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Posts for Tag: Formula 1

A Gallery of Memories - Part 13

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix was the last GP I had the privilege of attending. There was a lull in my travel plans but as soon as the 2017 Season kicked off, I shortlisted Spain, Belgium & Abu Dhabi for this year. Spain since meeting the F1 Fraternity is very easy and I really enjoyed myself in 2016, Belgium cause I wanted to see Kimi Raikkonen race there one last time ( should he retire ) and Abu Dhabi would be Raikkonen's Farewell Race.

The Canadian Grand Prix remains on the to-do list and is delayed for an year since I am travelling to the UK to attend the Champions' Trophy ( Cricket ).

"A Gallery of Memories" my Blog Post Series which showcases all the famous people I had the privilege of meeting at the Circuit kicks off the 2017 Spanish Grand Prix Experience!

I arrived in my Emirates Transfer on Wednesday Afternoon to the Hilton Diagonal Mar and was amazed to Fernando Alonso signing off the "Join the Pact" Movement by Johnnie Walker!

I couldn't miss the Opportunity and Fernando happily obliged. I told him I believe he is the Best Driver on the Grid and he gave me a cheeky smile.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren F1 Driver & Double World Champion!

Gavin Emmett, BT Sport Presenter in MotoGP :

Mark Sutton, One of the best F1 Photographers!

Mark Arnall, Kimi Raikkonen's Physical Instructor

Mark Greenwood, Kimi Raikkonen's Race Engineer :

Marc Gene, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Development Driver :

Marc Gene's message for Fans in India :

Andy Stobart, Head of Communications, Renault Sport Racing :

Mattia Binotto, Chief Technical Officer, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Massimo Rivola, Head of the Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy :

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team :

Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber F1 Team :

KIMI RAIKKONEN, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team!

Kai Ebel, RTL Presenter for F1 :

Antonio Giovinazzi, 3rd Driver for Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

I was standing outside the Ferrari Suite when I saw the new boss of F1 pass me. Soon followed a quick photo, an excellent chat and as a F1 Fan, I was so glad to see the new boss as passionate as anyone can be, not to mention the fact that he was roaming in the Paddock Club without any security! 

Chase Carey, CEO & Chairman of Formula 1, the new boss of F1 :

Mario Isola, Pirelli Racing Manager :

Sergey Sirotkin, Reserve Driver for Renault Sport F1 Team :

Karun Chandok, Presenter for Channel 4 :

Jock Clear, Senior Performance Engineer for Scuderia Ferrari F1 :

Anthony Davidson, Ex-F1 Driver & Presenter for Sky Sports F1 :

I got back to the Hotel and had the Invitation to attend the Mclaren F1 Gala Dinner at the Hilton.

Read all about it here :

Eric Boullier, Team Principal, McLaren F1 Team :

Stijn Bastiaens, Sr. Director, Loyalty Partnerships, Hilton Hotels :

Sunday Morning and I won the Raffles Draw and got a Keyplate autographed by Maurizio Arrivabene!

Maurizio Arrivabene, Team Principal, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Ferrari preponed the Timing for Sebastian Vettel to visit the Ferrari F1 Club and that was a huge disappointment for me!

Post Race I got have a chat with the antagonist and Veteran actor Mr. Kelsey Grammer who was extremely friendly!

Hollywood Celebrity Kelsey Grammer!

Sebastian Vettel finished P2 in the race and Ferrari were gracious enough to bring the trophy upstairs and allow us a Photo Opportunity!

With Sebastian Vettel's P2 Trophy :

I got to meet Arjun Maini, GP3 Driver for Jenzer Motorsport and Development Driver for Haas F1 Team! Arjun is making India proud in the racing circuit with his performances and Won Race 2 in the GP3 series on Sunday Morning!

Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 Team :

Damon Hill, 1996 F1 World Champion & Sky Sports F1 Presenter :

Susie Wolff, Ex-Williams F1 Development Driver & Presenter for Channel 4 :

Toto Wolff, Team Principal, Mercedes AMG F1 Team :

Felipe Massa, Williams F1 Team :

Felipinho Massa, Massa Jr. Love his smile!

James Allison, Technical Director, Mercedes AMG F1 Team :

Bernd Maylander, F1 Safety Car Driver :

Mats Hummels! Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich & German Defender :

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren F1 Team :

Peter Sauber, Owner of Sauber F1 Team and the man responsible for bringing so many drivers into F1 :

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal, Sauber F1 Team :

Lance Stroll, Williams F1 Team :

Cryil Abiteboul, MD, Renault Sport F1 Team :

Eliaquim Mangala, Manchester City, Valencia CF, France National Team Defender :

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team :

Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Aerodynamic Genius Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

David Coulthard, Ex-McLaren F1 Driver, Red Bull Ambassador & Channel 4 Presenter :

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing F1 Team, A Fun Guy!

Alan Permane, Sporting Director, Renault Sport F1 Team :

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team :

Gene Haas, owner of Haas F1 Team :

Jos Verstappen :

Esteban Ocon, Sahara Force India F1 Team :

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

The Professor! Alain Prost!

Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team :

Martin Brundle, Ex-F1 Driver, Sky Sports F1 Presenter :

Paul Hembery, Motorsport Director, Pirelli Motorsport :

Marcus Ericsson, Sauber F1 Team :

Bob Fernley, Deputy Team Principal, Sahara Force India F1 Team :

Carlos Sainz Sr. :

Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Driver :

Yusuke Hasegawa, Head of Honda's F1 Programme :

Sir Franz Tost, Team Principal of Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Simon Rennie, Race Engineer, Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Gino Rosato of Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Filippo, Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Stefania Arrivabene, Press Officer at Scuderia Ferrari F1 :

Britta Roeske, Sebastian Vettel's PR Manager :


Ayao Komatsu, Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team :

Jolyon Palmer, 2013 GP2 Champion & Renault Sport F1 Driver :

Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Driver :

Lewis Hamilton! Mercedes AMG F1 Driver and Triple World Champion!

Friends from Renault Sport F1 Team. Miss them so much!

Hosts of Pirelli in the Ferrari F1 Club, Great bunch :

Hosts in the Ferrari F1 Club who ensured it was a memorable weekend!

Sebastian Vettel finished P2 in the race, Kimi Raikkonen however was taken out in Turn 1 on lap 1 after being tagged by Valtteri Bottas. Obviously I was gutted about it but the fact that I got to meet so many people from the F1 circuit more than made my day.

A Big Thank you to Edge Global Events for arranging the Passes and ensuring a hassle-free weekend, Thank you to Scuderia Ferrari F1 and Pirelli for their Hospitality!

Paddock Club Diaries return soon on the blog. Friday, Saturday and Sunday Experiences are in the Pipeline. I am travelling to the UK for the Champions' Trophy ( Cricket ) for a fortnight and request your patience till then.

Once again, Thank you all for supporting the Blog and I promise to do my best to better it each year!

Stay Safe and God Bless!

McLaren F1 Team Gala Dinner at the Hilton!

There are trips that one remembers for a long time to come. There are experiences that stay with us for lifetime. 13th May 2017 was one such date.

I was busy attending the Spanish Grand Prix with Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team when I got to meet Mr. Wright, the co-host in the Pirelli Suite. Mr. Wright, a very gracious man invited me to attend the McLaren F1 Team Gala Dinner happening at the Hilton Diagonal Mar in Barcelona, the hotel I was staying at!

I started watching F1 in 1998 and have been a fan of McLaren & Mika Hakkinen since. 2007 saw Kimi Raikkonen leave for Ferrari so my loyalties became divided but McLaren are a team I always want to see do well.

It was impossible to resist such an offer. I rushed to the Hotel, got ready & down I was ready to attend the event! Hilton, sponsors for McLaren definitely know how to host events.

The event was attended by Sponsors viz. Hilton, Logitech, Reuters, Chandon & open to Fans & Guests of the team.

Logitech also tied up with McLaren to announce the latter's entrance into the e-sports arena, announcing World’s Fastest Gamer – the world’s most intense and demanding competition for virtual racers. It’s a contest that will see the winner offered the best job in esports – a role with the Formula 1 team as one of its official simulator drivers!

Time to give you a quick tour of how McLaren hosted its guests for the evening :

The Pre-dinner meet :

Cocktails, Hors d'oeuvres, Paella, Conversations & more!

The Host for the evening welcoming us ( Video Link ) :

The Host soon announced that we would be joined by a Former McLaren Driver & 2 Time World Champion MIKA HAKKINEN!


Mika Hakkinen Q&A ( Video Link ) :

Mika Hakkinen wished us well for the evening and he was soon followed by Fernando Alonso! The Evening just got better!

Fernando spoke at length about McLaren's chances for the weekend after his brilliant qualifying result which saw end up in P7 and also the preparations for Indy 500 which was to be held on the Monaco GP weekend. Fernando would head to the airport after the race to get onto a Private Jet to head to Indianapolis for the Practice Session.

Fernando Alonso Q&A ( Video Link ) :

I got the chance to get quick selfies with the McLaren Team Principal Mr. Eric Boullier & a rushing Fernando Alonso!

We were now invited into the Ball Room for dinner. The Ball Room in all its glory!

Dinner Service commences! Lip-smacking! One of the best Desserts I ever had!

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren joined us over dinner for a quick interview. The new boss has an elaborate plan to bring the team back to the sharp end of the grid and I like it!

Video Link of the Interview :

While we were enjoying our dinner, Mr. Pedro de la Rosa, Ex-McLaren Driver, Movistar TV Presenter & a thorough gentlemen entered the Ballroom to entertain the guests with his stories! What an amazing human being! He even handed out the latest gear of Logitech - G29 Gaming Wheel & Joystick to a lucky draw winner!

Video Links of his Interview ( Part 1 & 2 ) :

McLaren's hospitality didn't end with the Gala Dinner. The team were gracious enough to offer Signed Caps, Signed T Shirts & a Mega Prize of a 3 day 2 Night stay at any Hilton Property of the winner's choice! The audience were asked the questions, hands were raised & prizes won! I couldn't win any though :( :(

Mr. Stijn Bastiaens, Sr. Direction Loyalty Parternships for Hilton Hotels giving out the prizes :

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Stijn who was so happy to meet a Gold Member on HHonors!

Parting Shots from the night :

Saturdays on a Race Weekend are pretty quiet for me when I travel - head to the hotel, hot meal and a shower, get the gear ready and have a good night's sleep. 13th May was really special and I had no intention of making it an early night. I did try my hand at the Simulator which had the Logitech G29 Wheel and I must say its far better than my ageing G25 at home. The ergonomics, buttons' layout, feel, force feedback feels just about right and no I am not trying to flatter anyone. I highly recommend this wheel for gamers.

It was a pleasure meeting F1 loyalists who shared the table with me. It was great to connect with people who are as passionate as a F1 fan can be!

I would like to thank McLaren F1 Team
for their hospitality and a memorable evening. A big thank you to Mr. Stijn and the team from the Hilton Diagonal Mar for ensuring top class service throughout the evening. Hatsoff to Logitech for kick-starting the campaign which could open up new opportunities for gamers in the real world.

Finally a thank you to Mr. Wright from Right Formula for inviting me to this wonderful event.

I wish McLaren F1 & its Sponsors all the best for the season ahead! Onwards & Upwards from here!

Nico Rosberg - Racer, Champion, Legend!

2016 has been an year of retirements - Audi leaving WEC, Mark Webber retiring, Felipe Massa retiring from F1. Jenson Button taking a 'sabbatical' ( sounds more like retirement to me ), Lionel Messi retiring from International Football only to return later ( thankfully ).

The most heartbreaking news was of the Brazilian Football League Team Chapecoense's players losing their lives in a plane crash.

Last Sunday we saw Nico Rosberg crowned as the 2016 F1 World Champion. Today we see him at the FIA Press Conference at the Prize Winning Gala announcing his Retirement from the Sport!

This has definitely come as a shock as I was engrossed in writing about the 2016 Season Review over the past few days and relishing the battle that could have been between the Mercedes team-mates in 2017. The Dynamics of the battle would have changed. Well all this is now futile and Nico has made his decision.

What made him take such a drastic step? Wasn't it too early to call it a day? What are the options for Mercedes in 2017?

Here are my 2 cents..

Damon Hill was the only member of the Father-Son World Champion Club. Nico Rosberg joined the club after he finally achieved his dream in 2016 when he beat his team-mate and Triple World Champion Lewis Hamilton to the crown.

Mercedes have been the best since the start of 2014 and in Lewis Hamilton, Nico had a formidable opponent. Lewis was in it to win it, pretty straightforward. In terms of raw pace, Lewis had the advantage as well. Nico was the hard-working guy, putting in the hours and sadly came up short in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, he looked a different driver on the grid, a man who had taken on the mantle of beating Lewis and he accomplished it on many occasions. The best drive for me was in the Final Race in Abu Dhabi when Nico faced all odds to win the Championship.

The F1 season is pretty long and unforgiving. Drivers, Team Personnel, Media all are away from families and loved ones for almost 8 months; add to that the pressure of winning a championship, its emotionally and physically draining.

When Nico looked the best bet to win the Championship, a lot was said about him. Bernie Ecclestone, F1 Supremo quipped that Nico would be a 'Boring Champion' should he win. Many Media Houses ( whose names I choose not to mention ) had a clear bias towards one driver and tried to unsettle the competitors in interviews by asking controversial questions. Many Fans considered him 'lucky' to win the championship. Lewis Hamilton Loyalists even concocted conspiracy theories that a German Works Team would want a German World Champion and they sabotaged Lewis' car to help Nico win. Everyone is aware about the Mechanics Swap theory too. The Season has ended but still some Lewis Hamilton fans have not stopped ridiculing or mocking Rosberg. Ofcourse this is part and parcel of sport and each one of us swear by a driver but we can never know the range of emotions a man can go through when he is in the limelight and sometimes considered inferior to another. Our opinions remain opinions at the end of the day and the truth will remain the truth. Nico Rosberg is the World Champion, he is the best driver of the 2016 grid. We must accept it, whether we like it or not.

Nico is a very pleasant guy and always believed that he needs to be a great ambassador for the sport. In my brief interactions with him as well as observing his demeanour with the fans, he has obliged everyone with photos and autographs regardless of loyalties. He has faced the boos, the jeers of the crowd with a smile on his face and silenced all critics with his drives this year. He was always a team player, evident from the many races that he raced in.

I can completely understand and identify with his decision to retire. He wanted to win the World Championship, he has done it, he is at the zenith, there is nothing more to achieve and its time to move on. We all know what it meant to him when his emotions took over after the race was done.

I must admit that I expected a better response by Lewis Hamilton to the news of his mate retiring. They have raced together since they were 12. Lewis & Nico might not be friends anymore but one must be more gracious in defeat.

You cannot extend an Olive Branch today and burnt it the next day.  

Was it too early to retire?

Nico is only 31. Raikkonen, Alonso are past the 35 mark and still plying their trade in F1. Kimi has been asked multiple times about his retirement from the sport ( implied ofcourse ) and his response is the same - "The day I stop enjoying the sport, I shall retire". Pretty simple. Mark Webber said that while driving his Porshce 919 Hybrid he thought "What am I doing sitting in this car".."The day you think like this its time to hang up your boots". Nico had revealed in his interview that after the 2015 US GP, he was distraught and never wanted to feel the way he did that day. I think that was a big hint. He had channelized all his energies to go for glory in 2016 and maybe avoid failing again. Once he achieved it, he was done. Many will say that he should stay and defend his title, well he thinks otherwise and we must respect that. He chose to end on a high and I believe he will let it stay that way.Michael Schumacher returned in 2010 and his record in his 2nd stint was nothing compared to his 7 Championships in the First, so in that vein of thought, its a good decision.

What are the Options for Mercedes in 2017?

Nico's retirement decision came a bit late for Mercedes. Top Teams have their drivers locked down under contract for 2017. Mercedes can look to their "Driver Program" and hire the services of young Pascal Wehrlein for 2017. If they do, I fear another Kvyat saga repeating itself. Pasacal has been in F1 for only one year. He is quick but his inexperience could bring pain to Mercedes in the Constructors' battle. Ocon has moved to Force India so he is out of contention.

Nico Hulkenberg who recently moved to Renault would be ruing a missed opportunity.

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen would not leave Red Bull for 2017. There are a lot of changes, mainly on the aerodynamic side and Red Bulls are the masters of it. They gave the Mercs a run for their money in 2016, so next year they would be hot on their heels. They might end up in the slower team should they choose to leave.

Sebastian Vettel had a tough year in Ferrari but as he stated earlier, he wants to win a championship with Ferrari ( just like Schumacher ), so activating an exit clause seems unlikely.

Fernando Alonso is advancing in years and wants another championship under his belt. I am not aware of his contract clauses but if he insists on leaving McLaren it would be another painful separation. Also would Mercedes risk a Hamilton - Alonso pairing considering what happened in 2007? I highly doubt it!

Valtteri Bottas could get a step up considering that he is managed by Toto Wolff ( Mercedes Supremo ) and Mika Hakkinen.
He has a considerable number of races under him and is a consistent performer.

Kimi Raikkonen, not a chance but as a fan I don't mind including him in the discussions. He doesn't care obviously and he is happy at Ferrari so...

My pick would be Valtteri Bottas though I think Mercedes will persist with Pascal Wehrlein for one year and reassess their options for 2018.

Finally returning to Nico Rosberg, I shall miss him. Nico was the driver I supported after Kimi Raikkonen ( Finnish Connection ).

Almost everyone in the F1 World is in a state of shock but that is how unpredictable a sport can be. I am thankful to God that I got to meet him in Hockenheim in 2014 and this year in Spain.

Nico has new challenges in life, a family to raise, a wife and daughter to love and cherish and I am fully confident that the man will emerge a winner in life too! The Family that stood by him, supported him helped him win this Championship. Its now time for him to love and cherish this family and I wish him all the best for the future!

He fought the fight, he ran the race, he won the Championship and now his name is etched in the annals of F1 Racing History as the 2016 F1 World Champion!