27/12/2011

News update

Three bits of news for you since our last update =)

#1 Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg has told autosport.com that he is confident Force India will score points from the very start of 2012. Nico said: "Hopefully we will start the season a bit stronger than we did in 2011, if we had the car at the beginning that we had at the end of the year then we could have achieved fifth in the Constructors' Championship. The aim has got to be to have a strong car from early on that can take us into the points. There are some rule changes with the exhausts and also the front flexi wings that have been limited now, it's impossible to say where you are in terms of development. I know what we are doing, but not what others are doing".

The German driver also went on to say: "I always hoped when I was driving on Fridays that they would see what I can do, it's still a very early stage of my career. I'm still not at my peak and that's why they gave me the chance by giving me the car for 2012".

#2 Autosport.com published a list of the drivers with the highest number of overtakes in 2011 here. It's nice to see Force India driver Paul Di Resta in the top 25% of drivers in 6th.

#3 Karun Chandhok has changed his plans for next season. Due to the limited number of spots left in F1 for 2012 Karun has said he will look for a reserve driver role in F1 but also move into a different series.

He stated: "My target is still F1, but the new World Endurance Championship is very interesting".

Read more on that story here.

26/12/2011

Sahara Force India F1's 2011 season review

To read about Force India’s season up until the Hungarian GP read here.

Force India had a decent start post the summer break in Belgium GP as they overcame a poor qualifying and scored in the race. They continued with the upward surge in the performance after updates as again they ended up in points in Italian GP after a strong qualifying performance. Perhaps, it was unexpected that the team’s best result will come in Singapore which traditionally hasn’t been the best circuit for the car. After a double Q3, both drivers with strong car & strong strategy achieved the best finish of the team in the season so far i.e P6 & P8. This performance did prove to a certain extent that the team is in the right direction to be competitive in all types of circuits.

After a high at Singapore, Japan didn’t go well as they failed to finish in points, finishing just outside of points. In Korea they failed to convert a good qualifying performance into a strong race finish which could have been a perfect head start to their home GP campaign, the Indian GP. It was time, one of a proudest moment for all Indian motorsport fans, watching the lone Indian team drive at an Indian circuit. Performance wise the team was not at its best but scoring points was the priority which they did, it was a proud moment indeed. Moving on, in the last two races of the season, the team went a step ahead and finished on a high ending both races with a double point finishes. In Brazil they equalled their previous best in the season of P6 & P8 finish & thus ending the season on a high note.

In the end they came close to beat Lotus Renault to get the P5 position but perhaps they were one GP short of beating them. Still, the team can be proud of what they achieved after what was a very slow start to the season. They picked up, brought updates which worked well and they got ahead in the pack. Sutil upped his game and delivered when it mattered, personally ending his season on a high. While Di Resta in the rookie season did a pretty good job and right fully deserve the title of Rookie of the year. Looking ahead in 2012 season, I think they will surely fight for the P5 position and defend the P6 position. They still need more years to get to regularly challenge the top teams. With Sutil out of the team, it will be tricky situation for the team and the drivers Hulkenberg & Di Resta as both have just a year of experience.

That’s it from the season review section. Hope you all enjoyed reading all the blogs & season greetings to all.

21/12/2011

F1 news roundup!

Due to the upcoming i1 Super Series we have been neglecting F1 a little bit so we have a few of pieces of news for you that we have yet to share.

Firstly 2012 Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg has had an interview with F1.com which makes for good reading. In the interview we see Nico's comical side via a little christmas card joke he mentions. Read it here.

NOTE: At the time of posting this, one of the questions mentions the VJM06, that is infact wrong - the 2012 car is the VJM05.

Secondly, the Indian drivers. We are getting mixed messages from F1's two Indian drivers: Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan. Karun has told the media that he has given up on his chances of a race drive in 2012 and he is looking at a testing role yet again whereas Narain has stated that he is hopeful of grabbing a race seat next year despite their only being two spots left! Let's hope that at least one of them has a full time drive next season! As soon as we have any info on the fate of Karun and Narain we'll let you know! =)

Finally there is news that the Buddh International Circuit has done a deal with Mercedes partners AMG for a CCTV security system - read more on that here.

20/12/2011

i1 Super Series drivers!

We have had final confirmation of the drivers to be taking part in the inaugural i1 super series!

We decided to split the drivers up into three categories to make it easier for you guys to read;
  • F1 or Ex-F1 drivers
  • Other international level drivers (for drivers in an international race series, not including F1)
  • National level drivers (for drivers in a national racing series)
For everyone except the Ex-F1 boys we have put what they did in 2011 in brackets to give you some idea of their background.

Some of you will have noticed that this list contains 30 drivers even though there are only 18 driver spots on the grid. The way we expect this to work is for every team to have one permanent driver from the F1 pool and then the international/nations will rotate as teammates.

F1/Ex-F1 drivers:
Malaysia Alex Yoong (Ex-F1): Minardi
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella (2011 Ferrari reserve driver)
Germany Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Ex-F1): Sauber, Williams, Jordan, Prost, Arrows
Canada Jacques Villeneuve (Ex-F1): Williams, BAR, Renault, Sauber, BMW Sauber
French Jean Alesi (Ex-F1): Tyrrell, Ferrari, Benetton, Sauber, Prost, Jordan
India Karun Chandhok (2011 Team Lotus reserve driver)
Finland Mika Salo (Ex-F1): Lotus, Tyrrell, Arrows, BAR, Ferrari, Sauber, Toyota
Japan Sakon Yamamoto (2011 Virgin reserve driver)
Italy Vitantonio Liuzzi (2011 HRT driver)

Other international level drivers:
India Aditya Patel (Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup)
India Akhil Khushlani (JK Racing Asia Series)
India Armaan Ebrahim (F2)
Switzerland Cyndie Allemann (GT racing)
Austria Mathias Lauda (DTM)
Switzerland Neel Jani (24hours of Le Mans)
India Parth Ghorpade (French F4)
India Parthiva Sureswaren (F2)
India Phiroze Billimoria (GT and Sportscar racing)
Great Britain Pippa Mann (Indycar)
India Raj Bharath (JK Racing Asia Series)
India Sailesh Bolisetti (Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup)
India Vishnu Prasad (JK Racing Asia Series)
India Zaamin Jaffer (BARC Formula Renault)

National level drivers:
United States Abdul Ahmed (Formula Ford 1600 Walter Hayes Trophy)
India Ameya Walavalkar (JK Tyre National Racing Championship)
India Amittrajit Ghosh (JK Tyre National Racing Championship)
India Ashwin Sundar (MRF Formula 1600)
India Chirag Malhotra (Formula Renault Winter Cup)
India Gaurav Dalal (JK Tyre National Racing Championship)
India Sahil Shelar (Volkswagen Polo Cup)

There are a number of pieces of news coming from the i1 super series in recent days so if sure you will be delighted to know that over the coming days Auto India Sports will be creating a dedicated page for the i1 super series, look out for that! =)

18/12/2011

i1 Super Series

The i1 Super Series (also known as the Indian Racing League) is due to start its inaugural season in January and things are really beginning to take shape! So what do we know so far?

The basics
The series is organised by Machdar Motorsports (owned by Anjana Reddy) and it is currently seeking sanction from the FIA (the governing body of motorsport) and the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI)

The series will have nine teams and each team will represent different Indian cities. Each team will have two drivers and at least one of them must be a certified Indian driver. Teams will be competing for a $2M prize (Rs.105.5M)

All teams will use the same car; the Radical Sportscars' SR3 roadster (pictured below)



(click to enlarge)

The teams
  • Bengaluru team: No team name yet (owned by Arjun Baljee and Rudra Dalmia)
  • Chennai team: Chennai super sonics (owned by K. Raghu Ramakrishna Raju)
  • Chandigarh team: No team name yet (owned by Yuvraj Singh and an unnamed local businessman) 
  • Delhi team: Delhi gypsies and billionaires (owned by Arindam Chaudhury) 
  • Hyderabad team: No team name yet (owned by Akkineni Nagarjuna and Narendra Choudary Tummala) 
  • Kolkata team: No team name yet (owned by a consortium including Sourav Ganguly)
  • Mumbai team: No team name yet (owned by Shah Rukh Khan)
  • Pune team: No team name yet (owned by a an unnamed businessman)
In addition, there is space for one more team but the city has yet to be decided.

As for drivers, no drivers have yet been confirmed however there is a pre-season test (the only pre-season text before the season begins) this Tuesday at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The drivers confirmed for the pre-season test are:
  • Aditya Patel 
  • Amittrajit Ghosh
  • Chirag Malhotra
  • Parth Ghorpade
  • Vishnu Prasad
Others drivers are yet to be announced but it's expected that many more drivers will be participating. The five confirmed drivers are all Indian.

The calendar

1) Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi: 7th Jan 2012
2) Sepang Sepang: 22nd Jan 2012
3) Sakhir Sakhir: 4th Feb 2012
4) Doha Doha: 11th Feb 2012
5) New Delhi New Delhi: 26th Feb 2012

In total there will be 12races during the five events. No-one will know how these races will be split through the events but it is thought that each event will have 2races; except for the Indian event which should have 4races.

We will continue to follow everything regarding the i1 super series right here at Auto India Sports - stay tuned!

Chandhok & Karthikeyan's season review & their 2012 chances


Karun Chandhok

To read about Karun’s journey from the start of the season until the Hungarian GP, click here

Post the summer break, the work began straightaway for Karun as he drove in the FP1 in the Belgium GP. It was yet another wet session where he got little running. He got another run in Itlalian GP, thankfully it was a dry weather and he managed to get more laps under his belt. By that time, we all were hoping that he will get a race seat for Indian GP. Next up he got a run in Japan GP, where he did a really good job to be within about 0.800 of a second of Trulli in a dry run.

In Korean GP, it was mayhem as for most part of the FP1 session, it was raining. But Karun impressed to finish at P11 in those wet & tricky condition. In the build up to Indian GP, it was certain that Karun won’t get a full seat at the GP and will only get a FP1 run and that’s what happened. It was great to see him drive & set the first timed lap of the GP. It was a proud moment for all of us to see him drive. With Indian GP, Kraun’s season came to an end as he didn’t get any more run.

He had a decent year all together, got many FP1 chances and a surprise race seat in German GP. He did well in the limited chances he got. We haven’t heard anything about his 2012 plans but it looks he will stay at Caterham F1 as a reserve. Though he has a slim chance of getting the Force India reserve because of Sahara’s entry.

Narain Karthikeyan

To read about Narain’s journey from the start of the season until the Hungarian GP, click here

Karthikeyan became a mere spectator for most part of the season after he was replaced by Ricciardo. But after Italian GP, it was announced that he will drive for the team in the first ever Indian GP. In preparation of the Indian GP he drove in the FP1 of the Singapore GP, first time for him there. A difficult start but considering the other factors, it was a decent return. He got another run in Japan GP, making it a rare time when two Indian are on the grid at the same time. This time he was really close to Ricciardo, just about 0.600 of a second.

In the wet condition of Korean GP, Karthikeyan did well to complete few laps and beat his team-mate comfortably. Next up the Indian GP, Karthikeyan was the lone Indian on the grid to drive for the whole weekend. He was the first one to be out in FP1, it was a proud moment for us to see him, Karun and the two Force India cars. He qualified well but was penalised for blocking Schumi in Q1. His race went quite good, better than all our expectation as he finished ahead of his team-mate and other of his closest competitors. His comeback season came to an end with Indian GP.

For a comeback season, he did well all along in a car which was clearly not the best. It was a bit unfortunate to see him getting replaced mid season but this is F1 and anything can happen anytime. His future in F1 is looking very bleak at the moment. The best option for him is HRT and perhaps a reserve role in some team but we haven’t heard anything about his plans. I am afraid he is out of F1 once again.

16/12/2011

Force India 2012 driver announcement!

After a long, long wait we finally got confirmation today that Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will be Force India's main drivers in 2012.

Nico Hulkenberg has been promoted from his reserve driver role, replacing Adrian Sutil.

Here is what Force India's managing director, Vijay Mallya, had to say:

"I am delighted to present our line-up for the 2012 season. In Paul and Nico we have two extremely talented drivers with tremendous potential. I think Paul caught the eye of everybody in the pit lane during his rookie season. His speed, maturity and race craft confirmed that we were right to believe in him and we look forward to working with him again next year. As for Nico, we identified him as a rising star at the end of 2010 and chose to evaluate him during the course of this season. Despite having only limited time in the car, he convinced us that he deserved a race seat for 2012. Our new line-up means we say ‘goodbye’ to Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team since we entered the sport. He has been an integral part of our success over the past four seasons and we wish him well for the future.
"

Paul Di Resta said the following:

"I’m really looking forward to my second season of Formula One and continuing to grow and develop with Sahara Force India. I’ve said all along that I love being part of this team; they are ambitious, hungry for success and we work well together. I’m really excited about 2012 and there is a real sense of belief that we can continue to push the top teams and take another step forward. I’d also like to thank the team for all their hard work this year and for all the support they’ve given me. I’ll take some time out over the next few weeks to recharge my batteries and hopefully come back even stronger in 2012."


The promoted Nico Hulkenberg said this:

"I’m obviously delighted to be staying with Sahara Force India and to be given the chance to race next year. It wasn’t easy to watch from the side lines this season, but I did my best to help the team and show what I was capable of. I’m extremely motivated for 2012 and would like to thank everyone for believing in me and giving me this chance. I’m keen to get down to work over the winter to develop our new car and help the team build on this year’s achievements. The first test in Jerez can’t come soon enough."

Personally if i had to make the decision i would have stuck with Adrian and Paul, however what must be remembered is that the team have more data than us and can make a more informed decision on the matter; therefore i trust the teams decision.

Interestingly no announcement was made on the the reserve driver role. As we understand it there are lots of drivers in contention for that position:

Main contenders
  • Jules Bianchi (French, 22yo) - Jules has been strongly linked to the reserve driver role. He is on the Ferrari young driver programme and was the teams test and reserve driver in 2011, a move to Force India would most likely be for Ferrari to see how the youngster performs during Friday practice sessions. In 2011 Jules also finished 3rd in the GP2 main series and 2nd in the GP2 Asia series.
  • Max Chilton (British, 20yo) - Max did a straight line aero test for the team early in 2011 and clearly the team liked him as he got called back to do the 2011 young driver test in Abu Dhabi.
Outside contenders
  • Antonio Felix da Costa (Portuguese, 20yo) - Took part in the 2010 young driver test for Force India and was over a second faster than Paul Di Resta (although fuel may have played some part in that). In 2011 Antonio finished 13th in the GP3 series.
  • Johnny Cecotto Jr (Venezuelan, 22yo) - Took part in the 2011 young driver test with Max Chilton. Other than that experience he had a disappointing 2011 season; 24th in GP2 Main series and 15th in GP2 Asia series scoring 0pts in both championships.
  • Karun Chandhok (Indian, 27yo) - We all know who Karun is! He was Lotus reserve driver in 2011 and was expected to get a drive there in 2012 but with Kovalainen and Trulli confirmed at that team Karun needs to look elsewhere. With Sahara now backing Force India they may well request an Indian reserve driver and this could pave the way for Karun in 2012.
  • Yelmer Buurman (Dutch, 24yo) - Took part in the 2010 young driver test with Antonio Felix da Costa in 2010. In 2011 he finished 4th in Superleague Formula. He also did two races in the GT1 World championship - he won both of them!
Other contenders
  • Adrian Sutil (German, 28yo) - Needs no introduction really. Should the talented German driver not find a drive elsewhere on the grid the team may offer him the reserve driver role, whether he wants to take it or not is a different story. Adrian will initially look at other teams and his best bet seems to be the spare seat at Williams; but he will face competition for that seat from Barrichello, Petrov and Senna. The other seat that is free is the one at HRT which is expected to be taken by Alguersuari. Just like Giancarlo Fisichella and Vitantonio Liuzzi we wish Adrian the best of luck in the future, he's been a wonderful asset to the team and we won't forget his contributions! =)
  • Rubens Barrichello (Brazilian, 39yo) - Hasn't really been linked to the team by anyone however should he not find a drive elsewhere i think he may get a call from Force India. The experience he brings would surely help the team in terms of in-season car development so he could be a good asset.

15/12/2011

Preparation is everything

There is a saying in F1, and in life infact that preparation is everything. Well Force India appear to be doing more work during the off season than anybody else!

Firstly some of the team are at Whilton Mill (one of the best karting tracks in the UK) testing Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy & Jehan Daruvala - the drivers in the Force India Academy. The aim of  the test is to further assess the three youngsters to determine which race series they should be entered into in 2012. Read more on that test here.

Secondly some of the team (including Paul Di Resta) were at Silverstone yesterday creating an F1 promotional advert with Sky Sports (UK's joint 2012 F1-broadcaster). A preview of this is below:


Thirdly, Adrian Sutil has been in Torrevieja, Spain as part of a promotional event for Force India. You can watch a small video review of that event here:


Our reserve driver, Nico Hulkenberg, has been filling his time at a snowmobile race with a few other F1 stars, we're not sure how he did but if we find out we will let you know! =)

Finally i bet lots of the team are back at base in Silverstone working on the 2012 car! At least i would expect and hope that to be the case! =p

In addition today is the day that is expected to be Force India's big driver line-up announcement! Roomers suggest the lineup will be Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg with French driver Jules Bianchi (on Ferrari's young driver programme) as reserve driver meaning Adrian Sutil is left out in the cold. This is still speculation at this stage however.

We'll bring you any news on that developing story here at Auto India Sports.

Looking elsewhere, here are two review videos we found from the recent FIA gala held in New Delhi, enjoy!
Part one

Part two

13/12/2011

OFAB Update

If you can recall, Force India's racing academy - the One From A Billion initiative - had three winners: Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy & Jehan Daruvala.

We got a little update from Force India today saying that the three drivers have begun winter testing at Whilton Mill (one of the best karting tracks in the UK).

Here are the karts the three of them are driving:

(click to enlarge) 

It remains to be seen exactly what racing series the three academy drivers will be taking part in during 2012 - but we will continue to follow their progress here at Auto India Sports.

We now share some interesting Indian motorsport related articles on our facebook page so please like us here.

12/12/2011

2011 Indian Grand Prix Review

In September, 2008 F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone announced that the first Indian GP will happen in 2011 and in less than 2 years time we witnessed the first ever Indian GP from 28th to 30th October, 2011 at the Buddh International Circuit. It was a proud for all of us Indians and a dream come true for all the Indian motorsport fanatics. The event was adjudged as a huge success and the promoters Jaypee Sports were applauded for all their hard work. I went for the GP and yes I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Race:

The race went off well in the end. Yes, it was quite dusty out there which didn’t help the drivers to overtake much. Before the race it was expected that we will see a large number of overtaking moves but that didn’t happen, much to the disappointment of the fans. The main reason was due to large amount of dust off the racing line. Still, we were happy that we got the first hand experience of the sound & the cars which was enough. Then the Lewis-Massa spat grew more, with a gritty fight between Webber & Alonso in front, while there was a strong fight for position in the midfield pack. Vettel led from front throughout the race & won it with ease. Lone Indian Karthikeyan fought well to end at P17. I hope next year, we will see a lot more action on track.

The Crowd:

When I got to my seat on Friday morning in the South Zone, Block F at T10-T11, I didn’t see a huge crowd to be honest. From my seat I could see most of the other stands in East & West zones and most of the seats were empty. But then I thought it’s just Friday morning and only the start. By the end of the day we had a decent crowd for the first day but knowledge wise it was not even close to decent on any day. For qualifying, it was considerably a large crowd than Friday. It was good to see so many people in almost all the stands. The scene totally changed on Sunday as it was almost full, not many seats were empty. The officials later declared that 50,000 people came on Saturday while 95,000 came on Sunday. Now, that is a huge number for a first GP in a country which is still developing in motorsport arena.

Celebrities & Politicians:

Host of celebrities ushered on the raceday, more so cricketers as most of the players from Indian Cricket team were there for the event. Most notably Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar who was invited by Bernie Ecclestone himself. He also waved the che flag at the end of the race. Other cricketers include Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, etc were all present at the event. Bollywood star Gulshan Grover, singers, MTV VJ Ranvijay were too there all in support of the first Indian GP. As for the politicians we had UP Chief Minister Mayawati on the podium to give Vettel the winners trophy. Notably, Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken was missing and this too had to do with controversy. No event goes without any controversy in India, sad but true.

The Event:

The event was a huge success, it was well co-ordinated effort. There were just praise from every corner for the whole event. The International media were awestruck with the track preparation, yes there were things to be done or hastily done but that’s okay with regard to it being the first GP here. After a shameful organisation of CWG last year, all of us were keeping our fingers crossed for the event to go without any hiccups and it did in the end. All the drivers, teams, media & officials were satisfied with all the arrangements. I give the organisers a 7/10 for their effort, they did a good job.

From a fan point of view, two things can be looked after for the next GP: first being the transport. The people with car park ticket & bus tickets were in the safe zone but those without had a tough time. I for one didn’t get a bus ticket and so had to avail the Park & Ride service, while going to the circuit I had no problems but while coming back, it was all mess. There were not many buses first of all and in the limited buses plying everyone was just pushed and pulled each other to get in. It was a sorry state of affairs really, more so for the foreigners. Even the in-circuit transport can be a bit better. The second thing is food, which was on the expensive side. Well, in these events food is generally expensive but I think some items could have been less expensive and even the quality could have been better.

Indian Motorsport:

Having an International circuit in your own country is really a boon for motorsports to excel in the country. India is still developing as a motorsport nation at the moment and we have only two driver in the F1 world namely Narain Karthikeyan & Karun Chandhok and one team namely Sahara Force India (owned by Dr.Vijay Mallya). There are few drivers in the junior level but none looking very good for a F1 drive for the moment. With the BIC open, I think the second last piece of the puzzle is solved as it gives the young Indian drivers a place to polish their skills. Of course the last piece of the puzzle is the young drivers wanting to become racers. It’s unfortunate that not many want to take up motorsport and those who want end up in midway due to lack of monetary support. I hope in future we see some driving academy being opened in and around BIC and it helps and supports the drivers with finance & motivation.

Drivers & Teams Thoughts:

Even before the race took place or the practice session, the teams and drivers were highly impressed by the track and the facilities of the track. The heaps of praises continued after they drove on the track. They even adjudged this is as the best new track to be built in recent times. The fast flowing nature of the corners, the long straights and a wide track for overtaking just gave the drivers what they want.

So, the first Indian GP all in all went well. It did face loads of problems, notably from the Sports Ministry as they sadly don’t “recognize” F1 as a “sport” and slot it as an “entertainment”, which is a shame really. There were many tax related troubles but thankfully the Jaypee group took full care of it and didn’t let it hinder the race. This has been the most disappointed part that the sports ministry was not backing the race, though they pretty much gained a lot out of the event in monetary terms. It’s foolish to compare that F1 is rich man’s sport. No sports in the world is cheap, every sport involves large amount of money. Bringing in the poverty debate is just illogical, every country has considerable people below the poverty line, unfortunately we all have to live with it. I seriously hope that the sports ministry sit and talk with top F1 officials, drivers and “learn” about the sport and back the event which is bringing lots of opportunity for India. We have to look at the positives, a large section of the viewers were from Europe which for other sports is very less. I hope that by the next race, there be some initiative by both the parties to help the sport to grow in the country.

To read about my Indian GP journey, click here.

09/12/2011

News roundup!

It's been a while since we gave you a news roundup (due to other manic commitments) so let's do one now!

Firstly, Paul Di Resta has been awarded the "rookie of the year" award by autosport.com. He won it through a vote conducted online for fans - infact we actually blogged telling you to vote for him! If you did vote for Paul i am sure he is very grateful.

Here is the Scottish driver picking up his award:

(Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile Indian Sameer Gaur (managing director and CEO of JPSI; the guys behind the Indian GP) received the award for best promoter at the FIA end of season gala being held today in Delhi!

Here is Sameer picking up his rather massive trophy:

(Click to enlarge)

The only other real piece of news is that as we still await the announcement on Force India's 2012 driver line-up, Adrian Sutil has told F1.com that he has plenty of options for next season. Read that interview here.

That's all for now, thanks for reading!

08/12/2011

2012 F1 calender & 2012 rule changes

The FIA yesterday revealed the 2012 calender. There were no changes from the last provisional calender. Autralian GP will mark as the season opener while Brazilian GP will be the season finale. For the very first time, we will witness 20 races in a season. There are several changes from the 2011 calender as Bahrain GP makes a comeback after numerous doubts due to unrest in the country. We also have a new GP in the name of United States Grand Prix happening in Austin after it got the clearance from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. The Indian GP is slotted to take place from 26th to 28th October, 2012. For the full 2012 calender click here.

We will also see several rule changes in the 2012 season. Big ones include clamping down of the engine mapping & exhaust positioning to outlaw the blown diffuser, a single in-season testing will be carried out for 3 days, during races all lapped cars can unlap them during a SC period and rejoin at the back of the grid, there will be a maximum race time of 4 hours to help in cases of race being suspended due accidents & rains or other hindrance. For more information regarding the changes to be seen in the 2012 season, click here.

05/12/2011

JK Racing Asia Series - Sepang

Race One Result: Bharath 11th (2points).
Race Two Result: Bharath 11th (3points).
Race Three Result: Bharath 11th (1point).
Race Four Result: Bharath 10th (3points).

The final four rounds of the season were held on the 2nd and 3rd December (two rounds on each day) and our Indian driver, Raj Bharath, was in action.

Heading into the event Raj was in 14th place in the championship, just two points behind Andrey Khrapov in 13th - that was the aim, to finish in P13 in the championship.

Raj performed brilliantly all weekend, showing his ability to remain calm under pressure, and he bagged points in each of the four races. The points awarded for each race differ as guest drivers, some of whom finished ahead of Raj, do not score points. For example if a guest driver wins the race - he would not score, maximum points would be awarded to the driver in second or the highest placed regular driver.

So three 11th place finishes and a 10th place finish meant 9points scored - more than he probably expected!

The great news for Raj was that his rival, Andrey Khrapov, was not racing this weekend and so Raj jumped into the 13th place he wanted. In actual fact it was such a good weekend for Raj that he ended on equal points with Swiss driver Jimmy Antunes in 12th place - Jimmy gets the 12th place though based on the fact he has had a 4th place finish this year whereas Raj's best result is 7th. Nevertheless a wonderful weekend for the Indian - he will be delighted! Check out the final championship standings, in full, here.

That concludes all the series we follow for 2011, but stick around as we have many interesting articles in the pipeline!

04/12/2011

F1 season review & 2012 driver line-ups


The 2011 season is over and now it’s time to reflect back to the season, the teams & the drivers. The two prominent changes were a new tyre manufacturer in the name of Pirelli and DRS (Drag Reduction System) to aid overtaking. In this blog, I will review all the teams performance in the season and their confirmed & prospective driver line-up for 2012 season.

Red Bull Racing:

‘Champions’, nothing else can describe RBR’s 2011 season. From start to finish, the team dominated everyone and rest playing a catching game. They clinched the Constructors Championship in Korea while Sebastian Vettel clinched the Drivers Championship in Japan. In addition Vettel created a world record of 15 poles in a season. Webber had a tough season in terms of Vettel but he managed to win one race in the end in the last race of the season. Webber won the DHL Fastest Lap award for recording 7 fastest lap in the season.

2012 Driver Line-up: Sebastian Vettel & Mark Webber.
Reserve: Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne, are the two front runners for the reserve role.

McLaren Mercedes:

A season of ups & downs for McLaren, they were for most part of the season the second best team. They were the closest to RBR all through the season and the only other team to get a pole position apart from RBR.  Hamilton had the toughest season of his career, he did win 3 races and got the only non-RBR pole of the season but yet his season was marred by the DNF’s & his on-track spats with Massa. While Button took the full advantage, he started slow in the season but the next half was absolutely perfect.

2012 Driver Line-up: Jenson Button & Lewis Hamilton.
Reserve: Gary Paffet and maybe Oliver Turvey as the 4th driver.

Scuderia Ferrari:

A trouble season for them, a car which was never really in the best of position to fight with RBR. Alonso gave them their lone win of the season and some handful of podiums. They didn’t have the qualifying pace, but they had good race pace as Alonso pushed the slow car to its extreme limit. Massa disappointed with his below par performances, no podiums for him. His low point was obviously the on-track spats with Hamilton. Despite a failure, Massa has been retained for 2012 season.

2012 Driver Line-up: Fernando Alonso & Felipe Massa.
Reserve: Jules Bianchi, Giancarlo Fisichella,  the two drivers in line.


Mercedes Petronas:

They were always chasing the top 3 teams throughout the season. They were behind Lotus Renault but with a consistent performance they managed to get ahead of Lotus and take a comfortable lead to finish ahead of them. Still they didn’t get any podium this season as P4 was the best result they could manage. Rosberg ended as the best driver with Schumacher behind him in the second season of his return.

2012 Driver Line-up: Michael Schumacher & Nico Rosberg.
Reserve: Sam Bird the frontrunner but I think Adrian Sutil can be a part if he doesn’t get a seat to drive.

Lotus Renault:

They received a bad news at the start of the season as Robert Kubica was ruled out of the season after he suffered fatal injuries in rally. They had to hire Nick Heidfeld to partner Vitaly Petrov. They had a great start with two back to back podiums finishes but then came the gradual fall. With series of bad races, they lost the P4 position to Mercedes. Nick was axed mid-season and Bruno Senna was promoted to the race seat but little did it help. In the end they were very close to loosing the P5 position to Force India but they held on.

2012 Driver Line-up: Kimi Raikkonen (C) & Vitaly Petrov/Bruno Senna/Romain Grosjean with Adrian Sutil & Robert Kubica (if he can return) in the mix too.
Reserve: Whoever doesn’t get the race seat will automatically take the reserve role, in addition female racer Maria de Villota can be a part of the team.

Sahara Force India:
 
The season started on a slower side for the team, which they said was because they were mainly developing the 2010 car in the fly away races. Once the 2011 specific updates were on, their fortunes changed immediately. They were regularly in Q3 and among points, they even overtook Sauber in the Championship to be P6. By the end of the season they came close to beat Lotus with only 4 points separating them. Sutil was behind rookie Di Resta but came on well to beat him in the second half, raising his game well. For me Di Resta is the rookie of the year.

2012 Driver Line-up: Nico Hulkenberg & Paul Di Resta, the front runners with Adrian Sutil having an outside chance.
Reserve: With Sahara in, I think Karun Chandhok can get a reserve role in the team if Sutil leaves. In addition Max Chilton & Jules Bianchi are the other racers who can get the role.

Sauber:

The team had a smooth start to the season with staying ahead of Force India for some part of the season but as the mid-season approached they started loosing out in performance and eventually lost the P6 position to Force India and never really was in the position to get it back. Instead they had to evade the growing threat of STR taking away the P7 position but in the end they managed to stay ahead of them by a small margin. Both Perez & Kobayashi did a decent job in the season and therefore they are retained for 2012 season.

2012 Driver Line-up: Kamui Kobayashi & Sergio Perez.
Reserve: Esteban Gutierrez.

Toro Rosso:

A pretty erratic season for the team, with some very good results in the race to very poor qualifying. In some races they were up with the upper mid-field while in some they were down with lower mid-field teams. Towards the end of the season they up their game were close to beat Sauber and get the P7 position but eventually fell short by 3 points. Both their drivers were always battling out with each other to get in the eyes of the senior RBR team.

2012 Driver Line-up: Jamie Alguersuari & Sebastien Buemi are the front runners with Daniel Ricciardo & Jean-Eric Vergne well in line.
Reserve: Whoever misses out with the race seat maybe demoted to the reserve role.

 
Williams:

The worst season for the Williams team as they failed in every aspect to deliver. Nothing was going right for them as in one race after the another, they just didn’t had the pace to match the other mid-field teams.  They just managed 5 points from the season, and we can well term it as a disastrous season. Both Rubens & Pastor struggled as they tried their best to get the extreme from the car which was under-performing.

2012 Driver Line-up: Pastor Maldonado (C) & Rubens Barrichello/Adrian Sutil with later having the strongest chance.
Reserve: Valtteri Bottas.

Team Lotus:

The first of the new teams. Over the season the team improved quite a lot in terms of pace in races. Towards the end, they managed to beat some lower mid-field teams which was in itself a good sign for the team. Heikki & Trulli, a perfect mix of  youth and experience has helped the team to come out and challenge the mid-fielders.

2012 Driver Line-up: Heikki Kovalainen & Jarno Trulli.
Reserve: Karun Chandhok, Luiz Razia, Alexander Rossi all have chances to be part of the reserve role.

HRTF1:

Once again the team was in trouble at the start of the season as they couldn’t get the car ready on time for testing and eventually failed to get in the 107% for the season opener. Mid-season they were sold to Thesan Capital and since then the team got stable and gradually improved. Even after all the troubles, they managed to beat Virgin and once again secure the P11 position in Championship. Initially they hired Indian Narain Karthikeyan but he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo in mid-season though he came back for one off race in India. Ricciardo didn’t disappoint in his rookie season as he matched well against Liuzzi.

2012 Driver Line-up: Pedro De La Rosa (C) & Vitantonio Liuzzi/Narain Karthikeyan/Daniel Ricciardo are all in line to get the second seat.
Reserve: Dani Clos is one name I can think of.

Marussia Virgin:

Another team where nothing worked right throughout the season. They couldn’t improve much from last season. They ended up last once again and struggled keeping up pace with Team Lotus and even HRT. Still there were some bright performances but overall they have to work hard for the next season. Jerome in a rookie season did well against his experienced team-mate Glock.

2012 Driver Line-up: Timo Glock & Charles Pic.
Reserve: Robert Wickens is the lone name I predict.

We saw some fantastic races in the season, for me the best has to be Canadian GP. It was well past mid-night here in India and I was up watching the race. A long wait, interesting race and a nerve cracking finish made it the best race of the season. The Pirelli tyres made the race interesting to a certain extent as strategy in races became an important aspect. However, qualifying and specially Q3 could have been interesting as in most of the races the lower half teams in order to save tyres didn’t set times. Moving on to DRS, mixed opinion here as we saw both its advantages & disadvantages. It did aid in overtaking but the pure racing was gone in certain races. Mostly DRS was helpful in tracks where overtaking was not so happening in previous seasons. We also saw the inaugural Indian GP happening, I went for the race. It was my first F1 experience and I must say it was just too good. I was happy to hear that all the drivers loved the track and the atmosphere. All in all, it was a mixed season with many highs & few lows. I will rate the season as 7.5 out of 10.

30/11/2011

Brazilian GP, Interlagos - A fitting finale indeed

After exactly 8 months the 2011 F1 season came to an end. Yes, the season’s first race took place on 27th March, 2011 and the season ended on 27th November, 2011. This is quite co-incidental that the season began with a weekend dated 25th-27th & ended with the same dates. A strong rain shower was predicted for the race but as we all know, we cannot trust the weather at all and it proved right as the rain never came. Mark Webber won his first race of the season at the last race with Vettel at P2 & Button at P3.

Here is the detailed report on the weekend, for the last time this season:

FP1:

Brazil was back as the last race of the season after a gap of two years in that slot, all the teams & drivers are always happy to return to a track of historical significance. The Friday prediction was dry running and it was bright & sunny throughout. The first session of the last race went fairly incident free. Webber topped the timesheets with Button at P2 & Hamilton at P3. Hulkenberg sat in place of Sutil for the session & he finished at P8 while Di Resta ended at P9, a great start to the weekend without any real issues.

FP2:

The teams continued with the assessment of the tyres and various other parts on the car for the qualifying & race. Another smooth session for all the teams with only a yellow flag disruption at the end after Perez’s car stalled on the track. Hamilton took the P1 spot with Vettel at P2 & Webber at P3 by the end. For Force India Sutil was back in the car and finished at P9 & Di Resta finished at P10, completing another good session which prompted Di Resta to say that it had been the best Friday in terms of collecting data. What was interesting is the time-sheets where from P9-P24, we saw all the team-mates one after the other: Sahara Force India’s, Lotus Renault’s, Sauber’s, Toro Rosso’s, Williams', Team Lotus’, Marussia Virgin’s & HRT’s.

FP3:

Rain was predicted for today including this session but none could be seen during the session at all. This was the final practice session of the 2011 season, the final one hour of practice. Yet again there were no dramas during the session as there were no incidents or stoppages. Vettel topped the timesheets by the end of the session with Button at P2 & Webber at P3. Sutil ended at P6, once running at the top of the timesheets while Di Resta ended at P9 in their Force India car. That was it from the last practice session of 2011 season.

After the practice session it was clear that the McLaren & Red Bull battle for pole will go on and I had the feeling that Vettel will sneak it. As for Force India, both the cars in Q3 was very much possible, so much so I had a feeling that they might even get close to top 5.

Qualifying:
Q1:

The last qualifying session of the season began in Brazil with lots of question over the weather as rain clouds were hovering over the track. With rain threat all the drivers were not in the mood to take risks & they straightaway headed out to set times to get through to Q2. In the end, it was Button at P1 with all the new teams bowing out as usual along with, this time, Maldonado. All qualified well within the 107% times. Notably HRT beat both the Virgin’s. While both the Force Indians made it comfortably to Q2, with Sutil ending as high as P4.

Q2:

The main part of the qualifying session and also the tricky session - just one mistake and you won’t make it to the Q3 battle. The weather was still threatening with rain but till the end it was all dry. Vettel came back strong to top the timesheet in this session, setting the stage for a McLaren VS RBR showdown. Sutil was comfortably in the top 10 but unfortunately for Di Resta the situation was a bit tricky as he was pushed back to P11 after Schumacher ended his lap. Di Resta couldn’t improve as he was on used set of tyres and thus he was out in Q2.

Q3:

By the time Q3 began, all worry about rain was gone, once again the weather prediction went to the ashes. All the top teams came out to set times, this season it became a trend that all the top teams do two runs while the lower half either do one run or not at all set times. The impressive qualifying lap was once again to be seen as Vettel got the pole position yet again breaking Nigel Mansell record of 14 poles in a season with the new record being 15 poles. Joining him at the front row was Webber at P2 and behind him was Button at P3. Force India’s Sutil qualified at P8 ahead of Senna & Schumacher.

I would say a fruitful qualifying for the Force Indians, matching the likes of Renault & Mercedes. I was very much hoping for a double point finish from them and thus sealing the P6 in CC. The qualifying battle was won by Sutil with 10-9 to Di Resta.  As for the top battle, I was hoping for Webber to win but won’t take anything away from Vettel, it was a superb lap to get the pole.

Race:

The day had arrived, the 2011 season coming to end. For the last time this year we saw the 24 cars on the grid getting ready for the race & Mr.Bernie moving up and down the grid greeting and meeting drivers and various other people. The atmosphere at the circuit was amazing, the dedication & love of the fans was there to be seen. The local support for the local drivers Massa, Barrichello & Senna was overwhelming. There was 80% chances of rain during the race with dark clouds hovering over the circuit but rain never arrived. Here it was for the last time we were hearing, ‘As the five red lights illuminate the Brazilian GP is a go...’ It was another good start from Vettel with most of the field staying the same in front. The first overtaking move we saw was from Alonso over Button to take the P3 position, it was a pure racing overtaking move. Sutil stayed at P8 while Di Resta moved upto P10 but was soon overtaken by Schumacher.

There was a tussle between Senna & Schumacher on Lap 10 through which Di Resta gained two places to be P8. While on front, Webber took the lead from Vettel after the German was radioed about a gearbox problem. A gearbox problem later forced Hamilton to retire from the race of a trouble season for the Briton. Meanwhile, Sutil was driving a fantastic race fighting with Rosberg, both on a different strategy though. But eventually, Sutil overtook Rosberg at the start/finish line, to get the P6 position. Sutil later told that it was a nice & fair battle. Team-mate Di Resta who gave way to Sutil earlier was behind Rosberg after Sutil overtook him. It was later known that he too had gearbox problem and was radioed to bring the car home safely.

At the front, Webber took a comfortable lead over Vettel who had a lonely race. Alonso couldn’t hold on to the P3 position due to a different strategy to Button who got his rhythm back and overtook Alonso to seal the final position in the podium & also P2 position in the drivers dhampionship. Webber won the race then after and also had the fastest lap of the race on the last lap, his teammate finished at P2 & Button at P3. As for Force India, Sutil drove an absolutely faultless race to finish at P6, ahead of Mercedes' & Renaults'. He also moved upto P9 in drivers championship, his career best. While Di Resta finished the race at P8, getting some more valuable points for himself and the team, he ended at P13 in the championship. Force India as a team secured their P6 position in the constructors championship, falling short of just 4 points behind Lotus Renault.

It was nice to see Massa doing a donut post the race was over. All in all it was a good race and an amazing season which also witnessed the Indian GP. Time went by quickly as the cars do on the track. There were loads of ups & downs during the season. I am very happy that Force India did so well after starting the season on the slower side. Hope they continue with the upward surge in 2012. Also, I have enjoyed writing these weekend blogs. This was my first attempt and seems to be successful. Loads of things to be covered in the off season, don’t worry we not going anywhere. Stay tuned with Auto India Sports!!

28/11/2011

Force India Misconceptions

2008 - VJM01: 10th (0points)
2009 - VJM02: 9th (13points)
2010 - VJM03: 7th (68points)
2011 - VJM04: 6th (69points)

These are the results Force India have achieved in the constructors championship since entering F1 back in 2008.

Random fact: Force India are the ONLY current F1 team to improve every season both in terms of points and position.

Misconception #1: Most people think that our chassis name; VJM##, is named after team founder Vijay Mallya but this is not the case. The explanation behind the name is as follows:

V = Vijay Mallya (Founder/co-owner/team principle)
J = Jan Mol (Shareholder of Force India)
M = Michael Mol (Shareholder of Force India)

Misconception #2: Many people said that when James Key left Force India to join Sauber at the end of 2010 - Force India would struggle in 2011.

I can not understand why people thought that in the first place ... one man does not make a team. The whole concept of Formula One is that the "formula" needs to be right, everything needs to be correct for success - it does not just rely on one member of staff. Anyway clearly the team proved the doubters wrong. I wonder what James Key feels about his decision now?

Misconception #3: Many people are stating that Force India were disappointed with their cars pace at the start of the season. This is infact incorrect.

It's a fact that the car was not quick enough then, however the team had expected this to be the case. Pre-season they stated that people should not judge them based on the early flyaway races because they were holding off installing updates until the European races to focus time in the factory and develop the baseline car before adding other updates. In hindsight, this was a good decision.

Misconception #4: Many people believe that Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg have been signed as drivers for 2012. This is also incorrect.

The team have yet to announce who will be driving in 2012 and we await the decision (the date of 15th December for the announcement has been mentioned, but again that's unconfirmed).

Personally i would keep Adrian and Paul as our 2012 race drivers. Adrian really got the maximum out of the car this season, i don't see how he could have performed any better in all honesty. Meanwhile Paul did appear to drop some pace to Adrian towards the end of the season but nevertheless it was a fantastic debut season for him, probably better than anybody expected. Why change something if it is not broken?

Having said that the final decision does rest with Dr.Mallya and let's not forget the team have more data than us to come to a more informed decision about who is quickest; so i trust whatever decision the team make.

Brazilian GP - Race Results

Results: Sutil 6th (8points), Di Resta 8th (4points).

A great race for Force India, infact their joint best race of the season (they achieved the same result, 6th and 8th, in Singapore earlier this season).

On paper this weekend a two stop strategy was around 10seconds quicker than a three stop strategy but in reality that's not how it played out so the team did the right thing switching Adrian onto a three stopper midway through the race! Infact Sutil was so quick the whole race that he even beat the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg - highly impressive!

As for Paul Di Resta, he stuck to the non-ideal two stop strategy but still made it work despite also having to contend with KERS and gearbox problems for the last 25laps. A very good drive by him!

Towards the end of the race with our cars running 6th and 8th i was hoping Vettel (who was also having gearbox problems) would retire with those troubles, pushing our cars upto 5th and 7th and giving us the 16points required to leapfrog Renault in the championship although i quickly realised that Petrov was in the points paying positions for Renault anyhow so in actual fact it would not have mattered.

A brilliant drive by both drivers though and Force India finished a record high 6th place in the constructors championship! This is a season that we can look back on and be very proud of!

Lots of good articles coming your way over the off-season so stay tuned for that! =)

26/11/2011

Brazilian GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Sutil 8th (1:13.298), Di Resta 11th (1:13.584).

Once again another great effort by Adrian Sutil to qualify in 8th place ahead of Senna and Schumacher!

Let's just take a moment to take that in:

"Adrian Sutil ahead of Senna and Schumacher" ... Schumacher, the man who was probably Adrian's hero growing up and Senna, such a big name in F1 during the 1990's i know it's not the same Senna racing as the great Ayrton but that sentence must make Adrian feel very proud!

Meanwhile Paul Di Resta qualified 11th but he was probably hoping for Q3. This weekend, and in recent races, he has been lagging behind Adrian a little pace wise but we'll see how he goes over a long run tomorrow. 11th place with a 90% chance of rain isn't too bad at all! =)

We're looking forward to the race tomorrow, things are still to be decided: can Adrian get 9th in the constructors championship? Can Force India outscore Renault by 16pts to overtake them in the championship? Join us tomorrow to find out!

In other news; most media sources have been reporting that Force India are considering Sutil, Di Resta and Hulkenberg for a seat in 2012 but as Auto India Sports understands it there is a 4th driver in contention for a race seat. If you can identify the driver (pictured below) please let us know! =D

Brazilian GP - Practice Three Results

Results: Sutil 6th (1:13.113), Di Resta 9th (1:13.419).

A quite brilliant session for the two Force India's which once again demonstrates just how quick the team is this weekend.

Sutil drove a good lap to finish the session 6th ahead of both Mercedes cars and Felipe Massa's Ferrari. Di Resta was 3tenths slower than Adrian but still managed to beat Massa. Both cars were within a second of the fastest time set by Vettel. It's interesting to note that Adrian did that best time with a different front wing to what he used during the rest of the session - was it a developmental part? Unusually so close to qualifying, all teams were trialling new things. Paul Di Resta was trying out different flaps, known as gurney flaps, on the rear wing.
 

There is a 90% of rain in the race tomorrow so it will be interesting to see if the drivers go for a dry or wet setup in qualifying (once they take to the track in qualifying they can not change their setup until after the race has begun).

Meanwhile Nico Hulkenberg did something different in FP3 and was in a commentary role for BBC Radio Five Live (UK coverage).

We now look forward to qualifying in just under a couple of hours time!

Brazilian GP - Practice One & Two Results

FP1 Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:15.178), Di Resta 9th (1:15.241).
FP2 Results: Sutil 9th (1:14.144), Di Resta 10th (1:14.807).

The good form of the team continues. The performance scale has been going upwards from the past few GP's now after a slow start to the season. Both the Friday sessions went excellently well for the team as they finished inside the top 10 in both the sessions, even keeping the 5th placed Lotus Renault behind. Of course, keeping them behind in qualifying & race matters the most here but still the pace here of Force India seems more than Lotus Renault.

Hulkenberg sat for Sutil in FP1, for the first time since Suzuka. In FP1, both Hulkenberg & Di Resta were within a second of Schumacher's Mercedes and ahead of Rosberg. Both were closely matched, separated by 0.063seconds. In FP2, Sutil was back in the car concentrating on tyre set-up for qualifying and the race. Once again a strong performance as both finished inside the top 10. Interestingly, Sutil was just 0.752seconds away from 1st place, bracketing himself with the top teams.

As for our competitors, both Toro Rosso & Sauber were posting some good times but were a bit off from the pace of Force India. For a change, both the Lotus Renault's were also a bit far off from the Indian team's pace. Bruno Senna even said, "It will be difficult to get to Q3. The pace of Force India was far from ours." This pretty much sums up that the team had a good Friday outing which prompted Di Resta to say, "In fact, it's probably one of the best Fridays we've had in terms of collecting data." All in all, it should be an interesting qualifying today with the team very much looking to get both the cars in Q3.

Click here for the Friday quotes from Adrian Sutil, Paul Di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg & Dominic Harlow.

Join us for FP3 & Qualifying reports later in the evening.

24/11/2011

Weekend Preview!

Well, most of the race series' we follow have now come to an end, just two remain in progress for 2011. You can view the status of each series on our championship standings page here. The eagle eyed among you will notice that the final rounds of the JK Racing Asia series have been moved from the Buddh International Circuit, India to the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia ... the reasoning behind this can be read here. A new weekend for the final races in that series has not yet been confirmed.

Anyhow, back on topic, the only race series in action this weekend is F1; the final race of the season in Brazil!

Let's see how things stand:

Constructors Standings (5th-8th)
5) Lotus Renault (72pts) 
6) Force India (57pts)
7) Sauber (42pts)
8) Toro Rosso (41pts)

In all honesty, Force India look very secure in their 6th place in the constructors championship; 15pts behind Renault and 15pts ahead of Sauber. However anything can happen in F1 so Force India need to be wary.

These are ways of scoring at least 15pts in F1:
  • One car finishing in 3rd place or higher (awards 15pts in total)
  • One car finishing in 4th place and one car finishing in 8th or higher (awards 16pts in total)
  • One car finishing in 5th place and one car finishing in 7th or higher (awards 16pts in total)
Unless either of these things happen to Force India, Renault or Toro Rosso then things will stay as they are with regards to our constructors battle - and you have to say those situations look unlikely. Nevertheless rain could play a factor and throw up a strange result; initial forecasts point towards a wet race.

Drivers Standings (9th-16th)
9) Vitaly Petrov (36pts)
10) Nick Heidfeld (34pts) 
11) Adrian Sutil (34pts)
12) Kamui Kobayashi (28pts)
13) Jaime Alguersuari (26pts) 
14) Paul di Resta (23pts)
15) Sebastien Buemi (15pts)
16) Sergio Perez (14pts)

Adrian Sutil is fighting for 9th place in the championship. He needs an 8th place in Brazil (awards 4pts) without Petrov scoring to leapfrog into what would be his highest drivers championship finish in F1; last season he finished in 11th in the championship.

For Paul Di Resta things are a little more open as there are many potential outcomes. His main battle however is with Kobayashi and Alguersuari for 12th place in the championship. If:
  • Paul takes 8th in Brazil (awards 4pts) without Alguersuari finishing higher than 10th (awards 1pt), he will move upto 13th in the championship.
  • Paul takes between 5th-7th in Brazil (awards between 10pts and 6pts) without Alguersuari getting 8th (awards 4pts) or higher and without Kobayashi getting 9th (awards 2pts) or higher, he will move upto 12th in the championship.
So to sum up, both titles may be decided however there are things still to play for! Furthermore let's not forget that Adrian and Paul will both want to impress as both have not yet had contract announcements for 2012.

Read what team members Adrian Sutil, Paul Di Resta and Vijay Mallya have to say about this weekend on the F1 website here.

Something tells me this is going to be a mega exciting GP! Follow the coverage with session reports right here at Auto India Sports.

22/11/2011

Catch up time!

Well, it has been quite some time since we've done a news round-up article due to other commitments, like university work, so here we go with a massive catch up! =)

Firstly, here is something interesting to look at. It's info about the 2011 India motorsport forum to be held in New Delhi on the 24th November. It should be an interesting event and will hopefully produce some talking points regarding development for India in this sector.

Next up, Indian actor and film director Gulshan Grover has stated his desire to create a movie on motorsport! We'll provide more information on that story when we get it but in an interview Grover stated: "I plan to rope in Shah Rukh Khan for the lead role. Things are still in the planning stage but we hope to start the project by the end of this year." Shah Rukh Khan is a self-confessed motorsport fan and he is an ambassador for Force India F1 so it seems like an ideal fit.

Want more? Okay well Force India have announced an extension of their contract with STL for a further three years. STL are a communications company who help the race team connect to the Force India factory, back in Silverstone, during a race weekend. Read more on this deal and STL's role within Force India here.

While on the subject of Force India we are still awaiting their 2012 driver line-up announcement. Rumors are circling that the decision has been made and an announcement will be made very soon!

Finally, India has a new racing series! We won't tell you too much about it just yet as we have a detailed article about the series coming next week; however feel free to take a look around their very flashy website here =)

That's all for now - thanks for reading! =)

18/11/2011

Abu Dhabi - young driver test

F1's only twilight race may be over for another year but the action at Yas Marina certainly wasn't. It was time for the three day young driver test.

Force India fielded two GP2 drivers: 20 year old Max Chilton (left) and 22 year old Johnny Cecotto Jr (right) in the VJM04.


(click to enlarge)

Tuesday saw the first day of the test with Chilton in the car. After the test he said the following on his twitter account (@MaxChilton_):

"Had a very enjoyable morning I got to grips with the car & the controls well and have now got some soft developement tyres this afternoon!"

"Great day, I now have 81F1 laps under my belt and I finished P.6 for the day but had no kers so really happy! #F1RookieTest"

As Max said he covered 81 laps which put him 6th, just one tenth behind experienced McLaren test driver Gary Paffett - a good effort!

Wednesday saw Johnny Cecotto Jr grab his first taste of F1. He completed 84 laps which put him P5.

Johnny said the following after his run:

"Amazing is the only word to describe today. Everything was just incredible from the moment I left the pits to begin my first lap. These cars are so impressive: the power, the braking performance and the aerodynamic grip you get through the corners – it makes you say ‘wow’. And there are so many systems on the car, too, such as the KERS, which really impressed me. It was good to try out some of the 2012 tyres in the afternoon and the team seemed happy with the data and my feedback. Overall it was just an unbelievable experience to work at such a professional level, with a great crew, and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me such a wonderful opportunity."

The final day of young driver testing saw Chilton once again driving the car. The British driver covered 79 laps and ended the day P5.

These positions are largely irrelevent as we don't know fuel loads and car specifications (some teams were trying new parts for 2012) however we can make some loose comparisons.

The fastest qualifying lap we saw over the Abu Dhabi GP weekend was 1:40.205 by Adrian Sutil in Q2 - we can compare that to Chilton and Cecotto Jr's times to see their ability (although with very little F1 experience).

Tuesday (full results here)
Sutil Q2: 1:40.205
Chilton: 1:43.016 (+2.811s)

Wednesday (full results here)
Sutil Q2: 1:40.205
Cecotto Jr: 1:42.873 (+2.632s)

Thursday (full results here)
Sutil Q2: 1:40.205
Chilton: 1:41.575 (+1.370s)

As expected the newbies are considerably down on the experienced Adrian Sutil. What is interesting from this data though is that after both newbies had one days experience (at the end of Wednesday) - Cecotto Jr was faster than Chilton by 0.2s. On Thursday Chilton improved his best time massively to get within 1.3s of Sutil, an improvement of 1.5s compared with his Tuesday best. This could be down to a number of factors though such as track conditions/fuel load or car setup.

So a great experience for the two GP2 drivers and i am sure Force India picked up some valuable data too - a win win situation!