Wednesday 30 December 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Ecclestone Steps Down

So it seems that the Ecclestone surname isn't necessarily a ticket to outstanding business acumen say Mithila and Kunal in the last episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast. And by last, we mean the last of 2015. Happy New Year!

They wonder if the Lauda-Hamilton bromance was timed with Lewis-Nicole's split and if Toto is Formula 1's 'crying wolf'! Is Raikkonen capable of aiding Vettel's title challenge? Could Kevin Magnussen have helped save Jenson Button-Jessica Michibata's marriage?

They talk about Renault's smart $1.50 purchase of Lotus but believe the French manufacturer is displaying lack of smartness when it comes to their driver line-up. And lastly, on the second anniversary of his life-threatening accident, they pray for Michael Schumacher's speedy recovery. Tune in! (Season 2015; Episode 42)

Monday 28 December 2015

Sebastian Vettel Is My 2016 Favourite, by Kyle Goodwin

There's always a temptation as soon as the Formula 1 season ends to go ahead and look to the next year to determine who the favourites will be.

Photo: Octane Photography
As recently noted in this site's top ten drivers of 2015, there's simply no arguing with Lewis Hamilton as the best driver of the year. His ten victories over the course of '15 made for a dominant run as he won his second consecutive Drivers' Championship title (and third overall). The British superstar has Mercedes on top of the F1 world, and in some respects looks about as dominant as Sebastian Vettel did just a few years ago driving for Red Bull.

But as was also discussed in the list, Hamilton actually fell off a little bit towards the end of the campaign. Admittedly, he already had his title sewn up heading into the final three races (which is a testament in itself to his superiority). However, in those last three races, Hamilton allowed team mate Nico Rosberg to gain serious ground on him. Rosberg looked to be the superior driver in those last few competitions, and while we all know that's not the case, the action on the tracks made for some creeping doubts about Hamilton's status heading into 2016. Throw in the fact that Hamilton has raised a few issues about his car, and those doubts only intensify.

Sunday 27 December 2015

New Grand Prix Times article: F1 at Christmas and the New Year? It happened...

"1957ArgentineGP01" by Spin2Win at English Wikipedia -
Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Liftarn using
 CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public Domain via
Wikimedia Commons -
Now that you're in the week between Christmas and New Year, perhaps having some downtime, stop for a moment to imagine that the final F1 race of the season was due to happen. And if that isn't enough of a mental shift then imagine also it is a title as well as that and it has been months since the penultimate round that set all of this up.

Well, this has happened. Once again F1's rich history has come up trumps with something that to the modern perspective seems unthinkable.

And in my latest article for Grand Prix Times I look back at these F1 races in the Christmas-New Year week, as well as to the more numerous occasions of when the F1 season started in double-quick time in January for the first race, and why all of this outwardly odd scheduling happened.

Saturday 26 December 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Prost-Pastor Bromance

Alain Prost is rumoured to play a Niki Lauda-type role for Renault when they return as a manufacturer team to Formula 1 in 2016. Would this mean that a Prost-Pastor bromance is in the offing a la Lauda-Hamilton?

In a week when Hamilton revealed that he was dyslexic, Mithila and Kunal try and figure why he labelled his fellow drivers as 'squares', possibly the most non-aerodynamic of all shapes.

Apart from discussing the Sainz-Verstappen pairing, the duo also reveal why Kimi Raikkonen found Ferrari to be a 'happier' place in 2015. And lastly, can't Mercedes and Ferrari manufacture their power trains in China or India to make them more affordable? Tune in! (Season 2015; Episode 41)

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Merry Christmas from Talking about F1

If your Christmas traditions are anything like mine then it'll include somewhere near its core Santa delivering you the Autocourse annual - motorsport's most authoritative record of the year just passed.

Me. In a Santa hat. As you will have deciphered.
So in this spirit and to keep you all ticking over during the Christmas period I've decided - humbly of course - to gather some articles of my own from the year, kind of like my own Autocourse, expect with more me. Obviously. And it won't set you back whatever is the Autocourse cover price these days. Here they are:

My final thoughts on the 2015 year

Tribute to the 2015 World Champion Lewis Hamilton

My Top Ten Drivers of 2015

My thoughts on every other 2015 F1 driver who didn't make my top ten

All of my race reports from the 2015 season can be found here

And here are my qualifying reports

And a few features too:

Has Sebastian Vettel finally converted his doubters?

Why was Red Bull so stupid in its engine saga?

Why life got tougher for Nico Rosberg in 2015

There, more than enough to keep you out of mischief during any down time that may be coming your way. And of course may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year. Be good to each other xx

And here's a Christmas tune for you...


Sunday 20 December 2015

Final thoughts on 2015: Car wars

Perhaps it says something about ripple effects. That it can take a time for reverberations to make themselves felt. But there was an irony around in the 2015 F1 season.

Rewind 12 months previously to the start of the 2014 campaign, F1 was about to undertake its biggest leap in technical regulations ever particularly in its move to a hybrid-type 'efficiency' engine formula and there was no shortage of those fearing the worst. Lots of it wasn't realised then, indeed some of the fears were silly, but some of it was prescient. It just rather oddly took a year to reveal itself.

Debilitating costs; dominance of a small number of manufacturers; soporific fare.

For more reason than one, the year in F1 was all
about Mercedes and Ferrari
Photo: Octane Photography
We got all of those this time. In more ways that one F1 in 2015 became absolutely about Mercedes and Ferrari. Only they offer competitive engines - and indeed come next year it looks like as many as 16 of the 22 cars will be so powered - therefore they have huge say in the sport's effective competitive order. It manifested itself precisely too - 'Mercedes - gap - Ferrari - gap - the rest' was a common sight on Saturdays and Sundays this season just finished, the two works teams won every race and the rest didn't really get within shouting distant of the podium's top step. The pair also have huge say, it is said, over its customers politically in terms of their votes on the sport's regulations and the like. Red Bull, even the powerful entity that is Red Bull, showed this year what happens if you get on the wrong side of them. It wasn't pretty.

Therefore in F1 2015 not even the usual last resort in the face of predictable results of pointing to meritocracy had the same effect as normal.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Motor-mouth Hamilton

After a three week break, the Inside Line F1 Podcast is back with their 40th episode of the 2015 F1 season! This season has been about Lewis Hamilton - his wins, losses, social media antics, music and the stuff he's said. Mithila and Kunal go about listing all that the three time World Champion has said in the last few weeks and all that the others have said about him.

Is Lewis Hamilton the new bad boy of Formula 1? Are his controversies attracting more attention towards and otherwise boring season (or sport)? And of course, can Mercedes survive without either or both of their drivers?

They discuss the supposed 'Spy Gate' and why the engineer who attempted it isn't too smart after all. And is Tag Heuer smart in moving their bucks from McLaren to Red Bull Racing for 2016? Our hosts explain how #DontCrackUnderPressure couldn't go hand in hand with #BelieveInMclarenHonda!

There's also a discussion on Renault and their umpteenth return to Formula 1 as a car manufacturer and how Toro Rosso could well be the team to be in rather than Red Bull Racing. Tune in! (Season 2015, Episode 40)

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: and on Google+:

Follow on Twitter: Mithila Mehta ( and Kunal Shah (

Monday 14 December 2015

New Grand Prix Times article: Why was Red Bull so stupid in its engine saga?

So after all that, Red Bull is remaining; it has an engine for 2016. And in a way that could not have more aptly encapsulated the futility of its prolonged crash, bang, wallop, it has ended up almost exactly where it started before it all kicked off.

Photo: Octane Photography
But it does leave the question 'why?' Why exactly those senior Red Bull figures, presumably very clever and certainly very successful people, persistently played their collective hand so badly? Whatever the rights and wrongs of what the team was trying to do (and we can debate those) it somehow created a situation where it every stage seemed to have no alternative options, beyond the nuclear one of leaving the sport altogether. No wonder it kept on getting rebuffed.

In my latest article for Grand Prix Times I attempt to answer this question, including wondering if, rather than Red Bull in this engine saga losing what it was that made it such an effective and successful organisation, in some sense it became too much of it.

You can have a read here:

Tuesday 8 December 2015

My Top Ten Drivers of 2015: The Rest...

Photo: Octane Photography
Here are my views on those F1 drivers from 2015 who didn't make my top 10 ranking that I published a few days ago.

My top 10 drivers of 2015 can be read here.

Don't listen to what Mark Webber claimed about there not being the depth of talent in F1 that there used to be. This was possibly the most difficult task of whittling drivers down to ten that I can remember, and a number of them who you suspect would have got in, perhaps comfortably, in previous seasons this time had to miss out. This applied especially to, in no particular order, Romain Grosjean, Jenson Button and Carlos Sainz.

Photo: Octane Photography
Romain Grosjean is rated extremely highly by many and there apparently is Pirelli testing data that indicates he is the fastest guy out there, bar none, and consistently. In support of this we can cast our mind back to late in 2013 when he alone it seemed took the fight to far superior Red Bulls. Sadly for him though ever since the Lotus has almost never allowed him to build on that. This year's machine wasn't a disaster as in 2014, but with the team's desperate financial situation in-year development was near zero and there were other manifestations such as using race gearboxes in practice making grid penalties for broken gearboxes more likely (indeed this is precisely what happened to him in Spa). To make matters yet worse he had to sit out a number of opening practice sessions in order to give reserve Jolyon Palmer time behind the wheel.

But just like in 2014 on the solitary occasion that his car allowed Grosjean pounced on the opportunity, and superbly, by fighting through after a grid penalty to finish third in Spa. Perhaps his performances in the final two rounds of the year were about as good too. Also his intra-team qualifying match-up was the most one-sided there was, being 17-2 in his favour over Pastor Maldonado. What counted against him though was that in races Maldonado often looked the quicker, helped by his abilities in eking out life from the Pirellis. Crashes in Canada and Russia were black marks too. But the biggest problem for Grosjean is the creeping risk he'll become the sport's next Nico Hulkenberg in being ignored unfathomably yet repeatedly by those allocating the plumb drives, and indeed again none of them snapped him up for 2016. He does get a move though to the debutant Haas squad, and at least he'll have a good chance there of getting into Ferrari's eyeline.

Photo: Octane Photography
Nothing about Jenson Button's campaign should have surprised us. We know from his time alongside Lewis Hamilton that he relishes a battle with a top-liner team mate. We know too that in such match-ups he rarely gets humiliated, and is more than capable of winning out on occasion. And all of this is exactly what we got in 2015. Generally team mate Fernando Alonso did the better in races but seldom was Button left far behind while in Monaco, as well as in a few late-season rounds, he was the quicker. And although qualifying is considered his weakness he gave away nearly nothing to stable mate Alonso here too.

There's not much we can reproach him for in 2015, though even the ever-sunny Jenson in the desperate McLaren-Honda situation showed frustration like Alonso on occasion, particularly in comments on the team radio towards the year's end. He also clattered into Maldonado in China as well as seemed overly spooked by understeer in Spain. But his effort never seemed to drop, as indicated by that he ended the season as he started it, fighting off far faster opponents. Having repelled Sergio Perez somehow for 42 laps in Melbourne he held off Valtteri Bottas successfully in Abu Dhabi for a P12 finish he seemed delighted with. Perhaps we're guilty of underestimating Button, making the mistake of assuming that behind an easy demeanour and smooth style there is not special talent and considerable pace. As explained he is one who cedes little even to the very best. Perhaps even Ron Dennis, one not always convinced of him it seems, was converted this year as Button is retained for 2016, and indeed showed the confidence to play hardball over his terms. It was befitting of what he did behind the wheel.

Saturday 5 December 2015

My Top Ten Drivers of 2015

Here is my personal rating of the top ten F1 drivers of the 2015 season, taking into account their performances 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.

1. Lewis Hamilton
Photo: Octane Photography
Even in this most complex of games explanations can be disarmingly simple. Last season in a campaign that Mercedes had to itself Lewis Hamilton was taken to the wire for the title by his Merc team mate Nico Rosberg, in large part because for much of the season Lewis had the lion's share of the misfortune plus was oddly out of nick in qualifying. 2015 was, when it mattered at least, 2014 without those things.

And boy did Lewis take advantage. Ten victories in a season is hard to argue with, so is that anything up to seven of them were in nearly no doubt after just a few corners and indeed were reduced to Clark-like demonstrations. His ability to get tiny, yet massive, time on his team mate almost corner by corner was the difference. While in his less celebrated attributes his brain power and rationing of the finite resources of a modern day F1 machine were hard to fault.

Yes he had the best car and a team mate whose performances varied, but in F1 as in anything there is always much to be said for Getting The Job Done. And Lewis did that, wrapping up his third title with a win and three races ahead of time; you could even make a coherent case that this outcome looked in little doubt from his first few imperious laps in Melbourne's curtain-raiser race.

Lewis self-admittedly undertook "a small tweak" in his qualifying approach and the outcome was devastating with him taking 11 poles in the first 12 rounds. Some of his qualifying laps were stunning; a couple of poles were won against the odds too. It all ensured that his races were much more straightforward than those in the previous campaign. But the man himself noted the difference with last year also owed something to the assurance of having that 2014 championship to his name - not for nothing did Lewis state that his second title won then actually felt a lot like his first, given it was his first subsequent to fleeing the nest from McLaren.

Ironically it was after his title was assured that the most conspicuous doubts crept in. First of all Rosberg was already establishing a run of pole positions on him, then started to finish races ahead of him too. Did Lewis relent, even by degrees, after the championship was won? Or had Nico finally found something that Lewis couldn't match? Lewis spoke of a technical change to the car from Singapore, roughly when matters switched. He remains firm favourite for the 2016 title, but in the late weeks of 2015 that status softened ever so slightly.

2. Sebastian Vettel
Photo: Octane Photography
So last year was a blip then. And more to the point, Sebastian Vettel is all that after all.

Not that really it should have been too much of a surprise. We know about the success from his time at Red Bull, which both in its extent and the age at which it was achieved reads more like fantasy than sane motorsport record. We also with this know the hit parade of his doubters however: it was done with a series of fine cars they say; at a team in which he was cosily ensconced and had priority service guaranteed; that the (very good) blown floors suited him peculiarly. The doubters were emboldened by his 2014 struggle too. But the more discerning observers knew that his run of scarcely-credible stats there wasn't all about those those matters mentioned; that Seb was making a contribution all of his own. His stunning pace and confidence enacted consistently and immediately as if flicking a switch; his extraordinary mental capacity; his holistic and industrious approach. But the persistence of those doubts ensured too that he'd only get his full appreciation upon leaving the Milton Keynes squad. And so it proved. This debut season in red underlined in thick lines what Seb is about .

Indeed we might even have seen him improved even further in 2015. Almost never was the Ferrari a match for the Mercedes but Vettel virtually every time could be counted upon to give as little away as possible and maximise the result. And in the two races the Ferrari was on top, in Malaysia and Singapore, Seb drove the ball into the net with aplomb. Just like he did in Hungary on a day when it seemed he alone had his head screwed on. His fleeing the Red Bull nest seemed to add stacks of maturity overnight, and throughout this year Seb out of the car just like in it was one of the paddock's most assured and authoritative figures. He even managed to slip right in and right away at the Scuderia; his calmness, ready smile and willingness to knuckle down were appreciated quickly there.

His error-strewn races in Bahrain and Mexico were curious aberrations, as was flooring it to pass Roberto Merhi under red flags in a Canadian practice session. But otherwise the graph plotted of his performance barely wavered from a sky-scraping level.

Surely only churls and contrarians will now be maintaining that in Seb we do not have a rounded and close to complete F1 performer. And not for the first time we're left to consider that at his age there likely is to be improvement yet to come.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Another Kind Of Hat-Trick

My final race review of 2015 for Motor Verso, for the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, has now landed.

Photo: Octane Photography
It was another race that was far from thrill-a-minute, but was one that continued the big story of late 2015 and left it unchecked as we headed into the off season, that of Nico Rosberg's imperious form.

And for all that F1 seems in a state of unchanging drift at the moment it may come as a surprise to think that Austin, Nico's cap throwing and all, was only just over a month ago. Things could hardly be more different for him now.

Here's the link to my review:

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.

New Grand Prix Times article: History suggests Rosberg's late form won't help in '16

Photo: Octane Photography
In a rather sparse final stretch of the 2015 F1 season, with the championships long since decided, there has at least been one big thing for us to talk about. Nico Rosberg's new-found victorious form. Not only because it intrigues in itself but also that the consensus view is that it'll likely help him when it really starts to matter again when the 2016 season kicks off. He'll benefit from some momentum and all that. Makes sense?

You'd think so, but in my latest article for Grand Prix Times I have a delve into F1 history looking for some parallels of this sort of thing happening before and find, perhaps surprisingly, in that rather maddening way of F1 history there aren't many clear parallels out there of improved form late in one season heralding a championship in the next.

You can have a read of my trawl down memory lane via this link:

Sunday 29 November 2015

Abu Dhabi GP Report: Nothing to see here

It may not always appear this way, and right now it is concealing the fact particularly well, but believe me things change fast in F1. It may come as a surprise that it was only just over a month ago that Nico Rosberg threw his cap at Lewis Hamilton in the Austin podium anteroom, after Lewis had clinched his latest world title just in part thanks to a Nico boo-boo. It seemed then somehow to encapsulate a man beaten and perhaps broken. It certainly was interpreted that way.

Nico Rosberg topped off the season with yet another win
Photo: Octane Photography
Well right now that seems from another age. Since he's never been beaten. And this time in Abu Dhabi Nico topped off the 2015 season by delivering a hat-trick of the much more agreeable variety, signing off on his holidays with his third win on the spin.

It shared a family resemblance with his previous triumphs too. We know by now that in the intra-Mercedes battle being the lead car means a lot and Nico nipped that factor in the bud immediately by converting his pole position into a first corner advantage. Indeed his start was much the better than Lewis's who had to work a bit to hold onto his second place. And then in the early laps it appeared that Nico was intent on blitzing the race just as he had blitzed qualifying - by the time he ditched the supersoft tyres on lap 10 he was close to five seconds clear. It then extended to 6.4 after Lewis got tucked up in traffic after his own stop.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Abu Dhabi Qualifying - The Joy of Six

So the biggest story of the last part of the F1 season continued today. And now it'll likely continue through the months of the off-season too. So get used to it.

Nico Rosberg stunned once again on his way to another pole
Photo: Octane Photography
The story is of whither Nico Rosberg. That in the final weeks of this campaign he has established apparently the intra-Mercedes upper hand. With transformed form which everyone has a theory on, and on which you'll struggle to encounter the same theory twice. It's too late for the championship this year, but what of next? Today in Abu Dhabi he completed the season's qualifying business by bagging his sixth pole position on the bounce, and this one was the most emphatic of the lot. Plot, consider yourself thickened yet further.

It had a touch of the pull-the-iron-from-the-fire about it too, as for a while it looked like Nico's run might end this time. Lewis had a slightly iffy time in free practice, and indeed had two off-track moments this morning as he struggled to contain a lairy rear of his W06. But come quali he looked to have a consistent two tenths on his stable mate. But also not for the first time in his run Nico got it right in Q3 when it really counts. And at the same time Lewis on this occasion lost a little bit, at least initially. An understeer-laden lap of 1m 41.016 was his slowest flier of the whole quali hour, and Nico got under it with a 1m 40.738.

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:

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:

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:

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: and on Google+:

Follow on Twitter: Mithila Mehta ( and Kunal Shah (

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 pariah
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:

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Interlagos Preview - A little bit crazy

F1 has entered one of those spells, one that is inevitable from time to time at least. The championships are done ahead of time and the sense of drift, almost of going through the motions, is noticeable in those remaining rounds. At times like this you can begin to understand why Bernie pushed that double points idea. A little bit.

Interlagos - where we can expect the unexpected
By Pedro Leiria [CC BY-SA 2.0 (
licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
So not that much good news around? Well, again there's a little bit. That this weekend's fare is taking place at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil. Which is not only a good thing in itself this venue also can be counted upon as a place where things happen. Things that are a little bit crazy. Or a big bit crazy; the sort of stuff that could never have possibly been foreseen. Somehow.

It has good claim to being the closest thing contemporary F1 has to the Bermuda Triangle. So while we can be sure that this time we won't get one of its astonishing corkscrew championship conclusions, there's little else that can be ruled out with confidence.

Quite why this is the way at Interlagos isn't entirely clear. It's likely in some part related to that the venue is a throwback - narrow, bumpy, with little run off, meaning that it can be unforgiving to error especially by modern standards. The enclosed features mean safety cars can be a frequent presence to jumble things and close them up and indeed the chance of one in an Interlagos race is around 70%.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Lewis Hamilton 2015 World Champion - Sign of the times

Glory often comes as an affirmation. A vindication. Well, that goes for most pursuits aside from F1 its seems. Or at the very least aside from the glory achieved by Lewis Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton's third title started another debate
about where he rates
Photo: Octane Photography
You'll be aware that he's just sealed his third F1 world drivers' championship, only the tenth ever so to do. With this also, even with the rather lengthy previous of British champions, he is just the second among his countrymen to achieve as many as well as the very first to take any titles back-to-back. And yet. In response alongside the plaudits about as prominent were the varied attempts to decode this particularly complex enigma; to unravel the knotted question of just how good he is; ascertain just where he fits. And really it's nothing new, it's just the latest manifestation. Hamilton has long been a driver who divides opinion more than just about any other in history.

Perhaps it's just in the nature of the age. After all Sebastian Vettel too has divided opinion notoriously throughout his time at the top. As had Fernando Alonso for a good while; even now the odd contrary yelp can be heard. I always recall a friend of mine saying that had Twitter existed in 1957 there would have been people on there insisting that Fangio wasn't up to much - perhaps social media lends itself to what euphemistically might be called a thousand flowers blooming. It may tell us something, possibly, that the legendary scribe Denis Jenkinson who watched them both first hand always reckoned Alberto Ascari was the better of the two.

We can form a hypothesis about it too. The further you delve back into F1 past the more that media coverage becomes rudimentary or even non-existent, and the eulogies from the few that were there is the main thing that survives into the modern day. History is written by the winners after all. Whereas now the scrutiny and exposure of all drivers is infinitely more searching and pitiless. No wonder our view of them is rather warts and all.

Thursday 5 November 2015

New Grand Prix Times article: Why life got tougher for Rosberg in 2015

This season was a lot like season. But with a big difference.

Photo: Octane Photography
While in 2014 the two drivers of dominant Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had a close and uncertain title fight, this year with equally dominant Mercedes the championship destination looked for the most part far more firmly set. And of lot of the difference was that this time those mysterious quantities of luck and happenstance were a lot more even-handed.

Simple enough, but if we delve a bit deeper there was quite a lot more going on. And in my latest article for Grand Prix Times I look through all of this, and why life got a whole lot tougher for Nico in 2015 (even if the Mexican Grand Prix result makes it all seems conspicuously ill-timed...)

Nevertheless you can have a read of it all via this link:

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Revenge Is A Dish Best Served On The Podium

Valtteri Bottas got his revenge in Mexico, but did Nico Rosberg get his too? Could an aggressive approach by Pirelli have livened up the inaugural Mexican Grand Prix from being a boring and a processional race? And in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and I tell you why Force India and Sergio 'Checo' Perez were the true heroes in Mexico. Tune in! (Season 2015; Episode 37)

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 and on Google+.

Follow on Twitter: Mithila Mehta and Kunal Shah.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Mexican Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Rosberg's win adds to the enigma

Here is my latest race review for Motor Verso, for the Mexican Grand Prix at the new (but not entirely new) Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Photo: Octane Photography
As commented a few times before Nico Rosberg is quite the enigma, and the Mexican race just passed simply added to it. He was supposed to be buried by his teammate after the American race a week ago, but in what could not have been greater contrast he won in Mexico like he was born to do it. And adding to the confusion some number crunching shows that it wouldn't have taken too much to happen differently for this years' drivers' title to still be well in the balance...

In my latest Motor Verso race review I try to decode this particular enigma, here's the link:

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.

Monday 2 November 2015

How Hamilton and Rosberg will move on from latest spat, by Luke Rees

The 2015 US Grand Prix will rightly be remembered for the crowning of Lewis Hamilton as the F1 World Champion, though it was partly overshadowed by the public spat between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, following the Mexican GP, it appears that the conflict may have moved from a confrontation between Hamilton and Rosberg to mistrust between Hamilton and the Mercedes team.

The tension between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
after the Austin race was palpable
Photo: Octane Photography
Rosberg started the US Grand Prix in pole position, but was nudged out of the way by Hamilton at the first corner, in a manoeuvre that would have surely raised official complaints had it happened between drivers of opposing teams. Rosberg managed to regain the lead, only to lose control in the slippery conditions of the race with less than ten laps to go, which left Hamilton open to claim the title.

Post-game, when Hamilton tossed his team mate a hat to wear on the podium, Rosberg immediately threw it right back, and failed to celebrate with Hamilton during the traditional champagne-opening.

In the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend Rosberg took pole position ahead of his Mercedes team mate. Controversially, Hamilton for a time refused to be called in for a second pit stop when the Mercedes team viewed his tyres as a potential safety hazard if run to the end. Hamilton claimed they felt fine and continued the race for an extra lap before pitting, apparently reluctantly. The mistrust within the Mercedes team continues to be a prominent issue with Hamilton not believing the report on his tyres. Hamilton and Rosberg continue to look more like rivals than team mates.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Mexican GP Report: Rosberg the riddler is resurgent

Just try working out Nico Rosberg. He loves to riddle us; does so perhaps more than any other current F1 driver. And underlining as much that he won the Mexican Grand Prix today, and in such decisive style, only added to the confusion.

Nico Rosberg won out this time
Photo: Octane Photography
Not too many expected it of him either. Yes he'd won pole, but he'd won pole in the previous three and not won any of them. His increasingly inappropriately-titled team mate Lewis Hamilton seems able to reverse the places every time, almost as if by telepathy. He'd also not won for upwards to four months.

Nico had also bagged recently an unwelcome all-time mark of having the most pole positions without winning the world championship. And as if his nose was being rubbed in it the F1 Twitter feed shortly before the race start compared his pole-to-win conversion rate to other contemporary drivers. Nico's lingered at the bottom of the list, at fewer than one in three...

Furthermore following Austin, gusts of winds, flying caps and all that a week ago, the German was meant to be consigned to his box which was as a respectful follower of Lewis at the very most.

In this age of Mercedes dominance just how Nico can get with Lewis has become one of the sport's big questions. Well on today's evidence the answer was rather simple. Just go quicker than him, in qualifying and the race. As easy, or rather as difficult, as that. But this time that's exactly how the day went. This time Nico made his lead won on Saturday, and all the benefits that go with it, count.

Saturday 31 October 2015

Mexico City Qualifying - You wouldn't like him when he's angry

There's always been something of the enigma about Nico Rosberg. Not so much personality-wise, but in terms of where he actually fits as a driver in the pecking order.

Nico Rosberg bagged another pole position - his fourth in a row
Photo: Octane Photography
Some assume that his experience this season, his stable mate Lewis Hamilton cruising to the title ahead of time - wrapped up last time out in Austin - decoded much of this. That Nico's definitely of a rung below the top. But he's added some more complications lately, including today in claiming pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix. In a season wherein he couldn't buy a pole, only getting one in the first 13, he's now gone and bagged the last four. And this following a 2014 wherein he had Saturdays usually to himself. As I said, he's not easy to work out, this one.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suggested afterwards that Nico made anger work for him this time in beating his increasingly inappropriately-titled team mate to pole. Nico himself insisted not, but he has had a lot of resolve about him this time, probably related to Austin's turn one where he felt Lewis took things too far, as well as to his own error - 'gust of wind' or no - that deprived him of the win that day and with it let the title drop to his team mate too.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Sir Lewis Hamilton CBE

Is that the next title for Lewis Hamilton? Join Mithila and Kunal as they celebrate Lewis Hamilton's third Formula 1 Drivers' Championship and a FANtastic race in the United States of America.

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, the duo wish the sensational talents of Toro Rosso a long and entertaining career in Formula 1, tell you why Daniil Kvyat can never win the US GP and laugh-out-loud on the Red Bull Racing-Honda rumours.

And lastly, the US GP probably proves why we love ALL things American. Tune in! (Season 2015, Episode 36)

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: and on Google+:

Follow on Twitter: Mithila Mehta ( and Kunal Shah (

Image courtesy (Google)

US Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Lewis's Roundabout Route to Realisation

Here is my latest race review for Motor Verso, for last weekend's US Grand Prix at Austin.

Photo: Octane Photography
And what a weekend it was. So much so that not even the various all-time marks falling Lewis Hamilton's way with his latest championship clinched could get all of the attention. It started as the story of the hurricane, and us not getting a race at all looked a genuine possibility. But we did get a race, and the weather did its bit towards one that was enthralling and roller-coaster like, and one in which for much of the way even Lewis's title for this weekend anyway looked a long shot.

You can have a read of my review here:

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.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Mexico City Preview - New, but far from new

This weekend we have our only new round of the season. But of course it's not actually new. Far from it. Further this ain't your usual parachuting into a raw territory with little motorsport heritage or support in that apparently habitual modern F1 way. Again, far from it.

There is plenty of support for F1 in Mexico
Photo: Octane Photography
This weekend indeed F1 returns to Mexico for the first time in 23 years, and this is a country with a strong and rich motorpsort previous as well as plenty of current-day support and enthusiasm. There right now is a Mexican driver in Sergio Perez and another one in Esteban Gutierrez who has one foot stepped about but is expected to step it back in shortly. The Haas team is to announce its second driver for 2016 this Friday. In Mexico. Read into that, um, what you will.

And Perez indeed beamed at the news that his home gig is to be re-established: "They've been really pushing for so many years, since I came to Formula One four years ago" he said last year. "The spirit of the fans is massive back home. It's great for my country…I'm just very proud and excited."

Sunday 25 October 2015

US GP Report: Land of the three

You know the one about not judging a book by its cover. Well today's US Grand Prix in Austin provided proof positive of its wisdom.

Lewis Hamilton indeed clinched his
third drivers' title in Austin
Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton won out from his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg and with it confirmed his third drivers' title. It's a title that's looked inevitable for a while of course. Indeed you could make a case that it's looked inevitable ever since Lewis's imperious win in the season-opener in Melbourne. Whichever way you slice it it has been crushing.

Whichever way you slice it too Lewis's latest triumph ensures his place in the sport's pantheon if he was not there already. Three drivers' titles, only the tenth ever to do that, only the second Briton as well as the first of his nationality to win back-to-back championships. Only extreme churls will suggest this one at least, or much of his other success, wasn't deserved either.

More broadly the final top three in the Austin race of the Mercs with Lewis ahead followed home by Sebastian Vettel looked almost identikit for the 2015 season, but make no mistake there was nothing standard about how we got there today. Nor for much of today's race was there much standard, nor indeed inevitable-looking, about Lewis clinching his latest crown in the here and now.

Austin Qualifying - Order out of chaos

So after yesterday and all that F1 so far today has gone some way to salvage things. We had a qualifying session as (re)scheduled first thing on Sunday morning, or at least we had most of one. And one that did rather a lot to demonstrate in a way that couldn't be missed just what level of skill the F1 driver operates on.

Nico Rosberg mastered the conditions to take pole
Photo: Octane Photography
There was still rain around in Austin for the quali hour. Someone reckoned it had fallen for something like 28 hours solid. But it was lighter than before, and F1 cars could run although the track remained saturated and in places close to perilous.

But even with all of the uncertainty we yet again ended up with an all-Mercedes front row. Reminding us once again as Jackie Stewart for one often does that cars with the most grip in the dry also will likely have the most grip in the wet.

And as is also becoming a pattern in recent times it was Nico Rosberg who claimed pole position. That's now three poles in a row for him in a season wherein he'd only got one (also the one time he'd beaten his team mate) before the start of that run. It's all too late to save the championship but at least like the best captains he's going down with his ship. Which given the water around is a metaphor that seems particularly appropriate this time.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Austin Qualifying (or not) - The story of the hurricane

It had a depressing familiarity. First the qualifying start was delayed by half an hour. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then another. Then (hallelujah!) that if the weather didn't break quali would be 0900 tomorrow instead. Then eventually, at about 1600 local time, some three hours after the qualifying action was due to start, they gave up indeed to reconvene tomorrow morning.

The Austin weekend has been characterised by rain
Photo: Octane Photography
Why always America, as The Sun's Ben Hunt lamented? That most scared of prizes for the sport? Ten years on from Michelin-gate. Also in the land of the Dallas farce; the Las Vegas car park; the Phoenix ghost town; Watkins Glen running out of money; Long Beach and Indy lost to the sport's financial hard ball?

As for this time, as Bob Dylan might have had it, this is the story of the hurricane. The outer edges of Hurricane Patricia hitting the Austin Grand Prix weekend yesterday and today. Bringing with it vast quantities of rain and often of the horizontal variety. The first practice session on Friday did happen, albeit in the wet. The second was canned, due to lightning in the area and strict rules in America about requiring people (such as marshals) to work in such conditions.

Monday 19 October 2015

Austin Preview: Getting it right

It will be no revelation to you that F1's previous round, that in Russia, is not one to win popularity awards. Not aside from those judged arbitrarily by Bernie Ecclestone at any stretch. This is for a number of reasons, as explored in my recent Grand Prix Times article. But cheek-by-jowl it's followed by a round that rather is at the opposite end of this particular scale. One which you will not hear a bad word spoken of. A round that demonstrates that modern F1 doesn't always get it wrong, not even with the outputs of its chief architect Hermann Tilke. This is the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

The Austin stop-off is a popular one
Photo: Octane Photography
And if the Sochi round's unpopularity is down to a few things in combination, Austin's star pupil status similarly is attributable to a multitude of factors brought together.

For starters possibly no other host ever, not even Adelaide, has given such an impression of being thoroughly delighted to have a Grand Prix; so determined to most the most of it and give a lasting impression. Possibly not even Adelaide has embodied a Grand Prix as much. Possibly it's a matter of size - being big enough to have the race but not so big to be just another event there; to be swamped. The Texan city has around one million inhabitants just as Adelaide.

Austin more broadly as a city charms even the sport's grizzled bunch. It is eclectic, outward-looking and lively, also as the self-styled 'Live Music Capital of the World' it's well used to putting on large events and giving visitors a warm welcome.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Magnussen's fate shows F1's unwritten rules

The life of most sports-people is one lived on fast forward. For them even in a successful career allowed to reach its full fruition the time elapsed between being a promising prospect and a past-it usually is less than the rest of us spend even as a school kid. It can be quite the disconcerting existence.

Kevin Magnussen has had to sit out this year, and
he's out of McLaren altogether for next
Photo: Octane Photography
But even within this for Kevin Magnussen the gap between rise and apparent fall has been breakneck. Rewind back only 18 months or so to the 2014 season-opener in Melbourne, and the Dane's freshman F1 race freshly as Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion. It looked like he had seized immediate next big thing status with a fast and flawless debut run to what became second place eventually. I for one thought too that there was a touch of Mika Hakkinen about the apparently imperturbable and monosyllabic blond Scandinavian out of the car and his ability to make a McLaren sing while in it.

But not long afterwards and almost without an intervening period he was thought by a few as a busted flush. Speed still was there, though not consistently and he struggled to eke out life from the modern brand of Pirellis like his team mate Jenson Button could. A creeping tendency as the season progressed to overdo it when he had other cars around lost him friends. Come the campaign's end and having totalled well under half of Button's points total, as well as being behind him on the qualifying match-up, he was the one moved aside to make way for the returning Fernando Alonso. Now a year of limbo on it has just been confirmed that he is out of McLaren altogether.