Tech-know-crat

Your Dose of obsession from Formula 1, Flying, Travel, Football, Watches, Collectibles and everything inspirational everywhere in daily life

Posts for Tag: F1

Silverstone GP Review - the Kangaroo leap by Webber

Silverstone is a very prestigious race on the F1 Race Calender. There have been many a great battles fought on this Former WW2 Airstrip and this year promised another great battle.

Silverstone is also a HOME RACE for many teams -

1) Red Bull Racing ( Based in Milton Keynes although they are Austrian ),

2) McLaren Mercedes ( Woking ),

3) Lotus F1 Team ( Enstone, Oxfordshire ),

4) Sahara Force India ( A kilometre from Silverstone ) &

5) Williams F1 Team ( Grove, Oxfordshire )

 

This is a Home Race for 3 Drivers - Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Paul Di Resta.

This was also a race where I was a guest with the LOTUS F1 TEAM!!

 

A List of all winners of the Silverstone Grand Prix :  

 

Silverstone is famous for its inclement weather and this year was no different.

Friday Practice Sessions,Saturday Free Practice and Qualifying were marred by torrential rain. However the Race turned out to be a dry one.

  

Friday Free Practices :

The teams were due to test an "experimental" hard tyre compound developed by Pirelli during the first free practice, with a view to introducing it as a racing tyre later in the season;however, wet conditions made this impossible. Romain Grosjean was the fastest driver in the First Session, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso and the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Jules Bianchi elected not to set lap times.

The Second Session was similarly washed out and saw limited running as teams tried to preserve their wet- and intermediate-compound tyres. Hamilton was fastest, leading Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher as Grosjean elected not to set a time. Bruno Senna brought out a red flag that resulted in a ten-minute stop to the session when he hit a patch of standing water at Becketts, spinning and crashing heavily into the barriers. Fernando Alonso also encountered trouble, spinning and hitting the wall late in the session, but the Ferrari driver was able to return to the pits.

 

Friday Practice 1 Images : 

 

Friday Practice 2 Images :  

  

Saturday Free Practice :

This Session was dry, but the threat of rain was always there. It saw plenty of activity as the teams pushed hard to make up for lost time running in the wet on Friday. Charles Pic stopped on the circuit after twenty minutes, forcing the temporary suspension of the session while his car was removed. Pic later returned to the circuit, but the car stopped again and this time car was removed by marshalls without forcing the session to be stopped. Alonso ended the session fastest overall. 

Saturday Free Practice Images : 

 

 Qualifying :

Qualifying started in wet conditions, and with the threat of more rain on the way. The Circuit conditions were rapidly changing and everyone went about doing their qualifying laps. The Biggest Shock of Q3 was the Elimination of Jenson Button! He was on a lap that would have propelled him out of the drop zone but Timo Glock spun on the last sector. Yellow flags were deployed and Button suffered disappointment.  Both the Caterhams, HRTs, Virgins bowed out. Charles Pic couldn't qualify within the 107 % time of the fastest man of Q1 - Sebastien Vettel.

The intensity of rain increased in Q2. The session was red-flagged with just over 6 minutes remaining. Sergio Perez was at the top of the time sheets then. The session was stopped for an hour and a half as the FIA hoped for conditons safe to drive.

The Teams, the Mechanics, The Drivers & The Crowds did a fantastic job of keeping themselves entertained during the break. NICO ROSBERG was clearly the star of this show!!

The session re-opened and all drivers had time to put in flying laps however Tyre Choice was of utmost importance. Perec chose the intermediate compound rather than wets. It was the wrong decision and ended the session last. However he started 15th after the Penalties were applied.  Those Eliminated were : Paul Di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi ( 12th but demoted to 17th after penalty ), Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Bruno Senna, Jean-Éric Vergne ( 16th but demoted to the back after penalty ).

Romain Grosjean made it through to Q3, but spun at the end of the period at the Vale chicane, and took no further part in the session.

Q3 featured the Ferraris, Red Bulls, Lotuses ( Although Grosjean couldn't set a time ), Michael Schumacher's Merecedes, Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren, Pastor Maldonado in the Williams F1 & Nico Hulkenberg for Force India. It seemed to be a Ferrari 1-2 but Mark Webber and Sebastien Vettel seemed too have wrestled back control.  Massa was unable to improve his lap time and finished 5th, while Schumacher pushed Webber off pole. Webber reclaimed it with his next lap, but lost it to Alonso's last lap of the Session. Kimi Raikkonen was 6th, Pastor Maldonado 7th, Lewis Hamilton 8th. Hulkenberg qualified 9th but a gear-box change pushed the German down to 14th.

 

Qualifying Images : 

 

RACE :

An engine failure on Vitaly Petrov's Caterham on his way round to the grid meant he had to return to the pits and retire the car before the race had even begun. When the race started, polesitter Fernando Alonso maintained his lead into the first corner. Webber and Schumacher followed him round in their same positions, but Vettel lost places to Massa and Raikkonen, only to regain his position against the latter. Paul di Resta, who started 10th, suffered a puncture as a result of his right rear tyre coming in contact with Romain Grosjean's front wing at the start of the Wellington straight. Di Resta pitted but the damage incurred caused him to spin and retire. Romain Grosjean had to pit too for a front wing change and ended up in 22nd ( back of the pack ).

Pastor Maldonado didn't do his reputation any good as he rammed into Perez retiring the latter. He was penalised 10000 euros!

However the Frenchman set about setting a series of fastest laps and quickly started clawing his way back through the field. Hamilton suffered from a poor start, lost positions to Bruno Senna and was stuck in the middle of the the pack until the first round of pit-stops.

Button suffered a similar fate as he was stuck behind slower cars and had to pit at odd-times during the race. 

Alonso was slowly opening a gap at the front and was able to come out in P2 after his pit-stop on lap 15. Lap 19 saw Alonso retake the Lead from Hamilton who was losing pace on his worn-out tyres. The latter finally pitted on lap 21 and Webber moved back into P2. The gap at the front was constant at around 5 seconds but everything changed after the second round of pit-stops.

Kamui Kobayashi had a horible pit-stop as he ran over 4 mechanics and was penalised post-race for the incident. ( 25000 euros )

Webber switched to the softs and managed to come out in P4 ( ahead of team-mate Vettel ). Alonso pitted too and switched to softs. Parity was restored after the top 5 finished their round of pit stops. The order was : Alonso, Webber, Vettel, Massa, Raikkonen.

This however wasn't gonna remain the same.

Alonso couldn't find the pace which he enjoyed while driving on the hard compound tyres. Webber was reeling Alonso in taking chunks out of his lead every lap. Romain Grosjean ( Out of sync with others on pit stops ) performed exceptionally well as he muscled himself upto 6th. Kimi Raikkonen had found performance in his Lotus and set a series of fastest laps. He was within a touching distance of 4th positon now.

7 laps were left of the race and Alonso was now under severe pressure from Webber. The Australian finally made the move and took the Lead! Raikkonen put Massa under a lot of pressure but the Brazilian held on to 4th position.

The final order was : Webber, Alonso, Vettel, Massa, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Schumacher, Hamilton, Senna, Button ( Top 10 )

As a consequence of the race, Webber narrowed Alonso's lead in the drivers' standings to 13 points. Webber himself was 16 points ahead of Vettel. Vettel moved ahead of Lewis Hamilton into 3rd in the standings on 100 points. Red Bull extended their lead in the constructors' standings to 64 points. Ferrrari moved up from 4th place to 2nd whilst McLaren did the reverse and Lotus stayed in 3rd position. All three teams stayed within 3 points of each other.

Massa held on to 4th from a charging Raikkonen. Definitely a confidence boost for him.

KIMI RAIKKONEN set the fastest lap of the Race.

This was also the first time that an F1 Great got to interview the Podium Finishers in front of the public - The honour went to the most popular SIR JACKIE STEWART!!

It was a day to forget for the McLaren duo. Lotus had a good day but not the best day as a lack of good quaifying postion hampered their race result.

Hockenheim - THE NEXT DESTINATION!

 

Finally a SPECIAL THANK YOU to www.exclusivegp.com for this experience!! Friends you now know who to contact for those Exclusive F1 Experiences!!

 

Valencia GP Review - The Spaniard springs a Surprise

The Grand Prix of Valencia Kick Stated what is the European Leg of the Formula 1 Calender

The Grand Prix of Valencia was under great turmoil. Spain has been going through a financial blip putting terrible strain on the 2 Grand Prixs hosted by Spain - Catalunya, Barcelona & Valencia.

The Plans to have only GP hosted from next year seem to be gathering pace but Fernando Alonso might be the sole reason for the organisers to do a rethink of this.

Valencia has been called the " European Grand Prix ". The European Grand Prix switches between Nuburbring and Valencia. Valencia is a Street Circuit but this year's Grand Prix was clearly the Grand Prix of the Calender.

Qualifying  :

The Local Hero Fernando Alonso made it to Q2 through the skin of his teeth. The Ferrari Chairman Luca Montezemolo suffered disappointment as both Ferraris failed to make it to the Final Qualifying Session, Alonso and Massa Started 11th and 13th respectively.

Sebastien Vettel Powered the Red Bull to Pole Position. Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado completed the Top Three. The Lotuses of Romain Grosjean & Kimi Raikkonen were the top Five. 

Many Experts predicted that the presence of youth upfront could cause incidents on the first lap itself... and a lot happened on the First Lap.

Race :

The 5 Lights went out polesitter Sebastian Vettel was able to get a powerful launch off the startline in his Red Bull and went into the first corner unchallenged, and Lewis Hamilton stayed second. Kimi Raikkonen got a good launch from 5th on the grid and challenged Pastor Maldonado but had to back off to avoid hitting him and his Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean took advantage to jump into 3rd. Kamui Kobayashi jumped from 7th to 4th, as Maldonado and Raikkonen dropped to 5th and 6th. The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were the chief gainers on the first lap, Alonso moving from 11th to 8th and Massa from 13th to 10th. Force India were also running strongly at the end of the first lap, with Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta splitting the Ferraris in 7th and 9th. The two men who lost out at the start were Nico Rosberg, who dropped to 11th from 6th and was just a single place in front of Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher. Jenson Button in the second McLaren lost 4 places and was down in 13th.

Vettel built his lead as Hamilton struggled to keep Grosjean at bay ( The Lotus working perfect in the heat of Valencia ). Others also weren't far behind with Kimi trying a couple of moves on Maldonado but the Venezuelan was too strict on giving him space. Alonso had started pressurizing Hulkenburg as the duo started losing time against the lead pack.

Grosjean was finally rewarded for his efforts as he used DRS to muscle past Hamilton Lap 10 but Vettel had opened a comfortable 14 seconds lead. Grosjean then put in super quick laps and slowly started reducing the German's lead. Alonso finally found a way past Hulkenberg on lap 11 and was closing in on 6th Placed Raikkonen.

Raikkonen overtook Maldonado and Alonso followed suit, Maldonado was suffering from trye degradation. Kobayashi in 4th was in a similar situation and the Trio of Kobayashi, Raikkonen and Maldonado pitted on the same lap. A Slick Pit - Stop by Lotus and a poor one by Sauber helped Raikkonen jump Kobayashi. Alonso played the famous " Undercut " as on the trio when he rejoined ahead after his pit-stop which was a lap later.  Vettel pitted on Lap 15 maintained his lead.

Grosjean and Hamilton's Pit - Stop put them behind Di Resta and Rosberg but it didnt take them long to retake 2nd and 3rd positions respectively. Alonso, Raikkonen, Kobayashi and Maldonado had work to do as they were stuck behind the Non - Stoppers Schumacher, Webber, Senna who were losing pace due to tyre wearing issues. Alonso shot past Webber and Senna in a space of few corners and then Schumacher on the next lap. Schumacher and Webber pitted for a new set of tyres and Senna was the only obstacle now.

Raikkonen sensed the opportunity and overtook Senna before Turn 8. Kobayashi tried to tuck himself behind the Finn but Senna unaware of him had already moved across and the two made contact. Kobayashi damaged his Front wing and Senna suffered a puncture, forcing both to pit.

Grosjean was able to match Vettel's pace but the gap remained at 20 seconds.Hamilton was having a lone race and the duo of Alonso and Raikkonen overtook Di Resta to take 4th and 5th positions.

The Race took a dramatic turn on lap 27.  Jean-Eric Vergne tried to make a DRS-assisted pass on Heikki Kovalainen through turn 12. Vergne thought that his car was fully in front of Kovalainen but it actually wasn't and he ended up chopping his car straight onto Kovalainen's, puncturing his right rear tyre and Kovalainen's left front, and damage caused by the shredding tyres were spread all over the track. SAFETY CAR!!  Both Vergne and Kovalainen made it to the pits, with Vergne retiring due to suspension damage whereas Kovalainen was able to continue. 

Safety Car sent the leaders into the pits. Hamilton's problem with the front-jack put him behind Alonso and Raikkonen. Daniel Ricciardo was the only one not to stop. Massa, Button and Perez were the biggest losers. The Top 6 : Vettel, Grosjean, Alonso, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Hamilton.

The Race Restarted on Lap 35 and Grosjean was under intense pressure and Alonso overtook him at the First turn. Rosberg on Old tyres lost 5 places slipping from 7th to 12th. Massa and Kobayashi's battle for 13th ended in a retirment for the latter and a puncture for Massa.

A big shock awaited Vettel on lap 37. Coming out of Turn 10, Vettel lost power and the car simply came to a halt!!! ( Attributed later to an Alternator Failure ). Vettel was livid! The Frustration and Despair was so evident on the German's face. Hamilton overtook Raikkonen on the same lap to take 4th. This was a very important Lap in the Championship Battle.

ALONSO was now leading the race and a huge ROAR Erupted from all the stands!

Ricciardo's heroics didn't last long as his tyres ' fell of the cliff ' and he lost positions to Hamilton & Raikkonen. He finally pitted.

Schumacher was running 5th ahead of Webber, the latter suffering from serious tyre problems was passed by Maldonando and the two Force India cars within the space of a few corners. Webber had to pit. Schumacher was also on older tyres and pitted for a new set 3 laps later, rejoining in 11th pace, just ahead of Webber.

The race at the front of the field took yet another twist on lap 41. Grosjean who was running within a second of Alonso had to retire with an alternator failure suspected to be similar to that of Vettel's. The Frenchman distraught.

Alonso now had a 3 second lead over Hamilton, who was now under pressure from Raikkonen. Maldonado was 4th ahead of the Force India duo of Hulkenberg and Di Resta, the latter trying a one-stopper. He was soon under attack from Perez, who along with Button, had recovered back up to 7th and 8th.

Alonso continued to lead comfortably at the front, with Hamilton continuing to hold off Raikkonen for 2nd, the latter rarely allowing the gap to go over a second. Maldonado, Hulkenberg and Di Resta began to spread out, and the action behind was from Schumacher and Webber, who on new softer tyres were going around 2 seconds quicker than those in front of them. The duo picked off Senna, before closing in on and passing Button on lap 50. The tyres started to wear out for the other drivers and they fell into the clutches of Schumacher and Webber. The duo passed Perez 3 laps later and Di Resta after another lap to move up into 6th and 7th respectively. Hulkenberg was next and he too was dealt with on the penultimate lap, moving Schumacher into 5th and Webber into 6th, but it was not going to stay that way.

Hamilton in 2nd, in his attempts to hold off Raikkonen had pushed his tyres too much, and they started to wear towards the end of the race. Raikkonen patiently bided his time before passing Hamilton on lap 55 with two laps left.

Hamilton was now under attack from Maldonado, whose pace was strong enough to keep him out of the reach of Schumacher and Webber. Maldonado attacked Hamilton at turn 1 on the penultimate lap, but some strong defensive driving by Hamilton meant that he kept the place Maldonado tried again on the run down to turn 13 using DRS, with Hamilton taking the inside line and forcing Maldonado off the track. As Maldonado tried to rejoin, he clipped the kerb for the next turn and hit Hamilton, forcing him into the wall and out of the race. Maldonado himself lost his front wing, and dropped back down the order.

Hamilton was Furious and Maldonado was later penalised for this incident.

The race was won by Alonso, who became the first driver to win 2 races this year, and coupled with Vettel's and Hamilton's retirements also took the championship lead. Raikkonen took 2nd and Schumacher was promoted to 3rd, his first podium since in his return to F1.

Webber was 4th ahead of Hulkenberg, with Rosberg charging up to 6th on new tyres by passing Di Resta and Button in the last 2 laps. Perez suffered more tyre problems than others and crossed the line 9th. Maldonado had continued on without his front wing and was able to take the final point in 10th. However, he was given a 20 second time penalty for his collision with Hamilton and demoted to 12th, his teammate Senna taking the final point.

This was a Pivotal Race in the Calender as Alonso took the Championship lead. He had won the race from an unrealistic positon on a street circuit. This says a lot about the man.

The Podium featured 3 drivers who have been with Ferrari during their Careers in Formula 1 and all three have been World Champions in the past.

A Gallery of Memories!! - Part 1

Jerome D'Ambrosio ( Lotus Test Driver )

Sir Jackie Stewart ( 3 Time Formula 1 World Champion = LEGEND )

Damon Hill ( 1996 Formula 1 World Champion )

Romain Grosjean ( Lotus F1 Driver )

 

FINALLY DREAM FULFILLED!!!

KIMI RAIKKONEN ( Formula 1 2007 World Champion, Mentor, My Favourite!! Lotus F1 Driver!! )

 

 

Johnny Herbert ( Ex - Formula 1 Driver, Winner of British GP )

Tony Fernandes ( Air Asia & Caterham Racing Owner )

Rob Smedley ( Felipe Massa's Race Engineer )

Herbie Blash ( FIA Deputy Race Director, Friend )

Eric Boullier ( Lotus F1 Team Principal )

One of Kimi Raikkonen's Engineers !

Kimi Raikkonen's Engineer - His Car is perfect thanks to people like him!

Romain Grosjean ( Lotus F1 Driver )

The Black & Gold Cometh!!

2005 & 2006 were fantastic years for this team. Fernando Alonso won two consecutive Formula 1 Drivers' Championship for them.

2007 - 2009 were Rebuilding years & 2010 - 2011 brought a major revamp at the top changing the team's identity altogether! The years brought a lot of turmoil and the only victory to their credit in the Inaugural Singapore GP in 2008 was marred by the Crash-Gate Scandal.

Anways Renault and Now LOTUS F1 have now moved on and roped in the former GP2 Champion and earlier their 3rd driver Romain Grosjean but the big news over the summer was the arrival of my favourite KIMI RAIKKONEN!!

Lotus F1 seemed strong but some unlucky incidents have robbed them of better results in the first 3 races.

The Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying seemed to suggest the same as Kimi Raikkonen failed to qualify for Q3 and Romain Grosjean only managed 7th.

The Grand Prix itself was in severe trouble as citizens of Bahrain protested against the Government and the Government sponsored Formula 1 Grand Prix. The Sunday Race happened under a severe lock-down around the circuit. 

Sebastien Vettel surprised everyone by clinching pole on Saturday.

The Race began with everyone expecting a Podium Duel between the Red Bulls and McLaren Mercedes who blocked out the two front rows. However many had forgotten the strategy that Kimi Raikkonen had played by holding onto an extra set of soft tyres.

As the Race Progressed Kimi and Romain made up places. Lewis had a nightmarish pitstop as the left rear wheelnut simply refused to come off. Both the McLarens were going backwards while the Lotus made light of all cars that had started before them

Finally Kimi made a move on Romain to go P2 and this was a clear shoot-out between the Red Bull of Sebastien Vettel & the Lotus Renault F1 of Kimi Raikkonen. The Renaults were dominating this race!!  

The Moment came on Lap 36. Kimi was reeling in Sebastien and finally closed in on the Start - Finish Straight. Both were nearing the first turn and Kimi opted for the inside line ( a mistake he rued later ) only for Sebastien to move slightly across to deny him the space.

This was the only chance that Kimi would get. The gap then Steadied at 3.5 seconds.

Sebastien Vettel crossed the Finish Line to take a well deserved victory. Kimi Raikkonen & Romain Grosjean completed the podium. It was almost the perfect weekend for Lotus F1 Team, well almost.

Kimi was clearly disappointed as he knew he could have won the race but it must be said that its a Very Convincing Return to F1 for the Iceman.

Romain called the Podium Finish a Career High.

It is a Great Result for the Enstone team though. Lotus with the budget they had have humbled the bigger spenders of Formula 1.

They now need to ensure that perfect weekend to see their boys occupy the top step of the podium because they clearly deserve to be there.

Sebastien Vettel will treasure this win after struggling in the first 3 rounds of hte championship.

His last win was in October during the inaugural Indian Grand Prix

Some Photos from the Bahrain GP.

Looking Forward to Catalunya :

Formula 1 returns to Europe & Barcelona is the First Stop.

Catalunya is known for being a highly technical circuit and is definitely a challenge for all teams. No team can afford to run a compromised setup here.

The Mugello Tests seem to have been productive for most teams. Ferrari had the most upgrades. They most definitely are the team to watch!

McLaren would hope to put the Bahrain disappointment behind them.

Red Bull, McLaren Mercedes, Mercedes GP AMG, Lotus F1, Ferrari all seem to be in contention for the podium. Lets not forget that Sauber Ferrari have the potential to spring surprises too.

Just Pray to see KIMI RAIKKONEN on the Top Step of the Podium in Catalunya!!

GO KIMI!

Buttons, Buttons & More Buttons!!

Photo Credits : SANTOSH VERMA PHOTOGRAPHY www.aneyeforindia.com

Many of us own cars and love them ( Sometimes more than our girlfriends ).

A Feature Laden Car at the right price is what everyone searches for and one feature that has become standard is the STEERING MOUNTED Control.

Some of us still take a good time to get comfortable with such wheels. How would it feel to have about 30 different controls to tinker with on the Steering wheel while your busy driving??

This is what I am talking about :

 

This was the Steering on the F2011 Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Car driven by Fernando Alonso & Felipe Massa!

The sheer complexity of such a wheel is amazing! Being a Formula 1 Driver is no easy task! All that a Formula 1 Driver does in a race is right there on the wheel.

24 drivers have to go through the grind of trying to get the right balance and setting for a race weekend!

The Buttons List is simply Mind-boggling : ( Starting from top left, counterclockwise )

1) REV : Engine Limiter ( First Knob, Top Left )

2) N : Neutral Request

3) DIFF IN : Differential Tuning in corner entry

4) RADIO : Radio PPT

5) MIX : Engine Mixture

6) DRINK : Driver Drink

7) PUMP : Oil Pump

8) RF : DRS Activation

9) MF : Strategy Multifunction ( Big Centre Knob, Hear about this on Pit Radio )

10) 11) 12) : START, BURN, WET : Strategy Selection Switches ( Bottom 3 Toggle Switches )

13)  GRP : Clutch Tuning

14) OK : Radio Confirmation

15) 1/- : Recovery Selection

16) 10/- : Recovery Selection

17 ) TRQ : Engine Torque Map ( Knob to the Right of Central Knob )

18 ) OV : Over Revs

19 ) CHRG : KERS Recharge Level

20) P : Pit Limiter Activation

21) BOOST : KERS Power Release

On the Back, The UPSHIFT, DOWNSHIFT, Clutch.

The Materials Used make the wheel very light and the presence of Carbon Fibre takes the build quality to a different level!

 

Some more Photos of this handcrafted complex masterpiece :

 

Photo Credits : SANTOSH VERMA PHOTOGRAPHY www.aneyeforindia.com

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