29/04/2012

F2 - Sunday Report

Qualifying Two: Sureshwaren 16th (1:57.933) +5.390s
Race Two: Sureshwaren 14th (+50.177s) +1 lap

Qualifying two for the second round (4th race) of the F2 championship was held on a very wet track under hailstorm conditions. This put Parthiva Sureshwaren at a disadvantage as he hasn't had enough practice on a wet track at this circuit (we know that Parthiva takes a long time to get used to a circuit/track conditions). He qualified 16th.

The race however started very well for the Indian - on a dry track too. He made a good start and was in a great battle with David Zhu, Max Snegirev and Plamen Kralev for 12th place - it was a battle that lasted the whole race! Although the track was dry though there were still puddles on the serrated curbing and this caught out Max Snegirev on the penultimate lap as he spun the car; unfortunately the same fate befell Parthiva on the final lap too. The car spun round and Parthiva lost a heap of time, eventually finishing 14th.

It's a disastrous weekend for Parthiva Sureshwaren as he really did have great pace this weekend but was unable to score points - the points drought goes on! Hopefully though at the very least Parthiva can take some confidence from his outright pace this weekend and try to improve for the next races at the Nürburgring on the 26th and 27th May.

28/04/2012

F2 - Saturday Report

Qualifying One: Sureshwaren 12th (1:35.120) +0.985s
Race One: Sureshwaren 16th (+50.177s)

After finishing 6th in second practice, Parthiva was probably hoping for a similar result in the first qualifying of the weekend. However he wasn't able to achieve his potential during the session and so he lined up 12th on the grid, still with a great chance of points though.

Unfortunately at the start of the race Parthiva had a very poor start and quickly found himself at the back (17th) in the light drizzle. As the rain eased, the Lycamobile-backed driver had a great battle Max Snegirev and quickly caught upto to Plamen Kralev in 15th. Although by that stage it was too late and the Indian finished in 16th place.

The promising thing for Parthiva is that the pace wasn't actually too bad during the race; just his start let him down - as did a low qualifying position. Hopefully he can have a much smoother qualifying two and race two tomorrow! We wish him the best of luck!

27/04/2012

F2 - Friday Report

Practice One: Sureshwaren 17th (1:53.257) +3.932s
Practice Two: Sureshwaren 6th (1:34.549) +0.738s

Two practice sessions today brought two very different results for Parthiva Sureshwaren, in very different circumstances.

Practice one was wet - very wet infact and although the rain eased towards the end of the action there were still puddles on track at the end of the 45-minute session. The Indian racer struggled to find grip in this session and ended in last place, considerably behind the other drivers; 0.721s down on Plamen Kralev in 16th and 3.932s down on session leader Luciano Bacheta.

Practice two on the other hand was dry. In these dry conditions Parthiva thrived and set a laptime which was impressive enough for 6th place - that's a great effort!

This once again confirms what we wrote in our preview article here. Parthiva is quick when he has had practice,  but often struggles with limited running. In this instance, he was slow on a wet track which he's not used to, but quick on a dry track which he has had lots of running on so far. As such, Parthiva will be hoping it stays dry tomorrow so he can impress once again during qualifying one and race one!

We wish him the best of luck - of course we'll have a Saturday report to let you know how he fairs.

Weekend preview!

Unusually this post will not feature anything related to F1! Yep, the Formula One boys are on a break but we do have some racing action coming up this weekend.

Parthiva Sureshwaren will be in running as part of the FIA Formula Two championship. The Indian failed to score points in the opening round of the season at Silverstone, UK a couple of weeks ago as he finished 16th in race one and 14th in race two (the series uses the same scoring system as F1 where the top ten drivers score points).

This weekends race takes place at the very scenic Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal. In preparation for the event there was a test yesterday at the circuit, broken down into four sessions, this is how Parthiva performed:

Session 1: 16th (+3.959s)
Session 2: 17th (+4.047s)
Session 3: 12th (+1.094s)
Session 4: 5th (+0.421s)
Note: time data given is in comparison to the session leader.

Clearly Parthiva struggled early on in the day but drastically improved with more and more mileage. This is quickly becoming a trend as we often see Sureshwaren get stronger as the weekend goes on; unfortunately though the F2 field is so competitive that this is often not good enough for the Indian. However with two races this weekend and lots of running already completed before today's first practice session we may see a better result for him!

We should be able to provide day-by-day coverage of the Formula Two this weekend so make sure you check back for that, for now though, we'll leave you with this:

Facts & stats
  • After two races of this seasons F2 championship, Parthiva is currently pointless.
  • The last time Parthiva scored any points in F2 was 21 race starts ago, back in May 2010.
  • The last time F2 visited the Portimão circuit was in 2010. On that occasion, Parthiva finished 14th in race one and 11th in race two.

 
(Parthiva testing in Portimão earlier today, click to enlarge)

25/04/2012

Bahrain GP, Sakhir- All well that ends well, victory is sweet


There was tension all around at the start of the weekend in Bahrain with some on-going protests, even to the extent that two teams personnel were caught in “isolated” incidents. But in the end the race went off well and it was yet another spectacle on the track. Vettel took his first win of the 2012 season bring Red Bull back in contention while the Lotus duo secured a double podium finish with Kimi at P2 & Grosjean at P3.

The detailed report of the whole weekend along with my thoughts right here:

Practice Session, FP1:

The lead up to first session was quite tensed, not for the on-field action but off the field actions happening in Bahrain. There was little news of teams, drivers but more about the happenings. Unfortunately, few members of Sahara Force India were at the wrong place at the wrong time as they were held up between a fight of the protesters and police. The team were all shaken up by the incident and so two members were allowed to leave for home. Anyways, moving on to the track action, Force India enjoyed a good run in the first session as they tried both the soft & medium tyres, doing the FP2 share of run. Di Resta ended at P3 while Hulkenberg at P6. The initial pace was looking good for the team. Hamilton ended at P1 while Vettel at P2. Karthikeyan ended at P24, doing some good laps.

FP2:

Even the lead up to the second session was a tensed one as towards the end of FP1, there were signs that Force India won’t take part in the second session and there were meetings going on inside the garage with F1 supremo Bernie himself negotiating with the team. But they had made their mind and so they didn’t run in FP2 at all, a brave move but maybe was unnecessary. But we should respect a team’s decision. Over at the track, Rosberg brought Mercedes to the top, ending at P1 while Red Bull duo took P2 (Webber) & P3 (Vettel). RBR were looking quite strong after a slow start. Karthikeyan ended up at P22, getting more mileage under his belt in the HRT.

FP3:

The weather was hot & humid as was Friday, maybe a welcome change after three somewhat rainy races. But again some teams like the wet conditions and some the dry, weather too can’t please everyone. Rosberg maintained the top position, continuing from FP2 while Red Bull duo interchanged their positions as Vettel ended at P2 & Webber at P3. After missing out FP2, SFI were back and had some more work to do, it was tough there as they mostly ran the medium tyres, Paul ended at P15 & Hulkenberg at P19. Karthikeyan ended at P24 but improved from FP1 & FP2.

As expected a tight qualifying session awaited once again in the super season. Clearly, Red Bull were looking very strong along with Mercedes & McLaren. A 3 way pole battle was surely on, Q3 was going to be great. SFI had mixed sessions but were looking better than the last races and were in a good position to get into Q3. I was expecting a double Q3 as the pace was there, perhaps even for one lap. And surely, Karthikeyan would finish under the 107% time.

Qualifying, Q1:

We always thought that Q3 is the exciting part of qualifying and Q2 somewhat but this season even Q1 comes with it’s share of excitement and dramas. Schumi was the shocker in Q1 to get out along with Vergne (again) as Kovalainen in his Caterham,  for the first time in this season made it through to Q2. Schumi had a DRS issue and couldn’t come back for a second run. But Hamilton & Button too had a scare as they were close to be relegated. Both the SFI’s with their late run made it through to Q2 comfortably, they along with others used up a set of soft tyres. Karthikeyan qualified at P24, well inside the 107% time. Perez ended at P1 while Ricciardo at P2 & Webber at P3 in Q1.

Q2:

We were not yet done with some late dramas, as we saw Kimi bowing out in Q2 as he opted to do only a single run. It was close and a tight session in the end as seven-tenth of a second covered P1-P14. Hamilton ended at P1, Rosberg at P2 & Grosjean at P3. Maldonado didn’t run due to KERS problem thus gave Caterham a solid P16. Kimi was bumped down after late runs from Perez & his teammate Grosjean. Di Resta made it to Q3 with a superb lap (though they were invisible on TV, throughout the qualifying session), thus giving SFI their first Q3 of the season. Hulk said he encountered some problems on his last run otherwise he was looking all set to make it to Q3, thus ended at P13.

Q3:

A relatively slow start to the session as Hamilton set the benchmark with most of the field choosing to do just a single run towards the end. Everyone was gearing up for Rosberg’s run but he could only manage a P5. While late surge from both the Red Bull’s proved more than beneficial as Vettel got his & the team’s first pole of the season. Hamilton ended at P2 while Webber rounded off at P3. A surprise was Ricciardo at P6, a good run by in the STR. Di Resta did go out in the mediums but didn’t complete a lap, thereby ending at P10.

Another qualifying done and dusted, another good show put up. RBR finally got their act together and got a pole. Rosberg would surely rue the opportunity though post qualifying, they said they were better positioned for a race win. As for SFI, it was really good to see (on paper) Di Resta getting through to Q3, their pace was looking good compared to other races. Biggest disappointment was by FOM who chose not show SFI cars during qualifying due to perhaps them missing out in FP2, whatever it was that was childish by FOM.

Raceday:

Till now the weekend had been full of dramas on the track and off the track as well. Force India were involved in most of the news throughout. But thankfully, there were no major incidents as security was tight in Bahrain. Surely, many of the team members wanted the race to get over soon, so that they get back home soon. Coming back to the raceday, it was hot as usual but the start was a bit cool as it rained the humid weather. All eyes were on the track as Vettel led the field in the first corner safely with Hamilton giving him immense pressure. But behind them it was all Lotus really as both Grosjean & Kimi made a superb start gaining lots of places. Ricciardo being the biggest loser as he consistently lost places and went out of Top 10. Back of the field Schumi too made a good start. SFI had mixed start yet again as Di Resta moved ahead, Hulkenberg went back as he faced a clutch problem at the start line.

Vettel was not challenged much during the race, only once by Kimi which he rued post race of not being able to overtake. The McLarens suffered a setback due to poor pit stops and they lost out to fight for a win. Rosberg was involved in two similar incidents, one with Hamilton & other with Alonso but wasn’t given any penalty post race. His team mate was busy fighting with at the tail end of Top 10 for the final championship point. Lotus were on serious charge as one by one both the team mates were overtaking other to get into the Top 3, even to the extent that Kimi overtook his team mate for P2. They had some serious pace and it took everyone by surprise really. Alonso & Massa had similar kind of races but yet again Alonso was ahead of Massa fighting for some vital points keeping the McLarens behind. Lower down Sauber, Williams, STR were a bit struggling to be inside the Top 10 while Petrov led the lower teams battle.

Over at SFI, it was looking all good for Di Resta as he went for a 2 stop strategy while the rest of field were on 3 stop. After first round of pit stops, he was leading the race. It was first for him while second time for the team after Spa 2009. He provided us with the best overtaking move of the race, when he overtook both Maldonado & Perez together at T1, certainly opportunistic yet amazing. From then on it was all looking after the tyres, towards the end Rosberg overtook him as he was on fresher tyres and had bit more speed. Due to Button’s DNF, Di Resta got some respite. While over to Hulkenberg, once again a problem at start compromised his race and with the field so close, it is difficult to come through ahead. But he did pretty well to gain some position towards the end portions. His race was pretty lonely.

Vettel got a comfortable lead in the end and made it home safely at P1 staying some 3.3s ahead of Kimi. This was Vettel’s first win in this season, also first win for the team in 2012. We now have four different winners from 4 races and four different championship leaders. Both the returnees at Lotus got their first podium as Kimi ended at P2 & Grosjean at P3. They got their answer to Twitter hash tag #WhereIsMyPodium. Webber ended at P4, for the 4th time this season. Di Resta held on to P6 as Alonso put immense pressure on him but it was quite a run by Di Resta. Hulkenberg ended at P12, not far off from P10 but he was comfortably ahead of P13. Karthikeyan was enjoying his battle with his team mate De La Rosa as he ended at P21, only 0.5 seconds behind Rosa.

 It was another thriller of a race and we got a new winner. It is going to be some season. A good race in the end for SFI, also they continued with some good pit stops time. Di Resta drove under immense pressure and Hulkenberg gave his all. This closes their battle with Sauber & Williams. The in-season testing at Mugello is one to watch out for as teams bring updates. A round of applause for the Bahraini’s as all the teams, drivers, journos safely returned back. There were problems in the country but it wasn’t so much that we all were hearing about. As I gave the headline, “All well that ends well” and that pretty much sums it up. We now have a 3 week break where we will have the in-season testing. Next up will be Spanish GP, till then drive well and take care!! 

24/04/2012

Last time out ...

F1
di Resta 6th (8 points), Hulkenberg 12th, Karthikeyan 21st.

- A great result for Paul di Resta after a risky two-stop strategy paid off.
- Nico Hulkenberg had clutch problems causing a poor start and he got stuck behind Petrov's Caterham early on. Despite good race pace that put him too far back to challenge for points.
- Karthikeyan struggled all weekend compared to his teammate, but hung on well during the race. He classified ahead of three retired drivers.

Here are the post-race quotes:

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver)
"The result today is massive for us. The team did an amazing job all weekend, the strategy came together and the pit-stops were perfect. We knew it would be a big ask to make only two stops and it was a close run thing at the end because my tyres completely went away on the final lap. I had Fernando [Alonso] very close behind me, but I saved a bit of KERS coming out of the final corner and managed to stay ahead. Apart from that, the car has been awesome. So we go away from here as a very happy team with a few weeks to reflect on things and determined to arrive in Barcelona in fighting form".

For more from Paul, looking ahead to the immediate future and the championship, click here.

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver)
"I think my race was decided at the very start when I had some clutch issues and the anti-stall kicked in, which really compromised my getaway and dropped me right to the back of the pack. From then on it was a long, hard fight back through the field, and it was hard work coming through the traffic. I made it to P12, but there wasn't much more I could do. So a tough race for me, but great to see Paul pick up some points".

For an interview with Nico about his personal life, conducted by F1.com, click here.

Robert Fernley (Sahara Force India deputy team principle)
"Considering everything that has gone on this week, I am delighted to see such a strong team performance in today's race. We took a brave call on the strategy with Paul, but it paid off, and having saved the tyres yesterday allowed us to push the two-stop window right to the limit. Once again Paul drove a superb race, lapping consistently and making the strategy work perfectly. This sixth place is well-deserved and matches his best result in Formula One. It's a shame that Nico was the victim of a clutch issue on the opening lap, otherwise I'm sure he would have been up there fighting for points as well. Before we leave Bahrain I want to pay tribute to the team once again and thank each and every one of them for helping make today's result possible".

To read more from Robert about the weekend as a whole, click here.

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver)
"The start today was good, but then the first few laps were quite tough because there was dust everywhere. I settled behind Pedro but I think I pushed too hard in the first stint because my tyres were dead very quickly. After my first pitstop, I improved a lot and from there my lap times were consistent. We did a four-stop strategy, which I think went very well, and in the end we were only half a second behind Pedro at the checkered flag. My race performance was extremely good, I'd say it was my best Grand Prix so far this season, so I'm very happy about that".

Formula Renault 3.5
A two day test was recently held at the Paul Ricard track in France. Sahara Force India reserve driver, Jules Bianchi, took part.

Day 1: 1:47.252 (3rd) - 0.246 seconds down on the leader.
Day 2: 1:45.669 (2nd) - 0.002 seconds down on the leader.

It's pretty clear that when the season get underway (beginning of May) that Jules will be a title contender, let's hope he can do the business - of course we'll keep you fully upto date with all on-track action for this series.

22/04/2012

Bahrain GP - Race Results

Results: di Resta 6th (8 points), Hulkenberg 12th, Karthikeyan 21st.

In my pre-race article i said i had a good feeling about today, i was not wrong!

Sahara Force India played a risky game, only stopping twice with di Resta - but it worked! He started 10th and finished 6th, bagging eight points!

As for Hulkenberg, for the second time in two races he had a poor start and got stuck behind a Caterham in the early stages but this time it was Petrov, not Kovalainen. Nevertheless Nico fought back to well to finish 12th - good effort!

What i don't understand is that the team were supposed to have a slow car here, however the pace during the GP was actually pretty quick! I've been massively impressed by the team all weekend, especially Paul di Resta who has driven stunningly. It started in qualifying yesterday with a brilliant lap at the end of Q2 and today the pace was quicker than anybody expected. Consistent too, today was his 19th consecutive race finish - hugely impressive. I also want to give a shout out to deputy team principle Robert Fernley who has been very busy this weekend, he's had alot of tough decisions to make, alot of media interviews and alot of motivating to do. He's taken this in his stride and done a great job.

Additionally let's not forget that Nico Rosberg who finished in 5th (2.1 seconds ahead of di Resta) has two investigations over him, a time penalty could still promote Paul to that 5th place.

Narain Karthikeyan meanwhile finished up in 21st place behind teammate de la Rosa and ahead of the three retirements. He'll be happy to reach the checkered flag however and will be looking forward to the start of the "European season" ... as are we :-)

Bahrain GP - Pre-Race Analysis

Sahara Force India are in a great position to bag some points today with Paul di Resta starting just inside the top ten (P10) and Nico Hulkenberg in the chasing pack (P13).

Rain will not be a threat today**, well actually rain is scheduled to hit Bahrain a few hours after the race has ended (not joking!) - if the wind speed were to pick up you never know, although it's very unlikely. First lap collisions may be an issue however, both drivers need to try stay out of trouble on that opening lap - as the old saying goes; you can't win a race on the first lap, but you can certainly lose it!

It should be interesting to see how the cars progress today, that is if we do actually get to see it. There is this controversy surrounding the team and the lack of coverage during qualifying. Many are saying that FOM (Formula One Management) did not show the Sahara Force India cars during qualifying on purpose as they missed FP2. Personally i originally thought that it was simply co-incidence - i don't even see on what grounds FOM could be angry, the team are not contractually bound to take part in FP2 so they didn't do anything wrong. It's so so unlikely to be co-incidence though which does suggest it was done on purpose by FOM ...

I spoke to someone (who shall remain unnamed) who said they used to work for FOM between 1996 and 2002. They told me that not giving air time to certain teams was often used as a threat - and actually carried out once, not sure when though. If this person is genuine then that does suggest Sahara Force India were not shown on purpose.

In my book, Bernie Ecclestone is an absolute legend - a very smart guy who does an amazing job to keep F1 together. However when quizzed on the issue yesterday he made a pretty off-handed comment. He said:

"Nobody cares if someone is ninth or 11th"

Really? Nobody cares? Why not just have the McLaren and Red Bulls racing then?? A stupid comment from the guy who is so good with the media usually - but everyone makes mistakes i guess.

Hmmm ... it seems like this weekend we have discussed off-track issues more than on track issues! Let's get back to the racing.

So we covered Sahara Force India and their aim of points - what about our other hopeful - Narain Karthikeyan! Considering the erratic pace he has had this weekend he's unlikely to be able to even challenge his teammate unfortunately - but we wish him well. As Narain sits on the grid he will see Michael Schumacher directly ahead of him, the German got demoted five places for a gearbox change.

Of course we wish Sahara Force India and Narain Karthikeyan the very best of luck; let's hope for a great race - i actually have a very good feeling about today :-)

**I wrote that section about the rain last night. amazingly the circuit just had a light shower of water, lasting around two mintues but the rader currently says that thunderstorms are in the area - chance of precipitation in the race - 40%! Yes, it is the Bahrain GP, it is in a desert, and in could be wet!!

21/04/2012

Bahrain GP - Qualifying Results

Results: di Resta 10th (1:33.510), Hulkenberg 13th (1:33.807), Karthikeyan 24th (1:38.314).

Well that was a pretty good session for Sahara Force India in all honesty.

Q3 for Paul di Resta with an absolutely fantastic lap at the end of Q2, 0.3 seconds quicker than Hulkenberg - amazing considering Nico's lap was already pretty good :-)

So P10 for Paul, and the ability to choose his starting tyre tomorrow, he'll be delighted. As for Nico, P13, a decent effort, could have been P12 - Kobayashi was just 0.001 seconds faster though!

Interestingly FOM (Formula One Management) did not actually show Sahara Force India at all during qualifying apart from when Webber past di Resta on a hot lap. Many people will start saying it's because the team did not take part in FP2 yesterday but i'd guess that's just a factually incorrect conspiracy theory and it was actually a co-incidence.

Meanwhile, Narain Karthikeyan struggled to get close to his teammate like in FP3 and will start at the back. He was 0.4 seconds than Charles Pic in 23rd. Actually Narain may be promoted to 23rd depending on what the stewards do about Vergne (who qualified 19th). The French driver passed a red light and missed going into the weighbridge when requested to do so. Let's wait and see.

Now we look forward to the post-Saturday quotes which we'll post as soon as possible.

Bahrain GP - Practice Three Results

Results: di Resta 15th (1:35.336), Hulkenberg 19th (1:35.773), Karthikeyan 24th (1:39.221).

A decent session for the Sahara Force India boys, despite the low positions. It's pretty clear the time were focusing on data collection rather than ultimate laptime and so it will be interesting to see just where they are come qualifying - they will be the unknown entity in the session.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he did a very good effort to reduce that gap to his teammate from over a second to just two tenths; quite impressive! Let's hope he can go one better in qualifying and beat Pedro.

We wish the very best of luck to Sahara Force India and Narain Karthikeyan ahead of qualifying.

Friday Sweep-Up

There has been alot of criticism surrounding Sahara Force India and their decision not to take part in FP2 and quite frankly i am very angered. Don't get me wrong, i'm angered at the criticism thrown towards the team and fully support the decision not to run in FP2.

One fan inparticular posted on the teams facebook wall with this:

"hey are happy with two of their members leaving them in the middle of the GP (because some home-made firework exploded like 5 meters from them) and now they skip the whole FP2 , not giving any chance for their pilots to prepare for the race (because they afraid of driving in the dark???!!!...despite Bernie's offer to escort them) what a pathetic excuse of a team!!! They dont have the b***s of an 80 years old man and they call themself a racing team?? Way greater organizations like Mclaren and Ferrari had all their employees loyal to them, they ran the maximum number of laps today and thats the attitude you have to have towards your job (especially if your job is RACING which is not for p*****s, never was , never will be) Force India, shame on you. its the decision (thats how it spelt) of cowards who doesnt respect their job and doesnt respect racing. also, this decision is actually acknowledging the "work" of those few hundred idiot protesters and their stupid little home-made fireworks because now they can rightly think they won. there is NOTHING to respect in this decision. teams like this shouldnt be racing. racing has always been about a risky game, the game of real man who are 100% determent and focused on winning".

... this is a disgusting comment that is factually incorrect, and shows a complete lack of respect to the team - not to mention an outstanding amount of ignorance and an extreme lack of knowledge about the sport.

True, all the other teams didn't skip FP2, but they also didn't have petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails land inches away from some of their team members. Sure, the chances of something happening were low - but Sahara Force India are a team who stick together. If some of the team are feeling uneasy about having a near death experience (which is completely understandable) then the rest of the team need to rally round and try make them feel more comfortable - and this is exactly what was done. The decision to not take part in FP2 causes no real disadvantage and makes those team members involved in the incident feel safer - why would they not do it?!

Even if not taking part in FP2 were a disadvantage to the team (which it isn't as they still got the relevant FP2 data by looking at other cars on track), in all honesty i'd rather be part of a team who look after eachother and perform badly than a team who have no spirit and win.

Fans who make comments like this should be totally disregarded in all honesty. Everyone has different views, i completely understand and respect that however views need to be expressed in a structured way and not in a way that is incomprehensible, insensitive and down right rude.

Anyhow, that's enough of that. Back to the racing:

Sahara Force India had great positions in FP1 but this is solely down to them being the only team to run soft tyres. However, when on hard tyres Paul and Nico were still both solidly in the top ten which does look promising heading into FP3 tomorrow - we may well have a good result on the cards.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he was way off the pace of his teammate all day however strangely enough no-one mentioned anything about problems with the car. Perhaps de la Rosa is just good around this track whereas Narain is not - it's definitely something to watch out for tomorrow.

Here is what everyone had to say:

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver)
"The track was very green and dusty to begin with, but we got on with the programme quickly and did the usual balance work, cooling checks and got a feel for both the medium and the soft tyres. The baseline set-up was not a long way off, but our focus for tomorrow is to improve our performance in the low-speed corners".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver)
"It was a different approach to FP1 today and we made sure we ran all three sets of tyres to get the data we need for the race. The session went okay and the car felt quite good out of the box, although there is still some fine-tuning to do in FP3".

Jakob Andreasen (Sahara Force India chief engineer)
"A very busy morning programme with a lot to get through considering we haven't raced in Bahrain for a couple of years. After the initial balance checks we looked at our brake and engine cooling solutions and dialled the cars into the circuit with some mechanical and aero set-up work. We have pretty much used up our tyre allocation this morning, which has given us all the data we need heading into tomorrow when we can hopefully deliver a strong qualifying performance".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver)
"Today we tried out a lot of different options to save the tyres because it's very hot out there and they degrade quickly. And we worked on that objective in these two practice sessions. Apart from the work with both Pirelli options, we covered a lot of laps to see if the car is overheating, but it seems to be doing fine. Tomorrow we will change things a bit and adapt the car for the race and, although the weather conditions are a bit extreme, it responded well today, and hopefully we can keep that going for the rest of the weekend".

We wish the Indian contingent the very best of luck for tomorrow!

20/04/2012

Bahrain GP - Practice Two Results

Results: Karthikeyan 22nd (1:39.649), di Resta 23rd (no time set), Hulkenberg 24th (no time set).

No time set for the Sahara Force India boys as they wanted to get back to the hotel before it got dark for safety reasons; after what happened earlier in the week you can't really blame then, can you? Although having said this they have received a little criticism for this from certain people.

Deputy team principle Robert Fernley said:

"We'll do what our crew are comfortable with and that's leaving in daylight. It's a decision based on emotion rather than logic".

... that really shows how much team spirit Sahara Force India has!

Although this decision not to run means the team has less data, it shouldn't really affect the performance as during FP2 many members of the team were analysing other cars on track - looking at laptime, track temperature and tyre wear data. Meanwhile the other half of the team were doing the Saturday setup work (this includes fitting the race engines and gearboxes) that would usually be done after FP2 was over.

As for Narain Karthikeyan he was last of the runners, once again very slow - 1.8 seconds down on teammate de la Rosa. We'll have to wait for the post-Friday quotes to see the reason.

Bahrain GP - Practice One Results

Results: Di Resta 3rd (1:34.150), Hulkenberg 6th (1:34.344), Karthikeyan 24th (1:39.996).

A very useful session for the Sahara Force India boys, despite a little KERS problem for di Resta which was quickly fixed. There with lots of tyre analysis done - something which will be crucial given the unusually high track temperatures experienced in Bahrain. Infact the team did more laps than anyone else; 52 in total, 26 for each driver.

Things look promising so far although these positions are a little misleading. Sahara Force India were the only team to do runs on the softer, faster rubber and that's why the team finished the session so high. However before that, the runs on the hard tyre still had the team inside the top ten - that's why i'm actually a little excited about the prospects at this stage. Don't forget it's still early though, let's see how FP2 goes first.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan finished at the back, 1.1 seconds behind teammate de la Rosa. That's a big gap, maybe it's a car problem for Narain? Let's hope for better for him during FP2 later today.

19/04/2012

F1 weekend preview!

The forth round of the 2012 FIA Forumla One World Championship takes place at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. Bahrain actually has a large Indian population and so the grand prix is somewhat of a home race for the Indian contingent, in a sense anyway.

I was hoping to avoid press about the political situation in Bahrain this weekend but recent developments have made that impossible for me. If you have not yet heard, a 4x4 car carrying four Sahara Force India mechanics was attacked with petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails. Additionally, tear gas, fired by police, entered the car. Thankfully no-one was injured in the incident but it sure did shake some members of the team up. Infact two team members have been sent home as a result. Not the most ideal preparation for the weekend as driver Nico Hulkenberg discussed with the media:

"It is obviously not right that that sort of stuff happens. We are here to race. The F1 business is about entertainment, and these sort of things should not really be happening to us. Whether it is right or not I don't really know. It's difficult to say. I am not a politician, I am a Formula 1 driver, but it should not really be happening should it? It is not good that we have to worry about it: that is the way it is now, and let's see and hope that the rest of the weekend is good and calm. I feel okay".

... nevertheless the team must plough on regardless. The aim for the weekend will be to score points once again, and hopefully this will be the last race where the team are slightly off the pace (a big upgrade is coming after this race). Having said that, an interesting factor in Bahrain will be high track temperatures - it's something we've not seen so far this season and so we may well see a complete mix up of the running order once again as different teams will perform differently under these different conditions.

Note: the two team members who have been sent home is not a problem. If they had a job which wasn't able to be covered by their colleagues then they will not have been allowed to leave so there's no need to worry about this affecting team performance.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan will have the same aim once more, perform better than teammate de la Rosa and qualify within 107% of the fastest Q1 time to be able to start the race. I have to admit i do feel sad for Narain. He clearly has talent, even if it's sometimes inconsistent, but in a car like the HRT he can't really show his skills and impress a team higher up the grid. Nevertheless, i suppose a F1 drive is better than no F1 drive!

Here is what our guys had to say about the weekend ahead:

Paul di Resta
(Sahara Force India driver):
"We will have the same car in Bahrain because it’s just a few days away, but it's a very different track and we expect different weather conditions so we will try to make the most out of that. The team have some good ideas because we have not raced there for a couple of years and nobody has had a chance to run on Pirellis there yet".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"I enjoy the track, which has quite a nice rhythm and some technical corners, such as turns nine and ten. It's in the desert and sand can be an issue on the track, but it really depends on the strength and direction of the wind. I think the secret to a good lap is not to be too aggressive into the braking zones because you need to carry good speed through the middle of the corners and get early on the throttle to carry the speed onto the straights. Overtaking is possible, especially into turn one because you can pick up a good slipstream down the straight".

Vijay Mallya (Sahara Force India team principle):
"Although we missed out on points in China, we take encouragement from our race pace, which showed that the developments we are bringing to the car are paying off and that we are closing the gap to our midfield rivals. It's easy to point to statistics, but Paul finished the race just 22 seconds away from second place and seven and half seconds away from seventh place. It shows that we can stay in the hunt for points and that we have the potential to make some good progress when the championship returns to Europe and we can make further improvements to the car. Bahrain this week will be another tough test, but it's a circuit with different characteristics and climate. We picked up points the last time we raced in Bahrain in 2010 so we will approach the weekend determined to deliver a repeat performance".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"I don't know the circuit in Bahrain so I'm going to have to be extra focused and make the most of my time in the car. We have an idea of what we think the set-up should be, so we’ll see if this works. We're going to try a few things in Bahrain and, hopefully, this will help us to improve and progress further. What I do know about this track is that the weather is going to be very hot and we've struggled a bit in hot conditions this season so far because of the cooling system in the car, so we're going to have to work very hard on this. After a good performance in Malaysia, we'll be looking to further reduce the gap to the group ahead of us".

Of course Auto India Sports wishes the Indian contingent the very best of luck this weekend! Although more importantly we hope everyone remains safe - and that goes for everyone involved with Formula One.

18/04/2012

Chinese GP, Shanghai- As crazy as it can get


Yet another race in the season where the predictions were just dumped in the bin. The start to 2012 has been one of the best start for the fans. All teams are in the mix of the things and Chinese GP was one more example after Australia & Malaysia of how close the field is. As I have been saying, one mistake and you are tucked down (Kimi will agree after China). Nico Rosberg took his maiden pole and maiden win of his F1 career and Mercedes AMG their first win since return. Button ended at P2 and for the third time Hamilton at P3.

The detailed report of the whole weekend is here:

Practice Session, FP1:


Rain was following everyone from Australia, Malaysia to China as FP1 was mostly washed out due the damp track, drizzle and less running. Teams didn’t venture out much as 16 was the maximum laps done. Hamilton ended at P1 in the rain-effected session, interestingly he was using the damaged gearbox. Rosberg ended at P2 while Schumacher at P3. Jules Bianchi got his first chance in the SFI car as he sat for Di Resta. Hulkenberg finished at P14 while Bianchi ended at P20, they run just 13 and 8 laps respectively. Karthikeyan ended at P23, as the HRT tried few upgrades on the car.


FP2:


The second session was better to start off as there was no rain and the track was dry enough for some valuable run. Though there were few spins from many drivers including Di Resta at T16. So much so that Glock skidded of at T1 and hit the tyre wall, ending his run. Schumacher took Mercedes to P1 while Hamilton ended at P2 and Vettel in his Red Bull at P3. A better session for SFI as Di Resta at P8 and Hulkenberg at P9 and they did some good amount laps. Both were satisfied with the car post session. Karthikeyan ended at P24 but did some solid laps in the new HRT.


FP3:


Saturday morning, the session remained dry as no rain was expected. The final session before qualifying, the teams ran their qualifying specs based on one lap performance. McLaren ended up 1-2 in the end with Hamilton at P1 and Button at P2, Hamilton was running with the new gearbox. A slight slip in SFI performance as Hulkenberg finished at P11 and Di Resta at P13, he was looking to improve but a small mistake in his best lap cost him valuable time. Karthikeyan ended at P23 ahead of his team-mate, well inside the 107% time.

The practice session went as expected as we saw McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bulls staying mostly at top. Lotus seemed to have problems while Ferrari were in a bit of trouble. It was up and down sessions for SFI as they did will in FP2 but struggled a bit in FP1 and FP3, largely down to some tyre issues. I was still hopeful of one car in Q3 as the pace was lacking slightly for both cars in Q3.


Qualifying, Q1:


There was no sign of rain but the air was misty, foggy largely due to the industries surrounding the tracks. We could hardly see the sun with all the polluted air, so to say. Q1 was all about the usual suspects going out as everyone expected it to happen. Both the Caterham, Marussia & HRT went out. Karthikeyan qualified at P24 but under the 107% time. Both the SFI made it to Q2 comfortably. Perez ended up as P1 after he bumped Alonso towards the end, no real dramas in the session. Vergne also went out in Q1 for the second race in succession.


Q2:


I have to say that, no one was expecting such dramas in Q2 as we saw in the session. When most of the front runners came out for a second run on soft tyres, it was clear that it was very close to get into Q3 or miss out the bus. Webber ended at P1 in the end in the session which saw his team mate Vettel bowing out for the first time in many races. Yes, double world champion Vettel ended at just P11 along with Massa at P12. Both SFI had a difficult time, Paul ended at P15 while Hulkenberg at P16. It was close yet again with not much covering the drivers. Still, I think the team does lack a bit off pace few tenths and it will do.



Q3:


Final session, history was in the making as Mercedes were the best bet to get the pole. But who? Rosberg finally? Or Schumacher? The temperature dropped, it was a bit cooler than other sessions. Rosberg set the early pace and that was enough for him to clinch his maiden pole with Mercedes getting their first since return, it was some lap really. What about confidence and risk, after setting the time Rosberg jumped out of his car and went to the FIA room to watch the rest of the qualifying. Hamilton originally qualified at P2 but was due to start at P7. Effectively, it was Mercedes 1-2 then as Suchmacher qualified at P3 (went up to P2), with Kobayashi at P4 (P3) giving Sauber a great qualifying run.

Another fantastic qualifying session, all sorts of things happened with teams coming out for second run during Q2 which is an unusual scene. Mercedes with their F-ducted DRS and strong straight line speed got their maiden pole as did Rosberg. Red Bull and Ferrari were quite down. SFI had an off day, though times were close but they could have done a bit better but then again Nico & Paul gave their best. Anything could have happened in the race and so points were always possible in the race which I was hoping for.


Raceday:


A win for Mercedes or Rosberg was in no one’s mind after what happened to them in Australia & Malaysia and the amount of tyre wear they have from any other team but for once and perhaps for all Mercedes silenced their critics clinching their maiden win since return and first career win for Rosberg, his dad Keke Rosberg must be proud. It was not a sunny day, but no rain was expected either. It was certainly an interesting field, anything could have happened at the start. Rosberg had a great start and took the lead immediately as his team-mate followed him behind. Button & Hamilton made a quick start while Kobayashi fell behind. Vettel had a poor start at the back. Paul had a great start to be running ahead of Vettel at one point but Hulkenberg had a slightly slow start and thus falling behind, plus he had to change for a new front wing as some debris had damaged it. Karthikeyan had a good start as well as he moved up to P21 at one point.

Once Schumacher retired, it was easy for Rosberg as he took a comfortable lead and the improved Mercedes was doing some good laps. Behind him it was all for everyone as fight was on between McLaren’s, Kimi, Webber. Ferrari were having a tough time though Alonso was fighting it out hard there as always but their straight line speed was just wasn’t enough. Williams picked up in the middle stint while Sauber’s dropped down slowly. STR’s were fighting it out among themselves behind the SFI’s. Karthikeyan was running behind his team-mate in P22 as Heikki fell out due to pit-stop problems. Towards the end, due to different strategies there were as many as 10 cars behind one another with Button, Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Grosjean, Senna, Maldanado, Alonso, Kimi all vying to finish in the Top 10. The biggest loser was Kimi who from P2 went to P14 in the end as his tyres were just finished and hitting the marbles off-line didn’t help.

The SFI cars had a mixed start but they were always in the mix. Di Resta was running among points at one stage but that was down to strategies from different teams. Di Resta was ahead of Vettel at the start but he lost out during the pit stop. He was then chasing the Williams and towards the end the Sauber’s to get himself among points. He stayed comfortably ahead of Massa and in the end Kimi who lost a big chunk. As for Hulkenberg, it was salvaging game because of the start he got. He was comfortably ahead of the STR’s, Vergne in particular who was always close to him. Towards the end he was very close to push Kimi below and he also caught with Massa who was ahead of Kimi. Di Resta ended at P12 while Hulkenberg at P15. Karthikeyan managed to finish the race at P22, once again HRT doing a good job in the reliability department.

Rosberg deserved the victory in the end he was ahead of Button by 20.6 seconds. The real mayhem was behind Rosberg as it was very-very close between the other drivers. The move from Webber over Vettel to get the P4 position on the last lap was one of the great move and it was good to see, there was no team orders involved. Williams completed a double point finish race while Sauber’s looking good missed out on any point. Kimi will surely feeling the pinch after dropping from P2 to P14 but Lotus would be happy Grosjean finished a good P6. As for SFI, though they didn’t finished among points, there pace was encouraging and the pit stop times were ever impressive. We now move on to Bahrain, it will be a dusty track for sure not many high speed corners. The race perhaps will be over-shadowed due to protests but our main focus will be the race and everyone’s safety. My thoughts that now the race is on, we should just get along and hope for a safe race rather than bashing up everyone for the decision made. Till Bahrain, drive safely and live safely!!

17/04/2012

Audi sign Patel!

Well, not Audi as such ... the team is called Pro-handicap e.V. and they race the sports version of the Audi TT in the Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nurburgring series (yeah, i know basic German :p) or VLN series for short. The Audi link comes in as Audi India are the ones who helped Aditya get the drive.

What is interesting is that the deal is for three years. You would have thought that a young driver like Aditya Patel (23 years old) would have his sights set higher on the motorsport ladder however this deal sees the Indian in the VLN until he is 26. Although doing well in this series could see him land a drive in the World Endurance Championship in the future - this is where Karun Chandhok is currently racing.

Unfortunately, news from this series is hard to come by so providing you guys with updates will be hard; however we will do our best! Check out our 2012 driver profile for Aditya here (bottom of the page).

16/04/2012

Last time out ...

Usually in this article we bring you news of everyone who raced this weekend but this time we're gonna cover all the Indians to get you right upto speed (we realise we've been neglecting the lower series recently).

F1
di Resta 12th, Hulkenberg 15th, Karthikeyan 22nd.

- A disappointing race for the Indian contingent.
- Paul di Resta's pace wasn't bad but he just couldn't make up enough positions after a poor qualifying.
- Nico Hulkenberg had a poor start, received some nosecone damage from flying debris, got stuck behind
Kovalainen in the first stint which ruined his race.
- No points for Sahara Force India.
- Poor pace from Karthikeyan due to unidentified car problems.

We all know the race did not go to plan but there was one very promising thing to emerge, as Robert Fernley discusses below.

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver)
"It was an extremely close race today and although we were able to keep ourselves in the hunt, we were just missing the pace to catch people and make up any more ground. So it was a bit like the race in Australia where there were lots of cars running very close to each other and a lot of guys nursing their tyres. I think we made some good calls with the tyres and there were lots of different strategies playing out around us. It was also incredibly slippery offline with the marbles making things very tricky. So we go away from here knowing that we are not too far away from the other teams and determined to get the car dialled in nicely for Bahrain next week".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver)
"I didn't get a great start because there was a lot of wheelspin and I lost a few places straight away. Then I picked up some damage to my front wing on the first lap. I don’t think I hit anybody, but there was a lot of debris flying around going into turn one so maybe that's when it happened. That made the first stint very difficult because there was massive understeer and I had to change the nose at my first stop. We targeted a two-stop strategy, which I think was the right choice because our pace was strong towards the end of the race and I closed up on the main pack, but I think we lost too much at the start to make a real impact in the race".

Robert Fernley (Sahara Force India deputy team principle)
"We always felt that scoring points in today's race would need an element of luck or attrition, but as it was we saw almost 100 per cent reliability. Paul was in the mix for most of the race, fighting to get in the top 10 and ending up just under eight seconds from seventh place, and just 22 seconds off second place, which shows how competitive the field was today. We know that our race pace relative to our midfield rivals is not too far away and hopefully we can continue to close the performance gap quickly".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver)
"My start was also quite poor, so we still have to do some work on the start system because it's still new. It was quite difficult to drive on the option tyres because we had a problem and the car was moving a lot on the straight, we are yet to identify what the reason was for that so we'll have to look into it and make sure we overcome it. But on the primes the car balance was much better and it was easy to drive. We set out to finish the race this weekend in China and we've achieved it, so we have to be pleased about that. Now we hope to progress a little bit more in Bahrain next week".

I just want to mention what Robert Fernley touched upon; that everything was so close. Paul was just 3.5s from 10th place. 10s would have got him 7th place. 15s would have got him 4th and 22s would have got him 2nd! What does this all mean? Well although the team are aware that they are slower than the other teams at the moment, it's only by a very very minimal amount. This is promising heading into the next race (next weekend) in Bahrain where the team have to try score as many points as possible. After that they can look forward to race five, Spain, where they have a major upgrade package; just a one second improvement could yield some podiums!

World Endurance Championship
In Karun Chandhok's first race he finished 17th overall but 7th in his class. He is now waiting for the second race, the 6 Heures de Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium on 5th May.

F2
The first round of the 2012 championship was held this weekend at Silverstone, UK. Unfortunately Parthiva Sureshwaren had a pointless weekend.

He qualified 14th for race one, finishing 16th. In race two he qualified 13th, finishing 14th. Parthiva will be disappointed that in both races he finished behind where he qualified but the positive thing to come out of the weekend is that he improved in race two compared to his performance in race one.

Unfortunately Parthiva has not scored a point in 21 races now; he really needs to start getting top ten finishes. Let's hope he brakes this unwanted record at the next race on the 28th April in the Algarve, Portugal.

Formula Renault 3.5
The season starts on 5th May at Ciudad del Motor de Aragón, Spain.

A two day pre-season test was held in Barcelona, Spain and Sahara Force India reserve driver, Jules Bianchi, finished 10th on day one and 13th on day two. Don't forget it's just testing, the positions don't count for anything really - we expect Jules to be a title contender when the season gets properly underway.

British GT Championship
One round (two races) has been held so far at Oulton Park, UK.

In race one Sailesh Bolisetti finished 19th overall and in race two he finished 20th overall.

Doesn't seem good at first, but this championship runs different classes of cars, in a similar manner to the World Endurance Championship. Those 19th and 20th places both translate to 2nd in their class - a podium finish!

So a great effort by Sailesh so far, let's hope he can continue this promising pace at the next race - the Nürburgring on the 18th May.

Indy Lights
Three races have been held so far this season with the most recent one held yesterday on the Streets of Long Beach.

Armaan Ebrahim's results for the three races are 8th, 12th and another 12th yesterday. This gives his 60 points in the championship, putting him 12th overall which makes him the 5th best rookie out of 11. Although it's very tight in the midfield; just 6 more points would put him 8th overall.

The next race is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, US on the 25th May.

Okay, that's you fully upto date for now, thanks for reading :-)

15/04/2012

Chinese GP - Race Results

Results: di Resta 12th, Hulkenberg 15th, Karthikeyan 22nd.

A disappointing race for Sahara Force India despite a solid performance from both drivers. Paul and Nico both finished ahead of where they qualified however Paul just wasn't quick enough to reach the points unfortunately.

Meanwhile Nico was unable to make any real progress after having a poor start and getting stuck behind Kovalainen's Caterham for a number of laps.

The team now need to look ahead to Bahrain where they need to score some solid points to keep the pressure on the teams ahead.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan was slow compared to his teammate for the whole race, he must have had car problems - maybe a repeat of those brake problems we saw in free practice? Nevertheless he finished 22nd ahead of Schumacher (retired) and Kovalainen (had problems in the pits).

14/04/2012

Pre-Race Analysis: not all doom and gloom!

We know that qualifying was disappointing for the Indian contingent today however given recent races and the closeness of the entire grid there is every reason to be positive for Sunday!

Let's not forget that in the last race Sahara Force India qualified 14th and 16th but finished the race 7th and 9th!

From the practice sessions we've seen so far, the trend appears to be that the team are good on the soft tyres but struggling on the hard tyres - that's what tomorrow is going to be about; strategy. Additionally there is a minor threat of rain which can make things completely unpredictable as we saw at the last race in Malaysia.

Anyhow, despite the poor qualifying positions, the aim is still a finish in the points. It's true that some of our expected rivals (Lotus & Sauber) have had great results this season which makes the teams' job of P5 in the constructors championship harder. Despite this though, i'm not worried. There is a long way to go and given the nature of races this season, and the general closeness of all teams, i am expecting some podiums for Force India aswell as all the other midfield teams. So we may be behind at this early stage, but it can so easily all change!

As for Narain Karthikeyan, his realistic aim will just be to beat his teammate as the HRT car isn't really capable of anything more. Nevertheless we wish him the best of luck tomorrow; for him it's all about staying out of trouble and bringing the car home to the finish.

Here's what everyone said about qualifying:

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver)
"It was a very close qualifying session, especially Q2 where finding a few tenths could have gained us another five places on the grid. My Q2 lap was good and I think I got the maximum from the car, but it only puts me P15, six tenths off the fastest time of the session. I'm still optimistic for the race because the car seems dialled in to the track and we looked strong during the long runs yesterday so I think we can race with the teams ahead of us".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver)
"It was quite a tough qualifying session for us, but I think the conditions had changed since free practice and I didn't feel as comfortable with the car. My final lap in Q2 was a little compromised by some traffic coming out of the pits, but I guess P16 reflects the pace we have at the moment and the fact that all the teams around us are very close in terms of one-lap performance. We will think hard about the strategy tonight and try our best to move forward in the race. I started P16 in Malaysia and ended up in the points so I will look for a repeat performance".

Robert Fernley (Sahara Force India deputy team principle)
"We always knew that reaching Q3 would be an ambitious target for China, but at the same time we have shown that the developments we brought to the car this week are already paying off and closing the gap. I think we are in good shape for tomorrow and I believe we can be up there battling for points in the race. We were pleased with our performance during the long runs on Friday and the tyres are lasting well, so hopefully we can build on that in the race".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver)
"In the morning we had some trouble with the suspension but we got it fixed in time for the afternoon. In qualifying I got blocked on my first lap and didn't clock a good time on the first set of tyres. On the second set I made a flatspot, so that's the reason I didn't do so well, but nevertheless we're comfortably inside the 107 percent and that's important. Tomorrow if it rains during the race that will benefit us, if not we'll have to try and do the best we can. The target once again is to achieve mileage and I'm confident that the car should be able to make it through the whole distance".

Chinese GP - Qualifying Results

Results: di Resta 15th (1:36.317), Hulkenberg 16th (1:36.745), Karthikeyan 24th (1:41.000).

FP3 looked promising for both Sahara Force India and Narain Karthikeyan but the result after qualifying is fairly disappointing.

Both the SFI drivers struggled on their hot laps and both didn't really maximise the performance of the car, i'm sure there was more pace left. Just seven thousandths of a second would have got Paul 12th, however 10th was 4 tenths away for Paul and 8 tenths for Nico - that suggests that Q3 wasn't really possible with a gap that big.

As for Narain he finished 6 tenths down on teammate de la Rosa but thankfully for him he is well within the 107% rule and will start the race tomorrow.

In both cases we'll have to wait and see if there were driver mistakes or mechanical issues causing poor laps for the Indian contingent - we should know when the review quotes come out. We'll have analysis later today.

Chinese GP - Practice Three Results

Results: Hulkenberg 11th (1:37.237), Di Resta 13th (1:37.288), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:41.263).

Once again a productive session for Sahara Force India with the team completing 32 laps in total. Soft tyre pace seems quite good, infact there is more pace than what was shown, Di Resta was on target to set a great final time until he got caught out by a bump towards the end of the lap; he did well to control the car and keep it out of the barriers though - kudos to him for that!

As for hard tyre pace, it does need improving a little. The team appear to be struggling in the slower speed corners compared to other teams.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan had his first session this weekend without brake issues and beat his teammate by 2 tenths of a second, very impressive effort!

Looking forward to qualifying; the aim for Sahara Force India will be Q3 for one car at least, if not both whereas Narain Karthikeyan needs to try beat his teammate and qualify within 107% to be able to start the race tomorrow :-)

13/04/2012

Friday sweep-up

So, a promising Friday for Sahara Force India with Paul di Resta 8th and Nico Hulkenberg 9th in the only meaningful session of the day.

It's interesting that Paul beat Nico for laptime even though he missed the first session for reserve driver Jules Bianchi to get a shot in the VJM05. That means that in practice sessions so far Nico is beating Paul 5-2; doesn't mean anything just a little thing we're keeping tally of this season for fun really.

As for Narain Karthikeyan he was considerably behind teammate Pedro de la Rosa in both sessions, this would later turn out to be down to an issue with the brakes.

Here is what everyone has to say:

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver)
"It was a solid afternoon session and a positive start to our race weekend. The baseline setup was pretty good to begin with and we just worked away at fine tuning that during the session. As for the tyres, I would say the medium and softs are quite similar and we managed to get good data during the long runs on both compounds".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver)
"A very short FP1 with the mixed weather, but the running I managed was still useful because we did a few laps on the medium tyre towards the end of the morning. Then we had a very smooth FP2 in the dry conditions, which allowed us to complete all our objectives with long runs and tyre evaluation. Already I have a positive feeling in the car, it feels good to drive and I'm happy with the balance".

Jules Bianchi (Sahara Force India reserve driver)
"It was my first ever practice session in Formula One and my first time driving the Shanghai circuit, so there was quite a lot to learn. We tried to do as much as possible, but the weather made things difficult and we didn't do a lot of laps. After the install lap the track was still a bit damp in places, but almost immediately it started to rain again so we decided to wait for conditions to improve. I went out for a timed lap on the intermediates towards the end before switching to the dry tyres, but the track was very low grip and it was hard to push to the limit. It was good to work with the team and any time in the car is always valuable experience".

Jakob Andreasen (Sahara Force India chief engineer)
"We made the most of a damp morning session to begin our evaluation of some small aero developments we have introduced to the car this week. It was also Jules' first opportunity to take part in a free practice session with us and despite covering limited mileage he did a good job and gave valuable feedback. With the weather improving this afternoon we were able to push ahead with the essential tyre data collection and assess our long run performance. The sessions went to plan and we are optimistic heading into tomorrow".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver)
"The weather wasn't favourable for us in free practice one and it meant that we didn't get any proper running done. I had a few problems in the morning session but the afternoon, where we tried a few different adjustments, was fine. We have a few things to look at tomorrow, especially on the braking side, but apart from that everything went well. We have to improve and we will do that. Tomorrow's practice three will be more representative of where we are".

Chinese GP - Practice Two Results

Results: Di Resta 8th (1:36.966), Hulkenberg 9th (1:37.191), Karthikeyan 24th (1:41.125).

Well that was a much more productive session for everyone!

On face value it appeared to go well for Sahara Force India with both drivers firmly inside the top ten - although i do suspect a few of the cars behind are sandbagging somewhat, nevertheless a good effort by Paul and Nico; they completed 62 laps between them.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he finished a huge 8 tenths of a second down on teammate de la Rosa, that suggests the Indian has some type of problem in the car as we know he's usually good around this track.

We'll have the review quotes for you as soon as they are out, stay tuned for that!

Chinese GP - Practice One Results

Results: Hulkenberg 14th (1:40.328), Bianchi 20th (1:44.118), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:47.204).

A largely useless session for all teams and drivers as rain was intermittent and track conditions we're too inconsistent to read anything into the laptimes or positions.

This was particularly disappointing for Sahara Force India's reserve driver Jules Bianchi who could only manage 8 laps on his first outing for the team. Good news for Paul Di Resta however who will feel he hasn't missed out on any meaningful running despite missing a session.

Narain Karthikeyan finished in 23rd position ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who had a DRS problem but again the laptime is irrelevant.

They'll all be hoping for better running in FP2 in a couple of hours.

11/04/2012

Weekend preview!

The third race of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway this weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit in China.

Like the previous two races this season, Sahara Force India will go into the weekend with the aim of Q3 and solid points. Realistically at the moment the grid way too tight to predict a finishing position with any degree of accuracy, as we saw in the last race with Sergio Perez in the Sauber finishing second. As such it's just going to be a case of picking up as many points as possible and seeing where the team are in the standings on a race-by-race basis. It's worth noting that reserve driver Jules Bianchi will get his first outing for Sahara Force India this weekend in FP1.

Meanwhile at the back of the grid, the battle is much simpler. Caterham, HRT and Virgin are the teams wanting to grab that 10th place in the constructors championship and Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan will be hoping he can make the difference for HRT this weekend at a track where he has been quick in the past. Back in his first stint in F1 in 2005 he was one of the quickest cars on the circuit during the Chinese GP but unfortunately he would eventually crash out of the race - infact it was a pretty big impact into the barriers but thankfully he was okay.

Narain Karthikeyan's 2005 Chinese GP crash - live

Narain Karthikeyan's 2005 Chinese GP crash - replays

What does play into the hands of the slower teams this weekend is that rain is predicted in all sessions and it's supposed to be particularly heavy in the race; last time out we saw what Narain could do in the wet, upto 7th place at one point!

Here is what everybody had to say ahead of this weekend's action:

Paul Di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"China is a great place and Shanghai is a city I enjoy visiting. It's such a big place, there is a lot to see and I enjoy it even more each time I go there. The track has some unusual features. Turn one is very long and feels like it goes on forever. The key to getting it right is how much entry speed you can carry into the corner. You also have to look out for one of the biggest bumps of the year at the corner entry, which makes it difficult. The best chance (to overtake) is Turn One or into the very tight hairpin of Turn 14, which widens on the entry and makes it difficult to defend. We also saw the effectiveness of DRS last year, which helped produce some good racing and it should be the same this year".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"It's not my favourite race of the year, but they've done a good job to build a really impressive facility and it's a fun track to drive. It's difficult to predict how well we will do there, but given how close the grid is at the moment I think it should be a good show for everyone who is watching".

Note: For a special Q&A from Nico, conducted by F1.com, click here.

Jules Bianchi (Sahara Force India reserve driver):
"Flying to #Shanghai ! Looking forward to my first free practice with @ClubForce ! :) #F1"
 
Vijay Mallya (Sahara Force India team principle):
"After two races the 2012 season appears to have all the ingredients needed to serve up a spectacular year of racing. Already the fans have enjoyed two thrilling races and the intensity of the competition across the grid is sure to capture everybody's attention. I said last year that the competition in the midfield was close, but this year it seems to be even more so with the majority of the grid capable of fighting for points. It's a good situation for Formula One, but it also means points are harder to come by. It's encouraging that we have scored points in both races and that will be our aim once again in China. I have to congratulate Paul and Nico on their excellent drives in Malaysia. They are only in their second full seasons of Formula One, but they both showed their maturity in the difficult conditions. At times Paul was one of the fastest cars on the circuit, excelling in the conditions, and it's clear that we can expect another strong season from him. I was also delighted to see Nico pick up his first points with us after such a strong showing. In terms of car development, the factory at Silverstone continues to work at full capacity to improve our performance. The first two races have given us a great deal of information to work with and we will put it to good use in the coming races".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"We took a step forward in Malaysia and our aim is definitely to carry the momentum into China and rest of the season. Although we managed to finish the race, cooling was still an issue at Sepang and once we have it sorted out completely we'll be able to unlock some more performance from the car. The back straight at the Shanghai circuit is of course one of the longest on the calendar and the tightening first corner is uniquely challenging since the corner entry is in top gear and by the time you exit you're in second. Plus there are a fair amount of technical slow-speed corners as well, and the high-speed direction change of turns 7/8. Given these mixed characteristics, it is a demanding circuit for traction, aero and braking stability in equal measures".

03/04/2012

Random ramblings ...

Lots has been said about the Vettel/Karthikeyan incident in the F1 last weekend and now it's time for me to have my say. Here is the incident if you have not yet seen it:


From the first angle we see on thd video, it looks as if Sebastian cuts infront of Narain. However on the second angle there is definitive proof that (as much as i hate to say it) Narain is at fault.

At 14 seconds into the video:

This is Sebastian making the move with Narain's left hand wheels near the curbing.

At 15 seconds into the video:

Sebastian is now infront and this is where the contact happens. Look at the position of Narain's wheels now, far away from the curbing, he has changed his line more toward the centre of the track.

Narain changing his line is fine, he was probably trying to get slipstream from the Red Bull, however he simply misjudged the situation and tapped Sebastian's car. This does happens from time to time, the Indian driver just needs to be a little more careful next time!

As for Sebastian calling Narain an idiot (also in the video), well that's completely wrong but i also think people have blown it way out of proportion. Sure, Sebastian should not have made the comment, it's unfair and unjust. However what people don't seem to remember is that when Sebastian gave the interview he'd only recently got out of the car, the adrenaline will have been pumping and he was angry - naturally that leads to comments of this nature. What will be a true test for Sebastian is how he responds in his next interview, i expect the German to apologise but let's see!

Meanwhile, Sauber have said they are in favour of budget caps in F1. This would be a good thing for all smaller teams, especially Sahara Force India! The team have proved in the past that they can be the best of the midfield teams while operating on a much smaller budget than some of those around them - if a budget restriction was placed on all teams, including the manufacturers such as Ferrari and McLaren, you can only dream of what the outcome could be! Wouldn't be surprised to see Force India grabbing some wins within a few seasons of a budget cap being imposed!

Nothing has been decided yet though but discussions between FOTA and the FIA are on-going.

02/04/2012

Sweet home Alabama

So, Armaan Ebrahim was in action last weekend in his second race of the Indy Lights season. The race was held at the Barber Motorsports Park track in Birmingham, Alabama.

Having qualified in P12 he will have been hoping to make up some positions at the start in order to score more points. Unfortunately for him, he had a testing day with a puncture summing up his disappointment. He did keep the car going however, despite an extra pit stop, and finished in 12th place - exactly where he started.

12th place scores the Indian 18 points for the weekend. This means he drops in the championship from 8th to 10th which now makes him the 5th best placed rookie out of 10.

P.S. Yes, i'm aware that the headline has very little to do with the article but i do like the song and he was racing in Alabama! :p