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Posts for Tag: GP

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!

2017 F1 Season Preview - Changes, Changes Everywhere!

F1 starts a new chapter in 2017. The Ownership changes hands from Bernie Ecclestone to Liberty Media and Chase Carey, there is an overhaul of regulations and the winter break was full of speculations and theories about who would replace the Retiring Reigning World Champion Nico Rosberg.

The calendar is truncated to 20 Races after Germany hosts no race this year. Manor unfortunately won't feature on the grid after the team folded up and had to withdraw their official entry for the season. As always, there is a lot of excitement about the season. The F1 Faithful have a lot of expectations from the new owners be it Fan interactions, Fan Access, Ticket Pricing and Race Weekend Events but first there is a season to look forward to!

A Quick Look at the Regulation Changes for the season :

1) Teams are restricted to 4 power units per season regardless of the number of Grands Prix in the season. Engines and power unit supply costs will be reduced by 1m Euros in 2017 and by a further 3m Euros in 2018. There will be a lot of unpredictability and unreliability might play a big role in the title fight. More importantly F1 are moving towards cost cutting, the very reason for the switch to smaller power units.

2) The engine token system will be scrapped from 2017 onwards and a boost pressure constraint will be introduced.

3) Any outfit who could not agree a power unit deal must be supplied by the manufacturer which supplies the least amount of teams, which is currently Honda, at a stipulated rate. Everyone have their suppliers locked down, so doesn't apply to anyone.

4) Tyres are around 25 percent wider than in 2016, with rear width up from 325mm to 405, and front width raised from 245 to 305. Tyre diameter has also increased very slightly, though wheel rim size remains unchanged at 13 inches. ( Source : ). This would mean better grip levels, extra downforce translating to faster lap times.

5) In the event that a race is declared wet and must start behind the safety car, the grid will follow normal starting procedures and once conditions are declared satisfactory for racing, drivers will line up on the grid for a standing start once the safety car pulls into pit lane, although any laps completed behind the safety car will count towards the total race distance. Finally we can have a proper start in the wets. Just like the good old days!

6) From 2017, teams will only be able to use one new component over their quota per race, with any additional components incurring further penalties. This change will prevent teams from "stockpiling" spare power unit components. Quite an interesting move considering the fact that everyone - from Mercedes to Honda took advantage of serving a combined penalty of all components in a single race.

My understanding of the rule is this : The team can only replace one component on a weekend..should they choose multiple, the incurring penalties will have to be served in the following rounds. So the Teams have to choose what to replace and when.

I am pretty intrigued to see how the FIA is going to enforce this rule ( specifically near the business end of the season )

7)The minimum weight of the car including the driver being raised by 20 kg to 722 kg, with teams allowed to use 105 kg of fuel to account for the increase in minimum weight. More Fuel means less fuel saving periods and a greater chance for drivers to push at the races but knowing F1, most would take the cautious approach.

8) There are multiple changes to the looks, dimensions of the cars. We have also seen Shark Fins, T Fins, New Barge Board designs at the tests. I choose not to get into the technicalities of it, but for those who do, here is a table which explains the transformation of the cars from 2016. ( Source : )

Proposed bodywork changes for 2017

2016 2017
Tyres Front 245mm wide thread 305mm wide thread

Rear 325mm wide thread 405mm wide thread
Suspension Track 1800mm 2000mm

Legs +/- 5 degrees profile incidence +/- 10 degrees profile incidence
Front Wing Wing 1650mm span 1800mm span, swept plan view shape

Simplified endplate legality
Rear Wing Top wing 750mm wide, 950mm high 950mm wide, 800mm high

Endplates Rectangular endplate Swept endplate in side view and tucked in front view
Floor Steep plane 1400 max width; 1300mm min width; Edge radii <50mm constant 1600 max width; 1400mm min width; Edge radii <100mm variable

Reference plane Starts 330mm behind front axle Starts 430mm behind front axle

Plank Homogeneous Plank Pocketed plank for weight saving

Diffuser 125mm high, 1000mm wide, starts at rear axle 175mm high, 1050 mm wide, starts 175mm ahead of rear axle
Bodywork Width 1400mm max width 1600mm max width

Sidepods No constraint Swept leading edge in top view

Bardgeboards Big exclusion zone behind front wheels Reduced exclusions zone allowing for larger bargeboards
702kg max weight 722kg max weight + tyres (est 5kg)

The FIA claim substantial gains of over three seconds are expected in 2017 through the "aerodynamic rules evolution, wider tires and reduction of car weight". The 2017 cars are more difficult to drive and the drivers will need to be at their fittest to handle these machines. Overtaking might still be a concern ( according to Hamilton and Massa ) but we shall know once we get to the high speed circuits.

So how have the teams fared at the tests? What are their prospects for the season? Time to find out!

Mercedes AMG F1 Team :

Mercedes, the undisputed kings of the Turbo Era marched to another title in 2016. Nico Rosberg came out on top to win his maiden Drivers' World Championship only to shock the world with his decision to retire a week later. Rosberg stated that he had achieved his dream and it was time to move on to more important things in life. The decision led to a big contest to grab the best seat in the sport for 2017. Alonso, Wehrlein, Bottas, Ricciardo were the contenders. Alonso would have been an interesting choice. He is the best driver on the grid according to me and we all know what conspired in 2007 between Lewis and Nando. Did Lewis have a say in this? Maybe. Bottas, the experts' favourite got the job, his close association to Toto Wolff ( his manager ) giving him the edge. The Team had to part ways with Paddy Lowe who went to Williams F1, a fair trade for both parties. James Allison who left Ferrari midseason following the death of his wife joins Mercedes as their Technical Director for 2017, a fantastic addition to the squad. Mercedes remain favourites to retain the crown in 2017 although Testing suggests that Ferrari will make it a very close affair. The Team is known to mask their true pace so the competition should be wary.

Bottas is a very calm and composed racer under pressure. Lewis Hamilton will look to reclaim his lost crown and I believe his competition will come from another team. Bottas will be strong but not capable to fight Lewis for the title. Nonetheless both will have to be the top of their game to ensure competition is kept at bay.

Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Ferrari have played second fiddle long enough. They have flattered to deceive in the Turbo Era. 2014 was a fiasco. 2015 saw some improvement. 2016 started off well only for Ferrari to lose the plot towards the end. 2017 Pre-season Tests portray an encouraging story - Ferrari are right up there with the best and might be able to beat the best in the business this year. Ferrari's pace at the Tests have been a revelation. Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel scorched the Circuit of Catalunya with record laptimes on supersofts which suggests the team has something in reserve. Kimi and Seb praised the efforts of the personnel at Maranello and both believe that the SF70H is much better than its predecessor. Neither chose to comment on the possibility of race wins but the initial vibes coming out of the camp are extremely positive. The Team looks ready and raring to go. Kimi Raikkonen beat Sebastian Vettel in the Qualifying faceoffs in 2016 and would look to better him in the Championship as well. Both the drivers will push each other to the limits and that will augur well for the team who know that the battle at the sharp end of the grid is no cakewalk. Ferrari did lose out on the services of James Allison but if this car brings about a change of fortunes, then they've done well without him.

Ferrari needs to return to that winning mentality again. The aggression is there, the talent is there. They only need to plan and execute it well. They need to have confidence in their tactics and not react to what others around them are doing. As a Fan, I want to see Kimi Raikkonen have an exceptional season. 

Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Red Bull one of the most successful teams in F1 made a strong resurgence in 2016 and snapped up 2 wins and P2 in the Constructors' Championship. They were pretty close to Mercedes AMG F1 at the end of the season. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen made for a fantastic pairing and retaining them for 2017 was absolutely paramount for the team. Ricciardo had the temptation of switching to Mercedes but the Australian chose to stick with the boys from Milton Keynes. Max and Dan are the best pairing in F1 according to me and their positive approach at the races will definitely throw up many surprises in 2017. Red Bull might not be at the level of Mercedes or Ferrari based on whats been seen at the Tests but wasn't the start of 2016 the same? I really believe they are hiding their true pace and even if they aren't, they have all the resources and the personnel to upgrade and field an aerodynamically efficient and quick RB13 at the races. Would they be able to beat Mercedes while keeping Ferrari at bay? I highly doubt it. One thing is for certain though..P3 is the least that Red Bull should manage at the Constructors.

Williams Martini Racing F1 Team :

Williams had a poor 2016. Massa retired at the end of the season only to return for another year after Valtteri Bottas moved up to Mercedes AMG F1 to replace Rosberg. Lance Stroll, the 18 year old F3 Champion joins Massa making him the newest entrant into the world of F1. Williams finished P5 in 2016 and they lost their way in their battle against Force India. However with the New Regulations and Changes in place, its status quo for everyone but will Williams be able to mount a strong challenge? There is a lot of uncertainty about them from the pre-season tests. I quote "The FW40 shouted ‘hidden potential’ to many seasoned observers. The big question is whether their testing pace was for real, and if so, will it put them at the head of the midfield pack or make them true podium contenders? Only Melbourne will tell."

Massa's experience will be invaluable in the fight this year. Stroll has been raking up the miles but his inexperience could be the weak-link this year. Williams boast of a glorious history in F1 and their personnel are capable of turning things around. Financially, they are secure too. I would like to see them fighting at the sharp end of the grid in 2017.

Paddy Lowe joins Williams F1 for 2017 as Chief Technical Director, a move that was on the cards if the Bottas switch to Mercedes came through. Williams will be more than happy to have a man with Paddy Lowe's experience. He has all the expertise of improving the car and if the drivers can deliver the expected results, then they are back in contention.

Force India F1 Team :

Force India were a revelation in 2016. Finishing P4 in the Championship the team underlined the fact if one works hard, then the sky is the limit. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg delivered consistently strong finishes to keep competitors at bay. Esteban Ocon is the new member of the team replacing Hulkenberg who switched to Renault. Force India also sport a new livery..some like it, some don't. Its a Strawberry coloured VJM10 for 2017 and I am sure its gonna stand out amongst the field. Initial impressions show that the car is fairly quick and most importantly reliable. Perez will go from strength to strength..maybe auditioning for a seat higher up. Ocon showed a lot of promise in Manor. This is his "Baptism by Fire". His finishes will be pivotal in deciding Force India's fortunes for 2017.

Force India will find it hard to better what they achieved in 2016. The likes of Renault, Williams will be vying for P4 so its going to be an uphill battle for the Silverstone based outfit. Lets hope they handle the pressure with aplomb. 

McLaren Honda F1 Team :

McLaren and Honda...Prost and Senna...the Golden era..The Partnership was renewed in 2016 and the alliance has been a massive embarrassment. Honda's powertrains have been highly unreliable and the story might not change if one looks towards the pre-season tests. The MCL32 struggled to post a decent mileage..both drivers drove out of the pits only to stop at random times of their runs. Alonso, assessing the situation has reiterated that this might be the only chance that Honda has to turn things around..maybe hinting at greener pastures in WEC with Porsche ( an option hes been eyeing for sometime ). Stoeffel Vandoorne finally got a drive after Jenson Button left the sport ( to take on the role of a "mentor" for McLaren). Mika Hakkinen also joined them as an ambassador but would they be influential in bringing in more sponsorship for a team that is bound to struggle on the field? Tough ask this. Vandoorne and Alonso seem to have a long and arduous season ahead of them. Alonso will eek out every bit of performance. Vandoorne must follow suit.

McLaren will be fortunate to finish in the points at Australia but a team of their stature have to turn things around asap. Honda claims that all their troubles will be addressed before the start of the full season. Applaud their optimism but lets hope they silence a critic like me. The latest news coming out of the UK is that McLaren are considering their "options" with Honda. Could a shock switch to another engine supplier be on the cards? Time will tell..

Renault Sport F1 Team :

Renault, in its 2nd year as a Works Team would look to improve their performances and results from last year. The team ( after a lot of debate ) persisted with Jolyon Palmer while Kevin Magnussen was released to join Haas F1. The team bagged the services of Nico Hulkenberg from Force India and both will look to benefit from the other - Hulkenberg being with a works team and Renault having the luxury of a consistent finisher / performer in their ranks. For Jolyon Palmer, its a make or break year. His performances must improve to justify the team's decision to retain him..else it won't be difficult to find a replacement. Hulkenberg would be hoping for a reliably fast car for 2017 and if they do manage this for the first half, a podium finish shouldn't be a long shot.

The Team aims to finish P5 in this championship ( based on the "roadmap to success" charted out by Renault ). Testing results suggest a positive outcome for the season. Issues remain to be resolved but the team can gain confidence from all that they learned from testing. I do hope to see them return to success and hopefully to the top step..after all I consider them as family!

Haas F1 Team :

Haas F1 had a decent debut year. Romain Grosjean scored all the points for the team while Gutierrez had a torrid return to F1. He was close to scoring points on a few occasions but his performances didn't warrant him a place in 2017. Subsequently he switched to Formula E while Kevin Magnussen took up his vacant seat. Haas has a capable driver in Romain Grosjean, his experience being helpful in the development and improvement of the car. Magnussen is a quick driver but will need time to settle.

Pre-season tests show that the car is fairly quick and should be a regularly feature in the midfield battle. Haas' close association with Ferrari might turn out to be helpful. Their main challenge will be sporting a balanced chassis for the varied demands of races over the season. P7 seems like the best bet for Haas F1.

Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Toro Rosso renew their partnership with Renault for 2017. I must say they have the best livery for 2017. It should be a lot easier to differentiate between the A Team and the B Team. Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. keep their seats for 2017. However Kvyat must perform as the extremely talented Pierre Gasly is waiting in the wings. Carlos had a strong 2016 but I believe he should leave Red Bull's Driver Program for 2018 if he wishes to move up the grid. Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo might not leave the A Team if they have a successful 2017. Toro Rosso return to Renault power for 2017 and the initial impressions are a bit mixed. Reliability was an issue but the team seemed to find some pace near the end of the Pre-Season Tests.

Toro Rosso, under the leadership of Mr. Franz Tost will continue to be a strong midfield team in 2017 and it won't be surprising if they spring up a few surprise results at certain tracks. Lets hope they have a good outing..

Sauber F1 Team :

Sauber finished 9th in the Constructors' thanks to an eventful Brazilian Grand Prix. The cash-strapped team had been pushing for a takeover over the business end of last year and the winter. However with nothing concrete coming their way, the best way forward was to have drivers with strong financial backing. Felipe Nasr was relieved of his services while Mercedes bagged the seat for Pascal Wehrlein. This was quite an interesting move since Sauber run the Ferrari powertrains...but then Sauber operate independent of Ferrari. It will be interesting to see how the new team-mates pair up. My money is on Wehrlein. The German through his performances at Manor proved there was little to stop him from coming out on top. Ericsson has a long season ahead of him. The time is ticking for him too.

Sauber must score points whenever the opportunity arises. It would be difficult for them to keep upgrading the car throughout the season but they must ensure that they don't finish last in the Constructors' to keep their F1 legacy alive.

The Demise of Manor :

2017 began with some grim news. Manor F1 Team went into administration after they failed to get an investor. Eventually the team had to shut down and withdraw their name from the 2017 Official Entry List. This explains the logic of moving both Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon to Sauber and Force India respectively; as I had mentioned earlier, Mercedes knew about this well before time and ensured that their protegees don't go without a drive in 2017.

The Season is less than a week away. Albert Park is ready to kickstart the 2017 season. I would love to repeat my favourite line : F1 Returns and so does Sanity!

God willing, I hope to attend the Spanish, Belgian and the Abu Dhabi GP.

Can Mercedes win it all again? Can Red Bull and Ferrari dethrone Mercedes? Will Force India be as good as 2016? Can Renault meet their expectations for 2017? Can McLaren and Honda sort out their issues and move up the pecking order?

All these questions will be answered over the course of the season.

Who has the fastest car? I believe we shall know by the Bahrain GP.

Kimi Raikkonen
was amazing at the Tests. I hope to see him do the same in-season! Kimi has all my support for the title!

I wish all teams and all drivers the best for 2017. May the Best Man and the Best Team win!

Once again thank you all for your support for this blog and I apologize for being away for 3 months from the blog. God Bless you all!

2016 F1 Season Review - Like Father, Like Son

2016 was the longest F1 Season with 21 Races on the Calendar. Baku became the European Grand Prix and the Season also saw the arrival of a new customer team in Haas F1 powered by Ferrari. Red Bull became Red Bull - Tag Heuer ( Renault engines branded as Tag Heuer ), Renault became a works team hiring the Services of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, Romain Grosjean joined Esteban Gutierrez in Haas F1 while Pascal Wehrlein & Rio Haryanto got drives in Manor ( formerly Marussia ) Racing F1 Team.

I had the privilege of attending the Spanish GP and the Hungarian GP this year and both were amazing venues to watch a race. Spain was special since Ferrari achieved a double podium with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Experts predicted a close fight for supremacy in 2016. Lets do a quick recap of how it all unfolded in 2016.

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

The Undisputed Kings of the new Turbo era continued their dominance winning 19 races in the season. Nico Rosberg continued where he left off in 2015, winning the first 4 races until a coming together in Spain ( with Lewis ). Lewis Hamilton rose up to the challenge after Spain winning the next 6 out of 7 races. Austria witnessed another incident between the two. Belgium, Italy, Singapore - Rosberg reigned supreme. The Big Twist in the tale came in Malaysia when Hamilton was comfortably leading only to see his engine blow up and hand the lead to RosbergThe difference stood at 23 points now! Rosberg won in Japan and the difference rose to 30 points. The victory meant that he had to only finish 2nd in the final 4 races ( should Hamilton win each of them ). Easier said than done. Lewis won in US & Mexico, Nico was 2nd. The Big Test came in Brazil. Hamilton was the master of Racing in Rain and was virtually untouched. Max Verstappen got the measure of Rosberg and passed him into P2. There were multiple stoppages, multiple crashes, treacherous conditions yet the Mercedes' strategists pulled off a master stroke to help Rosberg achieve P2. Then came the final round in Abu Dhabi! Lewis Hamilton pulled away from pole with Nico P2. Max pointed the wrong way at T1 but made up to P3 with a long stint on Medium Tyres. Nico was P4 after his pit stop and needed to pass Max to keep his championship hopes alive. The pass was 'critical'. Sebastian Vettel who led the race for a long time made up places in his final stint and was P3 with 6 laps left. Lewis, who regained the lead, went against team instructions and slowed down to back Nico into Vettel and Verstappen. He tried his best and by the time the race ended, the top 4 were separated by less than a second! Nico had done it. He was the 2016 F1 World Champion! Nico had been the more consistent of the two ( one retirement vs two of Lewis' ) although Lewis had won one more race. However the outgoing Champion can be proud of his season. One might say his tactics in the final race were unsporting but he did everything he could ( in his capacity ) to win the championship and its not easy to back anyone up into a chasing pack. It requires a lot of skill. Credit where credit is due, Hamilton is a born racer and there are very few like him in F1. There were a lot of conspiracy theories doing the rounds that Lewis' car was sabotaged to help Nico win the championship - a German champ for a German team. Its unfortunate to have mechanical issues which rob you of victories or precious points at pivotal moments in the championship. Kimi Raikkonen was robbed like this in 2003 and 2005 but that is how motorsport is. It can be pretty unforgiving.

Nico has announced his retirement from the sport as well. We won't see him defending his World Championship which is a shame but his priorities are different and we must respect that.

Mercedes will have a strong package and a strong pairing in 2017. Pace is not an issue, reliability still is and that will be focused upon in the 2017 development. What Mercedes would not want is to see Reliability dictate who wins and who loses. 

It will be difficult to beat them to the title!

Red Bull Racing F1 Team :

Red Bull parted ways with Renault at the end of 2015 but continued to use their power units, albeit with Tag Heuer branding. Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat started the season together and the latter bagged 3rd place in China. However a mistake in Russia caused a crash and costed Kvyat his seat for the rest of the season. There was a lot of furore but experts believed that the Russian was already on borrowed time. Max Verstappen got promoted to the A team in Spain and won the race on debut for his new team! He also became the youngest F1 Race Winner silencing all critics and justifying Red Bull's decision. Ricciardo stepped up his performances too and a shambolic pit stop costed him victory at Monaco. He finally won in Malaysia, making it 2 wins in the season for the team, a marked improvement from their previous year. Red Bull brought in a lot of aero upgrades throughout the season and they eventually overtook Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo finished P3 in the standings with 256 points with 1 win & 7 podiums. Max Verstappen finished in P5 with 204 points with 1 win and 6 podiums, an incredible achievement considering that he raced for Toro Rosso in first 4 races. Max proved his worth again with a stellar drive in treacherous and rainy conditions in Brazil finishing P3 behind Lewis and Nico.

Red Bull should be extremely pleased with their season. They can gain a lot of encouragement from the fact that they have 2 young but incredibly talented drivers in a potent car for 2017. The added downforce might tip the advantage in their favour in the Constructors' battle. They will definitely have a more enjoyable winter compared to 2015. Onwards and Upwards for the team!

Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team :

Ferrari flattered to deceive, that is how I sum up their season. They had a strong start to the season but the challenge petered out over the course of the year. Strategic howlers robbed them of potential podiums and the car struggled to stay in touch with the top even after liberally using the upgrade tokens throughout the season. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were delegated with the task of keeping the tifosi happy and they did it to the best of their abilities. Kimi Raikkonen outqualified his team-mate ( 11-10 ) over the course of the season which was a pleasant surprise. The Iceman also managed to get 4 podiums finishing 6th in the Championship with 186 points. Sebastian achieved 6 podiums and P4 in the standings with 212 points.

The team failed to win a race this year, their main target at the start of 2016. Overall its been a disappointing performance. The Power Deficit couple with Aerodynamic deficiency hampered progress. The car was also slow in getting the tyres upto temperature. They also need to have more faith in their strategies and not react to what others are doing during a race.

The Result? Red Bull eventually caught up and overtook them, outscoring Ferrari by 70 points.

Kimi had a decent year but it could have been a lot better if Ferrari had not made strategic errors in a few races. He could have achieved some more podiums. Kimi should be strong in 2017.

Ferrari need a major overhaul if they need to challenge for the title in 2017. The learning curve is going to be steep but with the Financial Resources they have, progress should be faster.

Sahara Force India F1 Team :

Force India ended 2016 as the strongest Mercedes Customer Team. The team went from strength to strength each year and they are reaping the fruits of their hard work now. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg produced the goods again as the team clinched 4th place in the Constructors enabling them a strong base to start from in 2017.

Sergio Perez achieved 2 podiums in Monaco and Canada and finished in the points on 14 occasions. Hulkenberg's best finish came in Belgium ( 4th ) with 14 points finishes as well. Perez finished the season on 101 points with Hulkenberg scoring 72.

Force India should be proud of what they have achieved this year with the limited resources they had. The Drivers were consistent in bringing home results and although P3 will be a tough ask, finishing P4 again is achievable.

Williams Martini Racing F1 Team :

Williams had a strong 2014 and 2015. However 2016 saw a sharp drop in performances and results. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas teamed up for 2016. Bottas got a podium ( 3rd ) finish in Canada while Massa's best finish was 5th in Australia & Russia.

Bottas amassed 85 points while Massa finished 11th in the standings with 53 points. The team was overshadowed by Force India though. The Silverstone based outfit prevailed against them in a hard fought battle.

Felipe Massa announced his retirement from the sport and was given a fitting farewell by one and all in F1.

The Team dropped to 5th in the Constructors' standing as against 3rd last year. They never looked like challenging the works team in the 2nd half of the season. The team would be very displeased to lose another position to Force India, a team operating with a smaller budget than theirs. The saving grace for them was the power advantage of their Mercedes unit, else P5 would be a tough ask too.

Williams have work to do for 2017.

McLaren Honda F1 Team :

McLaren continued with Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button for 2016. Alonso suffered a bad accident with Gutierrez in Australia and had to skip Bahrain GP. Stoffel Vandoorne, the reserve driver, finished 10th in Bahrain grabbing the first point of the season for McLaren. Alonso won the team-mate battle finishing 10th in the overall standings with 54 points. His best finish was 5th in Monaco and USA. Jenson Button who announced his retirement from the sport at the end of the season finished 15th with Austria yielding his best race finish ( 6th ).

McLaren improved considerably in their 2nd year with the Honda engine. They managed to put in a fair number of miles throughout the season. Results improved considerably but still they are nowhere near the performance levels that they should be. 2017 will be an interesting year. Hopefully Honda can concentrate on power rather than reliability over the winter break.

Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team :

Toro Rosso had a torrid time with Renault powered engines in 2015 and reverted to Ferrari powertrains, albeit the 2015 one. Toro Rosso continued with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen for 2016 but the lineup changed post Russia after Kvyat caused a collision and was demoted to Toro Rosso, Verstappen moving up the order. Many questioned this move mid-season but Red Bull reiterated that this was necessary to help Kvyat develop into a better racer.

Toro Rosso had a very capable chassis and produced strong results throughout the season - 63 Points and 7th in the Constructors' Championship. Carlos Sainz Jr. finished 8th in the Drivers' Championship with 46 points, Max scored in 3 races ( till Russia ) while Kvyat managed to score in only 3 races after his demotion. Sainz showcased his class again with 6th place finishes in 3 races and being consistent throughout the season. One has to feel for Kvyat, first the demotion, then the struggles and problems he faced during the season. He has another year to make things right but with Gasly breathing down his neck, I have my reservations.

Toro Rosso can take pride in the fact that they have given F1 world class drivers and Max ensured the tradition continues. Carlos too is waiting in the wings. Red Bull have their hands full.

Haas F1 Team :

Haas, the new boys in F1 garnered a lot of attention both in pre-season and through the season. Romain Grosjean left Lotus to join Haas with the plan of eventually stepping up into the Ferrari Works team ( should an opportunity arise ) while Esteban Gutierrez landed the 2nd seat, courtesy of Ferrari, the engine suppliers for the team. Gene Haas always had a presence in F1 but coming in as a full fledged team would pose a different challenge altogether.

Romain Grosjean scored all the points for the team. The Frenchman amassed 29 points which helped Haas finish 8th in the standings. His best finish was 5th in Bahrain. Esteban Gutierrez drew a blank but missed out on points on a few occasions. It was quite evident that having a more experienced driver helped the team considerably. Romain was retained for 2017 while Gutierrez has lost his seat to Magnussen. One does feel sympathy for Esteban but he was so comprehensively beaten by his team-mate that there would be very few people who would justify giving him another year.

It was a fantastic maiden year for Haas F1. Very few would predict an 8th place finish, one ahead of a works team. They have a strong platform to build from for 2017. I believe the teething issues of their maiden year will be addressed and Haas will be a force to contend with.

Renault Sport F1 Team :

Renault broke off from Red Bull and purchased Lotus F1 to become a full-time Works Team in F1. It was a tough ask to turn it all around in 2016. Lotus had a better outing in 2015, even grabbing a podium but one must not forget that it was a Mercedes powered chassis. As informed to me by my friend, the 2016 Challenger was essentially a 2015 car with a lot of upgrades. The Delay in the takeover left little time in developing a new car. Renault however was here to stay and a roadmap to supremacy was laid up. Renault hired the services of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen after Grosjean left for Haas and Maldonado was relieved of his duties.

Progress, as expected was tough and Renault had to address issues throughout the season. Nevertheless, Kevin Magnussen managed to fetch 7 points for the team, finishing in the Points in Russia and Singapore. Jolyon Palmer on the other hand had a poor debut season with a solitary point in Malaysia. However he was also the victim of reliability issues and unfortunate incidents. His performances did improve in the latter half of the season which was enough to warrant him a seat for 2017. Renault finished the season in 9th with 8 points.

Renault will be working over the winter break. They were finding their feet in 2016. 2017 must produce a big step up in terms of results.

Sauber F1 Team :

Sauber had a horrid 2014, 2015 and 2016 was destined to be the same until Nasr clinched 9th place in Brazil. These 2 points elevated them to 10th place in the Constructors' Standings, the final place in receiving a financial bonus. Marcus Ericsson finished the season pointless, his best finish 11th in Mexico. The Chassis has been the main challenge for the team. The 2015 Ferrari powered unit was strong enough but poor chassis design and lack of aerodynamics hampered progress.

Sauber is a cash strapped team and one can empathize with where they are now. Hopefully they have a more decent outing next year and with a potential take-over doing the rounds, money might pour in to help them stay afloat and develop a stronger car.

Manor Racing F1 Team :

Manor, formerly Marussia hired the services of Rio Haryanto & Mercedes Protegee Pascal Wehrlein for 2016. However Haryanto lost his race seat ( after Germany ) after the sponsors failed to meet the financial obligations to the team. His best finish was 15th in Monaco.

Esteban Ocon replaced Rio for the second half of the season and was very impressive in his performances. His best finish was 12th in Brazil and his performances were good enough to land him a seat in Force India in 2017.

Pascal Wehrlein
had a fantastic debut year in F1. He Secured the team's solitary point in Austria, a Result that almost won them 10th place in the Constructors but for what conspired in Brazil.

Manor had a decent 2016 and should be proud of their performances. There is news of a takeover as well. Can they move up from where they are now? Time will tell.

Felipe Massa
said goodbye to F1 and its sad to see such a fantastic racer and human being leave the sport. Jenson Button, another gentleman and a former World Champion takes a one year sabbatical ( but I do feel he is retiring ). There will be a change of guard in 2017. Hope to see the new boys do well in 2017.

Nico Rosberg won the Championship. Mercedes retained the Constructors' title. Mercedes again exhibited their prowess in the new turbo era. Their Engine has been pretty reliable, their upgrades effective and both their drivers just flattened the opposition.

True Nico Rosberg has left the sport after fulfilling his childhood dream and we wont see him defend his title. However we must cherish the performances the man has produced to the title and we wish him all the best for the future. Keke Rosberg won it in 1982, Nico Rosberg wins it in 2016!

I wrote a short tribute on my blog a few days back :

Well, Like Father, Like Son!