Thursday, 29 January 2015

Non-championship F1 races - time to bring them back?

Recently for Grand Prix Times I wrote an article looking at the 1965 year of the late and very great Jim Clark (you can have a read of it here). Why that year in particular? Well, partly it was because we're now exactly 50 years on from it, but especially because without hyperbole it was likely the most astonishing calendar year of motorsport success undertaken by anyone ever.

To the modern eye his achievements read like something from fantasy - in addition to winning the F1 title in record time he also within those 12 months bagged the Indianapolis 500, two F2 championships as well as took a couple of race victories each in sports cars and in saloons.

Jim Clark's 1965 included as many as
12 non-championship F1 races.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 de via
Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.
Of course your initial response to hearing this might be to point out that back then the F1 championship calendar was much more sparse, which left far greater time for other things, and that is true. In 1965 the offical itinerary consisted of ten races, around half of what we have in the modern era. But factor in that on the other hand travel and logistics is much easier now than it was then. More pointedly factor in too that in addition to his championship schedule Clark - as many of his contemporaries did and in every year - took part in a number of non-championship F1 races.

You may be wondering at this point what the heck I'm on about - but time was that the F1 annual schedule on top of the points-paying stuff had a handful, and sometimes a big handful, of Grands Prix that didn't count towards the title scoring. The non-championship races that I mentioned.

Britain was especially well-served by them, with the International Trophy at Silverstone taking place as an F1 event almost every year between 1949 and 1978, the Race of Champions (not to be confused with its current namesake) at Brands Hatch which was first held in 1965 and last happened in 1983, and the Oulton Park Gold Cup which existed as an F1 race on and off from 1954 to 1972. Therefore British fans of a certain vintage could have seen F1 cars racing on three separate occasions - and not one of them the British Grand Prix - before even the spring was out.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

New Grand Prix Times article: Jim Clark and motorsport’s most astonishing year - 50 years on

"Jim Clark 1965" by NL-HaNA, ANEFO /
neg. stroken, 1945-1989,, item number
918-4009 -
003048976d84. Licensed under CC BY-SA
3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons -
Imagine if someone in a single calendar year won the F1 world title and in record time, as well as few other F1 races not counting towards the championship. And that he also within those 12 months won the Indianapolis 500, the GP2 title as well as took a couple of wins each in the British Touring Car and the World Endurance Championships.

Sounds like something from outlandish fantasy, doesn't it? Well it's actually sane motorsport history. It's sort of what Jim Clark did in 1965.

In my latest Grand Prix Times (you'll notice the subtle website name change) article now that we've hit the fiftieth anniversary of Jim Clark's 1965 I look back on the most astonishing motorsport year ever.

You can have a read here:

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Gillette McLaren Honda

The latest Inside Line F1 podcast is among us. As ever Kunal Shah and Rishi Kapoor discuss a number of matters of F1 moment, this time including the new superlicence points system, the prospects for the 2015 season and McLaren's ongoing lack of a title sponsor (hence the episode title). You can have a listen below.

The regular Inside Line F1 podcast is produced and hosted by Kunal and Rishi, and is one of the most listened to podcasts in India and Asia, They are looking to expand elsewhere, and here on Talking about F1 I'm delighted to help share the podcast.

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.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast: 2015 Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards

The latest Inside Line F1 podcast has now landed. Kunal Shah and Rishi Kapoor don their tuxedos and present the prestigious 2015 Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards, categories for which include Beard Of The Year and Physically Present, Mentally Absent Of The Year Award...

As you might appreciate from this the podcast's as lively as always and you can have a listen below.

The regular Inside Line F1 podcast is produced and hosted by Kunal and Rishi, is one of the most listened to podcasts in India and Asia, They are looking to expand elsewhere, and here on Talking about F1 I'm delighted to share the fruits of their labours.

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.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Autosport International 2015 Photos

F1 Racing grid
I have just spent a couple of days at the Autosport International Show 2015, considered by many as the starting point of the motorsport calendar year, wherein many of the sport's figures and cars congregate in Birmingham's NEC.

The better products of my modest photographic abilities from the show are now up on my Facebook page here if you would like a look:

You'll see that there's plenty in there, such as F1 Racing magazine's by now famous F1 grid, with representation of all nine teams, as well as many historic F1 cars, BTCC machines, sports cars and rally cars. There are also a few of the luminaries that took part in Q&A sessions. Enjoy...

Friday, 9 January 2015

New F1 Times article: Hamilton - suffering from the English mistrust of talent

Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton for all of his talent and success remains one that divides opinion. Including in his home country. Perhaps especially in his home country.

In my latest article for F1 Times I'm the latest to explore Hamilton's love him or loathe him persona, and I ask if it reflects at least in part something deeper, that England mistrusts talent and not just in F1? That it much prefers the gritty triers to the prodigiously skilled?

You can have a read here:

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Palmer: ‘I’m not ready to give up on the F1 dream’

Jolyon Palmer's fine GP2 championship win last year - in the series considered by many the main feeder for F1 - led naturally to speculation that he would be seen on the F1 grid in 2015.

Jolyon Palmer at Autosport International 2015
outlined his difficulties in finding an F1 drive 
But in the months since all of the possibilities disappeared one by one, and now with all F1 race seats for this year filled it meant Palmer became the third GP2 champion in a row - after Davide Valsecchi and Fabio Leimer - to fail to be promoted to the sport’s highest rank.

At the same moment Palmer became additionally just the latest young up-and-comer to discover the sport's warped ways in (not) rewarding talent. That breaking into F1 is harder than likely it has ever been, due to a dwindling number of race seats combined with that many teams' financial plights ensure that driving pedigree is prioritised well behind the ability to bring money in who they select. And speaking at Autosport International 2015 today Palmer was frank about his situation.

'It does (concern) but I just know that’s the reality' Palmer said. 'So there's nothing I can do about it. I do my best on the track, and I think I did as good a year as I ever could have ever hoped for, winning the championship with two races to spare, which is something that neither of them (Valsecchi and Leimer) did.

'Conservative' approach works for Pirelli and Hembery

The 2014 F1 season just passed was a relatively quiet one for the sport's tyre supplier Pirelli. Indeed a repeat of the raucous 2013 campaign for it doesn't bear thinking about, given therein the Italian company became something of a bete noire - accused of being too much of a factor in Grands Prix with their product's deliberately gumball characteristics, and exploding literally to the forefront with a series of spectacular blowouts in the Silverstone race mid-season.

Pirelli's Paul Hembery spoke at today's
Autosport International 2015
And as far Pirelli's Motorsport Director Paul Hembery was concerned at today's Autosport International 2015, this simmering down from boiling point in the latest F1 campaign was indeed welcome.

'There was a few people complaining (in 2014)...that's the nature of motorsport for a tyre maker! We have a little rule book, we say that when somebody's winning it's always down to the driver and the car, when they're losing it's always the fault of the tyres!

'It was a quieter year, still a very good year in terms of racing as we saw. We were going into a year with huge technology change so we had to make sure we took a slightly conservative approach to it. But I think sometimes that was taken as being an exceptionally conservative approach but you had to do it in the circumstances.

Hembery also insisted that the scaling back of the degradation of the 2014 tyres wasn't down to 2013 and all that. 'No, not at all. In reality it was really related to the change in regs and the need for different aspects of the sport to take centre stage; it was the year of technology with the power train in particular and quite rightly that took centre stage and we weren't needed to provide anything different, it was the racing based on different aspects of the sport.'

Symonds reflects on Williams' resurgence

One of the major, and most popular, stories of the 2014 F1 season was the long-overdue resurgence of the hardy Williams team. From a starting point of only beating the Marussias and Caterhams in 2013 the veteran squad in a single effort vaulted straight to third place in the constructors championship in 2014, shy only of Mercedes and Red Bull. Perhaps too the FW36 was the imperious Mercs' most consistent irritant on pure pace.

Pat Symonds spoke today at Autosport
International  2015 about Williams'
resurgence, among other subjects
Today at Autosport International 2015, considered widely as the starting point of the motorsport year, a man thought as important as anyone in the startling comeback, Williams' Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds, reflected on the shift in fortunes.

'It (the Williams 2014 season) was certainly a good news story I think' said Symonds, 'all the way from our partnership with Martini, bringing back those iconic colours, Felipe joining the team and then of course as we progressed through the season the results. Third in the championship is something everyone at Grove is extremely proud of.'

He outlined however that such is modern F1's way there was no single overarching explanation for the jump, things instead were more granular. 'There isn't a magic bullet, there never really is getting everything working together. That's not just in a technical sense it's an operational sense.

'In the latter part of '13 I had a very careful look at what we'd got and saw that we've got some very good people but some of our processes weren't there so we weren't exploiting the performance of the car.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Chequered Flag for 2014

The latest Inside Line F1 podcast is here for your listening pleasure. At the start of a new year Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah look ahead to 2015 and in particular to the prospects therein of the two famous names of Ferrari and McLaren. Including their respective tasty new driver line-ups. You can have a listen below.

The regular Inside Line F1 podcast is produced and hosted by Kunal and Rishi, is one of the most listened to podcasts in India and Asia, and they are looking to expand elsewhere.

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.