Friday, 13 September 2019

New Motorsport Week article: Why we shouldn’t write off Sebastian Vettel yet

How exactly could the Italian Grand Prix have gone worse for Sebastian Vettel?

Photo: Octane Photography
The fact that you have to think underlines just how regrettable it was for him.

And ever since, his time at Ferrari, perhaps even in F1, has been declared roundly as akin to the man slung over his associate's shoulder in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Either dead, or it'll be dead very soon as it's very ill.

But, ever the contrarian, I wonder if we're being premature. There remains a possibility that Vettel can recover. Although, for a few reasons, it'll be difficult.

And in my latest for Motorsport Week I explore what might lie next for Vettel. For good and ill. You can have a read here:

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Leclerc and Verstappen are the Future of F1, by Nancy Miles

Let's all be frank – Formula 1 has turned boring in the past few years. Mercedes' dominance is great news for fans of the German manufacturer, but to be honest, its superiority has made F1 stale. There's obviously need for changes in order to make the championship more competitive. Sure, Michael Schumacher was dominant in the past with Ferrari, but now with five consecutive title doubles Mercedes is surpassing even that run. On the positive side of things, at least we've been blessed with the brightest young stars the championship has seen in over a decade – Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.

Photo: Octane Photography
Verstappen, a Red Bull driver who won the Austrian and German Grands Prix recently, has been brimming with potential for a few years. Racing is in the 21-year-old Dutch driver's veins – he's the son of former F1 pilot Jos Verstappen. The youngest driver to compete in F1, Max Verstappen has been growing with each race and season. He's also the youngest race winner after claiming the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix when he was only 18.

With a pair of Austrian Grand Prix wins and a total of seven firsts in F1, Verstappen's odds at bookies have been constantly on the rise. Sure, his odds don't make him a major favourite for the title, but he's among the top four or five drivers. Verstappen may be lagging behind Lewis Hamilton, but is a much better option from a punter's point of view. Hamilton's odds are not very exciting @ 1/100, but Verstappen's (33/1), Sebastian Vettel's (150/1), and Leclerc's (175/1) look much better.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Autosport retro article on the Arrows A2

In this week's Autosport magazine you'll find a four-page in-depth retro feature by me in the Engineering supplement, exploring the extraordinary Arrows A2 from 1979.

MPW57 [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.
The A2 wasn't big on results - but it was very big on ambition as well as in striking looks.

I speak to those who were there at the time - including designer Tony Southgate, team boss Jackie Oliver and driver Jochen Mass - to explore why the car didn't begin to make good on its lofty aim of taking Arrows to the front of Formula 1 in a single bound.

And with it I look at a not-entirely fanciful sliding doors moment the A2 created with Williams, which at the same point of history was launching into its dramatic rise.

1971 Italian Grand Prix review for Motor Sport Magazine

By Unknown -,
Public Domain,
My latest classic Formula 1 race retro review for Motor Sport Magazine is here. This time it's for this weekend's race, the Italian Grand Prix.

Of course, there is no shortage of Italian Grands Prix in history to pick from, and - in a unique level of ubiquity - all but one are at Monza. But one even so stands out. The 1971 race.

Many cite it as the finest Formula 1 grand prix of all. For a long time it was the fastest. In more than one sense it was the closest too.

It even managed to be remarkable in other ways.

You can have a read of my take on the extraordinary race via this link:

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

New Motorsport Week article: When Jordan and Heinz-Harald Frentzen partied like it’s 1999

By Paul Lannuier from Sussex, NJ, USA -
Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan Mugen-Honda), CC BY-SA 2.0,
Almost exactly 20 years ago something extraordinary, ever so briefly, looked a genuine possibility. A Formula 1 world championship for Jordan and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

This from a proper independent squad with a customer engine - and one routinely dismissed as a 'party team'. And from a driver who'd arrived washed up and derided.

Of course, for the title to be on it needed extraordinary circumstances as well as an extraordinary effort. The 1999 campaign provided both.

And with but a few cards falling another way they would indeed have scaled F1's ultimate peak.

For Motorsport Week I tell the tale. You can have a read here:

Friday, 30 August 2019

2002 Belgian Grand Prix review for Motor Sport Magazine

Whatever you think of Formula 1 at any given moment, you can almost certainly count yourself fortunate that it's not 2002.

By I, SilverArrows, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.
That was a soporific season; made so by crushing Ferrari domination combined often with rigorous Ferrari stage management.

Michael Schumacher's 10th win of the year, finishing just ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, therefore may not strike as having much to sell it. But it pays to look deeper. It was in fact a stunning display of Schumacher's driving genius.

In my latest classic Formula 1 race retro review for Motor Sport Magazine, to coincide with the latest Belgian Grand Prix at Spa I look back at the 2002 equivalent, which had much more than meets the eye...

You can have a read of my take here:

Thursday, 29 August 2019

4 new ways to watch F1 for the Belgium GP with F1 TV Pro

As any avid F1 fan knows, watching what's happening on the track is just the tip of the iceberg.

There's all that chatter on the radio. Then there's the telemetry data – and that subtle on-the-track edging between two cars to mark territory – or threaten the overtake. All the good stuff you can't see on a wide camera shot.

Until now.

What if, instead of just watching F1, you could experience it? Think about it: what if you got a live feed of the behind-the-scenes action? If you could tune into the heated team chatter once only for the Pit Wall.

In case you want to know more, we've got the download: 4 reasons should stop just watching F1 and start experiencing it with F1 TV Pro.

1. Watch live any two drivers head-to-head with Battle Mode

F1 has a lot of famous rivalries. Mika Häkkinen vs Michael Schumacher; Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost.

With live Battle Mode, you can watch the race from the point of view of two drivers of your choice, so you can see every hair-raising second.

2. Get a direct audio feed of what's happening on the track and in the Pit Lane

Want to know what they're shouting on the radio? Want to hear the conversations that inform the decisions the drivers will make?

So don't just watch the race – hear what the race engineers are hearing. Or listen to Max or Leclerc colourfully complaining about each other. Or even Vettel complaining about penalties.

(There's never a dull moment.)

3. See more action and hear more commentary on the Pit Lane Channel

With the Pit Lane Channel, you can home in on more action – at home, sure, but also anywhere you've a connected device, such as a smartphone or tablet. So you never miss a moment no matter where you are.

The Pit Lane Channel provides essentially the same view as a Team Manager. In addition to the standard broadcast feed, you'll see live feeds from two additional onboard cams optimised to capture the hottest actions. Plus, Pit Lane Channel broadcasts dedicated professional commentary, so you can get schooled in F1 strategy from the world's experts while you watch. 

4. Get the telemetry straight from the Pit Lane

As you know, each F1 car is equipped with thousands of tiny data-gathering sensors that feed information to the pit. Everything from the drivers' heart rate to tyre temperatures is considered and discussed.

Now you can pull back the curtain and see exactly what the pros in the Pitwall see.

To learn more click here

Monday, 19 August 2019

New Motorsport Week article: Why we shouldn't cry for Pierre Gasly or decry Red Bull

Photo: Octane Photography
After the recent Red Bull rumpus - Pierre Gasly being ditched forthwith to be swapped with Alex Albon, until recently of Toro Rosso - there was an outpouring of opprobrium.

That Red Bull was harsh; that it had ruined another of its drivers' careers...

But in my latest feature for Motorsport Week I take the contrary view, and explain why we shouldn't feel all that sorry for Pierre Gasly for being dropped, nor should we trash Red Bull's approach with young drivers.

You can have a read of my thinking here:

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Inside Line F1 Podcast - With Which Team Will Verstappen Win His F1 Titles With?

Photo: Octane Photography
Max Verstappen is in the form of his life. But with which team will his record-breaking Formula 1 career be with? Will he stay put at Red Bull Racing or jump ship to Mercedes or Ferrari? Red Bull Racing-Honda is exciting, but how soon before it can deliver a championship winning package to Verstappen?

Will Verstappen be as patient with Red Bull Racing as it was with him during his find-my-feet days? Could Mercedes use this opportunity to swoop in and sign Verstappen as Lewis Hamilton's successor?

Yes, lots of questions in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast as we focus on Max Verstappen and his supposedly long future in Formula 1. We also talk about the Gasly-Albon swap and make a bold prediction of either Grosjean or Hulkenberg not having a seat in 2020. Finally, are McLaren hunting for the Triple Crown themselves? Tune in!

(Season 2019, Episode 30)
Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes, audioBoom (RSS feed), Spotify and Google Podcasts for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Retro on Nigel Mansell's best drives for Motor Sport Magazine

There are some drivers that it is almost impossible to be indifferent about. And Nigel Mansell is quintessential.

By Jerry Lewis-Evans -
CC BY-SA 2.0,
But whatever you make of him, almost no driver can drama have followed so closely and persistently as him. And this of course manifested in some of the most thrilling and aggressive drives ever seen.

So to mark Nigel Mansell's birthday the other day, for Motor Sport, with help from Jake Williams-Smith, I looked at eight of the best drives from Mansell's ever-dramatic career.

You can check out the selection here:

I also for Motor Sport recently marked Fernando Alonso's birthday by looking back at his astonishing win in the 2012 European Grand Prix at Valencia. You can check that out here: