29/06/2012

What's happening this weekend?

The main action this weekend is provided by the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

Sahara Force India reserve driver, Jules Bianchi, will be taking part in round four (the 6th and 7th races of the season) at the Nürburgring in Germany.

After five races so far, the French driver has had his fair share of bad luck with three non-points finishes and two 2nd places. Those two podiums put him 6th in the championship, 34 points behind the championship leader Sam Bird. The series runs the same scoring system as F1 and there are 12 races to go, so it's still all to play for!

It's quite evident Jules has the pace; in the last three races he has set the fastest lap - the boy just needs a little luck! Let's hope for better this weekend :-)

Elsewhere the academy boys; Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy & Jehan Daruvala will continue their debut season of foreign racing during round three of seven of the Super One Series. The boys will be in action at the Larkhall track in England. We wish them the very best of luck! :-)

28/06/2012

European GP, Valencia- Boring? Turned out to be a fantastic race, isn't it?


When fans, journalists and even certain drivers talked about racing in Valencia track, it was the same reaction from everyone. No-no, they didn’t get excited about it but a moderate enthusiasm to a low one. 2012 though had a different ball game, from what was supposed to be a boring race, it turned out be a fantastic with the podium places being finalized on the very last lap of the race. Alonso drove a brilliant race to win the GP with Kimi at P2 & the legend Schumacher on P3, his first podium since return.

 The detailed review of the weekend is down here:



Practice Sessions, FP1:


A very hot and sunny day in Spain to begin the weekend and straightaway the teams set their eyes on the tyre performances in various heat temperatures. It being a street circuit, qualifying became a bit more important due to lack of overtaking places. In the end it was Maldanado who topped the time sheets with Vettel at P2 and Webber at P3. Jules Bianchi was driving in place of Hulkenberg in the morning session as he finished P15. On the other hand Di Resta finished at an encouraging P6 and also topped the S2 time. Karthikeyan finished at P23, not far off from his teammate.


FP2:


The temperature continued to surge as teams prepared themselves for the afternoon session. The times have rather been very close as we have been seeing in this season. Just thousands of second separate top 10 or 12 or 15. The trend continued in the afternoon session. Vettel topped the time sheets with Hulkenberg at P2 (back at the SFI car after missing the morning session), and Kobayashi at P3. Di Resta in the other SFI car again finished at P6 and once again he topped the S2 time. The team and drivers were upbeat about their Friday performances and were hoping to repeat it on Saturday & Sunday.  Even McLaren duo of Hamilton & Button were amazed and surprised with SFI’s performances. Karthikeyan finished at P23 while his teammate shunted out.


FP3:


A brand new day but the weather was dry and hot. Final session before the all important qualifying session. The teams generally run lesser laps than they do in first or second session and it was no exception in Valencia. Button topped the time sheets bringing in McLaren as a possible pole contender with Grosjean at P2 and Kimi at P3, another team to pop up before the qualifying. SFI continued their super performance as Hulkenberg ended at P4 and Di Resta at P5 and he also topped the S3 time. It was seriously looking good for the team. Karthikeyan continued with his good performance ending at P23 though his team were suffering  a bit from brake in the hot conditions.


The pole position battle was pretty spread out as RBR, McLaren, Lotus, SFI, Williams were all looking to fight for it. The firm favourite remained Vettel as he demonstrated in the last lap of FP3 where he didn’t post any time but an unpredictable weekend would spring a surprise. I was pretty sure that both the SFI car will make it to Q3 and possibly finish in top 5 or grab a pole, there was some serious pace. Karthikeyan had some brake troubles but the team were looking good to challenge Marussia’s.


Qualifying, Q1:


Before the start of qualifying, it was announced that Timo Glock won’t be participating in qualifying due to stomach bug and so it was down to only 23 cars. The track temperature rose by almost 10C from FP3 to Q1, which might have unsettled few teams. Maldanado headed the time sheets with Di Resta at P2 and Hulkenberg at P3, a great start to quali for the team. Unfortunately, Webber due to DRS problem bowed out along with Vergne as Caterham’s Heikki made it to Q2 on merit for the first time. Karthikeyan ended at P22 beating the Marussia and finishing close to his teammate.


Q2:


The real test was in Q2 as the top 17 cars headed out to get into the top 10 and believe this was the closest Q2 we have seen this season. The top 13 were covered by mere 0.230s in the end as Grosjean ended at P1 followed by Rosberg at P2 and Di Resta at P3. The likes of Alonso, Schumacher and Massa bowed out. Both SFI made it to Q3 as was expected and with the times, a top 5 was all the more possible that is if they don’t make any mistakes.


Q3:


Surely, the European GP qualifying has been the closest this season yet as about 0.906s separated P1 and P10, all covered within 1 second which is amazing really. The times kept on tumbling towards the end of the session but no one could match anywhere close to Vettel’s time to beat him from getting pole. At the end of FP3, we knew he had pace which he didn’t show and when it mattered he did. Following him were Hamilton at P2 and Maldanado in P3. A bit setback from SFI as both of them suffered from lock ups on their fast lap as Hulkenberg ended at P7 and Di Resta at P10.


Phew!! It was one of the best qualifying session we have had this season. In the end it took a special lap from Vettel to get to pole. Surprisingly Maldanado ended at P3 with Grosjean at P4 who was tipped to take pole. Surely, SFI had hoped for top 5, even I did but the mistakes on the fast lap proved vital. Nevertheless the positions were good and double point finish or even podium was possible from there. Karthikeyan’s best job would be to keep Marussia behind.


Raceday:


For the record, I couldn’t watch the race on Sunday but watched it on Monday early morning. To begin with, it was scorching hot on Sunday and track temperature was quite high. Would the strategies change? We had to wait and watch. The start was fairly all right for all the drivers with not much drama of opening lap yet again. From past 1-2 seasons we haven’t had many accidents which shows how much the drivers have worked on. Vettel led the way with Hamilton behind but not for long as Grosjean made a move on him to take the P2 position. The SFI duo made a good start as both made a position on the opening lap. Karthikeyan made a steady start as he remained ahead of Pic. Pic’s teammate Glock was ruled out of the race due to stomach bug. For the start of the race, it was all silent with teams focusing on getting the tyres and strategy work in the conditions.


Things changed by lap 34 when we had a Safety Car for brief time before that due to Vergne & Heikki’s crash. Vettel was still at the lead but then his alternator failed and his car to a halt. In all this drama, Alonso was silently getting up there and after Vettel’s DNF, he took the lead overtaking Grosjean. We were looking forward to an interesting battle but soon Grosjean’s car gave away as well leaving Hamilton at P2 and Kimi at P3. Behind those battles, we had Schumacher & Webber coming up through the field, they were up in the top 10 behind Di Resta looking for opportunity to pass the Force India while Button, Massa & Rosberg were having a silent race. Outside the top 10, we had Senna, Perez, Ricciardo, Petrov fighting it out hard. Petrov was running as high as P10 at one stage. Karthikeyan lost out to Pic due to a drive through penalty and was running behind his teammate most of the time. His pace was good enough and the car didn’t suffer any serious brake problem.


Coming to the SFI duo, both drivers having made a steady start moving places were lapping good times. Di Resta was on one-stop strategy while Hulkenberg on two stop. Both of the them were fighting out hard there having several battles, one notably was between Hulkenberg & Alonso where Hulk managed to keep Alonso behind but he eventually moved up after a great move from Alonso. During the SC period, it looked that the team might not get a healthy  point finish but due to other car having different strategy, the team managed to back in top 10 and moved higher up, possibly looking for a podium finish. Towards the end both of them were running a good P5 and P6 fending of Schumacher, Webber, Rosberg who were charging up due to fresh tyres.


After Vettel’s DNF, Alonso lead the race all the way to chequered flag without much hassle from the driver behind him. Grosjean did threaten but his DNF cleared the way as Hamilton was fighting with Kimi. When Kimi got ahead of Hamilton, it was too late for him to challenge Alonso and thus we got our winner as Fernando Alonso, from P11 to P1. Kimi finished at P2 while surprisingly Schumacher on P3 after a crash between Maldanado & Hamilton in which Hamilton suffered a DNF while Maldanado a penalty which took him out of the top 10. On the very last lap both Schumacher & Webber charged through the field to go past Hulkenberg, Di Resta, Rosberg to finish P3 & P4. Di Resta also lost the P6 to Rosberg on the last lap in this melee. A podium was very much in sight for both Hulkenberg & Di Resta after the incident but their tyres gave way and they had to settle with P5 & P7 which is still great as they are now just a point behind the Williams in the CC. Karthikeyan ended at P18 behind his teammate, he lost out mainly due to the drive through penalty.


Another thrilling race in the season, the podium place was decided only on the very last lap. We got to see Schumacher back on the podium, the first since his return. This season has really been one of a kind, I am loving it to the core. The race has not really thrown open anything with regard to the table though it’s all looking good for Alonso in DC while RBR in CC. SFI has closed in the gap and are looking strong now, just need the podium finish to equalise and go ahead. It’s gonna be a close championship and we are in for some great races ahead. Next up is legendary race with British GP, a very close track for all the drivers. Ciao till then, take care & drive safe!!


25/06/2012

Weekend Analysis

F1
Results: Hulkenberg 5th (10 points), di Resta 7th (6 points), Karthikeyan 18th.

It was such an eventful race, i am not entirely sure where to begin!

We know Hulkenberg started 8th with di Resta 10th, both cars had decent starts but it nearly went all wrong straight away as into the first breaking zone of the opening lap Paul got squeezed out and had to cut the curb to avoid Nico! Thankfully there was no damage to either car though.

Both cars were suffering problems however, Paul had a slight overheating issue with his rear brake callipers meaning he had to coast to a halt rather than breaking in some corners. It was costing him 0.5s per lap (approx) however he was on a one-stop strategy, so on the positive side it would help save tyre wear. As for Nico, on lap seven his KERS unit failed. Despite this though the German's pace was actually very good - on par with those around him.

In terms of strategy the plan was for both drivers to try one-stopping. Nico quickly changed to a two-stop strategy early on though. After everyone had completed their first stops the team found themselves in 8th and 9th places. Next up we saw a safety car and it was chaos for a short while - all of a sudden we saw the Sahara Force India's in 5th and 6th places. Paul had a real problem though, Sergio Perez was catching very fast so di Resta had to push to keep the Mexican behind but at the same time tyres needed to be conserved to make the strategy work! A great job by Paul though kept Sergio at bay - the danger was from Schumacher and Webber who were on brand new tyres; and they stormed past Paul. Infact both VJM05's had overtaken Mark Webber earlier in the race - both good overtaking manoeuvres too.

Additionally we saw Sebastian Vettel & Romain Grosjean retire from the race - plus Maldonado and Hamilton collided gifting two more places to our cars. On the final lap the cars were running 5th & 6th but Nico Rosberg managed to squeeze his way past di Resta, who was on very old tyres, at turn 17, meaning our boys finished 5th and 7th.

A good result for our drivers; Sahara Force India's best result of the season, infact it was Nico Hulkenberg's best ever result in F1. Having said that, the result could have been better. If the drivers would have maximised the potential of the car in qualifying, and started higher on the grid; if Nico Hulkenberg did not have a KERS failure; if di Resta pitted under the safety car - then 3rd and 4th places would have been possible.

However it was still a great result, especially as our rivals didn't score many points.

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (92 pts)
6) Sauber (60)
7) Williams (45)
8) Force India (44)
What is more important than the result in this weekend though is the realisation that outright speed is there. The VJM05 was quick in Canada, but tyre wear meant a poor result. After working on tyre wear between races, the VJM05 was quick in Valencia, but the potential of the car was not reached in qualifying. The speed is present though which is promising heading to the teams second home race - the British GP! Although Valencia gave the best result of the season for Sahara Force India, i very much suspect that it will be topped in Britain where, with a little luck, a podium will become a probability rather than a possibility :-)

As for the drivers championship; Paul sits 11th on 27pts whereas Nico is 10pts behind in 14th. This is what the main players have to say:

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"A great result for everyone in the team today and for me personally. Fifth place is a great achievement after a very long and difficult race. The two-stop strategy worked well, but the last stint was very long and it was hard to hold off the cars behind me on fresher tyres in the last few laps. So the race was a bit messy at times, but very entertaining and it feels great to come through and score such a good result for the team. We got a bit lucky with some cars dropping out, but we were in the right place to capitalise on things so I'm very happy about today".

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"We went very aggressive by only stopping once and in fact we were the only car to pull off this strategy. Of course, when you're stopping once you really don't want a safety car period and it certainly hurt my race and cost me some track position. But with the way the race unfolded we can't be too disappointed to finish seventh and it's great to have another two-car points finish. On the whole our relative pace through the race was strong, but it was hard to keep the tyre performance towards the end and I was really fighting the car in the closing laps. There was some attrition ahead of us, but we were there to pick up the points when it mattered".

Vijay Mallya
(Sahara Force India team principle):
"A thoroughly enjoyable race today and I'm delighted to see our cars come home in fifth and seventh places, our strongest result of the season and Nico's best finish in Formula One. It was a roller coaster race with many twists and turns, but I feel we have come away with the points we deserved given our performance level this weekend. Both drivers pushed hard, kept out of trouble and made their different strategies work. Paul recovered the ground he lost under the safety car and Nico had to drive most of the race without KERS, so it was an excellent performance by him. The result today sets us up perfectly for Silverstone in two weeks' time where we will be determined to build on this momentum in our local race".

One final thing on Sahara Force India - the work done inbetween the Canadian and European races; to get on top of the tyre wear and bolt on some pretty effective upgrades was a great effort. The management should be applauded!

(Team principles on the pit wall; Robert Fernley (left), Vijay Mallya (right) - click to enlarge)

Having qualified 22nd, Narain Karthikeyan had a good start and retained his position ahead of Charles Pic. The two cars were battling hard all race and we even saw a minor collision between the two. Although when Narain Karthikeyan was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits then that ruined his race really, P18 ahead of the retirements.

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"I got off to a good start and managed to hold my position. We had a tough battle for the first 15 laps and our car was going very well on the straights but the degradation of the rear tyres started affecting our performance. After the pitstop I was behind Pic and it wasn't easy to drive so I was unable to catch him up. But we had a good last stint on the prime tyres which, unfortunately, got hampered by a drive-through penalty as a result of speeding in the pit lane. Had it not been for this then perhaps I could have finished in a better position but the important thing is that we made it to the finish line in very challenging conditions".

F2
Qualifying Two Result: Sureshwaren 10th.
Race Two Result: Sureshwaren 11th.

After finishing ourside the points in race one (11th place) - despite having some good speed, Parthiva Sureshwaren was hoping to score some points in race two.

Things were looking good after qualifying as Parthiva would line-up on the grid in 10th place.

The race was completely mental though! Due to the heavy rain the race began behind the safety car and once they released the F2 cars we immediately saw a crash which brought the safety car straight back out. Parthiva had slipped down to 11th. On lap four, there were many incidents behind the safety car and all of a sudden the Indian driver found himself in 7th place! This was when the race was red flagged due to the awful Spa weather. F2 regulations say that there is a 40-mintue time limit on races - after 40 minutes had elapsed conditions were no better, so a result was declared. Unfortunately for Parthiva, the regulations also say that if a race ends with a red flag, the results are taken from the lap before the red flag was shown. This meant that Parthiva finished outside the points in 11th :-(

Disappointment for him on a weekend where he could have bagged some good points, he had the pace - it was just out of his control.

Here's what he had to say:

Parthiva Sureshwaren (@parthivsw):
"Race 2 at Spa Francorchamps red flagged on Lap 4 due to severe rain. I stopped on the grid in 7th. Results taken from previous lap so 11th. 4th in Practice, Qualified in top 10 for both races.11th in race is not what i aimed for but Will take the positives from the weekend".

British GT ChampionshipQualifying Result: Bolisetti/Glew 19th (2nd in class).
Race Result: Bolisetti/Glew DNF.

A decent qualifying session was ruined when during the race the teams front suspension received damage making the car very slow and ultimately leading the team to retirement.

It's the second retirement in two races and they are unfortunately beginning to fall behind in the championship hunt.

British GT Championship (GT4) (1st-3rd)
1) Jody Fannin/Warren Hughes (150pts)
2) Zoe Wenham (97.5)
3) Sailesh Bolisetti/Phil Glew (71)
4) Dominic Evans (70.5)

There are four races to go and 125 points to play for, the championship is still within reach but unlikely without unreliability for Fannin and Hughes. Second place is more realistic, but for sure the team will keep pushing until the end :-)

24/06/2012

European GP - Race Results

Results: Hulkenberg 5th (10 points), di Resta 7th (6 points), Karthikeyan 18th.

Well the end of that race was more eventful than we had expected!!

A great result for Sahara Force India; 16 points in the bag - great effort! What makes this a very special race is that Hulkenberg had a KERS failure and di Resta had no grip at all for the last 15 laps so those positions are even more impressive!

It makes you think what could have been if Nico & Paul maximised the potential in qualifying but nevertheless, this has re-ignited the championship charge!

Narain Karthikeyan had an okay race, but a penalty for speeding in the pits, a minor collision with Charles Pic and the safety car coming out at the wrong time ruined any hopes Narain had of a good finish.

There are a tonne of investigations and appeals for the stewards to look at so let's see what happens in terms of positions - more later!

Saturday Analysis

Qualifying Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:38.752), di Resta 10th (1:38.992), Karthikeyan 22nd (1:42.527).

Sahara Force India will have both cars starting inside the top ten, which was a great effort. However many people were actually disappointed as 3rd & 4th places were possible.

This is what the two drivers said:

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"I think overall it's a great result for the team to get both cars into Q3, but maybe we were hoping for a little bit more than P8 and P10, especially considering how we have performed so far this weekend. I don't think the increase in temperatures helped us because the car felt more difficult to drive today and a bit nervous at times. For the race tomorrow we are still near the front and will take the fight to the cars around us to try and come away with some points".

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"It was a strong qualifying session but I feel I could have been higher up the grid because I didn't get the perfect lap together in Q3. We were the quickest car in Q2 and if I could have repeated that lap time in Q3 I would have been a couple of rows higher up the grid. I was trying to squeeze a little bit extra from the car but I locked a wheel and lost time in the final sector. I will try and focus on the positives because we have been strong in all the sessions, the car is well dialled into the circuit, and I think we will have good race pace for tomorrow".

Despite the drivers not achieving the cars potential today (both made errors in sector three) - there are many positives to draw on.

For instance, our car clearly has pace! Judging by all the sessions we've seen so far, the VJM05 has the pace around this track to consistently run in the top five. What this means for tomorrow is that the drivers should be looking forward not backwards! There is no reason why double-figure points can't be scored tomorrow!

Many people have pointed out that of the problems that may be faced by our drivers is that there are no real straights on the Valencia circuit which makes overtaking difficult. However i have to disagree with this; the previous F1 races we've seen at Valencia have had very few overtakes - that's a fact, but ... the GP2 feature race which followed the F1 qualifying today had a tonne of overtaking, there was passing all over the place - that shows it is possible. Additionally the DRS zone has been extended compared to last season which will help matters somewhat.

The other potential pitfall is the issue we saw at the last race in Canada, tyre wear. However i've had a clear inside message from the team saying they have figured out what the problem was in Canada and they believe they have discovered something related to tyre wear that no other team is aware of. I don't know exactly what this is, but boy am i excited to find out!

Here's what the boss had to say:

Dr Vijay Mallya (Sahara Force India team principal):
"Another extremely close qualifying hour and I'm pleased that we were able to get two cars into Q3 for the first time this year. The car has been extremely quick throughout practice and we showed that again today with some very competitive times in Q1 and Q2. When it came to Q3 both drivers didn't quite deliver perfect laps, which costs us a few positions on the grid, but we are still well placed to fight for points finishes with both cars. We expect a tough race tomorrow with very hot temperatures once again, but the car is strong, we have a good understanding of the tyres and our long run pace looks promising".

Meanwhile at the other end of the grid, Narain Karthikeyan had a decent qualifying session too! He beat the Marussia of Charles Pic and also starts ahead of the second Marussia, Timo Glock, who did not take part in qualifying. Narain's teammate, de la Rosa, did a fantastic lap and was out of reach for the Indian. The aim for tomorrow will be to win the battle between the HRT's and Marussia's and basically just grab as many positions as possible. Valencia is a street track and so a high number of retirements is possible, that may just play nicely into the hands of Narain.

Here's what he had to say:

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"We made some specific set-up changes for qualifying which definitely helped as we completed our best qualifying session of the season so far. We're ahead of the Marussias, which is very important, and clocking similar times to Pedro so I’m very happy with the result. I hope to carry the momentum over into tomorrow's race where we'll have to keep a close eye on the heat. But we're in better conditions than in Canada and should be able to put in a good performance. I'm heading into the race full of confidence after today and hope to achieve a good result".

There's something else i want to mention about the two Sahara Force India drivers, but i couldn't really fit it in anywhere so far. Both Nico & Paul made costly mistakes today on their hot laps in the final sector. In the short-term it's disadvantaged the team slightly, but it's not the end of the World. In a long-term sense though, this may actually help the two drivers develop. I was particularly impressed with how Paul reacted: "I was trying to squeeze a little bit extra from the car but I locked a wheel and lost time in the final sector". He held his hands up and he will learn from this. Next time these two are in a simmilar situation they'll remember this session and realise it's probably better to be consistent rather than push for even more time and risk making the error. Don't forget both these guys are only in their second seasons of full F1 - they're still learning - it's okay to mistakes now and then :-)

23/06/2012

F2 - Saturday Report

Qualifying One result: Sureshwaren 10th (+0.954s on the leader).
Race One result: Sureshwaren 11th.

We said Parthiva Sureshwaren would go well this weekend, and he proved me right in qualifying with a career best 10th place on the grid!

Given the pace Parthiva had shown so far at the Spa circuit in Belgium, it looked likely that the Indian's pointless run would end today. The lycamobile-backed driver made a good start and was still in 10th place after the opening lap; infact he remained in 10th place for the rest of the race until David Zhu overtook him on the final lap to grab the last point!

It's a shame for Parthiva who has now not scored in 26 races. However he does have pace so he may well just grab some points tomorrow, i certainly hope so!

European GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:38.752), di Resta 10th (1:38.992), Karthikeyan 22nd (1:42.527).

A decent qualifying session for Sahara Force India, but it could have been better. Both drivers did not do brilliant final sectors and as a result will start 8th & 10th. Third place was possible but it wasn't to be! Nevertheless, these positions are very good heading into tomorrow, strong points will be the aim!

Note: There was an unclear race control message during that session; either Hulkenberg held up Kobayashi or Kobayashi held up Hulkenberg - the situation is under investigation and when we get news of that we'll let you know.

Narain Karthikeyan was 0.356s behind teammate de la Rosa - i think that's a brilliant lap by the Spaniard. Narain's time was good enough to beat the Marussia of Charles Pic. He will also start ahead of Timo Glock who didn't take part in qualifying due to a stomach bug.

We'll have more later!

European GP - Practice Three Results

Results: Hulkenberg 4th (1:38.819), di Resta 5th (1:38.892), Karthikeyan (1:42.943).

Impressive positions from Sahara Force India in terms of ultimate pace, however the pace on the harder tyre wasn't as good as i had expected; nevertheless, we don't know the fuel loads so these times may be skewed.

Things are still looking very promising ahead of qualifying though, this may just be a very good weekend indeed!

As for Narain Karthikeyan - a good effort by him. P23, ahead of Marussia's Timo Glock and just 0.2s from de la Rosa in 21st.

We're hoping for the very best for our drivers in qualifying, and of course we'll have a report after the session.

Friday Analysis

FP1: di Resta 6th (1:41.105), Bianchi 15th (1:42.175), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:45.120).
FP2: Hulkenberg 2nd (1:39.465), di Resta 6th (1:39.700), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:44.201).

FP1 was all about testing new updates on the car (the main of which is a new front wing) and getting the drivers used to the track. The session went well for Paul di Resta who said he was very happy with the car at the end of the morning session while Jules Bianchi was being used as a bit of a guinea pig, running the car with a tonne of flo-viz aerodynamic paint on the right hand side for analysis of the updates on the VJM05.

As for the pace, it was pretty good really! Paul ended the session in 6th place, 0.215s down on the leader. At the last race in Canada, Paul ended the practice sessions looking in equally good shape however come the race, while the pace was present, the tyres just fell away and as a result strategy was poor. Following that race the team has analysed all the data they had and the very interesting bit of information from the team is that they now understand what the issue was and have subsequently learnt something crucial that they believe no other team has discovered yet. I don't know exactly what this piece of information is, the team are being very secretive about it (understandably so!) - but it sure sounds exciting, let's hope it translates into results this weekend.

FP2 was where we really began to see the performance level of the VJM05. While the positions of 2nd and 6th are very encouraging we must stress that the fuel loads are unknown. Nevertheless, there is a pattern emerging this weekend. There was some distance between the top seven cars (separated by 0.399s) and the eighth placed Romain Grosjean; it's good to see the two Sahara Force India's inside that leading group.

If we look at the individual fastest sector times from FP2:

Sector 1:
1) Vettel (26.220s)
5) Hulkenberg (+0.054s)
8) di Resta (+0.126s)

Sector 2:
1) di Resta (45.084s)
6) Hulkenberg (+0.175s)

Sector 3:
1) Senna (27.710s)
3) Hulkenberg (+0.222s)
10) di Resta (+0.434s)

I think that's clear proof that the VJM05 is pretty consistent over the course of the lap. If we take the best three Sahara Force India sectors:

Sector 1: Hulkenberg (26.274s)
Sector 2: di Resta (45.084s)
Sector 3: Hulkenberg (27.932s)

That gives a best laptime of: 1:39.290. Vettel topped FP2 with a 1:39.334. Sahara Force India's best time is 0.044s faster than Vettel! Another indicator as to why the team should do very well this weekend :-)

Because of all this promising data, i have placed a £1 bet on Hulkenberg & a £1 bet on di Resta for podiums this weekend - i really do think this is our (overdue) time to shine!

There is less to say about Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan. He's in an equally tough battle to the Force India's, but with far less cars involved. His competition is his teammate de la Rosa and the two Marussia's. Narain finished 23rd in both sessions, that's not too bad really! This is the race last year where Narain set an unwanted record as he became the first driver in F1 history to finish a race in 24th position. He'll be hoping there isn't a repeat of that this time round.

Overall things are looking very nice going into FP3 and qualifying tomorrow, let's hope for the best! We'll sign off with the post-Friday quotes from the team personnel.

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"Just the one session for me today, but it went very well and we were able to pack a lot of work into the afternoon. I feel quite comfortable with the car and we managed some good runs on both tyres compounds today. I think the key factor for the rest of the weekend will be managing the tyres if the temperatures increase as expected and making sure we can deliver the same level of performance".

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"When I got in the car this morning the baseline set-up was a good starting point and I didn't really change that much for the rest of the day. Our single lap speed looks strong, as does the long run pace, and we appear to have a good feel for the tyres already. Given the pace we have shown today we seem competitive so hopefully we can challenge for the top ten in qualifying tomorrow".

Jules Bianchi (Sahara Force India reserve driver):
"My morning session went well and the team learned a lot from the aero evaluation we did with the front wings. My first few laps were not at the limit, but I improved my speed step-by-step with each run and got more confidence with the conditions. The track was not so clean to begin with and although it improved during the session my tyres were going away at the same time. It was the second time I have used the medium compound tyres and I felt quite happy with their performance during the session".

Jakob Andreasen (Sahara Force India chief engineer):
"A solid day of practice in Valencia and we managed to get through our programme of test items, which included some aero parts and items we had evaluated in the simulator. The results were encouraging and show the correlation between our simulations and reality is working well. In terms of tyres we gathered a lot of data today and both the soft and medium compounds are performing well for us. The drivers were excellent, too, and their feedback has given us a good basis for tomorrow. There are some tough decisions to make tonight because we expect the temperatures to rise for the weekend, but we are up and running and well prepared heading into final practice tomorrow morning".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"In the morning the track was very dirty because it hadn't been used yet, so we just did some running and some work on the set-up and weight distribution of the car. In the afternoon we tried a few other things as the track was in better condition but we struggled to get the option tyres hot for the quick lap, so we have to work on that to try and get the most out of them for tomorrow's qualifying. Other than that it was a good day and tomorrow we must look to build on this and find that long-desired good performance in qualifying".

22/06/2012

European GP - Practice Two Results

Results: Hulkenberg 2nd (1:39.465), di Resta 6th (1:39.700), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:44.201).

Last time out in Canada, post-FP2, i said that i thought it was the most promising Friday that Sahara Force India had ever had. Unfortunately due to rapidly degrading tyres, not much was made of that pace in the race.

However i think today's sessions have been even more impressive. The laptimes have been good on both compounds of tyre, both in terms of wear and pace! I've gathered quite a bit of data from today and i'm going to spend the next few hours looking through it and matching it up with some inside information i have from the team. I'll be posting an article later today when i've analysed everything - there will be some very interesting conclusions i reckon; it's an article you will want to make sure you read :-)

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he was 23rd ahead of his teammate, de la Rosa, who crashed out. Unfortunately for Narain there was a massive 1.2s gap to the Marussia of Charles Pic ahead; perhaps the Indian driver had some issue with his car? We'll let you know when we find out.

European GP - Practice One Results

Results: di Resta 6th (1:41.105), Bianchi 15th (1:42.175), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:45.120).

That was a decent session for our guys really.

All drivers stuck to the hard tyres and Sahara Force India's Paul di Resta was well within the leading group, in 6th, 0.215s off the lead. The top nine were separated by just 0.292s. There is then a large gap to the Lotus' and Saubers behind.

Our reserve driver Jules Bianchi was ahead of the other reserve driver in action, Williams' Valtteri Bottas. Jules was just 0.066s behind Felipe Massa - a good effort!

As for Narain Karthikeyan, a decent session for him too - 0.124s behind teammate de la Rosa in 23rd. Narain did beat the Marussia of Timo Glock which is promising!

It will be interesting to see how the guys do in FP2 when the soft tyres will be on!

What's happening this weekend?

Three series and six drivers will be racing this weekend, here is a run down of the action to come:

Formula One
Let's start with the big action this weekend, round eight of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship, the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain.

Sahara Force India team principle, Vijay Mallya, has called on the team to recapture their form this weekend:

"The teams that we have been comparable with in the past few years like Sauber and Williams have been on the podium, and I'm sure our time will come, as long as we get things right. It's something we need to do sooner rather than later because we are quickly approaching the midway point of the season. I hope we can recapture our form in Valencia, return to the points and demonstrate our potential".

He will be at the race this weekend, along with his 95-metre yacht, the Indian Empress.

(The Indian Empress docked at Valencia Harbour)



As for Sahara Force India's chances, they'll be looking for solid points as usual. Here are what the drivers had to say ahead of the event:

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"It's a mix between a street circuit and a normal track and it's got a lot of corners to go with it - maybe the most corners of any circuit on the calendar. The track is very smooth but it's tricky to get on top of the set-up and if you don't find the sweet spot it can make quite a big difference to your lap time across such a long lap. The main challenge is to be strong in the low-speed chicanes and also through the high-speed end of the lap. There are some big braking zones too followed by big traction zones, so the degradation rate is quite high, which is why it’s hard to manage the rear tyres through the race. It's a fun place to visit. The city has nice architecture, some great restaurants and we stay next to the beach so I sometimes go for a jog in the morning. City races usually provide a good atmosphere on race day and there are always lots of British fans who come along and show their support".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"My race there in 2010 was not a particularly happy one. There was some bodywork burning away and I eventually had to retire. I'm looking forward to going back to Valencia because I like the track, even though we've seen how difficult it is to overtake there. The track has are a few special corners in the final sector of the lap and it's enjoyable to drive. It's also quite a long lap with 25 corners so it can be quite difficult to get a perfect lap together".


(At this point it's worth noting that reserve driver Jules Bianchi will be in the car for FP1).

In terms of the championship, this is how the constructors looks going into the weekend:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (69 pts)
6) Sauber (58)
7) Williams (44)
8) Force India (28)

As for the drivers championship; Paul sits 12th on 21 points whereas Nico is 15th on 7 points. Both drivers can gain championship positions this weekend with strong results.

Before we move onto Narain Karthikeyan, we have a few more Sahara Force India things to inform you of. There was recently a FOTA fan forum held in Manhattan, United States. Present at the event was deputy team principle Robert Fernley and our British driver, Paul di Resta. To view videos of the event, including what Robert and Paul had to say, please visit the FOTA website here. Robert Fernley is on part two, Paul di Resta is on parts three & four. While we are an Indian motorsport blog, we do realise we have a large proportion of UK fans and so we thought we'd link you guys to this competition, run by Sahara Force India, for residents of the UK.

Right, now onto Narain. Here's what he had to say ahead of the European event:

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"Valencia will be our third street circuit in a row, and our team's second home race. It is our second visit to Spain in just about five weeks but the circuit is as different as it could be compared to Barcelona. It shares some characteristics with Montreal and Monte Carlo, like emphasis on low-speed traction so I expect our car to do well here. Apart from that, it is a beautiful place and weather is pretty hot, just like India, but the track itself isn't a huge challenge. Yes the walls are close but the adrenaline factor isn't close to Monaco or even Montreal. But on the back of the promise we showed in Canada, I'm looking forward to the race and hopefully we'll have a chance to build on it this time".

Things looked good for the Indian-driver at the last race. The HRT team had a fantastic battle with the Marussia's and this weekend should be very similar; although HRT will be hoping the result is different come the race! Narain's target for the weekend is to grab a 14th place finish (or higher) to improve on his current best which is 15th in Monaco. For HRT, a 14th place will require some unreliability for other teams - Narain just needs to make sure that's he's in the right place should other cars have problems.

Formula Two
The aim for Parthiva Sureshwaren this weekend is simple; score points! He really needs this 25-race run of not scoring to come to an end this weekend at the wonderful Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

What does work in favour for the Indian driver though is that he has a record of being quick with extended practice on circuits; and during the week there was an F2 test at Spa.

Here is how Parthiva got on during that test (held on Tuesday) which was split into five sessions:

Session #1: 13th (+1.959s down on the leader)
Session #2: 6th (+1.406s)
Session #3: No Time (did not take to the track due to rain)
Session #4: 14th (+5.961s) (affected by rain)
Session #5: 16th (+6.788s) (affected by rain)
Combined: 8th (+1.406s) (best laptime for each driver ranked)

We can't really read anything into sessions #3, #4 and #5 as there were rain affected and so results are very unreliable with drivers on different tyres compounds and so on. However what is encouraging is that Parthiva improved by half a second (relative to the leader) from session #1 to session #2. That was the 8th quickest time of the test overall; clearly he can be scoring points and this test should stand him in good stead for the two races this weekend.

What also works in Parthiva's favour is that results this season have shown an upward trend. So far six races completed as his final positions are as follows:

16th, 14th, 16th, 14th, 12th, 12th.

He is improving slowly but surely!

British GT Championship
Sailesh Bolisetti currently sits third in his championship with a real shot at the title! His aim will be a win, with British-temmate Phil Glew (two drivers per car in endurance racing) this weekend at Brands Hatch, UK.

The good thing for Sailesh is that Brands Hatch seems to suit Indian drivers. Karun Chandhok has previously stated that he loves the track and Narain Karthikeyan is always VERY strong around there. I'm not joking when i say any driver would struggle to beat Narain around Brands. Let's hope this trend continues for Sailesh!

Having retired from the last race due to a driveshaft failure the team, Lotus Sport UK, will be hoping for a good result and recent form suggests that Phil, and our man Sailesh, will be able to deliver.

We really hope for a great weekend for all our guys and wish them the very best of luck! :-)

If you liked this article please show your appreciation by sharing it on facebook, thanks!

19/06/2012

Le Mans 24-hour race review!

Result: Brabham/Chandhok/Dumbreck: 6th (overall & in class).

A fantastic day at Le Mans for Karun Chandhok and the JRM team!

(Karun posing with his JRM racecar)

Here is a breakdown of how the cars' position changed during the 24-hours:

Start: 11th
Hour 1: 9th (+3:29.011 behind the leader)
Hour 2: 10th (+1 lap)
Hour 3: 9th
(+1 lap)
Hour 4: 9th (+2 laps)
Hour 5: 8th (+3 laps)
Hour 6: 7th (+2 laps)
Hour 7: 6th (+3 laps)
Hour 8: 16th (+9 laps)
Hour 9: 13th (+10 laps)
Hour 10: 10th (+10 laps)
Hour 11: 8th (+11 laps)
Hour 12: 12th (+13 laps) 

Hour 13: 10th (+14 laps)
Hour 14: 9th (+14 laps)
Hour 15: 8th (+15 laps)
Hour 16: 7th (+16 laps)
Hour 17: 7th (+16 laps)
Hour 18: 7th (+17 laps)
Hour 19: 6th (+18 laps)
Hour 20:
6th (+18 laps)
Hour 21:
6th (+19 laps)
Hour 22:
6th (+19 laps)
Hour 23:
6th (+21 laps)
Hour 24:
6th (+21 laps)

A graphical representation:

(click to enlarge)

Normally we'd just post quotes from Karun, but as this race was such a team effort, here is what everyone had to say:

James Rumsey (JRM team principal):
"Before the race I said we would be thrilled to finish the race. That was an underestimation – we are absolutely overjoyed. It's only our third ever event as a team and our first Le Mans so to finish, and to finish well, is almost indescribable. The drivers all drove very, very well and came together as a crew. David was invaluable in giving us his experience, Peter did a great job through the night – particularly after the puncture when things could have gone very wrong – and Karun did incredibly well to be so consistent on his first visit here. This week has tested everyone – we've had a lot of work, lots of late nights and yet everyone has pulled together to achieve this result. I am so proud of everyone and am sure that this is just the start of something very big. Watch this space".

Nigel Stepney (JRM chief engineer/team manager):
"I've been in motorsport for longer than I care to remember, but this is a feeling that goes beyond anything I've experienced before. The sheer amount of effort that's gone into the result in the months and weeks before this has tested everyone and it’s incredible that we have a result that justifies the workload. We’ve had more than our share of problems leading up to the race this week and a couple of minor issues in the race, but really reliability has been pretty good – the only issues we had were incidentals. There is a lot of luck in Le Mans and while we were lucky today, the preparation that’s gone in before has helped us get a bit of luck for ourselves".

David Brabham (JRM driver):
"What a journey we've had as a team today - and actually since the start of the year. We've done two races as a team and come to Le Mans for the very first time so to run in the top six and run as well as we have, with no real reliability issues, is an amazing achievement. Since the start of this programme the guys have been up against it as the car came so late, and even this week they've been working hard to get everything ready and prepared. There have been a lot of very late nights so I am very proud of everyone in the team who has worked so hard to achieve this result".

Karun Chandhok (JRM driver):
"Driving for nine of the last 36 hours and sleeping for four makes for a pretty tiring ratio! I ended up doing the graveyard shift from 2 – 5am, which was very special and exhausting in equal measure. It made me really understand the unique, special nature of this race. Overall a very good race for us and it feels great to be the only Indian to have finished the Le Mans 24hr race. The whole team worked tirelessly and it is a great reward for all their hard work. We have all been flat out since the first test here. I am absolutely exhausted and look forward to taking a nice long break. To finish second amongst the privateer teams is huge so fantastic result all around".

Peter Dumbreck (JRM driver):
"The last stint was so nerve-wracking; I kept listening to every noise, vibration and little twitch thinking what was it?! This result means so much to everyone that I was concentrating so hard at the end to give them the result they deserved. If anyone had anyone offered us that before this week we would have gladly taken it. We thought it would be a miracle to finish, so I think we have to thank someone up there … David and I have both had our share of ups and downs in Le Mans so it’s great to finally get a good result - it's something to build on for next year! Karun did a superb job in his first 24 hour race as well - I think as a driving trio we couldn't have done any more".

If you read our race preview feature (here), you'll know that the drivers are competing for the Drivers' World Championship and the team, JRM, are competing for the LMP1 Trophy.

The team finished 6th overall at Le Mans. The team who finished 3rd, Audi Sport North America, aren't part of the World Endurance Championship and therefore they are excluded from point scoring. This means that the JRM drivers get the points for 5th place (20 points; usually this would be ten but all Le Mans points are doubled). This puts all the drivers joint 7th in the championship on 22.5 points.

As for the LMP1 trophy, the teams who finished Le Mans 1st, 2nd and 5th are part of the Manufacturers' World Championship so don't score in the LMP1 trophy. And as we already mentioned the team in 3rd are excluded from point scoring. This means JRM score the points allocated for 2nd place! That's 36 points (usually 18, but doubled for Le Mans).

The standings are as follows:

LMP1 trophy standings
1) Rebellion Racing (87 points)
2) JRM (63)
3) Strakka Racing (57)
4) Pescarolo Team (25)
5) OAK Racing (8)

Karun's team, JRM, are really in the hunt for this LMP1 title :-)

16/06/2012

Feature: World Endurance Championship


The World Endurance Championship was a new series created for 2012 by the governing body of motorsport, the FIA. Indian racing driver Karun Chandhok is currently part of this series.

There are four classes of car in the series:

LMP1 - Le Mans Prototype 1 (learn more here)
LMP2 - Le Mans Prototype 2 (learn more here)
LMGTE Pro - Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Professional (learn more here)
LMGTE Am - Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance Amateur (learn more here)

All the drivers and teams are fighting for seven titles:

#1) Drivers' World Championship
(awarded to the best driver/s overall, over the course of the season)

#2) Manufacturers' World Championship
(awarded to the best manufacturer in the LMP1 class, that will be one of two; Audi or Toyota)

#3) Manufacturers' World Cup
(awarded to the best manufacturer in either GTE class, that will be one of three; Porsche, Ferrari or Chevrolet Corvette)

#4) LMP1 Trophy
(awarded to the best privateer team in the LMP1 class, that will be one of five including Karun's team, JRM)

#5) LMP2 Trophy
(awarded to the best team in the LMP2 class, that will be one of eight teams)

#6) GTE Pro Trophy
(awarded to the best team in the GTE Pro class, that will be one of four teams)

#7) GTE Am Trophy
(awarded to the best team in the GTE Am class, that will be one of six teams)

As for point scoring, it's the standard FIA scoring system: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1. Additionally, those finishing 11th or lower get half a point (as long as the car completes 70% race distance). Furthermore there is one additional point for all the drivers and teams who take pole position.

The series consists of eight races:


1) United States 12 Hours of Sebring
2) Belgium 6 Heures de Spa-Francorchamps
3) France 24 Heures du Mans
4) Great Britain 6 Hours of Silverstone
5) Brazil 6 Hours of São Paulo
6) Bahrain 6 Hours of Bahrain
7) Fuji 6 Hours of Fuji
8) China 6 Hours of Shanghai
 

This weekend is race three, the 24 Heures du Mans.

This race is a very prestigious race; for certain it's the most prestigious sports car race in the World. But what makes it such a huge event? It has been running since 1923 (although obviously only entered the WEC calendar this season, as this is the inaugural WEC season) which means it has a very long history. Also, the field consists of 22 former Formula One drivers; it's an event they all want to win, right up there with the Monaco GP. In addition, it's the only 24-hour race on the calendar; the ultimate in endurance racing! Naturally one driver can't do one 24-hour stint and so two, or more usually three, drivers share the wheel of each car. Driver changes happen during pit stops.

As mentioned before, Karun is driving for JRM Racing. He will become the first Indian to race in the Le Mans 24 hours.
His teammates are Australian driver David Brabham and British driver Peter Dumbreck. Narain Karthikeyan was due to take part in the event in 2009, however before the race he dislocated his shoulder by jumping over the pitwall and missed the event. That left teammates André Lotterer and Charles Zwolsman Jr. to do the whole 24 hours. Despite only having two drivers the team, Kolles, finished a very impressive 7th in LMP1 and overall.

After two races David, Karun and Peter are in joint 16th in the Drivers' World Championship (refer to #1 above) with 2.5pts each. As for the team, they are eligible for the LMP1 Trophy (#4 above). They sit 3rd on 27pts. The championship leader, Rebellion Racing, only has 37pts and therefore things are very tight! One thing we didn't mention earlier is that for this race only all points scored are doubled (due to the length & prestige of the event) - this means 50pts for a win! Clearly a crucial race for the championship despite only being race three of eight.

Qualifying has already been held for the Le Mans race which begins today (Sunday 17th) at 6:30PM IST. The qualifying format is that there are three sessions, and every cars' best time goes towards determining the grid. The JRM Racing car clocked their best time in session three to qualify 11th overall.

It's going to be a fascinating race for sure, we'll keep you guys periodically updated during the race via our facebook page and we'll have a full report on Monday!

We wish Karun Chandhok and JRM Racing the very best of luck!

15/06/2012

What's happening this weekend?

The big event this weekend, infact one of the biggest events of the season is the 24 Heures du Mans (24 hours of Le Mans) - the most prestigious sportscar race in the World. Karun Chandhok will be taking part but we have a feature on this series later today so we won't go into this now.

Armaan Ebrahim was supposed to be in action this weekend in Indy Lights, but unfortunately he has now left Fan Force United. Read more on that here.

That's all we have to tell you in this article - a relatively quiet weekend in terms of number of series in action. Stay tuned for our article on the 24 Heures du Mans later today!

14/06/2012

Canadian GP, Montreal- 7th different winner, strategies rule


It all came down to strategies and tyres in the end to give us our 7th different winner of the season, a new record. Of course pace of the car played a big role as well but the clever and brave strategy made the difference. Lewis Hamilton became the 7th winner of the season, it was long due from him and he finally joined the party. Everyone was surprised as Grosjean ended at P2 & Perez at P3.

The detailed review of the whole weekend is here:

Practice Sessions, FP1:


A gloomy weather to start of the weekend in Canada, first of the races in the other side of the world. The usual Friday outing for the teams but with rain forecasted in the afternoon session, some teams opted to use the supersoft tyres, just in case. Hamilton stamped his authority in a bid to become the 7th different winner as he ended at P1 followed by Vettel at P2 & Rosberg at P3. SFI’s Hulkenberg used the SS tyres in the end to finish at P6 with Di Resta at P11. Karthikeyan’s HRT continued with last weekend impressive run as he ended at P22. Towards the end of the session there was a red flag due to Heikki hitting the wall.


FP2:


The rain didn’t come as forecasted but the performances of some of the teams continued to improve as the session went on. Hamilton continued with his strong performance as he ended at P1 again but this time, he was followed by the two Ferrari drivers with Alonso at P2 & Massa at P3. Another strong outing for the SFI team as Di Resta ended at P5 who also had the best S3 time of 29.9 among all the drivers. Hulkenberg equally impressive ended at P8. The drivers were among the Top 6 in the sector speed traps as well. The team were hopeful of a good performance in qualifying and race at the end of the day. Karthikeyan ended at P23 between the two Marussia’s, the team looking good to fight Marussia.


FP3:


Final preps for qualifying and the race in the final practice session. Vettel popped up with the best time to end at P1 followed by Alonso at P2 and Hamilton at P3. SFI were once again up in the mix as Hulkenberg ended at P10 & Di Resta at P11. A reasonable session for them ahead of qualifying. Karthikeyan ended at P21 in an improved HRT but the team were suffering from brake problems. And yes, Karthikeyan topped the speed trap with a speed of 324.7 KM/HR.


Fair and square practice sessions as RBR, McLaren & Ferrari looking good for pole position. More so Vettel & Hamilton as they are the two unpredictable drivers who can snatch pole from any situation. SFI were looking very good and Q3 for both was surely in the bags unless there is some traffic or disruptions. Karthikeyan was well under the 107% time, looking in a good position to beat the Marussia’s.



Qualifying, Q1:


A somewhat hot weather welcomed the qualifying session as the session kicked off with Q1. The usual suspects to bow out were marked once again but the Caterham’s could have caused an upset. They did a bit as they piped Vergne behind them. Along with them both the Marussia’s & HRT’s didn’t make it through. Karthikeyan finished at P24 which he later on said was difficult as he couldn’t get the most of out of the car. He was once again in the Top3 of the speed trap. Both the SFI safely made it through as Vettel ended at P1 whith Button at P2 & Hamilton at P3.


Q2:


A bit of dramatic end to the session as Maldonado spun leading to the finish line which was looking like a good lap for him to get through to Q3. Vettel once again ended at P1 with Alonso at P2 & Hmailton at P3. One of the SFI i.e Di Resta made it comfortable through to Q3 but Hulkenberg didn’t make it and ended at only P13. Later he confirmed that due to the yellow flag on his fastest lap, he had to abort that lap. It was certain that he would make it to Q3.


Q3:


After the “holes” on the floor was banned by the FIA, many thought that RBR won’t be able to match up with their previous performances but Vettel just proved everyone wrong as he flew to pole position with Hamilton ending at P2, just few hundred of a seconds and Alonso at P3. SFI’s Di Resta as opposed to staying in the pits came out to set a lap as he ended at P8 ahead of Schumacher & Button. For a change every driver set a time in Q3.


This was expected line up as at the start RBR, McLaren & Ferrari were all looking good for pole and in the end it was Vettel & RBR with a great lap. SFI had a bit of a mixed quali as I was expecting a double Q3 but then Nico explained the problem which costed him some positions. Double points from was the only target. Karthikeyan struggled after a good practice sessions but the team had their best quali performance yet.


Raceday:


The day we always wait for in a race weekend. And this weekend we were looking for more as there was always a possibility of getting our 7th different winner and thereby history being created. There were many great drivers in the paddock witnessing a historic race. And we all were set for the race to begin, for the first time we had a pretty clean start from all the drivers. Everyone started off safely, some did lose grid positions but no major damage reported. Vettel had a good start as he took the lead quickly. Behind them Rosberg was fighting hard with Webber, Massa as Grosjean lost a place to Di Resta. Hulkenberg dropped a place behind outside in the top 10. Karthikeyan stayed in the position he started as he was already suffering from brake problems.


After the round of first pit stops, where undercuts were used by Hamilton & Alonso. Hamilton lead the race from then on. A good battle was building up between them. Behind them it was all open as at first Webber, Rosberg, Grosjean & Kimi were fighting for the grid positions. Later on Perez joined this battle as he was on a one-stop strategy along with Grosjean. While Button was struggling again in his McLaren as he couldn’t get the tyre working at all. Massa after the spin got his act back and got in the points. The race was going all smoothly for all the drivers barring few DNF’s due to mechanical problems rather than accidents.


Di Resta was running as high as P5 at a point but his SS tyres were going largely off which forced him to pit and thereby having to start all over again from the back. He gained quite many positions but lost to Kobayashi & Massa. Hulkenberg on the other hand ran a bit longer in his first stint but his soft tyres went off as well, he was running in points when he had to pit and go behind his team mate. He somewhat had a lonely race. Karthikeyan unfortunately had to retire as the brake problems was too much too handle, he spun in the previous lap and had to retire then. A brilliant weekend for the team ended in a double DNF’s.


The last stint was perhaps the deciding factor of the race as strategy became very important. Hamilton pitted early for his second stop as Alonso & Vettel trying to run to the flag with one stop strategy. The strategy backfired as Hamilton gained loads of time and overtook Vettel & thereby Alonso for the lead and end as the winner. Vettel quickly realized and pitted to end at a decent P4 after losing places to Perez & Grosjean. It was too late for Alonso as he only managed P5. But a brilliant drive from Grosjean ending at P2 & Perez at P3 with only one stop stole the show. Di Resta ended at P11 while Hulkenberg at P12, surely a disappointing result after a great weekend until the race. I was checking their times, actually both were lapping almost within the second the top runners were lapping. Only difference was that they didn’t have enough pace to match or beat them unfortunately and after they race they admitted as well that the tyres didn’t go their way at all.


The race was uneventful but still we got all the action, also the 7th different winner. Not the best of end for SFI team and Karthikeyan but that’s what racing is. Someday all work well and someday it just doesn’t. In a season like this, it does make a difference but we never know what the next race holds for any of the team. All I can to the fans is that just sit back and enjoy the ride, we all are in it but it’s a sport after all, one win and the other loses. Next up is Valencia in two weeks time, not the best track but with a season we are having it might just turn out to be the best or at least better than the previous season. Adios!!


13/06/2012

One year on: Stats!

As part of our one year celebrations, we thought we'd give you some stats to give you a better insight into our phenomenal expansion since our birth.

Top blog posts (based on number of views)

1) The sight, sound and smell of an F1 car, experienced for the first time (516 views)
2) Indian Grand Prix- My journey from Kolkata to Greater Noida (195 views)
3) i1 Supercar Championship (187 views)

Top pages (based on number of views)

1) Supported Drivers (303 views)
2) Indian GP (213 views)
3) A Journey Through Time (174 views)

Top interviews (based on number of views)

1) Emma Buxton (155 views)
2) Karun Chandhok (122 views)
3) Parth Ghorpade (88 views)

Top page views (by country)
1) India (7095 views)
2) United States (2720 views)
3) United Kingdom (1750 views)
4) Russia (817 views)
5) France (633 views)
6) Germany (380 views)
7) Finland (107 views)
8) Canada (91 views)
9) Netherlands (85 views)
10) Brazil (64 views)

Top page views (by country, as a percentage)


(click to enlarge)

12/06/2012

One year on: Thank You!

Sunday 10th June was the day when Auto India Sports turned one year old! Myself and Darshan thought we'd share our thoughts with you about the blog on this massive milestone.

Darshan Chokhani
A year back it just started as a small blog for the Indian motorsports fans to get up to date information of the Indian drivers, series, teams in the world of motorsports. We had the sole motto of sharing our views and information. I am very happy and bit proud to have completed a year with the blog. Before we got together I was longing to get into writing and just then Peter approached me, perhaps at the right time, maybe fate? And there we begun, we were not sure how things will work out but gradually the ideas came popping in and we got into the groove of things. We had some dis-agreements among us, which is quite normal but we never let it hamper our blog updates. I was glad that we got some big interviews along the way, we also had a contest and surely we are thinking of the same and some new things in the coming year. I am seriously surprised with the response we have received from all our readers, 400 odd likes on Facebook and some 16,000+ views in a year is beyond my expectation. I cannot thank you enough for the feedback, all the readers are the part of the success of the blog. I am enjoying blogging very much, I never thought that I will be doing something like this, sometimes I do feel like a proper journalist. Would just like to sign off with a huge thank you to all you readers. I hope you will continue supporting us, lots to come this year.

Peter Santamaria-Woods

Well it's been quite a journey! This all started when i noticed many fans on the Sahara Force India facebook page didn't really understand Formula One fully and were left confused about things like strategy, tyres and performance. However there were also many fans who DID have a great knowledge of the support and always understood exactly what was happening within F1. Hence the blog was born, trying to help educate people and get fans excited about Indian motorsport; fans helping fans! Since the first Indian Grand Prix, the sport within our country has grown massively with more Indian racing drivers than ever before. This means we've had to expand our coverage alot. It has been very enjoyable from my point of view but also very stressful at times; as Darshan said there have been behind-the-scenes arguments, but that was to be expected - our friendship and passion is still as strong as ever. The very positive thing is that as our blog has expanded, our fan base has too! We currently have 406 facebook likes and over 16,000 views from many different countries including the UK, the US, Russia - and of course India too!

So one year on and yeah, it's gone great, better than expected at this stage. However that doesn't mean we have achieved our aims yet - there's still lots of development to go and we're very excited!! You'll see another phase of this development in the next few days when we start to look for a new writer to join our team; more coverage means more articles and we've pretty much reached our limit for two regular writers. Therefore we need a third, more news of this shortly!

Finally, thank you to all you fans who keep coming back to read our articles - you're the main guys really, without you there would be no point in doing this so thank you, keep up the support, invite your friends and just enjoy! :-)

11/06/2012

Weekend sweep-up

F1
Results: di Resta 11th, Hulkenberg 12th, Karthikeyan DNF.

A very confusing race for strategy; some cars made a one-stopper work, some guys made a two-stopper work.

Sahara Force India tried a two-stopper with both cars but it didn't really pay off, however having analysed the data the team actually made the right decision.

Like other teams, initially the plan was for both drivers to go as long as possible in the first stint then decide on strategy - unfortunately both cars, particularly Nico, experienced high tyre wear and had to pit earlier than expected. Nevertheless both VJM05's were still in a promising position at that stage, the pace had been very good.

The problem came in the middle stint. The pace dramatically dropped off on both cars despite different tyres at the time (Paul on softs, Nico on super-softs). The reason for this was that the track dropped in temperature, the VJM05 just could not keep enough heat in the tyres to keep performance high.

The third stint was okay from both drivers, but by that time the damage was already done.

Given the high tyre wear a one-stopper would have been even worse for the Sahara Force India boys, laptimes would have been so far off the pace; so the team did make the right decision - points were just not possible in all honesty.

So to sum up, no points due to:

- high tyre wear (particularly on soft tyres): Paul di Resta did 31 & 26 laps on his two soft tyre stints, Nico did 21 & 28 on his two stints whereas Perez managed 41 laps, Massa 46 laps and Grosjean 49 laps on their respective soft tyre stints.
- inability to keep the tyres warm enough causing a drop in performance (due to a drop in track temperature).

It wasn't really a fault with the strategy, race winner Hamilton was on the same strategy as di Resta ... even with all this data it's hard to come up with a different strategy that would have allowed us to score points. The car was just not capable of performing when the track temperature dropped.

I have to say i was pretty disappointed with the result on a weekend which had promised so much, but then i took a look at the constructors standings:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (69pts)
6) Sauber (58)
7) Williams (44)
8) Force India (28)

After looking at this i'm not actually that worried. The teams' target is 5th place, currently the team is 41pts behind that. In a season as crazy as this, that's nothing to be honest - that gap will close so quickly following a couple of good results; there's still 13 races to go - that's 325pts left to play for - there really is no need to worry at all! What is worth remembering too is that Sahara Force India do get stronger as the season progresses due to good in-season development and the tracks from race #9 (Silverstone) onwards suiting the car more, we know this from previous seasons. I'm still sure that 5th place will be ours come the end of the season :-)

Looking towards the end of the grid, a brake failure caused Narain Karthikeyan to have a spin and eventually retire. His teammate also retired from the race with a brake failure. The roomer in the paddock (and it is just a roomer, not confirmed) is that HRT actually knew the brakes wern't durable enough to complete the race distance. Although even if that's true they'll probably never admit it. Despite the retirement it was a promising weekend for Narain, in some sessions he was ahead of Glock and Pic in the Marussia's, proving he still has pace, he's just limited by his slowly-improving machinery, unfortunately.

Post race quotes from the main players can be read here.

British GT Championship
Result: Bolisetti DNF

A VERY close qualifying session saw Sailesh Bolisetti & Phil Glew line up 2nd in their class, they were just 0.042s behind polesitters Jody Fannin & Warren Hughes in that session!

A great start to the race for Phil Glew saw him lead his class for a long period of time and then he handed the car over to Sailesh Bolisetti. Unfortunately within one lap, Bolisetti had to come back to the pitlane with a broken drive shaft - the car had to be retired.

Nothing either driven could have done, just one of those things unfortunately.

This DNF does really disadvantage the team in the championship:

Championship standings (1st-3rd)
1) Jody Fannin/Warren Hughes (112.5pts)
2) Zoe Wenham (82.5)
3) Sailesh Bolisetti/Phil Glew (71)

Nevertheless, they'll keep pushing, the title is still definitely a possibility!

10/06/2012

Canadian GP - Race Results

Results: di Resta 11th, Hulkenberg 12th, Karthikeyan DNF.

The day promised so much but unfortunately delivered so little for the Indian contingent.

On a confusing day for strategy where one stop worked for certain cars (Grosjean & Perez) and two stops worked for certain cars (Hamilton & Rosberg) - Sahara Force India couldn't seem to make either strategy work unfortunately.

Paul di Resta had a great start, running as high as 5th early on but after the tyres quickly degraded very quickly it was clear a one stop was not possible. Nico Hulkenberg lost one position at the start, and like Paul he was forced onto a two stop strategy - but it didn't work brilliantly for him either.

It's going to take an awful long time to analyse this race and see what the problem was; the misery is compounded further as rivals Sauber scored a podium with Perez - nevertheless, it's not crucial at this stage - there's an awful long way to go.

Narain Karthikeyan had a clean start and was running very close to Charles Pic at the start, however the Indian driver had a spin later in the race followed by pulling off the track to retire. It's likely that the spin was caused by something breaking on the car - we'll find out when we hear from Narain.

So a disappointing day, but let's not forget there are still 13 races to go - that's 325 points to fight for!

Saturday Sweep-up

Just because it's Sunday doesn't mean we can't do a sweep-up article, think of it as a pre-race article :-)

So we have Paul starting 8th, Nico starting 13th and Narain starting at the back in 24th.

It's looking promising for Sahara Force India, a double points finish in on the cars today! Let me share with you a dream i had last night - it was the opening lap of the race, and Vettel led Hamilton into the final corner. However Vettel took the final corner wrong and smashed into the wall of champions! Hamilton, who had a slipstream, followed him straight into the wall too - as did all the drivers ahead of di Resta which allowed the Scotsman to win the race. Okay, it was just a dream but you never know what could happen! :p

Of course that's probably not going to be the case, however it's worth taking note that because the barriers are close to the track a safety car around Canada is a probability rather than a possibility. I remember back in 2008 there were four safety cars in Canada - that was a particularly insane race. This track is under-estimated in my opinion actually, i can't EVER remember a dull race here? Anyway, i bring up the probability of a safety car as that could really change things today depending on how different drivers are running their strategy; it could benefit our cars but it could equally hamper us - let's see!

The problem Paul has starting 8th is that most of the drivers infront of him are some of the best in F1 meaning that gaining positions will be very, very tough. Some unreliability for the teams infront would be nice from his point of view.

Both Paul & Nico need to stay out of trouble on the opening lap, see what position they sit and then decide upon what to do then in terms of strategy. It's going to be fascinating to see how this plays out to be honest!

Narain Karthikeyan was admittedly just slow in qualifying but he has demonstrated this season that his race pace is good; so he still has every chance of beating his teammate and the two Marussia's.

If you have not seen the post-qualifying quotes from di Resta, Hulkenberg, Mallya and Karthikeyan you can read them here. We wish all of our drivers the very best of luck today, it should be a great race from a spectator point of view, let's hope this is the final order of the cars post-race:

The cars post-qualifying waiting to enter Parc fermé with Force India at the front of the queue.

09/06/2012

Canadian GP - Qualifying Results

Results: di Resta 8th (1:14.705), Hulkenberg 13th (1:14.748), Karthikeyan 24th (1:18.330).

Well that was an interesting session, the Scotsman, Paul di Resta did brilliantly to grab 8th place ahead of Schumacher and Button. I think he also has also saved a set of tyres compared to the leaders, which would give him more strategy options tomorrow, but i'm not 100% on this yet - we'll have to wait and see what the team say.

Nico Hulkenberg will lineup 13th on the grid, a good effort but on his quick lap in Q2 his first sector wasn't as quick as it could have been - his car did have the pace for Q3. Just 0.121s would have put him 7th in Q2! Although in a season as close as this there's no shame in his position and he will be in the hunt for points tomorrow :-)

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he will be disappointed. He was 0.9s slower than teammate de la Rosa which suggests there was some kind of issue - we'll see what he says later.

We'll have more coverage pre-race when we've analysed the data and read what everybody has to say :-)