LIVING THE DREAM - DAY 3

SUNDAY :

Sunday was D-Day. The Day I was really looking forward to.

I reached Silverstone early braving all the Traffic Snarls and the torrential rain that came with it.

I passed the F1 Village on my way to the Paddock Club. Sky Sports was very enthusiastic about Batman - The Dark Knight Rises and Showcased the Batmobile :

 

I Reached the Suite and Preparations were in full swing ( on track ) for the start of one of the Support Races ( GP 2  ). A couple of F1 Reserve Drivers seemed to be quite interested.

 

Lotus F1 Team had ensured that they would give the best of the Goodies to the Guests today.

 

It was almost 10 am. As usual I had a nice chat with the Team Members at the Suite. It was now time for the Arrival of the Man I admire in Formula 1. The Flying Finn, The Iceman, The King of Spa are some of his nick-names. The Clock ran down and I couldn't wait to see my hero upfront. And then he arrived. I quickly got into the queue ( Thanks to the Table's Proximity to the Stage ). Then I cherised the Moment. The moment that I could treaure for a lifetime. Today I met KIMI RAIKKONEN!!! He obliged many with autographs and left to start preparations for the Race.

 

Kimi's Departure was followed by the Final Pit-Lane Walk of the Weekend. One of the Porsche cars ( From the Support race ) being rolled out of our way.

 

This is also the Time when the Big Boys of the Media go to work. Sky Sports had their team ready to start the Pre - Race Show. ALAN McNISH and MARTIN BRUNDLE were the       Co-hosts.

 

I also the met the Man I had met in Malaysia. Some might remember him. JOHNNY HERBERT!!

 

A Great Gesture by the LOTUS F1 TEAM.... RESPECT!!

 

McLaren Mercedes have had bad pit-stops all through the season. Well some Extra Practice would do them no harm

 

The Stands were full as the Fans waited to catch a glimpse of their F1 Stars.

 

The Drivers Spending time Together before Leaving for the Driver Parade.

 

AHEM AHEM

 

I have Learnt to respect this Man more and more. He has a great heart, is approachable and I would love to know this man better. My efforts to meet him over the weekend finally bore fruit on Sunday as I got to spend a few Minutes with him. Friends..... MICHAEL "HERBIE" BLASH ( FIA Deputy Race Director ).

 

As I made my way back up the Pitlane, I got the chance to share a moment with TONY FERNANDES ( CEO - AIR ASIA, TEAM PRINCIPAL - CATERHAM F1, CHAIRMAN - QPR FC ). Also got a quick picture of Nobert Haug ( Mercedes AMG Petronas ) and another near the Pit-Box of the Lotus F1 Team.

 

ROB SMEDLEY ( Felipe Massa's Race Engineer ) arrived a bit early and mingled with the fans. Great Guy. Martin Brundle smiled for the Shutterbugs. Got Introduced to a couple of people too. Some Marshalls know how to dress up for the Race!

 

The Lights that Signify the Start and End of Sessions :

 

Red Arrows - The Highly Acclaimed Aerobatic Team. The Pride of the RAF.

 

Final Checks before the Big Event.

 

We Returned to the Suite and were soon joined by MR. ERIC BOULLIER ( TEAM PRINCIPAL -LOTUS F1 TEAM ). He answered a few questions and did a quick review of the Team Performance so far ( which has been more than just Commendable ). A moment with The BOSS!!

 

Very Rarely does Food take a back-seat in my life. But Today was different. Here is a quick peek at what was the served. The Food - LIP SMACKING and the Hospitality Impeccable!

 

All the Guests then Hurried to the Balconies to witness the Start of the Race. Silverstone has changed in its Track Layout since 2011. Alonso, Webber, Schumacher started in the Top 3. However it didn't stay the same at the end of the race. Mark Webber was victorious. Alonso and Vettel completed the Podium.

KIMI RAIKKONEN finished 5th ( set the Fastest Lap of the Race )

ROMAIN GROSJEAN finished 6th ( a Fine drive after being pushed back to 22nd due to the incident with Paul Di Resta )

 

Lotus F1 Team has been running a competition on all three days rewarding the guest who predicted the name of the Driver who would set the Fastest Lap Time of the Session. I supported Kimi to do it & the Flying Finn didn't disappoint. I won a pair of Romain Grosjean Autographed Racing gloves!! Thank you Lotus F1 Team and Thank you Kimi!!

 

The TEAM that made this weekend more than just Memorable ( L to R : Gaby Mills, Matt Johnson & Gary Rosewell ). A Special Thanks to Gary for the experience of being right there during the Saturday Practice Session.

 

THE ENTIRE TEAM THAT TOOK CARE OF US ON THE WEEKEND!! MET ALL OF THEM. GREAT PEOPLE. HOPE TO MEET THEM AGAIN... SOON

 

As I bid Farewell to the Suite and to New Friends I had made, A Couple was gracious enough to take me down to the LOTUS F1 TEAM Motorhome!!

 

The Pirelli - PZeros. All Compounds were used this weekend.  Another Photo just before entering the Motorhome.

 

 

Hospitality in the Motorhome is World - Class. Some more shots of the Mobile Motorhome.

 

 I also had the Opportunity to have a quick chat with one of KIMI RAIKKONEN's ENGINEERS

( FORGOT HIS NAME... LOTUS F1 TEAM need some help here )

 

The Motorhomes of all the teams. Its Just Amazing to see how good teams are in Assembling and Dismantling all these.

 

I made new friends. A Special thanks to the Couple for their graciousness!! Thank you Eddie Sir!!

 

Its Amazing how quickly Friends are made. Great to meet them!!

 

 

 

Well what follows now might make people envious of me... SORRY

 

KIMI RAIKKONEN Autographed the Visor of his Mini-Helmet :

 

The Racing Gloves autographed by  ROMAIN GROSJEAN :

 

The Mini - Helmet and the Gloves :

 

I didn't have time to Take Photos of all the Goodies.. :

 

 

Finally I want to THANK GOD & My Parents for Fulfilling my Dream.

A BIG THANK YOU to the LOTUS F1 TEAM for Bringing back KIMI RAIKKONEN into the WORLD of FORMULA 1. F1 isn't the same without KIMI. I had a great weekend. Thank you for all the Hospitality!

THANK YOU www.exclusivegp.com for giving me an experience that I would never forget. FRIENDS If you want to have experiences such as mine, www.exclusivegp.com are the guys that can make it happen.

 

 

NOW FOR SINGAPORE AND INDIA!!!

LIVING THE DREAM - DAY 2

SATURDAY :

Day 2 started early in the morning. I reached Silverstone at arond 7:30am and just in time for the Pit-lane walk. The first 45 minutes of the day were PIT - STOP Practice Sessions for the team.

 

The FIA Garage where the Cars are Weighed post each session :

 

Marussia, HRT & Caterham go about their Pit - Stop Practice!

 

 

Red Bull, Mercedes AMG Petronas showcase their perfection :

 

LOTUS F1 Team showing their guests how Harmonic and Synchronized their Pit - Stop Practices are!!

 

Got a Chance to hold the Steering Wheel while Kimi Raikkonen's Car is rolled back into the Garage!

 

Some of the Spares of Teams on display.. well the more confidential ones are in the back of the Garage!

 

The Gates opened at 8:30 am and we were ushered back into the Paddock Club. Entered the Lotus Suite and I knew that I had an action packed day ahead !

Just like Friday the Team had goodies packed into bags for their guests. I had a nice chat with a couple of the team members. The Glum Weather was disappointing for all. Getting into the Circuit had become a big hassle.

 

Soon it was time for the Final Practice Session before the Qualifying! All the Teams were thankful as the weather opened up and sunshine trickled in. The Session was going to be a dry one and this was a welcome change for all teams!!

Everyone opted for the High-Fuel Runs in order to determine their pace during the race. The Session lasted for hour and the half.

The Lotus F1 Team had a surprise in store for me!!

There were only 10 mins left for the session to end and I was escorted down to the GARAGE to see the way the Mechanics and Engineers went about their task. The Team performed like a well - oiled machine. We were given the Pit - Radio Headsets and were able to hear conversations happening in the Pit Lane!! WHAT AN EXPERIENCE

Here are some captures... Guess who decided to join us??? - SIR JACKIE STEWART!!

 

The Session ended and we were escorted back to the Suite and we had Sir Jackie Stewart enthralling the fans with his stories. He Talked about his Racing Career, His Family, His Mother's fears about him racing because of the incidents with his brother. He also stressed on the Importance of EXPERIENCE in FORMULA 1 using the examples of KIMI RAIKKONEN and FERNANDO ALONSO who have been more successful than their team-mates as they have played it smart. In Short - HE WAS AT HIS CHARMING BEST!!

 

His Depature was soon followed by the arrival of another Formula 1 Legend.. the 1996 Formula 1 World Champion : DAMON HILL.

I managed to get his autograph on Friday and He obliged me with a photograph on Saturday. He made some more visits to the Suite but all were hasty ones.

He is a busy man thanks to his associations with SKY SPORTS :

 

 

Lunch was served and like Friday it was quite a spread. Well its important to be well fed to keep yourself going! Post - Lunch we all joined in for the 2nd Pit - Lane walk of the day.

As we waited for the Gates to be opened, the RAF entertained us with their Acrobatics in the sky :

 

Silverstone went through a re-haul in 2011 and the Start - Finish straight was changed. Well this is a shot of the New Paddock Club Building :

 

I walked down the Pit - Lane towards the FIA Race Control to say a quick Hello to Sir Charlie Whiting and Sir Herbie Blash. I met the Former but had to wait till Sunday to meet the other.

However I had the Privilege to see Martin Whitmarsh ( McLaren Team Principal ), Niki Lauda ( 3 time Formula 1 World Champion ), Eddie Jordan ( Team Principal of now extinct Jordan, now a BBC Presenter ), David Coulthard ( Formula 1 Driver and a Co-host at BBC )

 

 

A Car - Lover would drool if he / she saw the Gull - Winged Car from close. However the Mercedes SLS AMG was made to look ordinary by the Formula 1 cars. Here is a picture of the Safety Car driven by Bernd Maylander. He has been with Formula 1 since 2000. RESPECT!!

 

I left the FIA Race Control just in time before the Qualifying Started. The Rain came down again and worsened conditons caused suspension of the the Q2 session.

 

Q2 Restarted 92 minutes later ( only 6 minutes remained ). All Drivers sensed the urgency to set a competitve time :

 

Eric Boullier looks on Intently as the Session Restarts :

 

Dr. Vijay Mallya seems to be relaxed and content as one car makes it to Q3.

Alonso reigned supreme in Qualifying. Webber and Schumacher completed the Top 3. Kimi Raikkonen Qualified in P6.

 

Romain Grosjean made it to Q3 but spun out at the end of Q2 and couldn't set a time in Q3. Obviously the Frenchman was disappointed. However he didn't let this show and managed to be his charming-self when he came down to the Suite to meet his guests.

 

A Moment with Romain. Definitely a World Champion in the Making!!

 

As usual there were other Support Races happening too, most notably GP2 Race 1. As I made my way back to the Main Entrance I stopped by to take a quick pic of the GP3 Cars Hurtling down the track :

 

All in all a Fantastic Day but D-DAY was yet to come.. the Dream was still Not Complete......

PATIENCE.....

 

Would like to Appreciate the Effort of www.exclusivegp.com for helping me fulfill this dream.

LIVING THE DREAM - DAY 1

I WOULD NOT DO JUSTICE TO THIS DREAM IN ONE POST! SO THIS IS PART 1 !!

We all have dreams. Many of us strive to fulfill our dreams. I got to live my dream! A Big Thank You to God, my Wonderful Dad and www.exclusivegp.com for helping this dream come true.

So whats the dream?? READ ON.....

 

 

I have been a follower of Formula 1 since the Mika Hakkinen Days.

However it was the arrival of another Finn into Formula 1 that changed the way I followed the sport.

The Man was KIMI RAIKKONEN.

I had seen him perform for Sauber in 2001. Then the switch to McLaren Mercedes & finally the World Championship year in 2007 with Ferrari.

I always wanted to meet the man I had grown to respect and admire over the years that I had been watching Formula 1. So when Kimi Raikkonen made a return to the world of Formula 1, I knew this was my chance to meet my favourite athlete!!

I could see my dream finally being fulfilled!!

The plans were drawn, then executed and I patiently waited for the day.

The 2012 British Grand Prix at Silverstone was the Venue.

I got the Opportunity of being a guest of the Lotus F1 Team at the 3 - Day Extravaganza!

So the fun was doubled!! - LOTUS F1 Team Paddock Club Hospitality and a chance to meet Kimi Raikkonen!! - Too good to be true.

 

 

FRIDAY :

I reached at the Hospitality Suite early on Friday Morning and was ushered in by Mr. Matt Johnson ( Lotus F1 Team )

The Team Suite :

 

The Ambience was perfect. Lotus F1 had many car components on display and the components were like art-work. Carbon - Fibre made components ( World's Strongest and Lightest material ) were awe-inspiring.

No sooner had I settled into the Suite and it was time for the First PIT - LANE Walk of the Weekend ( The FIRST OF MY LIFE!!! ).

It was a very familiar site however. The Engineers of every team were busy with their Car - Setups for the weekend. Some were busy gathering track & weather information and some others explained their guests the complexity of Formula 1 as a Sport.

Engineers preparing for the weekend :

 

The Helmet & The Steering Wheel : EXQUISITE PIECES OF ENGINEERING!

 

The Man at the Helm :

 

I thought I must try my hand at the simulator and I must say its very tough

I returned to the Suite and then had the opportunity to meet Jerome D'Ambrosio ( Lotus Reserve Driver )

 

Some Captures of the Boxes of teams during Friday Free Practice 2 :

 

 

The Icing on the Cake was the time spent with Sir JACKIE STEWART!

He Explained his role at GENII EXCHANGE, The Company's association with the Lotus F1 Team, a quick recap of the season so far and his experiences at Silverstone!

A MOMENT WITH THE LEGEND!!

 

BATAK : An Exercise for a Formula 1 Driver to improve his Peripheral Vision. A    Formula 1 Driver scores 70 hits in 30 seconds ( randomly glowing lights )

Motorhome : Temporary Headquarters / Briefing - Debriefing Centre / Technical Hub for Formula 1 teams over a Race - Weekend

 

Once Again a Special Thank you to www.exclusivegp.com for offering me this unique experience!!

So this was DAY 1. More to follow.... WATCH THIS SPACE!!

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 )

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 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