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.