Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast: 2015 Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards

The latest Inside Line F1 podcast has now landed. Kunal Shah and Rishi Kapoor don their tuxedos and present the prestigious 2015 Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards, categories for which include Beard Of The Year and Physically Present, Mentally Absent Of The Year Award...

As you might appreciate from this the podcast's as lively as always and you can have a listen below.

The regular Inside Line F1 podcast is produced and hosted by Kunal and Rishi, is one of the most listened to podcasts in India and Asia, They are looking to expand elsewhere, and here on Talking about F1 I'm delighted to share the fruits of their labours.

Kunal has been writing on F1 for eight seasons, you can visit Kunal's website at: http://www.kunalsf1blog.com/ and you also can follow him on Twitter here.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Autosport International 2015 Photos

F1 Racing grid
I have just spent a couple of days at the Autosport International Show 2015, considered by many as the starting point of the motorsport calendar year, wherein many of the sport's figures and cars congregate in Birmingham's NEC.

The better products of my modest photographic abilities from the show are now up on my Facebook page here if you would like a look: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.880295141990742.1073741836.396515583702036&type=1

You'll see that there's plenty in there, such as F1 Racing magazine's by now famous F1 grid, with representation of all nine teams, as well as many historic F1 cars, BTCC machines, sports cars and rally cars. There are also a few of the luminaries that took part in Q&A sessions. Enjoy...

Friday, 9 January 2015

New F1 Times article: Hamilton - suffering from the English mistrust of talent

Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton for all of his talent and success remains one that divides opinion. Including in his home country. Perhaps especially in his home country.

In my latest article for F1 Times I'm the latest to explore Hamilton's love him or loathe him persona, and I ask if it reflects at least in part something deeper, that England mistrusts talent and not just in F1? That it much prefers the gritty triers to the prodigiously skilled?

You can have a read here: http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09723

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Palmer: ‘I’m not ready to give up on the F1 dream’

Jolyon Palmer's fine GP2 championship win last year - in the series considered by many the main feeder for F1 - led naturally to speculation that he would be seen on the F1 grid in 2015.

Jolyon Palmer at Autosport International 2015
outlined his difficulties in finding an F1 drive 
But in the months since all of the possibilities disappeared one by one, and now with all F1 race seats for this year filled it meant Palmer became the third GP2 champion in a row - after Davide Valsecchi and Fabio Leimer - to fail to be promoted to the sport’s highest rank.

At the same moment Palmer became additionally just the latest young up-and-comer to discover the sport's warped ways in (not) rewarding talent. That breaking into F1 is harder than likely it has ever been, due to a dwindling number of race seats combined with that many teams' financial plights ensure that driving pedigree is prioritised well behind the ability to bring money in who they select. And speaking at Autosport International 2015 today Palmer was frank about his situation.

'It does (concern) but I just know that’s the reality' Palmer said. 'So there's nothing I can do about it. I do my best on the track, and I think I did as good a year as I ever could have ever hoped for, winning the championship with two races to spare, which is something that neither of them (Valsecchi and Leimer) did.

'Conservative' approach works for Pirelli and Hembery

The 2014 F1 season just passed was a relatively quiet one for the sport's tyre supplier Pirelli. Indeed a repeat of the raucous 2013 campaign for it doesn't bear thinking about, given therein the Italian company became something of a bete noire - accused of being too much of a factor in Grands Prix with their product's deliberately gumball characteristics, and exploding literally to the forefront with a series of spectacular blowouts in the Silverstone race mid-season.

Pirelli's Paul Hembery spoke at today's
Autosport International 2015
And as far Pirelli's Motorsport Director Paul Hembery was concerned at today's Autosport International 2015, this simmering down from boiling point in the latest F1 campaign was indeed welcome.

'There was a few people complaining (in 2014)...that's the nature of motorsport for a tyre maker! We have a little rule book, we say that when somebody's winning it's always down to the driver and the car, when they're losing it's always the fault of the tyres!

'It was a quieter year, still a very good year in terms of racing as we saw. We were going into a year with huge technology change so we had to make sure we took a slightly conservative approach to it. But I think sometimes that was taken as being an exceptionally conservative approach but you had to do it in the circumstances.

Hembery also insisted that the scaling back of the degradation of the 2014 tyres wasn't down to 2013 and all that. 'No, not at all. In reality it was really related to the change in regs and the need for different aspects of the sport to take centre stage; it was the year of technology with the power train in particular and quite rightly that took centre stage and we weren't needed to provide anything different, it was the racing based on different aspects of the sport.'

Symonds reflects on Williams' resurgence

One of the major, and most popular, stories of the 2014 F1 season was the long-overdue resurgence of the hardy Williams team. From a starting point of only beating the Marussias and Caterhams in 2013 the veteran squad in a single effort vaulted straight to third place in the constructors championship in 2014, shy only of Mercedes and Red Bull. Perhaps too the FW36 was the imperious Mercs' most consistent irritant on pure pace.

Pat Symonds spoke today at Autosport
International  2015 about Williams'
resurgence, among other subjects
Today at Autosport International 2015, considered widely as the starting point of the motorsport year, a man thought as important as anyone in the startling comeback, Williams' Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds, reflected on the shift in fortunes.

'It (the Williams 2014 season) was certainly a good news story I think' said Symonds, 'all the way from our partnership with Martini, bringing back those iconic colours, Felipe joining the team and then of course as we progressed through the season the results. Third in the championship is something everyone at Grove is extremely proud of.'

He outlined however that such is modern F1's way there was no single overarching explanation for the jump, things instead were more granular. 'There isn't a magic bullet, there never is...it really is getting everything working together. That's not just in a technical sense it's an operational sense.

'In the latter part of '13 I had a very careful look at what we'd got and saw that we've got some very good people but some of our processes weren't there so we weren't exploiting the performance of the car.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Chequered Flag for 2014

The latest Inside Line F1 podcast is here for your listening pleasure. At the start of a new year Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah look ahead to 2015 and in particular to the prospects therein of the two famous names of Ferrari and McLaren. Including their respective tasty new driver line-ups. You can have a listen below.

The regular Inside Line F1 podcast is produced and hosted by Kunal and Rishi, is one of the most listened to podcasts in India and Asia, and they are looking to expand elsewhere.

Kunal has been writing on F1 for eight seasons, you can visit Kunal's website at: http://www.kunalsf1blog.com/ and you also can follow him on Twitter here.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Official Review of the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship on DVD/Blu-Ray

Each season's end and Christmas time brings with it many staples for an F1 fan. Autocourse. A plethora of top 10 drivers' rankings (including the one in Autocourse). And the official season review, the series that stretches all the way back to 1981. Formerly as a video but now with the onward march of progress is in the form of a DVD and Blu-Ray.

And so it was that a DVD copy of 'It Was Fair' (thus continuing the series' apparent tradition of slightly curious titles), the official 2014 season review, landed on my doormat before Santa had arrived. No mean feat - in at least one previous year Santa has got there first.

On-board footage from Fernando Alonso in Monza
The long-established status of the season review series means that by now much of its content and approach are familiar. And chief among these is that in terms of its production it can hardly be faulted these days. The latest one as we've grown used to is all put together with a great deal of care and no little polish, full of varied and captivating footage from on and off the track accompanied by high-quality sound. Close-ups, on-boards and other evocative alternative camera angles are aplenty. Its narrative is authoritative and its editing sharp. Comfortably it passes the test too of providing a thorough historical record of the campaign for future reference.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Final thoughts on 2014: Slings and Silver Arrows

Some years ago Frank Williams was asked during one of this game's periodic rounds of introspection whether he still considered F1 a sport. 'Between two and four on a Sunday afternoon this is a sport' he said, 'the rest of the time, quite honestly, it's just commerce.'

Whizzing forward to today this may evoke a pang of recognition. In this 2014 season just passed, on the track F1 just about got it right. The problem was that in virtually everything else it got it wrong. And would that it were merely commerce - instead outside of the two hours on Sunday afternoons what we got was politicking, intrigue, dispute, selfishness and the sport drifting unaltered in its grotesque and deformed state, seemingly unable to resolve on a remedy. Its future unclear, and eliciting rather a lot of trepidation. Too many people have been harmed by F1's warped ways already. The risk of many more joining them is real.

F1 threatened to be very different in 2014
Photo: Octane Photography
Yet heading in no one really knew what to expect from this season. In no small part because F1 in 2014 hit the reset button. We've had engine regulation changes before of course; we've also had chassis changes. But rarely have they arrived together. They certainly haven't to this extent. Never before had there been such a leap between F1 seasons; such a leap into the unknown.

In effect all teams had a new and highly complex technology thrown at them - a 1.6 litre turbo internal combustion unit plus greatly increased energy recovery, combined with a 100kg fuel limit as well as a limit to the flow (even the name changed - 'power unit' rather than 'engine' being the parlance) - and were told curtly to get on with it. Moreover, as Adrian Newey pointed out, a new hybrid car on the road will have five years' testing and development behind it, and the F1 equivalent of now is 20 times more complicated than even the most complicated road hybrid. The teams had but 12 days of track testing to get it right.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

New F1 Times article: McLaren's unfinished business

Photo: Octane Photography
In recent days it had become the main - almost the only - F1 matter being discussed. It being McLaren's driver line-up decision for next year. And finally after weeks of prevarication we got it last Thursday. Fernando Alonso's confirmation was expected but Jenson Button being retained alongside - at the expense of Kevin Magnussen - was not until a few hours before the official announcement. All of a sudden, we have all of the drivers in place for 2015 and it's not even Christmas. That probably is a first.

But still, it is an announcement that in certain ways gives us yet more to chew on. Was the selection of Button really a no-brainer? What now for Magnussen? And most pointedly, what now for McLaren?

In my latest article for F1 Times I look at McLaren's 2015 driver decision, what's ahead for the Woking team and in particularly for the scrutinised Fernando Alonso-Ron Dennis relationship. You can read it via this link: http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/09658