Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Abu Dhabi Preview - Nothing and everything

You would be forgiven for thinking in advance that the forthcoming season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has little to recommend it. Both 2015 titles are long since done of course. But above and beyond many of contemporary F1's most pressing problems were laid bare in Brazil last time out and not too many will be looking to this one as the likely overnight solution to them.

The Yas Marina track visually is stunning
Photo: Octane Photography
The Interlagos race appeared to confirm that F1's overtaking problems are back, or rather never particularly went away and had only been hidden by sticking plaster solutions. That now have lost their stick. And the Yas Marina track has even in its short existence become known for processional fare with only rare exceptions (ask Fernando Alonso. In fact, don't ask Fernando Alonso).

And even though as with many of these raised-from-the-ground Hermann Tilke facilities they had nearly no constraints from the landscape when creating this venue and its track layout on the vast Yas Island expanse they seem with this somehow in addition to creating a track not conducive to F1 cars running close to each other (despite some Tilke fingerprint lengthy straights) as mentioned, also neglected to include a single corner that would quicken the pulse.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Brazilian Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Rosberg emerges from the gloom

Here is my latest race review for Motor Verso, for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Photo: Octane Photography
And the race wasn't a thriller. I think I have a higher tolerance than most but even I struggled with that one.

Mercedes was on another level of Ferrari, which was on another level to everyone else. None of those among everyone else finished on the lead lap. With one honourable exception overtaking was near-impossible. The fight at the front between the silver cars was in effect was done at the first turn, as along with the above Merc didn't allow significant variation on the strategies of its driving pair. Despite Lewis's requests.

But what the race also did was thicken the plot as to what exactly is going on with the increasingly-eminent Nico Rosberg these days...

Here's the link to my review when I look into these matters a little more: http://www.motorverso.com/brazilian-gp-2015-review-rosberg-emerges-gloom/

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Party's Over, Lewis

Has 'heavy partying' compromised Lewis Hamilton's pace wonder Mithila and I in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast. And if so, shouldn't Nico Rosberg hire a professional party planner already? I also explain why Hamilton's race in P2 was far better than all of Rosberg's races in P2 this season. (Read: Sir Lewis Hamilton CBE)

We thank God yet again for Max Verstappen and wonder if there's a lesson or two for Kimi Raikkonen. And we put our marketing hats together and offer a new positioning for the ailing but humourous McLaren-Honda team. (Read: Gillette McLaren Honda)

Lastly, we ask if Vettel's helmet act on the podium (a la MotoGP style) should become mandatory next season onwards. Tune in! (Season 2015, Episode 39)

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Toughest Motor Races in the World

We all love a spot of motor racing, but some of you might not be aware that there are actually some pretty crazy motor races that go on around the world. Below are some examples of these extreme races. Whether it is being first place at the BAJA 500 or simply surviving the Rainforest Challenge there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy.

New Grand Prix Times article: Why F1 circuits uniting would revolutionise the sport

Photo: Octane Photography
Many things about F1 seem near-impossible to change, no matter how much we'd like to. And so it is with its dominant financial model these days of demanding vast hosting fees from each round, which has resulted in many popular and prestigious races being lost. The latest to fall under threat is that in Austin, the one which we'd thought had finally scratched F1's American itch.

But something to turn this onto its head could be deceptively close to hand. F1 circuits just need to unite. In my latest article for Grand Prix Times I look at how.

You can have a read here: http://www.grandprixtimes.com/news/display/10904

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Brazilian GP Report: Risk management

How often last year did we have cause to reflect something akin to 'thank heavens Mercedes isn't micromanaging races like Ferrari used to'? The sport had (and has) enough things to tear itself apart over, one can only imagine what a repeat of 2002's on-track entertainment levels would have done to an already combustible situation. The intriguing Lewis Hamilton vs. Nico Rosberg battles - in large part a result of Mercedes to its credit then letting its drivers get on with it - in many races as well as in the championship overall, rather rescued us. Indeed of this Mercedes boss Toto Wolff spoke of his responsibilities to the sport as his silver cars dominated.

Sight should not be lost that Nico Rosberg
deserved his latest win
Photo: Octane Photography
How quickly things can change. Mercedes still dominates of course, and in fairness hasn't quite gone to the extent of Ferrari's paranoia of yore. But on the evidence of today's Brazilian Grand Prix at some point it has ventured a way down the same path. Being sensible so to not lose points is one thing, but throwing a wet blanket over the race as Mercedes did today is quite another.

One thing to say before we go further is that it would be unfair to suggest that the eventual outcome of Nico Rosberg beating Lewis Hamilton to the Interlagos win was impacted by this. Nico has for much of this weekend looked to have an edge on Lewis - certainly when it mattered - and deserved his win. He also has been in superb form lately and his showing this time was mere continuation. And for all of the talk afterwards of strict Mercedes orchestration it of course is a long way from clear whether Lewis would have usurped him if he had been allowed to go a different way on strategy. Indeed the evidence we have leads us to doubt as much and severely. But equally it would have provided much-needed diversion to watch him try.

New Motor Verso article: Why F1 has (mostly) got it right on engines

Photo: Octane Photography
F1's current spec of engines has been quite the subject of debate pretty much since their inception. Or since before. The sport it seems has struggled to love the hybrid units with their strict fuel limits and indeed talk of introducing a rather dumbed down equivalent of them has risen lately.

Yet for Motor Verso I outline why - despite the problems; despite the self-disgust - the sport has actually got a lot right with its current engines. That even though some change is necessary F1 also risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater with too much change. And that the recent Mexican Grand Prix gave the units the perfect stage to show what they can do.

You can have a read of it via this link: http://www.motorverso.com/f1-mostly-got-right-engines/

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Interlagos Qualifying - Nico delivers a bunch of fives

"Who are you, and what have you done with Nico Rosberg?" asked a colleague on Twitter at the end of Brazil's qualifying hour.

A joke of course. A little cruel too. But it was one of those jibes that becomes cruel precisely because there's a bit of truth it.

For the fifth time in a row Nico Rosberg claimed pole position
Photo: Octane Photography
Today the plot thickened yet further about the enigma that is Nico Rosberg. He took another pole position, his fifth in a row, and there seemed not the slightest extenuating circumstance. It was a straightforward tête-a-tête between him and his Mercedes team mate, or nemesis, Lewis Hamilton and whatever Lewis did, Nico did a bit more. No mistake or anything else could be pointed to. In the end the German won out by just under a tenth.

Lewis indeed admitted later that his own laps were "very good" and that Nico "just found a small piece of edge".

Friday, 13 November 2015

Basic Car Maintenance Checks We Should All Know

We should all know the basics of how to look after our cars and know the warning signs of trouble. During the winter months are when most of these problems start to affect motorists more often. Take a look at the guide below explaining the basic checks you should be carrying out on your car.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Thank God For Max Verstappen

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and Kunal tell you why young Max is exactly what Formula 1 needs right now and how 'when' is more interesting than 'which' when it comes to discussing his move to a top team.

They also speculate over Lewis Hamilton's retirement, why he wants to reunite with Nicole Sherzinger, Red Bull's ingenious engine solution and why Williams need to start planning Felipe Massa's retirement party already. Tune in! (Season 2015, Episode 38)

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is hosted by Mithila Mehta and Kunal Shah. This Formula One podcast offers a unique humourous view on the sport. Follow us on Facebook: bit.ly/insidelineonfacebook and on Google+: bit.ly/insidelineongoogleplus

Follow on Twitter: Mithila Mehta (www.twitter.com/mith_m) and Kunal Shah (twitter.com/kunalashah)

The rise and fall of Vettel the crash kid

The Mexican Grand Prix was one for ending lengthy runs for the the team in red. Neither Sebastian Vettel nor Kimi Raikkonen made the end which meant it was Ferrari's first double non-finish, astonishingly, since the Australian Grand Prix in early 2006. The team's first in close to a decade in other words.

Strange though it sounds, Sebastian Vettel
was once F1's paraih
Photo: Octane Photography
But for Vettel personally it also marked the end of a distance run. Him binning it out of the race was his first retirement due to an accident or spin in well over five years, since the Turkish Grand Prix in 2010 (yes, that one). And if even this didn't strike as being impressive in itself then add to it also that there was a time when Seb was roundly abused as F1's 'crash kid'.

It sounds silly now, indeed it was rather silly at the time, but there once was a prevailing view in and around the sport that Seb went to pieces in wheel-to-wheel situations. That he couldn't hack it under pressure. That even he was a danger to others.

Related to the barbs he was the sport's number one pariah of choice for a good while. To think too that a suggestion that lingered on rather longer was that Seb always had it easy in his time in F1. Not so.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

New Vital F1 article: Why Hamilton’s pit questions were no big deal

Photo: Octane Photography
The first race of the latest incarnation of the Mexican Grand Prix sadly wasn't a thriller. It did have the odd thing to keep us diverted though, including that Lewis Hamilton rather, um, debated the decision of the Mercedes team to bring him in for a second pit stop.

On one hand the usual nefarious motivations were attributed to Hamilton, that he's a brat and such, and at the other side of things some newspapers screeched of him being 'cost' a win by the call.

But in my latest article for Vital F1 I argue that, from both points of view, it all was a fuss over nearly nothing. Indeed that Hamilton's actions can be considered a positive.

You can have a read of it all via this link: http://www.vitalf1.com/sitepage.asp?a=3220