Tag Archives: Romain Grosjean

DÉJÀ VU IN THE DESERT FOR RED BULL AND LOTUS

21 Apr

The Michael Report- 2013 FORMULA ONE GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX

POLITICAL controversy overshadowed last year’s running of the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir. Thankfully, this year, there was little, if any, disruption, and with Pirelli providing the tyres, this year’s race was made truly unpredictable, it was set to be an exciting race, and apart from the top three, this was achieved.

From the start, Nico Rosberg fought bravely hold on to first place, but unfortunately, the Mercedes car struggled to maintain a suitable grip, and began to slow down, allowing the field to begin overtaking the pole sitter, and once Sebastian Vettel took the lead, he stormed off into the distance and was never to be seen again until he took the chequered flag an hour or so later, only stopping for routine tyre changes, and taking care of the rubber that threw spanners into the works of the other cars, unless your car was a Lotus.

Kimi Raikkönen and Romain Grosjean demonstrated the durability of the harder compound tyres, and managed to outperform the other cars, who may have been quicker, but they weren’t able to cope with the thermal degradation that took place under the roasting heat of the desert sun. In a full replication of last year’s Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel received twenty five points in first, Raikkönen eighteen in second, and Grosjean fifteen in third.

Paul Di Resta demonstrated a superb Force India car today, and if it weren’t for the degrading rubber in the closing stages in the race, he could have achieved his first Formula One podium. Alas, he finished fourth and received twelve points. Neverthelss, it was one of the best races Di Resta has ever had, and paves the way for a possible challenge to the top teams, and securing Force India as the main mid-field team by far. Team-mate Adrian Sutil, however, suffered badly following contact in the early stages of the race, and finished thirteenth.

Technical gremlins wreaked havoc for Ferrari today. Felipe Massa clipped his front wing with the Lotus of Kimi Raikkönen, and had to struggle throughout the race, suffering a puncture in the process, finishing fifteenth. Team-mate Fernando Alonso started promisingly, but his rear-wing flap remained open, and he had to pit twice to have it shut again, meaning that he lost time as well as the use of DRS. However, the Spaniard proved his worth with sublime driving, and finished in a respectable eighth with four points.

McLaren are back on the rise, it seems. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were tussling and pushing each other to the edge, quite literally, several times. The two cars from Woking were challenging the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber. Unfortunately for Jenson Button, he lost his war of rubber, and was forced to pit four times, instead of his planned three, but did manage to finish tenth with one point. On the other hand, Sergio Perez demonstrated why McLaren signed him, and pounced at every opportunity, eventually overtaking Mark Webber on the last lap to finish in sixth place, and received eight points. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth, and took home ten points, and team-mate Nico Rosberg finished ninth, and got two points.

Mark Webber had an average race, and maintained a good pace, but dropped back at the very last minute. In the space of the two last laps, he dropped from fifth to seventh, and finished with six points for Red Bull.

In the conflict between Caterham and Marussia, Caterham fought back today, since Charles Pic finished seventeenth, ahead of Sauber’s Esteban Guttierez, whilst Jules Bianchi only managed to finished nineteenth for Marussia, ahead of his team-mate Max Chilton, who turned 22, and his present was not finishing in last place!

Overall, it was an interesting race plagued with inter-team competition, overtaking and the tyre strategy once again dominated proceedings in today’s race, and the ‘finger’ stood atop the podium for the second time in four grands prix. Sebastian Vettel  has scored points in every race so far, and as the first fly-away leg of 2013 comes to a close, the other Constructors will need to do something to act as a constant threat to Red Bull dominance.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

After Bahrian, Sebastian Vettel now boasts a ten-point lead in the Drivers’ Championships, with 77 points to his name, with Kimi Raikkönen in second place with 67 points. After battling with his tyres today, Lewis Hamilton leapt into third place for Mercedes, with 50 points. Fernando Alonso has dropped down to fourth place with 47 points, and Mark Webber is fifth with 32 points.

A mere two points behind, we see Felipe Massa in sixth place with 30 points, and Romain Grosjean has jumped two places into seventh, now with 26 points. Paul Di Resta received twelve points today, and now has 20 points to his name. Nico Rosberg is eighth with 14 points, Jenson Button ninth with 13 and Sergio Perez tenth with 10.

In the Constructors’ Championships, Red Bull have broken through the century barrier, and now have 109 points in first. Lotus have retaken second place, and now hold 93 points. Ferrari have only gained 4 points, but are third with 77, and Mercedes are now fourth with 64 points. Paul Di Resta’s fantastic performance has meant that Force India have surged back into fifth place with 26 points, ahead of McLaren with 23, who drop back into a lowly sixth place. Toro Rosso have no more points to add, and remain seventh with 7 points. Sauber are eighth, and keep 5 points.

Williams lead Marussia who lead Caterham, but they are still yet to score.

I will be back in three week’s time, when Formula One begins its return to Europe, at the Circuit De Catalunya in Spain. Last year, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was triumphant, but if they have any chance of emulating their success this year, serious work will need to be done. McLaren, showing baby steps towards improvement, will also be bringing upgrades to Spain. These two teams are probably the most in need of a boost, and we will wait and see who will reign supreme in Europe.

Michael

Advertisements

Vettel on pole but only after near miss Q1 exit

23 Mar

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Malaysia 2013

Winners:

Sebastian Vettel: Q1 – 2 races this season and 2 pole positions as Vettel cruised to pole position by a whole 0.9 seconds, but it wasn’t as simple as it appears with Vettel almost leaving qualifying in Q1 after the strategy  taken by Red Bull went wrong and it was only through doing a second timed lap that he made it through to Q2 even so it left the Red Bull management shaken.

Felipe Massa: Q2 – This time last year Massa was a laughing stock and yet here he is now starting on the front row ahead of Alonso and having out qualified him for the 4th time in a row, can we now say the pre 2009 Massa is back with a vengeance and if so what’s to stop him making amends for the title miss in 2008, only time will tell.

McLaren: Q8 and Q10 – There’s definitely still a long way to go for McLaren but the team must see it as a step in the right direction to have 2 drivers into Q3 even if it was obvious that they would never take pole. With conditions set to be wet tomorrow I can see McLaren challenging for 5th place since both drivers are very accomplished in the wet and rain does seem to even out the cars.

Losers:

Paul Di Resta: Q15 – Probably should have made it into Q3 had a disastrous Q2 strategy left him out. Di Resta came in at the end of his banker lap (a lap set on tyres from the previous session so that the driver has a time even if something goes wrong) meaning he hadn’t set a time when rain came out and left him completely out of qualifying.

Romain Grosjean: Q11 – Grosjean suffered the same as Di Resta with problem of rain stopping him improving on his lap time leaving him just out of Q3. 2013 hasn’t gone well for Grosjean so far with a bad race last weekend and now this but he’s got talent and should return to the top of his game soon.

Valtteri Bottas: Q18 – It’s been a bad start for Williams so far with Maldonado out in Q1 last week and Bottas suffering the same fate this weekend the car just isn’t working like the team will have hoped and this could be a direct consequence of being the only team to miss the Jerez test.

BREAKING: Raikkonen given a 3 place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg in Q3, this means Raikkonen is now 10th whilst Button Sutil and Perez move up one place each to 7th, 8th and 9th respectively.

Lotus claim first blood but rest aren’t far behind!

17 Mar

Good Day, Bad Day: Australia 2013.

Good Day:

  • Kimi Raikkonen: Q7 F1 10/10 – What a way for Raikkonen to start 2013, not only winning but winning in style in Australia with his closest challenger Fernando Alonso 12 seconds down the road, Lotus took a big gamble opting for the 2 stop strategy but it paid off with Raikkonen now the man to beat. 
  • Fernando Alonso: Q5 F2 8/10 – Fernando has a right to feel aggrieved for not winning the race he started the race well moving into 3rd on the first lap alone and the timing of his second stop was arguably the decision of the race undercutting both Vettel and Sutil after running behind both of them in 3rd. But if Alonso is disappointed with how his race today he needs only to look at his result here 12 months ago to be cheered up.
  • Sebastian Vettel: Q1 F3 7/10 – Vettel was out played by both Raikkonen and Alonso today on the strategy front, the 3 pit strategy was definitely the slower of the two and losing out to Alonso’s undercut was just unlucky, but Vettel will not be disappointed he’s only 10 points behind Raikkonen and the year isn’t over yet.
  • Felipe Massa: Q4 F4 8/10 – The pre 2009 Massa appears to be back for good, after some impressive races this year Massa started this season as he means to go on, racing for victories, he qualified ahead of Alonso which isn’t common and you never know he could be in championship contention this season.
  • Mercedes: 8/10 – When Hamilton moved to Mercedes many – I included – wrote him out of contention due to Mercedes’ not building good enough cars but they’ve changed that for this year, both cars were competitive in qualifying (Rosberg fastest in Q1 and Q2) and Hamilton qualifying 3rd and they were competitive today until they’re luck soured, Hamilton was ‘only’ 5th because of a massive lock up that moved him from his 2 stop strategy to a 3 stop and Rosberg was unlucky to suffer an electronic problem, Mercedes are definitely contenders this season.
  • Adrian Sutil: Q12 F7 9/10 – You wouldn’t believe that Sutil had missed 2012 looking at his performance today, he made a big call starting on the mediums but it payed off moving him up to 1st before his first pit stop and with his second pair of mediums he returned to the front, sadly he changed too early onto the ‘option’ tyres which cost him a lot of time and left him trying to hold drivers off.
  • Jules Bianchi: Q19 F15 10/10 – WOW! I knew Bianchi would be good in Formula 1 but I never thought he’d be this good, his times were stunningly fast he won the class B race and he was challenging midfield drivers during the race, Marussia have produced a fantastic car this season and I don’t think it would be going to far to say Bianchi could pick up points this season.

Bad Day:

  • Mark Webber: Q2 F6 6/10 – It was the dreadful start to the race that left Webber all but out of it but Webber definitely hates this track (even if it is his home GP) because it’s never worked out for him before here and if he wants to ever become F1 champion he’s going to need to do much better than that.
  • McLaren 5/10 – McLaren have a lot of work to do since their car does not look good in any way at the moment, only Button made it into Q3 and he didn’t even set a lap and in the race both drivers were fighting for the lower points, if this is going to be a good year for McLaren they need to up their game pronto.
  • Romain Grosjean: Q8 F10 5/10 – Whilst Raikkonen was winning the race Grosjean was struggling, yes he managed to avoid hitting anyone at the start but he finished a massive 84 seconds behind Kimi, Grosjean is seen as a quick driver but it all went wrong today and if he wants to fight for big points this season he needs to regain the speed he had last season.
  • Nico Hulkenburg: Q11 F- 6/10 – Hulkenburg’s race was over before it even began with him retiring before the race started due to problems with the fuel system, this is a real shame as Nico is one of the most talented drivers on the grid and maybe could have picked up some points today.

Swansong pole for Hamilton as McLaren go 1-2.

24 Nov

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Brazil 12.

Winners:

  • Lewis Hamilton – Q1: Despite already being ruled out of the drivers championship Hamilton was second to none in qualifying. Interlagos has never been a circuit where Lewis has performed strongly but if he has a good day tomorrow he could get his final McLaren victory before the move to the mediocre Mercedes.
  • Sebastian Vettel – Q4: It appears that so long as there’s no rain tomorrow Vettel will be only the third driver to take 3 championships on the trot, Vettel could only manage 4th in qualifying but with Alonso 8th only rain can realistically stop Vettel’s title charge.
  • Nico Hulkenburg – Q7: In comparison to his last F1 qualifying at Interlagos today was a massive disappointment but then again he’d set the target high. Hulkenburg’s 7th grid spot puts him ahead of 3 world champions (Alonso, Raikkonen and Schumacher since you ask) and ahead of team mate Di Resta. Hulkenburg’s talents are going to be wasted at Sauber next season, he should easily be driving for one of the bigger teams.

Losers:

  • Romain Grosjean – Q18: After an incident with Pedro De La Rosa and then a loss of a front wing Grosjean just couldn’t pull out a good enough lap to make it through to Q2. The start of the race will be vital for Grosjean tomorrow, with so many slower cars around him there’s a chance he could crash out on lap 1 again.
  • Michael Schumacher – Q14: 7 world championships, 91 race victories and 155 podiums. It all comes to an end tomorrow for the greatest F1 driver so far but it’s disappointing to see him so low down on the grid as Mercedes just haven’t been able to make a good enough car.
  • Fernando Alonso – Q8: Ferrari fans around the world will be hoping that Alonso’s car was on a wet setup when he qualified today because if he wasn’t then the championships as good as lost, the same can be said for if it doesn’t rain tomorrow. Alonso’s title chances hang by a thread.

Prediction:

With a front row lock out it looks like it will be a McLaren victory and from the performances so far this weekend I’d plump for Hamilton with Button 3rd. Webber is my bet for 2nd but I fully expect Vettel to come close to the podium, Massa will also be fighting for the podium so long as he doesn’t A, have to give up his position to Alonso or B, if he ‘accidentally’ collides with Vettel. If it rains then my prediction will definitely not be correct with maybe Button winning and the chance of both of the Ferrari drivers joining him on the podium.

The prediction for the championship is that Vettel will be the champion so long as there isn’t rain or a retirement for the German. If it does rain then predicting the champion is going to nigh on impossible.

The F1F daily rumour: 06/11/12

6 Nov

It was the first day of the Abu Dhabi young drivers test featuring McLaren, Red Bull, Sauber, Lotus, Caterham and Toro Rosso. Young Dane Kevin Magnussen set the fastest time of 1 minute 42.651 seconds. Full Story: AUTOSPORT.com If you’d like to see the full team line ups for the weekend click here.

Despite being involved in many a first lap crash Lotus are unconcerned by Romain Grosjean’s most recent incident in Abu Dhabi. Lotus boss Eric Boullier said that “he did not feel Grosjean was to blame” and that it will not have an “impact on the Frenchman’s future.” These announcements come at a pivotal time with Grosjean still not announced as driving for Lotus in 2013. Full Story: AUTOSPORT.com

F1 race winner Robert Kubica who hasn’t yet returned to the sport after a life threatening crash in Febuary 2011 will drive a Citroen World Rally Championship car in two upcoming rallies, the Rally di Como and the Rallye du Var. Kubica has recently made a return to rallying and it looks likely that he will do some testing for Pirelli’s F1 tyres next season. Full Story: F1SA

After the retirement of Lewis Hamilton from last weekends Abu Dhabi Grand Prix whilst leading the race Martin Whitmarsh has stressed that reliability problems are not common at McLaren and that it’s just a part of the sport. Full Story: Bettor.com

Caterham team principle Tony Fernandes has announced he will step down from his position before the end of the season to focus on his road car business. Although he doesn’t know who will replace him he said it will be someone who is already in F1. Full Story: AUTOSPORT.com

After performing strongly in the Italian Formula 3 series, Riccardo Agostini (champion) and Eddie Cheever (runner up) have been given the opportunity to test for Ferrari on the 9th November at Vallelunga driving the 2010 Ferrari that took Alonso to 2nd in the championship. The duo will be joined by European Formula 3 champion Daniel Juncadella. Full Story: AUTOSPORT.com

Sauber test driver Robin Frijns has revealed he’s twice declined to join the Red Bull young driver development programme saying “They treat you like a dog.” Frijns has today been driving for Sauber in the young drivers test and is set to become the teams reserve driver for 2013. Full Story: F1SA 

Ever wanted to know Jenson Button’s hangover cure or what his biggest vice is? Then read the full interview: Daily Mail Online.

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.

 

Romain Grosjean given 1 race ban. Is it fair?

4 Sep

At turn one of last weekends dramatic GP there was an almighty pile up at turn one forcing 4 drivers to retire and giving Kobayashi damage that would ruin his race, as a result of this Romain Grosjean was found to be guilty of causing the incident by the FIA and as a result of this he has been given a 1 race ban and a £40,000 fine. This decision was made due to the potential injury caused by this crash, but is it a fair decision?

At a first glance it would appear fair, I mean Alonso wasn’t far from suffering a serious – and maybe fatal – injury, but from watching replays of the crash I don’t feel Grosjean was entirely responsible for the crash and that the crash should have been put down as a racing incident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4v5mM98YQ-E

From watching this replay it appears that Grosjean made a slight error of judgement over how close his rear right tyre was to Hamilton’s front left and that he started braking for turn 1 slightly to early, these mistakes could very easily be put down as a lack of experience and a racing incident, but due to the result of this crash the officials decided he should be banned from competing in this weekend’s Italian GP.

If that is the reason the FIA gave Grosjean the ban then they should look back  to the final race of the 2010 season to find another time when a car went over the top of the other when at turn 6 on lap 1 Adrian Sutil’s Force India went over the top of Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes. This crash forced the retirement of both of the drivers and forced the rest of the field to use a different track layout for a few laps (the only change of the route was to skip the chicane where the crash happened). As a result of this crash – which like Grosjean’s could have caused a serious injury – Sutil received no disciplinary action, whilst Grosjean’s similar crash has given him a one race ban and a £40,000 fine, this shows a lack of consistency from the FIA, something many fans have repeatedly criticised the FIA for.

Despite the unfairness of the decision it has happened now and Renault will have to field a different driver for the team this weekend, here are some of the main contenders:

Jerome D’Ambrosio: current Lotus reserve driver.

  • Jerome was the second driver for Marussia last season and the young Belgian put in a solid rookie season which didn’t merit being dropped from the team.
  • Positives: He’s had lots of experience with the team in pre season testing and drove all season last year. He’s highly regarded and he could pick up points for team.
  • Negatives: He’s never driven a competitive car in race conditions before.
  • Chances: 8/10

Nick Heidfeld: drove for Lotus (who were Renault) for the first half of last season.

  • Nick put in consistent performances for Renault last season including a podium in the second race of the season in Malaysia.
  • Positives: Nick’s a consistent performer and is likely to put in a good performance and pick up points.
  • Negatives: Was dropped last season for not being good enough, he’s unlikely to have got better over the past year and is famous for being the driver to hold the record for the most races (and points) without a win.
  • Chances: 4/10

With such short notice it is very unlikely that Lotus wouldn’t choose D’Ambrosio for the coming weekend and it should provide us an good insight to how good Jerome can be with a competitive team.