Archive | October, 2012

PISTOLS AT DAWN FOR ALONSO AND VETTEL FOLLOWING A FOURTH CONSECUTIVE VICTORY

29 Oct

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE AIRTEL INDIAN GRAND PRIX

THEY say Sebastian Vettel helped Herman Tilke design the new Buddh International Circuit in India, such was his form during the Grand Prix today. Practically mirroring the inaugural race Sebastian Vettel led the race from start to finish, with considerable ease, and no one could stop the German take a fourth consecutive victory, and another twenty five points. Despite this it did get nerve-racking near the end of the race for Vettel, as due to a mechanical problem his floor reguarly touched the floor sending sparks flying. You wouldn’t be considered a fool if you were put your money on the German to grasp the Drivers’ Championship trophy for a third time if today’s performance was anything to go by. However, one mustn’t rule out Fernando Alonso, who must have been feeling somewhat relieved following an improvement for his Ferrari car.

The Spaniard started in fifth, but superb driving in the opening laps of the race saw him take advantage of the dueling McLaren cars, gather up a slipstream boost and overtake both of them by the end of the first lap. Credit should be duly awarded to the Ferrari mechanics, who managed to set their seventh gear and rev limiters perfectly to ensure a competitive straight line pace, meaning that he was also able to overtake Mark Webber into second place not too much longer into the race. He received eighteen points in second place.

Sparks were flying in other places than Vettel’s car floor however, since Mark Webber bravely hung on to third place right until the end, despite a KERS fault that let Lewis Hamilton chase the Australian right till the end, but Webber was just lucky enough to fend off the McLaren to take the final podium position and fifteen points. Hamilton took twelve in fourth.

Jenson Button drove steadily, nursing his tyres, and demonstrated that the McLaren had something here in New Delhi as he managed to steal the fastest lap crown from Vettel on the sixtieth and final lap- a small consolation to Jenson, to accompany his ten points in fifth place, but it was still insufficient to challenge the Red Bulls; neither Brit could do it here, and one cannot help but feel all Championship hope has disappeared this year.

Felipe Massa did well to fend off Kimi Raikkönen in sixth place earning eight points, whilst still proving that he has the talent to manoeuvre a Ferrari car around the circuit and show off its potential today; Kimi earned seventh place and six points. Nico Hulkenberg did well for the home team in India (Force India) to overtake three cars in the opening lap, and then Perez, to take eighth place. He managed to hold on to four points despite an impressive challenge from Romain Grosjean, whose pace just wasn’t good enough to see him increase his points tally from two points. The final point was awarded to Bruno Senna, whose race pace surely overturned a disastrous qualifying performance from the Williams driver. Senna overtook Nico Rosberg to finish tenth under the hazy Indian sunlight today.

The dust was flying in the faces of the unlucky retiring drivers, though. Sergio Perez was the first victim, who suffered a puncture from a racing incident involving Daniel Ricciardo, and the ensuing suspension damage saw off the Mexican’s chances of challenging for the points, and he retired a lap later. Points were a distant dream for Pastor Maldonado, since an incident with Kamui Kobayashi caused him to spin off the track, pit unecessarily and finish in an unsatisfactory sixteenth.

I thought a brief mention for an HRT driver was worthwhile today, and Pedro De La Rosa crashed into a barrier on the back straight due to a brake failure that seems to be cropping up again and again for the (statistically) worst team on
the F1 grid. Still, it must take guts to drive an F1 car knowing that accidents are more common, especially concerning brakes.

But the final word goes to Sebastian Vettel and his dominant performance yet again. He seems to be the master of finding that special skill in the final races of the year, and as we shall find out it is becoming a two horse race to the ultimate prize this year, and should Fernando Alonso keep chasing the German down, it will almost certainly be pistols at dawn between the two musketeers of F1, and one single mistake could cost someone very dearly indeed.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Sebastian Vettel increased his lead by six points in the Drivers’ Championships. He now has 240 points, and Fernando Alonso has 227 points. It is safe to say it would take an utter disaster from both drivers in the final races of the season to see anyone but these two take first and second place, since their nearest challenger is Kimi Raikkönen, with 173 points, a whole 67 points adrift of the two leaders, and with 75 points left this year. Mark Webber overtook Lewis Hamilton into fourth place; the Australian is 2 points ahead with 167, compared with Hamilton’s 165 points. For either of these drivers to win the title, they need to win the next three grands prix, and ensure Vettel, Alonso and Raikkönen finish eleventh in Abu Dhabi, the USA and Brazil. Almost impossible. Jenson Button is now mathematically out of the race after falling to 99 points behind Vettel.

Nico Rosberg dangles by a thread in seventh place with 93 points, and Romain Grosjean is chasing him down with 90 points in eighth place; Massa has 89 points and is also featuring in the battle for seventh. There is also another battle for the Force India drivers- Nico Hulkenberg’s better performances lately means he his now five points ahead of Paul Di Resta in twelfth place with 49, ahead of Paul’s 44.

In the Constructors standings, Red Bull increase their lead to 407 points, a whole 91 points clear of Ferrari with 316 points. McLaren remain third with 306 points, followed by Lotus who remain fourth, but increase their haul to 263 points. No Sauber or Mercedes driver scored, meaning that there is still a fifth place battle between Mercedes in fifth with 136 points, and Sauber who need to close down their twenty point deficit; they remain sixth with 116. Force India are a comfortable seventh with 93 points; Williams’ solitary point sees their eighth place score increase to 59. Toro Rosso remain on 21 points. Marussia, Caterham and HRT respectively finish off the Constructors standings, though no one has scored.

I will be back next week as we look forward to the fourth running of the day-night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and where Alonso and Vettel will be looking to secure big finishes as they scrap for the crown that is the 2012 F1 Drivers’ Champion. It won’t be concluded here, but we look forward for an exciting fight nonetheless!

It’s 4 from 4 as Vettel increases title lead to 13

28 Oct

Good day, Bad day. India 2012.

Good day for:

Sebastian Vettel: 10/10 Started 1st  Finished 1st – Vettel is far and away my driver of the day, he was pole, won the race and led every lap and was close to setting the fastest lap of the race, this means that Vettel has won every race in India and won 4 races consecutively in the calendar. It looks like  Vettel already has 1 hand on the drivers championship despite the lead being only 13 points.

Fernando Alonso: 9/10 Started 5th  Finished 2nd – Despite losing more ground to Vettel in the championship battle it was an optimistic performance in the race for the Ferrari driver. Despite struggling in qualifying yesterday leaving him 5th on the grid Alonso showed that his Ferrari has fantastic race pace beating both of the McLarens and one Red Bull. If Ferrari can bring some new developments to next weeks Abu Dhabi GP we could see this championship go to the wire.

Nico Hulkenburg: 8/10 Started 12th  Finished 8th – Hulkenburg has been the dominant Force India driver in recent weeks and showed his class today he overtook 3 drivers on the first lap before overtaking an ailing Perez to put him 8th. Hulkenburg did very well near the end of the race to hold off the faster Romain Grosjean who had the gap at under 1 second for many of the final laps.

Bruno Senna: 8/10 Started 13th  Finished 10th –  Senna struggled yesterday in qualifying despite performing strongly in FP3 but today Senna was vastly improved. He had a solid start before using a fantastic strategy to put him 11th near the end of the race. Senna then showed his class by overtaking Rosberg to pick up the final point.

Charles Pic: 8/10 Started 24th  Finished 19th – Charles has looked very strong this season and has more than deserved a second season in F1. Today he showed his skill again by overturning a weak performance in qualifying to not only beat Glock but to finish a lap ahead of him.

Bad day for:

Kamui Kobayashi: 4/10 Started 17th  Finished 14th – It’s been a disaster of a weekend for Kamui and it couldn’t happen at a worse time with his F1 career hanging in the balance. Kobayashi couldn’t get to grips with the car in qualifying yesterday to leave him 17th on the grid before an unagressive strategy left him fighting with the back end of the midfield.

Pastor Maldonado: 6/10 Started 9th  Finished 16th – Maldonado put in a good performance in qualifying to put him 9th but it was the opposite in the race, he lost 2 places on the first lap alone before being overtaken by him team mate. After changing his tyres Maldonado returned to the pits 3 laps later after receiving a puncture whilst trying to overtake Kobayashi a sags that ruined his race.

Sergio Perez: 5/10 Started 8th  Finished ret. – Sergio’s retirement today means he’s now retired from 2 of the last 3 races. Perez wasn’t having a good race before the retirement, he’d worn his first set of tyres out way too quickly (very uncharacteristic for Sergio) before almost immediately picking up a puncture when he tried to overtake Ricciardo, leaving Perez to pull out.

 

F1 starts to get predictable as Vettel takes (another) pole.

27 Oct

3 winners an losers of qualifying:

Winners:

Sebastian Vettel: Qualified 1st – Vettel has been dominant since F1’s second journey to the east, winning in all of the last three races and using this abundance in points to put himself as the favourite for the championship. Vettel put in another fantastic qualifying lap today and it’s looking likely that Vettel will claim his fourth victory on the trot.

Sergio Perez: Qualified 8th – Despite missing FP1 yesterday with a stomach bug Perez appears to really understand this track and has done fantastically in qualifying, especially when you consider that qualifying has been his weakness this season, from 8th Perez will be looking to pick up a top 5 finish. Whilst Perez did fantastically in qualifying the same can’t be said for team mate Kobayashi who will start from 17th.

Kimi Raikkonen: Qualified 7th – Kimi has had a fantastic return to F1 he’s been Mr. Consistent and regularly has picked up big points. Starting from 7th Raikkonen will be looking to pick up more points.

Losers:

Ferrari: Qualified 5th (Alonso) and 6th (Massa) – With the drivers championship hanging in the balance you’d expect Ferrari to be bringing new parts to every race to try and eek out that extra tenth of a second, but due to problems with their development cycle Alonso is falling behind in the drivers championship. Despite all this negativity it was quite a good performance for Ferrari in qualifying seeing as they’d not made the top 8 in practice.

Bruno Senna: Qualified 13th – After a very optimistic performance in FP3 – going 6th fastest – many expected Bruno to make it through to Q3 and battle for one of the better starting positions, but after a disappointing lap in Q2 Bruno only made it to 13th whilst his team mate Maldonado – who’d struggled in FP3 – made it to Q3 and will start 9th.

Paul Di Resta: Qualified 16th – It’s starting to become apparent why Sauber signed Hulkenburg over Di Resta, whilst Hulkenburg put his car 12th Di Resta could only manage 16th, seven tenths of a second slower. It will take a fantastic drive tomorrow for Di Resta to pick up any points.

Prediction:

This will sound narrow minded but I can’t see anyone beating Vettel to the chequered flag tomorrow unless breaks on the car, but who else will make the top 3 isn’t as clear cut. I would expect Webber to finish second with Hamilton 3rd but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they finished the other way round. Button should also be considered for a podium tomorrow because he set some fantastic times during Q2, and Alonso shouldn’t be discounted as the Spaniard puts in his best performances when under pressure. Massa and Raikkonen will likely fight for 6th/7th with only a miracle letting them finish on the podium, whilst if Sauber can find the sweet spot tomorrow Perez could take the teams 5th podium.

 

McLAREN NIGHTMARE PROPELS VETTEL AND ALONSO INTO CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE

15 Oct

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE KOREAN GRAND PRIX

YEONGAM played host to a pivotal race for the standings in the Drivers’ Championship, and following a podium finish for both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, the championship could not be as tight with just four Grands Prix remaining.

However, you might not have considered the race to be the most exhilarating, since the main game concerned rubber, and not driving ability. Nevertheless, the race wasn’t without incidents, especially if you affiliate yourselves with McLaren. It was disappointing for Jenson Button to begin eleventh, but he had an astonishing start, almost immediately overtaking the two Mercedes cars. Sadly,  Kamui Kobayashi ran straight into Button and took out both him and Nico Rosberg; Button received a puncture whilst Rosberg went into a wall  forcing both to retire before the end of the first lap. Kobayashi received a drive through penalty, but then retired due to damage sustained during the incident.

Lewis Hamilton’s race was a complete nightmare. After qualifying third, Hamilton suffered such hard luck with a combination of tyre degradation, including blistering and rear suspension damage; add a teaspoon of poor pit stops and mix with low downforce and you get the recipe for a Formula One disaster for Lewis. To add insult to injury, poorly affixed astro-turf came off after Lewis ran wide and caught itself on the right hand side of the car, and wrecked his chance to increase his points tally from just a solitary point for finishing tenth. The main culprit- it is thought- was the lack of grip caused by the tyres due to the poor suspension.

Nail biting about tyres was also carried out towards the front of the grid, as Red Bull were praying for the chequered flag to drop after Sebastian Vettel’s tyres were on the verge of falling off the cliff; two laps later, and Vettel may not have won the race and got his twenty five points. Mark Webber nursed his tyres more carefully and managed to fend off the surprisingly rapid pace of the two Ferrari cars to come home second, and he received eighteen points. Ferrari must have stolen back their bag of magic dust, for both Alonso and Massa came home third and fourth (fifteen and twelve points) and that was due to defensive driving and careful tyre management, coupled with a good set up. Consistent Kimi Raikkönen finished fifth, earning ten more points for Lotus, and Nico Hulkenberg was very impressive yet again and finished sixth with eight points. Romain Grosjean turned over a new leaf today as he sensibly steered clear of any opening lap incidents, proving that he wasn’t a ‘nutcase’ and drove cautiously throughout to finish seventh with six points.

Following the unfortunate Hamilton pit stops and poor performance, both Toro Rosso cars scored points and demonstrated great performance in a straight line and considerable place. Jean Eric Vergne finished eighth with four points ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in ninth with two points. Hamilton scraped through, and Sergio Perez narrowly missed out catching Hamilton on the final lap, and almost crossed the finish line side by side.

So overall, apart from the tyres and bad luck of Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel did his usual and stormed off ahead of the entire grid and couldn’t be stopped until he took the chequered flag, but it was a little more risky than he would have liked, but nonetheless Red Bull have had their third consecutive win. Adrian Newey should be proud of himself for creating an effective vehicle package that looks so strong in the final part of the season, and it just might be the case that they can begin clutching those Championship trophies for a third year. That is, of course, if hey can fend of Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, for if this year is anything to go by, the scrap for first place in the Drivers’ standings could go right down to the wire in Sao Paolo in about one month’s time.

In the aftermath of the race a couple of big driver signings were made, Massa has signed on to drive for Ferrari in 2013 (that will be his 8th consecutive season with the Scuderia) whilst Hulkenburg is expected to sign for Sauber to replace Perez, Sauber are also expected to sign Esteban Gutierrez to replace Kamui Kobayashi. The final rumour is that Vettel will sign for Ferrari in 2014 and this is expected to be finalised soon.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

In the Driver’s Championship, Sebastian Vettel has taken first place from Fernando Alonso with 215 points, although there is only a six point margin between the two. Kimi Raikkönen remains third, but forty two points separate Alonso and Raikkönen, who has 167 points. Lewis Hamilton only gains one point to take his tally to 153 points, though just clinches on to fourth place, since Mark Webber is fifth with 152 points. Jenson Button stays sixth and keeps 131 points. Nico Rosberg adds no more points to his haul of 93 whilst Romain Grosjean has added more points, securing his eighth place and 88 points, seven ahead of Felipe Massa in ninth.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull remain first increasing their points haul to 367. Ferrari have overtook McLaren into second place, with 290 points compared with McLaren’s 284. Lotus have secured fourth place with 255 points, and Mercedes are fifth, still with 136 points. Sauber haven’t improved from 116 in sixth, Force India have 89 points in seventh. Williams stay in eigth with 58 points, and Toro Rosso have increase their points tally to 21, though remain ninth. Marussia, Caterham and HRT have yet to score.

I will be back in a fortnight as F1 returns to India for the second Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit, and the Championship battle draws closer to the end, but with still plenty of fighting still to be seen. Will it be Vettel? Will it be Alonso? Find out in 2 weeks time.

Korean GP dull by any stretch of the imagination

14 Oct

Good day, Bad day Korea 12.

Good day:

Sebastian Vettel: 9/10 S2 F1

Was unlucky to be pipped to pole by Webber but after overtaking at turn 1 no one could hold a candle to him, he led all the way from the front and was by far the best driver out there finishing 1st but more importantly taking control of the drivers championship.

Felipe Massa: 8/10 S6 F4

Massa is fantastic with him timing to turn his season around, he put in a fantastic performance for Ferrari last weekend and today was yet again very quick, so quick he had to be told to slow down in case he overtook Alonso. Despite a poor start to the season it’s looking likely that Massa will get the contract for 2013.

Nico Hulkenburg: 9/10 S8 F6 #DriverOfTheDay

Nico had a great race today picking up another important 8 points, he drove very well fending off Grosjean for the first and second stints before being overtaken at the start of the 3rd, but whilst Grosjean and Hamilton fought for 7th Hulkenburg overtook them both to finish 6th.

Jean-Eric Vergne: 8/10 S16 F8

Toro Rosso have been strong in Korea over the last few years but Vergne put in one of the best drives of the day to rise from 16th to 8th overtaking Lewis Hamilton in the process. Vergne hasn’t had the best of seasons but if he can drive like this on a regular basis he could move to Red Bull in the next few years.

Bad Day:

Lewis Hamilton: 3/10 S3 F10

When your McLaren can’t keep up with Toro Rosso you know you’re doing something wrong, Hamilton started poorly losing out to Alonso at turn 2, before spending the second stint being overtaken by Massa, Raikkonen, Hulkenburg etc. One of the biggest surprises about Hamilton’s race was just how quickly he went through tyres which he did remarkably quickly, Hamilton’s race was livened up later on by the addition of astroturf to the car.

Mercedes: 4/10 MSC S10 F13 ROS S9 F ret.

Mercedes have really struggled in recent weeks and did again this weekend, they were the slowest Mercedes powered car and were slower than the majority of the midfield.

Kamui Kobayashi: 3/10 S13 F ret.

It was a short but awful race for Kamui, he hit Button on lap 1 forcing JB to retire and and then ran in last after a drive-through and a front wing change. Kamui retired from the race on lap 16.

Fans who got up early to watch the race:

The race can be summed up as 5 minutes of excitement padded out with 95 minutes of processional racing, worth watching the 10 minute highlights than the entire race.

Korean Astroturf fitters

Whoever it was who put down the astroturf may be about to find themselves out of business because it was a pretty poor job. The turf was ripped up around the outside of the track which resulted in Hamilton getting some stuck to the side of the car and leading to a string of grass/turf jokes.

Gardening spices up the Korean GP

14 Oct

“here’s how the grid will start it is WEB VET HAM ALO RAI MAS GRO HUL ROS MSC BUT PER KOB DIR MAL RIC VER SEN PET KOV PIC GLO DLR KAR” 6:54 @Formula1Formula

“the only penalty is a 10 place grid penalty for Pic for an unscheduled engine change, he moves from 21st to 24th” 6:55 @Formula1Formula

“Top 10 all on super soft, soft tyre for Button, Perez, Kobayashi, Di Resta and Vergne” 7:01 @JackLeslieF1

“Button has made a poor start and has dropped to the rear of the field. He may have made contact with another car.” 7:07 @autosportlive

“Good morning. What a start. Nice three way fight for the lead all the day into Turn 3. Good start as usual for the Ferraris” 7:09 @LiteralF1

“Off the start, Vettel just swung it wide, leaving Webber no space and forcing his teammate to give up the lead” 7:10 @RichlandF1

“lap standings are: VET WEB ALO HAM MAS RAI HUL GRO PER MSC DIR SEN MAL VER RIC KOV PET GLO DLR KAR PIC KOB and retirements for ROS and BUT” 7:11 @formula1formula

“Drive-through penalty for Kobayashi for causing a collision.” 7:17 @F1TimesLive (this is for causing the collision with Button on lap 1).

“Slow clap around the circuit as, 9 laps later, Rosberg’s car is finally moved.” @f1paddockonline

“L14 Hamilton pits from fourth.” 7:27 @f1fanaticlive

“KOB and DLR retired… In a distinctly boring fashion… So not even any excitement from the newest retirements… **Double Yawn**” 7:38 @IrvineF1

“Grosjean v Maldonado. Hold on to your hats everybody.” 7:39 @f1paddockonline

“Massa overtakes Hamilton to give Ferrari 3rd and 4th” 7:42 @formula1formula

“Hamilton’s only been on these tyres for 9 laps so for them to be significantly graining shows Hamilton has been driving too aggressively” 7:44 @formula1formula

“Dear GP2 & upcoming drivers: Watch Lewis vs Kimi on track. THAT is how champions race. No contact, no kamikazi moves, great reactions” 7:50 @literalF1

“Vettel overshoots his braking zone, locks the front right massively and is told to “box”” 8:06 @Formula1_com

“Cue all the ‘Alonso, Massa is faster than you’ jokes.” 8:11 @fakewhitmarsh

“Hulkenberg passes Hamilton and Grosjean!” 8:14 @Formula1_com

“with less than 10 laps to go the standings are: VET WEB ALO MAS RAI HUL GRO VER HAM DIR PER SCH MAL SEN KOV PET GLO PIC KAR” 8:26 @formula1formula

“the most exciting thing to happen last lap is the view of the astroturf being dug up by the cars as they go over it” 8:33 @formula1formula

“Hamilton has a stream of astro-turf hanging off his car which isn’t helping his aero at all.” 8:37 @F1TimesLive

“It’s over. Vettel makes it and Psy waves the flag (altho looking somewhat baffled. No Gangnam Style there)” 8:42 @easonF1

“driver of the day is going to be Hulkenburg as he was the only driver to pull an exciting overtaking move to finish 6th” 8:43 @formula1formula

“top 10 finish as VET WEB ALO MAS RAI HUL GRO VER RIC HAM” 8:43 @formula1formula

Championship hopefuls next to each other at Webber goes quickest.

13 Oct

3 winners and 3 losers of qualifying, Korea 12.

Winners:

Mark Webber: Mark’s really struggled since the start of the season and has gone from being a championship contender to having to play 2nd fiddle at Red Bull, but the strong performance today (qualifying 1st) should put him in good stead for tomorrow and could maybe revitalise his championship hopes.

Nico Hulkenburg: Nico is one of the best young drivers on the grid at the moment and he rose to that potential today qualifying 8th and should be able to challenge for big points tomorrow. Nico will find his good lap even sweeter with the knowledge that his team mate, Di Resta is starting back in 14th.

Felipe Massa: Massa clicked last weekend in Japan and appears to have brought this speed with him to Korea, he’s looked good all weekend, and starting from 6th he could be an outsider for another podium.

Losers:

Jenson Button: Whilst Lewis went 3rd Jenson couldn’t make it into Q3 and can’t be at all pleased with his performance. Button has always been weak in qualifying but his performance today could put him in a bad position for the race tomorrow and is likely to be fighting for the small points.

Bruno Senna: You wouldn’t want to Bruno at the moment, he’s struggling to put in a good performance in qualifying and it’s looking likely that he’ll be replaced at Williams for next year. Bruno could still pick up points this weekend but it will take a fantastic performance from 18th if that is to happen.

Mercedes: Mercedes were one of the strongest teams at the start of the year, winning in China but they have really lost ground since then and it looks like they’re either struggling to get the car working properly or that they may be putting all their work into the 2013 car.

Prediction:

I think it’s likely that it will be a Red Bull victory tomorrow and that the other Red Bull driver will also make it to the podium but the final place in the top 3 should be up for grabs, Hamilton is the most likely man seeing that he qualified 3rd but Hamilton has struggled at the first corner over the weekend and that could let Alonso through. Alonso’s Ferrari has been very strong over the first sector and if he puts in a fantastic first sector on the first lap he could run as high as 2nd or 3rd. Raikkonen should also be classed as a contender, he’s quick and always seems to be on the quickest strategy, all it would take is an awkwardly timed safety car for a Kimi podium. The final contender should be Massa who appears to have carried his speed from last weekend over to this one, if one of the top 5 qualifies retires Massa will be a big contender, so long as Grosjean doesn’t get to him before that.