<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d11271729\x26blogName\x3dRacing+,race+tracks+%26+paddock+tidbits\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://checkeredflag.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://checkeredflag.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-8522758087379167656', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monaco GP Preview

I quote Ralf Schumacher : “Driving an F1 car in Monaco is like flying a helicopter in your bedroom”. OK that might be a bit too far fetched, but every driver in F1 aspires to win the Monaco GP for the simple reason that it’s the ultimate test of driver skills. Its unique street layout, including the tunnel, is not found in any circuits on the F1 calendar. Not to mention that the who’s who of the planet are in attendance to watch the pilots braving barriers and each other in their quest for the top set of the podium. Though this race is nothing short of a procession, but it still makes for interesting viewing compared to the Hungararing.

One peek at the winners of this prestigious race and the pedigree required to win this event is obvious. Prost, Senna, Schumacher, Keke Rosberg,  Mika Hakkinen and more recently Kimi and Montoya have all won this event with Senna and Schumacher winning it 5 times each.

Schumi Sr has already started his mind games. He expects Alonso to crack under pressure and drop points. I don’t see that happening. But if he does, will it mean that Schumi can apply pressure better than Kimi? So will Alonso concede to Schumacher’s pressure and hit the armocos at Monaco? NOPE. The Spaniard is way too mature for his age, and is second to none when it comes to handling pressure.

As for the circuit characteristics, since just 50% of the lap is on full throttle this is not an engine circuit. Having said that a good engine is vital here, as a good torque from low revs is necessary to exit quickly out of slow corners, of which there is no dearth in Monaco. The tyre compounds are the softest and there’s usually a very heavy wear rate associated to it as a result of the tarmac, as experienced by Alonso and Fisi last year.

Qualifying
Mad rush, that’s what it’s going to be on Saturday. There’s a great mix of inexperience and legends in the field and I wont be surprised to see a couple of the big names drop out of the top 10. I do expect Ferrari and Renault to be there and may be the Hondas on a light fuel strategy.

Prediction
If you qualify in the top three you are in with a shot at wining this race. Overtaking is impossible on this street circuit and the only place to overtake is while your opponent is in the pits. My hot favorites are the Renaults for this has been a Michelin track since 2002 and though Ferrari will be snapping at their heels, Alonso has what it takes to win this one.
McLaren we so much off the pace that I think a podium would be all they can hope to achieve. But history has proved that if threes any race which can spring a surprise it’s the Monaco GP and both Montoya and Kimi are previous winners here, so they do know how to do it at Monaco.

          

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jenson Button or Jenson Beaten?

Been reading a lot of defensive press of late. No its not about DaVinci Code or the reservation thinge going on in my country, its about an English bloke called Jenson Button who drives in F1 to Honda.

Before I go into career assignations let me categorically say that I feel Jenson is one of the smoothest drivers out there and in the right equipment he can do wonders. But, hey, who wont. He has the dubious record of 100 GP starts and not a single win, in fact his first ever podium came pretty late in his career.  He seemed to finally get going in 04 but his charge, was halted by the late season resurrection of Kimi/McLaren and Montoyas excellent Brazlian GP win. He was nowhere last year and this year after a shoddy start to his season, well it looks like Rubens will be more than the Englishman had bargained for in a team-mate.
The British press, is all over JB, and never out of excuses as to how he didn’t perform and this time they went a lil over board (hence this article). ITV-F1 reported that if Jenson was over a second quicker than Rubens during the Spanish GP, the team should have given some sort of “instructions” to facilitate his overtaking on Rubens. Aren’t these the same people who had crucified Ferrari after Austria 04? Not to mention the fact that if Jenson was really a second faster than Rubens, and a second is a big interval in F1, shouldn’t it have been possible for Button to overtake Rubens on his own merit? Rubens will have the upper hand in no time as he is proven race winner and comes with a good temperament. Well so does Jenson, to be fair to him, but the big mystery is why hasn’t this guy won anything yet. To the pundit, the answer is obvious.

As for Honda catching McLaren this season…. In their “dreams”!!!

Living with a conscience is like driving a car with the brakes on.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Review of first third of 2006 season

No sooner did it start, F1 2006 season is already six races old, we thought it would be a good idea to do review of season and write our observations on teams and drivers as they stand now

On current form, Renault and Ferrari look leagues ahead of the field. Given the fact that Alonso is not scared to push the car to limits in its second engine cycle , summarizes the strength of Renault Package

At Barcelona the team messed Montoya's qualifiers and JPM messed with teams race in case of Mclaren. But till that moment when Norbert Haug looks eye in eye with his drivers and tells them that his engine will last over two race distances, and its upto them to push the car to limits , Mclaren are pretty much done.

With current engine and team attrition crisis , & new challenge of working with Bridgestone next year, I think the team needs to shelve any ambitious plans at the moment , just focus on one race at a time

Honda and Toyota, is case of lots of small things that need to be worked on, that includes the car the and the strategy ,while ingredients are there , that mystery element is missing, Early podiums last year gave Toyota a great impetus last year. In 2005 this time Jarno Trulli was second in the World championship point, which was the tonic that kept the team upbeat. In case of Honda, it’s that one elusive win which can do the trick to boost the team, a mayhem in Monaco giving either Button or Barrichello a bonus win maybe that mystery ingredient,

For Williams it’s again the question of reliability of package and also need of driver who has “had been there done that" Webbo is yet to climb that final step. Working as a privateer has again its drawback when it comes to funds. Though Sir Frank Williams played a smart move by signing Concorde agreement and signing with Bridgestone this season, especially the latter move will give team initial impetus in 2007 campaign

BMW needs to be patient with their current driver combination which is doing good job in getting whatever scrapes left by the big boys. Mario Thiessen needs to give JV another year, that guy is definitely providing lots of inputs to the development of the team.

Red Bull is no more creating the Bullish atmosphere that they created when they took charge of the “ailing cat” last season; its BMW has taken their spot. Though the picture looks rosy, with Adrian Newey working on their 2007 car, Ferrari customer engine leaves a small element of doubt in recipe of success.

Drivers:

Like the cars Renault Ferrari drivers look in top form, maybe inexperience of Massa to drive for a top team and lapse of concentration in case of Fisico are the factors which separate them from Alonso and Schumi

Now that Renault has committed long term to F1-future , they will put serious effort to steal Räikkönen from Mclaren/Ferrari , In case this bid fails we have a hunch that Flavio will put his weight around securing Mark Webbers services to the team, Mark is in a way in mould of Alonso/ Kimi who knows to put in those consistent time , lap after lap over race duration , not in the mould of racers who can make a good overtaking move ,but then smallest distraction can throw them off track.

GPMA agreeing to sign Concorde agreement for long term will see lots of driver deals becoming public in next 3-4 weeks time. If indeed Kimi moves out of Mclaren, Juan Pablo may get a lease to his F1 career, but not necessarily that preferential treatment in Mclaren, This man needs to compare notes with David Coulthard ,who had similar experience in Häkinnen to Räikkönen transition. Only difference is Montoya is much more watch able driver, with him on track there is always a level of expectation, hope that fans can look forward to on race track.

Massa is another driver who will be impacted with this Kimi-Schumi saga , He and Montoya are sailing in same boat either Mclaren and Renault can use them as stop gap arrangement ,or maybe both the teams can take a gamble for next season trying their rookies , anyways with new tyres to work on they can as well work on building up phase next year. But the gargantuan amount of money at stake, maybe these teams may not trust their car in hands of rookies.

But then that’s F1 the surprises never stop, the off track tidbits are more appetizing than the on track entrée most of the times J

I

Home Boy's Win Delights Spain

Alonso must be truly happy man, the Spanish GP weekend gave him his first win in front of his home crowd, and the win which was with comfortable lead of 18.5 seconds over Michael Schumacher.

Race was pretty much a mundane procession, only point of interest was whether the resurgent Ferrari team would be able to outsmart the Blue and yellow team in the battle of strategies after losing them pole in yesterday’s qualifiers. This they did in Michael’s first stop when he wrested a position from second running Fisichella.

Only interesting on track event was race start of Kimi Räikkönen where the fin dazzled the field to improve his P9 grid position to reach P5, Only other overtaking move of race was an aborted move by Ralf Schumacher on his team-mate Jarno Trulli which left the German driver with bruised nose cone and bruised ego, and race retirement in couple of more laps.
Turn 3 proved to be undoing of yet another driver this weekend, after David Coulthard lost his car here in qualifiers, Juan Pablo Montoya retired after loosing traction control on his car on this turn with 48 laps to go.

Winners: At this moment its just the race between the Blues of Renault and Reds of Ferrari, there is a quantum gap in term of performance between these guys and rest of the field. While the new rule changes, qualifier format, engine rules don’t seem to deter these guys from running their cars at maximum potential race after race. Other teams have no clue how they are going to bridge the gap. With 33% races completed in the season , the tide doesn’t seem to be on change soon

Losers: That includes pretty much the rest of the field, all that they can do is to focus on leftovers from the Renault-Ferrari treat.
ITV commentators: these guys are running short of excuses to justify mediocre results for Jenson Button. This time they were blaming Barichello for holding up the Brit in first stint and in later part when he gave up chase to fill deficit of 3 seconds between him and fourth placed Kimi, they attributed that to Button nursing his engine.
Fans: Third procession race on a trot and one more to come in two weeks time
Monaco after this race doesn’t look much appealing, Imola, Nürbürgring Barcelona…ZZZZZZZZZZ!!!

Final Classification:
1 F. Alonso Renault 1:26:21.759
2 M. Schumacher Ferrari + 18.502
3 G. Fisichella Renault + 23.951
4 F. Massa Ferrari + 29.859
5 K. Räikkönen McLaren + 56.875
6 J. Button Honda + 58.347
7 R. Barrichello Honda + 1 laps
8 N. Heidfeld BMW + 1 laps
9 M. Webber Williams + 1 laps
10 J. Trulli Toyota + 1 laps
11 N. Rosberg Williams + 1 laps
12 J. Villeneuve BMW + 1 laps
13 C. Klien Red Bull + 1 laps
14 D. Coulthard Red Bull + 1 laps
15 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso + 1 laps
16 T. Monteiro Midland F1 + 3 laps
17 T. Sato Super Aguri + 4 laps
Did not finish
18 C. Albers Midland F1 + 17 laps
19 S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso + 19 laps
20 R. Schumacher Toyota + 35 laps
21 JP. Montoya McLaren + 48 laps
22 F. Montagny Super Aguri + 55 laps

I

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Alonso Romps to Home Pole
It was business as usual for Renault & Ferrari in the qualifying. Alonso made the home fans a lot to cheer about when he produced lap time of 1m14.889s and then topped it with 1m14.648s to grab pole at his home GP. Fisichella made it double for the French team with his drive of 1m14.709s
Michael drove the fastest lap of the day when he circuited the Catalunya track in 1m14.637s in session two , but in final shoot out when it mattered he produced a lap of 1m14.970s to make it to P3 ,Massa completed the top four with his 1m15.442s

Gainers and losers from the qualifying
Biggest gainers are the Toyota duo of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli who take P6-P7 position on grid, Barichello seems to have got hang of the new qualifying format as he beat team-mate button to take P5 position.

Biggest Losers from qualifiers are probably the Mclaren, we have been reiterating this for quite sometime now, the team is yet to come to term with their qualifying woes , while on their current form both Mclaren duo have been making it to the final session , yesterday JPM was bumped out of final ten when in the second qualifying a pit crew made mistake with his refueling which allowed his tyres to cool off. Kimi who made it to final ten didn’t fare much better, every time he got out on track he was stuck behind another car and managed only P9 slot. Circuit de Catalunya doesn’t offer much overtaking possibility which doesn’t project great race day for the Macca.

Williams were the other significant losers, normally Webber has made to final session for all the races, but this time around he is relegated to P11 and team-mate Rosberg to P13

David Coulthard had a forgettable start when he threw his car into barriers at the Repsol curve with 7 ½ minutes remaining in session one, having not registered any time the Scot starts the race at back of the grid. Joins him on last row is Jacques Villeneuve who suffered 10 spot penalty as his engine suffered failure in transit from Nürbürgring

The qualification times

01 F. Alonso Renault 1:14.648 **
02 G. Fisichella Renault 1:14.709
03 M. Schumacher Ferrari 1:14.970
04 F. Massa Ferrari 1:15.442
05 R. Barrichello Honda 1:15.885
06 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:15.885
07 J. Trulli Toyota 1:15.976
08 J. Button Honda 1:16.008
09 K. Räikkönen McLaren 1:16.015
10 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:17.155
11 M. Webber Williams 1:15.502
12 JP. Montoya McLaren 1:15.801
13 N. Rosberg Williams 1:15.804
14 J. Villeneuve BMW 1:15.847 *
15 C. Klien Red Bull 1:15.928
16 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:16.661
17 S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:17.361
18 T. Monteiro Midland F1 1:17.702
19 C. Albers Midland F1 1:18.024
20 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:18.920
21 F. Montagny Super Aguri 1:20.763
22 D. Coulthard Red Bull no time

* Ten spot grid penalty
**The time betters 1m14.819s by Räikkönen to take pole last year

I

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Sir Stirling Moss reviews European GP’06
Sir Moss has made some interesting points particularly about two weekend per engine rule and the third session of current qualifying format in his
review of last weeks race. Of course he drifts into the realm of “Good Ol days!!” when he talks about changes to Nürbürgring circuit and first corner pile ups in modern day F1 races. Interesting perspectives from the master driver though..

Massa Praise or ….
Team Principle Jean Todt’s
praise of his second driver Felipe Massa, on his performance comes with a fine print. "I think we have three drivers in this championship, who have something a bit more than all the others and I think Felipe is amongst the best behind those three drivers." In other words what is conveyed to the guy is “Yes you are good, but we still want Kimi to pilot our Car with Schumi for the next season” Wonder what plans Massa’s manager Nicholas Todt has for him, or maybe he is too busy basking in glory of his teams double podium finish in recent GP2 weekend at Nürbürgring.

Webber for Williams
This is been twice in last two weeks that Webbo has
expressed his wish to continue with Williams. As much as this tell about Mark the gentleman on & off the track, but also it tells something about Flavio. Maybe Webbo doesn’t want him as his team boss. On current form drivers would kill to get the Renault race-seat. But Webber is still skirting clear of the idea to fill in seat vacant after Alonso’s departure. But those who recollect the Trulli- Renault affair in 2004,where the team dumped Italian ,spite of the fact that he was the driver who had given them their only win of the season at Monaco .All that was forgotten after minor lapse from Trulli let Barrichello past him at French GP’04 ,next thing we knew Trulli’s car had trouble, his GP weekends got messed up for rest of season and finally the team dumped him and let Villeneuve drive in his place in for final races of the season.
We are sure Fisichella’s last two weekends performance has not gone un-noticed by team & especially the man behind blue glasses J

Ide’s Super-license revoked
The news from grape-vine is
finally official , more than anything we feel sorry for the Japanese rookie, while we have likes of Kliens, Pizzonias & then we have stubborn Tiago who is one color blind driver who can’t see blue color at all. We don’t remember FIA revoking super license of these guys. Now Montagny is sure of race drive till Monaco, I am sure the Brits must have already started fancying chances of Ant Davidson driving for SA-F1 after that.

Change is Constant
Season started with *BAR*Honda becoming fully a works team after Honda completely bought out the team from partners *BAR*, also Jordan and Minardi were reduced to status of just another page in F1 history!! Looks like we have
something similar on cards for Mclaren , if this happens, only two marquees on the grid, those of Ferrari and Williams will be remaining as past links to F1 tradition. Like they say only thing constant in life is change, we can’t really say much on this, but then sometime out of nowhere we see some fan sporting a Jaguar or Minardi Shirt and mind goes in retro mode



Interesting Quote:
"I'd rather have the car fail than to be at Williams and finish every race eighth" - Juan Pablo Montoya - August 16th, 2005.

Really interesting, especially in light of his current situation and also that of Mclaren in terms of performance

I

Will McLaren finally crack it?

If there ever was a circuit where McLaren can be expected to crack the nut it’s the Circuit de Catalunya. They were so close at Nuburgring but couldn’t transform their pace to secure a race win. The Spanish circuit has got one “genuine” overtaking opportunity, and if a pilot can get a good run out of Campsa, he could get another one at La Caixa. But what good are overtaking opportunities, if the guys aren’t in the rhythm, as is the case with McLaren of late.

I am predicting a strong race for McLaren and Renault, and Ferrari despite their win at the EruoGP would not figure in the scheme of things. That’s a bold prediction indeed, but I can see the potential in McLaren and it’s only a matter of time before they crack it.

Renault and Alonso will be the team to beat though, with Alonso riding on a wave of supporters, he will be motivated and under pressure. We know how well he can handle pressure, and the way he goes about winning WDC, though boring to many is very effective. He I believe will be content to settle for the second step on the podium as long as the margin is comfortable for him.

Kimi needs to pull something special to win the WDC from here, as his car is not what it was last year and he needs to push in that much more to secure victories. Both Kimi and JPM are clearly lacking motivation, and I do believe that though the car is capable of winning races, these guys are already thinking about their race seats for the future. This is not good for a team, which always boasted of a very stable driver line up.

So as things stand, here are my predictions for the race
Qualifying
  1. Alonso

  2. Button

  3. MS

  4. JPM

  5. KIMI

  6. MASSA
Race
  1. Kimi/JPM

  2. Alonso

  3. MS

  4. Massa

  5. Button

  6. Nico

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spanish GP Preview



Formula One Circus will make its next stop at the Spanish Grand Prix, which is being held at the Circuit de Catalunya for the 16th time. This year’s Spanish GP will see Spanish World Champion on the grid in form of Alonso. The organizers have built additional grandstands this year, and ticket sales report indicate full house audience to cheer home hero
Catalunya circuit has been happy hunting ground for Schumacher and his Ferrari team, but their winning streak here was broken by Finn Kimi Räikkönen who had won the race from pole last year.
In many ways Circuit de Catalunya wouldn’t throw many surprises to the team and the drivers as this is favored testing venue of all teams and as drivers know the track very well, it is likely to be a tight race.
With long straights and a variety of corners, the Circuit de Catalunya is seen as an all-rounder circuit. However it has very little elevation change and few exciting corners. Overtaking is rare,the Circuit is always a bit tricky due to the wind, which makes it hard to find the right aerodynamic set-up. The circuit was resurfaced prior to 2005 season, with several long, high-speed corners tyre choice is also another difficult matter.

Trivia


  • In the 2001 Spanish Grand Prix Mika Häkkinen suffered a clutch failure while leading the race on the last lap, handing the win to Schumacher.

  • In the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix Michael Schumacher managed to finish in second place despite driving over half the race with only fourth gear.
  • A milestone will be reached for David Coulthard this coming weekend when the Rec Bull racer clocks up his 200th Grand Prix start as the teams contest the sixth round of the 2006 season here at the Barcelona circuit.Incidentally his 1st start was at the same venue in 1994 when Williams introduced him as replacement of Late Ayrton Senna who died in Imola 94 raceCongratulations David!!.

2005 Qualifying results

  1. K Räikkönen Mclaren 1:14.819
  2. M Webber Williams
  3. F Alonso Renault
  4. R Schumacher Toyota
Previous Winners

  1. K. Räikkönen (Mclaren Mercedes, 2005).
  2. M. Schumacher (Ferrari, 2004).
  3. M. Schumacher (Ferrari, 2003).
  4. M. Schumacher (Ferrari, 2002).
  5. M. Schumacher (Ferrari, 2001).

I

The Man in the "News" talks
Interview of Lewis Hamilton, who is in news, after his mentors from team Mclaren have said subject to his form, it is possible for him to partner Fernando Alonso in Mclaren for 2007 season. If only media create less hype and leave the kid alone. This is just a first GP2 win for him, and it is yet to be seen whether or not he annihilates his competition like Nico Rosberg did in his GP2 season last year, something that caught eye of Sir Frank Williams.
Some facts we can’t overlook before we go overboard with Hamilton story:
  • Lewis should remember having eye for Talent , and giving young blood a chance is penchant of Frank Williams and Flavio Briatore, Ron Dennis has traditionally preferred to do “Off the shelf” shopping.

  • And till last weekend the deal between Mclaren and Lewis Hamilton was that Mclaren Bosses would “Buy” Lewis a race seat with “smaller” team to get him acclimatize with rigors of F1 ,and then he can graduate with their team

JV penalized – What about Schumi
Something from last weekend race, Race coverage showed clearly Villeneuve was 4-5 car lengths ahead of Fisichella, as such couldn’t have affected his car speed , unless of course Fisi gets distracted seeing other car on track ( well that’s the challenge for all the drivers in current qualifying format). This reminds me of something similar that had happened at Imola qualifier, the Culprit Michael Schumacher and victim Toyota driver Jarno Trulli whose qualifying lap was hampered by out lap of Schumi. But the local stewards conveniently overlooked this incident. Trulli had promised to avenge that incident, he didn’t get a chance in Nürbürgring (thanks to early retirement), will he do it and whenever he does that how will he be treated by the race authorities ??


Interesting Quote:
"Alain will do everything in his power to win, he doesn't like getting beaten by anyone and least of all me." Nigel Mansell on Alain Prost

I

Monday, May 08, 2006

May 09, 2006

Misplaced case of Carrot and Stick
Ex-champ Jacques Villeneuve is realizing this fact in light of his return to form. In spite of outshining his team-mate this season , he is still not obvious choice driver to be retained for next season as per team boss Mario Thiessen.  Reminds us of maxim which we had put on this site some time back "Correction does much, but encouragement does more." Err incidentally for the same team boss L

Mclaren toys with Hamilton option
It’s a high time team bosses need to take some psychology and people skills classes. Now we have talk of Mclaren bosses planning to expedite GP2 prodigy Lewis Hamilton to F1 in season 2007. As is it the team started on wrong note by giving a destabilizing message to their current drivers start of season, now they also are dousing hopes another hopeful Garry Paffett. Hasn’t someone told them its kinda too early to make any call , its just first victory of season for Hamilton in the series which is led by Nelson Piquet Jr (by a solitary point after this weekend)

Todt’s vote of confidence for Mclaren
For a team which has been renowned for playing psychological warfare with competition, Ferrari team principal is last person whose opinion can be treated as patronizing. This comment should give hope to the Macca Fans, who are waiting eagerly to see the Silver Car beat the field to take their first win of season. Hope the climb to the top step starts from Barcelona this weekend J

Montoya’s view on Schumi status
Another of those misplaced opinion ,especially coming from person who is not sure about his own future in F1  with top team ,it is going to meet with nasty comments like “Mind your own business Juan”

V8 or V10? Does it really matter??
The drivers had mentioned about the speed of V8 car is at par with V10 after recent tests. These claims were indeed backed by Fernando Alonso's pole position lap time (1.29.819) at Nürbürgring’06 was, incredibly, actually faster than in 2005 (Nick Heidfeld, 1.30.081), despite the loss of about 200 horse power with the V8 engines.

Interesting Quote:
"The difference between me and Senna is, to BELIEVE in god or to think YOU ARE god..." – Alain Prost

I

Sunday, May 07, 2006

May 07, 2006

Michael Schumacher has responded to his detractors with his victory at the European GP that he still has got what it takes to be at top. At end of race all the competitors must have realized that Ferrari has returned to form and that good showing at Bahrain and Imola will be norm and not exception for rest of the season.

Race was pretty much a nondescript affair with not much of on track action. Ferrari and Schumi put their foot down at the right time around second pitstop of Fernando Alonso, built up sufficient lead, and efficient pitstop from Ferrari pit crew ensured that Michael was never in trouble.
While wet weekend was being predicted by the met department, rain played hooky Nürbürgring is infamous for 1st corner incidents on race start ,surprisingly not much of pile-up was seen , though Ralf Schumacher did trigger a chain reaction which resulted in STR of
Vitantonio Liuzzi hit RBR of David Coulthard , ending his race on lap 1 ,David came to pits for repairs , but apparently the damage done was too much and David called it a day with 58 laps to go.
The steady stream to attrition continued till the very end of race and only 13 cars finished the race.

Winners
Michael Schumacher & Ferrari : This race must have instilled the self belief in himself and his car for Schumi. The very fact that he was able to respond to Alonso by stepping up his speed when required and his car supporting him all the while will definitely lure the guy to continue with Ferrari for another term.
With both their cars returning 1-3 podium finish, Ferrari have bagged 16 points from the weekend. Schumi did get his share of scare at race start when team-mate Massa did blaze to turn one , then froze suddenly on moment when he saw himself alongside Schumi,once Schumi moved ahead ,Ferrari team battle was pretty much settled for rest of race

Alonso and Renault: Safety first seems to be the motto of the incumbent championship; then again he has excuse of saving the engine for next race. So once Fernando found himself being beaten by Michael in second pit-stop he was pretty much content to drive for his 2nd place finish , 8 points from race means he maintains healthy lead over the competition. If the trend continues for rest of reason Fernando can definitely win his second title with Renault for sure.
Another “Ohh poor me !!” race for Fisi this time around he could make cut for the final session in qualifier , due to alleged held up by Jacques Villeneuve . Jacques was given one spot grid penalty but that didn’t help Fisichella cause ,who was pretty much left to battle it out in mid-field , with Heidfield, Montoya , and Villeneuve harassing him till his second pit stop. Finishing 6th ahead of Villeneuve , getting 3 points for team must be some solace for the Italian.

Nico Rosberg: With grid penalty for engine change and bad qualifier which saw him start at end of field, 7th place finish and two championship point makes Nico my driver of the race. Nico was fuelled to brim at race start and made his pit-stop as late as lap 33 , taking this into account he had good chance of bettering to 5th or 6th place finish, if team would have run him on one stopper, the pit stop on lap 49 was bit surprising , unless of course his Bridgestone tyre were sure to give up before race end . All the same good drive by the rising star of F1

Losers
Mclaren: This team is on fast-track to join the ranks of Honda, only thing required is some clumsy gaffes in pitstop. Barring the disciplined pit stops the team is pretty much doing a Honda, While fourth place finish for Räikkönen may look good on paper, the returns from the revised B spec engine were not reflected in lap times of the Finn. The Iceman drove pretty much ordinary race and was content to tail Massa to finish four, fans who remember his Suzuka’05 drive to overtake Fisichella on last lap, expected much more given the fact that he was barely 0.599 seconds behind Massa in final stages and this circuit has enough overtaking opportunities. Montoya had a bad race start and was running on 11th place at race start after starting 8th (maybe he was still fighting the race start ghosts of last two races at Nürbürgring) . He gained a place on Fisichella on track , and having pitted as late as 27th lap , One stopper would have seen him end up 5th , but second pitstop on lap 48 meant he was finishing 9th at best. Meek engine failure couple of laps later saw the Colombian end up with DNF result second time in season.

On current form things are looking bleak for the team. Not able to use Friday driver and engine related restricted means limited track time to the race drivers has not helped the cause of Mclaren team, whose drivers more than anything are seemed content to nurse their engines and trudge around the race, while last year the drivers were more confident and taking the car to the limit and getting good results.

Honda: Barrichello had out qualified his team-mate but was frozen on race start to lose places , 5th place is more of result of wrong strategy for Montoya by Mclaren team and his subsequent retirement, Button started well but ended with engine failure 32 laps to go .

Our perspective : If FIA is really keen in cutting costs , do away with engine penalties and Friday Driver rule , that will give race drivers to work on car setup on track . Further fans won’t be deprived of racing, Currently for most of the drivers “Nursing engine” has become a good excuse for not fighting for positions on track



I

May 06, 2006

Renault Ferrari Shine on qualifying day…
True to his form Fernando Alonso beat Michael Schumacher with time 1:29.819 to take 10th Career pole. Qualifying was an interesting affair and like always had its own set of  “incidents”  to tell. While this time around none of the drivers caused red/yellow flags on the track in qualifying session ,but in  absence of official timings at end of first session ,drivers were not sure who were the six to be relegated . the second session started late as a result with Klien, Albers, Speed, Monteiro, Sato, & Montagny qualifying 17-22
Second session had its incident at the end as well. We had Fisichella barging at BMW garage to confront Villeneuve whom he held responsible for  messing up his qualifier by helding him behind him. The eliminated guys here Ralf Schumacher, Coulthard, Heidfeld, Trulli, Liuzzi, & Fisichella.
Third session had its initial Snooze mode period after which drivers pitted to shod new tyres in last 6-7 minutes  and at end we had Alonso leading Michael Schumacher.

Points of interest:
  • Barichello out-qualifying Button ,does this mean Brazilian has finally come to terms with his Honda

  • Mclaren form looks dodgy given the fact that Kimi is driving Car powered on new version of Mclaren Engine. While Montoya going slow can be attributed to his running on engine in second cycle ,Kimi’s qualifying in midfield is puzzling

  • Montagny’s qualifying time and the deficit he carries as compared to Takuma Sato,doesn’t really justify Ide’s exclusion from Team perspective. It needs to be seen what happens over race distance.

The Qualifying grid
01 F. Alonso Renault 1:29.819
02 M. Schumacher Ferrari 1:30.028
03 F. Massa Ferrari 1:30.407
04 R. Barrichello Honda 1:30.754
05 K. Räikkönen McLaren 1:30.933
06 J. Button Honda 1:30.940
07 J. Trulli Toyota 1:31.419
08 J. Villeneuve BMW 1:31.542
09 JP. Montoya McLaren 1:31.880
10 M. Webber Williams 1:33.405*
11 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:30.944
12 N. Rosberg Williams 1:31.194*
13 G. Fisichella Renault 1:31.197
14 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:31.227
15 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:31.422
16 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:31.728
17 C. Klien Red Bull 1:32.901
18 C. Albers Midland F1 1:32.936
19 S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:32.992
20 T. Monteiro Midland F1 1:33.658
21 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:35.239
22 F. Montagny Super Aguri 1:46.505

*: Williams duo have 10 spot engine penalty

I

Thursday, May 04, 2006

May 05, 2006

Ide Culled from F1
Franck Montagny will be partnering Takuma Sato at Nürbürgring. The 31 year old Ide, who as per the team was not performing at par with Takuma-San, I feel sorry for the chap, who has not driven outside Japanese Formula Nippon, got selected in team who had logistics not put in place, only track time the person gets in on race weekends, Cold weather and lack of grip made Albert Park tough on likes of Schumachers, Buttons and Montoyas. Imola race the guy just tried to keep on the track, and there was simply no space for two cars on the tracks, probably what was expected from him by the stewards was to drive into run off area every time another car was in proximity!?
Thanks to this development, we have a French man driving for an All Japanese team while French Renault have already shut doors on French drivers like Montagny  & Sébastien Bourdais

Narain Karthikeyan Updates
While we are at news of one rookie driver shown F1 door, we have Indian Driver Narain Karthikeyan expressing happiness at his current WilliamsF1 stint. This is typical Indian psyche of being happy in less we should say. After his sponsors shelling in so much money to the fledgling WilliamsF1 team they couldn’t even get him Friday Drives on selected venues on calendar, makes us wonder what exactly is he happy about? Also questions arise on what kind of negotiations did Narain and his sponsors Tata had with Sir Williams, which makes Narain a non-paid factory driver at Williams.

In light of Ide’s inability to get hold of F1, Narain’s Jordan stint showed the prowess of Indian driver to handle an year old car decently, we remember him as the only back marker who was a thorough gentleman when it came to handle blue flags, If only he  had beat his team-mate in the ill-fated USGP’05 to take podium, situation would have been different for the driver. Also standing out is Aguri-Sans sense responsibility towards Yuji Ide in Team principal’s press release

Ross Brown Surrenders Championship chances
In spite of putting on a optimistic demeanor at the end, Ross Brown accepts that the 36 points out of possible 40 that Alonso has bagged so far has given him and Renault an early impetus in their campaign of title defense. This is not good news for the Ferrari Fans and at the same time highlights the form the Alonso/Renault combination is enjoying for more than a year now.

Drivers advocate change to qualifying format
While the initial reaction to the new 3 split qualifying format was positive, more opinions are coming up to tweak the format, Now the Drivers association have formally voiced their concerns on the new format. We had our reservations because the track incidents deprived many a faster cars from getting sufficient track times and thus relegating them to bottom or middle of grid. In last split as well, to comply with 110% rule the drivers make rounds of circuit, which gets boring for TV as well as trackside audiences.
Personally single lap qualifying had really all the elements of adrenaline pumping thrill, It was exciting for audience to see if driver was able to beat the top timing, It was also exciting to see who could hold their nerves especially when their rival has posted good time. Last season at Brazil for example, Kimi cracked under pressure when team radioed him end of his warm up lap that Alonso had beat JPM’s time to take provisional pole, the uncharacteristic error on entry of final corner by Räikkönen was clear indicator of the pressure situation. Main pro of this system was that it gave every driver a fair chance to put his best time with track all available to himself, and not having to encounter slow cars and traffic

One +ve  benefit of current format - last 20 minutes stint was good for Juan Pablo to acclimatize himself with the track changes at Imola and to get hang of T car which he was driving , after his regular car encountered problems at end of Free practice on Friday.

Kimi Räikkönen interview at ITV.com
ITV exclusive  raises few questions about
  • Mclaren Management – If Kimi was on first cycle of his Mclaren Engine at European GP, why was Juan Pablo testing the new engine at Silverstone last week first place, If I was Ron Dennis, I would be giving the engine to test to man who will be driving it on race track and take his feedback.

  • Kimi’s plans for 2007 – More than anything he sounds disinterested in the Mclaren 2006 campaign, maybe the rumors making round of his move to Ferrari are indeed true

The perfect Mclaren spokesman!?
Guess who is speaking enthusiastically about Mclaren upgrades, the Mclaren Blue eyed boy Juan Pablo Montoya J. World of F1 never stops to amaze me.

PS: Put the last two news bits together and go figure for yourself where we are heading in 2007

Interesting Quote:
“If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough” – Mario Andretti

I

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 03, 2006

Is Mclaren the team to be in 2007?
Attrition has been the buzz word at Mclaren, while the team poached readymade world champ from Renault, the team has been losing key technical personnel almost on regular basis. It all started when David Coulthard lured the star designer (and his mentor) Adrian Newey to Redbull. There isn’t a week when we don’t hear news of someone leaving Mclaren, the latest entry Neil Martin is moving to Redbull. Interesting point to be observed is the people who are leaving are not one of the drifters category one finds in paddock, these people have spent their lives at Mclaren. With that background, money is not the obvious reason why the key staff is leaving the team .Is it change in Mclaren culture that is taking away these people from the team?
Trying to map this to Kimi-Schumi and 2007 driver line up saga, I really wonder would both Juan Pablo and Kimi be really making a wise choice if they plan to stick with Mclaren, whose management have betrayed them time and again with unreliable cars in 2005. While Mclaren was fastest car on grid with reliability issues from day one in 2005 season, in 2006 so far both Kimi and Juan have been very tentative in way they handle their and Mclaren really doesn’t look at par with Renault. It remains to be seen if the team really comes up with a car to fight Renault dominance thereby creating the much needed impetus for the team for a brighter future..

In support of Jense...
Grandprix.com has come out in defense of Jenson Button, Jenson is sole Briton on the grid (of course we have Scot David Coulthard and Test driver Ant Davidson). As much as we feel sorry for him, the problem lies with British Press, While US press (and now rest of world media) have tendency to put people on pedestal, and then start hurling dirt on their face. British press traditionally tend to project even their ordinary achievers as “All time greats” . Anyone who can remember the tennis duo Tim Henman & Greg Rusedski , come Wimbledon and British press in lame hope that they will see a British Champion waste million a keystrokes in describing how these guys are at top form, practicing hard ,( some sympathetic guest commentators “courteously” back these claim) and then likes of Samprases and Federers end up winners. Another recent messiah the press have found is in cricketer Andrew Flintoff ,whose heroics helped Poms win back the revered Ashes urn from Aussies after nearly two decades .Buttons story is pretty much the same. If Button wins,whenever that happens , Brit press will go overboard in covering every little thing the poor fellow will do , like recently they have been harassing Freddie Flintoff.

Interesting Quote
There are a lot of IFs in Formula One, in fact IF is Formula One backwards!" – Murray Walker, The voice of F1 for over 50 years

I

Monday, May 01, 2006

May 02, 2006

European GP Preview



Nürbürgring circuit used for the F1 race is 5.148 km or 3.199 miles long, equating to 308.863 km or 191.938 miles over the 60-lap race distance. This is a technical track, which is not really hard on tyres. It is difficult to overtake here, although there are opportunities entering the first corner and the hairpin. The first corner can often be the end of someone's race, this chicane being notorious for first lap accidents. The suspension setting needs to be such that the car can use the curbs and yet still be responsive to change direction in the chicanes.

Fernando Alonso heads into this weekend’s European Grand Prix with a commanding lead in the 2006 drivers championship after scoring two wins and two second placed finishes form the opening four events of the season. Fernando has new B spec RS26 engine at his disposal, Fisichella used the same in last race at Imola but qualifying in midfield at Imola didn’t really gave Renault to make most of the upgrade.

Rival Mclaren are set to race Mercedes' latest V8 engine at the Nürbürgring, after Juan Pablo Montoya tested it successfully on last Wednesday at Silverstone. Although Montoya did the V8 honors at Silverstone, however, only his teammate - Kimi Räikkönen - will benefit from the first new upgrade in European GP.
Mclaren are behind Renault by three or four tenths. The new engine could bridge the gap to within two tenths as per Mclaren 'F1 CEO' Whitmarsh

Ferrari arrive at Nürbürgring to prove to their competition that their Imola performance was reflection of their true form and not result of Imola track attributes which gel well with Ferrari and their tyre supplier Bridgestone. The team had been testing at two venues Paul Ricard and Fiorano. While there has been a cry from Honda about flexi rear wing of Ferrari, the team has held its ground firm claiming that its developments are well in line with FIA regulations.

Honda had a forgettable weekend at Imola two weeks ago, where after qualifying on P2 P3 both Honda drivers drove back and back during race, this compounded by some gaffes during the pitstop, let the team red-faced with embarrassment. After Imola Button personally gave pep talk to the Honda Personnel, whether or not it pays some dividend, we will know by this time next week.

Watch out for:
  • First Corner (Valvoline Curve) Pile up on race start.

  • High attrition rates which are common place in this race.


5 Previous Winners:
  • F. Alonso (Renault, 2005).

  • M. Schumacher (Ferrari, 2004).

  • R. Schumacher (Williams, 2003).

  • R. Barrichello (Ferrari, 2002).

  • M. Schumacher (Ferrari, 2001).

Interesting Quote
"Winning is like a drug...I can't settle for second or third in no circumstances whatsoever" - Ayrton Senna

I