Monday 31 December 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - The Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards

As with every year, the last episode of the year is our paddock-famous, funny and most-awaited Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards. Yes, these are our alternative (okay, you can use the word parody too) awards in the world of Formula 1. If our tagline - 'the winner is never who you think it is!' - is anything to go by, we promise you half an hour of laughter as we relive the most-memorable and unforgettable moments of the 2018 Formula 1 Season. In fact, only at our awards ceremony are the nominations as much fun as the actual winners!

Photo: Octane Photography
As we draw the curtains to 2018, here's wishing you and your families a Happy New Year. Thank you for sharing our passion. See you in 2019!

(Season 2018, Episode 42)
Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts and audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Here's what's in store for you in this episode:
0:00-4:00: What are the Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards all about?
4:00-8:00: Best Team and the Best Win of the Year awards
8:00-12:00: Silly Move and Best Fans of the Year awards
12:00-16:00: Joke and the Best Radio Message of the Year awards
16:00-20:00: Best Social Media and Changemaker of the Year awards
20:00-24:00: Best Strategy, Worst Mistake and Best Wingman of the Year awards
24:00-28:00: Best Upgrade and Best Performance of the Year awards
28:00-32:00: Best Overtake, Best Race, Comeback of the Year awards
32:00-end: Best Driver of the Year and Lifetime Achievement award

Sunday 30 December 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Forty years on – the brief rise of Ligier

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.
As we are often told with varying degrees of efficacy, things in the F1 past were very different.

And so it was if we jump back four decades almost to the day. Try to imagine a team known mainly as wayward midfield plodders turning up at round one and jumping clean over allcomers; starting the year with two easy victories. Then try to imagine that after that things about as quickly got difficult again, and the team sank from championship contention.

For Motorsport Week I look back to the 1979 season and the very brief rise and subsequent fall of Ligier, as well as analyse what explains the two sharp shifts.

You can have a read here:

Saturday 22 December 2018

5 Things You Should Know About Selling a Used Car

Cars keep changing in regards to features, technology, design, and performance. The need to sell a used car and get a newer one usually arises when one's financial status improves. In addition, the need may also arise when one gets children or if the old car is damaged and spending money on repairs would prove overbearing. As a car owner, before selling your car, you should know the following:

1) Selling To Used-Car Dealers Is Worthwhile
Approaching used-car dealers is recommended since they will buy almost any car, even if it is scratched or dented. In case the car has any dents, they do touch-ups to recondition it. As a seller, you should check several credible car dealers, comparing their valuations and returns on the sale of your vehicle to avoid being shortchanged. This method is hassle-free as they provide you with full services and handle all the documentation of the sale process. Selling to trusted cash for cars dealers is safe and straightforward as they have a ready market and, so your car is sold fast.

2) Ensure Your Car Has a "Curb Appeal"
The first impression that greets a buyer is the car's physical outlook. Before putting your car up for sale, make sure it is clean. A dirty car leaves the impression that you have not cared for it and this will turn off buyers. It would help if you got it washed and vacuumed. Also, remove all your belongings including custom bumper stickers. Do not forget to wipe the wheels, mirrors, and the windows. Consider implementing some minor upgrades that will not cost you much such as new seat covers and car mats. This will help your car look more attractive for the buyers.

Friday 21 December 2018

Lehto at Benetton, by Ibrar Malik

1994 was supposed to be the year JJ Lehto became one of F1's top drivers, but the season ended his Grand Prix career. How did such a golden opportunity turn into a poisoned chalice?

Coming into that year Lehto was considered a rising star having tested for Ferrari and secured an incredible third at Imola 1991 driving for unfancied Scuderia Italia. 

After beating former race winner Michele Alboreto to the second Benetton seat for 1994, Lehto would have been forgiven for thinking regular podium visits were just around the corner. This was the Finn's first top F1 drive after five years within F1 and the new Benetton proved extremely quick in Michael Schumacher's hands. But that was as good as things got for JJ because on the 21st January 1994 he was lucky to survive a massive neck-breaking accident while testing the B194 at Silverstone. This month, therefore, marks the 25th anniversary of that. Few realised Lehto's girlfriend had just become pregnant only days before that accident. So you can imagine thoughts of not wanting his unborn child to grow up without him might have been circulating within Lehto's head as he laid in the hospital recovering.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Why Ferrari Codenamed Their Car '670'

Ferrari's '670' (or their 2019 Formula 1 car) will be unveiled to the public on 15th February, 2019. But what significance does the number '670' have for Ferrari? We try to decipher further in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast.

Photo: Octane Photography
Also in this episode, we replace the What Wolff Said This Week section with What Marko Said This Week, because he did say one thing too many and everything too funny! Charles Leclerc's target of '2 wins in 2019' seem unambitious, we tell you why. Could Brendon Hartley be Porsche's Formula E driver for next year? We share an important life lesson from his Motorsport career. And finally, did you know that Lewis Hamilton is open to playing second fiddle in Mercedes? Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 41)
Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts and audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Here's what's in store for you in this week's episode:
0:00-3:00: A teaser for the 2018 Inside Line F1 Podcast Awards

3:00-6:00: We speak Formula E; the only series that rewards drivers for racing off the line? Are Formula E cars as strong as go-karts?

6:00-9:00: Why have Ferrari codenamed their 2019 F1 car '670'?

9:00-12:00: What Marko Said This Week - are Red Bull really not interested in Mick Schumacher? Are Red Bull drumming up unnecessary PR with regards to their Honda partnership?

12:00-15:00: WHAT IF Verstappen gets an unreliable and slow engine in 2019?

15:00-18:00: All the funny PR stories from Formula 1 in the last week! Also, we tell you why Charles Leclerc's targets for 2019 are disappointing

18:00-21:00: Life lessons from Brendon Hartley's Motorsport career; will he be Porsche's Formula E driver? Lewis Hamilton is open to playing second fiddle at Mercedes, did you know?

21:00-24:00: Ashley's 2018 Formula 1 Season review

Saturday 15 December 2018

New Motorsport Week article: F1 2018 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 again seek to resolve the matter with my serial (or should that be cereal?) set of prestigious annual awards, The Golden Grahams.

Some of it almost threatens to be serious (best driver, best team...); some doesn't even bother going that far. Hopefully it'll all be taken in the nature intended.

You can have a read of it in all its glorious nonsense via this link:

Thursday 13 December 2018

My Top 10 F1 Drivers of 2018: The Rest…

Here are my views on those F1 drivers from 2018 who didn't make my top 10 ranking from a few days ago. If you're interested, you can read the top 10 here.

Photo: Octane Photography
Going through the 'other 10' in final drivers' table order brings us first to Sergio Perez, for whom 2018 was more of the same – for good and ill. He racked up plenty of points plus in the way that apparently only he can bagged a podium finish when the very rare opportunity offered itself. Yet Perez couldn't alter his long-time predicament of lingering in the middle ground between being a good midfielder (with money) and a talent that a top team will covet. It didn't help that, while there as ever wasn't much in it, his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon had the pace edge for the most part. Nor did his hooligan performance in Singapore, first showing not much effort to avoid a collision with Ocon then – far worse – having a rage swipe at Sergey Sirotkin.

Kevin Magnussen's season was rather a breakthrough. With him at last getting the many benefits of a second season in a race seat, the results flowed particularly in the early part of the campaign. He didn't always string things together though, and more broadly once team-mate Romain Grosjean sorted himself out Magnussen tended to be the second Haas. He also gave more evidence to sustain his enfant terrible image – the criticisms can be excessive but still his move on Pierre Gasly in Baku then on Charles Leclerc at Suzuka were hard to defend. He sometimes gives the impression of revelling in the status but equally it may become a burden.

Monday 10 December 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Man vs. Machine To Intensify In F1 2019

Formula 1 is set to introduce a new television graphics package in 2019. This could mean that drivers will not only battle each other, but against advanced artificial intelligence algorithms that will tell television viewers the probability of an overtake happening. Whether you enjoy such data or not, the 2019 Formula 1 Season will see the 'man vs. machine' fight play out on a different level altogether. Btw, the machines should already know that men have kicked their a**es in Formula 1 since inception!

Photo: Octane Photography
In this week's of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we discuss the outlandish 'PR statements' made by several teams and drivers, like Max Verstappen claiming that he and Charles Leclerc are Formula 1's new Lewis Hamilton-Sebastian Vettel pairing. Or when Carlos Sainz Jr. hailed the 'great' start to his career as a McLaren driver. Or when Renault claimed that their engine will be on par with Mercedes and Ferrari in 2019. Or when Toto Wolff claimed that Mercedes missed their 2019 engine targets. Or when Marcus Ericsson fuelled the always-on IndyCar vs. Formula 1 debate. Or when Sergio Perez claimed that Lance Stroll has talent. Okay, the last statement might not be a PR one, but anyway, you get the gist of what this episode has in store for you. Lastly, we applaud Kimi Raikkonen's antics at the FIA Prize Giving ceremony. Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 40)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Here's what's in store for you in this episode:
0:00-3:00: FIA Prize Giving Ceremony, Kimi Raikkonen's applaud-worthy performances! Which act was your favourite?

3:00-6:00: Did Ferrari conspire against Marcus Ericsson? We board the Ericsson-fuelled IndyCar vs. Formula 1 debate - PR statement #1

6:00-9:00: Max Verstappen in the title race in 2019? - PR statement #2; What could plan-B be for Red Bull-Verstappen in 2020? -PR statement #3

9:00-12:00: Statements #4 & #5, Lewis Hamilton could win the Nobel Prize Award, if he wanted to; that's how blessed he has been all year long! The ONLY team to have not invited Hamilton for a test is - Ferrari!

12:00-15:00: Ferrari's improved social (media) manners, a bright sign for the times to come? And several other PR statements (we lost count!)

15:00-18:00: What Wolff Said This Week Section; why would Valtteri Bottas not want to speak to Nico Rosberg?

18:00-21:00: 2019 is going to be well and truly a 'man vs. machine, we tell you why.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

My Top 10 F1 Drivers of 2018

Here is my personal rating of the top 10 F1 drivers of the 2018 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 10 will follow in the next few days.

1 Lewis Hamilton
Photo: Octane Photography
A driver who always has been astonishingly skilled, yet these days minimises his previous weaknesses to nearly nothing. Do the math, as the kids say. For Lewis Hamilton it added up this year to a majority of races won and a fifth championship taken crushingly, in a car that for much of the season by consensus was not considered the best out there.

The things we knew already about him were still there. His blinding speed of course, quintessentially with his scarcely-credible Singapore qualifying lap on which the championship momentum shifted irrecoverably. His unmatched skills in the wet as demonstrated in his Hockenheim win and Hungary pole – both vital in stemming the Ferrari tide. His piercing aggression and immaculate judgement when wheel-to-wheel, such as on Monza's opening lap. While those intimated weaknesses were all but eliminated. Off-days weren't conspicuous; he even unlike before kept on winning races after the title was clinched. In China, Azerbaijan and Canada he was slightly subdued but he still in each brought his car home for solid points. His mistakes across the piece amounted to disappearing down a Baku escape road. A formidable force at something like his peak.

2 Max Verstappen
Photo: Octane Photography
It now seems like something from another age, but in Monaco it was open season on Max Verstappen. A qualifying prang there that dashed a victory opportunity, which was the latest of a succession of errors. A 'six crashes in six rounds' count was banded around liberally. Yet from that very moment, almost literally overnight, he righted his ways and his towering talent again came to the fore. Maybe even with a season started in Canada he make a genuine claim to deprive Hamilton of the number one slot.

He admitted that he had changed after his Monaco long dark night of the soul, realising smartly that a Max Verstappen driving within his limits still is considerably faster than just about anyone else. It manifested in persistent astonishing drives, repeated podium finishes and two victories. There still was the odd falter, such as his erratic Monza run while his Brazil antics with Esteban Ocon, off track and arguably on it, still betray creases to iron out. Yet even so we ended this campaign more convinced than ever that Verstappen is a phenomenon who surely is destined to win multiple championships.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - What Year Will Alonso Be Back In F1?

Will Fernando Alonso give us a chance to miss him? What year could Alonso be back in Formula 1 - 2020, 2021 or 2022? Also, more than what year, it will also be a question of with which team. We certainly don't think it would be Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Photo: Octane Photography
In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and Kunal wonder if Alonso's exit would see a mass exodus of fans from Formula 1 - that's exactly what happened when Michael Schumacher quit. History and statistics tell us why Stoffel Vandoorne can be a Formula E Champion. We offer Racing Point creative ways to announce their signing of Lance Stroll. Did Ferrari back the wrong driver in 2018? Forget a fast car, Renault better have a witty social media team for Daniel Ricciardo. And finally, was Lewis Hamilton's 'shirtey' moment a lame attempt to give us something more than Ricciardo's 'shoey'? Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 39)
Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Here is what's in store for you this week:

0:00-3:00: Did ALO take a legion of fans away from Formula 1 like MSC did?

3:00-6:00: Will ALO let us miss him in Formula 1? How soon before ALO is back - 2020, 2021 or 2022?

6:00-9:00: History tells us why VAN can be a Formula E champion and can we get started with McLaren-One Plus jokes already?

9:00-12:00: We offer Force India creative ways to announce their signing of Lance Stroll

12:00-15:00: Did Ferrari back the wrong driver in 2018? What if KUB still has it in him?

15:00-18:00: Mercedes win the Esports Championship too. They are the chosen ones this year. Forget a shoey, HAM did a shirt-y!

18:00-21:00: PER has been Force India's saviour in every way this year. Red Bull's discarded drivers coming to to the team’s rescue. But do they really have a future in Formula 1?

21:00-25:00: RIC's Mercedes promotion. No one saw it coming! Mithila's 'What Wolff Said This Week' section.

25:00: Moments in Time with Lucien and the end!

Saturday 1 December 2018

Johnny Herbert at Benetton, by Ibrar Malik

The upcoming book details what can be learnt about the 1994 Benetton controversies whenever other drivers sat within the car, like Johnny Herbert. So what was the Grand Prix winner's view of driving it?

Johnny had been tipped for F1 stardom before sustaining serious leg injuries in a horrific multi-car pileup during an F3000 race in the summer of 1988. Despite not having fully recovered, the Englishman bravely returned to racing at the beginning of 1989 with the Benetton Formula 1 team and astonished onlookers by finishing a brilliant fourth on his debut.

Herbert arriving for his first Formula One test in 1989. Whenever he was buckled up within the car, painkilling injections were stabbed into his legs. Herbert's injuries still affect him today.

Determined as he was, Johnny's performances progressively got worse throughout 1989 as his leg injuries hindered him on circuits which required heavier braking. This led to a political battle over Herbert's future, between Peter Collins (Benetton's team manager) and Flavio Briatore (Benetton's newly appointed Commercial Director). Collins, having spent three years supporting Johnny through the junior categories was adamant the Englishman should remain, but Briatore insisted on replacing him with a fellow Italian. After failing to qualify for the Canadian Grand Prix Herbert was promptly replaced by Emanuele Pirro (an Italian) and Collins left the team a few weeks later.

Friday 30 November 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Ricciardo to Renault, a road to redemption or regret?

Photo: Octane Photography
It's like the previously-stale F1 drivers' market is making up for lost time. When the 2019 season gets underway next March there'll be no shortage of unfamiliar faces, nor of familiar faces in unfamiliar places. But even so one move trumped them all for shock value.

In my latest for Motorsport Week I look into the probability of success of Daniel Ricciardo to Renault - will it be a road to redemption or regret? With, you may be glad to hear, an added absence of appealing alliteration...

You can check out the fruits of my investigating here:

Monday 26 November 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
In the 2018 F1 season closer Lewis Hamilton was so kind as to provide a summary. His latest win of 11 in his fifth world championship year contained a few of the themes that ran through the campaign as a whole. Not least Hamilton himself remaining, one way or another, in the box seat.

My take on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale is added to the Motor Verso F1 season summary. As ever it's illustrated with great Pirelli photography and my selection of the best of YouTube content.

You can check out the fully formed summary via this link:

Sunday 25 November 2018

Abu Dhabi GP Report - The year in microcosm

If they say to start as you mean to go on, what do they say about finishing?

Lewis Hamilton led from the off and always was in command
Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton won the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole, his 11th victory of his latest championship season. And as Martin Brundle noted, it's not clear if he broke sweat in so doing.

There was the odd adventure along the way; the odd cause for doubt. But the running thread through all of the Yas Marina race was that Hamilton's Mercedes was well in the best place. It was 2018 in microcosm.

The main detour was a result of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari stopping on lap 7 with no power on the pit straight. The Virtual Safety Car was enacted and Hamilton alone among the leaders took advantage of the lower time-loss by making his sole pitstop. He emerged in fifth, planning to run to the end and just 8.8 seconds off the new leader, his stable-mate Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton sounded sceptical at times but it did work out, as when others ahead pitted he had a net lead of something in the order of 10s. The only matter then was whether his tyres could go to the end.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Abu Dhabi GP Betting Preview - Looking to the future

Abu Dhabi races are usually about two men. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won at this futuristic-looking venue three times apiece and revel in the track's challenges. The bookies agree and give the pair the shortest odds for pole and win - with Vettel the favourite ahead of Hamilton.

Local specialist Lewis Hamilton seems to
offer the best betting value
Photo: Octane Photography
But given Vettel's recent erratic form Hamilton may be the better bet, plus the evidence of Brazil last time out is that Hamilton is not letting up with the championship won. In addition Ferrari has never won here, and Seb's not won in Abu Dhabi since his Red Bull days in 2013.

You can back Hamilton to be fastest qualifier at 6/4 and to win at 11/4. The main cause for concern herein - and which may explain Vettel's shorter odds - is that it remains to be seen if Hamilton needs to take a grid penalty after his engine problems in Brazil.

This may though present an opportunity, as if Hamilton is blasting through the pack on race day with a fresh engine, strategic freedom and fresh tyres (due to not giving qualifying full beans) then the 3/1 for him to get the race's fastest lap becomes an even better bet than it would have been anyway.

Monday 19 November 2018

Abu Dhabi Preview - The sun goes down

So the sun goes down on another F1 campaign. And providing the visual metaphor, the season-closing round is the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. F1's only day-to-night event.

In an appropriate place, the sun goes
down on another F1 season
Photo: Octane Photography
The sunset on this 2018 season has been slow, and we enter this finale with remarkably little at stake. Both titles are decided of course, but even further down the tables there is meagre potential for change at the last.

Underlining the point the most conspicuous bone of contention at the Yas Marina track this weekend is that Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen are separated by three points in the 'battle' for fourth in the drivers' standings. Either theoretically could leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen for third as well - Bottas is 14 points behind and Verstappen 17 - though that outcome will likely require a no-score for Raikkonen.

Even in the all-important constructors' order - all-important as that's what they base the money on - just about all teams look well ensconced in their places. The most likely shift is that a good weekend for Sauber - and it looked quick in Brazil - combined with a meagre one for Force India may allow the Swiss team to vault over the six-point gap between them. Conversely a sixth and seventh place for Force India combined with no McLaren points will get Force India up a place.

Saturday 17 November 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Progress not panic – paying homage to five-times constructors’ champion Mercedes

Photo: Octane Photography
In last weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix something remarkable happened, though it wasn't dwelt on all that much. Mercedes clinched its fifth constructors' title in a row, a feat only matched ever by the crushing Ferrari squad of the noughties.

For Motorsport Week I try to address the situation by paying homage to dominant Mercedes, and delve into what makes this team extraordinary.

You can have a read via this link.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Brazilian Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
The Brazilian Grand Prix just passed demonstrates the importance of not judging books by their covers. A dead rubber; another Lewis Hamilton win. Sounds tepid. But this one was hot. And hot for reasons no one anticipated.

My take on it is added to the Motor Verso F1 season summary. As ever it's also illustrated with wonderful Pirelli photography and my selection of the best Brazilian Grand Prix content from YouTube.

You can check out the nearly-final summary here:

Brazilian GP Report - More to it

Lewis Hamilton in the Brazilian Grand Prix won his 10th race of an imperious 2018 season. Ho-hum. Not even that Hamilton had never before won a Grand Prix after taping up that year's title stopped him this time. Mercedes with it sealed its latest constructors' championship. Ho and indeed hum.

Lewis Hamilton won again, but there were
many adventures along the way
Photo: Octane Photography
Not a bit of it though. The above paragraph holds only if one falls foul of the old one about judging books by their covers. This one at Interlagos was a thriller, with massive detours on the way to what appears its very standard outcome.

The source of the intrigue was unforeseen too. It wasn't because of an anticipated Ferrari challenge to Mercedes, as that didn't arrive. Despite Sebastian Vettel qualifying a smidgen off poleman Hamilton, him reckoning he'd have had top spot without a small mistake. Despite too that Vettel started on more durable tyres. The anticipated rain didn't arrive either.

No, it was a thriller because of a challenge to Mercedes that came instead - against anticipation - from Red Bull.

Red Bull challenged Mercedes. Red Bull passed Mercedes. Red Bull had this one in the palm of its hand. Until Red Bull lost it. As Red Bull hit a backmarker. And that was only the start of the consternation.

Friday 9 November 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Vettel Missing A Mentor At Ferrari?

Sebastian Vettel could be missing a mentor at Ferrari. In fact, could Ferrari do better with a 'real' racer at the helm of affairs? We explain our view in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast by comparing the pressures between a Formula 1 driver and the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Photo: Octane Photography
Also, we wonder how things could've turned out had Lewis Hamilton lost the World Championship in 2008; would Timo Glock be remembered a little less? With Formula 1 teams promoting young (or really young!) drivers in this era - has Formula 1 become a development series for drivers too? Finally, will Hamilton break his no-win-after-championship duck this weekend in Brazil? Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 38)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Here is what's in store for you this week:

0:00-3:00: That time of the year when remember Timo Glock; WHAT IF Felipe Massa would've won the Formula 1 World Championship in 2008?

3:00-6:00: Sebastian Vettel looks like he's missing a mentor at Ferrari - we explain our point

6:00-8:00: Has Formula 1 become a development series for drivers too? Also, can Ferrari seriously win the Constructors' Championship this season?

08:00-10:00: Can Lewis Hamilton attempt a switch to and win with Ferrari? Basically, do what Michael Schumacher attempted to do in his era

10:00-13:00: Haas should be disappointed if they finish 5th in 2018, agree or disagree? Can Williams survive without the Stroll money in 2019?

13:00-15:00: Should Formula 1 cars now have digital rear view mirrors? And, Lucien's 'Moments in Time' section for the upcoming Brazilian Grand Prix! 14:45

20:00-end: Lewis Hamilton is yet to win a race after winning a World Championship; can he win this weekend in Brazil?

P.S.: We won't have an episode next week; remember to tune back in the week before the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Brazilian GP Betting Preview - After the Lord Mayor's show

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And so it is for Lewis Hamilton. As even in the direct aftermath of his greatest triumph so far - his fifth divers' title sealed - there is a potential negative implication. One that may interest the F1 fan looking to profit in the betting market in advance of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Will Hamilton, his title won, miss out on race victory?
Photo: Octane Photography
As Hamilton in his F1 career has taken part in five Grands Prix after he's wrapped up that year's championship, and has not won any of them. It's led some to suggest that he's prone to taking his eye slightly off the ball at such moments. While in a more specific sense we can add that his record at the Interlagos circuit isn't all that good by his very exacting standards - he's only won here once and taken two poles.

And in exactly these circumstances 12 months ago at this very venue Hamilton in effect dashed his victory chances immediately by trashing his Mercedes on the first lap of qualifying. While the then-as-now recently-vanquished Sebastian Vettel gave himself and his recently-vanquished Ferrari team some belated succour by winning.

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Why No F1 Fan Should Hate Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is the perfect embodiment of Liberty Media's vision for Formula 1 - embracing the show without compromising on speed. In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we tell you that the 2018 Formula 1 Season is proof why NO Formula 1 fan should hate Lewis Hamilton.

Photo: Octane Photography
Also, we talk about Red Bull Racing's targets for Honda and Max Verstappen in 2019, Jos-Max's chemistry, how Sebastian Vettel can reclaim his lost glory, why the Vietnam Grand Prix was probably announced ahead of its time and which current Grand Prix will Formula 1 be forced to drop to accommodate the new venues in 2020? Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 37)
Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Here's what's in store for you in this week's episode:

0:00-3:00: Latest talking points from the world of Formula 1 + celebrating Lewis Hamilton’s 5th world title

3:00-6:00: Christian Horner’s double talk on Daniel Ricciardo’s talent; decoding the Jos-Max chemistry, is Max ready to be World Champion in 2019?

6:00-9:00: Could Hamilton have won the 2018 Drivers’ Championship racing for Ferrari?

9:00-12:00: Sebastian Vettel is not past his peak. No.

12:00-15:00: Does Vettel know what a podcast is? And, 25 Grands Prix by 2020?

15:00-18:00: Why Marcus Ericsson will do well in Indy Car. Is Carlos Sainz as talented as Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg?

18:00-end: Which celebrity will transmit a farewell message to Fernando Alonso in Abu Dhabi? And also, this week’s ‘What Wolff Said This Week’ section

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Monday 5 November 2018

Interlagos Preview - Where there's life...

And so, with Lewis Hamilton wrapping up his latest world title in Mexico last time out, in large part this forthcoming Brazilian Grand Prix is, in the tennis parlance, a dead rubber. But there are reasons not to write it off even so.

Anything can happen at inimitable Interlagos
By Eduardo Guarizo Pimentel - Formula 1, CC BY 2.0,
There's still intrigue at the front. Not least around our new-old crown recipient. Hamilton in five attempts has never won an F1 race after he has wrapped up that year's championship. It leads some to theorise that he takes his foot off the gas at such moments, something the man himself vehemently denies. In last year's round in this very scenario and at this very Interlagos venue he gave the case for the prosecution some evidence though by binning it on the first lap of qualifying. As a consequence he had to start the race from the pitlane.

And Hamilton can't afford to relax entirely this time, as the constructors' crown is not yet taped up for his Mercedes team. Mercedes is 55 points ahead with 86 available, so it should get the honours. But too much profligacy from him and team-mate Valtteri Bottas has the potential to throw the matter back into the melting pot. Particularly as Ferrari in the last couple of rounds has rediscovered its pace, and Mercedes has hit tyre troubles in both. Hamilton also has only ever won once here, in 2016's heavy rain.

Friday 2 November 2018

Lewis Hamilton 2018 World Champion - Not only...but also

It was just like last year. Only more so.

Photo: Octane Photography
The parallels between the 2017 and '18 drivers' title battles were uncanny. Lewis Hamilton versus Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes versus Ferrari. In the balance, with ebb and flow. That was until Singapore where Hamilton and Mercedes, against the run of play, stamped on the accelerator pedal while Vettel and Ferrari unravelled. And Hamilton won it officially two races ahead of time in Mexico. Having as good as won it a while before.

And there's another thing that's just like last year. That it almost doubtlessly is Hamilton's best of his world championships so far. That we have here an astonishingly-skilled driver at something like his peak. Only more so.

In 2018 he demonstrated many things we already knew about. His blinding speed of course, quintessentially with his scarcely-credible Singapore qualifying lap, on which the championship momentum pivoted. His unmatched skills in the wet as demonstrated in his Hockenheim win and grabbing pole in Hungary - both vital in stemming Ferrari momentum at a time when the red car was on top. His piercing aggression and immaculate judgement when wheel-to-wheel, such as on Monza's opening lap.

Thursday 1 November 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Why Ferrari ditching Fernando Alonso cost it two titles

After Lewis Hamilton clinched his latest world championship many aspects of what the achievement means were discussed.

Photo: Octane Photography
But there was one part that escaped comment mostly - that now Ferrari will have to go 12 years at least without a drivers' title.

This time it's hard to say it's to do primarily with the car's shortcomings, rather points dropped via mistakes by Sebastian Vettel have been crucial. Perhaps similar could be said of the 2017 championship too.

Then there's the guy Vettel replaced. For all that we like to say that the relentless Fernando Alonso has cost himself championships with his antics are we looking through the wrong end of the telescope? Is it not the case that Ferrari has cost itself the last two titles by chasing Alonso out the door?

In my latest Motorsport Week feature article I lay out the case. You can have a read via this link.

Wednesday 31 October 2018

The Day Schumacher Drove a Ligier, by Ibrar Malik

The upcoming book details what is learnt about the Benetton controversies when Michael Schumacher tested a Ligier for one day in December 1994. For instance was the German as impressive when not driving a Benetton?

Before we answer this let us remember the background surrounding this test. In early 1994 the Ligier team was in financial trouble following its team owner, Cyril de Rouvre, having been jailed on fraud charges. Benetton directors, Flavio Briatore and Tom Walkinshaw, bought the struggling French outfit in May 1994 following months of conveyancing. Within this transaction, they were partly acting for the Benetton family - their paymasters - who wanted Ligier's prized supply of Renault engines having failed to acquire them via more conventional means during 1993. This was because their rivals, Williams, had stopped Benetton advances towards the French engine supplier by giving Ligier assistance with gearboxes etc throughout 1993. Williams' strategy was to keep Ligier competitive enough to maintain Renault's interest in it rather than Benetton. Following the 1994 acquisition, Walkinshaw owned a minor stake in Ligier but dreamt of owning the whole team and bringing it Grand Prix success with Ross Brawn. While Briatore, another stakeholder, was simply happy to be a sleeping partner and saw the Liger purchase as just another of his investments.

Walkinshaw (left) and Briatore of Benetton. Neither were strangers to controversies, therefore many people consider Benetton guilty of the 1994 accusations simply because of their association.

Monday 29 October 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Mexican Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
So as a result of the latest Mexican Grand Prix we at last have a 2018 Formula 1 world champion in Lewis Hamilton. And in the same moment we have another impressive race victory for Max Verstappen.

And it means that the Motor Verso F1 season summary is approaching is final state, with my take on the Mexican round and its many implications now added to it.

As ever it's also illustrated with wonderful Pirelli photography and my selection of the best Mexican Grand Prix content from YouTube.

You can check out the latest summary here:

Mexican GP Report - Doing it all over again

And so it is now done. As always seems the way when Lewis Hamilton has a title to claim, things in this Mexican Grand Prix weren't entirely straightforward. But fortunately for him he was by now in a place where he almost couldn't lose. In fact as it turned out he literally couldn't lose as his pursuer Sebastian Vettel didn't get the race win he needed to have a chance of keeping the title open. But whatever was the case in this one, using the worn phrase, 'the history books will show' that Hamilton's fifth world championship is unequivocal. Level with Juan Manuel Fangio and only Michael Schumacher ahead. For all that it has long seemed inevitable, and the conclusion inaptly messy, the magnitude of the achievement should not be understated.

Lewis Hamilton sealed his fifth title -
though it was not straightforward
Photo: Octane Photography
The 2018 championship fight has had plenty of parallels with that 12 months previously and it continued that way in its conclusion. Again it was resolved in Mexico. Again Hamilton did just about enough. Again his chaser Vettel battled hard but did not quite get the result he needed. As again the deciding race was dominated by Red Bull. Or rather, again, by Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

He was the fastest out there all weekend, his only partial stumble missing out on pole position at the last against expectations, to his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – Verstappen complained afterwards about excessive engine braking. Whatever he swiftly righted things with a better start to lead. And was never seen again.

Friday 26 October 2018

Feature on Monoposto club's history in this week's Autosport

There is a bit more of me than usual in this week's Autosport magazine. Over recent weeks and months I've been speaking to various people from Monoposto Racing Club past and present to explore the club's history and place within the motorsport landscape, as it celebrates its 60th anniversary year. Big thanks to all at the club for their invaluable help!

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Mexican GP Betting Preview - Interesting times

Life for the F1 gambler has just got a whole lot more interesting. For however many rounds we've sought to make hay from what, at the top level, was expected with reason to be a Lewis Hamilton demonstration run.

Can Ferrari continue its Austin renaissance in Mexico?
By ProtoplasmaKid [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creative],
from Wikimedia Commons
Now we exist in the wake of the Austin visit last weekend, wherein the kaleidoscope was shaken. There Ferrari rediscovered the pace that it mislaid sometime in early September. Plus for the first time since before then imperious Mercedes had a messy time of it, with a dud strategy call, tyre blistering, water pump reliability problems and revising its wheels rims in fear of a protest. Hamilton hinted at problems over and above even these.

Then there's where we are this weekend coming. This Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit in Mexico City is far from a standard case. Ferrari was likely the fastest car here last year and should have won. The Mercedes meanwhile doesn't appear to much like the place; the silver pair qualified four tenths off Sebastian Vettel on pole 12 months ago and in the race Valtteri Bottas - who unlike Hamilton wasn't delayed - finished almost 20 seconds behind the cruising victor Max Verstappen.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Mexico City Preview: Unfinished business

So reports of the championship battle's death were greatly exaggerated. Or rather, they were premature by a week. Lewis Hamilton heading into the Mexican Grand Prix this weekend still has a little bit of work to do.

Barring the unusual, Lewis Hamilton will clinch the
world championship this weekend
Photo: Octane Photography
Despite everything though Austin's result from last Sunday ratcheted up the certainty of his fifth drivers' title. Now he needs only five points - or to put it another way a seventh place - to make it official. Surely barring a non-finish or very severe delay he'll get it this time. Even a small delay shouldn't stop him - we've seen time and again that these days members of the six-car Class A can polish off all of Class B with minimum fuss.

And perhaps it's just as well for Hamilton and Mercedes that the mathematics are straightforward, as at this Magdalena Mixhuca parkland venue in Mexico City it emphatically cannot expect a walk in the park.

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - United States Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
In the United States Grand Prix we expected to watch a coronation. Instead we got an episode of Whose Line is It Anyway?

We thought the script was written in advance with Lewis Hamilton set to wrap up his fifth drivers' title at this his home from home circuit. But the script was discarded. We got an unlikely race with a very unlikely victor.

You can read my take on Austin's goings-on in the latest iteration of the Motor Verso F1 season summary.

As ever it's illustrated with wonderful Pirelli photography and my selection of the best of F1 on YouTube.

You can check out the latest summary here:

United States GP Report - Going off script

It was supposed to a coronation. In this United States Grand Prix a result of the sort we'd got used to lately repeated would secure Lewis Hamilton's fifth world championship. And Austin is just about his happiest hunting ground. Plus Ferrari, his closest challenger, was imploding.

Kimi Raikkonen won for the first time since early 2013
Photo: Octane Photography
But Formula 1, despite some convincing impressions otherwise, has a nagging tendency not to follow its predetermined scripts. This one instead turned out to be an improv show.

It went off script early too. Ferrari somehow rediscovered its pace that had gone missing since the Italian round. Although with it the team stuck firmly to its recent lines of going a way to scupper itself nevertheless. Or rather Hamilton's title rival Sebastian Vettel did. He didn't slow sufficiently under a red flag in practice and had three added to his qualifying slot in advance. Hamilton got the pole, like he always seems to somehow, but the red cars were right on his case.

It all left Vettel's Ferrari stable-mate Kimi Raikkonen starting alongside Hamilton on the front row – a man who in his second Scuderia spell has tended to fumble the rare opportunities for glory tossed his way. Plus among the front-runners he alone started on the ultra-soft tyre rather than the the more durable super-soft. But in the race we immediately got our latest evidence that this one was indeed diverging from what was written, and in a conspicuous way as Raikkonen for the first time in 37 races made up a place from his starting slot on the first lap. The ultimate one of taking the lead from Hamilton by seizing the inside of turn one.

Friday 19 October 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Please Don't Take Away Our Chequered Flag

Will Lewis Hamilton clinch his 5th World Championship title at this weekend's United States Grand Prix? Will Donald Trump follow Vladimir Putin's lead and attend the race at the Circuit of the Americas? Well, what we are more concerned about is Formula 1 not replacing our beloved and iconic chequered flag with a digital version next season.

Photo: Octane Photography
Also in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we express surprise at how soon before Michael Schumacher and Valentino Rossi's records in Formula 1 and MotoGP (respectively) could be broken. It seems funny to see Lance Stroll give 'Formula 1 career advice' to Mick Schumacher. And of course, at Liberty Media's home race, we applaud their marketing efforts, but wonder if they are running out of time to implement their changes for 2021. Tune in!

Here's what's in store for you:

0:00 - 3:00: Donald Trump would prefer HAM winning his fifth title in the USA over Mexico. But of course!

3:00 - 5:00: The average age of the American Formula 1 is 59 years! Yikes! Will Formula 1 run out of time to implement changes for 2021?

5:00 - 8:00: Addition in 2019: rear-wing end-plate lights; will they work as turn indicators?

8:00 - 11:00: MSC and ROS's records are out to be broken very soon; can Formula 1 rivalries be like they are in the world of boxing?

11:00 - 14:00: Could ALO have won the title for Ferrari in 2018…you think so?

14:00 - 17:00: How is ALO still 7th in the WDC? HOW!? The mid-field battles are really intense.

17:00 - 20:00: Digital Chequered Flag in Formula 1? No, PLEASE, NO!

20:00 - 23:00: We understand why RBR refused VER to test a MotoGP bike; btw, COTA has installed a 'Verstopper' & Mithila's 'What Wolff Said This Week' section

23:00 - 26:00: From no seat in 2019, to a seat with Mercedes in 2020…too good to be true?

26:00 till the end: Moments in Time by Lucien, Predictions & Bye-Bye!

(Season 2018, Episode 35)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and on audioBoom (RSS feed) for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour

Wednesday 17 October 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Carlos Reutemann and F1’s most mysterious championship showdown

By Dijk, Hans van / Anefo /
neg. stroken, 1945-1989,, item number
931-6476 - http://proxy.
003048976d84, CC BY
-SA 3.0 nl, https://commons.
This weekend at Austin the latest Formula 1 world drivers' championship may be decided. But whatever happens it'll have to go some to beat the title showdown that happened in the same country  37 years ago today.

If it wasn't necessarily the most thrilling finale it almost certainly was F1's strangest. And if you want an enigma, then you can hardly have a more fitting driver in the central role than Carlos Reutemann.

In my latest feature for Motorsport Week I look back to 1981, Las Vegas and the unresolved mystery of Reutemann's (non) showing.

You can check the story out here.

US GP Betting Preview - Lone Star State

Appropriate to the Lone Star State, F1 therein has a lone star. Lewis Hamilton tends to be untouchable in his visits to Austin, Texas.

F1 races at Austin are usually about one man
Photo: Octane Photography
The numbers pay testimony. He's won five of F1's six Austin races. Taking it back further he's won six US Grands Prix of the last seven. Taking it instead to the most recent general form he's also won six of the last seven rounds anywhere. This weekend for the latest US Grand Prix he'll have the scent of a fifth world championship in his nostrils, so there'll be no shortage of motivation. He beams throughout his Austin weekends and it shows in his driving.

For the race win at least backing him seems what they call a no brainer. His odds are appropriately short, but still the 8/13 you can get on a Hamilton victory looks worth your wager.

Monday 15 October 2018

Austin Preview: Endgame

Lewis Hamilton's fifth world championship, up for grabs in 2018, has suddenly became a matter of when not whether. And with this weekend's gathering being the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, perhaps even the 'when' part is redundant.

Lewis Hamilton usually has Austin races to himself
Photo: Octane Photography
Of F1's six visits to Austin Hamilton has won five of them; taking it back further he's won six US races from the last seven. He's also won six of the last seven rounds anywhere. Do the math, as I believe the youth like to say.

Plus if Hamilton wins again this weekend then the title is done unless his foe Sebastian Vettel follows him home in second. And we have reasons to doubt that Vettel will manage that. In recent weeks Ferrari has both lost competitive pace and unravelled organisationally. While Vettel, perhaps in the same way that a dog imitates the characteristics of its owner, has similarly wavered. Any one of the last four grand prix results replicated will make Hamilton's latest world crown official.

Friday 12 October 2018

Would You Lose Your Driving Edge With Poor Vision?

Driving when it comes down to it is a bit of a skill. You need to be physically fit, mentally aware and most importantly you need clear vision.  But when was the last time you got your eyes tested specifically for driving?

Did you know that law in the UK says that you must be able to read a post-2001 number plate in good daylight from 20m? A recent report from the police states that 5% of drivers have failed this test when done randomly at the roadside. Perhaps we should all be checking our eyesight periodically?
My Car Check Raise Awareness
My Car Check is an online database that stores all the information you need to know about any second-hand car you buy, they store information from police, DVLA, insurers and finance houses. Their boss got everyone in there building to go out to the car park and complete the 20-meter reg reading test to help raise awareness of the need to good eyesight when driving.
It is a simple check to complete. Simply measure out 20m from a parked car, then see if you can clearly read the reg plate. If you can't read it, then we would recommend you get assess professionally. You can either get assessed through a local driver assessment scheme or through a mobility centre.
All the staff at passed the test. Mark Bailey, Head of CDL Vehicle Information Systems, which owns, said: “While discussing the shocking new 5% statistic, it emerged that only a few of our team had tried the 20m vision check since passing their driving tests, so we headed out into the car park to try it. Pleasingly, even though it was raining at our Stockport HQ, everyone got the reg spot on. It was a quick and easy team exercise with potentially huge road safety benefits and we urge others to give it a go.”

Importance of Checking

Even with bad eyesight people might still believe that they are fine to drive, but sadly most people don't stop driving until it is too late. People with poor vision have a higher likelihood of causing an accident, and there have even been people killed because of people driving with poor eyesight.
More specifically, there is a lot of information online around Cassie's Law, a 16-year-old girl that was sadly killed by a driver who had poor eyesight but refused to stop driving, his poor vision caused him to drive off the road and hit the girl. The law is looking to give the police the power to instantly revoke driving licences from people who fail a roadside eyesight test.   

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Japanese Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
If the Japanese Grand Prix felt familiar that's because it was. The themes of recent weeks barely altered; the previous momentum was unchecked - maybe even accelerated. Lewis Hamilton won imperiously. Ferrari if anything got more risible than before. Lewis now has world championship match point.

The Motor Verso F1 season summary has been updated with my take on the Japanese weekend. As ever it's illustrated with fantastic Pirelli photography and my selection of the best of F1 content on YouTube.

You can check out the latest summary here:

Monday 8 October 2018

Japanese GP Report - The Big Mo

"You wouldn't want to get in the way of the World Championship battle, would you?," asked David Coulthard of Max Verstappen after qualifying. The Dutchman's reply was typically pointed. "Is it still a battle? Not sure."

Continuing the recent theme, Lewis Hamilton won again
Photo: Octane Photography
Formula 1 is a lot like US presidential nomination races. While that may seem an unlikely analogy in either pursuit 'The Big Mo' - the intangible called momentum - counts for a lot.

In either pursuit too such runaway handcart scenarios can be felt in the positive or the negative. We're seeing both in F1 right now. The theme of recent weeks scarcely altered in Japan. If there was a shift it was only to gather pace in the direction it was already headed. Lewis Hamilton won from pole, barely looking troubled as he did so at this Suzuka track that perhaps suits the Mercedes better than any other.

While Ferrari's momentum in the negative also accelerated. It was perhaps further off the Merc pace than previously. And again Ferrari when up against it made things worse with acts of self-sabotage. This time it entered the realms of farce. Late in qualifying it sent both cars out on intermediate tyres - rain was expected at some point but in that moment the track was bone dry. The sight of the two cars crawling around the lap on utterly unsuited rubber was risible.