Sunday, 26 February 2017

New Motorsport Week article: What to look for (and not) in Barcelona testing

Photo: Octane Photography
And so, one of the most anticipated points on the F1 calendar is just about upon us. The opening pre-season test, where all the gleaming new machines be be running on track together. And this year with a host of new technical rules the anticipation is even more keen than usual. we keep being reminded interpreting the goings-on in F1 testing is rather an intricate exercise, certainly is not nearly as simple as looking at the headline lap times.

In my latest though for Motorsport Week I outline a few things from my meandering experience of watching testing that may help in unravelling the knotted but key matter of who is quick and who is not. You can have a read here:

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Williams' Unexpected Reveal Shocks Sauber

Sauber is on pole position - to launch 2017's first Formula 1 car. The strange part is that two relatively unknown drivers (Ericsson and Wehrlein) will unveil the new looking Formula 1 car. Given the excitement around the new look, couldn't Formula 1 (read: Liberty Media) get some of their superstar drivers to do so?

But this pole position works well for Sauber. It is a PR masterstroke. This unveil might garner them more publicity than the previous two seasons put together. As for McLaren, they almost clinched pole! Their agency might have just leaked their livery images on social media.

PS: Williams' unexpected reveal on Autosport/Motorsport was after this podcast was recorded and published.

Nico Rosberg wants to go back to being friends with Lewis Hamilton. Is it easier for him to say so now that he's beaten him? Either way, we think Rosberg-Hamilton could be the Rocky Balboa-Apollo Creed of Formula 1.

And in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we dissect Juan Pablo Montoya's comment on 'weak' European drivers, the engine fire-up by teams, Kimi Raikkonen's karaoke skills and new bar and Fernando Alonso's really cool emojis.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

New Motorsport Week article: The 1997 Formula 1 season - A forgotten classic

By Cord Rodefeld from Ulm, Germany (Hockenheim 1997)
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (
by-sa/2.0) or CC BY-SA 2.0 (
/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Winter months can stretch long for an F1 fan. Particularly so these days with severe testing restrictions, meaning that for the most part we can't even indulge our habit for trying to read what wintry test days can possibly mean.

But there always is F1 history to delve into, and it helps that the turn of a new year brings a whole new load of anniversaries that give us an excuse to look back.

And with this we now are 20 years on from a classic F1 season. One wherein competitiveness akin to the heady days of the 1970s returned to the grid. But one too that doesn't seem to get retro features as readily as you'd think.

In my latest for Motorsport Week I do my best to right that wrong, and explain why the 1997 F1 season was very very good. You can read it here:

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Ferrari Missing Historic Bonus From Formula E

Ferrari's 'historic bonus' from Formula 1 has made much news, but given how the Italian manufacturer is ignoring Formula E, there's little chance that it'll ever get one from the all-electric series. Are quit Formula 1 threats around the corner for Ferrari?

It also seems that tyre strategy isn't the only thing Ferrari is confused about. On one hand, it's talking of reconsidering the involvement in Formula 1 because of the dwindling viewership, but on the other hand, it is considering purchasing shares in the sport. Strange are your ways, Ferrari!

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and Kunal wonder if McLaren's decision to drop the 'MP4' prefix is an outcome of a visit with a numerologist and what will McLaren achieve first - a win or a title sponsor?

Of all of Ross Brawn's interesting views, we're not sure if doing away with 'blue flags' makes sense and would Mika Hakkinen be upset if the Finnish Formula 1 Grand Prix was held at a circuit called - Kymi Ring?

Lastly, Nico Rosberg might not be the perfect Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion, but he for sure is the perfect Formula 1 fan. Tune in and know why!

Subscribe on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

(Season 2017, Episode 06)

Thursday, 2 February 2017

New Motorsport Week article: Why F1 might be about to, finally, get it right on overtaking

And with one bound, F1 was free.

Photo: Octane Photography
Free of the ubiquitous Bernie Ecclestone, that is. His demise, while we could see it coming, in the event was abrupt. And in the short time since the sport's observers have been like kids in a sweet shop, pointing furiously at the various things the sport can now solve with Bernie cast to one side.

But the most pressing thing should be to do with what we get on track, and the lingering 'dirty air' problems not letting cars race. There even are reasons to be optimistic on this one, even though the regs to be introduced this year are not likely to help.

For various reasons it's unlikely to be be fixed quickly, but also for various reasons this is no bad thing.

I outline my thinking in my latest article for Motorsport Week. You can have a read here:

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Donald Trump Should Hire Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone was fired from Formula 1. What should he do next? We think he could be a TV commentator, so he gets to travel to the races for free (since he's known to be cheap!). Or his good friend Donald Trump could hire him as an government relations expert? Current affairs indicate that Mr. Trump might need Ecclestone's service immediately! Or maybe he could start up a business with his fellow unemployed men from the paddock, Nico Rosberg and Ron Dennis.

We always knew that Formula 1 would find it hard to replace Bernie – that's why the new owners have replaced him with three people. The new management also thinks Formula 1's existing offices are too small – obviously, they were made for a one-man team only! And should Formula 1 hire a circuits expert too?

2017 may not be Bernie’s year, but in all other sports, it is fast becoming the Year of the Oldies. Does this mean that Kimi Raikkonen will finally win some races this season? Likewise for Ferrari and McLaren too? In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we talk about Lewis Hamilton’s helmet design competition (what would it look like if Adrian Newey designed it?) and Daniel Ricciardo's oral tinea thanks to the shoeys (seriously). Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 05)

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Let's Bring Juan Pablo Montoya Back To Formula 1

Is this Formula 1's busiest 'off-season' yet? There's been an overdose of stories in this period: from Mercedes hiring Valtteri Bottas as Nico Rosberg's replacement, Formula 1's sale and Bernie Ecclestone being forcibly replaced to Juan Pablo Montoya's Race of Champions victory on debut and Sebastian Vettel's single-handled efforts winning Germany their 7th Race of Champion Nations Cup! (PS: we love the Juan 'juan' ROC jokes!)

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we tell you why Formula 1 would never go the Race of Champions way, even if it is a fun format. We also decode why Max Verstappen might never participate in the ROC.

Pascal Wehrlein's crash was heart-stopping! Does it worry Monisha (Kaltenborn) about her budgets for 2017? And did anyone notice the fan seated next to Wehrlein? Through the entire crash, this fan was on his (or her) phone shooting content! We'd love to see the fan's footage. If you've not seen this picture yet, go over to our Facebook page.

Finally, Formula 1's sale saw the unthinkable but the long overdue happen - Bernie Ecclestone's dismissal. Much like Formula 1 hopes to benefit by bringing Ross Brawn back, we're sure the sport can benefit much by bringing back the uber talented and mercurial Juan Pablo Montoya. Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 04)

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:

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)