" sometimes ending up on the podium - such was the dominance of the Redbulls, The Mclarens & The Ferraris.

However the TOP STEP ALWAYS belonged to ONE MAN - SEBASTIEN VETTEL

 

In Brief :

After a closely contested season in 2010, 2011 was the advent of a new period in Formula 1, be it rule changes, tyre changes, Team Revamps and novel ways of Overtaking. The entire season was dominated by Red Bull who were rightly Crowned with the Drivers and the Constructors' Championships. The Others have a lot of catch up to do.

Some stills from the FIA awards held in Gurgaon which became a hot destination after the inaugural Indian Grand Prix

 Photo Credits : www.zeenews.india.com

 

..... & THIS is MY TAG HEUER!!

Swiss Avant - Garde since 1860 !!

These are the lines that adorn the brand which epitomises excellence in the field of Swiss Watch making!! Switzerland - the land of Chocolates and Watches would feel proud to see this brand  associated with Formula 1 and Top Celebrities from Different Fields, be it Sports, Movies or Modelling!

The Name is TAG HEUER and today I showcase my love for this brand.

My love affair with Tag Heuer started in 2006. Kimi Raikkonen - My Favourite Formula 1 driver endorsed the Formula 1 Chronograph and I still have it. The Steel Strap, Red Dial, 1/10th sec Chronograph Water Resistant upto 200m still looks classy after 6 years.

 

The next purchase was the eyewear designed by the same man - The Tag Heuer Reflex!

The Uber Cool, Stylish Numbered Spectacles turned many a heads whenever I wore it. The Frameless Spectacle adapts to the Facial Characteristics making it really comfortable.

Finally My latest purchase took me into Tachymeter Territory - FORMULA 1 GRANDE DATE CHRONOGRAPH

The Black Dial, 1/10th sec Chronograph comes with a Tachymeter and is the Pinnacle of the Formula 1 series of Tag Heuer. The Craftsmanship of this watch just awed me.

I was awarded by Tag Heuer for Showcasing my Collection.. A BIG THANK YOU TO TAG HEUER INDIA. -

I don't need to say more... Pictures are more than Enough!

The Gift

Photo Credits : Santosh Verma Photgraphy www.aneyeforindia.com

The ICEMAN Cometh!!

"The Iceman", "The Flying Finn", " The King of SPA" , These are some of the names given to the man who made it to Formula 1 after just 23 races in the Formula Renault Series! - A Jump many considered too dangerous for Formula 1. His Monosyllabic Answers and Expressionless Face make him a nightmare for media; but as a McLaren Mercedes' pit crewmember said "Outside He is a different guy, an introvert, but when He gets behind the wheel, his character changes completely! He is focussed and has so much knowledge about his car.. Its simply Astonishing!"

The man is from Espoo, Finland , the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion KIMI RAIKKONEN!! 

Well lets have a quick look at his Formula 1 Career :

Peter Sauber, Owner of Sauber Formula 1 team signed him for the 2001 season amidst opposition from many critics because of Kimi's Racing Inexperience. However the Finn didn't disappoint achieving four points-scoring finishes and eight finishes in the top eight. Completing the year with 9 points, Räikkönen, along with teammate Nick Heidfeld, helped Sauber to what was then its best result of fourth place in the constructors' championship.

Ron Dennis a long admirer of Finnish Drivers considered him a worthy replacement for the retiring Double World Champion Mika Hakkinen and signed Kimi in 2002, Ferrari also being a prospective destination.

2002 - 2006 saw him complete 5 seasons with McLaren Mercedes. The Woking Based team however suffered from unreliability which cost Kimi dearly in the Championships. He finished 2nd in 2003, two points separating him and the winner Michael Schumacher. 2005 could have been his year but poor reliability and component failures forced him to finish 21 points behind Fernando Alonso - Youngest Formula 1 champion in 2005. McLaren Mercedes struggled in the other season inspite of having quick cars.

Kimi finally made the much anticipated switch to Scuderia Ferrari in 2007 taking the place of the 7 time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher. However Kimi never let the disappointments of the previous seasons trouble him as he clinched his maiden Formula 1 Championship in the last race in Sao Paulo ( Brazil ) winning by a solitary point from Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

2008 & 2009 saw him struggle again. The first half of 2008 was fruitful with Kimi getting a couple of victories but Tyre Temperature issues troubled him in the second half. 2009 witnessed many changes most notably Kinetic Energy Recovery System ( KERS ). Ferrari opted to use it though it was optional and struggled throughout the season. He however did win His Favourite GP of Spa Franchorchamps in Belgium winning 4 times in the last 5 Belgian GPs earning the title "THE KING OF SPA" .

2010 saw him leave Formula 1 for Rallying. Ferrari replaced him with Fernando Alonso.

After a couple of mediocre seasons in Rallying with the Citreon B Team, rumours were ripe of Kimi's return to Formula 1 when he was spotted at Williams' Oxfordshire factory during the Singapore GP weekend. However the talks failed and just when all hope seemed lost, Lotus Renault surprised us all. 

The Announcement came on 29th November 2011 with Lotus offering the Finn a 2 year contract.

2012 is going to be an amazing season featuring 6 Formula 1 Champions - Sebastien Vettel ( Youngest Double World Champion - 2010 & 2011 ), Fernando Alonso ( 2005 & 2006 ), Lewis Hamilton ( 2008 ), Jenson Button ( 2009 ), Kimi Raikkonen ( 2007 ) & Michael Schumacher ( 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 ).

Kimi Raikkonen will have to settle in quickly to challenge his Close Friend Vettel's Crown.  Although experts are having mixed reactions about his return, underlining Schumacher's performances as a reference, I feel Kimi when given the right car is more motivated to win than anyone else on the grid. In his words "Only I know what is going on in my mind" goes to prove that the Finn wants to prove his worth again. The 2nd Highest Sportsman in 2009 knows how to accomplish the task at hand.

He will have to first build Renault, using his Formula 1 expertise and making them the team that they were in 2005 & 2006. Renault knows that guys like Raikkonen, Alonso are born racers and I am sure this move won't backfire. Kimi has enjoyed his preliminary testing in Valencia and has said he is more motivated than ever. Alonso has welcomed his friend's return to Formula 1. “Kimi’s return is certainly a very great news for all of us, not only to Formula 1, but also for the spectators, for people who love the races, because he is a very talented driver. I have always respected him and a driver you can trust racing wheel to wheel,” 

His return has aroused the Formula 1 passion for supporters like me. We hope to see King Kimi back on the podium soon and Hopefully even lift his Second World Title. 2012 Season Bring it on!!

Till then Adore the Man in his new Avatar!!

Photo credits : www.lotusf1team.com