Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Red Baron returns as the Kaiser for the Silver Arrow Team

The rumour which has been floating around for some time now has finally been officially confirmed and one of the greatest if not the great Michael Schumacher will make a comeback after a gap of 3 years to partner young German Nico Rosberg in the newly branded Mercedes Grand Prix team. Schumacher has gone through the whole circle and joins the team which backed him during his early pre-F1 career and even paid for his drive during his debut for the Jordan team in 1991 at Spa.

Schumacher a seven time former World Champion with Benetton and Ferrari has most of the records in F1 and the most important thing is that he is reuniting with Ross Brawn with whom he won all his 7 championships. To expect Schumacher to come back and start winning titles is unrealistic but then knowing Schumi, all things are possible and don’t be too shocked if he comes back and drives like he did during the time he left F1.

Niki Lauda has the most amazing comeback which resulted in him winning the title once again in 1984. But Lauda was still in his mid-thirties when he made his comeback while Schumacher would be 41 when he races once again. Age may not be a factor in motorsports to a large extend as other competitive sports but then even if Schumacher is super fit, he just cannot be 100% as good as a 24 year old driver. But knowing Schumacher, he is in for good and he will give his best.

Formula one for the last 3 years have been embroiled in one controversy to other and 2009 was one of its worst years with the race-fixing scandal which rocked the F1 world. Plus 3 manufacturers pulled off in the last one year while another one just sold of a huge stake in its team to an investment company. First Mercedes taking over Brawn was a very positive news for F1 as when the likes of Honda, Toyota, BWM and even Renault all want to exit the sport, Mercedes is involving itself more than it ever did in the last 50 years and we finally get a Silver Arrow team for the first time since the 50’s.

Schumacher making a comeback is a huge positive news for F1 and a whole new generation of fans will see the living legend go wheel to wheel with old rivals like Alonso and Button while guys like Hamilton and Vettel will get to go and test themselves against the greatest of all. Schumacher has frankly nothing to lose and his comeback is not about winning, but it’s about a personal challenge in which he will compete against the best drivers on the grid to see if he has it still in him and even if he wins a few races, that would seal the Schumacher legacy forever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nick Heidfeld: Always at the Right Place at the Wrong Time!

Nick Heidfeld is one of the most consistent and talented F1 drivers of this generation and has the dubious record of having the most number of starts without winning a race. The German driver was part of the West McLaren young driver’s program and was also backed by the motorsport division of Mercedes Benz and was also the official test driver for the McLaren team during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. He also won the International Formula 3000 in 1999 which was the precursor to the current GP2 series.

For the 2000 season, he signed up with Prost GP and had a miserable season and he was with an unresponsive and uncompetitive car which more or less did not even last a race distance. He had 10 retirements out of 17 races and failed to score any points at all. During 2001 he signed up with Sauber and future World Champion Kimi Räikkönen was his rookie teammate. Though Heidfeld was very impressive and outperformed Kimi, the vacant McLaren seat which was created due to Mika Häkkinen’s retirement but Kimi took the seat and Heidfeld continued in Sauber for 2 more seasons with decent consistent performances.

A move to the ailing Jordan team in 2004 did him no good and after an average season with the team he was finally signed by a big team as he raced for the Williams F1 team during the 2005 season. Though he was impressive during the first half of the season, his form tapered away towards the end and also the BMW’s partnership with Williams came to an end and Heidfeld moved to the newly formed BMW Sauber team after BMW took over the Swiss team. Though BMW did not have any lofty ambitions during its first 2 seasons, Heidfeld was very consistent and was defiantly the best driver on the grid not driving a Ferrari, McLaren and Renault during this phase. Heidfeld even managed to break the most consecutive classified finishes record with 41 straight finishes which started with the 2007 French GP and ended with the 2009 Italian GP.

Though he has outperformed Kubica his teammate for 3 years in 2 out of the 3 seasons together in BMW, Kubica had a golden 2008 as till he final few races he was in contention for the driver’s title while the team actually led the constructor’s championship for a short bit and also scored its only win with Kubica winning 2008 Canadian GP with Heidfeld following him in 2nd. Things were finally looking good for Heidfeld as he was in a team which can actually challenge for the titles but 2009 was disastrous for the BMW team as due to variety of reasons, the team pulled off its F1 program and Sauber was once again an independent team.

The takeover of Brawn GP by Mercedes brought back Heidfeld into the limelight once again as due to his smooth driving style and his nationality there was talk of him partnering fellow German Nico Rosberg in an all German superteam but Heidfeld’s lack of race win along with Rosberg’s own failure to win a race so far in his career is not helping Heidfeld’s chance with Mercedes GP. He was briefly linked to a race seat with McLaren but Button’s shocking move there has removed any chances with McLaren.

Though there are still seats vacant in the grid, Heidfeld has to wait not only on Schumacher’s comeback decision but also has to wait if Kubica would turn his back on Renault as these two are the hot favourites to take the vacant Mercedes seat. If Schumacher does make a comeback, Heidfeld can re-forge his partnership with Kubica for Renault or he can go back to his old team of Sauber which will be powered by a customer Ferrari engine but time is running out for Heidfeld.

He has always been at the right place at the wrong time and if he fails to land a Mercedes GP seat, chances of Heidfeld finishing his career without a win is very high and he will have the dubious distinction of having score more points and races without a win. An unwanted record for a driver like Heidfeld, who will always be known as a very smooth operator but unless he gets a car which can win him races, we will never know if Heidfeld could have been a F1 great or just another talented youngster who failed in the big stage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Will He or Won’t He? The Red Baron joining the Silver Arrow

The entire F1 world is waiting if the resident Red Baron and one of the all-time greats in the sport Michael Schumacher will make his miracle comeback to once again go wheel to wheel around the world with the current crop of F1 drivers. The last time Schumacher was driving, he nearly had a dream retirement but thanks to a dominant Renault led by Alonso and also Ferrari’s first engine failure in nearly 5 years robbed Schumacher of his perfect retirement. A year later his replacement at Ferrari, Kimi went on to win his first and only World Championship who now will be racing in the World Rally Championship and is not sure if he will ever comeback to F1. Schumacher’s one time rival Alonso is now part of the Ferrari team and will lead the team’s challenge for the 2010 title after a disastrous 2009 for the Italian team.

It was Mercedes who brought Schumacher into the sport by giving him his first drive with the Jordan team and so impressive was Schumacher that after just one race he signed up for the mid-field Benetton and ended up winning 2 World Championships with them and then he shocked everyone by joining the Ferrari team which has last won a title some 15 years back and within a few years made Ferrari the most dominant team and won 5 Championships with the team. Schumacher became synonymous with Ferrari and it was a partnership made in heaven with Schumi being a lifelong ambassador for the team. Though an opportunity to race for the Silver Arrow Mercedes who themselves is making a comeback after more than 50 years as a factory owned outlet will be highly enticing but giving his past with Ferrari, he may in the end may not take it.

Though Ferrari’s over reliance on Kimi resulted in Schumacher retiring a bit early and if not for his neck, he could have well made his comeback as a replacement for Massa in 2009 but then his neck may not be the only reason for Schumacher not making a comeback this year. The 2009 Ferrari was so bad that it took Kimi half a season to get used to it while Fisichella who was having a dream season with Force India failed to score any points with the car. Maybe it was wise of Schumacher not making his comeback in such a bad car.

Ross Brawn was involved with Schumacher’s all titles in both Benetton and Ferrari and Brawn in his first season as a team principle managed to win both the Championships. Ross Brawn was one of the main reasons why Mercedes decided to take over Brawn GP and Schumacher knows that Ross Brawn can deliver a car which can make him go head to head with the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull. No one expects Schumacher to win the title in his comeback, but then knowing Schumacher he will give his best and will try to win a few races for his team.

Schumacher actually has nothing to lose as if the car is very good then it is because of Schumacher and if he fails then the car is not good but knowing Schumi he will not take this path and if he makes a comeback then he will make sure he gives his best for the entire season and he has a car which will make him challenge for victories and maybe even for the title. F1 is a funny world with weirder things happening so don’t discount Schumacher making a comeback for Mercedes but then it would be a dream to see the likes of Vettel, Alonso, Massa, Hamitlon and Button going head to head with the greatest driver the sport has ever produced.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Who will race for the Silver Arrow Mercedes in 2010?

Mercedes-Benz traditionally has been one of the early power houses in F1 and finally after 55 years, Mercedes is back in grand prix racing as a constructer ever since taking over Brawn GP a few days back. Though the McLaren Mercedes alliance has been one of the most enduring one in the sport and has lasted 15 years and it is quite possible that it may even go on to last 21 years after their revised contract, in which McLaren buys back its shares while Mercedes supplies engines till 2015. For years Mercedes wanted a German driver for the team but McLaren has usually gone with Finnish or British driver and for 2010 they have pulled a major coup and has pulled the rug under Mercedes by recruiting Jenson Button the 2009 World Champion who will team up with Lewis Hamilton the 2010 Champion. It will be a dream team for all the British marketing firms as finally McLaren has two British drivers who have won the Championship in the last 2 seasons. Crucially, Button will once again bring the #1 to the team while Mercedes after buying Brawn who won both the titles last year had to go through one more season to reclaim the #1 position.

Though the team has said that it wants to become an international power house team, it is most likely to have 2 German drivers in its cockpits. Though for F1, there is nothing better than a Great Britain-Germany rivalry but then Mercedes could be forced to field 2 drivers who have raced in more than 200 races without even winning once. Well Rosberg never had a car which can win races while Heidfeld despite being a very promising driver never was in the right teams. Rosberg was considered to be the “Next Big Thing” of F1 while Heidfeld has become from being the nearly man to a vastly underestimate driver who is Mr Consistent. It may not be a team of superstars but it has enough talent and potential backed by an ideal machinery, could well go on and challenge the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull for the title.

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, were no superstars as Button was more or less a “has-been” driver in 2009 with a single race win due to rain while Barrichello was one the world’s best # 2 driver who can be a good side-kick but never good enough to challenge for the crown but in 2009 both were fighting for the crown and now Button is a World Champion and will join McLaren while Barrichello despite his age still manages to find a seat in Williams.

For 2010 we will see Mercedes Grand Prix end up with Rosberg and Heidfeld, but you just cannot ignore 2 other drivers who had a chance to drive for the team and both are ex-Ferrari drivers. 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen was in contention for a McLaren seat but due to money related issues and with Jenson Button joining the team, that option is closed but with Norbert Haug has always been impressed with Kimi and you can still have Kimi leading the charge for the Mercedes team for the next season.

The other option is something which has been going around in many circles but if you do look at the past, it was Mercedes which did support Michael Schumacher in his early career and though he has been retired from the sport for the last 3 years, he was still in contention to race for Ferrari as a replacement for Massa and if not for his injured neck, he could well have made a comeback but a more interesting link to the Mercedes team is that Ross Brawn was involved in all the 7 World Titles he has won with Ferrari and Benetton. It could be the most amazing comeback in the history of F1 and if one person can pull it off it can be only Schumacher but then he is soo much associated with Ferrari, it is actually strange to even imagine him driving for any other team apart from Ferrari but then never say never in F1 and he can be winning the championship next year with the Silver Arrow Mercedes.

One thing is sure and that is Mercedes is surely having one German driver and this is Rosberg but who will partner him is still a mystery and given the current scenario, you can expect anything and it can even lead to a Cinderella comeback for Schumacher.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And then there was none........

The team line-up for the 2010 season was expected to be right on track after Spanish double World Champion Fernando Alonso joined Ferrari but so far only 10 out of the possible 26 seats is yet to be confirmed. Though there was some uncertainty if Toyota and Renault would stay in F1, but Toyota has pulled out of the 2010 season while Renault is still expected to stay on despite the global economic turmoil which affected the automobile industry and not to mention the spygate scandal where some former senior members of the team was involved. They have confirmed Robert Kubica as one of their drivers and actively on the lookout for another driver to partner him but all said and done, they may still end up pulling out but they should stay as an engine supplier as their customer team Red Bull Racing gave Brawn GP a run for their money and fought till the Brazilian GP for both the titles.

Jenson Button after his title victory may still not sure if he will race next year as his contract talks with Brawn is stalled and he could be the key to the driver’s market puzzle. If talks with Brawn fail, he only has McLaren as his realistic option for defending the title he won this year. McLaren would not mind a pairing of the reigning World Champion with the 2008 Champion Lewis Hamilton as that would be a dream combination in the minds of all English racing fans and would be a sponsorship coup. Though Brawn has been talking about how sponsorship has been lined up for the next 3 years and there are rumours of Mercedes buying a stake in the team but Jenson Button is actually not too expensive for a World Champion and if Brawn is still not keen on spending too much cash Button can look at McLaren but then there are stumbling blocks to it too.

The last time McLaren was in such a comfortable position when it comes to have 2 very good drivers was in the 80’s when Prost and Senna were teammates but now McLaren have enough options to choose on who will partner Hamilton in its quest of reaching the top once again. Ferrari has a very enviable combination of Alonso and Massa, while Red Bull has the wonder kid Vettel partnered by the very able Mark Webber who is one of the most underestimated driver on the grid. They can go back to Kimi would will be the ideal foil to Hamilton and if Kimi is motivate, well McLaren can pose a very dangerous combination which can take on anyone on the grid while picking Rosberg too can be an ideal scenario for McLaren as not only would that please Mercedes but Hamilton and Rosberg go a long way and there would not be any friction in the team. One thing is certain, both Rosberg and Button would drive a Mercedes powered car next year. Other options include McLaren’s former protégé Nick Heidfeld who is actually talking to every other team apart from Ferrari and RBR. Many were surprised when Heidfeld was overlooked for Kimi but though this maybe too late in his career, he can be the ideal #2 driver for the team. If the team wants a long term #2 then Sutil will be a good choice but neither Sutil nor Heidfeld would be challenging for the titles as long as Hamilton is there.

Renault has confirmed Kubica and though there was talks on Heidfeld partnering Kubica but now the team is interested in securing the services of former Toyota driver Timo Glock and if the team does races next season, the combination of Kubica and Glock would be a power house mid-field line-up. Apart from Glock the team can go back to Heikki Kovalainen, who is on the hunt for a race seat for the next season while current driver Romain Grosjean’s chances of retaining his seat is slim but long term test driver Lucas Di Grassi has an outside chance.

Toro Rosso was expected to confirm both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari but so far only Buemi has been confirmed while Alguersuari may have some stiff competition from Red Bull backed drivers which also includes the highly rated Italian Mirko Bortolotti who broke the Fiorano lap record while testing with Ferrari and was touted as one of the potential replacements for Massa after his injury. The others includes New Zealander Brendon Hartley, who was a reserve driver for STR for some parts of the season and also Australian Daniel Ricciardo, the new British F3 champion. Among the 3, Bortolotti will be the one most likely to get the nod if Alguersuari does not make the cut as not only is STR powered by Ferrari but the team may also have long term plans for this Italian protégé.

Force India is expected to retain both Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi but former driver Giancarlo Fisichella also cannot be ruled out if Sutil ends up joining a higher profile team. Though Neel Jani and Karun Chandok may have an outside chance due to their Indian heritage.

Sauber the team to benefit most from Toyota’s withdrawal will be looking to retain current driver Nick Heidfeld if his move to McLaren fails to initialize while test driver Christian Klien may also be in the loop. If Heidfeld does drive for McLaren, then Italian Fisichella may also be in contention as the team has a Ferrari engine and Fisi is open to racing next season though he is a Ferrari test driver from 2010 onwards.

Among the new teams, Lotus F1 is surely going to make it to the grid and the mercurial Italian Jarno Trulli is being linked with the team. Among others who has been linked includes former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, Christian Klien and Japanese rookie Kamui Kobayashi, who impressed everyone with his drives in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Campos has brought the Senna name back to F1 by signing in Bruno Senna the nephew of legendary Ayrton Senna while Pedro de la Rosa was expected to take the other seat but talks have not been that fruitful and even Nelsinho Piquet may have a chance for a seat due to his good financial backings. No one has a clue on who will be signed for Manor GP and USF1, but we can rule out some famous American drivers like Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti for USF1, while experienced drivers like Anthony Davidson and Alexander Wurz will be on the radar for these teams.

Nothing is certain till the Bahrain GP of 2010 where we will actually know which teams makes it and which drivers manages to have a spot on the grid.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Over the Curbs Awards - II

Over the Curbs awards enter the 2nd season and though it was fun giving the awards last season and deciding on a few things was very tough, but at the beginning of this season, I though it should easy given that Jenson Button and Brawn during their Cinderella run were reaching immortality but as the season picked up we saw good performances from a variety of teams and drivers.

Once again it is going to be fun in naming a few drivers and teams but then this year was marked with controversy off-track that it managed to take the sheen of an exciting season. Need to go back into the F1 record books and actually look when the last time 2 non-works team fought for the title were. It should be a very interesting research.

Driver of the Season – Jenson Button

Team of the Season – Brawn GP/Red Bull Racing

The Next Big Thing - Sebastian Vettel

Most Improved Driver – Nico Rosberg

Most Improved Team – Force India

Race of the Season – Belgian Grand Prix

Best Grand Prix – Belgian Grand Prix

Worst Grand Prix – Malaysian Grand Prix

Rookie of the season – Kamui Kobayshi

Most disappointing driver of the Season – Heikki Kovalainen

Most disappointing team of the Season – BMW Sauber

Lucky to be in F1 (for the season) - Nelson Piquet Jr

Veteran of the Season – Rubens Barrichello

Comeback of the Season – Mark Webber

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

Most missed Driver – Felipe Massa

Least missed Driver - Nelson Piquet Jr

Friday, October 30, 2009

Abu Dhabi GP Preview: The Spectacle descends on to the Emirates!

Jenson Button and Brawn GP may have wrapped up the Championship at Interlagos but there is still more important battle to be fought on track apart from the grand debut of the 1st ever Abu Dhabi GP at the Yes Marina Circuit which is not only the 2nd grand prix in the Middle East but this race is the first twilight race in F1’s history and this race would want to be the Monaco of the East.

Though Button can relax his teammate Barrichello is locked into a fierce battle for the 2nd place in the driver’s championship with Red Bull’s Vettel. Though Vettel leads only by 2 points, this seesaw battle has seen both drivers swapping places nearly at the end of each race so anything can happen and both cars are evenly matched at this circuit which has one the longest straight lines in F1. Brawn though may have won the Championships is yet to secure Button’s signature for the next season and if things do get hostile after yet another contract talk deadlock, McLaren may once again have the #1 car on the gird.

Though both Brawn and McLaren looks strong in practice Red Bull is not too far off and both Webber and Vettel will be looking for a strong showing during the race but McLaren with KERS will have a slight edge over rest of the field. Hamilton for the first time in his career is going into the last race without having the pressure of having to win the championship. He will be the favourite going into the race and he would want to finish 2009 on a high. His only condolence could be finishing ahead of Kimi who can actually race with Hamilton at McLaren for the next season. Heikki Kovalainen did not make the most of his chances at McLaren and it is certain that he would not race for them for 2010 but he would want to leave the team at a high.

Ferrari may have given up on the season but both its drivers will be pumped up for what could be both men’s last race. Kimi though may still end up with a race seat but teammate Fisi has signed on as a tester for the team and though he may still drive for one of the teams but unless Sauber gets an entry, the Ferrari powered team may have Fisi behind the wheels for them. It is highly important in terms of ego for Ferrari as they are behind McLaren by just a point and Ferrari would want to finish ahead of their arch rivals while Kimi too would want to finish ahead of Hamilton who also happens to lead Kimi by a point. Fisi will be hoping for some good luck as though he may be living a dream, but his departure from Force India was just when the team went through a surge and at times were on par with the likes of even McLaren and Brawn.

BMW Sauber will have mixed feelings going into this race as this is the last race for the BMW team. Though the team has supplied engines to the likes of Brabham in the 80’s and Williams during the early part of this decade, but apart from this season, ever since BMW took over Sauber, the team has been a force to reckon with and till last season, it overtook Williams and joined the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Renault as the new big 4 of F1. Though Kubica has secured a drive, his teammate Nick Heidfeld is yet to secure a drive and he has been linked to every other team with a vacant spot and he definitely would like to end his Sauber career a team with which he has driven for most of his career in both the BMW and the Petronas avatars.

Toyota has had a last minute revival and though Trulli had an intense battle with Force India’s Sutil outside the track, the team will be hoping for a good show on a track which is fast paced and which could help them but everyone will be looking at Kamui Kobayashi who has the speed and the driving skills to become the next Sato a highly entertaining gutsy driver though may not be consistent always but would not mind banging wheels with anyone on the track. Another good show here may seal a seat with Toyota for the next season.

Williams will have a wholesome change for 2010 as not only have they announced a new engine partnership with Cosworth but also will have a total new driver line-up for the next year. They are most likely to filed veteran Brazilian Barrichello and rookie German protégé Hülkenberg who is managed by Weber the same guy who did manager Schumacher during his glory days. Frank Williams has already given hints that Rosberg would drive for a Mercedes powered team and that could be only one of the 2 between Brawn and McLaren.

Alonso is very emotional about having his last race for Renault and this time it could actually be his last race for the French team as he would want to retire from the sport with Ferrari but then Kimi said the same thing and he could infact be making a dramatic comeback for 2010 with McLaren but Alonso doing once again with Renault may not happen. Teammate Romain Grosjean needs to drive his best ever he has drive so far if he has to retain his Renault seat for 2010.

Both STR and Force India are strong but Force India with more experienced drivers seem to be in a better position to score points while STR thought maybe in reckoning but the drivers at times make errors to just throw a race from point scoring positions and on a new technically challenging track, they need to be at their best.

Abu Dhabi GP has made tall claims on wanting to be the Monaco of the East but with a twilight race and a brilliantly designed track, they may end up having that distinction if they race turned out to be “Any One Can Win” race. Yes Marina circuit is a great addition to the F1 calendar and this track will definitely separate the talented drivers from the rest.

Abu Dhabi GP Top 8 Predictions:

1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Jenson Button
4. Mark Webber
5. Rubens Barrichello
6. Kimi Räikkönen
7. Heikki Kovalainen
8. Sebastien Buemi

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jenson Button: A True World Champion

Jenson Button finally won his first F1 World Championship in his 10th season and his perseverance with the then Honda team finally paid off as Brawn dominated the season and helped him win the crown in style. Though there were lot of criticism that he was helped by driving a car which was better than any other car on the grid but unlike Hill’s win in 1996, the Brawn during the 2nd half of the season was not the best car on the grid. The likes of Red Bull and McLaren had improved a lot and at times even better than Brawn. Also the likes of Ferrari, Toyota and even Williams were nearly matching and in some circuits better than Brawn.

Rubens Barrichello his teammate who clearly was the better driver among the 2 in the 2nd half of the season should once again be unlucky to finish either 2nd or 3rd which used to be a norm during Schumacher and Ferrari’s dominance during the first half of this decade. Barrichello had the same car as Button, but he did not capitalize on the superiority of the car during the first half of the season and this result was key in Button winning the championship. Keke Rosberg won the title in 1982 by winning one race but he was consistent through the season and so far Button till the Brazilian GP has scored points in all races expect for the Belgian GP where he had to retire. You may not need to win the most races to win the championship but Button actually has won 6 out of the 16 races held so far and at one stage had won 6 out of the 7 possible races.

Thanks to a superlative first half where he had capitalized on the performance of Brawn, Jenson did not have to pull off a dare devil drive for the championship and all he had to do was to keep scoring points while his rivals took points off each other and he also benefitted from the revival of notable McLaren and to an lesser extend of that of Ferrari. Button has been in F1 long enough and though he started as a hot-shot rookie in Williams, he had been through a string of teams which includes Benetton, Renault, BAR, Honda and finally Brawn. The thing about Button was that he stuck around with BAR/Honda/Brawn for long enough and he had faith in them and it did pay off this year.

He won his first race during the 2006 season at the rain infested Hungarian GP and at one stage before that had the distinction of being the driver with most points without a win but now Nick Heidfeld has this distinction. Though he is a sort of playboy outside the track and does manage to attract some unwanted media attention, the wisest decision he made was to get off a Williams contract and he spend an estimated $30 million to buy off it and well to look back at things now, it could be one the best decisions he took in his career as Brawn looks all set to become a Mercedes backed works team post the 2012 season while Williams continues to languish in the mid-card since BMW pulled off its backing for the team.

Button has already said that he does not want to be a one hit champion and though his future for 2010 looks uncertain, he is most likely to continue in the Brawn team but don’t be too shocked or surprised if he drives for McLaren or even Toyota. Jenson Button has transformed himself from a rookie playboy racer to an elder statesman on the grid and though winning the title again may not be an easy task as both Ferrari and McLaren will be strong next season while Red Bull seems to get better every year. Also we just cannot discount either Renault or even Williams who can cause some trouble for the big teams. Button is a worthy champion and unlike his predecessor Jacques Villeneuve, Button should not blindly go after money and should drive for a team which can provide him with a car to fight for World Championships.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brazilian GP Review: Button and Brawn wins the 2009 Championships!

It was truly a Cinderella story as Jenson Button drove a flawless raced backed by aggressive strategy by the Brawn GP team to win his first driver’s championship. Brawn GP also sealed the constructor’s championship and it was a dream run for the team who at the beginning of the season after Honda pulled out was not even sure if it would make it to the grid but now they are on top of the F1 world. McLaren sure would have rued the fact that the decision to allow Mercedes to supply to Brawn has surely backfired in the long run as Mercedes wants to make Brawn GP its work team post 2012.

Among the contenders though Barrichello managed pole and led the race during the start, the safety car did him no favours and his Interlagos jinx continued as he managed to come only 8th and thereby lost all hope of taking the fight to the Yes Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. He may yet again finish the season as the runner-up but Vettel after a stunning race, managed to finish 4th and now he leads Barrichello by 2 points. Though the season maybe over in terms of bigger prizes but the runner-up spot for the driver’s championship is wide open and it will be an interesting tussle between Vettel and Barrichello.

Though Brawn and Button have hogged all the limelight with their championship wins, Red Bull’s Mark Webber has a very good race and won his 2nd race of his career. Ever since his win in Germany, his form has tapered and due to a variety of reasons he has not been at his best but it was good to see Webber back in form with a superb performance in Brazil. Red Bull may have finished runner-up but they did take the fight to the Brawn’s and if not for the last of consistency from the Renault engines, they may have ended up winning both the titles.

The first lap saw some crazy action as Trulli caused a crash which took out both Sutil and Alonso. Though it was deemed a racing incident, Trulli nearly came to blows with Sutil and now faces a penalty for his conduct. Heikki Kovalainen was not only involved in some incidents on track but also McLaren failed to get the fuel rig out of his car which nearly cause a major calamity in the pits. Kimi’s car was nearly torched and the race turned out to be highly unlucky for the Finnish driver who actually had a chance for a win but a bump with Webber at the first lap ruled out any chance of a win and he managed to salvage a 6th place finish.

Lewis Hamilton and McLaren after a disastrous qualifying drove one of his best races and he managed to put the ghosts of his previous Brazilian GP behind him and managed to finish 3rd. Though the season is lost for the team, they still would want to finish ahead of Ferrari in both the driver’s and constructor’s championship. Kubica came 2nd and though his car was nowhere near the pace of Red Bulls or McLarens, backed by solid strategy and very consistent driving, he showed that he is one of the most talented guys on the grid and with a good car; we can expect lot more from him.

Toro Rosso finally scored points with Sébastien Buemi coming in 7th. The last time he scored points was during the Chinese GP while STR after Monaco is scoring some points. It was good to see the team score points and do well as their back of the grid rivals Force India have just taken off and been way quicker than the Italian based team.

Kamui Kobayashi after making his F1 debut and with just one race behind him may already be the rookie of the year as it was an amazing debut for the Japanese driver as not only did he go wheel to wheel with the likes of Button but also showed no nervousness as he clearly deserves a Toyota drive for the next season and he did deserve to finish in points during the race. Kobayashi is easily the best Japanese driver currently in F1 and after Sato is the best talent to come off Japan.

It was an amazing Brazilian GP and yet again a new champion was crowned in Interlagos. It was also good to see Massa back in the pits and hopefully during the 2010 Brazilian GP, he will be fighting for the championship once again. Brawn and Button will have a major party of the Abu Dhabi GP while both Barrichello and Vettel were worthy challengers for the crown.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brazilian GP Preview: Will Vettel and Barrichello do the Brazilian Job?

Sebastian Vettel going into the Brazilian GP looks like the only man who stands between Button and the World Championship but don’t discount Barrichello who despite his very poor record at Interlagos, can still snatch the title at the last minute from his teammate Button. Rain is also predicted and if anything goes by, then looking at last year’s race, well even with some bit of rain can turn a race topsy turvy. If it does rain, it could be another race where Vettel will expect to dominate while rivals Button and Barrichello will be dreading the rain.

Jenson Button will be keep to seal the title in Brazil as Abu Dhabi is a brand new track and anything can happen while Vettel who does not have any new engines will be giving his best and among the 3 drivers still in contention for the title, he is the one with nothing to lose and if can pull a Kimi and managed to snatch the title, he will the youngest world champion in the history of the sport. Brawn needs to back one driver and if they continue to back both the drivers and if it becomes too close heading to Abu Dhabi, things may just turn ugly.

Ferrari has stopped their focus on the 2009 car and with Alonso joining Massa, Kimi would like to end his Ferrari career on a high while FIsi though has signed on as a test driver for the 2010 season, he may actually race for a Ferrari powered team which will be Sauber if they manage to make it to the grid. We do not know where Kimi is heading next season but we do know that Ferrari will begin a rejuvenated campaign for the next season with Alonso and Massa forming one of the strongest driver’s line-up in recent times.

McLaren has been strong and though the team is not in contention for any championships, both Hamilton and McLaren would like to finish ahead of Ferrari. Heikki Kovalainen may still find a chance in McLaren if he manages some phenomenal drive for the last 2 races of the season. It is very interested to see who will partner Hamilton for the next season and McLaren does have some very good options.

Toyota managed to finish on the podium for the last 2 races and the team may not have signed a big name yet but another strong performance in Brazil could help the team in landing a big name for the 2010 season. Though the team has not categorically ruled out Trulli and Glock but with Glock ruled out for the race, Trulli will be leading the Toyota charge with rookie Kamui Kobayashi, who will be making his F1 debut.

Williams seem to have recovered and now after ending their relationship with Toyota may have an all new driver’s line-up with Rosberg most likely moving to Brawn while Nakajima who managed to have a seat in Williams thanks to Toyota. The best bet for Williams to score points will be from Rosberg once again while BMW a team which may not be on the grid for the next season will be hoping once again to score some points. Though BMW will be leaving the sport, Sauber with a Ferrari engine should make it to the gird for 2010.

Force India after the highs of Spa and Monza have failed to live up to expectations will be hoping to finish the season on a high while STR after some early season points seem to finally have a car which can get them some points provided their rookie drivers get it for them.

The last 2 seasons have seen heart breaking and pulsating races and all signs point to another nervy and edgy Brazilian GP.

Brazilian GP Top 8 Predictions:

1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Mark Webber
4. Jarno Trulli
5. Kimi Raikkonen
6. Jenson Button
7. Rubens Barrichello
8. Adrian Sutil

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Japanese GP Review: Vettel wins to gatecrash into the Championship Race

Sebastian Vettel drove his best race of the year to win the 2009 Japanese GP in a convincing style and still have a shot at the drover’s championship. With 2 races to go, Vettel is behind leader Button by 16 points and if Vettel manages to win both the races and if Button once again scores only a minimum of points, well the Briton may not actually win the Championship which was in his hands during the 1st half of the season. Rubens Barrichello crucially managed to finish ahead of Button to score 2 vitals points and the gap between him and Button is now only 14 points but Vettel has a better chance than Barrichello in the title hunt but though Button may win it in the end, he has to work extra hard for it.

Jarno Trulli had a very impressive race and with only one Toyota running, he raced in what could be the most important race for the team in its F1 history as only his 2nd place finish may have kept the team on the grid for next season, but it may also entice a driver like Kimi or even Kubica to join the Japanese outfit for 2010. It was a flawless drive from Trulli who still showed everyone that he still has it in him while Glock after his accident in qualifying could not take part in the race will feel a bit unlucky as he too would have been in point scoring position during the race.

Lewis Hamilton managed to come 3rd and though he managed to finish ahead of Kimi in the race a lot will be going thru his mind as there are enough reliable sources out there who suggest that Kimi is well on his way to McLaren for the next season. Hamilton though had a good pace he was nowhere near Vettel and even with KERS, he could not catch up with him during the early part of the race while McLaren’s KERS which was supposed to be the best on the grid had to be deactivated for Hamilton for the 2nd straight race while teammate Heikki Kovalainen failed to score points and well after the next 2 races, he may have to struggle to find a seat with a top running team once again.

Kimi and Ferrari helped by lot of grid penalties managed to come in 4th while Rosberg came 5th and though he is the only scoring Williams driver so far this season, he has single-handedly put up the fight against teams like Renault and BMW. He is by far the contender for the driver or the year and he surely cannot stay with the underperforming Williams team for another season and its time he either joins Brawn or even McLaren if he has any chance of going for the title.

Nick Heidfeld came 6th while teammate Robert Kubica missed out on the points by coming in 9th just behind Button. BMW now had found a buyer and is hoping to leave the sport on a high while both Heidfeld and Kubica are driving to just get better drives for the next season. Though Kubica is a wanted man, weirder things have happened in F1 and don’t be too shocked if Heidfeld goes to McLaren, as he was not only part of their young driver’s program but was supposed to head there before Kimi sped his was past nick into the McLaren line-up.
Apart from Vettel, all the 3 other Red Bull cars had a miserable weekend, as Webber not only pitted 5 times, he had to start from the pits after he missed qualifying due to a crash during practice and his only consolidation for the race was putting in the fastest lap of the race while Toro Rosso actually had a good car which was capable enough for points but both Buemi and Alguersuari ended up having a wild weekend as Buemi apart from crashing a few times during qualifying had to retire due to clutch issues while Alguersuari who benefited with all the penalties on the grid started from 12th but had an accident which put him off the race and got the safety car involved.

Force India was expected to do well on this track but some over ambitious driving from Sutil ensured that the team failed to score points while Liuzzi have so far done enough to suggest that he deserves a drive for the next year.

Though rain did not play a part we still saw a very strong performance from Vettel and he will go into the Brazilian GP as a clear favourite but don’t discount Rubens Barrichello who may use his home grand prix as the best place to assert himself in the title race.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Japanese GP Preview: Rubens Barrichello’s Last Stand

The Japanese Grand Prix has traditionally been one of the last races on the calendar and it has been the venue for many title-deciding races, with 12 World Champions being crowned over the 24 Japanese Grand Prix that have been hosted. Now the race comes back to Suzuka after a 2 year period when it was held at Fuji Speedway. The irony is that Suzuka is a track owned and operated by Honda and both drivers who are in contention for the title though maybe driving a Brawn GP car but still the car was very much funded by Honda before its exit from F1 and which led to the birth of Brawn GP.

Jenson Button can very much seal the title here but he is sure not to do anything hasty as with a 15 points lead, he is in a comfortable position and as long as he comings finishing ahead of Barrichello he can comfortably seal his title bid. While Barrichello is one of the 3 previous winners on this circuit and have the best car among the 3 to repeat that feat will be going in for the kill as not only does he needs a win here, but he will also be hoping that Button fails to score points as it would reduce the deficit. Though Brawn has giving hints that for 2010 he may retain both the drivers, there is a possibility of Brawn fielding a new line-up for the next season if Button’s contract talk fails while age is a factor for Barrichello.

McLaren and Hamilton should be favourites on this track as it is a very fast circuit and after their win in Singapore, Hamilton would like to have a few more wins under his belt before the season gets over. He will also be interested in finishing ahead of Kimi in the drivers’ championship. Kovalainen may not race for the team for the next season, but he has to put in a good performance if he wants to land a seat even with a mid-field team as the number of proven quality drivers on the market is plenty and race winnings seats are shrinking by the day. His best bet would be Williams or even Renault but it all depends on other drivers plan or in the end he may end up racing for any of the 4 new teams.

Ferrari has finally made it official that Alonso would join the team for 2010 with Massa meaning both its current drivers Kimi and Fisi would not be racing for them in 2010. Though Fisi has signed on as a test driver, there is a good chance he may even drive for the Ferrari powered Sauber team for the next season while Kimi has plenty of options and his decision now can lead to how the other team shapes up their line-ups. It was in Ferrari in which Kimi won his world championship and he would like to go out in a bang in the remaining 3 races of the season.

Toyota has given enough signs that it will continue to be in F1 till 2010 but the future of both Glock and Trulli is uncertain. Glock did not even take part in the Friday practice as Japanese driver Kobayashi replace him but the team has confirmed that Glock will be racing for them in the grand prix. Glock after his 2nd place finish in Singapore will be brimming with confident and a few more podiums would seal a deal with a good team for the next season while Toyota themselves need a good performance during the weekend in order to entice any of the top drivers to join the team for the next season.

With talks of rains, Red Bull once again will be in a very favourable position as when it rains, no other team can come close to the bulls while Vettel is the rain master and he could once again be in the reckoning for the title if he wins the race and both Brawns fails to finish. But it all depends on the rain and in a rain race anything is possible. Teammate Webber has been out of luck for the last few races and he would like to put that back and would want to finish the season on a high. Sister team, Toro Rosso has shown some improvement and don’t be too surprised if one its drivers actually score points in Suzuka.

Alonso and Renault had a lot of prove in Singapore and though he may be leaving the team, it was Renault which gave him 2 world championship and made him the start he is now and he would want to give something back by putting in some strong performances in the next 3 races as not only will it help the team secure some sponsorship for the next season but also get some high profile driver involve himself with the team.

BMW has showed steady progress in the last few races and with rumours of both its drivers leaving the team at the end of the season plus the new team of 2010 is not even assured of a spot on the grid though it is highly possible that not all the 4 teams will make it to the grid in Bahrain and the team will eventually make it. But it will be interesting to see how the team performances for 2010 as will it continues to be a mid-runner or slip behind the likes of Toro Rosso and Force India.

Talking of Force India, ideally this circuit should favour them and once again make them in reckoning for point scoring positions but if the team does score points in Suzuka, the team has truly arrived and its performances in Monza and Spa were just not flash in the pan one off stroke of luck for the team. With Flavio gone, Vijay Mallya would take over as being the most flamboyant man on the paddock and he surely wants his team to be a regular point scorer for the next season.

It should be a highly entertaining Japanese GP and when you add in the rain factor, it could be anyone’s race but then Red Bull would have some rain dancers as when it rains, Vettel is like a god on track.

Japanese GP Predictions: 1. Vettel 2. Hamilton 3. Kimi 4. Barrichello 5. Alonso 6. Rosberg 7. Button 8. Sutil

Monday, September 28, 2009

2010 Driver Market is still bizarro-land!

Usually by this time of the year, we will more or less know which driver will be racing for which team for the next season. But then this season is no ordinary season as one controversy has led to another. Everything something gets resolved, something bigger pops up and more or less things have been focused on what is happening at the paddock rather than the racing which is happening. We have the possibility of 14 teams taking part in the 2010 season and so we have 28 seats to fill. Although among the 4 new teams, we are not still too sure on how many will actually lands up but USF1 who a few months back was a certainty to start the first race is the least doubtful among the new teams.

We have to assume that we do have 28 seats available but the worst case scenario for F1 will be both Toyota and Renault pulling off while 2 out of the 4 new teams failing to turn up will make the grid once again with only 10 teams. Hope for the sake of F1 and also the drivers that does not happen. Red Bull is the only team on the grid which has confirmed both its driver with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel leading its championship charge for 2010. The engine market is also very crazy and as many as 4 teams yet to confirm their engine suppliers and 3 out of the 4 is looking for a deal with Mercedes Benz but Mercedes can only supply 2 other team that too their works team McLaren will have to allow them to do it. Red Bull’s Mercedes team was more or less a certainty till news of Mercedes plans of making Brawn their works team threw a spanner in Red Bull’s plans. Also their current supplier Renault after the race fixing scandal is not too sure if they would continue for the 2010 season. Red Bull is in a bad state and worse come scenario they may have to run once again with Ferrari engines which is much better than the Cosworth option available.

Ferrari is in a very good position when it comes to drivers but then it has too many options under its books that it is now becoming a headache to choose their lead pair. If not for Massa’s accident, Alonso and Massa would have started for them for 2010 but now with Massa’s fitness still not a certainty, the team is playing the wait and watch game. Though it is not officially confirmed if Alonso will join the team for the next season, it is more or less certain that Kimi may not drive for the team but the only issue is that Kimi has a very expensive contract with Ferrari. Ferrari also has Fisi in-case there is an emergency but then don’t forget there is always the German Kaiser lurking behind who may yet make a F1 comeback. McLaren is the only other team which has a confirmed driver in Lewis Hamilton and he is sort of bound to the team for the next few years.

It is not the first time that Alonso has held the key to the driver’s market while Rosberg is once again the most wanted driver on the gird while Kubica ever since the BMW pull-out is a hot property while the likes of Button, Barrichello and Heidfeld also available makes the market very interesting. The last time I looked at the driver’s market which was in July, BMW was still in F1 while there was no scandal with the Renault team. Now things have been turned upside down and we also have Lotus returning to F1.

Fernando Alonso: He is very much a hot property and though his deal for Ferrari for 2010 remains an open secret, it is more or less certain and Alonso will most likely race for the Italian team during the next season. Although the Italian team’s pursuit of Vettel for 2011 and his decision to turn them down to race for Red Bull does seem strange but I do assume Alonso will be racing for the Ferrari with Massa who was the only confirmed Ferrari driver for 2010 so far.

Nico Rosberg – Two seasons back, everyone was talking about how Rosberg would go to McLaren and once again this talk is back but the difference now is that Mercedes wants a German driver and Rosberg with both German and Finnish credentials would be a perfect fit plus he is good friends of Hamilton but with rumours of Mercedes interested in making Brawn its works team post 2012 ha strongly linked Rosberg to Brawn which provides both its drivers equal opportunities unlike McLaren which has clearly favoured Hamilton over his partners.

Robert Kubica – He has lot of options but he is looking only for a 1 year contract as he is looking for a Ferrari seat for the 2011 season while he has been a Renault Young Driver, the team is looking for a longer contract than what he is asking for while Williams could be a good place for him but with the Renault & Williams engine deal which can complicate things but Kubica will end up in either Renault or Williams.

Jenson Button – He is most likely to win the 2009 championship and though he took a pay cut to race for the team this season, but an awesome performance this year has made him a hot property once again and though he has rejected Toyota’s deal, he could either stay in Brawn or even more to McLaren. Only money remains an issue but with Mercedes and its long term plan for Brawn, he could very well stay with the team for the next few years.

Rubens Barrichello – The Brazilian is in a very dicey situation as he does not have an option apart from Brawn plus his age is a factor which is working against him, but unless he wins the title, he may not be retained by Brawn while Williams can be a long shot for him. He does have options with the new teams but then I am not too sure if he is motivated enough of running in the back once again.

Nick Heidfeld - He was on his way out of BMW even before they planned to pull off F1 but he has a few options and if he does get lucky he could even land up a drive with McLaren. There was talk of him going to Brawn before the Mercedes talks were there but if Rosberg does go to McLaren, the Heidfeld paring with Button will be solid and he can be a steady side-kick to Button. But he is most likely to end up with Williams and if it does fails, he always has an option with Sauber if their position on the 2010 grid is confirmed.
Kimi Räikkönen – One of the most shocking options on the grid, many though he will retire from F1 and would join the FIAT rallying team but he has said that he wanted to race next year and though he does have a contract with Ferrari he has plenty of top quality options. Brawn, McLaren, Williams and even Renault are all options but don’t be too shocked if Kimi makes a shocking comeback to McLaren.

This is a possible line-up for 2010:

Brawn: Jenson Button/ Nico Rosberg
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel/ Mark Webber
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso/ Felipe Massa
McLaren: Lewis Hamilton/ Kimi Räikkönen
Williams: Nico Hulkenberg/ Nick Heidfeld
Toyota: Timo Glock/ Heikki Kovalainen
Renault: Romain Grosjean/ Robert Kubica
Toro Rosso: Sebastien Buemi/ Jaime Alguersuari
Force India: Adrian Sutil/Vitantonio Liuzzi
Sauber: Giancarlo Fisichella/ Christian Klien
Campos: Pedro de la Rosa/Vitaly Petrov
Manor: Anthony Davidson/ Lucas Di Grassi
USF1: Jonathan Summerton/ Alexander Wurz
Lotus F1: Bruno Senna/ Jarno Trulli

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 Singapore GP Review: Hamilton wins as Button extends his lead!

Lewis Hamilton and McLaren were back on top with a thumping victory thanks to a series of unfortunate incidents to race rivals. Taking nothing away from the drive, Hamilton had a very consistent drive and even scorched rumours of his break up with pop star girlfriend Nicole as she was cheering him on from start to the finish. Though it may be too late for Hamilton to challenge for the title, but the 3rd spot at the constructor’s championship is still wide open and he has a shot at being the best of the rest. Heikki Kovalainen driving a similar car once again struggled and could manage only come 7th.

Jenson Button’s 5th place finish in the race was highly important for him as not only now with just 3 races to go his championship lead is 15, he crucially managed to finish ahead of Rubens Barrichello who has been the better Brawn driver for the last few races. On paper Button looks the favourite to win the championship but in F1 anything can happen and of Rubens managed to win a race while Button fails to score things could become really tense for the team going into the Abu Dhabi GP. Also with Rosberg rumoured to have signed with the team for 2010, whoever wins could potentially land up a race seat with the team for the next season.

Fernando Alonso and Renault has the most torrid week and Alonso drove like a true champion and is surely the driver of the race by bringing in his underperforming Renault on the podium by finishing in 3rd. After what happened last season, Alonso proved that he does not need any fixing to get him on to the podium and Alonso showed that even with a car like Renault, he can give his best and if we are to believe the paddock gossip, he could be racing in red overalls during the next season.

Timo Glock and Toyota must be relived after Glock managed to score a 2nd place finish. The team after a good start early on in the season went thru a horrific mid-season slump and this 2nd place finish was the team’s best finish since the 2008 Hungarian GP. This can also seal Glock’s place if Toyota does manage to compete during the 2010 season. Trulli needs a win in Suzuka if he does manages to retain a spot in the grid for the next season as Glock has surely been the more consistant driver this season.

Sebastian Vettel nursed his car to a 4th place finish and he will be surely cursing his luck during this weekend as during qualifying he was all set for pole position till Barrichello crashed at the end of Q3 and also during the race itself he was catching up Hamilton but a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit-lane took him of the equation and his title chance for 2009 fades away unless he does manage to win the remaining races and hope that Button fails to score at all. Webber’s chance now is out and he has a disastrous race with a brake failure making him spin out with 16 laps to go. Sister team Toro Rosso also retired immediately after Webber’s spin as they share similar braking technology.

Kubica scored the final points available at the race with his BMW team coming in 8th. Though the team is much better off than the 4 newcomers, its position is not confirmed yet while we will know if the Sauber team will be on the grid for the next season in a week’s time. Force India had a very bad weekend as their car is not just suited for this track and adding in more misery is that Sutil took out BMW’s Heidfeld and is being investigated by the stewards.

Ferrari had a race to forget and though the team have decided to focus on the 2010 car, both Kimi and Fisi are not too happy with it and it won’t surprise too many people if the team does have a complete different line-up for the next season. Suzuka is a fast track and it should favour the team by then Force India should also be in the reckoning to score to points as well.

Rosberg had a chance to score his first win and Williams also had a shot of winning a race after 2004, but then Rosberg’s penalty effectively ruined the race for the team and he managed to finish only 11th while Nakajima came in 9th and is yet to score points for the team.

Leaving aside the things which happened outside the track, Singapore once again stole the show while the racing on track was not the best of the year, but the night race dominated everything else and the 2nd Singapore GP was a very successful race. Suzuka will be a very interesting race and a high speed circuit which should bring in Ferrari once again into the reckoning.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Singapore GP Preview: Brawns slugfest on Singapore streets!

The time has come to focus on actual racing as too many times this season, the focus has been on everything else apart from racing but then we go back to Singapore which after just one race suddenly was competing with historical tracks like Monza, Monaco and Spa as people’s favourite race and though being an exclusive night race may give it an edge for sometime but after what happened during last year’s grand prix and what should have been a shining moment in the history of this small nation was turned into a nightmare by 3 individuals and luckily this time around the concerned conspirators would not be anywhere near the track.

Brawn after the Italian GP seem to have a clear edge over its immediate rival Red Bull and though both Webber and Vettel have said they do have a very slim chance at the title both have promised to give their best and would be going for the kill while inside Brawn though the lead is good enough not to worry too much about Red Bull, but Button the championship leader and teammate Barrichello who is trailing by just 14 points should not end up taking out each other and though they have not shown such intense characteristics so far in their career but when your this close to the title anything can happen and it’s up to Ross Brawn to preserve sanity in the team.

Renault went through its worse phase in its Formula 1 history and thought Renault may never be an iconic team like Ferrari or even McLaren, the team has contributed well to the sport as both as a constructor and an engine supplier. Alonso may forever be tarnished for his win last season but forget the crash, it takes a great driver to win the race and Alonso is currently one of the best drivers on the grid and in what could be his last season with Renault and also to clean the slate clean after what happened last season, he will be looking for a win. Grosjean is slow and he has just recovered from a sickness and there is a chance that he may well crash since he is a rookie and he is not used to street circuits, but we all hope this again does not lead to conspiracy theories.

McLaren and Ferrari after a string of solid performances is not looking too strong on the street circuit but don’t count out Kimi and Hamilton especially when the safety car can become involved, you can have a situation where you can see one of them on the podium. Fisichella is getting better every race and it does take some time getting used to the Ferrari but he should put up a decent show while Kovalainen will be racing for a spot as he is more or less out of McLaren for 2010 and he needs a good show to get into any of the decent teams on the grid.

Force India will definitely struggle in this track and the car is just not made out for this circuit. The next circuit after this where they do have a chance of scoring points will be Suzuka but both Sutil and Liuzzi will be giving in their best as with as many as 14 teams next season, there are some good spots opening up especially for Sutil who can look at the Toyota or even a Williams racing seat. BMW has been sold to an unknown consortium and though they will be powered by Ferrari, it is not yet confirmed if they will be starting at the Bahrain GP and their car has too many updates going in that both Heidfeld and Kubica should be in for some points and also enhance their reputation for a race seat for 2010.

Williams after a nightmare of the Italian GP should be back in form and especially Rosberg who did managed to come 2nd during last year’s race should be once again in reckoning for some points while Nakajima needs a miracle to stay in the team for the next season since Williams will not be using Toyota engines for 2010. Toyota at the beginning of the season was looking for a few wins and even challenging Brawn for the title but once again the team has been very inconsistent and don’t be too surprised if you do not see them for the next season.

Toro Rosso of 2009 is nowhere near the same team which won a race in Monza and came 6th in the championship and the team has gone back to the Minardi days as they are once again scrapping at the tail-end of the grid while fellow scrapers Force India seem to have upped their game and now sort of in the mid-field pack and have even at times been faster than the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Williams.

This year should once again be very exciting and with both Brawns in the reckoning while Red Bull providing an inspired charge, once again there will be bedlam on the streets of Singapore and the only thing which can make it even crazier will be rains.

Singapore GP Predictions: 1. Vettel 2. Alonso 3. Barrichello 4. Button 5. Webber 6. Rosberg 6. Heidfeld 7. Hamilton 8. Kimi

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Italian GP Review: Brawn Dominates Monza and Shuts out Bulls!

The European leg of the F1 season comes to an end with Brawn once again coming 1 and 2 at the Italian GP at Monza. Rubens Barrichello once again seems to be the better Brawn driver and is moving closer to Button as the season comes to an end. With 4 more races to go, it has become a straight shootout between the 2 Brawn drivers and though Button has a significant advantage over Barrichello, he really needs to finish on podium till the last race if he has to have a comfortable victory. The moment he fails to score and Barrichello wins another race, things can become too close to call between them.

Kimi brought the Ferrari for a podium once again and though the car set-up did not favour the high speed Monza track, it was a good effort from Kimi who was once again hounded by a Force India car which followed him throughout the race. Teammate Fisi was impressive with his 9th place finish but imagine had he not left Force India, well he may have got another podium at his home grand prix but then not everyone can claim to drive for Ferrari in F1. Force India proved that their Spa performance was no fluke and Sutil impressed everyone with his 4th place finish while Liuzzi was all set to score points till an electronics failure forced him into retirement but he performed brilliantly after not driven a F1 car in 2 years and this could have well rewarded him with a drive for 2010.

Hamilton and McLaren were the team to beat after qualifying but they were strategically outwitted by Brawn and later with just a lap to go Hamilton threw away a podium finish by hitting the curb too hard which resulted in a spin and crashed him out of the race. Kovalainen had a very quiet and uneventful race which saw him finish 6th but he needs more than this if he has to keep Rosberg, Kubica or even Kimi from taking his seat for the next season.

Red Bull’s chances of fighting it out with Brawn for both the titles seem to have ended with a disastrous Italian GP. While Brawn took 18 points from this race, RBR could take only one point with Vettel finishing 8th. Vettel is also running with his last engine and he will have to take a 10 place grid penalty at the Singapore GP as there is no point running with an underperforming engine while Webber’s title hopes vanished with his retirement early on in the race.

BMW had a very mixed race with Kubica retiring in the middle while Heidfeld came 7th to score valuable points for the team. Given his age, his performance must improve if any of the existing teams would want to take him in for the next season while the team needs to do more than this if they need to find a new buyer very soon as FIA will decide if they will be on the grid for 2010 or they would offer the spot to any of the new teams.

With all the speculations of race-fixing gathering momentum, it was important for Renault to perform on track and though Alonso never looked like he was in for a place on the podium, it was once again a very solid drive from him to finish 5th while rookie Grosjean finished 15th.

It was a race to forget for Toyota, Williams and Toro Rosso as they were way off from the other teams. Toyota needs a podium very soon or else this year could be the last season in F1 for the team while STR just could replicate last year’s magical performance from Vettel for the team.

It was a good Italian GP and though no news of the impending Alonso-Ferrari came out, everyone is set for September 21st hearing on the fate of the Renault race fixing scandal as the driver’s market is directly dependent on the outcome of that proceeding.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Italian GP Preview: Everything to race for!

Once again, another race weekend is bombarded by news for all the wrong reasons and what should have been a season where 2 independent outfits are battling for the championship after years of manufactures dominating F1 is now threatening to disrupt the sport once again. This season has seen a lot of things, starting from McLaren lying scandal to the FIA-FOTA wars and now with Nelson Piquet claiming that he was ordered to crash and Renault infact had fixed the 2008 Singapore GP. This will not only make the manufacturers leave the sport but also not encourage potential sponsors to put their money in a sport which is hit by once scandal after the other.

The Italian GP has always held a special place in the calendar and tit being the home GP of Ferrari, once can see hordes of Tifosi around the circuit. Ferrari have run into some serious form with Kimi winning the Belgian GP and it would be a very special race for Giancarlo Fisichella, who after a stunning performance at Spa where he not only pushed Kimi all the way till the finish but also scored the first points for Force India by coming in 2nd. It has always been a dream for Fisi to race for Ferrari and this could be the best place for him to make his debut and if Fisi wins, this could become folklore and will be remembered as the best Italian GP ever.

McLaren and Hamilton may have had a disappointing weekend in Spa but they have been very quick on the 1st practice and the long straights at Monza will defiantly favour them and with KERS, they should be the team to beat. Don’t be too shocked to see a McLaren win but Heikki Kovalainen needs more than points to continue in the team for the next season as though Rosberg’s name has been touted as a possible replacement, a dramatic comeback for Kimi too could not be ruled out.

Force India are in a very serious position to score points once again and though Sutil can even dream of a podium, any points will do for Liuzzi as he is making a comeback after 2 years and if he manages to score in his home grand prix, he may have a deal for the next season. BMW had a very good race in Spa and they once again seem to have found pace here. The team will do anything to go out with a bang as the stronger the team gets, the easier it becomes in finding a buyer for the team for next season.

The championship contenders seem to be backtracked by the resurgence of Ferrari and McLaren and among the 2, Red Bull seem to be in better shape but with Vettel and Webber eating points off each other, it may be tough for either of them to win the championship while the contractor’s title is within their grasp with only 14 points separating them and Brawn. There has been a rumoured deal that Mercedes would make Brawn its works team after 2012 but for now Button should be focused on winning the title which is surely his if he just manages to pull off another win while Barrichello who has been the better driver among the 2 for the last 5 races will be hoping to gain points at Button’s cost.

Renault has been embroiled in controversy and with Alonso leaving the team at the end of the season, there is a distinct possibility that the team may quit the sport but leaving aside on what is happening outside the track, the team will be hoping for a decent performance and with KERS in the car, don’t be too surprised if Alonso manages to reach the podium while Romain Grosjean may be one of the first to spin out due to the raised curbs.

Rosberg pulled off a miracle by getting some points for Williams in Spa and expecting the same thing from him once again in Monza is unfair from the team as the set up is not suited for fast tracks. If Rosberg does score points here, well he is surely a world championship material if he gets his hands on a good car and with both McLaren and Brawn courting him; it will be interesting to see where he lands up. While Kazuki Nakajima is just be looking for finishing the race as with the Toyota’s deal with Williams off for the next season, he could be out of job for 2010.

Speaking of Toyota, this was the team which was expected to challenge Brawn for the titles but with a few more races to go till the finish of the season, no one will be shocked if the team leaves F1 next season as despite having a good car, the team has faltered due to inconsistent driving and poor strategy. Monza should be a nightmare for the team.

Toro Rosso especially Sebastien Buemi has been good on practice and though repeating what Vettel did last year should be a tall order, any points from him should be good for the team. Hope Monza once again throws a very interesting race like last season and the race should bring back the focus on what actually makes the sport which is intense high quality wheel to wheel racing.

Italian GP Predictions: 1. Fisichella 2. Kimi 3. Vettel 4. Hamilton 5. Alonso 6. Webber 6. Sutil 7. Buemi 8. Heidfeld

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Monza and the Ferrari Seat!

Ferrari is one of the greatest brands which exist today and though some may differ, Ferrari is F1 and F1 needs them more than Ferrari needs the sport. Ferrari has always been a dream drive for any drive in the sport and even when they were going thru a very rough phase in the late 80’s and early 90’s, respected French driver Jean Alesi choose the team over Williams and missed his chance to become a World Champion. Ferrari is the Holy Grail for any driver. Some very famous name like Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, John Surtees, Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve, Carlos Reutemann, Jody Scheckter, René Arnoux, Nigel Mansell, Gerhard Berger, Alain Prost, Jean Alesi, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Räikkönen, Felipe Massa and ofcourse the most famous and the greastest driver in F1 history Michael Schumacher all drove and many even won Championships for the team.

There are times when the car is real bad and however great the driver is, it will still be off the pace but what Luca Badoer has done is a cardinal sin for the Tifosi and when you have one driver winning and the other driver coming in last, well it is a disgrace and the Tifosi has always seen 2 real quick drivers on the cart and the last few years have seen both the drivers racing each other for the title means that Luca driving for the Ferrari is a mess and if the team does not replace him with someone, well you can be assured that there would be a riot in Monza and the team will be better off with going with only one car. On the bright side, they can save some money rather than have a guy coming in last and way off the pace which the car can produce. Yes Luca will be faster than anyone of us but then he is in F1 which is the pinnacle of motorsport and when driving for a champion team, you have to drive like a champion which he is not anyway close by. Would rather see a 18 year old do this rather than a 38 year test driver who has put in more miles on a Ferrari F1 car than any other driver in history!

Ferrari has well too many options and though some may just be speculation others are realistic enough and surely a majority of the options cannot do any worse than Luca, so for Monza the team should change their driver and well they can either look into the future or give someone a drive for a nostalgic feel or just shock everyone and just do it for a publicity stunt which I feel the team should avoid. So let’s look at some of the options the team has for Monza:

Michael Schumacher is once again on top of everyone’s list and though both Ferrari and the Tifosi would love this to happen, Schumacher’s neck has not recovered fully and I don’t think he wants to get in when he is not fully fit. But Schumacher when half fit and 40 is still better than 15 out of the 20 drivers on track.

Valentino Rossi the legendary Moto GP Champion has achieved everything he can in the sport and though he is well set to win the title once again this year, he has said in the past that driving for Ferrari is also a dream of his and being an Italian would make it easier for him too but then this is a very long shot and it may just not happen.

Giancarlo Fisichella has always dreamt of racing for Ferrari and after a stunning Belgian GP where he scored the first points for the Force India team by coming in 2nd and challenging Kimi for the win till the end, he is the most logical choice as he is in form and after his stint with Ferrari till the end of 2009, he can sign up as their test driver from 2010 onwards but he still has one more year of racing left in him and this all depends on Force India.

Fernando Alonso is the best overall driver on the grid and though he moving to Ferrari for 2010 is the worst kept secret in F1 history, he is a very good choice and if the 2010 move does happen, it is good for both the parties involved and it should be interesting to see Alonso and Kimi battling it out with the same equipment.

Robert Kubica driving for Ferrari is earlier than Alonso coming over as BMW has pulled out of F1 and only last year he was fighting for the championship with Hamitlon and Massa. There are talks of him moving to Renault for the next season, so there could be a 3 way swap possible but he is a very good driver and Ferrari should seriously consider him for the remaining races.

Marc Gene, Ferrari’s other test driver and unlike Luca, he does have recent racing experience as he did win this year’s 24 hours Le Mans and have subbed in the past for Williams. But after Luca’s performance, Ferrari will think twice to put him in a car but he would have been a better choice than Luca and maybe Ferrari did make a huge mistake in putting Luca.

Sébastien Loeb is again an interesting option and he has shown his interest in racing for USF1 team for 2010, it could be a huge thing for him to race without testing for Ferrari at Monza. This would be only a publicity stunt which Ferrari would never do.

David Coulthard, the test driver for Red Bull is a solid man to have in the #2 car as he has been with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull teams. Also he did race in the championship only last season and he knows all the tracks very well.

Jarno Trulli is another Italian driver on the grid and though he has a contract with Toyota for 2009, chances is that he will be out for 2010 and with current experience of the track, he should be a good bet for Ferrari provided Toyota is willing to release him.

Tonio Liuzzi is Force India’s test driver and he has had prior racing experience with Both Red Bull and Toro Rosso He too is an Italian but this is a long shot which Ferrari may not want to try out at Monza.

Jacques Villeneuve is a former World Champion whose father drove for Ferrari but he is too old and has been out of F1 for a longtime now and Ferrari will definitely not take him in unless he is the last driver available.

Sébastien Bourdais is an F1 reject who was axed by the Toro Rosso team. He has used the Ferrari engine but then would you want a driver who was axed by STR?

Nelson Piquet was another option which was floating around but then with the Singapore GP scandal of last year erupting and this news could just see Renault walking out of F1, well Piquet will surely be the most hated man on grid and Ferrari would rather run one car or even give Luca a chance rather than give Piquet a drive.

Nico Hulkenberg is said to be a very talented driver who is Williams test driver and he has Wili Webber as his manager. The same guy who managed Schumacher and Hulkenberg should be a very intresting choice as the team can actually check how good he is and if he is the real deal, then they can actually sign him up for post 2012.

Mirko Bortolotti is said to be the most talented Italian driver and he is only 19 and currently driving in the inaugural FIA’s F2 Champioship. Mirko has tested with Ferrari in the past and in 2008, he set the fastest time ever on the Fiorano Circuit by a F2008 car. He should be a pick with the future in mind.

This may never happen but would definitely garner the most media attention after Schumacher and if somehow Ferrari gets Danica Patrick to race for them not only we will know how good she is in an F1 car but also the kind of press coverage will be mind blowing. With all the bad publicity F1 has had this year, this could be the only thing after Schumacher’s return which could save F1 and also there is also the sight of a sexy girl driving the most beautiful scarlet red car on the track.

If incase Ferrari has to save money, well it is better for them to run only one car rather than run Luca.

Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Belgian GP Review: Ferrari wins while Force India creates history!

The Belgian GP is one of the favorites grand prix for most F1 fans and this year’s race did not disappoint the Tifosi in any way as Kimi Raikkonen wins a race after more than a year and he proved that he is still one of the best on the grid and after such a superior performance, Ferrari is in a fix as now they have 3 drivers under contract for 2010 and they need to drop one of them. Well Alonso joining Ferrari for 2010 is more or less certain while Massa is yet to get medical clearance if he can race again. Any 2 of the combination of Kimi, Alonso and Massa should be a formidable pair which the opponents should fear. Vettel by extending his deal with Red Bull till 2011 saved Ferrari from putting itself in more dilemma as had Vettel signed for 2011, things sure will be murky for them. One thing is certain for Monza, Ferrari will definitely not race Luca Badoer at their home race after a very below par performance from the Italian once again. It seems that he will end his F1 career without scoring points.

Force India and Giancarlo Fisichella had a dream weekend as not only the team scored its first points but this is also Fisi’s first podium since the 2006 Japanese GP and not only did he give Kimi a run for his money but he ensure that Force India have now scored more points than Toro Rosso and now they have a genuine chance of overtaking Renault in the constructor’s championship. Already even before the races they were rumors’ floating around about Fisi driving for Ferrari at Monza and this performance may just catapult him into the Ferrari seat. Though Force India seem to have a the pace now, they apparently still owe Ferrari money over engines supplied last year and every Italian’s dream is to drive for Ferrari at Monza and if the team does calls, Fisi will take it without even thinking.

Red Bull was expected to do well but Vettel actually drove amazingly well to come 3rd and once again put his name in the championship fight. Though he has only one engine left, it will be nothing short of a miracle if Vettel does manages to win the title while Webber after a pit stop mishap where he nearly collided with Nick Heidfeld had to go thru a drive thru penalty which ended his race hopes and he failed to score points which was vital for him. Red Bull has inched closer to Brawn on the constructor’s championship and well could actually overtake Brawn by the end of the season.

Brawn GP is going thru a tough phase and though Rubens Barrichello actually had decent pace and managed to come 7th and take those crucial 2 points, what is happening with Jenson Button remains a mystery and after his performance at the beginning of the season, he was expected to have the championship by now but now 3 guys are chasing him and if he manages to drive the same way as he is doing now, he may end up losing the title this year.

McLaren after 2 stunning races was expected to have a very good race but the team had a very poor race with both Hamilton and Kovalainen failing to make Q3. Hamilton crashed out at the first lap of the race while Kovalainen managed to come 6th and now with rumors of Kimi making a dramatic return to McLaren for 2010, his chances of retaining the seat looks very remote.

BMW Sauber is doing all it can to find new buys and the team had a good show with both Kubica and Heidfeld coming in 4th and 5th. It was a very important result for the team and the drivers while Williams should be happy and should thank Rosberg for somehow managing to push the car to 8th as its setup was just not suited for Spa and Rosberg is just making his own profile go up and well based on his performance he will not be a bad bet for McLaren.

Renault once again had a very poor race and with allegations of fixing the race in Singapore by making Piquet crash, things are not going too well for the team and with Alonso on his way out, the team may not make it next year as Renault as they need to something to score some points or the parent company may just pull the plug while RBR has already given enough indication that it will change its engine supplier for 2010.

Toyota continues to baffle everyone as the team which always had a car to win races and even challenge the likes of Brawn and Red Bull is struggling and thanks to poor strategy and inconsistent racing by drivers the team is sitting 5th on the constructors table and if Rosberg continues his amazing show, even Williams can overtake them. STR had a race to forget and they never looked like score points and now they officially the weakest team on the grid and the team looks like it is incapable of scoring any more points for the remaining of the races.

It was once again a very good Belgian GP and though Ferrari never did have the best car on the grid, Kimi drove like a superstar and pulled off a supreme win the team while Force India after missing points due to various reasons finally scored points in a thumping way with Fisi coming in 2nd. All this leads to a very interesting Italian GP in Monza.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Belgian GP Preview: Now or never for the Red Bulls!

Rubens Barrichello drove a brilliant race and with a bit of luck managed to win his 1st race in 5 years and won the European GP. This is highly important for Barrichello as not only has thrown his name in the title race once again but also could have earned a contract with Brawn GP for the next season. If Barrichello can continue to do this, Ross Brawn will be in a big fix but luckily for them even their rivals Red Bull face the same problem but then mathematically even Lewis Hamilton does have a chance but then Hamilton’s chance is as good as Luca Badoer winning a race this season!

Jenson Button after his near invincible show during the first half of the season is now struggling and since his win at the Turkish GP, he has failed to be on the podium and his teammate Barrichello had outscored and outperformed since then. Button needs to not only finish ahead of Barrichello but also score more wins to show that he is a dominating champion and his title is win is just not because he had a very superior machine compared to his competitors. But Spa will not be as hot as Valencia and if we have to go back and see what has happened, Brawn has struggled when the conditions are cold and this will surely give Red Bull an edge over them.

Red Bull has to pull off a one-two and also hope that Brawn fails to score if they want to have a realistic chance to go after both the titles. The team is also having engine problems especially with Vettel as he only has one more engine left and that has to last 6 races. He is bound to have engine penalty and this would definitely hamper his title hopes while teammate Webber will hope that the team backs him in his pursuit of the championship. Renault must be worried as Red Bull is eying the Mercedes engine which is the best on the grid and after the recent engine issues, Mercedes could power yet another team for the 2010 season.

McLaren and Hamilton must have been disappointed after their pit crew goof up which caused them a win but they should be confident as they have been the superior team on the grid for the last 2 races and they could also both cause or maybe help Brawn and Button on their championship quest. Heikki Kovalainen should be a very worried man and though he came in 4th in the European GP, McLaren is still not happy with his race pace and he needs to drive out of his skin if he needs to retain his spot in the team for 2010 as Rosberg is all set to sign with the team.

Ferrari must be wondering what on earth they have done by bringing back Luca Badoer to F1 after a decade of absence. Fellow tester Marc Gene would have been a better choice as he did substitute for the Williams team during the 2004 season and this season he has won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. A few other people who have raced in F1 in the recent past like David Coulthard, Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Bourdais have been linked to the seat but Ferrari should use this opportunity to give youngsters like Mirko Bortolotti or William’s reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg a chance as this would definitely help the team in the long run. Kimi must be a happy man as he is not only improved since the beginning of the season but in the absence of Massa, he is the focus of the team and he needs to show his worth if he has to retain his seat for the next season.

Nico Rosberg is the most talked about guy on the grid and he is making every use on what Williams is able to give him and though he is still some pace off a podium finish, he has scored points now for the last 7 races and with Kazuki Nakajima yet to open account, Williams is highly depended on their fight against the likes of Toyota as they are still catchable while Ferrari and McLaren will be fighting for the 3rd and 4th spot. Toyota needs to do something drastic as the team has been giving mixed signals, while they pull off their track from F1, they also try to sign Vettel for the 2011 season. It is time for the team to decided if they want to continue in F1 or not as the blow hot blow cold attitude is not going to help anyone at all.

BMW is yet to find a buyer but the team has did score points and any points is good for both the team and the driver as Kubica and Nick Heidfeld would be looking forward to join a top team rather than join a team which will be stuck at the back of the grid. All signs point to Kubica moving to Renault to replace Alonso as the dream team of Ferrari and Alonso is more or less finalized according to German and Spanish media and once again the driver market is dependent on where Alonso goes. Renault will stay and though there has been speculation that the team will leave the sport for the last 3 years, Honda and BMW has pulled the plug while Renault has stayed on and Flavio has promised that they would be on the grid for the 2010 season. Romain Grosjean did not set the track on fire but had a decent debut and if he could score points in the coming races, he will be driving for the team during the 2010 season.

Force India has continued to show progress and though on track since the British GP, the team has been better than fellow minnows Toro Rosso, the team is yet to score points while STR scored some points early on in the season and seem to have now an unassailable lead over Force India.

Belgian GP has always been exiting and it is one of the most popular circuits on the calendar and there is always the rain to spice up things. We all do remember the 1995 edition of the race when Michael Schumacher proved that he is truly a racing god as he won the race starting from 16th on the grid. It has also been a good track for Ferrari and Kimi and this could be a ideal place for both Ferrari and Kimi to start winning this season.

Belgian GP Predictions: 1. Kimi 2.Vettel 3. Hamilton 4. Webber 5. Rosberg 6. Button 7. Heikki 8. Barrichello

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2009 European GP: Barrichello wins to reignite Brawn Wars

What should have been a first one-two of the year for McLaren ended in a disappointment as Rubens Barrichello wins ends his race victory draught and wins his first race after 5 years. It was a very important win for Barrichello as he is now #2 in the drivers’ championship and he can once again resume his rivalry with Button for the title. Having both Barrichello and Button score is good for Brawn as it makes the gap between them and Red Bull wider and gives them the advantage in the constructor’s championship.

McLaren who clearly looked like the team which would dominate Valencia in the end had to be content with Hamilton coming in 2nd while Heikki Kovalainen was demoted to the 3rd spot after an inspired drive from fellow Finn and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, who scored his 3rd podium of the season. Kimi’s performance was the only thing to look forward for the Ferrari team after a very poor performance by Luca Badoer. It is highly unlikely that Luca would be given another chance after his miserable race which saw him start from the back and he managed to come 17th out of 18 cars and this too due to a tire puncture for Kazuki Nakajima.

Red Bulls had a race to forget as the car lacked the pace of McLaren and Brawn in the qualifying and though Vettel had a decent start, due to a fuel pump problem had to pit twice within a span of few laps finally had to retire from the race due to an engine blow-up. A major worry for the team as Vettel just has one more engine to use for the remaining of the season and if he has to use anymore he will have grid penalties. Teammate and fellow title contender Webber looked like he may squeeze in a few points but Jenson Button did well enough to not only finish ahead of him but also score 2 useful points while Webber came in 9th and failed to score any points.

Nico Rosberg once again had a very good race for the Williams team and he nearly caught up with Heikki Kovalainen towards the end of the race though he may not have caught up Heikki, he has done well enough and if the rumours are true, he would join Hamilton in a dream team for McLaren for 2010. Williams are also slowly catching up with Toyota and it would be a great feat for them if they could overtake the Japanese team as so far Rosberg is the only driver who is scoring while Nakajima is there to make up numbers.

Renault and Alonso were allowed to race at the last moment and though the team did not perform any miracles, it was great to see Alonso once again score points by coming in 6th while Romain Grosjean had a promising debut and proved that Renault was right in sacking Nelson Piquet. Robert Kubica scored the final points and it was good to see the BMW team score some points. It is very important for both the drivers and the team to do well till the end of the season as for both Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, it is important to do well in order to secure drives for the 2010 season while if the team does well, it would be an attractive option for any new buyer.

Toyota once again had a disappointing race as Trulli and Glock could finish only 13 and 14. The team has to do something really fast and they have been in F1 for some time now and after spending soo much on the team, they are yet to win a race and if the team continue to perform the same way, the head office may just pull the plug of the program. Force India once again had a very good weekend and will be disappointed in not scoring points as the team not only was faster than Toyota but also now has clearly proved that it is better than STR though Toro Rosso leads them on the table.

It was nearly an uneventful European GP till McLaren decided to give away the race to Barrichello and some last minute catching up by Rosberg and Button did provide some excitement. There are talks that this could be the last European GP in Valencia, but no one would actually miss this circuit as there is nothing special to this place.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

European GP Preview: Change of guard as Traditional Powers Rise!

The break in the F1 calendar for once has not raised any new issues between FIA and FOTA but legendary F1 driver and arguably one of the greatest driver ever to compete Michael Schumacher was the talking point ever since the Hungarian GP. We are all happy that Massa has recovered well and if everything goes well could be racing for Ferrari at his home race, the Brazilian GP. Also BMW has announced that it will be pulling out of F1 but then though this has surprised a lot of people, but BMW has a habit of pulling out of F1, well it did happen in the 80’s and again a few years back, they bailed on Williams and the team has been in downhill ever since that.

Michael Schumacher was the biggest newsmaker and he decided to come out of retirement and drive the Ferrari as a replacement for the injured Massa but then his neck injury he sustained during a bike crash is still not healed properly and he decided to not race in Valencia though there is a chance that he could be back this season and well most know that Schumi did retire a bit early and he could have easily raced for another year or so but at 40 even with a car which is not the best at the grid, a half-fit Schumi is good enough to beat most of the younger drivers on track.

This is a very important race for Jenson Button and Brawn GP as the last few races have seem them down the pack and their rivals Red Bull seem to have the car which is the best on the grid but then the only thing which is going in Button’s favor is that both Vettel and Webber are eating points of each other which should in the end may actually benefit Button but then on the constructor’s side, Red Bull is all set to overtake Brawn very soon. Red Bull has to decide which driver to back or else they maybe just short of Button provided Brawn does not improve but in all possibility Brawn has been working very hard and should atleast challenge for podium places.

McLaren and Hamilton are happy after their first win for the season at the Hungarian GP but they know that Ferrari is also fast catching up and they could pose a very serious threat. It is also very important for Heikki Kovalainen as the next few races will decide his F1 future as Nico Rosberg is tipped for a McLaren drive and with BMW out of the picture; McLaren seems to be his only destination. Heikki has to drive out of his skin to retain his seat for the next season.

Another Finn who is under immense pressure is Kimi as with Alonso moving to Ferrari for the 2010 season is one of the biggest open secrets ever, there is a chance that Ferrari may buy Kimi out of his contract so that he can go on to become a rally driver but now with Schumi not driving, Kimi should be a happy person as he does not want to be slower than a 40 year legend but then worst is being slower than a 38 year old test driver who has never raced in F1 this century! Luca Badoer is living a dream and the man who has never scored points in F1, finally does get his chance to rewrite history and though it could be only for a short time, finally we see an Italian in the Ferrari team.

Renault and Alonso are back at the last minute and it was important for the organizers that Alonso drive this weekend as the popularity of F1 has raised ever since he won 2 world championships. Piquet finally gets the boot and Frenchmen Romain Grosjean gets to replace him. This again is a very important race for Renault as if the team continues to languish, the team may consider pulling out of F1 as the company at the moment is not doing very well.

BMW has promised that they will improve the car in order to make it more attractive for prospective buyers and with the Peter Sauber backed Brawn style takeover bid now gone, it is very important for the team to find new backers or else a new team may occupy its place on the grid. Kubica and Heidfeld will be racing as each is their last in-order to make themselves attractive to other teams.

Toyota another team which may exit F1, will be looking for a good show from both its drivers as though through the season, the team did always have a car which was really good but then the team has struggled at times and at no time it was actually challenging for a win. Time the team goes up a notch and get its maiden win but then that should be a real hard task as Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and even Williams are far ahead. The other Toyota powered team, Williams will once again fight the big boys while spending a fraction of what they do, it is important for the team to keep scoring points and try challenging for wins if the team has to remain in the sport on a longer run.

STR and Force India will have an interesting battle at the bottom of the grid, though STR is ahead with points on the table, Force India is still looking for those elusive points and they may just do it in Valencia with a little bit of luck on their side. Hope this year’s European GP is more interesting than the one we had last year.

European GP Predictions: 1. Vettel 2.Webber 3. Hamilton 4. Kimi 5. Button 6. Rosberg 7. Glock 8. Trulli