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.