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.