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:

Tuesday 9 December 2014

My Top Ten Drivers of 2014: The Rest...

Photo: Octane Photography
Here are my views on those F1 drivers from 2014 who didn't make my top 10 ranking that I published a few days ago.

My top 10 drivers of 2014 can be read here.

The two drivers who came closest to the top 10 but missed out were Daniil Kvyat and Jules Bianchi.

There was close to unanimity that Kyvat was rookie of the season. For all of the fears about how debutants would adapt to the sport, especially the complex variety of 2014, in the Russian's case the doubts immediately were dispelled as he didn't falter in his confident strut straight from GP3 and impressed in just about every way. His speed on show this season was superb, as was his chutzpah. Frequently he could be seen with his Toro Rosso on the very edge of adhesion, often with the tail hanging out. Indeed him finishing the Italian race without brakes for the last lap or so, at astonishing speed and mainly because he could, took the breath away. His team mate Jean-Eric Vergne is highly rated, and this year did a lot to sort his qualifying out, but herein Kvyat was ahead over the piece, and towards the end of the year often he was far ahead. Perhaps most impressive of all is that Kvyat never appeared at all cowed by his rapid promotion - observing him out of the car was like observing a veteran, and his complete assurance (but never of the excessive kind) could on occasion be astounding. And it reminds us all of the mental toughness and constructive approach that Helmut Marko said is what set him apart for the drive in the first place. There possibly inevitably was the odd example of rookie overreaching, such as qualifying prangs in Monaco, Canada and Hungary as well as being at fault for a collision with Perez in Germany. And for all of his single lap pace he didn't appear to have near to Vergne's ability to look after the tyres over a stint, betrayed possibly by him only scoring eight points to his team mate's 22. Equally though Toro Rosso unreliability cost him points in Monaco, Austria and Abu Dhabi, in each of which he was well-placed. And the big Red Bull team felt it saw enough to promote him without the slightest hesitation when Sebastian Vettel fled for Ferrari. Let's not forget either that Red Bull's judgement just lately on such things has been pretty impeccable.

Monday 8 December 2014

New F1 Times article: Lewis Hamilton 2014 World Champion - not built by this season; revealed by this season

Photo: Octane Photography
In my latest article for F1 Times I pay tribute to the recently-crowned 2014 world champion Lewis Hamilton, and look at the key factors behind his latest title.

This includes him getting into the right place at the right time for this campaign as well as - more importantly - how Lewis developed into something like a complete F1 performer this season.

You can have a read here:

Get 20% off the 2014 F1 season review DVD or Blu-Ray from Duke

If you're buying the 2014 F1 season review DVD or Blu-Ray from Duke, or anything else from Duke for that matter, you can use the 'TalkF1' promotional code to get 20% off. Simply enter the 'TalkF1' promotional code at the checkout to get your 20% discount. It's an offer especially for Talking about F1 readers on all Duke Products.

The 2014 F1 season review DVD/Blu-Ray can be brought direct from Duke via this link:

Therefore on the current offer on there you'll get the F1 season review DVD for £11.99 after the discount. Not bad I'd say.

As I said this offer applies to all Duke products, and if you go onto you'll see all sorts of DVDs, Blu-ray discs, downloads etc for the motorsport fan.

N.B. This is for Duke only products so there may be the odd thing on there that they cannot redeem the code on but this will be because it is an outside supplier title. Note too that the £11.99 price quoted above is based on the £14.99 DVD price available from Duke via the link at the time of this article's publishing.

Saturday 6 December 2014

My Top Ten Drivers of 2014

Here is my personal rating of the top ten F1 drivers of the 2014 season, seeking to take into account their performance in their circumstances as well as the machinery that they had access to. 

A run down of my views on the drivers who didn't make the top ten will follow in the next few days.

Photo: Octane Photography
1. Daniel Ricciardo
What do we know. A guy said by some only in a Red Bull so not to pose a threat to his world champion team mate. A guy whose skill set on display in the Toro Rosso was considered by few to be complete. There were good qualifying laps of course, a Button-like smoothness and precision too. But could he race? Yet what do we know as I said? In 2014 Daniel Ricciardo is in with a shot - straight to the top of the pile.

Throughout the campaign the perma-smiling Australian demonstrated that he is a driver without much recognisable weakness. The smoothness continued and this with his related gentle touch on the Pirelli tyres allowed him most times to employ longer race strategies than his team mate Sebastian Vettel, and usually to lap more quickly as he did them. While the quali pace proved to be stunning. Indeed he managed to beat qualifying master Vettel by 12 times to 7.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Drive It Like You Stole It

Now that we're entering the close season you may have more time on your hands, perhaps to listen to lively chat on F1's latest matters. The regular Inside Line F1 podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah, and is one of the most listened to podcasts in India and Asia, and they are looking to expand elsewhere.

The latest one reviews the season-closing Abu Dhabi round and Lewis Hamilton's title. In my view it's well worth 15 minutes of your time. You can have a listen below.

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