Sunday, April 26, 2009

Button and Brawn GP back on Top

Jenson Button won his 3rd race of the season and this will be his most important win as this victory in scorching conditions in Bahrain proved that Brawn GP does have the package to last the whole season and could very well be the clear favourites for both the Championship as of now. Button had a flawless race and his race was way quicker than both Vettel and Trulli who were the only 2 drivers on the grid who realistically had a chance to take him on. Rubens Barrichello once again proved to be a valuable side-kick as he scored points for the team despite his adventurous 3 stop strategy.

Sebastian Vettel is proving to be the real challenger to Button as after a magnificent win in China once again had a very consistent race and managed to come second and tale vital points as he goes into the European leg of the season. Red Bull is a car without either the double diffuser or KERS but still the car thanks to its aerodynamics is amazingly quick and if only the double diffuser comes into it, well Vettel could be on a league on his own. Webber though did not score points after a disastrous qualifying should be proud of his 11th place finish.

The Toyota did manage to get both cars on points while Trulli did score a podium finish by coming 3rd had every reason to be disappointed after having a great qualifying session where they occupied the front row of the grid. Toyota has been very consistent now and though it may be tough for either Trulli or Glock to challenge for the driver’s championship the team still has a chance to fight Brawn and even RBR for the constructor’s title.

Kimi Räikkönen had a brilliant race and despite all the problems that Ferrari had, managed to score a credible 6th position while the 2008 champion Hamilton once again scored points by coming in 4th. Alonso of Renault came 8th to score the final points available. With 2 weeks to go for the Spanish GP Ferrari, McLaren and Renault will be hoping to catch up with the likes of Brawn, Red Bull and Toyota as they have some major updates coming in for the car. Traditionally the big guns of the F1 start pulling away from their competitors during the European leg but interestingly this season, they will be trying to catch up with them.

Williams continue to confuse us and after 4 races this season and with a potentially good car to not only score points but take podium finishes, they continue to languish back and so far has scored only 3.5 points and Ferrari are all set to overtake them in the next race means that Williams will be once again in the bottom fighting it out with the likes of Toro Rosso. Gone are the days when Williams were the most dominant team in F1 while Minardi used to struggle to finish races but now STR is just above Williams and seems like they will be fighting out for the 8th place.

BMW had one of their worst ever results as neither Kubica nor Heidfeld had a car which seriously looked like finishing in points and this would be disappointing for the team as last year around the same time they were leading the constructor’s championship. BMW needs a quick revival of fortunes or they may join Williams and STR at the bottom of the table. Force India well already seem to be destined to the fact that they will once again finish at the bottom and win the wooden spoon while all they can hope for now is some serious luck to score it’s maiden points.

Button was surely the driver of the race and he richly deserves the win while Vettel who I predicted to be the Dark Horse for the season is living up to it and come Europe with the new diffuser Red Bull will be posing some serious challenge while Ferrari and McLaren have shown improvement though they may find it tough to challenge Brawn as the gap has widen a lot but they can go only one way from here and it is definitely going to be a way up.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bahrain GP Preview: Will the Bull Rumble Again?

The Chinese GP created history of all sorts for a variety of reasons. First and foremost Sebastian Vettel scored his 2nd GP win and also enabled Red Bull to win its first race and Webber made it sweet by making it a perfect day by scoring 2nd place. The Red Bulls were invincible in the rain and even Brawn GP who during the first 2 races seem to look like they had advanced alien technology was brought to Earth by the Red Bulls.

Bahrain GP will be very different from China as no rain is expected and though Ferrari and Renault are the only 2 teams to have won here things could be totally different this time around as Ferrari would be extremely happy to get 2 cars score points while Renault may see Alonso scoring points but then Nelson Piquet finishing the race without an incident will be a big deal for the team.

Brawn GP and RBR are expected to dominate the race with Toyota and maybe even Williams are expected to give them some competition. Williams have lost out on some easy points during the first 3 races and they would defiantly hope to get a driver on the podium once again. Toyota are highly consistent and though winning could be tough but they still can target podium places.

The German teams are having fixed fortunes, while McLaren seem to see an upswing in fortunes and even with various troubles outside the team, both its drivers managed to score points at China and they would once again be trying to do the same while BMW after a reasonably strong start to the season seem to lack pace and they would be happy with any points scored.

Ferrari has had their worst start to a season since 1981 and if they fail to score points again during the Bahrain GP, well it would be their worst ever start since the inception of Formula One and the team would defiantly start their focus on 2010 rather than waste their time for the current season. Also they are the only team apart from Force India who nearly score points in China to open up their account.

STR has not been talked about much but in Sébastien Buemi they do have a very good young driver who has all the potential to challenge for the World Championship in the coming years but if he manages to pull off another solid consistent performance he well could be on a roll and well could replace Webber in the RBR team next year. The car’s design is very similar to the RBR team and the Ferrari engine is also an extremely good one to have.

Force India may need luck to score in Bahrain but it is set to be a very exciting race and I do expect Brawn GP, RBR and Toyota to fight out for the race win while Rosberg could sort of provide an upset if luck helps him out. As for the big 4, well if they could score points they would go into the European leg of the season happily.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vettel and Red Bull Clips Brawn GP

Red Bull had their best ever result and finally pulled off a one, two finish after Sebastian Vettel pulled off a dominant win while Webber followed him to a solid 2nd place finish. It was surely a dream performance for the Milton Keynes based team and though since the start of the season they always seem to have a car to match that of Brawn GP, but luck was never on their side but an awesome performance from Vettel and Webber gave them their best ever result in F1.

Button came 3rd to prove that Brawn GP is here to stay and rain or sun they do seem to prove that their car is good enough for a world championship. He continues to lead the driver’s world championship while his teammate Rubens Barrichello came 4th. The others to score among points include both the McLaren cars, Timo Glock and yet again Sebastien Buemi of STR who had a very consistent race.

It was yet again a heard break for Force India as Sutil was on his way to score the first points for the team but with 5 laps to go, he spun and he crashed out. Yet again it was so near yet so far for this team. But hope they do manage to score points this season as they have shown significance improvement since the start of the season.

This was the worst start to a season since 1981 for Ferrari as Massa had technical issues and his car stalled in the middle of the race while Kimi could only manage a disappointing 10th. Ferrari needs to have a miracle to win titles this year but a position of 9th in the constructors championship and the only team to not score points along with Force India does not go well with the team and though the car is not up to its usual standards, but both the drivers has to do well or them may see themselves replaced by the time the season gets over.

Alonso and Renault after a brilliant qualifying session will be disappointed on not scoring points, Renault again is stuck in the middle of the field and they have to make sure they have a car which challenges the likes of Brawn and RBR or Alonso will surely walk out of the team at the end of the season. Also Nelsinho Piquet continues to frustrate the team and if he continues to drive the same way, well he may well be out of the team within the next few races.

Toyota will be disappointed by their result though Glock did managed a 7th but they surely know that they do have a package to get both their cars to score points on a regular basis and this is a very important season for the last Japanese team on the grid as without a solid performance they too would pull off F1. BMW also had a race to forget and they should improve by the time the European leg of the season begins but that would be too late to pull off a serious challenge for the titles.

Vettel proved that he is truly the heir to Schumacher’s crown and yet again he showed his class on a wet weather race, Red Bull surely would do it’s best to keep Vettel in the team but with Kimi and Massa not doing too well, Ferrari would definitely have their eyes on Vettel and for all you know he may race for the team during the 2010 season.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brawn’s Cinderella story continue after the FIA ruling

The FIA had taken some very interesting decisions over the last few years, some soo bad that it could have led to the downfall of F1 but off late the FIA has finally gotten a grip of things and wants to show that who is the boss and who is in charge.

Every sport needs a powerful regulatory body and the FIA has just showed that by giving a very good valid ruling over the diffuser row. In what turned out to be a sort of Cinderella start to Brawn GP, could have easily been spoilt but now thanks to this ruling not only Brawn but also perennial mid-field team Toyota and also former champions Williams could have a phenomenon season.

Now with this, all the other teams are in race to get the new diffuser in place but among the lot if Ferrari and Red Bull manage to get things in place, well they can pose a very stiff challenge to the original diffuser gang cars while Renault and BMW should improve as the season progresses.

One team which is having a nightmare season both on and off track is McLaren and their very long association with Mercedes could come to an end this season due to one scandal or the other which has rocked them in the last 3 years.

Rumours are going round with Hamilton all set to take Barrichello’s seat once McLaren is banned from the season while even worse is that Mercedes may take over McLaren or it may pull the plug and just make Brawn it’s new works team.

The FIA so far this season have been consistent and if they continue to do so things are not looking good for both McLaren and Hamilton, but I guess the FIA will take the right decision and we all hope Brawn does not do something stupid for free engines or some cash as taking Hamilton in would be the biggest mistake ever for Ross Brawn.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chinese GP Preview: Will Ferrari Rise Up?

This could be the most important grand prix of the year for Ferrari as surely if the team fails to score points once again, then surely heads will roll in Maranello and well before you know it one or both the driver’s for 2010 could be replaced. Gone are the days when Ferrari struggled to match the pace of McLaren, Williams or Benetton. The Schumacher era changed all that and the worst finish for Ferrari in a championship since the era began was 3rd during the 2005 season when Alonso won his first World Championship.

Brawn GP has been simply amazing and expects Jenson Button to head the field once again as a favourite to take the race but Barrichello is a very experienced driver and he could also challenge Button for the race win. Toyota and Williams, the other members of the so-called “Diffuser Gang”, have very good cars and Williams though have shown pace during the free practice are yet to show that sort of pace during a race and this weekend could be one where they once again have a chance to win races and dominate Formula One. Toyota though has a very good car still do not have drivers who can go on and win the world title, but they are in the running to finish in the top 3 of the constrictors championship.

Among the rest expect Red Bull to provide some challenge but Vettel has been very unlucky so far and hope the Chinese GP brings him some luck which he needs badly now while BMW could once again be in reckoning for scoring points. Renault and McLaren continue to struggle while Flavio has been very outspoken about the diffuser design but McLaren has its own problems ever since the Australian GP and with Hamilton highly unhappy with the way things have phased out in the team, would like to put their house back in order but with the WMSC meeting Hamilton on April 29th, well anything is possible from then on.

Also recently Kimi said that the hearing on the controversial diffuser would decide the championship but I hope the committee does not make the diffuser of Brawn, Williams and Toyota illegal as what started off to be an amazing season could end up as one of the worst season and whoever wins the championship will not want to win it that way.

Though everyone would continue to want Brawn GP dominate but no one wants a one sided season and it would be great if Vettel and Rosberg could challenge Button for the title as F1 needs competition badly and it would also be good if the big boys of F1, Ferrari and McLaren takes backstage for a season.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Now or Never for Williams F1

The 2009 season will be the most important season for Williams F1 team and though they may have survived for the last 30 years and being the only sole independent team of the “Big Four” of F1, the last few years have gone horribly wrong for the team and it has been 12 years since the team won either the constructor or the driver’s championship and the last time the team won a race win was in Brazil during the 2004 season.

So far based on how the team has fared, this season could be the season that they not only need to win a few races to stat float but they also have a chance of finishing it on the top 3 of the constructor’s championship. If they have a little more luck on their side and manage to get some upgrades in, they could be potentially challenging Brawn GP for race wins. Toyota is another team with a very good package but Nico Rosberg is one of the best driver’s in the grid and he finally has a car that can show his potential and if Williams can get more reliability then he can be on the podium on a very consistent basis.

One things Williams should realize is that the likes of Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault will definitely see a improved performance once the European leg of the calendar starts and Williams should quickly should take some points which are easy offering for now as they only have to take on teams like Brawn, Toyota and RBR. The Chinese GP will be very important for the team and if they managed to get Nico Rosberg on the podium and Kazuki Nakajima score some points, it will give them a good confident boost going into the European season.

Also with the tobacco ban, barring Ferrari no other team has any tobacco manufacturers sponsoring them and Williams traditionally has had major financial corporation’s sponsoring them and with recession, one by one they seem to be pulling out and the only way for Williams to stay float is to do well in the Championship and a Brawn like performance would attract not only new sponsors but also prevent Rosberg from leaving the team as he has said that if Williams are not able to provide him with a package capable of challenging for the title, he will quit and given his talent, getting a drive for the 2010 season will not be tough and the way I see it, the likes of McLaren, BWM, Renault, Toyota (If they stay float), RBR and Renault will all be interested in him.

Williams needs to challenge Brawn and a win during this week’s Chinese GP would once again put them on their rightful place along with the big boys of F1, if not they will become a former has-beens who without a miracle may be forced to pull plug on their F1 project. Williams does not deserve to go down this way and the sport desperately needs the tradition of Williams and the independent fighting nature of Frank Williams.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sir Jackie “The Patriot”

Sir Jackie Stewart may have been a former 3 time World Champion and ofcourse today’s generation of fans will know Steward Grand Prix as a team which did have mixed results in its short 3 year history but Steward who has been against FIA for ages and also since he is no more relevant to the F1 world keep making comments which do somehow manage to attract the attention of a few fans once again has shown how biased one can get.

Steward being a former world champion should be a guiding light of F1 but he behaves like the unofficial spokesperson of the McLaren and Williams teams. Steward has shamefully compared McLaren’s attempts to cheat the race stewards during the Australian GP to Vettel’s decision to continue after his accident despite having a loose wheel hanging off his car. Vettel was not the first driver to do soo and Steward’s blue eyed boy Hamilton has also driver with punctured tyres and if memory serves me, in an unprecedented way once used a crane to lift his car off the gravel trap.

What happened with Vettel is a pure racing incident and any driver in that situation would have done the same, but comparing that to an incident that too during a sporting event where a team and it’s drivers lying to the stewards to deliberately change results and bring the sport into disrupt is plain sad. Steward being a decorated champion should be ashamed of himself for making such a poor statement.

In the world industrial espionage is a serious crime and McLaren were lucky that in one of the worst’s ruling by the FIA were allowed to compete for the driver’s championship while the same car was deemed illegal for the constructor’s championship. I don’t want to rake up old issues but bringing in Vettel into this mess to save McLaren and Hamilton by Steward is unnecessary and someone should ask him to shut up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hamilton Saga Continues!

Lewis Hamilton the reigning World Champion and controversy just cannot be separated as now Anthony Hamilton seem to make enough suggestions that the team had enough of McLaren and would be looking for another driver. Now we have to admit one thing, the recent controversy over the whole incident in Australian GP involves both Hamilton and McLaren. Blaming McLaren alone is not fair. Yes McLaren could have made Hamilton behave in that way but still Hamilton should not have lied to the stewards.

The same McLaren gave Hamilton a drive even when he was a rookie and supported him to the end when they decided it was better to back a rookie rather than back a former 2-time champion. I guess McLaren would have rue the fact that they missed Alonso and even more cribbing that potentially could have had the dream team of Alonso and Kimi driving for them now rather than have Hamilton who thinks he is god’s gift to motorsport. Hamilton has to realize that he cannot win or even challenge for the World Championship every year.

Recently there were some rumours that Mercedes may also pull off the McLaren project and they had enough of the bad press and with Brawn running with a customer engine is possibly the fastest car this season and could go on and win both the titles in its debut season. An ideal scenario for Brawn is to make Brawn its works team and McLaren for sure knows a lot about it. In the 80’s Honda switched from Williams to McLaren and they should know that though Williams especially after its deal with BMW though that they too could forge a partnership like the McLaren-Mercedes but one day BMW just pulled the plug.

In F1 things may just happen before you even realize. Who would have though Honda to bail out in the last minute or Brawn just a month ago not even sure of fielding a team but now having a package that could lead to a World Championship. If this Hamilton crisis escalates well McLaren should be bold enough to fire the egomaniacal driver and hire Nico Rosberg who is more talented if not even better than the Brit plus a driver with German heritage would also please Mercedes. This season may just lead to all sorts of new possibilities.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Button wins Crazy Race

I am still not sure when the last time a race was suspended due to rain was, but Jenson Button proved that the Brawn GP car is good in wet weather conditions too and he claimed his 2nd straight victory and continue to prove Brawn GP’s dominance in this year’s FIA World Championship. We all expected rain to play a part but the rain caused soo much chaos that the person who is most affected is Nico Rosberg who started the race from 4th but took lead immediately after the first corner and was all set to give Williams its first win since the 2004 Brazilian GP. But the rain came and effectively screwed the race in what would have been his first win and also a sort of Williams’s revival.

Another driver who had a bad weekend was Vettel who was unlucky to be a given a 10 point penalty but also due to the rains had to spin out and finally managed to be placed a lowly 15th place only. Vettel will be hoping for better fortune as he goes into the Chinese GP while both Ferrari drivers need to pull something off as the last time Ferrari has failed to score points after the first 2 race of the season was in 1992 when Alesi and Capelli were driving for them and they managed to finish 4th in the constructors championship. Hope that does not happen this year and Stefano Domenicali is very clear that unless Ferrari improves both Kimi and Massa may be kicked out of the team for the next season.

While Ferrari was unlucky, Toyota has one of the luckiest races as Glock scored his first podium finish while Trulli managed to come 4th. If rain had not interfered, the Toyota drivers especially Trulli could have challenged the likes of Button and Rosberg for a race win. Nick Heidfeld yet again scored a 2nd place position for his BMW team and he is currently the most experienced driver yet to win a race as this is his 10th season in F1 and he is yet to finish on top of the grid. Others who managed points include Barrichello, Webber, Hamilton and Rosberg.

It is very unusual to see the likes of Ferrari and McLaren struggling while the likes of Brawn GP and Toyota doing extremely well. Luck has not been with both Red Bull and Williams as they have cars which is as good as atleast Toyota’s but still due to luck have not been scoring heavily especially when the big guns struggling. Renault and BMW continue to have mixed results while BMW atleast seem to have a package capable of scoring points, Renault is a struggling car and it manages to look decent thanks to the driving skills of former 2 time World Champion Alonso.

Force India continue to disappoint as the cars does not even seem like remotely capable of scoring points while STR looks good in patches and I am sure that in the next few races the team may score more points. On the whole the rain came and spoiled what would have been a brilliant race where the likes of Button, Rosberg, Trulli and even Vettel had a chance of scoring the win, but thanks to the rain we could not witness a great race. But the likes of 4 or even 5 teams having a chance of a victory bodes well for F1 and once the European season starts, we can have the likes of the traditional favourites like Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault challenging the current leaders Brawn GP, Toyota, RBR and Williams to lead into what could be the best ever F1 season in decades. On the side note the last time a non-big 4 won a title was in 1978 when Lotus won the title.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Malaysian GP Preview

After a stunning Australian GP, the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship got off to one its best starts in more than a decade and the usual suspects Ferrari and McLaren both failed to score points. I am wondering if a situation like this has ever happened in the history of F1. Brawn GP who a month ago were not sure if they will exist as an entity after Honda bailed out on them after just one race looks like hot favourites to win the world championship and Jenson Button who for years was considered a good prospect but never had the machinery to back him finally has a car which can land him a world title which has been promised to him since he made his debut for the Williams F1 team during the 2000 season.

Brawn GP seems to be clear favourites heading into Sepang but Ferrari has upped their pace and Williams yet again are quick during the practice. You can also add in RBR to the mix but Vettel with a 10 point grid penalty would feel unlucky for such a penalty thanks to a racing incident but still he can provide some fight back and though he may not challenge for the win but still will be fighting for a place on the podium. Toyota is another team which is quick and could once again have both drivers scoring points. As far BMW is concerned, they may not run with KERS during this race but they do have a consistent car and if they can get their tyre strategy right they can also be competing for a place in the podium.

The 2 former world champions are having mixed fortunes and as they head for the race, things are not soo looking good. Alonso is still not 100% fit after an infection and though he will be giving it all, don’t expect him pose any serious challenge as Renault though they promised a lot during the end of last season and also during testing is still yet to get it right while Hamilton is yet again caught in another controversy and had this 3rd place finish stripped by the FIA for lying to the race stewards about the incident with Trulli and well depending on what you believe may even been thrown out of this year’s championship by the FIA. Nothing has changed for their teammates as Piquet continue to drive like a person who does not belong to F1 while Kovalainen seems like he is better suited to drive for Force India rather than McLaren.

STR and especially Buemi was pretty impressive while Bourdais was lucky to have points after a very average race, but this team will definitely looking for some help from the weather gods as they may not have a driver off the calibre of Vettel to pull off a win but with rains they have an outside chance of a podium finish. Not sure if even the rains can help Force India but Fisichella should be a worried man as Vijay Mallya is also interested in signing Bruno Senna for the next season should Fisi retire or even made to retire.

It is going to be a very interesting Malaysian GP and Kimi has traditionally done well and with Ferrari improving its face, could well once again win here on Sunday but he will face a very stiff challenge from not only his teammate Massa but also the likes of Button, Vettel and Rosberg. I would expect Ferrari to have a car up on the podium but if Williams can reproduce the practice pace during the race expect them to challenge Brawn GP, otherwise expect a rehash of the Australian GP unless the rain plays a part and makes the race a complete chaotic mess.

McLaren and Controversy

We all know what happened in 2007, had it been any other sport McLaren would be thrown out of the sport but espionage is a small thing according to FIA and though McLaren was stripped off all points for the constructors championships as they had a car with competitor’s design while the car was used to decide the drivers’ championship and eventually Ferrari had the last laugh as Kimi pulled off a memorable win.

Even last year, the irony was that a Toyota driver had to leave way for Hamilton to win the title while clearly everyone knows that the driver of the year was Massa and now, well only one race has began and already we McLaren and Hamilton lying and cheating just to score 2 extra points. Giving deliberate misleading evidence to the race stewards is not a good thing and its time FIA take some stern action against the team which has been involved in some controversy or the other in the last few years.