Archive for November, 2010

It’s that time of the year every Formula 1 fan dreads (well in England anyway!) . The nights are drawing in, it’s cold, usually wet and there’s no more racing until March. All we have is the intrigue of testing, waiting for the new cars to launch and the memories of the season just gone.

This year has been brilliant and I’m not going to sit here and repeat everything that’s already been said about the championship and having five drivers competing for wins on a regular basis. It’s been done by everybody else. So here are my moments of the season aided with a few pictures and videos thrown in for good measure.

I’m too bitter to accept my own failings

Fernando Alonso. I know he’d just lost out on the world championship and he wanted to win it for Ferrari in his first season and it’s been four years now since that last triumph with Renault. But is there really any need to gesticulate towards Vitaly Petrov on the slow down lap because he didn’t let him through? Petrov had arguably his best race in F1 so far and Alonso’s Ferrari only came close to overtaking once in 30 laps. That’s not the Russian’s fault so there’s no need to through toys.

I’m going to overtake you no matter what

Kamui Kobayashi is a man who isn’t afraid of a good out braking manoeuvre and he was at his best in Japan. He performed many daring moves going into the hairpin at the back of the track, but his first on the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi was without doubt the clumsiest. Coming from a long way back he slid sideways towards the Swiss and bumped his way past. However he learnt his lesson and later pulled off three excellent manoeuvres including one around the outside of Buemi’s team-mate, Jaime Alguersuari. But it’s this move where he slides and bumps his way through which winds this round.

Worst track alteration

Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix decided that the best bit of the Bahrain track needed removing. So gone were sweeping corners of five and six to be replaced by a slow, fiddly, bumpy series of corners. The drivers hated it, the fans hated it and it did nothing to the race except make what was already a very tedious grand prix that little bit longer. After the negative criticism of the new section a statement was put out saying the extended layout was only to celebrate F1’s “diamond jubilee of the oldest and most prestigious racing series”. For some reason, I’m not sure I believe that…

Biggest over-reaction

Everybody, after the Bahrain Grand Prix. “That is the action we are going to have with this kind of environment of race strategy,” was how Michael Schumacher described the new regulations following the opening race in Bahrain. Lewis Hamilton was equally negative. “You start with fuel, you do one stop and it’s pretty much a train all the way.” But Bahrain has never thrown up an interesting race so the chances of 2010 being any different were slim and the racing improved as the season went on a teams and drivers got used to the new rules. Bahrain wasn’t the place to showcase that. You may notice that I don’t like the Bahrain Grand Prix very much and there’s a good reason for that. I don’t.

Karun Chandhok did well to drive the Hispania for the first time in qualifying at Bahrain

Bravest moment of the year

Karun Chandhok going out to qualify in Bahrain was probably the bravest thing he’s ever done. A car that he’d never tested and, in fact, his car had never even turned a wheel before he took it out to qualify in Bahrain. In fact he’d never even driven an F1 car in anger before. The car was slow, hard to handle and completed just minutes before the session. An accident on lap one ended his race but nevertheless Chandhok had shown courage to get out there and drive an F1 car for the first time in the heat of qualifying showed some major courage.

Scariest moment of the year

There were three incidents in 2010 which stood out in my mind as potentially scary moments. First of all was Sebeastien Buemi in practice for the Chinese Grand Prix. If you can remember all the way back to April, coming down the long back straight into the hairpin Buemi’s front wheels shot off and he was left just sliding helplessly off the track. Now if my Ford Fiesta did that at 30mph I’d need a change of underwear so I dread to think how he felt after that! One thing though, why did he try and steer when both wheels had both flown off?

Second up was Mark Webber in Valencia in an incident which had a resemblance to Ricardo Patrese and Gerhard Berger at Estoril in 1992; which saw the Italian launched over the back of Berger’s McLaren and try to become an aeroplane. The same happened in June when Webber misjudged the closing speed between him and Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus and went hurtling into the air, thankfully without harming Mark.

The last one came just second into the final race of the year. When Michael Schumacher spun in front of the pack there was only likely to be one outcome. What he probably didn’t expect was the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi use him as a ramp to park his car, and nearly wallop the German in the head with his nosecone/front wheel/suspension. When the seven-time world champion came back to F1 many people questioned the reasoning as Formula 1 is still a dangerous sport and it was accidents like that which show just how strong these cars are keeping the drivers relatively safe.

Most stupid name of the season

BMW Sauber-Ferrari. I don’t get what the reasoning was for making Sauber keep the BMW part of their name for this year when the German manufacturer pulled out at the end of 2009. I suppose it was because they designed the car. But still they left and Peter Sauber retook control and got customer Ferrari engines. So we were left with this name which had two car manufacturers in it.

BMW Sauber: good season, silly name

Clumsiest overtake of the year

Jarno Trulli on Chandhok at Monaco. The streets of Monte Carlo have never been renowned for offering overtaking opportunities, especially going into La Rascasse. Despite this though Trulli optimistically went for it in closing stages of the Monaco race to get past the Hispania of Karun Chandhok. The result was not what he was hoping for as he careered over the top of the Indian and into the barrier; an incident which nearly took out race leader Mark Webber.

So there you have it. Some of the things from the 2010 F1 season which caught my eye. It’s all my personal choice. Whether you agree or not feel free to leave comments about what were your moments of this season and if there’s anything you feel I’ve missed off from this list.

Images courtesy of Alex Basnett and Nelson Wu

Last weekend saw me finally delve into the world of V8 Supercars; a series which up until now I’ve known has existed but never paid too much attention too.

However last weekend saw the series arrive in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, for the Armor All Gold Coast 600. Now for those of you who don’t know anything about the race, let me explain.

The Gold Coast 600 is split into two races over the weekend, both 300km (102 laps) long. Each team must hire a driver with an ‘international reputation’ for the weekend to complete at least one third of the distance in both races.

For this year’s event most of the drivers hired came from the IndyCar or World Touring Car Championship series with a few former F1 drivers popping up too.

Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Salo, Alain Menu, Alex Tagliani, Helio Castroneves, Fabrizio Giovanardi, Gianni Morbidelli, Sebastien Bourdais, Yvan Muller were all there along with Britain’s Andy Priaulx and Dario Franchitti.

Quite a line up.

Intrigued by this event I looked to find coverage of the race back in England but alas was unable to until I found the full race coverage on YouTube. And what a spectacle.

Although there are only two manufacturers, Ford and Holden, the racing was so close with every position being fought over for lap after lap.

The start of Saturday’s race really shows how dramatic a V8 Supercar opening lap can be as the international drivers vied for position on the tight, coastal circuit.

But what I was impressed with after this incident, and in the Sunday race, was the close but fair racing. In Britain we love the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) for its no holds barred racing where drivers rub door handles, tap and nudge their way through.

All very exciting, and I for one am a massive fan of that. But ‘down under’ contact seems to be at a premium, especially on a track like Surfers Paradise where one touch could send a competitor into the wall.

There are still the occasional incidents involving some drivers but that’s only natural, especially on a street circuit. Just ask David Brabham.

But for me the real stand out of the Gold Coast 600 were the last 30 laps or so of race two, which saw reigning champion Jamie Whincup fight off 21-year-old New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen to take the win.

Although Whincup ultimately held on, the performance of the Kiwi impressed me so much. He may not have won a race in the V8 Supercar series yet, but currently lies sixth in the drivers’ standings. His performance over the weekend, fighting from 13th to third in race one and hounding the reigning champion in race two shows a real talent and great promise.

Van Gisbergen, right, is turning into a real star

After competing in karts and motocross up to 2004, he came third in the 2004/5 Formula First Championship New Zealand, an open-wheel series similar to Formula Ford. The following year he won the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship before finishing runner up in the 2006/7 Toyota Racing Series.

Since then he’s been a regular in the V8 Supercars. Although he is still looking for his first win his rise has been rapid and he’s now knocking on the door to take to the top step of the podium for the first time.

If you want an idea of how good this kid is, the last few laps of the Gold Coast 600 sum him up better than anything I can write.

It’s only a matter of time and I for one will be following the V8 Supercars and him particularly, with a keen eye.

Image from Flickr: crgphotography