Thursday, November 25, 2010

Who will have the Force for 2011?

Force India may have just finished ahead of Sauber and Toro Rosso in the 2010 F1 constructors championship but then Sauber just recovered from the whole BMW exit fiasco while Toro Rosso apart from 2008 season where Vettel gave the team it’s only win in F1 so far and managed to place the team 6th in the table have always been perennial backmarkers and is a training gorund for Red Bull’s junior drivers.

If you look at the 2nd half of the season Sauber was actually better than Force India while Williams managed to sneak past and finish ahead of Force India by just a point. In the end Force India managed only a 7th place finish in the table which was boosted by 3 new teams. A major worry for Force India is that a lot of key staff from the team has left it to join other teams like Sauber and Lotus (or whatever it will be called). Force India should address this situation immediately or else the team may be further behind next season and will find the likes of Toro Rosso and even Lotus ahead of it.

The current set of driver’s for the team Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi did not exactly have a stellar season and both were pretty patchy and inconsistent. Sutil had a strong start to the season but towards the end he really struggled while Liuzzi was never really consistent but he was unlucky at times too. Sutil and Liuzzi have been in F1 long enough and with decent cars never really looked like they are going to set the world on fire.

Sutil all along was looking for a better drive and was linked to both Mercedes and Renault but Schumacher has confirmed that he will race next season while with a Russian GP coming in 2014 and Petrov apart from being a well backed Russian drove the race of his career in Abu Dhabi by managing to be ahead of Alonso and Webber, who were fighting for the title but in the end Petrov made Vettel’s job even easier.

Liuzzi has a contract with Force India for the next year but then the team will be better off by buying him out of his contract as he has lost them more money on the track and in the end they lost the 6th place to the Williams team by just a point.

Force India is a proven team with a decent car and currently has the most attractive seats on the grid for any driver. In Paul di Resta they have a young driver who is quick and backed by Mercedes. Since he is backed by Mercedes the team can actually get some discount on the engines and even ask Mercedes to foot his bill. But more importantly di Resta Formula 3 Euroseries in 2006 and the man who he beat to the title is currently the youngest F1 champion in the world.

Only one man has a similar junior racing pedigree similar to Nico Hülkenberg and that is Lewis Hamilton. The only difference was that Hamilton made his debut in a McLaren while the Hulk had his chance with a struggling cash strapped Williams team. Though the Hulk had a slow start to the season, towards the end he was even better than his teammate Rubens Barrichello who happens to be the most experienced driver on the grid. Despite having an inferior car the Hulk managed to get a pole position during the Brazilian Grand Prix and that definitely is not a fluke.

It is a shame to see that a team like Williams with its rich heritage dropping a exciting rookie for a pay driver but then the team has a history of treating drivers poorly and that along with various other decisions have now made the team a midfield team.

Apart from these 2 promising driver’s Force India also have the option of hiring Nick Heidfeld, who apart from being a very solid car developer, has also raced with some esteemed names as teammates and have managed to beat them. The list includes Kimi Räikkönen, Felippe Massa and Robert Kubica . Given the exit of technical staff from the team, Heidfeld will be a very safe bet for the team.

Apart from these driver’s there is always Karun Chandhok and with an Indian GP coming next year, it would be an amazing PR exercise for the team to have an Indian driver but then Vijay Mallya would not want the driver to overshadow the team but Karun did do a decent job with HRT and he would not be any worse than its current set of drivers.

If Vijay Mallya is very serious about Force India, he should have race di Resta, the Hulk or Heidfeld rather go back to Sutil or Luizzi. It would be exciting to see di Resta and Hulk go against the other drivers as both these guys would be driving for places in the top teams for the future.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Over the Curbs Awards – 2010

We all actually though that 2007 was one of the greatest seasons in F1 ever and wondered if anything else could beat it but then come this year 5 drivers were battling for the World Championship. It was one of the best F1 grids in ages and to see the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button fighting for the title was surreal. Even the legendary Michael Schumacher who made a dramatic comeback for newly revived Mercedes GP team after Daimler took over last year’s winners Brawn GP ensured that the grid had 4 World Champions starting the races.

Though Schumacher did not set the world on fire but then he was coming back after 3 years and Mercedes just did not have the car that could challenge for podium places on a regular basis leave alone winning. But his teammate the young German Nico Rosberg proved that he has enough talent in him and with a right car could be a title contender. Also Renault which ended 2009 in a disaster made a good comeback with Robert Kubica putting in some stellar performances and with an equal in teammate Renault could have even challenged the Mercedes GP team.

The season saw 3 rookie teams making its debut and the Malaysian outfit brought back the Lotus name which is now in all sorts of controversy. The season also saw quite a bit of rookie drivers but the most impressive rookies were Kamui Kobayshi and Nico Hulkenberg, though Kobayshi did make his debut last year, this year was his 1st full season in F1 which would make him a rookie. Also F1 saw Russia’s 1st driver in Vitaly Petrov who had a roller coaster of a season but in the end had a great final race in which he actually played a part in Vettel easily winning the title.

Let’s go to the awards and see who has done what:

Driver of the Season – Sebastian Vettel

Team of the Season – Red Bull Racing

The Next Big Thing - Kamui Kobayashi

Most Improved Driver – Mark Webber

Most Improved Team – Renault

Race of the Season – Japanese Grand Prix

Best Grand Prix – Italian Grand Prix

Worst Grand Prix – Brazilian Grand Prix

Rookie of the season – Kamui Kobayshi

Most disappointing driver of the Season – Michael Schumacher/Felipe Massa

Most disappointing team of the Season – Williams

Lucky to be in F1 (for the season) - Sakon Yamamoto

Veteran of the Season – Nick Heidfeld

Comeback of the Season – Robert Kubica

Most entertaining driver of the season – Kamui Kobayshi

Most boring driver of the season - Jenson Button

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

Whiner of the season - Rubens Barrichello

Most missed Driver – Kimi Räikkönen

Least missed Driver - Luca Badoer

Friday, October 8, 2010

The crazy driver market that never was

The 2010 driver market was thrown completely out of control after Alonso joined Ferrari, Button quitting Brawn GP and Michael Schumacher making a dramatic comeback joining the revived Mercedes GP team.
This year things were heating up as there were talks of Kimi Raikkonen making a return to the sport he quit at the end of last season, Webber retiring and Kubica joining Ferrari. Till last week, there were speculations regarding seats in various teams like Force India, Sauber, Williams, Toro Rosso and Lotus. But now the only 2 vacant seats of any interest are of that of Williams and Renault. Force India and Toro Rosso have just confirmed their existing line-up while Lotus who apart from signing a technical deal with Red Bull will also get Renault engines to leap frog it toward the mid-pack will also most likely retain its current line-up.

While there is still talk of Schumacher retiring, all signs points to the fact that it is not sure if he will be with Mercedes for 2012 but for the next season he will be with the team alongside Rosberg. Nick Heidfeld will once again be jobless unless he can pull something dramatic out of the last four races of the year with Sauber as the team has retained Kamui Kobayashi and have signed young Mexican Sergio Pérez who apart from having the backing of Telmex has also been signed by Ferrari for its young driver program joining the likes of Jules Bianchi and Mirko Bortolotti.

Though both Renault and Williams are yet to retain their rookies Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hülkenberg, Petrov despite being totally outmatched by Kubica and also not showing the consistency which is expected from him could retain his seat as Russia is a big market for Renault and Petrov has some major backers with him. Williams will lose 4 sponsors at the end of the year and with the current GP2 champion Pastor Maldonado backed by the Venezuelan government, he may replace the Hulk at the Williams for the coming season.

While everyone expected Toro Rosso to confirm the line-up, the decision of Force India’s is highly surprising as Liuzzi has totally underperformed this season compared to his teammate Sutil. Sutil was linked to the Sauber seat but now his best bet on a better seat is Renault which fellow Germans Heidfeld and Glock are also clamoring for along with Petrov. While Williams could have a vacancy, it would not be a great difference for Sutil from his current seat in Force India. Maybe a good 2011 could earn him a seat with Mercedes for 2012.

Paul di Resta is one of the most unlucky drivers as he is such a talented driver that he still struggles to find a F1 seat. Despite being backed by Mercedes, everyone expected him to driver for Force India for the next season but with them retaining their current drivers, di Resta could become a test driver for Mercedes or just leave the sport all together and focus on sports car racing.

Another driver who has done a decent job is Karun Chandhok who already has lost his HRT seat and with Force India not too keen on him, his best bet will be Lotus but that too now sounds very remote and most likely he will miss the inaugural Indian GP.

Renault has the most coveted seat as of now but all things could turn if Webber wins the 2010 F1 World Championship and just decides to retire. Anything can happen in the driver’s market as we have seen in the last few years.

But my money is on Petrov retaining his seat while Maldonado could edge out Hulk from the Williams team, but then F1 is a crazy world and it’s safer to confirm the line-up at the start of 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2010 Hungarian GP: Webber uses “Team Strategy” to win while Vettel robbed of victory!

F1 and hypocrisy goes hand in hand as while just a week back Ferrari was criticized by every single British writer and non-Ferrari fan for issuing team orders but Christian Horner the Red Bull team principle who said there is no place for team orders used team strategy instead to gift Webber the race while teammate Vettel who acted for the team ended up getting a penalty and was robbed of a race win. Red Bull does not have number one & two but then by favouring Webber, Vettel not only lost the race but also lost out on the chance of leading the championship race but now due to Red Bull’s strategy for Webber, Vettel is only 3rd in the championship behind Webber and Hamilton. Though there have always been talks of how Vettel has been the chosen one for the Red Bull team not many know about Webber and Horner’s co-ownership of MW Arden. Red Bull’s management decision has not been the best and incidents like these are going to cause the championships for the team.

Ferrari proved that they are the best among the rest as Alonso took home a very strong 2nd place finish and in the end managed to hold off a red hot Vettel. This very result sort of vindicated their decision to let Alonso finish ahead of Massa. With both Webber and Vettel taking of points off each other for every other race and if Ferrari and Alonso continue to maintain their strong form, Alonso may end by winning his 3rd world championship by the end of the season. Massa may not have been as fast as Alonso but he is back in form and he did a good job for the team by finishing 4th at the same place where one year back nearly ended his F1 career. Massa by consistently finishing ahead of McLaren’s would help Ferrari claw its way back in the constructor’s title race and may even have an outside chance of winning it.

Vitaly Petrov was the man who is under immense pressure as Renault is actually looking at other drivers who can be quick and score consistently for the team did no harm to his credentials for the next season as he managed his best ever performance by coming in 5th. We should all remember that Petrov is a rookie and so far has done pretty well. Despite Kubica outclassing him all season, Petrov has been the better driver this weekend and showed that he deserves his Renault seat. Kubica would be disappointed as once again he had a car which was faster than even McLaren but then pit-lane mayhem caused him pull out onto Sutil which caused them their races. Renault is looking good and has a realistic chance of catching up with Mercedes before the season ends.

Nico Hulkenberg may not have won the battle of rookies with Petrov today but then he had a very solid race and finished well ahead of his experienced teammate Barrichello who was racing his 299th grand prix today. Not bad for a rookie and Hulkenberg did show that he has all credentials of being a very good racing driver. It is still early to see him as a future world champion but he can always improve and provided he does get a solid racing car he can go on and win the title a few times. Barrichello also proved a point against his former teammate Michael Schumacher by snatching the last points available but then Schumacher’s driving style and the way he tried to push Barrichello towards the pit wall was questionable and for a 7 time world champion doing this to just defend one point is just not needed. FIA should reprimand Schumacher for this incident.

Sauber once again had a good weekend with both its drivers scoring point while Pedro de la Rosa came in 7th and scored his first points of the season but Kamui Kobayashi despite a very bad start where he did not make it out of Q1 and also had a 5 place penalty managed a very good drive once again and aided by the pit-lane mayhem ended up finishing 9th. Sauber if they continue to perform the same way can realistically look at catching up with both Force India and Williams who are not too far away.

McLaren had a horrible race with Hamilton the championship leader going into the race retired after having a transmission problem while Button managed a 8th place thanks largely to the pit-lane mayhem. McLaren are well behind both Red Bull and Ferrari during the last 2 races and the team has to once again focus hard to catch up with these teams. Red Bull once again leads the championships while McLaren still have an edge over Ferrari but if Ferrari manages to surge ahead as they have done during the last 2 weeks, McLaren could end up 3rd in the constructor’s championship by the end of the season. Button is looking like the #2 driver for the team as despite his early season form, Hamilton is scoring more points than him and Button needs a solid performance and finish well ahead of Hamilton to prove that he has it in him to beat Hamilton in the same car.

Force India after a stunning start to the season have gone backwards and at one stage being the best of the rest now the team is battling Toro Rosso while both Williams and Sauber have made significant improvement over the last few races. Force India needs to find something real quick as if they do fail so both Williams and Sauber may overtake them at the end of the season. Sutil may have been unlucky this weekend but Tonio continues to blow hot & cold. If he fails to score consistently, there are lot of good drivers on the paddock who will be more than willing to take his seat.

Toro Rosso after being ahead of both Williams and Sauber during the start of the season is now well behind them and now are stuck in a place where they are well ahead of the new teams while they are also well behind the other established teams. Toro Rosso may not score another win in their history but then they need to improve to score points further this season and they may end up with 10 if they continue to go the same way.

Looking at the performances of Lotus, Virgin and HRT one may actually wonder if we do need them on the grid. Despite early promise and potential Lotus have not really achieved anything great and have just about managed to stay ahead of Virgin and HRT. If Virgin continues to use CFD and have a shoestring budget, they would not make any improvement at all and it is sad to see a team like that on the grid just doing nothing. HRT on the other hand is a team which offers F1 drive for the guy who can afford it but then if not for money Christian Klien would be racing for them.

The F1 world takes a 3 week break where practically everything is shut and we have to go to Spa for the Belgium Grand Prix. Last season Ferrari’s Kimi and Force India’s Fisi battled the entire race for the 1st place while this season Kimi is driving for the Red Bull rallying team while Fisi is Ferrari’s 3rd driver sitting in the paddock doing nothing. Come Spa the mood will be different in the Red Bull garage and all hell may break lose.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 British GP Review: Webber conquers Britain but civil war looms at RBR

Mark Webber won the 2010 British GP but Red Bull could end up as the overall loser in the championship hunt as Webber collided with teammate Vettel which caused him to go right behind everyone else but an inspired drive by the young German saw him finish 7th. The season is not yet over but the war between Webber and Vettel has turned ugly and the team has to either control the situation or just back one driver as if this continues Hamilton may end up winning the championship like how Kimi won in 2007 when McLaren’s policy ended up in disaster as both Alonso and Hamilton lost out by a single point.

McLaren is happy that despite having 2 world champions there has not been any major issues but in a few races they have to back either Hamilton or Button and this could lead to a civil war in the McLaren camp as well. Having 2 strong drivers looks good on paper but in reality it does not always workout as the success stories of Ferrari and Renault have seen one superstar driver paired with a solid hand who can not only score points regularly but also win races at times. But McLaren should be happy with the results as despite their issues with the car Hamilton finished 2nd while Button after a disastrous qualifying ended up 4th.

Nico Rosberg is back on the podium with a solid 3rd place finish but he Kubica’s retirement meant that he was not troubled by anyone and despite Button following him towards the end of the race, he was never in a position to really overtake Rosberg. A good result for Rosberg but his teammate the 7 time Champion Schumacher despite a pretty decent race could only finish 9th and the Schumacher bashing could once again start but the next race is his home race and it is highly important for the Mercedes team to be competitive during the race. Schumacher could use the German GP as a platform to show the world that he still has it in him to not only win races put pose one last challenge for the world title.

Williams after a slow start to the season has been revived with Barrichello once again putting in a solid drive by finishing 5th while rookie teammate Nico Hülkenberg managed to finish 10th and take home the last set of points. Likewise fellow mid-field team Sauber who has also seen a change in fortunes saw Kamui Kobayashi yet again performing a good show with him finishing 6th. If Sauber and Williams continue their momentum they could challenge Force India for the 6th place spot in the championships.

Force India who until the last race was seen as the best of the rest and at times has shown pace enough to match the likes of Mercedes, Renault and even Ferrari is now under pressure from Williams, Sauber and even STR at times. Despite Sutil’s 8th place finish the team will be hoping for better luck at Monza and Spa, 2 tracks which should favour them while Liuzzi is once again blowing hot & cold during the races. If he does not perform consistently he may end up losing his seat for the 2011 season.

Toro Rosso may not have scored much this season but Buemi have made the most of it this season by putting in some good drives that he is now in frame for a Renault seat for the 2011 season. While teammate Alguersuari after a good start to the season is now lagging behind Buemi and he needs to finish off the season on a high if he needs to retain his drive for the next year.

Ferrari and Renault are 2 teams which would want to forget the British GP immediately as it turned out to be a disastrous weekend for both the teams. Neither was expected to win but Ferrari was hoping for a podium finish while Kubica at one stage was all set for a podium place till his mechanical issues. Ferrari and Alonso were once again at the wrong end of the Steward’s decision. Alonso did benefit from the overtaking of Kubica but then the Steward’s taking their own time in making the decision and the safety car once again ruined the race for Ferrari. Massa is struggling and he once again failed to score any points. He is under pressure and he needs to start putting in some good performances as Ferrari did have a good car but the drivers ruined it for the team this weekend.

The new teams once again just made up for numbers and the good thing was that none of them were involved in any incidents with the faster teams. The British GP was exciting but then the coming week will be highly crucial for the Red Bull team and the future of Webber’s F1 care

Saturday, July 10, 2010

2010 British GP Preview: Red Bull and McLaren fight it out at Battle of Britain

Red Bull heads into the British GP as the favourites with Vettel going in carrying some very good form after winning a stunning European GP. His teammate should be happy to just walk leave alone racing after a horrid crash which saw him airborne for some time. Webber will be using Vettel’s old chassis but despite that he has shown some solid pace the practice. Red Bull has done well at Silverstone and they are all set to continue to dominate this year’s British GP which will mark the debut of the new Silverstone circuit which has seen some changes which will make it a very high speed circuit.

McLaren at their home race will be looking for the win but they do have not yet seem to have got the grip of the new track while Button will be desperate to win his home race as he is not only yet to win this race but also needed this win to go over his teammate Hamilton as he has been outpaced by his younger teammate for the last few races. Hamilton despite all the controversy during the European GP will be looking for a podium place here. Winning could be tough here but then given his recent form a podium seems a certainty unless Ferrari has managed to catch up with McLaren.

Alonso and Ferrari had a shot at the podium at the European GP but the safety car ruined everything for them but they will go into this grand prix determined as they still have a good shot at challenging both the championships. Alonso will be desperate for a win here as he has not won a race since the Bahrain GP while Massa despite a contract extension will be under immense pressure as his performance when compared to the previous 2 seasons has been very poor and he is yet to challenge for a win this season.

Mercedes has had a disastrous start to the season and despite their claims that they would be challenging for the titles the reigning champions have gone from bad to worse since the start of the season. Both Rosberg and Schumacher have not consistently challenged the front runners and Schumacher at times during the season have been beaten by the likes of Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso. Recent news of Haug’s meeting with Kimi does not bode well for the 7 time champion but then Mercedes should show patience as this was the same team which came up with dog of a car during its time as BAR/Honda.

Renault is the most improved team since the start of the season and with Kubica signing for the next year as well, the team looks at catching up with Mercedes during this weekend. Kubica has been the driver of the year so far and has been very consistent and despite an inferior car has put up a fight with the likes of Ferrari as well. Vitaly Petrov may have been the best rookie of the year but despite his good performance he will remain in the team as long as he can bring in the sponsors. If the rumoured MasterCard deal goes ahead, Petrov will be looking for a new team for the 2011 season.
Force India has been the most improved team since the last season and despite the fact that the team has not been challenging for podiums, it has done extremely well and the team is looking like the Jordan team of the late 90’s where the team was a solid mid-field team. Team owner Vijay Mallya has the resources to make the team better and if the team continue its impressive progress, it can be challenging for podiums regularly by the next season.

Williams has had some major announcement with Frank Williams stepping as the Chairman of the team due to age issues. Williams the most dominant team during the 90’s are struggling and fighting it out with the likes of Toro Rosso and Sauber. Already Force India is way ahead of them while both STR and Sauber have beaten them this season. Williams showed some improvement during the last race and the main aim for the team will be to finish ahead of STR and Sauber while also trying to catch up with Force India by the time the season ends.

Toro Rosso has been decent so far this season and this is the team’s best season since the 2008 season when Vettel had a magical season for the team which also won its 1st race at Monza. The team during its previous Minardi days struggled but now the team with 2 very solid young drivers are always looking to score points and so far this season apart from scoring a few points have also done well to beat Sauber and Williams regularly and even during the odd occasion the team has also outpaced Force India.

Sauber after a disastrous start have finally started scoring points and the team has improved by leaps and bounds since the 1st race. The team has always had the pace but reliability has been the issue and if the team does manages to solve that with a driver like Kamui Kobayashi the team can score a lot more points.

Lotus, Virgin and HRT so far are only making up the numbers while despite the claims by Lotus that they are catching up with the likes of Sauber and STR, the team has just managed to perform better than Virgin and HRT but then the team has a long way to go if it has to even make it to Q2. The biggest news of the weekend has been the axing of Senna for the British GP by HRT. Sakon Yamamoto has hardly set the F1 world on fire by his previous drives for Super Aguri and Spyker but the Japanese driver will be doing a decent job if he manages to stay out of trouble.

The British GP at the new Silverstone circuit should be special and also we can always include the possibility of rains which will make it even better. Red Bull looks the favourite but if anyone can challenge them then it has to be either McLaren or Ferrari but Renault could be the dark horse for the race.

British GP Top 10 Predictions

1. Sebastien Vettel

2. Mark Webber

3. Robert Kubica

4. Fernando Alonso

5. Lewis Hamilton

6. Adrian Sutil

7. Felipe Massa

8. Nico Rosberg

9. Jenson Button

10. Vitantonio Liuzzi

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Michael Schumacher Problem

Michael Schumacher is statistically the most successful driver in the history of F1 and he could also be the best driver to have ever raced. Of course a few would always counter that there have been others like Juan Manuel Fangio, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna who could have been better than Schumacher but comparing drivers of different era is tough and the sheer success rate of Schumacher makes his probably the greatest ever driver. Prost and Senna finished their careers when Schumacher was starting his but Prost and Senna always raced for the best of teams. Prost left Renault as he could not win the championship with them while his rivalry with Senna caused him to move out of McLaren. He spends just 2 seasons with Ferrari and took a sabbatical from the sport only to re-join a year later to win his final championship with Williams. Senna after some good drives with Lotus joined McLaren as it was the most dominant team in the late 80’s while left the team to join Williams as they started dominating the sport but unfortunately he dies in a horrific crash at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Prost and Senna are good drivers provided they have good cars and neither have not gone on to build a team like Schumacher has done it. Prost and Senna are no angels on the track as they also had their run of incidents and Senna if not for his death on the track is no stranger to controversies and he has in fact been involved in quite a bit of fist fights for on track incidents. Before Schumacher joined Benetton, the team was good but never good enough to win titles. He ended up winning 2 championships with the team and was fighting for race wins right from his 1st full season with the team. He made the team dominate the sport for 2 seasons where they decimated teams like McLaren and Williams. He then joined Ferrari and when he joined the team, the team had not any titles since 1984 and in the 5 year period before he joined the team won 2 races in that period. Schumacher build the team and ensured that they became one of the most dominant team of that era. The Schumacher led Ferrari won 5 driver’s championship and 6 constructor’s championships. Their worst finish in that period was finishing 3rd in 2005. Schumacher won an astonishing 72 races in 11 seasons with Ferrari. He is not only the world’s greatest driver but also the best support driver as Eddie Irvine would say as during the 99 season, Schumacher broke his leg and missed 6 races which ruled him out for the season but he came back and ensured that he provided all the support for the Irishman who went on to lose the title by just 2 points. That was the year Ferrari won his first constructor’s championship since 1983.

There have been fast drivers like Kimi Räikkönen, Jacques Villeneuve, and Lewis Hamilton who went on to win titles with a fast car but no one else have built a team around them and turned the fortunes of a team so much that he became synonymous with the team itself. Though Ferrari could have been hasty in putting in Kimi for the 2007 season which resulted in Schumacher retiring from the sport after a stunning drive at the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2006. It could have been a bit premature as he had a few years left in the tank. He did test the Ferrari cars and was their consultant till 2009 but then Schumacher was used to racing not watch it from the side-lines but Massa’s accident nearly resulted in him making a comeback last year for Ferrari but then when Button left Brawn and when Mercedes took over the team they needed a world champion and Schumacher answered Brawn’s call as his association with Brawn is even longer than his association with Ferrari and Brawn has been instrumental in all his championships.

We should remember that Schumacher has been out of F1 for 3 seasons and a lot of changed. The current field is one of the most talented fields ever while another factor is that the Mercedes team in its previous avatars as BAR and Honda has produced some disastrous cars. Brawn GP though ran on low budgets their car was in development for over 2 years and Honda has put in close to half a billion on that car. It is not that Schumacher is struggling while his teammate is winning but despite the reasonable start that Rosberg had when Schumacher was still getting used to the car it has not been as big as a disaster as some sections of the media are portraying. Schumacher did have his worst ever finish in Valencia on a track where he has never raced before but then he was also an unlucky victim of FIA’s flawed safety car rules. Had that not been the case he could have even been on the podium and the Schumacher comeback story would have taken a different turn. In 2009 while Button was winning races his teammate Barrichello was not even on the podium on regular basis but here Rosberg is not exactly doing wonders apart from his early good run. Rosberg has never truly beaten Schumacher and the good old Schumacher may not be back as long as they don’t provide him with a good car. Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari are miles ahead and even Renault is catching up. Last weekend at the European Grand Prix saw Williams and Force India showing stronger pace then Mercedes.

If Mercedes do improve then the old Schumacher should be back and with the likes of German, Belgian and the Italian GP’s to go, these tracks have been special to him and we could even expect a win but knowing how the development has gone for this season for Mercedes, that may just not happen. Schumacher’s comeback given the situation and car has been very good for a 41 year old drivers competing with men half his age but then he should not give up so easily and even if he manages to win races that would cap off as a remarkable comeback as this was the team who used to produce some of the worst cars on the grid during the BAR/Honda era. Brawn is one man and he could not change much but the team should focus on 2011 and just use this season for Schumacher to warm up as if the car is developed for him and if the team is able to produce a car which is even half good as the Brawn GP car of 2009 then he can challenge the likes of Red Bull, McLaren and his old team Ferrari. The real Schumacher will be back only if he has a car to drive with the current car even the likes of Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton, the 3 best drivers of this new era will fail to challenge for wins leave alone score points regularly.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2010 European GP Review: Vettel wins controversial European GP

Sebastien Vettel won his 1st European GP on the streets of Valencia and this win will ensure that he is back on track for the World Championship hunt. Vettel has not won a race since Malaysia and after the crash at Turkey this win would do a lot of boost his confidence ahead of the British GP which should favour the Red Bulls. He is now only 12 points behind championship leader Hamilton and 12 points ahead of teammate Webber who failed to score any points. Webber should be happy that he was able to walk away from his car after a horrific shunt with Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen. This was Webber’s fault as he misjudged the speed of the Lotus car which a few seconds slower than the Red Bull.

McLaren managed to get to the other 2 podium places but despite the good results there was a lot of controversy with Hamilton’s rule breaking performance which enabled him to retain 2nd even with a penalty. Hamilton was one who took the most advantage of the safety car that he even overtook it and got away with a drive through penalty as the race stewards were too late in making the call and he had enough time to go in and come back. The FIA should look at this as Ferrari’s Alonso who was just behind Hamilton got a real raw deal as he ended up finishing the race only 8th while Schumacher who was 3rd during the safety car period ended up with one of his worst finishes ever with a poor 15th place. Jenson Button who had a steady race and thanks to the safety car luck managed to finish 3rd and now he trails Hamilton by only 6 points.

Ferrari and Alonso had one of their worst weekends as despite having a very good car while it was backmarkers who cost Alonso the race in Canada but this time around the safety car and the weird rules of the FIA cost them a podium place. Even Massa was running good but due to the safety car he failed to even finish in points. Alonso and Ferrari needs to put this behind them and focus on the British GP where though it could be tough to match the speed of Red Bull but they definitely can match McLaren and even beat them.

Mercedes had another bad weekend and despite the criticism mounting on Schumacher, he still showed that he still has the race pace needed and the car is definitely not up to the mark as now they are well off the pace of Renault and even had the likes of Williams and Toro Rosso catching up with them over the weekend. Despite Brawn producing a dream car last year, the same team which was know has BAR and Honda has produced some disastrous cars in the past. Rosberg may have been consistent the whole season but he is not a world champion in the making and the team should focus on 2011 and ensure Schumacher is still with them.

Williams after being outpaced by Force India since the start of the season and also had Toro Rosso catch up with them during the last few races finally good things together with veteran Rubens Barrichello finishing a strong 4th. This was the best result for the team this year and the team should use this momentum to catch up with Force India and try to beat them by the end of the season. Rookie Nico Hulkenberg was set for points but then mechanical issues made him to retire from the race but nevertheless he still had a very strong race.

Force India’s qualifying went haywire but the safety car played into their hands and Sutil managed to finish 6th ahead of Alonso while teammate Liuzzi was unlucky and could only manage to finish 16th. The car should be strong during the British GP as the track should favour them as they can use it to their advantage and try to catch up with the likes of Mercedes and Renault.

Sauber and Kamui Kobayashi had a brilliant race and the gutsy move by Sauber to keep Kobayashi on the track for so long without changing tyres paid off in the end and some last minute overtaking moves on Alonso and Buemi ensure that Kobayashi finished 7th while teammate de la Rosa was on points but was moved down to 12th place after the steward’s penalty towards the end of the race.

Toro Rosso and Buemi had a good weekend and if Buemi continues to drive the same way he is all set for Red Bull for 2012 while Jaime Alguersuari needs to start performing well if he needs to maintain his seat for the coming year.

Lotus was hoping for a special weekend as this was to be their 500th race as the team still does maintain that it shares the heritage from the original Team Lotus but they had a very bad weekend as Trulli finished last while Heikki Kovalainen’s race was compromised by Webber’s crash.

Both Virgin and HRT managed to finish the race but then it is sad to see the fact that these cars make up only for numbers and actually could cost potential winners as it was found out at Canada that it can cost leaders even races. The good news is that the 107 rule is back and this means that these teams needs to get faster or else they may not make it to the starting grid.

It was a good European GP but Vettel was the driver of the race as after a small tiff with Hamilton during the 1st corner he had a spotless race and he managed to outpace everyone. This victory will also give him all the confidence going into future races and a few more wins will ensure that he is on track to win the World Title.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

2010 European Grand Prix Preview: Can the prancing horses catch up with McLaren?

McLaren and Lewis Hamilton are on a roll after back to back one two for the team and will be looking for a hat-trick of wins but the biggest competition to Hamilton will be his teammate Jenson Button who is just 3 points behind Hamilton and could upstage Hamilton during the European GP at the streets of Valencia. Despite the track which should ideally favour McLaren but the team should not rule out the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari. Even Mercedes have looked strong in practice should pose some threat.

Red Bull has not been the same since the incident at Turkey but the team has to forget that and ensure that they catch up with McLaren as another one two here could take McLaren on pole position for both the championships. Vettel looks most likely the driver who can win the title for Red Bull but Webber despite his phenomenon form this season is yet to prove that if he can maintain that over the course of a season. Red Bull may also use the much improved F duct which can swing the race in its favour but it needs superhuman drives from both the drivers to finish one two here.

Ferrari and Alonso had the pace in Canada and if not for the back markers they might have even won the race but this race is crucial for Ferrari as Alonso needs to win this as he needs to close in on the championship leaders. If Ferrari wants to challenge McLaren and Red Bull in the constructor’s championship then they have to ensure that Massa too gets on to the podium. Massa has not been the same and despite good start this season his form has dipped severely and he should be resigned to the fact that he will be the #2 driver for this season unless he can win the next 3 races.

Mercedes have still not given up on this year’s car but ideally the team should focus on the 2011 car rather than continue to work on its current car. The problem for Mercedes is that the current car was build around Button and Schumacher is finding it extremely tough to adapt towards it while Rosberg was doing ok until the team shifted its attention to develop the car as per Schumacher’s liking which has not done anything good for the team. Mercedes should give up on its current car and focus on the 2011 championship.

Renault and Kubica have been a revelation and at times have been faster than both Ferrari and Mercedes on different tracks but the team do have a realistic chance of catching up with Mercedes while Ferrari has found its pace and is well ahead as of now. Renault is clearly ahead of the middle bunch like Force India and Toro Rosso while if Vitaly Petrov scores more consistently they do have a realistic chance of beating Mercedes this season.

Force India has been the best of the rest and while they have clearly beaten the likes of Williams, Toro Rosso and Sauber, they are well behind Renault and now they should focus on catching up with the likes of Renault and Mercedes. It is a tall order for the team but with Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi the team has 2 good drivers who could be driving for the top teams if not for the talent which is available this season. Another race with both drivers finishing in the top 10 will be amazing for the team.

Toro Rosso has caught up with Williams and they need to ensure that they beat Williams by the end of the season. Both Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari are still very young and have a long future ahead but they need to keep pushing themselves and hope for points so that by the time they race for bigger teams, they have all the experience in the world to go for wins straight away.

Williams have once again promised improvement this weekend but unless they show it during the race no one will take them seriously again. Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg have done all they can despite the limitations but if Williams need to get back to its old glory then they need to have one look at Red Bull as despite being an independent team with customer engines and with spends less than Ferrari and McLaren, the team has done extremely well. Williams should focus on the 2011 car and should get Renault engines and the Cosworth engines are taking them nowhere.

Sauber will race as BMW Sauber till the end of the season despite BMW playing no part in the team and the awkwardness which goes with the team calling itself BMW Sauber Ferrari. But the team should stop blaming Ferrari engines for its trouble as Toro Rosso uses the same engines and have not had reliability issues. Sauber has the pace but if its reliability issues are worked out then they can catch up with Williams and Toro Rosso. Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa needs to become more consistent if they want to retain their seats for 2011 but de la Rosa is already looking for a seat for the next season.

Lotus will be going for its 500th race but despite not having any real heritage with the Classic Lotus team the new Lotus team has ensured that it does everything to continue the legacy but the team despite being the best among the newcomers needs a lot of improvement if they need to catch up with the likes of Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso.

Virgin and HRT will make up for the numbers but the team has to keep itself away from the faster cars as Karun’s HRT cost Alonso a lot during the Canadian GP. Also the team needs to catch up with Lotus if anyone actually has to take them seriously.

European GP Top 10 Predictions
1. Sebastien Vettel

2. Mark Webber

3. Jenson Button

4. Fernando Alonso

5. Lewis Hamilton

6. Nico Rosberg

7. Robert Kubica

8. Felipe Massa

9. Adrian Sutil

10. Michael Schumacher

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 Canadian GP Review: McLaren edges out Red Bulls at Montreal

Ever since the fateful corner at Turkey where Red Bull pushed its self destruct button when Webber and Vettel collided, McLaren has seen a revival and for the second straight race, Hamilton and Button have managed a one-two. Now McLaren leads both the championships with Hamilton leading the driver’s championship for the 1st time this season. Though Montreal was a track which would favour McLaren, Red Bull’s poor tire strategy caused it a place on the podium with Vettel and Webber finishing 4th and 5th.

Ferrari and Alonso have been under severe pressure off late and despite McLaren’s domination, Ferrari and especially Alonso did have the pace and if not for the back markers especially HRT’s Karun, Alonso would have come 2nd. Massa once again had a race to forget but he was atleast on course for points till his tangle with Schumacher but with a contract for 2012 he should start focusing as already Alonso is the lead driver for the season.

Mercedes had a very average race with Rosberg finishing 6th while teammate Schumacher struggled the entire race. Once again former drivers are calling for his head but then the verdict is not over till the end of the season. But to see Schumacher bumping into Kubica and Massa was ok but to see Buemi on a Toro Rosso overtaking him along with both the Force India cars is wrong. Something is wrong and to see the legendary driver go through this ordeal is a sad sight for all the fans that are used to the Red Baron decimating the field.

Despite Hamilton winning the race and having done the best qualifying lap we have seen this season, Toro Rosso driver Buemi was the driver of the race as despite having a car which was not exactly the fastest in the field he managed to go wheel to wheel with the legendary Schumacher and even overtook him and managed a very good 8th place. He was also leading the race for a lap before he pitted and he managed to finish ahead of Force India which is a good effort. He was under immense pressure before this race and there were even talks that he may not retain his STR seat for 2011 but if he continues to drives like this he is all set for a Red Bull drive for 2012.

Force India for the very 1st time managed to get both the cars on points and it was a very good show by both Liuzzi and Sutil. Liuzzi was under pressure from test driver di Resta and his performance at Montreal would have ensured that he had the seat for the rest of the season. Sutil who was comfortably beating his teammate till this race was totally blow by the performance of Liuzzi. Force India is easily the best of the rest but they need to keep an eye on Toro Rosso who can catch up quickly with them.

Williams may once again blame it on other factors but time has come for the team to seriously change itself as the way it goes, it may end up scoring points all together. Force India is way well ahead of it and it looks like by the end of the season Toro Rosso may also be above them. Finishing ahead of an underfunded Sauber and new comers like Lotus is not an ideal scenario for the team which they need to change immediately.

Renault had a very quiet race but Kubica managed to finish 7th and the way the team is developing, it can very well catch up with Mercedes by the end of the European season. Though Petrov has been the best rookie on the grid, he needs to score points more consistently if he needs to retain his seat for the next season. With his money he can get a racing seat but getting a seat which will get him points will be very tough. There are already talks of Sutil or even Kimi replacing him for the 2011 season where Renault hopes that it can be on par with the big 4 teams.

Among the new comers, everyone did struggle once again but Lotus was close to Sauber and by the end of the season they can actually catch up with them while for Virgin and HRT all they can hope during this season is to learn and hope all the information they gather is useful for the next season if they do participate especially HRT which is cash strapped =.

Friday, June 11, 2010

2010 Canadian GP Preview: Will McLaren able to capitalize on the Bull Run-ins?

The Canadian GP is back after a break of one year but so far the consequences of the events which unfolded in Turkey is still hovering Montreal like a dark shadow and with rains too expected, this could be the race which could define the future of F1. Before the start of the season, the big 4 teams had all had drivers who wanted to win World Championships but everyone expected the initial bust up to start in Ferrari or Mercedes but surprisingly Red Bull which had Vettel and Webber having an harmonious relationship is now in the mist of one of the most controversial crashes in F1. Forget whose fault it was but in the end it is going to hit back at both the drivers and also the team.

Red Bull will once again go into this weekend as the favourites as they have been doing so far but for the 1st time because of the bust up despite what Red Bull and it’s PR team says, McLaren which nearly had a bust now had a real chance to use it moment to catch up with the RBR and this will be one track where the McLaren could even be better than RBR. Vettel the golden boy of Red Bull and the success story of its driver program will be against his teammate who originally was brought in so that they can get the Renault engines. Webber has always been a journeyman but this season he has a chance to be this generation’s Mansell by winning the title.

McLaren having 2 British World Champions have done well so far and off late seems to have the edge of both Ferrari and Mercedes but they nearly messed it all up with Button and Hamilton nearly crashes but then both drivers have bit it behind them and despite the official claim that the team does not have team orders, eventually they need to back one of the drivers and this race could actually decide it. If Button convincingly beats Hamilton, he will gain an upper hand and he will have all the resource in the world to defend his title.

Ferrari after a dream start to the season is going through a nightmare phase but despite in a position where most teams would envy to be in Ferrari is Ferrari and they should be fighting for the world championship but not fending off the likes of Renault. Alonso so far has proved that he is not as good as Schumacher has been for Ferrari while Massa with his contract extension will feel relived and now he needs to put his head down and take on not only Alonso but also the other drivers on the grid.

Mercedes is slowly becoming stronger but then it may be too late and by the time they hit pace, they maybe too far away from the championship. Schumacher is still not 100% but then he is improving and at Montreal which has been his favourite track and if the updates do work and with some rain, he can very well give the team its first victory in over 50 years. Rosberg has done a good job so far this season but he needs more than consistency to actually make everyone think that he is good enough to win championships.

Renault and Kubica has been the surprise story of the season and despite all the issues the team has had in the past, it has done extremely well. During this season though the team is 5th on the standings, but in reality depending on tracks it has managed to beat both Mercedes and Ferrari. If Vitaly Petrov started scoring more regularly they will catch up with Mercedes before the season gets over.

Force India has had a good season so far and the team is finally breaking away from the mid-field pack but then the team may just have a lonely fight this season as they are still not as fast as the top 5 teams as but much faster than the rest. Adrian Sutil is the best driver among the rest and it is sad that there is no seat available in the big teams for 2011. But he has showed that given a fast car he can do really well but teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi needs to buckle up or else the highly impressive Paul di Resta may well take his seat before the season ends.

Williams is the only team on the grid which has not improved since the season started and the team like always have put the blame on to the engines. Williams knowing that Cosworth have developed the same engine which it used in its disastrous campaign in 2006 went for it. Williams should get Renault for 2011 and forget this year. Nico Hulkenberg who has won every other championship he has been in the past had not exactly set the stage on fire while Rubens Barrichello should have retired after a dream season in 2010.

Sauber and STR have improved a lot off late and they are better than Williams but then for Sauber if the team manages to get cars to finish races it will be scoring points on more regular basis while STR has been good given its limited resources but its drivers needs to stop making minor mistakes as they have cost the team points in the past.

Among the rest, despite Lotus being better than Virgin and HRT, it has not really cached up with the likes of Williams, Sauber and STR. Lotus needs a miracle to score points this season but the team atleast looks on track for a better 2011. HRT seems have caught up with Virgin despite its non development while CRD experiment has failed miserably for Virgin Racing.

Rains are expected and this can only make the race more fun, but Red Bull and McLaren will go into the race as strong contenders while do expect a surprise from Mercedes and Ferrari.

Canadian GP Top 10 Predictions

1. Sebastien Vettel

2. Michael Schumacher

3. Jenson Button

4. Mark Webber

5. Lewis Hamilton

6. Robert Kubica

7. Fernando Alonso

8. Felipe Massa

9. Adrian Sutil

10. Nico Rosberg

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gravel Trap

Due to various reasons both the preview and the review of the most exciting Turkish GP ever could not be made but this week’s edition of The Gravel Trap will be loaded.

Red Bull Racing went into the season with the least of the driver friction which was expected to plague the big 4 teams but as of now after Vettel’s crash with Webber, the scenario has changed and the team has do bring the situation back to normal. Vettel and RBR are looking the villains but in reality it was a racing incident and in all fairness Webber failed to give room to Vettel. Webber should realize that Vettel is his teammate not just another driver. While Vettel did have pace on Webber for that lap, the so-called conspiracy theories going around that RBR favours Vettel. Yes Vettel is a product of their racing development program but if they have favoured Vettel, well Webber will be well off pace throughout the season.

Webber has been a journeyman all his life and winning 2 races does not make him a superstar. Had it not been for Red Bull, well Webber may have been stuck with the likes of Force India or Williams or even worse at Lotus! He needs to be grateful for what he has and if he does decides to walk away for the next season well it is his biggest mistake and his options are limited to either Williams or Renault. Williams is living of past glory and on a slow path to its demise while Renault will be build around Kubica. It is a racing incident and the crash should be forgotten as if Webber is going to bring it up again he will be the biggest loser.

Webber and Ferrari will never happen and even if it does happen, well he will be the #2 driver as Ferrari as of now is Team Alonso and even a guy like Massa is struggling. Talking of Massa, all signs point to his contract being renewed for 2011 as it does make sense to continue the line-up rather than bringing up someone like Kubica or even Webber for now. Ferrari should stick with this pairing till Vettel is ready to join the team.

Lotus boss has taunted Ferrari. Not bad, this is the team which has no connection to the original Lotus outfit but still for all marketing reasons is calling themselves Lotus as no one would want o see Team Malaysia or Fernandez F1. He is better off in trying to get his car to Q2 then actually tout the greatest team in F1 history. Ferrari is F1 and there are no more arguments to this. People pay to see Ferrari and not Force India or any other teams like Virgin or HRT!

On talk of a 13th team entering F1, ART GP owned by Nicolas Todt son of FIA president Jean Todt has thrown his hat in the field. ART is the most successful team in both GP2 and Euro F3 series and has had drivers like Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel drive for them. They have all the pedigree of a good racing team and there are talks of Sauber being merged with the team. This is good for the sport as this will ensure Sauber’s survival in the long run. ART Sauber Ferrari sounds nice with the likes of Massa and Jules Bianchi behind the wheels of this team. ART has good relationship with also Renault and Mercedes and they have the best options entering the grid. Hope ART GP gets in F1.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Gravel Trap

Two races have gone since the last edition of Gravel Trap but the biggest news so far has been Michael Schumacher and though he may have been overshadowed by Mark Webber’s success on track but Schumacher who has been questioned on his comeback has answered critics in an emphatic manner by back to back solid performances over his teammate Rosberg.

The big story was in Monaco during the last corner of the race when the safety car went in while Schumacher overtook Alonso to pip him for a post. Though initially Schumacher was classified ahead of Alonso, the race steward gave him a 20 sec penalty which made him drop from the points table. Interesting thing is that Schumacher’s former rival Hill was one of the stewards and this leads to loads of controversy. Though Schumacher and controversy are not far behind but this time he has done everything under the book but yet penalized.

There are many examinations of the rules and their implications in this case, but it seems quite simple. The stewards point to the fact that section 40.13 applies and that “If the race ends whilst the safety car is deployed it will enter the pit lane at the end of the last lap and the cars will take the chequered flag as normal without overtaking.”

In reality, however, section 40.11 applies: “When the clerk of the course decides it is safe to call in the safety car the message 'SAFETY CAR IN THIS LAP' will be displayed on the timing monitors and the car's orange lights will be extinguished.” This is exactly what happened in Monaco.

From this point on, the following applies: “As the safety car is approaching the pit entry the yellow flags and SC boards will be withdrawn and replaced by waved green flags with green lights at the Line. These will be displayed until the last car crosses the Line.” The cars were racing; the race did not end under safety car conditions.

If we are to believe Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari drivers were told that the race was finishing under safety car conditions and they couldn’t be overtaken. Why then, did Fernando Alonso accelerate so hard that he lost control of his car? Surely, if he was cruising to the flag, there was no need for such acceleration.

Everything at the track pointed to the race having restarted. The SC boards were in, green flags were being waved, and all of the drivers were looking for that final opportunity to pass. Schumacher alone was successful. Well the FIA has got this thing wrong and it is absurd to penalize Schumacher while racing in the pit lanes and throwing a steering wheel is no offence!

The big news is Mark Webber. A few weeks back there was talk of Webber retiring at the end of the season with Kimi replacing him but now there are even talks of Webber replacing Massa in Ferrari. Don’t remember since when a driver’s fortune has changed so dramatically in 2 weeks time!

Webber has always been a solid journeyman driver who was fast but then he was never talked as being a F1 World Champion material but though last season he was in a position where he was running for the title but this time he has a realistic chance and if he manages to continue this form then there is no stopping him. Red Bull will most likely retain him but then if they fail to do so Ferrari will definitely keep him in till they can get Vettel. Webber holds the key to the 2011 line-up and if he moves to Ferrari the world of driver market will once again head towards chaos.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2010 Monaco GP Review: Bulls conquer the streets of Monaco

Red Bull went into the Monaco GP as the team to beat and they ended up thoroughly dominating the street circuit with Webber winning his 2nd race of the reason with teammate Vettel coming in 2nd. Despite the safety car playing its part through the race, Webber was in a different world with hi totally dominating the race. A few weeks back there was talk of Webber being replaced but now there are even talks of Webber going to Ferrari and such has been the meteoritic rise of his stock in the last 10 days. Now Red Bull leads both the championships with both Webber and Vettel equal in the driver’s standings.

Renault and Kubica continued their upswing with Kubica getting his 2nd podium of the season with a well deserved 3rd place finish. No one gave this team a chance before this season but both Renault and Kubica proved everyone wrong by once again pulling off a very solid performance. Not only are they with the top 4 teams but well ahead of all the teams. If Renault continues this, Kubica may be the surprise package of this season and team could even knock off a top 4 team at the season ending championships. Another reason to celebrate is that all the cars on podium at Monaco were Renault powered cars.

Ferrari were looking good going towards the weekend but despite Alonso starting from the pit stop they did have a very good race with Massa coming in 4th while Alonso putting one of his best drives ever coming in 7th. Though Alonso should be disappointed that Schumacher overtook him at the least corner when the safety car just going him costing him a place. But both Alonso and Massa should go to Turkey with momentum but then can they catch up RBR will be the big question.

Mercedes had a solid race with Schumacher showing old signs of pace and attitude should be happy for his 6th place finish while Rosberg was back in form but then now Schumacher is slowly looking like the lead driver and Rosberg needs more than a 8th place finish to shift the momentum back in his favour. Though since the start it looked like it will be Rosberg who will win the 1st race for Mercedes GP but now Schumacher seems more likely to do it.

McLaren overall once again had a disappointing weekend with losing lead in both the championships and also getting only one of its car on points. This time Hamilton came 5th and though he did show some spirit it was just not enough and in the end he looked like he was more than just happy to finish the line while Button retired due to an error by one of the mechanics. If the team has to realistically compete against Red Bulls and be ahead of Ferrari and Mercedes, it needs to show more consistency and ensure goof ups like these do not happen again.

Force India for the very 1st time got both their cars on points and there should be a wild party tonight for the team. The team has been very consistent throughout the season and now it is definitely ahead of both Williams and Toro Rosso. The future is looking good for the team and if they continue in this direction they can relive the glory days of Jordan GP.

STR despite getting both its car to finish the race just missed out on the points and the team now has to work hard to catch up with Force India and also ensure that it is ahead of Williams. It will be tough for the team to score points from now on as the six teams at the top are very solid but then in F1 all things are possible and if the team does race consistently it can score a few points here and there.

Williams must be wondering what went wrong this season as they started the season with a totally redesigned car and despite all the hype behind it, it is one team which has remained the same since the start of the season. STR has a better car as of now and if its drivers continue to drive the same way, Williams could be fighting it out with Sauber and the new teams.

Sauber is the only old team yet to score points and though the team looked like it has improved at Barcelona, it was 2 steps backward here and the team needs some drastic showing in the next few races if it has to survive this season. None of the new teams finished the race but Lotus despite showing all the promise is not really catching up with Sauber while both HRT and Virgin have managed to tag along with Lotus.

It was a very good Monaco GP and Webber who after a slow start to the season looks a totally different driver and if he continues this form, we can once again see an Australian World Champion in F1.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2010 Monaco GP Preview: Can the Bull Run continue on the streets too?

The most prestigious grand prix of the season will take place this week at the principality of Monaco. Though the race on the streets of Monaco has its own mystique it is also one of the most demanding circuit in F1 as even a single small error could see a driver crashing out quickly. Though Red Bull has been the team to beat this season but they continue to be plagued by a mix of reliability issues and bad luck. Despite pole on all 5 races this season, the team has won only 2 races with Vettel and Webber taking a victory each. Though Webber pulled off an amazing win in Barcelona last week, Vettel must be happy to finish on the podium despite issues with the car. Though the streets of Monaco is totally different from the rest of the circuits, if Red Bull gets pole once again, it will be tough for anyone to challenge the team.


Ferrari and Alonso looks like the people who could most likely to challenge the bulls but then though Ferrari and Alonso have been pretty consistent this season they are yet to match the pace of Red Bull and Alonso should bring in all his experience to someone get his car on pole so that he can win the race. Teammate Massa had a very poor Spanish GP and with talks of Kubica replacing him next season, he needs to put a solid performance for the next few races of Ferrari have to keep him in. Already he is looking more like a 2nd driver rather than look Alonso’s equal.


McLaren has been the surprise of this season with Button just about leading the championship. Though Hamilton has put on some unbelievable drives throughout the season, he tends to makes mistakes and even has had some bad luck. This is one of his favourite circuits and if McLaren is even closer to the pace of RBR he can take on the fight to the team provided he keeps his cool and finishes the race for a change.


Mercedes has had a mixed race in Barcelona with Schumacher showing old signs while Rosberg just looking lost. Though so far for Monaco both Schumacher and Rosberg have looked competitive, it is Schumacher who will go into the race as the Mercedes driver who had a chance of winning this race given his experience on this track. He is also a former 5 time winner here while Rosberg once again have to prove himself against the legendary driver.


Renault and Kubica had so far had a decent if not pretty good start to the season but despite Kubica showing impressive pace, the team needs rain or  a major pile up to be once again on the podium while Vitaly Petrov needs to be extra careful as this is one of the tracks where a driver can’t make any error at all.


Force India and Toro Rosso has had their best starts so far and they will once again use this weekend to try catch up with Renault while also extend their gap with Williams who has look the same since the start of the season. If Williams does not do anything even Sauber may catch up with them very soon.


Among the rest the new teams may actually prove very dangerous during both qualifying and the race as Monaco had a very narrow street circuit and it could be very dangerous for the other teams if the backmarkers fails to drive properly.


It should be a very good Monaco GP where Red Bull’s pace should be neutralized due to the nature of the track but both Ferrari and McLaren will provide stiff challenge with Mercedes going into this race as a dark horse.


Monaco GP Top 10 Predictions


1. Sebastien Vettel

2. Fernando Alonso

3. Michael Schumacher

4. Mark Webber

5. Nico Rosberg

6. Jenson Button

7. Lewis Hamilton

8. Felipe Massa  

9. Robert Kubica

10. Adrian Sutil

Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 Spanish GP Review: Bulls on Rampage with a Webber win!

Red Bull went to a race once again looking as the team to beat and though there were some hiccups for Vettel, Mark Webber had no problem and won his 3rd race of his career in an empathic manner. He totally dominated the field and not once since the start that he was challenged by anyone on the gird. Even his teammate struggled to match his sublime pace. Though Vettel did manage a 3rd place there were moments where the car looked like it will breakdown but he scored vital points and has kept his hands on the driver’s championship with this result.

Bernie Ecclestone dream had come true in Spain after Alonso was in Spanish GP in Ferrari colors for the very 1st time, most of the stands saw only red and it was a windfall for the Ferrari team. He also did not disappoint with a very consistent drive to finish 2nd. A few more performances like this would ensure that he is the clear #1 in the team while teammate Massa who is under pressure did himself no favor as he could only manage 6th. Already there are rumors floating in the Italian media that Kubica will replace him for 2011. Massa needs to seriously up his game in a weeks time or else he may need to look for a drive the next season.

Mercedes and Schumacher came into this grand prix under tremendous pressure but Schumacher though did not pull off a miracle he did had his best drives of the season and he thoroughly beat teammate for the 1st time during the whole weekend. Next week in Monaco he has a realistic chance of a podium place but then with rains, the old magic could be back. Nico Rosberg should be unhappy after a bad weekend where he went into the Spanish GP with just 10 points behind leader Button but he failed to score any points and now he is in 5th with Vettel, Webber & Alonso going over him while both Massa and Hamilton are just a point behind him.

McLaren was the team which was expected to challenge the Bulls but in the end, the race was a disaster for the team. Though they lead both the championship as of now, the margins have dropped drastically and Hamilton who was on course for a 2nd place finish crashed out at the dying moments of the race. Button had a frustrating race as he was stuck behind Schumacher for most of the race and his failure to get past him robbed him of any chance of fighting for a podium.

Both Force India and Renault had a consistent race with Sutil and Kubica scoring points. Though Renault looked like they have cleared the mid field pack and have closed in on Mercedes, but after this race they are back on par with Force India and they have lot of work to do. Force India as of now is better than Williams, Toro Rosso & Sauber but they need to get both drivers on points to catch up with Renault but so far this has been one of their best ever seasons since the Jordan days.

Though Williams and Toro Rosso scored points, Williams have not made any significant progress since the start of the season and if this continues STR & even Sauber may overtake them very soon. Sauber finally made some progress with Kamui Kobayashi finishing a race for the 1st time this season but de la Rosa will be a man under pressure and if he fails to score points in the next few races he may be out of the team.

Virgin had a good weekend with both their cars finishing for the 1st time this season while Lotus though had Trulli finishing, Heikki failed to start the race while HRT once again had both the cars retiring during the race. Virgin suddenly seems like the team who can beat this pack but Lotus will provide them a stiff challenge.

It was a very good Spanish GP with Red Bulls dominating while Schumacher did show glimpse of his old form. If he does manages to keep improving, he can once again start winning races and the battle between Schumacher, Vettel and Hamilton could be very good.

Friday, May 7, 2010

2010 Spanish GP: The fight for the Championship starts now

The European leg of the F1 has in the past traditionally separated the boys from the men. Last season though Williams and Toyota were close to Brawn during the Asian leg of the calendar, once the European season began, it was a straightforward battle between Brawn and Red Bull for the title. This season as many as four teams are in the race with Renault still in the mix. The hot favorites for the title Red Bull despite having the fastest car on the grid is only 3rd in the Championship while Jenson Button and McLaren have surprised one and all by leading both the championships.

Jenson Button has proved everyone wrong by going into Europe with 2 wins and a substantial lead over his much fancied teammate Hamilton. Though Hamilton can always bounce back but he has to deal with loads of both on-track and off-track antics while Button has solely focused on racing alone. If Button continues to maintain the form he showed in Asia, there is every chance that he may once again be the champion and prove to the world that he won not because of the car but also he is good enough to win it.

Ferrari like Red Bull were fancied towards the start of the season but reliability issues have hit them hard but now they seem to have sorted that out and if Alonso & Massa can work as a team Ferrari will be hard to beat but if the pair fails to get along then Ferrari may self destruct it chances of winning the titles. Though they are still not as fast as Red Bull, they can quickly catch up with McLaren and need to beat them fast.

Mercedes went into the season as defending champions and even got Schumacher out of retirement but then his comeback though has been pretty good but then everyone is so used to Schumacher dominating the field but now his teammate who is yet to win a race has beaten him in four straight races and this is something which the legend has never experienced before. Though the Mercedes is being set for Schumacher and everyone does expect a backlash from the German but he needs to prove in Barcelona that he still has it in him and the most important thing will be to dominate Rosberg who has had a dream start to the season.

Red Bull must be comfortably leading both the championships now but a mix of bad luck and reliability has cost them hard. If Vettel needs to win the title, RBR should provide him with a car which is not only fast but also can go the distance or else it will be a case of chasing the leader once again and then miss out in the end. Webber will be a man under pressure as there are talks of Kimi replacing him for 2011 but the Australian needs to bounce back strongly and needs to get back on podiums before winning races.

Renault and Kubica have been the surprise package and though they may not win the titles, they may yet win some races and if they continue their progress they can be a thorn in the path of the big 4 teams and even could beat a couple of them in the end. Vitaly Petrov, their rookie driver has been the best among the rookies so far and if he too continues to score points, it could be a great revival for the team which nearly closed shop last year.

Force India has had its best start ever and both Sutil and Liuzzi have been impressive but the team should now focus on trying to catch up with Renault rather then trying to beat Williams and STR. The team has beaten those 2 teams soundly so far and in order to reach the next level they should target Renault.

Williams are once again suffering from being a private team and though before the season started they did seem to have a decent package but now their car is not good as the rest of the field and they are fighting out with the likes of STR. Rubens Barrichello is a fast driver and it is disappointing to see him finish his career this way while Nico Hulkenberg has shown promise and he deserves something much better than this as of now.

Toro Rosso have had a typical start where they manage to score points but then lag behind bigger teams but they have 2 promising drivers and if the updates are as good as they are expect both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi to be in points and the team must beat Williams once again and also catch up with Force India.

Sauber has been the most disappointed team and if the team continues to go the same way they may not even finish the season. Both de la Rosa and Kobayashi have failed to impress though the car has not been too supportive as well. But the team has to turn around its fortunes quickly if it needs to survive this season and start the next one.

Among the new teams as expected Lotus have impressed everyone and they seem to be closing in on Sauber slowly as well. Though scoring points is still way off if they manage to catch up with Sauber and beat both HRT and Virgin on a regular basis, it would be a good debut season for the team. HRT after a horrible start seem to have caught up with Virgin but then the poor Dallara chassis may hurt them in the long run while Virgin after looking promising have taken a few steps back. The team needs to regroup and start challenging Lotus.

It should be a good Spanish GP and this race would possibly set the precedent on how the season may end but after a few rain interrupted races a dry race will be a welcome sign.

Spanish GP Top 10 Predictions

1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Mark Webber
4. Felipe Massa
5. Michael Schumacher
6. Nico Rosberg
7. Jenson Button
8. Robert Kubica
9. Lewis Hamilton
10. Jaime Alguersuari

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Gravel Trap

Jacques Villeneuve has finally opened his mouth again and this time though his comments were actually a bit sensible for a change. He still wants to make a comeback & we all hope he does makes his comeback for 2011 as F1 needs someone who talks without even thinking. This time he has actually praised Schumacher for once while he has glorified Button as the best wet weather driver which is actually not true as the best guy on wet should be the kid who got the former Minardi car on to podium at Monza and gave Toro Rosso its 1st and only win so far plus got us to listen to both the German & the Italian anthem together for one last time! All hopes on this driver joining the Scuderia for 2012!

Many actually though that F1 would be tireless for 2011 but now we do have 3 serious companies which wants to supply and among the 3, Michelin seems to be the favorite as of now while Avon is backed by one Bernie Ecclestone himself. Italian maker Pirelli has also entered the race and the last time it supplied tires to F1 cars was in 1991. It will be good to have 2 or even 3 suppliers as the tire wars is something which can spice up F1.

Teams want KERS for next season and while Renault is ready to supply to anyone, Ferrari has promised its units for teams which run the Ferrari engine while Williams has increased its share on the company which manufactures its KERS. Ideally McLaren has the best package on the grid and FIA should make it the common system as each team developing KERS will only lead to more expenses.

Finally Ferrari is criticized for running subliminal advertising on its car as the bar code featured on its cars and other team members is said to advertise Marlboro. This should be the most ridiculous claim ever as even without the barcode; Ferrari’s association with Marlboro is such that the very colour of Rosa Corsa will be associated with the brand. Also just because Ferrari runs the barcode means more people actually take up smoking. Smoking is bad but then that should be the least of worries in many countries especially the 3rd world ones which includes India.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Gravel Trap

The Gravel Trap will be a weekly short column which will focus on what is happening around the world of F1 for the week. It will run regularly during the season.

Michael Schumacher has been on the radar of the Tifosi since he jumped ship to Mercedes and him promoting the new AMG supercar which is ironically colored as Rosa Corsa has not gone too well but his comeback has been more like the other Schumacher’s comeback rather than the bloody driver who pushed his own brother to get a podium place!

The Volcanic ash has affected the F1 crew but now there is no reason why the Spanish GP has to be cancelled. It is interesting that teams & drivers have travelled all over the world to reach their home bases and some locations include Morocco, Hawaii, New Zealand, etc.

Ferrari finally has a young gun program and I guess gone are the days of sending a boy to Sauber to get some training but then doing a few laps every grand prix is not exactly training. Some future F1 hopefuls include Jules Bianchi and one Mirko Bortolotti, who is said to be the most talented Italian driver of this generation. Though the last talented Italian driver got his Ferrari drive a bit too late and rest is history.

Hamilton likes moderate F1 stewards so that he can weave to overtake a rookie and then go drag racing in the pits stop so that he can show of to Nicole Scherzinger!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Race to the Championship

Only four races are over this season and already we have had 3 different winners and 3 different people leading the championship. Before the start of the season, as many as four teams were in contention with up to 8 drivers having a chance for the title. Though only four races are over, realistically as of now only 3 teams have a chance for the constructor’s championship and 7 drivers have a chance for the driver’s championship. Stranger things have happened and it is still very early to discount Mercedes in the constructor’s title race and Schumacher in the driver’s championship along with Webber.

Let us look at the driver’s and the teams to see what has been done so far and who has to do what to get closer to the title race.

Jenson Button – No one expected Button to lead the championship after the 1st four races of the season but he is leading the championship and he also won 2 races so far. A mix of good driving and a sound tire strategy could be the key towards this but Jenson Button has proved that he is not going to let Hamilton blow him away and though there have been 2 races where Hamilton has beaten him, Button has made the most of the conditions and because of various factors he leads the race as of now. If Button has to retain his title, he needs more solid drivers and should hope that strategy always works in his favor.

Winning the title could be another Cinderella story but finishing ahead of Hamilton is a possibility

Lewis Hamilton – The 2008 World Champion was expected to leave off Button but Hamilton despite some brilliance on the track is once again followed by controversy for his on track antics. His weaving maneuver on Vitaly Petrov has not gone well with the F1 community while his pit-lane skirmish with Vettel is sure to attract some criticism. Though he drivers flat out there is a difference between fair racing and bending all sorts of rules. If Hamilton continues to do that, it will only be a matter of time that he will be black flagged very soon.

Chances of winning title is slim as of now as he needs to be more consistent but beating Button should be a worry

Sebastian Vettel – The man who was expected to win all the races so far has won only one while mechanical failures has cost him 2 while bad strategy cost him another one in China. Vettel is one of the best driver’s on the grid and if Red Bull overcomes their mechanical issues, he is the clear favorite to win the title. Though he has shown great maturity, he also needs the backing of the team. If things continue as it has been during the 1st 4 races, he may still be in the hunt but these early mistakes could cost him the title.

If Red Bull gets it act together, expect Vettel to be crowned the youngest F1 driver

Fernando Alonso – After the 1st race everyone expected the Spaniard to win the title without any hiccups but now not only has Alonso has to worry about Massa but with the likes of Vettel, Button & Hamilton in the background, Ferrari’s engine trouble may cost him the title as he may just run out of engines by the last few races and with grid penalties it would be an impossible task to win the title when it gets close.

Alonso is a very serious contender if Ferrari’s engines don’t blow up

Felipe Massa – Massa was leading the table after 3 races without even winning a race shows how consistent he has been. It has been his best ever start to season and he has been very consistent so far with points scored during all the races. Though his best chance of winning a title was in 2008, he has really improved as a driver but has to beat Alonso consistently to ensure that Ferrari backs hid bid for the title.

Massa could once again end up his teammate for the title challenge during the 2nd half of the season

Nico Rosberg – During the last season, he was one of the most wanted drivers on the grid with McLaren, Brawn and BMW courting for his services. He joined Brawn and was expected to lead the newly reformed Mercedes GP team but his lack of race wins saw Schumacher making a shocking comeback and though Rosberg was expected to struggle against Schumacher, he has proved that he deserves a top car and so far has not only comprehensively beaten Schumacher but a very consistent season means that he is now 2nd in the drivers championship.

Still early days but needs a few wins to really make him a title contender

Robert Kubica – No one expected Kubica to be on podiums leave alone actually has a fighting chance for the driver’s championship. Kubica and Renault were expected to be fighting the likes of Williams and Force India but after a stunning start to the season, Kubica has become the dark horse of the season and if the big 4 drivers continues to take points off each other, he maybe the unlikely candidate for the driver’s championship.

The Dark horse of the season needs luck to clinch him the title more than anything else

Though it is early days, both Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber have struggled and have failed to have an impact like their teammates have had. Also their performances may decide the fate of their teams in the constructor’s championships.

Michael Schumacher – Has had one of his worst starts to the season but he has been out of F1 for 3 long years and things have changed. Previously Schumacher was used to just one team and one driver challenging him but now with some many rivals; this could his toughest ever season. Though Schumacher winning the title for 2010 may not happen, him winning a race towards the end of the season is a possibility.

Winning a race would make this comeback a great success but he needs to beat Rosberg

Mark Webber – Talk of Kimi replacing him at Red Bull next season will be running at the back of his head but this could be his only chance of having any realistic chance at the title. He needs to drive like a champion for the rest of the season to make an impact and put his name in the title race. Even a top 3 finish at the year end driver’s ranking will not guarantee him of a seat at RBR unless he beats Vettel.

Webber may have his last season with a very good car

Expect Vettel & Alonso fighting for the championship with Button, Hamilton, Massa & Rosberg also in the mix. But this season the result will depend on the team reliability rather than the drivers.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 Chinese GP Review: Button wins with Mercedes power dominating the podium

Jenson Button won his 2nd race of the year and won the Chinese GP under wet conditions to take lead in the driver’s championship. Jenson Button had a flawless driver where a mix of solid driving and good tire strategy won him the race. It was a good weekend for McLaren as Hamilton though did make some questionable moves throughout the race came in 2nd to ensure that they lead the constructor’s championship as well.

Rivals Mercedes should be happy with the result as Rosberg not only got his 2nd consecutive podium but also ensure that he is now 2nd in the championship while teammate Schumacher was still struggling and could get only one point of the race. Mercedes though were expected to struggle this weekend did look strong and it will be only a matter of time where they will have a car as fast as anyone else in the grid.

Red Bull though managed to have both their drivers scoring points should be highly disappointed with a questionable tire strategy which saw both their drivers who were on target for podium finishes to finish at 6th and 8th. It is still early days but then with the grid so tight and as many as 7 drivers fighting for the title as of now, RBR needs to get its act together or else may once again lose out on the championship.

Ferrari did not exactly have a good weekend and now they have lost both the driver’s and constructor’s championship positions to McLaren. Ferrari needs to sort out small issues if they need to win the title. Massa & Alonso are not too behind Button but they need a string of wins to start dominating the tables as there have been too many changes within such a short span of time.

Renault and Kubica would be cursing the safety car as they were on track for another podium but they once again had a solid weekend and managed to get both the cars on points. It was a good weekend for the team with Kubica still on the hunt for the driver’s championship while the team is definitely ahead of Force India, Williams and STR while it is fast catching up with Mercedes. Vitaly Petrov scored his first points and it was good to see the Russian driver finish his first F1 race with points as the previous 3 races saw him retire.

Force India had a solid package and should feel unlucky for not scoring any points but then the team is ahead of both Williams and STR but they have to do a lot of work to catch up with Renault. Williams are struggling and though the team may score points, they need some upgrades to catch up with Force India while STR is on par with them and could even overtake them during the European leg of the season.

Sauber continued to have a miserable start to the season and if this continues the team may just fold off. Though the car is pretty quick, the team has to work on reliability and should ensure that the team start finishing races before even thinking of points.

Among the 3 new teams, Lotus once again proved to be the best among them while HRT as of now seems to have a better package than Virgin but the European season could see some major changes among this pack.

It was very chaotic Chinese GP and Jenson Button is proving to be a good competitor for Hamilton as before the start of the season everyone expected Hamilton to blow Button away and though it is early days, if Button continue to perform this way, he may have a very serious shot in retaining his title.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 Chinese GP: Ferrari & McLaren seek redemption during Bull Run

Red Bull totally dominated the 2010 Malaysian GP with a perfect race which saw Sebastien Vettel winning his first race of the season with teammate Webber coming in 2nd. Red Bull has been strong since the start of the season and seems to have the fastest car but reliability have hit them hard and Vettel was on track to win both the Australian and Bahrain grand prix till reliability issues stalled his progress but they seem to have got everything right when he won at Sepang. Mark Webber is under severe pressure to perform this season as there are rumours of Kimi taking his seat for the 2011 season. SO far he has been a bit shaky this season but if he continues to race as he did in Malaysia, he should be on the hunt for the title very soon.

Ferrari and McLaren had a very bad Malaysian GP which saw them mess up qualifying so badly that the teams failed to get a driver on the podium despite having superior machinery as of now to Mercedes GP. McLaren seem to have an upper hand as we go towards the Chinese GP as their cars looks more suited to the track and could provide stiff challenge to RBR while Ferrari may lead both the championships as of now but with engine reliability as an issue things are not looking as rosy as it was for the team. Massa may lead the drivers’ championship but with the rumour of Kubica joining Alonso in Ferrari for 2011 should be a distraction which is best avoided for his own good.

Mercedes scored its first podium of the year with Rosberg finishing 3rd and though on paper he is just 4 points behind leader Massa, he needs to score as much as points as possible till Barcelona as the team is expected to debut a “B” spec car which is expected to put them on the title hunt firmly. Michael Schumacher’s last win was here but that seem to be a long time back while even rival Alonso might still consider Schumacher as his title rival for 2010, unless Mercedes does something to the car, Schumacher will only be a prop for the team. He may still beat Rosberg to prove a point that he still has it in him.

Renault and Kubica have had 2 amazing race weekends and Renault is looking to catch up with Mercedes during this weekend. Though Kubica is not much behind Massa, but if he continues to drive the way he is doing as of now, he may emerge as a dark horse for the title race this season. Russia’s 1st F1 driver Petrov proved that he is every bit of a racer and it took Hamilton to pull off an unsporting weaving to actually keep Petrov off. He will be looking forward to score his 1st set of points this weekend.

Force India has had its best ever start to the season and the team while it was known as Jordan actually even challenged for the title for a season will be looking to catch up with Renault. So far Force India is well ahead of Williams and STR but it needs both its drivers to score points together to catch up with Renault. The track should favour them and they could even be faster than Mercedes GP this weekend. Force India has to make the most of the conditions and ensure that they get both drivers on points with one of them even having an outside chance of making it to the podium.

Williams and STR are with points and though STR seems like it has caught with Williams during the last race, it is a long season and STR should work really hard to sustain the momentum. Jaime Alguersuari may have ended his points scoring draught but Sebastien Buemi is still considered a better driver and the tussle between these 2 through the season should be interesting. Nico Hulkenberg proved that he has the talent by scoring his 1st F1 point but he needs to beat Rubens Barrichello once again to show that he is the real deal.

Sauber is the only old team yet to score points and the way things are going if they don’t score points they may not even last the season. Pedro de la Rosa is yet to score points while Kamui Kobayashi is just the shadow of the driver we saw he was with Toyota last season. Sauber needs a change in fortune or else it will be only a matter of time when Lotus catches up with them.

It is good to see the new teams making progress and Lotus may be the only team among the lot to have a realistic chance of scoring some points during the season. Still lot of work has to be done but with 2 experienced drivers and a good set-up they can surprise people towards the 2nd half of the season. HRT has done well so far but with Dallara not building a car up to the mark they may lag behind Lotus and even Virgin Racing.

Though RBR seems to have the speed, you cannot discount Ferrari or McLaren while Force India and Renault may surprise a lot of people. Mercedes needs a sound strategy and a miracle drive from Schumacher to pull anything of this race. This was also the venue where Vettel driving for STR during his debut season crashed into Webber during the safety car period while Hamilton got stuck into gravel on his way to pits. So strange things have happened here and 2010 would definitely benefit from another strange race with rains.

Chinese GP Top 10 Predictions

1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Mark Webber
3. Adrian Sutil
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Michael Schumacher
7. Felipe Massa
8. Jenson Button
9. Robert Kubica
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi