Tag Archives: Kamui Kobayashi

Time to say goodbye: Kamui Kobayashi

3 Jan

I take it he was just another Japanese driver with a lack of talent who only got there because of money?

You’d be wrong, Kamui has widely be regarded as the best ever Japanese driver in Formula 1 and surprisingly for this current era didn’t come with much money behind him at all.

So how did his F1 career start?

After winning the 2008/09 GP2 AirAsia series Kamui was promoted into the Toyota F1 from the test driver role (a role he’d already held for 2 seasons) for the final two races of the 2009 season to replace Timo Glock who had suffered a broken leg in qualifying for the Japanese GP.

It was a blitzing start to an F1 career, Kobayashi made his debut at the Brazilian GP and held off that seasons drivers champion Jenson Button for many laps on his way to 9th place (in 2009 there were only points for finishing 1-8), many felt it was a one off but he continued the impressive performances in Abu Dhabi finishing 6th to pick up 3 points.

So it was a very impressive start, could he continue the performances in his second season?

Not only did he continue them he got better, despite failing to finish the first four races Kobayashi claimed the position of being the best driver at overtaking on the grid making moves spectators considered impossible, his 2 most famous being his final lap of the European GP and his move at the hairpin at his home Japanese GP.

How was his overtaking affected by the introduction of DRS?

Since DRS appeared it has been a rarity to see Kamui pull off a phenomenal overtaking manoeuvre, but what he lost in finesse he gained in consistent scoring, in 2011 he was regularly picking up points, including a outstanding performance in Monaco where by finding himself in the right place at the right time he finished 5th, and in 2012 he got better, he made the top 3 in qualifying thrice including a sublime front row in Belgium (sadly he was taken out at the start in the trail of destruction made by Grosjean) and finished in the top 6 on five occasions including getting his debut podium at his home Japanese GP.

So if he’s already good and appears to only be getting better why has he been dropped?

Money. Sadly Kamui has never come with much sponsorship backing and although this should be classed as a remarkable achievement to get hear without it it means that teams just won’t consider signing him.

Do you think he’ll ever be back?

I hope so. In my opinion he’s a driver who maybe had the potential to be a race winner and when he was in form he took his car far and beyond where it should have been.

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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.

 

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.

VETTEL CRUISES TO VICTORY AMIDST OPENING ‘NUTCASE’ CRASH

8 Oct

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE JAPANESE GRAND PRIX

SEBASTIAN Vettel has made Suzuka one of ‘his’ circuits- he has achieved pole position on the last four consecutive occasions, and has won three of them. However, this time around, the Championship has not settled, and the margins between the top two have closed significantly, and this race could perhaps prove a turning point for some of the contenders.

It was a typical Vettel race- pole position and after the lights went out the Red Bull stormed off and was not to be seen until the car pitted for tyres, and then until the chequered flag dropped. Twenty five points were awarded to the current World Champion, and every last point counts in this crucial point in the season, and an exciting start to the race ruined Fernando Alonso’s chance of increasing his lead.

Immediately after the chequered flag dropped, the cars raced forward into the crucial, narrow first corner, where position is crucial. Cars scrapped for the best line, and  light contact came between Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, leading to a small puncture that sent Alonso spinning off the track, dust flying everywhere, but most importantly out of the race, and no points. After this incident, “first lap nutcase” (according to Webber) Romain Grosjean was concentrating on Sauber’s Perez overtaking him, and carelessly crashed into Mark Webber, then subsequently Nico Rosberg was crashed into by an erratic Bruno Senna! Grosjean- in his seventh first lap incident- was given a 10 second stop-go penalty, and Senna a drive-through penalty for causing their collisions.

To make matters worse for Webber, the safety car retired just one lap later while Webber was still in the pits, leaving him with a huge time gap to chase down. Webber was furious, but nursed his tyres excellently to race right up through the pack to ninth place, where two points were just a small consolation for a difficult race for him.

The drivers who benefited considerably from the opening incident were Felipe Massa and the McLaren drivers. Apparently Massa used to win Grands Prix and stand on the podiums in the past, and he actually performed very well today, and his Ferrari management will be hoping for second places and podiums to continue if they want to keep him at the team. Massa looked elated to receive his first trophy in two years, and eighteen points, and frankly he deserved it after sensible driving quick pit stops and fending off Kobayashi.

Kobayashi’s third place and first F1 podium was like winning the race to him in front of the partisan crowds, and he- and Sauber- clearly loved the atmosphere in Japan earlier today. Fifteen points could indicate that the young Japanese driver’s place at Sauber is a little more secure than rumours suggested prior to the race. Kobayashi did well to fend off Jenson Button, who narrowly missed out on a podium in fourth place. Martin Whitmarsh should also be pleased with two McLaren finishes- twelve points to Button and ten to Lewis Hamilton, who finished fifth from starting in ninth. His driving was very passive; even Perez overtook him at the hairpin that Hamilton could easily defend against (but later Perez went off at the hairpin whilst trying to pass Hamilton for the second time), However, ten points is better than none and he must ensure high place finished in order to catch the leaders with five races to go.

Kimi Raikkönen finished sixth for Lotus, earning eight points, and Force India should be pleased with Nico Hulkenberg, who managed to finish seventh – he will be pleased with the extra points (six from today); Pastor Maldonado earned points today for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix- he finished eighth and earned four points; the final point was awarded to Daniel Ricciardo in tenth place for Toro Rosso. In his final Japanese Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher agonisingly missed out on points, finishing eleventh.

It was an easy victory for Vettel, and the first back to back victory this year, but with five Grands Prix to go, there are still 125 points up for grabs, all it could take is 1 mistake to lost the championship, but as the paddock pack up and fly to Korea for next week, I have a feeling that Formula One in 2012 could go down to the wire.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Fernando Alonso must be feeling bitter if he looks at the Driver’s Championship, as his lead has been reduced to just four points. He remains on 194 points, with Sebastian Vettel breathing down his neck with 190 points. Kimi Raikkönen has retained third place, increasing his points tally to 157, just five points ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s score of 152. Two strong races for Hamilton or Raikkönen and disasters for Vettel or Alonso could still see a McLaren Champion or even a Champion who hasn’t even won a race yet- an F1 first.

Fifth and sixth place are separated by a mere three points, with Mark Webber on 134 points and Jenson Button on 131 points. Although mathematically possible for either driver to gain victory, realistically their chances are very slim indeed. Both Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean remain in seventh and eighth place with 93 and 82 points respectively. Felipe Massa has moved into ninth place 69 points, and Sergio Perez has dropped to tenth with 60 points.

Concerning Constructors, Red Bull have now amassed 324 points, now 41 points clear of McLaren with 283 points, who are ahead of Ferrari by 20 points- Scuderia have 263 points. Lotus have a secure fourth place with 239 points, but Sauber are catching Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton’s 2013 team remain on 136 points, and Sauber are only 20 points behind on 116 points and in sixth place. Force India are seventh with 81 points, Williams are eighth with 58 points and Toro Rosso have increased their tally by one point to 15. Marussia remain tenth despite not scoring, and Caterham and HRT remain at the bottom.

As F1 heads to Korea I will be back next week for another update as the season draws to a close, and the Championships draw tighter and closer together. Who will win? No-one can yet put their hands firmly around the Championship trophy but Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkönen and Alonso will all be hoping for a disaster free race- it will be a tense, crucial and exciting race.

Vettel delivers in Suzuka to throw title fight wide open

7 Oct

Good Day Bad Day, Japan 12.

Good Day:

Sebastian Vettel: 8/10 S1 F1

  • What a dominant performance by, pole yesterday, fastest lap today, led every single lap and won the race to complete the grand slam. This track is Vettel’s playground, he’s been pole here for the last 4 years and it wouldn’t be a big exaggeration to suggest he could have won that race in a Robin Reliant. Of course the icing on the cake will be that Alonso crashed out on lap 1 so Fernando’s title lead is down to 4 points.

Felipe Massa: 9/10 S10 F2 #DriverOfTheDay

  • Massa may not have shone yesterday but his speed today was second to one (Vettel). Felipe had a fantastic start capitalising on he carnage at turn 1 to move up to 4th before taking advantage of Kobayashi and Button’s early pit stops to move up to 2nd, a place he held for the rest of the race to take his first podium since the 2010 Korean GP.

Kamui Kobayashi: 9/10 S3 F3 #DriverOfTheDay

  • There is a little bit of Kamui’s brain that switches on when he races in Japan and when it’s switched on Kamui turns into one of the best drivers on the grid. Kamui put in a fantastic performance yesterday to qualify 3rd but a quick and consistent performance today paid dividends as Kobayashi has claimed his 1st podium, the first Japanese podium in Japan. Great timing for Kamui but I doubt he’ll be in F1 next season unless he can perform like this on a regular basis.

Lewis Hamilton: 7/10 S9 F5

  • It wasn’t the greatest performance by Hamilton finishing 21 seconds behind Button who finished 4th, but due to Alonso’s turn 1 retirement Lewis is now back to being one of the major candidates for the championship.

Nico Hulkenburg: 8/10 S15 F7

  • With the season end drawing near and still chances of Hulk moving to Ferrari the timing of this great result could have only been made better by Massa struggling at the same time. Nico had a great start moving up 7 places to 8th and was lapping quicker than Hamilton before he pitted, even better for the German is the knowledge that Di Resta’s performance was at best average in comparison.

Bad Day:

Romain Grosjean: 3/10 S4 F ret.

  • After being banned from racing in Monza Grosjean knew he needed to improve his percentage of completing the first lap. This time he collided with Webber ruining both of their race and I imagine making a trip to the stewards office inevitable.

Sergio Perez: 7/10 S5 F ret.

  • Perez had been having a fantastic race before his retirement on lap 18, he was outperforming Hamilton (the man he’ll replace at McLaren), but a poor pit stop left him back behind Hamilton before Perez pushed too hard going into the hairpin and spun off.

Fernando Alonso: 6/10 S6 F ret.

  • Alonso must have been hoping to pick up a podium finish today so that he could reduce how much Vettel reduces his lead by but a puncture caused by Raikkonen left Alonso beached and unable to carry on leaving his championship lead destroyed down to 4 points. Just to add salt in the wounds the car was clearly quick around the circuit as proved by Massa and so if Alonso hadn’t retired he could have challenged for 1st place. Ferrari are going to need to give Alonso a better car if he is still to win the championship.

 

Red Bull dominate despite stewards enquiry.

6 Oct

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Japan 12.

Winners:

  1. Sebastian Vettel: Vettel has had a very strong weekend, he was fastest in FP3 and followed that up by going quickest in qualifying which means that he’s started from pole 4 times in a row at Suzuka, from first on the grid Vettel will doubtlessly be looking to win and close the gap to championship leader Alonso. There is a chance Vettel could lose this pole position though if the stewards deem him to have held up Alonso.
  2. Kamui Kobayashi: It was at this circuit in 2010 that Kamui showed to the world that overtaking can occur at any corner and yet again Kobayashi has upped his game for the home GP, qualifying in 4th is good enough, but due to Button’s 5 place grid penalty (gearbox change) Kamui will start from 3rd on the grid. Would it be too much to hope for a Kamui podium?
  3. Pedro De La Rosa: since the introduction of new teams in 2010 there has been a hierarchy between the 3 but today that hierarchy was smashed apart, HRT qualifying higher than both a Marussia and more impressively a Caterham, you never know there may be some exciting racing going on between the 3 teams tomorrow.

Losers:

  1. Lewis Hamilton: With his championship dreams already damaged by his retirement in Singapore it could be shattered tomorrow due to him having to start from 9th, if he struggles to overtake early on he could be looking at the end of his chances in the championship.
  2. Mercedes: Do you remember the Mercedes who started the year looking so promising, even winning in China. Well a lot’s changed since then and Mercedes are now really struggling to put in good performances, neither driver made it to Q3 today and Schumacher also has a 10 place grid penalty, looks like a certain Lewis Hamilton may have made a bad decision.
  3. Felipe Massa: If you’re driving for the most prestigious team in Formula 1 and there’s every chance you’re going to be replaced you need to put in fantastic times in qualifying to make sure the management decide to keep you, sadly Massa refuses to listen to my advice and instead qualified 11th despite being 3rd quickest in FP3. But if Massa drives like he did in Singapore a top 6 finish isn’t out of the question.

Prediction:

Tomorrow’s race is set to be a crucial day for the drivers championship, if Vettel can get a clean start I fully expect him to win the race and I’d also say it’s likely that Webber will be finish 2nd. Who will finish 3rd is going to be much more of a guess, Kobayashi could do it if he drives like he did in 2010, Perez could do it if it’s a high degradation race, if Grosjean can make it past turn 1 he’ll have a chance and then there’s Alonso who will drive like a machine and thinks he could have qualified 3rd if it hadn’t been for yellow flags. Who will be on the podium? Only time will tell.

Vettel dominates practice, but it’s Lewis on pole

22 Sep

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Singapore 12

Winners:

McLaren: Since a disappointing start to the season McLaren have turned their season round amazingly, and with Hamilton putting in a blistering time for pole today McLaren have now had 4 poles in a row. This turnaround is vitally important, not only in keeping Hamilton for 2013 but also to make a final challenge for the championship. Button will start from 4th.

Pastor Maldonado: Despite winning in Valencia there hasn’t been a lot of good news relating to Maldonado, but it was a fantastic result for the Venezuelan to claim a front row spot for the start tomorrow and with his consistency this will throw the cat among the pigeons for any predictions relating to tomorrow’s race.

Paul Di Resta: Paul was strong in Singapore last year finishing 6th and has done very well again qualifying 6th. With Singapore having a high attrition rate I wouldn’t rule out a top 4, or maybe even a podium finish.

Losers:

Sebastian Vettel: After setting the fastest times in every practice session Vettel was widely regarded as the most likely driver to take pole position, but Vettel seemed to struggle today only managing 3rd.

Felipe Massa: With Alonso leading the championship you’d expect Massa to be competing for top 3 places in qualifying, but the reality is Massa is struggling as shown by his 13th place today. Although you’d expect him to still pick up points tomorrow he needs to up his game and pray if he’s to stay at Ferrari next year.

Sauber: To be fair to the team Sauber’s can isn’t suited to the Singapore circuit so I wasn’t expecting anything amazing, but I didn’t imagine they’d have a driver out in Q1 and not have a driver in the top 12. Sauber will need Kobayashi to show off his overtaking skills and Perez to put in one of his phenomenal performances tomorrow to pick up some points. I expect Sauber to be much stronger in the next race at Japan.