26/12/2012

Season Review: The F1 group


To read the half season review of SFI & NK clickhere.


Sahara Force India:


The first half of the season saw the team starting on the slower side as they had in 2011. But points wise, they had a better start considering the previous years. Just before the season break, Andrew Green had stated that they shifted their focus to 2013 car and there won’t be much updates in the second half. The second half saw a different all together as the team was in a different world matching the top teams in terms of point finishes. Yes, in the second half the team finished every race in points, a record which only 4 other teams could manage. Only thing they could feel a disappointed with is no podium finishes for them specially in Brazil where even a win was possible.


The highlight was surely Brazil in the second half as Hulkenberg lead the race for about 30 laps beating the McLaren’s but unfortunate tale of events meant they ended P5, team’s second best finish of the season. It was sure shot win or at least a podium finish but it wasn’t to be. Spa & Singapore gave the team their best finishes of the season with P4 on both occasions, Hulkenberg in former & Di Resta in the later. As for qualifying, the team made it to Q3 quite regularly in the second half. Di Resta equalled the best position of P4 for the team (though got a penalty and moved down). Reliability wise the team continued their brilliant run. They had only two DNF’s, both due to accidents rather than mechanical error. As everybody else, they also started learning the aspects of Prielli tyres and got the better of it as the season progressed towards the end. The team scored 109 points, their best haul of points but they finished P7 which was one place down from 2011.


Hulkenberg was the driver to look for in the second half after a slow start at the season start. He finished 6 races in points out of the 9 races and was on the verge of giving the team their first win. He also got his best finish of his career in Spa i.e P4. I was very impressed with him, he drove some fantastic races and his move over Grosjean & Hamilton was one of the best move I have seen. It was brilliant to see him fight with the top teams for positions. To outperform his team mate is the first thing a driver looks to do and to beat a driver like Di Resta, was a good to see. He ended P11 in DC with 63 points, just 3 points shy of Perez who we know got 2 podium finishes. Although next year we won’t see him in the team as he moves to Sauber, a very big loss to the team considering the form he was in.


Di Resta continued his good performance from the first half and looked pretty good at the start of the second half. But post Singapore there was big dip in form as he scored only once in 6 races. We could see a similar thing as we saw in 2011 with his form, but cannot say if there is a pattern. In few of the races he was unlucky as well, like in Brazil he was well in course to score solid points but in the penultimate lap he crashed out. Overall, he did a good job as he ended P14 with 46 points beating Pastor who had a win in his belt. It seems like he will very much stay for next year and I see getting podium finishes, we saw him driving superbly in Bahrain, Singapore.


Jules Bianchi got 3 more drives adding to 6 drives in the first half. He was also behind the wheel for one day in the Young Driver testing. I must say, he did pretty well in the 3 tests in the second half as his times improved a bit. It was down to him getting accustomed to the car a bit more. Think that young driver test helped him a lot to understand the car well. We are still to know if he gets a drive in 2013 or he remains the test driver of the team.


Overall the team can be satisfied with their efforts in 2012, they were the most consistent point scores throughout the season. Only missed on the potential podium finishes which was a disappointing. Both drivers gave their 200% and drove some excellent races. The team at factory and in race weekend worked very hard as well as we saw that the reliability was top notch. Even the pit stops were quick, they even won the Sky Sports award of fastest pit stop in one of the races. Things looking very good for 2013 season surely.



Narain Karthikeyan:


Narain had ended the mid season with a DNF and it was ironic that he started it with a DNF in Spa. His first half was better with only 3 DNF’s in 10 races whereas in second half he had 4 DNF’s in 9 races. We cannot blame him for that as his car wasn’t the best of the lot and he did face many reliability problems. Then again both him & Pedro the very best they could but with little upgrades and lack of funding, the team had nowhere to go. For Narain, it was mostly his teammate to fight with as the Marussia’s had stepped up a bit pace wise.


In the end, Narain ended P24 in the DC with a best finish of P15 for himself and the team as a whole which is commendable against his teammate Pedro. Narain towards the end also managed to out qualify his teammate in few of the races. The passion, determination was always there but he simply didn’t have the car to show it. Missing vital FP1’s may also have affected his run but then it’s all part of the contract. Overall, he can be satisfied with doing whole of the F1 season. His future remains doubtful with HRT not being named in the 2013 entry list. Getting back to US will his priority surely now.


19/12/2012

Race Of Champions: ROC Asia & Nations Cup


ROC Asia:


On Friday, Team India were pitted against Team China, Team Japan & Team Thailand for the prize of being ROC Asia champions. Team India began their campaign against a formidable line-up of Team China. Karthikeyan gave them a lead with a win over Ho Pin Tung but Karun lost against Han Han by 0.3s of a margin. They then went against the home hero’s, Team Thailand against whom both Karun & Narain won with some ease giving India 3 wins out of 4 heats. Next up they were against Team Japan, Karthikeyan started but lost his heat putting Karun under pressure for them to reach in the finals. He didn’t disappoint as he won his heat giving India 4 wins out of 6 and helping India to reach the finals of ROC Asia. They ended with 4 wins out 6 in group stages.

In the finals they faced Team Japan again and the two races become the most important of the evening. It was a brilliant ending then as both Karun & Narain won their heats to give Team India their maiden ROC Asia championship. They beat Japan 2-0 fair and square. It was indeed a proud moment for all of us. They can very well call them best of Asia. One thing good about ROC is that everyone get the same car and have same track conditions. It’s all down to skills and some luck. We saw some close fight between everyone but was great to see Team India coming out victorious with two of the country’s top drivers.



Nations Cup:

Nations Cup Teams

                                                                           
After winning the ROC Asia, it was time for Team India to battle it out for the Nations Cup with the world’s best. They were pitted against Team Germany, Team Australia & Team Thailand. It seemed that they will make it to the semi’s if they can get wins against Australia & Thailand but it wasn’t so in the end. They started their day against Team Australia as Karthikeyan started off against V8 Supercar champ Jamie. He won on the basis of time but due to him touching the wall, Jamie was awarded the win and then Karun lost his heat with a close margin. Next up was the big battle of Team Germany against Team India as Schumacher went against Narain & Vettel against Karun. Unfortunately the results didn’t go our way but it was thrilling to see them race against each other, doesn’t happen all the time. They then faced Team Thailand were both Narain & Karun won giving India 2 wins in the end. They ended 3rd in their group and their run in Nations Cup ended.


I thought they would beat Australia & Thailand, get 4 wins to reach semi’s but that wasn’t to be. The track changes in the morning didn’t help them as they had little practice on it, some mistakes also costed dearly but that’s how it is. It was still a good rookie attempt and they go as Asia champions ending their 2012 campaign in a bit off a high. As they themselves say, we will surely see a strong performance next year from them.


10/12/2012

Season Review: The non-F1 drivers


To read the review till the mid season break click here.

Karun Chandhok:


The first half had 3 races while the second half was a busy one with 5 races. The team looked pretty strong in the second half with two podium finishes in non-manufacturer class. They had a good start in Silverstone but after looking great in Brazil & Bahrain, the team missed great opportunities to finish on podium. But in Fuji & Shanghai, they finally managed two P5 positions, including pole position in qualifying. The last two races gave them their best positions till date. In the end they finished P3 in LMP1 category with Karun finishing in P10 with 50.5 points.

Fair to say that Karun had a great year in Endurance racing, a good start in this series. We shouldn’t forget that he is just a rookie here, even his team mates are almost double his age and very experienced drivers. He has adapted well to this type of series, looked in good shape all throughout. He was positive all through the year and delivered with performance in a car which wasn’t the best in terms of Audi & Toyota. The team itself were having their first year in Endurance series. I am pleased with his performances and I hope the team runs next season and retains him. Of course, would like to see him in F1 which he is trying himself but things as of now not looking that great with limited race & reserve seats available.  Any ways, I wish him all the best for whatever he does in 2013.

Parthiva Sureshwaren:


Before mid season break, Parthiva didn’t race in the two races but he said that he will be back for Hungary & Monza but that was not the case as he didn’t race in the last two races of the season as well. It might be something to do with sponsors and disappointing performances, we will never know. It’s not a great thing to happen, specially with an Indian driver when there is dearth of good Indian drivers. But that’s how it is in the motorsport world, I think.

I can understand that Parthiva was having a troubled season and I was very disappointed with the results. He showed pace and performance in many of the practice sessions but just couldn’t convert those in qualifying or in race.  The missed chances and thus he didn’t race in the last 4 races of the season. He did participate in MRF Challenge during the Indian GP and the SIDVIN festival of speed at BIC where he did a good job but apart from that we are yet to know as to what he is going to do for next year. With F2 series being finished off, his next best option will be GP2 and would certainly hope to see him there.

Armaan Ebrahim:


Something similar happened with Armaan like we saw with Parthiva. Though I felt Armaan was more to do with money issue as the results were good enough though not great or on expected lines of team & Armaan. But for a rookie year, I think it was best the team or Armaan could have done. He became the second Indian driver to race in US but unlike Narain, his time ended sooner than expected.

Since then he hasn’t done much apart from karting for his foundation of Meco Motorsports and few events with various organisers. He had signed with Sunred Engineering in GT1 Championship and raced in one race before leaving the team as the proposed race in India was scrapped.  He even scored points there but sadly due his run ended with only 2 races. He was present during the SIDVIN festival but wasn’t racing. We still don’t know as to what he is going to do in 2013, something in sportscar series or he can too try for GP2 series.