Friday, September 18, 2015


The Singapore Grand Prix is a motor race on the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The event takes place in Singapore on the Marina Bay Street Circuit and was the inaugural F1 night race and the first street circuit in Asia. Spaniard Fernando Alonso won the first edition of the grand prix, driving for the Renault F1 team. The Singapore Grand Prix will remain on the F1 calendar through at least 2017, after race organizers signed a contract extension with Formula One Management on the eve of the 2012 event. The longest race in the F1 calendar at almost two hours, one of the hardest on brakes, with a 100% record of a safety car, a long slow pit stop and a choice of the softest tyres which cannot do the 308km marathon in one stop, the Singapore Grand Prix is always a strategy challenge.


Track Length : 5.073 kilometres.
Race Distance : 61 laps (309.316 kilometres).
Corners : 23 corners in total.
Aerodynamic Setup : High downforce.
Top Speed : 305km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 290km/h without.
Full Throttle : 45.5% of the lap time (low).
Time Spent Braking : 21% of lap.
Number Of Brake Zones : 16.
Brake Wear : Very high. Toughest race of season for brakes as no cooling opportunities.
Total Time Needed For Pit stop : 29 seconds (very high).
Lap Record : 1:48.574 - S Vettel (2013).


Temperatures are traditionally scorching hot at Marina Bay and the temperature this weekend is forecast to stay around the 32/33 degrees Celsius mark. The lingering haze may well hamper visibility and alter the conditions throughout the weekend. There are also rain showers and even thunderstorms predicted for the weekend, which could turn an already-tricky street circuit into one of the biggest challenges of the season.

On Monday the Pollutant Standards Index in Singapore exceeded 200. This level which is described as “very unhealthy”, and the elderly, pregnant women and children are advised to do as little outdoor activity as possible when the air quality is this poor. Since then conditions have gradually improved. At 6pm on Thursday the PSI range for Singapore was between 68 and 85, which is considered “moderate”. Eastward winds may further improve conditions over the coming days.

According to Singapore’s National Environment Agency, “The 24-hour PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the high end of the Moderate range and the low end of the Unhealthy range.” The weather pattern at the track will be typical for the region: daytime temperatures will peak at 30C and will only drop by a few degrees at nightfall, when the track action begins.


The night race featured just one zone in 2011 and 2012, but moved to two from 2013; the first area is situated on the long stretch from Turns 5 to 7, known as Raffles Boulevard, with the second on the start-finish straight.

Separate detection points control the two zones – the first just after Turn 4 and the second before Turn 22.


The two softest tyres in the range - P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft - have been nominated for this street circuit, which has a number of unusual aspects to it. Being a night race, with all the practice and qualifying sessions held at night too, the way that track temperature evolves is considerably different to more conventional grands prix - and this has a significant effect on the way that the tyres are used.

Singapore has the highest number of corners of any circuit on the Formula One calendar (23), creating more work for the tyres. Coupled with the 80% humidity, two-hour race time, and the fact that it's the second-slowest lap of the year after Monaco (which limits cooling and airflow through the car) this makes Marina Bay the most physically challenging circuit of all for the drivers.
All these corners mean that traction and braking are the two most vital aspects of the Marina Bay circuit. Like most street circuits, the surface in Singapore is quite bumpy, and this certainly doesn't help. With very little run-off area, mistakes rarely go unpunished: requiring a high degree of precision from the tyre. The left-rear is the tyre that is worked hardest, while the cars run very high downforce.

Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 1.8 - 2.2 seconds per lap.


Because the track is lined with walls, making it difficult for marshals to clear debris, the chance of a Safety Car at Singapore is 100% ! There has been at least one Safety Car at every Singapore GP so far with an average of 6 laps spent under Safety Car.


Lewis Hamilton is in ominous form right now. Eleven poles from 12 races is an incredible record, especially when his main contender is title rival and team-mate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton's 53-point lead has been built on the back of dominant drives in Belgium and Italy. The reigning world champion will have extra incentive this weekend - a win will move him level on career victories with boyhood idol Ayrton Senna (41) in exactly the same amount of race starts (161).

Last year's strategy and how the race was won: Lewis Hamilton won the 61-lap race using a three-stop strategy. He started on the supersoft, pitted for supersoft again on lap 15, supersoft again on lap 31, and soft on lap 52. There was a wide variety of strategies used throughout the field.

This will be THE race where Lewis Hamilton can hammer his advantage over Nico Rosberg with another win. Rosberg is not only 53 points behind but had to take his fourth engine of the season. After this he will have a penalty if he has to change engine again. Plus the knowledge that Lewis is on a qualifying roll will pressure Rosberg to make mistakes as he has nothing to lose to try to overdo himself.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Original article HERE

Pressure point, Monza magic, Nico's chances are slipping and more in our Conclusions From The Italian GP.

Pressure Point
At Spa all the talk was about a right-rear tyre, and at Monza it was all about a left-rear tyre.

"No questions, just execute," were the words relayed to Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes pitwall urged the Championship leader to pull out more of a gap over Sebastian Vettel in the closing stanza of the Italian Grand Prix but were reluctant to give their man a reason for the request.

Hamilton duly won by around 25 seconds, but the nature of the messages suggests that Mercedes feared the repercussions of official sanction over a potential breach of the regulations.

After the race Mercedes were indeed summoned by the stewards because Hamilton's left-rear tyre pressure was 0.3psi lower than the mandated minimum.

Although Hamilton's 40th career victory was briefly at risk, the officials decided against punishing the Mercedes driver after discussions with the technical delegate, the team representatives and the Pirelli engineer.

Fans hate technicalities and, by upholding Hamilton's victory, the FIA has avoided the makings of a conspiracy theory that, the theorists would argue, would have resulted in an unjust Ferrari (and ultimately Pyrrhic) win at their home race.

As for Vettel, a tyre-related after-race verdict resulting in a race victory could have been a remarkable tonic after the spectacular tyre failure denied him a podium in Spa.

While most fans accept a tyre failure as an 'acceptable" reliability variable, not even the most strident tifosi would have enjoyed seeing Vettel win the race on a technicality hours after the chequered flag unfurled.

Monza Magic?
The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is inextricably entwined with the lore of F1. The Temple of Speed has been home of the Italian Grand Prix for decades and is the circuit on which the highest ever average speed in F1 was recorded; the 262.242kmh average over a lap that Juan Pablo Montoya set in 2004.

Yet in the era of modern F1, commercial interests slice through heritage and so Monza's place on the calendar is under threat. The drivers, led by Vettel, have voiced support for the venue.

"If we take this away from the calendar for any shitty money reasons, you are basically ripping our hearts out," he said.

Despite the mystique, the running order of the 2015 edition underlined the importance of starting on pole position. Including this year's race, the pole-sitter has won the last six grands prix at Monza.

The one-stop nature of the race further underscores the generally predictable running order – and again raises questions about the current state of F1's tyre regulations.

And a sceptic might argue that if the race were run in Asia or the Middle East, the track would be slated as "boring".

Nico's Chances Slipping...Again
By the time the F1 circus rolls into Singapore, Nico Rosberg will have gone three months without standing on the top step of the podium.

The German, in his 2014 drive at Monza, made several mistakes that cost him a potential victory. A year later, the Italian Grand Prix was merely an exercise in damage control as Rosberg found himself lagging behind his team-mate, Vettel, the Williams duo and others on lap 1.

Before his engine-related retirement, his recovery to third place was admirable, but given the manner in which the 2015 campaign has unfolded few were surprised to see bad luck befall the German, who quite simply has no answers to Hamilton's supremacy.

Rosberg had to revert to an old power unit after suffering issues with the upgrade that the team brought to Monza, which served Hamilton so well. Rosberg's was Merc's first mechanical-related retirement of the year and ended a run of 16 race finishes for Rosberg.

His last DNF was, in fact, in Singapore in 2014. Rosberg arrived in the city-state ahead of Hamilton in the standings last year. But his retirement at Marina Bay coupled with Hamilton's win meant that he ceded the Championship lead to the Brit who won four of the last five grands prix to claim the title.

Rating The Meaning Of Highly Rated
The two words "highly rated" are often bandied about in relation to the talents of Nico Hulkenberg and Valterri Bottas. Yet in Italy both drivers were beaten by their team-mates – Sergio Perez and Felipe Massa respectively.

The standings also tell a story. Ferrari "reject" Massa is ahead of Ferrari prospect Bottas, and Perez is ahead of The Hulk.

Perez is clearly revelling in the updated and much improved Force India VJM08B, but he is also showing signs of the skill that resulted in a second-place finish at the 2012 Italian Grand Prix.

Moreover, he seems to have done enough to purportedly attract the attention of Lotus (that would be Lotus at Enstone that was Renault and that could become Renault again).

Highly rated or not, we may well be witnessing the start of Perez's second coming.

Stray Observations
* Kimi Raikkonen blamed a clutch problem for his poor start. From second to last in a matter of seconds, the start-line incident highlights the Ferrari driver's difficulties in finding consistency. His recovery drive to fifth was admirable, though he was fortunate that Roberto Merhi did not rear-end him at pit entry. But at least the Manor-Marussia got some airtime.

* Massa collected his second podium of the season and his second successive third-place at Monza. Few would begrudge the Brazilian his second wind. Or is it his third?

* While Felipe Nasr has failed to finish in the points since Monaco in May, Sauber's Marcus Ericsson's tenth in Italy was his third points finish in a row.

Richard F Rose

Original article HERE
Controversy aside, Lewis Hamilton was brilliant on Sunday while Jo Bauer has a lot to answer for...

Good Race
Lewis Hamilton, Rightly Deserved
Say what you want about Lewis Hamilton being the only driver out on track with the upgrade for an already superior engine or about his tyre pressure being 0.3 PSI too low but the Championship leader fully deserved his Italian Grand Prix win.

He was untouchable on Sunday afternoon as he stormed away from Sebastian Vettel to become the first driver since Damon Hill in 1993/94 to win back-to-back Italian GPs. And after a brilliant drive to the chequered flag, he kept his cool when grilled by the media about his tyre pressure. Instead of reacting, he said "what will be, will be."

Blondes do have more fun and Hamilton proved that at Monza.

Sebastian Vettel, His Best P2 Ever
Two years ago Sebastian Vettel was booed on the Monza podium, this year he was greeted by wild applause. Amazing what swapping teams can do for a driver.

He may not have won the Italian Grand Prix this time around but Vettel's runner-up result on Sunday, his first Monza podium as a Ferrari driver, was almost as good as a win for the tifosi as the Scuderia's recovery continues.

Once again proving himself and Ferrari to be the best of the rest, the World title may be a leap too far but runner-up in the Championship is now within his reach.

Felipe Massa, Turning Back The Clock
Felipe Massa is up to fourth in the Drivers' Championship having returned to the Monza podium on Sunday. The Brazilian had a flawless afternoon at what used to be one his 'home' races and even held off Valtteri Bottas - often referred to a future World Champion - to take the final podium position.

Kimi Raikkonen, Sitting On The Pit Wall
Does an epic race filled with diving passes make up for an awful start that drops a driver from P2 to P20? That's the question surrounding Kimi Raikkonen's Italian Grand Prix.

The Iceman melted under the Italian sun as his SF15-T went into anti-stall, which pretty much looks like a stall to those outside the car. Raikkonen, though, got going and put in six fantastic laps to slice his way from P20 to P9. It took him another 47 laps to make up five more positions.

A dreadful start followed by a spate of epic racing turned into a good Sunday for the Finn – and for the fans.

Force India, Back Up To Fifth
A double points finish for Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg saw Force India shoot back in front of Lotus in their battle for fifth in the Constructors' Championship. In a car still waiting for its complete upgrade, Perez and Hulkenberg finished sixth and seventh. Perez is even inside the top ten in the Drivers' Championship after Sunday's result.

Marcus Ericsson, Hat-Trick
That's a first Formula 1 hat-trick for Sauber's Swedish racer as Marcus Ericsson has now finished three successive races inside the top ten. He may not be far inside it but at least he's slowly but surely helping Sauber keep McLaren at bay (now there's something I never thought I'd write). And he's getting the better of the much-heralded Felipe Nasr in the process.

Bad Race
Nico Rosberg, Powers To Retirement
Nico Rosberg was closing in on Sebastian Vettel for second place on Sunday afternoon so Mercedes decided to turn his engine up to give him a welcome power boost. It gave him a retirement.

The German's engine, an older spec Mercedes unit given that coolant leaked into his upgraded one on Saturday morning and "contaminated it", meant Rosberg was always on the back foot compared to team-mate and pace-setter Hamilton.

At least he was the first into the showers.

Lotus, Peacock To Feature Duster
From hero to zero, or as one journo put it, from the peacock to the feather duster. That was Romain Grosjean's fall from grace.

Two weeks after celebrating his first podium of this season, he was left to rue another DNF as he retired from the Italian GP when his E23 was damaged in a first lap collision. It was huge disappointment for Lotus at a time when the team really needs to find reasons to smile.

Oh yes, Pastor also retired due to a crash.

McLaren, Point-less And Pointless
One min,te Jenson Button was running inside the top ten, the next it was 'Pass Jenson Button Day' at the Monza circuit as the Brit was overtaken again and again and again...

One minute Fernando Alonso was 11 seconds behind Button, the next – well it took a bit longer than that - he had caught his team-mate. But the very next minute he suffered a loss of power and retired his MP4-30.

Another point-less race for McLaren-Honda and seemingly another pointless weekend overall.

Jo Bauer, Deflate-Gate Mini-Saga
Pirelli issued a directive regarding what they deemed to be the safe minimum tyre pressure for their rubber. Mercedes were under it. The FIA's technical delegate Jo Bauer was aware of this having measured the rear-left tyres on the grid and yet he allowed two drivers to leave the grid with what theoretically deemed to be unsafe tyres.

At a time when motor racing is still hurting from two tragic deaths, the FIA allowed Hamilton and Rosberg to race. Don't slate Mercedes, be angry at the FIA.

Michelle Foster

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Friday, September 4, 2015


The Autodromo Nazionale Monza is one of the most iconic racetracks on the Formula 1 calendar. It was built in 1922 and has staged more world championship grands prix than any other circuit in the world. Only once, in 1980, has the circuit not been on the F1 calendar.

Up until the early ’60s, racing took place on a fearsome six-mile oval. But the death of Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators in the 1961 Italian Grand Prix resulted in future races taking place on a shorter road course, with the last true ‘slipstreaming’ battle taking place in 1971, after which chicanes were installed to slow the cars.

The track is still the fastest in Formula 1, with today’s cars exceeding 200mph (322km/h) on four occasions around the lap. The average speed is in excess of 150mph (241km/h), so the teams use one-off low-downforce aerodynamic packages to maximise straight-line speed. However, braking stability is important: there are a total of six braking events around the lap and on two occasions the cars slow from 200mph (322km/h) to 50mph (80km/h) in just two seconds.

Monza places an unusual combination of demands on tyres which are punished by kerbs and long braking zones in the chicanes and subject to high lateral loadings at Ascari and Parabolica. They also experience the highest speeds of the year: Daniel Ricciardo hit 362.1kph (224.9mph) during last year’s race.

But despite Monza’s unique contribution to Formula One’s heritage and its status as the only true high-speed, low-downforce venue left on the calendar, we may not have much longer left to enjoy it. Bernie Ecclestone insists he is offering the race organisers no more than anyone else pays to continue holding the race, but that minimum level is rising every year.

If the Italian Grand Prix organisers cannot afford it, the unthinkable will happen as surely as it has already happened in France and, this year, Germany.


Track Length : 5.793 kilometres.
Race distance : 53 laps (306.72 kilometres).
Corners : 11 corners in total.
Average Speed : 247km/h.
Aerodynamic Setup : Low downforce.
Top speed : 360km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing).
Full Throttle : 74% of the lap (high).
Time Spent Braking : 11% of lap.
Number Of Brake Zones : 6.
Brake Wear : High.
Total Time Needed For Pit Stop (at 80km/h) : 25 seconds (ave/high).
Lap record : 1:21.046 Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari, 2004.

2014 result:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes); 2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes); 3. Felipe Massa (Williams); 4. Valtteri Bottas (Williams); 5. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull); 6. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 7. Sergio Perez (Force India); 8. Jenson Button (McLaren); 9. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari); 10. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren).

Last five winners in Italy:
2014: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2013: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2011: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2010: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)


Rain is expected to affect the build-up to the Italian Grand Prix but conditions should clear up before Sunday’s race. A low pressure system over the north of Italy will bring wet conditions and thunderstorms on Friday, though probably not until after the conclusion of the second practice session.

The rain will linger well into Saturday and there is a decent chance qualifying may take place on a damp or wet track. It will be warm, however, with air temperatures in the mid-twenties. However by Sunday morning the skies should clear and a sunny race day is forecast, though not quite as warm.

Friday - Light rain, high 24°C / low 16°C
Saturday - Heavy rain, high 23°C / low 13°C
Sunday - Sunny, high 23°C / low 13°C


Pirelli comes home to Monza this weekend; the 'temple of speed' that features some of the fastest straights on the F1 calendar, prompting the cars to run a specific low-drag aerodynamic set-up. The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres have been chosen for the Italian Grand Prix, which are versatile compounds that are able to balance the unique demands of performance and durability that Monza always requires. With high-energy loads of up to 4.5g going through the tyres and some big impacts with the famous kerbs, the tyre compound and structure is challenged throughout the whole lap.

A fast circuit like Monza tends to be more demanding on tyres than a slow circuit, as all the forces at work encourage heat build-up, particularly on the shoulder of the tyre. There are significant lateral energy demands at Monza, due to long corners such as Parabolica, as well as big longitudinal demands, because of all the traction and braking. With a low downforce set-up as is used at Monza, the drivers need to take care of the rear tyres in particular, in order not to provoke wheelspin under acceleration. However, the other side to this is increased maximum speed, in the region of 360kph.

Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.8 - 1.0 seconds per lap.


There are two DRS zones; the first is on the start-finish straight and the second on the approach to Turn Eight, the Ascari chicane. But overtaking remains difficult because the impact of DRS is less at Monza than at other racetracks, due to the small rear wings being used by the cars. In fact, statistically, pole position is more important at Monza than it is at Monaco.


The chance of a safety car at Monza is statistically very low at 43% and 0.4 Safety Cars per race. There was however a Safety car three years in a row recently from 2007- 9.


Lewis Hamilton takes a 28-point championship lead into the race. He won here last season after Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg's error—a mistake that swung the momentum Hamilton's way and proved pivotal in the 2014 title fight.

This year, Rosberg is the man needing to turn the tide as the teams arrive at one of the oldest and most revered racing facilities in the world.

I fully expect Lewis Hamilton to be on form at Monza where he has done well many times and to hand the hammer to Rosberg.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The first national race of Belgium was held in 1925 at the Spa region's race course, an area of the country that had been associated with motor sport since the very early years of racing. To accommodate Grand Prix motor racing, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps race course was built in 1921 but it was only used for motorcycle racing until 1924. After the 1923 success of the new 24 hours of Le Mans in France, the Spa 24 Hours, a similar 24-hour endurance race, was run at the Spa track. Since inception, Spa-Francorchamps has been known for its unpredictable weather. At one stage in its history it had rained at the Belgian Grand Prix for twenty years in a row.

Frequently drivers confront a part of the course that is clear and bright while another stretch is rainy and slippery. The Belgian Grand Prix was designated the European Grand Prix six times between 1925 and 1973, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one grand prix race in Europe. It is one of the most popular races on the Formula One calendar, due to the scenic and historical Spa-Francorchamps circuit being a favorite of drivers and fans.

Spa Francorchamps has many claims to fame; popularity among drivers, a superb collection of high speed corners, unpredictable weather. But the factor which will probably stand out this weekend is that it is the highest engine power factor circuit on the F1 calendar. The track is 70% full throttle and the run from La Source hairpin to the braking point for Les Combes features 23.5 seconds of constant full throttle. And in this first season of the hybrid turbo power units, that will have a significant bearing on the result.


Track Length : 7.004 kilometres.
Race Distance : 44 laps (308.052 kilometres).
Corners : 19 corners in total.
Average speed : 238km/h. Circuit based on public roads.
Aerodynamic Setup : Medium to Low downforce.
Top speed : 322km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 312km/h without.
Full Throttle : 70% of the lap (high).
Time Spent Braking : 14% of lap.
Number Of Brake Zones : 9.
Brake Wear : Low.
Total Time Needed For Pit Stop : 21 seconds.
Lap record: Sebastian Vettel - 1:47.263 (Red Bull, 2009).
2014 pole: Nico Rosberg - 2:05.591 (Mercedes).

2014 Result:

1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull); 2. Nico Rosberg, (Mercedes); 3. Valtteri Bottas (Williams); 4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari); 5. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 6. Jenson Button (McLaren); 7. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari); 8. Sergio Perez (Force India); 9. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso); 10. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India).

Last five winners at Spa:

2014: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull); 2013: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 2012: Jenson Button (McLaren); 2011: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); 2010: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren).


Although it obviously makes sense to check a weather forecast ahead of any trip you take, Spa-Francorchamps can serve up some of the craziest weather of any of the F1 circuits the championship visits each year. Although the race falls during the European summer, it’s location at 420m / 1378ft above sea level and deep in the Ardennes forest means dramatic changes in the weather are never far away. The track is so large that it can also be raining heavily in one section whilst the other remains bone dry.

On Friday, showers expected in the morning, then partly cloudy in the afternoon with a high of 72F and light and variable wind. Chance of rain at 40%. Saturday is forecasted to be mainly sunny with a high of 77F and winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Sunday will be partly cloudy skies during the morning hours which could give way to occasional showers in the afternoon with a high of 72F and winds SE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 40%.


Like in previous years, there will be two DRS zones. The detection point for the first zone will be 240m before Turn 2, with the activation point 310m after Turn 4. The second detection point will be 160m before Turn 18, with the activation point 30m after Turn 19.


Spa-Francorchamps, characterised by a long seven-kilometre lap, high speeds, sweeping changes of elevation, fast corners and variable weather. To cope with this wide-ranging set of demands, the most versatile tyres in the range are called for, which is why Pirelli has nominated the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft: the most popular tyre combination of all the grands prix held so far this year. The Cinturato intermediate and wet tyres are also very likely to feature at some point during the Spa weekend, given the region's microclimate.

The biggest difficulty with the variable weather in Spa is that many variations exist over the course of just a single lap, making it hard to identify the correct tyre when it rains. It's possible for one part of the circuit to be completely soaked, but another part to be a hundred per cent dry. Drainage is an issue, meaning that it's easy to be caught out by streams of water running across the track surface.
The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures - which is often the case at Spa. The soft tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures.

Last year's strategy and how the race was won: Daniel Ricciardo won his second consecutive race for Red Bull (the third victory of his career) using a two-stop strategy for the 44-lap race from fifth on the grid. He did two stints on the soft tyre and a final stint on the medium tyre, stopping on laps 11 and 26. He set the fastest lap of the race on the final tour with the medium tyre, underlining the consistency of the compound even over a long stint.

Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 1.8 - 2.0 seconds per lap.


The chance of a safety car at Spa is statistically high at 80% and 1.4 per race. Rain is one reason, but also accidents tend to be high speed and so there can be quite a lot of debris.


Qualifying rarely determines the final race result; the pole sitter has only won the race four times in the last 13 years. Overtaking is not a problem at Spa and the DRS wing makes it very straightforward anyway. Throw in a more adventurous tyre selection from Pirelli than in the last couple of years at this track and you have multiple elements that could add up to an exciting race.

It's been a whole month since we've seen any F1 action so Spa is the best place to start off again with all the right ingredients in place. And after what happened in Austria, there will surely be fireworks at the front of the field.

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Friday, July 24, 2015


The Hungarian Grand Prix (Hungarian: Magyar Nagydíj) is a motor race held annually in Hungary. Since 1986, the race has been a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held on June 21, 1936 over a 3.1-mile (5.0 km) track laid out in Népliget, a park in Budapest. The Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union, and the Alfa Romeo-equipped Ferrari teams all sent three cars and the event drew a very large crowd. However, politics and the ensuing war meant the end of Grand Prix motor racing in the country for fifty years.

The Hungaroring circuit is 19 km from the centre of Budapest, alongside the M3 motorway at the border of the village, Mogyoród. The track is in a natural valley, surrounded by 50 hectares of rolling hillside. With this exceptional natural advantage, almost 80 percent of the racetrack is visible from any point. This is the reason why it is called "The Shallow Plate", it is because the spectators are watching races sitting by the side of an imaginary plate.Hungary is a much maligned circuit, due to its tight low speed nature and the difficulty of overtaking, but it has produced a surprising number of exciting races.

As well as being tough on tyres, the Hungaroring is very physically demanding on the drivers. They have often compared it to Singapore (renowned as the most physically demanding track of the year) due to the high number of corners, significant ambient temperatures, and comparatively little airflow though the car.

The Hungaroring is a circuit that is quite well balanced in terms of traction, braking and lateral energy demands. All the forces acting on the car are roughly equal in their extent, meaning that a neutral set-up is needed. The teams tend to run maximum downforce to generate the most aerodynamic grip.

Track Characteristics

Track length : 4.381km kilometres.
Race distance : 70 laps (306.630 kilometres).
Corners : 14 corners in total. Average speed of 190 km/h is the lowest of any permanent track on F1 calendar.
Aerodynamic setup : High downforce.
Top speed : 305 km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 295km/h without.
Full throttle : 55% of the lap (low).
Time spent braking : 14% of lap.
Number of brake zones : 11.
Brake wear : High.
Total time needed for pit stop : 16 seconds.
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried) : 0.35 seconds (high).
Lap Record : 1:19.071 - M Schumacher (2004)

Weather Forecast

Hot temperatures greeted the teams as they arrived at the Hungaroring but the mercury will fall in time for Sunday’s race. The Hungaroring will see some changeable conditions over the next three days including substantial temperature fluctuations and a chance of rain.

Tomorrow’s practice sessions may well be held on a wet track as rain is expected in the morning with a chance of thunderstorms. Conditions will be warm, however, with maximum temperatures exceeding 30C. It will be even hotter on Saturday – potentially as high as 35C – and sunny conditions are expected when the drivers are qualifying.

However the picture may change drastically overnight. A band of rain is forecast to arrive, probably early in the morning, followed by substantially cooler and windier conditions for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Race day is likely to see temperatures peak well below 30C.


The P Zero White medium tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres will be in action for the Hungarian Grand Prix: an event steeped in history as it was the first race ever to be held behind the former Iron Curtain, on a distinctive circuit just outside Budapest that was described by one former world champion as like "a supersized go-kart track." This gives a clear impression of the track characteristics: it is tight and twisty with one corner leading straight into the next one - and its compact nature makes it very popular with spectators, who are able to see most of the circuit from any one vantage point.

There is only one significant straight on the Hungaroring, which means that the tyres do not get much opportunity to cool down. As a result, the medium tyre in particular (a low working range compound) will be constantly working at the upper end of its working range if it is hot. However, rain has been seen at the Hungaroring in the past too: notably last year.


There will be two DRS zones sharing a detection point 5m before Turn 14. The activation points are 130m after the apex of Turn 14 and 6m after the apex of Turn 1.

The guardrail to the left of the run-off area at Turn 3 has been re-aligned to better protect the recovery vehicle and to allow space for a car that has been recovered. Also, speed bumps 50mm high have been installed two metres from the track edge in the run-off area at Turns 6/7, while new debris fencing has been installed close to the guardrail on the left between Turns 11 and 12 and around the outside of Turn 14.

Safety Car

Safety cars are surprisingly rare at the Hungaroring. One possible explanation is that there are few gravel traps for cars to get stranded in, with tarmac preferred through most corners. The chances of a safety car are only 10% and there have been only two in the last seven years.


Last year Daniel Ricciardo won the 70-lap race for Red Bull, using three pit stops and a combative strategy to gain an advantage. Wet conditions meant that the drivers started on the intermediate tyre, which in turn signified that they were under no obligation to run both compounds. After completing his opening stint on the intermediate, Ricciardo ran the rest of the race on the soft tyre, with strategies also affected by two safety car periods. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton used tyre strategy to help him finish a remarkable third after starting from the pitlane.

Even in the DRS era, the difficulties of overtaking at the Hungaroring are such that last year was only the second time the race had been won by someone who did not start on the front row. With strategic options likely to be limited on Pirelli’s choice of the soft and medium tyre for this weekend, Saturday’s qualifying session will be one of the most important of the year. This year Lewis Hamilton is on a roll and with good hot weather there ain't nothing stopping him from adding yet another win to his Hungarian GP collection of wins.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Silverstone always serves up a good race because of the layout of the circuit and the British weather. Sebastian Vettel found that out nicely when he made the right call for intermediate tyres late in the race and landed in P3 after an uneventful race for him. Lewis Hamilton made an inspiring call late in the race for the same tyres and won the race. Although to be honest without the rain, Nico Rosberg would have overhauled him in the last couple of laps as Nico was taking chunks out of his time with slick tyres on a wet track. That disn't make sense really. How can he be so fast on slicks on a wet track like that?

Anyway here is what PlanetF1 had to say about it.

Original article HERE

It was a great opportunity for Williams right up until the moment it wasn't...

Williams waste an opportunity
Silverstone is a special circuit for Williams, one of F1's most special constructors. Clay Regazzoni swept to the team's first ever victory in 1977 and two decades later Jacques Villeneuve rode his luck to secure a century of wins for Frank Williams' outfit.

Instead of capitalising on a blistering start at the 2015 edition of at the classic circuit, Williams sacrificed a potential race victory at the altar of conservatively collecting points in a performance that has echoes of the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix in which the team failed to make the most of a front-row lockout.

The imposition of team orders to keep Valtteri Bottas behind Felipe Massa spared the Brazilian verteran the embarrassment of a "Felipe, Valtteri is faster than you" moment, but it came at a high price. Not only did it ruin a thrilling spectacle, but it also ended Williams' hopes of a 115th grand prix victory and destroyed Valtteri Bottas' chances of a potential maiden win.

Massa and Bottas had launched off the line on Sunday and left the invincible Mercedes glistening in their wake. Running one-two after the early safety car, the romantics were wondering whether Williams were on course for another milestone achievement.

Then came the following utterance to Bottas: "No racing your team-mate"

Unlike his team, Bottas sensed his moment and said in a message broadcast on lap 10: "I can overtake. I can do it on the back straight." On lap 11 Williams had conceded that they may have erred. "It has to be a clean move and you have to pull away," they said to the Finn.

But by then it was too late as Mercedes were ready to pounce and undercut the Williams at the first round of pit stops.

Would Bottas had had the pace to keep Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg behind? Would Williams had made the right call when the rain came? It would have been in F1's best interest to find out, but for F1 teams the only interest is self interest – even at the expense of their drivers.

Lewis finds the Goldilocks zone
While Williams conspired to sabotage their chances of winning for the first time since 2012, Hamilton and Mercedes stopped for intermediate tyres on lap 43 just as the intensity of the rain increased.

In the wet the finest of margins decide a race. Nico Rosberg stayed out one lap too long, a decision that put paid to a fourth win in five for the German. Kimi Raikkonen came in too early and he tumbled down the field to finish a mediocre eighth.

Rosberg said that he thought Hamilton had made "the wrong call". The Brit, though, found the "just right" Goldilocks zone to usurp Rosberg and deliver yet another victory on home turf.

St Hamilton and his engineers made the right strategy call in Northamptonshire, something they failed to do in Monte Carlo. Sometimes F1 drivers are robbed by the bank, other times they're the bank robbers.

Silverstone deliver, too
Journalists have written countless words about the sorry state of F1 in 2015. The cars are too slow. The cars aren't noisy enough. The racing is dull. The rules are too complex.

Amid the swirling pessimism, the British Grand Prix delivered a much-needed tonic for a sport that sometimes seems to be to sport what Greece is to the eurozone.

The opening lap of the race was spellbinding and the rest was magnificent: safety cars, spins, the lead changing hands several times, team-mates clashing on track, and then the rain.

The only thing missing? A constructor other than Mercedes winning.

The new order
Easy to forget given the chaos of the race, but 2015's competitive order was reshaped during the dry running at the British Grand Prix. Mercedes still have the fastest car and the McLarens, despite Fernando Alonso's point, are still well off the pace.

But at the sharp end, Williams have made strides while Red Bull and the B-spec Force India took chunks out of Ferrari.

"It's tight between us and Williams, and Red Bull were quick this weekend so I think they have done a step forward," said Sebastian Vettel after picking up a rather fortuitous podium.

The naysayers will no doubt retain their sceptical outlook towards F1 and at least some of their criticism will be legitimate considering Mercedes completed a ninth consecutive race in which both cars finished on the podium.

That said, Austria dished up some great midfield racing and, as SIlverstone showed, the race for best of the rest is simmering nicely.

McLaren retirement watch
A solid race for McLaren with no cars retiring with mechanical problems. The team has now finished 38.9 per cent of the races it has started in 2015.

Original article HERE

Silverstone gives us a reminder about just how good F1 can be, Williams' decision "not to chase rainbows" backfires and more...

Good Race
Formula 1
Felipe Massa ducking in between the two Mercedes cars after a blistering start, the two McLaren team-mates tagging each other, the two Lotus drivers making contact, the top four separated by two seconds, Williams ordering Valtteri Bottas not to overtake Massa, Mercedes' dummy pit stop, the rain, Lewis Hamilton's inspired pit for inters and Sebastian Vettel sneaking a podium. We could go on and on and on about how great the race was.

After all the complaints we had about the state of Formula 1, the British Grand Prix came to the sport's rescue on Sunday 140 000 fans turned up on race day and then the drivers and teams put up a spectacular show. More of the same at Hungary in three weeks' time please.

Lewis Hamilton
The Monaco Grand Prix must have been in the back of Lewis Hamilton's mind when he made the decision to come in for intermediate tyres. However, this time it proved to be an inspired call as he stole a march on his rivals at the British Grand Prix. It ultimately helped him to a very comfortable victory at Silverstone.

"It wasn't luck, it wasn't genius, it was just for once the right call. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong," he said after the race.

He has now joined legends Jack Brabham, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher as three-times winners of the British GP. Next on the list is Nigel Mansell on four wins. It was also Mercedes' third win in a row at Silverstone.

Sebastian Vettel
Having been outqualified by his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for only the second time this season, Sebastian Vettel found himself labouring in P7 during the early stages of the race.

His first pit stop was relatively early, but he was still stuck behind Raikkonen and we barely saw any footage of him before the rain hit Silverstone. However, he didn't blink first time, but was one of the first once to pounce when the second shower came down.

The gamble paid off, take note Williams.

Force India
The first impressions of the VJM08 have been very good. Nico Hulkenberg was there or thereabouts for most of the race weekend and he made it into Q3 while team-mate Sergio Perez was a bit further down the grid.

Although Hulkenberg was as high as P5 early on, he eventually finished seventh with Perez two places below. The eight points to Lotus' none mean Force India have a bit of breathing space in the Constructors' standings, but Daniil Kvyat's P6 means they didn't close the gap to Red Bull.

They still have plenty of reason to be optimistic for the remainder of the campaign.

Nobody saw Fernando Alonso's point coming after another difficult qualifying session for McLaren. They lost Jenson Button on the opening lap and Alonso was also forced to stop early after he got caught up in a first-lap tangle.

Yet the team managed to finish the race with a point as Alonso somehow stayed ahead of the struggling Marcus Ericsson for Sauber.

Bad Race
Yes, Mercedes would probably have won as their car is better in the cooler conditions and they are better at pit stops. And yes, it is easier to come up with a race-winning strategy from the comfort of your couch or the safety of the office.

However, Williams didn't do themselves any favours early on as they shot themselves in the foot by not allowing Valtteri Bottas to pass Felipe Massa.

Sometimes you have to take risks to give yourself a chance of upsetting the applecart. Williams didn't do that by keeping Bottas behind Massa and then later in the race they didn't gamble by bringing one of their drivers in early for intermediate tyres.

Williams performance chief Rob Smedley admitted earlier this year that the days of rolling the dice and "chasing rainbows" are in the past as they would rather settle for solid points. They are happy to do "flat, boring races".

Well, doing "flat, boring races" backfired spectacularly at Silverstone and they ended up without a podium as Sebastian Vettel sneaked P3 by "chasing rainbows" and going for an early stop for inters.

Felipe Nasr
Well, he didn't actually take part in the race due to a gearbox problem so it's not really his fault. For a Formula 1 driver it can't get any worse as you've done the hard yards the two previous days only to be denied 30 minutes before the light goes green.

Toro Rosso
"Only Mercedes was a bit faster," was Max Verstappen's verdict on Toro Ross's pace after Friday's practice sessions at Silverstone.

He was right, Toro Rosso looked impressive during FP1 and FP2, but things started to go wrong during qualifying and it got worse on race day and they eventually left the circuit empty handed.

At least Carlos Sainz can point to a good qualy run as he started P8, but Verstappen's race weekend will be remembered for the constant moaning over the team radio. We will put that in the "still learning" file.

Another double DNF for Lotus and to add insult to injury Romain Grosjean was the one who ended Pastor Maldonado's race, through no fault of their own as Daniel Ricciardo set off the chain of events. Ah well, the Hungarian Grand Prix is only three weeks away.

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Friday, July 3, 2015


The British Grand Prix is a race in the calendar of the FIA Formula One World Championship. It is currently held at the Silverstone Circuit near the village of Silverstone in Northamptonshire in England. The British and Italian Grands Prix are the oldest continuously staged Formula One World Championship Grands Prix. It was designated the European Grand Prix five times between 1950 and 1977, when this title was an honorary designation given each year to one Grand Prix race in Europe. All British Grands Prix dating back to 1926 have been held in England; where the British motor racing industry is primarily located.

Silverstone is one of the oldest races on the calendar and started life as an airfield. The end of Second World War left Britain with no major race track. An ex-farmer, James Wilson Brown, was employed by the RAC and given just two months to turn the site from a wartime airfield and farm into a race track for the first RAC International Grand Prix.

On the 2nd October 1948, an estimated 100,000 people flocked to see Luigi Villoresi drive from the back of the grid to beat a field of 22 others in his Maserati with a top speed of 72.2mph. Silverstone racing history had begun. From the 50 races held here at the circuit, Alain Prost holds the record for most wins at the circuit in 1983, 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1993. Nigel Mansell is only just behind Alain with 4 wins in 1986, 1987, 1991 and 1992.

Silverstone has the fastest corner combinations on the F1 calendar and is loved by the drivers, but it can be a real headache for the engineers and strategists, as it shows up aerodynamic instabilities and it can be very difficult to get a good reading on the tyres, especially as there is usually some rain during the practice sessions.


Track length : 5.891km kilometres.
Race distance : 52 laps (306.198 kilometres).
Corners : 18 corners in total. A high speed circuit based on an old WWII airfield. Lots of high-speed corners, aerodynamically challenging, very easy on brakes.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 311km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 301km/h without.
Full throttle : 66% of the lap (medium).
Fuel consumption : High.
Time spent braking : 9% of lap (very low). 9 braking zones.
Brake wear : Low.
Total time needed for pit stop : 25 seconds.


The weather in England, even in summer, is notoriously hard to predict. Something of a heatwave is currently hitting Britain, with temperatures soaring to 36.7ºC (98ºF) at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, making it the hottest July day ever. Although temperatures have cooled a little at Silverstone on Thursday, the heat is expected to return for the three days of on-track running.


The P Zero Orange hard and P Zero White medium tyres have been selected for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone: a fast and flowing circuit that takes a lot out of the tyres, especially during the many high-speed corners. This results in plenty of wear and degradation, especially if ambient temperatures are high - which is expected to be the case this year. As well as being one of the quickest and most historic venues on the Formula One calendar, Silverstone is also something of a home race for Pirelli: the Italian firm's Formula One logistics hub and centre of engineering excellence is located in Didcot, less than an hour away by car.


There will be two DRS zones at Silverstone. The detection point of the first is 25m before Turn Three, with the activation point 30m after Turn Five. The second detection point is at Turn 11 with the activation point 55m after Turn 14.


Because the new pit lane at Silverstone is quite long, a stop is relatively slow by F1 standards at 25 seconds total pit lane time. This encourages teams to do less, rather than more stops.


Silverstone is a fast, open circuit with lots of run off areas. So for marshals it’s relatively safe to recover a broken car. The chances of a safety car are therefore quite low – 57%, with 0.6 safety cars per race.


► The British Grand Prix is one of two ever-present races on the Formula One World Championship calendar. The other race featuring every year since 1950 is the Italian Grand Prix.
► Three venues have hosted the British Grand Prix during the World Championship era. Silverstone shared the early races with Aintree, which held races in 1955, ’57, ’59 and 1961-2. Aintree was replaced by Brands Hatch, which held the British Grand Prix in even years between 1964-1986. Silverstone has hosted all of the other races.
► 2014 marks the 48th running of the Formula One World Championship British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The circuit, however, is celebrating it’s 50th race, having hosted pre-World Championship grands prix in 1948 and 1949. Both of those races were won by Maserati, courtesy of drivers Luigi Villoresi and Baron Emmanuel ‘Toulo’ de Graffenried respectively. Giuseppe ‘Nino’ Farina won the inaugural world championship race in 1950. Before Silverstone, a British Grand Prix was held at the Brooklands circuit in 1926 and 1927.
► Silverstone is situated in an area known as ‘Motorsport Valley’. Eight of the 11 F1 teams are clustered within 125km of the track. In order of distance they are McLaren (125km), Williams (65km), Caterham (59km), Lotus (40km), Red Bull  (33km), Marussia (24km) and Mercedes (13km), with Force India based a few hundred metres from the front gates of the circuit. Additionally, Mercedes High Performance Powertrains’ manufacturing facility is based 33km from the circuit and Toro Rosso’s wind tunnel is located 23km away.
► Jim Clark (1962, ’63, ’64, ’65, ’67) and Alain Prost (1983, ’85, ’89, ’90, ’93) share top billing at the British Grand Prix with five victories each. One behind them is this weekend’s driver steward Nigel Mansell who won in 1986, ’87, ’91 and ’92. Mansell did, however claim five victories on home soil, winning the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch a year before winning the British Grand Prix at the same circuit. Mansell is one of only two drivers to have won differently titled grands prix at the same circuit (Nelson Piquet won the 1980 Italian and 1981 San Marino Grands Prix at Imola.)


Silverstone is well known for its succession of fast and sweeping corners, which load the tyres with sustained forces that peak at 5g. The teams use high levels of downforce, meaning that there are often big vertical as well as lateral forces acting on the tyres at the same time. The straights and braking areas are reasonably short, allowing the teams to run a lot of aero without too much time loss.

Last year's strategy and how the race was won: Lewis Hamilton won the 52-lap race for Mercedes, with a two-stop strategy. He started on the medium tyre, stopping for the hard compound on lap 24 and hard compound again on lap 41. The race was affected by an early red flag, which meant a re-start with drivers allowed to change tyres on the grid. This had a profound effect on strategy: seven drivers in the top 10 were able to stop just once.

This year with the super hot weather could see some high tyre wear which should lead to a more exciting race to watch. And Lewis Hamilton coming off a bad weekend in Austria to his home race should put some fire up Rosberg's ass as well.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015


That was a boring race. Really. A few laps in and it was processional. I thought the track was supposed to make it a good race but somehow it fizzled out. It's not helped by the fact that Lewis lost the lead at the start and didn't have the pace to challenge all race long. Yes there were some good battles at the back but still most laps were slow. Even the commentators were struggling with what to say.

Here is what PlanetF1 had to say about it.

Danger is never far away, McLaren into the abyss, game of moans and more in our conclusions from the Red Bull Ring.

As Formula 1 grapples with its latest identity crisis, much debate has centred on whether F1 is a business or showbiz, and whether F1 cars are fast and exciting enough. The discussion was rendered moot on lap 1 of the Austrian Grand Prix when Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari lost the rear on a straight and slapped Fernando Alonso's McLaren. The two cars came to a rest with Alonso's car sitting atop the nose of the Ferrari - the McLaren's sidepod and aero skirting just centimetres from Raikkonen's head.

"I was in the wrong place," said Alonso.
"It was a very strange incident because he lost the car in fifth gear or something like that."

F1 is part business and part showbiz, but the Raikkonen-Alonso shunt underscores that it is a sport. And a dangerous one at that. Alonso was involved in an incident at Spa in 2012 when Romain Grosjean's Lotus similarly lurched over the Spaniard's Ferrari and narrowly missed his helmet.

In both cases Alonso was an innocent bystander. Now 33 and with five retirements in his seven starts in 2015, Alonso might be contemplating his next career move - especially as his good friend Jules Bianchi remains in a coma following his crash at Suzuka in 2014. #JB17

On the bright side for Alonso, his first-lap incident spared him the ignominy of another catastrophic race. McLaren have between their two cars entered 16 races this season and have reached the chequered flag a mere six times.

Of the 9 failures to finish and one failure to start (Jenson Button in Bahrain), nine have been caused by mechanical problems:

- Power Units: 4
- Exhaust: 2
- Brakes: 1
- Electrics: 1
- Gearbox: 1
- NA: 1 (Austria retirement not released at time of writing)

Nico Rosberg's win moves him to within 10 points of Lewis Hamilton in the Championship.

The German rocketed past Hamilton through the inside of turn 1 on lap 1 and was feisty in his defence of the lead until the safety car was deployed following the Raikkonen-Alonso shunt.

Rosberg was criticised for his 'soft' wheel-to-wheel ability in 2014 and his showing amid the rolling hills of Austria will go some way to quell the critics.
"It's an awesome feeling to win again here. The start made the race. I really wanted to push this time and I opened the gap over Lewis," Rosberg said after the race.

Hamilton acknowledged he had a bad start and that Nico "was quicker in the race". The Brit's indiscretion at his one and only pit stop and ensuing five-second penalty put paid to his challenge for victory.

Rosberg, therefore, is the form driver having won three of the last four races. Victory at the next race, on Hamilton's home turf at Silverstone, presents the German with an opportunity to well and truly shake the Champion.

Ferrari's Canadian Grand Prix updates would, analysts said, offer the Scuderia the tonic required to push and even catch the Silver Arrows. Instead, Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen have found themselves scrapping with the Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas in Canada and Austria.

Aghast at the step backwards, the tifosi must be wondering how Vettel managed to win in Malaysia and how the men in red might repeat the feat.

Two factors are worthy of scrutiny.

First, Ferrari have engineered their own woes. At Montreal, Raikkonen's issues with engine mapping resulted in a spin that gifted Bottas the final step on the podium.

Maranello's strategists then got the Raikkonen's qualifying approach all wrong in Austria, which resulted in his exit in Q1. Adding to the litany of errors, the Ferrari mechanics struggled to replace Vettel's right rear tyre at his only pit stop, a blunder that cost him 10 seconds and a podium.

The second factor is the ultimate variable: the weather. Vettel won in Malaysia because the SF15-T responded better than Mercedes to the heat of Sepang. Ferrari will hope that the higher temperatures in the European summer season will help to close the gap to the Mercs.

Singapore may present a similar opportunity, but by then it will be too late. So, at what point do Ferrari channel extra resources to their 2016 challenger?

The fifth season of Game of Thrones and the 2015 F1 season make for a strange comparison, but there are some parallels.

Many critics have pilloried the HBO series for its predictable brutality and violence. While F1 doesn't exactly burn people alive, Mercedes' dominance is the sporting equivalent of flaying a rival alive. The Silver Arrows now have 21 one-two finishes in the modern era and have started on pole position in 19 consecutive grands prix.

In this environment of Merc dominance, questions swirling around the complexity of the current regulations have become more pointed. Niki Lauda believes F1 has been "regulated to death" while Alain Prost, Maurizio Arrivabene and Bernie Ecclestone have questioned the current rules.

The absurd 25-place penalties handed to McLaren highlight F1's current morass. Unlike Game of Thrones, which drew record viewership in its season finale this month, F1 viewing figures in 2014 were down across the globe and few would predict an uptick in F1 viewers in 2015.

Nico Hulkenberg's triumph at Le Mans has rejuvanated the German. After a middling season, the German qualifed fifth and finished a solid sixth in Austria.

Daniel Ricciardo finished tenth to collect one point for Red Bull at their home race. The only consolation for Red Bull at this stage is that they're not McLaren-Honda.

Pastor Maldanado had the biggest tank slapper in recent memory down the main straight on lap 70 on his way to a seventh-place finish. "It was a bit scary but okay. Good control!" said the Lotus driver, as he reached around and patted himself on the back.

By Michelle Foster
Nico Rosberg topped the charts, Lewis Hamilton is on the pit wall and did you hear the one about McLaren...

Good Race
Nico Rosberg; P1
Having missed out on pole position through a mistake at the final corner on his final flying lap, Nico Rosberg was quick to make amends as he snatched P1 off Lewis Hamilton at the start of Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix. Keeping his wits and bravery about him, he did not back down as the team-mates raced wheel-to-wheel to take the lead.

From there the German always appeared to have the measure of Hamilton as he raced unchallenged, although not entirely untroubled given a vibration in the closing laps, to his third win of this season. With Sunday's victory he also threw his hat into the ring for the World title as, more importantly than him closing the gap to Hamilton to 10 points, he proved he can come out tops when the two race it out.

Felipe Massa; P3
Some may say that Felipe Massa was gifted his first podium of the season thanks to a Ferrari error. Others will note that the Williams driver not only drove a flawless race but he did not buckle under the pressure when Sebastian Vettel caught him in the final laps. Success in F1 is about not only the driver but also the team getting it right. Massa did, Williams did, a podium was the end result.

Sebastian Vettel; P4
Sebastian Vettel did nothing wrong this weekend; you could say he did everything right. Ferrari, though, let him down. Problems in both Friday practices and yet he still finished the day quickest. A car unable to match the Mercedes in qualifying so he lined up third. A car also falling short on race-pace so he joined the Mercedes on the podium. Or at least he would have if Ferrari had not dropped the ball.

A botched pit stop - the one and only pit stop Ferrari did the entire Sunday and they could not get it right - left him in the pits for 13 seconds and dropped him behind Felipe Massa out on track. Yet Vettel never gave up and hunted down the Brazilian. He ran out of time.

Nico Hulkenberg; P6
Following up his Le Mans 24 Hours victory with a P6 in Spielberg, Nico Hulkenberg's phone must be ringing off the hook. Racing a VJM08 that is just days away from a massive (and much-needed) upgrade, the German raised his hand high into the air for a better 2016 race-seat as he qualified fifth and brought the car home in sixth place, his - and Force India's - best result of this season.

Max Verstappen; P8
Pastor Maldonado may have had a go at Max Verstappen in the wake of their closing-laps battle, saying the rookie driver "wasn't really respecting the rules" but, however you saw it, it made for a good racing. Taking on Valtteri Bottas, Daniil Kvyat and Maldonado at different times of the race - and at times wheel-to-wheel - Verstappen finished P8, his second points-haul of his fledgling F1 career.

On The Pitwall
Lewis Hamilton; P2
For just about any and every other driver, finishing a grand prix in second place would count as a good race – for many it would even be a great race. But not for Lewis Hamilton.

The reigning World Champion started Sunday's grand prix from pole position having edged Rosberg in qualifying, a session which ended with a mistake for both drivers. Hamilton, though, suffered a clutch issue off the line and before he knew it he was staring at Rosberg's rear wing.

A racer by reputation, fans had hoped it was only a matter of time before Hamilton attacked his team-mate for the lead but instead he drifted back. Even commentators were asking if he was biding his time for a late attack but that never happened and instead Hamilton incurred a five-second penalty for crossing the white line at the exit of the pitlane. A good reason for some to say why he finished second but most definitely not the true story.

Bad Race
Red Bull Racing; P10 and P12
They scored a point. At a race track that Red Bull owns and that carries the Red Bull name, dominated by a giant metal bull (not red), they scored a point. A single, solitary point.

McLaren; double DNF
I would never call a team with McLaren's history and prestige a joke but their performance this past weekend in Spielberg was laughable. Between Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso they amassed a 50-place drop on the grid (engine parts and a gearbox). But given that there are only 20 places that meant in-race penalties for both. And all this taking place in front of Honda's head honcho.

The team's misery was compounded when Alonso, completely innocent in the matter, was taken out by Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap, which meant McLaren were unable to gather any useful data from the new aero package - including the short nose - that the Spaniard was running. Button's race didn't last much longer as he retired with an electrical problem on lap 8.

Despite their rather public woes, the drivers sprouted off phrases such as "in a good place" (Button) and "the crisis is over" (Alonso). To anyone watching the only place McLaren are in is in the pits and the crisis is far from over.

Kimi Raikkonen; DNF
On the up side, Kimi Raikkonen is making Ferrari's decision on whether or not to keep him rather easy. On the down side, it probably won’t go in his favour.

Even if the 2007 World Champion was done in by his team in qualifying, and that depends on whether you're wearing your 'Iceman' cap, having a go at your team is never a good idea especially while still in the interview process. And crashing out on the first lap is a big no-no. That, though, is exactly what Raikkonen did. Yes he was on the prime tyres, which gave less grip, but so too were Maldonado, Perez and Ricciardo and none of them suffered wheel spin. None of them had a tank-slapper. None of them ended the race with Fernando Alonso on their head.

Marcus Ericsson; P13
Oy vey, what do you say to that. Jumping the start is a rookie error and a rather embarrassing one. Could the Swede have scored if not for that mistake and subsequent penalty? Given that his fastest lap time for the race was on a par with sixth-placed Nico Hulkenberg and only marginally slower than Verstappen's and Perez's, Sauber will be wondering the same.

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Friday, June 19, 2015


The Austrian Grand Prix (German: Großer Preis von Österreich) is a Formula One race held in 1964, 1970–1987 and 1997–2003. The Grand Prix is set to be revived at the Red Bull Ring during the 2014 Formula One season. The Red Bull Ring is a motorsport circuit in Spielberg, Styria, Austria. The race circuit was founded as Österreichring and hosted the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix for 18 consecutive years, from 1970 to 1987. It was later shortened, rebuilt and renamed the A1-Ring, it hosted the Austrian Grand Prix again from 1997 to 2003.

When Formula One outgrew the circuit, a plan was drawn up to extend the layout. Parts of the circuit, including the pits and main grandstand, were demolished, but construction work was stopped and the circuit remained unusable for several years before it was purchased by Red Bull's Dietrich Mateschitz and rebuilt. Renamed the Red Bull Ring the track was reopened on 15 May 2011 and subsequently hosted a round of the 2011 DTM season and a round of the 2011 F2 championship. Formula One will return to the circuit in the 2014 season.

It is essentially the same layout as the old (A1 Ring) circuit, very simple with just nine corners, four flat out stretches where the cars hit 300km/h and a very short lap time of around 68 seconds. Most teams have only simulations to go on and some of the details which will be important to deciding race strategy – such as the exact pit lane length and pit stop time – will be measured and worked out during practice on Friday. It looks similar to Canada in terms of the amount of energy and loading going into the tyres, so Pirelli has brought the same soft and supersoft tyres and it predicts a two stop strategy to be the default for the race.


Track length : 4.326 kilometers
Race distance : 71 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75 per cent distance/54 laps)
Run to Turn One : 185 metres
Longest straight : 868m, on the approach to Turn One
Corners : 9 corners in total. A circuit made up of four straights and a few tight corners
Aerodynamic setup : Medium/High downforce
Top speed : 315km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 304km/h without
Full throttle : 70% of the lap (high), 10 seconds unbroken full throttle on main straight
Fuel consumption : High
Time spent braking : 14% of lap (high), 7 braking zones
Brake wear : High
Total time needed for pit stop at 80km/h (est) : 22 seconds

Did you know?

Jochen Rindt was F1’s first German-born world champion. He was born in Mainz, Germany, but was raised in Graz after his parents were killed in a World War II bombing raid. He took Austrian nationality and became the sport’s only posthumous world champion in 1970 when he was killed at the Italian Grand Prix.


The track is located in the Styrian mountains, so the weather conditions can change quickly. Although rain is expected during the coming three days at the Red Bull Ring, current forecasts indicate it will arrive overnight on Friday and most likely won’t interfere with the following day’s running at the track.

Friday is likely to be the pick of the three days at the circuit near Knittelfeld in the Styrian countryside. It offers the best chance of seeing some sunshine and temperatures could exceed 20C.

Slightly cooler conditions are expected for qualifying and the race – Sunday could see the mercury struggle to get far above 16C. With the soft and super-soft tyres allocated for this weekend, lower temperatures may aid tyre life but could make graining a problem, as it was for those who started the race on the super-soft tyre last year.


The Austrian Grand Prix, which returns to Formula 1 this weekend, will feature two DRS zones. Controlled by separate detection points, governing body the FIA has decided to place the two activation areas along the start/finish straight and between the Remus and Schlossgold corners of the Red Bull Ring circuit.


For the third race in succession, the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft tyres have been nominated. The demands on the tyres are relatively low, with two straights and reasonably slow corners. The Austrian Grand Prix reappeared on the Formula One calendar for the first time in 11 seasons last year, meaning that the teams will now be able to use the data from 2014 when it comes to formulating the optimal strategy. After the Austrian Grand Prix, the final two-day in-season test of the year will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The surface at the Red Bull Ring is low grip and low abrasion, with the track getting progressively quicker as the weekend goes on. Even though the asphalt is new, the track is quite bumpy in places, which makes it difficult to find consistent grip. Last year most drivers did a two-stopper, although three managed a one-stop. Race winner Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) started on the supersoft, changed to the soft on lap 11, then to the soft again on lap 40. His strategy allowed him to win even though he started from third on the grid.

Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 0.7 - 0.9 seconds per lap.


Last year’s Austrian Grand Prix weekend showed that even in hyper-professional Formula One, mistakes can be made – several slip-ups by Lewis Hamilton in qualifying compromised his and Nico Rosberg’s run in Q3 and opened the door for Williams to lock out the front row of the grid. That set up an intriguing race as the Mercedes drivers set about prising the lead from the hands of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.

Twelve months on, no one has beaten Mercedes to a pole position since. But Williams and Ferrari could be a more competitive proposition this weekend, and the Red Bull Ring’s compact layout often serves to lessen the performance gap between cars.

And I fully expect Lewis Hamilton to hammer his advantage into Rosberg's head once again on this power track.

If you enjoyed this posting, please do share it with your network so more people can enjoy it as well. Also, check out my Formula 1 inspired designs at my online shop - Formula One Tees, click on image or proceed over to the online shop here -

You can put any of my designs on almost any available product (doesn't have to be t-shirts). To design your own, select the product, select the design, put your own text if you want to, arrange the size and placement of the design then click "Add to basket". The product will be created and added to your shopping cart. To finish and make payment, click "Checkout". Once you are happy with your order, click "Proceed To Checkout" where you will fill in your shipping information and payment method.

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