<![CDATA[Auto India Sports - Home]]>Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:44:00 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[News, Views & The Future]]>Thu, 17 Dec 2015 22:57:47 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/news-views-the-futureHi guys,

Peter here. It has been quite a while since I have written an article on here. Part of the reason for this has been due to being overwhelmingly busy in my personal life - however we have not stood still with Auto India Sports and have been working behind the scenes. More on that later, right now though, here are some recent news stories that I have been meaning to catch up on.

Sahara Force India

Since the 2015 season ended with Force India securing 5th place in the constructors championship, numerous people have been heaping praise on the team, and rightly so. The analysis that various media outlets have complied makes for fascinating reading.
Picture
Formula One's analysis of car improvement over the season.
To be completely honest, I do not quite understand how they arrived at these percentage figures. However, it is pretty clear that Sahara Force India are considerably ahead of everyone - epic stuff!
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Sky Sports F1's ranking of the drivers over the course of the season.
7th & 8th for our drivers; we'll happily take that! With an average rating of just 0.01 between our drivers, it shows just how close it was all season between Nico & Sergio. Nico dominated the early part of the season, and Sergio dominated the latter half. Sergio finished 20 points ahead in the drivers championship, mainly because he hit his best form when our new car, the VJM08B, was up to speed in the latter half of the year.

Meanwhile looking forward, the team have signed Alfonso Celis Jr. as a development driver for the 2016 season. This will include appearing in seven practice sessions next year. Make no mistake, while I am a fan of Alfonso, you may need to temper expectations in the short term. He is by no means a complete driver, and while he has potential, his development rate has been quite slow. That's okay though, some drivers do develop faster than others, and Alfonso is improving all the time; the 19 year old got his first podium in GP3 earlier this year at Spa. However, let's be clear, this deal is more because of Alfonso's Mexican nationality tying up nicely with our current sponsors.

After the Abu Dhabi GP, Alfonso took part in a one day tyre test at the Yas Marina Circuit, along with Nico Hulkenberg. Nico finished 9th after 71 laps with a 1:45.852 and Alfonso finished 14th after 65 laps recording a 1:48.545. As always with testing, it is largely impossible to tell if that is comparatively quick or not. He didn't bin the car though .. so far so good!

GP2 also had a post-season test at Abu Dhabi, and Hilmer Motorsport/Sahara Force India did not take part. They had missed the last six races of the season also. The two years Force India have spent in that series have been absolutely dismal in all honesty, and what's happening with that programme? Who knows!

Meanwhile, discussions between Aston Martin and Sahara Force India are still on-going it seems, with Aston Martin most recently saying that they will wait until January to make a decision. It seems increasingly likely that if a deal does go through, the team will be renamed Aston Martin Racing, but will operate under the Indian nationality. While I could understand Vijay Mallya making that decision, I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable with that scenario and I would therefore personally prefer the deal to not go through. Sure, the money would help us develop quicker - but we can also do it on our own, albeit over a longer period of time - and I'm in no rush.

Honestly, I do not see the deal going through, at least not for 2016. In my opinion, if the deal was going to happen, discussions would not have taken this long. Plus, January will be too late in terms of the changes that Aston Martin would want to make ahead of the new season. At the moment, it is just a case of waiting for movement from either party - I am dubious about the deal though.

Mahindra Racing

The Mahindra Racing boys are in the beautiful city of Punta del Este in the Maldonado district of Uruguay. Yep, the Maldonado district - no joke. Expect to see numerous crashes this weekend haha! Actually, I've only just recovered from the insane Putrajaya ePrix just over a month ago. If you have not watched that race, I strongly recommend you watch the highlights below.
That video shows Nick Heidfeld's incredible save during the race - hands down the best save I have ever seen. It was so good in fact that he actually damaged a ligament in his left wrist in the process. On the advice of doctors, he has undergone surgery, and will miss this race will he recovers. Mahindra Racing have decided to give Oliver Rowland the available drive. Interestingly, Oliver already has a link to Indian Motorsport as he is a driver coach to Force India Academy driver, Jehan Daruvala.

Oliver has consistently been a front runner in nearly all race series that he has taken part in, including quite comfortably taking the Formula Renault 3.5 title earlier this season. The 23 year old also won the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 2011. Previous winners of that award include David Coulthard, Jenson Button & Paul di Resta.

I do expect Bruno Senna to have about three tenths on Oliver this weekend, but only because Bruno has much more experience in the car. Oliver is a quick driver though, and I expect him to score points.

The other big news in Formula E this week was that the Trulli team have pulled out - and taking their place for season three will be my current employers; Jaguar. For those who do not know, the expanding car manufacturer are owned by Tata. From our point of view, it will be interesting to see if they enter as a British or Indian team. It is possible that there are two Indian teams on the Formula E grid for 2016. That would be mega!

Auto India Sports

As you guys probably know by now, we recently had a merger of sorts with Motorsport.com. My colleague, Darshan Chokhani, is now "editor in chief" of Motorsport.com India, and I am a contributor on that website too. The resource that Motorsport.com has makes this website a little redundant now though. I'm completely happy with that, as long as there is some outlet for Indian Motorsport.

Let me get one thing clear though, Auto India Sports are not going anywhere. I am keen to keep the organisation going, as I have big plans in the next decade or so - and I am continually working towards them. This also includes a name change from 2020 onwards - but I'll keep that to myself for now.

Anyhow, I am struggling a little bit to understand how to run Auto India Sports in parallel with Motorsport.com India. Any articles we could write here would be better on that site, as they have more resource and reach more fans. That being said though, I do think the Auto India Sports facebook page is somewhat unique, and deserves to continue in its current form.

I would be curious to get your thoughts on the matter and have created a survey here about what you would like to see, and it also reveals some ideas that are on the table ahead of the 2016 season. If you could take some time to complete the survey, I would be most grateful. It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. I will be reading every response personally, so be as specific as you like - this is your opportunity to shape Auto India Sports. Thank you.
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<![CDATA[Jules Bianchi: A legacy]]>Sat, 18 Jul 2015 19:38:54 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/jules-bianchi-a-legacy30th July 1989, McLaren score a one-two finish at the German Grand Prix with Ayrton Senna ahead of Alain Prost in an extremely tense race. Fast forward four days and there was news that would later become massive for Formula One, although this was not known at the time. In Nice, France, Jules Bianchi was born - a future star of motorsport who would later lose his life through following his passion.
At times like this it is extremely hard to justify what we do, as racers at heart. How can it be that in a professional sport in 2015, an accident so severe can happen that causes a loss of life? Is it really worth it? Is the sport too dangerous? Have we gone too far and forgotten about the raw mortality of humans?

These questions always spring to mind when an incident of this nature occurs. We had an identical situation when María de Villota lost her life in 2013 following a serious incident in testing, also for Marussia F1.
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A spine chilling image as Adrian Sutil looks distressed at Jules Bianchi's wreckage.
I consider myself one of the most fanatical and knowledgeable Formula One fans on the planet, but even I find myself doubting the on-going requirement and importance of the sport at moments like this.

I have thought about Jules every day since his accident in October last year, and the recent news that he lost his battle for survival was just completely soul-destroying. Formula One is hurting right now, it will take an extraordinary amount of time to recover from this. In fact, the sport will probably never will recover. We can no longer say that Formula One features the best drivers; not without Jules.

Although cruelly cut short, the French driver had an extraordinary F1 career. He absolutely dominated his team mate, Max Chilton, in an identical car, sometimes by margins that were previously unheard of. He even scored points for Marussia in Monaco - a breathtaking effort. Jules quickly established himself as one of the most talented drivers on the grid, and it is now no secret that Ferrari were considering promoting him from their driver academy to a race seat. Jules managed to build a great reputation while driving for Marussia which quite simply stunning when you consider that a driver as talented as Nico Hulkenberg has driven for three midfield teams, demonstrated his skill, won Le Mans, and still can not get into a "big name" team.

Jules' aim in Formula One will have eventually been to become a World Champion one day. He will have wanted to create history, and a legacy for the Bianchi name. While he never got the opportunity to achieve major success at the top level, he has definitely generated a legacy. As a direct result of Jules' accident it became immediately obvious that the double waved yellow flag system was flawed. As Martin Brundle explains in the video below, double yellow flags still leaves the speed of travel up to the discretion of the drivers. In order to take this away, the virtual safety car has been brought in where the FIA determines a minimum time period for cars between points on the circuit. This means the drivers now have to slow down considerably in this situation. This development will prevent similar incidents in the future, and this is the legacy that Jules leaves behind. His accident and the resultant regulation changes will prevent further injuries to other drivers, and potentially even save lives. This instantly makes him a legend of Formula One.
It is devastating that this had to happen in order to highlight a flaw in safety procedures. However, it is important that we do learn lessons from serious incidents. This accident has not been in vain.

Jules, we miss you. We will never forget you.
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<![CDATA[Canadian GP: It's a matter of perspective]]>Wed, 11 Jun 2014 15:37:12 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/canadian-gp-its-a-matter-of-perspectiveWhen it comes to watching Formula One, I am an incredibly passionate individual; feeling delight when things are looking good, and devastation when things go wrong. I have even been known to get so angry as to break my laptop in the past (when Hulkenberg and Hamilton collided at the 2012 Brazilian GP)!

The 2014 Canadian GP had so many incidents, and as usual my emotions were all over the place. However, when Sergio Perez had his incident with Felipe Massa - I was unusually not too annoyed.
Picture
Sergio Perez & Felipe Massa collide, narrowly missing Sebastian Vettel.
(image: twitter.com)
Why? Because regardless of that accident, it was a fantastic race for us.

Nico Hulkenberg once again demonstrated why he is one of the better drivers on the grid by keeping the Red Bull drivers behind for so long. This is not the first time we have seen Nico maintain a position under intense pressure; I honestly now believe that he is the best defensive driver on the grid, bar none.

The real positive for me though was the performance from Sergio Perez. Let me provide an extract of what I wrote about Sergio before the season began:

"
In 2013 though, I think he made a big mistake. He signed for McLaren which is great, a massive opportunity! However he did an interview before that season began saying that now he's at a "top team" he needs to be more aggressive in the car. My question is, why? He did a great job in 2012 [for Sauber], why change your attitude in 2013? This aggressiveness is exactly what cost him in 2013 - he had a few incidents with his team mate (Button), he lost his edge with tyre conservation and he seemed to be simply trying too hard; ultimately finishing 29 points behind Button in the championship. Now he has left McLaren, I hope he'll go back to his more relaxed attitude that he had at Sauber. Our team principal, Vijay Mallya, appears to be developing a reputation for developing young talent (di Resta, Hulkenberg, Calado) and now he will work his magic with Sergio too."

... and what did we see from Sergio in Canada? A calm, measured drive, resisting the urge to drive as fast as possible in order to save the tyres. In fact, he did just under half the race on super-soft tyres, that really is an incredible achievement and something that we got used to seeing him do back in his Sauber days. If he keeps this approach up, he will end up having a fantastic 2014 season.

Force India did lose eight points as a result of the incident with Massa (Sergio was 4th, losing 12 points, but Nico was promoted from 7th to 5th, gaining 4 points), and naturally that is disappointing - but long-term, our drivers are looking very strong so we have every right to look back at the Canadian GP and be happy.

It's all a matter of perspective.

Everybody in the Formula One community has been giving their opinion on the clash between Massa and Perez. Actually, I have been watching the sport since 1996 and I can not remember a debate quite like this one. It seems anyone is prepared to strongly state their views from pundits to journalists. Even the teams and drivers themselves got involved in the debate over social media.

Before I give my opinion I must state that I have been feeling quite unusual about the situation. I am caught in the middle, possibly more so than
anybody else because obviously I am a massive Force India fan - but many of you may not know that I do currently work for Williams in their Hybrid Power division. This makes apportioning blame a little awkward, but I'll be honest nonetheless.

The first thing I want to state about the incident is that many people have been saying Sergio turned left into Felipe. This is factually incorrect. Take a look at the steering wheel on-board with Sergio, at no point does he turn left. The car does veer left, but that's because Sergio comes off the corner at an angle, the steering wheel remains straight at all times. As for Felipe's steering wheel, he does turn to the right - this is a fact, as demonstrated below by the picture that Sergio posted on instagram.
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Felipe Massa (top, turning right) and Sergio Perez (bottom, not turning)
(image: http://instagram.com/p/pBznbeuadX)
If the situation were as simple as that, then the clash would be Massa's fault, hands down. For the sake of argument, let us say that at this point Felipe is at fault, until proven otherwise. However, the issue becomes convoluted for a number of reasons. First of all, the track bends to the right. Felipe turns to the right for that reason, to follow a normal line around the corner, and he is expecting Sergio to do the same. Meanwhile Sergio does not turn and maintains his straight approach. In all honesty, Sergio is at fault here. You can not veer across track like that at an angle, it is very dangerous - especially with other cars around (see the picture from Massa's instagram below). Now it seems that Sergio is the one at fault, let's say that is the case, until proven otherwise.
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Sergio Perez veering (but not turning) left across the track.
(image: http://instagram.com/p/pBqUxVnLeY)
The next factor are Sergio's brake issues. He started to have a brake problem a few laps before the incident, and that's what allowed Ricciardo past. Ordinarily a team would withdraw their driver with a brake problem, but in this case Force India saw that a sensor had failed on the car, and they believed that resetting the sensor would fix the problem. Sergio did that on his steering wheel, and that is what allowed Vettel through. At turn one (presumably after the sensor reset had been completed), Perez was still unsure about his brakes - the team thought the problem should be fixed, however until he has done a lap he would be a little unsure of his breaking point.

Sergio bravely elected to brake at the usual point, while his car was angled and veering to the left. He will have argued to the stewards that he was veering left to avoid crashing into Vettel should the brakes fail. That is a perfectly understandable and instinctual decision. It was unfortunate for him that at the same time, Massa decided to turn right to take a normal line through the bend - with one veering left and one turning right - a crash was inevitable.

So what have we learned so far about this incident? At the moment it seems like no-one was to blame, Sergio was veering to the left, but his reasoning was to avoid crashing into Vettel which is understandable, and he probably would get the benefit of the doubt.

If that's the case, why was Sergio penalised with a five-place grid penalty for the Austrian GP? The killer blow for Sergio was that although he had a valid reason to maintain his straight path and continue to veer left, his trajectory is such that even if Felipe did not hit him, he probably would have still hit Vettel anyway
(in the event his brakes failed), albeit further round the corner. Therefore his reason for not following a normal line becomes invalid. The ironic thing is that if he had turned completely to the left, to avoid the path of Vettel totally, then he would still receive a penalty for the collision with Massa - probably a bigger penalty actually. The only way Sergio could have avoided a penalty in that situation would be to stick to the racing line and hope his brakes work, or turn to the right and end up on the grass, possibly hitting the barriers - a very unfortunate situation. At this point, some people may say that Felipe had lots of space on the left, if he was going to try and pass, why not use all that space? The response to that question is fairly straight-forward, he doesn't have to. Felipe is entitled to place his car where he likes and it is well within the rules to squeeze Sergio to the edge of the track. Sadly for him, Sergio did not follow the track to the right as anticipated.

It is harsh by the stewards, but hopefully this clears up exactly why the stewards came to this conclusion. You may not necessarily agree with the decision, but you should be able to at least understand they're coming from - Sergio's argument of trying to avoid Vettel was invalid. What I would like to add is that sometimes a decision may seem unusual based on what we have seen, but it must always be remembered that the stewards are the only people who have access to all the data from all the teams. They are the ones with all the information, and they are the only ones who can make an informed decision - so any conclusions they make for an incident really can not be questioned - we need to trust in their decision.

Force India are not happy, Sergio Perez is not happy - but the thing to focus on is the wonderful performance the team gave in Canada, it was a good race for us. Again, it's all about perspective.

Thanks for reading,
Peter.
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<![CDATA[Bahrain Test Two: now we're getting some answers!]]>Mon, 10 Mar 2014 10:40:21 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/bahrain-test-two-now-were-getting-some-answersThe big question heading into the 2014 season was who produced the best engine. After the first two tests we got a pretty clear answer to that; Mercedes had the best engine by some distance both in terms of performance and reliability, followed by Ferrari, and then the Renault-powered cars quite some way further behind.

With all the focus on engines and gathering data through mileage, we had no clue about the speed of the cars themselves - but all changed at the final Bahrain test!

The final test was pretty epic from Sahara Force India's point of view. The first three days brought no reliability problems and a total of 328 laps which is MEGA! The team did cause one red flag on the last day (day four) when an engine-related component failed. This was not too much of a concern though as the team semi-expected it due to the high mileage already covered by the car. Nevertheless, on balance it was a great test - we covered 12.2% of the total running in the second Bahrain test which was only beaten by Williams who managed 13.2%.

Note: there were rumours that we had a DRS failure, but this was in fact a mis-translation/mis-understanding from "DRS was not functioning" - that means not using it at the time, not a failure.

Picture
Sergio Perez in the VJM07; front wing looks beautiful from this angle!
(image: f1fanatic.co.uk)
The thing I have yet to mentioned is that Sergio Perez was in the car on days one & two, and he set the fastest time on both days! Now I know what you're thinking: "Peter, does this mean Force India have the fastest car?" and my answer to that question is "don't be ridiculous!" ..

One of the things about Formula One is that because they are investing upwards of £40M per season, and because such small margins determine the difference between success and failure, it means that everything is done in secrecy. We may well have set the fastest time on those two days, but there are far too many variables to say if we have the quickest car or not - different fuel loads, different set-ups, different engine performance parameters - all these things disguise the performance of the cars. I think I am right in saying that Red Bull have yet to take to track in race legal specification yet, every time I saw them on-track they were missing the FIA camera mounts which demonstrates just how many variables there are!

However, with four days of data in this final test - and with team's beginning to do performance runs, we can start to create a very loose pecking order. I have done so much analysis on everything from the Bahrain tests, particularly the final one where we began to see performance runs. This includes looking at lap times, tyre types, wing angles, distances of runs, breaking distances, grip levels, confidence levels and also just general body language.

I was planning on sharing all this data, and had spent four hours typing it all out. However, in that time I hadn't even completed the analysis of one team - that's how much data I have!! I could write a novel on this if I had the time, but the F1 season starts this weekend so there is no chance of that. Instead, I will outline my idea of what the pecking order will be, and give brief justifications to support this.

1) Mercedes - clearly they have produced the best engine in terms of reliability and speed. In terms of the rest of their car, they have had some reliability problems, more often than many other teams in fact. However, while the frequency of issues has been on the higher side, they can usually manage to complete a race distance with no problems. In terms of speed, all my analysis says they will be the quickest team by a decent margin. In addition to this, one of the people I respect most in the motorsport paddock, Will Buxton (F1 commentator in the US and International commentator for GP2 & GP3), wrote a blog recently saying the following:

"
From what I understand from a high level independent source after testing had finished, the reality could be even more astonishing. If the data adds up as he believes and the factory Mercedes team was able to run their cars at 100%, right now they would win every Grand Prix not by a few seconds but by two clear laps.

Two. Laps."

Read the rest of that article here.

I have some buddies who work for Mercedes and while they haven't confirmed or denied anything, they certainly seem incredibly confident and excited! The fastest time for Mercedes was a 1:33.278 set by Hamilton on the last day. While this was just beaten by Massa's Williams, Hamilton's time was set on a very worn set of soft tyres. Additionally, looking at the footage of that lap - Lewis wasn't even pushing that hard!! There was a lot of time left on the table and that is why I have put Mercedes top of the pile.

Due to all these factors, I agree with Will Buxton. I think Mercedes will completely dominate this Formula One season, and I am making the bold (and perhaps crazy) prediction that they will win every race in 2014, by a massive margin as well. Yep, you read that right - I think they will win every race. Of course, other teams will catch up - but Mercedes are not going to stand still! Plus if the gap Mercedes have is a big as two laps per race, no-one can develop that much during a season!!

2)
Williams - not too much to say here. The most reliable team, with the best engine. Their car seemed pretty nippy too! One school of thought suggests that they may have been low fuelling to impress Martini (their new sponsor), but from the action I saw, their drivers consistently seemed able to get on the power much earlier than any other driver. This suggests confidence and a quick car!

3) McLaren - again, Mercedes engine so they're golden on that front. Both drivers have looked strong pace wise
, and consistently strong in terms of race pace - this will be critical to success during the 2014 season. Kevin Magnussen appears particularly comfortable in the car despite his lack of experience in Formula One machinery. They do have some car-based reliability concerns, but no-where near as major as some of the teams further down my pecking order.

4) Force India - yep, got us 4th in the pecking order. It is no co-incidence that the four Mercedes powered teams are the top four in my post-test rankings. The aim is top five in the constructors championship, but I think we could exceed that in all honesty. Our pace is quite strong relative to those around us, and we have better reliability than the majority of the grid!

Some people will say that as we are a "small team" we will be caught by the other teams with more resources, but I have never bought into that argument. We have demonstrated pretty much every season that our development rate can be just as high, or at least similar to
the more affluent teams.

While I do place us
4th, I am expecting an extremely close battle with McLaren and Ferrari. By my analysis, we are slightly slower than McLaren based on both qualifying and race pace. In comparison to Ferrari, they have quite good qualifying pace and could well be right up the sharp end. However on race pace we are equals. Given that our reliability has been much better than theirs, I put us ahead because that will be a crucial factor over the course of the season, particularly in the first half of the season. Additionally, the Mercedes-powered cars seem to be able to do a race distance with no problem at all in terms of fuel consumption, but the Ferrari engine is quiet thirsty and fuel saving means less pace essentially!

5) Ferrari - best of the rest behind the Mercedes-powered teams. Their car is quick, and they have two great drivers
. However I do not think the speed or experience of
Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen can make up for the deficit the Ferrari engine has to the Mercedes one! The engines are homologated now and so we will not see too much change in terms of engine performance during the season.

6)
Sauber - showed glimpses of speed during testing, but it was very sporadic. Additionally, the footage I have seen of the team appears to suggest that the car is hard to drive - both Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutiérrez were struggling to consistently hit the apex of a corner and that will show during a race distance.

7)
Toro Rosso - I expect a bit of a split Formula this season with the top six teams fighting each other and then a big gap to the Renault-powered teams and Marussia. I have put Toro Rosso ahead of the others in this group purely because the others seem a little hopeless and lost in all honesty!

8) Red Bull - back to 2008 where Toro Rosso are the primary Dietrich Mateschitz
owned team. Although, as the season develops I would expect Red Bull to leapfrog Toro Rosso - not because Toro Rosso have less resources, but because Red Bull are four-time World Champions and they clearly have a strong engineering team. Can they develop to the point where they can penetrate the top six? I don't think so! I think the gulf to the Ferrari engine is too great. Their main issue this season will be getting to the end of a race ..

9) Marussia - everything about testing suggests they are considerably better than
their fierce rivals Caterham. In my opinion this is more than likely due to engine selection (Ferrari over Renault). Having said that, they do appear to have made steps forward this season aerodynamically - it is pretty clear to see just from looking at the car. For some reason I have a strong feeling they will get both cars in the points in Australia.

10) Lotus - the worst engine, and an extremely unreliable car. They will do well to get through the practice sessions, qualifying and formation lap without breaking down, let alone the race. I have place them above Caterham though because their car can be quick and sooner or later they will pick up some points.

11) Caterham - the start of the season represents their best chance to pick up points as everyone else is unreliable and their car has looked fairly stable. Speed wise though they are extremely poor and I am not yet convinced they will be able to qualify within the 107% rule to be honest.


So that is my pecking order, here it is once again (dashes represent big distances in terms of results)

1) Mercedes

-----------------
2) Williams
3) McLaren
4) Force India
5) Ferrari
6) Sauber
-----------------
7) Toro Rosso
8) Red Bull
9) Marussia
10) Lotus
11) Caterham

Please note that this is only my early season prediction. Things will inevitably change mid-way through the season. However I do not think anyone will get out of their "tier" (referring to the dashes again). My predictions have been extremely bold - Mercedes to win every race, Red Bull to finish no higher than 7th in the championship .. and I may well be completely wrong, but this is my take based on how testing has gone. That is the beauty of pre-season, no-body knows what will happen really - it makes things incredibly exciting.

I am looking forward to the Australian GP as much as anybody - however I was a little disappointed when I heard that it is looking quite possible there could be a monumental downpour of rain on race day. Don't get me wrong, I love wet races - but the one time in a season I want a dry weather is the opening
race, it allows us to see the true performance of the cars. The wet weather will mask things! Having said that, wet weather might well gift Force India a win, so bring it on!!

Picture
Will the Australian GP start in wet conditions?
(image: f1fanatic.co.uk)
What do you guys think the pecking order will be? We're running a fantasy league this season on the Castrol Edge Grand Prix Predictor, sign up and join our league here. There is a prize of £10 for the winner (that is about ₹1000, depending on the exchange rate at the time) towards any Indian Motorsport merchandise available online!

Thanks for reading,
Peter.

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<![CDATA[Bahrain Test One: keep waiting!]]>Wed, 26 Feb 2014 22:43:53 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/bahrain-test-one-keep-waitingReliability was once again on the agenda for all Formula One teams at the first Bahrain test. You'll have to wait to see the outright speed of the cars just yet! At this stage it is quite reasonable that any team could be anywhere in the pecking order speed wise.
Picture
Sergio Perez on track in the VJM07
(image: f1fanatic.co.uk)
Like in Jerez, every team had some sort of major failure during the four-day test. Force India's only major issue came on the final day when a drivetrain problem halted the progress of Sergio Perez, causing a red flag. Sadly that problem was serious enough to keep the car in the garage for the rest of the day. This sounds like a potentially massive issue but actually, there is an upside. That problem was our only major problem of the test, and that puts us in a considerably better position than some of the other teams, reliability wise at least.

The cooling issues that plagued us in Jerez appear to have been fixed as we had no over-heating problems in the humid conditions of Bahrain.

Let's do some analysis, Bahrain Test One mileage:
Picture
Team (laps, distance covered)           
Williams (323, 1748 km)
Mercedes (315, 1705 km)
McLaren (296, 1602 km)
Ferrari (287, 1553 km)
Caterham (253, 1369 km)
Sauber (240, 1299 km)
Force India (213, 1153 km)
Toro Rosso (134, 725 km)
Red Bull (116, 628 km)
Lotus (111, 601 km)
Marussia (29, 157 km)

7th out of 11 for Force India in terms of distance covered. With 11 teams attending the test, if everyone did equal running they would have each covered 9.1% of the total distance. As the pie chart on the left shows, Force India covered 9.2% - so we definitely did our fair share!

Picture
If we look at the data for the power units, we can clearly see that Mercedes are way ahead of their rivals.

As Force India have Mercedes power plants in the back of their car, this bodes very well indeed! However, it must be stressed that this is only an indication into reliability. Renault engines covered the fewest miles in Bahrain, but it is quite possible that they have the fastest engine. Just an example of course, at this stage we have no indication ... teams are yet to even push the rev-limiter to its maximum, let alone set a competitive lap time. That is why articles stating that one team is the favourite are utter rubbish ... no-one knows at this stage, including the teams themselves.

If we look at this data combined with the data from the Jerez test, it should provide an even better insight into reliability.
We're 6th out of 11 teams when it comes to mileage. Exactly where we finished in the Constructors Championship last season! However we have covered 9.4% of the total running in 2014, that is 0.3% up on what would be our fair share (9.1%) so we have had a good solid start to the season.
Fairly conclusive data here - Mercedes have produced the most reliable engine, and the Renault engined teams appear to be struggling just to get their cars on the track. Of course this has already been well documented, it is just nice to see it in a more graphical form.
On Thursday the final pre-season test gets under-way, again in Bahrain. Just four more days of on track action before the cars go to Melbourne for the first race of the new season; this test will be crucial!

The cars have now had miles put on them in the cool conditions of Jerez, and the warmer climate of Bahrain - it is now time to see what they have speed wise!! That is exactly what this final test will be about, building pace and pushing for lap time. Of course teams will still be running reduced engine power or more weight to disguise their pace, however we should be able to deduce a loose pecking order when the test is complete; something we haven't been able to do up until this point so far. This is where the season really begins!
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<![CDATA[Jerez Test: what did we learn?]]>Sat, 08 Feb 2014 12:48:54 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/jerez-test-what-did-we-learnFor those following updates on our facebook page, you will have already read about the struggles Sahara Force India had in testing, causing three red flags in the four-day test. Ordinarily, that would be abysmal. However the 2014 regulations have meant that Formula One is now a different beast to what we are used to, and actually things are looking quite promising for the British-based Indian team.
Picture
Sergio Perez in the new look Force India
Every team had problems in Jerez, without exception. Therefore what needs to be looked at rather than the frequency of problems is what the problems actually were. Sahara Force India's issues were primarily cooling and fuel pick-up based; if you compare this to Red Bull who had such difficulty just getting the car on the track due to engine problems - then we are in a decent position heading into the first Bahrain test.

We were not the quickest team on any of the four days, but the lap times mean absolutely nothing at this stage, particularly this season with new engines (or power trains, to give them their technical term). It speaks volumes that some cars were running over-weight and that some cars would have been illegal if it had been a race situation. Additionally, no team reached maximum revs at any point during the test and some lap times were actually slower than a GP2 car can manage around Jerez. These facts show just how little the teams cared about pace in Spain. The main objective of the test was putting miles on the car and performing systems checks. With that in mind, let's take a look at some data from the running at Jerez:

Jerez test mileage:
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Team (laps, distance covered)           
Mercedes (309, 1368 km)
Ferrari (251, 1111 km)
McLaren (245, 1084 km)
Williams (175, 774 km)
Sauber (163, 721 km)
Force India (146, 646 km)
Caterham (76, 336 km)
Toro Rosso (54, 239 km)
Marussia (30, 132 km)
Red Bull (21, 92 km)

Force India covered 9.9% of the total mileage during this test. Given that only ten teams attended the test, you would expect all teams to do 10% of the running, so we're pretty much slap bang in the middle of the pack. This essentially means we had an average test in terms of mileage in comparison to other teams.


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Engine (laps, distance covered)
Mercedes (875, 3874 km)
Ferrari (444, 1966 km)
Renault (151, 668 km)

2014 will be an engine formula, by that we mean race results will be mostly determined by engine performance rather than the aerodynamics that we have seen in recent years. The most conclusive data from the Jerez test was that the Mercedes engine did the most mileage, and was the most reliable - by a considerable margin too. That bodes well for the Mercedes powered teams: Mercedes, McLaren, Williams - and of course - Force India.

It is a shame we have no indication into the speed of any of the cars or engines, but things will remain this way until the final Bahrain test sadly (at the first Bahrain test they will be doing exactly the same as in Jerez, but in much hotter temperatures - there may well be even more failures than in Jerez).

Having recently completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering which focussed heavily on aerodynamics I can give some insight into the car though which you may find interesting. Other websites do analysis like this also, but they often make very sweeping statements such as "the front wing is clearly very aerodynamically efficient" which I have never understood .. this is Formula One, every part of every car is at the top end of aerodynamic efficiency .. so I will just stick to the facts.
Picture
Sergio Perez in the "aerodynamically efficient" Force India ..
You probably all know why we have the "gentleman's appendage" noses by now. Keeping the noses high is good for the aerodynamics, but the regulations state that the tip of the nose must be 185mm above the ground. The current solution has managed to achieve both those goals.

Take a look at the section I have circled in red. That piece of the front wing, just ahead of the front left tyre, is curved. This is to divert airflow away from the tyres and reduce drag. As the tyres on a Formula One car have a large surface area they are responsible for a huge proportion of total drag on the car. Drag is a nightmare for the aerodynamicists as it is essentially a form of resistance on the car, reducing top speed and increasing fuel consumption. This solution of a curved section at the tail end of the front wing is not a new one - however Force India have curved that area considerably more compared to most teams. The issue with this is where that air actually ends up, if it curves away from the front left tyre and hits the rear left tyre then there would have been no point. Clearly this means Force India have found a way of diverting the air past the rear left tyre OR found a way to divert the air into the "magic gap" - more on that below.

Overall the front wing is fairly advanced, but I would say there is certainly a lot of development potential here, so expect to see many changes during the season to this section of the car.

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The "magic gap" on the VJM07
The section highlighted by the red circle is the "magic gap". Designers want airflow to go in this section because then it avoids the tyres and the bodywork, reducing potential turbulence and drag. Ideally airflow should be laminar (the opposite of turbulence) for minimal drag - however in reality that would never happen. The suspension parts in the "magic gap" will cause some turbulence, but nowhere near as much as the tyres or bodywork. What this all means is that generally the wider the magic gap, the more efficient the airflow at the back of the car will be. Force India probably have the widest magic gap section after Red Bull which means that the rear of the car is very tightly packed under the bodywork. This will go some way to explaining the over-heating problems that both Force India & Red Bull have experienced. Perhaps we will see the magic gap area reduced in Bahrain for more cooling.
Picture
The airbox section of the VJM07
The most major thing I have seen is something that no-body else seems to have even mentioned, possibly because everyone is focussed on the ugly noses. Have a look at the airbox, highlighted above. Here are a few close-up pictures as this can be a little hard to see:
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A close-up look at the airbox section of the VJM07
The image on the right probably shows what I am pointing out better. The airbox itself is pretty standard, but just behind the airbox there is another space. This is unique in 2014, no other team has this .. what is it for?!

It could be separating airflow for cooling purposes, for example, the airbox taking air to cool the engine and the other hole taking air to cool the gearbox for instance. On the other hand, perhaps it is some sort of sneaky and clever double-DRS device. Or perhaps it is both. Or maybe even something else! Without seeing under the bodywork it is impossible to tell - however it is nice to see that there are some innovative ideas that have gone into the development of the VJM07.

I hope this article has given you some insight into the VJM07 and Force India in 2014. If there is anything else on the car you want explaining, feel free to leave a comment here or on facebook and I will do my best to answer any questions.

Thanks for reading,
Peter.
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<![CDATA[Season review: Sahara Force India & Jehan Daruvala]]>Tue, 14 Jan 2014 16:35:32 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/season-review-sahara-force-india-jehan-daruvalaDarshan here, as you all know my colleague Peter is busy and unable to provide his end of season reviews, however I written my opinion on the events of this season for SFI & Force India's Academy driver Jehan's in this article.

If you wish, you may look back at the mid-season report for SFI & Jehan here.
Sahara Force India

It all changed for the team during the second half of the season, actually it changed 2 races prior to the mid season break when Pirelli went to the 2012 spec tyres. SFI along with Ferrari & Lotus had done a wonderful job of learning the 2013 tyres and made gains at the start of the season but the change of Pirelli tyre spec in the middle of the season hurt the team badly. Out of the 9 races, SFI could only score in 4 of the races with India & Abu Dhabi being the highlight as they had a double point finish in both the races which ultimately help them to keep Sauber at bay in the end. The team did lose to McLaren for the P5 battle as the British team got their act together and scored regularly to leapfrog SFI. It was a promising start for the Anglo-Indian team, fighting with a team like McLaren in itself an incredible achievement. It could have been a close fight, had Pirelli not changed the tyre spec but that’s Formula 1 all about, sometimes things don't go your way. Overall, it was a great job by the team as they improved from their 2012 position of P7 to P6 in 2013 beating their rival Sauber. The team did a commendable job in the second half with little to no development as they decided to shift their focus on the 2014 car. They were always in the hunt for points, with luck they could have scored more in the second half. The team gathered 77 points in total for the 2013 season.

As for our drivers, di Resta had a troubled second half as he managed to score only twice and suffered 4 DNF’s on the trot. It’s tough to asses if it was down to the car or the driver for the average results, no one could predict the outcome. He drove a brilliant in India & specially in Abu Dhabi where he was always in the fight with the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari. He ended at P12 in the DC with 48 points in his kitty. His highlights will surely be races in Bahrain & Abu Dhabi.

On the other side of the garage, Sutil had some better races in the second half with some luck going his way. Although he scored less comparing with the first half but it was significant for the team. His highlight of the season will be Monaco GP and also his epic first stint during the Indian GP. It was overall a good season for him considering he didn’t race in 2012, as he scored 29 points to finish at P13 in the DC.

Jehan Daruvala

The rising Indian star stamped his authority in the British Karting Championship by winning the championship title. He became the first Indian driver ever to win a British Karting Championship. A big step in his career this title win giving him the proper start, we have to remember that Vettel had won this championship in 2001 (just a random stat, nothing else). He was under the best guidance being in the Force India Driver Academy and was well supported in the 2013 season. The fourth round brought him closer to the title as he was just 13 points behind the leader. In between the fourth & final round of KFJ championship, he participated in CIK World Championship & in the support race of KFJ championship where he was tested driving in those difficult circumstances. It was the right platform for him before the big finale and he excelled well. It’s been a very fruitful season for the young Indian, we are yet to know about his 2014 plans but one could guess that the next logical step would be something like Formula BMW or Formula Renault I think. But I believe he is on the right track towards the ultimate goal of becoming the next biggest F1 star of India.

Thanks for reading,
Darshan

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<![CDATA[Season review: drivers outside F1]]>Wed, 01 Jan 2014 17:11:36 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/season-review-drivers-outside-f1Darshan here. My college Peter is pretty busy at the moment and unable to provide his end-of-season reviews, however I have written my opinion on the events of this season for some of the drivers we support, enjoy!

If you wish,
you may look back at the mid-season reports for the closed-wheel drivers here and the open-wheel drivers here.

Karun Chandhok

The first six rounds he drove for Seyffarth Motorsport but he went for a change of team, for the last two rounds driving for Vita4one Racing Team driving the BMW car in the PRO category. He started a new partnership with Yelmer Buurman in a rather mixed note, he and his team got a point in Qualifying Race but the race ended with a DNF and with that his 2013 season ended as the team didn’t take part in the last round of the season. Karun ended P13 with 32 points in the PRO category. Overall, it has been a good outing for the Indian as it is the first time he is driving in such series. He started off with Seyffarth driving the Mercedes car and it was a good stint giving him the platform in the series. He drove only the one race with BMW, not much to give us any indication of the changes. For the season end, he was to drive for Team India in Race Of Champions but the race was cancelled due to unrest in Thailand. We are yet to know what he will do in the 2014 season but he may have a good chance to drive for Mahindra Racing in the new Formula E series.

Armaan Ebrahim

Unlike Karun, Armaan didn’t change his team for the last two rounds but he also drove for only one round out of the two remaining one’s. It wasn’t the best race to end his season as the team suffered a DNF due to a blown engine during Qualifying Race. Armaan ended his first season with the team at P14 with 28 points in the PRO-AM category. Summing up his season, I think it has been a decent one for him, first time a full season (barring the last race), and a podium under his belt. Towards the end of the season he was busy with work with JK Tyre Racing. We are yet to know about his 2014 plans, we wait to hear from him soon.

Aditya Patel

Aditya has had a good run in the ADAC GT Masters driving in all the races as he continued to build upon the good start. In the last two rounds of the season, he and his team MS Racing scored points in both the rounds to finish the season on a high. He improved after the 6 rounds to move up to P28 in the list of 41 drivers gathering 16 points. A good outing for the Indian and this being his first time in this series, it was overall a decent season for him. He has had some good results all through the season while the reliability of the car has been upto the mark from the team side barring the few occasions. He too kept himself busy with is associations with Audi & JK Tyre Racing at the back end of the year. We now wait to know about his plans for the 2014 season, maybe another season in the series would not harm his credentials.

Sailesh Bolisetti

Sailesh’s season has been highlighted by the up & down run as I wrote in my mid season article and it ended in that way there. Having had a double points finish in Monza, in the season finale in Le Mans he suffered a double non-race finish. What an anti climax for the Indian there really. He thus ended at P15 out of 47 drivers in the series with 329 points, that would sum up a pretty good first outing season for him. It could have been a bit higher yes but then he did whatever he could, there was nothing he could have done with the reliability issues he has had, some crashes too. Another of the Indian driver driving for the first time in this series, he justified him being there for sure. As with the others, we wait to know about his plans for the 2014 season.

Narain Karthikeyan

Since changing teams after three rounds, Narain came to the party in the Auto GP series as he soon became a title contender in the series. It was a tough ask from him as he was a bit behind due to lack of big haul of points in the first three rounds. But that didn’t deter his determination and will to go for the title, he did all he could in the last two rounds. He took two wins and a P2 finish to get ever closer to the championship leader. It was pretty unfortunate that he was DSQ from the last race, otherwise he would have finished P3 in the championship, he thus ended P4. Still, I think it was a pretty good performance from him as a whole in the season. He competed with lot of young drivers around, but he was always fighting with them on track without any sort of troubles. He ended with 5 wins & 7 podium (including wins) finishes in the end. We can safely term this as a successful campaign for him in the single seater series. He along with Karun was to participate in the Race of Champions representing Team India, which for now seems more like a cancelled event. As for his 2014 plans, we are still to know anything about it.

Parth Ghorpade

Although Parth didn’t have the expected season in the first 6 rounds he raced in but he showed his true self in the last two rounds with less car troubles. He faced lot of car troubles and other issues in the first six rounds where he could only gather 4 points but in the last two rounds he gathered 20 points with a P5 & P6 finish in Mugello & Imola respectively. A season ending on a high always gives a team and a driver good feeling, gives back to all the people who have worked hard all through the season. Parth ended P16 with 24 points among the 27 drivers in the series. Overall, it was a good exposure for the Indian driver driving in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps series, his first time here. We are yet to know about his 2014 season but currently he is racing in the MRF Challenge series driving the MRF cars powerd by Renault engine having a Dallara chassis. He has already competed in the three rounds with one round to go.

Thanks for reading,
Darshan.
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<![CDATA[It's Nico and Sergio!]]>Sat, 14 Dec 2013 14:00:13 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/its-nico-and-sergioAs the dust settles following Sahara Force India's 2014 driver announcements, the majority of fans seem to be happy with the decision the team has taken; judging by forums and message boards at least.

I have made no secret of the fact that I believe the decision to take Nico & Sergio is illogical. If it were me, I would have taken Nico and retained Paul. However, that doesn't necessarily mean I am disappointed at this announcement. As I have stated at numerous stages during this 'silly season', Force India are in a very strong position regardless of which drivers they pick. There is so much talent available that the team could essentially do no wrong! Anyhow, now that the announcement has been made - I wanted to give my take on the new recruits.

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg joins Sahara Force India.
This will be Nico Hulkenberg's second stint with Force India. I don't think anybody doubts his speed, clearly he's a potential World Champion - but he is lacking in one area.

2010 - Williams
2012 - Force India
2013 - Sauber

That's his CV as a race driver in F1.


Look at the top drivers though; Vettel has been at Red Bull five years, Alonso has been at Ferrari four years - and they are both the clear number one drivers at their respective teams and that means that they have greater influence in the development process. In order for Nico to succeed in Formula One he needs to show that he can get the whole team behind him, just like Sebastian and Fernando have done. This means staying at a team for more than one season, and showing a little commitment - not just jumping ship to a car that could be better each season. Nico is signed on a multi-year deal, but inevitably a "top team" will come calling for him in 2015 - in my opinion it is crucial for his career that he stays, regardless of if we are at the back or the front of the grid in 2014.

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez joins Sahara Force India.
Sergio Perez will become Force India's first ever non-European driver in 2014. The Mexican driver, affectionately referred to as "Checo" (the tradition for all Mexican's named Sergio), has a lot of pace as demonstrated by three podiums for Sauber in 2012.

In 2013 though, I think he made a big mistake. He signed for McLaren which is great, a massive opportunity! However he did an interview before that season began saying that now he's at a "top team" he needs to be more aggressive in the car. My question is, why? He did a great job in 2012, why change your attitude in 2013? This aggressiveness is exactly what cost him in 2013 - he had a few incidents with his team mate (Button), he lost his edge with tyre conservation and he seemed to be simply trying too hard; ultimately finishing 29 points behind Button in the championship. Now he has left McLaren, I hope he'll go back to his more relaxed attitude that he had at Sauber. Our team principal, Vijay Mallya, appears to be developing a reputation for developing young talent (di Resta, Hulkenberg, Calado) and now he will work his magic with Sergio too.

The cynics say that the move for Sergio was motivated by the sponsorship money/opportunity he brings. That is a perfectly understandable point of view but Dr. Mallya rubbished these suggestions. Now of course, even if the move was motivated by money, of course that would be denied so we'll never know for certain. However, I do think I believe Vijay actually! In this interview with Sky Sports F1, the boss is asked about this very topic and his facial expression when the question is asked leads me to believe he is telling the truth ... either that or he's a very good actor!

Adrian & Paul

We will miss Adrian and Paul, both of whom have been very loyal to us in the past. Adrian has signed for Sauber next season whereas it looks like Paul will end up in DTM or IndyCar. It is possible that Paul could get the second seat at Sauber though and that would be very interesting! It would mean two ex-Sauber drivers at Force India and two ex-Force India drivers at Sauber!!

Nevertheless, we wish the pair of them the very best of luck :-)

Would love to know if you agree or disagree with my views here, feel free to comment!
Thanks for reading,
Peter.
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<![CDATA[Brazilian GP, Interlagos- Final chapter completed]]>Thu, 28 Nov 2013 16:20:35 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/home/brazilian-gp-interlagos-final-chapter-completedThe final chapter of the 2013 season was completed this past weekend and with the Brazilian GP, it was the official end to another good season. Expectedly or unexpectedly, Vettel & RBR took both the championship with sheer dominance over their rivals. Vettel took the win in a thrilling Brazilian GP with Webber ending his F1 career at P2 and the championship runner up Alonso took P3. Both the SFI didn’t score points as di Resta ended a P11 followed by Sutil at P13 but the team consolidated their CC position ending at P6.

Detailed review of the final weekend:

Practice Sessions, FP1:

It was expectedly a rainy start to the final weekend of the 2013 season. It was not all to play for at the top in the championship battle but P2 onwards it was a tricky battle for millions of money and prestige to go with it. The final 20 minutes was the only time when teams could set some fast times as Rosberg lead the pack with teammate Hamilton behind and Vettel at P3. SFI’s Sutil was at P15 while Calado got his first taste of the Brazilian track sitting in for di Resta ending at an impressive P18 with less running. Sutil drove lots of laps on the wet track. Pirelli’s didn’t get any data on their 2014 prototype tyres in the end.

FP2:

Rain continued to fall in Brazil as the second session was almost down to nothing. It was a lot less running for the teams as they have limited number of wet and inter-mediates tyres for the weekend. Rosberg continued his top performance with Vettel closing in at P2 and Webber joining in at P3. For SFI, di Resta was back in the car as he drove mere 11 laps to end at P13. He remained the driver with the least number of laps in the day after he sat out during FP1. Sutil stayed in the garage for most part of the session and came out in the used sets to clock P15 time.

FP3:

Rain, rain go away was the chant surely from the fans as rain continued to fall and on the other side, the running was limited to handful of timed laps to no timed laps for few of the drivers. As many as 4 drivers didn’t set times while a lot of them did only 2-3 timed laps. Webber one of the serious runners took P1 while the Lotus duo of Grosjean & Kovalainen followed the Red Bull driver. Among the handful laps runner were our SFI duo as di Resta ended P9 and Sutil at P10.

Not the ideal run for any team to work out the strategies for the weekend. But it quite seemed that it was all in the mix as RBR, Mercedes fought it out and Lotus, Ferrari followed the suit. It was difficult to predict anything about qualifying. But it was evident that SFI were hopeful of one car in Q3, the weather was always predicted as rain during the qualifying session too. So, it was all to play for kind of thing for qualifying.

Qualifying, Q1:

The question in the first session was how bad the rain could possibly be during the 20 minutes. Whether it was better to go out at the start or wait for the end few minutes. The teams didn’t take the risk and everyone went out straight which turned out to be the best decision as towards the end, the rain had picked up. Hamilton topped with Vettel and Rosberg behind in the damp conditions. Both the SFI made it to Q2 safely with di Resta only having to do one perfect lap. Sutil was on the edge but he made it in. Both the Caterham, Marussia along with Maldonado & Esteban bowed out.

Q2:

Rain continued to fall during the second session as well as teams went out trying to do as many laps as possible in those conditions. Grosjean got up as he topped the session at P1 with Vettel & Alonso behind him. Both the SFI were out as di Resta managed P12 and Sutil was only P16 in the end. Sutil said that he just couldn’t get the grip to improve as it was raining all the time while di Resta was satisfied with the effort.

Q3:

The start of the final session was delayed due to rain falling down heavily and track being too wet to drive on. When session started everyone went out on wets but the track was dry enough for inters as everyone quickly came in to change for it. Vettel’s one lap was enough for him to secure pole, it was some lap in those conditions beating Rosberg & Alonso by some good margin. Webber in his final qualifying session, qualified at P4. Both the STR made it to Q3 too as did the ever consistent Hulkenberg.

With so much rain falling, it made tricky for certain drivers and teams but Vettel still managed to get the pole position. Nothing could stop him there even though he didn’t top any of the sessions. Alonso was a nice surprise up at P3 and was to make a good battle with Mercedes for the P2 position in CC. Though SFI were out in Q2, they did have the race pace to challenge and get into points, their main aim was to defend the P6 position really which was possible for sure.

Race:

The two days of the weekend, it rained all the time but then on the final day, rain chose to stay away to give fans some racing under dry conditions. Though it did rain here and there but it wasn’t enough for teams to go for inters or wets. Any ways, the race still was pretty good as we got to see lot of overtaking moves everywhere. Up ahead on the first lap we saw Rosberg getting a perfect launch to take the lead but not for long as Vettel came back and took the lead again. While Rosberg was moving down the pack, Webber was moving up from P5 to P2. Behind them Button, Perez were only the real movers from behind. As for the SFI duo, Sutil made a good start to go up to P13 while di Resta made a poor gateway to fall down to P16. Grosjean’s spectacular season came to an end early when his V8 engine decided to sleep early.

With rain staying away, Vettel was back to business taking a good lead over his teammate Webber at P2. Alonso & Hamilton followed at a distant range while Button was moving up the field steadily. Ferrari got a bitter disappointment when Massa was given a drive through penalty which ruined his home race as he went down to the bottom half of the points. The battle for final point was on as Bottas, Ricciardo, Esteban, Sutil & di Resta all eyed the place all through the race. Bottas was out of running in the list as he collided with Hamilton ruining the Briton’s race as well. That gave a bit of drama in the pits too as RBR went for double stack where it had to be Webber followed by Vettel but it happened the other way. Still Vettel was leading as he had created big enough gap from his rivals, Webber did lose his P2 position but he took his position back from Alonso quickly. Hamilton fell behind while Button, Rosberg, Perez all moved up due the collision.

The mix start from SFI saw them fighting for positions all the time. It was tough for Sutil to move up as the cars around him lapped similar to his timings. He got a bit of help from a great work from his pit crew and with few overtaking on track, he was running P11 at one stage. As for di Resta he got up behind his teammate at P12 in a good time period. For a brief period of time both our drivers were up into points respectively. Both were on different strategies which is why di Resta got ahead of Sutil as the former was on 2 stopper while the later was on a 3 stopper. Towards the end of the race after the final pit stops, di Resta & Sutil were running at P11 & P13 respectively.

A lot of people were hoping for Vettel to give Webber the win but surely Webber wouldn’t have wanted that. He would have always wanted to beat Vettel for the win. And so Vettel got his 13th win of the season, 9th on the trot while Webber ended his F1 career with a podium finish at P2. Alonso rounded off his troubled season with a pretty satisfying P3. Button though stole the show with a strong finish for McLaren at P4 and Perez ended his McLaren career with a P6. Massa finished at P7 to end his time with Ferrari and Ricciardo ended his STR career taking the final point. SFI duo tried hard as di Resta ended at P11, his tyres were gone for him to attack Ricciardo for the final point. Sutil though came very close to moving up at P10 with the pace he was showing, in the end he had to settle in for P13 as he ran out of laps to overtake and move further up the field.

With the already decided championship titles, the main position in contention was P2 in CC which went to Mercedes in the end, Ferrari had to be happy with P3. On the DC front, Webber finished at P3 pushing Hamilton & Kimi down. On our side, SFI ended at P6 with 77 points. Yes, we could have ended P5 but then we improved from last year when we finished P7. On driver front, di Resta lost couple of places to end at P12 with 48 points and Sutil ended at P13 with 28 points. It was a certainly a mixed season for the team, there was performance and luck (in some cases bad luck), the team showed character all through the season. Congrats to Red Bull & Sebastian Vettel on their Championship. Also congrats to Sahara Force India for ending at P6. Marussia took the P10 battle after Bianchi earned them way back in Malaysia while Chilton made history by finishing all the

That’s the end then folks, next time we will read a weekend review, it would be post the 2014 Australian GP, long wait, isn’t it? Hope you have enjoyed as much as I have. See you later, have a good off season time.

Thanks for reading,
Darshan

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