Friday 29 December 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Bernie Ecclestone - Ferrari's Breakaway Series

Ferrari's breakaway series is no longer news. In fact, apart from grabbing headlines for the last decade, there's never been further movement. But will the out-of-work Bernie Ecclestone take up Ferrari's breakaway series as a project to bring him back into force in the world of Motorsport? Ecclestone's love for Ferrari is public knowledge, but how serious could Ferrari be?

Frankly, if there's any series who can benefit from Ecclestone's administrative experience, it would be Formula E. But that's for another episode.

In this episode, we talk about Robert Kubica's possible comeback and if he would be the fastest pay driver ever. Did Lewis Hamilton take piano lessons from Adrian Sutil? Will Lewis Hamilton skip the F1 Live events planned in 2018, or will Liberty Media make it mandatory for drivers to attend? Finally, instead of the grid girls vs. grid boys debate, let's have grid pets.

Finally, Formula 1 recorded an increase in circuit attendance in 2017. This is when we registered a 22% increase in our listenership. Thank you for your support, listens and comments. Here's wishing you a Happy New Year. We'll see you in 2018! Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 38)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour. 

Thursday 21 December 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - What's The ONE Change Formula 1 Needs In 2018?

2017 was Liberty Media's first full season as the new owners of Formula 1. How well did they fare? Also, what is the ONE change you would like to see in the sport in 2018? Feel free to share your view(s) with us. Also, let's succumb to our fate that the 'halo' is here to stay, so let that not be your answer.

In this week's episode, we discuss various changes that the sport needs to make to secure its future. The changes we talk about go from circuits and cars to engines and tyres and everything in between. Luckily for us, 2018 will possibly see the best driving talent line up on the grid, will Formula 1 make the most of this and offer us a season-long spectacle? Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 38)

Daniel Ricciardo Becomes Mobil 1™ Engineer At The Abu Dhabi GP

Daniel Ricciardo recently swapped driver duties for an engineering masterclass, working hands-on with the ExxonMobil trackside team and learning about the critical role Mobil 1 race lubricants will play in this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Australian Red Bull Racing driver underwent a technology lesson from Mike Frost, ExxonMobil Motorsports Technical Advisor, in its trackside laboratory. This included testing a Mobil 1 sample, and learning the science behind the race lubricants and fuels directly attributed in the closest qualifying sessions this year to scoring one place higher on the grid.

Daniel Ricciardo, said: "It was eye opening to spend some time in the TrackLab and witness first-hand the level of detail that goes into sampling and testing the Mobil 1 race lubricants and Esso Synergy race fuels during a race weekend. The ExxonMobil team's expertise and dedication is making a measurable difference to our performance on track – they really are an extension of our team."

Looking ahead to that weekend's Abu Dhabi race, the Yas Marina circuit presents a unique set of challenges for the ExxonMobil trackside engineers. The track demands sharp acceleration between turns putting stress on the engine and gearbox. The dusty conditions in the desert also require specific monitoring of the fuel, lubricants and testing equipment to ensure zero contamination.

The fuel and lubricant formulations brought to Abu Dhabi are part of the ongoing Mobil 1 development program. David Tsurusaki, Technology Motorsports Manager commented: "On and off the track, we have a rigorous development program for our Mobil 1 race lubricants and Esso Synergy race fuels. Hand-in-hand with Red Bull Racing we've made some great steps this season and we’re confident we can carry this forward into 2018."

Tuesday 19 December 2017

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 means nice presents from Santa.

In this spirit and to keep you all ticking over I have gathered some of my recent and not so recent F1 writing to keep you entertained. And like all Santa presents they are free:

Me. In a Santa hat. Amid some F1 decor. And a Pars flag.
My final thoughts on the 2017 year

Tribute to the 2017 World Champion Lewis Hamilton

My Top Ten Drivers of 2017

My take on every other 2017 F1 driver who didn't make my top ten

My partly-serious end of season awards

All of my race reports from the 2017 season can be found here

And here are my qualifying reports

And a few features too:

Cockpit protection - the infamous halo and fully-enclosed cockpits

Is McLaren making a mistake by ditching Honda?

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.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Final thoughts on 2017: Plus ca change...

It's easy to forget now, but in 2017's early weeks F1 changed almost unthinkably. Bernie Ecclestone, who bestrode F1 for the best part of half a century, was moved on, or rather up (so far up that he couldn't see what was going on, as he liked to quip). The one man band was replaced by America's Liberty Media and its cast of thousands.

Changed, changed utterly - new F1 chairman
Chase Carey of Liberty cleared Bernie Ecclestone aside
Photo: Octane Photography
And even though plenty in the paddock had for years given genuine impression this wouldn't be the case post-Bernie, the sun still rose in the same place. F1, initially at least, continued with barely a ripple.

For a while furthermore it was glad confident morning - hosting deals for circuits would become reasonable; prestige races would return; there would be more money for everyone... Liberty appeared full of ideas particularly in areas that F1 had been left behind in such as promotion and the digital age. The possibilities seemed endless.

And Liberty heralded some specific immediate change. From Melbourne teams and drivers shared more from the pit and paddock on social media; F1 social media accounts were much more active generally; larger numbers on the cars - something wrestled with for years - came in for Spain and hardly caused a problem; the circuits generally had more going on at them for Grand Prix visits; more were invited into the paddock; more events to promote Grands Prix locally, such as London Live, were laid on; the eSports championship was a welcome extension; F1 even seemed to develop a sense of humour with for example the return of the Montreal raft race. All was not before time.

Friday 15 December 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Describe The 2017 Formula 1 Season In One Word, Can You?

It's off-season time in Formula 1; there's no track action whatsoever. But on the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we're still in-season. We've got our latest track of the week out, tune in.

In this episode, we try and describe the 2017 Formula 1 Season in one word. It's tough, we kid you not. But it is fun. Have your say? Let's know what your pick is.

As we near the end of the year, we will have festive specials on our podcast channel for the next few weeks, so remember to tune in every week for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

(Season 2017, Episode 37)

Tuesday 12 December 2017

New Motorsport Week article: F1 2017 end of season awards - The Golden Grahams

Photo: Octane Photography
We know how this latest F1 season ended, but who are the real winners? In my latest for Motorsport Week I seek to resolve the matter with my 'prestigious' set of of awards, The Golden Grahams.

Some of it is serious (best driver, best team...) and some less so. Hopefully it'll bring a smile.

You can read my selections and justifications here:

Sunday 3 December 2017

My Top 10 F1 Drivers of 2017: The Rest…

Here are my views on those F1 drivers from 2017 who didn't make my top 10 ranking from a few days ago, which can be read here.

Photo: Octane Photography
The most conspicuous absence from the top ten is Kimi Raikkonen, for whom things somehow never quite came together in 2017. Frequently he looked to have pace but it tended to fall away at crucial moments, not least in the final throes of qualifying including just about every time after the summer break. In many race results too you'd look at the chasm-like gap between the Ferraris and wonder how exactly it came to that. Still pole in Monaco is a feather in the cap and with more benign team strategy he would have won twice. Also in mitigation some of Kimi's race strategies stretched credulity. Once again Sebastian Vettel couldn't live with him through Silverstone's sweeps. But even so it seems the main reason Ferrari keeps him on is that he doesn't offend Seb. On any count.

Going through the rest in the final drivers' table order brings us first to Felipe Massa, who got an unlikely second swansong this year. He started and ended the season superbly, while between times he tended to be solid. Fairly or otherwise the sense persisted though that he remained a few tenths off the ultimate pace; at the very least with a team mate struggling so obviously it was hard to judge the popular Brazilian. In the end he jumped (again) from F1 before Williams – still dithering – could push him, and as intimated he at least went out on a high.

Friday 1 December 2017

New Motorsport Week article: The honeymoon is over - but Liberty and F1 will be a happy marriage

Photo: Octane Photography
Never glad confident morning again, as Robert Browning might have had it.

Lately F1's commercial rights holders Liberty, who arrived amid a wave of optimism and goodwill 12 months ago, has all of a sudden faced a lot of criticism. The latest example being the logo and all that last weekend.

But in my latest article for Motorsport Week I argue that while the honeymoon is over, the signs remain that Liberty and F1 will be a happy marriage. And even the Abu Dhabi weekend contained some good examples of why.

You can have a read via this link:

Tuesday 28 November 2017

My Top 10 F1 Drivers of 2017

Here is my personal rating of the top ten F1 drivers of the 2017 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
For years almost no one has doubted that Lewis Hamilton's peaks are higher than anyone else's. This year he strung them together more regularly than perhaps he ever has done, certainly since his prodigious F1 debut campaign a decade ago.

Clearly he relished his title battle with Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari as well as relished his focal point position in the post-Nico Rosberg Mercedes squad. And it all had an impact where it matters – nine wins and 11 poles are the stuff of crushing championships as well as demonstrate his status as the year's default front-runner. Crushing is the adjective for many of his race wins as well, though in plenty (China, Spain, Spa, USA) he had to fight as well as use his wholly underrated brain power. But it was his qualifying that really set him apart – particularly important in a year wherein overtaking was tough. In Britain, Italy (in the wet) and Malaysia his Saturday efforts stunned even his closest engineers. He showed in his drive through the field in Brazil he's lost nothing of his well-honed racing instincts either.

There were bum notes along the way. While the Mercedes was in Toto Wolff's words a "diva", equally in the year's first half when the Merc wouldn't get its tyres into range Lewis was less able to find a compromise than his team mate Valtteri Bottas, such as in Russia and Monaco as well as in qualifying in Austria and Hungary. He also binned it in Brazil's qualifying after the championship was wrapped up. Yet the fact is that Lewis was unflinching and fast in an intense title battle against a formidable driver and team foe, and when the championship hit its crucial phase Lewis reached for the stars – stepping well clear of Bottas and getting the best possible race results whether his car was on top or not. And it was his rival who wavered. It was likely Lewis's finest title. Little wonder plenty talk of the ever-enigmatic Englishman now finding a new equilibrium.

2. Sebastian Vettel
Photo: Octane Photography
We always thought a Sebastian Vettel campaign could go one of two ways. This year, for the first time perhaps, it wandered off one of them. For the first two-thirds it looked classic Seb with the scent of a title, maximising final qualifying laps as if flicking a switch then maximising race results as if he is the puppeteer of the whole show. In Baku he lost his temper with consequences for his points and reputation, but at the time many wrote that off as an aberration.

Come Singapore as he sat on pole for the race start his retaking of the championship lead looked inevitable, but we know what came next. Yes Ferrari unreliability sealed his fate in following rounds but once the title was as good as gone ahead of time some calculated the points ceded in Baku and Singapore and it didn't look flattering for Seb. Particularly as he showed more misjudgement in Mexico's opening corners then rooted his tyres in Austin.

But still his well-judged Brazil win was timely in reminding us what he'd spent the best part of the season doing – operating on a plateau as noted. This was whether he was dominating at the front (Bahrain, Spain, Monaco and Brazil), nursing mechanical maladies (Hungary), chasing down foes (Australia, Russia and Austria) or coming through the pack (China, Canada, Azerbaijan and Mexico). It was straight from his Red Bull championship winning pomp. It's easy to forget also that he would likely have got two more triumphs early in the campaign without unfortunate safety car appearances. These ended his title chances early as much as any of his errors.

Monday 27 November 2017

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Bottas beats the borefest

Photo: Octane Photography
It was, to use the euphemism, not a thriller in Abu Dhabi. The Yas Marina track lived up (or down) to his reputation and didn't allow much racing.

But still some important things went on. Not least Renault bagging sixth in the constructors' table and the millions that come with it. As well as victor Valtteri Bottas getting a boost heading into the off season.

Here's my take on it all for Motor Verso

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.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Abu Dhabi GP Report - Living down to expectations

And so Abu Dhabi lived down to expectations. F1 in 2017 went out rather with a whimper.

Valtteri Bottas ended the year with a win
Photo: Octane Photography
As expected the Mercedes were in a different race. As expected in a Yas Marina race a lot hung on the start, and that didn't change the order. Poleman Valtteri Bottas led from his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton. There wasn't much to be done afterwards. They finished just like that.

As if to underline the general point, the entire top 12 circulated in grid order for the whole of the 15 lap opening stint. And it felt that way watching on.

Still it didn't appear mere formation flying from the Mercs. Lewis always seemed to be pushing and indeed Sebastian Vettel next up was left a whole 22 seconds adrift of the warring pair. More typical of this track it all reflected that cars struggle to get near each other.

Lewis kept trying, got fairly close at points. But a fastest lap from Bottas with four to go, then another a couple of laps later, extended his lead to over four seconds, and that was that.

The Evolution of Video Game Storage

1st Storage Centres has produced an infographic looking at how much the way we play and store video games has changed in recent years. Starting with cartridges, we have progressed to discs and now internal memory in next-generation consoles. You can have a look below:

The Evolution of Video Game Storage by Storage Centres.

This concludes our evolution of video game storage infographic, we hope you enjoyed it. Five minutes free? Why not check out our favourite driving games and bike games?

Saturday 25 November 2017

Abu Dhabi Qualifying - Bottas on the bounce

Abu Dhabi visits, on track at least, aren't known for thrills. And from an early point of this Yas Marina weekend it was clear that one source of potential thrill was taken away. Mercedes was on another level to the rest.

Valtteri Bottas beat the odds to take his second pole in a row
Photo: Octane Photography
But in the qualifying session we got a thrill. We thought Lewis Hamilton would be a step ahead even of the two Mercs. But the other Merc, that piloted by Valtteri Bottas, denied him pole position.

And Bottas had plenty to overcome. Lewis was self-admittedly wary of relenting with the title won after doing just that late in 2015, which was followed by him losing the subsequent one.

Lewis had the machine to do it with too, his relatively fresh engine - a consequence of changing it after his Brazil qualifying crash - meant that he could run at full bean much more than most others. Plus Abu Dhabi is one of his happy hunting grounds.

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Abu Dhabi GP Betting Preview - A tale of two drivers

Abu Dhabi for our final round of the year is the polar opposite of the penultimate one in Brazil. If Interlagos is the itinerary's most wacky stop-off this at the Yas Marina circuit is the most standard. And just as was the case at the opposite end of the scale, this create problems but also opportunities for the F1 gambler.

Abu Dhabi Grands Prix are mainly about two men
Photo: Octane Photography
History is helpful - it tells us there are only two places to look for an Abu Dhabi pole and win. In eight F1 visits only two have not been won by Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel. And even if the previous wasn't this stark they'd still be the two clear favourites to be on top this weekend.

Lewis can be got at 19/20 to triumph and Seb at 11/4 - and either looks good value.

They're good bets for pole as well, and again history is on our side as Lewis and Seb between them have five from eight Yas Marina poles. Lewis can be backed at 5/7 to bag pole this time while Seb is at 9/2.

Given all this the rest may be fighting over third place at most, but if the Mercedes is to be strong as it was at Interlagos, and Abu Dhabi's high temperatures should suit the Merc too, then Valtteri Bottas looks reasonable value at 7/10 to finish on the podium.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Can You Tell The Car By Its Daytime Running Lights? Quiz by Select Car Leasing

For the petrol heads who think they can easily tell apart their Hyundais from their Hondas, their Subarus from their Seats and the Peugeots from the Porsches, the ultimate test of knowledge is whether you can still tell these apart, simply by their Daytime Running Lights.

Car leasing experts Select have created the quiz to test your prowess as a petrol head or to see if you'll crash and burn. You can play below.

I got two out of eight correct, and I'm sure you can beat that...

Monday 20 November 2017

Abu Dhabi Preview - The sun goes down

The sun goes down on another F1 campaign. And with this analogy it's appropriate that the final round is the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - F1's first and so far only day-to-night event.

In an appropriate place, the sun goes down on the
latest F1 season in Abu Dhabi
Photo: Octane Photography
And it's not only down to start time scheduling that the Yas Marina round is a world away from the previous one at Interlagos. If the Brazilian stop-off is modern F1's Bermuda Triangle Abu Dhabi's perhaps is its most standard.

While if the Brazil round possibly is the most old school on the calendar this one arguably is its most modern. Wide, smooth and open replaces narrow, bumpy and enclosed. Nearby things to hit are replaced by vast run off areas. Mighty turns are replaced by fiddly. Rustic and well worn becomes towering and gleaming. Altitude becomes sea level. Weather that can be anywhere in the range becomes that of the unchanging desert...

But there are parallels. Both tracks are two parts full throttle and one part incongruously twisty. And if all (including Mercedes) entered the Interlagos weekend worried that the twisty bit would let Ferrari and Red Bull get ahead, it in fact set the pace. And did so pretty crushingly, even if circumstance kept it away from the top step of the podium.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - The Mika Hakkinen Interview

Here it is! Here's our Mika Hakkinen special episode. We spent much of the last weekend with the Flying Finn as he visited India to promote his 'Never Drink & Drive' campaign. We had the former World Champion on our Facebook Live show as well on our podcast and yes, we did #JoinThePact in Hakkinen's presence. Have you? (Here's where you can:

In this week's special episode, we get Mika Hakkinen to review the 2017 Formula 1 Season, his views on the current superstar drivers (Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, etc.) and what he believes the future of his Finnish compatriots (Bottas & Raikkonen) will be. Also, what does he make of Fernando Alonso's quest to be the 'world's best racer'?

Apart from the current season, we discuss Hakkinen's career - his first win and what was his reaction when he lost most of his trophies to a house fire in 2008! Finally, is a McLaren team management role on Hakkinen's mind, and outside of Formula 1, who is his most challenging rival? Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 36)
Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

New Motorsport Week article: Reflecting on Rene Arnoux

By Peter Moricz - Photo taken
by the author, CC BY-SA
 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.
With some of F1's periodic wacky goings-on you may be forgiven for thinking we can never have seen the like before.

Some of the goings-on in Interlagos got very wacky, not least Toro Rosso vs. Renault, and the possibility swirling that the latter may take its engines away from the former forthwith.

But we had seen the like before, and the engines actually were taken away. And to some it will not be entirely a surprise that the culprit was Rene Arnoux.

So for Motorsport Week I wrote about Rene Arnoux. But, frankly, there is never not a good time to write about Rene Arnoux.

You can read all about the inimitable Frenchman, and my thinking, here:

Monday 13 November 2017

Brazilian Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - More than meets the eye

By Eduardo Guarizo Pimentel - Formula 1, CC BY 2.0,
There's something about F1 dead rubbers; there's something too about races at Interlagos.

The Brazilian Grand Prix simmered rather than boiled, but typical of Interlagos the unusual went on, and there was a bit more to it all than met the eye...

You can read my take on it all for Motor Verso 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.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Brazilian GP Report - Vettel's victory brings Ferrari fillip

On one level it seemed so simple. Valtteri Bottas's Mercedes was starting this Brazilian Grand Prix on pole, but Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari next up would be happier in race conditions, particularly as the temperature had shot up since the cool of qualifying. It would be a matter of whether he could get by.

Sebastian Vettel took a controlled victory
Photo: Octane Photography
Particularly too as Lewis Hamilton after his qualifying prang then his team replacing various engine bits would start his Merc from the pit lane.

Vettel indeed got by Bottas off the line, not so much from a better launch but a better second phase - with less wheelspin - and sliding up the inside of the Merc at turn one.

"Initially I had a very good getaway and then I had a bit of wheelspin and thought I'd missed my chance," Seb noted later.

"I think Valtteri was struggling even more off the line so I had a chance to squeeze down the inside, I think I surprised him a bit."

This was the basis of his victory. But also this is Interlagos. Things are rarely that simple here.

Saturday 11 November 2017

Interlagos Qualifying - Bottas steps into the breach

Interlagos's reputation lives. The place where things happen - however unforeseen.

Valtteri Bottas stepped up when his team mate stepped out
Photo: Octane Photography
Today's Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying session contained just the latest manifestation. Take the guy who has just claimed his latest drivers' title of four and barely missed a beat in doing so. The guy also that following practice was firm favourite for pole. Who has 72 of the things to his name.

He only went and binned it in the opening seconds - after getting a swapper on at the fast Ferradura turn his Mercedes buried deep in the barriers.

Thus Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's race from the back. Thus also qualifying almost immediately had its most potent protagonist removed.

Lewis seemed sanguine afterwards, but equally wasn't full of explanation about what occurred. "It shows we're all human and things happen," he mumbled.

Kunal Shah talks to the legendary Mika Hakkinen

As mentioned in an earlier post, friend of Talking about F1 Kunal Shah and his the famous Inside Line F1 Podcast is proud to announce their association with Johnnie Walker's 'never drink and drive' campaign - #JoinThePact.

And even better for us F1 fans, the legendary Mika Hakkinen is in India to promote this cause and as a part of the association Kunal is getting direct contact with the Flying Finn - and producing plenty of content for us to enjoy!

Here below is the first thing for your perusal - Kunal talks to Mika Hakkinen, in an extended interview live on Firstpost Pole Position.

The F1 double world champion gives his view on #JoinThePact, as well as has plenty to say on this latest F1 season.

This includes his take on Lewis Hamilton's place in history, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's challenge, McLaren and Honda, Fernando Alonso, both Red Bull pilots Max Vertsappen and Daniel Ricciardo, as well as on Mika's countrymen Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.

He also looks back on his own racing career.

There will be content from each day Mika's spending in India - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - that we'll share on Talking about F1, and there also will be an exclusive podcast.

Tomorrow Kunal will be riding in the twin-seater F1-inspired Caparo T1 racing car (see below), so look out for stuff on that too!

Talking about F1 cheered Mika Hakkinen's career all along and now cheers for his social cause #JoinThePact. You can join the pact yourself on his pact's page:

Friday 10 November 2017

The rise and rise of Mercedes in Formula One, by City Vehicle Leasing

Mercedes has just wrapped up its latest championship double - its fourth in a row. But of course Mercedes's Grand Prix heritage, and one of success, is considerable, and stretches back before even the F1 world championship starting in 1950.

City Vehicle Leasing has therefore charted Merc's long and glittering Grand Prix history in an infographic, which is below.The rise and rise of Mercedes in Formula 1

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Brazilian GP Betting Preview - Brazil nuts?

You know what they say about crises and opportunities. Brazilian Grands Prix at Interlagos may bring an F1 gambler out in a cold sweat, given that it's a place where anything goes down. Even more so than Monaco.

Might it be Ferrari and Red Bull on top again?
Photo: Octane Photography
But with it comes perhaps opportunities to win big, and maybe specifically so this time. Mercedes has been worried about this one apparently and not just because of the Sao Paulo track's idiom. It fears, it is said, that the twisty middle sector will suit Red Bull and Ferrari more. Plus while Interlagos's altitude isn't quite that of Mexico City it's still something and we saw in Mexico last time out that the silver car can be vulnerable when having to pile downforce on in such conditions.

And the bookies haven't quite twigged, still making Lewis Hamilton firm favourite for pole and win. The odds on Sebastian Vettel at 19/5 to claim race victory and 4/1 to get the pole look very generous - particularly the latter as in Mexico Seb showed that he remains a qualifying master even if his car isn't entirely a stick-on for pole.

Monday 6 November 2017

Interlagos Preview - Not so dead rubber

There is something about 'dead rubber' F1 races. That the titles are decided doesn't necessarily mean a lack of drama. On the contrary, they often can provide more entertainment than the multitude of rounds beforehand that decided the honours.

Inimitable Interlagos
By Eduardo Guarizo Pimentel - Formula 1, CC BY 2.0,
Partly it's atmosphere, most of the usual rancour departs with the title tension. Partly it's that those without a drive for the following year have to make sure they distinguish themselves. And partly, conversely, those for whom the pressure is off simply can go for it.

Some of the very best races in F1 history fall into this camp - Monza in 1971, Suzuka in 2005...

And then there's where this particular dead rubber is taking place.

Interlagos, the venue for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, has in recent decades become an F1 calendar outlier - a throwback to the sort of venue that was once common. Here the walls and (numerous, passionate) fans remain close, the facilities remain cramped and rustic, and the driving challenge remains grand.

Saturday 4 November 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - The Daniil Kvyat-Max Verstappen Equation For 2018

You already know the equation between Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat. Each time Kvyat has lost out, Verstappen has won that very race. But for 2018, there's a chance that Kvyat will lose out on an entire season, in which case, will the same Kvyat-stat work to crown Max Verstappen the 2018 Formula 1 World Champion? Dreamy stuff!

Btw, we're proud to announce our association with Johnnie Walker's 'never drink and drive' campaign - #JoinThePact. Mika Hakkinen will be in India to promote this social cause and as a part of our association, we will have opportunities to generate exclusive content with the Flying Finn! Remember to tune in to our podcast over the next few days to hear Mika speak on some really interesting topics about his career, the 2017 F1 season and about his Finnish compatriots - Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.

Also, we're supporting #JoinThePact and we will 'walk our talk' and sign-up ourselves when we meet Mika in person in India. Here's your chance to sign-up too.

In this week's episode, we praise Liberty Media's efforts to grow the sport of Formula 1, while debating if Bernie Ecclestone did actually help Ferrari! Will the Formula 1 - Netflix deal led the sport to a new viewer market? And given how Formula 1, the teams and drivers have taken to social media, should we announce a Formula 1 Social Media Championship?

Lastly, since we started with Daniil Kvyat - the man who has been orphaned by the Red Bull Racing camp, we will end the podcast with him too (he definitely needs some love!). Can he do a Nico Hulkenberg, join Force India as a reserve driver for 2018 and make a comeback in a race seat in 2019? If he does so, Force India will have to make space on their pink cars for the new Russian sponsors.

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 35)

Friday 3 November 2017

FF1600 website: Walter Hayes Trophy 2017 picks

You may be aware that I've started to write for the new FF1600 website.

I reported from the paddock at Brands Hatch a couple of weeks back for the website's Formula Ford Festival coverage and wrote various reports during the weekend.

And my latest writing on there is just published, as I took part in the site's round table discussion making our predictions for this weekend's Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone.

You can have a read here (and do make sure to check the website out more generally...):.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

New Motorsport Week article: Why Lewis Hamilton is better than ever

Photo: Octane Photography
Discussing Lewis Hamilton is fun. Most other drivers you can grasp. Their trajectory likely steadily upwards.

Not so with Lewis, whose F1 career has been of astonishing peaks and troughs. Prodigious skill, dramatic legend, but also - sometimes - unfathomable lows.

We've therefore had false dawns with Lewis before. But now with his fourth world title won after an magnificent run of form since the summer it's tempting to conclude that this is the best Lewis we've ever seen.

I explore the matter and why it might be in my latest article for Motorsport Week. You can have a read of it here:

Monday 30 October 2017

Does Kimi Räikkönen have what it takes to make up points on the leaders? By Steven Critchley

Ten years ago a champion, today a relative also-ran. Kimi Räikkönen is perhaps one of the most underrated racers in the roster today. And with Finland's record for producing F1 talent, it may pain him particularly to see a less-experienced countryman – in Valtteri Bottas – occupying a coveted Mercedes car. Naturally, where Räikkönen's title win of 2007 is concerned, cynics would be quick to point out that it was won by just a single point, and afforded him in some part by a period of indifferent form for both McLaren drivers. Today, a long win-less run, spanning back to the 2013 season opener in Australia, as reported on BBC Sport, stands out as particularly galling for Räikkönen. Yet, until his retirement at the Spanish Grand Prix, Räikkönen's early 2017 form on was strong and consistent.

‘Kimi Räikkönen’ by Mark McArdle
via Flickr (CC-BY-SA-2.0)
Whether Sebastian Vettel's continued dominance over his team mate is part of some intricate Ferrari strategy remains to be seen, but as of 24 May 2017, where he is an 80/1 outsider (Source: Betway Sports), Räikkönen's ability to mix it with the elite remains firmly in question. Naturally, in light of the downturn in form he suffered at the end of 2016, with two retirements in the final four races, most experts would have dismissed Räikkönen's title hopes long before even the pre-season tests of 2017 began. These same 'experts' could forever analyse Räikkönen's situation, but the sole fact remains obvious – Räikkönen must begin winning races, and quickly.

Mexico Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - However you get them

We didn't get anything like the race anticipated. Indeed it was one back to front - literally.

Photo: Octane Photography
After a lap the chief world drivers' championship protagonist Lewis Hamilton was last and his one (albeit distant) contender Sebastian Vettel was second last. All due to a first complex contretemps.

The title calculations therefore were re-done; Seb needed second to delay Lewis' title. He didn't get there, as he was never going to do without attrition or safety cars which never arrived. Lewis therefore confirmed the crown in odd circumstances, but it was no less deserved for that.

And while all this was going on a certain Max Verstappen won, in a race of one.

You can have a read of my take on it all for Motor Verso 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.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Mexican GP Report - Taking the long route

Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth world title in the Mexican Grand Prix. This you'll have got short odds on. I wouldn't however like to say what odds you'd have got on how we got there. But ultimately that he got there was all that matters.

Lewis Hamilton, via a haphazard route,
claimed his fourth world title
Photo: Octane Photography
Whatever can be said about F1, and motorsport, it always carries a possibility that things can look very different in a blink. And it hardly gets more unrecognisable than after one lap of this race: championship protagonist one Sebastian Vettel was second last; championship protagonist two Lewis Hamilton last.

At the end of the long run to the opening complex they were side-by-side contesting the lead, joined by a certain Max Verstappen making them three-wide. Max as is his way channelled a perfect level of aggression to elbow his way to the front, and amid the uproar Seb's front wing made contact with Lewis's right rear tyre.

Despite the odd internet conspiracy theory - Niki Lauda was critical of Seb too - it was hard to attribute too much blame.

But whatever Lewis's tyre was punctured and Seb had to replace his wing. Thus we had the odd sight of the key pair touring gingerly into the pits at the end of lap one.

Saturday 28 October 2017

Mexico City Qualifying - Going down fighting

We had forgotten about him. The focus in Mexico's qualifying was on Max and the Mercs. But Sebastian Vettel, almost unnoticed, was in the mix, and not one to be written off. Especially not at the last of a quali session. And he snatched this pole position with a stunning final effort around the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

Despite everything, Sebastian Vettel is going down
fighting and took Mexico's pole
Photo: Octane Photography
From the championship angle it was an act of futility; Ferrari lately hasn't had its troubles to seek more generally either. But at least Seb is going down fighting, being one of the few things about the Scuderia not to flinch in recent weeks.

That party piece of his, absolute taking a car as fast as it can go - and perhaps faster - in a quali crunch point, was what did it. Appropriately it was his landmark 50th pole.

"It was quite a lap I have to say. I'm really really happy," Vettel said, again appropriately.

"It's very difficult here, very slippery, difficult to get everything in one lap. I had a little bit [of an advantage] in the first sector, I managed to get that right so I had a good start, then I had a bit of a moment at turn six, I nearly lost it there, had to go down to 1st gear, but I didn't lose any time.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Mexican GP Betting Preview - Silver struggle?

You know the one about not jumping to conclusions. Lewis Hamilton has won six of the last eight rounds, and been at somewhere near the top of his game. Now we have the Mexico round, with plenty of long straights on the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez on which the Mercedes can stretch its legs.

The championships may be as good as gone, but Ferrari
 looks good for the Mexico race
By ProtoplasmaKid - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://
And yet. Mercedes has been worried about this one for a while. With the high altitude all will be able to run with maximum downforce, and Ferrari and Red Bull has tended to look stronger in such a spec this season.

"I think the Ferraris will be quite quick," said Lewis in advance of this one. "I'm not sure how we're going to do at that track, I think they might have the upper hand."

And even better the bookies don't appear to have twigged, making Lewis the clear favourite. Therefore lay your money on Sebastian Vettel at 7/2 to get the pole and 13/5 to get the win.

Seb to get fastest lap at 5/2 also looks good - he indeed has taken fastest lap in two of the previous three races (and he barely started the other one).

Tuesday 24 October 2017

US Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Hamilton Habitual

Photo: Octane Photography
It was on a number of levels familiar fare. But in terms of what Lewis Hamilton is doing it was no less captivating for that.

Lewis rode his luck somewhat in previous rounds, but Austin was different. He was on another level and his win was never in doubt, even when he lost the lead at the start.

There was entertainment behind though, though in another familiar aspect at the last we got something regrettable.

You can have a read of my take on the US Grand Prix for Motor Verso 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.

Monday 23 October 2017

Mexico City Preview: Something old, something new

It's still a new round. But of course it is far from new. And far from typical of the sort that has parachuted onto the modern F1 calendar lately.

The new stop-off that's far from new
By Luis Urquiza -
22753552172/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.
Mexico has considerable F1 heritage, as well as considerable F1 presence. And when it reconvened as an F1 host two years ago it confirmed too that it bows to few when it comes to the quantity and passion of its fans.

F1 returned then to Mexico for the first time since 1992 and indeed to the same, albeit revised, Magdalena Mixhuca park venue in Mexico City. And it was not just due to this that it shares little with the often tepid new-fangled rounds of the past couple of decades.

Some 350,000 come through the gates across each weekend visit which includes 40,000 packing out the astonishing baseball stadium section, which also hosts the podium ceremony and provides a football crowd-like atmosphere. F1's return moved even sober Niki Lauda to describe it as the best F1 event he had attended.

US GP Report - Familiarisation session

It seemed terribly familiar. That's because it was.

Lewis Hamilton further cemented his
latest title with a crushing win
Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton took his fifth Austin win from six in this US Grand Prix; his sixth US win from seven. And his sixth win from the last eight rounds anywhere.

Thus his fourth world title is further cemented. Short of Sebastian Vettel outscoring him by 17 that will be confirmed next week in Mexico. That particular one was inevitable anyway, and it feels now like we're going through the motions before the inevitable is confirmed. But no one is going through the motions as impressively as Lewis.

It threatened, briefly, to get interesting over first place in this one, as Vettel's Ferrari from second had much the better start and took the lead from poleman Lewis, elbowing ahead on the inside of turn one. But, as noted, it was fleeting. On lap six Lewis with cruel ease got by to lead, on the long straight.

Sunday 22 October 2017

Austin Qualifying - Making it more inevitable

If this year's title destination seemed inevitable, the Austin weekend thus far has done little to alter that status.

Lewis Hamilton made his fourth world
title even more inevitable with pole
Photo: Octane Photography
Yes one does not get rich backing against Lewis Hamilton at Austin's Circuit of the Americas. But even so the extent of his advantage stunned, not least as Mercedes on pure pace this time looked ahead too.

And Lewis, as if leaving nothing to chance on any front, has topped every Austin session. Including in qualifying.

He cruised to pole with minimal rancour, his first effort in Q3 - even with a derate - good enough by a way.

"He's moved onto a different plane since the summer," noted an observing Pat Symonds.

Friday 20 October 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Donald Trump Tweets On Formula 1 #FakeNews

Will Donald Trump attend the 2017 United States Grand Prix? If he does, would he tweet about Formula 1? After all, that's one thing he's really good at. In this week's episode, Mithila and Kunal put their creative hats on and tell you what Trump could tweet on Formula 1, if he did.

Also, could Fernando Alonso have won the 2017 Drivers' Championship with Ferrari? With Usain Bolt, Michael Buffer and a variety of musical acts, the United States Grand Prix could be setting a new benchmark for Formula 1. Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 34)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour. 

Thursday 19 October 2017

USA uses enough oil to fill the Empire State Building 3 times over – every day, by Select Car Leasing

Since President Trump withdrew the USA from the Paris Agreement, Select Car Leasing thought it would be a good time to look at just how much petrol the USA uses when compared with other large economies.

It may not surprise you that the USA 'leads' the world in terms of petrol usage. But it may surprise you when you see just how much petrol they use when compared with other major economies.

The USA uses 19,396,000 barrels of petrol per day. That's enough to fill the Empire State Building almost 3 times over.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

US GP Betting Preview - Lone star in the Lone Star State?

On one level calling this weekend's US Grand Prix at Austin looks a no brainer.

Will it be a close fight between the big three teams?
Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton is a Texan specialist, with four wins from five races here. He also is in formidable recent form - winning five from the last seven. Plus the circuit, the first two thirds of it at least, should suit the Mercedes. And 9/10 for Lewis to triumph looks reasonable value.

But dig a little deeper and things may not be that simple in any case. The final part of the COTA lap may not suit the Merc plus tyre warm up can be tricky at Austin - something that on 2017 experience will give the silver squad's engineers a shudder.

Plus its two closest rival teams will enter the weekend with optimism. It's easy to lose sight of that the Ferrari's still looked quick in recent weeks when it's not been breaking down; COTA has a bit of everything about both its layout and its temperatures and these should play into the hands of the versatile red machine. And its reliability woes have to end sometime, don't they...?

Fastest cars on the planet in 2017, by Multilotto

2017 is the year of the ultimate Speed freak. Gone are the days when 200 mph was the holy grail of motoring. Today there are many cars which have breached this once impossible threshold. Indeed, some of the fastest cars of 2017 completely obliterate 200 mph. It seems 2017 has thrown up a new unreachable target, the lords of asphalt are now on a mission to create a mind boggling 300 mph, road legal car.

Here, Multilotto have put together a list of the fastest cars on the planet in 2017. With the price tag which comes with these dream Hypercars, a lottery win is the only way that most of us will be able to afford one of the oh so beautiful beasts.

Sit back, relax, and dream the impossible dream.

Monday 16 October 2017

Austin Preview: Taking care of business

Unfinished business. The itch it couldn't scratch. Call it what you will, it applied to America for much of F1's history.

F1 has at last found a good home in the US - at Austin
Photo: Octane Photography
The world's largest economy, sports mad and likely unparalleled in its attachment to the automobile; add that F1 purports to have a world championship. Yet somehow for years it didn't amount to pitching a tent Stateside that wouldn't fall down upon contact with the slightest gust of wind.

Demonstrating as much there have been no fewer than ten US F1 hosts (no other country gets close). Contrary to some presumptions F1 did previously get it right in the States, with well-established and popular rounds at Watkins Glen and Long Beach. Both were lost in the early 1980s.

Of the other attempts, some of them have been cringe-worthy; for stretches there was no US round at all. In advance of the latest go in Austin a few expected more of the same.

Yet when everyone arrived for the first time in 2012 the doom-mongers simply could not have been more wrong.

Thursday 12 October 2017

Japanese Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Deja vu all over again

At Suzuka it was deja vu all over again.

Photo: Octane Photography
Really. For the third race in a row Ferrari compromised itself from the first beat. And Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes helped themselves to a big points gain. Now the destination of the drivers' title their way looks certain.

For Motor Verso I give my take on it all, and shoehorn a few more Yogi Berra lines...

You can have a read 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.

Monday 9 October 2017

Malaysia Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Let's twist again

Sepang International Circuit Grandstand Tower 2016 Malaysian GP
By Morio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://],
via Wikimedia Commons
A little belated (and to some extent overtaken by events) but here's my review of the Malaysia GP for Motor Verso - a weekend wherein F1 said 'let's twist we did last summer...'

You can have a read 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.

Sunday 8 October 2017

Japanese GP Report - When things run away from you

It was deja vu all over again. Literally. In the Japanese Grand Prix for the third race in a row Ferrari was compromised from the first beat. For the third race in a row (in fact more than that) Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes made a major points gain. And now we're in the endgame.

No wonder he's smiling - in Suzuka Lewis Hamilton
all but wrapped up his fourth drivers' title
Photo: Octane Photography
This time it was a spark plug problem for Sebastian Vettel. Just as with Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia, the Ferrari mechanics were frantic on the grid around Seb's car. Such reliability niggles are becoming a habit.

Unlike Kimi in Sepang Seb got going but the extent of his problem soon was evident. Max Verstappen ambushed him for P2 at the hairpin first time through, then Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas all swamped him on the pit straight next time past.

Quickly he was pulled in to retire, and Vettel later spoke like a man who knew the championship was gone.

"I think I need to protect them," he said of his team. "We've done an incredible job this year, it's like that sometimes.

Saturday 7 October 2017

Suzuka Qualifying - Rising star

So reports of Mercedes's F1 death were greatly exaggerated.

Yes to an extent a bounce back was expected. Suzuka, particularly its full noise final part, would suit it. The temperatures - unlike the previous two rounds - were cool, and this the Merc loves. But given recent flailing, much of it unanticipated, no one was taking anything for granted.

Mercedes, and especially Lewis Hamilton, reasserted
control in Suzuka qualifying
Photo: Octane Photography
From an early part of the qualifying hour it looked a familiar story though - Lewis Hamilton and his Merc well on top. He converted his advantage too, taking a pole as balmy as is possible in such circumstances, by a third of a second. It is, astonishingly at this drivers' track, his first ever pole here of his 71.

"I never ever really got a great balance in the past so I never did great in qualifying," Lewis noted afterwards.

"So to finally get the balance behind me with the great work of my engineers and the great timing from all the mechanics, I finally got on track and did the time.

"And the car is crazy here, I wish you could feel it.