Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Double Jeopardy: F1 madness continues

Posted: December 12, 2013 by thevillainf1 in Uncategorized

Formula one found yet another way to make a mockery of itself by introducing a new rule awarding double points to a race for no other reason that it being the last one on the calendar (and hence supposedly keep the champ ship fight interesting for longer, but more importantly, enable you to charge the GP organizers more money). It’s not the first and it won’t be the last bogus rule change F1 throws at its fans  we slide down to NASCAR or even Mario Kart levels (since even a Chase like run of GPS deciding the championship would be a better idea).

 

Since as usual the combined F1 press corps can’t be bothered to look further than their nose tips and analyzed only the impact on the WDC, it falls down to backmarkers F1 to get a brief revival and investigate the true impact this bogus rule change would have had by looking at what would have  further happened down the grid and in the WCC as well , where a difference of one spot can mean a difference of millions of dollars for the teams.

 

I’ll only look at the past 5 years to see what would have changed. The premise is simple, we award double points to all top 10 (top 8 for 2009) finishers in the season finale, and see how the standings would have been changed, if at all.

 

2009: Buttons’ year in the sun

Button would still be a one time champion, but what would have happened to the rest of them? Would the Red Bull emergence as F1’s new powerhouse after they cracked the double diffuser have been enough to topple the Brawn monster of the first half of the season had the new rule been in place?

 

Table: 2009 official and revised standings.

 

  2009 WDC final gp result double points WDC official WDC
1 Button 3 101 95
2 Vettel 1 94 84
3 Barrichello 4 82 77
4 Webber 2 77 69
5 Hamilton DNF 49 49
6 Raikkonen 12 48 48
7 Rosberg 9 34 34
7 Trulli +1 7 34 32
9 Alonso 14 26 26
10 Glock DNS 24 24
11 Kovalainen 11 22 22
12 Heidfeld +1 5 23 19
13 Massa -1 DNS 22 22
14 Kubica 10 17 17
15 Buemi 8 7 6
16 Kobayashi 6 6 3
  no other      
  points scores      
         
  2009 WCC      
    official WCC Double pts WCC  
1 Brawn 172 183  
2 RBR 153 171  
3 Mclaren 71 71  
4 Ferrari 70 70  
5 Toyota 59.5 64.5  
6 BMW 36 40  
7 Williams 34.5 34  
8 Renault 26 26  
9 Force India 13 13  
10 STR 8 9  

The only changes in the standings would have been Trulli moving up one spot in WCC as he tied Rosberg on points, and Heidfeld would have jumped Massa.  Starting this off with a sizzle rather than a bang, you see in the table that very little would have changed in 2009, partly because the points awarded per race were lower to begin with (the 2009 season featured points for only the top 8, 10 for the winner, then 8, 6, 5 ,4, 3 ,2, 1 ), mitigating the impact of double points somewhat.

2010 The Bulls show their balls

2010 was the breakthrough year for Red Bull which Brawns double diffuser denied them the year before. Though Webber and Vettel did their damned best to throw away the title in a superior car throwing hissy fits (and their cars) at each other, a remarkable season finale saw the underdog come through to win what we know now was the 1st in a string of 4 consecutive titels. With Vettel the race winner in – again – Abu Dhabi, the WDC would have still belonged to him if double points were awarded, but how does the rest shake out?

Table : 2010 official and revised standings.

  2010 WDC final gp result double points WDC  official WDC 
1 Vettel 1 281 256
2 Alonso 7 258 252
2 Hamilton +2 2 258 240
4 Webber -1 8 246 242
5 Button 3 229 214
6 Massa -1 10 145 142
7 Rosberg +1 4 154 144
7 Kubica 5 144 144
9 Schumacher DNF 72 72
10 Barrichello 12 47 47
11 Sutil 13 47 4
12 Petrov +1 14 32 35
13 Kobayashi -1 6 35 32
14 Hulkenberg 16 22 22
15 Liuzzi DNF 21 21
16 Buemi 15 8 8
17 De La Rosa DNS 6 6
18 Alguersuari +1 11 6 7
19 Heidfeld -1 9 7 6
         
  2010 WCC      
    official WCC Double pts WCC  
1 RBR 498 527  
2 Mclaren 454 487  
3 Ferrari 396 403  
4 Mercedes 214 226  
5 Renault 163 179  
6 Williams 69 69  
7 Force India 68 68  
8 Sauber 44 44  
9 STR 13 15  
10 backmarkers on 0 points      

Once more we do not really see major changes, though Massa is again drawing the short stick in WDC standings, dropping another place as this time Rosberg would have jumped him. Hamilton would have been the biggest winner, jumping Webber and tied with Alonso for 2nd in WDC, though the Spaniard would still edge it thanks to his greater win tally.  Petrov’s feisty, Alonso championship losing drive would have seen him jump ahead of Kobayashi in the standings. While all the way down the standings , Alguersuari would have jumped Heidfeld in the points. However when it comes down to the all important constructors money, again nothing would have changed in 2010. None of the cars from the two only teams really close to each other in the standings at the final round managed to score a point, so the WCC positions remain the same. So 2 years in a row where the double points would only have had a minor impact on WDC standings at the ass end of the grid. Much ado about nothing then, or shall we continue and see if anyon would have been set to lose a few million dollars over the latest shenanigans?

 

2011 Vettel and Red Bull teabag everybody

The 2011 RBR was unstoppable in the hands of Vettel, reaching a level of dominance one would only expect to see once in a generation (only for Red Bull and Vettel to step it up a notch and really rub it in at the end of 2013). There is no doubt Vettel and Red Bull would have walked away with all the glory, but will we see some changes down the grid? The venue of the season finale changed in any case, as we returned to Interlagos for the final GP, where Vettel’s mysterious gearbox problem gifted Webber a win to lift his morale after another sound thrashing by the youngster during the season.

 

Table 2011 official and revised standings

 

  2011 WDC final gp result double points WDC official WDC points
1 Vettel 2 410 392
2 Button 3 285 270
2 Webber 1 283 258
4 Alonso 4 269 257
5 Hamilton DNF 227 227
6 Massa 5 128 118
7 Rosberg 7 95 89
7 Schumacher 15 76 76
9 Sutil 6 50 42
10 Petrov 10 38 37
11 Heidfeld DNS 34 34
12 Kobayashi 9 32 30
13 Di Resta 8 31 27
14 Alguersuari 11 26 26
15 Buemi 12 15 15
16 Perez 13 14 14
17 Barrichello 14 4 4
18 Senna 15 2 2
19 Maldonado DNF 1 1
         
  2011 WCC      
    official WCC Double pts WCC  
1 RBR 650 693  
2 Mclaren 497 512  
3 Ferrari 375 397  
4 Mercedes 165 171  
5 Force India +1 69 81  
6 Renault -1 73 74  
7 Sauber 44 46  
8 STR 41 41  
9 Williams 5 5  
10 backmarkers on 0 points      

The driver standings actually don’t see any changes, but there is a big, multi-million dollar whopper of a change in the constructors standings where Force India overhaul Lotus Renault  for 5th in the WCC thanks to a strong result for both Di Resta and Sutil (P8 and P6 respectively) while the Lotus boys picked up just one point courtesy of Petrov’s tenth, making only +2 points in our final tally as opposed to FI taking home a sizeable 12 pts for the weekends work. Considering the Lotus’ current financial plight, that one surely would have stung for Eric Boullier.

 

2012 Alonso gets close, but no cigar

2012 was arguably Alonso’s finest year to date, dragging the third or even fourth best car within a whisker of the championship was a near superhuman feat but alas it was not to be, as Vettel got lucky with Grosjean being an idiot at Spa, the Brazilian weather, surviving an accident and car damage to drag home the sixth place he needed to secure his fourth title. Were the double points rule active at that time, Alonso would have been a triple world champion, which obviously is a major shake-up of the history books due to one silly rule. I suspect it is probably why a  team like Ferrari went along with an idea as stupid as this, as they were blinded by the success it could have brought them (the 2008 title would have also been Massa’s were this rule implemented at the time), forgetting it is of course a double edged sword.

 

Table: 2012 official and revised standings

 

  2012 WDC final gp result double points WDC official WDC points
1 Alonso +1 2 296 278
2 Vettel -1 6 289 281
3 Button +2 1 213 188
4 Raikkonen -1 10 208 207
5 Webber+1 4 191 179
6 Hamilton -2 DNF 190 190
7 Massa 3 137 122
8 Grosjean DNF 96 96
9 Rosberg 15 93 93
10 Hulkenberg +1 5 73 63
11 Perez -1 DNF 66 66
12 Kobayashi 9 62 60
13 Schumacher 7 55 49
14 Di Resta DNF 46 46
15 Maldonado DNF 45 45
16 Senna DNF 31 31
17 Vergne 8 20 16
18 Ricciardo 13 10 10
         
  2012 WCC      
    official WCC Double pts WCC  
1 RBR 460 480  
2 Ferrari 400 433  
3 Mclaren 378 403  
4 Lotus 303 304  
5 Mercedes 142 148  
6 Sauber 126 128  
7 Force India 109 119  
8 Williams 76 76  
9 STR 26 30  
10 backmarkers on 0 points      

Also near the top of the standings, Button would have leapfrogged his teammate Hamilton (outscoring him 2 years in a row) as well as Raikkonen to secure third in the standings with his win. Hamilton’s DNF after his accident with Hulkenberg would also result in Webber passing him for fourth in the standings, edging it by 1 point. While the top 6 in the drivers’ championship would have seen some serious upheaval, the gaps in the WCC were too big between all teams for anyone to profit from the double points, though again Force India came within nine points to steal a spot from Sauber. It could have been so had Hulkenberg not crashed while dicing for the lead, but at least the fifth place he salvaged would have seen him jump Perez in the standings.

 

2013 Not this guy again

A strong start for Ferrari and Lotus gave everybody some hope that this would be the year in which Red Bull would be brought down back to earth, but once the shocking level of incompetence demonstrated by Pirelli really came to the fore with some spectacular blowouts in Silverstone F1 had no choice but to change tyre compounds and then the Red Bull wings took off again. Vettel’s total domination would have ensured him the WDC either way, and a win in the final GP just capped off a near perfect year for the German,

 

Table: 2013 official and revised standings

 

  2013 WDC final gp result double points WDC official WDC points
1 Vettel 1 422 397
2 Alonso 3 257 242
3 Webber 2 217 199
4 Hamilton 9 191 189
5 Raikkonen DNS 183 183
6 Rosberg 5 181 171
7 Grosjean DNF 132 132
8 Massa 7 118 112
9 Button 4 85 73
10 Perez +1 6 57 49
11 Hulkenberg -1 8 55 51
12 Di Resta 11 48 48
13 Sutil 13 29 29
14 Ricciardo 10 21 20
15 Vergne 15 13 13
16 Gutierrez 12 6 6
17 Bottas DNF 4 4
18 Maldonado 16 1 1
         
  2013 WCC      
    official WCC Double pts WCC  
1 RBR 596 639  
2 Ferrari +1 354 375  
3 Mercedes -1 360 372  
4 Lotus 315 315  
5 Mclaren 122 142  
6 Force India 77 77  
7 Sauber 57 61  
8 STR 33 34  
9 Williams 5 5  
10 backmarkers on 0 pts      

The only change we would have seen in the drivers’ championship would have come from Perez leapfrogging Hulkenberg. However another multi million dollr change in the WCC standings would have seen Ferrari jump ahead of Mercedes courtesy of Alonso’s second place ( 36 pts) and Massa’s 7th (12pts) v Rosberg’s fifth (20 points) and Hamilton’s ninth (4 points), in the ends the red team outscoring the silver arrows by 3 points. Just looking ath these figures really hit home how absurd this new rule is. Rosberg’s 5th place is worth more than a 2nd anywhere else on the calendar. A crap race with a penalty from Massa still bags him 12 pts, as much as a 4th anywhere else!

 

 

Conclusion

 

Proponents of the double points season finale Bernie extravaganza could look at this and say it would have barely had any impact. The three biggest difference would have of course been Alonso taking the 2012 title, and FI stealing a WCC spot from Renault in 2011, and Ferrari doing to same to Mercedes this year. However, looking at the amounts of money involced in one constructors spot difference in the standing the ramifications can be huge. Cost cutting will take another hit as teams even all the way down the grid will be forced to keep car development up until the very end, as we see, even a fifth place is worth 20 points. In a tight WCC this can make the difference between tens of millions of dollars, and one fifth place should not have this kind of impact. The ramifications are just too big, and there is not a single sporting reason for this double points system to be awarded. Supposedly ‘the show’ benefits from it, and so does FOM’s wallet, as F1 continues its slide down from motorsport into mere entertainment.

 

While it was fun contemplating all these ‘what ifs’ during the long off season, my voice – or that of F1 F1 fan for that matter – won’t have an impact in the fight to get this ridiculous new rule kicked to the kerb. But the voice of the reigning, 4 time WDC should have some weight to it. If the rest of the drivers do not succumb to the PR machines of their respective teams, they should voice their opposition too an then just maybe F1 may still take this out of the 2014 regs. However, while I love to bash the FIA for its incompetence, once again we should wag a finger in the face of teams, as they too had a voice in this matter, and from the reports we read, several of them even accepted this daft proposal. Shame on you.

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BackmarkersF1 goes to Spa-Francorchamps!

Posted: September 12, 2013 by thevillainf1 in Uncategorized

Having been an F1 fan for most of my life it was a bit ridiculous that I had never gotten around to watching an actual F1 race when my home country boasts one of the most beautiful racetracks in the world. To add insult to injury, I even went and married a local girl whose parents live about 10 minutes away from the track, so my excuses were running thin. Then again, Bernie always serves as a good piñata, so I’ll just blame it on the exorbitant ticket prices F1 charges.

Pic: Hellooo Franchorchamps! – entry ‘la source’ on Friday

Image

The Package

Thanks to the aforementioned wifey, I finally got to see my home GP live, and when we do something, we do it in style, so she took the “Gold 9 VIP package”. It isn’t quite the paddock club yet, but at Spa it was definitely worth it, including nice breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack (read: booze) package at the Hotel de la Source, which is literally at 50 meters of the la Source entry. Another nice perk of the VIP package was the parking spots, instead of queuing for an hour or two trying to get into the track, with this ticket you can gain entry to a separate – not in use out of GP weekends –  highway exit, where traffic is very light, it took us maybe 15 minutes to get to our parking spot from the highway. The parking itself (P15 in our case) is about 200 meters from the hotel de la Source again…so no queuing, and no walking..gooood.

Breakfast included some croissants and such, but was nothing too fancy. I did watch the GP3 action mostly from the TV screens installed there as wifey wanted to savor the moment a bit before I dragged her out to the track in the mornings.

Pic: Chillin at the hotel

hotel de la source

After going out for watching some track action, it’s a 5 minute walk from the grandstand – the white colored one in front of the pitlane – back to the hotel for lunch, where a ‘traiteur’ prepares some nice warm dishes. Nothing spectacular, but sure as hell beats living off greasy fries and burgers all weekend! The evening snacks after the race action usually involved lots of beer and wine in my case, so good times were had – had to make sure to recover the ticket prices in ‘free’ booze .

Pic: VIP Style baby

vip table

Sights and Sounds

So enough with the food review and on to the seating: the Gold 9 grandstand is very well placed right opposite the lower end of the pitlane – we were directly in front of the Williams pit, with goods views on the grid and la source entry, and even a bit of the exit as well as the track rises up again towards eau rouge. It is also mightily impressive to ear the cars come roaring around Blanchimont onto the chicane and the pit straight.

Pic: View from the grandstand left and right – Its the white covered one in 3rd pic

view left view right grandstandfrom top

All in all, a good viewing position, but there are two downsides: it is a bit of a shame that the pitlane slopes down a bit, so you can’t really see the cars when they are coasting through the pitlane because the line of sight gets blocked by the higher pitwall. You can sort of catch the pitstops of the teams directly in front of you, but not of the rest for the grid. You can however look into quite a few garages. Here you see Bottas preparing for FP3 with his engineer.

Pic: Bottas gets ready for FP3

bottas get ready

Of course, you are free to wander around the track with these tickets as well, so during the FP sessions we took a walk down to Blanchimont and the chicane, where as you can see here, a Williams can actually find the pit entry without running into someone during practice.

Pic: A William finds the pitlane entry without crashing (probably Bottas 😉 )

Iwilliams enter pits

During FP3, my wife and I also walked down to eau rouge and the fan village behind it. As they always say, television really does not do justice to the elevation changes on this track..eau rouge is really steep lol. We saw a few cars zoom past there and while the speed was impressive I wasn’t taken aback as I thought I would…maybe eau rouge has indeed  lost a bit of its ‘je ne sais quoi’ in these days of taking it flat out.

Pic: Amour a l’eau rouge

eau rouge

The fan village is your typical consumerist affair, where you can buy lots of overpriced official merchandise. I found it disappointing though that it was all the top 5 teams, and it was near impossible to find some merch from the lesser teams. Thousands of RBR, Ferrari, Lotus, Mclaren and Mercedes stuff, but I had to look long and hard for my Williams hat, and only saw a few caps of our beloved backmarkers Caterham and Marussia. Walking around, it was fun watching what people were wearing to gauge which teams had the most support.  Somewhat surprisingly, It was a close call between Lotus and Mercedes at Spa, with a bit less of Red Bull and Ferrari, and Mclaren sort of between those. Looking at the stuff people are wearing, you’d be forgiven for thinking there are only 5 teams on the F1 grid..then again nobody wants to support a loser – which did make me contemplate switching my Williams hat to the Mercedes one after the team had another torrid weekend..(I did stick it out with Williams though 😉 )

Pic: GP2 feature race grid

GP2 grid

The racing program is pretty packed during the day with GP3 , GP2 and Porsche supercup sessions keeping the action going. To their loss, not many people watch the junior series, so you can pretty much go sit anywhere to experience the track during those moments. Even the F1 practice sessions aren’t that busy. In Qualifying attendance evidently picks up, but still quite a few seats next to me were free, the only time the place was jam-packed was during the F1 race. It was disappointing to see my man Nasr take himself out at la Source, but at least it gave me an opportunity to take this snap of hm walking back to the pits in a thundery mood.

Pic: Unhappy Nasr

nasr

With Romain Grosjean deciding not to try and kill a world champion this year, the F1 race was mostly without incident, though I did catch Di Resta’s Force India bouncing around after Pastor had run into him like the idiot he is. (you can just about see the exit of the chicane from Gold 9 grandstand). Luckily, there’s always the young guns of GP2 and GP3 to see some carbon flying. GP2 was surprisingly civil this weekend, but the GP3 boys made for plenty of cockups to la source. You can watch the race from behind the stewards’s position at la source, and gives a good opportunity to see a GP3 car up close as it is being craned away to safety.

gp3 car wreck

F1 madness

So you’ve now had my tripadvisor like review, now I’ll let you onto my F1 fan’s view on the race weekend. From a technical point of view, one thing really stood out, and that was the insane popping and blowing that can be heard from the Red Bulls as they braked into turn one. No other car made the kind of popping noise the Red Bull did. With extreme engine maps and off throttle blowing supposedly banned since last year, it really is shocking to hear the difference in sounds under braking between an RBR and pretty much the rest of the field. The Merc does quite a bit of poppin’ too, but nowhere near the level what the Red Bull is doing.  In fact, it sounds like the further down the grid you go, the less popping there is to hear.

It was very noticeable, even to a tech layman like myself, and I wonder why not more fuss has been made about it this year. In not a single article have I noticed this being referenced. It would be interesting to get a detailed analysis of one of F1’s resident tech geeks on how it’s possible for the Renault in the RBR to sound so remarkably different under braking to all the other cars, when off throttle blowing is supposedly banned. Maybe Webbo and Vettel are giving it a squirt of gas under braking??

I missed the first practice session, but managed to watch the rest of it pretty much throughout. I was pleased to have bought a good set of earplugs prior to coming there as even the sound of a GP3 car gets really painful after a while. I definitely do not recommend sitting through a GP without earplugs! It was fun to be seated on the grandstand where you could see all the preparations going onto the grid, the activity in the pits during quail, etc. I was also sat right in front of a giant TV screen so could follow all the race action pretty well. It also helped in that respect that it was a fairly boring, straightforward race without too many stops. Anyway sitting on the pit straight basically gives you something to look at after the cars have passed by you, after all Spa is a very long lap, so sometimes- early on in the race before the field gets spread out, you don’t see a car for a minute and a half.

Pic: view of the big screen in front of grandstand, listening to Lewis interview during parade

driver parade lewis interview

Qualifying was very exciting, as you could really feel the weather shifting. While Sunday was disappointing and gave us one of the most boring races of the season, Saturday was one of the best qualifying sessions we’ve seen. For a while, I was convinced Di Resta got pole, as when the others went out for their last dash effort, rain was still streaming down on the pit straight. Therefore there was a good amount of shouting in excitement as we saw the times topple at the very end, and a good roar came from the many Hamilton supporters as he pipped Vettel to pole. They also showed the lap again on the big screen which was a nice touch.

The starts were of course always the most spectacular sight of the weekend, there really is something to hearing  22 cars revving up and unleash as they dive into la Source. Before the F1 race starts there’s a bit of a driver parade, this case they individually went into classic cars as they were driven around. Some drivers made an extra effort and sat up, where others really just sat there in the car out of sight. JB seemed to be the most accessible one, doing interviews as he had finished his lap. They also interviewed Hamilton and Van der Garde on the Kemmel straight which I could follow on the big screen as you saw in the pic above.

Pic: Hamilton talking to his engineer on the Grid..quite a bit busier than GP2 and GP3!f1 grid hammy interview

The race itself as said was a largely dull affair. I saw Hamilton get away well and thought ‘Good, at least Vettel won’t run away with this’…only to see him blow past on the big screen at Kemmel. The fun part of watching a race from the stands is that you can also follow the backmarker battle a bit – which is impossible just watching the world feed who’d make you think only 5 cars run in every GP. So I saw the Caterhams fight the Marussia’s, and Van der Garde holding off Pastor in the dying laps. It was also striking how Chilton kept losing time lap after lap on Bianchi, until the picture got a bit skewed when the pitstops started. At front nothing really changed once Alonso got passed Hamilton, which I could see from my position, after that they were pretty much trailing each other along, with some minor scraps for position into la Source nearer the back of the grid, none with too much drama. Mid- race I did start noticing the Williams team bring out the pitboards every lap – something most teams don’t seem to do anymore (and why would they if the radio is working) – but later we heard that the Williams radio did cock up (and now you see what you get when you can’t remind Pastor to stay cool about 17 times per lap).

Pic: Greenpeace banner from behind – at the time I thought it was just shell promo lol

greenpeace

To be honest I had not noticed a thing of those Greenpeace hipster protests, and, since I was standing behind it I could not read the banner, at firs I even thought it was just a shell promo stunt. I did see some security guys wrestle someone trying to descend onto the podium too, which is when the worst booing happened, during the Vettel interview. So clearly people were booing the hippies, not blondie.

While it may not have the same notoriety as the one in Monza, there was a bit of a track invasion as well after the race, as they opened the gates at La Source. I went down the pit straight to take a loo into the garages, and was suprised that barely 20 minutes after the end of the Grand Prix, all the cars were gone except for the ones of Charles Pic and Di Resta, as evidently those still needed some work after having retired from the race. The speed of the packup was quite impressive.

Pic: the remains of Di Resta’s Maldonated Force India

Di Restas car

It was a pretty amazing experience to be walking down the straight where the cars had been gunning through just moments earlier, and it really was fun to feel the atmosphere, though I think anyone other than Vettel winning woul ave probably made it more fun. Nonetheless here is my attempt at making the Vettel finger look cool on the straight,

Pic:  the finger

pit straight finger

After years as an F1 fan, I absolutely loved taking in the racing during the whole weekend. The wifey and I are already planning to do some other races, Monaco and Monza being hot on the wishlist. It may cost a lot of moolah but damn you Bernie, this sport is just so exciting it’s worth it!

The silly season starts now…

Posted: July 31, 2013 by Matt Ruda in Uncategorized

Well we’re halfway through the F1 season and that means two things are upon us. The first is the hellish month we face without a Grand Prix. The second is, of course, the increased chatter, rumors, and guesswork as to how the field will shape up in 2014. Some places are cemented by contract, others by logic, others by utter s*** loads of money thrown at a team.

Still, changing tides and the departure of some old names means this could be one of the better silly seasons. It’s only fitting that the biggest w*nkers in F1 journalism opine on who will go where. This will be a joint article, and a living one. It will be changed and updated as time goes on, and in a year y’all can come back and mock just how wrong we were about everything.

Three people will lead this discussion, and you, the reader, can give us your ideas on Twitter, via e-mail, or snail mail if you somehow have any of our addresses.

I, Matt, am not as in touch with the feeder series as my co-authors, so I’ll pretty much exclusively evaluate potential of current or trying to return F1 drivers. My comments will be in black.

Valentin is the Backmarkers Bridge so to speak. His work for Paddock Scout gives him an eye for the feeder series, and he writes some stuff for us when he’s not paying homage to his [DRIVER NAME REDACTED] shrine. His comments will be in red.

Pete Allen, head of Paddock Scout will be called upon to give us his in-depth knowledge of the feeder series drivers with an eye on immanent F1 entry. His comments will be in blue.

A final note, as of now McLaren and Mercedes are not going to see any movement, and as such will be excluded from this list.

Let’s do this!

Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel is contracted to stay with the team and, baring some sort of divine intervention, that’s where he will stay. However, Mark Webber’s departure from the sport has everyone in the F1 world polishing off their CV. Who will take the seat? Most think there are only two remaining contenders for the spot, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen. Both are obvious choices, one being a world champion and the other being the best of the two Red Bull Junior Team (aka Toro Rosso) drivers. One brings amazing race pace and only marginal qualifying prowess, the other brings the opposite and room to grow. What says the panel?

Best Chance:

Matt- Kimi Raikkonen

Spoiler alert, saying that I’m a massive Kimi fan is a severe understatement. That said, purely on objective reasoning, I still think he’s the best fit for RBR. Red Bull want the strongest drivers to win WCC championships. Yes it’s great that Sebastian is faster than a lawsuit in America, but the team make their money in the constructors championship. Kimi doesn’t have the qualifying prowess of Vettel, and probably won’t be able to pop out purple laps on a whim, but he has the consistency. His racecraft and pace retention is, in my opinion, only equaled by Fernando Alonso. Unlike Vettel, he doesn’t need the strongest car to have a successful campaign, and unlike Mark, he’s not prone to sudden cliffs in form.

He also is a known quantity. While Ricciardo has shown promise, not every successful mid-tier team driver can perform as well or better in higher end machinery. Look at Hekki to McLaren for evidence. In other circumstances, with major technical changes incoming, Red Bull could afford to take a risk, and if Ricciardo underperforms, move on to a new driver. However with a world champion driver obviously on the market, and with the ability to pay his wage, Red Bull won’t want to pass this opportunity up.

The unfortunate side effect of recruiting Raikkonen is the final nail in RBR Junior’s coffin. In a program designed to find new talent to bring to Red Bull, in its entire history, only one driver has made that leap, the Great Fingerboy. You could argue that the strongest should prevail, and I respect that, but when you create an atmosphere of “bring it or die” and recruit these kids with the promise that they’ll get a shot if a seat opens up, throwing them by the wayside to recruit a champion seems disingenuous.

Wildcard:

Matt- Fernando Alonso

I really doubt this will become more than a rumor. Still, it’s worth a mention. The recent telling off Fernando received for remarks about the team/car might not seem like much from most teams, but from Ferrari it could be a whole lot more. This is a prickly, almost childish team. They fired the great Alan Prost for saying his car was slow (spoilers, it was… very…) and payed off Kimi Raikkonen to grab a certain Spaniard.

Additionally, this isn’t the sort of thing I could see Alonso doing. Webber, Raikkonen, and to an extent Hulk may shy away from the PR-centric scripts their team hand them, but Alonso always seems to put Ferrari first. He’s always out front trying to keep team spirits up, to drive them forward when their car only wants to go backwards, and for him to strike out seems out of character.

But then again, maybe that’s the very reason he came out against the team. Alonso is a double world champion come to the most prestigious team in F1, and in his three years what does he have to show for it? Three lost championships. One to pitlane incompetence (2010), once to inability to keep up with rivals’ development pace (2011), followed by inability to create a car that was worth a damn (2012). While not as dramatic as 2012’s machine, the 2013 Ferrari isn’t that fast either, and perhaps Fernando is tired of watching title chances melt away when he’s putting in world class performances.

My inclusion of him here isn’t to say I think Fernando is going to sign with RBR. We don’t have enough information to determine that. However, if this developing rift between driver and team is real, I can’t see Alonso going anywhere else.

Ferrari

For the sake of the article, let’s assume Alonso stays put at Ferrari for 2014. We still have one Felipe Massa to take care of. While many (myself included) thought we might see a return of the old Massa after some great opening performances, Felipebaby has gone back to his usual terrible driving. But is is replacement a guarantee?

Best Chance:

Matt- Nico Hulkenberg

With Nico’s departure from Sauber joining death and taxes as one of life’s certainties, I think he could be a perfect candidate to back up Alonso at Ferrari. He’s quick, consistent, and has deserved a sharp end seat for a long while. I’m no fan of his personality true enough, but i would rather have a quick, slightly prickish driver in a top slot than a nice, slow one.

Ferrari are a risk adverse team to a fault. While Bianchi or some feeder kid may be a more exciting prospect, excitement keeps Luca and Stephano awake at night. Hulkenberg has proven time and again he’s up for the challenge, and I think it’s past the point where the risk of a new driver outweighs Felipe’s poor form.

Wildcard:

Matt- Felipe Stays

Like I said above, Ferrari are risk adverse to a fault. Just look at the 2012 machine and you’ll see that in the flesh (or I guess in the carbon… whatever). As we enter a new Formula there are already many, many unknowns at play. Hell, the regulations still haven’t been completed. The very thought must have Ferrari management s***ting bricks. Even with Felipe making the Ferrari look like an HRT in red, I suspect a certain element would rather see him stay on. The guy does have a fanbase from his glory days pre-2009, and I’d rather have Brazilians on my side than against me (I know what they do to football refs over there…)

Lotus

With Lotus we arrive at the first team who could potentially do away with their entire 2013 lineup. As previously mentioned, all indications are that Kimi is on the move onward and upward. As for Romain, he continues to be F1’s resident bipolar driver. He can be extraordinarily quick over a single lap, and has a qualifying edge on his teammate. However, we all know what happens in the race when Grosjean finds himself having to actually race. Hungary featured the Frenchman throwing away a podium spot due to a stupid overtaking attempt (shock) and exceeding the track limits to pass a la Vettel in Germany. While he has been less dangerous so far in 2013, one has to question how many WCC points Lotus will let him blow in the future.

Best Chance:

Matt- Valtteri Bottas / Lower Formula Young Driver

I’ve already gone on record saying I think Kimi will be donning Red Bull blues this time next year, so who better to replace him than another Finn? Obvious nationalistic purposes aside, Valtteri has done very well in his rookie season to match, and sometimes beat, his teammate. This is even more impressive considering Bottas’ lower formula cars probably handled better than the 2013 Williams.

Also, seeing as their are a team strapped for cash, I could see Williams wanting to follow Sauber’s lead and taking on some moneybags from Russia. Lotus offers the young Finn a chance to move to what is virtually the Renault works team, having spent a year under their power already. Bottas deserves the chance to prove himself in a proper F1 car, and Lotus are shaping up to be consistent title contenders in a few years time.

As for the second seat, I think it should go to some young junior formula talent. I defer to my other two authors on this one, since I have very little knowledge in that area. Grosjean is becoming a more reckless version of Felipe, that is, his flashes of talent are overshadowed by some utterly terrible driving. At least Massa only takes himself out of races, instead of others. After a disastrous ’09, a disastrous ’12, and so far mediocre ’13, it’s time to move on. Give some budding young talent a chance, and let Grosjean go to NASCAR.

Force India

Toro Rosso

Sauber

Williams

Caterham

Marussia

BackmarkersF1 Episode 20: W*nkers Try PR

Posted: July 12, 2013 by Matt Ruda in Uncategorized

We’re back!

After a long hiatus from the casting world Matt, Valentin, and Ilya cover the British and German GP. Between Pirelli rants, Bianchi lolz, and Ilya’s silence it was an interesting one to be sure. We ignore a few GP along the way, and discuss where Ferrari go from here following Massa’s utter fail.

Hope you guys enjoy. 🙂

Click Here To Download

About the download link, I dunno if this is just my computer or a WordPress thing, but the download links now bring up an audio player. To get the audio, right click on the player and select “save audio” option.

Ok, so I didn’t make any predictions nor did you receive a foul mouthing podcast from us after the Chinese GP. After all, there was not much bashing to do except for maybe Gutierrez mistaking Sutil for a hot blonde he decided to hump from behind, and a lap before that, the Force India pair coming together.

There is clearly no love lost between Sutil and Di Resta, though Paul should probably be a bit more careful going against Adrian when the last time he was in China he glassed a rival team boss, so who knew what he’d be ready to do against his team rival.. Anyway both got away from that one  fairly unscathed until Karma caught up with Sutil in the form of a rear end assault by aforementioned Mexican. Hope he didn’t bring the hot salsa!

Alonso stormed to a dominant win – the first Ferrari win in normal, dry conditions on both Saturday and Sunday in about 3 years saying much about the teams overall competitiveness in years past – Raikkonen couldn’t care less about a broken nose while Hamilton salvaged third from a charging Vettel. In any case, the podium trio was a lot more chirpy compared to 3 weeks ago in Malaysia.

Qualifying was a quite disappointing experience, with lots of dead air – Bernie will have surely taken note – because of the tyres basically dominating proceedings. With everybody frantic to save sets, and in the knowledge that the soft tyre had the durability of Vanilla Ice’s career as a rapper, q1 saw like 10 minutes of empty track, when q3 devolved into a classic 1 lap shootout which did have its merits…for the full 2 minutes that it lasted.

When the 1 lap wonderboy, polesitter in previous 2 races, defending triple WDC doesn’t bother to even try to grab pole because of the tyres, something is fundamentally wrong. Turn it however you want, it is not right nor good for f1 to have a top team believing their best chance is to skip quali to save a set of rubber instead of going for pole. Ok, it turned out Red Bull was wrong this time, but the fact they considered it their best strategy says a lot about the mindset about qualifying in 2013. Button was another one who took that call, although in his case one could argue that going oddball on strategy was his only chance of a good result keeping in mind the poor pace of his car.

Anyway on to Bahrain, F1s miserable lot of failed journos with ego’s the size of the Pulitzer they will never receive will get their chance to play real journalism as they watch Bahrainis getting tear gassed. Frankly I’m over it already. If we are brutally honest, I do not think many people, fans and personnel alike, have any interest left in Bahrain’s political situation. Should Bernie stop taking F1 to moneyladen countries to tracks with no soul, sure. Should F1 care about the political situation in the country? Let the UN handle that one to make strong objections against the inadmissible actions of a repressive government all the while continuing to monitor the situation closely without ofcourse ever bothering to do anything except send some high paid emissaries to be wined and dined… 

On to the racing then. As said by Wollf and Hamilton, Bahrain will be a good acid test for Mercedes to see if they can really be an outsider for the title. The key question is whether they can get their rear tyres to survive longer than a black man in a horror movie. Contrary to China, and much like Big Dickus in Girls Gone Wild 532,  this track gives a serious pounding to the rears, which has been the Merc’s biggest weakness in past years. Th high temps, nature of the corners and sandy track will make tyres yet again a key talking point of the weekend. It will also be interesting to see how the Red Bulls fare after slipping up a bit in China with some stupid pitcrew fumbles on Webbo’s car (who else) and a bad strategy call for Vettel. Are we really starting to see chinks in the Red Bull armor following the Multi21 controversy?

Ferrari will be keen to get some momentum going for Nando’s title challenge, who clearly dismissed any doubts to who was boss by convincingly outperforming Massa again. Though Massa has finally got on top of qualifying, his race pace has vanished mysteriously in the past 2 GPs, and now that Ferrari have a keen eye on the performances of Bianchi, the situation is not like last year where his seat was saved more by lack of a suitable Ferrari replacement rather than his little resurgence. With Bianchi in the wings, Massa needs to show he can be Alonso’s ideal wingman. To be that, he really should have been there with Hamilton and Raikkonen to take more points off Vettel, but his race pace was just not there as he finished behind even Button.

Raikkonen shot out of nowhere during q3 in China, and if he can keep that sort of qualifying performances up he will have eliminated Lotus’ biggest weakness since last yr having compromised races from lap 1 due to always starting 6-7th. Grosjean has not been doing the silly things he did last year, but has also shown none of his sometimes prodigal pace. Coulthard put it best in his BBC column when he said that soon Romain should start crashing in a race for us to even notice he’s there. Blaming his woes on a mysterious car issue is also not doing him any good, he should look inward, knuckle down and get back on track after the slide which really started after he tried decapitating Alonso at la Source.

Further down the grid Sutil and Di Resta will continue their war which seems to get edgier with every race, Gutierrez will continue to be eaten alive by the Hulk in a largely disappointing Sauber, Williams will continue to suck while Pastor loses his marbles having been beaten 3 races in a row by a rookie teammate. Ricciardo seems to finally be showing he’s got the goods to take Mark’s seat while Vergne should probably start fearing the Marko axe, especially if Da Costa pulls of another of his stellar performances in his first full season of WSR.

The last interesting tidbit to come out this week was Heikki Kovalainen returning to Caterham as a reserve driver in a role reversal with Van der Garde. It seems like Caterham are only now realizing that ditching an experienced hand like Kovi (and to lesser extent, Petrov) and replacing them with a rookie and a 2nd year guy from another backmarker team when you are trying to climb up the grid is not conducive to great performances. Taking back Heikki is a clear admission of the team that their current drivers don’t cut it, at least when it comes to developing a car. The distance between Pic and VDgarde suggests the Dutchman can’t cut it at all. Sure he is an F1 rookie, but he has had many years of experience in powerful machinery nonetheless and did some practice outings last year, so he is better prepared than most rookies. Anyway, should either of their drivers hit financing troubles, Heikki is now right there to slot into the seat, and that won’t help the pressure being already felt by the drivers in the Caterham team, who went from ‘we’re about to catch the midpack’ to ‘damned those Marussia’s are stomping us’. Mind you, Marussia still has the crap Cosworth to fight Caterham’s Renault with, making their season start all the more impressive.

Anyway quick prediction for Bahrain pulled out of my arse:

Quali:

1.Webber

2.Vettel

3.Alonso

 

Race:

1.Raikkonen

2.Webber

3.Alonso

Go ahead and share yours below, am sure I can find a perfectly cringeworthy picture of Valentin eating da poopoo on some obscure Russian site as this year’s prize: The Wanking Webbo

BackmarkersF1 Podcast Episode 19: Malaysian Malaise

Posted: March 27, 2013 by thevillainf1 in Uncategorized

BackmarkersF1 gets back on track for the 2013 season with a review of the first two Grand Prix of the year, interrupted by rantings, ravings and general obscenity with Matt, Marvin, Valentin; and back after a very long hiatus, myself. We dig deep into the Multi-21 controversy, we wonder where Mercedes’ pace came from over the winter, Matt took some time off from worshiping at his Adrian Newey shrine to join us,  I drool over Bianchi, Marvin renounces his German nationality and turns Swiss while Valentin eats da poopoo.. I may have mixed up a few things in the description but whatever. Join us now for the low down on the start of the 2013 F1 season!

right click and save as to download as mp3

It’s almost at an end. We’ve endured four grueling weeks without F1, and still have a bit more than a week left to go, but the end is in sight. Come this time next week the engines will be firing for FP1, and there is no better track to end our withdrawal at than Spa. Spa is a track that never disappoints with it’s fast speeds, ample overtakes, and weather that is as changeable as Maldonado’s race performance. We’ll also get to see exactly what kind of upgrades the teams have designed over the break.

Even with a mandatory two week off period, the teams still had three weeks to develop and prepare their various upgrade packages. The one I’m most excited to see is the Lotus DDRS concept, since they are the only team so far to do any real testing on the concept apart from Mercedes. Beyond that, I can’t see anyone doing anything drastic. Ferrari [read: Alonso]  have recovered quite well from their miserable start, and should be able to bring evolutionary parts instead of revolutionary ones. Caterham still have to find that second or so of pace they were talking about. It’s safe to say their Silverstone upgrade failed epically, but a recent announcement gives me some hope. Caterham plan on making their 2013 car an upgraded version of the 2012 machine, rather than starting from scratch. As a result, they are going to develop the 2012 car much further into the season than originally planned. Sounds good to me. I say, #PERRRRKELE!

 

Last year’s race was an interesting one. Vettel shocked everyone by winning, Webber stalled his engine, Schumacher had an epic recovery drive, and Hamilton crashed into Kobayashi. But none of that can even come close to comparing to the balls-to-the-wall, pants wetting awesomeness that was the Alonso/Webber battle into Eau Rouge. It was pure win. Senna’s debut [in a proper F1 car] on the other hand, was not pure win. He decided to pull a Nakajima and BANZAI!!! his way into the first corner, giving Alguersuari a swift kick in the arse. While Bruno continued, Jaime had to retire. The impact ended up claiming Jenson’s right mirror and front wing, and jumbled up the order as everyone had to dive around the debris.

Fast forward a year, and everything has changed. In 2011, Vettel winning was added alongside death and taxes as one of life’s certainties. Now, he spends less time out front and more time crying on the radio. McLaren lack pace, Alonso is performing miracle after miracle, and Lotus keep getting stronger. Mix in the LOLrelli tires, a weather forecast that points to rain, and this could be one of the most unpredictable races yet. With rain a realistic possibility, I’m going to once again divide my predictions into dry and wet.

Dry:

For quali, the two stars will be Lotus and McLaren, the former with the new working DDRS and the latter spending their billions of quid on upgrades. Ferrari and Red Bull will have their own battle slightly further behind the top two, and Mercedes might mix things up as well. Force India will occupy a “no-man’s land” between the top five teams and other six, using their top speed advantage to pull ahead. After that it will be Sauber from Williams from STR and the usual suspects. I’m going to predict a McLaren 1/4 and a Lotus 2/3 start to the race. Lewis will pull another Barcelona and blow everyone else away, while Grosjean will outqualify Kimi. Button will comfortably settle into P4, bitching about understeer all the way.

For the race, I expect Grosjean to try and spear underneath Lewis into T1, and thankfully miss hitting anyone. Webber will miraculously get a good start, and begin his charge towards the front. In typical fashion, Bruno will hit someone off the line and I hope and pray it’s Maldonado, so we can have a clean, fair race beyond lap 1. Fernando will hold station throughout the race, while Felipe plays defense, having qualified right behind ‘Nando. Felipe’s recent interview revealed that unlike in Germany 2010, he is ready and willing to be Fernando/Ferrari’s bitch, and even if Felipebaby is faster, he won’t challenge Alonso. I hope this was just a PR move, otherwise he’s gonna need that resume very, very soon. As the race goes on, we’ll see a titanic battle between Kimi and Lewis, and McLaren will mercifully not screw up any of Hamilton’s pitstops. However, in order to maintain universal balance, one of the crew members will forget to fasten on of Button’s nuts, leading to his retirement.

In the end, Raikkonen will find a way past Hamilton, and Webber will pull a last lap move on his teammate to take P3. Seb will hold off Alonso for P4, with Massa taking P6.
Wet Race:

I’m not going to try and predict a wet quali session, simply because the car/temperature dynamic with the LOLrelli tires is so fickle I could spend hours trying to work out who will go well. So, for simplicity, let’s say quali was dry. Senna will still go up someone’s rear into T1, but Grosjean won’t attempt a pass. Instead, he will wait to spin in Eau Rouge. Into the first few laps it will once again become clear that Ferrari and Sauber are the cars to beat, with them making solid gains through the field. Kimi will struggle for grip and eventually be passed by Alonso somewhere near the quarter way mark. Lewis will prove harder to pass, but Fernando will eventually get it done.
Behind them, the two Sauber drivers will work together to clear the field, with Kobayashi giving everyone Kamui Kisses. Perez will get the jump on Kamui in the pit stops, and it will become clear the Sauber pair are faster than Fernando. Despite Felipe’s best blocking efforts, the two will get by, with Felipe misjudging a defensive move, letting Kobayashi through, and spinning of into the gravel. Alonso will hold Kamui off, but not Perez, who will take his first F1 win with a team who nobody thought could win. Should this happen, contracts will be signed.

Further down, the Red Bull pair will finish P4/P5 ahead of the McLaren boys in P6/P7. Kimi will be lucky to take a few points, while Hekki will finish ahead of the STR team on merit, leading to much drinking and #PERRRRKELE everywhere.
To recap:

Quali:

1. Lewis Hamilton

2. Romain Grosjean

3. Kimi Raikkonen

4. Jenson Button

5. Fernando Alonso

 

Race (Dry):

1. Kimi Raikkonen

2. Lewis Hamilton

3. Mark Webber

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Fernando Alonso

6. Felipe Massa

 

Race (Wet):

1. Sergio Perez

2. Fernando Alonso

3. Kamui Kobayashi

4. Sebastian Vettel

5. Mark Webber

6. Lewis Hamilton

 

Cucumber of the Race:

C. Romain Grosjean

 

Over to y’all then! What do you guys think will happen in Belgium this year? Do you agree with me, of think I’m full of it again? Type away!

 

Thanks for all your e-mails guys! This should help the summer break along nicely. Hope we can get a new episode recorded this week or next.

So in the midst of this insufferable summer break in the world of Formula 1 (Gah, when the hell did this get so long, 5 weeks? Seriously?), the silly season’s starting to get strong now in F1 nuts’ heads and journalism, wondering who’s gonna go where, and making up their dream grids and suffering from stress attacks at the possibility that Massa might stay in F1.
And I’m gonna be no less, so even though this was hard and stressing, here’s my dream grid (with a tad of realism, but just a tad), for F1 2,013.

HRT-Cosworth / Nº1 Pedro de la Rosa – Nº2 Daniel Clos
HRT have repeatedly shown their efforts of having a full Spanish line-up, and me being Spanish, well, I know they’re going to try their best to do that (we’re stubborn when we want to), and give Dani Clos a chance at a racing seat for the next season.
Being already installed in their new factory in Madrid, and actually getting sponsorships from pretty big companies here, I don’t believe they need the money as much anymore. They’ve been talking about having a serious project in F1, and how them being in the fight with the other cars is not going to take too long, so I believe this would be an important step for a team, which, even though at the back of the grid, has impressed me quite a lot these months, with ~80 people on the team, and the smallest budget (around half to that of Marussia), is managing to compete with their direct rivals.
Again this is more of a dream-thing, and Karthikeyan’s rupees may still be needed, but one just can’t overlook the fact that Clos has done FP1 on 4 straight occasions (and done quite impressive times with that tuned, KERS-less, badly-DRS’d GP2 car).
Just one last thing, to HRT, please, please get rid of the Cosworth engine. 😛
P.D. I also considered Ma Qing Hua instead of Pedro, but it’d surprise me.

Marussia Virgin Racing-Cosworth / Nº1 Charles Pic – Nº2 Max Chilton
I think it will depend on the money and flashes of talent they show at the end of this GP2 season, Chilton and Haryanto seem to be on Marussia’s spotlight, both having run at the Young Drivers’ Test at Silverstone, but with Chilton on top most of the time, and with the racing funds h obviously has, I believe they’ll let rookie Haryanto in for another GP2 season, and take Chilton to replace a crestfallen Timo Glock having his worst moments at Marussia.
Maybe they’ll let Haryanto in as a test or 3rd driver, but I don’t know if I’d take that role within the team. My regards to María de Villota who is thankfully recovering from that freak accident which has cost her an eye and her career.

Caterham Racing-Renault / Nº1 Heikki Kovalainen – Nº2 Vitaly Petrov
Well, I considered the possibility of Van der Garde joining in after a couple of Friday test drives, and pretty decent GP2 seasons. He’s got the money and he’s quite fast, and he’s Caterham’s test driver, but I believe they’re going to go another round with the Russian wall, as he hasn’t been doing half-bad this season, considering the car and all.
Heikki is staying, though they better get the car onto the midfield, as he’s starting to lose patience, and might go all PERKELE on them. I don’t believe his results in ’08 and ’09 were completely his fault, and he’s a good driver overall to get the team into the midfield they so desire. To achieve that objective a consolidated team will be necessary.

Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari / Nº1 Daniel Ricciardo – Nº2 Luiz Razia
Let’s face it, no Toro Rosso driver has been shining this year as they were supposed to. Perhaps they were overhyped, but I’m pretty sure Buemi-Alguersuari would have been doing a much better job, and showing much more promise. Oh, well, Marko’s like that, completely illogical. Anyway, what’s done is done, and out of the pair Ricciardo is the one showing more pace out of the two in general, and he’s the one STR seems to like the most, so I believe Razia, who competes in Arden in GP2 (Their team principal is Christian Horner) will get the chance to go into the team at the expense of under-delivering Jean-Éric Vergne, who’s a terrible qualifier.
And besides, I’d like to see that move he put in at Valencia done in F1, he seems quite capable, fast, and intelligent.
(And it doesn’t really matter winning GP2 on the 4th season, Maldonator did so too, and he’s shown he has speed. I believe Razia has that speed, but he won’t crash as much ;D).

Sahara Force India-Mercedes / Nº1 Nico Hülkenberg – Nº2 Jules Bianchi
Jules has been waiting a long time to get into an F1 seat, and next year I believe will be his first, after showing his undeniable worth on the GP2 series (not many end 3rd on their rookie season) and one of the most disputed WSR seasons (with one win and 3 second places, he’s still in touch with the leaders, and he’s setting in fastest laps, and poles, so he’s talented), he’s definitely shown his speed, and at 23 his time is ripe to get him into a SFI seat.
Jules basically deserves that seat already, and he has shown it through the years.
Nico’s been showing he still has it, beating Di Resta lately, and the decision was hard to make as to whether Paul or Nico get the empty Mercedes seat Michael should leave.  Mercedes would love to have two Germans, the Nico-bergs, but I believe in the end Di Resta will show he deserves the seat, overthrowing Sam Bird and Hülkenberg.

Williams F1-Renault / Nº1 Pastor Maldonator – Nº2 Valteri Bottas
Nothing too unexpected at Williams will happen in my honest opinion. Bottas has impressed at the Young Drivers’ Test and at the practice sessions; Senna has unimpressed at races and qualifying.  I can’t help but wonder where that car would be given the right hands. The Baldini award was obviously somehow manipulated. -_-
Maldonado has shown he has the speed, but not the brains. 11 penalties in 11 races is not a happy statistic, thing is, he won’t even take responsibility! But that’s just a smokescreen, I’m sure all these penalties must have taken a bite out of his idiocy and he’ll learn. I give him one more year to, as he’s got Venezuela behind him and he’s not that bad when he doesn’t crash.

Sauber F1 Team-Ferrari / Nº1 Jaime Alguersuari – Nº2 Esteban Gutiérrez
BAM! CRAZINESS! Where’s Kamui? Where. The. Hell. Is. The Tora-tora-tora man? Well, as much as I loved him in 2,010 and 2,011, he’s failing to impress this year, and while Pérez already has got 2 podiums, Kamui couldn’t manage to come close to standing on the podium (he’s got a 4th and 5th places, but in time he was far away from the top 3). He still has 9 races to impress, but there’s no banzai moves or all-out laps from him anymore, I believe he’s stuck, and if he proves that he’s stuck in performance or growth, the team will replace him with whom I still consider a contender to the GP2 title: Esteban Gutiérrez, who’s also in Ferrari’s plans, much more so than Kamui.
I hope he keeps being in F1 though as a test driver, and return the season after.
And well, Alguersuari is 100% sure he’s coming back to the grid next year, to be able to fight for points, in a team that might grant him a future which is not Toro Rosso, he said “That’s not a future”, and not any of the backmarkers as he’s also revealed. Williams is unlikely, Force India even less so, so Sauber remains, and I think it’s possible, if Pérez makes his way into Ferrari, that Jaime finds his way back in. Don’t forget Alguersuari has experience with 2,013’s Pirelli tyres, and that’ll be useful information for any team. And he’s fast and young and quite experienced.
And most importantly, it’d be like bitch-slapping Helmut Marko, something I would find very satisfying.

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team / Nº1 Nico Rosberg – Nº2 Paul Di Resta
Wow, that’s one long-ass team name. Anyway, Nico has the seat for granted, with that China win and regular point-finishes with a car suffering hugely from degradation. Schumacher should not renovate after this terribly unlucky season, he’s got his comeback podium, that’s great, but I’m one of many who thinks he shouldn’t have hurt his image coming back, as he’s practically nowhere anymore.
So Schumi’s had his fun, and should be leaving, leaving room to either Sam Bird (2nd on WSR right now), Di Resta (much more experience in F1, great pace, a bit overrated, but a great driver nonetheless), or Hülkenberg.
In the end, even though they’d want to have another Nico German-driver onboard, I think they’ll take Di Resta with them, leaving Sam Bird as test driver again.
Though the seat is wide open, so it could be anyone taking it. xD

Scuderia Ferrari / Nº1 Fernando Alonso – Nº2 Sergio Pérez
Massa has to go. That’s the only thing I have clear from this year’s silly season. You cannot allow a driver who on the same car, with the same team, is 139 points behind his teammate, who’s 6x higher in points, and leading the championship. And it doesn’t matter if he’s the best driver on the grid, or Senna, or Prost or whoever, you can’t be that far back. Alonso’s had more podiums than Massa points finishes.
So yeah, Massa’s out, and with Mark Webber signing for Red Bull another year, Ferrari’s plans have been hit a little. It doesn’t really matter though, as even the safety car driver’s been added to the list of ‘Possible Massa Replacements’ (Yes, Felipe, Maylander is faster than you), and Ferrari didn’t take the option to renovate his contract which ended on July 31st, so he’s 95% out. Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Perez, Button, the list goes on, but even though Montezemolo said Pérez is too inexperienced, he has more or less the same experience Massa had when he joined in 2,006 (3 seasons to 2, except Pérez is showing much more than Massa did at the time), he’s from Sauber, so I think he’s getting the seat, at least for a year.
And Alonso, well, he’ll give Pérez the no. 2 on the car ;).

Lotus F1 Team Limited-Renault / Nº1 Kimi Räikkönen – Nº2 Romain Grosjean
The team will want to grow technically, and what better way to do so than having two very fast drivers in Kimi and Romain, and let them grow together and with the team for another year? Kimi’s happy, and will be even more so when he wins and the team get the power steering completely right. I don’t think he’ll move, not this early.
Grosjean, once he gets rid of his rookie errors, is definitely a future champion, or at least a multiple race-winner.
I just don’t think that, when the team have finally found stability after some terrible years from 2,007-2,011, they’ll get newbies and replace two very potential champions.

Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes / Nº1 Lewis Hamilton – Nº2 Gary Paffett (Nah, just kidding, Jenson Button)
Honestly, why do they even keep poor Paffett? I don’t think he even does simulator anymore, having Turvey onboard too. XD. Anyway, yeah, pretty boring, now that Red Bull will have Webber and Vettel again, so Hamilton won’t have any threats to scare McLaren with, and they’ll sign an easy contract much to Hamilton’s dismay. Button is binded till 2,013, so he’ll keep his seat after recovering his performance.
I get the feeling it’s gonna be Hamilton-Button for a looong time.

Red Bull Racing-Renault / Nº1 Sebastian Vettel – Nº2 Mark Webber
Nothing much to say here: Vettel’s linked to the team for another couple of years, and Mark has taken all the fun out of the top teams’ silly season, so yeah. Nothing much to say, except they don’t play nice and RB are starting to walk over a dangerous legality line.

And that concludes my predictions post for 2,013’s F1 grid. I’d like to apologize if some things are sloppily written, or sloppily thought, but this was really, really hard. ^_^. Have a good summer break everyone!
No porn from me tho. xD

The following material was sent in as part of our silly season bonanza here at BackmarkersF1. We should get a cast out soon enough, don’t worry. 😉

Life has been interesting on my end over the last few weeks, but everything should be sorted soon enough. Sorry for being semi-incommunicado. Enough of that though, let’s hear what good ol’ Valentin thinks about the potential drivers for 2013.

So, a couple of days ago, Steve was whining on Twitter about how hard it is to compile a grid wishlist, being forced to choose between favoured drivers to leave some of them without a seat and all that jazz. Being Backmarkers F1’s resident contrarian half-troll, I immediately called him on it and proceeded to write up a list of my own that took me about 10 minutes or so. Well, now that the guys decided to accept submissions for community articles on this very topic, why let all those 10 minutes of hard work go to waste, eh? And so, here is the list I wrote up with added elaborations.
Let’s start with the top outfits – things are a tad boring-ish there.

Red Bull Renault: Sebastian Vettel/Mark Webber
Seeing how Mark extended his deal for 2013 and Seb is probably contracted to stay put through 2014, even, it’s quite obvious what the 2013 lineup will look like. And, honestly, even if that wasn’t the case, I would’ve left it this way. Sure, they don’t quite like each other or anything, and most would point out Mark is a tad old, but there isn’t really anyone lined up in the STR camp to replace him. Sure, Vettel would probably be quite a bit ahead in the standings if not for the Renault engines and the green vegetables of sorts… but then again, Mark’s car seems to be plagued with some sort of bullshit every weekend, so they’ve been pretty equal thus far. As such, no reason to change anything.

McLaren Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton/Jenson Button
Same sort of thing. Obviously, Jenson’s been having kind of an off year, but we pretty much know (and have seen in Germany) that he still has it. Lewis, on the other hand, has been pretty phenomenal in 2012 and would’ve been right up there with Mark and Seb if not for the best efforts of McLaren. Jenson’s on a multi-year deal, while Lewis doesn’t really have anywhere as competitive to go, as much as he’d like to pretend otherwise.

Lotus Renault: Romain Grosjean/James Calado
And there comes my first little bit of insanity. Sure, it ain’t gonna happen, although James is not yet contracted to any F1 team in any way (at least, as far as the public is concerned). Still, while it is a fairly weak link, Calado does race for the Lotus GP2 outfit. Reasoning? Well, Grosjean has been nothing short of brilliant in his return to F1, with a stunning qualifying record and 3 podium finishes to his name already. Sure, the amount of first lap accidents he’s been involved in is alarming, but at least, unlike with Maldonado, you can’t exactly say most of them were his fault.
James Calado has also exceeded expectations in 2012 so far, currently running in 5th in his rookie year. Not only has the guy been hailed as the most promising driver on the grid by many, many commentators [citation needed], he would’ve been quite a bit higher up there as well, if not for a run of pretty bad luck mid-season.
Getting two of the best rookie drivers eligible for F1 in one top outfit would’ve been an incredible thing, especially when one of them is as severely underfunded as James appears to be.

Ferrari: Fernando Alonso/Kimi Raikkonen
Okay, so, my original Twitter plan involved sending Raikkonen back to the US where he could continue swearing at his poor crew chief in NASCAR, I’m guessing it’s not really fair to do that, especially after Hungary. So, even if he gets on my nerves, his performances have been fairly deserving of him continuing to be up there, among the leaders of the pack.
Plus, putting Raikkonen and Alonso in one team would mean fireworks and fun. Massa can go to IndyCar, I’m sure they’re waiting for him already.

Mercedes: Nico Rosberg/Paul di Resta
Disclaimer: I quite admire Michael Schumacher, but there’s no denying he’s getting really old. And, while this season, amidst the terrible luck, his performances were actually quite decent, it doesn’t really look like he’s having an awful lot of fun anymore. With that in mind, Schumacher retires (so that he can purchase some backmarker team in a couple of years, that’d be fun), which allows Mercedes to finally promote Paul di Resta. It is true, Paul hasn’t exactly looked much better than Nico this year so far, but he’s been long up for it and, despite being crazy overrated, deserves it.
Rosberg stays put.

Sauber: Sergio Perez/Jaime Alguersuari
Originally, this was supposed to be Jaime and Robert Wickens from Canada, the WSR champion somehow overlooked by F1 teams. However, since I left Kimi in, Sergio will have to stay put in Sauber for another year or so.
As for Jaime, he seems fairly certain that he will return in 2013 and I, quite frankly, wouldn’t mind it at all. Kobayashi can go to Formula Nippon and fight it out with Lotterer and Nakajima.

Williams: Pastor Maldonado/Valtteri Bottas
Look, I don’t care how much you dislike him, the guy who won a race for Williams in 2012 stays. He just does. Sure, the amount of accidents he causes is frankly shameful, but there’s undeniable evidence that the guy is super-quick. Give him another year to iron out his bullshit, at least.
Senna, having not outqualified Pastor on the 11 occasions where he could’ve, makes way for Bottas, who everyone wants to see in that Williams seat and, quite frankly, so do I.

Force India: Nico Hulkenberg/Jules Bianchi
Since Nico Hulkenberg doesn’t get a Mercedes seat in this one, there’s no reason why he should lose his FI seat. He’s been reasonably quick compared to the very promising di Resta and, if not for some junior mistakes, could’ve been leading him in the standings. He probably still doesn’t have much for sponsorship (and I’d expect FI to need money), but his pace makes up for it.
Bianchi – 3rd in GP2 in 2010, 3rd in GP2 in 2011, currently faring exceptionally well in WSR, which is highly-competitive this year. Somebody give this man a seat already.

Scuderia Toro Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo/Jean-Eric Vergne
Neither of the STR guys have been impressing this year, but nobody else in the RBR junior programme is ready for a step up. While Red Bull are insanely, stupidly demanding, I’m hoping neither of the fellows is expected to win in THIS car.

Caterham: Heikki Kovalainen/Vitaly Petrov
It is really difficult to judge a driver’s performances when he is running in a team like this, which is why it constantly amazes me that everyone is super-sure that Heikki has been doing so well this year. He was obviously great in 2011, yes, but this year, his qualifying pace didn’t exactly materialize into great race performances… and since Maldonado doesn’t get a free pass on that, why should Heikki?
He might be long overdue for a step up, but if it didn’t happen after 2011, why should it happen now?
Meanwhile, Vitaly has been doing reasonably well for Caterham and, while he isn’t quite up for a promotion, deserves to stay.

Marussia: Charles Pic/Robert Wickens
While Timo Glock has been reasonably good for Marussia over the years, it is highly unlikely a top/midfield team will look past Heikki Kovalainen when choosing a backmarker team driver to sign. As such, Glock should probably call it quits and try his luck in IndyCar, since he has previous Champ Car experience.
The assessments of Pic’s performances have ranged from “pretty good” to “the most wonderful thing in the history of mankind” *cough* Autosport *cough*, but it is pretty apparent he’s doing a good job. Since he also has enough sponsorship money, there’s little reason why Marussia would want to part ways with him.
As for the second driver, you’d expect Marussia to sign one of the reasonably talented guys from its GP2 outfit (Chilton has the money while Haryanto has the fanbase), but I’d love for them to go with Robert Wickens, who almost seized the seat in 2011 but lost out to Pic’s money. Probably ain’t never happening, but would be nice.

HRT: Pedro de la Rosa/Davide Valsecchi
“But wait”, I hear you ask – “what in the hell is de la Rosa doing here? Isn’t he as old as Schumacher, who you deemed was a bit too old?” Well… erm… shut up. It’s my post. It’s my grid. I do whatever I want. They made it open to community submissions. You can write your own one. It’s not hard.

Erm… where was I? Oh, yes, de la Rosa. I don’t believe it really matters who’s driving the HRT, since they’re gonna be mostly anonymous to the rest of the grid, so it might as well be Pedro – he’s fun to have around, a true gent during the press conferences and generally a nice guy. As for the second seat, I’m expecting Valsecchi to win the GP2 title from Razia (even though Luiz is leading Davide by 7 points at this momeny), so I’d like him to get that seat. If not… Luiz can have it.
So, there you go, that’s my wishlist of a grid for 2013. I’m betting you have quite a lot of questions, which you can direct to me in that comments section, so that I can belittle you for asking. Cheers.

 

 

I am also incredibly honored to be featured on this most wonderful of f1 blogs. I do not even care anymore that I had to donate my left nut to science and send them secret pictures of @meggiepants ‘ cleavage to be allowed this opportunity. Also, Steve is always right and I am always wrong*

 

*note by editor: this final paragraph may not be his exact words

Some might say that the Valencia race was an absolute corker, a classic even, and on face value who can argue against that: a shock home victory of underdog and homeboy Fernando Alonso topped off with a full retro podium combining 10 world championships with Kimi Raikkonen in p2 and Michael Schumacher finally grabbing his much awaited comeback podium result. However, if we scratch a bit below the surface, one must realize how different things would have been as if not for a few developments  we would have talked about another Valencia borefest. The key points which made this race as exciting as it was were in fact two decidedly unexciting events: the safety car deployment and alternator failures on the two leading Renault powered cars. Strip that away and you get a boring lights to finish Vettel domination just like 2011, probably with little movement behind him, as the Safety car threw a lot of people’s set strategies out of the window which helped make for the strange end of the race.

All in all, sadly the Valencia weekend was one which will mostly be remembered by me because of the horrid driving standards exhibited first by the youngsters, especially the GP2 feature race was appalling with 3 safety cars and levels of retardedness which made you think you were spectating a random online race in f1 2011 the game.

However the F1 guys did not help to show the youngsters how to do it, as Kobayashi clattered into the side of Massa after having already been in a clash with Senna who squeezed him into the wall, Vergne who had a brainfart as he made a totally unnecessary, stupid and dangerous swerve into Heikki as he blasted past him, Maldonado who saw the red mist descend again and robbed Hamilton and himself of a good haul of points on the penultimate lap… No, in general, I was pretty pissed off at the driving exhibited at the Valencia track.

Luckily we had a masterful Fernando Alonso to remind us what F1 racing is all about. With another stonking start and first lap he managed to put himself into play, and then his calculating mind, a smidge of luck during the safety car period and some decisive overtaking on in particular Webber and Grosjean made the race for the Scuderia number one. On the other side of the Ferrari garage. despite a definite upturn in his performance, it seems that no matter what Felipe tries he still ends up a lap down on Alonso come the chequered flag. It must have surely hurt to have been lapped on the final lap and see his teammate take the chequered flag just in front of him.

I’ll admit it’s a bit mean to bash on Felipe here, as he was tantalizingly close to Alonso (close as in actually really close, not three tenths kind of close he was talking about earlier in the year)  for the first time this season with only 8 hundreds separating the Ferrari drivers as both dropped out in Q2, and the blame for the accident which truly crippled his chances in this race lies fully on Kobayashi’s shoulders so for once I will lay off Felipe baby. Kobayashi’s incident with Senna was a bit more difficult to analyse, as after all Senna does squeeze him into the wall, but Kobayashi did try something very risky there as well. While I’d put this dfown to a racing incident, Senna ended up getting penalized for it.

Like I said, we can sort of thank our lucky stars that the Renault alternator failed on Vettels’ car as his pace was truly astonishing. First he blasted off a q3 lap where seemingly out of nowhere he gapped the next best man Hamilton by three tenths, the same gap pretty much covering the rest of the top 10. Then during the race he was consistently lapping a scary 2 seconds per lap faster than a visibly struggling Hamilton as the Mclaren simply lacked the race pace to put up any kind of challenge to Vettel.

Grosjean was clearly faster but he remained stuck behind Hamilton for too long to make any kind of impact on Vettel, and I doubt he would have been able to do much better had he had a clear track. He’d maybe have kept the deficit down to 1 second per lap, but Vettel’s pace was just plain scary….and made the race settle into one big bore until  a very disappointing Vergne decided he could do better than the idiots in GP2 by swerving at Kovalainen for no reason at all.

Nonetheless the fact that both Caterham drives got into fistacuffs with the Toro rossos shows that Heikki’s qualifying lap was not a fluke, and that the Caterhams seem to finally be making the real progress we had expected of them earlier in the year. It was even more stunning to see Vitaly lob one around the outside of Massa in the closing stages of the race. With apparently more major updates coming for Silverstone, if Caterham manages to make a similar surge as they did last year thet may just sneak into the points before the year is over. For a second there in Valencia it even looked like Petrov would be the one to score those points as he was running in tenth near the end of the race. Anyway he sure proved my cucumber of the race prediction wrong with a fine drive.

However, contact with Ricciardo – and fast charging drivers behind would have made p 10 impossible anyway, although maybe with an extra dose of #PERRRRKELE who knows what could have happened! Some people may disagree with me on that though

Force India had looked strong all weekend and are probably happy taking home a 5th and 7th place, with Di Resta again pulling off a one stopper while a KERS-less Hulkenbegr dragged himself onto p5 afte both cars also made it into Q3. Where the FI pace came from? I don’t know, perhaps they just got the right lottery ticket this time around?

Moving back to the front of the grid. It was a testament to Hamilton’s gritty drives this year that he managed to hold on to p2 for as long as he did, until another of the now countless Mclaren pitstop errors robbed of what turned out to be a chance to lead the race. As it happened Alonso jumped him during the SC induced pitstops, which after Vettel’s failure propelled him into the lead that could have been Hamilton’s had the front jack not failed. So indeed, it did look like a mechanical rather than a human failure for the pitcrew this time around, but in the end somebody is still responsible for the constant problems that have been plaguing the team, and in the end the finger must point to Sam Michael. While the initial failure was mechanical, the crew reacted very panicky to the jack failure, and that surely cost Hamilton some extra seconds. The spare jack was slow to come on, and the crew was clearly in full panic mode rather than calm and collected.

For a little while was looking like Mclaren had finally overcome their pitstop grumbles, clocking an impressive 2.9s stop on Hamilton’s first visit to the pits. However, one super quick stop means nothing if the next time around your car loses 14 seconds in the pits. It’s better to have consistent 3.5 second stops and never a slow one than the occasional 2.9s stop mixed with 10+ second stops. Anyway, if Mclaren wants to really challenge for the title with Lewis, these mistakes must end. Every time this happens, it will also put seeds of doubts in Lewis’ mind when it comes to signing a new deal and perhaps look elsewhere to continue his F1 career. After all, no driver has lost more points in the pits than Hamilton this year.

Still, With a clearly struggling Mclaren he managed to drag himself back up from p6 to p2 following Vettel and Grosjean’s retirements, and one might argue that if he did not have to fight back from 6th, his tyres may have held up better until the end, as we know that even the slightest of extra stresses put on the tyres while fighting with other cars  can make the difference between falling off the cliff and cruising to the finish. With this in mind, the pitstop blunder may have cost him more than those who say he wouldn’t have held on to 2nd anyway as he hit the cliff about 3 laps from the finish. I would argue that if Mclaren had not fucked up and Lewis would have been ahead of Alonso, he would have been able to nurse his tyres more and get to the finish on the podium at least, perhaps even the win – as Alonso was not really able to gap Hamilton until the latter hit the cliff, so their pace was fairly similar during the final stint. The optimists would say it cost him a win, but I’d argue it cost him at least a third place on the podium.

Of course the whole argument becomes a bit moot, as what happened, happened and Hamilton did end up in p2 with a lurking Kimi waiting to pounce. Earlier in the race Hamilton had already tried to deal with the other Lotus but that didn’t exactly end the way
Hamilton would haver liked.

Perhaps Kimi should have tried the move earlier but he was probably also wary of his tyres so he did not want to stress them too much too soon, and only pounced in the closing stages as it became evident Lewis started to struggle. While Grosjean outshone him all weekend long, Kimi did end up on the podium again so he must be commended on the smart race he ran, taking advantage of other people’s misfortune while keeping his nose clean.  However, as a true racer he is never satisfied unless he gets the win.

Third should have been Pastor Maldonado, as he had also been driving a smart race, albeit a bit out of the spotlight until the lights went out in his cockpit….again. The most controversial moment of the GP was no doubt the accident which took out Hamilton and saw Pastor end up 10th instead of on a sure podium (a 10th place he subsequently lost to his teammate due to a 20s time penalty incurred because of this incident). Hamilton was clearly trying to nurse home the car as his tyres were totally shot, so first off Pastor should have known he could be patient and take Hamilton pretty much anywhere he wanted, probably best on traction out of one of the many slow corners in Valencia.

Instead he opted to try and go around the outside in a corner followed immediately by another tight one. If successful, your car ends up in front and on the inside for the 2nd corner. However taking somebody around the outside is always a difficult proposition, and to make it stick you need to be ahead of the guy in front by the time you hit the other corner. Lewis edged Pastor to the outside as he is perfectly entitled to do – and as Pastor often does to others himself when he gets a chance –  after all Lewis was still clearly in front and had the racing line. However, in a moment of red mist once again Pastor decides he has to take Lewis anyway and comes from off the track to clatter into the Mclaren, launching him in the air and into the wall while losing his own front wing. It was another dumb and unnecessary move by Maldonado, whose fiery reputation in the cockpit is doing him no good. Also his reaction post-race, putting all of the blame on Lewis is to me the sign of an arrogant, spoiled brat who does not know the meaning of taking responsibility and has had everything handed to him on a silver platter. After all the goodwill he had built up following his superb Barcelona win, he’s flushed it all down the drain again with his driving and attitude in the subsequent races.

While to me there can be no doubt Pastor was the culprit in this incident, can we say Lewis was entirely blameless? As far as blame goes I would say yes, as he did nothing wrong, however he should have been smarter. He should know by now that Pastor is a reckless idiot when racing wheel to wheel, and he also must have felt that with his tyres in the condition they were, there was no way he could have held off Pastor for the remaining one and a half lap, so to salvage his race he would have been better off to just let Pastor have the place and not defend at all. However Hamilton is a pure breed racer, so after a very gritty drive in what must have been a frustrating race for him, his racing instinct probably got the better of him and he fought for a lost position. I’d say Hamilton is not to blame, but he should have been smarter and just let Pastor go, he might have salvaged 4th , or 6th at the worse as it’s possible that a charging Schumi and Webber would have caught him. It’s this kind calculated driving which wins championships, and while he had been doing a great job on this all season, the Hamilton of 2011 made a resurgence there in that fateful corner…

All this drama up front of course left room for a shock podium return for Michael Schumacher, something probably nobody had seen coming the entire race until the final lap suddenly saw him promoted to third. It was definitely not Schumi’s best weekend of the year, messing up his Q2 lap by his own admission and not making much headway in the race until he came alive in the final stint. Of course he profited massively from all the retirements but after all he has been through this year he probably deserved to have luck go his way for once in 2012. Kimi made the picture complete by giving us a full retro podium although he was unable to challenge Alonso for the win.

In the end, nobody got their predictions fully right, but there were a few, me included, who did pick the right winner, while others had the pole man correct so we are making improvements. Maybe #HornyHorner will make an appearance this year after all to the lucky winner!

After what turned out to be an eventful weekend Alonso may deservedly take the spotlight for now, but what I mostly take away from it was the Red Bull’s ridiculous pace, which does make one rather apprehensive of how the rest of the season will play out, as a 2 second/lap performance gap can never be due only to track conditions. They had some reliability niggles which is to be expected in the first race for such a heavily revised car but the team will have those ironed out in no time (on Vettel’s car anyway lol).

Newey is back baby…unless another protest reels him back in.

That’s it for the European Grand Prix. Thanks for checking out backmarkers F1, and make sure to keep firing your tweets at me so maybe next time you will also have contributed to another ‘live on twitter’ Grand Prix review!