Kunal's F1 Blog

Inside Line F1 Podcast: The Race That Wasn’t

Posted on | October 17, 2014 | No Comments

The 2014 Russian Grand Prix or the Russ-yawn Grand Prix as I called it still lingers on my mind. Missed opportunities for the sport, missed opportunities for Nico Rosberg too? And I think I delivered my point well enough since I had more than a few fans disagree with my views in not so kind words. I guess missed opportunity for those readers to understand my views on the business of Formula1.

In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, Rishi and I tell you why Bernie Ecclestone and Formula1 owe their fans an apology; not that they will! As passionate fans, we believe that no aspect of the sport should be taken lightly and we hope our sincerity and hard work shows in this Formula1 Podcast which we have been bringing to you every week for the last four years or so.

2014 Russian Grand Prix (Courtesy: Google Images)

While Formula1 was in lower gear in Russia, we believe that Hamilton stepped up a gear or two post the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix. His drive was full of confidence and had Rosberg even overtaken him cleanly at the start, I doubt if he would have been able to keep Hamilton away from his second fourth consecutive win of the 2014 Formula1 Season.

Apart from the Mercedes boys, this season will be a talking (and turning) point for Bottas and Ricciardo, both of whom were in mid-field teams and barely scrapped through the points last season. Any learnings for fans from their sudden change of fortunes?

On the point of learning, apart from controversial flag decisions in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, the FIA has done well to make the sport safer and I am sure that lesson from Bianchi’s accident would’ve been learned. But are closed cockpits the solution to the problem?

And lastly, what on earth is cooking between Vettel-Ferrari, Alonso-Mclaren and Mercedes? The curry has gotten spicier since our episode last week and we attempt to solve the puzzle this week too. Tune in!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome 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 on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from 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 Russian Grand Prix: Russ-yawn Grand Prix

Posted on | October 12, 2014 | No Comments

Formula1 is a circus. Wherever ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone decides to pitch his tent, the Formula1 teams, drivers, media and other members of the circus land up to put up a show. Sochi is where Bernie Ecclestone decided to pitch his tent for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. And not so surprisingly, some 55,000 fans landed up in excitement to witness a sport that is known to put up a ‘show’ which includes one of the world’s fastest and most recognised (and highly paid) drivers go wheel-to-wheel in a bid to win and use some clever tyre strategy along the way.

But what happens when the circus fails to put up a good show? As a spectator and fan, what do you do? Who can you put the blame on? Funnily enough, when it comes to this circus, there’s no one you can blame in particular. You either risk snoozing mid-race, or just go home knowing that there’s going to be no refund. For a fan, and I am one, this is plainly unfair!

Yes, this isn’t a movie or a scripted sporting show (a la WWE) where you can control the proceedings or the outcome (err, at least that’s we think), but this is also a sport where each team and their suppliers (Pirelli in this case) employ and use effectively very high tech simulation systems and spend millions of dollars in doing so. I am surprised how Formula1 with all its technological advancements can land up at a new circuit, in front of new fans without knowing how their ‘show’ could turn out to be. I feel sorry for Russian fans who paid money (and a lot of that!) only to be subjected to such a boring race. (Read: Let Us Save Formula1)

Would the simulations have not shown that tyre degradation would’ve been low and that Pirelli should’ve brought softer tyres in order to avoid a snore fest? If the answer to that is negative (and I will check with my sources in the sport), couldn’t the FIA or FOM or whichever body give a car to Pirelli to pre-check their tyre allocations for this racing weekend? Sebastian Vettel drove on the circuit a few weeks ago for a promotion in an Infiniti sedan. What a waste! I’d have rather shipped one of the older racing cars from the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team and performed a thorough tyre assessment. For those crying out foul (mainly Vettel bashers!), Pirelli has test drivers they could’ve used!

Nico Rosberg - the only entertainment of the 2014 Russian GP

Are Pirelli directly, to blame? I wouldn’t know. But increasingly and even more so in the 2014 Formula1 Season, it is either Pirelli, the Safety Car or Nico Rosberg that has added entertainment to an otherwise drab show. Yes, I am also not forgetting the brilliance of Ricciardo, Bottas and the rise of Williams and Sahara Force India’s streak of competitiveness at the start of the season. But none of these factors are consistent to the ‘show’ (this season), testimony to my claim here is Rosberg’s opening lap lock-up was possibly the only excitement of the race and then the cry over Pirelli’s botched tyre allocation. And for those who wish, I would rate Grosjean’s tapping of Sutil as a 1 out of 4 in terms of entertainment and the Stewards have already rated the Frechman’s move from a sporting perspective.

Formula1 is expanding rapidly to newer territories and while it is doing so, it is doing little for the new audiences. These new fans represent markets that aren’t traditional strongholds for Formula1 and today’s race was the worst possible advertisement for the sport in Russia. These fans aren’t purists of the sport (like I am) who would sit through the snore fest and understand why the race isn’t exciting enough for me to watch. I would guess that India and Korea faced a similar story in their own ways. (Read: Formula1 Needs To Market Better To Newer Audiences)

As the race promoter, I have little option. I am expected to cough up millions of dollars to buy the rights to host an official Formula1 Grand Prix in my country, state or county. Once I have rights, I am expected to setup a world class racing circuit with state of art Paddock facilities for the teams to come and set up tent and go racing. But after I have done that, there’s no guarantee on the quality of the race. Should the race be a snore fest, like it was today, I wouldn’t know who to go and complain to and who is actually accountable. Is it the FIA, the FOM, the teams, the suppliers, the drivers, who? Is winning the ‘best promoter’ trophy at the end of the season enough to help sustain the sport and its audiences for my GP?

Given that I am footing the bill for the sport and its extravagance in my country, state or county, I think I deserve to know who I can go and speak to ensure that the ‘show’ is as expected by my consumers (circuit attendees). And what’s worse is that my ‘hosting fee’ and contract might be skewed in favour of FOM so much so that most of my circuit earnings would be parted with irrespective of how ‘bad’ the show would turn out to be. And yes, all of this ultimately affects circuit attendance which impacts direct revenue streams like gate receipts, circuit advertising, etc.

Formula1 is in a state of monopoly. And FOM is milking this monopoly well. We’ve seen circuits dropped left, right and centre in the last few years (India, Valencia, Korea, etc.) only to make way for newer markets. If these new markets aren’t catered to like any marketer would do so, I wonder what the sport would do once its these markets either ignore them (due to no guarantee over the show) or reach a stage of stagnancy (not many countries or governments can afford a multi-million dollar hosting fees and infrastructure costs!). And I would be surprised if the brains that run the sport are unable to foresee this situation already. (Read: Will Formula1 Survive Without Bernie?)

Strangely, the Indian Grand Prix was dropped to make way for the 2014 Russian Grand Prix. While there were business factors involved entirely in this decision, I do believe that the inaugural edition of the Indian GP offered a better spectacle than Russia! (Read: Ecclestone Check Mates The Indian GP)

And last but not the least, it is very early day to say so, but I wonder if Formula1 will offer a chance to Formula E to take up the tag of the world’s most exciting motor-racing series; fastest, maybe not!

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Forza Jules

Posted on | October 7, 2014 | No Comments

Motorsport is dangerous, but it is only after incidents such as Jules Bianchi’s life threatening one at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix do the dangers of the sport face us in real. We revel at the technological strides the sport has made in every aspect including safety, and it is the same advances that allows the drivers to push boundaries and defy laws of physics ever so often; sometimes in conditions that probably don’t need them to.

But that’s Formula1. A sport and a business, but not in that order. Reasons related to business of the sport was why the race didn’t start earlier even though the FIA wanted to. Similarly, the ‘show’ of the sport couldn’t be hampered and a car in the barriers shouldn’t affect the overall race result was why the Safety Car wasn’t deployed post Adrian Sutil’s crash. (Read: Formula1 Puts Fans First)

Forza Jules

And then the former F1 doc has rightly questioned if Jules obeyed the flags that were being waved (claimed to be double yellows), but one could wonder if due to the low visibility and diminishing light, were the flags visible at all. A lot of questions, very few answers, but a lot of prayers to see Jules recover well and take things from there.

Back to the sport, Hamilton’s win was much deserved, he is a master of such conditions and was the better driver. Button’s first lap tyre call was splendid and could there be a better way of sending a message to the bosses at Honda?

Apart from that, the Vettel-Alonso-Ferrari-Mclaren curry was spiced up on Saturday by Red Bull Racing after they seemingly caught everyone unawares by announcing Vettel’s departure and his apparent interest in joining Ferrari. This only adds to our previous assumption that the grid in the 2015 Formula1 Season could be the most changed one in recent times.

And last but not the least, the inaugural Russian Grand Prix is up this weekend. While it is a journey into the unknown for almost everyone including Rishi and I, I think the Russian President Vladmir Putin does know what he’s going to be doing this weekend. Your guess is as good as ours!

Do tune in to the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast:

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome 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 on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from 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.

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Lewis Shines Under Lights

Posted on | September 25, 2014 | No Comments

Lewis Hamilton’s win and Nico Rosberg’s retirement in the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix indicated two things; first, Hamilton’s not lost any of his talent, second, this year’s Drivers’ World Championship could be decided by reliability. Of course, both these factors aren’t a revelation of sorts, so it is more like I am stating the obvious.

Singapore also revealed that Mercedes has been and will be lucky this season. The Constructors’ Championship is theirs to lose, but they won’t. However, had there been even a remote challenge from any of the other constructors, I wonder if their reliability issues and tyre strategy errors would’ve cost them more than what it has in the 2014 Formula1 Season. (Read: Mercedes Is The New Red Bull)

Lewis Hamilton (courtesy: LH’s Instagram Feed)

The engine unfreeze is being discussed at the moment, which is unfair to Mercedes, of course, but as a fan, if it helps level the playing field, I wouldn’t mind it from being implemented. After all, we are all focused on improving the show!

Will Honda’s entry make Mclaren an attractive team for the 2015 Formula1 Season? The Alonso-Mclaren rumours are only getting stronger, but I doubt that the switch would or should happen for the coming season.

Much like Alonso, we can only speculate about the engine that Honda can manufacture for the next season, but if you see their car development in the current season, one would possibly have second thoughts. Although, their battle with Sahara Force India has been most epic, possibly the only one on the grid that has seen so many position changes in the Constructors’ Championship table.

While Nico Hulkenberg has delivered the consistent points scoring finishes, Sergio Perez has delivered the spike in performances and his fights with Mclaren in the last few races have been notable. His last few laps in Singapore were most entertaining and kudos to the Mexican for that.

The other driver who surprised in Singapore was Jean Eric Vergne. However, was his noteworthy drive a little too late in his career? Will a move out of the Red Bull Racing camp be possible for him? Or will he go the Buemi – Alguersuari way?

And then again, if we have three car teams next year, will it be a saviour for drivers like Vergne? Are you in support of three car teams in the near future? (Read: Three Car Teams Is The Future)

Tune in to the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast.

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome 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 on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from 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.

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Nico Ros-boo-rg

Posted on | September 16, 2014 | 2 Comments

Nico Rosberg has been a revelation for me this season. I doubt many Formula1 fans would’ve bet in favour of Nico Rosberg leading the championship table let alone beating his illustrious and World Champion team mate Lewis Hamilton. He has been quick, competitive, shrewd and very calculative in his approach, something that I don’t think many fans could sit back and take notice in the previous seasons when he was in uncompetitive machinery. One can see that his steely approach has caught the Mercedes management by surprise and Hamilton too! (Read: Mercedes Prefer A Blonde On Top)

I think the Rosberg – Hamilton has been a fair contest with a little give and take from both sides of the garage, although Hamilton has suffered a tad bit more when it comes to reliability issues. Is it a car issue or is it his driving of a fragile car the issue, I am not equipped to comment. (Read: A Nico And A Nico-le for Lewis)

Nico Rosberg (courtesy: Google Images)

But Formula1 is a weird sport, and this isn’t because the cars have wings and go round and round on a piece of well painted tarmac. It is because of the fans, well some of them at least. The ones that go around ‘boo’-ing drivers, World Champion or not.

If the botched overtaking manoeuvre in Spa is the reason, I think the Mercedes management and Hamilton have already overreacted to it, so the fans can let him be and I hope better sense will prevail in Singapore.

In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we bid goodbye and thank you to Luca di Montezemolo, possibly one of the biggest names in the sport, who was asked to step down by the Fiat Group due to repeated failures by Ferrari to win in Formula1. Strange that it was the team’s failure on track and not in the board room (for their road car sales figures) that led to his sacking! We discuss two jobs that Luca could land up with!

The FIA has decided to make the sport even more interesting by banning radio messages starting this weekend’s race. Any message that aids the performance of the car or the driver has been done away with. While many believe it puts more onus on the driver, I think the decision is unwise.

With Mexico confirmed for the 2015 Formula1 Season, we go back to a 20 race calendar! A time to rejoice for fans! And if it is planned further well, we could actually have 52 racing weekends every year! But can we also explore the three cars per team option? (Read: F1 Should Have Three Car Teams)

And lastly, Formula E’s inaugural e-prix in Beijing was concluded over the weekend. We talk about the new age series, their debut race and if this race can indeed be a threat to Formula1 in the medium to long term future. (Read: Has F1 Given Formula E A Chance?)

Tune in!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome 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 on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from 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.

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Márquez Does A Vettel

Posted on | August 12, 2014 | 1 Comment

Yes, we are the Inside Line F1 Podcast, but Marc Marquez’s performance in 2014 has been such that it merits a mention and more in the latest episode of our Formula1 podcast. I get so consumed by Formula1 as a sport that I am unable to follow MotoGP as much as I’d like to, especially in a season when there’s one rider dominating the proceedings.

And that’s the point. I wonder how many Formula1 fans (the tertiary ones and otherwise) felt that way when Vettel dominated the second half of the 2013 Formula1 season. On the contrary, TV figures dropped! I wonder why this trend.

Marc Marquez and Sebastian Vettel (courtesy: Google Images)

The other surprising trend is how teams have agreed and complied with each other to observe the ‘August shutdown’ period. If only they did the same for their commercials, rules and other key aspects, Formula1 could’ve possibly been a better sport over all. Yes, there’s much scope for improvement, especially on the marketing side!

A BIG thank you to everyone for the good feedback on the ‘Know Thy Racer‘ episode from last week in which we featured Sahara Force India’s Academy driver Jehan Daruvala – ‘Living The Dream‘.

But before we proceed with the latest episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we pay our condolences to Kevin Ward Jr. and his family. It is never good to lose a life on the race track, I mean this isn’t why we go racing!

Highlights:

I return to work and the Inside Line F1 Podcast a week post-Spa, so miss me while I am away! And till then, Keep Racing!

The Inside Line F1 Podcast is now available on various platforms and I would welcome 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 on Facebook and on Google+ for far frequent humorous updates from 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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Inside Line F1 Podcast: Living The Dream

Posted on | August 5, 2014 | No Comments

The forced ‘August shutdown’ might deprive the Formula1 fan of some much needed fortnightly wheel to wheel action, but for the Inside Line F1 Podcast and my Formula1 blog, I take this opportunity to bring to you some interesting stories connected with the sport. The marketer in me knows that in this period ‘any’ content that I put out on the sport will be well consumed, but the blogger in me knows not to misuse this opportunity!

In this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we bring back our promotional feature ‘Know Thy Racer‘ and we speak to Sahara Force India’s Academy driver Jehan Daruvala whose driving talent and achievements have prompted most to label him as the next best bet for an Indian Formula1 driver. And of course, in my view, he is also possibly on his way to inherit the ‘Fastest Indian in the World’ tag from Narain Karthikeyan, that is whenever the veteran racer decides to give it up, of course.

Jehan Daruvala - Sahara Force India Academy Driver

Jehan’s story is that of ‘living a dream’ in the literal sense of the term. His triumph in the 2013 British Karting Championship was the best ever for an Indian racing abroad. You can read much about his progress as a racer under the Sahara Force India Academy banner here – ‘Jehan Daruvala Wins The 2013 British Karting Championship‘.

We’ve done an extensive feature with Jehan in this week’s episode and I also spent a few hours with the young lad from Mumbai last week while he was busy interacting with media who were ever so curious to know about his progress. The most frequently asked question being, ‘when do you switch to single seaters?’

The focus of my discussion with Jehan was to bring out the dream that he is living. His hard work, dedication, his team and the sacrifices he’s made and is willing to make to make it to Formula1 as a Sahara Force India driver. It is one thing to ‘dream’ about being a Formula1 driver and it is another to ‘live’ it altogether, that too day after day after day. Jehan shared that he has been dreaming of racing in Formula1 ever since he started karting (about five years back when he was 11!) and is delighted that he’s a part of India’s only Formula1 team. He jumbles between attending school on weekdays and racing across Europe on weekends and points out at the lack of time in his life when I inquire about him having a girlfriend!

Terry Fullerton, Jehan Daruvala, Mike Holloway and Ricky Flynn (courtesy: Kart Com)

Jehan is quick to mention that one of his biggest influencers on the program has been Terry Fullerton, his driver coach, followed by Ricky Flynn (the team he racers for), Gerry Convy (Paul Di Resta’s fitness trainer) and Don Macpherson (his sports psychologist). His fitness levels are on par with that of a GP3 driver and he explained his pre-race visualisation technique to me in great detail, which revealed that his mindset is that of a winner and a relaxed one at that! His mental coach has played a big part in helping him overcome the ‘double pedalling’ problem that prevailed last season. For someone who truly believes in ‘mind over matter’, I was much impressed by Jehan’s mental make-up and maturity. (Read: Winning Matters In Formula1, Not Participation)

We spoke about his love for Parsi food (dhan sak), football (he prefers being the goal keeper!) and I was surprised to know about his interest and update to date knowledge about Cricket and the on-going India-England series. He interrupted our discussion by telling me that ‘India will lose this test match against England’ (we eventually did!) and then went on to read out the score to me from his phone. His keen interest in Cricket (most non-cricketing sportspersons in India dislike the sport for many reasons) got me to inquire further, to which he added that he liked watching test matches outside of India where they had ‘green’ tops and not flat wickets like the sub-continent venues!

Niki Lauda and Jehan Daruvala (courtesy: Sahara Force India)

And while he may be years away from a Formula1 cockpit, Jehan has already had his tryst with former Formula1 World Champions. Niki Lauda heard of his success in the British Karting Championship and dropped by to congratulate him in the Sahara Force India hospitality at the 2013 Indian Grand Prix. However, it was his interaction with two other World Champions (both German) that had my interest.

In 2013, Jehan competed along side Michael Schumacher’s son (Mick) and all it took was one aggressive maneuver from the Indian on Schumacher Jr. to have the German legend visit the Sahara Force India Academy awning and ‘scold’ a much excited Jehan on his move! And in 2014, Jehan beat the reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel in the first round of the German Karting Championship (the WSK) in all the practice sessions. He was delighted to know that the quadruple World Champion came about inquiring his lap times through much of the sessions!

However, neither Vettel nor Schumacher are Jehan’s favourite Formula1 driver, it is the double World Champion, Fernando Alonso. Now it would be something if Jehan graduates to Formula1 and the grid still has Alonso racing (hopefully not a Ferrari!) and the Indian manages to beat him. Much like the Vettel-Schumacher moment that we saw came true a few seasons ago.

The biggest highlight of Jehan’s journey as a Sahara Force India Academy racer in the last three years has been his victory in the British Championship and his win in the WSK round in Castellatto (video link embedded) whereas his most challenging time was a few months ago when he was experiencing some chassis related issues. One of the lesser known aspects of Jehan’s dream includes being a successful Formula1 driver with Sahara Force India, buying a yacht and mooring it off Monaco! (I am greeted with a smirk when I asked ‘with a girlfriend?’)

While he dreams, I wait for the reality to know when he switches to single seaters and in which championship, possibly his biggest career decision yet.

Inside Line F1 Podcast: Mercedes Prefer A Blonde On Top

Posted on | July 29, 2014 | 2 Comments

My views on the team orders saga involving Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Mercedes in the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix created much hullabaloo on social media! So much so that I almost ended up getting trolled, so in this week’s episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, I offered to clarify my views further. Funnily enough, I am not much of a Hamilton or Rosberg fan yet or Mercedes too for that matter. (Read: Hung(a)ry For More)

But I guess this is what happens when an underdog takes on one of Formula1′s mightiest talents. And the underdog status doesn’t limit itself to the sport alone. On Facebook, Rosberg’s fan count is 1/4th as compared to Hamilton’s, with the number improving to 1/3rd on Twitter for Rosberg! (Read: 2014 F1 Season: Has The Dust Settled Yet?)

Nico Rosberg vs. Lewis Hamilton (2014 F1 Season)

Read:

Before I proceed, a BIG thanks to Ajit Devadason for letting me use this title for the podcast. He runs www.effwon.com (which hosts its own fantasy league) and manages Soft Tyres on Facebook. The team orders saga has also resulted in some great banter on Facebook across various groups that allow me to promote my work and this includes ‘Die Hard F1 Fan‘, ‘Addicted To Formula One‘, ‘Formula One Forever‘, ‘Worldwide F1 Fans‘ and ‘F1 Extra‘!! All these groups as a must follow if you’re a Formula1 fan and are on Facebook, I mean who isn’t?

Back to the podcast, we try and re-live the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, which was truly ‘edge of the seat’ action for everyone. In a season marred by multiple and frequent rule changes, it is heartening to know that the core of the sport which includes wheel to wheel action, strategy and unpredictability still remain intact and untouched. Yes, you may still miss the engine sounds, but that discussion is long gone. Is Formula1 still lacking? We try and answer that in our next episode, do tune in. (Read: Has Formula1 Given Formula E A Chance?)

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Here’s what is in store in this week’s episode of our Formula1 Podcast:

  • Firstly, a welcome back to Rishi, who had a back surgery, and no, not the Kimi type!
  • Mercedes proved that they prefer a blonde on top. Really?
  • We offer our views on the team orders saga AND prove who actually was wrong! (Read: Fans Denied A Hamilton vs. Rosberg Fight)
  • ‘Racer of the Day’, we pick our candidates. Toughest race yet to choose
  • Mclaren should watch the races on television; we tell you why (Read: Ditched By Star Sport, F1 Fans Will Thank TATA)
  • Sauber create history, not most worthy of a mention though
  • Flavio to improve the show? That’ll be Formula1′s most expensive plan then!
  • Plethora of new racing venues being announced for 2015 and 2016. Where does this leave the Indian Grand Prix? (Read: Ecclestone Checkmates The Indian GP)
  • Can Mr. E take the sport to North Korea, please?
  • Ferrari should stop paying Raikkonen his race fees too
  • Never thought we’d say this, but Ferrari risk losing Alonso if they finish lower than third (Read: Alonso, Raikkonen, Ferrari, 2014 And Beyond)
  • Thanks to Maldonado, Lotus can afford Mercedes power and much more in the 2015 Formula1 Season

The sport takes a compulsory break for the next three weeks, however, Rishi and I will be working overtime to bring to you special stories and views during this period. And of course, what better time than now to bring back our special series of Know Thy Racer. 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 onFacebook and on Google+ 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 Hungarian Grand Prix: Hung(a)ry For More

Posted on | July 27, 2014 | No Comments

They say Formula1 has a problem. I agree! But the problem isn’t in the racing, I am certain. Those who witnessed the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix will agree too. Yes, one could debate that the spectacle of the race was aided by multiple Safety Car periods and rain, but well, that is sport in its natural form yet. The only shame from today’s race is that the next is a month away. Possibly the longest month for Formula1 fans! (Read: 2014 F1 Season: Has The Dust Settled Yet?)

Daniel Ricciardo won his second race of the 2014 Formula1 season and is the only non-Mercedes driver to win yet. The beauty of his wins are that he’s made the moves on track in a car that clearly is low on horsepower. His moves on Alonso and Hamilton to grab the lead of the race could be classified as bold, creative and witty! While the Aussie is 43 points ahead of his quadruple World Champion team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship, what he’s shown even more so is that he’s able to win races even when Red Bull Racing isn’t the dominating team. Is he the best non-Mercedes driver on the grid? Well, the points table certainly indicates so.

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, who drove a fantastic race to finish second, classified this result as a victory for Ferrari. His defensive driving style and the Hamilton vs. Rosberg fight in the last few laps helped him keep second place, else he could’ve well been off the podium and in 4th place. His tyre management skills allowed him to finish the race with a pit stop less as he managed 33 laps on the soft compound. Interestingly, he led more laps in Hungary than all of the last 24 races added together!

The Spaniard is also the only driver on the grid to have scored points in all the 11 races concluded this season. Raikkonen finished 6th after starting 17th on the grid. The double points scoring result ensured that Ferrari overtook Williams for 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship. However, what would worry the bosses in Italy (Montezemolo in particular) more is the fact that Ferrari is the only constructor to have NOT won a single race in the new hybrid turbo era of Formula1.

This was the first race of the season where neither of the Mercedes drivers finished in the top 2 positions. This was also Nico Rosberg’s worst finish of the season; he finished 4th! Lewis Hamilton, who started from the pit lane, drove a superb race to finish 3rd and reduce the points deficit to Rosberg in the Drivers’ Championship. Should Mercedes celebrate a 3-4 result for themselves as they leave Hungary? Probably not! (Read: Fans Missed A Hamilton vs. Rosberg Fight)

The mid-race team orders saga will be the topic of discussion as the sport heads for a forced break for a few weeks, but it is also Hamilton’s disobedience of team orders that probably cost Rosberg and Mercedes race victory! A far fetched thought, maybe, but given how close the top 3 drivers finished by the end of the race, Rosberg had a better chance to win than Hamilton. So what happened?

As Hamilton rightly pointed out post-race, had he let Rosberg through, the German driver would’ve finished ahead of him and extended his lead in the championship. Did Hamilton do the right thing? For his sake, yes, for the team’s sake, no. And my mind only goes back to the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix where team orders were used to aid Hamilton’s race and Rosberg complied. A case of hypocrisy? What was worse post-race was Wolff and Lauda siding with Hamilton’s disobedience. (Read: Team Orders And PR Talk)

So couldn’t Rosberg overtake Hamilton on track? That’s the question most fans (Hamilton ones!) would be right in asking. But the difference here (as opposed to Bahrain and other races) is that both the drivers were on different strategies. Hamilton was on a tyre saving strategy (two stopper) whereas Rosberg was on the aggressive tyre strategy (three stopper) given the difference in their starting positions. Rosberg, who possibly knew that Hamilton wouldn’t let him through, was smart enough to stay just out of the DRS range and manage his tyres from extra wear and tear.

What would’ve probably been worse was if Rosberg disobeyed team orders and not let Hamilton through. But I guess that’s what you get when a not so famous (yet!) driver is up against one of the most famous names in modern day Formula1. Hamilton might have walked away from Hungary with a few extra points and a podium, but it is Rosberg who still holds the championship lead and the mental edge. And after being robbed of Hamilton vs. Rosberg battles in the last few races, I hope the second half of the season sees the two drivers battle it out where it matters the most!

However, this doesn’t take away from the super race that Hamilton had this weekend. From the pit lane to P3 was something even he wasn’t sure of after his Mercedes caught fire and kept him away from qualifying yesterday. And interestingly enough, the British driver has gained some 50 odd track positions (in total) in the last few races to claw back points on Race Day!

What happened to Williams? A team that was the second quickest behind Mercedes could only manage a P5 (Massa) and P8 (Bottas). I think their strategy to use the medium compound (and slower of the two compounds) mid-race back fired as they lost time and track position to the front runners. For those who missed it, Ricciardo was trailed by Massa in P2 post the first Safety Car period.

Mclaren's Weather System In Hungary? (source: Twitter)

As for Mclaren, their ‘hero or zero’ decision to stick to inters in the opening part of the race and wait for rain to reappear proved to be a big zero! Ironically, it is Button who usually comes out as the hero in such situations. They eventually scored a point with Button finishing P10. They trail Sahara Force India by 1 point in 6th place!

Two other drivers worth mentioning would be Jean Eric Vergne and Adrian Sutil. Vergne managed P9 after running the first half of the race in the top 5. Sutil lost out on Sauber’s first point of the season by less than a second! And last but not the least, a race to forget for Sahara Force India as both their drivers crashed out due to driver errors. A substantial chunk of points would’ve been possible!

Tough choice to pick my ‘Racer of the Day’ as all three podium finishers deserve the tag in their own ways and so does Rosberg. But if I have to pick one, it would have to be Daniel Ricciardo.

Race Results:

  1. Daniel Ricciardo
  2. Fernando Alonso
  3. Lewis Hamilton
  4. Nico Rosberg
  5. Felipe Massa
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Sebastian Vettel
  8. Valtteri Bottas
  9. Jean Eric Vergne
  10. Jenson Button
  11. Adrian Sutil
  12. Kevin Magnussen
  13. Pastor Maldonado
  14. Daniil Kvyat
  15. Jules Bianchi
  16. Max Chilton

Did Not Finish:

  • Esteban Gutierrez
  • Kamui Kobayashi
  • Sergio Perez
  • Nico Hulkenberg
  • Romain Grosjean
  • Marcus Ericsson

And as we head to the month long Formula1 break, I will look to keep you entertained via a few planned blog posts and of course the Inside Line F1 Podcast! Keep Racing!

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying: Fans Denied A Hamilton vs. Rosberg Fight

Posted on | July 26, 2014 | No Comments

Nico Rosberg clinched his 6th pole position of the 2014 Formula1 Season. But that was sort of expected after Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes caught fire minutes into the session due to a suspected fuel leak. Failing to set a qualifying time, the British driver would need to start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid or from the pit-lane, which was the sensible decision the team took last weekend too in Hockenheim. (Read: 2014 F1 Season: Has The Dust Settled Yet?)

2014 Hungarian Grand Prix Qualifying

However, Hungaroring isn’t a Hockenheim, it is more a Monaco, where starting position is crucial and overtaking is almost impossible. While I am dreading a processionary race tomorrow, Hamilton is dreading and mentally prepared to lose 20 points or thereabouts to his team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship. Funny that in a year where the fastest driver is in the fastest car, he is chasing down a fellow rival, who is his team-mate.

Hamilton has suffered in qualifying in the last few races. Driver errors got the better of him in a few sessions and the last couple were lost to mechanical gremlins. Has Hamilton sorted his head out yet as he prepares for one of his fiercest title battles, one wouldn’t know. But certainly, Mercedes need to sort out their mechanical issues. It would be unfair to settle this year’s championship on the basis of car reliability, but what’s worse is robbing the fans from witnessing a classic Hamilton vs. Rosberg duel like we did in a few races earlier in the year.

And while Hamilton fans mop over his second consecutive mechanical issue (and cook up yet another sabotage story), Rosberg deserves credit yet again. In changing conditions, he managed to keep calm and string a perfect qualifying lap in Q3 to qualify ahead of Vettel and Bottas. What was fun were his candid comments on missing a clean battle with his team-mate for pole! I don’t know if he meant it, but I certainly do!

Q1 is certainly where the action has been this season as we saw Raikkonen exit too. Ironically, he was bumped off by Bianchi (P16!), who I believe has done enough to bump off the Iceman and claim his cockpit! A sign of times to come for Ferrari? And while Raikkonen has been ‘blaming’ Ferrari for their decision to not run again in Q1, I think the Finn needs to wonder (and ponder) why he didn’t put a lap time as quick as Alonso in his first attempt itself! And for those who like their statistics, Raikkonen has scored seven podium finishes in Hungary. Is this is the last we see of Raikkonen? But Ferrari is known to hold on to their drivers long past their ‘use by’ date! (Read: Ferrari, Alonso, Raikkonen, 2014 And Beyond)

In the build-up to the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix, there was an interesting observation that social media followers shared. Every time Hamilton has won here, Raikkonen has come second. I guess Raikkonen followed him off in Q1 to just keep up with the tradition! Podium would be a tall order for both the drivers tomorrow.

The lack of long straights allowed Red Bull to close the gap between themselves and Mercedes and Williams in this case. Vettel should be able to run a strong race tomorrow but wouldn’t be in a position to challenge Rosberg for victory. And it was surprising to see crowd cheer as Vettel claimed provisional pole! (Read: Has Formula1 Given Formula E A Chance?)

Bottas is possibly the most ‘complete’ Finnish driver and I mean from a media point of view as well. His pace has never been in question and he is as good as finishing whatever is left of Felipe Massa’s career. What’s best is that he is audible in the media conferences!

Alonso qualified 5th in his Ferrari and this is his 33rd P5 slot! Ferrari seem to be the fourth fastest team in Hungary, which means that fans will be treated to yet another dose of Alonso magic as he tries to salvage the Scuderia’s forgetful season! And there is speculation that Ferrari’s position of fourth in the Constructors’ Championship actually opens up the ‘exit clause’ in the Spaniard’s contract!

Kevin Magnussen made a rookie error in Q3 as he misjudged the grip levels at the entry of Turn 1 and skid off into the barriers. A change of gearbox means an added penalty and the team has decided to start him from the pit-lane. Interestingly, in the World Series by Renault last year, Magnussen started 16th and finished 2nd in the wet.

But that isn’t Mclaren’s most interesting story this weekend yet. It is about Jenson Button’s contract extension which is yet pending. If you were Ron Dennis, would you re-sign the 2009 World Champion for yet another season?

And a special mention to Sauber’s Adrian Sutil who finally had a session where he could showcase his talent. His P12 was ahead of Sahara Force India’s Perez (who had a hydraulic issue) and the Lotus cars of Grosjean and Maldonado. But can he score for Sauber and end their longest drought of championship points?

 Qualifying Results:

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Sebastian Vettel
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Daniel Ricciardo
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Felipe Massa
  7. Jenson Button
  8. Jean Eric Vergne
  9. Nico Hulkenberg
  10. Kevin Magnussen
  11. Daniil Kvyat
  12. Adrian Sutil
  13. Sergio Perez
  14. Esteban Gutierrez
  15. Romain Grosjean
  16. Jules Bianchi
  17. Kimi Raikkonen
  18. Kamui Kobayashi
  19. Max Chilton
  20. Marcus Ericsson

Did Not Qualify:

  • Lewis Hamilton
  • Pastor Maldonado

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