<![CDATA[Auto India Sports - Darshan's Corner]]>Fri, 18 Dec 2015 19:38:43 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Abu Dhabi GP, Yas Marina Circuit: We crown a two-time champion]]>Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:05:52 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/abu-dhabi-gp-yas-marina-circuit-we-crown-a-two-time-championIt’s been a wonderful Grand Prix to cover from the media center at the circuit, being there in the action added to knowing more about what the team members think about each day’s work. It wasn’t the finale, one would have hoped for but we have our 2014 champion, Lewis Hamilton winning the race as well. Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas completed the podium, their first double podium in a long time. Full preview:

Practice Session, FP1/FP2/FP3:

A hot start to the weekend, as usual in Abu Dhabi but a slightly unusual place to watch the sessions from. It was the final FP’s of the season, but usual proceedings, as Mercedes took the top spot; Hamilton drew the first blood on Friday, but Rosberg came back on Saturday. The other spots were filled in by Williams, Red Bull and Ferrari. There was no doubt that the battle was to be close at the front, with so much on the line, but the battle of Williams and Ferrari was an interesting one as well, considering the double points on offer. At the bottom, Caterham returned after missing two races while Marussia tried their best, but failed to make it in Abu Dhabi.

For SFI, it was the case of staying ahead of McLaren, but the practice sessions didn’t look overly great. Perez stayed ahead of Hulkenberg all through the sessions; the team was happy with all the data they wanted. The qualifying pace though was still a worry but earlier on Thursday, Perez had conceded that, to fight the top teams, they have to take the “focus on Sunday”, approach. The long run pace looked decent enough, it was somewhere within the range of McLaren and STR.
Picture
Hulkenberg narrowly missed out scoring 100 points, finished with 96 points in the season
(image: motorsport.com)
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

The final qualifying session of the season under the beaming lights of Yas Marina circuit; Rosberg continued his Saturday dominance and took pole position from Hamilton. Behind them, it was Bottas completing the top 3. A post qualifying disqualification saw both Red Bull’s thrown at the back of the grid, which moved the likes of Button, Kvyat, Raikkonen & Alonso to a respectable position. It was a usual line-up in the bottom half, Sauber’s had one last chance to score points and with double points on offer, they just need to finish P10 to move ahead of Marussia.

Over at SFI, it was the case of utilizing every bit on the car in qualifying. Perez still stayed ahead of Hulkenberg, as they started P11 and P12, after the penalty to Red Bulls. Both failed to make it to Q3, but the team was considerably happy with the result, as they finished where they expected. But they hoped to finish in points because of their Sunday approach.
Picture
Perez finished his season in the top 10; continues with SFI for another year
(image: motorsport.com)
Race:

The outcome of the championship hanged in the balance at the start of the race, as the world waited to find out the champion. After all the races, it came down to the last race, to decide the important drivers’ championship. But it was an anti-climax end; the move from Hamilton in the opening lap almost sealed the title in favour of Hamilton. From then on, Rosberg was always playing the catching-up role. Massa got up to P3, as his teammate Bottas slowly moved backwards due to a poor start. Both SFI started well moving into the top 10 with Hulkenberg slotting at P9 and Perez at P10.

By mid-way, the title had been decided already after Rosberg suffered an ERS failure. His worst nightmare came true in the final race of the season and there was nothing he could do. He started dropping slowly as his rivals went past him easily. This helped Massa to get up to P2 while Bottas and Ricciardo slotted behind the Brazilian. The Red Bull duo had to make-up a lot of ground starting from the pitlane, but it was the Australian making the most of it while Vettel had the hard battle to overtake; he had some good battles involving Ferrari and SFI. Meanwhile, Ferrari’s appalling season continued as they were fighting for the lowly position of P9 and P10.

Over at SFI, it turned out to be a better race than their expectation; starting on the opposite strategy, they made the most, by going longer on all their stints. Both Hulkenberg and Perez were always running around top 5. It was an unfortunate situation with the penalty to Hulkenberg which probably made a slight difference to the result. Other than that, both the drivers were involved in a lot of battles; Perez’s move on Vettel was the best out of the lot. Going on the supersoft tyres in their last stint, gave them a fighting chance, as both of the drivers cleared the cars ahead, one by one.

Although, Massa was catching up Hamilton towards the end, but the Briton had it all under control, winning the race in style, to finish off the 2014 season as a double world champion. There is no doubt that he deserved the second title, probably this was the more satisfying one, considering the fights he has been involved in. Massa and Bottas completed the podium, giving Williams a strong result as they wrapped up their season ahead of Ferrari in the championship. Button’s P5 helped McLaren secure the P5 position, which even after SFI’s P6 and P7 finish couldn’t help the Silverstone based team to leapfrog McLaren.

It was a strong finish nevertheless for SFI, 155 points, their best till date. They gave it all in the last race and scored some good points. The team didn’t expect such a strong result, but they were more than happy to take it; the last stint on supersoft tyres helped them gain places after places. The biggest surprise of the season was Sauber finishing the season outside of points and couldn’t beat Marussia, who didn’t even race in the last three races of the season.

This closed the 2014 season. It was an amazing year all around, some fantastic performances. Until the 2015 season, it is a bye from me.


Thank you for reading.
]]>
<![CDATA[Brazil GP, Sao Paulo: And it goes down to the wire]]>Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:49:35 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/brazil-gp-sao-paulo-and-it-goes-down-to-the-wireThe mood surrounding the Grand Prix was not a happy one again, because of the grid shrinking to just 18 cars. The idea of crowd-funding by Caterham, though a desperate attempt to make it to Abu Dhabi, shows that things in Formula 1 need some changes. The back to back weekend kept the F1 media on toes, as the possible solutions to help mid-field teams being worked out. On-track, the title showdown head to the season finale after Rosberg notching up a victory over Hamilton while Massa finished third. Hulkenberg continued his Brazil magic to score points for SFI, as Perez completed a difficult weekend, out of points. Full review below:

Practice Session, FP1/FP2/FP3:

It is always good to go racing in Interlagos, Brazil; another circuit which has seen so many eras of Formula 1. The weather in Brazil is the talking point every year, it was forecasted as rain all through the weekend, but the practice session ended under dry conditions. Mercedes and in particular Rosberg led the whole pack including his team-mate Hamilton. It was again a mixed bag behind Mercedes, but Williams and Red Bull looked closest to the champions. There was a certain lack of grip once drivers went off the racing line because of the new asphalt. Although, the teams got ample dry running, but the question remained on Sunday’s weather.

For Sahara Force India, it was a mixed running all through. While Hulkenberg had a trouble free-run all through the sessions; the other side of the garage had tough times on Friday. SFI’s reserve Juncadella drove in FP1 for Perez but, unfortunately, he met with a crash, damaging the car front end as well the rear. The damage was so much that the team had to change parts, which meant Perez missed running in FP2. Hulkenberg had double work to do in FP2; Perez completed his long runs in FP3. The race pace looked good for SFI as they have been, but McLaren, looked good too.
Picture
Hulkenberg again led a Brazil GP; gritty drive to score points
(image: motorsport.com)
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

After the dry run in the practice sessions, the weather in qualifying remained dry as well. The clouds only threatened to rain, but it never came. Rosberg was absolutely flying and rightly qualified on pole; with this pole, he won the inaugural Pole Position trophy. Hamilton was to start at P2 while home-hero Massa qualified a good P3. It seemed both Red Bull and Ferrari compromised on qualifying pace after only qualifying P6/P9 and P8/P10 respectively. Gutierrez enjoyed his P11 finish while Kvyat chose not to run in Q2, considering his carry over engine penalty.

It was always going to be a tough ask for the SFI drivers to qualify into Q3. For Perez, it was straight forward difficult ask, firstly because of his lack of a practice run and secondly because of his penalty. He finished P17 but started at the back of the grid. On the other side, Hulkenberg enjoyed another smooth run but could only manage P12 in the end; in his fast lap, he had several lock-ups which compromised few tenths. But as they have always been a race-oriented car, fighting for points was not a difficult ask.
Picture
Perez tried hard but couldn't keep Vergne at bay, finished a lowly P15 after missing whole of Friday
(image: motorsport.com)
Race:

The weather again played a game with the fans, the teams and the media; the predicted showers never really arrived all weekend. It didn’t look like it was to rain in the race as well, which meant tyres became a decisive point to finish in points for several drivers. It has become a norm, that we see very few incidents at the start of the race; one way it is good because it keeps everyone safe. Rosberg immediately got away safely from Hamilton, while Massa lined-up behind. Vettel lost places to Alonso and Magnussen and Raikkonen lost a place to Gutierrez. Hulkenberg remained P12 while Perez gained three places to go up to P15; Hulkenberg was on a different strategy as he started on mediums.

The pit stops started as early as in lap 5, one could only imagine the state of the tyres. Rosberg maintained the gap to Hamilton throughout the mid stages; a slight spin before the second stop might have costed Hamilton the lead at that stage. The tyre strategy threw open various opportunities, while Massa continued to run strongly for podium, it became a fight between Button and Vettel for P4. Vettel after having lost places in his first stint got back ahead of Alonso, Magnussen and even two-stopper Raikkonen in his final stint. Ricciardo meanwhile suffered his second DNF of the season and Bottas went to the back of the point scoring position due to slow pit stops.

At one point of the race, Hulkenberg was leading the race; he led the race for five laps due to stretching on his first stint. After having a smooth run all through the weekend, he was having a better run in the race too. The different race strategy also worked in his favour; though he admitted he was having a lonely battle. Meanwhile, for Perez, it was difficult stints; his first two stints were not overly great which kept him running around P15 and P16 all the time. All around him were on the similar strategy and their pace matched evenly as well, this made it much more difficult.

The pressure was never-ending for Rosberg in the last 10 to 12 laps as both the Mercedes drivers’ traded fast laps between each other. In the end Rosberg managed to keep Hamilton at bay to win the Grand Prix, limiting the Briton’s lead to only 17 points as they both go into Abu Dhabi chasing the title. Massa finished third, much to the delight of his home fans while Button and Vettel finished P4 and P5 after a gritty drive. Another battle was between Alonso and Raikkonen, a battle which we wanted to see all season long. Hulkenberg finished a good P8 moving ahead of Magnussen; if only he had a lap or two, he could have moved ahead of the Ferrari’s. Perez only managed P15 in the end; it was tough for him to miss out during Friday which did affect his Sunday’s drive.

And so the championship heads to the season finale in Abu Dhabi, both Rosberg and Hamilton could win the title, but the upper hand is with Hamilton. The other battles see Vettel moving ahead of Alonso and Bottas, but they are closely packed in the fight for P4. In the constructors’ battle, we have Ferrari still chasing Williams, while SFI chase McLaren and with double points in the play, there is an opportunity for anyone to get ahead. It will be all to play for in Abu Dhabi. See you after Abu Dhabi, one last time with a weekend report in 2014.


Thank you for reading
]]>
<![CDATA[United States GP: Trimmed grid but the show goes on]]>Tue, 04 Nov 2014 17:19:24 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/united-states-gp-trimmed-grid-but-the-show-goes-onWithout any doubt, the news before the United States GP that both Caterham and Marussia won’t make a trip to Austin and subsequently to Brazil as well, made an immediate impact on all the fans. It’s always unfortunate to see Formula 1 teams struggle financially. And both these teams are two of the friendliest teams on the grid. But then, the race was to happen with or without them. Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix, extending his lead as Nico Rosberg finished second while Daniel Ricciardo, sporting a Texan beard finished third. Both the Sahara Force India drivers suffered a DNF. Full review below:

Practice Session, FP1/FP2/FP3:


It was the first time in a long time that the F1 grid had only 18 cars running in a particular Grand Prix. It was disappointing to see only 18 cars racing, but as the saying goes, “the show must go on.” Mercedes once again led the way in the practice session and in particular Hamilton was unbeatable. Rosberg got closest to him while the other teams as usual played the chasing game. McLaren looked good in FP1 while Ferrari and Red Bull were good in FP2 and finally it was Williams behind Mercedes in FP3. It has become a norm for different teams to line-up behind Mercedes by and by.

After losing the P5 position to McLaren, the aim for Sahara Force India was to score strong points and out-score the McLaren duo. The double point scenario opens up the fight. The advantage SFI have is that, they are unlikely to get any grid penalties for using a sixth component on their car. It was a usual run for both the drivers as Hulkenberg managed to finish in the top 10 in every single session; his pace on the long run looked good. While, Perez didn’t manage to get into the top 10, but his pace was on par with his team-mate on the longer runs. Once again both the drivers had a trouble free run in the practice sessions.
Picture
Perez's five-point finish came to an end with a 7 place grid penalty for Brazil
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

There was a change in the qualifying format for the Grand Prix to accommodate the loss of Caterham and Marussia. It was announced that in Q1, four cars will be eliminated and further four cars will be eliminated in Q2. Hamilton was on course for a clean sweep, but Rosberg stopped his run managing to find few tenths to take the pole position. Bottas lined up third ahead of his team-mate Massa. The best performance, however, was that of Sutil, who for the time this season made it to Q3 to start P9 (after Button’s penalty) and behind him Maldonado had a strong outing too. Vettel only did one lap to qualify under the 107% rule; he was due to start from the pit-lane after taking sixth component this season.

It was a bit of a scare for Perez in Q1; he just managed to stay alive for Q2 but in doing so he used up two sets of soft tyres. Hulkenberg made it through to Q2 without any issues; he encountered a strange problem in Q2 which stopped his progress into Q3. On his fast lap, a visor got stuck on his tyre which costed him few tenths and ultimately a place in Q3. Perez having got only one set of tyre couldn’t put in a fast lap and only managed P12 (to start P11) but he was ahead of Hulkenberg who started P13.
Picture
Hulkenberg was leading 4 time champion Vettel in his only race stint but had to retire because of mechanical failure; only his second retirement
Race:

As for everyone, it wasn’t great to see only 18 cars lining at the start of the grid (one in the pit-lane). More so, the boycott threats before the race were not that good to read. Nobody wants to see only 12 cars racing against each other; hopefully the heads come to a solution which is accepted by all. Moving on to the race, Rosberg started off on a good note, keeping Hamilton at bay. Behind them, Massa moved ahead of Bottas while Ricciardo and Alonso were in a tussle for grid positions. Hulkenberg made it to the top 10 while Perez was at P12. But not for long, while trying to move ahead of Sutil, Perez hit the back of Raikkonen and in turn, he hit Sutil, which ended both their races. The safety car was out to clear the debris.

Rosberg led the first stint, creating a good enough gap over Hamilton but in the second stint, Hamilton started to catch up on Rosberg and eventually took the lead after a fine overtaking move. A slow pit stop from Williams for Massa, allowed Ricciardo to jump to P3, who had earlier in the race under-cut Bottas. Although there was a real fight for grid positions in the lower half of the top 10. It was a big fight with as many as seven drivers eyeing for five places in the top 10. Alonso led the pack fighting with Vettel, Magnussen, Vergne, Maldonado, Grosjean and Button.

It was a bad start for SFI as Perez was out early, ending his run of five-point finishes. It was his fault for which he received a penalty post-race for Brazil. Things were not looking great for Hulkenberg from then on in the race; he pitted under the safety car and went to the back of the grid ahead of Vettel. He was running ahead of Vettel at ease, but suddenly stopped at the side of the track. It was later confirmed by Ted on Sky Sports that he had a mechanical failure and thus he was advised to switch off the car and retire.

Hamilton stretched his championship lead after winning the US GP; his fifth win a row equaling Alonso’s thirty-two wins overall. Ricciardo finished third and is now out of contention for the championship. The last few laps gave a delight to the fans, as the fight in the lower half of the grid was changing every moment. Alonso finished P6 being closely chased by Vettel at P7, who struggled in his first stint but came back strongly in his second stint. The fight between Vergne, Maldonado, Grosjean and Button went on till the last lap; ultimately Maldonado finished ahead of Vergne (both had penalties to their name post-race). This was Maldonado’s first-point finish of the season.

The battle for the world title heats up even more, Hamilton now has a firm hand on the title after notching up his tenth win of the season. Rosberg has a tough battle ahead even though there is the double point advantage in Abu Dhabi. The driver championship has another battle going between Bottas, Alonso and Vettel for P4; it is a close fight between them. As for the constructor’s championship, everything is settled at the front but the fight for P5 is still on between McLaren and Sahara Force India. A double DNF makes it tough for the Silverstone based team, but there is every possibility of outscoring McLaren considering that they only managed four points in Austin.

It’s a double header as the F1 circus moves to Brazil for the penultimate race of the season. Brazil is always an unpredictable circuit, any result is possible. There is always the threat of rain as well. See you after Brazil

Thank you for reading

]]>
<![CDATA[Russian GP, Sochi Autodrom: Birth of a new track amid somber mood]]>Mon, 13 Oct 2014 16:42:19 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/russian-gp-sochi-autodrom-birth-of-a-new-track-amid-somber-moodNot always is that, teams and drivers heading to a new track minus the excitement of getting to a new place. Such was the lasting effect from Japan that for once everyone would have wanted to head home rather than race this weekend. Then again, such is this sport, everyone has to accept the risks and do their best on the given day. It wasn’t the best race of this season but thankfully, it was safely completed. Hamilton took the victory, Rosberg finished at P2 and Bottas at P3. Full review below:

Practice Sessions, FP1/FP2/FP3:

It was tough on the drivers to race this weekend after what happened in Japan. One could make out from their gestures and answers, as to what they really felt. But with everyone being professional sports personnel, everyone got on with their act. Naturally, all the drivers and teams accumulated a lot of laps under their belt, learning the trickiness of the track. Although, Mercedes were at the top, the lap times behind them, were close. The other six teams were bunched up rather tight, giving no room whatsoever. The track was improving with every lap and so, it was difficult to understand when was the perfect time to get a lap in, especially for qualifying. It was a nice gesture from Marussia to field just one car; they were ready with the other car but as a mark of respect to Bianchi, the team decided not to run the second car and race with just Chilton’s car this weekend.

As was the case with everyone, it was difficult to assess, where Sahara Force India stood after practice. Certainly Bottas, Button, Magnussen and Kvyat looked good, chasing Mercedes. But on the long run pace, both Perez and Hulkenberg matched closely with McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams. As with everyone else, both kept improving with every lap. The qualifying pace was still a worry for the team and it was expected that they will be around the top 10, maybe into it or just outside. It was evident that, the team had compromised on qualifying pace, to utilize the extra pace during the race.
Picture
Perez salvaged a point keeping Massa at bay, but SFI lost their P5 position to McLaren.
(image: motorsport.com)
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

It was straightaway interesting in Q1 when, teams were divided on strategies. Many of them went straight to the soft tyres while some of them took the traditional approach of medium and then the soft. The track, by the end of qualifying, was slowing down, as reported by some of the teams on the radio. Hamilton qualified on pole, with Rosberg alongside him; for a while, Bottas looked to unsettle Mercedes from the top slot but he couldn’t get a good sector 3 and eventually went wide to end at P3. His teammate, Massa though only managed P18 after facing car problems while Vettel was only P11 (started P10), just the fact that Red Bull lacked the pace. Meanwhile, Kvyat qualified a superb P5 in his home race and down in the field Ericsson, finished P17 (started P16) ahead of Massa, Maldonado, Kobayashi and Chilton.

The qualifying session was going to be the hardest part of the weekend for SFI, one lap pace is not the team’s forte. It was always about making the most and being there to pounce on any opportunity available to qualify well. Both the drivers made it through to Q2, but neither of them made it to Q3. Although Hulkenberg qualified P12, ahead of Perez but started from P17 after his gearbox change; Perez started P12 then. The race strategy was once again in play for the SFI duo, it was certain that most of the teams will go for one stop race. With Button qualifying well inside the top 10, the aim for both the drivers was to get into points and score as much as possible to maintain P5 in the championship.
Picture
Hulkenberg since Hungary has been off pace. Pressure of delivering taking a toll on him?
(image: motorsport.com)
Race:

It was a touching respect and support for Jules Bianchi from the fellow drivers, the FIA, just before the start of the race. When it is hard for the fans to come to terms with what happened; it is tougher for the drivers and team officials to concentrate. A tremendous sense of professionalism was shown by everyone. From then on, in the race, it was a procession unfortunately. Hamilton took the lead, after Rosberg’s lock-up resulting in an unscheduled pit stop. As a result, Rosberg went to the back of the pack and thus began his fight for points and a podium finish. Behind them, Magnussen was the biggest gainer, as the Red Bull duo fought with the Toro Rosso duo for grid positions. Both the SFI drivers gained places, Perez was up to P11 while Hulkenberg was up to P13, after starting at P17.

It was a straightforward race during the mid-stages of the Grand Prix; Hamilton led the way as Rosberg slowly crept into the points and inched closer to the podium. He was to do something which was doable, but not done by anyone; he was to run 52 laps on one set of tyres alone. With minimal tyre degradation, the lone pit stop became an important window to overtake. Both Magnussen and Ricciardo took advantage of the pit stop and moved ahead of Alonso and Vettel respectively. It was surprising to see both Kvyat and Vergne, having started well within the top 10 struggling for pace and losing out on points. At the back, the lone running Chilton retired due to issues on the car.

For SFI, it was the case of, firstly fighting to get into the points and then defending their positions. Perez was always near to the point scoring position and was always in the fight with Massa, keeping the Williams driver behind. While in doing so, he jumped ahead of Kvyat and Vergne. So did his teammate, Hulkenberg who was further behind the Perez and Massa battle. After a very late pit stop from Gutierrez, Perez was in points. But soon, the Mexican was reminded about the critical fuel consumption and so for the remainder of the race, his job was to defend from Massa, rather than attack Raikkonen up ahead. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg behind was catching and probably was creating a cover, should Massa sneak through Perez, he would fight Massa for points then.

It was the easiest victory for Hamilton in the end, to say, it was a cruise to victory for the Briton extending the gap to 17 points. Rosberg admirably fought his way back into points and podium, completing 52 laps on one set of tyres alone. This result sealed Mercedes’ Constructors’ Championship, their first since taking over from Brawn GP. Bottas completed the podium and with this result, he leapfrogged Vettel and Alonso in the Drivers’ Championship. A good haul of points for McLaren duo meant, they comfortably moved ahead of SFI in the CC. Perez finished P10 after keeping Massa at bay while Hulkenberg finished P12, under one second, off the Brazilian driver.

The one big title remains and it will surely go down to Abu Dhabi, the upper hand is with Hamilton at this moment. It was a small victory for Bottas moving ahead of two world champions and Williams continue to extend the gap to Ferrari. With McLaren creating a 20 points lead over SFI, it may seem “game over” for SFI but with three (effectively four) races to go, it is all to play for still. The upcoming tracks are the tracks where SFI have done well in the past and one major advantage for the team is that, they are the team having used the least of the components yet. This will help to a certain extent as the team won’t receive any extra component related penalty.

Two weeks break before Austin GP, a much-required break for everyone considering what all happened in Japan. We still keep Jules Bianchi in our thoughts. #ForzaJules


Thank you.
]]>
<![CDATA[Rush: Perfect show for one of the greatest rivalry in Formula 1 history]]>Wed, 24 Sep 2014 21:28:31 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/rush-perfect-show-for-one-of-the-greatest-rivalry-in-formula-1-historyNiki Lauda, “But trust me… watching you win those races while I was fighting for my life, you were equally responsible for getting me back in the car.”

When two Formula 1 drivers are fighting for the championships, year after year, it probably ends in a disaster. The friendship turns into an open fight. But here, with the Austrian Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl) and the British James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth), what started off on a sour and swearing note, ended up with a sweet taste of friendship and mutual respect. They fought for race wins, they pushed each other to the limit and the bond just grew.

The movie nicely depicts those moments from their long rivalry, which has the relevance to capture the audience. The rivalry between the two drivers goes back to the Formula 3 days, when for the first time the two drivers raced against each other. It was evident enough; something special is going to happen in the coming years of late 1970s. The movie gives an insight view of how tough the economics of Formula 1 was or still is; the contract negotiations between drivers and teams, finding sponsors for drivers and teams was and is, still the toughest to go through in the high speed sport.

Rush offers two different style of drivers; Hunt was more in the relaxed, party mood having a playboy image and Lauda, the opposite, having a strict, to the point attitude, with professionalism to its best use. But both had the equal hunger to outdo each other on track and win championships. The movie takes us to the 1976 championship, which changed the life of both the drivers in so many ways.
Picture
No reason to miss one of the greatest Formula 1 rivalry
Lauda had already won a championship with Ferrari going into the season; Hunt after losing drive with his former team due to lack of budgets and having troubles in his marriage, wasn’t looking to make it to the 1976 season. A late negotiation with McLaren sealed for an exciting battle between the long time rivals. The whole sequence of the 1976 championship follows up, which is written and directed beautifully, as it depicts the challenges, the drivers used to face in those days, the risk of death was massive.

The turning point in the rivalry of Hunt and Lauda, probably, comes after the horrific crash of Lauda during the German Grand Prix. While Lauda, was fighting for his life in the hospital suffering massive burns, the professionalism in him, made him push to get back to racing. And his return to racing, after a near-death experience, arguably made him one of the greatest Formula 1 racer ever. The season finale in Japan, puts forward a big question mark for the fans to decide, was it, right? It is for you all to watch and decide.

The background score, done by Hans Zimmer makes the scenes even more interesting. The roar of the engines, so real that, one would require earplugs while the scene is on. Ron Howard and his team have done full justice with “Rush”, he visited Grand Prix’s, interacted with many Formula One administration officials, team officials, drivers, which helped him to deliver a high-quality movie. The movie is not only for motorsport or fast car fans; it is for everyone. It has the right amount of show for every movie fan. It has fast cars, women, drivers, risks, speed, emotions, love, hate, friendship, humour and everything you want to watch in an intense rivalry based, true story sports movie.

Call for a pizza, grab some popcorn, get your drinks ready and fix your reminders at 1PM or 9PM for 28th September, 2014. Yes, you read it right, the Indian Television Premiere of “Rush”, only on MOVIES NOW. No excuses for missing out.

Check out the premiere videos:
Movie: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=946350585379536&set=vb.176168352397767&type=3&theater
Niki Lauda: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=951705124844082&set=vb.176168352397767&&theater
James Hunt: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=951163121564949&set=vb.176168352397767&type=3&theater

Thank you for reading,

Darshan Chokhani
]]>
<![CDATA[Singapore GP, Marina Bay Circuit: Extreme strategies, worked for some but not for all]]>Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:59:10 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/singapore-gp-marina-bay-circuit-extreme-strategies-worked-for-some-but-not-for-allThere is always that excitement, whenever Formula 1 heads to Singapore. It may well be the lights, the track and the prospect of a tricky and interesting race. But then, street tracks in general are exciting, because of the added element of risk. The concrete walls come into play and there is no margin for error. The hundred percent record of safety car deployment continued, as Hamilton took the win and the lead in the championship; Red Bull duo of Vettel and Ricciardo, finished P2 and P3 respectively. For SFI, both Perez and Hulkenberg finished in points at P7 and P9 respectively as they move ahead of McLaren in the championship. Full review of the weekend below:

Free Practice, FP1/FP2/FP3:

There is little to dwell, into the FP1 and FP3 lap times from Singapore. It was because, the race was to happen under artificial lights, and so FP2 became the most important session out of all. The field was bunched up closely on Friday and Saturday; Alonso and Ferrari were up for the challenge, topping both FP1 and FP3 sessions. Even the Red Bull duo, along with Vergne lapped some fast times. Although, Mercedes looked to be struggling with the right balance, they always looked fast on the long runs. McLaren’s were closely matched with SFI; Williams were the only team, looking out of shape.

The Singapore track was termed, as one of the strongest track for Sahara Force India team; more so because, the team had brought a major update package, for the race. It was hard to judge, if the updates worked because of the nature of the track, but it certainly gave the team a push, in the fight against McLaren. Both Hulkenberg and Perez matched each other closely and the McLaren drivers were not far off either. The race pace was good, but qualifying remained a question mark. Q3 with both cars was a possibility looking at the practice times, but it was hard to count Williams, McLaren and even STR out from the fight.
Picture
Perez did a fine job; scored the vital points for the team
(image: forceindiaf1.com)
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

After what happened during the practice sessions, it made qualifying much more intense. There was a real feeling of a non-Mercedes pole. It didn’t happen of course; Hamilton piped Rosberg by 0.007s in the end. Ricciardo completed the top 3 with Vettel lining at P4 and Alonso at P5. Both the rookies Magnussen and Kvyat, made it the top 10, qualifying P9 and P10 respectively. While, on the other hand, Button lost out on a Q3 run, qualifying P11. It was usual proceedings at the back with Marussia leading Caterham while Sauber and Lotus just managing to stay ahead of those teams.

For SFI, the qualifying session ended slightly on unexpected terms. Both the drivers didn’t make it to Q3 and qualified lower than the team’s expectation and aim. None of the drivers made any mistake on their fast lap; it was the case that they just didn’t have the pace to get through. Hulkenberg expected more but was happy with P13, having got the free tyre choice. Perez meanwhile tried something different heading out for an early run in Q2, but it didn’t work and thus, only managed P15. The team had race pace and were optimistic to score good points.
Picture
Pit stop crew did a fantastic job; seven quick pit stops under hot conditions
(image: forceindiaf1.com)
Race:

The helicopter shot of the Singapore track is one of the scenic shot of all the circuits; it being the night race makes it even special. There were some tensions within the Mercedes camp, even before the start of the race. This time, it was Rosberg though, who was forced to a pit lane start when he couldn’t get going at the formation lap. Hamilton got away perfectly, Vettel behind him, with Alonso third and Ricciardo fourth. Both SFI drivers made places at the end of the first lap, as Hulkenberg was up at P12 and Perez at P14. It was fairly good start for all drivers with none losing major positions; Kobayashi was unfortunate to have suffered a DNS. And Rosberg got going at the back but was having all sorts of problem still.

Hamilton led the way, as the big news of Rosberg retiring might have allowed him to push even harder for the win, because it would have given him a championship lead. Behind him, Alonso gained a place by an undercut, to move ahead of Vettel but then lost two positions due to the safety car period. The next big battle was happening behind Massa as Bottas, was keeping Button and Raikkonen at bay for the most part of the race. The last few grid positions were up for grabs as Vergne, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Kvyat, Perez, Maldonado and Grosjean were fighting hard to stay in the hunt. At the back, Ericsson was having a fine battle with Bianchi.

In the middle stages of the race, both SFI drivers were among the few drivers, to score some good points. It was evident that both of them were going for the three stop race. Both were always involved in some fight or the other. But all was not well, a contact between Perez and Sutil brought out the safety car, fortunately, Perez only required a front wing change and was able to race on. At that moment, it seemed like Hulkenberg was on course to score points and for Perez, it was a big task ahead, to score points coming from the back of the pack.

The post safety car stint from Hamilton was the decisive moment in the race, which helped the Briton to secure the win. It was tough stint on the super soft tyres, but he managed it well and after his late stop, he had only Vettel to cover. With his seventh win of the season, Hamilton regained the championship lead with three points in hand. Vettel secured his best finish this season with a fine P2, as Ricciardo fought with his car problems to finish P3 and Alonso right behind at P4. It was a dramatic last lap, which saw Bottas losing four places to find himself out of points at P11. Vergne even with two penalties fought well to finish a superb P6, his best finish ever.

Perez was another star, coming from behind to finish P7 after a late tyre change, his fourth stop. Hulkenberg also managed to finish in P9, after a long stint on the soft tyres, like others on the grid. It was a gritty drive from Maldonado to end P12 and Ericsson to finish P15, ahead of Bianchi.

The battle is on for the championship now with five races remaining, every point counts for Hamilton and Rosberg. Over in the Constructors’ championship, it is all to play for Williams who are still ahead of Ferrari. The major movement after Singapore, was SFI regaining their P5 position from McLaren, in doing so the team has now scored 117 points, which is their best tally of points in a season. Surely, the aim for the team will be to get to 150 points and finish ahead of McLaren.

Next the teams move on to Japan, heading to one of the classic track in Suzuka, in two weeks time. See you then, it’s getting tighter by every race, as we get closer to the season finale.

Thank you.
]]>
<![CDATA[Beijing ePrix, Birds Nest Stadium: Future is here, birth of electric racing]]>Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:21:20 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/1A racing championship with electric powered racing cars? This is absurd. Motorsport is all about sound and the electric cars, what sound will they make? All sorts of questions were raised, when it was announced that FIA has given the green signal for Formula E championship. This championship is about the future, where experts believe that electric cars will pave way for the petrol/diesel cars. It’s too early to talk about that, but the championship has started.

The first race of the season, took place outside the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing, China. Yes, all the Formula E races, will take place on the streets. Because, they are racing on streets, the whole event was to take place on one day. From FP sessions to qualifying and finally the race, all was to happen on the same day (Saturday) of the weekend. For a guide to how it all works, visit: http://www.fiaformulae.com/en/guide/overview.aspx

A dramatic race saw, Lucas di Grassi winning the race for Audi Sport Abt team, in the most unusual circumstances. Franck Montagny secured second position for Andretti Formula E team and Sam Bird took third for Virgin Racing. Mahindra Racing’s and our Indian driver Karun Chandhok finished a fine P5 while Bruno Senna suffered a DNF after a first lap contact. Full review of the weekend below:

Free Practice Session, FP1/FP2:

It was a start of a new championship, even after the pre-season testing, it was hard to predict anything. Everyone made some calculations, about their favourites though. Surprisingly, there were not many casualties during FP1. While in FP2, two drivers had off moments. Lucas di Grassi topped the morning session, as Bruno Senna topped the second session. There were host of drivers like Buemi, Bird, Abt, Chandhok, Montagny, Prost and Tung looking good for a top 10 finish, in qualifying.

Mahindra Racing was one of the team to beat, during testing. They continued their form coming into Beijing. The two sessions, was all about getting to know the car, the track and precisely check, as to how much they can push. It was two mixed sessions, as Chandhok finished a fine P5 in FP1 but was down to P13 in FP2. On the other hand, Senna finished a low P15 in FP1 but then topped in FP2. Both the drivers were looking on course for a top 10 qualifying position, even a pole position was possible.
Picture
Senna won the Fan Boost but couldn't use after crashing out on the first lap
(image: Mahindra Racing - Facebook page)
Qualifying:

The qualifying session was different from the normal procedure of F1. Here, four groups were decided on the basis of a lottery. Each group had five drivers, who would compete with each other to set their time. Each group gets ten minutes, to set their best timed lap. Naturally, the group going first had a disadvantage, because, by the time the last group is out, the track would be best for setting fast laps. Nicolas Prost set the quickest time, coming in the third group. With Prost, it was di Grassi and Abt for P2 and P3 respectively, both of the teammates, were in the same third group. Three drivers without any timed laps were Trulli, Senna and Sarrazin.

For Mahindra Racing, it was a mixed qualifying session. Chandhok qualified a superb P4; it was special all the more, because he was out in the first group. It meant, twelve drivers from the remaining four groups, couldn’t set a better lap time than the Indian. It was not joy for all though, as Senna after topping in FP2, couldn’t even set a lap time because of a problem on the car. He was to start P15 for the race, after penalties to other drivers.
Picture
Chandhok finished a fine P5 after suffering power loss on the last lap
(image: Mahindra Racing - Facebook page)
Race:

After the two practice sessions and a qualifying session, it was time for the first ever Formula E race. It is unusual to see, everything happening on one single day but that’s the uniqueness of the series. The anticipation for the race was huge. Everybody had their fingers crossed, for the success of the event. Before the race start, it was made known that Senna, di Grassi and Legge will receive the Fan Boost during the race, after having being voted the top three by the fans.

The race would run for 25 laps, which included a mandatory pit stop, where drivers had to jump from one car to their second car, for the remainder of the race. This was largely done, because one battery won’t be enough, to complete the 25 laps. It was a dramatic start to the first race, as the safety car was out in lap two only. It was out for Mahindra Racing’s Senna; he was out of the race, after being bunched up between two cars. Prost led di Grassi and Abt in the front, while Trulli never started after stalling, at the initial start. Chandhok, the lone Mahindra car, was running a steady P5, as the field started to stretch.

It was a dramatic and sort of “what just happened”, finish to the race. On the last lap, Heidfled went for the gap, to overtake Prost. The French driver closed the gap, touching Heidfeld. The German’s car flew, over the kerb, on to the barriers and lay upside down. It was a scary incident, but thankfully he was all right. Amidst the accident, di Grassi took the win, becoming the first winner, of a Formula E race. He was followed by Montagny at P2 and Bird at P3. Abt originally finished third, but was demoted to tenth, after receiving a penalty. Chandhok, finished P5, after losing two places on the last lap. His car was on half power, during the last lap of the race and so they lost out on a podium finish.

The first weekend of the new championship, started on a good note. It was a horrific accident, to end the hard day’s work, but apart from that, most other things worked smoothly. It is still early days, as everyone gets to terms with the cars. Lucas di Grassi leads the drivers’ championship, while Andretti Formula E leads the teams’ championship. Mahindra Racing sits at P5 with 10 points, and so does Chandhok in the drivers’ standing. Karun Chandhok made history, as he became the first Indian driver to drive for an Indian team, in an International racing championship. It is a long break before the next event which is slated to happen on 22nd November, in Malaysia.

Thank you for reading.
]]>
<![CDATA[Italian GP, Monza: Fight every lap, for every position]]>Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:29:13 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/italian-gp-monza-fight-every-lap-for-every-positionThe fans didn’t get to watch the Mercedes duel again, but still, were thrilled to watch the Grand Prix at Monza. The midfield pack was at it again, there were some thrilling wheel to wheel overtakes and some clean fights for positions. Amidst all the conspiracies theory, Hamilton emerged victorious as Rosberg happily took second and Massa returned to the podium with a fine third. SFI finished the race with six points scored by Perez; although Hulkenberg returned empty handed after suffering problems on his car. Full review of the weekend:

Free Practice, FP1/FP2/FP3:

It was usual proceedings during the practice sessions, Mercedes headed the time sheets, but both drivers suffered issues in FP2 (Hamilton) and FP3 (Rosberg) respectively. Williams had another good outing and looked settled being the second best team; Ferrari were much better in these sessions but they rarely manage to carry out the same performance on Sunday. Red Bull, McLaren and Sahara Force India followed this pack closely, while the others were way off the pace of the top 6.

SFI had their reserve driver Juncadella, for the first 30 minutes of the FP1, after which Perez took over. The team hoped for a better weekend than what they had in Spa. They had a good run during the practice sessions, apart from the one glitch to Perez’s car in FP3. If the drivers had to be compared, Perez was looking far more comfortable than Hulkenberg. They were in the P6-P13 range, throughout the Friday and Saturday sessions; one car in Q3 was achievable for the team, although they were pushing for both the cars inside top 10.
Picture
For the second time this season, Hulkenberg didn't manage to score
(image: forceindiaf1.com)
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

The Monza weather couldn’t have been better for the qualifying session, a bright sunny afternoon. It was a straightforward session as the big fight for top 10 and pole, was largely among the top 6 teams. Finally, Hamilton managed to qualify on pole and alongside him was Rosberg. The Williams duo of Bottas and Massa outpaced the McLaren duo of Magnussen and Button, behind the Mercedes. Although, Ferrari looked competitive during FP’s, Alonso just managed P7 and Raikkonen was out in Q2 itself. Even the Red Bull duo of Vettel and Ricciardo just managed P8 and P9, respectively. Lotus suffered yet another poor session, as they were out in Q1 along with Marussia and Caterham.

For the first time in few races, everyone in SFI were, upbeat about the qualifying session. Both the drivers were confident of a much better grid position in Monza. They comfortably managed to get through to Q2 and expectedly the team got one car in Q3. Perez’s great lap got him comfortably into the top 10, and he qualified a good P10. His teammate had poor two laps and so Hulkenberg, just managed P14 (started P13 due to Kvyat’s penalty); he admitted that he had a poor first lap and on his final run, he encountered some traffic before the start of the lap. It was indeed a better performance from the team in qualifying; it was the case that others around them had a bit more one lap pace.
Picture
One of the highlight the battle between Perez & Button; the Mexican won it this time
(image: motorsport.com)
Race:

Four start well, four lose positions

The eyeballs were on the start of the race; all it required was one hit, for everyone to go berserk. Even after a clean race from Hamilton and Rosberg, the conspiracy theories keep coming in. The teammates did not hit each other, but still Hamilton managed to lose places, due to a slow start. Rosberg led the race as Magnussen and Massa were right behind him. It was a poor start from Bottas and Ricciardo which pushed them way down the order. Both SFI drivers made steady start as Perez was up at P8 and Hulkenberg was into points at P9, right behind his teammate.

One-stop from everyone, tricky timing for the stop

The one stop strategy was the only thing common, among all the teams. Hamilton quickly slotted himself behind his teammate and midway into the race, he took the lead. The lead was handed to him by Rosberg, when the German made the error of braking late going into turn 1, for the second time in the race. The real fight was for places, from P4 down to P10, the pit stop was crucial which gave many drivers the grid position. Both Bottas and Ricciardo started making up places and they were quick to do so; they were also helped by Alonso suffering his first DNF this season. Outside, the top 10, it was a battle among Toro Rosso, Sauber and Lotus.

Having made a good start, both SFI drivers were involved in a fight for grid positions. Their pace wasn’t quick enough to match the leaders, but it was good enough to fight for P5-P10 positions. Perez, after his pit stop, slotted himself behind Vettel and Magnussen but crucially ahead of Button; he couldn’t battle to defend his position against Bottas and Ricciardo, their pace was too strong for Perez. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg was not enjoying his race, after having started on hard tyres presumably for a long stint; he was forced to make an early stop, because he was not gaining anything. A damage on his car meant, he was out of points after his stop and since then, he was hovering just outside points at P11.

Easy win, close fights in bottom half

Hamilton was too quick for Rosberg to catch; he went on to win the race comfortably. Rosberg was still smiling with a P2 finish, as he still leads the championship. Williams continued their podium run, Massa getting his podium of the season; both Bottas and Ricciardo made up for the poor start, finishing P4 and P5, respectively. It was a superb battle between Perez and Button as both enjoyed the clean back and forth duel. Because of Magnussen’s penalty, Perez was able to finish P7, Button at P8 and Raikkonen at P9. Hulkenberg was overtaken by Kvyat in the end, as he finished just P12; Kvyat had a scary moment in turn 1 but escaped without any significant damage.

Singapore next, the final fly away races

The drivers’ championship intensifies, as Hamilton closed the gap with seven points. The fight is on course for a last race finish; though the constructors’ championship is in the bags for Mercedes pretty much. Another podium for Williams moved them ahead of Ferrari, as the fight for P3 in the championship continued. SFI managed to close the gap to one point with McLaren; the Indian team has equaled their best haul of points (there previous season best was 109 points). The interesting thing to note here, the gap between the sixth and seventh place is a massive 90 points. And, Sauber are yet to score this season, it could well be that Marussia manage to beat both Sauber and Caterham.

With Monza, the European leg of the championship came to an end. The remaining six fly away races covers both Asia and America, including the brand new (and controversial) Russian Grand Prix. For now, the next race is in two weeks time as everyone head to the streets of Singapore.


Thank you.
]]>
<![CDATA[Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps: The ugly turn]]>Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:26:10 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/belgian-gp-spa-francorchamps-the-ugly-turnThis was coming, isn’t it? A rather small collision resulted in a big drama off the track. For a second everyone forgot, that Daniel Ricciardo had won another Grand Prix, and that Valteri Bottas, was once again on the podium. All eyes were on the second placed Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, who was chilling in the motorhome, while the podium celebrations were on. Meanwhile, Sahara Force India had notched up a double point finish, after a penalty to Magnussen but they lost their P5 position to McLaren. Full review of the weekend below:

Free Practice, FP1/FP2/FP3:

The return of Formula 1 after the summer break didn’t have any surprises in store; it was all the same at the top. Mercedes duo shared the top step during the Friday sessions; Bottas topped FP3, but it was under mixed track conditions. Other than Mercedes, the likes of Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Sahara Force India enjoyed a good long run pace on Friday. Although, Red Bull looked dodgy with their pace but no one can count them out under any circumstances. At the back of the pack, Kamui Kobaysahi was replaced by Le Mans racer Andre Lotterer for the weekend.

It was usual program for Sahara Force India, as they focused on the long run pace and push for a two stop strategy for race day. The team’s qualifying pace was once again in question and the team acknowledged the problem and insisted that they will do whatever they can to qualify well. Both the drivers were happy with the pace shown on Friday, they were actually surprised by the good balance. The team hasn’t brought major updates for past few races but there had been some visible changes on the car; they have been trying different designs on the car for the past few races. Once again, getting both the cars into Q3 was the aim but it was more likely that, they will have one car in Q3 and other in Q2.
Picture
Perez on top of Eau Rouge; that is some view, isn't it?
(image: forceindiaf1.com)
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

The damp track made the qualifying session an interesting watch; tyre choices and a clear cut strategy were the key points during the session. Rosberg made no mistake whatsoever, to clinch another pole position, whereas Hamilton only managed P2; his quick lap was compromised because of the cold brakes. Vettel recovered from his time loss during FP2 to qualifying a brilliant P3. Bottas, on the other hand only managed P6, behind Alonso at P4 and Ricciardo at P5. Lower down the order, Bianchi once again made it to Q2 while Lotterer in his first qualifying session beat his teammate Ericsson, fair and square.

Qualifying wasn’t going to be a strong point for Sahara Force India, and they suffered a major jolt when Hulkenberg, missed out on a Q2 run. The German only managed P18, and admitted to making mistakes on his quick lap; the last time he missed out on a Q2 run was in Monza in 2012. Perez made it through to Q2 but couldn’t advance to the final shoot out. He qualified a good P13 which gave him a strong position to fight for points and a free tyre choice. The race pace shown on Friday meant that the team were upbeat about a double point finish on Sunday.
Picture
Hulkenberg managed to score a point after Magnussen's penalty; 11 out of 12 point finishes
(image: forceindiaf1.com)
Race:


Drama at the start

It didn’t take long for the drama’s to begin in Belgium, once the race was a go. Hamilton took the lead and fended off the Vettel threat, midway through lap 1. But, his luck wasn’t to be with him for long, he was hit by his teammate Rosberg, immediately in lap 2, causing a puncture, which ultimately ruined Hamilton’s race. It created a stir post race, this was always coming. With Hamilton out of equation and Alonso receiving a 5 second stop/go penalty; Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Bottas were very much in the equation to win the race, along with Rosberg. Both the Sahara Force India drivers gained places in the opening lap, as Perez was up to P11 and Hulkenberg was up to P14; both gained a couple of places more by lap 3, as Perez moved to P9 and Hulkenberg to P12. At the back, both Maldonado and Lotterer suffered a DNF, at the end of lap 1, for the former, a dream debut turned into a disaster debut especially on race day.

Out of nowhere, Ricciardo leads

In the middle stages of the race, Ricciardo was leading from Raikkonen and Bottas. Rosberg lost some time due to change of the front wing, but the pace of Mercedes helped him to fight back for a podium finish, if not a win. Both Vettel and Alonso were fighting in the lower half of the top 10 with the two McLarens. Meanwhile, Hamilton was not in the mood to race, after losing chunks of time and positions; he was always on the radio stating, that the team should save the power unit and retire. While all this was happening, Chilton and Ericsson were in a fight of their own for grid positions.

For the Sahara Force India drivers, it was a pretty straightforward race, with little action to keep them on their toes, for most part of the race. Both drove a clean race, without any incidents until, towards the end of the race, when Kvyat was all over Perez, while Hulkenberg was all over Kvyat. Perez was always inside the top 10, while Hulkenberg was in and out of the points; in fact, he was fighting for the last point scoring position with Kvyat in the end.

Ricciardo wins, Rosberg greeted with boos

Ricciardo, was comfortably ahead in the end to win his third race of the season and second in succession. Rosberg, made the gamble of pitting and pushing for the win, but the gap was too much and thus, he ended at P2. He was greeted with the special “boos” on the podium; the tussle didn’t go well with the fans. Bottas, continued the impressive run for Williams, to finish P3, after overtaking Raikkonen, towards the end of the race.

It was a mighty close scrap for the lower half of the top 10, it was won by Vettel (P5), after he overtook Magnessun, Button (P6) and Alonso (P7). Magnessun, was handed a 20 second penalty which dropped him from P6 to P12 and promoted Button, Alonso, Perez, Kvyat and Hulkenberg. The race ended with only Perez in points, but it soon became a double point finish for Sahara Force India; Perez finished at P8 and Hulkenberg at P10. It was a close fight between Perez, Kvyat and Hulkenberg; the German was in a good position, to not only overtake Kvyat, but also Perez, if only there was a lap or two remaining, in the race.

On to Monza

Rosberg has managed to stretch the gap to 29 points, after Hamilton failed to finish the race and score any points. The rivalry took an ugly turn and surely has caused a strain on their relationship. This fight, is giving Ricciardo a good outside chance to challenge for the championship; if things continue to go this way, then the Australian could be the one to challenge Rosberg and not Hamilton. The Ferrari and Williams fight, too is taking a good shape, especially, with Raikkonen scoring points again but Bottas’ good run of podium finishes, is keeping them well, in contention for P3. McLaren, moved ahead of Sahara Force India in the championship, both are evenly matching each other on race pace and the fight is certainly on, once again this season. SFI broke into the, 100 points bracket in the 12th race itself (the only time they scored more than 100 points in a season was in 2012 when they scored 109 points); this shows that the team is constantly improving year after year.

It will be interesting, to see where this, Hamilton and Rosberg rivalry goes, and how Ricciardo fits in the battle. Apart from this driver battle, the team battle in the constructors’ championship, is heating up too for P3-P6 positions, the pack now moves to Monza which is the last race of the European leg, see you in two weeks time.

Thank you
]]>
<![CDATA[Hungarian GP, Budapest: Fitting finale to the first half]]>Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:14:27 GMThttp://www.autoindiasports.com/darshans-corner/hungarian-gp-budapest-fitting-finale-to-the-first-halfReckon Bernie’s idea of sprinkling the track with a splash of water may not be that bad; a shower of rain before the race made life tougher for the drivers and team during the start of the race. It was yet another spectacular driving from the drivers in Hungary which saw for the second time a non-Mercedes win and who got the win? Yes, it was indeed the “smiling assassin” Daniel Ricciardo; he is the only driver other than Mercedes duo to win race this season. Full review of the weekend below:

Practice Sessions, FP1/FP2/FP3:

The whole F1 circuit had moved to Budapest, Hungary for Round 11 of the season in the back to back weekend Grand Prix's; the last race weekend before the summer break for the teams and drivers. It seemed the weather followed the F1 people to Hungary as the temperatures were high again. And it was once again Mercedes taking charge with Hungary specialist Hamilton taking a 3-0 lead in the FP’s. There was a change with the leaders behind the Mercedes as Red Bull and Ferrari stepped ahead of Williams, SFI & McLaren. The battle was tight in the midfield as almost everyone suffered grip issues which caused a lot of understeer and oversteer problems for the drivers; a lot of them had off moments during the sessions.

For quite sometime it has been evident that SFI are not upto the mark with their one lap pace but then they are pretty much at par with the likes of Red Bull and Williams in the race pace. It is very difficult to come to a conclusion to say that, not having that one lap pace would hurt the team because they have been scoring points in every race; a lot depends on the characteristics of the track and the weather on race day as well. The statistics of the season suggests that the team is doing fairly well even with the limiting factor. The positions for both Hulkenberg and Perez during the FP’s didn’t look overly the best but they were still aiming to get both cars into the top 10. Both ran a lot of laps on Friday as well as Saturday and the longs runs were looking mighty good. They suffered only a small glitch on Saturday when Hulkenberg’s car had a hydraulic leak in the FP3 session but it was rectified by the start of qualifying session.
Picture
Huge shunt for Perez hitting the wall; he was unhurt
(image: twitter.com)
Qualifying, Q1/Q2/Q3:

After having taken a 3-0 lead, Hamilton wanted to maintain the fire within him to push for 4-0 and then 5-0 this weekend; the Brit’s car took things a bit literally with the fire as the bad luck streak for Hamilton continued when he was out in Q1 due to fire at the back of his car. Rosberg then went on to clinch pole without any issues; although Vettel was looking strong, he had to settle with a P2 and the man with all the good luck, Bottas qualified a fine P3. Another man to fall out behind was Raikkonen, bumped out by Bianchi as the former’s team took a risk to not go out on soft tyres in Q1 proving to be a fatal mistake for the already struggling Finn.

The SFI team gave a scare when Hulkenberg was on the cusp of being pushed out in Q1 itself, the German was able to push on his final lap to move ahead in the safe zone as we saw Bianchi bumping out Raikkonen. Hulkenberg went on to Q3, he could have lost the position had Kvyat not spun on his improving lap. The German driver thus qualified P9 after running seven laps on one set of tyres in Q3. His teammate Perez made it to Q2 without much trouble on his soft tyre run; he did a decent one lap at the start of Q2 but he then had to park the car because of hydraulic leak in his car (the same as Hulkenberg), which meant he had to content with P13 (he moved up to P12 after Magnessun’s penalty).
Picture
Hulkenberg suffered his first DNF in 22 races; ended his & SFI's 10 point scoring run
(image: autosport.com)
Race:

Guess what, the weather prediction for Hungary was same as what it was for Germany last weekend. The only difference this weekend was that the rain did make it presence felt; just about 45-50 minutes before the race, it rained heavily in Hungary leaving the track wet in patches. It was enough rain for the teams to start on the inter-mediate tyres; Robserg made a clean start to lead the Grand Prix with Bottas making a move on Vettel to move ahead of him while Alonso moved up to P4. Hulkenberg and Perez both made places as they were P5 and P8 after the end of the first lap while Ricciardo lost a lot of places. It was interesting to see that in those damp conditions everyone was safe for the starting few laps at least.

Things started to take a different shape when the first SC came out due to Ericsson’s accident; the biggest losers were the top 4 as they had crossed the finish line when the SC came out which meant they had to do a lap behind the SC and then go for a pit stop while others made their stop right when the SC was out. As it went back to racing, it was chaos naturally as Ricciardo lead the race with Massa and Alonso behind when both Button and Magnuseun lost out due to a wrong strategic call. Vergne was holding Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton who had fought his way up to the points and firmed his position there. Post the second SC period, the lead changed between Alonso – Hamilton – Ricciardo and Alonso finally to go towards the end stages of the race. Vettel lost out to the pack after his dramatic spin and was fighting with Bottas and Raikkonen for grid positions in lower half of top 10. Meanwhile at the back, Button and Sutil were having a fight of their own for the last remaining point.

Both the SFI drivers got a good and safe start but after the first SC period in the chaos, Hulkenberg lost places and was behind his teammate. Ultimately, Hulkenberg crashed out of the race when he tried a move on his teammate where he lost his front wing going wide into the last turn. The German later on admitted his mistake and duly apologized to Perez. The sole remaining SFI didn’t last longer as Perez suffered a huge crash at the start finish straight; after hitting the kerb in the last corner, he lost control and hit the wall, thankfully he was safe after that heavy shunt. That pretty much ended SFI's run in the Grand Prix.

The fight for the GP victory got intensified in the last 10 laps of the race when both Hamilton and Ricciardo caught Alonso; Ricciardo having a new set of tyres was easily the best driver to attack in those circumstances and he beautifully executed the two moves required at that stage for him to win his second GP of the season. Ironically, both his victories have come after him taking the lead with three laps to go. Alonso held on to P2 which meant that Ferrari regained its P3 position in the championship from Williams, while Hamilton was relieved to finish on podium after a pitlane start. More importantly he kept his charging teammate behind at P4 who was catching the lead pack with 2-3 seconds per lap. Vettel fended off the Bottas pressure to end P7 while Button managed to held on to P10 from Sutil, the Sauber driver was just 0.9s shy of scoring points for the first time this season.

That marked an end to the first half of the season; the back to back GP’s provided for a great ending to the first half indeed. Rosberg still leads Hamilton in the championship which seems like will go right down to Abu Dhabi and the double points might just be the deciding factor. The constructor championship is still open for the likes of Ferrari, Williams, SFI and McLaren who are in a big fight for P3 position. This was SFI’s first double retirement this season and it came after 28 races; the last time they had a double DNF was in Malaysia 2013. This was also the first DNF for Hulkenberg this season and his first DNF after 22 race finishes; unfortunately the point scoring run for the team ended as well; the ten consecutive point scoring run becomes a record for the team.

Now it is the time for holiday for the team after a tough 11 races in the first half; the break will see a 2 weeks mandatory shutdown for all the teams. The next race will happen in Belgium which is roughly 3 weeks and 3 days from now, until then stay safe everyone.

Thank you for reading
]]>