30/10/2012

Sunday Analysis

First of all, apologies this article is late - have been having technical problems. Better late than never, eh?

Formula One
Race Results: Hulkenberg 8th (4 points), di Resta 12th, Karthikeyan 21st.

Given that the Sahara Force India cars qualified in 12th & 16th positions, the race went quite well to be honest - both drivers gained four positions on their grid spots!

Nico Hulkenberg had an impressive start to the race and quickly found himself settled into 8th place. From then on, it was just a case of maintaining position. The German driver was able to do this without incident and would therefore pick up a four valuable points.

As for Paul di Resta, he also had a good start and got upto 14th early on. The Scottish driver was able to benefit from problems to other cars and eventually finish 12th. Despite him not scoring any points, this result was actually quite impressive. His car looked awful to drive in qualifying, the balance was appauling after he went completely wrong with setup during FP3. These problems carried through to the race. His VJM05 was so inbalanced that i'm surprised he managed to make the checkered flag - good effort!

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts) (+0)
6) Sauber (116) (+0)
7) Force India (93) (+4)
8) Williams (59) (+1)
Note: numbers in green represent the points scored this weekend.

For P6:
Pre-India: an average of 6.75 points more than Sauber needed each race.
Post-India: an average of 7.67 points more than Sauber needed each race.

For the second race in sucession, Sauber failed to score this weekend. Despite this, our average points required per race still rose - however, that's not an issue. All it takes is one race with both cars solidly in the points (say P5 & P6) and we'd be right back in the fight. Three races to go, it's definately do-able.

Drivers championship (11th-16th)
11) Kamui Kobayashi (50 pts)
12) Nico Hulkenberg (49)
13) Paul di Resta (44)
14) Michael Schumacher (43)
15) Pastor Maldonado (33)
16) Bruno Senna (26)

In terms of the drivers championship, Nico Hulkenberg has pulled away slightly from Paul di Resta. Although i'm sure Paul will be stronger next weekend. This battle will go down to the final race purely because both drivers are so evenly matched.

At the back of the field, Narain Karthikeyan had an interesting race.

His race engineer sent several messages during the GP telling Narain to slow down as the brakes were overheating. Narain obliged and as a result, fell back from his teammate, de la Rosa, at a considerble rate. One thing to note about the HRT is that their brake ducts are not sufficently big to cool the brakes enough on many tracks. In India, it was pretty clear de la Rosa didn't slow to cool his brakes (that's why he pulled away from Narain). On lap 42, Pedro had a brake failure (due to overheating). Another race where Narain has done a good job to beat his teammate - a classic case of the tortoise vs the hare.

Drivers championship (19th-25th, all 0 pts)
19) Timo Glock (Best finish: 12th x1)
20) Heikki Kovalainen (Best finish: 13th x1)
21) Vitaly Petrov (Best finish: 13th x1)
22) Jerome D'Ambrosio (Best finish: 13th x1)
23) Charles Pic (Best finish: 15th x2)
24) Narain Karthikeyan (Best finish: 15th x1)
25) Pedro de la Rosa (Best finish: 17th x2)

No changes at the bottom of the championship this weekend.

Review quotes here.

World Endurance Championship
Race Result: Chandhok 5th (overall & in class) 2nd (in LMP1 trophy) (10 points for Karun, 18 points for JRM).

Having started the race from the LMP1 trophy pole position (4th overall) - a win was the aim.

It was Karun who started the race for JRM and he vallinately kept the lead until his first pit stop. When he handed the car over to Peter Dumbreck, he was in P5 overall (P2 in LMP1 trophy). The team did look on course to win, however a change of bodywork during the final driver change cost the them one minute which put the British-based team out of contention. They would finish 2nd in the LMP1 trophy however, 5th overall. The car crossed the line just 8 seconds behind the car ahead! Without the minute lost at the pit stop, JRM would have easily won - a positive end to the season!

Karun Chandhok (JRM driver):
"We started off reasonably well and the first couple of laps were okay but we realised early on that we were not quick enough when compared to the #12 Rebellion and the Strakka. I could hold the Strakka back initially as I had pretty good traction and straight line speed, but I got stuck behind a Porsche at the wrong moment and Jonny [Kane] got ahead of me. After that I just found a consistent pace and drove my own race. It was a bit lonely, with nobody behind, even though I did have a battle with Danny towards the end of my triple stint. But to finish on the podium again is a perfect way to end the season. We can be very proud of the way we have improved over the year and I have really enjoyed my first season in endurance racing".

Drivers World Championship (9th-12th):

9) Enzo Potolicchio (53.5)
10=) Peter Dumbreck (50.5)
10=) David Brabham (50.5)
10=) Karun Chandhok (50.5)
11) Marc Gené (49)
12) Ryan Dalziel (48.5)

LMP1 trophy standings:
1) Rebellion Racing (205 pts)
2) Strakka Racing (148)
3) JRM (123)
4) Pescarolo Team (30)
5) OAK Racing (25)

The final position for JRM Racing was already decided before this race. 3rd place, a good effort. Karun Chandhok and his teammates finish 10th overall in the Drivers World Championship - they'll be happy with that! The question now is; will there be an Indian in the World Endurance Championship in 2013? I'm expecting Karun Chandhok to retain his seat whereas NarainKarthikeyan may make the switch over - let's wait and see!

28/10/2012

Indian GP - Race Results

Results: Hulkenberg 8th (4 points), di Resta 12th, Karthikeyan 21st.

An uneventful race saw Sahara Force India pick up 4 points and close the gap to their rivals Sauber in the constructors championship.

Both Nico & Paul quickly settled into 8th & 14th places respectively. From then on in they just maintained the pace and eventually finished 8th & 12th. Paul benefited from issues to other cars.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he couldn't drive at full pace because his car was overheating. This allowed his teammate Pedro de la Rosa to pull away. Maybe Pedro driving too fast caused thermal degradation of the brakes which would eventually cause Pedro to retire. Narain finished P21.

Analysis later! :-)

27/10/2012

Saturday Analysis

A very mixed day for the drivers that we had in action today. Here's all the data/information you need:

Formula One (review quotes here)
FP3 Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:26.531), di Resta 14th (1:27.193), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:30.824).
Qualifying Results: Hulkenberg 12th (1:26.241), di Resta 16th (1:26.989), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:30.593).

It was a disappointing day for the Sahara Force India drivers. FP3 looked to have not gone too badly, however as the poor qualifying results would show - the team went the wrong way with setup. The car simply lost balance when the track conditions changed between the two Saturday sessions.

Paul di Resta admitted that he didn't drive well which is why he ended up in 16th. However Nico Hulkenberg did get the most out of the car, and he still couldn't make Q3. The top ten was just beyond the car capabilities today.

Just want to re-clarify that the drivers are not to blame here. Nico did his job well and got the most out of the car. As for Paul, although he said he didn't drive well, his quick lap was shown on the World TV feed and the car looked a handful - he did a decent job to keep it on the track in all honesty.

The one saving grace for the team has is that they are quick through sector one, which has the huge straight. Our cars may be able to make some passes with this advantage and also defend our positions. Let's hope both drivers get a good start! Don't be surprised to see the team get very creative with the strategy tomorrow - there is nothing to lose.

Never has this video been so apt:


As for Narain Karthikeyan, his session was - interesting.

Given his performance through the practice sessions, he probably expected to beat his teammate, Pedro de la Rosa, in qualifying. While Narain didn't manage to achieve this target, he was only 0.001 seconds slower - so it doesn't really count to be fair. I'm sure Narain won't be too disappointed with such a small margin. On a positive note, Narain did out-qualify the Marussia of Charles Pic.

Tomorrow isn't just about the results however, it's about Indian Motorsport too. When watching the first Indian GP last season, the amount of adrenaline & pride felt by me just as those five red lights were about to go out at the start of the race was phenomenal. Tomorrow will be the same - so enjoy the race guys, even if the result isn't as we'd hoped for - it's our race, support your nation, feel the pride of India :-)

Also, for those of you watching on TV - i urge you to invite your friends to watch with you. Share this experience with as many people as possible, let's help Indian Motorsport grow!

World Endurance Championship
FP3 Result: Chandhok 12th (overall), 8th (in class), 5th (in LMP1 trophy) (1:58.751, +9.772 seconds down on session leader).
Qualifying Result: Chandhok 4th (overall & in class), 1st (in LMP1 trophy) (1:51.003, +2.730 seconds down on session leader).

A dismal morning (due to a lack of laps, caused by rain and a red flag) just did not matter as Karun Chandhok drove the JRM Racing car in qualifying to take a LMP1 trophy pole position! It's the team's first pole position, in the final weekend of the season as well - wonderful effort!!

The gap to the car behind was only 0.016 seconds - but i don't think anyone associated with the team will mind that. The British-based team could have a fantastic race tomorrow, they may even get an overall podium if one of the manufacturers drop out of the race, how awesome would that be?

Whatever happens tomorrow, it's a huge day for Indian Motorsport - Karun's result may just be the icing on the cake however!

Best wishes to all of our drivers tomorrow, fingers crossed for some wonderful results.

Indian GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 12th (1:26.241), di Resta 16th (1:26.989), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:30.593).

Fairly disappointing results sadly.

As it's the Indian GP, the TV director showed a lot of the Sahara Force India cars today. Having seen the majority of Paul di Resta's lap - it's pretty clear the Scottish driver had poor balance in the car and he was unable to get the maximum laptime possible.

Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile did get the maximum available, but he still missed out on Q3 sadly. The pace just wasn't there today. It seems as if the team went the wrong way on setup this morning.

12th & 16th - not brilliant, but decent results are possible from there, especially as the times we are setting in sector one (including the long straight) are quick.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan qualifies 23rd, 0.069 seconds ahead of Charles Pic. The Indian driver will have been hoping to beat his teammate de la Rosa, but considering he was only 0.001 second slower, Narain won't be too disappointed with that.

More analysis later.

Indian GP - Practice Three Results

Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:26.531), di Resta 14th (1:27.193), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:30.824).

Encouraging results for all three of our drivers in that session.

It's pretty clear that the Sahara Force India cars have pace, as demonstrated by Nico Hulkenberg up in P8. Paul di Resta could have been there, but he didn't quite hook-up his quick lap - traffic, perhaps? The aim for qualifying will be Q3 for both cars.

Narain Karthikeyan again finished faster than Pedro de la Rosa, but only by 0.049 seconds this time - it will be close in qualifying between the HRT pair.

26/10/2012

Friday Analysis

Formula One
FP1 Results: di Resta 12th (1:29.760), Hulkenberg 14th (1:29.850), Karthikeyan 22nd (1:32.125).
FP2 Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:27.233), di Resta 11th (1:28.004), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:31.372).

The first thing to mention is: yey, no dogs today! Although this article did make me laugh!

Anyway, back to the on-track action.

Usually after a Friday, things look promising for Sahara Force India, and we expect Saturday to go well. However today, despite a decent Friday, i can't help but feel a little nervy about tomorrow. I'm honestly not entirely sure why i'm having negative feelings ahead of FP3 & qualifying - perhaps it's the pressure of a home race?

Don't get me wrong though, the team got most of the data they needed today (with the exception of Paul di Resta who didn't manage any high-fuel running on the soft tyres due to a puncture in FP2), so they are on target for a good result.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he had a very positive day. Ahead of Glock & considerably ahead of teammate de la Rosa on pace in FP1. Meanwhile in FP2, it looked like Narain was on for a similar result until he had a hydraulic issue which curtailed his running. Nevertheless, he more than proved he has pace this weekend - with retirements upfront, he could be on for a fantastic result!

Looking forward to what should be exciting FP3 & qualifying sessions. Review quotes here.

World Endurance Championship

FP1 Result: Chandhok 5th (overall & in class) 2nd (in LMP1 trophy) (1:53.669, +1.450 seconds down on session leader.
FP2 Result: Chandhok 5th (overall & in class) 2nd (in LMP1 trophy) (1:53.563, +2.990 seconds down on session leader.

A good solid day for Karun & the JRM Racing team. 5th overall in both sessions today and 2nd in their championship in both sessions (the teams in 1st, 2nd & 3rd overall are manufacturers: Audi & Toyota, therefore not part of the LMP1 trophy).

Like in F1, FP3 & Qualifying are tomorrow. The same result as today would be a good result for the British-based team.

Indian GP - Practice Two Results

Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:27.233), di Resta 11th (1:28.004), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:31.372).

A decent session for the Sahara Force India boys. The team spent the session gathering tyre data on both compounds with low & high fuel loads.

Based on laptimes, it seems as if Nico Hulkenberg has a few tenths on Paul di Resta at the moment. However a trend we have seen this season is that Nico can get on the pace straight away whereas Paul slowly builds up to his top pace, so don't count out the Scottish driver just yet!

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan's session was curtailed by a hydraulic problem. Nevertheless, the Indian driver is sitting pretty this weekend. He seems consistently quicker than his teammate which is encouraging.

Analysis coming later today!

Indian GP - Practice One Results

Results: di Resta 12th (1:29.760), Hulkenberg 14th (1:29.850), Karthikeyan 22nd (1:32.125).

A session focused on data gathering for both Sahara Force India & Narain Karthikeyan at their home race.

Both Paul di Resta & Nico Hulkenberg seemed quite reserved in that session, just making sure they didn't make a mistake. It's pretty obvious there is more pace to come!

Narain Karthikeyan finished in P22, 0.7seconds quicker than his teammate. That's quite a decent result at this early stage. Narain was also a quarter of a second quicker than Timo Glock in the Marussia.

Looking forward to FP2 later!

25/10/2012

What's happening this weekend?

It's quite a minor weekend this time really, not that much action to discuss in this article. Of course, i am joking! It's probably the biggest weekend of the entire season in terms of our coverage!

Formula One
It's the race we've all been waiting for, the second running of the Indian Grand Prix!!


We've had the cheesy television adverts:


... now it's time for the action to begin!

First of all, let's review what happened last season:


Results:
1) Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2) Jenson Button (McLaren)
3) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
9) Adrian Sutil (Force India)
13) Paul Di Resta (Force India)
17) Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)

As for the circuit, there was nothing but praise for the track layout in the inaugural race last year, but there were issues off-track meaning that this will be an important event for the circuit. The venue needs to show improvement in a few areas and iron out the expected teething problems experienced during 2011. These problems included power cuts & a bat entering the media centre, plus a stray dog on the track during practice.

So far, with media arriving at the circuit, there does seem to have been many improvements - have seen much praise on twitter so far - but we'll go into this more when the weekend is over.

Before we preview things in terms of the championship, check out SkySportsF1's track guide here.

So, the championships:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts)
6) Sauber (116)
7) Force India (89)
8) Williams (58)

For P6:
an average of 6.75 points more than Sauber needed each race.

Drivers championship (11th-16th)
11) Kamui Kobayashi (50 pts)
12) Nico Hulkenberg (45)
13) Paul di Resta (44)
14) Michael Schumacher (43)
15) Pastor Maldonado (33)
16) Bruno Senna (25)

Drivers championship (19th-25th, all 0 pts)
19) Timo Glock (Best finish: 12th x1)
20) Heikki Kovalainen (Best finish: 13th x1)
21) Vitaly Petrov (Best finish: 13th x1)
22) Jerome D'Ambrosio (Best finish: 13th x1)
23) Charles Pic (Best finish: 15th x2)
24) Narain Karthikeyan (Best finish: 15th x1)
25) Pedro de la Rosa (Best finish: 17th x2)

What is going to be a monumental battle in the drivers championship between Paul di Resta & Nico Hulkenberg will probably be overshadowed slightly by the on-going battle between Sahara Force India & Sauber in the constructors championship.

The Indian team have a great chance of doing well this weekend - the track should suit their car & they'll have home support, could it be the team's first podium of the season? If yes, then it would be totally worth waiting for! In addition to a good, high-scoring performance this weekend - it would help if Sauber failed to score. One thing that may help benefit Sahara Force India is that Sauber driver, Sergio Perez, is feeling unwell at the moment. It's possible he may not take part this weekend meaning reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez would step up. While Esteban is a good driver, a lack of F1 experience would probably mean he fails to score points. Let's see what happens with that though.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he will once again have the honour of being the sole Indian driver to take part in the race. He needs a 14th place finish or better to improve in the drivers standings - where better to do it than the Buddh International Circuit?

Preview quotes here. Those of you who are interested in the title battle, check out this article from F1.com.

The final thing i want to say about the event is that, it's not just about the race. The event should be a celebration of the progress made by Indian Motorsport in recent years. Don't forget that eight years ago India had almost no involvement in F1! In celebration, i urge all of you to bring a friend to F1 this weekend. If you're going to watch the race on TV, invite someone to watch with you - someone who hasn't watched a race before or is lacking knowledge about the sport, let's help the sport grow in our country!

If your friend ends up getting hooked on the sport, why not invite them to our facebook page? #ShamelessAdvertising!

While we're on the subject of facebook, earlier today we crossed 500 likes! Thanks for your continued support guys :-)

World Endurance Championship
Our other star, Karun Chandhok, did FP1 during the Indian Grand Prix weekend last season - he is in action this weekend, but sadly not in F1.

It's the final round of the World Endurance Championship for 2012, the 6 Hours of Shanghai.

Championships:

Drivers World Championship (8th-16th):
8=) Harold Primat (50.5 pts)
8=) Andrea Belicchi (50.5)
9) Enzo Potolicchio (49.5)
10) Marc Gené (49)
11) Ryan Dalziel (44.5)
12) Kazuki Nakajima (44)
13) Nick Heidfeld (42.5)
14=) Peter Dumbreck (40.5)
14=) David Brabham (40.5)
14=) Karun Chandhok (40.5)
15) Stéphane Sarrazin (33.5)
16=) Pierre Kaffer (33.5)
16=) Luís Pérez Companc (33.5)

LMP1 trophy standings:
1) Rebellion Racing (180 pts)
2) Strakka Racing (133)
3) JRM (105)
4) Pescarolo Team (25)
5) OAK Racing (18)

With a maximum of 25 points remaining, Karun's team, JRM Racing, have definitely finished 3rd in the championship. As for the Drivers World Championship, there are simply too many variables to go into any sort of detail. Depending on results this weekend, Karun could finish anywhere between 7th & 21st! Let's hope it's 7th :-)

Due to the Indian GP, Karun probably won't get as much coverage from us as usual - but we'll keep you guys up to date with his results throughout the weekend.

22/10/2012

Sunday Analysis

Formula Renault 3.5
Qualifying Two Result: Bianchi 7th (1:53.878, +0.766 down on the leader).
Race Two Result: Bianchi DNF.

So, heading into the final race of the 2012 season the title standings were as follows:

Drivers' Championship (1st-3rd):
1) Robin Frijns (189 pts)
2) Jules Bianchi (185)
3) Sam Bird (173)

Qualifying two went badly for the French driver. He could only manage 7th on the grid whereas his championship rival, Robin Frijns, secured 4th. This meant that Jules would have to pass Robin to have a shot at the title.

This is the story of the race:


It's sad for Jules to not win the title. Especially in that manner - being tapped off the track by his championship rival. Was it dirty driving by Frijns? Possibly. It is pretty clear that Robin didn't really attempt to brake for the corner - however i don't think he intended to push Jules off the track. My personal opinion is that it was simply a poorly thought-out manoeuvre by Robin, no intention however.

It all meant that Jules was out of the race, and his championship hopes were over. Robin finished the race P14.

Drivers' Championship (1st-3rd):
1) Robin Frijns (189 pts)
2) Jules Bianchi (185)
3) Sam Bird (179)

On reflection, a decent season for Jules. He may not have achieved his goal of taking the title - but he's clearly developed a lot as a racing driver this season - a future F1 driver for sure. If it's with Sahara Force India or not, that remains to be seen.

Jules Bianchi (on twitter):
"Don't be sad fans ! Be . Be . And let's keep pushing. harder, higher, ever. ".

21/10/2012

Saturday Analysis

We've been pretty quiet in the run-up to this weekend, but actually there are two series having their final races of the season.

Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup

Oshan Kothadiya was in action for the final time in his debut season of this predominately German-based series. Actually, their race programme this weekend is finished, here are the results from Hockenheim, Germany.

Practice One Result: Kothadiya 16th (1:58.472).
Qualifying Result: Kothadiya 22nd (1:58,510).
Race Result: Kothadiya 16th (10 points).

The 10 points scored by Oshan this weekend means that the Indian driver met his pre-race target of keeping 20th place in the championship:

Drivers championship (18th-21st)
18) Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky (82 pts)
19) Matthias Bäurle (82)
20) Oshan Kothadiya (76)
21) Patrick Eisemann (72)

Oshan has shown an odd glimpse of pace this season. It will be interesting to see if he remains in the series for 2013, and if he does, how much he develops in his second season.

Formula Renault 3.5

The major action this weekend comes from Jules Bianchi (Sahara Force India's reserve driver). Heading into the final title-deciding weekend, Jules was at the top of the pile:

Drivers' Championship (1st-3rd):
1) Jules Bianchi (179 pts)
2) Robin Frijns (174)
3) Sam Bird (155)

There are two races on the schedule this time out at the Circuit de Catalunya, Spain - one of which has already been completed. Here are all the results:

Test One: Bianchi 8th (1:53.097, +1.136s gap to leader).
Test Two: Bianchi 7th (1:31.238, +0.502s).
Qualifying One: Bianchi 1st (1:29.986).
Race One: Bianchi 7th (6 points).

A great qualifying session saw Jules start the race from pole. He was the only man to break into the 1:29's - so far, so good! It is worth noting that championship rival, Robin Frijns, qualified 6th.

Sadly, a poor start for Jules saw him drop down to 5th place at the start of the race. What made it worse is that Robin Frijns got past Jules!

3rd, 4th & 5th (Frijns, Magnussen and Bianchi) were running very close together for a large portion of the race but no passes could be made. On the final lap, Jules tried a risky lunge up the inside of Kevin Magnussen. It didn't work out and both cars spun round. They did both manage to get going again, but Jules had now dropped to 7th - that's where he would finish. Frijns finished 3rd. It was a pretty hasty move by Jules in his desperation; it could prove to be a costly mistake.

With race two & qualifying two coming tomorrow, it's all change in the championship:

Drivers' Championship (1st-3rd):
1) Robin Frijns (189 pts)
2) Jules Bianchi (185 pts)
3) Sam Bird (173)

Jules has dropped down to second place - he now HAS to finish tomorrows race ahead of Robin Frijns to have a shot at the title. It's going to be a very exciting showdown!

18/10/2012

Korean GP, Yeongam- Gangnam “F1” Style


This is one track which hasn’t yet gelled with fans worldwide. Getting to the track is difficult and there hasn’t been huge crowds in but the racing has been good in all 3 races. This year it was a bit down but we did get to see some great wheel to wheel racing. Vettel took the win and the lead with Webber at P2 & Alonso at P3.

Weekend detailed review is down here:

Practice Session, FP1:


It was fairly a smooth start to the weekend with weather remaining dry and teams getting quickly into act to get as many data as they can. Hamilton took the early charge with Alonso & Webber very close behind. Bianchi was back once again in place of Hulkenberg and he looked better than he had been previously. Di Resta ended at P9 while Bianchi at P13. Karthikeyan once again sat out, perhaps he indeed has a obligation in his contract for sitting out.


FP2:


The normal routine continued for the teams without any interruption. This session they tested the super soft tyres for the first time. RBR took the lead as Vettel ended P1 and Webber P2, Alonso rounded off at P3 chipping in his Ferrari. Hulkenberg was back and back to business as he ended P9 while Di Resta ended at P13. Karthikeyan too found some good pace as he was back and straightaway beat Pedro to end at P23.


FP3:


Fine day weather wise with no chance of rain and teams looking for final set up changes before the qualifying and race. All went to plan with all the teams as nothing big happened here. Vettel ended P1 with McLaren’s coming to terms as Hamilton ended P2 & Button P3. The SFI struggled a bit as Hulkenberg ended P10 & Di Resta at P14, they lost some pace since Friday. Karthikeyan continued his upward performance as he once again beat Pedro to end P23.


The initial times showed that it was all between RBR, McLaren but Ferrari were hanging around. SFI looked both good and bad but there was pace for them to reach Q3 especially because both Mercedes & Sauber were not looking great pace wise. Karthikeyan having missed FP1 got into terms quickly with the track and pace of the car.


Qualifying, Q1:


The usual program for everyone, new teams headed out first on track like always. I still wonder why they do a run on softs when they know they will need the super soft to get through to Q2. They should rather save a tyre here. Any ways, without the use of super softs Vettel ended P1, Webber P2 and Button P3. While Schumacher & Hamilton just made it through. Both SFI drivers made it safely but Karthikeyan couldn’t record a time due to brake disc breaking while one timed lap. Senna along with Caterham, Marussia & HRT bowed out.


Q2:


This session went by smoothly as well with no big dramas. Button the only driver to miss out, similar thing happened with as with Massa in Japan. Vettel at P1 once again with Alonso taking in P2 and Webber P3. Hulkenberg made it through with a brilliant last lap but unfortunately Di Resta once again had traffic which slowed him down, he was in line to go through but he couldn’t in the end. He qualified at P12 for the race.


Q3:


At the start of the session, there was only one man who had the pole position firm in his hands unless he makes any mistakes. Only one man could have beaten him on pace and that’s what happened. Vettel initially set could enough time for pole but he couldn’t improve on his second run while his teammate did as Webber took pole position pushing Vettel to P2 and Hamilton ended at P3. Hulkenberg rounded off at P8, ahead of both the Mercedes. A good result keeping in mind that their direct competitors namely Sauber, Williams were behind.


One would say it was an anti-climax to the session with Webber on pole but the only man who could beat Vettel was his teammate. On SFI front, Di Resta was unlucky for the second time to not to make it to Q3 even though he had the pace while Hulkenberg had a trouble free afternoon as he comfortably beat Mercedes duo in Q3. Karthikeyan was also unlucky suffering car damage.


Raceday:

 
It was good to see some crowds in, better than what we saw last year. In the attendance was PSY, the Korean singer with his hit single Gangnam Style (yes my headline is inspired by his style). He was to wave the chequered flag at the end of the race. The weather was fine with no rain clouds to be seen though there was some sort of a mist in the air. At the start, Vettel took the lead from Webber as Kobayashi knocked Button & Rosberg out of the race in the mid pack. Hulkenberg made a steady start gaining a place to P7 while Di Resta went up to P11. Karthikeyan too made a good start as he was running P20 overtaking Pedro & Pic.

Vettel took a considerable lead from his teammate who had a good lead from Alonso. Behind them the fight was on for track positions as Massa, Kimi & Hamilton fought among themselves. Later on Hamilton lost to both the guys as he went behind and behind the field. Schumacher was fighting with likes of SFI, STR out of points while team battle was on between Heikki & Petrov. Marussia were behind fighting with HRT’s but were close to the Caterham battle.


Hulkenberg having made a super start was always fighting with Grosjean for positions. Be it on track or in pit lane, the two were together for most part of the race. In the first part of the race Grosjean lost to Hulkenberg as Hulk had a good pace to stay ahead but in the second part Hulkenberg lost to Grosjean but Hulk held on as they were joined by Hamilton ahead. While Grosjean tried to make a move on Hamilton, Hulkenberg came from behind and overtook both of them, one of the highlight overtaking move of the race. Di Resta meanwhile was having a tough race fighting with Schumacher at start and then with STR duo who went ahead of him in pit stops. Karthikeyan started off well but him doing a one stop strategy made things a little tougher for him as he lost ground to Marussia.


Vettel had such a lead that it was only down to him bringing his car home safely with a win in his hands already. Towards the end, there were some tensed moments but he managed to bring him car home safely with a win. Webber ended P2 while Alonso was given P3 as Massa who was quicker than his teammate was ordered not to attack Alonso due to championship fight. Hulkenberg ended P6, another super performance from his adding 8 points to his & team’s tally. Di Resta ended lowly P12 after been overtaken by Perez in the end, not a great outing for him again. Karthikeyan the only one to do one stop strategy was glad to finish the race at P20, glad because of two DNF’s in previous two races.


The race wasn’t the super one but then very significant in title battle. The fight looks between Vettel & Alonso with maybe Kimi joining them if he can get a win. Ferrari leapfrogged McLaren in the CC with both Massa & Alonso scoring. SFI continued their consistent run as they are only 27 points behind Suaber. SFI is the team after the big runners to score in all 5 races post the summer break. It is more likely looking the way that SFI has very much sealed the P7 in CC but certainly with Sauber being inconsistent, SFI can fancy their chances well here. Also, SFI is closing to 100 points which will be first for them, just 11 points adrift of that. Next up is my home race or our home race, yes it is Indian GP. At first I didn’t plan for going but it seems like I may go. Let see, either way you people will get to read the review here.


15/10/2012

Sunday Analysis

Formula One
Race Results: Hulkenberg 6th (8 points), di Resta 12th, Karthikeyan 20th.

After qualifying a promising 8th, Nico Hulkenberg drove a flawless race and finished in 6th place - the maximum that the car could deliver. He drove amazingly well; fantastic defensive driving to hold off Grosjean for so many laps, but he also was able to attack when called upon (a spectacular double-pass on Grosjean & Hamilton).

Paul di Resta started in 14th place & finished 12th, despite looking like he'd score points at one stage. Tyre degradation on Paul's car was unusually high, this is the reason why he couldn't really make up much ground on those in front. The team will need to look into this before the next race in India.

Meanwhile, Narain Karthikeyan was having a cracking battle with his teammate during the first stint. However when Pedro de la Rosa retired, Narain didn't really have much on-track action. He did bring the car home though, 20th place for him!

Review quotes here.

In terms of the championships:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts) (+0)
6) Sauber (116) (+0)
7) Force India (89) (+8)
8) Williams (58) (+0)
Note: numbers in green represent the points scored this weekend.

It's interesting (and crucial) that none of our rivals scored this weekend!

For P6:
Pre-Korea: an average of 7 points more than Sauber needed each race.
Post-Korea: an average of 6.75 points more than Sauber needed each race.

The other important thing to note is that the final four races; India, Abu Dhabi, United States & Brazil should suit Sahara Force India's car. Outscoring Sauber by 6.75 points per race will be tricky, but it is still possible. The team can't afford slip-ups now though. Plus, they do need to start getting both cars in the points.

Drivers championship (11th-16th)
11) Kamui Kobayashi (50 pts)
12) Nico Hulkenberg (45)
13) Paul di Resta (44)
14) Michael Schumacher (43)
15) Pastor Maldonado (33)
16) Bruno Senna (25)

Drivers championship (19th-25th, all 0 pts)
19) Timo Glock (Best finish: 12th x1)
20) Heikki Kovalainen (Best finish: 13th x1)
21) Vitaly Petrov (Best finish: 13th x1)
22) Jerome D'Ambrosio (Best finish: 13th x1)
23) Charles Pic (Best finish: 15th x2)
24) Narain Karthikeyan (Best finish: 15th x1)
25) Pedro de la Rosa (Best finish: 17th x2)

The two Sahara Force India drivers have once again closed up in the drivers championship. There's just one point between them with four races to go! Who do you think will be on top at the end of the season? Narain Karthikeyan remains 24th overall. He needs to finish 14th or higher in one of the remaining races to have a chance of moving up the order at all.

World Endurance Championship
Race Results: Chandhok 5th (overall & in class)(10 points for each driver, 18 for the team).

They started 6th overall as Peter Dumbreck began the race for JRM racing. At the beginning he was able to jump into 5th place with a pass at turn one. The rest of his time in the car was quiet and he handed over control to David Brabham.

David was constantly swapping positions with the Rebellion Racing car who were in 4th overall (1st in the LMP1 trophy). When he handed the car over to Karun, JRM were in 5th place.

Karun gave the team a little scare when he made contact with one of the other cars and he had to make a pit-stop in the final minutes of the race to repair the back of the car which got damaged. Nevertheless, Karun brought the car home in 5th place. He was able to set the fastest lap for the team too - a great effort!

Note: the team finished 5th overall and in class, but in the LMP1 trophy (LMP1 cars, excluding the three manufacturer teams) they were 2nd - this means they got on the LMP1 trophy podium! Check out the little video the team made below:


Karun Chandhok (JRM driver):
"Great to be on the podium! It was a good race and finishing for the team was a fantastic feeling, particularly as it’s our best finish of the season so far. I had a bit of contact with the Audi and there was a bit of bodywork damage but apart from that we were reasonably quick. We do need a little bit more pace to finish ahead of the Rebellion – we stick with them at some parts of the race and only need a little bit more to get ahead. It's nice to get a trophy for the boys, and it's very positive for us and for the team moral. I'm very pleased after a couple of hard weekends in Brazil and Bahrain, and hopefully we can finish the season strongly in China".

Drivers World Championship (8th-16th):
The three JRM drivers finished P5 overall so they score 10 points each.

8=) Harold Primat (50.5 pts)
8=) Andrea Belicchi (50.5)
9) Enzo Potolicchio (49.5)
10) Marc Gené (49)
11) Ryan Dalziel (44.5)
12) Kazuki Nakajima (44)
13) Nick Heidfeld (42.5)
14=) Peter Dumbreck (40.5)
14=) David Brabham (40.5)
14=) Karun Chandhok (40.5)
15) Stéphane Sarrazin (33.5)
16=) Pierre Kaffer (33.5)
16=) Luís Pérez Companc (33.5)

LMP1 trophy standings:
Note: Although JRM were 5th in LMP1; the teams in 1st, 2nd & 3rd are manufacturers (Toyota & Audi) and therefore not part of the LMP1 trophy. This means JRM score 18 points for 2nd place.

1) Rebellion Racing (180 pts)
2) Strakka Racing (133)
3) JRM (105)
4) Pescarolo Team (25)
5) OAK Racing (18)

In the Drivers World Championship, there are too many variables - even though there is only one race to go, Karun could still finish anywhere between 7th & 21st.

As for the LMP1 trophy; with just 25 points remaining - JRM have now finished P3, regardless of results at the final race in China on the 28th October.

Formula Renault 2.0
Race One Results: Engineer 5th (16 points).
Race Two Results: Engineer 20th (1 point).

A mixed weekend for Shahaan, but considering he had such a negligible amount of testing prior to the event, i think he'll be happy.

The promising Indian started 16th for race one and had an incredible start! By the first corner he was already up to P10! It was a very chaotic race as there were two safety cars, and a red flag period - but Shahaan was able to stay calm, make up positions with some great attacking driving & take P5 at the end of the race, wonderful effort.

Sadly, race two did not go to plan. The track was wet, but it looked like it would dry out. Half the grid started on dry tyres, half started on wets. Shahaan, starting 11th, took drys. The track didn't dry out enough and consequently, the results were very mixed up. Engineer finished the final race of the season in 20th place.

It's been quite a season for Shahaan, here are the final standings:

Drivers' championship (6th-8th):
6) Kevin Kleveros (196)
7) Shahaan Engineer (195)
8) Gabriel Casagrande (181)

7th place overall. Considering this is his first season at this level, he's done an amazing job. This boy has talent, as in, possible future F1 driver talent. I may do a feature on him in the coming weeks should time permit - but keep this name in your mind: Shahaan Engineer.

14/10/2012

Korean GP - Race Results

Results: Hulkenberg 6th (8 points), di Resta 12th, Karthikeyan 20th.

A fantastic race for Nico Hulkenberg saw him pick up a hugely deserved eight points. The German started 8th on the grid but managed to jump Hamilton & Grosjean during the race (in just two corners with one of the overtakes of the season). Incredible drive by Hulkenberg really - fantastic defensive driving and he was also able to attack brilliantly when called upon!

Meanhwhile, Paul di Resta started 14th and had a great start to be 11th after the opening lap. From then on he was able to hold position but sadly couldn't quite make up any ground after experiencing very high tyre degradation. Actually he lost one place to Sergio Perez towards the end of the race, but it didn't matter as neither of them finished in the points anyway.

Elsewhere Narain Karthikeyan was looking to have a good battle with teammate Pedro de la Rosa but when the Spaniard retired after the first round of pit stops, Narain was in a race all on his own. He did well the reach the checkered flag with no real incident though. P20 for him.

More analysis later!

Saturday Analysis

Formula One
FP3 Results: Hulkenberg 10th (1:38.932), di Resta 14th (1:39.156), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:42.845).
Qualifying Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:38.266), di Resta 14th (1:38.643), Karthikeyan 24th (will start 23rd)(no time set).

The results in FP3 pretty much translated into similar qualifying results. Although it has to be said that the qualifying results, especially in the middle of the field, were a little random; they were skewed by Ricciardo's stricken car bringing out the yellow flags at the end of Q2. Much to my surprise, and against my prediction, there were no penalties for anybody so it's P8 & P14 for the SFI drivers whereas Narain Karthikeyan will start P23.

The aim for the race, for the two Sahara Force India drivers anyway, will be to get both cars in the points. In terms of race pace, both VJM05's seemed relatively competitive through the practice sessions - the pace for tail end points is there for sure. Perhaps the Lotus' cars could be passed, but anything higher than 5th will be difficult without unusual circumstances/unreliability to other cars.

Speaking of Lotus; Nico Hulkenberg starts in what has been dubbed "the Grosjean zone". The German driver needs to be very careful and try to avoid any possible accident. This should be a fantastic race - make sure you tune in!

The review quotes are here.

A couple of things i want to clear-up:

1) Narain Karthikeyan failed to set a qualifying lap yesterday due to a brakes failure, in fact, the whole disc broke! Here is a post-quali tweet from Narain: visit here.

2) Post-qualifying, Paul di Resta was all but confirmed as a Sahara Force India driver in 2013, thanks to his sponsors: story here.

World Endurance Championship
FP3 Results: Chandhok 4th (overall & in class)(1:30.432).
Qualifying Results: Chandhok 6th (overall & in class)(1:30.410).
Warm-Up Results: Chandhok 4th (overall & in class)(1:30.444).

Pretty consistent running for the JRM team in terms of laptime. All three drivers seem to be getting the maximum from their car this weekend. They'll start P6 with the hope of moving up the order during the race. Don't forget the cars in P1, P2 & P3 are manufacturer teams (Audi & Toyota) - it's unlikely they'll be beaten (excluding unreliability) so really, the aim is P4.

Formula Renault 2.0
FP1 Results: Engineer 12th (2:24.220).
FP2 Results: Engineer 23rd (2:27.560).
Qualifying One Results: Engineer 16th (2:23.082).
Qualifying Two Results: Engineer 11th (2:21.617).

Shahaan did better than i had expected given his lack of testing on this circuit (Spa-Francorchamps, read here). In FP1, the Indian driver was on the pace straight away in sectors one & three. Sector two was where the he lost his time, he was +0.912 seconds behind the session leader.

FP2 laptimes were skewed as Shahaan set his quick lap in wet conditions. Sadly, Q1 was also a little skewed, this time due to traffic.

However, everything came together in Q2 and Shahaan did a brilliant lap to finish P11, +0.758 down on the leader - that's a good improvement from FP1, he should be very happy with that.

So it's 16th & 11th on the grid for the two races. Encouraging starting positions, the question is, can he make progress up the field? We'll let you know post-race!

13/10/2012

Korean GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:38.266), di Resta 14th (1:38.643), Karthikeyan 24th (will start 23rd)(no time set).

An eventful qualifying session saw mixed results for our drivers.

First of all, in Q1, Narain Karthikeyan had some sort of brakes failure. He had a spin early on, and almost collected Nico Hulkenberg. Thankfully Narain slid past the Force India VJM05. Unfortunately for Narain, it would be the end of his session. The Indian will start 23rd as Charles Pic has a grid penalty for an engine change.

Meanwhile Q2 was spiced up by Daniel Ricciardo suffering a car failure, pulling off to the side of the track & bringing out the yellow flags. Some drivers backed off more than others which caused chaos. di Resta backed off a lot and so could only manage P14. Meanwhile Nico Hulkenberg was able to make it into Q3. Many drivers, including Nico, will be under investigation for not lifting in the yellow flag zone - however i suspect Nico will not receive a penalty, but others might - let's see!

So, Sahara Force India will be happy with getting a car into Q3, but they may be disappointed with Paul being down in 14th (due to the yellow flags). The grid will most likely change with penalties though, let's hope they work in our favour!

More analysis later.

Korean GP - Practice Three Results

Results: Hulkenberg 10th (1:38.932), di Resta 14th (1:39.156), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:42.845).

An interesting session for Sahara Force India. Sadly, they seem to have gone slightly wrong with setup in comparison to yesterday. The car appears to be struggling with mid-corner traction, exaggerated in the middle sector.

Let's see what our drivers can do in qualifying. I'm expecting setup changes between now and then however. Getting a car into Q3 would be a great effort.

Elsewhere, Narain Karthikeyan had a great session-long battle with his teammate, Pedro de la Rosa. They were both constantly improving laptimes and it was Narain who eventually came out on top, just 0.037 seconds quicker than the Spanish driver.

It should be a very interesting qualifying session, we'll have our report as usual.

12/10/2012

Friday Analysis

Formula One
FP1 Results: di Resta 9th (1:40.440), Bianchi 13th (1:41.140).
FP2 Results: Hulkenberg 9th (1:39.739), di Resta 13th (1:40.112), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:43.869).

A quiet first practice session saw Nico Hulkenberg & Narain Karthikeyan sit out to give track time to the third drivers. The session focus was about dialling the car into the track, refining setup & gathering tyre data. As expected Paul di Resta came on top for Sahara Force India. Don't under-estimate Jules, he's a quick driver, but he's not there to focus on lap time.

Second practice was a little more lively than the first, and both drivers showed the car has competitive long run pace, on par with Lotus & Sauber. Both drivers had their flying laps hampered by traffic, so for Nico to grab 9th place shows that the car has a lot of potential.

It's been an unusual weekend for the team, very quiet & relaxed sessions. A source inside the team tells me they are all feeling very calm and confident about their chances this weekend - and all the official quotes coming from the team seem to support this.

Meanwhile, Narain Karthikeyan had a good FP2 session. He was using an old front wing (his teammate had the newer one on) but Narain was a huge 0.7 seconds quicker. That suggested that the new rear wing wasn't working well, or that Pedro had some issue. Neither has been reported to the media which suggests that the new part simply isn't working. Will be interesting to see if they continue to run it tomorrow.

Note: Charles Pic has picked up a ten-place grid penalty for a change of engine. Unless the qualifying session is very bizarre, Narain will start ahead of him on Sunday.

World Endurance Championship
FP1 Results: Chandhok 6th (overall & in class)(1:31.700).
FP2 Results: Chandhok 6th (overall & in class)(1:31.319).

A decent job for the JRM team today as they slotted into their usual 6th position in both sessions. They developed at (pretty much) the same pace as the teams around them between the sessions. +2.891 seconds down on the leader in FP1, +2.857 seconds down in FP2.

FP3 and qualifying take place tomorrow. Based on today's results, you'd have to expect them starting 6th for Sunday's race.

Formula Renault 2.0
I'm very excited to see what happens to Shahaan Engineer this weekend. But we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out, that's when the on-track action begins.

To read why i'm so excited about this series, read our weekend preview here.

Korean GP - Practice Two Results

Results: Hulkenberg 9th (1:39.739), di Resta 13th (1:40.112), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:43.869).

Nico Hulkenberg topped the battle between the Sahara Force India drivers in this session, despite missing FP1.

Neither driver managed to hook up all three sectors on their quick laps which means there is more pace to come over one lap. As for race pace, things are looking encouraging. I get the feeling this weekend that the team seem very relaxed - it's like they know the car is a good package. Encouraging signs for sure.

At the back, Narain Karthikeyan finished P23, 0.7 seconds quicker than teammate Pedro de la Rosa. Considering de la Rosa had a new wing & Narain had an old wing; those times suggest that either the new wing isn't working - or that Pedro had a problem.

More analysis later today.

Korean GP - Practice One Results

Results: di Resta 9th (1:40.440), Bianchi 13th (1:41.140).

A decent start to the weekend for Sahara Force India. No real problems, the drivers were just gathering data about the tyres and track conditions, while trying to refine setup. Not much else to say really!

Although, a bit of insider news: the team are feeling very "happy & confident" about their chances this weekend :-)

Jules Bianchi was in the car for Nico Hulkenberg & elsewhere, Narain Karthikeyan sat out the session for Dani Clos. Both Narain & Nico will be back in their respective cars for FP2.

11/10/2012

What's happening this weekend?

Three series are in action this weekend. Let's start with the big action:

Formula One
It's round 16 of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship, the Korean Grand Prix.

While (most) eyes are on the title battle at the front (which, for the record, i think Kimi will win) - Sahara Force India are in a tough battle of their own. However it's going to take a massive push, and probably a lot of luck to catch rivals Sauber.

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts)
6) Sauber (116)
7) Force India (81)
8) Williams (58)

An average of 7 points more than Sauber each race is needed to leapfrog the Swiss team by the end of the season. Consistently outscoring Sauber is unlikely though. It's more probable that we'll have a huge result at one of the remaining races (let's say for example; 4th & 5th) which would bring in 22 points and massively reduce the deficit over one weekend. How wonderful would it be if that huge result would come in India at the end of this month?

Meanwhile in the drivers title ...

Drivers championship (11th-16th)
11) Kamui Kobayashi (50 pts)
12) Paul di Resta (44)
13) Michael Schumacher (43)
14) Nico Hulkenberg (37)
15) Pastor Maldonado (33)
16) Bruno Senna (25)

... both our drivers are pretty close together; and pretty close to guys ahead of them. Nothing is decided for certain yet.

Looking elsewhere, Narain Karthikeyan is hoping for better placed finishes like all drivers at Caterham, Marussia & HRT have been doing all season. Here is how things stand between those drivers (and Jerome D'Ambrosio who did one race for Lotus):

Drivers championship (19th-25th)
19) Timo Glock (Best finish: 12th x1)
20) Heikki Kovalainen (Best finish: 13th x1)
21) Vitaly Petrov (Best finish: 13th x1)
22) Jerome D'Ambrosio (Best finish: 13th x1)
23) Charles Pic (Best finish: 15th x2)
24) Narain Karthikeyan (Best finish: 15th x1)
25) Pedro de la Rosa (Best finish: 17th x2)

It should be a very exciting weekend as drivers fight for those extra positions and try their best to help their teams in the constructors title.

World Endurance Championship
The penultimate race of the first season of the World Endurance Championship takes place this weekend at Fuji International Speedway. It's a six hour race that will no doubt be highly exciting.

After a disappointing (and point-less) weekend last time out in Bahrain the JRM boys & Karun Chandhok will be hoping to secure big points in this event to try to beat Strakka Racing for P2 in the championship. However JRM are 31 points behind with a potential 50 left to score - it's looking unlikely, sadly. Nevertheless, they'll give it their best shot!

Drivers World Championship (13th-17th):
13=) Pierre Kaffer (33 pts)
13=) Luís Pérez Companc (33)
14) Stéphane Sarrazin (30.5)
15=) Peter Dumbreck (30.5)
15=) David Brabham (30.5)
15=) Karun Chandhok (30.5)
16) Soheil Ayari (21)
17) Tom Kimber-Smith (21)

LMP1 trophy standings:
1) Rebellion Racing (155 pts)
2) Strakka Racing (118)
3) JRM (87)
4) Pescarolo Team (25)
5) OAK Racing (8)

Formula Renault 2.0
Shahaan Engineer will be in action this weekend, at the stunning Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. It's going to be a very interesting weekend for the young & talented Indian driver.

He's coming off the back of his most successful weekend ever at this level (two pole positions & two second place finishes). However he may be hampered by a lack of testing. The problem Shahaan has is that he joined the series quite late in comparison to the other drivers, and so missed pre-season testing. While all regular drivers have done practice in Spa - Shahaan is the exception having never raced on the circuit before.

There are practice sessions, but only two which are just 30 minutes long. Additionally, with red flags, it's likely that only four laps will be completed in this time (don't forget FR2.0 cars are slower than F1).

It's a big problem for Shahaan on such a long lap where an average speed of just 3kph lower would lose over three seconds per lap.

Nevertheless, Shahaan is a talented driver, let's see what he can manage. Midfield would be a good effort.

Drivers' championship (5th-9th):
5) Steijn Schothorst (195 pts)
6) Shahaan Engineer (180)
7) Kevin Kleveros (180)
8) Stoffel Vandoorne (176)
9) Gabriel Casagrande (162)

09/10/2012

Japanese GP, Suzuka- Land of the crazy fans


I will have to admit, Japanese fans are super crazy, serious fanatics. They make a GP, worth a visit. The race wasn’t the best of the Japanese GP we have seen but very significant in the championship battle as Vettel won and bridged the gap to just 4 points, Massa took P2 and Kobayashi rounded off his first podium finish.
Detailed review right here:


 Practice Session, FP1:


There was a typhoon which hit Japan before the race weekend but on Friday it was a different look to the city, sunny all the way. Most importantly, a dry run for all the teams and there was no complaint on weather front. McLaren took the honours with Button ending P1 and soon to be Mercedes driver Hamilton at P2, Webber rounded off at P3. It was decent start for Force India, looking to build up on Singapore as Di Resta ended P8 & Hulkenberg P9 both having done some good amount of laps. Their sector speeds looked good specially in S3. Karthikeyan was solid with his run as he finished P22, ahead of Pedro & one Caterham.


FP2:


The weather continued to be good around Suzuka and fans were enjoying themselves like anything, they seem to be the best lot out of all. Webber took the honours this time around with Hamilton P2 & Vettel P3. SFI suffered an early jolt as Di Resta crashed out after which he admitted that he was too ambitious. That cut short his day but Hulkenberg looked super on his run as he ended P4. His sector times were great in both S2 & S3. He did mention that the team needs to do well on fuel as they looked good on low fuel. Karthikeyan ended P23 as he lost a bit of time from his competitors and Pedro.


FP3:


It was time for one final run before qualifying and teams would have wanted to make the most of it to try and make all the changes before qualifying and for race. Vettel took the RBR to P1 with Webber making it to P2, Massa was on pace P3 looking good in the Ferrari. Di Resta made up for the last day’s crash as he ended P9 but this time Hulkenberg crashed with about 20minutes to go, didn’t suffer time wise much but his car was damaged badly. Karthikeyan once again looked good as he beat Pedro to end at P23.


Early signs showed that McLaren & Red Bull were the two teams in the mix to take pole. Ferrari, Lotus were off pace here. SFI generally haven’t done that well here but they were looking reasonably good but two crashes didn’t make their chances that easy, Q3 was still manageable for one car at least. Karthikeyan finally got to run in FP1 and he looked good there, could have beaten his team mate in qualifying.


Qualifying, Q1:


After having watched 14 races anyone can guess who will bow out after Q1 apart from one driver. Yes, it was again Caterham, Marussia & HRT bowing out of Q1 along with Senna who was a tad unlucky to miss out. Both the SFI made it through, even Hulkenberg whose car was ready on time, a brilliant job done by the mechanics. Grosjean ended P1, home-hero Kobayashi at P2 & Perez at P3.


Q2:


A serious session this one as it was all to play for and quite many big teams drivers went out of Q2. Vettel ended P1, Button P2 & Kimi at P3. The biggest losers were Massa, Rosberg & Schumacher all bowing out. Hulkenberg made it to Q3, a great drive after the early shunt in FP3. Di Resta unfortunately missed out as he ended P12, just about 0.4s off P10’s pace.


Q3:


It was all down to one guy really, Vettel was unbeatable and his first lap was more than enough to give him the pole position. Webber came close but not enough to beat his teammate, Button ended P3. Hulkenberg went for one run but as he was going to get a gearbox penalty, the team went for strategy and save tyres, thus he ended P10.


Before qualifying, it was wildly guessed that Vettel & Hamilton will be the guys to watch out for but in the end it was only Vettel who took pole quite easily. His sheer pace was enough to get him pole and was favourite to win. SFI had a tough two days, fixing both the cars but Hulkenberg did a splendid job to get to Q3, shame he had penalty and will start P15. Di Resta just missed out for Q3 but was to start P11, points finish was very much in for both drivers. Karthikeyan lost a lot of time due to changed floor which he damaged in FP3.


Raceday:


A bright sunny day in Japan and a full house at the track with all sorts of fans, it was a super atmosphere. Surely, anyone would have loved to be there enjoying with them. We had an interesting grid lined up and I was like 50-50 with regard to a first lap carnage. Mind you in previous two races, I my prediction was 100% correct. Here, Vettel had a good start but it was somewhat mayhem behind him as Webber, Grosjean, Alonso all lost out in a big way. Massa, Button, Kobayashi gained a lot of positions in the melee. SFI had a mix start with Hulkenberg coming right through to P8 while Di Resta lost a lot of ground due to clutch problem. Karthikeyan made a good early start as well getting ahead of Pic & Pedro.


It was all silent then with not much of hoo haa, Vettel was leading with Massa & Kobayashi behind. Button was making some ground over Kobayashi. Meanwhile the current McLaren driver Hamilton was having a bit of fight with the future star Perez, with Hamilton coming out in front. At the back Webber & Schumacher were making ground and salvaging their races. Caterham, Marussia & HRT all were in a good fight among themselves.


Hulkenberg was having a great race as he was constantly in a fight, first with Hamilton and then in later part with Kimi. He was hot on heels of both but just didn’t had that extra pace to edge either of them out. While Di Resta was struggling of sorts as he couldn’t get past Ricciardo but lost a place to Schumacher instead pushing him to P12. The clutch problems surely held him back as he was some second slower than Hulkenberg. Karthikeyan  the other hand was doing a great job fighting off with Pedro & Pic but he had to retire his car post mid race for precautionary measures, another bad weekend for him.


Vettel took a comfortable win taking him closer to Alonso who scored nothing. Massa finished P2, first podium in 2 years and surely helping him to save his Ferrari seat. Kobayashi came P3 after a gruelling fight with Button, it was a delight for him as his first podium in front of his home fans. Hulkenberg ended a well deserved P7, he had a compromised Saturday due to FP3 shunt and gearbox penalty but got the most on Sunday. Di Resta ended at P12, not the best of results after Singapore but the problems at start threw him a lot back. Karthikeyan once again suffered a retirement, his race form has taken a bit of dip which does affect his future drive.


The championship battle is still on and looks like will go down to the wire. SFI has taken some significant lead ahead of Williams but with another podium Sauber has taken a big lead. One good thing came out of Japan was SFI scoring their first points on the track breaking the jinx. On driver front, lots going on behind the scene which is better kept behind for now. It’s back to back races and so look forward to Korean GP than think about other things. Till then, keep safe.


07/10/2012

Japanese GP - Sunday Analysis

Race Results: Hulkenberg 7th (6 points), di Resta 12th, Karthikeyan DNF.

All things considered, it was a good weekend for our guys - especially after such a poor qualifying!

A clutch issue on the formation lap caused a big problem for Paul di Resta at the start of the race, he ended up way back in the pack. This resulted in the Scottish driver being held up by slower cars, pretty much for the entire rest of the race. It meant he was unable to show the true pace of the car - but P12 was a decent finishing position considering the circumstances.

As for Nico Hulkenberg, he drove a simply faultless race. The German driver started 15th on the grid but had a cracking start, able to make up positions in the chaos at turn one to be in 8th before the first round of stops. He had a great battle with Lewis Hamilton during the middle of the race but couldn't quite squeeze past. In the end he would finish in 7th overall, benefiting from a retirement to Sergio Perez.

Given that both drivers had major incidents through the practice sessions, and lost track time as a result, to come away with six points is a great effort.

Let's see what this does in terms of the championships:

Drivers championship (11th-16th)
11) Kamui Kobayashi (50 pts)
12) Paul di Resta (44)
13) Michael Schumacher (43)
14) Nico Hulkenberg (37)
15) Pastor Maldonado (33)
16) Bruno Senna (25)

It's still pretty close between our drivers. It seems as if this on-going battle will only be decided for certain at the final race.

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts) (+0)
6) Sauber (116) (+15)
7) Force India (81) (+6)
8) Williams (58) (+4)
Note: numbers in green represent the points scored this weekend.

For P5:
Pre-Japan: an average of 10.17 points more than Mercedes needed each race.
Post-Japan: an average of 11 points more than Mercedes needed each race.

For P6:
Pre-Japan: an average of 4.33 points more than Sauber needed each race.
Post-Japan: an average of 7 points more than Sauber needed each race.

Mercedes are most likely out of the question without a major shock such as a VJM05 winning a race. However, Sauber are still within touching distance - it is important that the team don't allow Sauber to score more points than them at any of the remaining races though.

At the back of the grid, Narain Karthikeyan was having a cracking race, running ahead of Charles Pic for many laps, with an old floor that was 1.5 seconds slower per lap than his teammate, de la Rosa. This was until Narain's HRT suffered a broken T-tray (the front of the floor) which was scraping along the ground. The car could continue, but the team retired him on safety grounds.

An encouraging weekend for Narain though, over the last three races he has seemed to improve somewhat by demonstrating that he does have the pace to match his teammate.

Review quotes are online here. I would like to pick up on one thing Robert Fernley (Sahara Force India deputy team principle) had to say:

"I'd also like to pay special credit to both sides of the garage for their incredible effort this weekend. We kept them very busy and they did an amazing job under difficult conditions. Overall it's been a remarkable team effort".

I could not agree more with this statement! The team personnel; mechanics, chefs, truck drivers etc. really don't get enough credit for the wonderful job they do. F1 would not be possible without them, they deserve a huge amount of praise!

Japanese GP - Race Results

Results: Hulkenberg 7th (6 points), di Resta 12th, Karthikeyan DNF.

A decent race for Sahara Force India after a poor qualifying yesterday.

Nico Hulkenberg was able to take advantage of chaos at the start of the race to haul himself up the order. From then on it was a case of pushing at the right time & conserving tyres at the right time. A good job from the German.

Meanwhile Paul di Resta got off to a very poor start. He was slow off the line when the lights went out, it looked like the anti-stall kicked in. This put him way down the order, causing him to get held up considerably. From then on, there was no real hope for Paul - nevertheless, a decent race for him, excluding the start anyhow.

These results certainly make the drivers championship interesting. As for the constructors, Sauber did get another podium with Kobayashi - but they only gained 9 points more than us this race. It's still pretty tight really. We'll have full analysis on this later!

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he actually had pretty impressive pace at the start of the race considering he had to use the old floor which was 1.5 seconds per lap slower than the new floor (de la Rosa) in qualifying. Although his speed would be short-lived as he had to retire on lap 32, reason unknown.

Look out for our analysis article later today!

Japanese GP - Saturday Analysis

Qualifying Results: Hulkenberg 10th (will start 15th)(No time set), di Resta 12th (will start 11th)(1:32.327), Karthikeyan 24th (1:36.734).

Not the best qualifying for Sahara Force India really.

Nico Hulkenberg did make the final part of qualifying, but he elected not to set a laptime in order to save tyres for tomorrow's race. Hopefully this will mean he has a better strategy and is able to make up positions. Sadly for him, he receives a 5-place grid penalty due to an unscheduled gearbox change. The German driver will start P15.

Paul di Resta was unable to make the final qualifying session due to traffic and a less-than-optimal final lap. He does benefit from Nico's penalty though and will start tomorrows race from P11.

P11 & P15 is not what the team expected after having such a quick car through the practice sessions. Nevertheless, the chatter coming from the SFI garage is that they have geared setup more towards race pace, so perhaps they will have a good result tomorrow.

Robert Fernley (Sahara Force India deputy team principle):
"We've been reasonably competitive in all the sessions leading up to qualifying so we felt we had a car that was capable of reaching the top ten. But the pressure was on to fix Nico's car in the run up to qualifying and as a precaution we had to change the gearbox. As always the boys did a fantastic job to get the car running in time and Nico was immediately on the pace. A place in Q3 was a good effort, although the gearbox penalty means he will drop down the grid. Paul has been playing catch up after losing track time yesterday and was close to making Q3 as well. So we've done all we can to be in with a chance of points tomorrow and left ourselves plenty of flexibility with the strategy of both cars".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"The build-up to qualifying was quite intense because the guys were working hard to repair my car after the accident this morning. It was not a big impact, but the angle was unfortunate and there was quite a lot to fix – so all credit to the boys who got me out with enough time to set a time in Q1. The car felt good straight away and we made it through to Q3, which was always the target. We then took a strategic decision to save tyres so I didn't set a time. That opens up the strategy for tomorrow, especially because we knew I would get a five-place grid penalty for changing the gearbox. There's still a chance to get points tomorrow if we can make our strategy work".

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"It was quite a tough session with traffic today and even on my quick lap in Q2 I was slightly compromised in the second sector. I locked a wheel and it may only have cost half a tenth, but that's how close the margin was to the top ten. I think given what happened yesterday with losing so much track time we can be pretty happy with our performance today. We have got ourselves up there, close to the top ten and in with a chance of points. For tomorrow it's clear that tyre wear will be a big issue for everyone, but hopefully we can use the strategy to challenge the people in front. There are some question marks going into the race because I've done no high fuel running, but we have data with the other car".

Here's a quick points analysis:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts)
6) Sauber (101)
7) Force India (75)
8) Williams (54)

For P5: an average of 10.17 points more than Mercedes needed each race.

For P6: an average of 4.33 points more than Sauber needed each race.

Elsewhere Narain Karthikeyan also had a very disappointing qualifying - P24 for him. In fact, he was a massive 1.3 seconds slower than Petrov (who finished 23rd). The reason for this was that he had to revert to an old floor after damaging his new one in FP3. This old floor will make it very hard for Narain tomorrow, chances are, he'll finish considerably far behind.

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"In the morning the car was working very well and my first laps were fantastic but then I spun off and damaged my new floor so we had to go back to the old one. In qualifying I barely had any grip and on my last lap I went long at 130R. It wasn't a good qualifying session for me, but the car is performing much better and, although tomorrow will be a tough race, we will try and finish it in the best way possible".

So, to sum up, disappointment for Sahara Force India & Narain Karthikeyan. But as we all know, points are scored on Sunday, not Saturday. Things could all change yet!

06/10/2012

Japanese GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 10th (will start 15th)(No time set), di Resta 12th (will start 11th)(1:32.327), Karthikeyan 24th (1:36.734).

The first thing to say is kudos to the Sahara Force India mechanics for managing to get Nico Hulkenberg out on track for qualifying following the German driver's crash in FP3. They don't get enough credit for the wonderful job they do!

Nico Hulkenberg had an okay session, but he will have hoped for more. He did well to get into Q3 and the German decided to only set one flying lap in that final session. Unfortunately his sector one time was very poor plus then the yellow flags came out in sector two - ruining his lap completely. Additionally, Nico has a 5-place grid penalty for a unscheduled gearbox change. He will start P15 tomorrow.

Paul di Resta will be disappointed with his result, he was held up by three cars on his first flying lap in Q2 and didn't quite manage to do an optimal laptime on his second flying lap. The Scot was just 0.055s away from P10 in that session. He will start 11th provisionally, benefiting from Nico's penalty.

I suspect these positions will change a lot before tomorrow. A number of penalties could be handed out for traffic & ignoring yellow flags.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan had a horrible qualifying session, despite showing promise in practice. He was the slowest man, a huge 1.3 seconds slower than Petrov in 23rd. Such a huge gap is unlikely to be purely down to pace, there may have been some problem for Narain.

We'll have more analysis soon, expect these positions to change yet though.

Japanese GP - Practice Three Results

Results: di Resta 9th (1:33.094) , Hulkenberg 18th (1:34.369), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:36.649).

Let's start with Narain Karthikeyan. Despite an off-track excursion, he had a good session, finishing P23. He beat his teammate, de la Rosa, by 0.226 seconds. The aim in qualifying will be to replicate this promising pace.

Sadly for Sahara Force India, they had another incident in this session. This time it was Nico Hulkenberg who made it to the barriers. He carried too much speed into one of the corners and was unable to control the back-end, eventually sliding off the circuit. The unusual incident caused left front suspension & front wing damage which will need to be fixed ahead of qualifying (that shouldn't be a problem though).

It's not ideal for Nico who had yet to do a soft-tyre run prior to his accident. Let's hope this doesn't hamper him in qualifying.

(A cracking shot of Nico Hulkenberg pitting prior to his accident)

Meanwhile, Paul di Resta did a decent job, P9 for him. He didn't have an ideal lap however, there is much more pace left in the car i suspect. It's worth noting that there was only 0.176 seconds between Paul (in P9) and P4 - very close!

To sum up, preparation for this weekend has not been ideal for SFI - however the VJM05 does possess good pace so we should be expecting a good result in qualifying. Both cars in Q3 would be fantastic!