Monthly Archives: February 2013

Webber makes it nine of nine as testing continues

Mark Webber has topped the timesheets at the Circuit de Catalunya as the third of three pre-season tests kicks off. The Aussie survived a rain affected morning and utilised the dry afternoon session to put in the lap he needed to bring his RB9 to a whopping 1.6 seconds ahead of second place man – Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton’s Mercedes completed the most laps of anyone – 113 – which pipped 2008 Championship rival, Felipe Massa by 1 solitary lap.

In fact, Massa was just wrapping up a long run in the Ferrari when it ground to a halt and brought out the red flags, which in turn interrupted Hamilton who was midway through his own long run. Massa’s red flag – due to a fuel shortage, was not the only red flag of the day. Romain Grosjean spun his Lotus into the gravel with 20 minutes of the session gone. Lotus, always looking on the lighter side, were quick to tweet “Wet track spin simulation successfully completed @RGrosjean”. Then, 20 minutes into the afternoon session, Esteban Gutierrez and his Sauber went straight off the track at the fast turn 3, causing minimal damage and allowing the Mexican to rejoin the session later on.

Third in the standings was Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne who was seven tenths off Hamilton’s lap and three tenths ahead of Williams’ Valterri Bottas. Sergio Perez took his McLaren to 5th overall while Esteban Guttierez recovered from his earlier off to finish 91 laps and end the day 6th overall. Paul di Resta, who today found out that he’ll be partnering Adrian Sutil in the upcoming season, ran a flawless session and finished the day in 7th. Half a second behind the Scot was Felipe Massa who despite his fuel issues, managed to get 112 laps in.

Max Chilton took the Marussia out on track, even though it was expected that Razia would be piloting today. The Brazilian rookie missed all of last weeks session as it’s believed that he has now been struck by financial woes – despite giving Timo Glock the boot from the team when he promised the team some much needed funds. News is breaking that Heikki Kovalainen is in talks with Marussia for the final seat on the 2013 grid, but this is yet to be confirmed by either party.

Marussia’s former driver Charles Pic, took his Caterham to 10th overall, beating only Romain Grosjean who concentrated on Drag Reduction Device (DRD) work and so failed to put in a competitive lap.

Testing continues at Catalunya tomorrow for the second of four days before the F1 circus descends on Melbourne for the inaugural Grand Prix on March 17th.

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Sutil beats Bianchi to Force India drive

Germany’s Adrian Sutil has been confirmed alongside Paul di Resta at Sahara Force India for 2013.

The driver was dropped from Force India – where he had spent his entire career – in 2012 when he was on trial for Grievious Bodily Harm against Lotus CEO Eric Lux at a Shaghai night club in April 2011, following the Chinese Grand Prix. Nico Hulkenberg who was selected as his replacement, has since moved to Sauber.

Force India prolonged the announcement of their driver and have since come under criticism for the delay in announcing their 2013 pairing. It was strongly suspected that France’s Jules Bianchi, who ran some Friday practices for the team in 2012, was on course of the seat. Yet, just as the second pre-season test approached, it was announced that Sutil was at Force India for a seat fitting.

Both drivers were then run at the test – Sutil on the Thursday and Bianchi on the Friday. It was clearly a test that the German won.

It was thought that this was the last available seat on the 2013 grid but Marussia’s rookie Luiz Razia seems to be under threat following financial difficulties – after his arrival at the team gave Timo Glock the boot when the German refused to pay for himself. Finn Heikki Kovalainen, who lost his seat at Caterham after three years has been linked with the seat.

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Why do I love Formula One?

As I’m sure you probably know by now, I’m Irish. I was introduced to Formula One by my family – My Dad, Brother and Uncle are all petrolheads. Yet, F1 is a very acquired taste in Ireland. The Gaelic Games of Hurling and Gaelic Football rate amongst the most popular sports, alongside Soccer and Rugby. Ireland has a sizable rally tradition but surprisingly, the rally fans don’t always have a taste for Formula One.

See, Ireland has no real connection to F1. Eddie Irvine was Ireland’s best ever driver and he was around at the same time as the famous Jordan team, led by enthusiastic Irishman Eddie Jordan. Back in the days when both were in F1, the sport was shown on the Irish state broadcaster – RTÉ. Having lost both Irvine and Jordan from the sport, Ireland was quick to turn its back on the sport.

And so, when someone casually asks “And what do you want to do with yourself?” and I reply telling them that my sights are firmly set on F1 Journalism, I normally get looked at like I’ve two heads. “Formula One? In Ireland?” is the standard reply I get and I’m known in the school as “The F1 Guy”. Now, don’t get me wrong. Ireland does have an F1 fanbase, just nowhere even near the support seen in places such as the UK, the European Continent, parts of Asia, Australia, America, etc.

So why do I love F1? That’s the question that usually follows on in the casual conversation. I’ve never been able to give a proper answer; so I sat down and put my thoughts on paper – or more correctly, online for the world to see.

I have lots of reasons to pick from when I think about it. In the words of Ernest Hemmingway, “There are only three real sports, Climbing, Bullfighting and Motorsports – The rest are merely games”. Despite these words, Hemmingway has not done Motorsport – Formula One to be precise – justice. Formula One is more than a sport to me. Formula One is an obsession! My copies at school are a disgrace. I’ve doodled tracks, cars, anything I could think of all over the back pages. I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen about how great Formula One is, and I find myself able to give you a precise countdown to the nearest Grand Prix – usually correct to a couple of hours.

Still, I’ve not yet told you exactly what attracts me to it. First and foremost the racing is captivating. It’s the movements of the cars, the way the drivers push so hard on laps, the extreme margin for error – not broken 99.9% of the time and my god! The utter speed of it!

Secondly, I’ve never known something that gives me such an adrenaline rush. The moment at the start of the Grand Prix, the bit at the end of the parade lap when the grid takes shape, the camera pans across in front of grid as five little lights pop up above the anxious drivers and the F1 symphony begins when the cars all rev their engines in unison. That very moment – you know it too – just makes my heart stop dead. There’s a race coming, and in the words of Murray Walker “Anything can happen in Formula One … And it usually does!”. 

Thirdly, I love the ‘F1 Family’. I don’t know any other sport that has such a system. For the fans, the F1 Family is a feature of the social networking site, Twitter, where one can meet thousands of other petrol heads, simply spending their entire day doing nothing but tweeting about Formula One. Twitter also provides the perfect place to hold a nice debate once in a while regarding incidents on or off the track. Having said that, The F1 Family is not restricted to the fans. Remembering Williams’ fire at Catalunya in 2012, one can see the perfect example. The fire broke out minutes after the race finished meaning fire crews could not make their way through the packed paddock quickly. The team members from every single team grabbed fire extinguishers and hoses and risked their lives to put the fire out. 

As Williams’ entire garage was destroyed in the fire, including Bruno Senna’s FW34, the other teams offered to give Williams equipment for the Monaco Grand Prix which was merely a week later.  The teams had nothing to gain for doing this, but did it purely because they wanted to make sure they could race, both for the fans and themselves. It was an act of pure sportmanship.

This brings me nicely onto the next reason. The likes of Graham Hill and Stirling Moss are known as the ‘Gentlemen racers’. Aswell as being fantastic racers, they are heroes. Ayrton Senna saved Erik Comas; Arturo Merzario, Lunger, Guy Edwards and Harald Ertl pulled Niki Lauda from his burning Ferrari; Graham Hill was first to come across Jackie Stewart’s famous crash in Spa – and was the man to go and find a spanner so Stewart could be freed from his car. They all stopped in the middle of sessions, to help their rivals.

And as for being Gentlemen, think for a moment of Stirling Moss. Moss had won the 1958 Championship when Mike Hawthorn – his competition for the title – was handed a penalty for reversing up the circuit when he stalled his car. Moss was the one who suggested that Hawthorn do this to restart his car and so went to the stewards to beg that they not penalize Hawthorn. They decided that they would let Hawthorn off the hook – taking the title from Moss and give it to Hawthorn. Moss’ sportsmanship is almost never seen in any other sports and is a perfect example of why I love F1.

Don’t get me wrong – F1 is not all sunshine and flowers. F1 has seen it’s fair share of fights, controversy and unfortunately, deaths. Yet, this does not deter me from claiming that I love Formula One – my hobby, my life and (hopefully) my future career!

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Video of the Day – 26/2/13

Today’s Video proves that Kimi’s still not lost the … enthusiasm for interviews.

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February 26, 2013 · 9:03 pm

2015 and beyond: I want Melbourne to stay – Ecclestone

F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone has expressed a wish for the Australian Grand Prix to stay at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, where it is currently run.

His comments come less than three weeks away from the first Grand Prix of the season – the Melbourne round. In an interview with the Australian Grand Prix’s podcast, Keeping Track, he said,

We hope we’re going to be in Melbourne forever. We’re happy with Melbourne and I’d be happy to sign a 50-year contract. We don’t have a problem with Melbourne. 

According to Ecclestone, other parties have showed an interest in taking the race to a new venue.

We get proposals from other parts, but we’re happy in Melbourne,” he said. Everybody loves Australia and loves Australian people, and it’s good to be there… and Melbourne, in itself, is a nice place.

The Australian Grand Prix was held in Adelaide until 1996, before it moved to Albert Park where it has been held since. But before F1 can return for 2013, there is one more pre-season test which will be held this week at Circuit de Catalunya.

Image courtesy of Fox Sports.

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Video of the Day – 25/2/13

Today’s Video is the highlights of the 1950 Italian Grand Prix.

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February 25, 2013 · 10:58 pm

Lowe’s leaving Mclaren and moving to Mercedes

It’s finally been announced that McLaren’s technical director, Paddy Lowe, will leave the team at the end of the year – and he is indeed Mercedes bound which again puts into question Ross Brawn’s place at the team.

Lowe will not be travelling to Melbourne with McLaren while it has already been announced that he will be replaced by Tim Goss. Rumours arose that Brawn was following Norbert Haug out of the Silver Arrows as Niki Lauda became the team’s new non-executive chairperson and brought Toto Wolff in from Williams. When Lowe was linked to Brawn’s role at the team – fueled when he failed to appear at McLaren’s car launch – Brawn stamped his authority at the team, claiming,

“Paddy is not coming. I want to see how things go before I make a final long-term commitment. If I choose to leave the team then Paddy will come. We’ve got a plan. We have a fall-back plan. It’s as simple as that.”

Paddy Lowe will begin under a “different role” within the team, according to team principal Martin Whitmarsh. In line with such, Lowe will not be travelling to the races and is not expected to be seen with the team – perhaps as they don’t want him to see their work on the much changed 2014 regulations, before he makes his move to rivals Mercedes.

Photo courtesy Crash.net

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