Friday, February 12, 2016

GUEST POST - THE YOUNG VIKING RETURNS

Hello everyone. It's been some time since I posted. Been busy and had nothing worthwhile to write about. Too many rehash news to bother. The new season is upon us and some exciting things happening. One of it is that Magnussen is back. The underated Dane didn't have such a good time at McLaren but he may have a second chance to show what he's made of. If it doesn't work out, he can always form a retro 80s boy band. He certainly has the hair for it.

To explain about his potential we have a guest writer this time, Joshua Mason speaking about the Dane.

The Young Viking Returns

1000 years ago the Vikings crossed the seas to pillage our lands and create kingdoms of their own. While those barbaric times are over, the modern equivalent battles, of high end Sport, are experiencing the same thing. Kevin Magnussen of Denmark has returned to Formula 1 and after failing to impress Mercedes enough, he has been given a lifeline in the form of Renault’s return. Will they both benefit from each other’s returns; we hope to find out in 2016!

Renault’s return will be welcomed, as there always seems to be a more competitive edge to F1 when big manufacturers are involved. Kevin Magnussen’s return will be different in comparison. Most, including himself, view this as his last chance to become a great F1 driver. He will have to be calling on all his ancestral Viking courage to battle his way back. To put even more pressure on the young Dane, he is teaming up against a debutant in the form of exciting Brit Jolyon Palmer. Any poor performances against Palmers will be the nail in the coffin, and he will be constantly compared to his rookie colleague in 2016. Of course with his return after only one season, this feels like a second chance at his debut appearance since his unspectacular 2014.

Magnussen had fought up the usual route of Karting as a boy, and then rising up the Formula levels. A place on McLaren’s youth development scheme came and he eventually got his chance in 2014, replacing Sergio Perez. The season could not have got off to a better start. A 3rd place finish in Australia was bumped up to second, due to an engine irregularity from Daniel Ricciardo, making his second place the best by a rookie since Jaques Villeneuve in 1996.

The dream season was not to be however, the next best finish was a 5th place in Russia. 55 points was deemed not good enough for McLaren, and with Alonso available, they had no choice but to replace him. Magnussen’s career looked like it could be crashing and burning like an Anglo-Saxon house. A year on the sidelines must have been excruciating at McLaren, and when his opportunity came, when Alonso missed a race with concussion, in a 2015 McLaren, the engine failed and he must have felt it would never happen for him.

McLaren promised to help him achieve a driving seat this year, but when he lost out on a seat for Haas F1 to Grosjean and Gutierrez, it became apparent he was on his own. When Renault bought out Lotus, they probably planned on Maldonado as their experienced head, next to Palmer’s inexperience. Maldonado however, breached his contract and it seems Magnussen finally found some luck; he was in the right place at the right time for once and took the seat. He reportedly only signed the contract the day before Renaults launch.

Renault has decided to go back into F1, after realising the impact it can have on their brand. Having a successful or notable F1 team will be great marketing, and also lay trust with customers in their sporting ranges. They also hope that any advances in technology their F1 team will produce, will move to their manufacturing too. Renault will be hoping to fight for the constructors Championship in the future, tipsters at bookmakers.tv have said 2016 might be a step too soon. The French car giant will provide engines for Red Bull for one more season, but after this I am sure they will be looking to hold keep it to themselves, like the Ferrari model, and increase the focus on only helping the Renault.

Magnussen will have to find his inner-berserker when he starts the season in Australia. While he deserves another chance in my opinion, the seat he has found will complicate matters. His teammate is a rookie, and the team will be in its infancy in its second stab at F1. It is already not looking positive, with Magnussen tempering Renault’s expectations, saying it will take time for them to compete. This is not good PR, and already shows the Dane’s lack of confidence. But as you have read from this article on BadgerGP, his luck has been lacking and everything has gone against him so far. If he wanted more luck, I can’t help feeling he would have been better off as an Irishman, rather than a Danish Viking.

Written by Joshua Mason

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Thank you for your support. May you enjoy it with this new season and your favorite team/driver wins!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

GUEST POST - DON'T TELL THE KIDS!

The season is over and it's been weeks without a race. The end of the year is coming up again and the streets will be a madhouse on the eve. I'm staying home as I always do. Just can't stomach the madness. It's gonna a long drag to the season opener in March. News is thin on the ground these days, nothing much to read during my breakfast. So thanks to Joshua Mason, we're getting a guest post today on his take on the BBC and F1 divorce.


DON’T TELL THE KIDS!: BBC AND FORMULA 1 ARE GETTING A DIVORCE

The kids are crying, there is arguing in the kitchen and the solicitors are rubbing their hands in glee, yes it is that old British tradition, divorce! The two parties involved are the BBC and Formula 1. A sporting marriage longer than most, (apart from a small break in the noughties) is coming to an end and this time it seems to be for good. The news that BBC had cancelled the remainder of its contract came fast, and so did the news that Formula 1 had already found a younger more attractive broadcaster in Channel 4.

Irreconcilable Differences or Is It All About the Money

The BBC are currently under pressure to cut spending and with a target of £150m across the board having to be cut it was inevitable some big names would get the axe. The Voice has already been dropped and sold to ITV and with the sporting arm of BBC looking for £35m in savings a big name was always going to go, but why F1?

Barbara Slater of the BBS said "A significant chunk of BBC Sport's savings target will be delivered through the immediate termination of our TV rights agreement for Formula 1,". The sport had only just returned to its spiritual home and the Fleetwood Mac CD was just starting to get warm. The BBC had brought it back in 2009 with a brand new broadcasting team of Suzi Perry, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard. The decision to cancel has been seen as harsh by some, particularly Eddie Jordan, “It is utterly devastating. The week of Christmas is not the time to hear this, compounded by the fact that it’s not long since a lot of the team had left London and relocated in Salford at the whim of the BBC.”

Another theory could be about the sport itself. The Drivers Association (GPDA) conducted a survey of over 215,000 fans in the summer of 2015. They discovered, that despite F1 claims, that noise and fuel consumption is not the answer to waning interest. The three words which repeatedly came up was ‘boring’, technological’ and ‘expensive’. For a survey looking into what fans think of Formula 1 it is a damning indictment. Formula 1 have always been questioned when it came to its entertainment value and commercialisation, and this was two major points that came from the survey.

The survey also showed its disappointment with the current paddock of drivers with a shock coming for reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, who didn’t even rate among the favourites of those surveyed. His dominance and Mercedes’ is an example of the lack of competitiveness in the field and with F1 suggesting fewer teams and more drivers seems to be more of an issue in the years to come. If only to prove this point Hamilton is favourite to win next seasons Championship too, making it three in a row. It could turn out to be a shrewd move by BBC in dropping this deadweight and it speaks volumes, that with cuts looming, Formula 1 is the first one to go.

Channel 4 are hoping that prediction will be wrong, and went as far as to guarantee no advertisement will air during the race to win the broadcasting contract. It will be an expensive venture with £25m for the rights and £10m for production. It will show 10 races per season and highlights of those not broadcast live. It has to outsource its production, but by a large stroke of ‘luck’, Jake Humphrey’s and David Coulthard Production company Whisper Films was bought by the channel in 2014.

Formula 1 will hope that interest stays in the sport and by having exposure on public television will hope the numbers of viewers will increase. The sport will have to do more to excite the original fans that were surveyed by GPDA though and maybe this divorce from its long term partner BBC will be the kick up the backside the sport needs to make the correct changes. The aim should be to make the sport a spectacle again and not a predictable advertising board it is slowly becoming.

Written by Joshua Mason

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

GUEST POST - WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THE ABU DHABI GP 2015

So here we are, the final race of the season. It's been a long one. Even with both world championships decided a long time ago, if you're a real F1 fan you'd still be up to watch this race. Not only is it the last race of the season but it is held at a fantastic track (facilities and looks, not layout). I was there in 2009 and it was great.

Here we have a guest post on why you should watch this race. With or without any reasons, I say watch it. It's gonna be a long winter.

Four reasons why you should watch the final F1 race of the season

Hamilton may have already won the trophy and the podium line-up is decided, but Sunday's F1 race in Abu Dhabi is still worth watching. Here’s why.

1. This could be the last race for Red Bull

Not so long ago, Red Bull used to dominate the F1 world, when it won the title four years in a row (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) with an amazing alliance between its Renault-supplied engines and the driving skills of Sebastian Vettel. What a difference tw years makes, Red Bull's partnership with Renault has ended bitterly, and they have not yet found a new engine supplier. Although they are signed up for next season, there may be soon two strong drivers without a team if they do not find a new supplier quickly!

Up until recently, Red Bull was counting on either Mercedes or Ferrari as alternate supplier, but this is seemingly less and less likely.

Chief technical officer Adrian Newey has been frustrated figure for Red Bull and explains : "We are possibly forced out of Formula 1 because Mercedes and Ferrari have become concerned we would beat them with their own engine".

A decision is expected shortly, possibly after this weekend’s race.

2. Watch the battle beyond the podium

While the top of the rankings is now known, there is some tension in the fight for 4th and 5th place. Finnish drivers are trying to elbow each other out of the way, both figuratively and litterally: Veltteri Bottas is currently in 4th place (Williams team) while Kimi Raikkonen is in 5th place (Ferrari team). In Mexico, both collided again, after their initial brush-up in October in Sochi. There were rumors that Ferrari is considering replacing Raikkonen with Bottas, and that could explain the tension between the two, though this has now been resolved with a suprise new 1 year contract for Raikkonen.

Currently, odds are favouring Raikkonen for fourth place in the championship, while Bottas is predicted to struggle in Abu Dhabi.

3. Will Ferrari confirm its revival?

It would have been difficult for Ferrari to do worse than last season, and thanks to Sebastian Vettel (who replaced Fernando Alonso in the driver's seat), things are going much better in 2015! 3rd place this year is definitely better than last season, when they had their worst season in 21 years. Vettel has done relatively well and is actually the only driver who has managed to give Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg a little competition this year.

Vettel is popular in the media and seems to be thriving with Ferrari. It will be interesting to see how well he performs in Abu Dhabi.

4. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

The turbulent relationship between the two Mercedes drivers has not gone away. With the 1st and 2nd place already secured, it is unlikely the two teammates are going to risk anything this weekend. However, calm heads have not been Hamilton and Rosberg’s strong point so far this season, so the rivalry between the two could flare up again.

In fact, several commentators believe that this season will be the last one with Rosberg teams-up with Hamilton.

Therefore, the last race of the year has plenty to intrigue for next year and it is certainly worth watching the event at the magnificent resort Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

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 - http://formulaone.spreadshirt.com/

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Friday, November 13, 2015

BRAZILIAN GP 2015 PREVIEW

The Brazilian Grand Prix (Portuguese: Grande Prêmio do Brasil) is a Formula One championship race which is currently held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos, a district in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. A Brazilian Grand Prix was first held in 1972 at Interlagos, although it was not part of the Formula One World Championship. Typical of European motorsports at the time, this race was done as a test to convince the FIA if the Interlagos circuit and its organizers could capably hold a Grand Prix. The following year, however, the race was first included in the official calendar, and it was won by defending world champion and São Paulo native Emerson Fittipaldi. In 1974, Fittipaldi won again in rain soaked conditions, and the year after, another São Paulo native, Carlos Pace, won the race in his Brabham, followed by Fittipaldi. 1977 was won by Reutemann, but the drivers began complaining about Interlagos's very rough surface, and the event was then relocated for a year to the new Jacarepaguá circuit in Rio de Janeiro.

Interlagos at just over 800 metres, the atmospheric pressure is 10% lower than at sea level and while this doesn’t sap power with a turbo engine, like it does with a normally aspirated one, it does make the Energy Recovery System work harder on the turbo side.

It is also the shortest lap of the season in terms of lap time, a quick lap there being under 1m 12 seconds, so the qualifying and racing have an intense quality about them. The circuit has a fast downhill sector one and final uphill sector three, with a tight infield sector in the middle.

TRACK CHARACTERISTICS

Track length : 4.309 kilometres.
Race distance : 71 laps (305.909 kilometres).
Corners : 15 corners in total
 Average speed : 210km/h. A classic circuit set in a natural bowl, in a suburb of Sao Paulo.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 323km/h (with DRS open) 311km/h without.
Full throttle : 60% of the lap time (ave/high).
Brake wear : light.
Number of braking events : 6, Time spent braking – 16% of the lap.
Total time needed for a pit stop : 20 seconds
Lap record : 1:11.473 (Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams BMW, 2004)

WEATHER FORECAST

The weather in Sao Paulo is likely to be characteristically dramatic over the next few days, but conditions should settle down in time for Sunday’s race. Before then thunderstorms could arrive in time to disrupt qualifying. The heat and humidity will build over the next few days, pushing up to 32C on Saturday before the expected storms begin in the afternoon.

Friday may also see some rain however it is expected not to arrive until after the day’s practice sessions have concluded. Whereas last year’s race was surprisingly hot, Sunday is expected to be the coolest of the three days this year, with temperatures only in the low twenties, quite different to the conditions the drivers will have practised in.

DRS

There are two DRS zones. The first has a detection point at the apex of T2, with activation 20m after T3, while the second has its activation point 30m after T13, with an activation point 60m after T15.

TYRES

The P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compound have been nominated for this year's Brazilian Grand Prix: the most popular combination of the season, which has been selected for the ninth and final time in 2015.

Brazil is one of the shortest but most intense laps of the year, with the circuit running in an anti-clockwise direction, which is quite unusual in Formula One. There is plenty of work for both the tyres and the drivers - as the Interlagos track requires a high degree of physical effort - and the situation is often made more complex by variable weather conditions. Last year, the hottest track temperatures recorded all season were in Brazil, but the race has also been affected by heavy rain in the past. If it remains dry, Interlagos is ideal territory for the versatile medium and soft slick compounds.

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

SAFETY CAR

The chances of a Safety Car are high at 63%. The Safety Car has been used in seven of the last 11 races. It is often called into action on the first lap, as it’s a short lap with 24 cars charging into tight corners. This makes the Safety Car an important element to factor into Race Strategy planning. It encourages teams to hedge their bets and split strategies, with one car doing a conventional two-stop plan and the other on a one-stop, a plan that would benefit from a safety car deployment. This is because a safety car would close up the field reducing any time loss and if timed well, would allow a one-stopping car to effectively get a free pit stop.

CONCLUSIONS

This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix could well be a record-breaking Formula 1 event, as the sport heads into the penultimate race of the 2015 season. Most of the lap-records on the current F1 calendar are held by drivers who raced in 2004, when the V10 engine era built to a crescendo before being restrained by tyres built to last an entire race in 2005 and then the switch to V8 power in 2006.

But as was the case last time out in Mexico, the V6 turbo engines F1 uses now are less affected by high altitude than normally aspirated power units. At the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix, which is 765m above sea level, Nico Rosberg claimed pole position with a time just 0.201s slower than Rubens Barrichello’s 1m09.822s record set at Interlagos 11 years ago. With the progress made to the V6 engines over the last 12 months, there is a very real chance we could see a long-standing F1 record broken this weekend.

Last year's strategy and how the race was won: There was heatwave last year, so this was not entirely typical of what we would expect to see this time. In 2014, Nico Rosberg won the race for Mercedes using a three-stop strategy. He started on the soft tyre and then changed to the medium on laps seven, 26 and 50. The highest-placed two-stopper, Kimi Raikkonen, finished seventh.

Rosberg kept Lewis Hamilton from pole position by just three-hundredths of a second at this track last year and went on to inflict a vital defeat on his team mate as the pair were scrapping for the championship. Twelve months later there’s only pride at stake, but with Rosberg having taken the last four pole positions in a row and Hamilton anxious to finally cross Interlagos off the very short list of F1 tracks he hasn’t won at yet, we may get a suitably spicy encounter between the two.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

GUEST POST - HAMILTON VS ROSBERG

This week I'm having a special posting. It's a guest submission by F1 fanatic Luke Rees. He will be talking about the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as we head into the Brazilian GP after an exciting US and Mexican GP. Lewis has never won in Brazil surprisingly and that will give him motivation to fight this weekend as a tribute to Senna. This should be good.

How Bad Are Things Between Rosberg, Hamilton and Mercedes?

Social media is abuzz with the tension between Rosberg and Hamilton following the US Grand Prix and now Rosberg’s revival at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Rosberg was frustrated at being clipped in the first corner by Hamilton in Austin, losing out the race with only eight laps to go.

Hamilton refused to be called in for a second pit stop during the Mexican Grand Prix.  He chose not to believe his Mercedes team that his tyres were dangerously low, staying out an extra lap while questioning the call and then asking for feedback on the tyres.

In the aftermath of the Mexican GP, Hamilton said: "I didn't agree with the decision but the team make decisions and I abide by them most of the time. We'll have a chat when I get back. I have full confidence in those guys."

It would therefore seem the latest Mercedes disagreement is a minor one and can be moved past relatively quickly.  

Rosberg took poll position in the race, with Hamilton a close second.  After the race, Hamilton praised his team mate’s driving but also took a slight dig as he mentioned Rosberg’s gust of wind excuse for the US Grand Prix.

Mercedes’ Point Of View

Following the US Grand Prix, Mercedes acknowledged that the situation between the two drivers could deteriorate quickly if left unchecked, as it did after the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, when Hamilton claimed Rosberg deliberately crashed into him.

Talks have happened behind closed-doors before the Mexican GP. It is difficult to say how these went, but it appears that the main issue for Mercedes would have been the contact between the cars in the first corner in Austin, which could have had devastating impact for the team. Speaking about the public spat, Hamilton has now said that Mercedes told both of them clearly that they, “must race against each other from now on in a fair and respectful manner.” They seemed to have follow those instructions during the Mexican GP.

A Clash Of Personalities

Behind the divide are two very different individuals. Hamilton is Britain’s richest sportsperson, and his on-off relationship with the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls and his love of the night life with the likes of Rihanna and Jay-Z has ensured that he is a recognizable figure beyond the world of F1 racing. He’s even been talked once more for the coveted BBC Sports Personality of Year, having been placed as the most likely winner for 2015, behind only track and field athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill.

While Hamilton comes from a working-class background, Rosberg followed on the footsteps of his father Keke Rosberg, the 1982 Formula 1 World Championship. He has kept a much lower public profile than Hamilton, partly through personal choice and partly as he has been doomed to play second-fiddle to Hamilton for the most part of his career.

The two have known each other for a long time, having first met as 14 years old competing in kart races. From the start, there was tension between the two, as you expect from highly competitive people fighting for the same trophy, so there is in effect nothing new with the two of them having a public argument.

What Does The Future Look Like?

The two drivers continue to compete fiercely against each other.  The question remains whether it can be a healthy competition between two team mates, or a division amongst the Mercedes camp.

Hamilton is the favourite heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix on the 15th November at 13/20, with Rosberg second favourite at 6/4.

Luke Rees

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

PF1’S CONCLUSIONS FROM MEXICO

Again another race I missed because it was at 3am here and I just couldn't afford 2 days of leave to watch. And again, whenever I miss a race it turns out to be a good one, like Austin. Damn! Anyway here are some conclusions from Planet F1 for your reading pleasure.

The trust deficit at Mercedes, makings of a fascinating rivalry between Kimi and Bottas and more in PF1’s Conclusions From Mexico.

Dizzy With Nostalgia…And A Lack Of Oxygen

Hometown hero Sergio Perez only managed to finish eighth on an alternative one-stop strategy and the race was far from a classic, but the large crowd and impressive racetrack architecture made for a fine event as Mexico made its return to the F1 cal.

The circuit, sitting at more than 2,000 metres above sea level, facilitates high speeds – in excess of 360kph – which is the kind of statistic that will delight speed freaks and F1 fans alike.

The lack of grip, meanwhile, created serious challenges for the drivers, who are often criticised for having an easy time of it in the PlayStation era of driving.

A Trust Deficit

Although Mercedes have dominated over the past two seasons, a third year of success depends as much on the intra-team balance as it does on the step taken by Ferrari and Williams.

The contact between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at Spa in 2014 casts a long shadow, as does the strategic error in Monaco this year.

More recently, rivals will have noted Hamilton’s response to the pitwall call for him to pit in Mexico.

Hamilton was reluctant to pit on lap 47, saying: “I think it’s the wrong call.”

Mercedes can afford internal politicking because their car is the class of the field, but as Red Bull and before them Ferrari and Williams can all attest, no one dominates forever.

Obsessed with beating each other, Hamilton and Rosberg should be wary of the dangers lurking on the second and third rows of the grid in 2016.

Winter Is Coming

Sebastian Vettel’s error-strewn race will do nothing to erode his excellent debut season with Ferrari.

Although the four-time Champion struggled in Mexico, he has finished 70 percent of his races with the Scuderia and won three times, which compares favourably with the 50 percent podium-to-start ratio achieved by a certain Michael Schumacher in his first season with the Italian manufacturer.

While historical comparisons are always controversial, this statistic does highlight Vettel’s consistency in 2015 – and lest we forget how far Ferrari lagged behind in 2014.

A Deficit Of A Different Sort

Jenson Button described his 14th-place finish in Mexico as “painful” and bemoaned the 20-45kph speed differential that the McLaren-Honda faced to other cars in a straightline.

The Honda power unit struggled more than others in the high-altitude of Mexico City, but the Red Bulls suffered similarly as their underpowered Renault units were bullied by the Merc-powered Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Red Bull are still keen to switch to Honda power (a move currently being blocked by McLaren) after their very public divorce with Renault, although at present Christian Horner must be wondering whether it’s worth swapping a donkey for a mule.

Compatriots Clash Again

Pound-for-pound, few nations can compete with Finland’s production line of racing talent in F1 and in other series.

Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, and Kimi Raikkonen have all won F1 titles while the likes of Heikki Kovalainen and Valtteri Bottas have often found themselves fighting near the front.

Bottas underscored his potential by finishing best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo in Mexico, but only after he survived a collision with Raikkonen through Turns 4-5.

The clash in Mexico was the second between the Finns in three races and on this occasion neither driver was willing to leave an inch.

“I had to turn in at some point – I cannot just go straight,” said the Ferrari man, who retired after the incident with a broken rear suspension.

“Of course, I’m not going to back off,” said Bottas.

The incidents in Russia and Mexico have the makings of a fascinating rivalry as a former champ’s career winds down and the Finnish champ-in-waiting tries to step up.

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 - http://formulaone.spreadshirt.com/

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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Friday, October 23, 2015

UNITED STATES GP 2015 PREVIEW

The United States Grand Prix is a motor race which has been run on and off since 1908, when it was known as the American Grand Prize. The race later became part of the Formula One World Championship. Over 43 editions, the race has been held at ten locations, most recently in 2013 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

The Circuit of the Americas, which runs anti clockwise, is a wonderful mixture of many of the most famous circuits on the F1 calendar; it has more corners at over 250 km/h than Spa and more below 100kph than Hungary, which is quite a combination! It has one very long straight with a hairpin at either end. There were a total of 55 overtaking moves during the 2012 race, but only 18 in the 2013 edition. The track is well known for its spectacular elevation changes of up to 40 metres, with an uphill run to the distinctive Turn 1, which is a hairpin bend and the signature corner. The track contains an ample variety of corners, which incorporate some of the best elements from other circuits, making it a wide-ranging challenge that tests every aspect of tyre performance.

Strategy wise, the race has been a one stopper for both the previous races, due to a conservative choice of medium and hard tyres by Pirelli. Inaugurated in 2012, the Circuit of the Americas is the 10th venue to have hosted a Formula One grand prix in the United States, and it has proved to be extremely popular since its inception.

TRACK CHARACTERISTICS

Circuit length : 5.516 kilometres.
Race distance : 56 laps (308.896 kilometres).
Corners : 20 corners in total. Average speed 197km/h.
Aerodynamic setup : Med/High downforce.
Top speed : 315km/h (with DRS open) 305km/h without.
Full throttle : 58% of lap.
Brake wear : medium/hard.
Number of braking events : 10 (Four heavy). At Turn 12 the drivers incur 5.5g in braking forces.
Time needed for a Pit stop : 21/22 seconds.
Lap record: Kimi Raikkonen - 1:39.347 (Lotus, 2012).

WEATHER FORECAST

The build-up to Sunday’s United States Grand Prix is forecast to be extremely wet, though conditions should improve in time for race day.

A tropical storm south-west of Mexico will send significant amounts of rain north to Texas over the coming days. Forecasts give different views of exactly much rain Austin will experience, but a high volume of rainfall is expected which will peak on Saturday. Conditions for Friday are little better.

By Sunday the forecast improves but a risk of rain showers will remain for the race. That is likely to affect how teams approach practice, and could mean we see very little running indeed. Friday running may be sacrificed to save wet and intermediate tyres for the race, and conditions on Saturday could lead to lengthy red flags.

F1 has not run in heavy rain at the Circuit of the Americas, which opened in 2012, but last year’s World Endurance Championship round at the track was hit by a rainstorm 90 minutes into the event.

TYRES

This year, as was the case in 2014, the versatile medium and soft P Zero tyres have been nominated.

In total there are 20 quite varied corners, including a tricky uphill braking area for the unusual turn one (the highest point of the track), giving the anticlockwise circuit a distinctly different feel for the drivers. The track limits are deliberately wide at the corners, in order to encourage different lines and provide opportunities for overtaking.

There are three long straights that tend to cool down the tyres, making the braking areas critical, as tyre temperature will have dropped slightly. This also then affects the turn-in into fast corners, as the compound has to get back up to temperature very quickly. In the past, track temperatures have varied from 18 to 37 degrees centigrade within one day, making tyre temperature management a vital skill.

The set-up tends to be medium downforce with an emphasis on mechanical grip from the tyres; especially at the front to aid a rapid turn-in during the fast direction changes that characterise the first half of the lap. There is roughly 60% full throttle and 10 braking events: about average for the season.

DRS

The race will use the same two DRS zones as previous races at the track. The first will be between turns eleven and twelve, and the second will be on the start/finish straight between turns twenty and one.

Zone 1 - Between Turns 11 & 12
Zone 2 - Main straight

PIT STOPS

Typically with the harder compounds of the past in Austin one stop has been around 10 seconds faster than two stops. One stop has another advantage in that it offers track position in the final stint, so the two stopping car has to overtake it on fresher tyres in the closing stages. A typical one stop strategy is to start on soft tyres and pit around lap 20 for a new set of medium tyres.

Two stops would mean starting on the soft tyre, taking another set of softs around lap 15 and then a set of mediums around lap 37. Alternatively, two stints on the medium tyre if the wear on the soft was marginal and the medium had good pace.

SAFETY CAR

There have been three races so far and one safety car so the probability is 30%.

CONCLUSION

If Lewis Hamilton wins the US Grand Prix in Austin on Sunday, with Nico Rosberg second and Sebastian Vettel third, a result that has already occurred on four occasions so far this season, Hamilton will win the Formula 1 world championship with three races to spare.

If he does claim the 2015 title on Sunday, Hamilton will become Briton’s second three-time world champion, after Sir Jackie Stewart, but will be the first British driver ever to secure back-to-back F1 championships.

The USA has been the scene of six previous title deciders, in 1959, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1981 and 1982 – with the most recent occasion the year Keke Rosberg, Nico’s father, won his only F1 championship.

I'm looking forward to another clean sweep by Lewis Hamilton as he has been very good at this track and the flowing nature of the circuit suits the Mercedes power unit just fine.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

PROVISIONAL 2016 CALENDAR IS OUT

Formula One racing’s governing body the FIA has released a revised provisional schedule for next year’s world championship, with the season set to get underway in Australia in March, not in April as previously indicated.

A record 21 races remain on the calendar, with the brand-new event in Baku, Azerbaijan taking place the week after Canada - one of six back-to-back Grand Prix weekends.

Also announced at Wednesday’s World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) meeting in Paris were new rules to increase the noise of cars. From 2016, all cars must have a separate exhaust wastegate tailpipe through which all and only wastegate exhaust gases must pass. This move will not have any significant effect on power or emissions.

Several other changes were announced to the F1 regulations. They were:

Cars must now comply with all cockpit and safety equipment requirements during testing; such as the position of the driver’s head, all headrest padding, cockpit padding and ease of driver egress.

Sporting Regulations regarding track limits have been clarified and specify that drivers “must make every reasonable effort to use the track at all times and may not deliberately leave the track without a justifiable reason”. Penalties will still be allocated based on whether a driver is judged to have gained an advantage.

The WMSC approved the proposal of the F1 Commission regarding regulations for power unit and gearbox changes. Such penalties prior to qualifying will be applied based on the time of use. For changes made after qualifying, preference will be given to the driver whose team first informed the technical delegate that a change will occur.

Any driver who causes a start to be aborted, even if he is then able to start the extra formation lap, will be required to start the race from the pit lane. The same process will be applied to a re-start from a race suspension where drivers have been brought to the pit lane.

The WMSC confirmed a number of clarifications were made to aerodynamic testing restrictions for wind tunnel use and CFD, specifically focusing on reporting and inspection processes for these development tools.

For 2017, on board cameras on stalks on the nose of cars will be prohibited.

The revised provisional calendar in full:

March 20 - Australia
April 3 - Bahrain
April 17 - China
May 1 - Sochi
May 15 - Spain
May 29 - Monaco
June 12 - Canada
June 19 - Baku*
July 3 - Austria
July 10 - Britain
July 24 - Hungary
July 31 - Germany
August 28 - Belgium
September 4 - Italy
September 18 - Singapore
October 2 - Malaysia
October 9 - Japan
October 23 - USA
November 6 - Mexico
November 13 - Brazil
November 27 - Abu Dhabi

TYRE COMPOUNDS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON

Pirelli has confirmed its tyre compounds for the final four races of 2015.

For the United States and Mexico - the two back-to-back grands prix coming up - the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres will be used.

For Austin, this is the same nomination as last year, while simulation data has indicated that this will also be the best choice for the brand new Mexico City circuit.

The Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos will have the medium and soft tyres as well, as was the case in 2014. This should provide a range of strategy options and between two and three pit stops for most competitors, with conditions which could also be as hot as they were in Sao Paulo last season.

Finally, the P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft have been selected for Abu Dhabi: again, the same selection as 2014, on a smooth and varied circuit that the teams know well from testing.

Grand Prix Super Soft Soft Medium Hard
Australia
X X
Malaysia

X X
Bahrain
X X
China
X X
Spain

X X
Monaco X X

Canada X X

Austria X X

Britain

X X
Hungary
X X
Belgium
X X
Italy
X X
Singapore X X

Japan

X X
Russia X X

USA
X X
Mexico
X X
Brazil
X X
Abu Dhabi X X



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Friday, September 18, 2015

SINGAPORE GP 2015 PREVIEW

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 CHARACTERISTICS

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).

WEATHER FORECAST

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.

DRS

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.


TYRES

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.

SAFETY CAR

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.

CONCLUSION

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

CONCLUSIONS FROM THE ITALIAN GP

CONCLUSIONS FROM THE ITALIAN GP
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

GOOD RACE, BAD RACE: ITALY
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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