Thursday 31 May 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Max Verstappen - why the kid is alright

Photo: Octane Photography
Max Verstappen has become the talk of the F1 town - and not for reasons he'd like.

Instead he's become a pariah thanks to his crash-heavy start to the 2018 season, and this he very much continued in Monaco - losing another potential victory. A 'six crashes in six rounds' figure is floating all over the place.

Yet for Motorsport Week I make the case for Verstappen's defence and argue that we may be over-reacting. Whatever is the case we should cut him some slack.

You can have a read of my reasoning here:

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Best Time To Own A Formula 1 Team?

The business of Formula 1 seems to be changing. With Liberty Media looking to restructure team payments, budget caps, standardisation, etc. - is this the best time to invest in a Formula 1 team? Will owning a team finally be about its business rather than passion? We discuss more in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast.

Daniel 'Shoey' Ricciardo is the hottest property in the paddock these days; we actually celebrated his win in Monaco with a shoey! Lewis Hamilton - will he seriously get to designing race tracks? After Miami, he's shown interest in redesigning the Monaco street circuit. We also tell you why the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix wasn't as boring as some of the drivers called it out to be. Finally, who could replace Brendon Hartley at Toro Rosso? And thank you Pirelli for renaming your tyre compounds for next season; we appreciate simplifying Formula 1. Tune in!

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

(Season 2018, Episode 17)

Monday 28 May 2018

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Monaco Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
The ever-expanding Motor Verso F1 2018 season summary now has my view on the Monaco Grand Prix added.

In typical Monaco style there wasn't much racing in the latest Grand Prix - but also in typical Monaco style there was a magnificent drive to victory.

This time in Daniel Ricciardo overcoming adversity and achieving redemption.

You can check out the latest article with my Monaco review, lovely photos and the best of the internet, 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 27 May 2018

Monaco GP Report - Righting a wrong

It was the Monaco Grand Prix in the here and now. But, throughout, many minds were on that two years ago.

Daniel Ricciardo got his Monaco redemption, two years on
Photo: Octane Photography
Then Daniel Ricciardo dominated the Monaco weekend, but lost the win due to Red Bull botching a pitstop. This time he dominated if anything to a greater extent - topping every single practice and qualifying session. Again he led the race. Again though he met problems - this time with his engine. But this time he overcame them to win. In more than one sense he righted a wrong.

To begin with the race was typical Monaco. The poleman Ricciardo led from the line and looking untroubled. Then after the round of what was predicted to be the solitary stops all among the frontrunners stayed in the same order. And track position is ten tenths of the law here.

But another thing typical of Monaco is that it can bite. Things, somehow, happen here. Ricciardo knows this better than most.

Thursday 24 May 2018

Moneypod "Play Your Cars Right" quiz.

Moneypod On-Demand Finance has created the "Play Your Cars Right" quiz.

The piece quizzes your knowledge of high end supercars and their value compared to other things. For example, is a Ford GT40 more expensive than a Virgin Galactic Ticket to Space? Take their quiz below to find out!

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Monaco GP Betting Preview - Best to back the Bulls?

Monaco is different. For good and for ill.

There are reasons to think Red Bull will
be on top this weekend
Photo: Octane Photography
One can never underestimate Ferrari and Mercedes of course, but in many people's eyes Monaco's difference extends to Red Bull becoming the favourite to prevail this weekend. The tight track should suit it down to the ground and not show up its power deficit as much as other circuits do. The Bull also was quickest in the bellwether tight final sector at Barcelona last time out.

It's not favourite in the eyes of the bookies though, and this may present an opportunity. Daniel Ricciardo is third favourite to win - behind usual suspects Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton - at 9/2 while Max Verstappen can be backed at 5/1. You can also back a Red Bull of either stripe to win at 15/8.

If you fancy a less ambitious bet then either Red Bull driver can be backed to finish on the podium at reasonable odds too: Ricciardo at 6/5 and Verstappen at 5/4. You can back both to get on the podium at 15/4.

What Do The Top F1 Drivers Spend Their Money On

It's a dream come true if you are driving in the Formula 1. The competition needs no introduction around the world due to the high-speed glamour and prestige. Oh, and let's not forget the money that you can earn because F1 welcomes the wealthy. Team budgets are expanding and popularity in racing is still growing. It's a sport where money talks. The big question is: What are the top F1 drivers spending their money on?

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton is one of the world's highest-paid sportsmen. In 2015, the F1 driver signed a three-year deal to drive for Mercedes worth £100 million, which made him the highest-paid British sports person at the time.

Lewis loves cars and wanted to personalise his most prized possession. That's why Lewis paid property tycoon Bob Lewis over £200,000 for his personalised plate: LEW 1S. Bob bought the unique registration in 2007 for £50,000 and loved the number plate. But business is business and the offer was too good to turn down. It's also rumoured that Hamilton wanted to splash out on another exclusive plate. Businessman Afzal Kahn received an offer of £6 million for his registration plate: F1. Afzal declined the offer and is still driving with it on his Bugatti Veyron.

F1 drivers often have exemplary taste when it comes to road cars and Hamilton is a perfect example. His collection is believed to have a worth of around £13 million. From high-end European sports cars to American muscle classics, it seems he has it all. Some cars in his collection are purple Pagani Zonda 760 LH, 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra, Shelby Mustang GT500 and of course a Mercedes-Maybach S600.

Kimi Räikkönen
The Finnish driver is currently driving again in F1. He renewed his contract and signed a 1-year contract extension with Ferrari in 2018. The Iceman took a big pay-cut albeit with a guaranteed $7 million (and his performance bonuses can go up to max $10 million.) Kimi's most famous purchase is his yachts. The rider has a 22-meter Sunseeker Predator 72 worth €3.5 million and a 33-meter Sunseeker Predator 108. The yacht of the enigmatic character became famous during the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. Kimi's McLaren gave up and he was forced to retire his smoking car. Instead of watching the rest of the race, Räikkönen walked fully clothed to the marina and jumped on his yacht to enjoy a few drinks.

Does the Iceman also have some interesting road cars in his garage? His garage is filled with an Alfa Romeo 159, Fiat 500 Abarth and a Ferrari Enzo. The cars share the space with a custom-built bike called Iceman II. The motorcycle is created by Marcus Walz of Hardcore Cycles. If that's not enough, Kimi has his own private jet to transport him around the globe.

Max Verstappen

The Dutch rider is the new kid on the block. The Red Bull driver became the youngest F1 winner in history aged 18 years and 228 days. The prodigy extended his contract until 2020, as a result of which his salary went up considerably. Max is now earning a minimum of €10 million excluding bonuses - enough money to fill his garage. The first cars of Verstappen are not comparable with those of other 20-year-olds. In his first year as a licensed driver, Max bought a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Aston Martin V12 Vantage S and Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupé.

In an interview with F1, Max told the press that he has not made a bad buy yet. He is always thinking before acting. It also helps that Max has to convince his manager and his father for every major purchase. That's important because Max likes to spend money on new watches, and he admits he is in love with the mechanical timepieces. The TAG Heuer Carrera is one is his favourites and he even has his own watch called TAG Heuer Formula One Max Verstappen Youngest Grand Prix Winner Special Edition.

Monday 21 May 2018

Monaco Preview: A welcome change?

Once upon a time, Formula One fan and general wit Clive James noted that "it is said these days with increasing frequency that Monaco makes a nice change from Grand Prix racing". With the latest visit upon us, it's hard to argue.

Despite everything, there's something about Monaco
Photo: Octane Photography
Really, what is it with the place and its 'jewel in the crown' status? If you're to be critical, the Monaco round is an anachronism. If you're to be very critical it's an absurdity.

A narrow, bumpy and tortuously sinewy tunnel of barriers. Famously Nelson Piquet described its challenge as akin to riding a bicycle around your living room. Track position is ten tenths of the law. The wider cars introduced last year if anything added to the fraction.

It doesn't get much better off the track either. Cramped and claustrophobic with ostentatious poseurs everywhere who in all probability don't care much for the sport. Not outside this weekend at any stretch.

But, conversely, what it is about Monaco lays within all of this.

Wednesday 16 May 2018

New Motorsport Week article: Why Miami is a big deal for Formula 1

By Brian W. Schaller - Own work, FAL, https://commons.
There might be life in Liberty yet. Just when folk were muttering that F1's new-ish owner wasn't providing much tangible alongside its bold talk, now the possibility is for it deliver a downtown street race in Miami of all places. 

In my latest Motorsport Week feature I outline why it would be a big deal for F1, in more than one sense.

You can have a read of my thinking here:

Tuesday 15 May 2018

I and other motoring journalists pick the UK's best driving roads for Age UK

By Glen Wallace from Inverness, Scotland (Bealach na Ba)
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (
by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
For Age UK I and a few other motoring journalists were asked to pick what we think are the best driving roads in the UK.

There's a bit of a theme with my selections...

Anyway take a look and see if you agree. If they inspire you even to check a few out for yourself then all the better.

Here's the link:

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Spanish Grand Prix review

Photo: Octane Photography
My ever-growing Motor Verso F1 2018 season summary now has my take on the Spanish Grand Prix added.

It wasn't a race big on thrills but it may have been a race big on significance. Or perhaps not.

You can check out the latest article with the Barcelona review added, illustrated and complete with the best of the internet, 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 14 May 2018

Spanish GP Report - Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

There are two things we associate chiefly with Spanish Grands Prix at the Barcelona track. One is dull races with little overtaking. The other is a strong steer of the competitive pecking order among the competing cars.

Mercedes and particularly Lewis Hamilton
dominated the Spanish Grand Prix
Photo: Octane Photography 
We certainly got the former this time. It was indeed, to use the well-worn euphemism, not a thriller. But if the latter applies too it then it's ominous. And a familiar sort of ominous.

As if this one was dull it was made so in large part by Mercedes's dominance. And particularly that of Lewis Hamilton.

"It's one of those happy Lewis days when he's unbeatable," opined Martin Brundle early on, noting something that hasn't been present all that often in 2018 prior to this one. It had that sort of inevitability about it from the point poleman Lewis led into turn one.

He won by 20 seconds and probably would have been happy to drive his W09 straight home to Monaco too if such things were allowed.

New AutoClassics article - Why there was so much more to Jim Clark than statistics

By Rtsanderson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://
The numbers are towering - 25 Grand Prix wins from 72 starts, an Indianapolis 500 victory and much else won besides. But not even that gets at what it was about Jim Clark that was inimitable. Not even close in fact.

To mark the 50th anniversary of his passing, for AutoClassics I spoke to many of those who knew Jim Clark best, to find out that what made him great was about much more than mere statistics.

You can have a read here:

Friday 11 May 2018

Lewis Hamilton: 'Zero Comfortability' in Title Race

Despite the fact that he is currently atop the drivers' standings, Lewis Hamilton admits that he has not raced up to his calibre so far this term. Hamilton shot to the top of the standings two weeks ago after a wild Azerbaijan GP last week, but the Mercedes driver said that his current form will not be good enough to stave off Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel over the course of a full season.

Lewis Hamilton enters the Spanish Grand Prix
weekend in reflective moods
Photo: Octane Photography
Ahead of the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix Hamilton told the press, "At the moment I am punching below my weight, and that is not sufficient to win a world championship. I have zero comfortability. Since the last race I have not thought for one second that I am leading the world championship."

Hamilton's win in Azerbaijan coupled with Vettel's relatively disappointing fourth-place finish propelled Hamilton to the top of the standings on 70 points. Vettel is second with 66, while his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen is further adrift in third on 48 points. Those betting on F1 will have a tough call to make with the two at the top so close together.

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Spanish GP Betting Preview - After the watershed

The Spanish Grand Prix this weekend is a watershed - from a betting point of view at least. After three rounds in which he looked the fastest all else being equal the bookies have twigged and Sebastian Vettel is now favourite for pole and win, ending a lengthy run of Lewis Hamilton having the shortest odds.

For the first time in a long time Sebastian Vettel
has the shortest odds to prevail
Photo: Octane Photography
They bookies might be counter-cyclical though, as Spain could be a good place for Mercedes to bounce back. The long turns and harder tyre compounds than usual should suit Mercedes and go some way to solve its rubber warm-up problems of the last three rounds.

Still Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel have this year been near-perennials at the front on Saturday and Sunday and are not to be written off readily. The odds reflect the close call, Vettel is 17/11 to get the pole and 13/8 to win; Lewis Hamilton's respective odds are 2/1 and 7/4.

Something the bookies haven't quite twigged on though is the form of their respective team-mates Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen - form that is not reflected in their points totals. Both have tempting long odds to win or to get on the podium this weekend. Bottas can be backed at 9/1 to win and 6/5 to finish in the top three, while the respective odds for Raikkonen are 12/1 and 7/5.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - The Jehan Daruvala Interview

This week, we have Force India F1 Team's junior driver and current F3 racer Jehan Daruvala on our show. The young Indian speaks to us ahead of his 2018 F3 campaign - preparations, targets, title rivals and key area of improvement.

The BIG question of course is - how soon before we find him in the Force India cockpit? Hear more in this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast.

(Season 2018, Episode 16)

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

Monday 7 May 2018

Barcelona Preview: Moment of clarity?

F1 in 2018 has been as clear as mud. Four rounds in we still don't have a strong sense of the pecking order. All rounds have contained surprises and then have been shaken up by a safety car (actual or virtual) intervention.

The Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona -
F1's standard round?
Photo: Octane Photography
But if we want a normal dull stop-off that gives us a steer of which cars are hot and which not then the Spanish Grand Prix coming this weekend at Barcelona would be top of our list to provide it.

It has been known as F1's bellwether - the correlation between getting pole at Barcelona and going onto win that year's title was for a time near exact.

Three in every four Grands Prix at this track have been won by the pole-sitter; only on three occasions has it been won from a start off the front row, and all of that trio came in peculiar circumstances.

The circuit's many medium-to-fast speed long-ish turns reward a car that is working well - ill-handling machines can't be hustled around this place readily. That it's a default testing venue takes away another variable, as all have a firm sense of the optimum set-up. Grids here often have a Noah's Ark look. Also the modern aero-laden F1 car can't follow another very happily through this layout, and therefore overtaking often is rare.

Thursday 3 May 2018

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Formula 1 Is Finally Formula Fun

After three back-to-back races of absolute chaos, excitement and unexpected results, is Formula 1 finally Formula Fun? Hats off to Liberty Media for not resting on the laurels and great races in Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan and for forcing through (literally!) the aero changes for 2019. Whether they deliver on-track or not, 10/10 for trying.

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Mithila and Kunal discuss the Formula 1 - Twitter deal and how it has created part-time employment for the 2016 World Champion, Nico Rosberg. They tell you why most teams were opposing the rule changes for next season and how Kimi Raikkonen cracked the best joke of this week. Finally, how soon before fans cry of an overdose in race strategy; well, one of our listeners actually likened the current Formula 1 season to Poker. Do you agree? Tune in!

(Season 2018, Episode 15)

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

Motor Verso F1 2018 Season Summary - Azerbaijan Grand Prix review

Photo: Pirelli Media
I have done my best to squeeze my take on a dramatic and corkscrew Azerbaijan GP to our burgeoning mega Motor Verso F1 2018 season summary article.

A race so odd that Lewis Hamilton winning felt strange, and the Red Bulls taking each other out of the race became rather a footnote.

You can check the latest article out 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.

Wednesday 2 May 2018

New Motorsport Week article: A better bit of Bottas - why Valtteri is different in 2018

Photo: Octane Photography
This F1 season so far has been a lot about Valtteri Bottas. It's not been reflected in hard points but with even luck - not even good luck - he'd be leading the drivers' table. Perhaps even would have won the last three races.

In my latest feature for Motorsport Week I look at what's changed for Bottas in 2018 and why even so he struggles to convince observers that he's all that. Or is it the case that not much has changed in fact?

You can have a read of my thinking here:

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Ayrton Senna - His Final Hours, by Ibrar Malik

Here is the latest guest blog posts by Ibrar Malik, about his forthcoming book 1994 – The Untold Story of a Tragic and Controversial F1 Season. This book will aim to offer much additional insight into this turbulent season and much else besides. You can find much more detail on this on his website at:

Twenty-four years ago today Formula One lost one of its greatest ever drivers. Ayrton Senna's passing was felt across the globe, especially Brazil, which declared three days of official mourning. He had been the world's most famous racing driver and his death was broadcast live on television in front of millions. The grief felt was on par with the deaths of Princess Diana or JFK, and he is still sorely missed among F1 fans even 24 years on. The loss of Roland Ratzenberger a day earlier had been profoundly shocking, however, Senna's passing was another order of magnitude. It turned a shocking situation into the biggest crisis F1 had faced in recent times.

Ayrton Senna was a unique champion and is still adored by F1 fans today.

Senna was a complex, charismatic yet contradictory character who evoked strong emotions within others - qualities which were evident during the final hours of his tragically short life. The death of Roland Ratzenberger during qualifying for the 1994 San Marino GP, the first death at a race meeting in 12 years, deeply affected Senna. Indeed, the Brazilian commandeered an official FIA car to visit the accident himself as he wanted to understand what lessons could be learnt for the safety of others. It was something the triple world champion would be chastised for before the race.