30/06/2011

FOTA Fan Forum

Just got back from the FOTA fan forum at the McLaren technology centre a little over an hour ago and i thought i would share some interesting things that came out of it.

The session was divided into three sections, in each section the fans could ask questions to the members of the F1 community (listed below) who were present on a variety of topics.

Section one - sporting competition in F1: Graeme Lowdon (Virgin), Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren), Robert Fernley (Force India), Ross Brawn (Mercedes).

Section two - technical development: James Allison (Lotus Renault), Paddy Lowe (McLaren), Paul Monaghan (Red Bull).

Section three - drivers: Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren).

As this is a blog on Indian Motorsport i will focus mainly on Robert Fernley (deputy team principle of Force India) however if you have any specific questions for me about the day, contact me here or on twitter (@f1peter27).

A range of topics were discussed including engines, DRS, KERS, pay TV vs free to air TV, timing data and media. But the thing Robert Fernley seemed to talk most passionately about was getting a race in Africa and trying to make F1 an even more Worldwide sport.

I had a nice long chat with him after the event and he explained the philosophy of Force India is that the team is a family of three drivers not just two - which relates to Nico Hulkenberg getting FP1 drives. He also acknowledged that it can go wrong if the reserve driver crashes (which is what happened at the last GP) however that's a risk they are willing to take to make sure everyone is included. He went on to explain to me that he slowly expects more and more teams to do the same thing and follow Force India in allowing reserve drivers to take part in FP1 for experience.

We also chatted about Force India's development within F1. He stated that it will take time to beat the big boys (Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes) however it could be done with time and slow development. From what he was saying it seems like the team are trying to get the infrastructure in place and then build on that rather than just throwing loads of money into research and development - they are trying to build a legacy not just a championship winning team.

Finally, the Indian GP was a discussion point between us. One of the things he is hoping for from that race is to get more Indian companies interested in the sport (Tata was mentioned) to try and develop more commercial and technical linkups. One beautiful sentence he stated was that "The British GP is our base race, but the Indian GP is our spiritual race".

Overall a great day, some good photos can be viewed here and you can listen to the entire forum on autosport.com here. If you went to the forum and your wondering who i was, i am in the photo with Robert Fernley below.


I will look forward to receiving your questions =)

Hispania reshuffle - Karthikeyan out!

Two separate stories have appeared from Hispania today and it's quite obvious they are linked.

Firstly, Hispania team principle Colin Kolles is to step aside from Hispania to allow the owning Carabante family to take more direct control. That story can be viewed here.

Secondly, Red Bull/Toro Rosso reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo is set to replace Narain Karthikeyan for the rest of the season. That story is here.

Colin Kolles is the guy who brought Karthikeyan back into F1 as they have a good relationship together from previous events including the Le Mans 24 hour race. Kolles going means Karthikeyan also going unfortunately, although he is expected to stay on as reserve driver for the rest of the season.

Obviously this is disappointing for Indian F1 fans, however you can understand Hispania's decision to give the drive to a younger more promising driver. The one piece of good news though is that Narain will be allowed to race at the Indian GP for the whole weekend so that should give us something to cheer about!

On that note, it is expected that Team Lotus will also let Karun Chandhok race at the Indian GP for the whole weekend however this is just speculation at this stage.

Tag Heuer in Indian GP link up?

Sportzpower.com are reporting that luxury Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer have signed a deal with JPSI (the promoters of the Indian GP) to have full access to the branding, logo and image rights of the the Buddh International Circuit.

There has been no official confirmation at this stage, however you can read the full article here.

If this turns out to be true then that's great news for both Tag Heuer and the Buddh International Circuit. Tag Heuer will receive greater worldwide publicity and coverage whereas the Indian circuit will benefit through guidance from Tag Heuer who have a long history in motorsport.

Obviously speculation is not always true but we should hope it is!

28/06/2011

Valencia - A Dull But A Tough Race

We didn’t find anything exciting in the race apart from few moves from Webber & Alonso, Button over Rosberg, Sutil over Heidfeld. Throughout the race there were no retirement (which is good with respect to drivers & teams), no DNF’s and no much drama’s to excite the people watching on TV and from Grandstands. But having said this, it was very tough for the drivers & teams out there, the weather didn’t help either as it was too hot. Sebastian Vettel emerged as the Winner with Fernando Alonso second & Mark Webber third.

Here is the detailed report of the Weekend:

FP1:
The teams were back in Europe for the European GP in Valencia, Spain. The second street circuit of the season after Monaco. The teams were testing the Medium Compound tyres, it was for the first time they were going to use it in a race and the Soft Compound allocated for the race. The pace setter in FP1 was Webber of Red Bull. Force India had a good start with Sutil finishing at P8 while Hulkenberg (sitting for Di Resta) crashed out after hitting the wall at Turn 12, he finished at P18. Karthikeyan of HRT finished at P23. Chandhok (sitting in place of Trulli) couldn’t set a time due to gearbox problems in his Team Lotus car.

FP2:
The second session began after lunch on Friday as the teams collected more data for Qualifying & Race. Just when it looked its another weekend for Red Bull, Ferrari jumped in the fray as Alonso topped the time-sheets at the end of the session. Force India continued with there strong outing as Sutil finished at P11, leading the mid-field pack while Di Resta having only got 20 minutes of running finished at P14. Karthikeyan in his HRT continued to bring out the best from the car, ending at P23.

FP3:
The teams headed out for the Final Practice making the necessary changes to their cars from the data’s collected yesterday. Red Bull bounced back as Vettel topped the time-sheets at the end of the session. Force India once again lead the mid-field pack with Sutil finishing at P11 while Di Resta drove well (after lack of practice in FP2) to finish at P13. On the whole, it was turning out to be a good weekend for Force India and it surely looked that they will be on the toes to make it to the Top 10 in Qualifying. Karthikeyan in his HRT finished at P24, trying to stay within the 107% rule in Qualifying.

We had an interesting battles in our hands for pole as Ferrari were looking strong to challenge Red Bulls. McLarens were a bit down but they posed a threat too. Force India were the only mid-field team looking good along with Williams as Sauber & STR were having problems.

Qualifying:
Q1:
The teams were set to go out for the first qualifying session. Qualifying is important in a street circuit as its difficult to over-take. It was a tricky session as even the top drivers were very close to go out of Q1. In the end along with the six drivers of the new teams, Jamie Alguersuari bowed out of Q1. Massa topped the time-sheet with a time of 1:38.413 (107% time being 1:45.301). All the drivers qualified under the 107% time. Karthikeyan qualified at P24 in his HRT with the time of 1:44.363 ensuring he is under 107% time. Both the Force India made it to Q2 as I was expecting them to. Q3 for both cars was possible and I was hoping for that (a bit optimistic).

Q2: 
The times in Q1 didn’t exactly show the true line-up but we could predict the teams fighting for pole as Red Bull & Ferrari were looking strong. Force India could get in to Q3 at the expense of either Mercedes or Lotus Renaults. The pace was already set by Vettel with McLarens jumping in for the front row as well. By the end it was looking as if it will be again the Top 5 teams making it to Q3 but a late surge by Force India’s Sutil removed Petrov from the 10th spot, thereby securing a place in Top 10 for the first time in the season while his team-mate Paul was running to take a spot in Top 10 but he slid in Turn 13 which compromised his place in Q3. He qualified at P12 with the time of 1:39.422, a good result considering the lack of practice. I expected one car in Q3 and it happened, points was very much on the cards.

Q3:
The battle for Pole began with the Top 4 teams along with one Lotus Renault & one Force India. We knew it will be another weekend for Vettel taking away the Pole even if others were trying hard (the drivers knew too) and that’s what happened in the end. Vettel making it 8 out of 8 with regard to Pole. His team-mate Webber was behind him with surprisingly Hamilton in third (as the McLarens were not looking that strong). Both Sutil & Heidfeld chose not to run in order to save tyres for the race as they knew they won’t move high up the order. Sutil eventually qualified at P10, his best qualifying performance in the season. I was happy with Force India’s performance as they showed during the Practice Sessions, I was hoping for some good points in the race.

I was hoping for a good race in the hands as there were two DRS zones along with KERS which would have helped in over-takings even though it was a street circuit.

Race:
It was a very hot Sunday afternoon as the teams geared for the Eighth Race of the Season. Vettel was as usual starting from Pole with Webber alongside him and Alonso & Hamilton behind. We could have hoped for the exciting start, the First Lap/Corner action but yet again it was a smooth start for all the drivers. Vettel lead the way, Ferrari’s had a great start leaving behind the McLaren’s. Force India’s Sutil too over-took Heidfeld and gained one place, while Di Resta benefited from Petrov’s slow start.

From then on the race had nothing to excite the fans, apart from some battles like that of Alonso & Webber who moved back and forth for the P2 position. They did provide some cheer in the crowd (especially Alonso the Home hero). The move of the race went to Button over Rosberg, yeah he did it without the help of DRS, it was pure skill. We saw just one small incident involving Petrov & Schumacher where Schumi lost his front wing when he was coming out of the pits, he braked late, resulting Petrov kissing his car. That pretty much ended Schumi’s point scoring chances.

Force India’s Sutil had a good battle with Heifeld, at the start and during their first pit-stop as well. Sutil stayed comfortably ahead of Heidfeld. Towards the end he was fighting hard with Jamie for the P8 position but couldn’t over-take even with the help of DRS, thereby ending at P9 with two points. Jamie drove a good race considering he did a 2 stop race while most opted for 3 stop. Perez did even well as he finished P11 with just one stop. While Paul had a good start but I think the strategy didn’t favor him as he lost places in his last pit-stop and the traffic as he came out didn’t help either. He ended at P14, which was not bad considering the lack or practice he had.

In the end it was Vettel who won the race, making it 6 out of 8 race wins in the season. Alonso came home at P2 ahead of Webber at P3. The race will also be remembered as the race where all the 24 cars finished the race with no DNF’s. Karthikeyan was classified as the 24th finisher (a record he wont be proud of). All in all I wont rate this race as the best of the season even though all finished but I must congratulate the engineers who have worked hard on the reliability of the cars. I was happy that Force India got some points as it worked to be one of the strongest weekend for them, they still have loads of work to do in order to get ahead of Sauber & STR in the championship. In two weeks time we look forward to (an iconic) Silverstone GP, it will be first of Force India’s home race. It should be an interesting with some rule changes on board and also some changes to the race track.

27/06/2011

Weekend Results Roundup

F1: Sutil 9th, Di Resta 14th, Karthikeyan 24th.

F2: Ebrahim 13th and 20th, Sureshwaren 21st and 19th.

French F4: Ghorpade 12th and 14th.

To view full championship standings after this weekends races please view our page here =)

French F4 Races - Le Vigeant

Race one result: Ghorpade 12th
Race two result: Ghorpade 14th

Not a bad weekend for the Indian driver, very close to points in both races but in the end it just didn't quite happen for him! Nevertheless a good effort and hopefully he can score points once again at the next races in Spa-Francorchamps.

He has dropped in the championship from 14th place to 16th place unfortunately ... the full standings can be viewed here.

26/06/2011

Formula Two Race Two - Spa-Francorchamps

Results: Sureshwaren 19th, Ebrahim 20th.

Very disappointing unfortunately! No points for either driver this weekend!

Sureshwaren continued to struggle as he has done all weekend but he did reach the checkered flag and finish the race which is a positive to draw on.

Ebrahim started 14th but unfortunately on lap 15 he collided with German driver Thiemo Storz which put him and the back, at that stage there was only two more laps to go and thus he couldn't make any progress up through the field =(

Both drivers now need to dust themselves down and try and refocus themselves for the challenge of the Nurburgring on the 2nd and 3rd of July.

Our championship standings page will be updated later tonight =)

European GP - Race

Results: Sutil 9th (2points), Di Resta 14th, Karthikeyan 24th

Good race for Force India today, scoring points and closing the gap to 6th placed Sauber in the championship.

Sutil had a good start and managed to jump Nick Heidfeld on lap one. He was then able to stay ahead of him for the entire race and pretty much extracted the maximum from the car to finish ninth. However he was unlucky not to pass Jamie Alguersuari for eighth - the gap at the end of the race between the two was just 0.4seconds, one more lap and he could have probably done it! Nevertheless a very good result, great driving =)

Di Resta had a good start and his pace was solid .. he was on course to finish 11th which would have been 10th after Schumacher dropped down the order due to a collision with Petrov, however after the final pit stop for the Scottish driver he suddenly found himself down in 15th! There must have been some issues during the stop which were not picked up by the World TV feed. He managed to pass Kobayashi in the final phase of the race though and grab 14th place. Not a bad effort considering how much he lacked practice around this circuit after Hulkenberg crashed his car in FP1.

So all in all a good weekend for Force India, falling behind Toro Rosso in the championship but crucially closing on the target of 6th place in the constructors title as Sauber failed to score.

Narain Karthikeyan pushed his hardest however he has had gearbox problems all weekend and ended up in last place, 24th (everyone finished the GP for only the 3rd time in F1 history), nearly a whole lap down on teammate Liuzzi ... a weekend to forget for the Indian, but i am sure he'll bounce back well in Britain.

Remember to check back in the next few days when my colleague Darshan will have an extensive report of the entire weekend =)

Formula Two Qualifying Two - Spa-Francorchamps

Results: Ebrahim 14th (2:09.394), Sureshwaren 23rd (2:11.388)

Qualifying for race two in Belgium got underway on a circuit that had dried out since yesterday - nevertheless it didn't affect the result for Armaan Ebrahim who once again will line up 14th on the grid. One of the reasons for the consistent performance is that the Spa circuit is very long and as a result all the laptimes are relatively spaced out so even if you do a good lap or a poor lap by your own standards the chances are you may well end up in the same position!

Parthiva Sureshwaren has struggled to get to grips with this circuit all weekend and unfortunately qualified down in last place, he will be hoping for rain if he is to make any useful progress up the field in the race.

Auto India Sports wishes both drivers the very best of luck! =)

25/06/2011

Formula Two Race One - Spa-Francorchamps

Results: Ebrahim 13th, Sureshwaren 21st.

Ebrahim started 14th, Sureshwaren was allowed to race by the stewards after failing to set a fast enough time in qualifying so he began at the back in 23rd.

Cars were spinning around everywhere in the wet conditions thrown up by the Arden mountains but both our guys kept out of trouble and tried to take advantage of other spins and incidents however unfortunately it wasn't enough for either of them to get points. Ebrahim just gained one place on his starting position and Sureshwaren gained two, both thanks to retirements.

In the championship Ebrahim has dropped one place to 12th and Sureshwaren remains in 21st position, both will be hoping for a better day at the office tomorrow in race two! We have updated the championship standings and they are available to view here.

European GP - Qualifying

Results: Sutil 10th (No Time Set), Di Resta 12th (1:39.422), Karthikeyan 24th (1:44.363)

Well in my FP3 review i said the result would be easy to predict and i thought Sutil would start P11 and Di Resta would start P12.

I would have been right if it wasn't for a storming lap from Adrian Sutil, it was a brilliant effort to displace Vitaly Petrov from the top ten, he should be very proud of himself! He could have actually gotten P9 but like Nick Heidfeld he did not set a laptime to save tyres for the race ... that might turn out to be an inspired decision come tomorrow! =) Even Di Resta did a wonderful job given his lack of running on Friday, points definitely possible from him tomorrow =) Could this be Force India's second double points finish of the season?

As for Karthikeyan he is still struggling with car issues and finished 24th, six tenths down on D'Ambrosio in 23rd, however if he remains reliable tomorrow he might just end up with a good result! We're hoping for the best! =)

You can read quotes from all the drivers plus Force India Owner Vijay Mallya on the F1 website here.

Formula Two Qualifying One - Spa-Francorchamps

Results: Ebrahim 14th (2:38.545), Sureshwaren DNQ (2:48.519)

A treacherously wet qualifying session made it very hard to hook up a perfect lap and all the drivers struggled with aquaplaning, spins and yellow flags all over the place.

Ebrahim did get a clean lap however and managed to grab 14th place on the grid, that's about the position he has been in for the whole weekend so far in the practice sessions. Sureshwaren struggled more though and failed to qualify as he was too slow. The same fate was also suffered by two other drivers as well (Sunghak Mun and Plamen Kralev).

So Ebrahim lines up 14th and given the conditions points will be possible if he can keep all four wheels pointing in the right direction and stay on the circuit. As for Sureshwaren he will have to wait to see what the stewards say about him lining up on the grid.

European GP - Practice Three

Results: Sutil 11th (1:39.411), Di Resta 13th (1:39.823), Karthikeyan 24th (1:44.630).

The first thing i want to say about how this weekend is shaping up is that personally i have never ever seen such a clear cut weekend for Force India. Given results so far it's quite clear that we have the best car behind the top five teams. In that session Sutil, who finished 11th, was three tenths of a second behind Heidfeld in 10th and four tenths ahead of Perez in 12th. A large gap to the cars ahead and the cars behind means he may well have a lonely race tomorrow.

As for Paul, he completed no laps in FP1 and just seven laps in FP2 so the Scottish driver has done a wonderful job to grab 13th in FP3 - plus on that quick lap he had traffic and had to overtake two cars. With a few more laps under his belt during Q1 he should be able to start challenging Sutil for pace.

The aim for Force India is qualifying is, as always, Q3, however given the data so far i am fairly certain that unless one of the top five teams has some kind of issue our cars will line up P11 and P12 on the grid - but let's see! Points always possible starting from 11th and 12th =)

Karthikeyan struggled once again, a whole 1.3seconds down on D'Ambrosio in 23rd ... there must be some fundamental issue with his car, the gap is too big to be down to driver performance. Let's hope the team can resolve the problem before qualifying however given the practice sessions so far that doesn't look likely unfortunately.

24/06/2011

Formula Two Practice 1&2 - Spa-Francorchamps

Practice One Results: Ebrahim 15th (2:14.578), Sureshwaren 17th (2:15.119)
Practice Two Results: Ebrahim 14th (2:11.614), Sureshwaren 17th (2:12.719)

Two Indians were in action during FP1 of the European GP in Valencia, but two Indians are also in action this weekend at the legendary Spa circuit in Belgium.

Both Armaan Ebrahim and Parthiva Sureshwaren were hoping for good results and they both did fairly well. As you can see from the laptimes both improved drastically on performance from first practice to second practice ... unfortunately for them so did everyone else!

For those of you who don't know, F2 uses the same scoring system as F1 (top ten finishers receive points) so both Ebrahim and Sureshwaren need to push on a little more if they want to grab some points this weekend. It's definitely possible!

European GP - Practice Two

Results: Sutil 11th (1:39.626), Di Resta 14th (1:40.363), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:46.906).

Once again a solid job by Sutil to grab 11th place. Force India appear to be best of the rest behind the top five teams so are in a seemingly strong position this weekend! Di Resta's car was damaged by Hulkenberg in FP1 and it took a while to repair it ... nevertheless the Force India mechanics did a great job to get Paul out for the final 15minutes of the session. Considering Paul has only completed seven laps this weekend he has done well to finish the session P14, just seven tenths of a second down on Adrian (which can be attributed to the lack of running).

Karthikeyan finished in 23rd place ahead of Jamie Alguersuari who failed to set a laptime due to a suspected gearbox issue. Much to his disappointment Narain is 2.5seconds slower than his teammate and must have some kind of issue on the car as up to this point both Narain and teammate Liuzzi have been almost evenly matched. More news about Karthikeyan's problem when we get it.

UPDATE: Karthikeyan had a gearbox issue towards the end of the session hence his laptime compared to his teammates is unrepresentative. To view quotes from all drivers visit the F1 website here.

European GP - Practice One

Results: Sutil 8th (1:41.955), Hulkenberg 18th (1:43.769), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:46.926), Chandhok 24th (No Time Set)

Good effort by Force India's Sutil, 20 laps completed and lots of data gathered, however his teammate Nico Hulkenberg unfortunately lost control of the car under breaking and tapped the wall on his seventh lap causing some small damage (bodywork, front wing and rear suspension). The mechanics should be able to repair the car by skipping lunch although i am sure Di Retsa won't be too happy that he doesn't have much data to work with when he gets back in the car for FP2. We know Di Resta is a quality driver though so hopefully he can do more laps than his competitors in second practice to compensate.

Karthikeyan had a solid run in FP1, finishing 23rd. He is locked in a battle with the Virgin's and teammate Liuzzi this weekend.

Karun Chandhok's bad luck in sessions this year continued! He's taken part in three FP1 sessions this season and has only got through to the end of the session once (Turkey). In Australia he crashed and today he had a gearbox issue. He will now handover to Trulli for the rest of the weekend and will next take part during FP1 for the British GP - hopefully his luck will change for then! =)

22/06/2011

Weekend Preview

What a weekend of motorsport we have in store!

It all kicks off this Saturday at the 6th round of the French F4 championship at Le Vigeant with Indian driver Parth Ghorpade in action. He'll be hoping to score some valuable points to try and climb up the championship order, currently he is in 14th place.

Then, on Sunday, we have the F1 race at Valencia. Both Force India's will be in action along with Narain Karthikeyan. Force India drivers Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta will both be hoping for points come the end of the weekend whereas Karthikeyan looks set for a good battle with the two Virgin cars of Glock and D'Ambrosio as well as his teammate Liuzzi. It is worth noting that Force India reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg will be in action in practice one, plus Karun Chandhok will also be in action during that session, replacing Jarno Trulli at Team Lotus.
You can read quotes from the F1 drivers and from Force India owner Vijay Mallya on the F1 website here. Also, a special interview with Narain Karthikeyan about his comeback so far is available on the ESPN website here ... well recommended if you haven't read it already!

F1 isn't the only thing this Sunday though ... the F2 boys are also in action at the legendary Spa circuit in Belgium. Both Armaan Ebrahim and Parthiva Sureshwaren will be hoping to push up the grid a little bit ... Ebrahim should be aiming for top five and Sureshwaren should start scoring some points. A small but interesting article on Parthiva is available on the F2 website here.

You can keep track of all this motorsport here where we will be providing regular updates! We wish all drivers representing out nation the very best of luck! =)

19/06/2011

Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup - Lausitz

The EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany hosted round four of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup with Indians Aditya Patel and Sailesh Bolisetti in action.

Aditya Patel had a great race, finishing 4th for the third time this season and netting 34points which was enough to cement his 5th place in the championship. He is 49pts behind championship leader Mateusz Lisowski, that's not a lot in this championship =)

Sailesh Bolisetti finished in 16th position, gaining 16points but unfortunately dropping two places in the championship to 14th.

For a link to the latest standings click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page =)

17/06/2011

Indian GP Page

At Auto India Sports we're very excited about the Indian GP ... so excited that we've added a page specifically for the Indian GP. To take a look simply click here or click the link at the top of the page =)

15/06/2011

New Additions

Just wanted to let you guys know that if you look on the left of this page you'll see that we added three more Indian Drivers to our website: Parth Ghorpade, Aditya Patel and Sailesh Bolisetti ... if you'd like to know more about them take a look at our supported drivers page here or if you'd like to see how they are performing in there respective championships then here is where you should go!

Many more additions to the website coming over the next few days so keep your eye out for them! =)

14/06/2011

Canada - the best race of the season so far?

Well, it was the longest race in the history of F1 (4 hours & 4 minutes), but it was surely worth it. After the Red Flag, we all thought that this will be the end but fortunately it didn’t, infact it went the full distance with loads of action which gave us chill & thrill. Jenson Button of McLaren emerged as the Winner with Sebastian Vettel & Mark Webber, second & third respectively for Red Bull.

Here is the detailed report of the weekend:

All the teams were gearing up for the only race in North America i.e Montreal, Canada. Friday was a normal outing for all, as the teams tested the super-softs and soft tyres allocated for the race. The weather remained dry throughout the day. The session went smoothly for all the team as their prepared for Qualifying & Race. The pace was set by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. The only casualty was Vettel who hit the illustrious “Wall Of Champions”, and crashed out. Force India who generally do well in tracks like these had a good start to the weekend. Paul Di Resta finished at P8 while Nico Hulkenberg at P10. While Narain Karthikeyan finished at P24 in his upgraded Hispania Racing car.

FP2 began with the news of Sergio Perez of Sauber stating that he wont be driving for the weekend as he felt unwell while driving the car in FP1. He had a heavy shunt in the last race in Monaco. Filling his shoes was Pedro De La Rosa, Mclaren’s Reserve Driver. The pace was set by Fernando Alonso of Ferrari who were looking strong. Force India continued with their good start, Di Resta finished at P6 while Sutil finished at P11. Sutil was also involved in a crash as he hit the Turn Five Wall, thereby ending his session quite early. Karthikeyan finished at P23, continuing with the upgraded Hispania car. The session was interrupted twice by Red Flag, first due Kamui Kobayashi crashing at Turn Four and the other after Jerome d’Ambrosio crashing at the same place.

Its Saturday, teams were getting ready for FP3 and Qualifyings. All teams were set for the Final Testing, after making necessary changes from last day. The pace setter for this session was Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, though his team-mate Mark Webber didn’t get a run due to some KERS battery problems. Force India continued with there improved performance with Di Resta finishing at P9 while Sutil at P10, both quite evenly matched. Karthikeyan finished at P22 in his Hispania car. The session came to a pre-mature end when Pedro De La Rosa crashed his car at the exit of Turn Four. Everything was set for a good qualifying session, there were battles throughout the field, from the top battle for pole position between Ferrari, Red Bull, Mclarens to the fight in midfield including Force India, Sauber, Williams to the lower order Team Lotus, Virgin & HRT. All set, Q1 began and the cars went out in order to get through to Q2. Rain was expected, the weather was cloudy. Fernando Alonso set the top time of 1:13.822, the 107% time being 1:18.989. All teams were pressing hard to get to Q2, but unfortunately at the end of the session all the drivers of the new teams bowed out, with them Torro Rosso’s Jamie Alguersuari also went out in Q1. Both the Force India’s made it easily to Q2. Personally, I was expecting one car in Q3 at that time. Karthikeyan went out of Q1 but qualified for race under the 107% time with 1:18.574. Only driver failing to set a time under 107% was Ambrosio but was later cleared to race by the FIA stewards.

From the timings in Q1, it was all looking strong for Ferrari with Red Bull and McLarens chasing them closely. Further down, Force India were looking strong as they did during the whole weekend. Q2 began with cars heading out to go through to Q3. This time Felipe Massa set the top time for Ferrari with Red Bulls closely behind. At then of the session, all the Top Five teams (in Constructors Standings) made it to Q3. Force India’s Di Resta came very close to get in to Q3 with just few hundred of a seconds behind Lotus Renualts Nick Heidfeld, eventually ending at P11 with the time of 1:14.752, while Sutil qualified at P14 with the time of 1:15.287. Both of them later said that there last lap was ruined because of their mistakes. I was expecting one car in Q3 but seeing the close competition, P11 & P14 was a good result and very much for, in contention for points.

So, it came down to Q3 with the Top Five teams looking horns to get the Pole Position. It was all looking like Ferrari will get their first Pole Position of the season. It was really closely fought battle for the Pole Position, but it was Sebastian Vettel who made it 7 out of 7 to get the Pole Position. Both the Ferrari’s were very close but ended with Alonso in P2 & Massa in P3. Webber due to his KERS problems qualified at P4. The stage was set for an exciting race with two DRS zone and prediction of Rain and battles throughout the field. I was hoping for a double point finish for Force India, notably ahead of there direct competitors.

Sunday arrived with loads of rain in Canada, people were gearing up for the First Wet Weather of the season and tasting for the first time the Wet Pirelli tyres. Only man to have tested the wet tyres was Pedro De La Rosa. Just before the start of the race it was announced by FIA that the Race will start behind the Safety Car, which clearly ruled out the First Lap & First Corner actions. The race began behind the safety car with the drivers giving their views about the condition to help the FIA stewards. Finally the race began, Vettel leading the pack and the whole pack trying to over-take in a difficult track to race on. Hamilton was trying all his might to get ahead of his rivals. At first he had a spin with Webber and then later on while trying to over-take his team-mate Button on the start finish line, he eventually had a contact which led to his DNF, the Safety Car came out soon. The race continued behind the SC and soon the rain got heavy leading to the Race getting suspended for 2 hours 5 minutes. At the time of re-start, Vettel was leading with Kobayashi behind him, Di Resta was in the sixth place while Sutil in P13. That was not it for the days action, soon Alonso had a contact with Button with the Spainard suffering a DNF and SC car coming out once again. There was no penalties awarded to either of them after the race. As the SC came in, we saw Sutil getting investigated by the stewards for over-taking under SC and getting a drive-through penalty. He also had a contact with Rosberg when he tried over-taking him. He was running at P9 when he had to dive in for the penalty. While Di Resta was riding as high as P5 at one moment, he tried a move on Heidfeld but had a contact resulting in a nose change, to add insult to his injuries he was investigate by the stewards and got a drive-through penalty which pretty much ruined his race. Meanwhile the battle continued to get the P2 position with Kobayashi, Massa and Schumacher fighting hard, eventually, Schumacher got the advantage and overtook both Kobayashi & Massa to take the P2 place. It was a good move from the Former Champion. Soon we had another SC period after Heidfeld hit the back of Kobayashi, thereby loosing his front wing and crashing his car. After the debris was cleared, race resumed. There was an intense battle between Schumacher, Webber & Button, eventually Button got ahead of Webber due to a mistake by him, and soon he got ahead of Schumacher as well. He was seriously like the raging bull, charging through the field. Remember he was at one point in the last position. A few laps later, Webber overtook Schumacher pushing him down to P4. At the back Massa had a bit of a scare with Karthikeyan who was running a lap down, Massa tried to overtake him but lost control in the wet patch and hit the wall, resulting in a nose change, a strong weekend resulting in a disappointing end. Behind them Di Resta was trying like anything to get into the Top 10, eventually leading to his DNF after having a puncture in his rear tyre after hitting a wall. Sutil who changed to slicks earlier, had to retire due to suspension failure after hitting a wall. All in all a disappointing end to what could have been a god double point finish for them. Meanwhile, Button was pushing really hard behind Vettel, he eventually got past Vettel to get to P1 on the last lap when Vettel ran wide after braking early, giving the lead to Button and the win as well. A picture perfect finish to the race as Massa overtook Kobayashi just on the finish line!!

All in all the race was fantastic treat to the fans around the world. I myself enjoyed the race. It was a different feeling watching the race at about 3AM in the morning!! 4 hours 4 minutes went past like anything, I didn’t even realize it. Button clearly was the hero, 6 pit-stops (including penalty), overtakings, coming from last to first. Vettel was feeling a bit low , rightly so as he lead the whole race and one small mistake caused him the win and that too on the last lap. Force India should have got double point finish but I suppose all the good luck which they had during Friday and Saturday turned to bad luck on Sunday!! Karthikeyan finished at P14 but was demoted to P17 after suffering a 20 second penalty for cutting a chicane. But the Hispania’s proved to have good reliability. Next we move on to Valencia in two weeks time for the European GP, it should be cracker as well. Cant wait..!!

13/06/2011

Canadian GP - Confirmation

Results: Karthikeyan 17th, Di Resta 18th, Sutil DNF

Karthikeyan demoted from 14th to 17th after having 20seconds added to his finishing time for cutting a chicane and gaining an advantage. A good race for Karthikeyan ending in disappointment due to the penalty.

Di Resta crashed out after pushing too hard while fighting for 10th place with Barrichello, however he still classifies as 18th as he completed more than 75% race distance. Di Resta was on for a good finish but he shouldn't be too hard on himself after the crash, he is a rookie and is learning, mistakes in his first season are expected and he still has 100% support from the team.

Sutil DNF, suspension damage after a crash due to trying out the dry tyres too early. A brave move from Sutil to be the first driver onto the dry tyres unfortunately proved to be the wrong move, at the time he was in 13th so it was a calculated risk.

Unfortunately, as is usually the case in Canada, the race result did not reflect the pace of the cars - Force India had the fastest car behind the top five teams so to come away with no points is disappointing. The aim is 6th place in the constructors championship and we are now 17points behind 6th placed Sauber, that's not an issue at this stage, one piece of luck and we'll be right back in the hunt =)

My colleague Darshan Chokhani will be posting more detailed analysis of the race in the next few days, keep visiting for that. Don't forget you can recieve e-mail updates from Auto India Sports by entering your e-mail address in the box on the left hand side of this page.

Thanks for reading! =)

12/06/2011

Canadian GP - Breaking News

From the FIA: "Karthikeyan finished 14th, but had 20s added to his race time for missing a corner and gaining an advantage." He now classifies 17th =(

More post race news will appear here when we get it.

Canadian GP - Race

Results: Karthikeyan 14th, Di Resta 18th, Sutil DNF

Holy crap, how the hell do i begin to sum up that race?!

Let's start with Karthikeyan who had a brilliant race! The new teams had a wonderful scrap for the whole race, benefitting from retirements and on this occasion Hispania were best of the new teams. It was so close between the lot of them towards the end of the GP and here are the drivers who classified near Narain:

13th - Liuzzi (Hispania)
14th - Karthikeyan (Hispania) +7.5seconds
15th - D'Ambrosio (Virgin) +0.9seconds
16th - Glock (Virgin) +0.3seconds
17th - Trulli (Team Lotus) +0.3seconds

What this shows is that between 14th and 17th positions there were just 1.5seconds which is extremely close after 70 laps of racing! Karthikeyan did a brilliant job under pressure on the last lap to keep his Hispania above the Virgin's and Lotus'. It is worth noting at this stage that Narain is under investigation from the stewards about an incident with Timo Glock, unseen by the World TV feed. As a result his position may change but you'll hear it here if that happens.

Now onto Force India ... it's was a very mixed up race for both drivers and Paul was running well at the start up in 8th however he went off the road in the slippery conditions (it was captured in the background of one of the World TV feed shots) and that dropped him down to 12th, however various pit stops for other drivers meant that Paul gained positions by not changing from his wet tyres and was in 6th place when the race was red flagged. By this point Sutil was in 13th after making two pit stops.

The restart (which happened over two hours later!) went well for the team and we found Paul in 5th and Adrian in 10th, both in the points ... but that is where it all started to go wrong. Sutil was the first driver to try out the dry tyres however it was a fraction too early as he made an error and tapped a barrier causing suspension damage and resulting in retirement. As for Paul he was running well but received a drive through penalty for an over optimistic move on Nick Heidfeld which dropped him back to 14th. However he had good pace and was able to storm his way up to 11th and was closing in on Barrichello for the final points position. What happened then was unseen by the World TV feed unfortunately but the next thing we new was that Paul was into the wall ... my guess is that he caught Barrichello and the two of them touched which threw Paul out of the race.

There are still a lot of unknowns about this race as the World TV feed was very busy and unable to catch every incident plus there are still a lot of investigations ongoing so more news will be posted when we know more.

11/06/2011

Canadian GP - Qualifying

Results: Di Resta 11th (1:14.752), Sutil 14th (1:15.287), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:18.574).

Q3 was locked out by the top five teams (Ferrari, Lotus Renault, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull) so for Paul to snatch 11th was a great effort - best of the rest. Sutil also did a good job to grab 14th. Both cars could have gone a little faster as they both lost a little time on their final laps but nevertheless we are in a very good position for tomorrow.

Force India have done a very cunning thing here as both drivers have saved a set of supersoft tyres (the faster tyres) for the race tomorrow so if it's dry we're in a good position ... if not and it's wet we're still in a good position as our car is usually much higher up the pecking order in the wet weather. Furthermore Paul starts on the clean side of the grid so he has a great opportunity to gain a position or two down into turn one. A double points finish is definately on the cards - hopefully the safety cars (of which it's almost certain there will be some) play in our favour too!

Karthikeyan did a great job today too but he may be a little disappointed, he was just 0.037s slower than the Virgin Racing car of Timo Glock. Narain's teammate Liuzzi was a further tenth of a second up on Glock. In 24th was D'Ambrosio for Virgin, 0.9s down on Karthikeyan and outside the 107% rule which means he has failed to qualify ... however the stewards may turn a blind eye if they believe the Belgian has demonstrated enough speed in the prior practice sessions.

Canadian GP - Practice Three

Results: Sutil 9th (1:15.217), Di Resta 10th (1:15.243), Karthikeyan 22nd (1:19.213).

Both Force India drivers doing a wonderful job once again and both very evenly matched as always! The aim for qualifying will be to get both drivers into Q3, the final part of qualifying. However, just managing one driver in Q3 and one driver at the top end of Q2 will also be a great result =)

The top four teams (Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull) look too quick for us, so presuming they are reliable they will take positions 1st-8th and behind that battle it looks like the two Force India's battling with the two Lotus Renaults and Maldonado who seems quick.

At the back Karthikeyan was faster than D'Ambrosio by 1.2seconds which suggests the Belgian driver had a problem of some sort. Narain also classified higher than Mark Webber who failed to set a laptime due to a KERS issue. It looks like the Hispania's and Virgin's will have a good close battle this weekend after Hispania have a new upgrade package and Virgin have stopped developing their 2011 car to focus efforts on 2012.

Given the close battles up and down the field plus the fact that there is a 75% chance of rain in qualifying and the high probability of a red flag it's gonna be an awesome session and i hope you guys are excited as me! =)

10/06/2011

Canadian GP - Practice Two

Results: Di Resta 6th (1:16.089), Sutil 11th (1:16.905), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:20.311).

Once again another great effort by the Force India team! The car is looking good in the low downforce trim that Canada requires. Di Resta did a brilliant lap to secure 6th position and Sutil could have been there too if he didn't end his session early by hitting the barriers ... that's not a problem though, the car will be fixed by tomorrow and part of practice is to push the limits of the car so the crash doesn't cause a problem for us.

Karthikeyan ended up 23rd for Hispania, ahead of D'Ambrosio in the Virgin who also ended his session early with a trip into the barriers. Karthikeyan was just one tenth of a second down on teammate Liuzzi so it looks like it will be a close battle between them for the rest of the weekend.

Today has been one of the most eventful Fridays i can remember in F1 and that points towards a crazy race on Sunday. We shouldn't be that suprised though, Canada is usually a crazy race anyway! In both sessions today we have had: three red flags, four drivers into the barriers (Vettel, Sutil, Kobayashi and D'Ambrosio), off track excursions for nearly every driver, one puncture (Hamilton) and one driver change (de la Rosa in for the unwell Perez). Clearly there is every reason to be excited about FP3 and qualifying tomorrow! =)

Canadian GP - Practice One

Results: Di Resta 8th (1:17.294), Hulkenberg 10th (1:17.549), Karthikeyan 24th (1:20.839).

Good effort by the Force India boys to see both inside the top ten, hoping to see more of the same through the rest of the weekend. Canada is a circuit that should suit both drivers well as the car has always had good straight line speed and the circuit has alot of fast speed sections. Sutil will be back in the car replacing Hulkenberg for FP2 and the rest of the weekend.

Karthikeyan did a solid job for Hispania, just three tenths down on Glock in 23rd. Teammate Liuzzi was in 22nd, 0.9seconds faster than Karthikeyan.

One further thing from the session i want to point out is that defending World Champion, Sebastian Vettel, went into the wall of champions after making an error entering the final chicane. For those who don't know, the wall of champions is the wall on the outside of the final corner in Canada and it's quite simply called that because most F1 champions have crashed into it at some point since Canada became an F1 track in 1967. Vettel has now added his name to the list.

Looking forward to FP2 just a few hours away!

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