Posted on April 30, 2012


The new JA on F1 podcast is out today. This month, with a lot of talk about whether the F1 drivers are able to push to the maximum with the current regulations, we take a look at the wider subject of how to get the most out of an F1 driver. Very often you’ll hear that a driver “didn’t get the maximum” from a qualifying session or a race. So why does this happen? How do you avoid on-days and off-days, what are the secrets in terms of preparation, work with engineers and so on? Can a driver be allowed More…

Posted on April 30, 2012


The F1 teams are setting up in the garages of Mugello, near Florence, Italy today ahead of a three day test, which could prove something of a life saver for some of the teams who are in trouble at the moment. When it was announced that there would be an in-season test, for the first time since the Resource Restriction Agreement came into force at the end of 2008, it looked like it would be a very significant three days as it was the teams’ only chance outside of a race weekend; a chance to try development parts and to More…

Posted on April 30, 2012


The Sauber F1 team and Chelsea FC have announced a unique link up between two brands across two sports, designed to increase the reach of both into a new platform and to give added value to sponsors. Also with a shared platform across two of the biggest TV sports in the world, they can offer a joint sponsorship deal to a global brand looking for exposure in both areas. This is something Tony Fernandes has been hoping to achieve by owning both the Caterham and Queens Park Rangers teams. According to the Sauber statement, “In concrete terms, this (the deal) More…

Posted on April 27, 2012


Pirelli boss Paul Hembery has responded to criticism from fans and drivers that the tyres are too big a talking point in F1 at the moment, saying that the situation will resolve itself soon and the tyres will become less significant. This week has seen a flood of comment on this site and elsewhere following Michael Schumacher’s criticisms of the tyres in Bahrain. The 7 times champion said that drivers were unable to push to the limit on the 2012 tyres and added, “I just question whether the tyres should play such a big importance, or whether they should last More…

Posted on April 26, 2012


Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo this week sat down with the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, for a two-hour meeting during a visit to the world famous Stanford University in California, where he was giving a lecture to students. The heads of two of the world’s most truly global brands came together for a lengthy discussion to chew the fat on their respective company’s ideas and visions, as well as sharing insight on strategy and management styles. Although the industries of racing and car production and consumer electronics and computers might seem far apart in many aspects, Montezemolo – who also More…

Posted on April 25, 2012


Formula 1 teams will get their first chance to complete in-season testing in four years at Mugello next week, but HRT has opted to skip the three-day session in order to prioritise the relocation of the team’s headquarters to Madrid. Since making its debut in 2010 the Spanish-backed squad’s appearances in official group tests have been fleeting to say the least with the team, aside from the end-of-season Young Driver sessions and the first Pirelli tyre test, only appearing in pre-season sessions over the past two seasons with what were by then year-old cars. HRT went into this season with the F112 on the More…

Posted on April 24, 2012

The Strategy Report

The Bahrain Grand Prix was another example of close racing with uncertain outcomes, dependent on race strategy, which has already come to characterise the 2012 F1 season. Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull became the fourth different car/driver winning combination in four races, showing not only how closely matched the teams are, but also how delicate the balancing act is in getting the strategy right on the Pirelli tyres. In just four races we have already had eight different drivers on the podium, more than in the whole of 2011. Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit provided the sternest test yet of the tyres, More…

Posted on April 24, 2012


There has been some movement in the future shape of the F1 calendar with confirmation from Bernie Ecclestone that from next year onwards Valencia and Barcelona will share a slot. And at the same time he said that a deal has been concluded for France to return to the schedule, in a deal alternating with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. “The deal is done,” said Ecclestone. “We agreed the financial terms last Tuesday with the minster of sport, David Douillet. As soon as France is ready, we will sign.” The sign off for the French Grand Prix is clearly More…

Posted on April 24, 2012


In wake of Ferrari technical director Pat Fry’s recent frank assessment of the urgent need to change the “methodologies” used at the team in order to become successful again, Stefano Domenicali has now confirmed the process of making such deep-seated change is firmly underway – although stressed it would be a long-term project. Ferrari’s disappointing start to the season, which has happened despite a change in design philosophy for 2012, appears to have crystallised for the Maranello hierarchy the need to overhaul its fundamental approach to designing and developing F1 cars. Speaking on Monday, Domenicali, Ferrari’s team principal, said the plan was to More…

Posted on April 23, 2012


Pirelli have reacted to Michael Schumacher’s attack on their 2012 tyres, saying that other drivers “were getting on with the job and getting their tyres to work.” Schumacher suffered a frustrating weekend in Bahrain, with technical problems in qualifying relegating him to the back of the field. He took a tactical gearbox change, which moved him back to 22nd place and although he made a great start and had all new sets of tyres for the race, he only managed to finish 10th. “The main thing I feel unhappy about is everyone has to drive well below a driver’s, and More…

Posted on April 23, 2012


Red Bull Sebastian Vettel finally got his first victory of 2012 after being run close by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen in an action-packed Bahrain Grand Prix. Who was your driver of the day? Sebastian Vettel After using the old-spec Red Bull in China, Vettel switched to the new package in Bahrain and looked strong in Friday practice. Almost got knocked out in Q1 and Q2 but got everything together in the shoot-out to take a shock pole position for the first time in 2012. Made a clean getaway and then pulled out a gap early on which allowed him More…

Posted on April 22, 2012


Sebastian Vettel produced a faultless drive from pole position to win the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of the the two Lotus cars of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. This is Red Bull Racing’s first victory of 2012 and makes it four different winners in as many races this season. It was Vettel’s 22nd career F1 victory and his first of the season. He is the fourth different winner in four races. If Vettel’s pace in qualifying was a surprise, it was the Lotus’ performance on race day which caught the eye. Raikkonen, starting in 11th place, had a chance to More…

Posted on April 21, 2012


FIA president Jean Todt has carefully avoided making public comment on the security and political situation around this year’s Bahrain Grand Prix, leaving most of the talking to Bernie Ecclestone. However today he broke his silence to speak to the BBC and said that, despite widespread protests and a security scare for Force India mechanics, there had been no compelling reason to call the race off. There was, he said, “nothing (that) could allow us to stop the race. On rational facts, it was decided there was no reason to change our mind.” An activist has been found dead in More…

Posted on April 21, 2012


Sebastian Vettel claimed his first pole position of 2012 in Bahrain today as he made the most of two runs in the final part of qualifying to beat Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber in an eventful session. It was a day for not making any mistakes, particularly front wheel lock ups under braking and for getting the perfect lap as the soft tyres were only good for one lap. Vettel is the third different pole sitter in four races. It was his 31st career pole position. Red Bull has led just one racing lap in the first three Grands Prix More…

Posted on April 20, 2012


The first day’s running at the Sakhir circuit took place against in an edgy atmosphere as, for the first time in this Bahrain saga, events outside the circuit had a direct effect on the running of the Grand Prix. Force India decided not to run in second practice, to respect the wishes of their staff who have expressed concern about their safety travelling back from the circuit at night. They came under pressure to revise their decision over the lunch break, but clearly there is a lot of anxiety among team members, especially as there appears to have been a More…

Posted on April 19, 2012


Fernando Alonso is expecting the battle for the championship to distil into a much smaller group of protagonists than currently appears the case – and says that when that time comes Ferrari must ensure it is right in the fight. The pattern of the season’s first three races has mirrored that of 2010 when there were also three different winners from three different teams and a championship leader who had yet to win a race. Six different drivers have also stood on the podium so far in 2012, which is just one less than the total for the whole of last season. But Alonso, More…

Posted on April 19, 2012


The F1 paddock went about its everyday business today, media briefings, team managers’ meetings, all gearing up for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton says that he’s a better man in 2012 for his difficult years, Sebastian Vettel says that he’s going to use the new specification Red Bull exhausts, Michael Schumacher says that Mercedes’ challenge is to hit the sweet spot on the race tyres, like they did in China. The Grand Prix is moving up into gear. Everywhere there are banners proclaiming that Bahrain is “UniF1ied”, while the slogan “back on track” is also evident. It’s quite surprising More…

Posted on April 18, 2012


There are quite a few unknowns going into this race weekend. Sakhir circuit has been modified from the 2010 event, without the extra loop, which was added just for that event. This means the track is shorter by just under a kilometer and four braking zones have been removed. The last time this layout was used there was still refueling in F1, so the strategy for this year will be completely new. With lots of corners following each other and a heavy car at the start of the race, Bahrain is one of the toughest circuits of the year on More…

Posted on April 17, 2012


Lewis Hamilton has spoken of his renewed happiness both on and off the race track after a start to the season which has taken him back to the top of the world championship standings for the first time in nearly two years. The tumultuous nature of Hamilton’s 2011 was well-documented with setbacks in both his racing and his private life contributing to his self-described worst year in Formula 1, but a productive winter allowed him the chance to re-focus and piece back together the ingredients he sees as being key to his personal equilibrium. Speaking to the British media in More…

Posted on April 17, 2012


Caterham F1 headed into 2012 looking to pick off from where they had left off last year, hoping to challenge the midfield runners and gain their first points. And although they are yet to see a clear positional step, the team believe there have been significant gains, particularly in race trim. Following some positive pre-season tests, which had indicated an improvement in reliability and single-lap pace, Caterham have had a mixture of results in the opening grands prix. A double DNF in Melbourne was followed by both cars reaching the chequered flag in Malaysia, however due to the conditions in More…

Posted on April 17, 2012

The Strategy Report

The UBS Chinese Grand Prix was a thrilling race, despite the comfortable winning margin for Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes. Race strategy was crucial to the outcome and we also learned a lot about how F1 has changed in 2012, with the field closing up on performance, so the top teams can no longer rely on building gaps over the midfield to drop nicely into after pit stops. The leading teams will have to work much harder than last year on creative race strategy and the drivers will have to do a lot more overtaking. During Friday’s Free Practice 2 More…

Posted on April 16, 2012


From the unexpected high of victory in Malaysia, the Chinese Grand Prix brought Ferrari back down to earth with a bump as Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa finished in ninth and 13th places respectively. The Maranello outfit may currently be in the process of accelerating developmental work on the F2012 in a bid to improve the difficult car’s competitive as quickly as possible, yet the team’s senior technical figure has admitted there are also more deep-rooted problems that need to be resolved if Ferrari is to enjoy sustained long-term success again. Pat Fry, who took the reigns of Ferrari’s technical department last More…

Posted on April 16, 2012


Nico Rosberg converted his first pole position in his debut win to give Mercedes their first win as a constructor since 1955 in a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix that saw a fast and frantic final 10 laps for second through to 10th. Who was your driver of the day? Nico Rosberg Pulled out what he called the ‘perfect’ lap in qualifying to secure his first pole position in 111 attempts and set up an all-Mercedes front row for the first time since the team returned to F1 in 2010. Made a clean getaway and then pushed to get a gap More…

Posted on April 15, 2012


Nico Rosberg joined the exclusive club of drivers who have converted their first pole position into their first victory with a dominant performance in Shanghai. It was Mercedes first win as a constructor since 1955. And it meant that team boss Ross Brawn has now won races as a senior manager with four different teams, a unique achievement. Rosberg produced a faultless drive and it gave him that elusive first win after one-hundred and eleven starts, and the first for the Silver Arrows since 1955. Rosberg completed the race twenty seconds clear of the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and More…

Posted on April 14, 2012


Mercedes will have an all Silver Arrows front row in tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix, the first time this has happened since their comeback as a constructor in 2010. Nico Rosberg took an emotional first F1 pole position, in his 111th Grand Prix, while Michael Schumacher moves up to join him on the front row after Lewis Hamilton is demoted five places on the grid tomorrow, from second to seventh, due to a forced gearbox change penalty. “It went really well and it’s a very special feeling,” Rosberg said. “Now obviously l am looking forward to starting first in the race! More…

Posted on April 14, 2012


Yesterday’s robust announcement from the F1 authorities and teams that the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead appears to have galvanised opposition and provoked a reaction on the streets of the Gulf state. A planned funeral march for Ahmed Ismail, a protestor who was shot by security forces last week, turned violent while there were strong words of condemnation from human rights groups and activists in the country. A report by AP for the American ABC network featured the following passage, ‘ “No F1, no F1. … They killed my son in cold blood,” sobbed Ismail’s mother, Makyia Ahmed, who More…

Posted on April 13, 2012


Michael Schumacher topped the time sheets this afternoon in the drier of the two practice sessions, but the indications from the long runs and analysis of lap times is that McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is the man to beat this weekend. The McLaren driver has confirmed that he will have to move five places back on the grid from where he qualifies, due a forced gearbox change, but in terms of car pace he looked the fastest today. Hamilton set the fastest time in the damp morning session and then finished second behind Schumacher in the afternoon session, with the Red More…

Posted on April 13, 2012


The FIA has released a statement this morning, before the teams and Bernie Ecclestone have had their scheduled 12-30pm meeting, designed to stop speculation about the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place next week. After a long silence over the subject of Bahrain, this statement puts the governing body shoulder to shoulder with the Bahraini authorities and states in the clearest terms that the race will go ahead next week. The timing is interesting for another reason; in that region Friday is a day when protests typically take place after prayers, so there will be close attention paid to the reaction More…

Posted on April 12, 2012


Formula 1’s off-track focus in Shanghai may currently be trained solely on next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix and whether or not the Sakhir race will take place, but another race that appeared in serious jeopardy for very different reasons towards the end of last year – the revived US GP in Austin – marked an important milestone in the new venue’s construction on Thursday with a “topping off” ceremony for the pit building. Construction teams hold such symbolic ceremonies when they are ready to install support beams at the highest point of a building under construction and so, having reached that stage More…

Posted on April 12, 2012


[Updated] After two Grands Prix of phoney war and back room discussions, Lotus F1 came out and lodged a formal protest against the Mercedes F Duct front wing system in Shanghai. A hearing involving both teams took place at 17-15pm local time on Thursday in the FIA stewards’ room at the circuit. The stewards rejected the protest and Lotus has made it clear it will not appeal the decision. The system sheds drag from the front wing when the driver activates the DRS rear wing, by means of a pair of pipes which channel the air forwards through the chassis More…

Posted on April 12, 2012


[Updated] In the paddock at Shanghai today the talk is all on one subject: the Bahrain Grand Prix and whether it will take place next week. Although an emerging protest into the Mercedes front wing looks like it will soon take some of the spotlight off the politics. The Bahrain situation is now acquiring an acute feel to it, with many team members and media due to fly from Shanghai to Bahrain in little over 72 hours time. The teams are clearly very concerned about the event and looking to the FIA for leadership. FIA president Jean Todt will arrive More…

Posted on April 11, 2012


Group Lotus has moved to deny suggestions that it has ended its formal involvement in Formula 1, the sportscar firm revealing details of a “reshaped” arrangement with the Lotus F1 Team that has seen its owner Proton give the Enstone outfit a £30m loan. In an astonishingly strongly-worded statement issued by the British-based manufacturer this evening hitting back at what it claims have been “mistruths” concerning both its F1 involvement going forward and the wider situation at the company, Group Lotus sought to clarify its relationship with Lotus F1 and Genii Capital following Gerard Lopez’s comments at the end of More…

Posted on April 11, 2012


Formula 1 now has two female development drivers after Williams announced that experienced DTM campaigner Susie Wolff – the wife of team shareholder Toto Wolff – has joined the team. Several weeks after Marussia signed Spaniard Maria de Villota to a similar position, Williams has taken on the Scottish-born driver who has spent the last six seasons competing in German touring cars, achieving a best finishing position of seventh on two occasions in that time. The 29-year-old had previously raced in British-based single-seater categories including F3 and Formula Renault 2.0 and team owner Frank Williams said that in addition to More…

Posted on April 10, 2012


The Lotus F1 Team has tonight issued a statement clarifying the intention of a report from which quotes attributed to representatives of the team appeared in an official Bahrain Grand Prix press release earlier today, the Enstone team saying it had been meant for confidential use only. On a further day of frenetic reporting over the situation in the Gulf kingdom ahead of F1’s scheduled return next week, Sakhir organisers took the opportunity to go on the offensive in wake of the increasing stream of negative reports with race chairman Zayed Al Zayani claiming “scaremongering tactics” had created “huge misconceptions” over the More…

Posted on April 10, 2012


Ferrari technical director Pat Fry has revealed that the team has managed to accelerate some of the ongoing development work on the F2012 in time to bring five new parts to the car for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, the Englishman believing the team need to find eight tenths of a second to get on par with the fastest team on outright pace. Although Fernando Alonso’s brilliantly opportunistic victory in Malaysia took him into a hugely unexpected early lead in the drivers’ championship after two rounds, neither driver nor team have attempted to mask the F2012’s continued underperformance in dry More…

Posted on April 10, 2012


There is a Grand Prix this weekend in China, but it’s the one the following Sunday in Bahrain which is dominating the headlines and looks set to dominate the agenda in Shanghai this weekend as well. One of the leading opponents of the Bahraini ruling regime yesterday predicted “violence” on the streets of the country if the Formula 1 Grand Prix goes ahead next week. Speaking in a discussion on BBC Radio 4′s PM programme, in which I also took part, Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said, “I’m afraid that it will turn to violence.. More…

Posted on April 9, 2012


Ferrari has revealed plans to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of one of its most revered drivers, Gilles Villeneuve, next month with a special event at its Fiorano test track. The Canadian legend’s son Jacques, the 1997 world champion, will drive the 312T4 with which Gilles and team-mate Jody Scheckter contested the 1979 drivers’ title, the crown going to the latter by four points as Ferrari also won the constructors’ championship. The elder Villeneuve won three grands prix in that particular car – South Africa, Long Beach and Watkins Glen – and it was also the challenger he More…

Posted on April 9, 2012


Next weekend is the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai. Strategy decisions for this race are always on a knife edge; there are several ways to do the race, especially with the cars being close together on performance this year and with the two Pirelli tyre compounds also being close on performance. And after what happened in Malaysia, teams will be working hard in Friday practice to understand how the tyres are likely to perform on long runs and in qualifying. This year getting the right car set up to deal with both is proving very tricky, largely thanks to the More…

Posted on April 6, 2012


The use of the Lotus name in Formula 1 proved one of the most bitter and protracted sagas of recent times but a story that appeared to reach its resolution late last year has today taken a dramatic new turn with the revelation that the recently-rebranded Lotus F1 Team has cut all sponsorship ties with Group Lotus, little more than one season into a seven-year deal. Genii Capital co-owner Gerard Lopez, whose Luxembourg-based investment company owns the Enstone-based former Renault team outright, has told Autosport that the title sponsorship agreement that he signed with Group Lotus in late 2010 has More…

Posted on April 6, 2012


[Updated 9 April] “No one will enjoy the F1 in Bahrain with cries for freedom from the inside and outside of the race,” a protester in Manama told Associated Press today, as activists turned up the pressure on the Grand Prix, due to take place on April 22nd, to be called off. Protests have started to focus on the race itself with anti-F1 slogans and imagery graffitied on walls. On April 8th, according to the Financial Times, a group of youth activists called ‘February 14th Youth Coalition’, said “it would not be able to “ensure the safety” of Formula 1 More…

Posted on April 5, 2012


Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn says that the team has understood why its qualifying and race performances have been so imbalanced this season and that he is willing to give up some qualifying pace to have stronger races. Mercedes has scored just one point so far this season from a potential maximum of 86, and trails McLaren by 54 points already. This is despite qualifying one car in the top two rows of the grid at both races. Mercedes issued a pre-race bulletin today with some findings from the first races, which showed that they were caught out by not More…

Posted on April 4, 2012


Adrian Newey, Formula 1’s foremost designer of the past two decades, was recognised on a national scale this week when he collected his OBE from the Queen at Windsor Castle. Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer was recognised for his services to motorsport during a career that has seen him design multiple championship-winning cars for Williams, McLaren and now his current team. Newey had been honoured in the same New Years Honours List as Nigel Mansell – who took the designer’s Williams FW14B to the 1992 drivers’ title – the 31-time grand prix winner having received a CBE for his role as More…

Posted on April 3, 2012


Driver coaching may remain something of an untapped trade in Formula 1, but the next generation of drivers are set to benefit from an interesting new online initiative launched in America this week which will see some of the country’s biggest racing names lend their advice to up-and-coming stars. The SAFEisFAST.com website is run by the US-based Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC), whose members are some of the most successful racing names from America and Europe such as Dario Franchitti and Chip Ganassi. The site is supported by a grant from the FIA Institute and already offers online video tutorials across the spectrum of More…

Posted on April 2, 2012


Over the past couple of weeks the majority of F1 teams have reached commercial agreements with Bernie Ecclestone to stay in the sport until 2020. Next will come a process by which other details of the next Concorde Agreement will be generated. One of the most important aspects of securing a stable sport will be agreeing the best method of cost control going forward. Ecclestone has been pushing recently the thorny subject of budget caps and it’s interesting to note that on the official F1 site today, Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn endorses the idea. Kaltenborn says that the Resource Restriction More…

Posted on April 2, 2012


The HRT team has finally filled the void left by Geoff Willis following the Briton’s departure to Mercedes towards the end of last year by promoting chief race and test engineer Toni Cuquerella to the role of technical director. Cuquerella has been with the team since its turbulent early days as Campos in late 2009, the 38-year-old Spaniard having previously worked in F1 circles as a race engineer at Super Aguri before joining BMW Sauber, where he was engineer to Robert Kubica. Under his new role he will continue to lead the team’s engineering direction at the race track, but More…

Posted on April 1, 2012


Updated – After the messages of reassurance from Bahrain GP organisers this week and the show of the support from the F1 bosses and teams, events on the ground in the country this weekend have raised further questions about what might happen over the next three weeks as we count down to the scheduled race date of April 22nd. Protests this weekend saw a fatality as local militia shot dead a man who, according to a Reuters report quoting the man’s cousin, was “taking pictures of a demonstration when what he described as “militia members” in an unmarked car opened More…



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