Thursday 31 August 2017

No Italy qualifying report from me...

By Britcar24 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://
Hello all.

Just thought I'd let you know that I won't be able to do a qualifying report for the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.

As this weekend I'll be at Donington Park covering the Britcar event for Autosport.

And while there will be a Italy race report it will be on the late side...

Normal service will resume for Singapore.


Wednesday 30 August 2017

Italian GP Betting Preview - Flutter on Ferrari?

On one level the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend went as expected, with a Lewis Hamilton pole and win. But on a broader level, expectations shifted.

Can Sebastian Vettel run with Lewis Hamilton
just like he did at Spa?
Photo: Octane Photography
Mercedes was supposed to dominate at Spa but instead Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari chased Lewis all the way and looked quicker in race trim. Now at Monza this weekend we have another track with similar (ish) high speed demands, plus Ferrari is at home where it historically finds extra oomph. The chat is of a new engine debuted this time.

On the other hand a heavier restriction on oil burning is also coming in this weekend. It was thought anyway that it'd impede Ferrari more than Mercedes and yesterday we learnt furthermore that Merc's new engine - debuted last weekend - won't be subject to the stricter limit.

Still if it's too close to call then Seb's 18/5 to win is better value than Lewis's 2/3. It's still worth backing Lewis for pole - where Mercedes can turn its engines up more than Ferrari- at 8/13. Given both Ferrari and Merc will likely be backing their 'number one' pilot it's likely not worth backing anyone else to triumph.

Belgian Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - The subplot thickens

Photo: Octane Photography
If ever a race demonstrated that it pays to look beyond the topline result.

Yes Lewis Hamilton won the Belgian Grand Prix, as expected. But perhaps greater significance was just behind him, that Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari chased him all the way, at a track that was supposed to be the scene of a Mercedes walkover.

Perhaps therefore a harbinger for the rest of the year?

Here's my review of 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.

Monday 28 August 2017

New Motorsport Week article: Paul di Resta's reminder

Photo: Octane Photography
The F1 reserve driver is nothing like the substitute poised to get on you see in other sports. But in Hungary Paul di Resta got to live up to the role, stepping in to qualifying with less than two hours' notice and meagre recent experience of an F1 machine.

And he impressed, which served as a timely reminder of his talent displayed - but rather forgotten - from his three-year stint as an F1 race driver.

In my latest for Motorsport Week I look back and outline why di Resta's performance should have been no surprise, and why his was rather a lost F1 career.

You can have a read here:

Monza Preview: F1's soul survivor

So what is it about Monza?

What is it about Monza? Well if you need to ask...
Photo: Octane Photography
As Louis Armstrong said when asked to define 'swing', if you have to ask then you'll never know...

On one level it's tricky to explain. The venue lacks the gleaming modernity of some. It has never entirely shaken its air of vague chaos. Aspects of the crowd aren't to everyone's taste. Unlike Spa it isn't much of a driving challenge. It can't even be counted upon to produce a wonderful race - they often are follow-my-leader.

So, what it is? Well we can start with that Monza's heritage is unparalleled - racing cars have been in combat around this Italian royal park going all the way back to 1922, and the layout - other than the addition of chicanes and the coming and going of a fearsome banking section - has remained unaltered for almost all of the time since.

Sunday 27 August 2017

Belgian GP Report - Class of two

"This is a snapshot of 2017 - a class of two out front, head-to-head."

Lewis Hamilton won out after an intense race long battle
Photo: Octane Photography
As Martin Brundle noted it is indeed a familiar story for this season. Whatever we seem to muse in advance somehow it pans out to two men and the teams that they lead. Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes; Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari. So it was at Spa.

In another story of 2017 this Belgian Grand Prix fight rarely was wheel-to-wheel. But it was intense and unrelenting. Any mistake would have decided it there and then. It never came from either

It even perturbed the best of them. "I would not liked to have driven that one," admitted Niki Lauda. "From first to last lap it was flat out, there was no room for anything."

As ever here the start and first long run to Les Combes mattered - poleman Lewis's launch was better than Seb's in second but he still had to cover the inside line at the top of the hill from his foe. But, crucially, he retained first place.

Saturday 26 August 2017

Spa Qualifying - All about Lew

It can be said that he rose to the occasion. Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa from pole, but the qualifying session was about so much more than that. In more than one sense.

Spa qualifying, for several reasons, was
all about Lewis Hamilton
Photo: Octane Photography
He was imperious at this most classic of tracks, which was fitting not only to break the all-time track speed record but also to equal the all-time pole total record held by Michael Schumacher. All too on Schumi's most devastating of hunting grounds.

Matters came full circle. We entered the weekend with plenty of reasons to think Mercedes would be on top. Initially in practice it looked that way, but strong Ferrari race running on Friday then an equally strong Saturday morning practice led us to think the red cars might make a game of it.

But as often it was an illusion. Mercedes figures didn't look worried. As usual come Q2 Merc cranked its units up. It has new ones this time too adding to the shift.

Can you guess these UK car badges when they've been altered? A quiz by Select Car Leasing

Select Car Leasing has put together a super quick quiz where it's taken UK car manufacturer's badges and altered them slightly.

Can you guess which manufacturer is which? You can have a go below:

Thursday 24 August 2017

Why it makes sense for Ferrari to keep Kimi

In some senses it was surprising. But at the broadest level it was not surprising at all.

Photo: Octane Photography
When your boss, and one known for his abrasiveness, says this of you you'd think you weren't long for his employment. "I think Kimi has got to show a higher level of commitment to the process," said Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne recently. "There are days when I think he's a bit of a laggard."

Yet just over a month on it is announced that Kimi Raikkonen is kept on at Ferrari for another year. And as noted it felt nothing like a surprise, and not just because F1 can be strange. Not just either because of the driver market's general stasis in recent seasons, as encapsulated by Will Buxton:
Yes - in the case for the prosecution - Kimi in 2017 has reverted to the norm for his second Ferrari stint. Pace and points conspicuously off his 'number one' team mate. His use strictly that of a useful wingman. Plenty in the tribunes, the Paddock Club and elsewhere wonder what the host of pretenders could do in a red car.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Belgian GP Betting Preview - Silver into gold

As outlined in my Belgian Grand Prix preview, there are plenty of reasons to think this weekend's Spa gathering will be a Mercedes demonstration run. 70% of the Belgian lap is full throttle and there are plenty of quick turns otherwise that'll reward the silver car's long wheel base and aerodynamic efficiency. Temperatures may be cool plus the long lap (for prior to a qualifying effort) and track layout should head off its occasional tyre warm up problems.

Will there be a repeat of Silverstone at Spa?
Photo: Octane Photography
Plenty of parallels with Silverstone in other words, where the Mercs ran away. And Lewis Hamilton did so especially - he can be got at 10/11 to win this time and 7/10 to get the pole.

Still it's worth as ever considering the other Mercedes. Valtteri Bottas's odds remain generous-looking all things considered. He's 5/1 to win and 7/2 to take pole.

Only six of the last 16 Belgian Grand Prix pole-sitters have gone on to win, and it's suggested that with the long run to Les Combes on lap one it's preferable to start second and get the slipstream from the pole man - you can get 9/4 on whoever starts second winning the race.

Monday 21 August 2017

Spa Preview: Bringing it all back home

Modern F1 isn't all bad. Even though you'd be forgiven sometimes for thinking otherwise.

There's nothing quite like Spa
Photo: Octane Photography
This weekend the sport returns from its summer hiatus, and there could not be a better place to reconvene.

Spa-Francorchamps - its mere mention brings many associations.

The picture postcard Ardennes scenery. The speed. The undulations. The fearsome turns. The inimitable organic feel. The clear thread to the very beginnings of motorsport road circuit racing. No wonder that when you ask F1 drivers, engineers or fans for their favourite modern venue this one is usually said, and often without the slightest hesitation.

Saturday 19 August 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Red Bull Supports Vettel, Where's McLaren's Support For Hamilton?

We're back! After a couple of weeks' break, we're back with this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast. Red Bull Racing has publicly supported Sebastian Vettel in his title battle against Lewis Hamilton. Will McLaren come out in support of Lewis Hamilton too?

Reports suggest that Vettel is keen on a one-year contract extension with Ferrari. Is this a learning from Fernando Alonso's Ferrari career, or to leave a door open for a Schumacheresque switch to Mercedes? Btw, our friend and listener, Lucien, shares an interesting numeric perspective on Ferrari's use of team orders in Hungary.

Will Formula 1 and Formula E merge someday? Can Formula 1 become Formula E by just switching to electric motors? And with the 'halo', is Formula 1 moving towards 'closed cockpits'? We discuss these points while applauding manufacturers' interests in the all-electric series which is garnering fan interest slowly and steadily.

And apart from our humourous and funny 'McLaren-Honda-Alonso' section, we also have an 'I Know What You Did This Summer' section. Tune in!

(Season 2017, Episode 29)

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

Saturday 12 August 2017

New Motorsport Week article: The top ten drivers of the 2017 Formula 1 season so far...

Photo: Octane Photography
Everyone loves a top ten. And now that we're in F1's summer break as well as at, roughly, the halfway point of the season I've compiled my own top ten drivers' ranking for the year so far for Motorsport Week.

In addition to the ranking order I've written something on how each of those selected have done this year and my reasoning for placing them where I did.

You can have a read of it all via this link:

Feel free to let me know why I'm wrong or even shock horror if you agree with any of it...

Wednesday 2 August 2017

How F1 Teams Move Across the Globe in 48 Hours! by Storage Centres

The F1 travelling circus is about to start its well-earned summer rest for most of August. Well-earned as its globetrotting is no simple undertaking, and especially not in logistics.

Storage Centres therefore has looked at how F1 teams can travel around the world to different race events within 48 hours, how they store individual car parts and how they're transported. It's outlined in the infographic below:

How F1 Teams Move Across The Globe In 48 Hours by Storage Centres. How F1 Teams Move Across The Globe In 48 Hours by Storage Centres.

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Hungarian GP Report - Vettel battens down the hatches

"Our car is not always easy to set up. We have become much better at doing so. I would like to see Budapest, how the car works with a low speed and high-track-temperatures track. Then, maybe, I will have a more complete picture."

Hungary was the scene of a red revival
Photo: Octane Photography
It took Mercedes boss Toto Wolff of all people to bring us into line in advance. After Silverstone we thought it simple. Lewis Hamilton had in a single afternoon all but wiped out Sebastian Vettel's long held title lead. Ferrari hadn't outpaced Merc since Monaco in May. Plus Hungary next up is happy hunting ground for Hamilton.

But F1, as well as rarely pure, is never simple. Wolff's words were prophetic.

Flowing Silverstone could have been designed for Merc. The Hungaroring near Budapest, as Wolff intimated, is very different. And contains many things that's given the silver car bother this year - medium speed turns, a smooth surface, scarcely a straight worthy of the name...

Hungarian Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Red Revival

Photo: Octane Photography
F1 likes to remind us not to look too far ahead.

After Silverstone we thought everything was going Lewis Hamilton's way, as in a crushing win he wiped out almost all of Sebastian Vettel's title lead in an afternoon, and we noticed that Ferrari hadn't outpaced Mercedes since Monaco in May.

But in Hungary Seb took most of the points loss back. Likely not coincidentally it was at 'Monaco without the houses', the Hungaroring. But like Monaco too, despite dominating on raw pace Ferrari's path to its one-two was not straightforward.

Here's my review of 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.