31/08/2012

Friday Analysis

Formula One
FP1 Results: di Resta 11th (2:15.812), Hulkenberg 13th (2:16.786).
FP2 Results: di Resta 4th (2:51.333), Hulkenberg 9th (2:59.125), Karthikeyan 24th (No time set).

Not much to say really; it was wet.

No useful data gathered today due to the conditions, plus the times are all skewed so we don't really know who is quick and who is not.

It'll be interesting to see if the teams use their summer-upgrades or not given the lack of running, i suspect they won't. Only time will tell!

Tomorrow is expected to be dry, as is Sunday - although you never quite can tell in Spa. If the forecast is wrong, and we do see some rain tomorrow, then the very little data the teams have from today will actually become valid - let's see what happens.

Review quotes here.

Formula Renault 2.0 NEC
FP1 Results: Engineer 7th (1:46.418).
FP2 Results: Engineer 12th (1:46.948).

Decent results for Shahaan today, he'll be very happy heading into tomorrows sessions :-)

Elsewhere ...

Indian driver Armaan Ebrahim was driving in Indy Lights earlier this season but got surprisingly sacked, despite decent results. He has now managed to negotiate a deal in the GT1 World Championship, effective immediately.

He'll drive for Sunred Engineering, a Spanish team currently 8th in the championship out of the nine entrants after 12 races. There are six more races to go, two of which are at the Buddh International Circuit!

It'll be interesting to see how Armaan fairs on his debut in this pretty prestigious series alongside French teammate, Benjamin Lariche. Armaan's first race is this weekend, the GT1 schedule is online here.

Belgian GP - Practice Two Results

Results: di Resta 4th (2:51.333), Hulkenberg 9th (2:59.125), Karthikeyan 24th (No time set).

I have decided that these laptimes are the most pointless in the history of Formula One.

In my last report, i said:

"You know it's very wet when you see drivers taking over two minutes to complete a lap"

but now:

You know it's very wet when you see drivers taking nearly three minutes to complete a lap.

No-body even went out on track at all for the first hour, but then teams tentatively sent drivers out just to get some data on the practice starts in the pit lane. We only got laptimes right at the end of the session when drivers can do practice starts on the grid rather than in the pitlane. As they crossed the finish line on that practice start, we got a laptime. Rather bonkers laptimes actually; Charles Pic in the Marussia topped the session!

The only real winner today: the weather.

Belgian GP - Practice One Results

Results: di Resta 11th (2:15.812), Hulkenberg 13th (2:16.786).

You know it's very wet when you see drivers taking over two minutes to complete a lap! In fact, you know it's very wet when it's the Belgian GP, haha :-)

Positions here didn't really count for much, no-one was really pushing for laptime, it was just a case of trying to keep all four wheels pointing in the right direction.

FP2 is expected to be just as wet - we'll see what happens. Karthikeyan will be back in the car for FP2 also, Clos took his seat for this session only.

30/08/2012

What's happening this weekend?

You can find out on the (very large) September calendar here.

I've got a lot of stuff to do tonight unfortunately, so this will have to be a rather short preview.

Three series will be in action this weekend; Formula Renault 2.0, the Super One Series & of course, after a long break, Formula One.

Formula One
It's time for one of the best races of the season; the Belgian Grand Prix. Obviously the race holds a special place for Sahara Force India fans because of what happened in 2009; the teams' first pole and points in the same event. Additionally, it was the same weekend the team scored their one and only F1 podium (2nd place).

This weekend is very crucial for the team, we'll have a much better idea of how the season will finish post-race. It's always been obvious that our performance will pick up from this race as while we're still developing other teams will switch focus to their 2013 cars. That's just the teams' philosophy, and in previous seasons, it has worked every time; let's hope it works this time too!

This is how the constructors championship currently stands:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (106 pts)
6) Sauber (80)
7) Williams (53)
8) Force India (46)

Nine races to go, 60 points behind the pre-season target of P5. The team need an average of 6.66 points more than Mercedes each race - it's do-able!

Meanwhile in the drivers championship; Paul di Resta is 13th on 27 points whereas Nico Hulkenberg is 16th on 19 points. Both have a good chance of moving up a few positions this weekend. Paul di Resta will be hoping to finish in the top ten come the end of the season, Nico will aim to catch up with Paul.

As for the academy drivers, they are also racing this weekend in the super one series at the Clay Pigeon kart circuit in the UK.

Elsewhere, Narain Karthikeyan will continue his journey at HRT. It will be interesting to see how the team have developed over the mid-season break but their not exactly going to go to Belgium and win a Grand Prix are they? To beat the Marussia's would be a good effort. Narain has set himself the personal goal of improving his qualifying pace - that's where he has been lacking this season.

We'll be posting a lot of F1 related stuff on our facebook page this weekend, including the weekend preview quotes (right after we publish this article). Of course we'll still have our session reviews on the blog though :-)

Formula Renault 2.0
Shahaan Engineer will take part in the Formula Renault 2.0 race this weekend at Most in the Czech Republic.

He's doing well in the championship so far:

Drivers' championship (10th-15th):
10) Sandy Stuvik (99 pts)
11) Alex Riberas (97)
12) Gabriel Casagrande (95)
13) Shahaan Engineer (90)
14) Meindert van Buuren, Jr. (87)
15) Pierre Gasly (78)

Recently he has had a little dip in form with only one top ten finish in the last four races. This weekend their are three races and he'll be hoping to get top ten finishes in all three.

We wish all our drivers the very best of luck, as always! :-)

29/08/2012

Half time report: The future stars

This is the final part of our half time report. The previous parts are here (the F1 boys) and here (the non-F1 idols).

This time we'll review everyone else, or "the future stars" as we like to call them.

Shahaan Engineer:
With 12 out of 20 races completed, Shahaan sits 13th in the championship out of 41 drivers. Things are looking pretty promising for Shahaan going into the future. He's often found in the top ten during a race weekend, plus we believe he has a budget to match his ambition. Being quick and having money is the best combination you can have in motorsport, but just how high up the motorsport ladder will Shahaan reach?
Oshan Kothadiya:
18th in the championship of the 21 drivers in the series - not bad in his first season of International racing. This year is more about learning for Oshan really. Presumably he'll push up the order a little more next season when he has some more experienced under his belt.

Sailesh Bolisetti:
Early hopes of the title were looking good until race five of the ten race season. Reliability issues and then the rejection of a visa application for Sailesh ruined any title chances. However the pace, including one class win, has been very impressive this season and it has done wonders for Sailesh's reputation.

Parth Ghorpade:
Parth is a driver to be very excited about for the future. Having developed his talent in the French F4 championship, Parth switched to Formula Pilota China for 2012. He's done pretty well too, 4th in the championship with nine races to go; plus he's seemingly getting stronger each weekend! Watch out for this kid, he's quick!

Raj Bharath:
Racing with Parth this season in Formula Pilota China. He's has his fair share of good and bad luck this season, but overall he has impressed. He's 7th in the championship out of 17 drivers and like Parth, he seems to be gaining pace every time he gets in the car.

Aditya Patel:
The very friendly Indian driver is racing in the VLN series in 2012, although not at every race. Aditya did switch to single-seaters earlier this season as a guest driver in Karun Chandhok's project; the JK Racing Asia Series. Two 6th places in the four races he did was a solid effort.

The SFI academy boys:
Arjun Maini, Jehan Daruvala and Tarun Reddy are all racing in the Super One Series this season; their first season in international motorsport. They're not eligible for championship points due to FIA regulations (as they don't have EU professional licences) so this season is all about learning and developing. It will be interesting to see if Sahara Force India keep them all in the series next season or move them further up the motorsport ladder.

Zaamin Jaffer:
A very promising driver who has no race seat this season due to a lack of cash unfortunately. We'll have a feature on him in the coming days, so look out for that.

27/08/2012

Weekend Result Roundup

World Endurance Championship (WEC)
Result: Chandhok 7th (in class & overall, 6 points)

Karun Chandhok was in action at the six hours of Silverstone with JRM Racing. He drove the car during qualifying and placed it in P7, a position they seem to have made their own this season. Post qualifying Karun said:

"Today we were even closer to the front of the field and there was only a hairs breadth between ourselves, Strakka and Rebellion. This is a big step forward over the previous races where we have been a lot further back. We could have gone even faster – I did a 1:46.4 yesterday and I was up on my first two sectors, but traffic in the last corner cost me some time. Although qualifying for a six hour race isn't the be-all and end-all, it would have been nice to show our true form. All the same we can be relatively satisfied with today, particularly given we missed the earlier session. It's pretty hopeful for tomorrow".

Teammate Peter Dumbreck started the race for JRM and there was disaster straight away when he was tapped into a spin at the first corner, dropping the car down to P20 overall. However he fought back amazingly well and retook P7 just before he handed the car over to Karun.

Karun did a solid job in the car for his three hours. By the halfway point of the race Karun was in P5! Unfortunately the Indian had a spin just before he handed over to third teammate David Brabham. That spin put the car back in P7, where they would eventually finish.

Here are the updated standings:

Drivers World Championship (8th-13th):
8=) Ryan Dalziel (34.5 pts)
8=) Enzo Potolicchio (34.5)
9=) Peter Dumbreck (28.5)
9=) David Brabham (28.5)
9=) Karun Chandhok (28.5)
10=) Andrea Belicchi (26.5)
10=) Harold Primat (26.5)
11=) Danny Watts (23)
11=) Jonny Kane (23)
11=) Nick Leventis (23)
12=) Luís Pérez Companc (21)
12=) Pierre Kaffer (21)
12=) Soheil Ayari (21)
13) Stéphane Sarrazin (18.5)

LMP1 trophy standings:
Note: Although JRM were 7th in LMP1; the teams in 1st, 2nd & 3rd are manufacturers (Audi & Toyota) and therefore not part of the LMP1 trophy. This means JRM score 12 points for 4th place.

1) Rebellion Racing (112 points)
2) Strakka Racing (75)
3) JRM (75)
4) Pescarolo Team (25)
5) OAK Racing (8)

Post-race Karun said: 

"We've definitely moved on from the last WEC event we did in Spa. The speed is better compared to the rest of the privateers – I was able to match the pace of the Strakka and Rebellion for most of my stints. Then at the end unfortunately I was going into Copse and had to go on the marbles to get past a GT car and lost grip and spun. It's looking a lot more positive for Brazil and with a three week gap between here and Interlagos we can really look at everything and work out how to get everything coming together. It was also really nice to meet Tim and Etienne at the event and have some home cheer!"

Formula Renault 3.5

Race One Result: Bianchi 1st (25 points)
Race Two Result: Bianchi 3rd (15 points)

Jules Bianchi was also in action at Silverstone as Formula Renault 3.5 was a support race to the World Endurance Championship.

It was a fantastic weekend for the French driver! He qualified 4th for the first race which turned out to be one of the most chaotic races i have ever seen. It started under dry conditions with threatening skies. The rain came early on, very heavily! So heavily in fact that NINE cars went off track at the same corner while still on dry tyres.

(A tonne of cars off the track in the wet conditions, click to enlarge)

Conditions got so bad that the race was red flagged, Jules kept his car on track in the madness though and found himself P2.

(Jules in P2, just before the red flag was thrown, click to enlarge)

When the race was restarted, Jules immediately put the race leader, Will Stevens, under pressure - and Will cracked; losing control of his car in the wet conditions and handing Jules the lead! From then on it was just a case of staying on track and Jules managed to take the win; a thoroughly deserved win too! He said: 

"I made a very good start by moving from fourth into second. Then things became tricky. Kevin was the first to run into difficulties. When he went off the track, I immediately asked my team to let me come in and switch to wets, and it was the right decision. The rest of the race was every bit as difficult, and the visibility was awful. It's an important victory in terms of the championship".

Jules continued his solid pace by grabbing pole for race two. Unfortunately he slipped down the order at the start of the race and settled into P4. For the rest of the race Jules had to defend from behind and he did a good job of that, managing to keep his position. On the penultimate lap of the race the leader, Marco Sørensen, suffered a puncture, causing retirement. Jules would benefit from this by finishing P3. He said:

"It's always a bit disappointing to finish third after starting the race from pole. Victory was possible, but I just didn't get into the right rhythm at the start of the race. It was pretty intense between me and Robin [Frijns]. He defended his position strongly, but he ended up losing out and dropped two places in one hit. Congratulations to Sam Bird – he's a rival I know I need to watch until the end. The end of the season will be very close. Between Robin, Sam and me, whoever makes the first mistake will pay a heavy price".

So, an eventful weekend all-in-all! To come away with a double podium is a great result and things have tightened up in the championship battle:

Drivers' Championship (1st-4th):
1) Robin Frijns (131 pts)
2) Sam Bird (126)
3) Jules Bianchi (125)
4) Nick Yelloly (92)

Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup
Race One Result: Engineer 16th (5 points)
Race Two Result: Engineer 10th (11 points)

Shahaan qualified in 16th position for the first race of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring. The drivers were met with very wet conditions for the race but the Indian driver made sure he finished the race and ended up in P16, not a top ten finish as he would have been hoping for.

However, Shahaan did get back into the top ten in race two. Starting P10 and finishing P10, a solid job and a hefty amount of points too. This is how the standings have changed:

Drivers' championship (10th-15th):
10) Sandy Stuvik (99 pts)
11) Alex Riberas (97)
12) Gabriel Casagrande (95)
13) Shahaan Engineer (90)
14) Meindert van Buuren, Jr. (87)
15) Pierre Gasly (78)

Other
Sailesh Bolisetti took part, as a guest driver, in the Volkswagen Polo Cup this weekend. It was nice to see him back in the series that pretty much launched his international career by gifting him a place in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup.

Race One Result: Bolisetti 2nd
Race Two Result: Bolisetti 4th 3rd*

Interesting results for Sailesh. We knew he'd be near the top given his international experience, but he has also been away from the series for a while so just how near the top would remain a mystery.

He qualified 3rd for race one and 7th for race two, so to finish 2nd & 4th (now 3rd*) shows improvement in both races from his starting position - a good effort. In actual fact he could have done better but he went the wrong way with setup initially. It was corrected eventually, but did that mistake cost him some positions?

*EDIT: Since this was published, Ajay Kini, the guy who won race two, has been handed a 20s penalty for contact with another car. This promotes Sailesh into P3! It's a double podium for him, fantastic effort!

24/08/2012

What's happening this weekend?

World Endurance Championship (WEC) & Formula Renault 3.5
Let's start our journey this weekend at Silverstone where two of our drivers will be taking part.

Karun Chandhok will be racing for JRM in the World Endurance Championship (6 hours of Silverstone) whereas Jules Bianchi will take to the wheel of the Tech 1 Racing car as part of the Formula Renault 3.5 Championship.

Actually, both drivers have been in action today, getting to grips with their respective machines ahead of what should be tightly-contested races.

(Jules Bianchi getting into his car earlier today, click to enlarge)

(Karun Chandhok lapping Silverstone earlier today, more pics here, click to enlarge)

As for the current championship standings, this is how things currently look:

Formula Renault 3.5 Drivers' Championship (1st -5th):
1) Robin Frijns (111 pts)
2) Sam Bird (101)
3) Jules Bianchi (85)
4) Marco Sørensen (79)
5) Nick Yelloly (76)

WEC Drivers World Championship
6=) Ryan Dalziel (31.5 pts)
6=) Enzo Potolicchio (31.5)
7=) Peter Dumbreck (22.5)
7=) David Brabham (22.5)
7=) Karun Chandhok (22.5)
8) Soheil Ayari (20.5)
8) Pierre Kaffer (20.5)
8) Luís Pérez Companc (20.5)
9) Timo Bernhard (18)
10) Tom Kimber-Smith (16)
11) Stéphane Sarrazin (15.5)

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

Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup
Elsewhere, Shahaan Engineer will be racing at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Last time out in Assen, Shahaan had an unlucky time with a 24th & a 14th place finish, he'll be hoping to get back in the top ten this weekend.

This is how things currently stand:

Drivers' championship (8th-13th):
8) Sandy Stuvik (74 pts)
9) Steijn Schothorst (70)
10) Shahaan Engineer (67)
11) Nyck de Vries (56)
12) Leopold Ringbom (53)
13) Alex Riberas (52)

Other
Elsewhere, Narain Karthikeyan has been driving the new MRF F2000 car in a small demonstration. Here are his tweets about today:

"Driving the new MRF F-2000 car through the EA mall in Chennai, lots of these to avoid though!"


"MRF F2000 will be the fastest one-make single seater championship in Asia. But for today, its gonna be lots of fun and tyre smoke!"

"Ready to go, looks pretty crowded.."



We wish all our drivers this weekend the very best of luck, we'll post all the results as per usual. As soon as this article has been published, we'll post the Friday results on our facebook page, make sure you check them out.

21/08/2012

Do Football and F1 mix?

We've seen two F1/English Premier League (Football, Soccer in the US) tie-ups recently.

The Caterham car carries the QPR logo as Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes owns both teams & the Sauber car carries the Chelsea logo in a commercial deal.

Caterham's CT01 sporting the QPR logo

Sauber's C31 with the Chelsea Logo

What if it was the other way round though? What if F1 teams sponsored football teams? Those of you who follow me on twitter (@f1peter27) will probably know i am a big Newcastle United fan. For my own amusement i mocked up some fantasy kits for my team, with Sahara Force India as the sponsor!! They actually turned out quite nice. I may as well share them with you guys, enjoy!

Home Kit
Away Kit
Third Kit

20/08/2012

Weekend Result Roundup

Although we didn't do a preview article this weekend, there were actually six Indian drivers in action! Here's a quick rundown of the results:

Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup
Result: Kothadiya 23rd.

Finished the race at the Nürburgring in 23rd place out of 27, one lap down on the winner. The result sees Oshan 18th in the championship:

Drivers championship (16th-21st)
16) Bäurle (74pts)
17) Fahnauer (64)
18) Kothadiya (56)
19) Kasten (53)
20) Åhlin-Kottulinsky (50)
21) Eisemann (50)

There are three races to go with 180 points up for grabs in total.

Formula Pilota China
Race One Results: Bharath 4th, Ghorpade 6th.
Race Two Results: Ghorpade 3rd, Bharath 7th.
Race Three Results: Ghorpade 2nd, Bharath 5th.

Round three of the 2012 season was held at the Ordos International Circuit, it's the second time the series has visited that track this season. All three races this weekend had 11 drivers so the positions that the Indian guys got are fantastic, especially the double podium for Parth Ghorpade!

(Parth with this weekends trophies, two overall podiums & two Asian driver podiums, click to enlarge)

As per usual, the guys who run the Forumla Pilota China website are slow to update the drivers standings, we'll post them on our facebook page when they're up to date.

Super One Championship - KF3

The three Sahara Force India academy boys; Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy & Jehan Daruvala were in action at the Rowrah karting track in the UK.

We're waiting on an update for the points standings of this series too - when we get them, we'll post them. Although at this stage, the development of the drivers is more important than their results.

18/08/2012

Half time report: The F1 boys

We already did a half time report for the non-F1 idols which you can read here. Today however, it's all about the F1 stars as we review the entire Sahara Force India team and Narain Karthikeyan.

Sahara Force India
(click to enlarge)

Darshan Chokhani:
The team looked super at the end of 2011 and it was presumed that 2012 will be a breakthrough year for the team. The car when revealed was much talked about with the technical advancements. And the rough times and runs during the winter suggested that the team will be challenging the top teams regularly while it stays ahead of the midfield pack.

The season so far has ups and down for the team as in some races the team looked class apart while in some it looked as you can say below average, a saving grace is it hasn't looked bad or worse at all. Although the season has been termed as a lottery, the team hasn't had its glorious moment on the podium like it's rivals Sauber & Williams. The best finish we have had is P5 by Nico in Valencia where a podium was looking a reality and a P6 position from Paul in Bahrain. If we talk about qualifying then the best position till now is P4 from Nico. Coming to the team's performance, we have scored 46 points in 11 races which is the best start we have had in the past 5 years. The reliability has been tremendous with just 2 DNF's, both caused by accidents, which means the car has been 100% drivable in all races. If we see the pace and speed of the car, it isn't bad at all because it has always stayed on par with the runners ahead. However, the Pirelli tyres hasn't worked out well for the team specially when the temperatures are high for which the team did lose some vital points & positions. The development is going as planned as upgrades being brought in all races, though we did read that they will concentrate on 2013 car more, it might just be sandbagging trick played off-track. I expect the car to do well in the second half with tracks coming which suits the car well. It is going to be a tough fight for P5 or P6 in CC.

Paul has had a good year compared to last year. He's already got 27 points to what he finished last season. He has matured as a driver and has shown brilliance in driving skills with some matured performances on track. In few races such as Bahrain, he got a strategy worked which looked a very difficult task to anyone. Of course there have been downs, but amazingly his worst performance is only P14. He is working well with the team I think and is shaping up well as a driver.

Nico on the other hand coming from a one year force hiatus has picked up well after a slow start getting up to the mark from the driving rust. He expected a slow but now he has picked up well and has been doing great till now. He has got that raw speed and ability to fight his way. The way he is working and driving, it doesn't seem like that this is his first year behind the wheel racing. He is matching Paul with speed and consistency which says how close it is.

Coming to Jules, he has driven in 6 FP1 till now. Seeing from his times and his own admission he needs more time in the car. His FP1 times hasn't been very impressive but considering the running he has had, it's a decent start with the team. Elsewhere he has been doing good in Formula Renault series.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
It's been a mixed year so far for Sahara Force India. The best start to a season ever, but it's only good enough for P8 in the constructors championship. The difference between the Indian team and their close rivals is the win for Williams and the two podiums for Sauber.

Does this mean the team have a slower car? Certainly not. I had a discussion with a member of the team at the start of the season (can't say who to protect their contract) and we made our predictions for the season. We BOTH said that just before the summer break, the team would be in P8. Also, we both said the team would finish P5.

Obviously, if this were to come true, it would mean performances would have to improve in the second half of the season - but why would they? Well first off, Force India's developmental policy means that they're always stronger in comparison to others in the second half of the season. Nearly all F1 teams work on their baseline car package during the winter and then focus on developments from race one. They then begin shifting focus to next seasons car at around the summer break. Sahara Force India are different. They work on their baseline car package during the whole of winter & during the first four flyaway races too. Then they bring developments from race five. Whereas focus doesn't shift to next seasons car until the current season is over. It's more of a long term game plan. While others will begin shifting focus at about this time in the season, Sahara Force India will keep pushing with this seasons car, sacrificing the first four races of 2013 to once again be stronger towards the end of next season.

Why do they do this? It's playing to their strengths as nearly all the circuits in the final part of the calendar suit the car better; another reason why results should drastically improve post-summer break. You may disagree with the unique development system, but it has had a 100% success rate, the team achieved their goals every season so far. It's worth noting that while we did hear the team state they are shifting focus to 2013 already, i am pretty sure this is just mind-games with other teams.

The team may not have a slower car in comparison to Sauber & Williams - however our car is harder on the tyres. During the Canadian GP, the team had great pace but could only manage 11th & 12th due to extremely high tyre degradation. However the team say they learnt a lot from that race, so let's see if they can put this knowledge to use in the last half of the season.

As for the drivers, they're all having great seasons. Nico & Paul have both maximised the cars potential at nearly every race (with a few small mistakes that they're learning from). Additionally both drivers have shown an impressive ability to drive defensively when required.

Elsewhere Jules Bianchi has done well too. Sometimes off the pace in the FP1 sessions he's done for the team, but he's not there to drive fast as Jakob Andreasen (chief engineer) explains: "Generally, a third driver will focus more on long-term development work, backed up by work in the simulator. They will concentrate on development associated with the next three to six months and while you could call it the donkey work, it's good as they'll set the direction of new components or new aero characteristics. It's the theory and concept work". When he has needed to be fast (in Formula Renault 3.5), he is! Third in the championship with one win, two pole positions, five fastest laps and unfortunately, lots of bad luck. There's no doubting he's quick enough for the title though!

Narain Karthikeyan
(click to enlarge)

Darshan Chokhani:
It was disappointing when he was replaced last season midway but he came back strongly in the Indian GP and that possibly secured his 2012 drive. He and his team had a difficult start as they missed the pre-season practice and then couldn't qualify for Australian GP. But since then the team has improved a lot and even Narain been doing pretty well. He has achieved the best result for the team with P15. He has been doing well in the races and his matching his speed to a certain extent with his teammate and the Marussia drivers. He is behind by a small margin in qualifying and he has admitted that. His main aim will be to improve his qualifying performance. Both he and de la Rosa have been working well as a team. I am happy with his performance and we can see that the team his improving race by race which is a good sign. Looking forward in the second, I would say the Narain would want to finish as many races he can and finish stronger and ahead of de la Rosa and perhaps the Marussia drivers.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
In my opinion it's important that there is an Indian driver in F1 as well as an Indian team - that's why i have alot of respect for Narain. Not always the most consistent driver, but when he's on it, he's really on it! For instance, if F1 had a race with everyone in the same car at Brands Hatch, i'm sure Narain would be on the podium.

He's had a decent season so far. He hasn't manage to out-qualify his teammate, de la Rosa, so far this season; but when it really counts, in the race, he's done well. In fact, he has the teams' best finish of the season (15th in Monaco).

The aim for Narain going forward is to keep putting in consistent race results while trying to bump up his qualifying pace a bit. It's pretty hard to see Narain moving up the pecking order for 2013 as he's limited by his machinery and he's not getting any younger. However he's doing a solid job and he should be immensely proud of his achievements so far.

14/08/2012

Half time report: The non-F1 idols

Over the summer break we'll be giving you our views on how the season has gone so far for our drivers.

Today we're going to start with the Indian Motorsport idols who aren't in F1 (Karun Chandhok, Parthiva Sureshwaren & Armaan Ebrahim)

Karun Chandhok
(click to enlarge)

Darshan Chokhani:
One must have thought that after a decent season with Caterham in 2011, he would have secured his chances with the team for 2012 or maybe some other team in reserve driver role. But that wasn't the case as he had only one year deal and the team and him parted ways after that. Chandhok wasn't to sit idle one more year as he opted to join the new series from FIA which is World Endurance Series with JRM team and his teammates are David Brabham & Peter Dumbreck . It is different from F1 in all ways with him driving a sports car from the F1 single seater car. The main difference being the time, Endurance as the name says has 6 hour, 12 hour and 24 hour races as opposed to 2 hours races in F1.

Chandhok has done 3 races so far this season and they are 12 Hours of Sebring, 6 Hours of Spa and the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans. I must say he has adapted to the racing pretty well over there. He has learnt the tracks, the tricks, the way quickly and has helped the team immensely. 

We shouldn't forget the fact that he is just a rookie there. The team has fared well as it sits 2nd in the LMP1 Trophy list with 63 points while in driver standing's, he is tied with his team mates in P7 with 22.5 points. Not bad at all for his debut season, he has also had a fastest lap under his name for the team. I am pretty pleased with his performances thus far and he is enjoying it too which is a positive thing. I am hoping that he will end the season on a high, wouldn't be surprised if he stay back in 2013 but surely I would love to see him back in F1.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
The way Karun has developed through motorsport in unusual. The Indian driver won two races in GP2, but i don't think he'll blame me for saying that he never really set the World alight in the feeder series. However, when he did get his chance in F1, he certainly made the most of it - matching his HRT teammate Bruno Senna in uncompetitive machinery, then moving to Caterham for 2011. It was expected that he'd replace Jarno Trulli for 2012 but the roomer is he fell out with management when they didn't let him race at the Indian Grand Prix.

For 2012 he switched to the World Endurance Championship, and really, he's done pretty well in his debut season! He's had a couple of crashes, but that's to be expected from a rookie. All in all, he's matched his very experienced teammates for pace and he became the first Indian to ever take part in the 24 hours of Le Mans race; the most prestigious sports car race in the World. Really, leaving F1 has been great for him. He's really stood out as a talented individual in sportscar racing. However, i do still feel he has unfinished business in F1, still hoping we see him back someday!

Parthiva Sureshwaren
 
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Darshan Chokhani:
I expected that Parthiva will continue in F2 for one more year and he did. Before the start his expectation from the season was high, regular points finish and odd podiums was his aim and I believed that he can score regular now with good experience behind him. But till now he hasn't been able to score any points, he came close in his last round but couldn't in the end. F2 races aren't aired LIVE in India but I have seen quite many races when the highlights are on.

Parthiva has had a decent run till now but the biggest disappointment to him and me is surely that he hasn't scored any point yet. He came close to scoring in his last outing where he finished 11th in both races, his best finish yet in the season. The surprise element was when he skipped the last two races in Brands Hatch & Paul Ricard, though he confirmed that he will be back for the last two rounds of the season, he didn't confirm the reason for him skipping the two races though. Coming over to his performances, it's surely not what I expected but then the competition is tough and he is improving gradually since the start of the season. He has done well in practice sessions where he has promised a lot but hasn't been able to capitalise and convert them in qualifying and races. I hope he does well in the last two rounds and score some points to round off a pretty difficult season for him.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
Parthiva is now in his 3rd season of Formula Two, and really, he should be doing better by now. In total he's taken part in 27 F2 races and has only scored points on one occasion (Monza race two, 2010).

He is a quick driver, he's proven that in the past. The problem he has is that it seems to take him an awful long time to get used to a circuit. A few times this season where there have been tests at a circuit in the run up to the race weekend, Parthiva has been showing promising pace - this is due to the extra running that the test provided. Infact, on a few occasions this year he was very unlucky to score no points.

The speed is there but he really needs to find a way to reach his potential on a track in a quicker time frame than he is at the moment. Maybe he needs a change of series in 2013 to try re-find some form?

Armaan Ebrahim
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Darshan Chokhani:
Last season he tested for Indy racing in America where he did well to start with and then later on he was confirmed to take part in Firestone Indy Lights series with a new team under the name Fan Force United. It was a strange move from Armaan to join Indy series but it was good to see him making some move in his career after 3 and 1/4th season in F2. His times in practice sessions in Indy was quite good for a rookie driver and team. He along with the team seemed to have high hopes before the start of the season.

He started off well with a P8 finish which became his best finish till he was there. Yes, in a shocking news a race after the iconic Indy 500 weekend, he and the team parted ways and Armaan came back to India. It's still unknown as to what led to the break-up. Was it monetary issue or both parties were not satisfied with the results? Only they know, no one has spoken about it much. If we see his season till then, it was fairly good as he was always around the Top 10 mark. He had gathered 97 points in the 5 races he did and even now he ranks 13th in the list which is not bad at all. Unfortunate that he parted ways or else he would have done even better. Till now we haven't heard anything from his side about his future though he had hinted on something.

Peter Santamaria-Woods:
I was unsure if Armaan made the right move switching to American open-wheel racing. Generally when a driver moves over to the US, it's very hard to get back to European racing. Armaan did a very promising job in the early stages of his debut Indy Lights season though. Including two top ten finishes in his first five events. That's why it came as such a shock when his team, Fan Force United, ditched him ahead of race six.

It seems as if it was a money issue. They replaced Armaan with a driver from the US called Bryan Clauson, i am guessing he brought more sponsorship to the team. However Bryan only took part in two more races. Since then there has been three more races (all in Canada) where Fan Force United have not had any car on the grid - maybe they've pulled out due to a lack of funds, maybe they've just decided not to take part in Canadian races - no-one seems to know!

This leaves Armaan in an awkward position for the rest of the season. It looks like he'll just have to sit on the sidelines until 2013 where hopefully he can negotiate a deal elsewhere, most likely in Indy Lights once again.

09/08/2012

What's happening this we ... NO.

Amazingly, this coming weekend there is NO Indian Motorsport action. It's very unusual to see this happen nowadays! That doesn't mean we won't have articles though - we'll be publishing a few things you guys should find interesting :-)

Let's rewind to last weekend though, there was some racing action that we didn't inform you of yet.

Shahaan Engineer took part in round four of the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Championship at the TT circuit in Assen, Holland.

It was a disappointing weekend for him though, nothing went right and he ended both races in P14. However, in terms of the championship, things are still looking good for the Indian driver:

Drivers' Championship (6th-12th):
6) Andrea Pizzitola (113 pts)
7) Nyck de Vries (110)
8) Kevin Kleveros (109)
9) Steijn Schothorst (99)
10) Sandy Stuvik (82)
11) Shahaan Engineer (81)
12) Meindert van Buuren, Jr. (70)

With 40 drivers in this series, and 30 points for a win, Shahaan is still very much in contention for a decent finish - it's looking promising. There are ten more races to go this season; we'll keep you up to date :-)

01/08/2012

Hungarian GP, Budapest- Just like the old days....


This was the comment made by Lewis to Kimi after a hard fought battle between the two. Lewis won the battle this time again after the previous two times also Kimi had finished P2 years-years ago. This wasn’t the best of the races with little overtaking but the strategies played a role once again as Lewis won the race, Kimi at P2 & his teammate Grosjean at P3.

Detailed review of the race below:


Practice Sessions, FP1:


Rain threat was looming over the circuit but for the teams sake and the fans to a certain extent, it remained dry giving the teams much needed time to test the tyres and get some valuable data. McLaren were back to business after their updates as Hamilton ended at P1, Button at P2 and Alonso at P3. Jules Bianchi got another run as he sat for Hulkenberg, he finished a lowly P18. He said that he still needs more time to get settled with the car. Di Resta ended at P14, working through the data. Once again it was who Karthikeyan sat out for Clos to take up the car for the session.



FP2:


Although the session began on dry conditions, it was all wet by the end as rain hit the circuit with about 40mins to go. The teams had some good running better than Germany & Britain but then not many got the long runs on medium tyres. Hamilton continued his good form as times didn’t tumble and he ended at P1, Kimi got to P2 and surprisingly Senna at P3. Di Resta moved up and ended at P7 while Hulkenberg at P12. The drivers were happy with the day though they felt that team are in a better position to fight for points. Karthikeyan got some 20 laps and ended at P24, he said he wasn’t getting much from soft tyres.



FP3:


Final session before they prepared for qualifying session. Thankfully, it was dry and team got some long run on the medium tyres at the start. After staying silent last day the RBR’s rose as Webber ended P1 and Vettel at P3. Sandwiched between them was Hamilton at P2 who once again looked good in the McLaren. Di Resta ended at P9 while Hulkenberg at P14, both did a good job. Amazingly, top 14 were separated by less than a second’s time. Karthikeyan ended at P24, having some trouble with the car.


 The pole battle was rather dodgy as McLaren’s Hamilton was a front runner to clinch pole. Only guys who could challenged would be RBR, Alonso or Lotus. Force india’s chances of making into Q3 would be tough but I was certain that one car would make it there. Karthikeyan’s main aim was beating Rosa or Marussia but then I knew he would end up at P24.



Qualifying, Q1:


To begin with, I didn’t watch qualifying as I was busy with some work and later on I was told Star Sports didn’t air the session anyways due to Olympics. But I saw the results, got some notes from Peter and writing based on that. Q1 saw Hmailton ending at P1, Di Resta at P2 and Button at P3, three Brits on podium (just saying). Late charge from Kobayashi saw Ricciardo being eliminated along with Caterham, Marussia and HRT. Both SFI made it while Karthikeyan ended P24 but was very close to his teammate Rosa.



Q2:


The grip improved in the second session, the weather was dry as it is. It was a normal session but then we saw a major drivers bowing out including a major team i.e Mercedes. Hamilton ended P1 again as Vettel got to P2 and Maldonado P3. Webber only ended P11 while Rosberg P13 and Schumacher P17 losing time due Maldonado’s off track moment. Di Resta ended at P12 after a good lap which within a second from Hamilton’s time. Hulkenberg made it to top 10, he has surely got his old self back after rusty start.



Q3:


Force India, McLaren & Lotus opted for 2 runs, they used some used tyres for their first run. Qualifying positions were important as overtaking is tough on the track. But there was no stopping Hamilton really. He got the pole position, for a moment Grosjean was looking good to topple the time but he only managed P2 with Vettel settling for P3. Hulkenberg ended at P10 but he was disappointed as his last run didn’t yield what he hoped for, which he thought would have given him the sixth place.


 I have no clue how tough were the sessions but from the times, it seems teams did struggle to match with few drivers. Hamilton was looking great all weekend and continued his surge, both the Lotus did well in hot conditions. I thought both Hulkenberg & Di Resta did well enough in the end and was sure of them getting into points to get ahead of Williams.



Raceday:


It was afternoon time here in India when I just happen to log in via my mobile on Twitter just to see what’s happening around. Going by the tweets, I got the news that it was raining in Budapest in the morning, though rain was predicted for Sunday, I was sceptic that it would. Even when the race started there was talk that it will rain at 3PM local time. But as it happens most of the time, there was no rain either at the middle or the end, it only rained late in the evening when teams were packing. We had a drama at the start itself as just after the formation lap Schumi stopped at wrong position and thus Charlie ordered for another formation lap. Schumi had shut the engines due to miss-communication but started from the pitlane as he got the car to start again. Hamilton had a great start as he took the lead with Grosjean and Vettel fighting hard behind. Behind them Button got ahead of Kimi and subsequently Vettel to be at P3. Webber was another quick starter as he got 4 places to be at P7. Hulkenberg stayed at P10 while Di Resta lost two places to be at P14.


 It was all down to tyres strategies as even at the start it was hard to overtake there. It was battles galore as Hamilton & Grosjean were fighting, Button & Vettel behind them and Kimi, Alonso & Webber behind them. Nothing changed even after the first pitstops as it came down to the same positions. It was only after the second round of pitstops that we saw changes as Hamilton continued at the top, it was Kimi who got to P2 jumping his teammate and Vettel after a good stint and pitstop. Grosjean who was fighting with Hamilton suddenly had to fend off charging Vettel. Alonso & Webber kept their fight on but Button lost time behind Senna who was driving that Williams brilliantly.


 Force India’s were finding it hard after the start due to less overtaking. The pace was good, strategy was fine as well but the people around them were lapping as fast as they were if not lesser. Hulkenberg maintained P10 but after the first rounds of pitstops, Rosberg managed to beat Hulk to take the P10 position. Di Resta gained a place and was running P13 for most part of the race. He had a minor incident with Maldonado towards the end for which Maldonado was given a drive-through penalty. I thought it was a somewhat a racing incident but the fact that Di Resta was pushed on to the grass, made the stewards feel otherwise. Karthikeyan was running well with Rosa and ahead of Glock but his car was having some problems.


 At one point it was all looking like that Kimi will get his first win since F1 return as he was doing some perfect laps to chase Hamilton down but Hamilton was in a different world himself as he kept a gap of at least 1 second and at last he managed to keep it and win the race. The near perfect weekend got to perfect with the win. Kimi ended at P2 but he drove fantastic race, from being nowhere he came to challenge Hamilton for win was superb. Grosjean finished at P3 kept Vettel behind but the German having made a tyre changed came just within a second of Grosjean in the end. Force India pair came without any points as they just couldn’t overtake, the positions in hindsight proved crucial as Senna scored and gave Williams a 7 point lead over SFI. Karthikeyan unfortunately had to retire due to front suspension failure, he was having a good battle with Rosa & Glock.


 The last race before the summer break leaves us with a wide open DC as Alonso leads by 34 points but not much between the next 4 drivers. Though Alonso is in the driver’s seat, still the Ferrari needs more pace. RBR have almost clinched the CC with a massive lead. Force India is in a good position, their main aim is to get ahead of Sauber’s who have the two podium finish advantage, Williams are within their reach. The coming tracks should suit the team more but it’s going to be tough with stiff competition. That’s it from me, see you with another weekend review only after 4 weeks time. Ciao!!


On the road!

Just a little update for you guys.

Sahara Force India were on the road yesterday, @5LiveF1 posted on photo on twitter of the team trucks travelling back from Hungary. That picture is below:


One person who won't be on the road anytime soon is Indian driver Sailesh Bolisetti. He was due to have two races this coming weekend at Snetterton, UK. Unfortunately, the drivers visa application has been rejected & subsequently his team, Lotus Sport UK, have withdrawn from the event.

It's a great shame for Sailesh; basically ruins his chances to finish in the top three in the British GT Championship. Sadly there is nothing more he can do to try improve the situation. He'll just have to take this on the chin and hope he doesn't have similar problems in the future.