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Italian GP Review - British Revival in Italy

MONZA, ITALY - The Mecca for Ferrari Fans. The Land of the Tifosi. Great Motorsporting History!

Formula 1 arrived here with the title race wide open. The Fastest Race on the Calender promised to deliver a great weekend and it definitely did.

The Italian Grand Prix was the Last European Race of the Calender and the last 7 races are all "Fly - Aways".

Two DRS Zones ( same as 2011 ) ensured that a lot of overtaking would feature in the race! However DRS was shortened this year . The first DRS zone, located on the straight between the second Lesmo corner and the Variante Ascari, was shortened by 50 meters, while the DRS zone on the front straight was shortened by 5 meters.

Ferrari Powered and Mercedes Powered cars would have an advantage against the Renault Powered Engines ( Better Horsepower ).

Teams have to run the lowest downforce setup and Straight line speed is what counts over clean aerodynamics.

 

PENALTIES :

Another Race dominated by Penalties Galore!

Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean received a one-race ban for his involvement in the first-lap incident at the Belgian Grand Prix He was replaced by the team's test and reserve driver, Jerome d'Ambrosio

Pastor Maldonado received a ten-place grid penalty for jumping the start of the Belgian Grand Prix and causing an avoidable accident with Timo Glock.

Paul di Resta was also demoted five places for an unscheduled gearbox change on Saturday morning, his second gearbox penalty of the season.

 

FREE PRACTICE :

Ma Qinghua became the first Chinese driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend when he drove Narain Karthikeyan's HRT in the first free practice session on Friday morning. Valtteri Bottas drove Bruno Senna's Williams F1 in the same session, while Jules Bianchi took Paul di Resta's place at Force India.

Mercedes AMG driver Michael Schumacher was fastest in the first practice session, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg completing the top 3. Jerome d'Ambrosio finished the session 15th. Pastor Maldonado and Fernando Alonso suffered technical problems and Stopped on the Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest driver in the second session, edging out Button and Alonso. Alonso had another disrupted session with a series of technical problems surrounding the gearbox and brakes that limited his time on the circuit. Schumacher went off-track and finished the session in 10th. He was highly-critical of the speed bumps placed around the Variante della Roggia chicane, claiming they were a safety hazard that could result in serious injury if a driver hit them at speed.

Hamilton was once again fastest in the third session, just one thousandth of a second ahead of Alonso. Paul di Resta finished the session third, while Sebastian Vettel suffered a loss of power on his final lap and pulled over at the Roggia chicane. The Red Bull RB8 was consistently one of the slowest cars through the speed trap. This circuit was the one where the Red Bulls would be the weakest.

 

QUALIFYING :

Nico Hulkenberg failed to set a lap time when his car stopped on the circuit during the first qualifying period. As he was unable to get the car restarted, he was not allowed to take any further part in qualifying. His entry to the race depended on a special dispensation from race stewards, which was subsequently granted. Q1 saw no other surprises.

Q2 saw the exit of Webber, Maldonado, Perez, Senna, Ricciardo and D'Ambrosio. Maldonado was demoted to 22nd after serving his Penalty.

Q3 dealt a big blow to Ferrari's hopes of a victory at their Home Race. Alonso who had topped both Q1 and Q2 headed out with Massa and Failed to set a competitive time in the First Run. The last run left him languising in P10!! It was later revealed that the Anti-Roll Bar had broken on Alonso's Car. This explained the lack of pace.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button made it a McLaren Mercedes 1-2. Massa qualified 3rd. Paul Di Resta was 4th but was demoted to 9th for a gearbox change. Schumacher, Vettel, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Kobayashi, Alonso completed the top 10.

 

RACE :

Everybody got a clean start into the First Turn. Massa jumped Button and almost overtook Hamilton into the First Corner. Button tried to retake the position after 2nd chicane but failed.

It was a brilliant start from Fernando Alonso who jumped upto 7th from 10th.

Hamilton built his lead over Massa while Vettel took the help of DRS to shoot past Schumacher into the First turn ( Lap 4 ). Rosberg and Senna banged wheels with the latter going over bumps. Alonso was now challenging Schumacher for 5th position. Senna went off-track again on Lap 8 while challenging Di Resta and lost a position to Webber in the process.

Lap 9 saw the First Retirement. The rear end of Jean-Eric Vergne's Toro Rosso suddenly stepped out on him as he was braking for Turn One. The car spun around, bumped across the kerbs and sleeping policemen with a heavy impact on landing.

Paul Di Resta was now going backwards ( Lap 11 ) as he complained of tyre degradation. Schumacher too came under intense pressure from Raikkonen. 

Schumacher pitted on Lap 16 and it was clear that he was on a Two Stop Strategy. Button closed in on Massa and passed him on Lap 19, the latter complaining of Telemetry Issues.

Massa pitted on Lap 20 but got stuck behind Ricciardo on his exit.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso pitted together on lap 21 from 4th and 5th respectively. A brilliant stop for Ferrari made him rejoin almost side-by-side with the Red Bull driver. They both exited the pit-lane just behind Felipe Massa who was trapped behind the slower Toro Rosso.

Felipe Massa finally overtook the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo to give himself some breathing space on Lap 22. Vettel almost hit the back of the Toro Rosso as it suffered from lack of Traction out of the Corner.

Jenson Button pitted on Lap 23. The Team struggled with one of the wheel-nuts and he was delayed. However the Quick in-laps ensured that he rejoined the track just ahead of Massa.

Hamilton pitted on lap 24 and Sergio Perez who had started the race in 12th on Hard Tyres was now leading the Race!

Kimi Raikkonen made a move on Nico Hulkenberg's Force India in the first corner for eighth place. ( Lap 25 )

Meanwhile Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel battled it out. Alonso tried a move down the outside at Turn One. Vettel then squeezed the championship leader onto the grass at the first Lesmo corner.  The Spaniard got off the gas and eased back on track. He was quite frustrated on the Radio.

Lap 28 saw Hamilton retake the lead from Perez, the Mexican still to pit for medium Tyres ( Options ).

Alonso finally succeeded and passed Vettel on Lap 29. The incident earlier between the two was under investigation by the Stewards.

Lap 31 turned out to be the most interesting lap. Perez made his only stop and emerged 8th. Vettel was given a Drive-Through Penalty for pushing Alonso onto the grass. Then it all changed for one of the McLaren Mercedes.

Jenson Button lost Fuel-pressure in his car and retired on Lap 33! His Car simply came to a stop as he lost drive. A Potential 1-2 lost. Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez battled and the Finn had to dig deep to hold his place. However the latter muscled his way past on Lap 36. Massa Received the following Radio Message on Lap 37 : "Think about how you're going to manage the tyres. Think about how you're going to manage the tyres, Felipe. Fernando is behind."

Hockenheim 2010 anyone??

Schumacher was down to 11th after his 2nd pitstop. Alonso passed Massa who hardly put up a fight after being told that his team-mate was 0.9 seconds behind ( Lap 40 ). A lap later Vettel went past his team-mate Webber into 6th position and was closing in on Kimi Raikkonen.

On Lap 43 Mark Webber was informed that Sebastian Vettel had a car problem which might stop him suddenly. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez was taking chunks out of the Felipe Massa's lead.

Perez overtook Massa on the backstraight just before Parabolica on Lap 44. This move might just change the driver lineup for Ferrari next year. Massa drove brilliantly but Perez seemed simply better. Perez was now closing in on Alonso and passed him without fuss using DRS around the outside at Ascari. ( Lap 46 ).

Lap 48 saw another big retirement. Sebastien Vettel was asked to stop his car immediately and retire from the race. Radio Message : "Stop the car, we must save the engine."

Perez was slowly closing in on Hamilton but catching him would be difficult considering the remaining number of laps. Mark Webber suffered a big spin on lap 50 as he came out of Ascari hit the kerbs and lost the backend. However a couple of laps later he was cruising to the pits into retirement after suffering massive flatspots. The Red Bulls had scored NO Points!!!

Lewis Hamilton had done a flawless race losing his lead only for his Pitstop. The Victory also revived his championship hopes.

Sergio Perez produced a Fine Drive to finish 2nd after having started 12th!! Fernando Alonso gave the Tifosi something to cheer by finishing 3rd.

Massa, Raikkonen, Schumacher ( who was charging up the field ), Rosberg, Di Resta, Kobayashi, Senna completed the Top 10.

 

 

Alonso now had a 37 point lead ( 179 points ) over Lewis Hamilton ( 142 Points ) and KIMI RAIKKONEN's Consistent performances helped him to jump up into 3rd at 141 points.

 

  

VETTEL - ALONSO INCIDENT :

Alonso had closed in on Vettel and tried a move on the outside of the First Lesmo Corner. Vettel held the racing line trying to get the best traction out of the Corner. Vettel would have seen Alonso right behind him in his mirrors and left racing space. However that racing space dwindled as Alonso finally out of tarmac was pushed onto grass. 

According to me it was a Simple Racing Incident and Alonso's Rant is unjustified. Rather he should have taken it in his stride. Ferrari is known to influence decisions and the Stewards' decision here is Questionable. 

 

MASSA - ALONSO Situation :

"Fernando is faster than you" - Hockenheim 2010. Fernando was the driver challenging for the Championship and Ferrari deemed it fit to use such a transmission to change the result of the race to favour Alonso's Title Bid.

This Race the Transmission was slightly different but the end result same.

"Think about how you're going to manage the tyres. Think about how you're going to manage the tyres, Felipe. Fernando is behind."

Massa has been talked about a lot this season. Experts have felt that he has lost his drive and is a mere shadow of himself after his accident in Hungary in 2009.

However if Fernando claims to be the driver he is, I would prefer seeing Real Racing between the two rather than an easy capitulation by Massa caused by Ferrari's Coded Transmissions. Someone else might not accept this the way Massa does. Alonso is a great driver and is the best driver on the grid this year according to me. He just has to live up to his reputation.

 

With the European Races over, its now time to head to the "Monaco of the East", The Only Night Race on the Calender - The Singapore Grand Prix.

 

I shall be at the event. I hope you join me too!!  

Belgian GP Review - Button's Return amongst Incidents Galore!

Formula 1 returned after the Summer Break. The Venue? - Spa Francorchamps at Belgium.

One of the fastest circuits on the calender and also known for its inclement weather, Spa produces some of the most thrilling races of the season.

A lot happened this year too, both on and off-track. Michael Schumacher celebrated his 300th Grand Prix Start! The Veteran really loves Formula 1. The Red Bull Duo of Webber and Vettel knew they had to score big to curtail Alonso's lead upfront.

 

FREE PRACTICE :

The Practice session was spoilt by Torrential Rain. Rain in both the sessions minimised running for the teams. Lotus F1 were unable to test their improved version of DRS that they call the 'Device'.

Kamui Kobayashi was fastest in the First practice while Marussia's Charles Pic was the fastest in Second Practice. Massa suffered a scare in FP1 when his car grounded to a halt as he was about to enter the pits at the end of the installation lap.

The Final Free Practice on Saturday gave teams some much needed Track time. Fernando Alonso topped the Final Practice.

 

QUALIFYING :

Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg were on the backfoot after being penalised 5 places for a Gearbox change.

Q1 saw the Elimination of Nico Rosberg, the German being demoted from 18th to 23rd due to the penalty.

Q2 brought in more shocks as Vettel, Hulkenberg, Schumacher, Massa failed to make the cut. Red Bull expected Vettel to be the lead driver but the German's poor qualifying seemed to have dashed their hopes.

Q3 was exciting as teams tried to outdo each other. However it was Jenson Button who dominated Qualifying topping the time sheets in Q2 and Q3.

Button was joined by Kobayashi!! Maldonado and Raikkonen completed Row 2. Perez and Alonso were P5 and P6. Webber, Hamilton, Grosjean, Di Resta completed the top 10.

Webber's gearbox change demoted him from P7 to P12.  Pastor Maldonado received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in Q1 ( P3 to P6 ).

 

 

RACE :

Kobayashi had smoke coming from his Brakes after the cars lined up for the start. What followed though was shocking. The Five Lights went out and Maldonado seemed to have made a jump-start. Button and Raikkonen were clear into La Source but right behind them unfolded a carnage that was as bad as the Spa in 1998. Grosjean's Lotus went over Hamilton's and Alonso's. Perez lost his rear wing the accident and Kobayashi suffered heavy damage. The sheer amount of Debris meant that the Safety Car had to be summoned. Alonso was too shaken by the accident and the Medical team took their time attending him. The incident meant that the Red Bull Duo of Vettel and Webber had a golden chance of reducing Alonso's lead in the Championship.

The Force Indias catapulted to 3rd and 4th after the incident.

The Race restarted on Lap 5 and Button had a clean getaway. Raikkonen was passed by Hulkenberg on Kemmel Straight. Pastor Maldonado drove into retirement without a Front Wing at Les Combes. Michael Schumacher had moved upto 5th from 13th on the grid and passed Paul Di Resta for 4th Position on Lap 6.

Vettel moved up the order passing Massa and Webber. Schumacher powered past Raikkonen at the top of the hill around the outside at Les Combes. ( Lap 10 ). Kimi Raikkonen complained to the team about the lack of grip.

Raikkonen and Webber pitted on Lap 11 switching to hard tyres. Raikkonen then passed Rosberg and jumped Hulkenberg after the latter's pitstop.

Another Incident happened on Lap 16. Caterham F1 performed an unsafe release of Heikki Kovalainen in the pit lane and he hit the back of the HRT that was pulling into pit box just in front.

Hulkenberg, Ricciardo & Webber passed Rosberg on Lap 17 as the German's One Pit Stop Strategy seemed to be failing him.

Sebastien Vettel was closing in on his compatriot Schumacher and tried to pass him at the Bus Stop chichane at the outside ( Lap 20 ) However at that same instant Schumacher dived into the pits and miraculously there wasn't any contact between the two drivers.  

Button also pitted on Lap 20 and the team performed the pit stop in a blistering 2.6 seconds! Vettel pitted on lap 22 and emerged 6th just ahead of Ricciardo and more importantly Schumacher who had got stuck behind the Toro Rosso.

Button was slowly building his lead at the front while Vettel and Schumacher started moving back up the grid.

Hulkenberg, Massa, Webber made their final pitstops on Lap 27 and Kimi Raikkonen a lap later. Another incident occured as Red Bull released Webber from the box just before Massa entered his.

The positions on lap 30 : Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg, Mark Webber, Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.

Raikkonen was now piling pressure on Schumacher and almost made the move stick passing the German on the outside of the Bus Stop Chichane but Schumacher with the help of DRS reclaimed 3rd place going into Les Combes.

Michael Schumacher locked up out of La Source which compromised his exit. ( Lap 34 )  As a result, Kimi Raikkonen was all over the back of the Mercedes as they approached Eau Rouge. Unprepared to wait any longer, the Flying Finn overtook him on the outside at Eau Rouge. A very brave overtake!!

Schumacher Struggled to hold onto 4th as Hulkenberg was now all over him. He finally passed him for good when Schumacher switched to "Plan B" and pitted.  Massa on newer tyres passed Webber and was up into 5th place on Lap 37.

A lot was happening at the back of the field too as the Marussia Drivers battled for 15th place and the HRT and Caterham F1 of Pedro de la Rosa and Heikki Kovalainen went head to head.

Senna running in 8th on worn out tyres came under intense pressure from  Jean-Eric Vergne and Ricciardo and pitted on lap 41.

The top 10 at the Chequered Flag : Button, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Massa, Webber, Schumacher, Vergne, Ricciardo, Di Resta.

A great revival for Button who went through a considerable slump after his victory at the opening race in Australia. Sahara Force India F1 had a great day with both the drivers in good point scoring positions.

However the biggest beneficiaries were Vettel, Webber and Raikkonen who cut down on Alonso's lead at the front.

Incidents between Webber and Massa and the Caterham and HRT concerning Unsafe release from the Pits were Investigated after the race. No action taken. The incident concerning Schumacher and Vettel on lap 20 didn't affect the results either.

However Maldonado received a Double Penalty. A 5 place demotion at Monza for jumping at the start and another 5 place penalty for the collision with Timo Glock on lap 5. The collision was avoidable according to race stewards and this explains Maldonado's retirement of Lap 5. Maldonado later stated that his fingers slipped off the clutch causing the Jump-Start.

The Biggest News was concerning the First Lap Carnage. Romain Grosjean was fined 50,000 euros & was given a one-race ban at the Italian Grand Prix for his role in the crash at the start.

 

 

The Incident at La Source :

Grosjean made a better start than Hamilton alongside him and cut sharply across the track, squeezing the McLaren driver up against the white line. Contact was inevitable, and as Hamilton lost control of his car the McLaren pushed the Lotus into the cars ahead which were slowing for the first corner. The Lotus cut across the front of Alonso's car, passing close to his helmet. Hamilton's car hit the side of Kamui Kobayashi's, and the other Sauber of Sergio Perez was knocked into Maldonado. Only Kobayashi and Maldonado emerged from the crash, Kobayashi with a substantial hole in the side of his car. Kobayashi who had started on the front row for Sauber, pitted after the accident and resumed in last place.

This clearly was Grosjean's Mistake.

I remember what Sir Jackie Stewart talked about in the paddock at Silvertsone! He stated that young drivers in F1 are too impatient. They don't realise that they can wait for one corner and attack the car in front at the next. They dont think strategies or about pacing themselves. They want to push all the time. This is one reason that Veterans of the Sport lead the Championship and the rest are languishing in positions they shouldn't be in.

Maldonado is ending up in the bad books more often than not. When he isn't dashing others, he impedes, does jump starts and all other sorts of things he shouldn't be doing at this level. Grosjean is too impatient, rather he seems restless. He is a great driver but he needs to realise that you cannot do everything in one lap. Most of his retirements have resulted from sheer haste. He needs to learn from Kimi. Its extremely important to give racing room to your opponent. Today's move was too immature. Hamilton would not have backed out. La Source just didnt have enough room for the cars and the drivers just missed the braking point to make matters worse. Hope Eric Boullier helps Romain to channelise his abilities for good.

Thankfully No one was Injured!

Some Stills captured of the Crash :

 

Looking ahead to MONZA :

Looking on to Monza, Ferrari would definitely want to mount a counter attack. The Renault Powered Red Bull and Lotus Cars were struggling in Straight Line speed at Spa. Lotus F1 really need to test the Device at Monza to give Kimi Raikkonen a chance to win. The races that follow are also high speed circuits, so this should be of utmost importance. High Downforce setups don't compromise the Straight line speed for the McLaren Mercedes too much but it isn't the same for the Renault Powered Cars.

Lets Hope for the best!! Time to greet the TIFOSI!!

Predicting the Unpredictable - Mid Season Review!!

11 races of the season done and dusted. 9 races to go! The season is just past the halfway mark and a lot would have been made clear by this time of the year.....but this isn't that year!

11 races and so much has happened in this season. This isn't a season of dominance for a Michael Schumacher or Fernando Alonso or Sebastien Vettel.

Six World Champions and some more in the making have made it a season to remember!

 

List of Winners this Season :

1) Australian GP - Jenson Button ( McLaren Mercedes )

2) Malaysian GP - Fernando Alonso ( Scuderia Ferrari )

3) Chinese GP - Nico Rosberg ( Mercedes AMG Petronas )

4) Bahrain GP - Sebastien Vettel ( Red Bull Racing )

5) Spanish GP - Pastor Maldonado ( AT&T Williams F1 Team )

6) Monaco GP - Mark Webber ( Red Bull Racing )

7) Canadian GP - Lewis Hamilton ( McLaren Mercedes )

8) European GP - Fernando Alonso ( Scuderia Ferrari )

9) Silverstone GP - Mark Webber ( Red Bull Racing )

10) German GP - Fernando Alonso ( Scuderia Ferrari )

11) Hungarian GP - Lewis Hamilton ( McLaren Mercedes )

 

A New Record was set this season as the first 7 races were won by 7 different drivers!

 

Fernando Alonso has amazed everyone with his performance this season. Experts thought that the Ferrari was not good enough for a title challenge. Alonso thought otherwise and is comfortably leading the championship by 30 points ( 164 Points ). 3 wins so far for the Spaniard

Mark Webber has lead the charge for Red Bull. The Australian trails Alonso by 30 points in second place ( 124 Points ). His performance this year has been more than just commendable. He has been successful in giving his team-mate and Two Time World Champion Sebastien Vettel a really hard time.

The Defending Champion Vettel trails Webber only by 2 points ( 122 Points ). This season the German has been inconsistent and has only one win under his belt. His ragged performances have still helped him to stay on his team-mate's tail. This season is going to be very difficult for the German.

Lewis Hamilton is 4th and behind Vettel by 5 points ( 117 Points ). Hamilton came to the fore in Canada and did exceptionally well in Hungary. His performaces have been mercurial over the whole season.

Kimi Raikkonen has not won a race but is 5th one point behind Hamilton in the Standings ( 116 Points ). The Flying Finn has been amazingly consistent scoring points in every race except one ( Chinese ). The Car has performed well although it needs to be perfect to fetch Kimi a victory. It is a matter of when rather than whether.

Nico Rosberg ( 77 Points ), Jenson Button ( 76 points ) and Romain Grosjean ( 76 Points ) are locked in battle in Positions 6,7 and 8 respectively. Nico and Jenson have wins apiece and Romain still needs to step on the top step of the podium. Nico hasn't had much to offer after his win in China.

Jenson too has had a season to forget after a very promising win at the opening race. Misfortunes have troubled the British Driver.

Grosjean has been mercurial in his performances. He could have been higher up in the championship had it not been for some mistakes that sent him into retirement in 3 races and a component failure in Valencia robbed him of a possible victory.

 

The Constructors' Battle is a hard fought one.

Red Bull Racing sit pretty in First with 246 points. McLaren Mercedes, Lotus F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari are locked in a heated battle for 2nd place with 193, 192 and 189 points respectively.

The Sauber Ferrari F1 have had a decent season and the Williams F1 won a race. However both the Williams' drivers have been prone to incidents dashing thier chances of better finishes.

 

Fernando Alonso seems to be the clear favourite. He deserves praise for the way he has performed even with a Ferrari that isn't the best car on the grid.

This is also the time when Teams decide their lead drivers . The Decision is an easy one for Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes and Lotus F1. Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen should get full backing from the respective teams. I still have doubts for Hamilton and Raikkonen. Button and Grosjean are trailing by a good number of points, so giving support to their team-mates would be a wise decision now.

Red Bull clearly face a dilemma. Webber has played second fiddle to Vettel long enough. He is leading the German but the gap is only 2 points. I reckon that a duel between the two might just aid Alonso's Title Charge. The Duo of Hamilton and Raikkonen are within Striking distance. The Driver's Championship is too close to call.

This Championship is Alonso's to lose.

 

The Trio of McLaren Mercedes, Lotus F1 and Scuderia Ferrari have to play catch - up in the Constructors. The position at the top seems safe for Red Bull Racing. Scuderia Ferrari have struggled due to lack of results from Felipe Massa. Alonso has borne that burden all along.

Lotus F1 can boast of a good season as both drivers have performed well and Raikkonen has been more consistent of the duo. Race Victories are of utmost importance and the lack of this till now might just affect the team's challenge to the title.

McLaren Mercedes have benefitted from both their drivers albeit it hasn't been consistent. The Team has had a rough season but they have dug deep to keep themselves in contention.

This might be a bold prediction... Red Bull wins the Constructors, Lotus F1 in 2nd, Scuderia Ferrari in 3rd and McLaren Mercedes in 4th.

 

Mercedes AMG Petronas and Sauber Ferrari F1 are also battling for 5th place and the duo of Williams F1 and Sahara Force India F1 for 7th. I expect Mercedes AMG Petronas and Williams F1 to come out on top.

 

We now look forward to the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa - Francorchamps. Kimi Raikkonen is called the KING OF SPA.

Lets hope that the Iceman stays cool, flies around track like the Flying Finn and emerges at the end as the King.

 

The Season is a long one and a lot can change over the final 9 races.

 

Whatever the Outcome, I Am Loving It!!

 

Hungarian GP Review - Lewis Revives his Hopes

Hungary was the final race ( 11th Race on Calender ) before the 4 week break. Formula 1 teams knew the importance of doing well at this race. This race brought to an end a fascinating First Half of the season.

A good race would definitely help drivers going into the break and Hungaroring did not disappoint.

 

QUALIFYING :

Q1 saw the elimination of the usual suspects. Q2 however sprung a surprise as Schumacher and Rosberg failed to make it into Q3, the Mercedes AMG -  Petronas were clearly struggling. Both the Sauber Ferraris suffered the same fate. However the biggest shock in Q2 came in the foorm of Mark Webber, the Australian gave his best but the balance of the car was simply not right.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were dominating the sessions. The McLaren Mercedes are known to produce excellent results in Hungary. Hamilton just humbled his competition by topping the Timesheets in all 3 sessions!!

Romain Grosjean sprung a surprise as he finished 2nd Fastest in Q3 to take a Front row position next to Hamilton.

Vettel and Button qualified 3rd and 4th. Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso 5th and 6th Respectively. Kimi had been competitive all weekend and had a chance to qualify better but a rare mistake on his flying lap cost him a couple of Places.

Nevertheless the Lotuses had now qualified in positions from where they could launch an attack for Victory.

Alonso knew that this racetrack wasn't the best for his car and was more focussed on getting maximum points.

Massa, Maldonado, Senna and Hulkenberg completed the top 10.

 

RACE :

An Intriguing battle awaited us on Sunday. All the drivers in the Top 10 started on the Soft Compound tyres.

The Drivers came lined up on the grid after the Formation Lap but the Start was aborted after Michael Schumacher's Engine shut down on the Grid. The German now had to start from the Pit Lane...

The Five Lights went out and there was action into the first turn itself. Hamilton had a clean getaway as Button jumped Vettel into 3rd. Webber had a flying start and was already up into 7th from 11th. Alonso Jumped Raikkonen to take 5th.

Schumacher came back into the pits for Tyre Change on the 3rd lap but his woes weren't over. He was penalised for Speeding in the pitlane and was way behind the pack after serving his penalty on 7th lap.

Hamilton was building his lead at the Front but the more interesting battle was between Alonso in 5th and Webber in 7th. The Gap at the front stayed constant at around 2 seconds.

Kobayashi was in a similar situation as Schumacher after his pitstop which demoted him to 21st.

The Battle between Hamilton and Grosjean swung back and forth as the former opened up a gap only for the latter to peg it back on the next lap. Vettel was closing in on Button and it was evident that Button had lost the performance. An offtrack excursion on turn 4 on Lap 16 convinced him to pit and switch to Medium Compound Tyres on Lap 17. He came out P10. Maldonado and Senna also pitted on the same lap.

Lap 18 saw Vettel and Alonso pit and Button Stayed ahead of Vettel.

Hamilton and Grosjean pitted on consecutive laps ( 19 and 20 ) and both suffered blips. They maintained track positions but used different tyre strategies, Lewis on medium and Romain on softs.

Raikkonen played the undercut on Alonso but Webber emerged behind the Spaniard after their pit-stops on lap 21.

The difference in Tyre Performance helped Grosjean close in within a second of Hamilton and Vettel had Button in his sights ( lap 25 ).  However a couple of Laps later, Grosjean's over enthusiasm with his soft tyres cost him as he seemed to lose grip allowing Hamilton to restore his lead at the top. Lots of rubber was being deposited on the circuit now as the tyres started to wear for Drivers.

Lap 29 saw Raikkonen being told on the Radio to extend his stint on the soft and Grosjean peg back the gap to about a second. Vettel was trying his best to get past Button but the latter seemed to hang on to his position. Vettel urged his team to do something as he knew he had the pace to challenge the cars in front ( Lap 31 ).

Button was asked to switch to Plan "B" and Grosjean now was within the DRS Zone to Challenge Hamilton on Lap 34.  Hamilton was informed of the same as the team sprung into action.

Button pitted on Lap 36 and another quick stop of 2.8sec got him out in 8th position. The Clear Track helped Vettel put in some quick laps. His pace was emulated by Kimi Raikkonen and it was clear that his Lotus was in a different league.

Button Struggled to get past Senna while Raikkonen was closing in on Vettel. Vettel pitted on Lap 39 for Medium Compound Tyres and emerged ahead of the Senna - Button battle. The Slower Williams had cost Button the position.

Hamilton pitted on lap on 41. He came out 2nd behind Kimi ( who was yet to pit ). Kimi Raikkonen was on series of scorching laps and the gap between Kimi and Lewis was 14 seconds.

A Flurry of Pit Stops followed and Kimi was asked to make a final push before his Final Stop. The Same message was relayed to Romain. Kimi came out of the pitlane ( lap 46 ) and both Kimi and Romain were side by side into turn 1. Raikkonen came out on top as Romain ran wide.

THE FLYING FINN HAD JUMPED FROM 5th to 2nd!! What a Drive!!

Button pitted again on lap 47 and a problem with the left-front tyre prolonged his pit-stop. Webber was upto 5th while Raikkonen was making up ground on Hamilton. Webber pitted and emerged 8th.

It was now a fight to the finish. Hamilton seemed to be holding of Raikkonen while Vettel tried a last throw of the dice. He pitted on Lap 59 and got engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Alonso. He came out on top and continued his pursuit of Grosjean who was in 3rd.

Michael Schumacher finally retired on lap 60 bringing to an end a dismal race for him.

Sebastien Vettel was lapping 2 secnds a lap faster than Grosjean but the 17 seconds gap with 8  laps to go seemed too much.

Hamilton held off Raikkonen to take the chequered flag. Grosjean held off a charging Vettel to take 3rd. Vettel finished only a second behind Grosjean. Alonso, Button, Senna, Webber, Massa, Rosberg completed the Top 10.

 

Hamilton would gain great confidence from this victory. He used a smart strategy to hold off the Lotuses. Alonso would be glad to finish ahead of Webber and extend his lead at the top.

The Lotuses did an exceptional job and the Flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen was the driver of the day for me. I would have loved to see him on the top step of the podium though...

Now a 4 week break awaits us.. Can't wait for SPA - FRANCORCHAMPS!!

 

Will the King of Spa KIMI RAIKKONEN reign supreme at Spa??? Who knows!!

German GP Review - The Spaniard asserts his Dominance

Germany is one of the most popular races on the Formula 1 calender. The Country has produced some of the best racing drivers. Sebastien Vettel, 2 Time F1 World Champion was yet to win a race in his homeland. Could this be the year??

 

QUALIFYING :

Qualifying was a mixed bag in terms of the weather, with a little bit of everything. It started out dry before the rain came and saturated the track.

Kimi Raikkonen topped the Q1 session Lewis Hamilton was fastest in Q2. Nico Rosberg was the first casualty as he failed to qualify into Q2. Q2 sprung some surprises as Massa, Perez, Kobayashi and Grosjean failed to make the cut.

The Ferrari and Red Bulls dominated Q3. Fernando Alonso snatched pole from Vettel and Webber completed the top 3. Schumacher, Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Button, Hamilton, Di Resta and Raikkonen completed the top 10.

However Penalties galore caused many changes in the grid. Romain Grosjean suffered Gearbox problems in Silverstone and had to opt for a new one. 5 places lost. Rosberg and Webber also suffered the same fate. Sergio Perez was handed a 5 place grid penalty for impeding Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in Q2.

 

RACE :

Red Bull was the centre of all attention over an alleged Engine Mapping Issue. However the FIA chose Not to penalise them.

As the Five lights went out, Alonso led into turn 1. Webber and Raikkonen jumped Hamilton at the start. Button got a good start and was 5th behind Hulkenberg. A lot was happening at the back though. Grosjean ran wide, Massa drove into Ricciardo's car damaging his front wing. A Lap Later the debris on the track took out another victim - Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton pitted but the handling of the car became so bad that the Brit wanted to retire.

Raikkonen soon wrestled past Di Resta into 9th, fantastic racing by both drivers as they left space for each other. Perez who had started in 17th had made a fantastic start and moved upto 10th after overtaking Ricciardo. Button made a move on Hulkenberg at the end of the DRS into the hairpin and took 4th position.

Alonso, Vettel, Schumacher, Button, Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Webber, Raikkonen. Perez & Di Resta were the top 10 after 10 laps.

Button then made the move on Schumacher and moved up into 3rd. Raikkonen jumped the duo of Maldonado and Webber after the first round of Pit-Stops. Hulkenberg overtook Schumacher for 7th on the 15th lap but the latter regained it on the next lap. Raikkonen took advantage of this and tucked in behind Schumacher to demote Hulkenberg into 9th. Alonso pitted on Lap 19, Button on 20th and Vettel on 21st. The top 3 remained unchaged after the first round of Pit-Stops. Vettel was slowly closing in on Alonso and the gap reduced to only 1 second on lap 27. Hamilton pitted for the third time on Lap 30 and emerged 18th. A lot was in store in the next few laps.

Kobayashi overtook Webber for P7 on lap 33. Hamilton was lapped by Alonso and Vettel on lap 34. The battle at the front had helped Button to close in on Alonso and Vettel.

The top 4 comprised of Alonso, Vettel, Button and Raikkonen ( The Finn ran an extra 4 laps on the soft and was doing exceptionally well ).

Hamilton was within 1 second of Vettel and unlapped himself on lap 36. A frustrated Vettel gestured foolishly as Hamilton seemed to impede him. Hamilton soon harried Alonso ( Lap 39 ) but the Spaniard was focussed on the job at hand.

Vettel lost KERS on lap 38 and Button was closing in on the German.

Button pitted on lap 41 and Raikkonen set the fastest lap. Button's Crew set a new world record in pitstops : 2.4 Seconds!

Alonso and Vettel pitted on Lap 42. Button managed to jump Vettel as the latter came out of the pits and was into 2nd!!

Vettel ran wide though turn one on Lap 43 and Button now had Alonso in his sights.

The top 10 on Lap 48 were Alonso, Button ( less than a second behind ), Vettel, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Perez, Rosberg, Webber, Di Resta.

Lap 58 saw the Retirement of Lewis Hamilton. A wise decison as a points finish seemed difficult. A sad end on his 100th Grand Prix Appearance. Schumacher was setting a series of fastest laps.

Lap 60 brought more surprises. Button's tyres were suddenly losing grip and Vettel was now catching up. Alonso now had a clear run to the chequered flag.

Lap 64 had Vettel only 0.4 seconds behind Button. The fight for 2nd Position had become interesting.

Lap 66 was the lap where Vettel used DRS to great effect. Button and Vettel were side by side coming out of the hairpin but better grip pushed the latter ahead. Button however reported on the radio that Vettel had all 4 wheels off-track.

The Chequered Flag was waved and Alonso extended his lead in the championship. Vettel, Button completed the podium. Raikkonen fought through the field to finish a fine 4th. Grosjean had a race to forget as he finished a dismal 18th.

Button informed Vettel about the investigation initiated by the Marshalls concerning the overtake.

Post Race the FIA summoned both Vettel and Button in regards to the incident. Vettel was subsequently punished. 20 Seconds were added to his time and he was demoted form 2nd to 5th.

The Revised top 4 now were Alonso, Button, Raikkonen and Kobayashi!!

A Fine Reward for Raikkonen for all the efforts he put to move up from 3rd.

 

Alonso had now extended his lead in the championship to 34 points. Webber's 8th position didn't do his Championship aspirations any good.

 

Lets analyze the 2 incidents...

The HAMILTON - VETTEL Incident :

Vettel was in hot pursuit of Fernando Alonso and the duo had just lapped Hamilton. ( Lap 34 ) However on Lap 36 the DRS got activated on Hamilton's car ( less than a second behind ) and Hamilton unlapped himself hindering Vettel in the process.

Was the action Justifiable?

There is No Rule which says that a Driver Cannot Unlap himself. If there was one, then such a Rule would rarely come into effect. Backmarkers normally would not have the pace to catch up on the Lead Drivers and try a manouevre to unlap themselves. Safety Car Periods however authorize drivers at the back to unlap themselves.

This simply was a very rare incident. However there are a few things that one should take a note of. Hamilton unlapped himself against Vettel but did not do so with Alonso. He stuck himself behind the Ferrari and Vettel's pace dropped significantly.

At the same time, Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button was third behind Alonso and Vettel. Hamilton's "impeding" of Vettel helped Button to bring down the gap.

McLaren Mercedes played smart too. Hamilton was running 18th when lapped by Alonso and Vettel on lap 34. Hamilton positioned himself behind Alonso ( he tried to unlap himself against the Spaniard too ) after the Vettel incident. Hamilton was matching the pace of the leader and they quickly came up to other backmarkers. Blue Flags ensured that both Alonso and Hamilton went through, the latter making up positions quickly, thus saving him the trouble of fighting for the same.

Hamilton eventually retired after it was clear that a points finish was a remote possibility.

 

Was Hamilton's Move Illegal? - NO.

Could Hamilton be Penalised? - NO.

Hamilton escaped punished thanks to the absence of such a rule. However Considering the Circumstances & the Experience of Lewis Hamilton, I would have expected a more Sportsman-like attitude from him. He should have opted to stay away from the LEAD BATTLE.

This incident could have serious consequences in the Championship Battle.

 

 

The VETTEL - BUTTON Incident :

Vettel lost 2nd position to Jenson Button after the final round of pitstops. However the German persevered and closed in on him. Button was having trouble finding grip into the final stage of the race. Vettel was on his tail in the DRS zone and both were battling wheel-to-wheel going into the hairpin. Vettel jumped Button after getting a better exit out of the hairpin. Button however reported that Vettel had all 4 wheels off-track while completing the overtake. Vettel was later Penalised. The 20 second penalty demoted him from 2nd to 5th.

Analysis :

Button's tyres had "gone off the cliff". Vettel with his Fresher set of tyres was all over him. Lets analyze the overtake. The McLaren Mercedes has better Horsepower than the Renault Powered Red Bull. Button took a defensive line going into the hairpin ( the inside ). As a defensive measure a driver always tries to brake later than usual. I suspect Button did that. Button was also aware of the straight just after the hairpin, so if he could get a good exit, Vettel would find it difficult to overtake him. However the lack of grip pushed Button slightly wide on the exit. Vettel who was on the outside was left with little room out of the hairpin. Button also suffered a slight twitch on the exit. Simply put, There wasn't enough racing space for both drivers. So Vettel used the run-off area for his overtake.

Button was always going to stick to the racing line ( lack of grip on worn out tryes ) and the line was a wide exit from the hairpin. Vettel on the outside should have known this. If we study the Throttle Usage out of the hairpin, we see Vettel floor the throttle earlier out of the turn ( at that moment only two wheels were off-track ). This pushed the German's Car further away from the track. The Better Grip and Traction obviously propelled Vettel of Button.

Was the overtake legal? - The Rulebook says NO.

Was the Penalty Justified? - Its harsh but YES

The Driver can't overtake another car by having all 4 wheels off-track. Vettel could have escaped Penalty had he conceded the position back to Button and attacked him again into the next turn. The Urgency or rather Impatience of the German got the better of him. Button was going to make it diffcult for Vettel. Vettel should have backed off. However you can't blame the German in the heat of the moment.

Red Bull would feel hard done by the Decisions taken by the FIA. Rules are Rules.. However Harsh they may seem. Hamilton's actions in the earlier incident were those of an amateur driver. I am sure he would have been penalised if there was a rule in place.

 

So another Race done and dusted. Vettel went away from his Home Race as an unhappy man. He would have to do it all over again next year. Red Bull was in the news for all the wrong reasons. They simply had to pick themselves up and girder their loins for Hungary in a week's time.

 

ADVANTAGE ALONSO.

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.