Australian GP – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The 2015 Formula One season has begun, and it looks like it might be a great season. Hamilton took the win, continuing on from where he left off in 2014. Mercedes look like they will again be the ones to beat, with Ferrari and Williams fighting for the best of the rest. Sauber has shown immense progress from last year, while McLaren have fallen to the bottom of the pack. So, what was good, what was bad and what was down right ugly on the first race weekend of 2015.

The Good

Ferrari and Sauber car improvements – Both Ferrari and Sauber have shown huge improvements in the first race of the season. Ferrari only had one podium last year, a third from Alonso in China, and finished behind a resurgent 2014 Williams in the constructors. In Melbourne Ferrari were running with both cars in the points, with Vettel taking third, his first podium since 2013. Sauber were even more a surprise. Failing to score a single point in 2014 Sauber has already scored 14 points with a 5th for Nasr and 8th for Ericsson.

Mercedes dominance continues – While for many the dominance of one team is a negative, as a Hamilton and Mercedes fan it is a perfect result. While I want another season of Mercedes victories, it would be good for another team to push them to the limit.

The Bad

Small finishing field – Before the race weekend 20 cars were meant to compete. After qualifying this went down to 18 cars after Manor were unable to qualify due to software issues. It was then revealed that Bottas would be unable to race due to a back injury sustained in qualifying, bringing us to 17 drivers. On the way to the grid we lost Magnussen and Kvyat. Magnussen had an engine failure, while Kyvat suffered a gear issue. This meant the race started with only 15 drivers. We lost two more drivers in the first lap, with both Lotus drivers finding themselves back in the garage. Maldonado was hit from behind and ending up in the wall, while Grosjean had an engine issue forcing his retirement. The race settled down, and it was in the last half we lost the final two drivers. Verstappen had his debut cut short after his engine died. Raikkonen had pit stop issues, and his second pit stop left him with a loose tire and an investigation into an unsafe release. In the end we only had 11 finishers.

Top teams falling behind – McLaren and Red Bull found themselves under performing, and being behind their 2014 pace. McLaren were the biggest losers. Qualifying in 17th and 18th, Magnussen was unable to even start the race, while Button ended up being the only non points finisher. Red Bull fared better than McLaren, but still struggled. Kyvat didn’t make it to the grid, thanks to gear issues. Ricciardo managed 6th, but struggled with drivibility. Renault have a lot of work ahead of them. Both McLaren and Red Bull are former champions, and are way out of their comfort zones.

The Ugly

Sauber’s legal troubles – The start of the season was almost overshadowed by the legal issues at Sauber. The problem seems to be that Sauber have too many drivers, and not enough cars. In 2014 Van Der Garde was contracted to the team as a test driver, with a clause with a race seat for 2015. Sauber then signed Ericsson and Nasr, leaving Van Der Garde in the lurch. In the build up to the season Sauber were taken to court by Van Der Garde, who ultimately won. However, Sauber were not playing ball and after threats of contempt of court, a very awkward press conference for Kaltenborn and the threat of jail, Van Der Garde and Sauber settled. It did not get him the race seat, and the issue is not yet settled. The saga continues on to Malaysia.

Advertisements

My 2014 driver review

So the 2014 season is over. All in all it was a good season, with a good fight for the championship and the best driver (in my opinion) winning. Here is my overview of the drivers of 2014:

Mercedes

Hamilton is the driver of the season. He came from behind in the points and won 11 races in the season to take the title. Many people thought he had made a huge mistake moving from McLaren to the then underperforming Mercedes, but it seems to have been the thing he needed to reignite his career.

Rosberg showed his talent this season. Before he drive for Mercedes there was a feeling that Rosberg was a number 2 driver. Dependable, could win some races, but not a great. This season has shown that he could win a championship, and if Mercedes continue dominating his time may come. While he made some silly rookie style mistakes, he has shown he has the ability to win a title.

Red Bull

Vettel has been a disappointment this season. After dominating for sport for 4 years, this year was his time to show he was a great driver, not just an ok driver in a great car. Unfortunately this was not the case. He struggled all season, standing on the podium 3 times and recording his worst finish since he joined Red Bull. Perhaps the move to Ferrari will be the change he needs, but this year is one to forget.

Ricciardo has been the surprise of the season. After 2 years at Torro Rosso, recording ok results, he took the place of fellow Aussie Webber. Ricciardo’s 2nd place in the Australian GP (even if he was disqualified on a technicality later) got people talking. It was Ricciardo that was always there to pounce if Mercedes fell to pieces. In Canada he took his first win, and finished the season with 3 wins to his name. There is more to come from this ever smiling Aussie, and it should be only good from now on!

Williams

Bottas has been quietly why he was given such backing from Sir Frank Williams. With some solid point’s performances at the start of the season, he finished on the podium in a third of the races and only finished out of the point once. It can’t be long before he gets his first win, especially with Williams back with the frontrunners.

Massa took a step back down the grid this year. Leaving Ferrari after 8 years he joined Williams, and while he didn’t enjoy the same results as his team mate he had a more successful year that expected. This including finishing ahead of his Ferrari replacement in the standings and being back on the podium at his home grand prix in Sao Paolo. Massa has more to give, and hopeful his Williams can help him deliver.

Ferrai

Alonso had somewhat a season to forget, on and off the track. With only 2 top 3 finishes Alonso had his worst season with the team in red. Add to this his issues with management and his desire to win more titles, Alonso has moved away from Ferrari (his future undecided at this point). It is likely he will go to McLaren, but will they be able to deliver where Ferrari have not.

Raikkonen was invisible this season. He rejoined the Italian team from Lotus, and his results have slipped. He recorded no podiums, and finished the season in 12th place. Ferrari have put their trust in him, and perhaps the iceman will improve now that he is used to the new cars. However, from this season, I wouldn’t hold my breath for good results.

McLaren

Button may have raced his final race in Abu Dhabi, but he had a good year with a difficult car. McLaren again struggled in 2014, and Button worked hard to get the best out of the car, something made even harder for him with the loss of his father. Unfortunately it may not have been enough. He only had one top 3 finish, and that was through another drivers disqualification. If this is the last we have seen of Button in F1 it would be a huge loss. 2014 was not the season for Button, but he showed why he is a World Champion.

Magnussen made a strong rookie season. The first half of the season saw some great results, he finished second in his first race. However by the end of the season he seemed to fade into the background. It remains to be seen if he will be back next season, but one season is not enough to see his talent. Especially in a season of such big technical changes, where even experienced drivers struggled.

Force India

Perez has a reputation in Formula One. He is seen as reckless, and to some dangerous. I disagree, and feel that many examples of his dangerous driving is on others. Perez had a good year, and helped Force India to their second ever podium finish. It may take time before others see him in a better light, but his year was stong.

Hulkenberg was overlooked again at the start of the season due to money (also known as Maldonado). 2013 was seen as a great season for Hulkenberg, but it didn’t carry over for 2014. It was a quiet year, and Hulkenberg had some solid points finishes. Hopefully he will be more visible for the right reasons next year.

Torro Roso

Vergne was overlooked for the open Red Bull seat this season, and he has been given the boot from Torro Roso. After racing for the for 3 seasons he has gotten “too old” for the team, his own words. 2014 was his best season for the team, taking 13th place in the championship. It is a shame to see him go, and I hope he is replaced by someone deserving and with talent, rather than someone with money.

Kvyat has been a surprise this season. I was skeptical of him at first, given his youth and him coming straight from GP3. While he was beaten by his team mate over the season, he showed real pace, giving him the space left by Vettel at Red Bull. I hope it isn’t too much too soon for Kvyat, as he seems to be one for the future.

Lotus

Grosjean had a season to forget. After fighting for wins at the end of 2013 he found himself fighting for points in 2014. Grosjean had been improving after his issues in his rookie season, and hopefully Lotus can get him back to the front where his talent and speed belongs.

Maldonado joined Lotus after an acrimonious split with Williams, which included accusations of sabotage. Unfortunately the move did not put him nearer the front, but rather left him where he had been on the grid. He was again causing crashes, and only scored 2 points in the 3rd to last race of the season.

Marussia

Bianchi is difficult to review. The thoughts and prayers of all in F1 are with him as he continues to fight. The news that he is now in France and breathing unaided is wonderful, but there is still a long way for him to go. 2014 saw him win his first points, taking 9th in Monaco, showing the world why he was in the Ferrari drivers program and that he was one to watch for the future. Now we hope and pray that his survives his new fight.

Chilton had a rough season. He ended his consecutive finishing streak by crashing into his team mate in Canada, he lost and then regained his seat in Belgium, he struggled on as his team mate and friend was injured, and then lost his seat completely as Marussia went into administration and then folded completely. It is sad to see a career potentially end like this, but who knows what 2015 might bring for Chilton. Hopefully it is just better than this year

Sauber

Sutil had his worst season in 2014. After swapping seat with Hulkenberg, and a good 2013 for Sauber, Sutil found himself struggling at the back of the grid. He failed to score any points in 2014, and has lost his seat, although this is up for debate at this time. His season was unremarkable.

Guttierez had a worse season than Sutil, again failing to score points. He was also on the receiving end of a few Maldonado moments too. Like Sutil, Guttierez has lost his seat for 2015, but seems to be leaving with a little more dignity.

Catherham

Kobayashi is a fan favourite. So much so that his 2014 season was part funded by fans (perhaps this was where Catherham got their crowd funding idea from). He lost his seat in Belgium, and talked of the team mysteriously retiring him in Russia. It remains to be seen if he will be back next year, but I think many would like to see him on the grid again.

Ericsson had a quiet year for a rookie. He tended to be at the back, and was pretty much invisible. When Catherham were in administration he took the initiative and found himself a new team, signing for Sauber for 2015. Hopefully he will be a bit more visible than this season, for the right reasons of course.

Lotterer and Stevens only took part in one race each, and to be honest they didn’t make much of an impact. Lotterer retired and Stevens managed 17th. Who knows if we will see them next year, but there isn’t much else to say about them.

Formula One is in trouble

I love Formula One. I think the fact that I blog about it, in two ways, that I have my own point system and base my weekends around races are only a few examples of my love for it. However, the sport that I love is making me angry. Formula One is in trouble, and instead of coming together as one (as we know it can) it is splintering.

Formula One has always been an expensive sport, there is no question about this. There have always been team that haven’t made it due to financial issues, but this year it seems to be a much bigger issue. Both Catherham and Marussia have recently gone into adminstration, and last ditch attempts to gain funding were made. Marussia didn’t make it and on November 8th 2014 they ceased funding, the team was gone. Catherham are still trying, and have turned to crowdfunding to attempt to stay in the sport (https://www.crowdcube.com/caterham/). As of writing (1pm German time, 9/11/2014) they have raised £1,056,752, 44% of their target of £2,350,000.

What is insane is that the amount of money they are asking for is nothing for some of the teams. Ferrari got £204.3million in prize money last year, and £90million of that is just due to being in the sport for so long (and some secret contracts with Ecclestone). Last year Marussia got £10million.

This distribution of money is unfair, and it creates a situation in which the teams towards the back of the grid are always going to struggle, as they just don’t have the resources needed to improve enough. But it is not this that makes me angry, it is the responses of these issues by the top people in the sport that makes me angry.

Christian Horner as come out saying that the struggling teams should stop hurting F1’s reputation by not talking about these financial issues in public. The problem is, these teams have brought up these issues in private. They have been like swans, all calm above the water but paddling like crazy underneath. In my opinion, the reputation of F1 is hurt by the big teams being so dismissive of the issues, such as Horner. Horner is team principle of a team wasn’t always at the top, and he should understand that amount of money and man power involved in getting to the top. I find the way that the big teams siphon off money, and their high expectations ridiculous. The distribution is such that the winners don’t get the top amount, and it is all about power rather than ability.

Sauber, Lotus and Force India are now the back markers, and they are all struggling for money. Both Lotus and Sauber have to rely on pay drivers, with Sauber currently in a spot of bother with their driver contracts.

Ecclestone and CVC have sort of said there is enough money to help the teams at the back, but that was before to complete loss of Marussia. Since they went under there has been no word on this money. Now Bernie claims that F1 is not in crisis, just a couple of teams. Well without teams there is no F1.

We know F1 can come together, we saw it in Japan. I guess when it is about money, who cares if other teams die, as long as you have enough. Many people may feel that backmarkers are pointless, but they keep the grid full and the sport running. How long until F1 realises that it has a real problem, and when will they do something about it. Formula One needs to come into the present day, and perhaps the changes need to help can only happen once Ecclestone steps down. I believe he has done all he can to help F1 and he now is bringing it down.

Canada GP preview

Hello! 8 Engine Rule is back in business! Apologies for the lack of posts, I have been pretty busy! I am now done with my degree so have a bit more time on my hands, so look out for lots more posts. Now onwards with the preview of Canada!

Laps 70
Circuit length 4.361 km (2.709 mi)
Race length 305.270 km (189.694 mi)
Number of times held 50
First held 1961
Most wins (drivers) Germany Michael Schumacher (7)
Most wins (constructors) Ferrari (13) McLaren (13)

Following on from the controversy in Monaco, F1 jumps across the pond to Montreal. Canada is always one of the most exciting races on the calendar, and I don’t think this year will be very different. I predict that it will be Mercedes that are at the front, but who knows which driver! It will be interesting to see if any of the other teams have been able to catch up in the last two weeks. It is sure to be a great race.

Ayrton Senna 1960-1994


May 1st 1994 Ayrton Senna died at Imola during the San Marino Grand Prix. Today marks 20 years since his death. It is today that the F1 world hangs their heads in sorrow as they remember the life of a great driving talent who was taken too soon. While we look upon this event in sorrow, Senna’s legacy is such that his death was the last driver death in F1, creating a moment of realisation that safety is paramount. Now drivers are able to walk away from horrific accidents with their lives, such as Guttierez in Bahrain 2014, Massa in Hungary 2008, Kubica in Canada 2007 and more. Senna made an impact in his life and in his death. As we remember him today, we feel sadness, yet take satisfaction that his short life has meant that changes took place to keep more alive. He was an inspiration to drivers in their dream of F1, and inspiration to those wanting to keep those drivers here. RIP Ayrton Senna 1960-1994.

Are you missing me?

I have been a terrible F1 blogger! I haven’t posted about any races, or any news since testing. There is a good reason, and that is that I am gearing up towards finishing my university degree. So, it is important!

I promise to be back with regular posts soon, and maybe some information from my dissertation, which is all about F1!

2014 cars are here…

There has been a flurry of action this last week or so, and we are starting to see images of the new cars, along with new drivers. There are some interesting interpretations of the new regulations, especially when it comes to the nose. What do you think of the cars?

Here are the new cars (post will be updated with each car launch):

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen

Lotus
Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado

McLaren
Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez

Sauber
Adrian Sutil and Esteban Guttierez

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Kvyat

Williams
Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas

Marussia
Jules Bianci and Max Chilton

Catherham
Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson

Pre-Season testing – Jerez day two

Day two of testing started off wet, so Pirelli brought forward their proposed “wet day” from Friday to today for the teams to test the new wet weather tyres.

Today saw the Mercedes powered cars completing 212 laps, with Nico Rosberg doing 97 of those on his own and McLaren taking the fastest time via Button. The Renult powered cars seemed to have a lot of issues today, with Red Bull struggling the most with only 8 laps completed and the slowest time set. While it is probably to early to start basing predictions on the lap times, it is plain to see that Mercedes, and those with the Mercedes engine, seem to be the strongest at this point.

Lap times

1. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1:24.165, 43 laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:24.812, 47 laps
3. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1:25.344, 35 laps
4. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:25.588, 97 laps
5. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:28.376 , 37 laps
6. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1:33.270, 53 laps
7. Marcus Ericsson (Caterham) 1:37.975, 11 laps
8. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1:38.320, 8 laps

Pre-season testing – Jerez day one

The build up to the 2014 is well underway, with car launches almost complete and testing having begun. Today saw the start of the first test in Jerez, and it was clear that the new regulations have shaken a few teams.

One of the main talking points of the tests are the new look cars, with teams taking some very different approaches to the new rules regarding the nose. Some teams have found themselves being the butt of the jokes, most noticeably the Force India, the Caterham and the Toro Rosso. The Mercedes team were crowned by many as the best looking car of the season, although we are yet to see the Marussia and I am sure there will be several upgrades and changes to the cars throughout the season as teams look to find the best interpretation of the rules.

So how did the teams do today:

Red Bull

Red Bull launched their car this morning, with Ricciardo and Vettel both on hand to pull off the covers. It was a subdued day for the current champions as they had issues with their car. When the car was finally ready Vettel was able to do about 3 laps without setting a timed lap. It will be interesting how the car is tomorrow as Newey speaks out at the new regulations

Mercedes

Mercedes also launched their car today, and many were quick to call it the best looking car on the grid and I agree. The team also seem to have got to grips with the car as they were the only team to go out on the track at the start of the testing session, and the first to set a timed lap. Unfortunately, the Mercedes program was cut short after the front wing failed and Hamilton went into the barriers. He still finished second fastest of the day with a time of 1m27.820

Ferrari

The Ferrari was launched last week, and today saw the return of Raikkonen in the red racesuit. After a morning of installation laps the Ferrari started setting times, and ended up finishing the day with the most laps and the fastest timed lap of the day with a time of 1m27.104

Lotus

Lotus were not at Jerez, as they decided to start their pre-season in Bahrain next month.

McLaren

McLaren had a bad day. They were unable to complete any laps due to not being able to start the engine. They hope to be up and running tomorrow.

Force India

Force India had released images of their car already, but revealed it in the flesh today. It is fair to say that they, along with another team, are the butt of the nose jokes. They were able to get some running in, with Perez taking the car out and setting a best time of 1m33.161

Sauber

Sauber were another who had released images of their car before testing, and seemed to have a quiet day. They had Gutierrez in the car, and completed a very small number of laps, and like Red Bull didn’t set a time.

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso launched their car today, and they join Force India in the nose jokes. With Vergne at the wheel they set the fifth, and slowest, time of the day, clocking 1m36.530. While they were slowest they were able to get a flying lap in, which is a lot more than many teams.

Williams

Williams had released images of their car before today, and they seemed to have a lack of sponsors when they eventually took to the track today. The team had reassured everyone that this is only their test livery, and will have a new livery for us all once we reach Melbourne. After a limited amount of laps Williams ended up the third fastest of the day with Bottas taking the car round, finishing with a time of 1m30.082

Marussia

Marussia should have been launching their car this morning, however they were still working away at their factory in England due to problems in the assembly of the car. However, it has been announced that they are on their way, and will be taking part in the test from Thursday.

Caterham

Caterham revealed their new car today, with a very different approach to the nose. They came out on the track late in the day, completing a handful of laps without setting a time.

Women in Formula One

I am a university student, I may have mentioned it before. For my final year dissertation I am looking at Women in Formula One, and I am interviewing other female fans on various topics about the sport. I recently interview Christine at Sidepodcast, who very kindly released the interview as a podcast. You can listen to it here: http://sidepodcast.com/post/sidepodchat-women-motorsport

I have also interview Sarah from the blog Jones on F1: http://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/, and next week I will be interviewing another Sarah from Pitstop Radio: http://www.pitstopradio.blogspot.co.uk/

If anyone else would like to be interviewed, or has any comments on the subject of Women in Formula One then use the comment below!