Posted on December 29, 2008


Formula 1 is setting itself up for a great on-track rivalry to match the classic Senna-Prost duel of the early 1990s. My good friend and colleague Pino Allievi is writing in La Gazetta dello Sport in Italy that Fernando Alonso has a four year contract with Ferrari starting 2011, but with clauses which allow that contract to be brought forward one year to 2010. This will bring Alonso into a head-to-head duel with his nemesis, Lewis Hamilton, with blood red Ferraris and Silver Arrows the weapons of choice. I have known Pino for almost 20 years and in that time More…

Posted on December 24, 2008


Apologies for the radio silence in the last week, a combination of a short holiday and a few technical problems while I was away. I’ve enjoyed this season of racing as much as any I can recall. There were many fantastic races and some strong performances. As always there are more drivers disappointed with their season than delighted but we had some breakthrough performances and a new elite has been established. Here is my choice for the Top ten of the year 1. Fernando Alonso – never gave up even when the Renault wasn’t working well. Always wrung the maximum More…

Posted on December 22, 2008


One of the enigmas of 2008 was the performance of Heikki Kovalainen. Hired by McLaren as a diplomatic team mate for Lewis Hamilton, he fitted in quickly and struck up an excellent rapport with the team, especially the boss Martin Whitmarsh. His contribution and team ethic surprised many people at McLaren and made them ask for more from Lewis. Heikki thinks of things many other drivers don’t think about, not for selfish reasons, like a Schumacher or a Senna, but trying to be helpful to the team. They love him. But in being unselfish he didn’t get the balance right More…

Posted on December 12, 2008


Today could turn out to be a day, which will stand out in the history books of Formula 1. At the FIA World Council meeting in Monaco some huge decisions will be taken, which reflect a sea change in attitude within the F1 teams compared to recent years and which will herald the start of a move towards a totally new F1 concept, certainly as far as engines are concerned. Following the surprise withdrawal of Honda a week ago, a fresh mood of realism has finally crept in and the remaining nine teams met with FIA president Max Mosley on More…

Posted on December 10, 2008


Just arrived in a rainy and chilly Monaco for what will be a momentous couple of days for the sport. It’s weirdly appropriate that this humbling of F1, the death knell of the era of decadence and excess, should happen in Monaco, which has long symbolised the wealth and glamour, with which F1 is synonymous. This will be a strange journey for all of us, coming to terms with the new ‘austerity F1′, but here are a few notes at this early stage.

Posted on December 9, 2008


Jenson Button was out on Sunday night at the Autosport Awards. He tried to look relaxed about his predicament, but it was not easy and there was a fair bit of sympathy around the room for him. He renewed his contract with the Honda team in October and must now wait anxiously to see whether the team will be sold in time to take its place on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix on March 29th 2009, whether the new owner will want him in the car or whether another team offers him a ride. It is another setback More…

Posted on December 8, 2008


At the Autosport Awards last night, otherwise known as the Oscars of motorsport, Martin Brundle and I were presented with an award for our commentary on the final laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix, the “Moment of the year”. It was a great honour, made all the more special because they chose Murray to present it to us. They played the video of the final few corners on the big screen and my heart was thumping in my chest all over again – it really was the most extraordinary moment of sport. I’m absolutely delighted with this gong as it More…

Posted on December 6, 2008


Today’s papers are full of the story of Honda’s withdrawal from F1 and the efforts to sell the team and save some of the 670 jobs at Brackley. It’s just a number, like the figure Woolworths and Citibank are shedding. But, as Jenson Button highlighted in his statement yesterday, there are real people behind these numbers, people he feels very close to. Although this is potentially a disaster for Button’s career, he has a huge amount of money in the bank and will be alright. The same is true of Ross Brawn. But the rest of the team are not More…

Posted on December 5, 2008


Amazing day today. Been flat out writing about the Honda withdrawal and where it leaves F1. Took part in the Max Mosley teleconference this afternoon and spoke to many figures within the sport. The main points I’ve come across are these: Honda is very serious about selling the team but it will be a streamlined outfit they sell, with no more than 200 employees ( current figure is over 650) and capable of running on £40-50 million per year (current figure more like three times that) There is no engine supply in the package because next year F1 moves to More…

Posted on December 4, 2008


Honda announced this morning that it is withdrawing from Formula 1. It is putting its team up for sale and will continue to fund the team for three months, but if no buyer is found by March then the team will be closed down. There is a sense of shock in Japan about this. Apparently there have been rumours out there during the last week that Toyota was building up to make an announcement of this kind, but not Honda. All eyes are now on Toyota to see what their next move will be. Honda president Fukui made the announcement More…

Posted on December 3, 2008


Big day tomorrow – December 4th, the meeting in Geneva of the 10 F1 team principals to finalise their proposals to the FIA World Council, which will sit on December 12th to decide on some major changes to Formula 1 for the future. I know what you are thinking, it’s all a bit of a blur this; we haven’t had a chance to fully absorb the massive changes for 2009 yet and already we are potentially about to get a load of even more radical changes pushed onto us, like gold medals deciding championships, another overhaul of qualifying and maybe More…

Posted on December 1, 2008


There have been some very positive noises coming out of Munich recently to the effect that BMW has set its goal for 2009 as nothing less than fighting for the world championship. No big deal, I hear you say, teams always come out with that kind of talk. Well not BMW. Mario Theissen’s team has always been meticulous in setting targets that it believes it can hit. If you read my Theissen interview elsewhere on this site you’ll get more background insight into the way the man thinks. He’s a company man, one who has come up through the ranks More…

Posted on November 30, 2008


I read a fascinating article this weekend by a writer called Malcolm Gladwell, whose new book “The story of success” looks at what creates success in many walks of life. He describes some studies by psychologists into music students and concludes that however much talent someone has at something, what makes the difference between them becoming a stand out or an also ran is practice and opportunity. Amazingly the studies couldn’t find any “naturals” – people whose natural ability allowed them to be better than the rest on a fraction of the practice. It’s talent and practice which make a More…

Posted on November 28, 2008


With all the fuss about medals, you might not have paid much attention to the story of the three young Italian drivers, who got to test a Ferrari F1 car at Fiorano this week. But digging into what happened, it seems the test was a minor revelation. The top three finishers in the Italian F3 championship were invited to drive Kimi Raikkonen’s 2008 car on Wednesday and the guy who won the F3 championship, 18 year old Mirko Bortolotti, went two tenths under the lap record for that car at Fiorano, setting a 59.111s lap. Now this needs qualifying; the More…

Posted on November 27, 2008


The discussion about the medals system potentially coming into F1 has set fans buzzing again, since Bernie Ecclestone stated, “It will happen, ” on Wednesday. We’ve had lots of intelligent and insightful feedback on this and I have to say that the antis outweigh the pros so far. I also noted Eddie Jordan’s comments, where he laid into the plan and virtually accused Bernie of being out of touch. This is clearly a foretaste of the kind of comment we can expect from dear old Eddie when he is unleashed as a pundit on BBC next year…what would he have More…

Posted on November 26, 2008


Just back from a press conference at the Landmark Hotel, London, where Bernie Ecclestone said more about the proposed “medals” scheme in F1 and announced that LG the consumer electronics group, will sponsor F1 next year. You as viewers will be very aware of this deal as you watch, because the timing graphics, which appear on screen every 20 seconds of so will be LG branded. I think they will also sponsor the rev counter graphic you see on screen. They will develop F1 branded telies and other products off the back of the deal. The deal was put together More…

Posted on November 26, 2008


One of the most dramatic moments in my F1 broadcasting career was the end of the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002, when Rubens Barrichello, having dominated qualifying and the race on Michael Schumacher’s bogey track, was ordered to move over on the final lap to let Schumacher win the race. This was the event which brought in the rule we have today; no team orders allowed. I called that race with Mark Blundell and we had discussed throughout the closing stages whether Ferrari would switch the cars. He said they would, I said they couldn’t. But they could and they More…

Posted on November 25, 2008


I’ve had a peach of a comment from AK, in response to the posting yesterday about the new BBC team. He says: “I’ve just been pointed here by someone who said “I know none of us like James Allen as a commentator, but check this blog out anyway”. It’s won over a large number of people who would have clicked it with the mindset “let’s all laugh at the guy crying over his P45″ and the unanimous opinion is that we all like your writing a lot and are looking forward to you having more time for it – and More…

Posted on November 24, 2008


The new presentation team, which will bring Formula 1 to UK audiences on the BBC for the next five years was announced today. Jake Humphrey, who hosted some of the Olympics coverage on BBC this summer, will host the programme. David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan will stand alongside him as pundits. Radio 5 Live’s football correspondent Jonathan Ledgard will commentate with Martin Brundle, while Ted Kravitz patrols the pit lane along with Lee Mackenzie, who despite her name, is a woman, with extensive A1 GP and GP2 experience. I wish them all well and hope that they can keep all More…

Posted on November 22, 2008


I was shocked to hear about Mark Webber’s savage accident today. On a fast descent on his bicycle, he collided head on with a 4WD vehicle while competing in his Tasmania Challenge. It sounds like a really nasty shunt and it left his right leg badly broken. He has had surgery to repair it, a metal pin inserted and it will be a lengthy rehabilitation. It’s probably along the lines of the surgery Barry Sheene had and although there is no bright side to an accident like this, it’s probably just very fortunate that it was not his left leg, More…

Posted on November 21, 2008


Poignant night at the ITV farewell party yesterday. It was held at the Langley in London’s Covent Garden and pretty much everyone who has worked on the programmes over the past 12 years was there, even some who only worked on that first, 1997 season, which seems like a different lifetime.. Neil Duncanson, the boss of the North One Production company, read out his diary from that first year with many great stories I had forgotten, like the first Monaco GP where the show was presented from a boat and the water got really choppy, so Simon Taylor had to More…

Posted on November 20, 2008


Life moves on. The story changes. UK papers pulled out of their tailspin over the recession and banking crisis once Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, Barack Obama and John Sargent gave them something else to write about and this week’s test at Barcelona has moved the F1 agenda on from memories of the dramatic finale in Sao Paulo. F1 is reinventing itself again and focussed on 2009. Revolution is the air, with radically different looking cars and technologies and some amazing ideas for spicing up the show, which take F1 away from much it has held dear for some time More…

Posted on November 20, 2008


There has been a lot of chat this week about Bernie Ecclestone’s idea of handing out gold medals to race winners and awarding the world championship to the man with the most at season’s end. This is one of a number of ideas which will be discussed at the FIA World Council meeting on December 12th. The Formula One Teams Association has been working hard on dreaming up ideas for improving the show as well and Flavio Briatore has a plan for knockout qualifying, which seems to be gathering some momentum. The idea is simple, instead of dividing qualifying up More…

Posted on November 12, 2008


Williams picked up their first winners’ trophy in a while on Sunday, emerging victorious in the annual F1 mechanics’ football tournament at Milton Keynes. The event is organised by Grant Mundy, who is number one mechanic on David Coulthard’s car at Red Bull. A full compliment of sixteen teams representing most of the grid, took part in the event. Grant’s RBR team has been the one to beat in recent times, but this year the final featured two great F1 institutions, Williams and McLaren in a head to head. The weather was atrocious by the time the final kicked off, More…

Posted on November 10, 2008


The news that Force India has established a five year technical collaboration with McLaren and Mercedes comes as no surprise, indeed both sides have been talking about it for some months now. But it is quite a significant move for several reasons. It marks the first time that Mercedes has supplied a second team with engines. They’ve considered it many times, but never actually gone through with it. Meanwhile Ferrari has had a very nice little business going for years supplying Toro Rosso, before that Red Bull, Spyker, Prost, Sauber. And that was in the good old days when they More…

Posted on November 9, 2008


I note that at the recent Mercedes Stars and Cars bash in Stuttgart Lewis Hamilton alluded to a visit he received from his former team mate Fernando Alonso shortly after the race in Sao Paulo last week. The Spaniard came to offer him his congratulations on winning the world title and Hamilton says that Alonso even went so far as to hug him. By chance I was walking down the paddock ten yards behind Alonso as he left the Renault garage area in the open part of the paddock, heading down towards the tight, narrow warren which houses the ‘midfield’ More…

Posted on November 6, 2008


The FIA World Motor Sport Council made some important changes yesterday to the way stewards decisions are reached and explained to the public. This year, like previous years there were some big calls by the stewards which had an effect on the outcome of the world championship; I’m thinking in particular of the penalty Lewis Hamilton got in Spa and the one Sebastien Bourdais received in for colliding with Felipe Massa in Fuji. One of the problems with these decisions is that they were not fully explained to the public and so many people arrived at the conclusion that there More…

Posted on November 5, 2008


I talked a lot about luck during the broadcast on Sunday. Luck always has a role to play in big sporting events; the rub of the green, the ball hitting the crossbar, the engine failing three laps from the end. When the hard work has been done and the results are what they are to that point, a final race will often come down to a question of luck and so it proved on Sunday, with the rain showers, Glock’s gamble on dry tyres, which almost paid off and almost handed the title to Massa. Then the crucial piece of More…

Posted on November 4, 2008


Back in the UK after the long BA flight from Sao Paulo. It was very quiet on the plane as almost everyone had a hangover and had had little or no sleep. The two parties were the big one thrown by Red Bull at a place called the Mausoleum and a McLaren celebratory bash, near the Hilton in Morumbi. There were probably 3,000 people at the Red Bull do, most of the paddock plus a lot of Brazilian lovelies. It’s what you expect F1 to be like, but the truth is that only really Red Bull has brought that kind More…

Posted on November 3, 2008


Spare a thought for Felipe Massa. The Brazilian did everything he needed to at Interlagos, he won the race from pole position and as he crossed the line, Lewis Hamilton was in 6th place, needing fifth to take the title. Massa had 38 seconds lead over Hamilton. He was world champion elect. But on that final lap, Timo Glock was struggling on dry tyres and the rain began falling harder, just as McLaren expected it to. Their weatherman was under real pressure from the pit wall as he had predicted a heavy downpour and McLaren had instructed Hamilton to let More…

Posted on November 3, 2008


This year’s world championship has featured some extraordinary races and great drama. The endings of the races at Spa and Interlagos were among the most dramatic ever and the standard of the driving from Massa and Hamilton has been very high. But both have had error strewn campaigns. If you imagine what would have happened this year had Michael Schumacher been driving the Ferrari or Fernando Alonso the McLaren, you realise that the title would have been wrapped up comfortably by either man against the two title contenders we actually had. Of course Schumacher would not have been able to More…

Posted on October 31, 2008


It’s not often you can say this, but there are a couple of great drives available for next year, but no outstanding young talent to fill them There’s a seat going at Honda and one at Toro Rosso, but a glance across the ranks of the GP2 field , at the US scene and across the other ranks below F1 yields little. It’s intensely frustrating for the team bosses. They’d love to give a talented 22 year old a try next year, especially Honda, but it’s slim pickings. I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised; we’ve seen the arrival of More…

Posted on October 31, 2008


David Coulthard bows out this weekend after 246 Grands Prix, slightly less than Rubens Barrichello, who doesn’t know yet whether this will be his last Grand Prix.  Rubens wants to stay at Honda and some of his performances lately have been strong as he drives home his candidacy. Jenson Button wants him to stay and says that Ross Brawn believes Rubens is driving better now than when he was at Ferrari.  Knowing when the game is up is the classic dilemma of the ageing racing driver. DC, like Alain Prost, Mika Hakkinen, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher has acknowledged that More…

Posted on October 30, 2008


Darkness is falling over the main stand as I write this. It’s been an interesting Thursday, devoid of the kind of tension we’ve experienced in the past at title showdowns. It has nothing of the atmosphere of Jerez 97 or Suzuka 98, for example. I’ve seen both title contenders in the flesh and they both look remarkably relaxed. The tension will start to kick in tomorrow. Massa has every right to feel relaxed in many ways, it’s out of his hands and he has nothing to lose. He will go for the win and hope misfortune revisits Hamilton. Hamilton has More…

Posted on October 21, 2008


Felipe Massa’s task in Brazil is clear; do what he has done the last two seasons and dominate the race. He looks like he has his head down a bit now, after being outpaced not only by Hamilton but also by Raikkonen in China. However he’s amazing at Interlagos and will no doubt be inspired by his home crowd, but there will be a bitterness about the experience too and this could really undermine his weekend. It’s a psychological issue and I’ll be watching very closely to see how he deals with it. Massa knows that there is a very More…

Posted on October 21, 2008


The way I see it, Lewis Hamilton travels to Brazil this year in a very different frame of mind from last year, much lighter in spirit, more focussed and with a much better understanding of what it takes to close this championship out. The most significant difference though is that he does not have to worry about  Fernando Alonso in the sister car. It was the Spaniard last year who dominated Hamilton’s thoughts at the finale after a season of bitterness and recrimination. Alonso felt that he could have won the title if McLaren had just restrained Hamilton a bit, and he’s More…

Posted on October 14, 2008


You’ve probably never heard of him, but Will Stevens is the next Lewis Hamilton. At least that is the way his backers see it and they are supporting their decision with heavy investment. The 17 year old from Essex has a contract in his pocket with Honda, which lays out in intricate detail his path from karts to Formula 1. It has been put together for him by his management team of ex F1 drivers Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle, who took him on when he was just 14 years old. It’s only been done once before, but with spectacular More…

Posted on October 14, 2008


Interview with BMW Sauber boss Dr Mario Theissen,  The character of the Formula 1 boss is changing. The old guard were the products of the 1970s; grafters, boys-done-good, men who were passionate about racing, who pulled strokes and called in favours to keep their cars in the race. They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps from humble beginnings and then in the 1990s found themselves owning private jets once Bernie Ecclestone’s TV deals started to bring in serious money. This type of team owner, personified by McLaren’s Ron Dennis, the mechanic made good and Sir Frank Williams, the used car More…

Posted on October 14, 2008


There is so much to talk about from the Japanese Grand Prix it’s hard to know where to start. We had Lewis Hamilton losing his head when all that was required was some pragmatism, Felipe Massa showing his ruthless side, Fernando Alonso and Renault again excelling and then a highly contentious penalty for Sebastian Bourdais, which gifted Massa and Ferrari an extra point reducing Hamilton’s lead to five points. Let’s start with Hamilton. Starting from pole, he knew that Raikkonen was a threat off the start line, but he also knew that Raikkonen was no threat to his championship position. More…

Posted on October 11, 2008


 As I write this on Friday evening in the dark at Fuji, it is starting to rain. Only lightly, but enough to remind you that the weather here can be very unpredictable and that rain is never very far away.  This morning the sky was blue and the view of Mount Fuji was spectacular. The two practice sessions took place in perfect conditions, but the locals are talking about rain tomorrow and a dry race on Sunday.  McLaren and Ferrari look pretty well matched again. I was interested in Ferrari’s performance advantage in Singapore over McLaren as it looked like More…

Posted on October 7, 2008


I’m off to Fuji tomorrow, full of anticipation. This has been a wonderful championship, where most of the races have been great and a minority dull. Last year’s Fuji race was very dramatic and had a big influence on the outcome of the championship, as Alonso lost the chance of points with an uncharacteristic crash. A couple of points that day would have made him champion at the end of the season. It just shows you that a split second error at this stage of the season is potentially disastrous, as Ferrari found in Singapore. This year Lewis Hamilton again More…

Posted on September 28, 2008


Formula 1’s first night race in Singapore has been a massive success. In a season of great Grands Prix, this was another classic race. Once again it turned on a safety car and showed the importance of race strategy in determining the outcome. And as far as the championship is concerned it showed that the team which makes the fewest mistakes will win the title. Ferrari had the pace to get a 1-2 finish here and before Nelson Piquet’s accident triggered a safety car on lap 16, it looked very much as though Kimi Raikkonen would jump Lewis Hamilton in More…

Posted on September 27, 2008


We’ve had a great day here in Singapore, it’s stayed dry and the cars did loads of laps. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to something new, even when it as completely different as this is. It’s clear that the track is very challenging and there is little margin for error. It will be a very tough race because it’s 61 laps and it’s a long lap at 1m 45 secs so you are looking at an hour and three quarters. It will be very physical because of all the corners and the humidity, so I’d expect some shunts. More…

Posted on September 27, 2008


We’ve had our first session here in Singapore and there was plenty of spectacular action and a few near misses out on the track as the drivers get used to it. At the end, Hamilton very nearly hit Fisichella who had spun in one of the blind corners and was across the track. Lewis was fastest, by a few hundredths from Massa and Raikkonen. Kovalainen had a huge moment at the final corner, as did Vettel. Luckily for bthe there is plenty of run off area there. Mark Webber hit the wall on the outside of the corner which passes More…

Posted on September 27, 2008


As this is such a new event and there is so much interest, I thought I would pen an occasional blog over the course of the weekend with extra information and behind the scenes insight. It’s Thursday night and everyone is still at the track, because it’s lunchtime in Europe and most people in F1 are staying on European time. It’s a bit weird going about your daily business at night, but for anyone who has done Le Mans or journalists who have covered night time football matches, it’s fairly normal. My plan is to get to the track around More…

Posted on September 25, 2008


The Financial Times recently asked me to narrate a multimedia presentation on their website offering an insight into the Formula One experience. It was a unique opportunity to share some of my more personal impressions of this wonderful, passionate environment. Click here to view it

Posted on September 18, 2008


Sebastien Vettel’s win in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza was a fairytale for Toro Rosso, but something of a headache for their competitors. Toro Rosso is a customer team, probably the purest example of the breed. They get a car from Red Bull Technologies, which is essentially the same as the Red Bull, except for the Ferrari engine and its installation equipment. Their win is not good news  for the teams who manufacture their own car, like Williams and there have been some murmurs that the old battles may be opened up again in light of Vettel’s win. It’s More…

Posted on September 15, 2008


Sebastien Vettel wins the Italian Grand Prix at historic Monza, in an Italian car, which isn’t a Ferrari and he does so from pole position, driving away from a McLaren. He’s the youngest ever winner by a year and everyone in F1 is happy for him. The story will go down in history as something very special. It is like James Hunt winning at Zandvoort for the tiny Hesketh team. The Toro Rosso team has Minardi DNA still running through its veins. Most of the guys who toiled for Paul Stoddard and Giancarlo Minardi are still there among the 168 More…

Posted on September 9, 2008


An extraordinary Grand Prix with one of the most exciting finishes ever has been given a different complexion by the stewards’ decision to penalise Lewis Hamilton for taking an advantage from cutting a chicane. There is not doubt that this is a very big call by the stewards and a lot of unbiased observers among the media and the public will find it hard to understand. It takes a lot to unpick the results of a Grand Prix, especially one which would otherwise probably be long remembered as a classic and a great advert for the sport. I’ve watched the More…

Posted on September 8, 2008


Check out all the new features uploaded this week, which include an in-depth profile of Ferrari’s new boss, Stefano Domenicali, I get to see what’s cooking with Robert Kubica and we test our mathematics skills with the paddock’s top strategists.

Posted on September 5, 2008


Actually it was a lot less damp than the forecasts said it would be, which casts serious doubt over the forecast for the rest of the weekend. Currently it says that it will be nice on Sunday and cloudy but dry for qualifying. If that turns out to be the case, then it’s looking pretty good for Ferrari. Their car works very well on tracks with long straights and fast corners and this weekend looks like being no exception. The interesting bit will be whether Raikkonen, who has won here three times, can use his undoubted ability around this place More…

Posted on September 4, 2008


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