Saturday, December 13, 2008

R.I.P Honda

It has been sometime since I did post here but thanks to a crazy work schedule, I have not been able to comment on the recent things which have rocked the F1 world. Honda pulling out of F1 was a shocker as Honda was just not another independent team which has run out of money, but Honda has been on and off in F1 and well we just cannot forget the 80’s when Honda powered Williams and McLaren’s dominated for close to a decade. Then Honda took off and well instead of making Jordan the works team they decided to back BAR and eventually bought the team. Wonder what would have happened had Honda made Jordan their works team or just even Williams as now things would have been different. For the amount of money they drained in F1, which led to them finishing runner-up in the constructor’s championship in 2004 and of course Jenson Button winning the Hungarian grand prix thanks to the rain.

Honda is not a big loss to F1 as the last few years Honda has hardly inspired anyone. Even their sister team with 1/10th of their budgets managed to outperform them in 2007. I guess had Honda finished in the top 4 this season maybe they may not have pulled the plug but when you keep finishing at the tail end of the grid, the company lost their patience and just pulled the plug. Though they had high hopes for 2009 with Ross Brawn and KERS, well I am sure they may have not win the title but they could have given Toyota and Red Bull a run for their money. Now looking at the operations, still it is not clear if Honda will supply engine for 2009, if not it is not at all an attractive option for the possible buyer. Well Ferrari will have the stock of engines as Force India has switched to Mercedes-Benz while Mercedes could also support another thing. But it would be great to see Prodrive take over the operations and run the team as they have a racing heritage.

On the whole, the whole F1 experiment as a constructor was a disaster for Honda and well I just hope that once the recession is over they do make a comeback atleast as an engine supplier maybe to Williams to relive the old glorious days of F1.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Road to 2010

While the 2009 line-up is almost done except for Honda, STR and Force India not confirming their driver line-ups, but 2010 could be the most interesting season as apart from Hamilton, no other driver on track is actually sure on the team he will be starting for. Well theoretically Massa and Kimi also have seats but it all depends on what happens in 2009. Another person who has a deal till 2010 is Alonso but again it also depends on what Renault can provide him.

Well as far as Alonso is concerned he is in a very dicey situation. If Renault is not able to offer him a competitive package for the whole season, he well may not have too many options on the grid. McLaren is a sure No No, while Ferrari is only possible if they lose the driver’s championship again to Lewis in 2009. As far as their team is concerned for 2009, they have one of the best with Kimi the 2008 World Champion and though Massa may not have won the 2009 Championship but he is according to many people the real Champion of the season. BMW is a good team to go but again if BMW does not have a car which can challenge the McLaren and Ferrari the whole season, then it may not be a great option to go there. I am sure even Kubica would leave them if he does not get a car which can help him win the title. What else is there? Honda and Toyota are there while RBR by then will emerge as the strongest independent team out there while STR’s future after 2009 is still not too clear. Williams is living in its past glory and well it may face the same fate as Brabham, Tyrrell and Lotus.

Now for Ferrari an ideal line-up would be Vettel and Alonso. As Vettel is the next Schumacher while Alonso can possibly win another title or so and also groom Vettel. Kimi well I don’t see him lasting on F1 beyond 2010 and if he wins the title in 2009, he is sure to retire and if he has a similar season to 2008, I am sure Ferrari may just kick him out. Massa well it would be tough to drop him but again well he has proved himself and he has many other teams as options. McLaren more or less will revolve around Hamilton and the only surprise could be if Rosberg will join them and if it does it sure will be a disaster but more or less but Glock will be the guy who most likely will join the team with his German connections.

So these are my predictions for the driver line-up for 2010:

Ferrari – Vettel and Alonso/Massa/Kubica
McLaren – Hamilton and Rosberg/Glock/Kovalainen/Massa
BMW – Kubica/Alonso/Massa/Heidfeld
Renault – Massa/ Heidfeld/ Piquet/ Di Grassi/ Grosjean/Bourdais
Williams – Nakajima/ Hülkenberg/Sutil
Red Bull – Webber/ Buemi/Massa
STR – Buemi/Sato/Bourdais/ Chandhok/Ammermüller/Hartley
Toyota – Trulli/Glock/Heidfeld/Kobayashi/ Nakajima/Massa
Honda – Button/Senna/Di Grassi/Davidson/Massa
Force India – Who ever McLaren decides!

As far as I can see well Massa even if he gets fired by Ferrari sure has lots of options and he does not have to worry much but Alonso well, he just needs to pray that Ferrari does badly as right now, he needs them more than they need him and with the likes of Vettel and Kubica, well Alonso may just not win anymore World Championships and could retire early from the sport like what Mika did.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vettel on top in Barca

Vettel proved that he is no flash in the pan and he is the next big thing of F1 by clearly coming on top of testing in Barcelona. Adrian Newey designed car was more than handful and even with a Renault powered car, he was clearly on top of testing. Just imagine if Red Bull just swaps engines with STR, well they could be well on top and even the big guns will be thinking twice about the team.

Another important thing which came out of the weekend was Force India signing a deal with McLaren. Effectively they have become the “b” team of McLaren and well now McLaren can get its hands on a years worth of data on Ferrari engines and also have 2 other cars to do its bidding. With a freeze on testing this would benefit McLaren a great deal. Poor Fisi and Sutil now will be praying that they get a drive for next season.

Honda and STR are yet to confirm their drivers. While Jenson Button is all set to take one seat, the other seat would be a shoot out between Rubens, Senna and Di Grassi. I guess even if Senna and Grassi are of similar pace, I would go with Senna if I was Honda and having a famous last name could do wonders for you career even if you are not that good. Just ask Ralf about it, as without it he would have not been in F1 this long. It is good to see Sato testing for STR along with Bourdais and Buemi plus you can add Senna and Rubens to the possible drivers would could race for them.

I guess I would predict Button and Senna will drive for Honda for 2009 while STR is still tough to predict and well I would put Sato (lucrative Japanese market for Red Bull) and Buemi in STR. And if Senna fails to get into Honda well thanks to Berger, he will surely land a seat in STR.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Farce India

During the 90’s Jordan and his team were well known for a "rock and roll" attitude which added colour and character to F1. Then in early 2005, the team was sold to Midland Group, who competed for one final season as 'Jordan', before renaming the team as MF1 Racing for the 2006 season, before being sold later in 2006 to Dutch car manufacturer Spyker Cars to become Spyker F1 for 2007, and then sold again to become Force India in 2008.

It was during these years that Jordan racing died and well after going thru various avatars within such a short span of time, Vijay Mallya bought the team then known as Spyker and he launched Force India, the first team from India to race under its flag. Shahrukh Khan was chosen as its brand ambassador and the car and the drivers were launched with much fanfare in Mumbai. They had a veteran in Giancarlo Fisichella and they had a young driver with enough talents to give the best a run for their money in Adrian Sutil (Atleast we thought so last year!).

Kingfisher is my favourite brand of beer and it is owned by UB group which is also owned by one Vijay Mallya. I do drink a lot of beer and it is sad that the money which people from all walks of life is wasted on the so-called pet project of Mallya. He may want to be a Richard Branson and maybe his parties may even be better than Branson but Branson yes has wasted money down the toilet but Force India project was a disaster and it sure did wasted a lot of beer money!

It may never reach the heights that Jordan was in the 90’s but then now luckily Ferrari engines is off this stupid car and I am sure Ferrari does not need that money it makes out of these engines and can rather supply Red Bull and ensure future driver Vettel has a good enough car. Force India now is officially McLaren’s B team and this is sad especially for Sutil as he nearly scored points in Monaco if not for Kimi’s last minute bump while Fisi did enjoy a full ride in F1 and he can either become a tester or just join CART or NASCAR.

Hopefully Force India can atleast challenge the likes of Honda next year as the way I see it if STR can get good drivers, they would be tough to catch and with RBR most likely to get Ferrari engines and with Vettel behind the wheels, it would be next to impossible to catch them. Which leaves us with Williams as the only team which is going down every year and hope Force India with Mercedes engines should be able to catch up with them and score atleast a point the next season.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Over the Curbs Awards

I decided to give my own F1 awards to the drivers and the teams for the 2008 season. Also, this would be strictly based on the driving skills and though I am a faithful Tifosi, I would be neutral to the hilt and though the FIA has its own championships and ofcourse congratulations to the winners, I have some interesting categories and these are the winners of the first ever Over the Curbs awards:

Driver of the Season - Fernando Alonso

Team of the Season - Scuderia Ferrari

The Next Big Thing - Sebastian Vettel

Most Improved Driver - Sebastian Vettel

Most Improved Team - Scuderia Toro Rosso

Best Grand Prix - Brazilian Grand Prix

Worst Grand Prix - European Grand Prix (Valencia)

Rookie of the season - Timo Glock
(Technically Vettel can also be considered as this was his first full season but he had raced 8 races during the 2007 season for BMW and STR, while Glock raced once for Jordan in 2004.)

Most disappointing driver of the Season - Kimi Räikkönen

Most disappointing team of the Season - Honda

Lucky to be in F1 - Nelson Piquet Jr

Veteran of the Season - Jarno Trulli
(Should have been in F1 for over 10 years and should be over 30 years)

JV of the Season - Lewis Hamilton
(For the driver who talks utter nonsense like how JV used to do it in his racing days)

Most missed Driver - Takuma Sato

Least missed Driver - Ralf Schumacher

Friday Driver of the Season - Nicolas Hülkenberg

Monday, November 3, 2008

Timo the Jobber!

Timo Glock may have just sealed a deal with McLaren to race with them for the 2010 season after the job he did for Hamilton. Both these guys go a long way and well even if Heike would have done it well you can say it is a team sport but Glock decided to screw his current employer Toyota and decided to let Hamilton win the Championship in the most disgraceful way possible. I think the only other guy who would want a McLaren seat for 2010 would be Rosberg and I am sure Keke would not want his son to play 2nd fiddle, when he can beat Hamilton on the track! Toyota should fire Glock immediately if they want to maintain some dignity!

Massa the true Champ

They said he could not handle pressure, they said he could not race in the rain and they said he does not deserve to be the Champion. But Massa proved everyone wrong by driving the race of his career and winning the Brazilian grand prix. Not only did he win more races than anyone else on the grid, but also proved that he is a great sportsman and he did not have to win the title the way Hamilton won thanks to the biggest douche bag ever, Timo Glock. Hamilton clearly was the not the best driver on the grid and there are atleast 4 guys who are better than him. The way Vettel, the next big thing of F1 took his case was brilliant. Anyone in the right sense of mind knows who the real champion is and Massa will always be the people’s Champion. Yesterday was a dark day in F1 history and even guys like JV won the race fair on the track unlike Hamilton who was handed the title thanks to his old buddy doing the job and hoping this could lead to a McLaren seat in 2010! Massa you are the man and you proved that that you are the best driver in F1 today.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Massa on Pole

Massa is inching closer to a dream World Championship as he gained pole position for the Brazilian grand prix. Surprisingly joining him on pole is none other than Jarno Trulli of Toyota. Kimi will be in the 2nd row along with Hamilton. The most interesting thing is Alonso on row 3rd right behind Hamilton. Vettel is 7th and joining him in a disappointing 8th is Heidfeld, atleast he did better than Kubica who could managed only 13th while as usual Honda failed to make any impact while Williams just had one of their worst qualifying sessions of the season. No major one lap surprises from Webber while DC is on 14th on his final qualifying session. No prizes for guessing who finished at the bottom of the session.

The Brazilian Job

The final race of the season will be a showdown between Massa and Hamilton for the FIA World Driver’s Championship. It does have a sense of Déjà vu like last year 7 points was the difference between Hamilton and Kimi though Alonso was the actually title contender but Kimi took the crown away from both Alonso and Hamilton thanks largely to Massa. This once again shows that F1 is a team sport and McLaren though could have easily won the drivers’ championship with Alonso, but Ron Denis decided to back Hamilton and we know the story.

Now with both Kimi and even Alonso, the fastest man on Friday practice ready to help Massa, well this could be a great chance for Massa to claim his first world championship and finally prove that he is something more of just a side-kick. Also if he fails to win, well the future after 2010 will become very bleak for him and well he could go on and become the next Irvine of Ferrari. Guys like Alonso, Vettel and Kubica have proved that they are on-par if not even better than the current Ferrari drivers and I am sure Ferrari would love to have a team with any one of the above combination and for Kubica, if BMW does not improve next year, well Ferrari may be the only team which can get him a World Title.

As for the constructor championship, Ferrari should have no problem in retaining it once again as Kovalainen is possibly not even among the 10 best drivers in F1 today and he is lucky scoring those points than to his car. I guess McLaren would be looking at Rosberg as a future driver as he too will not be in Williams too long and possibly end up as the next Jenson Button.

This should be a brilliant race and the weather may also play a huge part and I hope at the end of the race, the Tifosi will celebrate like last year and on the whole once again F1 is the king of all sports and the whole season turned out to be a brilliant one. I will miss F1 till the next season starts!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What next Alonso?

Alonso must be the most unlucky driver in the history of F1. Currently he is the best driver on track and he brings in all the technical expertise that Schumi used to do it for Ferrari. Well Renault is no small team and he did win 2 world titles with the team and he beat none other than the Schumi led Ferrari twice. Even Mika never beat Schumi twice as he was challenging Irvine one season after Schumi was injured.

Looking at the options Alonso has for the next season, it is very limited. Ferrari has both drivers contracted till 2010 while BMW seats are open only from 2010. I don’t think Alonso is interested in Toyota while Honda looks like an option. With Brawn and Button, Honda does on paper looks a good prospect, but when you look at their performance over the last few years, they always claim that the next season would be theirs and so far they have failed to inspire and this season they are just above Force India in the championships.

STR could be a surprise option for Alonso as the Adrian Newey designed car with Ferrari engines has proved this season with a good driver (Vettel), the car can give everyone a run for their money and this could be a stop gap solution for Alonso before he could make his dream move to Ferrari or even BMW. Another option for him is to be with Renault as they seem to have improved a lot over the last few races and well they could provide Alonso with a car which could seriously challenge Ferrari, McLaren and BMW the next season.

Also the emergence of baby Schumi (Vettel) and the good performance of Kubica would hurt Alonso’s chances of getting into Ferrari post 2010. But with a huge Spanish sponsor moving from McLaren to Ferrari, well that could be a reason why Ferrari may want him plus a lot depends on how Kimi and Massa performs during the next season. Ideally a dream team of any of Vettel and Kubica/Alonso would make Ferrari invincible for the years to come. As far Alonso, well his best bet is to stay with Renault or just move to STR for a season and just keep racing till Ferrari calls him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Massa Needs?

With the title race going down the wire and with this year’s race is extremely similar to what happened last season, it could turn out to be a nail baiting finish. Massa and Ferrari needs to pull-off a Brazilian job to win the Driver’s Championship. Also Kimi and even Alonso may have an extremely important role to play in the title race.

Hamilton has 94 while Massa has 87 points. This means Massa has to finish first or second in Brazil in order to stand any chance of winning the title. If Massa wins, Hamilton has to come 5th or better and if Massa comes 2nd he needs to come 7th or better. But if Massa comes 3rd, no matter what happens Hamilton could win the title.

In today’s world, with the amount of cameras on track I don’t think Kimi or anyone would take him out of the track, but if Hamilton tries any one of his stunts then well he may end in the pit lane all alone while Massa may win the title. This could be the only chance Massa gets to win the title and let’s all hope history repeats itself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Entry Point!

Welcome to Cutting the Chicane, my new dedicated blog on Formula One. This blog will discusses everything from race results to slick tyres! Well after few deliberations on what name to use for the blog, the list includes “Over the Curb”, “Pit Stop Mob” and even “The Lollypop Man” but I finally decided to use this name. The only Jacques Villeneuve fan suggested this name to me and currently he is praying that JV comes back to F1!!

Oh yeah, we all know what happens when you cut chicanes, just ask the FIA stewards about it!