Kunal's F1 Blog

2014 Chinese Grand Prix: Hamilton’s First Hat-trick Of Wins

Posted on | April 20, 2014 | 2 Comments

That’s a strange stat, isn’t it? Lewis Hamilton stormed into Formula1 in 2007 as a Mclaren prodigy and he almost won the Drivers’ Championship in his debut season. His talent and determination has never been under question, which is why Mercedes chose to hire him as the legendary Michael Schumacher’s replacement. However, one does wonder ever so often why Hamilton has collected only one title yet.

However, for you Hamilton fans (well, I ain’t one exactly!), whenever it is that the Brit has won a hat-trick of races, he has gone on to win the championship (data from his Formula Renault, GP2, etc. days). Yes, this does indicate that four races into the season, he is the favourite to win the Drivers’ Championship title for the 2014 Formula1 Season. What supports this stat even more is that since 1989 (Prost!), no driver has won the Drivers’ Championship without winning one of the first four races of the season.

Lewis Hamilton wins the 2014 Chinese GP

Nico Rosberg, our current leader in the Drivers’ Championship, has the next fortnight to dig deep in his mind before appearing in Barcelona for the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix. To me, their battle is gaining more psychological importance than ever and Hamilton is currently enjoying the edge over his friend and team-mate. Rosberg’s P2 finish in the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix must be given credit has he drove the entire race minus telemetry and it was fun to hear his pit-to-car radio with data inputs being shared manually with his engineer.

Given that Rosberg could manage without the super important but expensive telemetry systems, could this be the framework of what the next ‘formula’ of Formula1 could be? I mean, if we have done away with fuel guzzling V8s because of their decreasing importance to car manufacturers, I am yet not aware of a car using telemetry to its advantage in typical road driving conditions. (Read: Engine No-ise)

Ferrari’s podium finish was a surprise to everyone, Alonso included. Raikkonen’s struggles, not so much. Red Bulls were clearly the second fastest team on track today and one can only salute Alonso’s talent and effort to finish ahead of them and comfortably so. Luckily for him, the Red Bulls were involved in a little but interesting scrap of their own with team-orders being issued yet again to Vettel to let Ricciardo pass. The quadruple World Champion took a couple of laps before eventually deciding to obey the orders; it was possibly those couple of laps that Ricciardo needed to challenge Alonso towards the end for a podium finish.

Many have expressed surprise at Red Bull’s handling of Vettel over the issuance of team-orders, possibly Vettel himself. But the logic seems pretty clear to me. Ricciardo has settled in the team and car comfortably, has been quicker amongst the two and most importantly, like Vettel, he too is a product of the Red Bull Racing driver program; unlike Mark Webber. And in the Red Bull Racing system, Kvyat is the new Ricciardo, who is now the new Vettel, who is the new Webber? (Can’t remember who tweeted that!)

The prodigious Russian and Red Bull junior driver finished in the points for the third time in four races, as did Sahara Force India, who registered a double points finish with Hulkenberg finish 6th and Perez, 9th. However, it was Caterham’s Kobayashi whose valiant chase and last lap overtaking of Bianchi for 17th place was negated as the FIA erroneously waved the chequered flag a lap earlier.

My ‘driver of the day’ choice would be split between Lewis Hamilton for his total dominance and Nico Rosberg for his fightback without the direct help of the pit-wall. I have been a Schumacher and Vettel fan all along, so I never really was the one who got bored of their dominance. However, I possibly realised for the first time today how a fan feels when the driver dominating the weekend is far from being your favourite. But if I am pressed to make a choice, Rosberg would lose out on the fact that he committed way too many mistakes in qualifying to put himself in a difficult spot on Race Day. He should consider himself lucky that he lost only 7 points in the title fight.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend would be the non-performance of Mclaren. Button and Magnussen were fighting outside of the competitive mid-field for a majority of the race and ended the race without scoring a single point for the team from Woking. Mclaren need to consistently make the most of their Mercedes power unit, like WilliamsF1 and Sahara Force India have.

And then of course, there’s Felipe Massa, possibly everyone’s favourite but not Lady Luck’s! After a superb start where he banged wheels with Alonso, a botched pitstop saw him finish a lowly 15th and outside the points. The WilliamsF1 team have the pace, but need to ensure that they steer clear of problems on Race Day to showcase their true potential and collect as many points as possible.

Up next is the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix, which marks the start of the European leg of the season. While fans will miss the action for three weeks, teams will be working overtime to bring as many updates as possible for the GP. Given the proximity between the factory establishments and the circuits in Europe, I would expect the pecking order to change a little come Barcelona, without a doubt that Mercedes will still be the team to beat.

Race Results from the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
  2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
  3. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
  4. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing
  5. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing
  6. Nico Hulkenberg – Sahara Force India
  7. Valtteri Bottas – WilliamsF1
  8. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
  9. Sergio Perez – Sahara Force India
  10. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
  11. Jenson Button – Mclaren
  12. Jean Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso
  13. Kevin Magnussen – Mclaren
  14. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus F1 Team
  15. Felipe Massa – WilliamsF1
  16. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber
  17. Jules Bianchi – Marussia
  18. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham
  19. Max Chilton – Marussia
  20. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham

Did Not Finish:

  • Romain Grosjean – Lotus F1 Team
  • Adrian Sutil – Sauber

The next episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast should be published for your listening and sharing in the next couple of days. We are enjoying a brilliant run with our Formula1 Podcast and I would like to thank each one of our listeners to making it a success. In the mammoth world of Formula1 media, we are possibly like the privateer teams doing our own thing against the biggies! A comment from one of our listeners on the Inside Line F1 Podcast page on Facebook is possibly what it feels like to get on to the podium!

Inside Line F1 Podcast on Facebook

If you’re an F1 fan and not following ‘Die Hard F1 Fan‘ and ‘F1Extra‘ on social media, you are surely missing out on some exciting real-time updates!

Fast Cars, Fast Cards

Posted on | April 20, 2014 | No Comments

In a few of my previous posts, I have written about the mental state of Formula1 drivers when it comes to winning and participation in the sport. Intriguingly enough, this post highlights similarities between Formula1 and the sport of Poker by describing ‘Racing and Poker in the eyes of a Formula1 driver’! Who’d have thunk!

Formula1 is considered to be the highest class when it comes to racing and everything about it is state of the art. One example is the aerodynamics as it is more closely associated with aircrafts instead of cars. An article found on the BBC website indicates that the testing these race cars undergo is similar to what aircraft manufacturers carry out with planes. And when it comes to power, the 1.6 litre V-6 used are capable of churning out around 700 horsepower.

Jaime Alguersuari on F1 and Poker

All that speed and power demands the best from Formula1 drivers. An interview with Ricardo Ceccarelli, a doctor with a Formula1 team, indicates that drivers need to be properly conditioned to handle the physical and mental rigours of racing. But unlike other sports like tennis, where breaks can take place, drivers need to do this continuously because the action doesn’t stop until the race is over.

In addition to this, drivers need to work to a strategy by knowing when to act and when to stick to their respective strategy. An article at the Formula1 website indicates they need to know when to pass another car, such as on a straight or at a bend. If the latter is chosen and a mistake is made, a driver can overshoot the curve, spin out, or crash into the car he is overtaking.

While poker may seem to be worlds away from Formula1, there are actually some similarities between the two. Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari was only 19 years old when he joined the sport back in 2012, making him the youngest driver at the time. In addition to being in to Formula1, he is also an avid poker player. In an interview at the WPT Spanish Championship sponsored by PartyPoker, he drew parallels between the two sports. He indicated that that pushing in one’s chips in poker is the equivalent of taking a corner at full speed in Formula1. In this sense, it can be said that both sports require a strategy; a time to be aggressive and a time to be patient.

Straight from the mouth of one of the youngest Formula1 drivers in the world, poker and Formula1 racing have similarities. Just like in the highest class of racing, poker players need to know when to push it and when to throttle back. On one hand, being too aggressive can lead to major losses, especially if the stakes are high enough. On the other hand, being too passive may get drivers and players eliminated altogether.

2014 Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying: Hamilton In League Of His Own

Posted on | April 19, 2014 | No Comments

In a rain drenched qualifying session, Lewis Hamilton clinched his third pole position of the 2014 Formula1 Season as the Red Bull Racing cars of Ricciardo and Vettel managed to beat Nico Rosberg, who seemed to succumb to brake related issues and in my view, his nerves. Post session, he also indicated that his lap time delta showed him to be two tenths slower when actually he was half a second quicker than his previous best. Reasons or not, I believe that Rosberg strung a lap together, he would’ve been closer to Hamilton, but highly doubt if he would’ve beaten the Brit.

After being beaten comprehensively in the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix followed by a closely fought but lost battle in the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, I believe that Rosberg has been psyched by Hamilton’s pace, defence and increase in confidence in a team he (Rosberg) has helped build from scratch. Possibly a visit to the sports psychologist would help. (Read: Decoding The Mindset Of Formula1 Drivers)

Lewis Hamilton claims pole position at the 2014 Chinese GP

Hamilton has won a World Championship once and has been in the fight a few times and seems mentally stronger amongst the two. He knows what it takes to battle and stay at the front. Rosberg, it seems, will have to dig deep to keep calm and let his talent do the talking.

The Mclarens failed to impress, as did Raikkonen and the Ferrari fire and ice battle seems to be too fiery for the Iceman, who I believe is yet to settle down in his F14T comfortably. The Red Bull, who possibly have the best possible wings (I mean aero package), need to be lacking the boost on the Renault power unit side. (Read: Ferrari, Alonso and Raikkonen)

The rain would normally neutralise pace differential and help bunch up the grid. But Hamilton, who had a scratchy final attempt, still managed to record a lap nearly 6 tenths ahead of Ricciardo, who of course has out-qualified Vettel 3:1 yet.

On that note, the starting grid for tomorrow seems extremely interesting. Given the large pace differential between teams, team-mate battles are coming to the fore and I believe tomorrow will be another such day. Ricciardo vs. Vettel, Bottas vs. Massa, Button vs. Magnussen, Hulkenberg vs. Perez and of course Rosberg vs. Hamilton. And the weather forecasts say it’ll be dry!

Finally, for all of Lotus F1 team’s hard work and on off Twitter, Grosjean managed to show some pace to qualify in the top 10. Aided by the weather or not, I hope that we have yet another team in the mix for the top 10 positions. And for Maldonado, the lesser said, the better!

Qualifying Results from the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
  2. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing
  3. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing
  4. Nico Rosberg – Red Bull Racing
  5. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
  6. Felipe Massa – WilliamsF1
  7. Valtteri Bottas – WilliamsF1
  8. Nico Hulkenberg – Sahara Force India
  9. Jean Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso
  10. Romain Grosjean – Lotus F1 Team
  11. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
  12. Jenson Button – Mclaren
  13. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
  14. Adrian Sutil – Sauber
  15. Kevin Magnussen – Mclaren
  16. Sergio Perez – Sahara Force India
  17. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber
  18. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham
  19. Jules Bianchi – Marussia
  20. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham
  21. Max Chilton – Marussia

Did Not Qualify:

  • Pastor Maldonado

After a wet qualifying, dry weather is predicted for Race Day. The is Hamilton’s to lose, the question is, if he does, whose is it to win?

Hear the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 PodcastAgainst Mid-Season Rule Changes‘.

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Against Mid-Season Rules Changes

Posted on | April 15, 2014 | No Comments

So Ferrari has elevated Marco Mattiacci to the Team Principal position after Domenicali stepped down. Given the state of the F14T in the first three races of the 2014 Formula1 Season, I think that Super Mario is what the Italian team needs. (Read: Ferrari, Alonso, Raikkonen, 2014 And Beyond)

Apart from that, the guys who signed off the new regulations for Formula1 have been extra vocal (more torque, less talk!) about their disappointment, discontentment and desire to bring into effect yet another set of changes to ‘correct’ the formula of Formula1. Too late! Formula1 needs to be more preemptive and active than reactive in nature. (Read: Let Us Save Formula1)

Luca Montezemolo and Bernie Ecclestone (Courtesy: Google)

Do I think that the sport needs changes? Yes, but not mid-season. While I am fed up of the constant rule changes, I would surely like the noses to undergo some cosmetic changes, possibly simplify the entire fuel saving / fuel flow regulation and while doing that, if there’s a chance, enhance the sound of the engine. (Read: Engine No-ise)

But then again, mid-season rule changes aren’t new to the sport. They have been successfully used in the past to slow down the fastest team. First it was for Ferrari, then Red Bull Racing and now Mercedes.

In the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we wonder if this season will be a Hamilton vs. Rosberg battle and if at all, who and by when could someone catch up. Also, is it time to #FeelTheForce yet again in Shanghai? (Read: 2014 Bahrain GP: #FeelTheForce)

Here’s what’s in store for you in our Formula1 Podcast:

  • We missed our post 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix podcast. Sincere apologies!
  • Karting and its relevance to Formula1
  • Second in the Constructors’ Championship, will Sahara Force India maintain form in Shanghai? And again, ‘What’s The Pecking Order‘?
  • Ferrari, Montezemolo, Domenicali, Mattiacci, Alonso, Raikkonen – Is Ferrari too big a ship to sort out its mess? Will they bounce back this season?
  • Strange that barring Red Bull Racing, every other top team has made a change in its trackside management roles (Whitmarsh, Boullier, Brawn and now Domenicali). Is it getting too hot at the front?
  • Will we see an all American F1 Team led by Tony Haas? (Read: Your Chance To Own A Formula1 Team)
  • But if the other Tony (Fernandes) has his way, we still may not have 13 teams on the grid in the 2015 Formula1 Season
  • And finally, mid-season rule changes. Are they necessary? If the racing spectacle that we saw in Bahrain is what lies in store for us, is the engine noise the only change that fans are seeking?
  • Also, a layman’s two bits on increasing the engine notes!
  • Predictions for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix? Yes, we mean for positions 3rd onwards.

And in the next fortnight (between China and Spain), we will be introducing a new segment on the Inside Line F1 Podcast, something that both Rishi and I are extremely excited about. Stay tuned!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would urge you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast page on Facebook for far frequent updates on the humour in the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our SoundcloudSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

2014 Bahrain Grand Prix: #FeelTheForce, Did You Too?

Posted on | April 6, 2014 | 5 Comments

Every new Formula1 season throws up this one race which then becomes your most memorable race of that season. I think the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix is possibly just that race which fans will sit back and remember the 2014 Formula1 Season for. Especially if you’re an Indian Formula1 fan and, or love Sahara Force India and their drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.

While the Mercedes drivers did what was expected of them, it was the Sahara Force India team and their drivers that caught everyone else by surprise and how. Sergio Perez’s podium was only the tip of the iceberg for me as they overtook the Mclarens, Ferraris and Red Bulls at their own whim! Kudos to everyone at Silverstone and today is one of those days when I sit back and LOVE my job and yes our maximum points haul at the GP weekend yet! #FeelTheForce! (Read: What’s The Pecking Order?)

Sahara Force India – 2014 Bahrain GP

The Indian team is now second in the Constructors’ Championship and Nico Hulkenberg is third in the Drivers’ Championship table. Super consistent results have propelled the team ahead of the heavier weights and names on the grid!

If you’re a Mercedes fan, you would’ve had your heart racing when the team let the drivers race each other. If you’re not a Mercedes fan, this is the moment when you should turn into one. Rarely would you see a top team let their drivers race each other this hard and that too multiple times in a race!

In my post-qualifying report (Read: Rosberg Strikes Back), I had predicted that the driver who would lead at the end of the first lap would go on to win the race. But it wasn’t as simple as that as Rosberg, on a faster tyre strategy, made it extremely difficult for Hamilton to hold on to the lead. But eventually, it was the Brit who persisted! Yes, there was that one swipe which I am sure will become a bone of contention between the two drivers in the races to come.

Mclaren suffered a double retirement and Ferraris ran at pace worthy of a mid-field team. The Red Bulls came alive after the Safety Car period and still managed to score double points just ahead of the Williams duo. Yes, if one understands the sport, you would agree that Sahara Force India’s 3rd and 5th place finish was aided by the Safety Car period.

Sahara Force India On The Podium

And of course, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that Pastor Maldonado’s stupid antics flipped the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez under-braking into Turn 1. The PDVSA funded driver made an elementary mistake in the braking zone and the low nose design did its ‘un-safety’ like trick! The supremely inconsistent FIA has given him a 5 place grid penalty for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix and 3 penalty points. What’s strange is that Ricciardo was given a 10 place grid penalty for an unsafe release!

From a historic point of view, I think Formula1 delivered a brilliant spectacle in its 900th Grand Prix with team-mates battling all around the circuit while Bernie, Luca & Co. went about bad-mouthing the new regulations pre-race and their intent to change them! While I wouldn’t disagree on a few tweaks, I think any major changes mid-season should be blatantly disagreed upon by teams, drivers, media and the fans. (Read: Fed Up Of Constant Rule Changes In F1)

It is the teams who have brought such super efficient regulations upon themselves without anticipating their effect on the fans and I think it is time we live with this gross mistake. And of course, if every race offers the spectacle that the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix did, I wonder if we will still complain about the engine sounds!

Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
  2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
  3. Sergio Perez – Sahara Force India
  4. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing
  5. Nico Hulkenberg – Sahara Force India
  6. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing
  7. Felipe Massa – WilliamsF1
  8. Valtteri Bottas – WilliamsF1
  9. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
  10. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
  11. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
  12. Romain Grosjean – Lotus
  13. Max Chilton – Marussia
  14. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus
  15. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham
  16. Jules Bianchi – Marussia
  17. Jenson Button – Mclaren

Did Not Finish:

  • Kevin Magnussen – Mclaren
  • Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber
  • Marcus Ericsson – Caterham
  • Jean Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso
  • Adrian Sutil – Sauber

We’ve complained about the lack of noise on the Inside Line F1 Podcast‘s episode ‘Engine No-ise‘ and the teams have taken heed of our customer complaint and have agreed to look into the matter post the 2014 Spanish Grand Prix. Now can we do something about the double points system for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as well?

2014 Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying: Rosberg Strikes Back

Posted on | April 5, 2014 | No Comments

It was expected to be a battle between the Mercedes drivers with most Formula1 fans predicting the phenomenally talented Hamilton scoring pole position over the always under-rated Rosberg after striking super form and luck (notice the and!) last week in the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix.

However, it was Rosberg who got better of the two in the qualifying session of the third race of the 2014 Formula1 Season. The Drivers’ Championship leader was almost three tenths up on his team-mate and nearly a second ahead of the second Red Bull Racing car of Ricciardo in third. What I liked about the Mercedes battle was that Hamilton felt the need to push that bit more which saw him lock up and ruin his final qualifying attempt. And for all the Hamilton fans out there, please don’t get started by issuing yet another ‘what if’ scenario! Kudos to Rosberg!

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo (courtesy: Mercedes AMG Petronas)

The biggest surprise (and a pleasant one at that!) of the session was to see Sahara Force India’s Sergio Perez strike much needed form and qualify 5th on the grid, a tenth behind WilliamsF1 driver Valtteri Bottas and less than a few tenths ahead of former World Champions Raikkonen and Button.

As expected, the lap times were closer (even more so in Q2) except of course for the Ferrari of Alonso who surprisingly couldn’t manage more than P10; beaten for the first time by Raikkonen. And the list of disappointments would be a little longer after Vettel could manage only a P11 and Hulkenberg, P12. Ricciardo’s ten place grid penalty from Bahrain for an unsafe release would be applicable, dropping him down to P13 at the start. Issuance of penalty to the driver is debatable, but is Formula1′s way to ensure that teams don’t cross the thin line of safety by chasing 2 something second pit-stop and have tyres flying down the pit-lane. Wouldn’t it just be more sensible to penalise the team by a deduction of Constructor Championship points or impose a fine penalty? Poor Ricciardo! The opening three rounds of the season have seen external forces impact his final standings!

While the pecking order is difficult to predict, it is safe to say that the Ferrari, Mclaren, Williams and Sahara Force India are in the fight to be the second best after Mercedes. I would expect a breakaway from either or all the teams and this would depend heavily on in-season car development. And the championship battles would depend on how much of a gap Mercedes (and their drivers) are able to pull away while their advantage remains this large!

And this is also where I would expect Mercedes to possibly side with either one of their drivers (Hamilton?) to give him a sufficient gap before the Bulls come chasing. An interesting few races up ahead of us.

In tomorrow’s race, I expect the driver who gets off the line cleanest and leads at the end of lap 1 to win the race. My gut feeling is that it will be Rosberg over Hamilton, but will be interesting to see how the opening few laps pan out. The Red Bulls and Ferrari start outside of the top 5 and Bottas / Perez do, which allows me to believe that we could have a non-Ferrari / Mclaren and Red Bull podium! But of course, I would hope that it would be Checo!

WilliamsF1 should ideally be eyeing both cars in the top 5 given their consistent race pace and after finally finishing a Saturday in positions they truly deserve. The cooler temperatures are causing balance issues for most drivers and it’ll be interesting to see how they cope over the entire race distance. And as always, we will see two or three stops implemented during the race. All in all, we seem to be set for a cracker of a GP under the illuminated circuit of Sakhir.

And for those praising the sport’s green efforts by reduction of fuel consumption, hybrid energy and the blah, surprising that little voice has been raised against the increased energy consumption in hosting another night race!

Qualifying results for the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix:

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
  2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
  3. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing (10 place grid penalty applicable)
  4. Valtteri Bottas – WilliamsF1
  5. Sergio Perez – Sahara Force India
  6. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
  7. Jenson Button – Mclaren
  8. Felipe Massa – Ferrari
  9. Kevin Magnussen – Mclaren
  10. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
  11. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing
  12. Nico Hulkenberg – Sahara Force India
  13. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
  14. Jean Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso
  15. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber
  16. Romain Grosjean – Lotus
  17. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus
  18. Adrian Sutil – Sauber
  19. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham
  20. Jules Bianchi – Marussia
  21. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham
  22. Max Chilton – Marussia

Hear the pre-Bahrain Grand Prix episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast ‘What’s The Pecking Order?

Inside Line F1 Podcast: What’s The Pecking Order?

Posted on | April 1, 2014 | No Comments

Two races of the 2014 Formula1 Season have concluded; the third one is upon us this weekend. But, it is almost impossible to predict the pecking order barring the expected dominance of Mercedes. In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Rishi and I try adding our two bits to the remaining slots on the grid, barring the last four, of course.

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix (courtesy: Google)

But before we bring notice to our latest episode and its contents, a BIG thank you to Ritesh Tripathy who is a music producer, an avid Formula1 fan and one of our very first listeners, for the amazing opening tune of our Formula1 Podcast. We hope you love it as much as we do!

Here’s what’s in store in our latest episode:

  • Fantastic drive by Lewis Hamilton in the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix. We are usually biased towards Britney, but this time the rapper did rap his way and how! Applaud!
  • We dissect Hamilton’s comments post the 2014 Australian Grand Prix on drivers having to work harder than ever before. Yes, we do get a little harsh this time…
  • And yes, engine no-ise, we are probably used to them by now. Or is it that we don’t care much already? On-board microphones to be the next big automobile invention?
  • Red Bull Racing has embarrassed most other top teams and we tell you why.
  • Are team orders purposely issued (and disobeyed) in Malaysia to make the race interesting?
  • Alonso, Raikkonen and of course, Ricciardo, what on earth…
  • The new penalty points system is effective; very beneficial of the drivers, but confusing for the fans!
  • And finally, there’s little reference for us to pick the pecking order for Bahrain. Yes, Mercedes up ahead, but which team will follow them to the chequered flag 30+ seconds later?
  • And the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix should be closer given it was the venue of the pre-season tests. But with the timing of the sessions changed from day to night, will pre-season testing data be as effective?

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would urge you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast page on Facebook for far frequent updates on the humour in the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our SoundcloudSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

If you’re an F1 fan and not following ‘Die Hard F1 Fan‘, ‘Addicted To Formula1‘ and ‘F1Extra‘ on social media, you are surely missing out on some exciting real-time updates!

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix: Hamilton And Hulkenberg Shine, Massa Defies

Posted on | March 30, 2014 | No Comments

Lewis Hamilton won the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix in expected style. Pole, fastest lap of the race, victory, what in motorsport terms could be called as ‘stringing a weekend together’! Although it is being debated if he scored the ‘Grand Chelem’ (pole, fastest lap of the race, victory AND having led every single lap!)! By claiming his first win of the season, Hamilton has now won atleast one race in every season competed.

A Mercedes victory was expected, like it was at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Infact, after seeing their dominance in the FP sessions, most of us would’ve predicted a 1-2 finish for the Brackley based team with extreme difficulty in picking which driver would beat the other. However, Hamilton got the better of Rosberg on this occasion and in both the GPs of the 2014 Formula1 Season, one got the feeling that victories were scored with still some race pace in reserve.

Mercedes will be aiming to capitalise on their early season form and extend their lead in both the World Championships. The biggest learning from Sepang was that Red Bull Racing have recovered, are playing catch up and will catch up sooner than what most people would have expected after their pre-season debacles. Given that their pre-season running was almost negligible in comparison to the other top teams, seeing them run this close to the top pace could actually be embarrassing for the others! (Read: Red Bull Needs Wings)

To me, the Red Bull Racing vs. Mercedes battle is possibly the most interesting story of the season yet. Ferrari are still puzzled with their sporadic show of pace (or the lack of it) and Mclaren are still trying to find their sweet spot.

Hamilton, Lowe, Wolff, Rosberg at the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix (courtesy: Mercedes AMG Petronas)

The other factor to remember (for Mercedes and their fans) is that their W05 challenger has massive inputs from Ross Brawn and Michael Schumacher, who the team have used and dumped as per their convenience. But of course, Formula1 is a business first and sport later!

Nico Hulkenberg, the only non-Mercedes AMG Petronas driver lead a race this season, sizzled yet again while battling at the sharper end of the top 10 before settling for a well fought 5th place, adding 10 vital championship points to Sahara Force India’s kitty. My choice for the ‘driver of the day’.

The WilliamsF1 team scored double points, but not after a controversial race where Massa defied team orders to let Bottas through. While the issuance of this order could be debated, team orders seem to follow Massa irrespective of the team he drives for! And while most fans cheered his defiance (I did too!), my belief is that he could blatantly defy the order because unlike his previous contract with Ferrari, ‘moving over for a faster team-mate’ isn’t explicitly written in his WilliamsF1 driver contract! Kudos! (Read: Winning Matters In F1, Not Participation)

But there does seem to be something about Malaysia and team-orders. If my memory is right, it started with and followed after the first race in 1999 with Schumacher-Irvine for Ferrari and then the famous ‘multi21′ with Vettel-Webber and the Rosberg-Hamilton incident last season. In a way, it adds to some mid-race excitement in a race that almost bordered on boring otherwise. (Read: Multi21, Team Orders And PR Talk)

The one driver who was probably bored today was Kimi Raikkonen after an early race jab by Magnussen that saw him suffer from a right rear puncture. While the Danish rookie was penalised for ‘causing a collission’ the damage to Raikkonen’s race was already done.

And my post on the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix would be incomplete without the mention of the curse of number two driver of Red Bull Racing that struck Daniel Ricciardo yet again. The Aussie driver would’ve finished fourth had a botched up tyre change and a dangling front wing led to a series of penalties that made sense to retire the car otherwise! And strangely, under the new rules this season to strengthen pit lane safety, Ricciardo has been issued a 10-place grid penalty for the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix. Sigh!

 Race Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
  2. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
  3. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing
  4. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
  5. Nico Hulkenberg – Sahara Force India
  6. Jenson Button – Mclaren
  7. Felipe Massa – WilliamsF1
  8. Valtteri Bottas – WilliamsF1
  9. Kevin Magnussen – Mclaren
  10. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
  11. Romain Grosjean – Lotus
  12. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
  13. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham
  14. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham
  15. Max Chilton – Marussia

 Retired:

  • Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing
  • Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber
  • Adrian Sutil – Sauber
  • Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso
  • Jules Bianchi – Marussia
  • Pastor Maldonado – Lotus
  • Sergio Perez

The post-Malaysia and pre-Bahrain Grand Prix episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast will be live soon, do tune-in!

If you’re an F1 fan and not following ‘Die Hard F1 Fan‘, ‘Addicted To Formula1‘ and ‘F1Extra‘ on social media, you are surely missing out on some exciting real-time updates!

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying: Rain Equalises, Hamilton Capitalises

Posted on | March 29, 2014 | No Comments

After an overdose of debates on the engines and their sounds, it was finally good to see the engines fire up and reverberate (well, almost!) in Sepang for the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix. To be honest, I think I am getting used to (sort of) the sounds of the 1.6 V6 turbo power units, and sooner or later, the adult nose designs too! Yes, and is only been a fortnight since ‘Formula1 is back‘.

However, I think I still have one complaint on the power units being used for the 2014 Formula1 Season and that is of their intense complexity in usage and repair. There are a limited number of power units (five) allowed per driver per season, which is a known fact. However, the complexity (of course, this is Formula1, what did you expect?) in this regulation is that each power unit compromises of six components and should a driver use more than five of ANY component this season, it will result in penalties ranging from five places on the grid or starting the race from the pit lane.

Now my purpose to state this is because of the increased complexity for the fans now in understanding engine overuse penalties as compared to the 2013 Formula1 Season where the entire engine was treated as one single unit. Of course, it is the architecture of the power unit that demands such a rule, but I just wonder sometimes if the sport loves to over-complicate things for themselves and the fans! Yes, this also stands true for the fuel flow sensor issue that Red Bull Racing and the FIA are loggerheads at!

Lewis Hamilton (courtesy: Mercedes AMG Petronas)

Very soon we shall hear the FIA dish out penalties because of a driver having used extra sets of the MGU-K, MGU-H, TC, EC and what not, I mean, come on, please give us fans a break; there’s already an overdose of abbreviations in the sport for one to remember (FIA, FOM, FOTA, GPDA, ERS, DRS, TWG and blah!), not to mention the irrelevant driver numbers from this season. And then of course, the need to remember the number of gearboxes used anyway remains.

Back to Sepang, it was a typical qualifying dictated by the late evening showers in Kuala Lumpur. It is a little disheartening that Formula1 doesn’t learn from its past mistakes to host the sessions this late in the day in KL and risk a session overrun time due to rain. Before I rant more on the timing issue, I am glad that Star Sports in India didn’t switch to another sport (probably highlights of a random cricket match!) after the scheduled hour of Formula1 extended into two!

Formula1 is a World Championship and an annual one at that! And by annual, I mean that the sport repeats the same mistake (or commits more!) every annum. The TV numbers are crucial for the business of the sport and to please the European audiences, the races in the wrong (read: eastern) part of the world are run later in the day. And as depicted every annum, at the cost of the ‘show’ being affected!

After a delayed start, we witnessed a typical ‘separate the men from the boys’ type of a qualifying session in Sepang. A session which dictated tyre choice (inters or wets) and of course, most of us waited to see if Button and Mclaren’s gamble of inters in Q3 paid off!

As expected from the FP session, it was a Mercedes car that claimed pole and probably the wet session tilted scales in favour of Lewis Hamilton who claimed his second consecutive pole of the season and 33rd overall. The rain was an equaliser and allowed the others (read: Ferrari and Red Bull Racing) to catch the super-fast Mercedes cars.

Most notable was Vettel’s (my ‘driver of the day’) attempt which saw him claim P2, less than a tenth off Hamilton. And it was interesting to note that all three engine manufacturers made it to the top 5 despite their rumoured differences in power output.

The Williams had a disappointing Saturday yet again and both their drivers will have to work hard, stay clear of trouble (no, I don’t always mean the Koba-kazie!) if they wish to make the most of their race pace and possibly score a podium. The other interesting drive was from Nico Hulkenberg who put his Sahara Force India VJM07 in yet another strong starting position (P7) for tomorrow’s race, ahead of the two Mclarens who opted for a ‘hero or zero’ tyre strategy and ended with a zero; Magnussen (P8), Button (P10). The Toro Rossos start P9 (Vergne) and P10 (Kvyat) and their consistent race pace should see them leave Sepang with a few points in the bag.

Rain is expected to mix up the on-track action tomorrow and I don’t think I took this factor into account when I filed my predictions (Rosberg over Hamilton, methinks). While I am sure it will be an interesting and exciting race (yes, with drivers fighting hard and sliding around!), I hope it isn’t delayed in action or in announcing the final results! FIA, please note!

Results from the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying Session:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
  2. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing
  3. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes
  4. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing
  6. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari
  7. Nico Hulkenberg – Sahara Force India
  8. Kevin Magnussen – Mclaren
  9. Jean Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso
  10. Jenson Button – Mclaren
  11. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso
  12. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber
  13. Felipe Massa – Williams
  14. Sergio Perez – Sahara Force India
  15. Valtteri Bottas – Williams
  16. Romain Grosjean – Lotus
  17. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus
  18. Adrian Sutil – Sauber
  19. Jules Bianchi – Marussia
  20. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham
  21. Max Chilton – Marussia
  22. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham

If you’ve made up your mind (shit or not!) the about sounds of the 2014 power units or are still unsure, go hear the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 PodcastEngine No-ise‘!

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Engine No-ise

Posted on | March 27, 2014 | 3 Comments

Between the conclusion of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix and the commencement of the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix (Yes, the land of the multi-21 saga!), Ricciardo’s penalty and subsequent appeal followed by the sound of the engines have shared maximum share of conversation amongst fans, media and even Formula1 drivers (read: Button vs. Vettel). Although, this was mostly visible amongst those who didn’t listen to our previous episode ‘More Torque, Less Talk’!

Lewis Hamilton

In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Rishi and I too succumbed to the eventual debate on the ‘sound’ of the engine, its importance or not and what we believe fans would like to see (or hear in this case!). Amidst the engine talk and just one GP into the season, there’s discussion of Mercedes dominating in the 2014 Formula1 season. A little too early we say, but the prospect of Red Bull Racing doing the chasing is still very relishing. But of course, will Renault be their ally in it? And where’s Ferrari in all this? Questions that will get answered once the season progresses.

Here’s what is in store in our latest Formula1 podcast:

  • Before we get sucked into our egoistical and self-centered world of Formula1, our condolences to the victims and families of the MH370!
  • FIA, FOM, F1 teams, drivers, media, fans, sponsors, promoters and every stakeholder directly or indirectly involved wants ‘improved’ engine sounds. So then who the hell wrote this damn ‘formula’? (Read: Gracias V8, Hola V6 Turbo)
  • Has Formula1 single-handedly destroyed the ear plug manufacturing industry? Err! Yes, we could be exaggerating slightly!
  • And in Malaysia, given that the circuit is so expansive, will the engine sounds be even meeker?
  • Lauda says that ‘engine sounds’ are an emotional connect for the fans with the sport and we agree. But if this is the future of racing and road cars, we tell you why we are worried!
  • How do we measure the effectiveness of these regulations? We give you our views.
  • And no, please do us a favour Formula1, we do not want engine ‘sounds’ to be enhanced artificially. Cosmetic surgeries have anyway been performed on the nose sections! Engines can’t be next!
  • We’ve said ‘racing first, engineering later’, is it really that difficult for the sport to figure what we fans want?
  • And lastly, our predictions for the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix!

It will be an emotional Grand Prix for Formula1 and all of Malaysia. On one hand we shall pray for MH370 and on the other, for Michael Schumacher; Come Back Michael!

And before I end this post, a BIG thank you to all our listeners and even more so our social media groups that have helped promote the viewership base of my F1 blog and the Inside Line F1 Podcast. If you’re an F1 fan and not following ‘Die Hard F1 Fan‘, ‘Addicted To Formula1‘ and ‘F1Extra‘ on social media, you are surely missing out on some exciting real-time updates!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would urge you to choose your platform to listen to the humour that we add to the otherwise serious and complex sport of Formula1. And while our podcast frequency is weekly, come ‘like‘ the Inside Line F1 Podcast page on Facebook for far frequent updates on the humour in the world of Formula1.

If you are an Apple user, you can subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on the iTunes Podcast Store or via our RSS feed (for Android/Windows/Blackberry users).

The Inside Line Formula1 Podcast is produced and hosted by Rishi Kapoor and Kunal Shah. Follow us on Twitter and on our SoundcloudSpreakerMixCloud and YouTube channels.

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