Wednesday 28 December 2016

Inside Line F1 Podcast - How Did Lewis Hamilton Get On The Cover Of TIME?

In our final episode of 2016, Mithila and Kunal try and decode how Lewis Hamilton managed to get himself on the cover of the TIME Magazine - from 'Hammer Time to the TIME', literally. While Formula 1 might have much to learn from how America organises their sports events, we're glad they've not learned and adapted to the 'oval racing' concept! Thank you, Formula 1.

We spotted Bernie Ecclestone on Instagram. Who would've thought? And no, he wasn't playing Santa Claus! Speaking of Santa, Formula 1's favourite Santa this Christmas is Nico Rosberg. He's left the most-desirable gift behind, but who will be the lucky recipient? On that note, we wonder how the Wolff-Bottas relationship isn't already a conflict of interest. Wolff has voiced concern for Williams in case Mercedes do poach Bottas. Did he worry about McLaren at all when they poached Hamilton a few seasons ago?

Nico Rosberg launched his book or photo-album or let's call it photo-book 'Finally' last week. We loved the name and share our guesses of what it could mean for him. Daniel Ricciardo has already messed up the silly season for 2018 by publicly stating his two-year commitment towards Red Bull Racing. In which case, has he called dibs on the Red Bull Racing cockpit over Carlos Sainz Jr.? With 3 drivers and 2 cockpits, Red Bull Racing already have a problem for 2018 more than a year before the season has started, the 'problem of plenty'!

Finally, after all those overestimated PR statements, Ferrari admitted that they made a fool out of themselves in 2016. Sergio Marchionne's advice to Sebastian Vettel for 2017 is 'Keep Calm & Drive On'. Let's hope that the Ferrari-Vettel-Raikkonen trio is able to enthrall us in the new season because a Mercedes-Ferrari rivalry with a Red Bull mixer would be absolutely thrilling and just the high that Formula 1 and its fans need. On that note, here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a Happy New Season!

Tune in!

(Season 2016, Episode 45)

Saturday 24 December 2016

New Grand Prix Times article: Why the Rosbergs have come full circle

Photo: Daimler
F1 history is quite the treasure trove, and with this it means very little is entirely unheard of. It applied even to our recent unforeseen news, that Nico Rosberg retired from F1 but days after winning the world crown, which still had its echoes in the past.

But in a way made his on-the-spot decision to quit went beyond being a mere parallel, as it brought the story of the Rosbergs - him and his also-world champion Keke - full circle. For Grand Prix Times I explain why.

You can have a read here:

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Merry Christmas from Talking about F1

Never let it be said that Talking about F1 does not enter into the spirit of Christmas. Which of course primarily is about getting nice presents from Santa.

So in this spirit and to keep you all ticking over during the Christmas period I have gathered some of my recent and not so recent F1 writing to keep you entertained. And like all Santa presents they are completely free. Here they are:

Me. In a Santa hat. With some Lewis Hamilton decor.
My final thoughts on the 2016 year

Tribute to the 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg

My Top Ten Drivers of 2016

My thoughts on every other 2016 F1 driver who didn't make my top ten

And here are my partly-serious end of season awards

All of my race reports from the 2016 season can be found here

And here are my qualifying reports

And here are all Lights to Flag podcasts, reviewing latest F1 matters

And a few features too:

Being nice to Lewis Hamilton

Me complaining about blue flags

(An appropriate) one from the archives too: F1's previous of races in the Christmas/New Year week

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. Remember to play nice.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Sergio Perez Reveals His Prankster Self

After bringing to you Nico 'The Hulk' Hulkenberg last week, we bring to you Sergio 'Checo' Perez this week. Tune in to hear Checo's favourite radio message and how he played a prank on his former team, Sauber. And of course, no prizes for guessing which driver's radio he would enjoying listening to the most.

Apart from Checo's bytes, Mithila and Kunal discuss how Felipe Massa might just go from Formula 1's 'shortest ever' (in terms of time) World Champion to logging the sport's 'shortest ever' (again, in terms of time) retirement. To think of it, it was Jenson Button who was seeking a sabbatical and not Massa!

We empathise with Pascal Wehrlein - who must be feeling like shit after being snubbed by Force India and now Mercedes and possibly Williams too. On the other hand, Stoffel Vandoorne might not be doing himself many favours by selecting the number '2' as his driver number in Formula 1.

If the future of the road relevant Formula 1 engines could be electric, why are we not following Formula E already?

And finally, do remember to subscribe to us on iTunes or audioBoom as we work towards bringing to you our ever-popular Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards in the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Tune in!

(Season 2016, Episode 44)

Sunday 18 December 2016

Final thoughts on 2016: State of flux

"It's been strange coming here this weekend, realising that these are going to be the last practice sessions, the last qualifying sessions with this car, which has been so incredible. You never know when you're going to have a car like this ever again. I hope we have another one in the near future, maybe next year. It's been such a privilege driving this car."

In F1 in 2016, at the front it was the same story as before
Photo: Octane Photography
It was easy to miss, what with everything else that was going on. But Lewis Hamilton after claiming yet another pole in the final qualifying session of the year, in Abu Dhabi, was correct. From a historical perspective this was the big story. Mercedes in 2016, the last year of this formula, swept the board just as it did when the formula started in 2014. The dominance therefore was complete. We know all about teams stealing a march as a new spec comes in, but the Brackley and Brixworth concerns not only did this but sustained the advantage over time, even though the rest have the theoretical advantage of being able to learn from what makes the Mercedes quick. Really it's hard to make a case that Merc's foes at any point got closer to toppling them.

The statistics pay testament - out of 59 races Mercedes won 51 of them. And 2016 was the most crushing of all - 19 from 21 race went the silver way. And of the two it missed in one the Mercs collided and in the other a Merc's engine went pop when leading easily.

Time was that the back-to-back F1 title was near enough impossible. Slackening - unconscious; by decimal points - would creep in after a success. Not so now. In roughly the mid-1980s the era of the F1 dynasty began. Perhaps showing the delicate alchemy required to prevail in the modern game.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Nico Hulkenberg Gets Funny On The Inside Line

Nico Hulkenberg debuts on the Inside Line F1 Podcast! In the off-season, we will bring to you a few Formula 1 drivers talking about their favourite radio messages and jokes from the sport.

After Nico Rosberg and David Coulthard's successful interviews on the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we now have the famous 'Hulk'. In this week's episode, Hulkenberg tells us his funniest radio message, how he found Juan Pablo Montoya funny in Austria in 2001 and his struggles in trying to remember his favourite Formula 1 joke.

Apart from the Hulkenberg special, we talk about Mercedes' overdrive to find Nico Rosberg's replacement and cashing in on the positive PR around it. Strangely enough, 'overtaking' was not added as a skill in their much-publicised advert for a Formula 1 driver. Get the hint?

If Fernando Alonso doesn't fill the vacant cockpit, does it indicate a decline in Bernie Ecclestone's control over the sport? And in no way is Valtteri Bottas a brave choice, Mr. Wolff. Let's hope that all the powers combine bring to us a Hamilton-Alonso pairing in 2017!

And finally, remember to subscribe to us on iTunes or Audio Boom as we bring to you Sergio 'Checo' Perez next week.

Tune in!

(Season 2016, Episode 43)

Wednesday 14 December 2016

New Grand Prix Times article: F1 2016 end of season awards - The Grahams...

Photo: Octane Photography
We know how this latest season ended, but who are the real winners? Given it's the time of year for sporting awards ceremonies here in my latest for Grand Prix Times is my very own F1 2016 awards. The Grahams, a set of awards as prestigious as their name...

It has some kind of serious stuff (best driver, best team...) and some, erm, unique categories.

You can read my selections and justifications via this link:

Thursday 8 December 2016

My Top Ten Drivers of 2016: The Rest...

Here are my views on those F1 drivers from 2016 who didn't make my top 10 ranking that I published a few days ago.

My top 10 drivers of 2016 can be read here.

Nico Hulkenberg
Photo: Octane Photography
As noted Nico Hulkenberg came close to sneaking into the top ten, and would have waltzed in had it been based only on the second half of the year. During the first part he in most rounds looked a shadow – possibly the accumulation of various frustrations from over the years rather weighing him down. And some reckoned in a similar sense that his Renault switch being confirmed for 2017 – a long overdue break – resulted in the Hulk finding his urge of old. But in fact his upturn could be traced to before that, to his home round in Germany before the summer holidays. From then on his drives were almost invariably excellent. We've long known about Hulkenberg’s tremendous raw speed but also that he's been unable or unwilling (or both) to adapt to the gentle touch the modern Pirelli requires, and some said that this campaign he'd finally started to learn from his team mate on how to get the best out of the rubber. And with his works move mentioned and that reportedly next year's tyres will be able to be leant on more, things may be coming right for him at last. 

Going through the rest in championship order brings us first to Felipe Massa, for whom the 2016 campaign was his F1 swansong. He started it well and got a run of points finishes – with China likely his season's high point on track at least – but over time he floundered somewhat and the deficit in qualifying and the races to his Williams team mate Valtteri Bottas often gaped. For all of the affection that his departure was greeted with, you'll struggle to find anyone who doesn't think he timed his retirement well.

Monday 5 December 2016

My Top Ten Drivers of 2016

Here is my personal rating of the top ten F1 drivers of the 2016 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. Daniel Ricciardo
Photo: Octane Photography
Daniel Ricciardo has in 2016 continued the same thread as he has pretty much the whole time since stepping into a Red Bull. That he's a driver of the very top bracket; probably the driver of the hybrid era.

And one with everything – stunning pace particularly on a qualifying lap; being equally at home on the fast and mighty as in the tight and technical; Alonso-like racecraft and ability to avoid trouble; resolute consistency; a voracious willingness to race; sound judgement; fine brain power and imperviousness to pressure. As for faults? Nothing obvious. Errors, even off days, from him are genuinely hard to pinpoint.

This season we witnessed all of it. His solitary win was fortunate but even so in an improved but certainly never table-topping package up to three more wins – Spain, Monaco and Abu Dhabi possibly – were lost through no fault of his. Nevertheless it added up to a clear best-of-the-rest in the points table behind the Mercedes. That fight really should have been close but he wrapped it up with two rounds remaining.

And it was Monaco, in more ways than one, that told us most, even over and above that his pace in the wet or dry that weekend was as scintillating as it was untouchable. His transparent simmering disappointment in the aftermath at the win lost confirmed that for all Ricciardo's perma-smile he lacks absolutely nothing in seriousness and determination.

Alongside Max Verstappen's prodigious pace Ricciardo's still won out 11-6 in their qualifying match-up and in their early days he often was quicker by several tenths. On the other hand Max beat him in qualifying with some consistency in the late rounds, as well as frequently got more out of the tyres in races. And we had Brazil’s rain when Max took him to the cleaners. Then again we keep being told how special Max is.

But so is Ricciardo. And if next year's Red Bull is as good as everyone is saying it is surely he starts the campaign as title favourite.

2. Lewis Hamilton
Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton should have won the 2016 world championship, inasmuch that his season was derailed by a series of technical failures that had nothing to do with him and that even equalising a single one of them would likely have sent the title his way.

But, critics will point out, so would have eliminating some of his sporadic error and bewildering underperformance. In Singapore – a weekend that he usually has to himself and at a vital part of the title chase – insiders say he turned up in no state to work, and it showed. Some reckon similar of Japan. In Baku also he looked set to dominate but put in a hooligan performance in qualifying then was delayed more than his team said he should have been by a technical problem in the race. And did it really require the best part of the season to sort his persistent poor starts?

Saturday 3 December 2016

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Formula 1's Game Of Thrones

Nico Rosberg's shock retirement has just kicked off Formula 1's silly season to fill THE throne that will be left vacant by our reigning World Champion in 2017. Why the hell did Rosberg quit? We'd have loved to see him defend his title against Lewis Hamilton. But is this exactly why he quit?

We consider his move 'ballsy', given that quitting at the top is not everyone's cup of tea. But has he made sport suddenly look like a sales target? We discuss this in our special episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, also our third of the week! (Thank you Nico for making us work this hard!)

Who will Mercedes replace Nico Rosberg with? And will Rosberg's retirement make them go slow on Hamilton's impending sanction for his disobedience in Abu Dhabi? Talk of Rosberg stealing Hamilton's thunder twice over in the last few days.

Social media is abuzz with suggestions that Fernando Alonso should leave McLaren for Mercedes and Formula 1 should re-live the epic Hamilton-Alonso story that ended abruptly in 2007. Apart from Alonso, we discuss a string of other names only to add to Mercedes' confusion. Irrespective of everyone's efforts, it'll be Bernie Ecclestone's efforts that will count the most to ensure that Mercedes hire a driver who can consistently challenge Hamilton in 2017.

Tune in!

(Season 2016, Episode 42)

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Coin Collection by Rosland Capital

You may recall me a couple of times earlier this season writing about premier precious metals asset firm Rosland Capital releasing and distributing The Formula One Collection, a new limited edition series of F1 themed coin collections.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix collection 
This collection includes individual one-quarter ounce gold coins to celebrate a few of the most prestigious modern-day Grands Prix specifically.

And the latest limited edition coin collection is here, commemorating the season-closing and title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The latest addition to the Formula 1 collection includes a .25oz gold coin, 5oz coin in gold and silver, and a 5kg gold coin that commemorate the FIA Formula One World Championship and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Minted by Swiss-based PAMP, the limited edition coins are distributed by precious metals dealer Rosland Capital.

You can also find more information, including on purchasing these, on the collection here:

The latest Lights to Flag Podcast - 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review, Part 2

Here as promised is the second part of our Lights to Flag podcast Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review.

In it Ewan, Adam Corlett and I look beyond the Merc pair to discuss those behind, including Red Bull's strategy and Force India's amazing fourth place finish in the constructors' table. We also look ahead to 2017 with its calendar just published and its new rules.

Part 1, where we discuss Nico Rosberg's shock retirement and the Abu Dhabi title showdown, is here.

You also can interact with the podcast via its Twitter account and on its Facebook page. If you want to appear on it give us a shout too. And if you have comments then get them to us via the various channels and we'll read out the good ones on a future episode!

Friday 2 December 2016

The latest Lights to Flag Podcast - 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review, Part 1

The latest Lights to Flag podcast is here, and it's a special one for a few reasons. It's the first of two parts, and the first instalment starts with Ewan and I discussing today's astonishing new that the new world champion Nico Rosberg is retiring with immediate effect. We look at the news, Rosberg's F1 legacy and discuss who might replace him at Mercedes.

Then Ewan and I are joined by Adam Corlett to reflect on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix title showdown wherein Rosberg clinched the championship. We look at the race, as well as have it out on Lewis Hamilton's notorious race tactics.

And Part 2, in which we'll look at how the other teams performed this campaign, the 2017 calendar and revised rules, will be with us shortly...

You also can interact with the podcast via its Twitter account and on its Facebook page. If you want to appear on it give us a shout too. And if you have comments then get them to us via the various channels and we'll read out the good ones on a future episode!

Thursday 1 December 2016

Inside Line F1 Podcast - What Will Mercedes Do With Lewis Hamilton?

What should Mercedes do with Lewis Hamilton after his public act of disobedience in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? To us, all of it seems to be extra PR that Mercedes, Hamilton and even Formula 1 are enjoying. But seriously, what will Mercedes do?

As for Nico Rosberg, he settled the 'worthy World Champion' debate by successfully overtaking Max Verstappen (yes, he overtook Verstappen)! In this episode, we also speak about Jenson Button's farewell race and how a retirement before his sabbatical makes perfect sense. Irony of life, maybe. Although, we believe he'll be perfect as a TV host, with or without his bubbly!

We were the first ones to point out that Sebastian Vettel acted on purpose when he held station and not overtake Nico Rosberg in the race. Was this a calculated move by Vettel to ensure that Hamilton's title tally remains at three and not add up to his tally of four? Cheeky!

And thank God Verstappen ran into the other Nico, but given his pace, strategy and Hamilton's disinterest in winning the race, could he have won in Abu Dhabi? Also, Rosberg's title-winning party featured Ricciardo, but did his shoey make an appearance too? Keke believes that Hamilton got lucky twice and we're still scratching our heads about the second instance.  Lastly, we welcome Zak Brown to Formula 1 in our own little ways.

Tune in!

(Season 2016, Episode 41)