Monday, 16 July 2018

Hockenheim Preview: Back in the old routine

This year's F1 calendar has something of a throwback look. We're in the midst of an extended (welcome) and crammed (less welcome) European season, as two 'prestige' rounds have returned. The French Grand Prix is back after a long absence, and the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim - the latest of which is this weekend - is back too, following a year off.

F1 returns to Hockenheim after a year away
Photo: Octane Photography
The absence in the case of the German race has a different explanation as well. This Grand Prix used to alternate between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, but the latter fell into financial bother and dropped out. And rather summing up the modern F1 host's absurd predicament Hockenheim didn't step into the resultant breach as it didn't fancy making its loss from staging the race every 12 months rather than as it currently stands every 24...

So we now have a German race every other year. And in another typical characteristic the event's future seems to linger under permanent doubt; its current contract expires this year.

The modern Hockenheim circuit is mostly about braking and traction as it doesn't really have corners that are quick or long, instead being made up of straights separated by short and often sharp turns. It's also something of a power track as a high proportion of the lap is full throttle. Although the modern tendency is to lament the new Hockenheim in comparison with the old version used up to 2001, in these senses the new place chimes with the old.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Why there are good points in F1 points for everyone

Photo: Octane Photography
Force India boss let the cat out of the bag that F1 is considering changing its points system, perhaps to an IndyCar/NASCAR style format wherein everyone gets at least something from their race.

It met with a round of derision; perhaps with good reason. But in my latest feature for Motorsport Week I outline that the shift would in fact have a few benefits too. And in ways we might not instantly expect.

You can have a read of my thinking here:

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Points For Everyone? Please, No, F1

The 'points for all' topic is disturbing. No, please don't go down this road, Formula 1. We've gone from awarding points to top-6 to top-8 and now 50% of the grid (top-10) scores points. By increasing the base of points scorers to 100% (all-20), we will go from incentivising drivers to win or finish higher to simply just finishing races. Is this Formula 1's way of retaining Fernando Alonso?

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, the 'What Wolff Said This Week' section is hilarious, because Toto Wolff did have a lot to say in the 2018 British Grand Prix. We discuss if Mercedes and Haas can learn a thing of two from Force India, the epic (and rare!) Kimi Raikkonen vs. Max Verstappen battle, the creative use of DRS by the FIA and how we shouldn't be harsh in judging Stoffel Vandoorne's talent just yet. Also, we explain why the talk of Mercedes being inexperienced to handle fierce external competition is untrue. Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 22)

Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - British Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
The ever-expanding Motor Verso F1 summary written by me has now been updated with my take on the thrilling British Grand Prix.

Virtually every race in 2018 has changed the competitive picture at the front, and this one at Silverstone was perhaps the biggest break of all.

Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel won and impressively at likely its biggest away fixture. With this we might surmise that they can win anywhere.

You can check out my take on it, as well as great Pirelli photos and the best of the internet, here:

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Monday, 9 July 2018

British GP Report - Red ratification?

The British Grand Prix was about coming to a realisation. Martin Brundle called it in Friday practice - that in 2018 we have to get used to the idea that Ferrari will be quick everywhere. And if this one was the red car's ultimate test then it passed it triumphantly.

Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel passed their toughest
test with flying colours
Photo: Octane Photography
In every sense - literal and metaphorical - Silverstone is Ferrari's away fixture. Not only as one of a small minority of teams not to have a base a short drive away, it also is a track that we thought could have been designed for its chief rival Mercedes. Results say this too with the silver team winning the previous five here - most dominantly - and Lewis Hamilton in Nigel Mansell-esque style being particularly happy at home, taking the last four.

Yet this time Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari won, and deservedly. On that basis they can win anywhere. Maybe it's the car to beat this year.

Granted there were some adventures in getting there, but the bottom line is that Ferrari - armed with a new floor which seemed to electrify the red cars and straightline speed that rival Daniel Ricciardo described as '"insane" - looked at least as fast as Mercedes throughout on the latter's happiest of hunting grounds. Only Hamilton pulling a rabbit out of the hat - again Mansell-esque on his home ground - denied Ferrari pole. Otherwise the Scuderia was never denied.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

British GP Betting Preview - Not looking for a new England

We might think that we start this one with little hope. In our previous betting preview we bemoaned that predicting F1 outcomes is a perilous task right now, and then we had an Austrian race where what we got barely resembled what we reasonably anticipated at the start.

It's worth backing a Mercedes at Silverstone
Photo: Octane Photography
But that we're at Silverstone means the clouds part (unusually for Silverstone you might say) and we get a clear view. Because we have a striking consistent previous to go on.

Mercedes usually dominates here and Lewis Hamilton especially dominates - he's won his last four home rounds. And even with the Mercedes and Lewis trauma that went down in Austria likely the biggest implication was that Merc had stolen a march on the rest with its upgrade.

Therefore there's likely little point putting your money anywhere else for pole and win. And even so the odds for Hamilton to do these offer a pretty decent return - he can be backed at 4/5 to get pole and evens to win.

While if you really want to get behind the prospect of Lewis dominating then there are other ways you can bet on it. A pole, fastest lap and win triumvirate for any driver - i.e. not just Hamilton - can be backed at 11/4 and a pole winning margin of over two tenths can be backed at evens. Mercedes tends also to be strong in first practice and you can back Hamilton to top that session at 5/4.

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Welcome To Podcasts, Formula 1

Welcome to the world of podcasts, Formula 1. We've had your back for the last six years and now we look forward to you increasing the size of the pie for all of us ;-)

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we wonder if Sebastian Vettel will conclude the triple header by scoring a hat-trick of penalties; or can he actually win the 2018 British Grand Prix? Fernando Alonso holds the key to the driver market for 2019, or does he? Btw, we speculate if Alonso will continue to participate in the World Endurance Championship next season, or will he focus fully on the IndyCar Series?

Charles Leclerc could end up damaging the careers of at least one Haas driver next season - who would it be? And finally, we tell you why Mercedes and Formula 1 need to hire talent from outside of Europe. Tune in!

Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

(Season 2018, Episode 21)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Austrian Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
The ever-expanding Motor Verso F1 summary written by me has now been updated with my best attempt to sum up a thrilling and corkscrew - and surprising - Austrian Grand Prix.

It also contains my French Grand Prix review from last week, now at the bottom of the article, which I believe I neglected to mention.

You can check all of it out here:

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Silverstone Preview - Challenging your inner Nige

Every year at around this time I experience conflict. I'm not one driven by patriotism, particularly not in F1. But even I cannot deny that there is something about the British Grand Prix.

Even to the non-patriotic, there is
something about Silverstone
Photo: Octane Photogrpahy
It can't even be said that its hardy host Silverstone has universal appeal. It's not glamourous, nor picture postcard. Instead rather exposed and windswept.

Yet still few refute that the Northamptonshire circuit bows to almost none in being part of the F1 furniture. And this is for a number of reasons.

Chiefly it is F1's home gig. Seven of F1's ten teams are based (or in Haas's case has a base) in Britain, and six of these are within a few miles of the Silverstone track. As are a myriad of companies that supply them in the F1 equivalent of silicon valley.

The venue also is among F1's most ubiquitous. It was at Silverstone that it all started in 1950, and despite sometimes extensive changes it retains much of its character - flowing, rapid and with many long and mighty turns.

Austrian GP Report - The hills are alive

As the sage Mark Gallagher noted after this one, "Ferrari will be waking up this morning dazed by how they are leading both the drivers' and constructors' championships; Mercedes at how they are not."

Max Verstappen was an unlikely - and worthy - winner
Photo: Octane Photography
Gallagher's assessment indicates that this Austrian Grand Prix was no ordinary Grand Prix - indeed it was one of those wherein advance expectation and actual outcome barely were on nodding terms.

It started though looking like it would be extremely ordinary - Mercedes armed with a technical upgrade strode a way clear and locked out the grid's front row. All spoke of two races in one with those not in silver aiming for third place at most. Then when Mercedes maintained its one-two after some first lap frolics, Lewis Hamilton ahead and poleman Valtteri Bottas boxing his way back to second after a poor get-go, that indeed looked like that.

And yet. Mercedes's empire fell within a single lap.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Funny Stories from an F1 Mechanic, by Ibrar Malik

Paul West worked for Williams throughout the 1990s and is a massive contributor towards the upcoming book. This blog is therefore dedicated to him.

A very drunk Paul West giving it the thumbs up after Damon Hill's 1996 Championship victory.

Paul has many enjoyable stories from his time within F1 including how he inadvertently contributed towards the rules. "The cars were kept for an hour after the race (for scrutineering purposes), it was allowed for two guys per car to clean them but nothing else, this happened until the 1997 Japanese Grand Prix. At this race some of the guys at Benetton suspected that Ferrari had a movable front wing so they got me, like an idiot, to put some pressure with my foot to see if it moved. There were some Ferrari mechanics watching and they reported to Nigel Stepney what I'd done, he came down and spoke to Dickie Stanford our team manager who asked me if I'd done it I said yes and I think because I was honest Stepney didn't have anything done to me but from then on no personnel were allowed in parc ferme."

Friday, 29 June 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Charles Leclerc Has Outperformed Max Verstappen

Charles Leclerc has had a phenomenal start to his debut season in Formula 1 - better than Max Verstappen even! In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and Kunal do some math and tell you why. Well, even if they could be evenly matched on talent, is maturity one key area where Leclerc scores higher? We know such stories create controversies, but they are still worth visiting.

Also in this episode: we try and calculate how old Fernando Alonso would be if he takes a break to race in the IndyCar Series in 2019 (or later!) with the hope to return to Formula 1 once McLaren goes back to being a championship contender. What does Red Bull Racing mean when they say that they are 'closer than ever' to Daniel Ricciardo's contract? What's with former Williams drivers and the Venturi Formula E team? Finally, Raikkonen-McLaren is one rumour we are hoping is true. Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 20)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour