26/12/2012

Season Review: The F1 group


To read the half season review of SFI & NK clickhere.


Sahara Force India:


The first half of the season saw the team starting on the slower side as they had in 2011. But points wise, they had a better start considering the previous years. Just before the season break, Andrew Green had stated that they shifted their focus to 2013 car and there won’t be much updates in the second half. The second half saw a different all together as the team was in a different world matching the top teams in terms of point finishes. Yes, in the second half the team finished every race in points, a record which only 4 other teams could manage. Only thing they could feel a disappointed with is no podium finishes for them specially in Brazil where even a win was possible.


The highlight was surely Brazil in the second half as Hulkenberg lead the race for about 30 laps beating the McLaren’s but unfortunate tale of events meant they ended P5, team’s second best finish of the season. It was sure shot win or at least a podium finish but it wasn’t to be. Spa & Singapore gave the team their best finishes of the season with P4 on both occasions, Hulkenberg in former & Di Resta in the later. As for qualifying, the team made it to Q3 quite regularly in the second half. Di Resta equalled the best position of P4 for the team (though got a penalty and moved down). Reliability wise the team continued their brilliant run. They had only two DNF’s, both due to accidents rather than mechanical error. As everybody else, they also started learning the aspects of Prielli tyres and got the better of it as the season progressed towards the end. The team scored 109 points, their best haul of points but they finished P7 which was one place down from 2011.


Hulkenberg was the driver to look for in the second half after a slow start at the season start. He finished 6 races in points out of the 9 races and was on the verge of giving the team their first win. He also got his best finish of his career in Spa i.e P4. I was very impressed with him, he drove some fantastic races and his move over Grosjean & Hamilton was one of the best move I have seen. It was brilliant to see him fight with the top teams for positions. To outperform his team mate is the first thing a driver looks to do and to beat a driver like Di Resta, was a good to see. He ended P11 in DC with 63 points, just 3 points shy of Perez who we know got 2 podium finishes. Although next year we won’t see him in the team as he moves to Sauber, a very big loss to the team considering the form he was in.


Di Resta continued his good performance from the first half and looked pretty good at the start of the second half. But post Singapore there was big dip in form as he scored only once in 6 races. We could see a similar thing as we saw in 2011 with his form, but cannot say if there is a pattern. In few of the races he was unlucky as well, like in Brazil he was well in course to score solid points but in the penultimate lap he crashed out. Overall, he did a good job as he ended P14 with 46 points beating Pastor who had a win in his belt. It seems like he will very much stay for next year and I see getting podium finishes, we saw him driving superbly in Bahrain, Singapore.


Jules Bianchi got 3 more drives adding to 6 drives in the first half. He was also behind the wheel for one day in the Young Driver testing. I must say, he did pretty well in the 3 tests in the second half as his times improved a bit. It was down to him getting accustomed to the car a bit more. Think that young driver test helped him a lot to understand the car well. We are still to know if he gets a drive in 2013 or he remains the test driver of the team.


Overall the team can be satisfied with their efforts in 2012, they were the most consistent point scores throughout the season. Only missed on the potential podium finishes which was a disappointing. Both drivers gave their 200% and drove some excellent races. The team at factory and in race weekend worked very hard as well as we saw that the reliability was top notch. Even the pit stops were quick, they even won the Sky Sports award of fastest pit stop in one of the races. Things looking very good for 2013 season surely.



Narain Karthikeyan:


Narain had ended the mid season with a DNF and it was ironic that he started it with a DNF in Spa. His first half was better with only 3 DNF’s in 10 races whereas in second half he had 4 DNF’s in 9 races. We cannot blame him for that as his car wasn’t the best of the lot and he did face many reliability problems. Then again both him & Pedro the very best they could but with little upgrades and lack of funding, the team had nowhere to go. For Narain, it was mostly his teammate to fight with as the Marussia’s had stepped up a bit pace wise.


In the end, Narain ended P24 in the DC with a best finish of P15 for himself and the team as a whole which is commendable against his teammate Pedro. Narain towards the end also managed to out qualify his teammate in few of the races. The passion, determination was always there but he simply didn’t have the car to show it. Missing vital FP1’s may also have affected his run but then it’s all part of the contract. Overall, he can be satisfied with doing whole of the F1 season. His future remains doubtful with HRT not being named in the 2013 entry list. Getting back to US will his priority surely now.


19/12/2012

Race Of Champions: ROC Asia & Nations Cup


ROC Asia:


On Friday, Team India were pitted against Team China, Team Japan & Team Thailand for the prize of being ROC Asia champions. Team India began their campaign against a formidable line-up of Team China. Karthikeyan gave them a lead with a win over Ho Pin Tung but Karun lost against Han Han by 0.3s of a margin. They then went against the home hero’s, Team Thailand against whom both Karun & Narain won with some ease giving India 3 wins out of 4 heats. Next up they were against Team Japan, Karthikeyan started but lost his heat putting Karun under pressure for them to reach in the finals. He didn’t disappoint as he won his heat giving India 4 wins out of 6 and helping India to reach the finals of ROC Asia. They ended with 4 wins out 6 in group stages.

In the finals they faced Team Japan again and the two races become the most important of the evening. It was a brilliant ending then as both Karun & Narain won their heats to give Team India their maiden ROC Asia championship. They beat Japan 2-0 fair and square. It was indeed a proud moment for all of us. They can very well call them best of Asia. One thing good about ROC is that everyone get the same car and have same track conditions. It’s all down to skills and some luck. We saw some close fight between everyone but was great to see Team India coming out victorious with two of the country’s top drivers.



Nations Cup:

Nations Cup Teams

                                                                           
After winning the ROC Asia, it was time for Team India to battle it out for the Nations Cup with the world’s best. They were pitted against Team Germany, Team Australia & Team Thailand. It seemed that they will make it to the semi’s if they can get wins against Australia & Thailand but it wasn’t so in the end. They started their day against Team Australia as Karthikeyan started off against V8 Supercar champ Jamie. He won on the basis of time but due to him touching the wall, Jamie was awarded the win and then Karun lost his heat with a close margin. Next up was the big battle of Team Germany against Team India as Schumacher went against Narain & Vettel against Karun. Unfortunately the results didn’t go our way but it was thrilling to see them race against each other, doesn’t happen all the time. They then faced Team Thailand were both Narain & Karun won giving India 2 wins in the end. They ended 3rd in their group and their run in Nations Cup ended.


I thought they would beat Australia & Thailand, get 4 wins to reach semi’s but that wasn’t to be. The track changes in the morning didn’t help them as they had little practice on it, some mistakes also costed dearly but that’s how it is. It was still a good rookie attempt and they go as Asia champions ending their 2012 campaign in a bit off a high. As they themselves say, we will surely see a strong performance next year from them.


10/12/2012

Season Review: The non-F1 drivers


To read the review till the mid season break click here.

Karun Chandhok:


The first half had 3 races while the second half was a busy one with 5 races. The team looked pretty strong in the second half with two podium finishes in non-manufacturer class. They had a good start in Silverstone but after looking great in Brazil & Bahrain, the team missed great opportunities to finish on podium. But in Fuji & Shanghai, they finally managed two P5 positions, including pole position in qualifying. The last two races gave them their best positions till date. In the end they finished P3 in LMP1 category with Karun finishing in P10 with 50.5 points.

Fair to say that Karun had a great year in Endurance racing, a good start in this series. We shouldn’t forget that he is just a rookie here, even his team mates are almost double his age and very experienced drivers. He has adapted well to this type of series, looked in good shape all throughout. He was positive all through the year and delivered with performance in a car which wasn’t the best in terms of Audi & Toyota. The team itself were having their first year in Endurance series. I am pleased with his performances and I hope the team runs next season and retains him. Of course, would like to see him in F1 which he is trying himself but things as of now not looking that great with limited race & reserve seats available.  Any ways, I wish him all the best for whatever he does in 2013.

Parthiva Sureshwaren:


Before mid season break, Parthiva didn’t race in the two races but he said that he will be back for Hungary & Monza but that was not the case as he didn’t race in the last two races of the season as well. It might be something to do with sponsors and disappointing performances, we will never know. It’s not a great thing to happen, specially with an Indian driver when there is dearth of good Indian drivers. But that’s how it is in the motorsport world, I think.

I can understand that Parthiva was having a troubled season and I was very disappointed with the results. He showed pace and performance in many of the practice sessions but just couldn’t convert those in qualifying or in race.  The missed chances and thus he didn’t race in the last 4 races of the season. He did participate in MRF Challenge during the Indian GP and the SIDVIN festival of speed at BIC where he did a good job but apart from that we are yet to know as to what he is going to do for next year. With F2 series being finished off, his next best option will be GP2 and would certainly hope to see him there.

Armaan Ebrahim:


Something similar happened with Armaan like we saw with Parthiva. Though I felt Armaan was more to do with money issue as the results were good enough though not great or on expected lines of team & Armaan. But for a rookie year, I think it was best the team or Armaan could have done. He became the second Indian driver to race in US but unlike Narain, his time ended sooner than expected.

Since then he hasn’t done much apart from karting for his foundation of Meco Motorsports and few events with various organisers. He had signed with Sunred Engineering in GT1 Championship and raced in one race before leaving the team as the proposed race in India was scrapped.  He even scored points there but sadly due his run ended with only 2 races. He was present during the SIDVIN festival but wasn’t racing. We still don’t know as to what he is going to do in 2013, something in sportscar series or he can too try for GP2 series.



29/11/2012

Brazilian GP, Interlagos- A fitting finale indeed..


After 19 races, it all came down to the last one to decide the winner of the 2012 season and boy o boy Brazil gave us one perfect yet crazy race. It had all ingredients to easily be a fitting season finale race. Button won the race with Alonso at P2 & Massa at P3. But it was Vettel having the last laugh with the 2012 World Driver Championship title. Hulkenberg almost had a fairytale race but he had to be content with only point finish while Di Rest spun on 2nd last lap. Karthikeyan may have raced his last F1 race but glad that he finished the race.

Detailed review in here:


Practice Sessions, FP1:


The forecast was rain on Saturday and Sunday with Friday remaining dry. It was quite sunny during the first session. All the team went through their normal program as many teams tried the 2013 development tyres given to them from Prielli. Hamilton stamped his authority with P1 as Vettel ended P2 and Webber at P3. SFI started on well as Di Resta ended P8 & Hulkenberg at P10. The top 11 drivers were separated within 1 second. Karthikeyan ended at P24 having ran only 13 laps while others did some 30 laps.


FP2:


The second session too started under bright sunshine as teams took to the hard tyres allotted for the weekend. The mediums runs came right towards the end of the session. Once again it was dominated by RBR & McLaren as Hamilton made it two in two for P1. Vettel ended P2 with Webber at P3 as all the teams run about 30-40 laps. Di Resta ended at P10 while Hulkenberg finished off at P11 doing the long runs which was quite promising. Karthikeyan ran less once again as he ended at P24.


FP3:


The start to Saturday was a bit cloudy and misty as rain clouds hovered around the circuit. The teams went on with their long runs at the start of the session ending with qualifying specification run at the end of the session. This time Button ended up at P1 continuing McLaren’s good form. Vettel was once again P2 with Webber at P3. SFI had a brilliant run in the session as Di Resta ended P6 & Hulkenberg at P7. Karthikeyan ended at P23 doing just 18 laps.


Clear battle on hands as McLaren continued their Austin form and Red Bull right behind them. Alonso & Ferrari were losing a lot here and the title hopes seemed like fading away. SFI looked pretty strong on Saturday with qualifying spec while on Friday they looked good on long runs pace. Karthikeyan had a better time after a troubled Austin weekend last weekend. The team had a clear strategy to run less, only they know the reason for that.


Qualifying, Q1:


The session began under tricky situation as it had rained a bit post the FP3 session and qualifying. Most of the big teams opted to stay inside the garages letting the lower teams and some midfield teams to put rubber on track. Hamilton ended P1, Senna P2 & Button P3. Both the SFI safely made it through as Grosjean bowed out along with Caterham, Marussia & HRT. Karthikeyan qualified at P24 just 0.123s off Pedro’s time.


Q2:


The track had dried out considerably by the second session as lot of rubber went on the track. It was all mediums tyres for teams running as they went for used set and the brand new one’s. Vettel took the fight ending at P1, Hamilton P2 & Button P3. Hulkenberg made it to Q3 with ease but Di Resta was bumped out after a late improvement from Massa. The Scot couldn’t improve on his last run.


Q3:


The final battle was on but it wasn’t between the two title contenders here as it was a fight among the McLaren’s and RBR for pole. Hamilton, Webber, Button, Vettel were trading fastest times but it was Hamilton in the to snatch pole, his last with McLaren as Button made it 1-2 for the team. Webber ended P3 beating his teammate Vettel. Alonso was down to P8 behind Hulkenberg who had a great run in the SFI.


Qualifying went as expected but not with regard to Vettel who was only P4. Even Alonso was beaten by his teammate. With Maldonado’s penalty Hulkenberg moved one place to P6 while Di Resta moved to P10. With the car suiting the track very well, the team for in for a good haul of points in the last race. Karthikeyan’s main aim was to finish the race in the HRT.


Raceday:


Here we were for the final race of the 2012 season, at one point I was all excited for the race but on the other hand it was all sadness with the season getting over. The weather made it a lot interesting start to the race as light drizzle made it difficult for drivers to drive. Hamilton led the field after the start as the RBR duo had a terrible start. More so for Vettel as he spun at the first corner and ended up to be last on lap 1 whereas Alonso went up to P3 behind the McLaren’s.  Hulkenberg had a great start as he was right behind Alonso while Di Resta was up to P7. Karthikeyan also went upwards as he was running around the P15 position.


As the rain picked up a bit, many teams went for the intermediates with only Button & Hulkenberg remaining on slick tyres. Before Hamilton’s pitstop Button had taken the lead after passing him. With Hulkenberg & Button still to pit, the gap between them and rest shot upto 70 seconds at one point but the SC period due to debris on track brought the field together again. Vettel was having a crazy race going up and down always, he also had a exhaust damage but the car seemed to be stable. Alonso meanwhile steadied his run in top 5. Towards the end of the field it was a tense battle between Marussia & Caterham for the 10 position in CC.


On lap 18 something special happened which one had never expected at least after yesterday. Yes, Hulkenberg was leading the race, Sahara Force India was leading the race. He passed Button with a great move on the start/finish line. He was lapping faster than the McLaren. Though his and Button’s advantage was cut down by the SC. Meanwhile, Di Resta went for the normal strategy but was still running well in points battling out with everyone around. Karthikeyan also managed to come in points but had to move down after pitstops.

Hulkenberg was leading the race well post the SC but a small mistake gave way to Hamilton as he became the new race leader. Few laps later Hulkenberg & Hamilton collided where Hamilton suffered a DNF while Hulkenberg managed to continue but was handed a drive through penalty diminishing his & the team’s chances of a possible win and podium finish. Button took the lead as Alonso moved to P2 and Massa right behind him at P3. Vettel was fighting hard at the back end of top 10 as he moved up places to P6, safe enough to give him his 3rd title. Pic & Petrov were in the battle of their own as the coveted P10 in CC became a title battle for them.


In the end it was Button who took the win, ironic that he started the season with a win and ended in the same way. Alonso ended at P2 with yet another faultless race and Massa at P3, adding 2nd podium of his season. Vettel ended at P6 which gave him his 3rd Driver’s title, making him the youngest triple world champion. Schumacher ended his career with a P7 points, scoring after 6 pointless races. Hulkenberg in his last race for SFI was on a fairytale run but in the end it was not to be as he ended P5. Di Resta summed up team’s unlucky season with a penultimate lap shunt suffering a DNF. The Di Resta’s shunt and Ricciardo’s late pitstop moved Petrov to P11 which secured Caterham’s P10 position in CC as Pic ended at P11. Have to say it was gutsy fight between the two teams. Karthikeyan ended at P18 and it was nice to see that both the HRT finished the race.


That was it form 2012 season, it was amazing to see that such a dramatic season got such a dramatic finish. I think both BR & Vettel deserved the titles and big congratulations to them. Force India ended with 109 points and at P7, it’s nice to see the team broke into the 3 figures club and also that they scored in every race in the second half something which only top teams managed to do. Karthikeyan finished in 12 races out of the 19 he raced and ahead of his teammate Pedro, we are yet to know about his future or the future of the team. This completes my weekend review blogs for this season, reviews and previews in the winter break. Until then have a safe time!!


24/11/2012

Brazilian GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 7th (1:13.206), di Resta 11th (1:14.121), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:19.576).

A decent qualifying session saw Nico Hulkenberg maximise the performance of the car to take 7th place. A deserved 7th place too as he had looked quick in every session up to that point.

As for Paul di Resta, he got quite unlucky. All through the weekend he's looked to have the upper hand on his teammate however he got held up on his quick lap in Q2 by Kobayashi. He only just missed out on Q3 - the Scottish driver will start P11, not too bad.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan took advantage of his teammate colliding with Grosjean to out-qualify his Spanish rival by a considerable margin. He'll be happy to start P23 in what could be his last Formula One race.