29/11/2012

Brazilian GP, Interlagos- A fitting finale indeed..


After 19 races, it all came down to the last one to decide the winner of the 2012 season and boy o boy Brazil gave us one perfect yet crazy race. It had all ingredients to easily be a fitting season finale race. Button won the race with Alonso at P2 & Massa at P3. But it was Vettel having the last laugh with the 2012 World Driver Championship title. Hulkenberg almost had a fairytale race but he had to be content with only point finish while Di Rest spun on 2nd last lap. Karthikeyan may have raced his last F1 race but glad that he finished the race.

Detailed review in here:


Practice Sessions, FP1:


The forecast was rain on Saturday and Sunday with Friday remaining dry. It was quite sunny during the first session. All the team went through their normal program as many teams tried the 2013 development tyres given to them from Prielli. Hamilton stamped his authority with P1 as Vettel ended P2 and Webber at P3. SFI started on well as Di Resta ended P8 & Hulkenberg at P10. The top 11 drivers were separated within 1 second. Karthikeyan ended at P24 having ran only 13 laps while others did some 30 laps.


FP2:


The second session too started under bright sunshine as teams took to the hard tyres allotted for the weekend. The mediums runs came right towards the end of the session. Once again it was dominated by RBR & McLaren as Hamilton made it two in two for P1. Vettel ended P2 with Webber at P3 as all the teams run about 30-40 laps. Di Resta ended at P10 while Hulkenberg finished off at P11 doing the long runs which was quite promising. Karthikeyan ran less once again as he ended at P24.


FP3:


The start to Saturday was a bit cloudy and misty as rain clouds hovered around the circuit. The teams went on with their long runs at the start of the session ending with qualifying specification run at the end of the session. This time Button ended up at P1 continuing McLaren’s good form. Vettel was once again P2 with Webber at P3. SFI had a brilliant run in the session as Di Resta ended P6 & Hulkenberg at P7. Karthikeyan ended at P23 doing just 18 laps.


Clear battle on hands as McLaren continued their Austin form and Red Bull right behind them. Alonso & Ferrari were losing a lot here and the title hopes seemed like fading away. SFI looked pretty strong on Saturday with qualifying spec while on Friday they looked good on long runs pace. Karthikeyan had a better time after a troubled Austin weekend last weekend. The team had a clear strategy to run less, only they know the reason for that.


Qualifying, Q1:


The session began under tricky situation as it had rained a bit post the FP3 session and qualifying. Most of the big teams opted to stay inside the garages letting the lower teams and some midfield teams to put rubber on track. Hamilton ended P1, Senna P2 & Button P3. Both the SFI safely made it through as Grosjean bowed out along with Caterham, Marussia & HRT. Karthikeyan qualified at P24 just 0.123s off Pedro’s time.


Q2:


The track had dried out considerably by the second session as lot of rubber went on the track. It was all mediums tyres for teams running as they went for used set and the brand new one’s. Vettel took the fight ending at P1, Hamilton P2 & Button P3. Hulkenberg made it to Q3 with ease but Di Resta was bumped out after a late improvement from Massa. The Scot couldn’t improve on his last run.


Q3:


The final battle was on but it wasn’t between the two title contenders here as it was a fight among the McLaren’s and RBR for pole. Hamilton, Webber, Button, Vettel were trading fastest times but it was Hamilton in the to snatch pole, his last with McLaren as Button made it 1-2 for the team. Webber ended P3 beating his teammate Vettel. Alonso was down to P8 behind Hulkenberg who had a great run in the SFI.


Qualifying went as expected but not with regard to Vettel who was only P4. Even Alonso was beaten by his teammate. With Maldonado’s penalty Hulkenberg moved one place to P6 while Di Resta moved to P10. With the car suiting the track very well, the team for in for a good haul of points in the last race. Karthikeyan’s main aim was to finish the race in the HRT.


Raceday:


Here we were for the final race of the 2012 season, at one point I was all excited for the race but on the other hand it was all sadness with the season getting over. The weather made it a lot interesting start to the race as light drizzle made it difficult for drivers to drive. Hamilton led the field after the start as the RBR duo had a terrible start. More so for Vettel as he spun at the first corner and ended up to be last on lap 1 whereas Alonso went up to P3 behind the McLaren’s.  Hulkenberg had a great start as he was right behind Alonso while Di Resta was up to P7. Karthikeyan also went upwards as he was running around the P15 position.


As the rain picked up a bit, many teams went for the intermediates with only Button & Hulkenberg remaining on slick tyres. Before Hamilton’s pitstop Button had taken the lead after passing him. With Hulkenberg & Button still to pit, the gap between them and rest shot upto 70 seconds at one point but the SC period due to debris on track brought the field together again. Vettel was having a crazy race going up and down always, he also had a exhaust damage but the car seemed to be stable. Alonso meanwhile steadied his run in top 5. Towards the end of the field it was a tense battle between Marussia & Caterham for the 10 position in CC.


On lap 18 something special happened which one had never expected at least after yesterday. Yes, Hulkenberg was leading the race, Sahara Force India was leading the race. He passed Button with a great move on the start/finish line. He was lapping faster than the McLaren. Though his and Button’s advantage was cut down by the SC. Meanwhile, Di Resta went for the normal strategy but was still running well in points battling out with everyone around. Karthikeyan also managed to come in points but had to move down after pitstops.

Hulkenberg was leading the race well post the SC but a small mistake gave way to Hamilton as he became the new race leader. Few laps later Hulkenberg & Hamilton collided where Hamilton suffered a DNF while Hulkenberg managed to continue but was handed a drive through penalty diminishing his & the team’s chances of a possible win and podium finish. Button took the lead as Alonso moved to P2 and Massa right behind him at P3. Vettel was fighting hard at the back end of top 10 as he moved up places to P6, safe enough to give him his 3rd title. Pic & Petrov were in the battle of their own as the coveted P10 in CC became a title battle for them.


In the end it was Button who took the win, ironic that he started the season with a win and ended in the same way. Alonso ended at P2 with yet another faultless race and Massa at P3, adding 2nd podium of his season. Vettel ended at P6 which gave him his 3rd Driver’s title, making him the youngest triple world champion. Schumacher ended his career with a P7 points, scoring after 6 pointless races. Hulkenberg in his last race for SFI was on a fairytale run but in the end it was not to be as he ended P5. Di Resta summed up team’s unlucky season with a penultimate lap shunt suffering a DNF. The Di Resta’s shunt and Ricciardo’s late pitstop moved Petrov to P11 which secured Caterham’s P10 position in CC as Pic ended at P11. Have to say it was gutsy fight between the two teams. Karthikeyan ended at P18 and it was nice to see that both the HRT finished the race.


That was it form 2012 season, it was amazing to see that such a dramatic season got such a dramatic finish. I think both BR & Vettel deserved the titles and big congratulations to them. Force India ended with 109 points and at P7, it’s nice to see the team broke into the 3 figures club and also that they scored in every race in the second half something which only top teams managed to do. Karthikeyan finished in 12 races out of the 19 he raced and ahead of his teammate Pedro, we are yet to know about his future or the future of the team. This completes my weekend review blogs for this season, reviews and previews in the winter break. Until then have a safe time!!


24/11/2012

Brazilian GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 7th (1:13.206), di Resta 11th (1:14.121), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:19.576).

A decent qualifying session saw Nico Hulkenberg maximise the performance of the car to take 7th place. A deserved 7th place too as he had looked quick in every session up to that point.

As for Paul di Resta, he got quite unlucky. All through the weekend he's looked to have the upper hand on his teammate however he got held up on his quick lap in Q2 by Kobayashi. He only just missed out on Q3 - the Scottish driver will start P11, not too bad.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan took advantage of his teammate colliding with Grosjean to out-qualify his Spanish rival by a considerable margin. He'll be happy to start P23 in what could be his last Formula One race.

Brazilian GP - Practice Three Results

Results: di Resta 6th (1:13.486), Hulkenberg 7th (1:13.602), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:16.793).

The session started as expected for Sahara Force India with both cars solidly in the top 12. However, once the quicker tyres went on, and the track temperature dipped - our cars came alive! 6th & 7th for Paul and Nico respectively - that's pretty promising! Let's hope similar conditions are replicated in qualifying later today. Can the team score 26 points this weekend to leapfrog Sauber? It's looking more likely now compared to before!

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he was considerably behind his teammate. A gap of 0.595 seconds separated him and de la Rosa. That's a pretty big gap - maybe Narain had some issue in his car or made a mistake on his hot lap.

Looking forward to qualifying, things are looking particularly good for Sahara Force India :-)

23/11/2012

Brazilian GP - Practice Two Results

Results: di Resta 10th (1:15.129), Hulkenberg 11th (1:15.131), Karthikeyan 24th (1:18.139).

A solid session for the Sahara Force India boys as both Paul di Resta & Nico Hulkenberg got through their plans with no problems. It was very close between the two drivers at the end of the session; Paul just ahead by 0.002 seconds.

There appears to be a definite split on the grid this weekend in terms of relative pace between the 12 teams. It seems pretty clear that SFI will be in the top 12 places under normal conditions - but will rain cause havoc? It's Brazil - so probably!

Meanwhile HRT seem to have the mantra of reduced running to reduce costs. Narain Karthikeyan's quickest laptime is unrepresentative as he set it on the 2013 developmental tyres. All the Indian driver can hope to do is beat his teammate - we'll see if he can manage it tomorrow.

Brazilian GP - Practice One Results

Results: di Resta 8th (1:14.738), Hulkenberg 10th (1:15.050), Karthikeyan 24th (1:17.895).

A solid job by the Sahara Force India boys - 8th & 10th - they'll be pretty happy with that! It's worth noting that both drivers did their quickest lap on the 2013 developmental tyres. We'll have to wait until FP2 to get an idea as to where they stand on this years rubber.

Narain Karthikeyan was 0.217 seconds slower than teammate de la Rosa. Not a bad effort, but he will be hoping to close that gap in FP2.

We'll have a report after FP2, check back for that please! :-)

22/11/2012

US GP, Circuit Of The Americas- Slipping & sliding, yo!!!


Every car, driver was all over the pace on the track. It was quite slippery even on a Sunday and cars were sliding like anything. Though we cannot frown on that because this made the race far more interesting. The track itself is nice one, a certain driver’s favourite new track along with BIC. A brilliant wheel to wheel racing saw Hamilton winning it from Vettel and Alonso completing the podium. Hulkenberg gathered more points for SFI as Di Resta failed to get into points. Karthikeyan and HRT were relieved to finish off the race.


 Detailed review of the weekend right below:



Practice Sessions, FP1:


It was beautiful day in Austin as the car rolled out for the first time on the track. I was watching the session on TV, rare moment for us to watch practice sessions. The track looked great but it was too slippery and the commentators were right, they were driving as if they are driving on ice. With an extra set of tyres, every team ran lot of laps and also tried to get some rubber on track. Vettel ended P1 with Hamilton at P2 and Alonso at P3. SFI had a good start with Hulkenberg at P7 and Di Resta at P11. Karthikeyan sat out again for Ma, it’s very much evident that it is contractual agreement here.


FP2:


It was still sunny all the way in Austin, perfect weather for racing. Once again all the teams opted to run more in the new track as they did as much as 40 laps during the session. The track was still slippery with Turn 19 proving the toughest. Vettel did the least number of laps among top teams but it was enough for him to post P1 time, Webber at P2 and Alonso at P3. Though times suggested SFI had a poor time but it was actually long runs on high fuels and thus Hulkenberg ended P17 & Di Resta P18. Karthikeyan ended at P24 which was outside the 107% times as the HRT struggled a lot.


FP3:



The last session before the teams and drivers get the idea as to how to approach the new track with the slippery conditions. Here the teams did fair number of laps, pretty normal to what they do in FP3’s. Vettel continued to dominate as he finished at P1, Hamilton at P2 and a surprise entrant Maldonado at P3. SFI looked better than yesterday at least with the times as Hulkenberg ended P9 and Di Resta P16, still they had some work to do. Karthikeyan ended P24, once again out of 107%, a nervous time for them before qualifying.

Vettel was flying over COTA, sweeping off all the practice sessions. It was safe to say, he looked the best to clinch pole but only one who could have stopped him was Hamilton who equally looked good. SFI had tough task in their hands but I believed that we will have at least one car in Q3. Things looked downward for HRT but I felt that they will make the 107% cut and race.



Qualifying, Q1:


First ever qualifying session at COTA as cars took centerstage during Q1. Marussia & HRT were on their medium tyres straightaway while other went on hards though soon most of the teams changed to mediums quickly. Vettel topped the session with Hamilton at P2 & Webber at P3. The usual suspects along with Ricciardo bowed out with Rosberg just making the cut. And for the first time both Marussia’s out qualified both the Caterham’s. Both the SFI made it through. It was a good session for both HRT’s as they made it under the 107% time and qualified for the race. Karthikeyan ended P24.


Q2:


A serious session this as choosing tyres were important and choosing the right time to set the lap was more important. The track was improving by every lap and so the late runners did get that crucial extra seconds. Vettel topped again with Webber at P2 and Massa popping to P3. Hulkenberg made it through to Q3 with a good lap but Di Resta had to settle with P13 after his tyres somewhat went off by the end, he did some 5-6 laps on it.


Q3:


The final shootout and boy it was so close in the end between the two pole sitter contenders. Only 0.109 s separated Vettel & Hamilton but it was indeed Vettel to take pole. Webber ended at P3 and the championship contender pushed down to P9, not the ideal place to start. Hulkenberg qualified a well deserved P8 though he felt, he could have gone a touch faster.

Qualifying battle went on expected turns as Vettel clinched a close pole from Hamilton. Alonso stands to gain a position due to Grosjean’s penalty but was still far off from Vettel. Hulkenberg too gained a place to be P7. I was expecting one car in Q3 though once it looked like Di Resta will make the cut. It was a good turnaround in fortunes of HRT & Karthikeyan as they managed to qualify under the 107% time.

Raceday:


A beautiful day and an early start for the F1 teams from the normal times they do in other places. The crowd was already in and it was huge. There was drama already before the race as Ferrari broke the seal on Massa’s gearbox so that he gets a penalty and Alonso moves up one place starting on the clean side. It also moved Hulkenberg one place up. The start was hugely anticipated as all wanted to see how they would go into Turn 1 with steep elevation. In reality it was a smooth start for most as we didn’t any major incidents. Alonso made a good start as did Vettel who stayed in the lead. Hulkenberg jumped a place to be P5 after tussling his way with Kimi while Di Resta made a super start, jumping to P8. Karthikeyan too made a good start as he was running P21 after first lap.

Vettel maintained a good gap but Hamilton was fast catching up Webber eventually passing him and pushing Vettel like anything. Behind them towards the end of the top, it was all level playing field as at one point almost 8 cars were stacked together which made it quite interesting. On top of that a slippery track meant that a crash was around the corner anytime. After losing the qualifying battle, Caterham’s got ahead of Marussia’s during the race but it was close still as they battle it out for P10 in CC.

Hulkenberg made a steady start as he battled it out there with the Lotus of Grosjean at his back. He was at constant attack from both the Lotuses but he held on P5 for most part of the race until he had to pit and then lost places to both the Lotuses, Button & Massa. Di Resta meanwhile having got a good start was hanging on as he overtook Schumacher to move to P7 at one time. He did a routine pit stop and still was running in points but an unscheduled pit stop cost him time and point finish eventually damaging his race. Karthikeyan after having a good start fell behind but was lapping faster than his teammate though he didn’t manage to close the gap enough.

Vettel was under constant pressure towards the end from Hamilton and it eventually happened as Hamilton made the DRS move and got ahead of Vettel to take P1 and win the race. For next 12 laps or so it was all Vettel chasing but he had to settle in with P2 with Alonso ending at a distant P3 but this at least took the fight to Brazil as Vettel got 13 points lead over Alonso. Hulkenberg was under a huge pressure from Maldonado in the end as his tyres were going off but he managed to finish at P8 and bring some points home. Di Resta ended P15 fending off Schumi’s late surge, his second pitstop clearly ended his points chances. Karthikeyan finished at P21 but it was good to see him finishing the race and also Pedro after a difficult weekend they had.

With Austin over, we have come down to the last race of the season Brazil. The title battle still rages on with Vettel having got an upper hand but anything can happen. RBR clinched the CC championship trophy but Ferrari & McLaren still fighting for P2 while Sauber & Mercedes fight for P5. SFI will in all probability end at P7, they need 25 points (a win) to equal Sauber’s point (if they don’t finish in points) which a tough task. One stat to look, with Austin’s point finish they stretch their point scoring finishes to 8 races on the trot after the summer break. Brazil should be cracker with lots to play still, YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT. 



21/11/2012

What's happening this weekend?

It's the final race of the Formula One season - the title decider!

It may be a title decider from Alonso or Vettel's viewpoint, but for Sahara Force India the situation is much more clear cut.

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts)
6) Sauber (124)
7) Force India (99)
8) Williams (76)

25 points behind Sauber, 23 points ahead of Williams - unless their is a very spectacular race causing an unusual podium, things are unlikely to change. Having said that, we know Brazil always throws up an eventful race, never say never!

How did we get to this situation though? What happened at the last race? (Many of you will know already, but a promise of a race analysis was made on our facebook page).

USGP Results: Hulkenberg 8th (4 points), di Resta 15th, Karthikeyan 22nd.

Both Sahara Force India drivers had a similar races, albeit with very different outcomes. Once again, it was all about tyres. Nico Hulkenberg & Paul di Resta had cracking pace at the start of their stints - but as tyre life dropped away, performance dramatically dropped away - especially in comparison to other teams.

The good news for Nico was that by the time he experienced the drop-off in laptime, he had already built up a sufficient gap to those behind and so he was able to stay in the points. Good defensive driving once again from the German as he managed to hold off both Williams cars at the end of the race.

Meanwhile Paul di Resta had a spin down at the very tricky turn 19 which caused flat spots on the tyres. He would need to replace them. The extra pit-stop ruined his race really. The positive thing is that, apart from the spin, he extracted the maximum from the car - good effort.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he had an uneventful race really apart from one moment where he held up Vettel while being lapped. Not Narain's fault though (despite Sebastian's off-hand comments). The Indian driver was the last classified runner, as expected when missing a practice session on a brand new track, but at least he finished the race.

Review quotes here.

So back to the upcoming race, let's look at the drivers championship heading into the final event of the season:

Drivers championship (11th-16th)
11) Kamui Kobayashi (58 pts)
12) Nico Hulkenberg (53)
13) Paul di Resta (46)
14) Pastor Maldonado (45)
15) Michael Schumacher (43)
16) Bruno Senna (31)

It's pretty tight in the midfield and both Nico & Paul will be fighting to win the inter-team battle. It's still possible that they could finish 11th & 12th with a strong (but not unrealistic) result. What is worth mentioning is that just one point this weekend, for either driver, would help Sahara Force India get into triple figures for the season (100+ pts).

Drivers championship (19th-25th, all 0 pts)
19) Timo Glock (Best finish: 12th x1)
20) Heikki Kovalainen (Best finish: 13th x2)
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 x3)

For Narain, the situation is a little different as it basically comes down to luck. There's every chance he could still finish P12 in the championship, it would just require a lot of retirements. What is interesting at HRT is that although Pedro has probably had a pace advantage this season, Narain is ahead in the championship - that's crucial!

It's the final race of the season - so make sure you enjoy it! It's the last time we'll see Nico racing for Sahara Force India (well, probably anyway - he could move back in the future at some point) and it's possibly the last time we'll see Narain Karthikeyan in F1 - and an Indian driver for that matter. Savour the feeling while you can!

18/11/2012

United States GP - Race Results

Results: Hulkenberg 8th (4 points), di Resta 15th, Karthikeyan 22nd.

An okay race for Sahara Force India today, four points scored by Nico Hulkenberg - a good effort after struggling with tyre wear towards the end of his first stint.

It was the same story for Paul too, quick in the early stages but dropping off the pace dramatically before his first pit stop. On his second set of tyres, the Scottish driver made an error at turn 19, resulting in a flat spot, meaning that he needed to pit once more.

We'll have full points analysis later, but it now seems almost certain the team will finish P7 in the title battle.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he was the last classified runner, as expected. Missing FP1 really hurt him this weekend - i can't imagine he'll be happy at his team.

More analysis later!

United States GP - Pre-Race Analysis

Grid Order: Hulkenberg 6th, di Resta 13th, Karthikeyan 24th.

The cars haven't even taken to the track yet and it's already been an eventful morning!

Having qualified in 8th place, Nico Hulkenberg was due to start 7th after a 5-place grid penalty for Romain Grosjean due to a gearbox change. However, this morning, Ferrari have changed Felipe Massa's gearbox to move Fernando Alonso up a place and get the Spanish driver onto the clean side of the grid. This means that Nico will line up in 6th place!

Actually, it could even become 5th if Red Bull decide to react and change Webber's gearbox to put Alonso back on the dirtier, slower side of the grid. That's unlikely, but possible.

Anyhow, Nico is provisionally starting 6th. The big question is, will there be a crash in the first corner as nearly everyone is expecting. If there is a crash, we really need to hope it's at the front. Starting from 6th place is very promising - a podium could be on the cards if other drivers ahead have issues. It could be crucial in the championship battle with Sauber.

Meanwhile Paul di Resta will start 13th. He'll be trying to brake into the points at the start of the race - he is on the clean side of the grid. Experts estimate that guys on the clean side should gain two places at the start which could be interesting. The Scottish driver must be cautious though, especially with Grosjean & Maldonado due to start 8th & 9th respectively.

Either way, it should be an exciting race for Sahara Force India. Their race pace has been competitive all weekend, even if one-lap pace has been quite erratic. It's very tough to predict what will happen really - but i'm sensing we'll either have a great result or an awful result!

As for Narain Karthikeyan, there's not an awful lot to say about him. He starts last - in the slowest car. Even beating his teammate this weekend is probably out of the question because the Indian missed FP1. Usually it wouldn't be such an issue but as this circuit is brand new - Narain had no prior knowledge; missing that 90 minute session on Friday is crucial. Let's hope he can make the checkered flag though :-)

Post-qualifying quotes are here, enjoy the race guys!!

17/11/2012

United States GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 8th (will start 7th)(1:37.141), di Resta 13th (1:37.665), Karthikeyan 24th (1:42.740).

A good session for Sahara Force India when it counts, 8th & 13th - they'll be happy with that! Actually, Nico Hulkenberg will start 7th due to a grid penalty for Grosjean. A big haul of points could be on the cards tomorrow!

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he had some sort of mechanical failure during Q1 and didn't finish the session. P24 for him.

Analysis later!

United States GP - Practice Three Results

Results: Hulkenberg 9th (1:37.495), di Resta 16th (1:38.653), Karthikeyan (1:44.043).

An eventful session saw mixed results for the Sahara Force India team, Nico Hulkenberg came 9th whereas Paul di Resta was 16th. The difference between the two drivers was that Paul got held up on his quick lap by traffic. He can be as quick as Nico though.

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan drove very well. To be within 0.480 seconds of his teammate after missing FP1 on a brand new circuit is a great effort!

"Cautiously hopeful" would sum up my mood ahead of qualifying. Of course we'll have results & analysis when the results are in :-)

16/11/2012

United States GP - Practice Two Results

Results: Hulkenberg 17th (1:40.700), di Resta 18th (1:41.430), Karthikeyan 24th (1:45.114).

Not the best session in terms of positions for Sahara Force India, but let's remember that we don't know the fuel loads at this stage. However to go from 7th & 11th in FP1 to 17th & 18th in FP2 is a little strange. Hopefully FP3 tomorrow gives us more information!

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he had a brilliant session - despite being 0.661 seconds slower than teammate de la Rosa. To be honest, considering he missed FP1, on a brand new circuit - he'll do well to be within half a second of da la Rosa this weekend.

I have to say, it's poor management by HRT to not let one of their main drivers take part in FP1 on a brand new circuit. Perhaps they get a tonne of money for letting Ma take part though.

We'll have an analysis article sometime tomorrow before FP3!

United States GP - Practice One Results

Results: Hulkenberg 7th (1:41.023), di Resta 11th (1:41.783).

A hugely eventful first ever session on the circuit of the Amercias due to the teams having extra tyres and drivers desperately needing to learn the circuit.

We saw many spins and errors from all drivers as everybody struggled for grip. Both Sahara Force India's had a decent session though, they'll be happy with 7th & 11th. The fuel loads for each team will be very different this weekend in practice as they have no historic data to use - so the laptimes/positions we're seeing may not be representative.

Interestingly, the Sauber's were 8th & 10th - i'm sensing a good battle between them and SFI this weekend.

We'll be back for FP2 when Narain will be back in his HRT also.

08/11/2012

FPC, ROC & SFI

Yep, we're full of abbreviations today! It's been quite a week for Indian Motorsport, here's the latest news:

Formula Pilota China
The series raced last weekend (at the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia), the results were as follows for our drivers:

Race One Result: Bharath 2nd, Ghorpade 5th.
Race Two Result: Bharath 2nd, Ghorpade 9th.
Race Three Result: Ghorpade 3rd, Bharath 6th.

A good weekend in terms of Indian participation with a podium in each race! In fact, it was Raj Bharath's most successful weekend in the championship to date - great effort! Parth Ghorpade probably will be a little disappointed with his results in the first two races, but perhaps the podium in race three made up for it.

Championship standings:

Drivers' championship (1st-7th):
1) Antonio Giovinazzi (193 pts)
2) Dan Wells (153)
3) Parth Ghorpade (130)
4) Ren Nagabuchi (111)
5) Sean Gelael (104)
6) Raj Bharath (89)
7) Shota Kiyohara (74)

Best Asian driver trophy (1st-5th):
1) Parth Ghorpade (169 pts)
2) Sean Gelael (155)
3) Ren Nagabuchi (149)
4) Raj Bharath (130)
5) Shota Kiyohara (79)

Teams' championship (3rd-5th):
3) KCMG (187 pts)
4) Meco Motorsport (87)
5) Meritus GP (26)

3rd & 6th overall in standings for Parth & Raj (which translates to 1st & 4th from the Asian drivers) - they are solid positions! Meco motorsport (Raj's team, who are an Indian team) remain in a comfortable 4th place in the teams' championship. There are three races to go - all of which are again at Sepang, Malaysia.

Race Of Champions
The big news this week was that for the first time ever, Team India will be entering the race of champions! Needless to say that our drivers will be Karun Chandhok & Narain Karthikeyan. I'm not going to go into explaining the format of the event, but if you'd like to learn more - check out the event's pretty impressive website here.

(Karun & Narain during the Team India announcement)

Karun Chandhok (Team India)
"I'm very excited about going to the Race of Champions this year! It's fantastic that the organisers have decided to have an Indian team and Narain and I had the dates free to do it. The event looks like a lot of fun while obviously being very competitive. The concept of ROC Asia is very interesting - we have seen in the last 10 years how motor sport has been shifting to this end of the world more and more and it's great that Fredrik and his team at ROC have embraced this. Narain and I haven't been in the same team since 2004 when neither of us was an F1 driver. A lot has changed in life since then and it should be a lot of fun to work together again. ROC has always attracted some of the biggest names in world motor sport including Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher and Mick Doohan and it will be nice to spend time with all these guys as well".

Narain Karthikeyan (Team India)
"It's really cool to receive an invitation to participate in the Race of Champions. What a fantastic honour it is as well. The competition is the strongest in the world, with only the best of the best from many different forms of motor sport all competing against each other. The added benefit of representing your country is a real privilege, and one which I have done before in my career, so I know how special that feels. Karun and I are definitely going to enjoy ourselves, racing against our peers in some pretty cool machinery, but we will also be gunning for victory, and with a bit of luck, we will bring glory to our nation".

Sahara Force India 
Meanwhile at Sahara Force India: the team have decided to focus on staying ahead of Williams rather than catching Sauber. Plus Paul di Resta has stated he is ready to lead the team, if required.That's all for now, we should have more updates in the coming days - keep up-to-date on our facebook page here.

07/11/2012

2012 Formula 1 Airtel Indian GP- My experience with Monster India, Marussia & Paddock life


Was it a dream? I asked myself as I landed back to home. It was all like a dream, isn’t it? Just 4 days before a GP, you are said that you will be in the paddock, in the garage and checking out F1 from inside is nothing like reality. But it was for me in the end, a serious dream come true and one which I cannot forget for my entire life. A lot has to said about Monster India, Marussia F1 Team for creating such opportunity for us fans.


Barely 2 hours before the entry closure time, I entered myself via Monster India’s Facebook app & Twitter, am glad it was just in time. The next part was receiving the shortlisting call & then the telephonic interview which is my first ever interview of this sort. I did my best there and actually was surprised that results went my way, I didn’t believe and I was like, “Is it really happening? Did I really win something?” It was unreal and was seriously overjoyed with what was happening.


The next thing, pack my bags get everything in place for my going to be awesome trip. I had to miss the Friday sessions as I was due to meet everyone at Monster India office. It was great to meet everyone there, everyone were friendly of course and welcomed me well. I also met up with Mr. Sanjay Modi the MD of Monster India, I can only imagine meeting such big personalities but it was happening. I was briefed about what to expect and what to do, gearing up for the important day.


I reached the track fairly early on Saturday for FP3 session from the Main Grandstand. The view was super as podium was diagonal to my seat and the garages of SFI & Lotus in front. I actually wanted that the session get over quickly so that I get inside and begin with my work. Thankfully, it got over early not literally of course. I met up with one of the Marussia PR at the paddock entrance gate and an unexpected way greeted me. It was actually a tunnel underground way from grandstand to paddock which I can term as “Tunnel to heaven”, pretty cool way. I was greeted with Martin Brundle standing at the check-in gate and Bob Fernley inside the paddock.


I went in straight to the Marussia’s garage and hospitality meeting Graeme Lowdon, Marussia’s President & Sporting Director. And then went out to explore the paddock area. The first person I meet, Mr. Sameer Gaur the man behind BIC or F1 in India. It was a good small chat with him with F1 in India. As I moved on, I heard 80’s Bollywood song coming out from Mercedes garage and I asked them if they understood something, their reply, “No but it’s actually fun listening and perhaps shaking some legs on it”, that’s how one enjoys. McLaren mechanics were cleaning some car parts which seemed like hair dresser and when I said this to them, they just burst out in laughter. I was tweeting as well most of it if anyone had checked.


After a brief time checking out the place and meeting Geido, Bottas, Max (Caterham, Williams & Marussia reserve driver respectively), I went straight into the garage for the qualifying session. The mechanics were working on the car quite frantically as Timo & Charles came in and quickly settled in their car. I was standing behind Charles car’s, wearing those fancy headgears listening to the talk between Charles and his engineer. The mechanics keep on working even after the car leaves, cleaning the whole area quickly which shows how important every persons work is. I have only heard about the heat inside the garage but seriously I could feel it specially when the car came in, it was too hot. Hats off to the mechanics who just have to work on.


For a brief moment got myself on FOM or garage TV as the cameraman came in for Charles in the garage posy qualifying. After that I left the garage to cover Charles & Timo’s interview as I saw the “Media Pin/Pen” from up close. For a brief moment I came in to change to the Marussia shirt as I went back to the media area where I met almost all the drivers in the grid. Due to time shortage, it was only hi & hello and short thank you. But standing in front of them in itself was the thing for me. Not to mention that I almost bumped into Perez. In all the media huddle, there was one Lotus man cleaning Grosjean’s tyres, chatted a bit about his experiences and how is to work in F1. He answered duly and was a very nice person. After that it was time for my garage tour of Marussia, I got the in hand view of all corners of the garage and even saw the parts of the cars which I have only seen on TV or in pictures.


It was then time for me to sit down with Graeme Lowdon to have a brief chat. I must say, he is quite a passionate man and wants to succeed, do well with his team. We talked upon various things including India, BIC where he insisted that they would not want to lose India as a potential market plus the fantastic track which already becoming one of the best in the world. We also touched upon Marussia’s progress, specially them being at P10 position in CC and for the first time defending their position rather than fighting for it. He mentioned that though we can say Charles is by far the best rookie on the grid beating his teammate but Timo has helped him a lot throughout the year. It was said to be a 20 minutes talk but it stretched well beyond to about 40 minutes in the end.


After that my day was somewhat over but with some friends over at SFI and Marussia’s permission, I toured the SFI garage. It was surreal to be there. There I met Jules Bianchi, SFI reserve driver who had come in after running the track. As I walked towards the Marussia hospitality, I saw Dr.Mallya, Bob Fernley & Monisha chatting as Kamui was watching from above the Sauber hospitality. I caught with Dr. Mallya for few minutes as he went in the SFI hospitality. By that time it was end of the day for me as I went back to Marussia hospitality and then back to the gate again. A day well spent with Marussia, learning, experiencing and meeting the people whom we have only seen on TV.


The following day, it was all about enjoying and that’s why I went in early morning and spent some time in F1 Village with my friends. I headed to the grandstand then as I watched the pre-race preparation and grid presentation. From there I saw Harbhajan Singh, Ajay Devgn, Sonaskshi Sinha, Sania Mirza, Shoaib Malik, Mohd Azharuddin, Vicky Chandhok, Dr. Mallya, Bernie Ecclestone, Nikki Lauda, Martin Whitmartish, Nobert Haug, Christian Horner and all the drivers of course. The drivers parade was different from last year as this time it was done in the huge truck. The install lap was done as the cars headed to start/finish line and it was like everyone from pit garage was there. I also got the in had view of the mayhem when formation lap starts.


Alonso seemed the clear favourite of many as he got the loudest cheers post race during podium. It was nice to see Vicky sir giving away the trophy. Post race I decided to wait and beat the traffic and perhaps it was good idea as I got to see what happens post a race is over. The teams quickly started to demolish the garage and put everything inside. FIA were checking all the cars one by one as Hulk’s was kept in a different room, perhaps being checked for fuel. I was seeing how they do it. Sam Micheal & Andy Stevenson were there standing and chatting. By that time, it was time for RBR team photograph but unfortunately it was going on, on our side and so I couldn’t see. But I did get to see BBC & Sky people and even Vettel, Marko.


I even saw some of Jake & David’s dancing as they were getting ready for BBC Forum which am sure not many will be able to see. At least they waved to the handful of people there. The track looked stunning in the night. Once again I was one of the few left to leave the track, of course spectator wise. All in all it was one hell of a weekend for me. I mean, not everyday we can get into the paddock or garage and watch things up close. I feel a proud fan in the end and believe that I should be there one day working, my next dream. And dreams do come true.


Check my videos: 
https://www.youtube.com/user/Darckoni12/videos?flow=grid&view=0
Check some of my pictures: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2203245633076.2106231.1005400801&type=1


05/11/2012

Abu Dhabi GP, Yas Marina- All out action from start to end


This season the boring tracks are proving to be producing great races than the tracks where better racing is expected. So much action, drama from the start of the race to the end. And for the first time this season Kimi & Lotus won a race while Alonso ended P2 & Vettel starting from pitlane finished P3. SFI had a tough race as Nico suffered a DNF while Di Resta ended P9. Karthikeyan fell victim to Rosberg’s huge shunt suffering a DNF.



 Practice Sessions, FP1:


Back to back weekends is tough for everyone and even more when both places are tough with heat. One more factor here is that it is twilight race and so the FP1 & FP3 is of little use as the temperatures then and in the evening is very different. The programme was usual for the teams though and Hamilton took the session’s honours ending P1 with Button making it 1-2 and Vettel at P3. Di Resta sat out for Bianchi, perhaps for one last time this season. Hulkenberg ended P12 while Bianchi at P15 who said he felt a lot better in the car from all his previous running. Karthikeyan sat out as well for Ma, continuing his sitting out trend.


FP2:


The setting sun was providing picturesque scene at Abu Dhabi and the cooling temperature was showing some other picture as few team started to struggle a bit or what it seemed like. Vettel got ahead this time ending P1 with Hamilton at P2 & Button at P3. Di Resta & Karthikeyan both were back running in the session. Hulkenberg ended P13 while Di Resta ended P15, both seemed to struggle a bit in cooling track temperature and said they need some work overnight to find some pace. Karthikeyan was not having a great time either, ending P24 and him driving for first time, he felt the track was difficult to learn.


FP3:


Another sunny afternoon welcomed the team as team focussed more on qualifying runs and finalize the set up for raceday. Hamilton stamped his authority once again ending P1 with Button making another 1-2. Vettel with limited running clocked P3 time on his final lap. SFI looked much better in this session as Hulkenberg ended P5 & Di Resta P10. Though I felt, the hot temperature had something to do with it. Karthikeyan once again had an OK session as he ended P24, he sure was having a tough time.


The three sessions only showed two teams fighting out in front with RBR & McLaren taking centerstage. Ferrari were off pace as expected, not the best sign as Alonso fights with Vette; for championship. SFI had a mixed running and weren’t looked that great but same was happening with their nearest rivals. The cooling temperatures were troubling the team a bit. Karthikeyan underestimated the technicality of the track as he struggled a bit to learn the track.


Qualifying, Q1:


It was twilight time and the scene was stunning, always find cars under lights awesome. Teams started with their qualifying runs and results was somewhat known. Don’t tell me one gets surprised by the results. Hamilton ended P1, Rosberg P2 & Webber P3 as both SFI made it to Q2 with ease. Caterham , Marussia & HRT along with Vergne were out as Pic beat one Caterham to have his best quali run. Karthikeyan was having a tough time as he ended P24.


Q2:


A tough session for the mid field teams with only Maldonado from the mid field batch making it to the top 10. Hamilton ended P1 with a stonker of a lap, Webber at P2 & Vettel at P3. SFI looked good but they didn’t have that enough pace to make it to Q3 as Hulkenberg ended P11 & Di Resta P13, they looked far better than what it was looking on Friday.


Q3:


It was one man to beat situation as Hamilton was like cruising to pole position as Vettel seemed to have less pace from yesterday. It might be something to do with limited running in FP3. It was Hamilton in the end as he got on pole with Webber at P2 & Vettel at P3. Surprisingly Maldonado ended P4 ahead of Kimi & Alonso which was significant.


The championship battle got to another twist when after qualifying Vettel was DSQ due to not enough fuel in his car, he was to start from pitlane. With Alonso at P6 and Vettel effectively from way behind, thing doesn’t get better. For SFI, it was one thing only score points and more than what Sauber will. Hulkenberg moved to P10 while Di Resta P11 and Karthikeyan to P23 who would want to finish the race.


Raceday:


After Singapore, this is one race which looks super on TV. It is unique from Singapore with it being twilight rather than whole night race. Abu Dhabi being a slow track and low on overtaking front provides less dramatic races but everything changed in 2012. Even before the start of GP, the interesting build up had started with Vettel starting from pitlane after being DSQ from qualifying. Coming to the race, the start was fine for Hamilton but it was a super start for Kimi who moved ahead of slow starter Webber & got past Maldonado easily. Behind them the Sauber’s made a good progress but two SFI’s had a terrible start with Hulkenberg suffering a DNF & Di Resta a puncture sending him right at the back of the field. Karthikeyan made a stedy start moving ahead of the Marussia’s.



Vettel was making some good progress from behind but it wasn’t easy. In the process he damaged his front wing but carried on. Up ahead, Hamilton took some lead over Kimi as Webber fought with Maldonado & Alonso but losing out in the end. He lower half had interesting battles with Schumacher, Sauber’s, Toro Rosso’s fighting for championship points. Even the Caterham’s & Marussia’s were in a big fight. Karthikeyan’s hydraulic problem slowed him and caught Rosberg unaware as he crashed heavily with him calling out the first SC. It was a huge shunt but both drivers were safe in the end. Vettel after making ground had to get back after he hit the DRS board further damaging his front wing.

It was actually both SFI coming together which resulted in Hulk’s DNF & Di Resta’s puncture. It is only second DNF for Hulk while third for the team. Di Resta was dead last and was making ground alongside Grosjean and Vettel for a brief moment. He did well to get back into points after two early stops. The SC helped him quite a lot there but he had some good pace to hang in there. He had a great fight with Grosjean, Perez but he overtook Grosjean and kept Perez at bay to move to P5. The second SC compromised a bit as he had to pit and go back to P11 and somewhat start again.


Towards the end of the race, the 4 world champions were giving us some great action. Kimi was just driving a faultless race and clearly he didn’t any help. Alonso started pushing as he started lapping faster than Kimi. Vettel finally managed to overtake Button to reach to P3, that was some drive. In the end Kimi took his first comeback win and the 8th different winner this season with Lotus becoming 6th different winner. Alonso ended P2 salvaging 3 points from Vettel as he finished P3 after starting from pitlane and twice coming from behind, keeping 10 points lead over Alonso. Di Resta ended P9 after overtaking the Toro Rosso’s and came close to overtake Senna. He too had to comeback from behind and to score points in this way, even 2 means like 20.


The championship battle heats up as Vettel still maintain a good lead, the next two races will be fantastic, any mistake from either team/driver, it’s over for them. There’s team battling in CC as  29 points gap to Sauber while 22 with Williams, it is safe to say that there P7 position is somewhat safe but anything and everything can happen. Also, they need 5 points to score 100 points in a season which will be first time for them. Next up after two weeks gap is Austin GP (or US GP), a new track for all which makes it difficult and interesting. It has been hectic weekends for teams, drivers and even me. Till US GP, everyone stay safe.


04/11/2012

Sunday Analysis

Formula One
Race Results: di Resta 9th (2 points), Karthikeyan DNF, Hulkenberg DNF.

An highly eventful race saw chaos before the cars even left the grid. Narain Karthikeyan's teammate, Pedro de la Rosa, who had out-qualified the Indian, had a big problem. There is a time limit before the start of the race where mechanics have to get off the grid so cars can begin the formation lap. The HRT mechanics were leaving it late to get off the grid and when a tyre blanket got stuck on the back of Pedro's car, they didn't have time to fully remove it. This meant that Pedro couldn't start the formation lap and therefore he had to begin the race from the pitlane. Essentially, Narain would start ahead.

Sadly for Narain though, he wouldn't finish the race. A hydraulic issue caused the steering to lock - pretty scary stuff. Due to this, Narain lifted off the power. Sadly, at the same time, Nico Rosberg came up behind him and the German couldn't avoid the slowing HRT. A big shunt was the result - even scarier stuff as Narain was almost decapitated! Thankfully, both drivers would walk away uninjured.

Meanwhile it was a crazy start to the race for Sahara Force India. Four cars were fighting for the same piece of track down into turn one so inevitably there was a collision. Sadly, the collision meant that after lap one Nico Hulkenberg was out of the race, and Paul di Resta was 23rd after a pit-stop to repair some damage (a right rear puncture).

10 laps into the event, when the safety car came out for Narain's crash, Paul decided to take a risk and pit. It would mean doing 45 laps on one set of tyres! Would it work? We'll never know as Paul took the opportunity to pit one more time under a second safety car. It was a very tough day for the strategy guys - and as it turns out, the SFI team did a great job - from 23rd to 9th, wonderful effort! Great driving by Paul to score points too as he has been pretty unlucky lately.

Review quotes here.

What does this mean for the championships?

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts) (+0)
6) Sauber (124) (+8)
7) Force India (95) (+2)
8) Williams (73) (+14)
Note: numbers in green represent the points scored this weekend.

For P6:
Pre-Abu Dhabi: an average of 7.67 points more than Sauber needed each race.
Post-Abu Dhabi: an average of 14.5 points more than Sauber needed each race.

14.5 per race is A LOT! It's looking increasingly unlikely that we will achieve P6 - but the team will never give up. All it takes is one good result; say P4 & P5 (which would be 22 points) and we're right back in contention. If the team are going to get a podium this season though, it would be of much benefit if it happened at the next race in Austin!

Drivers championship (11th-16th)
11) Kamui Kobayashi (58 pts)
12) Nico Hulkenberg (49)
13) Paul di Resta (46)
14) Michael Schumacher (43)
15) Pastor Maldonado (43)
16) Bruno Senna (30)

This result means Paul has closed to within three points of Nico - pretty sure this battle is going down to the wire!

Drivers championship (19th-25th, all 0 pts)
19) Timo Glock (Best finish: 12th x1)
20) Heikki Kovalainen (Best finish: 13th x2)
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 x3)

Narain Karthikeyan will still be hoping to jump ahead of Pic in the championship, but it relies mainly on the cars ahead having reliability issues.

Formula Pilota China
We're waiting on the series organisers to publish full results, when we have them, we'll share them.

Abu Dhabi GP - Race Results

Results: di Resta 9th (2 points), Karthikeyan DNF, Hulkenberg DNF.

A very eventful race saw Sahara Force India come away with two points despite an absolutely horrible start.

Nico Hulkenberg tapped teammate di Resta down into turn one on the opening lap which would put the German out of the race. It didn't look like Nico's fault really though, four cars were all battling for the same piece of track - contact was always going to happen.

After the opening lap, Nico was out, di Resta was in 23rd after damage from the Nico collision & a pit stop.

There were then various spins, incidents & crashes which Paul managed to benefit from to take 9th place - a good drive from him!

One of the crashes was a HUGE shunt between Nico Rosberg & Narain Karthikeyan. Nico's Mercedes flew over the top of the HRT, thankfully both drivers were okay.

Full analysis later!

03/11/2012

Saturday Analysis

FP3 Results: Hulkenberg 5th (1:42.750), di Resta 10th (1:43.338), Karthikeyan 24th (1:47.032).
Qualifying Results: Hulkenberg 11th (1:42.019)(will start 10th), di Resta 13th (1:42.218)(will start 12th), Karthikeyan 24th (1:46.382)(will start 23rd).

The promise of the morning session was not built upon as both Sahara Force India drivers struggled to reach those heights once again in qualifying. So the question is; what happened between the two sessions?

It would be easy to blame a drop in track temperature (it reduced by 9-10 degrees between sessions) however it's my opinion that our cars were light on fuel during FP3.

11th & 13th were not what the team were hoping for, they expected to have at least one car in Q3, however, actually, it's not too bad. Our main rivals, Sauber, qualified 12th & 16th - so we are starting ahead of them. Note: due to a penalty for Vettel, everyone is bumped up one position on the grid. This means that the Sahara Force India cars will start P10 & P12.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he really struggled to be honest. A massive 0.616 seconds slower than teammate de la Rosa. Post-qualifying the Indian driver stated he wasn't yet comfortable on the circuit - perhaps missing FP1 in Abu Dhabi left him too much work to catch up on.

It should be an exciting race tomorrow, especially with track temperatures set to drop dramatically as the race progresses. We wish all our drivers the very best of luck!

For those wondering about Formula Pilota China, we'll review it tomorrow! :-)

Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit- Drive to the limit


The second Indian Grand Prix and my second LIVE race from the stands. Yes, this time again I went for the race but this time it was a whole new experience for me which I’ll share in Part 2 of the review. The race however wasn’t the best of the season but we heard the sentiments that driver’s loved it as they could push to the limit without tyre wear fear. Vettel took the honours once again with gritty Alonso at P2 & Webber at P3.


Here is the detailed review of the weekend:



Practice Sessions, FP1:


Although I didn’t see this session as I was travelling and at the Monster India office, I did keep a check on results. The weather expectedly was dry with teams focusing on working on tyre performance. As everyone expected , it was quite dusty though much better than last year. The track surface being smooth allowed the drivers to push and go a bit aggressive. Vettel ended at P1 with Button at P2 & Alonso at P3. SFI had a bit off time as Paul finished P12 & Hulk driving for the first time finished P14. Karthikeyan was looking good as he ended at P22, lots of eyes on him.



FP2:


The track evolved quite a lot since the morning session, the support races also helped a bit. This session we saw quite a lot of off the track moments. It being slightly technical & demanding track, one small mistake will cost drivers dearly. Vettel took charge again ending P1 with Webber making it RBR’s 1-2 & Alonso ending P3.  SFI looked in a better shape since morning as Hulk ended P8 & Di Resta P11 though they still had some work to do overnight. Karthikeyan ended P23, was troubled a bit with brake problems.



FP3:


This was my first session from the grandstand and I must it was a lot different from last year’s stand. Although grandstand gives you only straight line view but the pit garage view and what is happening there is something different. The track was quite better by now with lot of rubber as team prepared for qualifying set up. Vettel once again stepped on his mark to finish P1, Button P2 & Webber P3. Hulk ended P8 continuing a good work but Di Resta looked bad with speed ending only P14. Karthikeyan beat his teammate to end P23.


It was clear that RBR were the only team to beat with McLaren giving some charge. Ferrari were all they could do to catch up RBR. SFI looked a bit ordinary but then they were still there with the mid-field teams and scoring points was the main objective. Karthikeyan in his home race would have loved to beat his team mate and perhaps the Marussia’s.



Qualifying, Q1:


This session I was watching from the Marussia garage and could see a lot of things as to what goes behind. I will share about few things in the Part 2. Coming to the action, expectedly the new three teams and along with them Vergne bowed out. Both the SFI duo made the cut as Maldonado ended P1, Vettel P2 & Rosberg P3. Karthikeyan ended at P23 beating one of the Marussia but he couldn’t beat his team mate.



Q2:


I’ll be honest, I wasn’t seeing the action live as I had to rush out of the garage to cover Timo & Pic in the media pin/pen. Again, I kept a check on the times and results. Vettel ended P1 once again, Button at P2 & Webber at P3. It was an unfortunate end to SFI’s qualifying as both the drivers missed out. Both said, they did what they could and lost out somewhat with pace. Hulk was to start P12 & Di Resta at P16. Seriously, Di Resta’s car was looking in a bad shape.



Q3:


Again I didn’t see the session but it seems it was good session as times at the front were pretty close. Vettel took pole position for the second time in a row at BIC with Webber only came pretty close to challenging him at P2. Hamilton rounded off at P3, his time looked pretty good as well. Once again Mercedes chose not to run as Alonso only managed to be at P5.


The qualifying was straight forward as RBR were the main to beat, drivers came close but it was not enough and tomorrow’s race was crucial for Vettel & Alonso, at that time it was all looking good for Vettel. SFI had a disappointing day but it was looking that way since start, the teams around have similar pace and so it was going to be a tough fight any case. Karthikeyan was going up & down since FP1 but pace wise looked good for the race.



Raceday:


After a good day for me, I was back at the circuit for the final day and watching live from the main grandstand and also catch all those off track moments happening in the pits, parades and grid presentation. The weather was fine, there was some sort of mist in the air which is normal for us but maybe not for the people from outside India. Any ways, one thing I would clarify here is as I watched from the stands and so I may miss some action that happened elsewhere on the track, will try to cover as much as I can.


At the start, Vettel took a good with Webber covering him but behind them the two McLaren’s & Alonso were in a fight among themselves. I saw that on circuit TV and it looked superb from the 3 of them, Alonso coming out ahead cleanly. Behind them no big movement apart from Hulk who got ahead to be at P9, I suppose but Di Resta didn’t gain much as he was at P14. Schumacher & Vergne pitted at the end of lap 1. Karthikeyan had a good start overtaking few cars but lost out by the end of the lap.


At mid point, it was fairly laid out battle ahead as Vettel was miles ahead for Alonso to ctach. But Webber’s KERS failure helped Alonso to overtake him in a brilliant move to get into P2. Elsewhere Massa was being chased by Kimi for P6, while as Webber lost ground Hamilton picked up to try and overtake him. There was good mid field battles on as well between Williams, Sauber & Mercedes. Petrov was winning from Heikki, the Marussia’s & the sole remaining HRT of Karthikeyan.


Both SFI made a steady start but it was Hulkenberg who was charging ahead in the field with Di Resta matching the pace of his rivals but not getting the extra pace to move ahead. Hulkeberg overtook Rosberg & Perez and was running at P8 for majority of the race; He was defending well from Grosjean again. While Di Resta lost out as his car didn’t have much pace, he was running at P12 behind Rosberg & Senna battle. Karthikeyan gained a place with Pedro’s DNF but his car was also suffering a bit from the brake problem, the team has been having it for a while now but he was still there running and catching up with Marussia’s.


In the end Vettel was too far off from Alonso for him to catch and he took his second victory at BIC. Alonso drove a gritty race to end P2 while Webber salvaged P3 after KERS problems. Hulkenberg ended P8, defending well from Grosjean while Di Resta had to content with P12. Karthikeyan ended P21, wasn’t what he had wanted after P17 last year but considering the pace he did a good job. It was also nice to see that drivers were driving to the limit as the Pirelli’s didn’t degrade quickly and this was a welcome change for drivers & teams.


The battle is wide open now as Vettel takes some lead, Alonso still has a chance. The coming 3 races is going to be super and no one can miss it. Also, interesting battle in CC for mid field teams as Force India scores again, making 6 races in a row. They are now 7 points away from having 100 points in a season, a new record for them. 23 points away from Sauber which means they need to outscore Sauber well in the coming races which is not impossible but tough. Whatever it is, we are in for an exciting finish. We are already in the weekend for Abu Dhabi GP. I would like to apologise for delayed report as I was busy with something. I’ll be blogging about my whole experience in another blog which will be up in few days time.

Abu Dhabi GP - Qualifying Results

Results: Hulkenberg 11th (1:42.019), di Resta 13th (1:42.218), Karthikeyan 24th (1:46.382).

An okay qualifying session for Sahara Force India. They'll be disappointed with no car in Q3, but given that Lotus have picked up the pace, and that Maldonado did an impressive lap - it's understandable. The crucial thing is that our cars did out-qualify championship rivals Sauber.

Paul di Resta was 0.199 seconds slower than his teammate - after qualifying he told SkySportsF1 that it's probably due to missing FP1.

Speaking of missing FP1, Narain Karthikeyan again struggled to match his teammate for the very same reason. The Indian was 0.616 seconds off P23.

Analysis later!

Note: Vettel & Grosjean are both under investigation - could change the grid positions for Sahara Force India yet.

Abu Dhabi GP - Practice Three Results

Results: Hulkenberg 5th (1:42.750), di Resta 10th (1:43.338), Karthikeyan 24th (1:47.032).

After yesterday's sessions, several members of the Sahara Force India team stated that they needed to do a lot of work to catch up on those ahead. Whatever they have done has worked brilliantly as both cars have seemingly transformed from midfield runners to upper-midfield runners.

Nico Hulkenberg did a cracking lap to finish P5 overall, making SFI the quickest team after McLaren & Red Bull. As for Paul di Resta, he didn't manage to get a clear lap in, however his best sector times (on separate laps) indicate he can go just as quick as Nico - he just needs to bring it together on one lap.

Credit to the team personnel for their impressive work though!

Meanwhile, Narain Karthikeyan seems to be struggling this weekend - perhaps due to missing FP1. He was 0.478 seconds slower than his teammate. On the plus side however, the team have stated that the brake cooling problems that plagued them in India have now been fixed.

Qualifying should be very interesting!

02/11/2012

Abu Dhabi GP - Practice Two Results

Results: Hulkenberg 13th (1:43.255), di Resta 15th (1:43.578), Karthikeyan 24th (1:47.406).

A solid session once again for the Sahara Force India boys as they continued to analyse tyre data at various track temperatures.

Based on the laptimes so far, it seems as if we're fighting for tail end points once again - although as we saw in India last weekend, it can all change quite suddenly after each session. Maybe the team will find a few more tenths in FP3 tomorrow.

As for Narain Karthikeyan, he had a busy session as he had to catch up on everything he missed in FP1. The Indian driver finished 0.699 seconds slower than his teammate. Not too bad considering the lack of running, he needs to try close that gap tomorrow however.

Abu Dhabi GP - Practice One Results

Results: Hulkenberg 12th (1:45.587), Bianchi 15th (1:45.769).

A solid first session saw Nico Hulkenberg & Jules Bianchi finish 12th & 15th respectively as the Sahara Force India team spent the session analysing updates (slight revisions to the aerodynamics) and doing tyre work.

It's pretty close in the midfield; Nico was just 0.472 seconds from 7th place. Jules Bianchi was just 0.182 seconds further behind.

Paul di Resta will be back in the car for FP2, as will Narain Karthikeyan down at HRT.

01/11/2012

What's happening this weekend?

Only two of the series that we follow have yet to complete their 2012 season; Formula One & Formula Pilota China. Both these series are in action this weekend.

Formula Pilota China
Round five of six takes place this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia.
Last time out our drivers had fantastic results in the three races at Guangdong, China. Parth Ghorpade scored two wins and Raj Bharath secured a podium finish. They'll both certainly be hoping to at least match that this weekend.

This is how things look from a championship point of view:

Drivers' championship (1st-8th):
1) Antonio Giovinazzi (138 pts)
2) Dan Wells (118)
3) Parth Ghorpade (110)
4) Sean Gelael (92)
5) Ren Nagabuchi (91)
6) Shota Kiyohara (74)
7) Raj Bharath (58)
8) Yin Hai Tao (36)

Best Asian driver trophy (1st-5th):
1) Parth Ghorpade (135 pts)
2) Sean Gelael (131)
3) Ren Nagabuchi (116)
4) Raj Bharath (88)
5) Shota Kiyohara (79)

Teams' championship (3rd-5th):
3) KCMG (138 pts)
4) Meco Motorsport (50)
5) Asia Racing Team (22)

We'll update you with all the results when we receive them. We must stress that the organisers of the series are slow to publish updates however, so please bear with us.

Formula One
I think it's fair to say that Formula One is what most of you want to know about. Round #18 takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Standard aims heading into the event for the Indian contingent; both cars in Q3 & in the points for Sahara Force India whereas Narain Karthikeyan will be trying to beat his teammate, Pedro de la Rosa.

As things currently stand:

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (136 pts)
6) Sauber (116)
7) Force India (93)
8) Williams (59)

For P6: an average of 7.67 points more than Sauber needed each race.

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)

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)

Heading into the event, things are looking promising for Paul di Resta following the release of this article. He'll be doing his darnedest to get back into the points this weekend! As for Nico Hulkenberg, he'll keep pushing as hard as ever despite moving to our rivals at the end of the season. I thought Paul's words on Nico's deal were particularly interesting:

"I was surprised that Nico left this team, to be fair, for an immediate competitor, i don't see it as being a step up, to be perfectly honest. i see it as an equal kind of status. Long term where you see this team is going, i think it is probably better [at Force India]. They [Sauber] have had a couple of remarkable results, and i am not going to deny that. But in terms of consistency, we have got a lot. It may be different. Next year may be different, and i don't know the full reasons why Nico has gone there. There is progression, and the way this team is structured and going forward, i am content where i am".

Haven't said much about Narain Karthikeyan yet, but there is little to say in all honesty. Like always, he'll be pushing that HRT as hard as possible (except when he has to back off to cool the brakes) ..

Preview quotes are here. We'll keep you fully up to date with all results when they happen.

Preferring cheese over curry!

So you guys have probably heard the news about Nico Hulkenberg joining Swiss team Sauber rather than staying at Sahara Force India, if not, read about the story here.

We thought we'd give you our thoughts on this pretty big news:

Darshan Chokhani
The news of Hulkenberg moving to Sauber doesn't surprise me at all. Ever since we got the news of Perez moving to McLaren, it was widely speculated that Hulk is on his way out. At first it was shocking to me reading all those things but after giving it some thought, I realised that it will be a long term move for him and it perhaps doesn't have to do with the car or performance in 2012. We have already seen that both Sauber & Force India have been fairly competitive and so according to me car is out of question.

The reasons I think are, firstly Sauber has close relation with Ferrari and so this might be best for Hulk to drive a Ferrari-powered car in 2013, familiarise with the handling and then move into Ferrari for 2014 or 2015. Ferrari never wanted to change drivers in 2013 as far as I know and that's why Perez wasn't considered, they might have taken him in 2014 but as he moved to McLaren, the next best driver to drive for Ferrari among young drivers was Hulkenberg. So, this could be a tactical and long term future move for Hulk. Another reason might be the financial problems at Force India and bit extra PR work drivers have to do in India. Though I don't think this reason was the main one but it might have contributed somewhat.

Anyways, it is indeed a big loss to the team as he has been superb for us. I wish him all the best for next season and the final 3 races with the team. As for the seats at SFI, I feel di Resta will more likely stay but the other seat will see a great off-track fight among Sutil, Jamie, Buemi, Bianchi, Heikki. I won't pick any one driver here, let it be confirmed and we all will know.

Peter Santamaria-Woods
We've been hearing about Nico potentially moving to Sauber for weeks now, however, unlike Darshan, i didn't believe the roomers. As it turns out, i was wrong.

It's not a move up the grid for Nico though - Sauber have a similar car in terms of points scored over the course of a season. It is a fact that Nico did have a contract for 2013 with Sahara Force India. This means that Sauber must have bought him out of that contract to sign him. No offence to Sauber here, but i just can't see a relatively small privateer team like Sauber buying out a contract, especially when there are many equally talented drivers available who are not under contract. What i think has happened is that Nico signed a deal to race for Ferrari in 2014. Then Ferrari bought out his 2013 contract to put him in the Ferrari-powered Sauber car. This would be beneficial for Nico as he can get used to the Ferrari engine over the course of 2013.

What does this now mean for Sahara Force India? Well, first thing to say is that we wish Nico Hulkenberg the very best of luck at Sauber. He's been a solid driver for us, let's hope he has a good end to 2012.

As for next season, Paul di Resta is already confirmed. Seat #2 could be taken by many drivers though. Reserve driver Jules Bianchi is probably the favourite after a great season in Formula Renault 3.5. Other options include; S├ębastien Buemi & Heikki Kovalainen.

Additionally, our ex-driver Adrian Sutil could be an option. I have to admit to another mistake here, but i also have to be careful of my wording - can't disclose too much. A very reliable source told me he is "100% certain" that Adrian Sutil did have a contract for 2013 with another team (not SFI). I then asked someone else who also worked for that team, and they also confirmed this to me. This deal was signed at the end of 2011, for 2013. However the team in question decided to go a different way after other developments in the driver market - so they cancelled Adrian's 2013 contract. What this means is that Adrian is now much richer after his contract pay off, and also that he is available for 2013. Could he make a return to Sahara Force India?

One other driver in contention is Jamie Alguersuari. I'm pretty sure he will be part of Sahara Force India in 2013, but my instinct is telling me he'll only be a reserve driver. I could be wrong though, let's see.

My opinion? If the driver line-up decision was mine to make - i would take a look at a driver who has yet to be strongly linked with the seat; Charles Pic. He's impressed me a lot this season - often matching/beating his more much more experienced teammate Timo Glock. I'm sure the team are aware Charles is available - let's see what happens.