The Driver Merry-Go-Round... Pivotal Decisions

2015 has been quite a year for F1. The Introduction of new venues, more reliable Engines in the new era of F1 but the most important, entry of youth in the pinnacle of motorsport.

The rookies have impressed in 2015 so far and their abilities have silenced the doubters.

At the Mid point of the season, rumours are rife in the paddock about potential driver lineups for 2016. Not many seats are up for grabs but for some, time to prove their worth is running out.

Who is safe and who is not, time to have a run through.

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 :

The Fastest team in F1 ( Currently ) has steered clear from any paddock chatter by locking down the current lineup of Hamilton and Rosberg with long term contracts. Rumours about drives being available would be the last thing the team would want for themselves as well as for their drivers in their battle to maintain their edge in the current formula.

Scuderia Ferrari F1 :

The Loss of Jules Bianchi has hit both the Team and the F1 Fraternity hard. Sebastian Vettel has a contract. Kimi Raikkonen, as always is in the news about his future in F1. The Finn's contract expires at the end of 2015 and Ferrari has the option of extending it for another year based on the performance this year. 2015 has been a better year for Raikkonen but there is a considerable gap ( 84 points ) to his team-mate which isn't doing his chances any good.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams F1 Driver is being shortlisted as a replacement for Raikkonen and the rumours gathered a lot of steam in the past couple of months. However no formal announcement was made in this regard. Max Verstappen too has emerged as a contender in the past week but for 2017.

Ferrari have emphasized on multiple occasions that Kimi's contract extension / replacement isn't a priority at present. Recent developments suggest that the Maranello outfit will renew Kimi's contract for another year.

Kimi has the speed. In James Allison's words "Kimi is as quick as Seb, only difference is that Kimi has made a couple of mistakes in qualifying to Seb's one." Kimi has also been on the wrong end of reliability in 2 races. Add those results and he would be in contention for 3rd place in the Drivers' Championship.

Raikkonen's decision is the most pivotal in the market and can trigger a lot of movement. Else Status-quo.

Raikkonen has proved his mettle on more than one occasion. He remains Ferrari's Last Champion. Belgium beckons and being the most successful driver there, I am hoping to see the "King of Spa" do well.

Williams Martini F1 :

Williams should be happy with their current lineup of drivers. They have performed exceedingly well since 2014. Massa will continue into 2016. Bottas' future though is questionable. The Finn is young and fast besides being consistent. His performances have caught the attention of Ferrari and seems to be the favourite to sign for them. Bottas has reiterated that no deal with Ferrari is in place and such rumours should stop doing the rounds. Williams on the other hand were instrumental in bringing Bottas into F1 but that shouldn't hamper his chances of moving higher up the grid given the opportunity.

There were some rumours of Nasr stepping up but they were written off when Sauber renewed his contract.

Another rumour that surfaced was that Button was considering a switch to Williams. ( Discussed later ). Alex Lynn, formerly belonging to Red Bull's driver program, signed up with Williams as a development driver. It won't be long before he is ready to step up into F1. So Williams have their hands full.

The Possibility of Bottas to Ferrari looks pretty certain but I feel Ferrari will hold stations for another year.

Red Bull Racing F1 :

Red Bull Racing seems to have their Driver Contracts sorted for next year inspite of talk of a potential offer for Ricciardo. Sometimes the media links every driver with a Ferrari Seat. Red Bull would like to continue with their current crop of Kvyat and Ricciardo considering the position they are in. Losing their Quadruple World Champion Vettel to Ferari didn't do them any good. Red Bull must keep their lineup stable to rebuild and mount a new challenge.

Sahara Force India F1 :

Force India too preserved their lineup of Perez and Hulkenberg for 2015. Both Drivers performed well so far. Perez has been overshadowed by Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg is another candidate for the Ferrari Seat for 2016 but substantial sponsorship backing besides a height disadvantage is hurting his chance of moving higher up the grid. Haas F1, a new team in 2016 with Ferrari Power should consider him as a candidate. If none comes calling, the Hulk will stay at Force India. Perez is best suited to Force India with the abilities he possesses. Perez should continue with Force India as he enjoys a great relationship with the team.

GP2 has some candidates willing to take the big leap but I feel the team must stick with their old guns and build a solid platform for the future.

Lotus F1 :

Grosjean and Maldonado continued into 2015 for Lotus F1. Grosjean should continue in Lotus. I don't see him going elsewhere. Maldonado has been reckless to be frank and its high time for Lotus to open up a seat. Maldonado might have a fat sponsorship with him but his failure to bring him consistent results is costing the team dear. Jolyon Palmer, the reserve driver is the current GP2 Champion and has every right to graduate into F1. This might be the last year for Maldonado according to me. Palmer seems favourite to land a drive in 2016.

Scuderia Toro Rosso :

Toro Rosso, Red Bull's "B" Team recruited 2 rookies in Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Verstappen joining F1 at a tender age of 17. Both have performed well so far in the season and Toro Rosso might opt to retain them both, maybe until the time is right to move to the Big League.

It would be very difficult for any driver from the Red Bull Program to grab a seat in 2016. The Best anyone can manage would be to become the 3rd Driver.

Sauber F1 :

Sauber F1 has been instrumental in bringing the best into F1. Many greats began their careers in F1 through Sauber. The Team dismissed any rumours about their drivers fairly quickly by confirming new contracts for Nasr and Ericsson. Marciello, a Ferrari Driver Program graduate, might have to wait another year and prove his mettle in GP2 if he wants a seat with the team, courtesy of Engine Suppliers Ferrari.

McLaren Honda F1 :

new partnership with Honda began in 2015. They hired the services of World Champions Button and Alonso ( Dual WDC ) to assist them in their quest to return to supremacy. However their poor form and reliability has left the duo frustrated. Alonso expressed that he is slowly losing interest in the sport. He is happy to be a part of the challenge being faced but he is slowly losing the excitement he had about the sport. Alonso didn't re-sign with McLaren only to leave prematurely. He will dig deep and bring home the results and McLaren need to keep him interested to stay.

The situation with Button is very different. Button has been with the team for a fair amount of time and quite frankly, lived in the shadow of his team-mates. He has been in the news on many occasions with questions being raised about his abilities. The toughest was last year when McLaren bided their time in renewing his contract. Magnussen, his team-mate from last season, stepped down to 3rd driver and is waiting in the wings hoping to land a drive in 2017. To complicate matters, McLaren's protegee, Stoffel Vandoorne is performing brilliantly in GP2. He must get a drive sooner rather than later. Vandoorne should win the championship this year and failure to absorb him into the F1 team will leave him with few options ( A GP2 champion can't return to the feeder series ).
McLaren has to decide. Soon.

Manor Marussia F1 :

Manor, the buyers of Marussia brought in Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens for the 2015 campaign. Both have brought home satisfactory results. Merhi has been outshone by his team-mate on many occasions. There were rumours of Merhi's seat being up for grabs in 2016 but the bosses at Manor have reiterated that holding onto both for 2016 is the priority. The team wants stability going forward but as is the case with smaller organizations, nothing can be taken for granted. Fabio Leimer, the 2013 GP2 Champion bagged the reserve driver's seat and I won't be surprised to see him challenge for a drive in 2016.

Haas F1 :

is the new kid on the block. It might be early days but there is a lot of buzz surrounding the team's entry into F1 in 2016. Haas has enjoyed a close relationship with Ferrari who will eventually supply them the engines. Ferrari will have a say when it comes to hiring the pilots for 2016 ( for at least one seat ). Estebaan Gutierrez, 3rd Driver at Ferrari currently should return to the starting grid in 2016 with Haas.

must sign someone who is quick and can bring home the results consistently. Their intentions are clear - they want to be a top running team in F1. Nico Hulkenberg will be the perfect candidate for the job. But will the bosses at Haas consider him worthy? Surely they must!

To Summarize, Haas has 2 places, Lotus should have 1. Little movement elsewhere according to me.

F1 is a very funny sport. A lot of things can change overnight. We still have 2 races left in the European Leg of the season. More Rumours are bound to emerge, some totally absurd. Its tough for both the teams and drivers to operate in such a competitive environment, but compete they must. This post might be a bit earlier than it should have been. Nevertheless the silly season has thrown up enough speculations for the F1 Fraternity and Fans to keep them engrossed for months.

Who goes, who stays, only time will tell. Some might already know their fate..some might be in the will all be revealed soon...

The Season isn't over yet. We still have 9 races to go.

Time to put all that aside and prepare for the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix. I shall be at the race supporting Kimi. There will be updates from the Grand Prix once I return.

Have a great week and enjoy the race everyone!

The Driver Merry-Go-Round.... Speculations Galore

2014 is a new chapter in the history of Formula 1.

The Rules have changed, the Designs have changed, the chariots look different, the Turbos have returned and new battlegrounds have been added.

Reliability is paramount this season. The changes have humbled some and brought a resurgence for some.

We are almost nearing the end of the season and the paddock is abuzz with rumours about drives for next season.

How does it all shape up? Lets have a quick peek.

Williams Martini Racing :

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are retained for 2015 and its not a surprise considering their performances so far. The Team can now focus on fighting for Constructors' Championship as well as on developing their 2015 contender.

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team :

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton stay in the team for 2015. The Incident in Belgium created a huge stir but I feel both have grown from the incident and learnt many lessons. The 2014 Title is still up for grabs and either one could go home with top honours. Leaving a team dominating the way they are this season would be unthinkable. The Team only needs to ensure that both cars finish races.

Marussia F1 Team :

The Team should retain their current lineup for 2015 and with the possibility of a higher financial influx at the end of the season should aid the survival of the team ( thanks to vital points in Constructors this year ). Chilton and Bianchi are both resourceful, the latter enjoying preference for a seat as the team is a Customer for Ferrari Engines. Staying with the current lineup is the way forward but as is the case with smaller teams, guarantees can never be given.

Sahara Force India F1 Team :

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have been performing really well and the sheer talent of the duo should ensure their seats for 2015. Its a shame to see Hulkenberg's inability to move up the grid due to a lack of sponsors and the height disadvantage. A man with his talent definitely deserves a seat in the sharp end of the grid. Daniel Abt from GP2 is waiting in the wings but his decision to also race in Formula E might hamper his chances into F1.

Sauber F1 Team :

Sauber is a team known to spot talent. However the team's existence in F1 itself is at stake due to a lack of funds and dismal performances. Sergey Sirotkin, the rookie might get a Practice Session in Sochi and his chances for 2015 seem bright. Gutierrez and Sutil might lose their seats to Van der Garde and Sirotkin if they can't raise sufficient finances for 2015.

Sutil seems the most likely to go out with Sirotkin taking his seat. Van der Garde is a talent but does he have the same financial backing as Sirotkin? - I don't think so.

Caterham F1 Team :

A Change of Ownership and a management overhaul means there is a lot of uncertainty about the team. The Team has reiterated its intention of staying in F1 and the current line-up of Kobayashi and Ericsson cannot take a 2015 seat for granted. Kobayashi has already lost his seat once this year and Ericsson is definitely not the quickest rookie around. Both Seats would be up for sale according to me and the Highest Bidder will get them. The Contenders are many and for most this might be the ticket into Formula 1.

Lotus F1 Team :

Lotus went backwards in 2014 after 2 years of great success. The Drastic Rule Changes left them struggling at the back of the grid not to mention the exodus of technical personnel and the lack of finances. Maldonado was hired in 2014 to bring PDVSA onboard and some much needed finances. The Car has not yielded the results expected and the team is languishing at the back of the grid. Grosjean will be looking to greener pastures and Maldonado's performances will not help him go elsewhere. For Charles Pic ( the reserve driver ) the possibility of a drive is getting bigger by the day.

Scuderia Toro Rosso :

Red Bull's B Team and the final hurdle before earning a drive in the Big Team. Both Vettel and Ricciardo spent time here and their performances helped them moved into the A Team. Jean-Eric Vergne already lost his seat for 2015 while Daniil Kvyat retains his. Max Verstappen who will be 16 years old next year joins the team for 2015.

Is he too young for F1? Many believe if someone is quick then age shouldn't really be a factor but the lack of experience might prove to be detrimental. Red Bull is the best judge and I am sure they might have seen something in him to be reason enough to award him with a drive. Carlos Sainz Jr. who belongs to the same program and races in a series higher than Verstappen was overlooked and would feel hard done by Red Bull's Decision. I hope he does well and proves the doubters wrong.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Ferrari F1 & McLaren Honda :

6 Drives and uncertainty looms all over in 3 of the top teams in F1. Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen will stay with Red Bull and Ferrari respectively for 2015. The other 4 drives are a classic case of Driver Merry-go-round in F1 with the rumour mills running overtime.

Red Bull Racing will try to hold onto their Quadruple World Champion Sebastien Vettel. He had a tough season so far but his abilities and talent are unquestionable. 

Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Vettel might swap seats as per the latest rumours. Alonso joined Ferrari in 2010 and is yet to win a World Championship with the team. Ferrari has had a forgettable 2014 and the struggles within the Maranello outfit compelled Alonso to explore options. Alonso's departure would also mean the loss of a big sponsor in Santander for Ferrari and the team must look for a worthy replacement for his seat.

The Advent of the Honda Engine for McLaren in 2015 adds more confusion to the mix. Reports suggest that McLaren are trying to sign either Alonso or Vettel or if possible both. Kevin Magnussen is a rookie this year and his performances bode well for him. A product of the McLaren Driver Program, he would be hoping to retain his seat.

Jenson Button faces an uphill task to hold onto his. I feel his stint at McLaren is over and the team wants a change of guard. Honda comes in as a new engine supplier in 2015 and joining the team carries a big risk for a new entrant. The Uncertainty of the performance and reliability could severely backfire on Alonso or Vettel if they choose to go down that path. Alonso had issues with the management at McLaren but those are things of the past. Alonso is more likely a contender for the seat than Vettel as it would be taking a step back for the latter.

According to me, Vettel and Alonso swapping teams seems to be more realistic with Alonso opting to be with Red Bull only for one year; this would help the Spaniard to assess the performance of McLaren in 2015 with the Honda Engine and of the Renault in the Red Bull. He can weigh his options at the end of 2015. McLaren would be stronger in 2016 with Honda addressing engine issues ( if they have any in 2015 ) and if Ferrari produces a resurgence, maybe return to replace a retiring Raikkonen for 2016.

Red Bull would definitely have something in place for him in 2016 but considering his age and the talent pool that Red Bull possesses, Alonso's one year will be the perfect time frame for Red Bull to ready the next Ricciardo or Vettel.

Romain Grosjean could spring a surprise in all this.

Grosjean's Manager Eric Boullier is the Racing Director at McLaren while Ciaron Pilbeam the Chief Race Engineer at Lotus F1 ( in 2013 ) also joined the Woking Outfit this year. Both know how big a talent and how resourceful Romain is. His arrival would be like a breath of fresh air at Woking.

All this points to only one thing - Jenson Button's Career is at stake. Should he lose his seat to any of these, he would either have to hang up his boots or move down the grid and join a smaller team. Lotus F1 seems to be the most viable option.

However McLaren must keep Button and Magnussen for 2014 to maintain stability but the final decision rests with the management.

Personally, I see 4 to 5 drivers not featuring in next year's Driver Line-up. Its a sad story this but with the cut-throat competition, drives are few and far between.

2014, dubbed the "Silly Season" has been one the most exciting in the history of F1. The Possibility of a major reshuffle within the big teams would be an intriguing one. What happens at the end of the season? Only time will tell.

Till then, lets enjoy the remainder of 2014.

2014 Mid Season Review - What a Season so far!

2014 saw F1 in a new avatar - New Regulations, New Engines, New Designs, New Tracks.. it was a complete overhaul!

The Contenders to the crown should have been the same but the Rules of the Game have changed and so have the contenders!

The Teams return to racing at Spa - Francorchamps ( Belgium ) in a Week's time after the 4 week Summer Break.

It might not be right to title this post as the Mid Season Review as we have already completed 12 rounds out of 19 for the season but no better a time to write one.

So how have all the teams fared this season?

Mercedes AMG Petronas :

The Silver Arrows are in a class of their own! 2 Years of hard work finally bearing fruit. The Mercedes Power Unit has left its Ferrari and Renault counterparts gasping for breath and has been a revelation this year.

The Duo of Rosberg and Hamilton have dominated the proceedings with everyone playing catchup. Rosberg leads the championship by 11 points and it seems to be a close fight with Hamilton who is second. Hamilton's season has been riddled with problems and retirements. 2 retirements compared to Rosberg's one and 3 bad qualifying sessions ( due to reliability issues ) compromised his races and chances at victory. However Hamilton's 5 wins to Rosberg's 4 could be pivotal in the title race.

Conspiracy theories have been circulating in the media about Rosberg getting preferential treatment and the more reliable equipment. I think such allegations and assumptions about the team are misplaced.

Lewis Hamilton was recruited by the team with one objective in mind - to propel the team to greatness. The Team was aware that they can mount a serious challenge only from 2014. Lewis Hamilton too has enjoyed preferential treatment - 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix ( Rosberg was denied the chance to overtake Hamilton as the team wanted both cars to come home ). Some even suggested post race that Lewis might have a clause in his contract, something that we shall never know. I haven't seen any instance which would authenticate this conspiracy theories doing the rounds. One must also understand that these cars are machines at the end of the day and they are prone to failures. It is quite unfortunate for Hamilton to be on the receiving end more often than Rosberg. Rosberg whose been with the team since 2010 has seen his fair share of disappointments. A Good Car and a Championship is long due for him, so I choose to be more considerate towards the German.

The Constructors' Championship is going to end up at Brackley thanks to the Team's Exceptional performance. They are on top with a comfortable lead but the car does has chinks in its armour. I wont be surprised to see the Silver Arrows lift the crown way before the season ends and with the resources that they have, reliability issues should be addressed fairly quickly.

Infinity Red Bull Racing ( Red Bull - Renault ) :

Red Bull Racing enjoyed 4 years of success but the plethora of Rule Changes unsettled them. The Team struggled to bring itself up to pace with this year's demands and that has allowed Mercedes AMG Petronas to gain a sufficient advantage over them.

Daniel Ricciardo who joined the Team from Toro Rosso has outclassed his Championship team-mate Vettel so far. Ricciardo is 3rd in the Championship with 131 points and clearly the best amongst the rest. Ricciardo notched up 2 victories - Canada and Hungary ( the only winner other than Rosberg and Hamilton ) and three 3rd Place finishes. He faces stiff competition from Fernando Alonso who is only 16 points behind but the Australian should be able to hold onto his position with the ever improving car.

Sebastien Vettel suffered 3 retirements this season and his best finish is 3rd ( at 2 races ) this season. The Torquier motor and the Drive problems of the power unit has troubled the German. He is trying to get the most out of the car and is slowly getting to grips with the rule changes this year. Vettel is currently 6th in the standings with 88 points. He should finish higher up in the Championship eventually but outscoring his immediate rivals is paramount.

Red Bull has already lost its crown to Mercedes and finishing 2nd is the best that they can manage this year. The Lack of power and unreliability of the Renault Power Unit has cost them dearly. Christian Horner, Red Bull's Team Principal issued an ultimatum to Renault to address these issues on a war footing or the team would consider other options. Some reports even suggested that Red Bull might start building their own engines but Horner wrote off such rumours clearly stating that Red Bull are good chassis designers and not engine manufacturers.

Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team ( Ferrari ) :

The Most Decorated Team in F1 History has had a rough ride so far. The team has the Best Driver Line-up on the grid in Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. The world was eager to see how the 2 Ex-World Champions would match up and the contest has been pretty one sided. Alonso, a pilot since 2010 has felt more at home both with the rules and the car, scoring well and even bagging 2 podiums - 3rd at China and 2nd at Hungary. He is placed 4th in the Championship with 115 points. Its no surprise that the Spaniard has performed well beyond the car's capabilities and has made the most of the mistakes and retirements around him. Fernando Alonso still is the Best Driver on the Grid according to me and knows how to maximize results with the resources that he has.

Kimi Raikkonen has had a disappointing season so far and hit a really bad patch after the highs of 2012 and 2013 with the Lotus F1 Team. He has scored only 27 points and is placed 12th in the Standings. His best finish is 6th which came at the recently concluded Hungarian GP.

Many People have questioned Kimi's Motivation for this season and some have even suggested that the Finn has lost interest in F1.

I am a die hard Kimi Raikkonen Fan and its true that its extremely hard to see the Finn struggle this year. There are various factors that have troubled him this year.

The Rule Changes for 2014 don't suit Raikkonen's Driving Style. Ex-Team Grosjean who observed him closely in 2012 and 2013 has authenticated this fact. The Biggest Troublemaker - the new Braking system called the "Fly-by-wire" and Raikkonen is still getting to grips with it. The F14T hasn't been the most reliable for him with various problems cropping up regularly on Fridays and Saturdays hampering his preparations for the weekend. Ferrari has been working frantically to make the car as friendly as they can with regular updates. Team Principal Marco Mattiacci is confident that Raikkonen will hit top form soon. Double World Champion and Compatriot Mika Hakkinen has also been supportive of Raikkonen and warned rivals not to write off the 2007 World Champion yet. I can't wait to see Raikkonen on the top step of the podium! Belgium isn't too far..

Ferrari have struggled in comparison to the benchmarks they have set in the past and the primary reason for failure has been the Power Unit. The Engine isn't as powerful as its Mercedes counterpart causing the F14T to struggle in straight line speed. Updates have been coming in but rivals haven't been sitting on their laurels either and competition is fierce. Ferrari have the right personnel on board to help them return to their winning ways and the time to start concentrating on their 2015 contender is nearing.

Ferrari are 3rd in the Constructors with a slender lead of 7 points over Williams Martini Racing, whom they leapfrogged at the Hungarian GP. It will be difficult catching Red Bull Racing who have a considerable lead and a 3rd place finish seems a more realistic possibility. Both the Team and its Drivers will have to dig deep and ensure that their current position isn't threatened from here on.

Williams Martini Racing ( Williams - Mercedes )

Williams has been in F1 for quite a long time and has its fair share of history. The team reemerged this year in a new avatar and with a fresh resolve - to reclaim their rightful place. Williams hired the services of Felipe Massa who joined Valtteri Bottas and both have done a marvellous job for the team. Williams FW36 has been the strongest of the Mercedes Powered Customer Teams and has mounted serious challenges to the Factory Team, even beating them on a couple of occasions. Bottas, a revelation this year bagged 3 podiums for the team. 2 consecutive 2nd place finishes ( Silverstone and Hockenheim ) helped him leapfrog Sebastien Vettel into 5th Place and the Finn has 95 points to his name. Massa has had good qualifying sessions including a pole in Austria but unfortunate incidents ( 2 on the first lap ) have compromised his campaign. The Retirements hurt him bad and he is currenty 9th with 40 points.

Williams is 4th in the standings with 135 points and lost 3rd position to Ferrari at the recently concluded Hungarian GP. If the Team can ensure that both cars make it to the chequered flag at every race and continue to score consistently as the have done so far then 3rd position in the Constructors is a possibility but one cannot write off the chances of its traditional and well funded rivals in Ferrari and McLaren who will leave no stone unturned to eke out the best possible results from the remainder of the season.

Brilliant performance though by the team till now!

Sahara Force India F1 Team ( Force India - Mercedes ) :

Force India had an amazing season so far. The Superiority of the Mercedes Power Unit has helped the team to propel itself to the sharp end of the grid. The Team sits pretty in 5th on 98 points leading McLaren by just one point. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have performed well this season. Hulkenberg has been the more consistent one with 5th being his best finishing position. He is 7th in the Championship with 69 points. Perez bagged a podium for the team in Bahrain where he finished 3rd and the team finally got on the podium after 5 years. Perez could have snatched another Podium but a collision with Massa on the last lap of the Canadian GP denied him the chance. Perez is 11th in the standings with 29 points.

Force India will have to continue bringing in upgrades and produce good results in order to maintain its advantage and slender lead over its higher spending rivals and the team knows the importance of having a higher position in the Constructors' at the end of the season - More money to fund the development of the 2015 contender. Its a tough ask this, but not impossible

McLaren - Mercedes :

McLaren have been the 2nd most successful team in F1 after Ferrari and their performances this season have been mercurial. The Team is running the Mercedes Power Unit for the final time this year before switching to Honda who make a return in 2015.

Jenson Button has scored 60 points and is 8th in the Championship with Kevin Magnussen scoring 37 and is placed 10th. Button and Magnussen scored a double podium ( 2nd and 3rd respectively ) in the opening round in Australia this being the team's best finish so far.

McLaren's association with Mercedes has been pretty successful and a long standing one but McLaren is the weakest of the Mercedes Customer Teams this season. The Team are struggling with this year's car inspite of recruiting talented personnel. Updates are trickling in and the team is trying its best to maximize results this season. They are trailing Force-India Mercedes by a single point and I believe a shot at 4th is a good possibility by the end of the season.

Scuderia Toro Rosso ( Toro - Rosso Renault ) :

Toro - Rosso, Red Bull Racing's B-Team switched to Renault Power Units ( from Ferrari ) this year and they have had a decent season. One might argue what would have been had they not switched to Renault. Jean-Eric Vergne stayed with the team and although his team-mate has seemingly done better, the Frenchman leads with 11 points to his name. Nevertheless, F1 Rookie Daniil Kvyat fared well so far and his total of 6 points don't suggest his true potential. Vergne 's best finish was 8th while Kvyat hasn't gone better than 9th.

Challenging the ones above them seems highly unlikely. The team has a contender for 7th place in Lotus F1 and keeping them at bay should be their top priority.

Lotus F1 Team ( Lotus Renault ) :

It is pretty disheartening to see my old friends struggle in 2014. 2012 and 2013, Lotus F1 were a front running team and a force to reckon with. A problematic Renault Power unit and the Basic Design of the car has compounded problems for Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. The Car has been riddled with Drive Problems and Reliability issues and the team is trying its best to address the problems. Grosjean has earned 8 points for the team this season with 8th place finishes in Canada and Monaco. Maldonado is yet to score this season.

The Team has suffered due to an exodus of personnel including the former team principal Eric Boullier to McLaren but they still have a talented bunch at Oxfordshire. Questions abound about the Financial Status of the Team, a possible reason for their struggles this year. I can't wait to see the team return to their glory days!

Marussia F1 Team ( Marussia - Ferrari ) :

Marussia comprise of a team whose members have a racing history and the team has done really well this season with the resources that it has had. Jules Bianchi finished 9th in Monaco and the team earned 2 vital points. Max Chilton's record run of 25 consecutive classified race finishes came to an end at Canada when he collided with his team-mate Bianchi.

Marrusia might not be able to score again this season but staying ahead of Sauber and Caterham could earn them vital finances for 2015! The season is just getting better and better!

Sauber F1 Team ( Sauber Ferrari ) :

Sauber had quite a productive 2013 with Nico Hulkenberg leading the charge. 2014 turned the tables on the team and they are yet to score a point this season. Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez both came close to scoring the first points of the season. Problems have riddled the team and its a pity to see such a talented bunch struggle. The Weight of the car is the Achilles' Heel.

Peter Sauber is a brilliant leader and he will be working hard with Monisha Kaltenborn to turn things around. What follows, only time will tell.

Caterham F1 Team ( Caterham-Renault ) :

Caterham had a tough run into the season, are last in the championship and haven't scored a point yet. Marcus Ericsson came close to scoring a point at Monaco when he finished in 11th. The struggles of the team have been very stressful for its previous owners.

On 2 July 2014 Tony Fernandes and his partners announced that they have sold the team to a consortium of Swiss and Middle Eastern investors. The Problems of the Renault Power Unit and the financial situation makes chances of improvements bleak. It seems that the team will struggle to score points this season.

2014 is being dubbed the "Silly Season" by experts and many fans have been critical of the lack of noise and power of the cars this year. The Lap Times have increased by a couple of seconds and F1 seems to have lost its sheen according to some.

Personally, this is one of the best seasons in a long long time. The Field has been shaken up, new contenders are fighting for the crown and racing has never been so exciting. Overtakes have become more common and drivers have learnt the art of being quick yet frugal. People were tired of the Red Bull Dominance for the last 4 years and the rule changes levelled the playing field; fans should have no reason to complain. The Engines are pretty loud, although not as loud and melodious as the 2.4 L V8.

One mustn't forget that this is only the first year for the new power units and the teams will slowly master the rule changes too.

F1 has turned a new chapter in its history and I am loving it! Can't wait for the Racing to resume.

Paddock Club Diaries - Abu Dhabi GP 2013 Day 3

Sunday was the Big Day!! The Final day of the Paddock Club Diaries for this Season! The last of the 4th and Final Paddock Club Experience for me.

Well, Lets relive it!

UAE is known for its fancy cars and I came across a couple on my way to Yas Island.

Enroute to Yas Island :

I reached the Paddock Club and the First event of the day was the GP2 Sprint Race :

Kimi Raikkonen joined us in the Suite to oblige the guests with autographs!!

Eric Boullier talking about the Team's Performance so far


A quick lunch and it was time to go down for the Final Pit Lane Walk of the weekend and the Final one for me to be at. I wanted to make the most of it.

Shots from the Pit-Lane Walk :

A Moment with Steve Robertson ( Kimi Raikkonen's Manager ). He is a very approachable man and very humble.

The Pit Lane Walk ended and preparations were in full swing for the race.

Cars doing installation laps :

Lotus Boys taking sighters of the Track :

The Grid Preparations :

The Etihad Airways Fly-Past :

The Cars rolled out for the Formation Lap and the Mechanics had to run back to the pits!

Video Link :

The Cars lined up on the Grid and Expectations were high. Kimi Raikkonen started at the back of the grid after the disqualification on Saturday and I was praying for a strong result.

Race Start Video Link :

The Race began and Kimi jumped the Marussia but ran a bit wide on the kerb. The Resulting imbalance caused contact with the Caterham and damaged the front suspension rod. It was a First Lap retirement for the Iceman and a good weekend that went from bad to worse for me :( A Rare Retirement for the Iceman...

There was still a race to be won and here are some shots from the Race :

McLaren Mercedes during their Pit-Stop

Video Link :

The Lotus F1 Team in the Race :

Lotus F1 Team Pit-Stop Video Link :

The Chequered Flag came out and it was Sebastien Vettel again who took victory! Mark Webber finished 2nd while Nico Rosberg held off a late charge by Romain Grosjean to hold onto 3rd place.

Kimi Raikkonen was the sole retirement in the race.

Video Link ( Chequered Flag ) :

Fireworks display :

Parc - Ferme :

It was time to say goodbye to my friends at Lotus F1 Team and as I headed out, I saw the Yas Marina Hotel shining in all its glory!!

Some more exotics on the way back :

It was a good weekend from a neutral point of view but very disappointing as a Kimi Fan.

I was sad to see it end like this. This was the last race in 2013 that I would be at and it turned out to be the last one for Kimi too as he decided to go in for Back Surgery.

Overall it was a satisfactory 2013 for me. It all started with an All Expenses Paid trip to the Malaysian GP thanks to Tourism Malaysia. Then the German GP, Italian GP, Indian GP and the Abu Dhabi GP to make it 5 races for the season. I was with the Lotus F1 Team in the Paddock for the 4 races and I must say it was a great experience. I shall cherish every moment.

A Special Thank you to Oliver Anderson, Anne-Charlotte Remy, Sophie Stapleton, Anna Pamin, Fleur Foster, Francois Puentes, James Robinson, Gaby Mills, Anita Nyers, Fred Garcia and Luca Mazzocco for all the Hospitality shown to me.

I made some really dear friends in this season and I am thankful to God that I got a chance to meet such wonderful people!!

A Big Thank you to YOU my followers and readers on various social platforms who have been patient enough and enjoyed reading everything that I have shared over the past year.

2014 will have its own experiences and I pray that I get a chance to be at a couple of races... Fingers Crossed.

God Bless You All!!

Paddock Club Diaries - Abu Dhabi GP 2013 Day 2

Saturdays normally start early for the teams but the Abu Dhabi GP being a twilight race meant that the teams could have a slightly later start to the day.

Saturdays would see the Teams do Qualifying Simulations in FP3 and prepare themselves for Qualifying.

Enroute to the Circuit :

The First Pit Lane Walk sees the team practice their Pit Stops.

Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :

Video Link of the Lotus F1 Team practising their Pit Stop :

The Paddock Club was open and I made it to the Terrace to indulge in some snacks prior to lunch

The GP2 Feature Race was the First Event of the Day and it was quite a start.

Video Link :


FP3 was a very important session for many teams. The Lap times were close and this was a precursor to an awesome Qualifying Session

Shots from FP3 :

Lotus F1 Team in action in FP3 :

Sebastien Vettel
was the Fastest in FP3. Romain Grosjean was 5th and Kimi Raikkonen 9th.

Alan Permane and Eric Boullier in a very engrossing conversation :

We were soon joined by Sir Jackie Stewart in the Suite and he shared about his career in F1 and his role in the team now.

The time for the Final Pit-Lane Walk of the day had come and it was time to see the Teams prepare for Qualifying up-close.

Shots from the Pit-Lane Walk :

A Moment with Mark Arnall - Kimi's Physical Instructor!

The Pit Lane was then vacated to make way for the start of the Qualifying Session!

saw the elimination of the slowest 6 drivers.

Shots from Q1 :

Lotus F1 Team in Q1 :

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in Q1. Kimi Raikkonen was 3rd fastest and Romain Grosjean 8th fastest.

The Lull before Q2 :

decided the final 10 drivers for the Final Shoot-out ( Q3 )

Shots from Q2 :

Lotus F1 Team in action in Q2 :

Nico Rosberg was the Fastest in Q2. Romain Grosjean was 8th Fastest while Kimi Raikkonen was 9th Fastest.

Fernando Alonso was shunted out of Q2 in 11th Place.

Q3 would be a closely fought session and once gain it was a duel between the Red Bulls and the Mercedes AMG Petronas teams.

Shots from Q3 :

Lotus F1 Team in Q3 :

A Red Bull was on pole and it was Mark Webber! The Australian pipped his team-mate to finish fastest in Q3.

Kimi Raikkonen did well to qualify 5th while Romain Grosjean qualified in 7th Place. It was a great session for Lotus F1 Team until a couple of hours later news emerged that Kimi Raikkonen was Excluded from the Qualifying Session!!!!

Kimi's car had floor damage and failed a floor deflection test. The Result was his 5th Position being snatched from him and the Finn had to start last. So much effort down the drain...

Post Qualifying, Romain Grosjean joined us in the Suite for a Quick Q&A and Autograph session

A Moment with Romain Grosjean :

His departure also signaled the closure of the Paddock Club for the day.

The Yas Marina Hotel at night :

The F1 Village at Night :

It would have been a great day had it not been for Kimi's Disqualification from Qualifying.

Nevertheless, I would like to thank the Lotus F1 Team for all the Hospitality shown to me.

A Big Thank you to Oliver Anderson, Anita Nyers, Francois Puentes, Anne-Charlotte Remy and Fleur Foster for taking such good care of me.

The Sunday too was very different. Experience coming soon...

Paddock Club Diaries - Abu Dhabi GP 2013 Day 1

The Abu Dhabi GP was one race I really wanted to attend. Kimi Raikkonen's Victory in 2012 meant that a 2013 race could not be missed.

The Abu Dhabi GP was my 5th and the Final Live Race in 2013. One must say that the track and the atmosphere is awe-inspiring.

Not everything went as planned but nevertheless let us relive those memories and as usual the Day 1 Experience First!!

I was staying in Dubai so travelling to the circuit meant that it would be a 2 hour journey ( approx ). However with a nice set of wheels, its a breeze!

Enroute to the Circuit :

The Drive to the Circuit entrance was smooth but it is highly recommended that you get the Parking Pass for all 3 days. Intra-Circuit shuttles do run but they drop you at odd locations and you still end up walking quite a distance. The Security Checks are Airport-grade which is nice.

However the Staff needs to be well informed about exits and routes to help visitors. Many were listless and offered poor advice which meant many were left going round and round in circles. A Big Let down for a circuit with such fantastic facilities.

The F1 Village Area :

The Yas Marina Hotel !

The Lotus F1 Team had their own suite at the race :

The View of the Track from the Suite :

It was soon time for FP1.

Shots from FP1 :

Chequered Flag for FP1 :

Lotus F1 Team in action during FP1 :

Romain Grosjean was the Fastest in FP1 !!! Kimi Raikkonen was 6th Fastest ! The Signs looked good for the team..

An Early Dinner!!

As always it was time for the Pit Lane Walk!

Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :

The Lotus F1 Team readying the Cars for FP2 !

Ciaron Pilbeam, Mark Slade, Rob Cherry and Jamie readying the Iceman's Car - SWEET!

We were soon joined by Davide Valsecchi in the Suite. As usual the Italian was all smiles and chirpy as ever. He Truly deserves to be driving for a F1 team.. Is anybody listening??

It was soon time for FP2 to start and the Twilight session looked absolutely beautiful!!

Team Pit Walls from FP2 :

Shots from FP2 :

Lotus F1 team in FP2 :

Sebastien Vettel was Fastest in FP2. Kimi Raikkonen was only 3 Tenths off the Pace in P4 which was a great sign. Romain Grosjean struggled in P12...

The Track under Lights - Beautiful!

Some More Stills from the Lotus F1 Team Suite :

Dessert Station!! Ice Cream, Chocolates, Cookies, Macaroons!! Control......

The Yas Hotel and the Yas Marina Area at night!

It was time to return to Dubai! A Fantastic Day 1 at the Yas Marina Circuit! Thank you Lotus F1 Team for all the Hospitality!

Day 2 and Day 3 Experiences to follow soon....

Paddock Club Diaries - Indian GP 2013 Day 3

Sundays are always hectic be it any Grand Prix. Everyone waits expectantly as the tension mounts for the main event to get underway.

The Result on Sunday is what matters. All the mistakes made earlier in the weekend are forgiven.

So how was the Sunday at the 2013 Indian GP? Lets find out!

Enroute to the Circuit :

Waiting for the Paddock Club to open :

The Paddock on Sunday Morning :

The Circuit in all its glory!

Shots from the Lotus F1 Garage ( Pit - Lane Walk ) :

The Lotus E21 Firing Up :

More Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :