The Flying Diaries : BOM - LHR - BOM ( Emirates First )

July 2012 was my maiden flight on Emirates Airlines. I have always dreamt of flying First Class on Emirates A380 and the wish came true in July 2012 when I visited the UK for the British Grand Prix.

Soon enough, I drew up new plans to visit the United Kingdom again but this time it was for Football. I would attend games at Old Trafford ( Manchester United ) and the Camp Nou ( FC Barcelona )


It was time again to fly First on the Emirates A380 to London Heathrow!


Mumbai - London Heathrow ( 20th November 2012 ) :


I flew out on 20th November 2012 but this time took the First Flight out of Mumbai which would help me reach London at 1:30 in the afternoon


My Ride to the Airport :


A Brisk Check-in, Easy Immigration and Hassle-free security ensured a restful time in the Lounge before boarding commenced.

Shots from the Lounge :


An Elaborate Spread :


The Boarding commenced and I was ushered into my Private Suite :


The 24" LCD :


Minibar, Makeup Kit and the Writing Kit :


The Touchscreen console which controls all the features of the Suite :


The Suite :


The Bed :


The Suite lights up in brilliant blue during takeoff :


The Breakfast Menu :


Breakfast :


A Slight delay in landing meant a quick switchover to the A380 which was bound for London :


Video Link to the Emirates A380 Taking off from Dubai :


Lunch and what an amazing meal it was!


The Goodie Basket featuring Chocolates, Crisps, Gums, Mints!



Post Lunch, I decided to take a stroll down to the Business Class Lounge at the back of the Business Class!

The Lounge offers Canapes, Hors D'oeuvres, Sandwiches and Drinks :


What can I serve you sir?

After spending sometime in the Lounge, I returned to my Suite to find my Bed ready. Time to relax before heading for a shower prior to landing at Heathrow!

An Hour before landing, I was woken up by a crew member. It was time to head to the Shower and freshen up prior to landing :

A refreshing shower and I was all ready for arrival into London


Video Link to the Emirates A380 Nearing Touchdown at London Heathrow Airport :




Emirates A380 landing on a cold and rainy afternoon at Heathrow :


Fast Track ensured a quick completion of the arrival formalities and I had my ride waiting for me at Heathrow!

A Mercedes Benz S-Class courtesy of Emirates Airlines!!


London Heathrow - Mumbai ( 12th December 2012 ) :

I always prefer late evening flights.


My Ride, another Mercedes Benz S Class courtesy of Emirates Airlines :

Night falls early during winters in London :

There was a considerable amount of passenger traffic at Heathrow. However Fast Track made the experience a lot easier.

Shots from the Emirates Lounge at Heathrow :


The Emirates A380 being readied for the Journey to Dubai :


Food, Food and More mouth-watering food!!


Emirates offer a plethora of drinking options :


Boarding commenced from the Lounge and it was a breeze!

Shots from my Personal Suite!!

Emirates offered us some amazing amenities!

The Aircraft taxiing to the Runway :

Video Link to the Emirates A380 Takeoff from London Heathrow :



The Flight Path to Dubai International Airport :

The Elaborate Dinner Menu for First Class :

Dinners are always special on Emirates Flights and this one definitely didn't disappoint :

Gluttony isn't good and going to bed immediately after a meal is worse...but in an Emirates A380 First Class, all should be forgiven.

The Bed ready!

As always, I was woken one hour before touchdown in Dubai to enjoy my Customary Shower On-board, an experience I can never get enough of!


Nearing Dubai :

Dubai from the Sky - Simply Stunning :


Video Link to the Emirates A380 nearing Touchdown at Dubai International Airport :



Dubai International Airport :


The Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport ranks among the best and one can never get tired of visiting it over and over again!


Savour the Spread..simply amazing :


I made the most of my time at the Lounge - had a wholesome meal, got a massage & caught up on some sleep!

The Final leg to Mumbai was in a Boeing 777-300


The First Class Seat in a 777-300 ( not much difference compared to the Business Class barring the Lie-Flat Bed ) :

Shots from Pushback and Taxiing to the Runway :

Video Link of the Emirates Boeing 777-300 taking off from Dubai International Airport :



Final Shots of Dubai :

The Lunch Service to Mumbai :


Emirates Airline leaves no stone unturned in taking care of its guests and as a First Class Traveller, I was really pampered.

It had been another memorable trip in the First Class Suites of the 777-300ER and the famous Emirates A380!

I even earned promotion to the Silver Tier at the end of my First Leg of the Trip! The Extra Baggage allowance came in handy during the Return Leg!

I want to thank Emirates for all the hospitality and care showered on me throughout the journey.. it was an experience that is still etched in my mind.



Next up is my first "Business Class" Experience on-board Emirates ( Mumbai -
Düsseldorf - Mumbai ) .. so watch this space.




The Ultimate Karting Experience

Go-Karting is a sport and an activity that Racing Fans love. It makes an average fan feel like a race car driver. Professionals would remember their Karting days. Their fathers would gift them karts enabling them to race in domestic and then continental championships en route to their dream of making it to the pedestal. 

I have always relished the prospect of getting behind the wheel and testing my skills. Karting opportunities are sparse in Mumbai and I couldn't resist the opportunity of getting behind the wheel during my holiday in London.

Team-Sport UK offer some stunning tracks to race on and I visited two, one the Tower Bridge and the other at Edmonton. All are indoor tracks, so the threat of weather doesn't jeopardize your karting experience.

Tower Bridge :

Track Layout : ( Image Courtesy Team-Sport UK )

This track offers electric karts which are faster than the petrol karts. 2 tracks of 400m spread over 2 levels can be joined ( weekends ) making it a humongous 800m with amazing gradient changes.

The First turn is a left-hander going down and entry into the next turn is crucial which is a slow left going into a small uphill into a very slow right-hander. Carrying too much speed into the corner will cause oversteer and the backend will go away from you spoiling your entry and momentum uphill into the right-hander. A Short flat-out run leads into a hairpin and onto the section where you basically floor the throttle. The Final turn is a fast left-hander and the momentum can be carried into the first turn for the next lap. ( Based on the way I started in 4th in a dummy race ).

This track is a real challenge and you need to have knowledge about racing lines in order to keep competitive lap times. Overtaking is extremely difficult and one must wait for mistakes to fancy a chance. Closing in on someone who is struggling is easy but passing them with ambitious maneuvers might backfire. The maximum slip-ups were seen in the 2nd left-hander as the track goes away from you and the gradient changes just compound your error.

The Grip levels do increase and Lap times do come down as more rubber is laid on track. The Ambient temperature isn't affected by the weather outside which definitely is a boost for the drivers.

I had Chris Ellis, a dear friend accompanying me. It was his first time out and in his words "I don't want to stop karting. Lets do it again."

We visited the track on 12th December 2012 but the memories are very fresh.


Well time for some photos!!


At the Reception for signatures :


Nice Collection of Helmets :


The Walkway to the Dressing Room and the Track :


Time to Suit Up :


Post Briefing, we were shown our Karts :

My Lotus E21 (Kart 41 ) :


Chris rearing to go ( Kart 36 ) :


Push Push Push :


First Session done, 4th - 28.062 sec. Chris - 7th - 28.570 sec.

Fastest - 26.385 sec. 


A Brief Break and we were back into our karts for the next session. Kart 37 for me and Kart 33 for Chris.

This is exactly what I meant earlier. Its easy to close in on a slower car but overtaking on such a track is another story. I had to fend off another karter after a couple of laps.


Finally I got past him :


Chris Holding onto track position :


Another session done, 4th again - 26.490 sec, Chris - 5th - 26.596 sec

Fastest - 25.571 sec


The Third Session was a grid start and thanks to Chris who tailgated me, I was relegated to 8th and last and had to work real hard to recover. Kart 36 for me and 40 for Chris.


Mistakes by others helped me recover.


Chris didn't have a clean session and made contact with the barriers on a couple of occasions


End of Session :

Still in 4th!! - 25.565 sec, Chris in 3rd!! - 25.550 sec

Fastest - 25.191 sec


Final Session, Kart 40 for me, Kart 36 for Chris ( basically we switched karts ) and I must say that I struggled with this kart. It could be that Chris drove the wheels of this kart in the previous session while I followed a more cautious approach in mine in the last session. I simply didn't have the grip going into corners and lost the backend a couple of times. It wasn't the best end to the Karting session.

The slides :



Did catch and overtake some though :

End of Session : Chris tops the Timesheets!!!!
Chris Fastest : 24.749 sec ( 3rd fastest time overall in the week ). 5th was all I could afford : 25.757 sec

Chatting with a Steward :

Great Experience and doing a Vettel :

Chris, What a Performance!!!

A Big Thank You to Sam Foster for obliging us with some great photos!! Extremely Gracious and Hospitable!!


Day 2 : Edmonton, North London, 13th December 2012.

The Metro Stations reminded me of the Premier League Clubs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur and the North London Derby!

The track layout has changed a bit on the Team-Sport UK website. Some more corners have been added in the final sector.

The Track doesn't have any gradient changes, is wider and allows karters with more overtaking opportunities. One can go flat-out for longer so the lap time is slightly less. The Track Temperature is lower than the one at Tower Bridge and the Ambient Temperature is quite cold. Holding onto the Steering can be a challenge.

First Turn needs you to break at the right spot, it isn't a hairpin and can be termed as a double apex right-hander. The Karter can use a drifting technique and floor the throttle on the second apex. The Next turn is a left-hander where a wider approach gives you a better exit. The Next 2 right-handers can be negotiated without having to lift but braking into the third requires preciseness as it is almost like a hairpin. This right-hander leads into a left-hander where getting a good exit again is absolutely important as the next two right-handers again are flat-out. A Bad Exit would leave you sliding and searching for grip as there is only one line coming out of that turn. Its very easy to close in on the karter in front in this section and then attack him going into the final 2 turns and onto the start-finish straight. The Strategy worked exceptionally well for me. The First Turn too is a great place to overtake by early breaking and taking the inside line.

Time for some photos!

 

The Track :


All Ready for Battle :

1st Session Time :

I was the Fastest! - 25.830 sec, Chris - 26.067 sec

2nd Session :

Chris topped the timesheet and I finished a close 2nd.

Chris - 25.614 sec, My Time - 25.807 sec

Final Session :

Chris was the fastest again - 25.244 sec, I finished 2nd - 25.582 sec


I just loved the 2 days of Go-Karting!! I can't wait to return to London and do it all over again.

My personal favourite?? - the Tower Bridge Circuit ! 


I hope I get to do some Karting in Germany in July!!


2012 F1 Season Review - Similarities in the Varieties!

2011 was a season of Dominance. Sebastien Vettel & Red Bull simply pulled away from the Competition. The rest were left battling to be the " Best amongst the Rest ".

2012 though had Big Surprises in store. The return of Kimi Raikkonen to Lotus F1 Team was one such Surprise. His Return ensured that I would follow the sport with renewed vigour. 2012 also took the accolades of being the longest season in F1 History and the only season which featured 6 World Champions - Vettel, Button, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and Schumacher.

Many Predicted that status quo would be maintained but it turned out to be otherwise.

7 different winners won the first 7 Grand Prix! - Another Record!!

Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel, Maldonado, Webber, Hamilton stood on the top step of the podium.

Ferraris were expected to struggle and Alonso's Victory in Malaysia was simply down to smart strategy in changing weather conditions. Maldonado's victory for Williams at Catalunya & Roberg's for Mercedes at Shanghai too was a famous victory for both teams in a long long time.

Lotus F1 too had a nice start with Kimi notching up 2 Podiums in his comeback year.

The Biggest Disappointment though was for Red Bull who simply couldn't repeat their performances of last season. Ferrari had put all the disappointments of pre-season testing behind as they lead both the Drivers' and the Constructors' Championships.

The Return to Europe in Valencia didn't do Red Bull's Cause any good as Alternator Failure robbed Vettel of a sure victory. Grosjean too suffered the same fate, the Frenchman too had a shot at victory. Alonso was the beneficiary again as he used all incidents to his advantage. Alonso was the first driver in the season to have 2 victories while Raikkonen and Schumacher made it a famous podium. The signs looked ominous...

Mark Webber helped Red Bull to have a comeback of sorts after the Spanish Debacle with a victory at Silverstone and Vettel in 3rd.

Alonso maintained consistency by finishing 2nd in Silverstone and notching up victory in Germany the week after Silverstone. Vettel's Efforts to impress in his home race fell short as he was demoted in the race result from 2nd to 5th for an illegal move on Button. Button and Raikkonen completed the Podium.

Hungary saw the resurgence of Hamilton's Title Challenge with the Lotuses of Raikkonen and Grosjean completing the podium.

Alonso's lead now stood at 40 points and the Spaniard seemed to be favourite to win the title.

Belgium saw a Horrific First Lap incident where Romain Grosjean made contact with Lewis Hamilton and they both slammed into Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez, eliminating all four on the spot. Vettel reduced the lead by 18 points by finishing 2nd. Button won the race with Raikkonen showcasing some daring moves to take 3rd.

 Hamilton's victory in Italy threw the title race wide open. Vettel's lowly 22nd left him in the lurch. Perez produced a special drive to finish 2nd and Alonso ensured that he kept scoring well by finishing 3rd.

The European Leg ended and the rest of the races were all " Fly Away " Events. Singapore saw Hamilton's Retirement due to Gearbox Failure and Catapulted Vettel to victory. Hamilton was now out of the Title Race. Vettel was now in Title Contention.

Alonso suffered another retirement after contact with Raikkonen on the First Lap and Vettel took advantage of the same to score a full 25 points. The championship fight became as close as it had been all season long. Massa and Kobayashi completed the podium with the latter overwhelmed by the Home Support, first podium for a Japanese Driver since Suzuki in 1990 ( At Suzuka ). Schumacher announced his retirement on the same weekend, this time he wouldn't return.

The Tables turned in Korea. Vettel was now on a rampage as he wrestled back the lead from Alonso with a victory. Webber ensured a Red Bull 1-2 and Alonso ensured damage limitation in 3rd.

The Next Stop - India!! Vettel was in no mood to slip-up and dominated the race to be a 2 Time winner at the Buddh International Circuit. Alonso Benefitted from a Failed KERS unit on Webber's Car to take 2nd while the Australian held off Hamilton to take the final spot on the podium.

Abu Dhabi seemed to have changed the dynamics of the Title Race again. Sebastian Vettel's dominant run was derailed in Abu Dhabi when his car was found to have insufficient fuel after qualifying and he was subsequently moved to the back of the grid. Hamilton's March to Victory was again cut short due to a mechanical failure while Vettel kept moving up the grid, a couple of Safety Car Incidents helping his cause. KIMI RAIKKONEN the ICEMAN was leading the race. Lotus F1 went through a lot of tension and just wanted to ensure victory by ensuring everything was in perfect order. The Iceman though just asserted his authority on the team radio amusing one and all with two sentences that have become world famous. Kimi Raikkoen held off a closing Alonso to take a Famous Victory for the Lotus F1 team. Fernando Alonso was 2nd and was shocked to see Sebastien Vettel sharing the podium with him!

Alonso was only able to reduce Vettel's Lead by 3 points.  

Austin Texas saw United States of America make a return on the F1 Calendar. A Fantastic Circuit saw a fantastic race. Vettel was on the receiving end this time. He was held up by a backmarker with Hamilton closing in on him. Vettel as a result lost the lead to Hamilton. Hamilton took victory with Vettel and Alonso completing the podium. The Result meant that the Driver's Championship would go down to the wire, to the last race in Brazil. Red Bull clinched the Constructor's Title.  

Brazil would produce the last bit of drama. Sebastian Vettel was involved in a first-lap clash with Bruno Senna that damaged his exhaust and spun him around, relegating him to last place. Senna retired on the spot, as did Sergio Perez, who was caught in the crossfire. Changing Weather Conditions saw the race change lead multiple leads. Hulkenberg and Hamilton lead the field and a move by the former on the latter went awry to take Hamilton out of the race. Vettel slowly moved up the field, his car's damage slowly aggravating. His 7th then became 6th. A Paul Di Resta crash on the penultimate lap brought out the safety car. Alonso couldn't improve on his 2nd position as a result.

Vettel had overcome all odds to win his 3rd consecutive Driver's title. Alonso was left contemplating as to what could have been.

Three days after the Brazilian Grand Prix, reports began to surface suggesting that Sebastian Vettel's championship was under threat and that Ferrari would be filing a formal protest against the race results. The challenge centred on a pass Vettel made on Jean-Eric Vergne early in the race ( Under Yellow Light Condition ) The FIA cleared the confusion & both Ferrari and Red Bull Racing announced that they were satisfied with the ruling, thereby preserving Vettel's championship.

 

Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen completed the top 3 in the Championship. Kimi Raikkonen was the sole driver to have finished every race in the season, finishing outside of the points only once in the season, setting a new record in the process.

It was a great comeback year for the Finn.

 

Sebastien Vettel and Christian Horner with their Trophies :


Fernando settles for 2nd Place :


Kimi, Ice Cool as ever in 3rd Place :

 

2013 is already on us and the competition would be looking to deny Red Bull Racing another title. Only Time will Tell.....


La Blaugrana at the Camp Nou

1st December 2012, Barcelona, Spain.

FC Barcelona hosted Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou. I had the privilege of witnessing the action from one of the best seats in the house. I was not disappointed.

Outside the Stadium :


It was quite a walk from the Gate I entered into the premises and finally I was there :


The Lounge :


Food!


The Team entering Camp Nou :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFib9DiGzW4

The Team :


The View from my Seat :



Messi, the player the world adores!


Marcelo Bielsa watching his team implementing tactics :


Cameramen who make it easy viewing for us :



Valdes and Pique :



Pique Opens the scoring for Barcelona :


Video Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qozziC6rlZ0


Pedro warned for a Poor Tackle :



Xavi the Captain and Pass-master calling the shots in the midfield :



Messi makes it 2-0 for Barcelona!


Video Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZZc99bgNMg

Some More Stills :



Iniesta then missed a Golden Chance to put the game beyond reach, Video Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fANMBpRxyc

It was 3-0 at Half-time with Adriano scoring in the dying minutes of the First Half


Messi and Iniesta :



Substitutes Warming up at the start of the second half :



Fernando Llorente came on but the damage was done :



The atmosphere at the Camp Nou was absolutely electric, the supporters indulging in a Mexican Wave.

Video Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2WgC-M_4Bg



Messi put the Icing on the Cake with a fabulous finish to make it 5-1 !!

Video Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fZWm_Ux4Uw




Tito Vilanova, the Victorious Tactician on the Night :



More Substitutions, this time FC Barcelona too got on Fresh Legs :


Video Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uwFvK6u-8w


Messi The Maestro the real difference between the two teams :



The Final Whiste! A Great Victory for FC Barcelona!

Video Link :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdMHgXY2uRY



What an experience it was!! The Joy is evident as I am joined by Fans of the Catalan Club



Some Panaromic shots of this Majestic Stadium!


Time to Wrap Up!



Truly More than a Club!



A Sweet ending to a sweet victory!





Thiago Alcantara Obliged us with Autographs!



Bye Bye Camp Nou. I shall be back soon!



It was an awesome experience. There are many more to follow!!

I have a lot to write! So watch this Space.... More in Store!

Matchday at the Theatre of Dreams

Date : 24th November 2012.

Location : Manchester, United Kingdom

The Big Day had arrived. The Day when I would see the "Red Devils" take the field in their quest for yet another English Premier League Title.

Their Adversaries : Queens Park Rangers better known as QPR.

QPR was a very strong team on paper. It boasted of having players who have played for top teams in their early days but yet the team looked in disarray.

QPR had been going downhill and had just sacked Mark Hughes ( Manager ) a day before their game against Manchester United.

It was quite a nice game to be at as United had to dig deep to attain all 3 points.

 

My Day started with a big surprise. I exited the Elevator of my hotel to discover the entire QPR team sitting in the lobby getting ready for their "pre-match warm-up walk".

I got hold of a few players and they obliged me with autographs while some honoured me with a picture with them

 

Shaun Wright-Philips :

Park Ji-Sung :

 

There were still a couple of hours until kickoff but the Trams were already full

 

I alighted at Old Trafford Station and was amazed at the scores of Supporters moving towards Old Trafford!

 

The Stalls brimming with Scarves and other Manchester United "Merchandise"

 

The Walk to the Theatre of Dreams!

 

I had opted for the Hospitality at Old Trafford. I was at the EUROPA SUITE :

 

My Ticket and all the goodies that came with it!

 

I settled into my seat and soon enough we were all surprised by the arrival of our "Captain Fantastic" - the man from Serbia, NEMANJA VIDIC!! I was one of the privileged few to get an autograph from our Captain

 

It was time...

 

The Boys warming up :

 

Fred The Red :

 

Getting ready for Kick - Off :

 

Stretford End!!

 

The Teams coming out onto the pitch, here is the link of the video uploaded by me :

 

Accolades for Robin Van Persie :

 

Boys waiting for the whistle :

 

Kick-off!! Video Link :

 

Some shots from the First Half :

 

QPR Goal Disallowed! Sigh of Relief...

 

Half Time!

 

Second Half saw Manchester United conceed.

 

Substitution Time :

 

Manchester United equalised through Johnny Evans!

Video Link :

 

Manchester United wasted little time in taking the lead from another setpiece. Corner Kick by Rooney and into the Goal by Darren Fletcher!! 2-1 

Video Link :

 

As Smalling and Jones warmed up, United decided to put the game to bed. Javier Hernandez, our Little Pea defeated the offside trap to score from a one-on-one situation.

3-1 to United!!  

 

Old Trafford in all its Glory!    

 

Nick Powell comes on for Danny Welbeck    

 

WAYNE ROONEY what a game our lad had!   

 

The Final Whistle went off and United secured all 3 points against QPR. United went to the Top of the Table and have stayed there since!!  

 

Video Link :

 

 

The Home of Manchester United - OLD TRAFFORD! 

 

A Picture to Treasure, A Moment to Cherish!!

 

 

Anderson paid a quick visit to the suite. I did get time to have a nice chat with a Legend at Manchester United.

SAMMY McILROY!!


It was time to leave the stadium and return home. The words said by the 2 greatest managers on the planet shall always stay with me!

Sir Matt Busby who revived the United Legacy after the Flowers of Manchester went home early...

 

Sir Alex Ferguson who took Manchester United to the top. The man who knocked Liverpool off their perch, the man the world reveres and respects. The man who made us dream and took the club to glories unthinkable. The Undisputed king of the Managerial World!! 


I KNEW I WAS HOME!!!


What a day what an experience. Unforgettable, Unparalled. A dream fulfilled.


Thank you God and Thank you Dad for letting me experience the experience of seeing the Red Devils play in front of their faithful. 

 

There is more to come!! Watch this Space!!

Scotland - Really ??

2012 has been full of surprises. I have had the opportunity to travel to many F1 races, meet many people and at the same time explore many places.

However this was totally unexpected, totally unreal but Totally Worth it!!

 

So how did I end up in Scotland ??

Pernod Ricard India were hosting a contest in Duty - Free stores at Mumbai and New Delhi International Airports. I became an entrant while picking some liqour for my friend while returning form Singapore in April.

I receive a call days before leaving for the Singapore Grand Prix saying that I am a Winner and receive an " All Expenses Paid " trip with a companion to Scotland. I would be taken on a whirlwind tour of Scotland, Visit the Strathisla and Glenburgie Distilleries and be hosted by the Chivas Brothers !!!!

What a Pleasant Surprise !!

My Childhood Friend accompanied me ( after a lot of waiting for his visa ). We packed our bags and the journey began on 9th October 2012!!

  

We Flew British Airways ( not a pleasant experience ) into Heathrow and then onwards to Aberdeen. We were joined by Winners from New Delhi as well. 

  

  

10th October 2012 :

We were received warmly and our chariot was an Audi Q7, Sweet !!

Our Drive to Meldrum House Hotel, a Hotel in Old-Meldrum ( 30 minute drive from Aberdeen ) :

 

The Driveway and the Hotel itself :

 

After a Filling Brunch, we were checked into our rooms.

Our Room, Spacious and Comfy :

  

Welcome !!

 

A couple of hours later, we were driven down to the town itself to try on some Traditional Scottish Kilts!!

Oldmeldrum :

Wearing a Kilt is more than just a challenge but its astonishing to see how well it keeps a person warm. Some shots of the boys in the Traditional attire.

 

We spent our Evening exploring the property and savouring the beauty the countryside had to offer.  

The Hotel has a Fantastic Golf Course :

You mess with the Bull and you get the Horns :

After a Sumptuous Dinner it was time to head to bed and buckle up for the Sojourn the next day, The Day we visit the Distilleries...

 

 

11th October 2012 

We checked out of our Hotel post breakfast. The Weather was beautiful as we drove towards our first Stop of the Day : The Strathisla Distillery.

Beautiful :

 

 

The Oldest Distillery for Pernod Ricard, Strathisla is the home for the Chivas Regal brand. Whisky making is a fine art. It needs to have the right proportions to maintain the quality. Master Blenders ensure that each and every sample is perfectly blended to make the Whisky the way it should be.

The Distillery :

 

The Warehouse for the Casks :

 

Special Casks for the Royal Family for their Special Occasions :

 

The Warehouse needs to be Locked !

 

Some more Shots of the Distillery :

 

We were now driven down to an Old Cafe called Kimberley's Inn. The Inn was built decades ago but continues to serve fantastic food and is frequented by both locals and travellers.

Enroute to Kimberley's Inn :

 

Beautiful

 

We left the Inn for the Glenburgie Distillery. The Distillery is home to Ballantine's.

The Distillery was rebuilt in 2003 after the earlier one had gone through numerous repairs and wasn't feasible anymore for operation.

 

The Accolades :

 

The Range and the Coat of Arms :

Some more stills :

The Casks are ready :

The art of making Casks :

The Evolution of Whisky over the years :

 

A Replica of George Ballantine's Home :

Its always blended and the Blend is shared between companies :

We now drove down to the little town of Inverness. It was Cold and Raining. Inverness is a quaint little town on the banks of the River Ness.

We checked into Glenmoriston Town House Hotel and its a nice hotel to be in. Seems to be a favourite for the locals.

My Room, a little cramped but nevertheless comfortable :

Post Dinner, my friend and I decided to take a walk around the river. It was fabulous.

 

 

12th October 2012 :

We checked out of the Hotel post breakfast and had 2 Mercedes S-Class Sedans lined up to drive us down to Loch-Ness, the lake.

Legend has it that a Monster lurks in the deep waters of the lake. Many sightings of a mysterious animal have been reported, some vague photographs also suggest something. Sailors too have seen mysterious readings on the sonar. The Depth of the Lake makes it difficult to search extensively ( even for the Navy ), so the Legend lives on....

Our Ride into the Unknown :

The Wind Blew Strong and it was Icy Cold!!!

We disembarked at Urquhart Castle, famous during the Jacobites War.

After taking in the sights and sounds of Loch - Ness, we now left for the Golf Town of St. Andrews. It was a long and tiring 6 hour drive but the comfort of the S-Class made us feel otherwise!

Enroute to St. Andrews :

We checked into St. Andrews Golf Hotel and decided to explore the town after a quick refreshment.

Awestruck!!

The Streets of St. Andrews :

 

13th October 2012 :

It was now time to head back to Aberdeen to take our flight back home to India via London Heathrow.

Some of the picturesque scenes :

My Friend chose to stay for a few days in London while I returned home.

Everyone loves travelling and our travels take us to places we love to cherish. However there are a few that leave more than just a lasting memory on one's mind.

 

 

SCOTLAND is one such place for me. The Natural Beauty leaves you in awe. The country is definitely one of God's Finest Creations!!

 

The Way of Life, the people are very endearing. Life is Simple for the Scottish and that is how it should always be! 

 

I want to sincerely Thank Pernod Ricard India for giving me the opportunity to enjoy the best of Scotland in such a short time. It was truly a whirlwind tour of the Land of Beauty and also the Land of Whisky. It is definitely a fine art, an art that the Chivas Brothers have mastered and perfected!!

 

 

Scotland is one place I shall definitely return to and have a long holiday. Scotland makes it to the top 3 for me.

 

VISIT SCOTLAND PEOPLE!! YOU WILL TREASURE IT!!

US GP Review - It Isn't Over until It's Over!!

Formula 1 returned to USA after a 5 year sabbatical. A new track was built in Austin, Texas and it promised state-of-the-art facilities and varying gradients on a very challenging track.

The first turn itself was a steep climb towering at 41 m, a recipe for incidents at the start of the race. This track would test the true prowess of the drivers.

However this race was pivotal for 3 reasons. The outcome of this Grand Prix would influence future ventures for Formula 1 in North America.

Red Bull Racing were on the brink of winning their 3rd consecutive Constructor's Title while Sebastien Vettel was on the verge of becoming a Triple World Champion. Ferrari had nothing too lose and it was clear that they would channelise all their efforts in ensuring that Alonso still has a shot at the title at the final race of the season in Brazil.

Let us see how the drama unfolded!

 

 

FREE PRACTICE :

  

Sebastian Vettel was the fastest driver in both FP1 and FP 2. He set a time 1.5 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton in FP1, and 2 seconds faster than title rival Fernando Alonso. The session was run without incident, though drivers reported that there was very little grip around the circuit. Ma Qinghua was the only reserve driver to take part in the session, replacing Narain Karthikeyan at HRT. He finished the session in twenty-fourth and last position, 10 seconds behind Vettel.

Vettel was again fastest in the FP2. Mark Webber and Alonso completed the top 3. Vettel's running was limited by a water leak that forced him to spend half the session in the pits, while Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen suffered a puncture when he made contact with Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne.  Pastor Maldonado suffered an engine failure in his Williams late in the session.

Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3 too. Hamilton was 2nd Fastest. The hour-long session was marked by a collision between Sauber's Sergio Perez and the Marussia of Charles Pic that damaged the floor of Pic's car. Perez escaped without penalty. much to the annoyance of Marussia. Jean-Eric Vergne also ran into further trouble, breaking his front suspension when he hit a kerb and stopped on the circuit.

 

 

QUALIFYING :

 

There was very litte grip on the circuit in Q1. Every team sent their drivers out for extended runs  with the objective of laying down enough rubber on the circuit to improve their overall lap time, and trying to time their final flying runs to take full advantage of the circuit.

HRT were initially concerned that they would fail to qualify inside the 107% cut-off, however their decision to send Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan out on the softer option tyres, paid dividends as they made the cut. Karthikeyan's session ended early when he pulled over onto the tarmac run-off at Turn 2, the victim of a mechanical fault.

Caterham's Vitaly Petrov struggled early in the session with traffic, and spent most of the twenty minutes outside the 107% cut-off. His final flying lap saw him qualify 21st for the race, one place ahead of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. Daniel Ricciardo was the seventh and final driver eliminated at the end of Q1.

Sebastian Vettel, who had recorded the fastest time in Q1, went on to beat his best time in Q2. The faster lap times now meant that the softer option compound was a necessity. Despite narrowly beating Ricciardo in Q1, Nico Rosberg was unable to improve his time in Q2, and qualified in 17th overall. The Saubers of Perez and Kobayashi filled out the 8th row of the grid. Jean-Eric Vergne overcame his free practice dramas to qualify 14th. Paul di Resta was disappointed to be eliminated in Q2 when team-mate Nico Hulkenberg comfortably progressed to Q3. Jenson Button had to settle for 12th overall when his McLaren MP4-27 lost all power late in the period, and he later admitted that he was afraid of getting caught up in what he called a "chaotic first lap". Bruno Senna was the last driver eliminated in Q2, qualifying in 11th place.

Sebastian Vettel took pole position with the fastest lap of the weekend. In spite of this, Lewis Hamilton was closer to Vettel than he had been all weekend, missing pole position by just one tenth of a second. Mark Webber qualified 3rd, ahead of Romain Grosjean, who was later demoted to 9th when he received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Kimi Raikkonen , Michael SchumacherFelipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Pastor Maldonado completed the top ten.

 

 

Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber were summoned to the stewards' office after qualifying. Schumacher had been cited for blocking Alonso during Q2. Schumacher escaped without punishment, as he had been on a flying lap of his own at the time, and blocking Alonso had not prevented him from advancing to Q3.

Webber, on the other hand, was called to answer charges of missing the mandatory weight check at the end of qualifying. The stewards accepted that Red Bull Racing had made an error and saw that the car was immediately sent to scrutineering once it was realised. Webber escaped with a reprimand, thereby allowing him to keep his grid position for the race.

 

However Ferrari would produce the greatest story of the day. The Team broke the seal of the gearbox of Massa's car causing him to accept a 5 place grid - penalty which would demote him from 7th to 12th and promoted Alonso from 8th to 7th. This allowed the Spaniard to start from the cleaner side of the track and help keep his title hopes alive.

Red Bull too could have countered this move in a similar fashion using Webber and send Alonso back to the dirtier side. However they chose otherwise. Sportsmanship lacking again in this decision by Ferrari.

 

 

RACE :

The Grip on the grid varied drastically between the Cleaner side and the Dirtier side of the Track.

The Five Lights went out and a lot happened going into the First Turn. The Prediction was right, starters on the Dirty Side suffered lack of Traction and lost places rapidly. Sebastian Vettel pulled cleanly away from P1. Mark Webber attacked Lewis Hamilton around the outside in the battle for 2nd. However it was a sensational start for Fernando Alonso who climbed from 7th to 4th in his Ferrari ! Lewis Hamilton lost out to Mark Webber for second, but managed to hold off Alonso.

Michael Schumacher, who started 5th had a terrible lap. First he lost out to Nico Hulkenberg and then to Kimi Raikkonen only to fight back and reclaim his place but in doing so, left the door open to Romain Grosjean who passed both in one move ( Lap 2 )

Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber were squabbling for 2nd place while Vettel pulled away from the pair. Hamilton's efforts finally paid dividends on Lap 4 as he passed Webber for 2nd.

Romain Grosjean spun at Turn 19 ( Lap 7 ) and dropped from 6th to 10th. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa finally muscled his way past Michael Schumacher into 8th.

Michael Schumacher was now going backwards and fell into Button's Clutches and the latter had to be brave to get past the German who left very little racing space. 

Kimi Raikkonen, justified his return to F1 when he pulled alongside Nico Hulkenberg around the outside in the run down to Turn Two. They were side-by-side through Turn Two, but Raikkonen kept his foot on the gas and Hulkenberg had no choice but to yield. ( Lap 13 )

Lewis Hamilton was quickly closing in on Sebastien Vettel. Both Cars were matching each other for pace all weekend and their race pace too seemed similar.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the first retirement as his Toro Rosso suffered suspension damage. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher, who had been struggling for pace all race, dived into the pits from 14th.

Lap 17 saw Mark Webber lose KERS and then his subsequent retirement a lap later. Red Bull had enough reason to worry now with Vettel's car. Felipe Massa was now closing in on Kimi Raikkonen.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 19 & Lap 20 respectively. The Latter had a very slow stop as the right rear got stuck. Vettel had the perfect stop a lap later and retained his lead. 

Jenson Button was hustling Fernando Alonso ( Lap 23 ) who was struggling on the hard tyres. This was bad news for the championship contender. The McLaren driver used the DRS down the long straight to catapult past the Ferrari driver who did little to defend.  Kimi Raikkonen had not yet pitted and was losing his tyres. He fell into the clutches of Lewis Hamilton who had got his hard tyres up to temperature and wasted little in time in slotting down the inside of the Lotus at Turn 12. Raikkonen finally pitted on Lap 25 but he too encountered a problem on the right rear tyre and was unable to jump Alonso into 5th. Kimi Raikkonen then lost a place to the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo on Lap 26. Massa's quickfire pitstop ensured that he jumped both Raikkonen and Ricciardo ( Lap 27 ). Kimi Raikkonen, who had his tyres up to temperature, then put a fantastic pass on Felipe Massa into the blind apex of Turn One a lap later.

Laps 32 - 35 saw Vettel lose all his advantage to Hamilton as he started getting caught up in traffic. However the German held on to the lead. Button on the other hand was moving up the field with his switch to the softer compound tyres. Felipe Massa passed Raikkonen to take 4th place on Lap 39.

Lap 42 witnessed a change in leadership, a change that would still leave the Driver's Championship in the balance. Lewis Hamilton got mighty close to Sebastian Vettel after the German got blocked by traffic. As they entered the long straight, Hamilton tucked in behind Vettel and used his DRS to close. Vettel went defensive, taking the inside line but Hamilton just swept to the outside line to make the move stick.

Lap 46 saw Jenson Button take 5th place from Raikkonen after a lot of jostling and wheel-to-wheel racing. The gap between the leaders hovered around a second but Lap 53 saw some rough racing and contact as Maldonado made his way past his team-mate Senna.

 

Lewis Hamilton went on to win the Inaugural United States Grand Prix. Sebastien Vettel and Fernando Alonso were the other podium finishers.

Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna completed the top 10.

 

The Podium Finishers :

 

Mario Andretti  was present for the podium interviews :

 

The Result allowed Red Bull Racing to clinch their 3rd consecutive Constructors' Championship!!

 

However the Drivers' Championship had all to play for. Vettel led Alonso by only 13 points. Alonso has never given up.

 

So it ain't over until its over!! So we head to the Brazilian GP to see who will reign supreme in 2012!!

Abu Dhabi GP Review - The ICEMAN knoweth what he Doeth!!

The Formula 1 Fraternity returned to the Middle East after completing the Races of the Far - East.

The Turn-Around time was very short for the teams as the Race at Abu Dhabi is only a week after the Indian Grand Prix.

 

"We shall fight to the end, we shall not give up." These were the words of Fernando Alonso who knew that his chances of a 3rd World Championship were fading fast.

 

"The Twilight Race" has its own aura and is a popular destination for Formula 1 Fans.

The Circuit at Yas Marina delivered a Race which definitely deserved a place in the History Books!!

 

 

 

FREE PRACTICE :

FP1 saw Ma Qing Hua feature again for HRT while Valtteri Bottas got some Track time instead of Bruno Senna ( Certain Rumours gathering pace ). Jules Bianchi replaced Paul di Resta during FP1. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were the Pace - Setters in FP1 while Sebastien Vettel and Fernando Alonso slotted into 3rd and 4th Respectively. Max Chilton too was given a run and was 22nd at the end of the session.

FP2 was pretty straightforward barring a spin by Karthikeyan. The Times were coming down as the track grip increased. Vettel dethroned Hamilton to go fastest but the McLarens looked sharp. The Lotuses looked the part too with Grosjean and Raikkonen 6th & 7th.

FP3 saw everyone stay on track as Hamilton continued the McLaren Domination with Button while the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber stayed in touch of the leaders. Alonso was a distant 8th and his chances of qualifying strong seemed a distant dream.

 

 

QUALIFYING :

Q1 saw Hamilton, Rosberg and Webber as the fastest 3 of the session. Q1 didnt spring any surprises as the usual backmarkers were relegated.

Q2 saw the ouster of Schumacher, Hulkenberg, Perez, Di Resta, Senna, Kobayashi, Ricciardo. Hamilton was closely followed by Webber and Vettel.

Q3 would be one of the most exciting Qualifying Sessions ever. Raikkonen set the early pace but it was quickly eclipsed by Hamilton and Vettel. Lewis Hamilton's time couldn't be challenged and Alonso's title hopes took a big hit when he couldn't improve his overall 6th Fastest time. Webber went 2nd fastest while Maldonado produced a stunning lap into 3rd only to be dumped down to 4th as Vettel slotted into 3rd. Raikkonen, Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Massa, Grosjean completed the top 10.

However it wasn't over. Vettel's car came to a stop under the Yas Hotel after being instructed by the team to do so. The resut of this action would add a different dimension to the Title Race!

 

Red Bull and their engine partner Renault announced that the German had been excluded from qualifying as he did not have required amount of fuel left in his tank to be tested by officials. The result was that Vettel was sent to the back of the grid - but Red Bull opted to make set-up changes before the race, which meant that Sebastian Vettel had to start from the pit lane

A very big decision by the Stewards !! Let us see how the race unfolded!

 

 

RACE : 

At the start of the parade lap, Pedro de la Rosa stalled on the grid in his HRT which caused him to have to start from the pits behind Sebastian Vettel. When the race began, Hamilton led into the first corner, while Kimi Raikkonen passed Mark Webber and Pastor Maldonado to take 2nd. Contact between Bruno Senna and Nico Hulkenberg caused the Force India driver to retire from the race. During the first lap, Fernando Alonso overtook both Button and Webber. Paul di Resta, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg also had damage and headed into the pits. Meanwhile, up front, Lewis Hamilton reported that he had got cold tyres as Kimi Raikkonen tried a bold move around the outside of the McLaren driver. It didn't pay off, though, and Hamilton retained the lead. While this was happening, Vettel took some slight damage to his front wing as he had made contact with Senna while attempting to overtake. ( Lap 3 ). The German was already upto 16th.

On Lap 5, Romain Grosjean made a move on Nico Rosberg at Turns 8 and 9, but ended up with a puncture on the right front which made contact with Rosberg's front wing. Both drivers had to pit - Grosjean for a set of tyres and Rosberg for a new nosecone.

Four laps later, on Lap 8, Rosberg and Narain Karthikeyan were involved in a collision. Karthikeyan braked due to a steering problem, causing Rosberg who was right behind him to crash into him, bringing both out of the race but unharmed, and sending out the safety car. During the safety car period, when Daniel Ricciardo was weaving and braking, Sebastian Vettel was unaware, and he swerved to avoid the Toro Rosso and hit the DRS board at the side of the track, causing more damage to his front wing. Red Bull soon gave the instruction to fit a new front wing on Vettel's car, along with a set of soft tyres. It was the call Vettel was hoping to avoid. Vettel rejoined the field 21st and last.

Vettel tried a move on Grosjean at the end of the long straight, but the Frenchman fought back and retook the position. Vettel didn't give up through and slotted down the inside at the next corner. This time, there was no way back for Grosjean Sebastian Vettel however was told to let Romain Grosjean past to avoid a penalty. Vettel crossed a white line, and went onto the blue part of the track during the overtake. He let Grosjean past only to retake the position a couple of corners later.

On Lap 20, the race leader Lewis Hamilton slowed to a halt as a technical issue with his McLaren put him out of the race. Kimi Raikkonen inherited the lead as a result. No safety car was required as he had parked his car in a safe position. On the next lap, Fernando Alonso managed to overtake Pastor Maldonado with the assistance of DRS. On lap 23, while attempting the same move on Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber made contact with the Williams, causing him to spin and lose places to Button, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez, dropping the Australian from 4th to 7th. By this time, Sebastian Vettel had fought his way up to 10th place. Lap 24 saw Jenson Button pass Pastor Maldonado for 3rd.

 

 

Lap 24 witnessed something hillarious. The Lotus team told Kimi Raikkonen that he had a five second lead over Fernando Alonso in 2nd. The Finn repliesd: "Leave me alone I know what I'm doing!"

 

 

Mark Webber tried a move on Felipe Massa but there was contact and Webber was forced off track. Massa spun the car as he hit the gas. ( Lap 26 )

Alonso pitted on lap 29 and rejoined in 6th just behind Vettel. Webber received a Radio Message a Lap later : "Mark, if Sebastian gets a run, don't fight him,"

By lap 31, Vettel was up into second, about twenty seconds behind Kimi Raikkonen, and his subsequent pit stop on lap 37 put him down to 4th. Inspite of a slow pitstop Red Bull managed to get him out before the train of cars from 5th to 11th.

Kimi Raikkonen pitted on Lap 32 and the Finn rejoined the track in the lead, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Drama continued on lap 39 as Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez tried to overtake Romain Grosjean. Perez ran wide, and when entering the track again, he collided with Grosjean who then collected Mark Webber, taking the Lotus and Red Bull out of the race and earning Perez a ten-second stop and go penalty. This sent out the safety car once more.

McLaren told Jenson Button that Fernando Alonso had struggled on the restart so he should do his best to get close at the restart. Button acknowledged the message but added: "He's very quick in a straight line, very quick." ( Lap 41 )

Kimi Raikkonen's race engineer Simon Rennie ( I have had the privilege of meeting him a couple of times, great guy ) reminded him to keep warming his tyres ahead of the restart to which the Finn snapped back: "Yes, yes, yes, yes. I'm doing it all the time. You don't have to remind me every second." ( Lap 42 )

 

This is what Formula 1 lacked!! Sheer Entertainment from the ICEMAN!!

 

In the closing laps, Fernando Alonso put in quick laps to catch Kimi Raikkonen but the latter maintained the gap to around a second. Vettel took advantage of the safety car to close up to Jenson Button and get past on lap 51. Raikkonen after immense pressure managed to do just enough to hold off the Ferrari to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his first win in 2012, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen punched the air as he crossed the line to take Lotus's first victory in their current guise.

 

Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Vettel were the podium finishers. Jenson Button, Pastor Maldonado, Kamui Kobayashi, Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10.

 

This was his First Victory since the Belgian GP 2009. The Iceman had proved all the doubters wrong as he made more than just a fantastic return to Formula 1.

 

The Lotus Team went beserk in the Pit Garage and I shouted my lungs out at home!!

 

The Iceman Deserved it! The Team Deserved it!! They had shown great character the entire season with the limited resources that they had!

 

The Win had finally come, albeit slightly late. A Win is a Win though!

 

Sebastien Vettel too produced a stunning drive to climb upto 3rd from the back of the grid, a feat that speaks volumes of the Racer in him. Fernando Alonso would be disppointed as he would have hoped that the gap would be considerably less at the end of the weekend.

 

On a Personal Note, I am really glad that Kimi Raikkonen got a win under his belt in his comeback year. He has also been the only driver to finish all the races, not to forget that he has finished in the points in all the races except one.

He consolidated his Position ( 3rd ) in the Championship too with the full 25 points. Lewis Hamilton was left to rue what would have been after having the perfect weekend up until that point.

 

 

This truly was the Best Race of the season.. it had it all - The Controversies, the Incidents, the Safety Cars, the Retirements, the Stunning Drives, the Fantastic Overtakes, the Hillarious Radio Messages and at the end of the day, A WORTHY WINNER!!

 

Lets indulge and savour the celebrations through some stills post-race!

 

 

 

 

ALL HAIL KING KIMI!! THE ICEMAN COMETH!! and the ICEMAN KNOWETH WHAT HE DOETH!!

 

A Gallery of Memories - Part 2

The Formula 1 season is now coming to a close. I have had the privilege of being at 3 Grand Prixs and the Indian Grand Prix was the 4th and Final Race I would be at.

Once again I was a guest of the Lotus F1 Team. A Big Thank you to God and my Dad for their support and for understanding my love for Motorsport.

A Big Thank you to www.excluvsivegp.com too for all the arrangements and making the experience really memorable.

Lotus F1 Team didn't have many guests this year and a Team Suite couldn't be organised. We were accomodated in the Club Suite near the entrance of the Pit-Lane ( 3rd Floor ). It eventually turned out to be a Blessing in Disguise as the Suite was shared by 5 other teams... so the chance to meet other Drivers was bright.

I won't write more.. let the Pictures say it all. ENJOY!!

 

Jerome D'Ambrosio - Lotus F1 Reserve Driver :

 

 

Lotus F1 Team Pit-Crew ( Celebrities in their own Right )  :

 

 

Star Sports Presenter Sanjeev Palar ( Engine Block Fame ) :

 

 

Sebastien Buemi ( Red Bull Racing Team's Reserve Driver, Ex-Toro Rosso ) :

 

 

Johnny Herbert ( Ex-F1 Driver, 3 time British GP Winner ), Simon Lazenby, Sky Sports Presenters. I Love Sky Sports Formula 1 HD. Best Coverage of F1 Races!

 

 

Bernd Maylander ( Formula 1 Safety Car Driver ) : 

 

 

Chris Goodwin ( Ex Co-Commentator with Steve Slater for Start Sports ). Remember listening to him when I was a newbie in the Worldwide followers of Formula 1. Fantastic Presenter. Now he manages Bruno Senna ( Nephew of the Late Great Ayrton Senna ) :

 

 

David Coulthard ( Ex - McLaren Mercedes, Ex - Red Bull Racing, Now a BBC Co-presenter ). Mika Hakkinen's tem-mate. Was a fan of Mika until his Retirement in 2002 and subequent replacement by KIMI. ( Jake of BBC getting Wired-up for the post-qualifying show ) : 

 

 

Daniel Ricciardo ( Scuderia Toro-Rosso Driver ) :

 

 

Pastor Maldonado ( Williams F1 Team Driver, Catalunya GP Winner ) :

 

 

Bruno Senna ( Williams F1 Team Driver, Nephew of the Late Great Ayrton Senna! ) :

 

 

Valtteri Bottas ( Williams F1 Team Reserve Driver ). Another Finn in F1. Had a nice chat. Might support him once Kimi Retires..

 

 

Timo Glock ( Marussia F1 Team Driver ) :

 

 

Charles Pic ( Marussia F1 Team Driver ) :

 

 

Harbhajan Singh ( Indian Cricketer, 400 Scalps to his name!! Fantastic Player ) :

 

 

Martin Brundle ( Ex - F1 Driver, Now a Co-Presenter for Sky Sports F1 ) :

 

 

( L to R ) - Oliver, Fleur, Mable ( Lotus F1 Team ). Thank you Guys for all the Love and Hospitality. Shall Cherish this all my Life!

 

Once again a Special Thanks to www.exclusivegp.com for all the efforts and all the arrangements done.

 

Stay Tuned.. More to Come!

Korean GP Review - Vettel Wrestles back the Lead - Gangnam Style!!

Formula 1 travels back towards the West and its First Stop is Korea. The Results of the Japanese Grand Prix have thrown the Championship Wide Open. Fernando Alonso knew that Ferrari needed to be on the top of the game and expressed his concerns at the lack of performance when compared to that of the Red Bulls.

Sebastien Vettel had pegged back Alonso's lead to 4 points after back-to-back victories in Singapore and Japan.

The Results of the Grand Prix would be pivotal in the Championship Battle....

 

 

FREE PRACTICE :

The first free practice session took place in dry conditions. Lewis Hamilton ended the session as fastest driver, Fernando Alonso who had led most of the ninety-minute session was 2nd while Mark Webber finished in 3rd place.

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in FP2,leading Webber and Alonso. FP2 was an incident free session although Sergio Perez was forced out after 45 minutes of running when his Sauber lost all power and ground to a halt at Turn 12. Perez was able to safely park the car, allowing the session to continue uninterrupted.

Sebastien Vettel continued his dominance into FP3 while the two McLarens of Hamilton & Button slotted into 2nd and 3rd respectively. Red Bull's Mark Webber was 7th after electrical problems with his engine prevented him from getting a run at the end of the session on the 'super-soft' tyre most drivers are expected to use in qualifying.

 

 

QUALIFYING :

Q1 was a very tense one for many teams. Sebsatien Vettel, Jenson Button and Mark Webber were the top 3 of the session.Narain Karthikeyan lost the rear end of his HRT and narrowly missed a Force India who was slowing for Turn 3. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton had big hiccups as they just made it into Q2 in 16th and 17th Positions respectively. Bruno Senna joined the Caterhams, Marrusias and the HRTs in the Elimination.

Q2 saw Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso come to a halt. Sebastien Vettel was the quickest again. Jenson Button was the Suprise Elimination from the Session. Both the Saubers, Toro Rossos, Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta were also eliminated.

Q3 saw another incident when Michael Schumacher was released in the path of Lewis Hamilton however the incident was not pursued. Sebastien Vettel made a rare mistake in the first sector of his Second Flying Lap. The Mistake cost him Pole Position. Mark Webber pipped his Team-Mate to Pole Position. Vettel and Hamilton were 2nd and 3rd respectively. Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Schumacher completed the top 10.

Daniel Ricciardo received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Charles Pic was given a ten-place grid penalty for exceeding the maximum number of engines permitted for use over the course of the season. Narain Karthikeyan failed to set a time after having a brake failure. He was allowed to race at the stewards' discretion.

 

 

 RACE :

The Five Red Lights went out and Sebastien Vettel jumped Mark Webber into First Place on the First Turn. Mark Webber fought back on the Straight into Turn 3 but the German held. It also ensured that no other car had space to challenge the duo on the straight. It was a great start from Fernando Alonso who leapfrogged Lewis Hamilton who got squeezed out at the start. The McLaren driver had a think about a move down the middle of the two Red Bulls, but the gap closed and he was forced to back off. This allowed the championship leader Alonso squeeze down the inside.

The Saubers had an eventful First Lap as both drivers had incidents. Jenson Button was a big loser. The McLaren driver made a good start, but a wreckless Kamui Kobayashi came flying down the inside at Turn Three, missed the braking and smashed into the front right tyre of Button, breaking the suspension and ending the 2009 world champion's race. A Frustrated Button later stated that the drivers should be wary of the techniques adopted as incidents such as these are unforgivable at this level of Motor-Racing. Rosberg too was another retiree, his car hit first by Kamui Kobayashi. Massa passed Raikkonen for 5th place while Kobayashi had to pit for a new front wing. Ricciardo had a brilliant start, rising from 21st to 15th, in his Toro Rosso. Kobayashi was penalised for hitting Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Grosjean pitted on Lap 14 while Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen a lap later. Sebastien Vettel and Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 16. Alonso emerged just ahead of Perez whose attempt to move past him backfired and he eventually lost a position to Hamilton. Perez on his wearing tyres was now falling backwards as Massa, Raikkonen passed him in the space of 2 laps. Kamui Kobayashi drove into retirement on Lap 18, a disppointing weekend for the Japanese driver after the joy of being on the podium in his home race only a week earlier.

Vettel was now 6 seconds ahead of Webber who was in turn 3 seconds ahead of Alonso.

Lap 21 saw another twist as Hamilton complained of Loss of Grip ( Attributed later to a Broken Anti-Roll Bar ) and was powerless to fend off Massa who overtook him comfortably using DRS. The Next Couple of laps saw some competitve and safe racing between Hamilton and Raikkonen. Raikkonen tried getting past under DRS on Lap 23 but Hamilton had enough to keep his position into the corner. However a lap later, Kimi was closer and went past him on the outside at the end of the DRS zone. However Hamilton made use of his remaining KERS to wrestle back the position from Raikkonen a turn later. Hamilton finally pitted on Lap 26 and the team had some trouble with Front Right Tyre causing a slight delay.

The Gap at the front was more or less unchanged until the second round of pitstops. Mark Webber was the first to blink when he pitted for a new set of soft tyres on Lap 32. Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 34 and even a clean pitstop wasn't good enough to get him close to the Red Bull of Mark Webber. Sebastian Vettel had a huge lock-up on Lap 35 and was told by his team to pit immediately.

It was Status Quo at the front after the final round of pitstops.

Lap 38 saw Vettel set the Fastest Lap of the race and he had to be assured by the team that the gap to Webber was adequate enough and there was no need to push unnecessarily. Meanwhile Felipe Massa had closed in on Fernando Alonso and the latter found it to be a little too close for comfort. Ferrari however ensured that Massa would not harry Alonso by asking the former to stay withing 2-3 seconds of his team-mate. Ferrari's customary tactics did the job again as Massa yielded. Meanwhile Paul di Resta finally went past Michael Schumacher who had made this really hard for the British driver up until that lap. Their duel had given Perez an opportunity to close up and try a move on Schumacher but the German kept the door shut.

Lap 40 saw some more action as drivers started experiencing wear on their tyres. Grosjean went on the outside of the McLaren of Hamilton at the end of Turn 3. Hamilton, struggling on failing tyres positioned his car well and forced Grosjean wide; that allowed Nico Hulkenberg to close up and the three of them almost went three abreast towards Turn 4. Hamilton defended again, but Hulkenberg went around the outside of both Hamilton and Grosjean in an absolutely stunning move!!!

Fernando Alonso was now struggling and falling into the hands of Felipe Massa who was setting Blistering laps but the Brazilian had to hold station as instructed by Ferrari.

Hamilton did his 3rd Stop on Lap 43 and rejoined 10th. It had been a race to forget for the team with Button's retirement and Hamilton's lack of race pace after qualifying in such a promising position.

Hamilton's newer tyres had given him the much needed performance and he closed in on Jean-Eric Vergne ( Lap 47 ). The McLaren driver couldn't make a move stick down at Turn Three, but saved some KERS and used it in the run down to Turn Four. Hamilton pulled to the outside and tried to cut back, but Vergne didn't yield his position.

The track was falling apart by Lap 50, a huge embarassment for the organisers. Charles Pic ran over a bit of astroturf which has lodged itself free. A Williams ran wide at the same corner and kicked another piece up in the air.

Fernando Alonso seemed to have some life left in his tyres and was now catching the Red Bull of Mark Webber ( Lap 51 ), the latter however tried to maintain the gap around 4 seconds. The duo of Vergne and Hamilton had caught up with Ricciardo and an interesting battle was in store for the last 5 laps. Lap 53 saw Vergne go past his team-mate Ricciardo although Hamilton had to wait another lap.

The fight at the front was getting really intriguing. Red Bull was asking its drivers to nurse their tyres home!! Vettel was warned of unpredictable braking and the last couple of laps were tense for both Team and Driver.

An absolute nightmare awaited Lewis Hamilton on Lap 54. The McLaren driver picked up a piece of astroturf that attached itself to the side of the car and was seen flapping around. The Briton dropped back from the Toro Rossos as he struggled to keep control of an ill-handling car.

Sebastian Vettel's race engineer was on the radio again, telling him to be careful. The German backed right off and and coasted towards victory.

South Korean Rapper Psy waved the chequered flag as Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to take victory!! Mark Webber with Fernando Alonso were the other podium finishers.

Massa, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Vergne, Ricciardo and Hamilton completed the top 10. Hamilton had to fend off a late charge from Perez on the last lap to grab the Solitary Point.

So Red Bull Celebrated its First 1-2 of the Season. Ferrari moved ahead of McLaren in the Constructor Battle but the Drivers' Championship now had a new leader.

Vettel had leapfrogged Alonso to lead the Championship by 6 points. The Red Bulls are now going from strength to strength. Vettel notched up his 4th win of the season, 3 consecutive wins for the German.

The Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean gathered good points as Kimi extended his lead over Hamilton to retain 3rd place in the Drivers' Championship Standings.

Kimi Raikkonen was also the only driver to have finished every race this season.

 

The Next Round is India!!! I shall be in the Paddock again as a guest of the Lotus F1 Team, so lots of photos coming your way... soon.

Watch this Space!