Monthly Archives: August 2013

Should Teams Call Quits On 2013?

Sebastian Vettel led pretty much from lights to flag at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend to demonstrate a very unexpected Red Bull domination, crossing the line with seventeen seconds on his nearest rival. Now into the second half of the season, it looks nigh on impossible that anyone can stand in Vettel’s way of a fourth consecutive World Championship. In line with such, should teams give up on this year and focus on 2014?

McLaren have already admitted giving up hope for either title this year, switching their efforts to producing the best car for Jenson Button and Sergio Perez next year when the new V6 engines make their debut. It promises to be a huge transition to the cars of today and will require a lot of work to ensure the teams are comfortable with, and fully understand their new machines.

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen are the three men usually opposing Sebastian Vettel while their team-mates linger further down the grid which will make it hard for teams to close the 72-point gap to defending Champions Red Bull who also seem a shoo-in for the Championship for the fourth time running.

You can make the argument that at the British Grand Prix in 2010, Fernando Alonso was 47 points down on Championship leader Lewis Hamilton. He finished the season four points behind eventual Champion Vettel, and probably would have won it had he not been held up by Vitaly Petrov while trying to cover title-contender Mark Webber. In 2010 however, Alonso was 47 points down with nine races left. This year, Alonso is 46 points down with eight races left – robbing him of an extra 25 potential points on Vettel.

That’s not to say that teams should just not bother anymore, keep fighting if you wish – there’s always second place up for grabs. However, in my opinion, focusing on next year seems like a better strategy to fighting for this Championship, losing it, and as a result being on the back foot for 2014.

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When F1 And Politics Met In The Middle

ArcticOil

The 2013 Belgian Grand Prix wasn’t the most riveting of motor races and so will probably be best remembered for the attempts of Green Peace to shove their message onto the FOM world feed that would then give them, and their cause, worldwide exposure.

They began by climbing onto the main Grandstand and proceeding to abseil down in front of the stand and unfurl a banner reading “Arctic oil? Shell no!”. They were targeting F1 due to the Belgian Grand Prix’s title sponsor, Shell, leading the race to extract oil from the Arctic and damaging the landscape in the process. After their Grandstand stunt, one protester, reportedly, got to the grid but was tackled by a grid girl and hoisted off by security. Next, mechanical banners which had been hidden on the podium weeks beforehand, unfurled barriers bearing the words “SaveTheArctic.org” and accompanied by a subverted Shell logo. Their final dig was to somehow give security the slip and abseil from the roof of the Paddock Club and hang over the podium waving a banner.

Its only natural for huge sporting events to attract the likes of environmental and political campaigners for the same reason it attracts sponsors – the global audience is huge. Green Peace’s protest to Shell certainly wasn’t the only mingling that Formula One has had with politics.

For the last few years, the Bahrain Grand Prix has been engulfed in politics over an uprising in the Kingdom. During the so-called ‘Arab-Spring’ in 2011, Bahraini citizens rose up against their king. Due to violence and rioting on the streets, the 2011 event was initially postponed and finally cancelled. The 2012 and 2013 events both went ahead, but not without the reports of civilians being murdered by state forces on the streets. During the 2012 Grand Prix, for example, two people were reported dead in what anti-government rebels claimed was the doing of state-backed militia. In protest to the race, the streets were lined with graffiti begging F1 to “Dont race in our blood” and swapping the ‘F’ of the ‘F1’ logo with a gun. Force India team-members were caught up in a petrol bombing, although none were harmed, and a Channel Four crew who were covering the race were beaten and arrested. All-in-all, it raised incredible amounts of international attention for the rebels.

In 2004, Jaume Marquet i Cot (more commonly known as Jimmy Jump) invaded the track at the Spanish Grand Prix in Catalunya while the formation lap was underway. Jimmy Jump is known for invading major sporting and entertainment events with t-shirts bearing political messages. This time, he waved a banner on the grid before being rugby tackled by several marshalls and hauled away.

A year beforehand, the now defrocked Irish priest Niel Horan invaded the track and ran the wrong way up Hangar straight waving religious banners which stated “Read the bible” and “The Bible is always right”. Once again, a fast marshall tackled him and took him away before he could be hit by one of the cars.

Legendary five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped by two members of Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement in 1958. His captors were kind to him, indeed allowing him to listen to the Cuban Grand Prix on radio and subsequently bringing him a television set so he could watch the reports of a crash at the race. The motives behind the kidnapping were to force race organisers to cancel the Grand Prix and further embarrass the Batista regime. When the race concluded, the captors released Fangio, who kept in friendly contact with them after he was released.

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Vettel Surprised By Dominance

Sebastian Vettel was surprised by the dominance which saw him cruise to an easy victory at the Belgian Grand Prix. 

“I don’t think we expected to be dominant here, and it surprised all of us actually; it’s a great result.” Race-winner Vettel said. “I think we knew going into the race that our race pace, compared to Mercedes, maybe gave us a little in hand, but we didn’t know where we were compared to the others, especially Ferrari, and Lotus looked very quick in dry conditions also. I

t wasn’t clear if the rain was going to come at the end of the race, so we kept pushing, but the gap we had by that stage meant we were able to control the race from there and the last couple of laps weren’t too stressful.”

Unlike Vettel, however, team-mate Mark Webber had a poor day at the office, slipping from third to fifth following another bad start. 

“The two practice starts before the race weren’t great and so we were a bit worried about the clutch going to the start, which put us on to the back foot,” The Australian said. “We tried our best, but lost a couple of rows off the line which is not good. We then had to try and clear people on the track, which was difficult, as we had set up the top gear to race in clean air, rather than to pass. The bad start put us out of position and it snowballs from there, as you use up the tyres trying to getting to back into position.”

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“One Day Your Luck Has To Run Out And Today Was That Day.”

Kimi Raikkonen was accepting of his retirement at the Belgian Grand Prix, simply saying, “one day your luck has to run out and today was that day.”

The Finn had a poor Qualifying in wet conditions yesterday and was trying to recover during the race until a running brake issue finally left Raikkonen with no choice but to end the race. It was his first retirement since making his return to Formula One in 2012.

“I had a brake failure so there was really no point in trying to continue.” Kimi said post-race. “We both got good starts off the line but there wasn’t enough space into the first corner where I went over the kerb and lost some time, but after that I was pushing as hard as I could.There were some brake issues at the beginning of the race but we were managing them and it was going okay until we had to retire. We’ve finished a lot of races and had some good reliability; one day your luck has to run out and today was that day.”

Team-mate Romain Grosjean was also recovering from a poor Qualifying session and, like Raikkonen, lost time after the first corner: “We had a difficult first lap where we lost a few positions and then dropped back a couple more places in the incident with Sergio [Perez]. We decided on a one stop strategy today and with the new tyres I felt that the grip was much higher than before but I knew that it would be difficult to get the time back.

We tried something different and you never know; had it rained in the middle of the race we could have been well-placed to take advantage. It is good to finish the race without any mistakes, even if eighth place isn’t what we were hoping for this weekend; it’s also a shame that Kimi didn’t finish the race, but we go to Monza hopeful of better things.”

Grosjean finished eighth.

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Webber Announces Red Bull Replacement

Mark Webber this morning seemed to reveal that Daniel Ricciardo will replace him at Red Bull in 2014. 

The Australian was speaking to Australia’s Channel 10 on the grid ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix when asked about the open seat at the team which has been the cause for much speculation since Webber announced his retirement last month. 

Following Kimi Raikkonen’s manager confirming that discussions with the World Champions had broken down, Ricciardo, a member of the Red Bull Young Driver’s Programme, was hotly tipped to replace his county-man. Mark has all but personally named Ricciardo, telling Channel 10, “The decision’s made. We all know who it is. I’m happy with that decision. It’s good for him and good for Australia.”

Webber will be racing in the World Endurance Championships with Porsche next year. 

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Vettel Takes Dominant Belgian Grand Prix Win

Sebastian Vettel charged to victory at the Belgian Grand Prix. The German was untouchable since storming away from pole-man Lewis Hamilton on the first lap.

The entire grid made it cleanly through the first corner and Eau Rouge before Vettel made the overtake by massively out-dragging Hamilton into Les Combes. Behind them, the Marussias backed down the order to twentieth and twenty-first while Giedo van der Garde, who impressed on Saturday by taking fourteenth on the grid, dropped back to sixteenth. Fernando Alonso was a man on a mission, charging from ninth to fourth on the first few laps but Mark Webber suffered one of his usual bad-starts and dropped to sixth.

Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean were battling hard – the Mexican forcing the Lotus driver off the track at Les Combes and forcing Grosjean to take to the escape road. Perez earned himself a drive-through penalty for his efforts. Felipe Massa was the first man to pit while Charles Pic followed a poor Qualifying with a poor race, becoming the first driver to drop from the race, as the result of an oil issue.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton scrapped for third while Felipe Massa and Mark Webber traded fastest laps after their respective pit stops. Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez were also scrapping – the trio heading into Eau Rouge three abreast. Eventually Sutil trumped the McLaren and di Resta fell into place behind the Mexican.

Kimi Raikkonen struggled with the brakes on his Lotus race-long and finally lost braking power at the bus-stop chicane – shooting past Felipe Massa into the run-off area and pulling into the pitlane to retire the car. It’s the Finn’s first retirement since his return to F1 and brings to and end, the record breaking run of consecutive points finishes.

Not long afterwards, Pastor Maldoando and Esteban Gutierrez were fighting tooth and nail into the bus-stop chicane. Maldonado went wide around the outside and when rejoining the track, tapped Adrian Sutil and then hit the other Force India of Paul di Resta, ripping the rear wheels and rear wing off the car. As a result, Maldonado was handed a ten second Stop/Go penalty.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Nico Hulkenberg were also battling hard, the Frenchman pushing the German off track at Les Combes. Max Chilton was punished by stewards for ignoring blue flags. Gutierrez, also, won a penalty – this one for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

A late battle between Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton for third was uneventful and Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to win the Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso led an extraordinary charge from ninth to second while Lewis Hamilton dropped from pole to third throughout the race. Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde dropped from his fourteenth in Qualifying to sixteenth in the race and Daniel Ricciardo recovered his poor Qualifying to score a point with tenth.

  1. Sebastian Vettel
  2. Fernando Alonso
  3. Lewis Hamilton
  4. Nico Rosberg
  5. Mark Webber
  6. Jenson Button
  7. Felipe Massa
  8. Romain Grosjean
  9. Adrian Sutil
  10. Daniel Ricciardo
  11. Sergio Perez
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne
  13. Nico Hulkenberg
  14. Esteban Gutierrez
  15. Valtteri Bottas
  16. Giedo van der Garde
  17. Pastor Maldonado
  18. Jules Bianchi
  19. Max Chilton
  • Kimi Raikkonen – Brakes
  • Paul di Resta – Collision
  • Charles Pic – Oil

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Greenpeace Fail To Disrupt Belgian Grand Prix

The Greenpeace environmental organisation failed to make a dent on the Belgian Grand Prix today.

The meddling organisation parachuted onto the Grandstand before abseiling halfway down the front of the grandstand and unfurling a banner across the stand with the words “Arctic oil? Shell no!” which was in protest to the title sponsor of the Grand Prix. Another activist made it onto the grid but was tackled by a grid girl.

Their efforts were met with much criticism from fans and journalists alike as the race began regardless and police took the activists away.

Then the race ended and the fans under the podium began to boo the drivers – or so it seemed. As it later transpired, yet another foolish activist had given security the slip and was now attempting to abseil onto the podium during the ceremony. The activist made it to the podium before being hoisted away by security.

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