Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Mercedes vs Red Bull = Engine vs Aero

If we are treated to a Mercedes vs. Red Bull Racing contest in 2017, it could well be an 'engine vs. aero' battle given Mercedes' superior power unit and Red Bull Racing's aero prowess. But well, Bernie Ecclestone doesn't believe that Mercedes will be challenged this season too. Sigh!

On this 'engine vs. aero' debate, we're reminded of Enzo Ferrari's famous quote 'aerodynamics are for people who can't build engines' and this does seem true for Red Bull Racing - who have publicly declared that they'll be fighting for wins only in the second half of 2017! Sigh! (yet again!)

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we discuss the Renault-Magnussen-Haas love-hate relationship, possible retirement options for Jolyon Palmer, McLaren's sponsor-friendly statements and even though we narrowly missed the Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes announcement, we still got it right in this episode. While Mercedes made the most of the positive PR around their second cockpit, they do need lessons on how to maintain suspense! Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 03)
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Sunday, 15 January 2017

New Motorsport Week article: Why Valtteri Bottas will do better at Mercedes than you think

Photo: Octane Photography
The major piece of the 2017 driver market jigsaw is about to fall into place apparently. Claire Williams has as good as admitted that the Nico Rosberg-shaped hole at Mercedes is going to be filled by Valtteri Bottas.

Not a big surprise, given the Finn quickly emerged as the clear front-runner for the vacancy after Nico dropped his retirement bombshell. But still plenty seemed underwhelmed at the prospect - seeing Valtteri as a "boring, safe" driver who won't give Lewis Hamilton much to think about.

But I outline in my latest article for Motorsport Week (née Grand Prix Times) such an assumption sells Valtteri well short. You can have a read of my thinking here: https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/13552

Friday, 13 January 2017

'Light at the end of the tunnel' on British Grand Prix future - Warwick

BRDC president Derek Warwick has today insisted that there is 'light at the end of the tunnel' on ensuring the British Grand Prix's long-term future.

Derek Warwick talking today at Autosport International
There have been recent reports of Silverstone's owners BRDC activating the 'break clause' in its Grand Prix contract, which would need to be activated before this year's race, so that it would not hold the F1 event beyond 2019. But speaking at Autosport International today Warwick was bullish about the race's long-term future, and said that a compromise deal is likely.

"We made a note to our members, our Christmas note, giving them on update of Silverstone," said Warwick, "and a lot of that then came out as we were going to, the possibility, of causing the break clause before the Grand Prix this year, to break the clause for 2019.

"Don't worry, we've 100% got a Grand Prix for the next three years, up until 2019."

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Brundle 'doesn't understand' Rosberg retirement

Martin Brundle has said that he does not understand Nico Rosberg's decision to quit F1 mere days after the German won the 2016 World Drivers' Championship.

Martin Brundle questioned Nico Rosberg's deicion to retire
Photo: Octane Photography
Speaking at Autosport International in Birmingham today, former F1 driver and current Sky F1 commentator Brundle admitted his surprise upon hearing the news.

"Yeah of course [it was a surprise]" he said, "you could have knocked me over with a feather. Alex, my boy, sent me a text and I thought he was joking. I thought 'it can't be April the 1st'...I couldn't believe it."

And Brundle admitted that from his perspective, he struggled to understand Rosberg's decision.

"I still don't understand it," he added.

"I admire that Nico had the courage of his convictions to say 'this is the high point, I want to jump off now as I've achieved everything I want to achieve.' I think it's a bold decision, a brave decision from him in that respect. But where's the passion? Where's the commitment? Why not come and show the world again next year in this amazing car and amazing team that most of us would have given anything for just for one season to drive in our careers?

Inside Line F1 Podcast - 2017 Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards

Ladies & Gentlemen, Formula 1's BIGGEST moment of 2017 is already here as we proudly announce our 2017 Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards. Our 5th edition of the awards has taken us a full season of research and as you tune in, do remember that 'the winner is never who you think it is!'!

A quick glance at our categories:
1. How Did That Happen of the Year
2. Bad Boy of the Year
3. Promotion of the Year
4. Demotion of the Year
5. Race of the Year
6. Strategy of the Year
7. Retirement of the Year
8. Bromance of the Year
9. Joke of the Year
10. Rookie of the Year
11. Racer of the Year

We requested the FIA to issue a 'dress code' for the evening - tuxedo for the men and a little black dress for Mithila. And while we allowed Niki and Jackie to wear their caps and Kimi to wear his glares, we ensured that Daniel wore no boots. As for Massa, he claimed that he was busy in the gym. Preparing for his Formula 1 comeback?

And no, Fernando didn't get to play cameraman, but we did get a deck chair for his comfort. We also kept a few blue flags ready for Esteban, just in case he held back those taking the seats at the front. As for Pastor, we got him a cockpit to sit in - he's been eyeing one since a few months now!

For one of the categories, we actually had a certain Jenson text Kunal expressing his discontentment with being nominated for a certain category. No prizes for guessing which one though! But overall, we had a lot of fun recording this episode and hope you'll enjoy it as much too while listening.

So before you tune in and join us at the bar, remember that our awards are high on humour and that the drinks are on us.

Follow the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour!

(Season 2017, Episode 02)

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The latest Lights to Flag Podcast - 2016 Season Review

The first Lights to Flag podcast of the year is with us, and (in)appropriately in it we look back at the 2016 F1 season.

Ewan and I again are joined by Adam Corlett to reflect on the season. We discuss the Merc title march, Ferrari's flop, Red Bull's resurgence, fantastic Force India, the rest of the runners and riders, as well as the long-lamented rule changes etc etc.

And given we had so much to talk about it's split over two parts; the two players are below. Enjoy...

You also as ever can interact with the podcast via its Twitter account and on its Facebook page. If you want to appear on it give us a shout too. And if you have comments then get them to us via the various channels and we'll read out the good ones on a future episode!

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - McLaren Go From Being The Joke To Cracking Jokes

We LOVE it when Formula 1 teams add humour to the sport, of course. This time, we loved McLaren's prank on the Day of the Innocent Saints. They've gone from being the joke of the paddock to cracking jokes. Well, we call that progress - something that McLaren-Honda haven't experienced since a few seasons.

IF you were the power that controlled Formula 1, what would be your ONE resolution for the sport? In this week's episode, Mithila and Kunal share theirs and they found it difficult to limit themselves to just one, but they did.

With the Sauber-Wehrlein rumours, Felipe Massa's workout pictures and Bottas's reported visit to Mercedes factory, we wonder if Mercedes need to make an official announcement at all. Anyway, if we were Sauber, we would ask for Mercedes engines over a Mercedes junior driver. Tune in to know why!

Lastly, there's talk about Formula 1 cars racing at 450kmph and Ferrari's exploring of a new livery and new engine technology. All in all, let's hope for a happy new season as we also wish all our listeners a Happy New Year!

Oh and before we forget, former MotoGP World Champion said the smartest thing about Formula 1 and MotoGP. Can someone make him the CEO of Formula 1 already?

Do remember to subscribe to us on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 01)

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Inside Line F1 Podcast - How Did Lewis Hamilton Get On The Cover Of TIME?

In our final episode of 2016, Mithila and Kunal try and decode how Lewis Hamilton managed to get himself on the cover of the TIME Magazine - from 'Hammer Time to the TIME', literally. While Formula 1 might have much to learn from how America organises their sports events, we're glad they've not learned and adapted to the 'oval racing' concept! Thank you, Formula 1.

We spotted Bernie Ecclestone on Instagram. Who would've thought? And no, he wasn't playing Santa Claus! Speaking of Santa, Formula 1's favourite Santa this Christmas is Nico Rosberg. He's left the most-desirable gift behind, but who will be the lucky recipient? On that note, we wonder how the Wolff-Bottas relationship isn't already a conflict of interest. Wolff has voiced concern for Williams in case Mercedes do poach Bottas. Did he worry about McLaren at all when they poached Hamilton a few seasons ago?

Nico Rosberg launched his book or photo-album or let's call it photo-book 'Finally' last week. We loved the name and share our guesses of what it could mean for him. Daniel Ricciardo has already messed up the silly season for 2018 by publicly stating his two-year commitment towards Red Bull Racing. In which case, has he called dibs on the Red Bull Racing cockpit over Carlos Sainz Jr.? With 3 drivers and 2 cockpits, Red Bull Racing already have a problem for 2018 more than a year before the season has started, the 'problem of plenty'!

Finally, after all those overestimated PR statements, Ferrari admitted that they made a fool out of themselves in 2016. Sergio Marchionne's advice to Sebastian Vettel for 2017 is 'Keep Calm & Drive On'. Let's hope that the Ferrari-Vettel-Raikkonen trio is able to enthrall us in the new season because a Mercedes-Ferrari rivalry with a Red Bull mixer would be absolutely thrilling and just the high that Formula 1 and its fans need. On that note, here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a Happy New Season!

Tune in!

(Season 2016, Episode 45)

Saturday, 24 December 2016

New Grand Prix Times article: Why the Rosbergs have come full circle

Photo: Daimler
F1 history is quite the treasure trove, and with this it means very little is entirely unheard of. It applied even to our recent unforeseen news, that Nico Rosberg retired from F1 but days after winning the world crown, which still had its echoes in the past.

But in a way made his on-the-spot decision to quit went beyond being a mere parallel, as it brought the story of the Rosbergs - him and his also-world champion Keke - full circle. For Grand Prix Times I explain why.

You can have a read here: http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/id/13482

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Merry Christmas from Talking about F1

Never let it be said that Talking about F1 does not enter into the spirit of Christmas. Which of course primarily is about getting nice presents from Santa.

So in this spirit and to keep you all ticking over during the Christmas period I have gathered some of my recent and not so recent F1 writing to keep you entertained. And like all Santa presents they are completely free. Here they are:

Me. In a Santa hat. With some Lewis Hamilton decor.
My final thoughts on the 2016 year

Tribute to the 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg

My Top Ten Drivers of 2016

My thoughts on every other 2016 F1 driver who didn't make my top ten

And here are my partly-serious end of season awards

All of my race reports from the 2016 season can be found here

And here are my qualifying reports

And here are all Lights to Flag podcasts, reviewing latest F1 matters

And a few features too:

Being nice to Lewis Hamilton

Me complaining about blue flags

(An appropriate) one from the archives too: F1's previous of races in the Christmas/New Year week

There, more than enough to keep you out of mischief during any down time that may be coming your way. And of course may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year. Remember to play nice.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Sergio Perez Reveals His Prankster Self

After bringing to you Nico 'The Hulk' Hulkenberg last week, we bring to you Sergio 'Checo' Perez this week. Tune in to hear Checo's favourite radio message and how he played a prank on his former team, Sauber. And of course, no prizes for guessing which driver's radio he would enjoying listening to the most.

Apart from Checo's bytes, Mithila and Kunal discuss how Felipe Massa might just go from Formula 1's 'shortest ever' (in terms of time) World Champion to logging the sport's 'shortest ever' (again, in terms of time) retirement. To think of it, it was Jenson Button who was seeking a sabbatical and not Massa!

We empathise with Pascal Wehrlein - who must be feeling like shit after being snubbed by Force India and now Mercedes and possibly Williams too. On the other hand, Stoffel Vandoorne might not be doing himself many favours by selecting the number '2' as his driver number in Formula 1.

If the future of the road relevant Formula 1 engines could be electric, why are we not following Formula E already?

And finally, do remember to subscribe to us on iTunes or audioBoom as we work towards bringing to you our ever-popular Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards in the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Tune in!

(Season 2016, Episode 44)

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Final thoughts on 2016: State of flux

"It's been strange coming here this weekend, realising that these are going to be the last practice sessions, the last qualifying sessions with this car, which has been so incredible. You never know when you're going to have a car like this ever again. I hope we have another one in the near future, maybe next year. It's been such a privilege driving this car."

In F1 in 2016, at the front it was the same story as before
Photo: Octane Photography
It was easy to miss, what with everything else that was going on. But Lewis Hamilton after claiming yet another pole in the final qualifying session of the year, in Abu Dhabi, was correct. From a historical perspective this was the big story. Mercedes in 2016, the last year of this formula, swept the board just as it did when the formula started in 2014. The dominance therefore was complete. We know all about teams stealing a march as a new spec comes in, but the Brackley and Brixworth concerns not only did this but sustained the advantage over time, even though the rest have the theoretical advantage of being able to learn from what makes the Mercedes quick. Really it's hard to make a case that Merc's foes at any point got closer to toppling them.

The statistics pay testament - out of 59 races Mercedes won 51 of them. And 2016 was the most crushing of all - 19 from 21 race went the silver way. And of the two it missed in one the Mercs collided and in the other a Merc's engine went pop when leading easily.

Time was that the back-to-back F1 title was near enough impossible. Slackening - unconscious; by decimal points - would creep in after a success. Not so now. In roughly the mid-1980s the era of the F1 dynasty began. Perhaps showing the delicate alchemy required to prevail in the modern game.