Friday, 19 October 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Please Don't Take Away Our Chequered Flag

Will Lewis Hamilton clinch his 5th World Championship title at this weekend's United States Grand Prix? Will Donald Trump follow Vladimir Putin's lead and attend the race at the Circuit of the Americas? Well, what we are more concerned about is Formula 1 not replacing our beloved and iconic chequered flag with a digital version next season.

Photo: Octane Photography
Also in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we express surprise at how soon before Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi's records in Formula 1 and MotoGP (respectively) could be broken. It seems funny to see Lance Stroll give 'Formula 1 career advice' to Mick Schumacher. And of course, at Liberty Media's home race, we applaud their marketing efforts, but wonder if they are running out of time to implement their changes for 2021. Tune in!

Here's what's in store for you:

0:00 - 3:00: Donald Trump would prefer HAM winning his fifth title in the USA over Mexico. But of course!

3:00 - 5:00: The average age of the American Formula 1 is 59 years! Yikes! Will Formula 1 run out of time to implement changes for 2021?

5:00 - 8:00: Addition in 2019: rear-wing end-plate lights; will they work as turn indicators?

8:00 - 11:00: MSC and ROS's records are out to be broken very soon; can Formula 1 rivalries be like they are in the world of boxing?

11:00 - 14:00: Could ALO have won the title for Ferrari in 2018…you think so?

14:00 - 17:00: How is ALO still 7th in the WDC? HOW!? The mid-field battles are really intense.

17:00 - 20:00: Digital Chequered Flag in Formula 1? No, PLEASE, NO!

20:00 - 23:00: We understand why RBR refused VER to test a MotoGP bike; btw, COTA has installed a 'Verstopper' & Mithila's 'What Wolff Said This Week' section

23:00 - 26:00: From no seat in 2019, to a seat with Mercedes in 2020…too good to be true?

26:00 till the end: Moments in Time by Lucien, Predictions & Bye-Bye!

(Season 2018, Episode 35)

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

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Carlos Reutemann and F1’s most mysterious championship showdown

By Dijk, Hans van / Anefo /
neg. stroken, 1945-1989,, item number
931-6476 - http://proxy.
003048976d84, CC BY
-SA 3.0 nl, https://commons.
This weekend at Austin the latest Formula 1 world drivers' championship may be decided. But whatever happens it'll have to go some to beat the title showdown that happened in the same country  37 years ago today.

If it wasn't necessarily the most thrilling finale it almost certainly was F1's strangest. And if you want an enigma, then you can hardly have a more fitting driver in the central role than Carlos Reutemann.

In my latest feature for Motorsport Week I look back to 1981, Las Vegas and the unresolved mystery of Reutemann's (non) showing.

You can check the story out here.

US GP Betting Preview - Lone Star State

Appropriate to the Lone Star State, F1 therein has a lone star. Lewis Hamilton tends to be untouchable in his visits to Austin, Texas.

F1 races at Austin are usually about one man
Photo: Octane Photography
The numbers pay testimony. He's won five of F1's six Austin races. Taking it back further he's won six US Grands Prix of the last seven. Taking it instead to the most recent general form he's also won six of the last seven rounds anywhere. This weekend for the latest US Grand Prix he'll have the scent of a fifth world championship in his nostrils, so there'll be no shortage of motivation. He beams throughout his Austin weekends and it shows in his driving.

For the race win at least backing him seems what they call a no brainer. His odds are appropriately short, but still the 8/13 you can get on a Hamilton victory looks worth your wager.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Austin Preview: Endgame

Lewis Hamilton's fifth world championship, up for grabs in 2018, has suddenly became a matter of when not whether. And with this weekend's gathering being the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, perhaps even the 'when' part is redundant.

Lewis Hamilton usually has Austin races to himself
Photo: Octane Photography
Of F1's six visits to Austin Hamilton has won five of them; taking it back further he's won six US races from the last seven. He's also won six of the last seven rounds anywhere. Do the math, as I believe the youth like to say.

Plus if Hamilton wins again this weekend then the title is done unless his foe Sebastian Vettel follows him home in second. And we have reasons to doubt that Vettel will manage that. In recent weeks Ferrari has both lost competitive pace and unravelled organisationally. While Vettel, perhaps in the same way that a dog imitates the characteristics of its owner, has similarly wavered. Any one of the last four grand prix results replicated will make Hamilton's latest world crown official.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Japanese Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
If the Japanese Grand Prix felt familiar that's because it was. The themes of recent weeks barely altered; the previous momentum was unchecked - maybe even accelerated. Lewis Hamilton won imperiously. Ferrari if anything got more risible than before. Lewis now has world championship match point.

The Motor Verso F1 season summary has been updated with my take on the Japanese weekend. As ever it's illustrated with fantastic Pirelli photography and my selection of the best of F1 content on YouTube.

You can check out the latest summary here:

Monday, 8 October 2018

Japanese GP Report - The Big Mo

"You wouldn't want to get in the way of the World Championship battle, would you?," asked David Coulthard of Max Verstappen after qualifying. The Dutchman's reply was typically pointed. "Is it still a battle? Not sure."

Continuing the recent theme, Lewis Hamilton won again
Photo: Octane Photography
Formula 1 is a lot like US presidential nomination races. While that may seem an unlikely analogy in either pursuit 'The Big Mo' - the intangible called momentum - counts for a lot.

In either pursuit too such runaway handcart scenarios can be felt in the positive or the negative. We're seeing both in F1 right now. The theme of recent weeks scarcely altered in Japan. If there was a shift it was only to gather pace in the direction it was already headed. Lewis Hamilton won from pole, barely looking troubled as he did so at this Suzuka track that perhaps suits the Mercedes better than any other.

While Ferrari's momentum in the negative also accelerated. It was perhaps further off the Merc pace than previously. And again Ferrari when up against it made things worse with acts of self-sabotage. This time it entered the realms of farce. Late in qualifying it sent both cars out on intermediate tyres - rain was expected at some point but in that moment the track was bone dry. The sight of the two cars crawling around the lap on utterly unsuited rubber was risible.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - What Could Be Sebastian Vettel's Future In F1?

Will Sebastian Vettel go the Fernando Alonso way? Or will he retire from the sport as a quadruple World Champion? Or will he follow Michael Schumacher's footsteps and take on a team management role? What are the chances of Vettel jumping ship to Mercedes; a German driver racing for a German team and all of that...! Let alone young drivers, the lack of competitive teams in the sport could catch out this former World Champion too! From fighting Mercedes, Ferrari seem to be fighting within themselves.

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we tell you why Red Bull Racing should sell its vacant Toro Rosso cockpit to a wealthy pay driver. We applaud Daniel Ricciardo's comic timing while also questioning why Vladimir Putin arrives closer to the end of the Russian Grand Prix every year. Finally, we predict by what race this season would Lewis Hamilton seal the 2018 Formula 1 World Championship. We picked Brazil or Mexico - what's your pick? Tune in!

00:00-2:00 - Should Sebastian Vettel be called title contender for 2018 anymore?
2:00 - 5:00 - Will Vettel go the Fernando Alonso way? What could be Sebastian Vettel's future in Formula 1?
5:00 - 7:00 - Red Bull Racing to make money from their vacant cockpit at Toro Rosso?
7:00 - 9:00 - Good timing for Ferrari to introduce a new livery? Should Formula 1 allow teams to use one-off liveries?
9:00 - 11:00 - How would Mercedes deploy team orders in case they had a three car team & all three of their cars were 1-2-3?
11:00 - 13:00 - Daniel Ricciardo's comic timing - he cracked a doping joke at the Russian Grand Prix!
13:00 - 15:00 - Why does Vladimir Putin arrive closer to the end of the Russian Grand Prix every single year?
15:00 - 17:00 - What Wolff Said This Week section + Looking forward to Suzuka & the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix
17:00 - 22:00 - Moments in Time with Lucien; by which race would Lewis Hamilton clinch the 2018 Formula 1 Championship?

(Season 2018, Episode 34)

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

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Japanese GP Betting Preview - Hi ho silver

The Russian round last weekend felt like a moment of realisation. Ferrari it seems doesn't have the inherent pace advantage; not anymore at any stretch. Perhaps, some reckon, the FIA had a word in its ear about its famous engine mode.

Lewis Hamilton now has the upper hand on Sebastian Vettel
Photo: Octane Photography
So the championship points table is not a trick of the light. Mercedes and particularly Lewis Hamilton are indeed worthy favourites. And they should especially be worthy favourites at Suzuka this weekend, scene of the latest Japanese Grand Prix. Flowing tracks such as this one are usually where the Merc is at its most potent and a silver car has won the last four here.

Hamilton and Merc being favourite isn't good for the flutter-minded F1 fan as their odds tend to be pretty tight at the best of times. Nevertheless you can back Hamilton for pole and win at 5/6 at 11/13 respectively.

There are though a couple of points to consider. One is Hamilton hasn't always been that happy at Suzuka. Even though he's won here three times last year was his first pole and by his own admission he hasn't always found a suitable set-up for this track. With this and that Mercedes is expected to be on top is it worth backing the other Merc of Valtteri Bottas?

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Suzuka Preview: Turning Japanese

Formula 1 appears to have entered one of its periodic states of inevitability.

On the face of it, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes
will be hard to stop at Suzuka
Photo: Octane Photography
It's very strange to think that just a month ago there appeared no way for Mercedes to beat Ferrari. Now the opposite appears true. Ferrari seems to have shot its bolt. It was hobbled by operational problems and mistakes in several rounds; more lately it lost its pace too. Lewis Hamilton's form is towering (in results anyway) and his points lead now looks insurmountable.

With five rounds remaining all now give the impression going through the motions until titles are confirmed. And this Japanese round coming should increase the sense of the inevitable. It's at mighty Suzuka, which is usually cited as Mercedes country. It has won the last four here and long fast corners are just its thing. Last year Hamilton won and Mercedes was one and two in qualifying (though Valtteri Bottas then got a gearbox grid penalty).

Yet in keeping with the Suzuka venue things this weekend may in fact not be that simple. One thing to consider is that, despite appearances, Hamilton hasn't always been that happy here. Yes he's won at Suzuka three times but last year was the first time he'd taken pole and by his own admission he's not always found an ideal set-up at this track. And of his three wins one was in the wet and another owed mostly to getting ahead of Nico Rosberg at turn one.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Russian Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
The Motor Verso F1 season summary has been duly updated with my take on the Russian GP. As is often the case at the Sochi circuit there wasn't a huge amount of thrills, but of course from this one there was no shortage of talking points. Not least team orders and all that...

As ever the summary's illustrated with fantastic Pirelli photography and my selection of the best of F1 content on YouTube.

You can check out the latest summary incarnation here:

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Russian GP Report - Order and progress

"This is probably one of the weakest F1 circuits for me, if not the weakest..."

Lewis Hamilton won again - this time aided by his team-mate
Photo: Octane Photography
So said Lewis Hamilton early in this Russian Grand Prix weekend. And while there were conspicuous adventures along the way, he still managed to exit the round with his championship lead extended yet further. Now it's 50 points over Sebastian Vettel with five races left.

And again on a weekend many thought in advance would be one of damage limitation. While Singapore last time out we reckoned wouldn't suit Mercedes, Sochi this time out we reckoned may not suit Mercedes and more likely wouldn't suit Hamilton personally. But, in keeping with F1's theme of recent weeks, Mercedes and Hamilton somehow got the result. For the title number five on offer we're now in something like the endgame.

This time, in a minor variation, Ferrari was off the Mercedes pace fundamentally. Come the race it had a glimpse though, as Vettel successfully executed an undercut at the solitary stops to get ahead of Hamilton for a net second place behind poleman and track specialist Valtteri Bottas in the other Merc. But in keeping with how things have been going for the Scuderia lately the joy was fleeting. Hamilton dived back past at turn four a lap later in a fine move. Vettel chased gamely from then on but wasn't especially a threat again.

Brundle at McLaren, by Ibrar Malik

During the winter of 1993/1994 F1 was subjected to infighting, politicking and accusations that cheating was rife within the sport, all of which is explained within the upcoming book. During this time Martin Brundle took a massive gamble with his F1 career, as he refused offers from the likes of Jordan in order to secure the prized race seat at McLaren vacated by the Williams-bound Ayrton Senna. There was a chance 1993 F1 world champion Alain Prost might take it, or Peugeot's man Philippe Alliot, but Brundle felt the risks were worth it because driving for McLaren would almost be a guaranteed passport to Grand Prix success. By 1994 the team had won in every season since 1980, and Martin's gamble was eventually rewarded – albeit on a race-by-race deal for that season.

McLaren had been a dominant force during the 1980s and early 1990s, but had undergone major change for 1994 including a new engine supplier.  

Unfortunately, the dream drive didn't pan out as expected and McLaren suffered their first winless season in 14 years, partly because their new Peugeot engine proved uncompetitive and unreliable. "The team originally wanted Alain [Prost] in the car," recalls Brundle. "We both went to test at Estoril, and I don't think Alain was interested after he drove the car. Then I got in it, which turned out to be a bit of a bad omen really. I had stood and waited for Alain all morning. I got in it, and as I was on my out lap coming to start my very first flying lap, it threw a conrod so hard that it came through the sump and damaged the racetrack! I didn't even start my first run. "But having said that, I was very happy to be in a McLaren."