Friday, 25 April 2008

Squidoo F1 Videos

I don't know if you've seen Squidoo but it's a great site for creating pages on just about anything and sharing them with a like-minded community. It'll be a great place for F1 fans (in fact, there are already lots of pages about various drivers, events and things).

I've been hoping to bring the best F1 videos from YouTube into one place and Squidoo is a great place to do it so I've made a start here:

No doubt Bernie will get upset and close the whole thing down but it'll be a fun project while it lasts.

Why not take a trip over and see if there are any videos you'd like to see on there.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Whatever happened to....

There are lots of F1 drivers that spent their entire career at the back of the grid, waiting for the call from a top team that would fire them to the top of the grid and superstardom.
Inevitably the call never came and they ended up disappearing into obscurity.
As part of an occasional series, I'm going to focus on one or two of these individuals and find out whatever happened to them.

First up is Esteban Tuero.

Tuero joined the F1 grid in 1998 as one of the Minardi drivers (his team-mate being Shinji Nakano) and despite concern the he was too young (at 18 - the 3rd youngest F1 driver ever at the time) and inexperienced, he managed to stick his car in 17th place, ahead of his team mate and other such as Jan Magnesson and Olivier Panis.

What followed was a pretty solid F1 season where he did a good job in a medicore car and generally silenced his doubters.

Come the final race of the season, he collided with Tyrrell driver Tora Takagi and injured his neck. (Incidentally, there is a theory that Schumacher's title ending puncture was caused by shards of carbon-fibre from this collision).
The neck injury healed but on the eve of the 1999 season, Tuero announced his announcement and prompted a bunch of speculation about his reasons for retiring, none of which he's willing to comment on.

What happened after F1 isn't clear but he popped up at the FIA GT Championship at Silverstone yesterday, driving a Ferrari 550 alongside other one-time F1 driver and future topic in this series, Gaston Mazzacane.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

A challenge

Right, let's see just how clever you all are!

I've set a small quiz, consisting of 8 questions going back over the last 30 years of GP racing. Go and see how well you can do. If you're sufficiently proud of your efforts then leave a comment so that we can all marvel!

If you'd like to see more of these quizzes then please let me know.

At the end of the quiz you can post the HTML into your blog or facebook or whatever to share your glory (or shame) with your friends.

Good luck!!

Monday, 14 April 2008

Honda signs a 16 year old karter

I wondered how long this would take.

F1 makes me laugh sometimes because they have no quarms about copying what other teams are up to - usually around the technical developments of competitors cars but also around anything else that they think might give them a tiny advantage.

Back in 97 Tyrrell developed the X-wing which were these truly awful wings which sat astride the sidepods to give the car a little more downforce. They seemed to work and we saw a spate of copycat developments (including Ferrari) until it was thankfully banned (on terms of safety but actually on terms of looking dreadful!).

Of course, we have the annual battle of the motorhomes each year. Each team has their own motorhome and each year they get bigger and bigger in an attempt to outdo each other. I don't know what the current state is but I believe Red Bull has the current largest home that requires a convoy of transporters to bring it ot each European race. The first European race of the season is in just under a fortnight so we'll see what the latest developments are in that particular race.

Anyway, I digress. Back in the late 90s McLaren signed up a promising young karter called Lewis Hamilton and provided guidance, some cash and opened some doors for him in the sport. Hamilton grew up with support from a leading F1 team and arrived in F1 the most well-prepared rookie in the history of the sport.

Honda have watched with interest and have obviously been looking for a candidate that they can do the same with - looks like they've found one. Now, far be it for me to read into what Honda are doing but I suspect they wouldn't have looked twice at this guy if it wasn't for what Hamilton did last year.

I suspect we'll see a few more teams signing up teenagers before the season is out!

Friday, 11 April 2008

All is quiet

Not much happening in F1 this week. Having the 3 week break between Bahrain and Spain is giving people time to catch their breath (apart from the teams, probably, who'll be trying to sort out the niggles they identified in the first 3 races).

So, unless you want to consider why Max hasn't yet resigned or think up new ways to make more fun of him then there's not too much else to talk about!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Mosley relies on the Senate

The FIA senate is to meet on 3rd June for a secret vote on whether to retain Mosley as FIA president or not.

Is it just me that thinks that Mosley's tactics are ridiculous obvious?

I have no idea who makes up the FIA senate but I'm pretty sure a good majority of them are Mosley supporters. It seems to me that he's hoping that the storm will die down in the time it takes for the vote to come around (almost 2 months!) and then hopes that enough of his cronies will vote to retain him. At which point he will emerge victorious, claiming to have the support of the entire motorsport world and get back to business as if nothing had happened.

Will it work? I hope not - the key thing is that the pressure must be kept on him and therefore we need more people to come out calling for his resignation. Sadly if Mosley does retain his seat then he'll be sure to seek revenge (look out Honda, Toyota, BMW and Mercedes) and I think that's why many people are keeping quiet.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Are BMW true title challengers this year?

In a word, No.

They're made good progress this year and it's really been steady progress ever since they bought into the team, but are they at the stage where they can challenge for the championship? I would say not. They're not fast enough to trouble Ferrari and while a win or two isn't out of the question, they just don't have the experience or the strength to keep up the relentless pace of development that Ferrari and McLaren can do.

Can they beat McLaren though?

Maybe. While McLaren are a stronger team, they are somewhat hobbled by having to limit their development, and their showing in the past two races hasn't been outstanding - Hamilton in particular had a very scrappy race in Bahrain and the ultimate pace of the team in Malaysia wasn't outstanding.

However, if I was forced to say right now whether I thought BMW would beat McLaren, I'd have to say no. BMW have great qualifying pace but their race pace isn't quite as outstanding. What's more is that McLaren are a formidable team and they can fight back from their current slump having been in this position many times before. This is new territory for BMW and I'm not sure they're always going to make the right decisions - especially when the pressure is on at the end of the season.

However, having three teams in the mix is great for F1 and whatever happens will be great for us as viewers.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The benefit of hindsight

I'm going to go back in time today and look at an item in history that I don't think has ever really been resolved.

Come with me back to 1990 and imagine a young Jean Alesi - driver of the moment, the man who had impetuously passed Ayrton Senna's McLaren in his little Tyrrell, the man surely destined to be a multiple grand prix and championship winner. The man who had somehow managed to sign himself to both Williams and Ferrari contracts at the same time and who now had to choose which one to go with. A contract hoo-haa erupted, but Ferrari were the eventual winners and young Alesi would be partnering his hero, Alain Prost - the world was at Alesi's feet.

Fast Forward to the end of the 90s and there's Jean once again, 1 grand prix victory under his belt, no championships and a bemused paddock wondering quite what had happened to the man destined to be one of the greats. During the same period, Williams had made world champions out of Mansell, Prost, Hill and Villenueve as well as winning 5 constructors championships.

"Obviously", everyone said, with grave voices, knowing nods and the benefit of hindsight, "Jean made the wrong decision to go with Ferrari and the fiery Sicilian has let his head rule his heart. He should have taken the logical choice and have gone with Williams."

However, I'd like to take a different view. My view is that Jean made the correct decision for the time and I suspect most in his situation would have make the same choice; Jean was just unfortunate that it turned out over time to be the wrong decision.

To understand why I'm putting my head on the block like this, you need to look at the bigger picture.

In 1988, Ferrari had one race win to Williams zero wins and finished second in the championship against Williams 7th.
1989 Ferrari had 3 wins to Williams 2, although Williams took 2nd in the championship and Ferrari were 3rd.
In 1990, Ferrari had 6 (!) wins to Williams 2 and were runners up in the championship whilst Williams were 4th.

If the trend continued, as it looked like it might, then Ferrari were by far the stronger team and had the strength and experience to possibly take Alesi to the title. Williams looked like they were still in their rocky period after a dominating time with Honda. Their relationship with Renault hadn't yet shown its potential.

I think, looking at the stats above, Alesi would have been crazy to go to Williams at that time. Sadly for him, craziness was what we needed at that time but any sane person would have gone to Ferrari, a team that was fighting for the championship, and get the experience to partner and learn from Prost - one of the greatest drivers ever in the sport.

Jean was just unlucky.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Thoughts on Bahrain

Well, I don't like to boast but I should point out that I did predict Massa dominating the Bahrain GP and I was right. So, stick with this blog and you can impress your friends with your foresight. Anyway, well done me and Massa.

I only want to mention one thing about Bahrain GP and for me that was the hint that Honda might actually be making a small step towards becoming vaguely competitive rather than a laughing stock.

It'd be difficult for them to be much worse than they were last year but pre-season testing seemed to suggest that they might actually be. However, come Melbourne it wasn't as bad as was predicted with them lining up 10th and 12th. Malaysia they lined up 11th and 14th with Button setting the 4th fastest lap.

In Bahrain Button and Barrichello managed to qualify 9th and 12th although the race didn't pan out as well as could have been expected. However, are we starting to see the influence of Ross Brawn?

Many times a tech director will change team and talk about their 3 year or 5 year plan and then never actually end up delivering anything, but Brawn is different. He has a devastating track record and despite some of the questionable things that Ferrari have done, you still have to have respect for what he's done over the years. Just having him in your team and knowing that he's got a plan to win the world championship with you would be enough to get you to work just that little bit harder - because you have confidence in what he's doing. That's something that Honda has been lacking since they got rid of Geoff Willis.

So is it just a brief upsurge in their performance or are we starting to see a comeback for Honda? I wouldn't like to say and it's far too early in the season to be confident about such a thing, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if it was the latter - and if so, I'd be extremely impressed at how quickly Brawn had managed to assert himself.

Time will tell

Friday, 4 April 2008

Prediction for the weekend

I like to put my head on the block every now and again. It gives me an opportunity to be smug when I'm right and for others to laugh at me when I'm wrong.

I was toying with the idea of predicting the podium this weekend but it would be a bit dull predicting Hamilton, Raikkonen and Massa each race so I'm going to try to predict the winner instead.

So, the winner on Sunday will be........Felipe Massa.

Yes, fresh from me mocking him the other day for throwing away the championship (which he still won't win, despite this weekends crushing win), I still think he'll win the race and make some comment about his championship being back on track.

Why do I think he'll win? Because he wants the chamionshoip enough to be desperate to get it back on track again Raikkonen and Hamilton, both of whom will be looking slightly long term. If Massa drove like this all of the time then he might win the championship but he doesn't. This weekend though, he will, and he'll win.

That's my prediction - prepare to congratulate or mock me!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Place your bets

The German and Japanese car makers make their view pretty plain...

Will he be gone before or after the Bahrain GP?

I reckon he'll hold on until after, but not much longer!

Is Massa already out of the championship?

It looks hard for him doesn't it? 14 points behind Hamilton and 11 behind his team mate. Of course, it's far too early to be writing him off but I'm not convinced that he's good enough to claw back that gap - especially when you're up against guys like Hamilton and Raikkonen, both of whom know how to get the points even when things are up against them.

Massa on the other hand still makes silly mistakes (2 unprompted spins in 2 races this year) and isn't known to be able to deliver when the chips are down.

In some ways he's a little like Ralf Schumacher - when things are right then he's fantastic but if something goes wrong then his chin drops and he can be woeful.

But I don't support it's all over yet - he won from pole last year and if he can do the same again this year then that'll help him.

However, I think it's a long shot. For me, the championship this year is between Hamilton and Raikkonen with Kovalainen pushing them all them way.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

F1 back on the BBC!

I'm not sure if this is good news or not. On the face of it it looks like fantastic news - no more adverts, no more James Allen, more impartial coverage and the return of The Chain theme tune.

If that's the reality then great, but I'm a little concerned that it might not work out that way. They could end up getting an even worse commentator and you might end up having no live qualifying and no build up or review (remember the days when we used to consider ourselves lucky if we got the press conference after the race?).

So, what would I like to see the BBC doing? Well, it's quite simple:
  • Ben Edwards and Martin Brundle as the commentators
  • Less biased coverage - there are more drivers than Lewis Hamilton
  • None of the silly features that we seem to be subjected to
  • Yeah, it'd be nice to have The Chain - dummmm dum dum dummm dum dum dum dum dummm dummmmmmmmmmmmm.

I personally don't think that we need an hour of build up to the race. 30 minutes would be enough to run through the latest F1 news, qualifying, outline some of the things that might happen, perhaps with an interview or two and perhaps do a grid walk. But really, I only want to hear from people if they have something interesting to say - I get tired of hearing drivers telling me that they'll drive to the first corner and see what happens. That doesn't tell me anything!

Then after the race - it'd be nice to watch the warm down lap, podium ceremony, press conference and then a brief review of the main events of the race with some interesting insight.

Simple. BBC - make it so!

Mosley Must Go

Now he must go.

I've never been a huge fan of the man and his treatment of McLaren, Brundle and Jackie Stewart especially had me desperate to go. But the exposé of his S&M session with prostitutes surely must force him to go.

I feel sorry for him getting caught out by a rag of a newspaper and in another world his personal life wouldn't affect his professional life, but he cannot possibly remain in the post now. Who would take him seriously? From now on, every comment he makes to the press about any subject will always be associated with his preferences in his personal life. He can comment about the behaviour of drivers and teams but all people will think about is his preference for getting whipped by Nazis.

Max, go now, while you have a tiny bit of dignity left. You got caught doing something that you knew would finish your career so accept it and move on.