Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Secret of Sebastian's Success in Bahrain

By Editor - 23 April 2013

Whether or not the 2013 Bahrain GP marks the beginning of another Red Bull dominated season, is yet to be seen. Not the fastest car over one lap and certainly not the fastest on the straights, Sebastian Vettel caressed 'Kinky Kylie' to a very dominant victory.

He also demonstrated why he is a triple world champion and why he can indeed pass. Sebastian answered his critics in superb style as he swept passed Fernando Alonso on the first lap at turn 5 and overtook Nico Rosberg a few laps later in the same corner - all without DRS!

Did Sebastian have any secrets at his disposal to take such a dominant victory?

According to Christian Horner, it was he who advised Sebastian of the overtaking opportunity at turn 5. This strategy learnt while Christian was watching the same overtaking moves being performed in the GP2 race earlier in the day. Horner relayed this to Sebastian who replied jokingly, that he (Sebastian) did not need to be told how to do his job. However, the two crucial overtakes at turn 5 showed that Vettel is not a man who would let pride get in the way of his fourth consecutive WDC.

Sebastian also sported lucky charms on his shoes, one of which was given to him by his grandmother. These lucky charms seem to have protected Sebastian against the bad luck that have plagued Fernando Alonso over the last few years. In the last race of 2012, a collision with Senna damaged his exhaust and should have spelled the end of Sebastian's WDC campaign. But Sebastian dragged his damaged RB8 home to take 6th and the 2012 title.

However, the main reason for Sebastian's win in Bahrain could be attributed to the fact that he was able to apply the same proven formula which has helped him become the youngest triple world champion ever.

His formula: Get into clean air, open a 10 second gap, maintain that gap, check lap times and respond to the pitstops of his rivals, continue to cruise and maintain the gap, leave a little bit of tyre life for an attempt at the fastest lap, bring the car home first and show the world the finger.

Sebastian likes free air and knows it is crucial if he wants to secure a win.

"I love to be in clean air so I was pushing hard to get into the lead, and certainly at the end, with the speed we had mid race, it [the win] was quite comfortable" stated Vettel after the race.

In China, Sebastian lost vital time behind Nico Hulkenberg's Sauber. Vettel was unable to pass Nico on the track despite the Sauber being a significantly slower car. Vettel was only able to pass Nico in the pits, but the lost time cost him a podium finish.

The RB9 seems aerodynamically sensitive and seems to struggle behind another car's dirty air - more so than other teams. In clean air however, it is a different beast. This may explain why Mark Webber, who is unable to consistenly lead a race, has less race wins to his name. This seems to be the RB9's Achilles heal.

In Bahrain, Vettel knew that taking the lead early and getting in clean air was crucial. If he was unable to do this, it would have compromised his race. The fact that he saved all his KERS for turn 5 enabling him to execute those vital passes, shows that Sebastian is also an intelligent racer.

The only hope for the majority F1 fans who do not want to see Sebastian's index finger race after race is for the other teams to up their game. Ferrari need to improve their strategy calls and their reliability. Lotus on the other hand, need to develop a car that is capable of consistently qualifying higher up the grid so Kimi has less work to do. Mercedes need to find a solution to their tyre degradation issues.

However, once Red Bull work out how to best use these new Pirelli tyres, it is feared that not even the combined might of Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes can deny Sebastian Vettel's insatiable appetite to win.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Chinese GP Post Race : Driver of the Day

By Editor - 14 April 2013

Lewis Hamilton leads into turn 3
The Chinese GP lacked the controversy that plagued the Malaysian GP which had F1 fans talking for weeks. Although not without its controversy (nine drivers found using DRS illegally although no punishments were handed out for this mass rule breach) the Chinese GP was in comparison, rather lacklustre.

However the top five finishers, all ex champions, had teammates who had forgettable races. In a way, this race demonstrated why the cream always rises to the top.

Below are our nominations for Driver of the Day:

Fernando Alonso (1st)

Fernando Alonso drove a controlled and flawless race to achieve Ferrari's first win of the season. Alonso made another blistering start and passed Kimi Raikkonen, his main rival. On lap 5, with the help of DRS, Fernando passed Lewis on the main straight and took the lead. Ferrari pitted Alonso on lap 7, which turned out to be the optimum lap for pitting. Massa who stopped a lap later rejoined the track behind cars starting o the mediums who held up Massa. Felipe finished a lowly sixth given his equipment. One thing that set Fernando from Felipe today was his ability to execute some bold overtakes that prevented Fernando from losing time behind slower cars. After his final stop on lap 42, Alonso reeled in Vettel to retake the lead, although the Red Bull champion was instructed not to fight Alonso. Fernando cruised home to take a dominant win, showing that Fernando Alonso still has his magic touch.

Kimi Raikkonen (2nd)

Kimi Raikkonen was able to drag his damaged car home to achieve a well deserved second place. Kimi made a poor start to the race, losing out places to Alonso and Massa by the first corner. He was nudged off the track by Sergio Perez and slid over to rumble strip, colliding into the back of the Mexican. Kimi's front wing, although damaged, survived the impact and he was able to continue recording consistent lap times. By undercutting Lewis Hamilton on lap 35, Raikkonen overtook Lewis for second place. He was able keep that position, holding off a charge from Lewis until the Mercedes's tyres were shot. Kimi Raikkonen continues show solid racecraft despite his sabbatical from Formula 1 racing. A well deserved second place.

Sebastian Vettel (4th)

Sebastian drove a stunning final stint to challenge for a podium place after starting from 9th on the grid. Red Bull took the risk to start Sebastian on the primes, a decision that hindered rather than helped the young German. Hulkenberg inherited the lead after the first set of pit stops, with Vettel trailing in second. Vettel took the lead from Nico Hulkenburg after a tidy pit stop from the RBR pit crew. He lead the race from lap 27 for five laps. Sebastian still had to make one a last stop for the compulsory option tyre. He made the most of his new sets of softs and was able to close a 13 second gap to Lewis Hamilton in four laps - eeking out 3.5 seconds per lap to the car in front. Sebastian made a valient effort to finish only 0.2 seconds behind Lewis, narrowly missing out on a podium. Another determined drive from the triple world champion.

Daniel Ricciardo (7th)

With his best ever race finish, Daniel Ricciardo brought home 6 points coming in 7th. Having made Q3 and qualifying an impressive 7th on the grid, Daniel was able to finish in the same position he started. This is despite Daniel having to change a nose cone after a collision with Nico Rosberg. Hand picked by Dr Marko himself, Daniel is showing the promise that got him selected into the RBR Junior Driving Programme. Making up for his poor start to the season, Daniel is demonstrating the speed that may ultimately see him replace his fellow countryman in the sister Red Bull team.

Who was your driver of the day and why?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Stressed Alonso hints at a short first stint

By Editor - 14 April 2013

Fernando Alonso wary of competitors

Fernando Alonso qualified 3rd, ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa, putting the brakes on Massa’s teammate-beating qualifying streak. However, the Spaniard has more pressing concerns as he attempts to achieve Ferrari’s first win of the season.

Fernando was looking good for a pole after an impressive run in Practice 3. However, with Lewis Hamilton claiming a convincing pole, Kimi Raikonnen ahead of him and Sebastian Vettel starting on medium tyres, Fernando knows that a win is not so straight forward.

“I expect tomorrow to be fighting for the podium and hopefully for the win” said a relatively confident Alonso.

Whilst Alonso is confident of overtaking Hamilton, he is more wary of Raikkonen and Vettel.

“I think especially with Kimi we have we will have a strong opponent because normally Lotus and Kimi are the best at taking care of tyres and tomorrow we know that tyres will be the key factor.”

Alonso also hinted at the fact that Ferrari may be opting for a very short first stint on the option tyres – perhaps 2 or 3 laps, as this could allow Ferrari to undercut both Mercedes and Lotus.
“Pitting first will be an advantage, obviously in terms of pace. The shorter you do it [the stint], the better it is because you are quicker. ”

However, what is causing the most stress for Alonso and Ferrari is the fact that racers up to 8th place will be starting on mediums and will have a longer first stint. After the short stint on the softs, the front runners may find themselves stuck behind a mid-field train.

“The problem is that you will be in a group of cars and you destroy the second [set of] tyres running in that group.

“In this race, not only people in 11th are starting with primes, people in 9th are already starting with primes. Some people like Vettel and Button will be longer with the primes.”

With Sebastian and Jenson has opting to start on the medium tyre, both he and Jenson will leap-frog into the lead after the first set of stops. If Sebastian is able to drive a controlled race, he may find himself on the top step of the podium with a surprising win from 9th on the grid.

In response to a statement that the race will be very exciting, Alonso replied with “For you yes, for us, very stressful”

Although a podium is likely for Fernando, the Spaniard is eager to bridge the points gap to Sebastian Vettel with a victory in China. Only a combination of clever strategy and a stunning drive from Alonso can achieve this.

Unpredictable Chinese GP: Strategy key to race

By Editor - 14 April 2013

The 2006, 2007, 2008 former world champions (left to right)

The 2013 Chinese GP is looking to yield some unpredictable results as reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button have chosen to qualify and start on the medium compound tyres.

With the first seven runners choosing to start on the soft option tyre, the majority of the front running teams (Mercedes, Ferrari, Lotus) seem to believe that a higher grid position will provide a better platform with which to achieve a race win.

Asked why Lotus did not choose to start on the primes, race favourite Kimi Raikonnen replied "We chose to do this [strategy] because we think it is the fastest way in qualifying and in the race."

However, on analysis, starting on the mediums could provide an advantage over starting the softs.

The medium tyres have demonstrated consistent performance in race simulations during free practice. Mark Webber was able to produce solid lap times over 20 laps on the medium tyres, whereas the soft compound seem only good for one or two laps before dropping off significantly.

At the start of the race, with the cars fully loaded with fuel, the soft tyre will have to endure higher loads and g-forces, which could take more life out of tyres. Further to that, a track not yet “rubbered-in” would be more punishing to the soft tyre. This suggests that starting on mediums and running the softs in better conditions at the end of the race would maximise the soft tyre performance

Drivers starting on the mediums will find themselves in the lead after five or so laps (possibly less) – putting them clear air. Front-runners starting on the option tyre will be forced to pit early, rejoining the track behind the mid-field runners. Apart from a drop in lap times caused by following a slower car, the time spent in the turbulent air of a mid-fielder will increase tyre degradation and could destroy the important second set of tyres. The amount of time lost behind slower cars will be crucial to the overall outcome of the race.

Furthermore, allocating the soft compound for the final stint has its advantages. The cars will be lighter on fuel and also there will be more rubber on the track providing more grip. The softs could theoretically produce significantly better laps times and for a greater number of laps (4 or 5 good laps compared to only 1or 2).

However, there is an inherent problem with starting on mediums; and that is, grid position. Button cruised into 8th position whilst Sebastian did not set a lap time in Q3. This put them in 8th and 9th respectively.

"Starting in 9th and 10th means you are in the carbon fibre zone" said Brawn, referring to the higher probability of a collision with the mid field drivers. An early collision could mean a DNF, as it did with Fernando Alonso in Sepang.

The verdict is still out on which tyre strategy will produce a race win. Will Red Bull’s decision to go against the grain pay off in a glorious victory for Vettel, or will it lead to a miss opportunity for the team?

Either way, Sunday’s Chinese GP race should be a cracker as the answer to this question which is baffling strategists and pundits alike, is finally revealed.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Alonso vs Massa...Who will win?

By Editor - 5 April 2013

The Ferrari duo battling it out

Massa has out qualified Alonso in an unprecedented four consecutive times in four races. He has also scored more points than Alonso so far (22 to 18). Felipe Massa is beginning to show the same form he did when he almost won the 2008 championship.

However, it may not mean that this trend will continue. If we analyse the last four Ferrari qualifying sessions, we will see how the Massa was able to out-qualify Alonso.

Starting with this year's opening races in Melbourne and Malaysia, we saw how in both instances, rain disrupted the qualifying sessions. This has helped to mix up the grid. In both Q3 sessions, Massa set his best time after Alonso. This meant that Massa was able to take advantage of a drying track to beat his teammate.

Turn the clock back to the last two races of 2012, to the US GP and the Brazilian GP. In those races, Massa ran an updated rear wing giving him an advantage. With the issues regarding wind tunnel correlation, Alonso chose the more conservative route and opted no to use the updates - Fernando had more to lose after all. In effect, Massa was running a different spec car which gave him an advantage in qualifying.

Despite this, no doubt Felipe Massa is finding the F138 to his liking. The 2012 F150th Italia was a difficult car to drive and Felipe struggled in it. However Ferrari have brought a more balanced car to the table and Massa is showing what he can do in a good car.

The fact that Massa has upped his game means that the racing between the two Ferrari drivers will be tight. Will Alonso be able to repeat his 2012 form and demonstrate the familiar dominance we expect from him? Or will a resurgent Felipe Massa beat his teammate and earn his spot in red beyond 2013?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Reb Bull Racing sets new pit stop record in Malaysia

By Editor - 3 April 2013

With the talking point of late focusing on the controversy surrounding Sebastian Vettel's unethical overtake of Mark Webber, Red Bull's record breaking pit stop at the Malaysian Grand Prix went largely unnoticed.

The new record pit stop time of 2.05s was set on Webber's 2nd stop - 0.26 seconds faster than the previous record.

The previous record of 2.31s was achieved by McLaren in the 2012 German grand prix. That time was somewhat motivated by Sam Michael's offer to shout the McLaren pit crew drinks if they broke the record - which they did.

Whilst Red Bull's motivation stemming from the desire to win their fourth consecutive title.

Apart from the recording breaking time, Red Bull consistently set blistering pit stop times, most of them under the previous record, as shown in the list below:

Vettel Stop 1 (Lap 5): 2.13 seconds
Webber Stop 1 (Lap 7): 2.13 seconds
Webber Stop 2 (Lap 19): 2.05 seconds
Webber Stop 3 (Lap 31): 2.21 seconds
Webber Stop 4 (Lap 43): 2.26 seconds

(Data courtesy of Red Bull)

These pit stop times gave the Mark and Sebastian an advantage in the race enabling them to stay ahead of Lewis and Nico at crucial points in the race.

With only 0.06 seconds to achieve a sub two-second pit stop, the two-second barrier could be breached this season, and most likely by Red Bull.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Ecclestone arrested in Germany over Gribkowksy Bribery Case

By Editor - 1 April 2013

Bernie Eccelstone pounced on by German police

Bernie Eccelstone was arrested by German police earlier today as he attended an Easter Mass in Germany. Mr Eccelstone had secretly flown into Berlin by private jet to meet with the organisers of the Nurburgring GP to be held later this year.

His arrest follows allegations that Bernie Eccelstone bribed former chief risk officer Gerhard Gribkowsky in order to guarantee the sale of Formula 1 to CVC.

The FOM boss was heavily tackled by members of German Federal Police as he attempted run the gaunlet from the alter to his waiting Bentley outside of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.

As he was forced into the a police van, he was heard hollering "I didn't do it! I'm innocent!" The paparazzi who were quick at the scene, took photos of the dramatic raid but offered little assistance as the now distraught Eccelstone began offering 10 million pounds to anyone who could help him escape.

Sources say that Bernie was allowed the obligatory phone call, but unfortunately his called to Michael Schumacher resulted in a voice message, with Michael unconvincingly stating that he was enjoying his retirement at his ranch.

Bail has been set for 10 billion euros as the German courts are keen on detaining the elusive F1 Supremo.

Several leading prosecutors in the case have cut their Easter holiday short and are beginning preparations for an ensuing trial.