Monthly Archives: September 2012

Lewis Hamilton signs with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has ended weeks of intense speculation by signing a new contract with Mercedes. McLaren have pumped millions into Hamilton’s career on the way to F1 but he has no ditched the team to take up a place with Mercedes.

This move will cause huge ripples through the paddock and will promote Sauber’s young star Sergio Perez to McLaren. It could also leave the door open for Heikki Kovalainen to go to Sauber and Pic to replace Heikki at Caterham.

Despite Hamilton’s recent down-turn in form, The move will be a big advantage for Mercedes who are already developing their 2014 eco-friendly engines that are expected to see them at the front of the paddock. Hamilton has been given complete No.1 status within the team and will partner Nico Rosberg.

The 2008 World Champion was swooped up by Mercedes after they offered him a pay-rise as opposed to McLaren who offered him the equivalent of a pay-cut. 

This move will leave Michael Schumacher without a seat but it is still unsure if he will leave the sport permanently. Peter Sauber has said that he would offer Schumacher a seat at the team if he wanted it, but this would be a massive downturn in terms of performance for the German.

Hamilton had been driving with McLaren since 2007 and has won 20 races.


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USA GP in doubt says Ecclestone

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt over the 2013 New Jersey Grand Prix after he confirmed that the organisers no longer have a valid contract to hold the Grand Prix.

The race which would take place on the streets of New York is scheduled to join the F1 calender in 2013, Just 7 months after the Circuit Of The America’s in Texas hold’s its first Grand Prix. The construction of a huge pit and paddock complex has already begun on the banks of the famous Hudson River. But today, Bernie Ecclestone told  the Guardian that the organisers of the race “have not complied with the terms and conditions of the contract which is now gone anyway. They don’t have a contract.”

A provisional calender for the 2013 season was released during last weekends Singapore Grand Prix and has the New Jersey Grand Prix in place of the Valencia Grand Prix in mid-june but is marked ‘subject to confirmation”.

Ecclestone reckons the organisers don’t have long to meet the terms of the contract with the calender expected to be approved at Friday’s World Motor Sport Council meeting.

“We are pretty close to the final deadline,” he added. “We have got a world council meeting coming up. I think if somebody got behind them it could happen in 2013 because they have come a long way with the circuit.”

A similar situation arose with the Circuit Of The America’s last year before a deal was finally struck in December 2011.

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Ferrari ready to keep Massa for 2013

The Prancing Horse is gearing up to announce a new contract with 2008 World Championship contender, Felipe Massa.

Massa has been the focus of massive media attention regarding his performances and his worthiness at Ferrari, after not taking a single race win since his horrific crash in 2009. The Brazilian was warned by Ferrari bossed that he had the first half of this season to keep his drive but failed miserably, consistently finishing out of the points in stark comparison to his golden-boy team-mate who has been leading the championship standing’s since the second round of the season. But, at the mid-point of the season at Silverstone, Massa had a great race, finishing 4th and has been keeping great pace since.

Indeed, last weekend at the Singapore Grand Prix, Massa suffered a puncture at the first corner of the race but stormed through the field to finish in a good 9th.

But even after this good performance there had been some doubts as to him definitely having a seat in 2013 with Sauber’s Sergio Perez been linked to his place at the team. Now though, Esteemed journalist Roger Benoit has written in the Swiss paper “Blick” that “It (2013) will be his eighth season in red,”.

And the speculation is increased after Fernando Alonso, Massa’s team-mate for three years, backed him at the weekends Singapore Grand Prix.

“With all the names you hear, if you compare what Felipe has done and what these little names have done. In my opinion we need to have a driver that respects Ferrari, that respects the tradition that here we work for the team, for the red cars” added Alonso.

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Picking the best Monaco Grand Prix is running a competition in which F1 Blogger’s have to pick their favourite Monaco Grand Prix and explain why. You could probably guess that this is an extremely hard task. How can one pick the best race at the best track? It would be easier to walk to the moon!

But yet loving a competition, I sat down and thought about it. I decided that I would not pick the 1951, 1953 or 1954 Grand Prix as my favourite. Why? Because the Monaco Grand Prix wasn’t held this year. Great. 3 down, 59 to go.

Being a Mark Webber fan, I considered the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix. I’m also a Schumacher fan, so a weekend when Michael Schumacher claimed pole position, temporarily, and Mark Webber won, would be a sure thing for me. But, knowing that people who are not Webber fans found it boring, I eventually dismissed this idea.

And so I set into my research. But as I read about each Grand Prix I became even more indecisive, realising how many great Monaco Grand Prix there have been.

I did, However, finally manage to narrow my list down to four Grand Prix.

– 1969
– 1982
– 1984
– 1994

1969 – The 1969 Monaco Grand Prix is notable for being the first pole position for Sir Jackie Stewart and also the last win for ‘Mr. Monaco’, Graham Hill.

1982 – The 1982 Monaco Grand Prix is notable for being “the race nobody wanted to win”.

1984 – The 1984 Monaco Grand Prix is notable for being Ayrton Senna’s first Monaco Grand Prix. He took the lead from Prost but the race was red flagged by Jacky Ickx who deemed the race too dangerous. This gave the race win to Prost. This decision was controversial as the track was starting to dry AND Prost was racing with a Porsche engine, with whom Ickx worked.

1994 – The 1994 Monaco Grand Prix is notable for being the first Grand Prix after the death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger. The FIA chose to leave the first two grid boxes empty in respect of the two drivers, and painted a Brazilian flag in one box and a Polish flag in the other.

It took a long time, but I finally decided that in my opinion, The 1982 Monaco Grand Prix was the best Monaco Grand Prix in the Formula One calendar.

Here is the report.

1982 Monaco Grand Prix

The mood in the Paddock was sombre. Just two weeks beforehand, Gilles Villeneuve lost his life at the Belgian Grand Prix. Ferrari chose not to use a reserve driver for the Grand Prix and instead only ran one car.

The top five in Qualifying consisted of Rene Arnoux in Pole Position, Riccardo Patrese second, Bruno Giacomelli third, Alain Prost fourth and Keke Rosberg fifth.

Arnoux kept his lead off the line and there was no incidents at the start. Giacomelli jumped Patrese for 2nd place and Patrese dropped to 3rd while Andrea De Cesaris jumped Michele Alboreto and Keke Rosberg to 6th. Prost took advantage of Patrese going wide to take 3rd and Giacomelli who was second, retired on Lap 4 with an axle problem which promoted Prost to 2nd. It was a parade, with no overtaking until Lap 15 when Arnoux spun his car and stalled. Prost took the lead of the race but Patrese was looking menacing and started to close in.

But although Patrese caught Prost, he could do nothing to pass the Frenchman in the tight streets of Monte Carlo.

It was yet another parade for most of the race until on Lap 65, the rain began to fall. Keke Rosberg was the first to retire after hitting a barrier almost straight away when the rain fell. Daly copied Rosberg and hit the barrier at Tabac, but managed to keep going although he was now minus a rear wing and he was loosing oil. Lap 74 of 76 saw Prost who had been leading the race, hitting the barriers hard at the swimming pool chicane. Patrese took lead of the race. For a lap. On lap 75 he spun at the Loews hairpin which let Pironi take the lead.

Pironi began to celebrate his win when he crossed the line for his last lap, waving to the crowd. . . But he was going slowly! He was out of fuel! De Cesaris stormed in to take the lead but then he too ran out of fuel! And so, the win was to be claimed by Irishman Derek Daly. Until, with just corners left, he ran out of oil!

At this stage, baffled officials and commentators had no idea who was winning until Riccardo Patrese who had re-started his car crossed the line.

The amazing final few laps of the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix highlight just why the Monaco Grand Prix is the best track on the calendar. Anything can happen!

This is my entry to the “F1ashback” competition run by in conjunction with which is open to any F1 Blogger who is passionate about F1, to win two tickets for the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix. If you are a blogger and want to enter, All you have to do is write an article on your favourite Monaco Grand Prix and why it is your favourite including what separates it from the other Monaco Grand Prix. The article must be at least 500 words long and have a 100 word description of the competition on the bottom of the article. You must publish the article by Wednesday 26th of September.

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Mark Webber given post-race penalty

Mark Webber has been given a post-race penalty for an illegal overtake, after Schumacher was also given a 10-place grid penalty for Suzuka.

Mark Webber overtook Kamui Kobayashi in the closing stages of the race and the stewards decided that going off track benefited the overtake. Webber was also reprimanded yesterday (Saturday) after leaving the track twice during his in-lap in Q3.Webber is now 11th.

Webber’s team-mate, Sebastian Vettel was investigated for nearly two hours by stewards regarding his close call with Jenson Button, but the stewards decided that he was not to blame for the incident.

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Schumacher handed grid penalty

Michael Schumacher has been handed a 10-place grid penalty after a collision with the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne.

The German’s brakes failed but this did not halt the FIA in punishing Schumacher with a whopping 10-place grid penalty. Schumacher was launched into the back of Vergne’s car which took both driver’s out of the race in almost perfect symetry with 2011 when Schumacher was launched over the back of Sergio Perez.

Schumacher claimed that his brakes failed and that even though he was pressing the pedal, they weren’t responding. He eventually got a slight response from them which enabled him to brake somewhat and lock up the tyre’s before hitting Vergne.

It is also a similar incident to the one in Barcelona involving Bruno Senna. In that occasion, Schumacher was handed a 5-place grid penalty which proved costly as he got pole position in Monaco 2 weeks later but was demoted to 6th.

The stewards are still deliberating on the Vettel/Button incident.

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Vettel returns to winning ways in Singapore

Sebastian Vettel has won the Singapore Grand Prix, taking his second win of this season, the other being in Bahrain.

Lewis Hamilton was on pole position, in front of Maldonado, Vettel and Button for the race. At lights out, Hamilton sped away from his line followed Maldonado, Vettel and Button. In Turn 2, Maldonado went wide and he was swamped by Vettel and Button, dropping him back to 4th. There was absolute carnage behind them. Webber, Schumacher and Raikkonen went three abreast into Turn 1 while Massa was hit by Petrov which dropped Massa down to last place with a puncture and left Petrov without a front wing.

Several other drivers including Webber and Rosberg cut the first corner but Stewards let them off, on the basis that they had taken avoiding action. After that, the driver’s made it safely around the rest of the lap. After Massa made his pitstop, he was flying! He straight away set a new fastest lap and would prove to be the fastest driver on the grid, despite the fact he was almost a minute down.

Hamilton continued to pull out his lead to Vettel and was shaping up to become ‘SingaBore’ as the fans have dubbed it. Timo Glock went wide into the tunnel on lap 10 and damaged the barrier but, miraculously, had no damage to his car. At the same time, Bruno Senna was warned not to use his 1st gear as he was nursing a problem with his gearbox.

Vettel pitted on Lap 15 and came out behind four cars battling for position. Not what the reigning World Champion was looking for. Hamilton had clean air ahead of him and pushed to make sure he came back out of the pits in front of Vettel. He pushed hard though and was left loosing 0.3 of a second per sector in a lap, Forcing him into the pits. He made it out ahead of Vettel.

Kobayashi had a close call while being passed by Rosberg. Nico went around the outside of Kamui into the corner and he started going sideways. His car like reactions ensured he kept racing.

The action really started to die down and Jeremy Clarkson came onto twitter saying “If I wanted to watch loads of cars driving along, I could stand on a motorway bridge.”

5 laps passed by and people began to fall asleep before the unthinkable happened. Race leader Hamilton was stopping! In the word’s of Martin Brundle “He had a box full of neutrals”. A very angry Lewis pulled into a run-off area while Vettel slipped past into the lead, no doubt with a wide grin.

The safety car wasn’t needed and the racing kept going. All of a sudden, the race picked up. Alonso made several attempts at passing Maldonado and I had to cover my eyes at some very close calls with Maldonado swiping in front of him at one point. I could see a collision between the two about to happen before Narain Karthikeyan stuck his HRT in the barrier in the tunnel. It was bad luck for the Indian, his championship challenge is surely over!

The Safety Car came out and Maldonado was told over the radio to box; they were retiring the car. The safety car stayed out for a few laps, maybe a couple too many, but when it was finally coming in, Jenson Button nearly took himself and Vettel out of the race. Sebastian sped up to brake suddenly and make sure his brakes were warm, but Button mis-read it as a re-start and he had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

But when the race was going again, Schumacher hit the back of Vergne. It was almost completely identical to his 2011 crash with Perez and this time, Vergne and Perez were fighting for position with Schumacher behind. Schumacher locked the brakes and could do nothing as he sailed straight into the back of the Toro Rosso. A very angry Ross Brawn came on the radio saying “What was that, What was that?”. But when Schumacher got back to the garage, he confirmed that he had suffered a brakes failure. He was pressing the brakes but they were not slowing the car down. He was very lucky that Vergne was there or he would have had a very hard impact with the barriers. Nevertheless, Has this cemented Schumi’s retirement at the end of the year?

This brought the safety car out again. Petrov pitted and came out of his box with a loose wheel nut. He stopped at the end of the pit lane and the team had enough time to bring him back to the pits, re-attach the wheel and send him back out before the Safety Car came back in.

Massa was really flying at the restart. He was right behind Senna at the start and challenging. Coming out of the ‘Singapore Sling’ chicane, He went up the inside of Senna and Senna completely closed the door. Senna shoved his fellow Brazilian into the wall but Massa kept the pedal down and showed fantastic car control to stop the car spinning. The stewards were very fair on Senna and let him off.

Massa then stormed straight up to Ricciardo and flew past him too. Down the field, Kobayashi, Webber, Hulkenberg and Perez were all battling for position. Perez saw a gap to Hulkenberg and went for it, but only resulted in him loosing his front wing’s right endplate. Hulkenberg kept his position and half a lap later Webber overtook Kobayashi. Hulkenberg sensed his opportunity and went up the inside of Kobayashi but only got a whack of a front wing of Kobayashi for his efforts. Hulkenberg was left with a puncture, Kobayashi had no front wing and Webber raced away from them.

The Singapore Grand Prix is also a long one and this year was no different. Instead of a lap counter, A clock countdown was introduced on top of the screen with 12 mins to go. Webber was storming through the field now and caught Senna at 1 second a lap. He passed the Brazilian and focused his efforts on passing Ricciardo in the sister car. The stewards then announced that they were investigating Webber’s pass on Kobayashi as it may have been an off-track pass. As of yet, there is no decision.

With two minutes left on the clock, Vettel was 7 seconds up on Button and soon set upon his final lap. Bruno Senna was forced to retire his car on the last lap with a hydraulics problem, the same thing that took Maldonado out of the race.

But nothing could stop Vettel from winning; No faulty Alternator’s to take him out of the race and he crossed the line first, Followed by Button, Alonso and Di Resta in his highest ever F1 finish.

Timo Glock finished 12th, Charles Pic finished 15th (But was demoted to 16th following his 20-second penalty from FP3), and this promoted the Marussia team to 10th in the standing’s, ahead of Caterham.

Alonso still lead’s the championship, Followed by Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton.

Final Standings:
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Jenson Button
3. Fernando Alonso
4. Paul Di Resta
5. Nico Rosberg
6. Kimi Raikkonen
7. Romain Grosjean
8. Felipe Massa
9. Daniel Ricciardo
10. Mark Webber
11. Sergio Perez
12. Timo Glock
13. Kamui Kobayashi
14. Nico Hulkenberg
15. Heikki Kovalainen
16. Charles Pic
17. Pedro De La Rosa
18. Bruno Senna
19. Vitaly Petrov


Lewis Hamilton – Gearbox failure
Narain Karthikeyan – Collision
Jean-Eric Vergne – Collision
Michael Schumacher – Collision
Pastor Maldonado – Hydraulics

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F1 2012: First thoughts

Codemasters won the rights to the F1 game franchise in 2008 after Sony’s contract ran out. The first game in 2009 was nothing major, but 2010 saw a massive change in the series. The obvious change was the amazing graphics aswell as a fantastic new weather system which allowed a race to be wetter in some parts of the tracks, than others.

2011 followed a year later with even more changes; The new DRS and KERS, massively improved steering, a possibility of a red flag during races and a cool new feature, the introduction of a Safety Car.

Codies had a lot to live up to for the 2012 edition and they lived up to it. . . . Kind of.

A notable observation is the improvement in graphics, again. Another fantastic introduction is the first lap carnage. In 2011, The cars would be slow off the line and go into the first few corners in a nice neat line to allow the player to make massive gains at the start, which was very unrealistic and not enjoyable. But in 2012, the cars are all over the track, you can’t get as much an advantage coming off the line, and there is utter pandemonium into the first few corners. Although, if you are good enough, you can jump from the back to the middle of the pack, you will have a very hard time of not being passed by the faster cars. For example, If you are driving for Marussia, You will be swamped by the Sauber’s, Force India’s and the Toro Rosso’s in the mid-field.

Another great feature is the penalties. If you overtake someone off track, you will not be automatically given a time penalty, but you have a time limit that comes up on the screen which gives you time to give back the place before the time runs out, or you are given a penalty.

Practice has been scaled down from the usual 3 practice sessions to just one practice session in a weekend. Steve Hood, creative designer at codemasters made the final call and based his decision on the fact that there was nothing to entice players to do practice and he decided to remove two sessions until he could develop something to improve practice.

One of the biggest new features in F1 2012 is the Young Driver’s Test in Abu Dhabi which enables you to drive with either Red Bull, McLaren or Ferrari where you do various tests such as straight line tests, KERS and DRS tests among other tests, ending in an overall evaluation. I was really excited for this part of the game but completely let down as it proved to be no more than a simple tutorial for those who have never played F1 before. But, it is somewhat important as, how you do in the test determines how many teams offer you a seat.

Another new feature is the Championship mode where you  challenge all 6 World Champions on the grid on particular tracks over 10 races where you have to beat your rival in each race which ends in a race where you compete against all 6 Champions at once. This is a great feature and I have to say that although it is good fun, I wouldn’t spend too long playing it; Career mode is better.

One of the biggest controversies of the game is the removal of tire scaling. If a player is playing  a 25% race, then they will not have scaled wear and, theoretically, they could run the option tyre for all but one lap (As you still have to run both tire compounds in a dry race). However, on my last point, I’ll explain why it’s still a good idea to keep a split strategy.

The car handling is something that has been hugely changed since 2011. I would havesaid  ‘The car handling has Improved’, but it hasn’t been improved. It has been changed. Now, You have to be very careful going around corners and have to wait until your are fully out of the corners before applying full power. This is a pity as cornering used to be where I caught my speed in a slower car but this advantage is now completely gone. Along with cornering, you will also notice the change in the steering when going down a straight. A slight twitch on the controller has a bigger effect now and if you over correct yourself, you’ll end up wobbling down the straight. Something I’m not hugely happy with. Altogether, I’m not happy with the changes to steering but, don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible.

On the whole, I think the game has been improved. Better graphics, more realistic racing, and great new features over-weigh the bad handling and the tire wear. I’d give the game 8/10 and would really recommend it to any F1 fan. But don’t worry if you don’t like this new edition, Codemasters are treating us to two F1 games this year. F1 Race Stars, the Mario-Kart of F1, is being released in November and promises to be great fun.

What’s your impression? Please leave a comment below with your opinion on the new F1 game.


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Hamilton takes pole position in Singapore

Lewis Hamilton will begin tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix from pole position after setting a fantastic lap to finish the Qualifying session over half a second up on anybody else! In second place is Pastor Maldonado. The last time Maldonado was 2nd behind Hamilton, Hamilton was disqualified from Qualifying and Maldonado claimed pole and won the race. This is the first time since 1999 that McLaren have had four consecutive pole positions.

It was clear going into Q3 that either Vettel or Hamilton would take pole, but Maldonado snuck in between them. Hamilton’s team-mate Button will start the race 4th, just ahead of championship leader Fernando Alonso who will start 5th.

Paul Di Resta again had a strong showing at Marina Bay and qualified 7th ahead of Mark Webber whose car was not right after a crash in FP3. However, Webber is being investigated for impeding Timo Glock (How thing’s change!) and could be given a grid penalty. Neither Mercedes drivers nor Romain Grosjean set a time so save tires and so Schumacher is 8th, Rosberg 9th and Grosjean 10th.

Nico Hulkenberg starts in 11th, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne in 16th. Bruno Senna damaged the suspension on his Williams after kissing the barrier in Q2 and failed to set a time. He’ll start in 17th.

Kamui Kobayashi had a disastrous Qualifying and couldn’t better 18th. Behind him was Vitaly Petrov, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Charles Pic (Who has a 20 second post-race penalty for overtaking under red flags in FP3), Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro De La Rosa.

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Stephen Hood hits back at aggressive comments on the F1 2012 Forum

Stephen Hood, the creative designer on the F1 series by Codemasters, has hit back at the “Disgraceful comments” made by aggressive F1 fans on the F1 2012 Forum, saying he will NOT accept disgraceful messages to him or his colleagues.

The messages were sent to him by fans that are angry with the changes made in this year’s F1 game, notably tire-wear and sensitive steering.

“Wow, I’ve got a few heated messages about Wear-Gate and that’s putting it as softly as I possibly can,” Hood wrote on the official F1 2012 Forum. “For some reason a vocal minority seem to jump on bad news, without waiting five minutes for an explanation. I care, we care, we’re doing our best and we’re here to interact with you whenever we can. I like to think we do more than most, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for some people.”

“Let me start out by saying I have read almost every tweet sent my way, the majority of the forum posts and I’m well aware of the reaction and why people might want to jump up and down with internet-rage. You care, you want your point to be registered and I understand that. Truly, I do. What I can’t understand or more importantly won’t accept, are some of the outright disgraceful messages sent to myself and those that work with or for me. There is no need for that kind of stuff.”

“I’ve spent more of my time elsewhere of late and it’s the last thing I want to be doing,” he said. “The community team has a tough enough job as it is managing the numerous forums. Let’s not make their job any harder and let’s not turn this forum into a place new players searching for information will never want to return to. Historically I’ve gone out of my way to interact via my personal Twitter account and the forum simply because I think it creates a better relationship between those that make key decisions and those that buy the game. I’d like to keep doing this, but it’s a process of give and take. Try and contribute sensibly and politely, it helps us all. The repeat offenders and sarcastic few just get blocked so your voice is quickly lost. If you really do care, how is that going to help?”

Today, he posted an image of several abusive messages he’d received from one F1 fan via Twitter. One message read: “F**k you piece of sh*t!!!!! You don’t understand nothing of F1 or racing games….”

One user told Hood that his post was a “great response but you should not have the write like that. People need more respect.”

F1 2012 releases on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC this Friday in Europe.

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