Archive for Formula 1

Remembering Senna

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 03.21.2014 by aclasschris

senna_01

I often wonder what he’d make of Formula 1′s current state – the double points, tire/fuel conservation, pay drivers, the stewards involved in the most inane details… I like to think he’d be one of the sport’s most outspoken critics.

Happy birthday to the greatest of all time and may he continue to remind us of an era when racing was simply that.

2014 Australian Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03.16.2014 by aclasschris

Formula 1 had an interesting and at times controversial offseason heading into 2014. The FIA imposed the biggest technical and sporting rules changes the sport has seen in decades and this weekend marked the beginning of Formula 1′s next turbo era. After a slew of driver shakeups in the winter months and testing heavily dominated by Mercedes power, the teams arrived at Melbourne’s Albert Park not really knowing what to expect.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

Historically, the Australian Grand Prix is unique in the way that virtually anything can happen, while at the same time telling us very little of how the season will ultimately play out. In many ways it’s an extension of winter testing, a exhibition race and a chance for the teams and drivers to feel things out and readjust to the grueling schedule of the next 9 months.

Heading into the weekend one thing was abundantly clear, Red Bull were not the favorites.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

After a very difficult showing at winter testing, Red Bull struggled to keep the RB10 on track. A slew of mechanical problems from the new Renault V6 turbo engines and Red Bull’s own chassis design faults had many jumping ship on hope that they would win their 5th consecutive championship. The season is still in its infancy however and anything can happen. This point was proven when Daniel Ricciardo outdrove his teammate Sebastian Vettel all weekend long, eventually finishing in 2nd place, his first Formula 1 podium. But for as fast as Ricciardo tasted success in front of his countrymen, it was taken away when the FIA disqualified him.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race

With the introduction of the new V6 turbo engines, a slew of complex and frankly boring technical regulations have been implemented in 2014. The intricacies of exactly why Ricciardo was disqualified are complex and difficult to understand but ultimately the RB10 exceed the required fuel flow of 100kg/h. In short, his team let him down.

Australian F1 Grand Prix - Practice

Red Bull were well aware of this particular rule and rather than using an FIA approved fuel sensor, they opted to use their own. Conspiracy theorists have claimed that the move was intentional and Red Bull remain confident that they can win their appeal of the ruling. In the meantime, Ricciardo will have to play the waiting game and emotions of yesterday’s podium will reduced to what ifs. Despite the technicalities, Ricciardo had an excellent drive and showed everyone that he’s ready to take on Vettel and hold his own at one of the sport’s most successful organizations.

f1_australia_14_02

Questions loomed as to how many of the cars would actually finish the Austrailan Grand Prix. With so many unknowns following testing, it was a coin toss as to who would come out on top. Embarrassingly both Marussias had to start from pit lane after stalling on the grid and causing a second formation lap. Also starting from the pits was the Lotus of Romain Grosjean who suffered a gearbox failure on Saturday. After the highs of last season, Lotus have had a hellacious start to 2014 after losing Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari and Team Principal Eric Boullier to McLaren.

After an unspectacular start, the Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi experienced a KERS failure which caused his rear brakes not to work. He collided with a rejuvenated Felipe Massa in the Williams, ending their days prematurely.

f1_australia_14_08

Pole sitter and favorite to win, Lewis Hamilton retired within the first 5 laps after the engine of his Mercedes Silver Arrow went kaput. It was a surprising development after both Mercedes’ looked fantastic heading into the season opener. Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg on the other hand, built a fantastic lead and piloted the W05 to his first victory at Albert Park. The drive was Vettel-esque and showed everyone just what an advantage the works Mercedes team has over the competition.

f1_australia_14_10

A little further back McLaren had their own rejuvenation. 2013 was a disaster for McLaren and their worst season since 1980. After a brief, unsuccessful stint with Sergio Perez, the team signed rookie Kevin Magnussen in the offseason. Hoping to catch a similar lightening in a bottle to Hamilton’s rookie debut, the Dane didn’t disappoint.

Kevin Magnussen celebrates his podium finish.

McLaren had one of the busiest off seasons of any team in Formula 1. After last year’s disaster, Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was shown the exit. The move allowed Ron Dennis to re-shift his focus to the company’s motor sports program after stepping away to oversee McLaren’s road car division.

Racing Director Eric Boullier in the garage.

With Dennis back at the helm, Eric Boullier made a sudden exit from Lotus to join the Woking team. McLaren are certainly in rebuilding mode in 2014 and will continue to be through the end of next season as they adapt to their new partnership with Honda. In the meantime, they had a fantastic showing at Albert Park. Magnussen drove as cool as a cucumber and secured a comfortable 3rd place finish with his teammate Jenson Button 3 seconds behind in 4th. If the Ricciardo disqualification holds, the McLaren boys will be bumped up to 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The team’s consistency has them leading the Constructor’s Championship headed to Sepang. Though it’s only the first race of the season, it’s a remarkable result for a team that lost it’s identity in 2013.

Jenson Button on track.

McLaren’s main rivals at Scuderia Ferrari proved they still have a lot of work to do. Kimi Raikkonen appeared uninspired throughout most of the weekend, while Fernando Alosno did his best to cope with the new car. Ferrari have struggled with the learning curve over the last few seasons and proved they have a lot of work to do still. Alonso finished 4th overall with his teammate Raikkonen in 7th.

GP AUSTRALIA F1/2014

Further back Valterri Bottas produced a solid drive in the new look Williams Martini Racing FW36. The start of his second season in Formula 1 saw the Finn finish 5th overall. Williams were heavy favorites heading into the weekend and I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of them up front in 2014.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Australian Grand Prix - Race Day - Melbourne, Australia

Nico Hulkenberg had a nice showing in the Force India and proved he made exactly the right decision to leave Sauber. The German was very racy and had a proper wheel-to-wheel bout with Alonso. The Force India pairing of Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez could prove to be the most exciting young driver combination of 2014. After Raikkonen’s weak Ferrari debut, many are scratching their heads over whether or not the Scuderia made the right driver signing.

Retirements were abundant at Albert Park on Sunday. With Hamilton and Vettel forced to call it quits in the opening laps, we leave the season opener with even more questions than answers. It was interesting to see the way the young drivers have adapted more quickly to the new cars than the veterans. Pirelli also remained largely out of the controversial limelight with longer lasting tire compounds which saw a 1 stopper.

f1_australia_14_09

For all the hype about the new V6 turbos, they’ve fallen short in nearly every regard. While seeing and hearing the cars in person is a massively different experience, the majority of fans at home have been left largely unimpressed. The new engine notes are so quiet they’re virtually unheard on TV. The cars also appear quite a bit slower than last year’s spec. From a spectacle standpoint the 2014 cars have (so far) fallen flat. Promises of heavy oversteer, more competitive wheel-to-wheel battles, steeped in a space age soundtrack where largely missing from the weekend’s events. While it’s still very early, you can’t help but question if Formula 1 has indeed sold it’s soul to the environmentalists. Motor sports should be an escape for fans. We should be treated to something that’s wildly different than what we encounter on the daily commute. Pushing the envelope and doing so in stunning style has always been Formula 1′s party piece. They’ve become too sensible, too governed, too vanilla. The result is 10 teams running scared. There are so many rules to follow, so many technical regulations to adhere to that rather than push for 58 laps, Formula 1 Grands Prix have become exercises in conservation. The sport’s bottom line as been reduced to such a level that many fans are jumping ship.

F1 - GRAND PRIX OF AUSTRALIA 2014

We’ll witness many exciting personal and team story lines this season but the product on track will continue to be marginalized I fear. The changes need to start at the top. The FIA just need to let the drivers go out and race.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

Williams Martini Racing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 03.09.2014 by aclasschris

Last week’s news, but who’s honestly tired of looking at the Williams Martini Racing FW36?

williams_martini_fw36_01

In what became one of Formula 1′s worst kept secrets, motor racing’s most iconic sponsor has made their much anticipated return with Williams.

williams_martini_fw36_02

Williams’ drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa in Martini Racing garb.

williams_martini_fw36_03

It’s a definite bright spot on a 2014 Formula 1 story line that keeps getting more interesting as the weeks progress. The teams have already made their long awaited return to Melbourne for the start of the season, less than 1 week away.

williams_martini_fw36_04

Williams have struggled to attain their former glory in Formula 1 for many years now and after a rough patch with loan shark pay driver Pastor Maldonado, 2014 may be the year to see them return to their former glory. Williams have already been called the dark horse of 2014 and yes it’s still early, but you can’t deny that Mercedes engines are the performance benchmark this season and with Felipe Massa’s fresh new outlook, things could be in their favor. Bottas already made an impression as one of the most interesting young drivers in the sport and it might not be long before we see podium finishes for the team once again.

williams_martini_fw36_05

They’ll be doing in in stunning style. The FW36 is without a doubt the best looking car on the grid this season. Lets hope Martini’s return will inspire other former sponsors and classic liveries to reenter the sport.

The Australian Grand Prix is just 6 days away!

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Marussia MR03

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01.30.2014 by aclasschris

The final car reveal of 2014 hit the tarmac at Jerez today, Marussia’s MR03.

marussia_mr03_01

Not the best looking contender, but certainly not the worst.

marussia_mr03_02

Teammates Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi will drive the MR03 for the 2014 season.

marussia_mr03_03

Marussia have been mostly noncompetitive, back markers since their formation in 2012. A lack of funding has kept the team largely out of the running and it’s yet another sign that Formula 1 needs to lay out a spending cap for all teams. Imagine what the sport would be like if Red Bull and Marussia had the exact same budgets for their cars? That could be a pretty interesting shakeup for the sport.

The idea of customer cars has been tossed around quite a bit in recent years. In the case of Marussia, it would give the team an opportunity to buy a proven chassis and avoid many of the more expensive RND costs that can eat away at team’s budget. Many are on the fence about customer cars in Formula 1, but if it improved the racing and made things more competitive across the field, I doubt those against it would be for long.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Red Bull Racing RB10

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.29.2014 by aclasschris

The Red Bull Racing RB10 rounds out the list of 2014 cars currently testing at Jerez. We still have yet to see what Marussia has concocted, but does anyone really care?

Coming off of 3 consecutive World Championship sweeps, Red Bull are the obvious favorites going into 2014. Adrian Newey’s latest creation is arguably the best looking car on the grid, which isn’t much of an achievement.

red_bull_racing_rb10_01

At first glance the RB10 looks largely the same as its predecessor. Last year’s livery remains intact with the most noticeable change in the form of a sloped nose, similar to what we’ve already seen from Ferrari and Mercedes.

red_bull_racing_rb10_02

Granted it’s only testing, but things haven’t been so smooth for Red Bull out on the track. The issues have stemmed largely from the car’s energy recovery unit, even causing a fire at one point earlier today.

Newey has already been very vocal in the media, questioning the 2014 technical regulations. This comes as no surprise, but I find it interesting the way teams love to complain after they’ve had plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns during the rule writing process. It’s a similar situation to the double points debacle in which all of the team principals had a pow wow in Geneva and the subject wasn’t brought up once. Will Buxton did an excellent job analyzing the current predicament Formula 1 is in right now.

red_bull_racing_rb10_03

2014 marks the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo as Sebastian Vettel’s new teammate after Mark Webber retired last season. Webber didn’t leave under the greatest of circumstances with top brass and it will be interesting to follow Ricciardo’s experience with the team.

I still can’t decide if the RB10 is a good looking car or it’s just the best of the worst. Formula 1 is in a very strange place right now. At one time it really was the pinnacle of professional motor sports. These days I’m not so sure anymore. As the new cars were revealed to fans there was a wave of laughter and a perception that the sport had lost it’s collective mind. What we should be talking about are the new V6 turbos and how surprisingly good they sound, Kimi driving a Ferrari again, Ricciardo fitting in at Red Bull, the young guns at Force India and just who on earth could potentially steel the crown from Vettel. Instead we’re making penis jokes, complaining about fuel conservation and double points – all of which shouldn’t even exist in the sport.

I sincerely hope Formula 1 gets it together and realizes what it used to be and what it’s unfortunately becoming. If last season was any indication of the style of racing we’ll see in 2014, fans will simply walk away and never look back.

Photos courtesy of Red Bull Racing.

2014 Mercedes AMG W05

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.28.2014 by aclasschris

It feels weird seeing Mercedes headed into the 2014 season without Ross Brawn at the helm. After parting ways with the team in the offseason, speculation remains as to where he’ll end up. Could we see a midseason shakeup with Brawn at McLaren? Time will tell.

For now, the W05 and I must say, not a bad looking car for a change.

mercedes_w05_01

Mercedes have a gone a similar route to Ferrari with a sloped nose design.

mercedes_w05_02

An updated and improved livery also adorns the W05. Perhaps Mercedes caught wind that McLaren were copying their paint scheme and opted for more teal?

mercedes_w05_03

Hopefully the car will be better at managing tires this season. In 2013 Lewis Hamilton was plagued with horrific tire wear and was forced to dial back his performance on a number occasions.

mercedes_w05_04

He was on hand for testing with teammate Nico Rosberg and sporting a brand new head of hair.

However, soon after taking the car on track, Hamilton’s front wing failed, resulting in his first crash of the season.

A tough break for the brand new W05.

Photos courtesy of Mercedes & F1 Fanatic.

2014 Force India VJM07

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01.28.2014 by aclasschris

After teasing the car last week, Force India officially debuted the VJM07 today at Jerez.

force_india_vjm07_jerez_01

Teammates Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg were on hand for testing.

It appears the car’s designers went a similar route to Sauber with their front end.

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 1 - Jerez, Spain

Force India have one of the most exciting driver lineups in 2014. Perez joins the team after a brief, single season stint at McLaren. His departure felt like it had less to do with on-track performance and more to do with team politics. The Mexican was primarily brought on in haste after Lewis Hamilton announced his departure. It would have been difficult for any young driver to meet McLaren’s huge expectations in just 1 season. Force India should end up being a much better place for Perez to flourish.

Nico Hulkenberg who is considered by many to be the best of the rest, myself included, returns to the team after a season at Sauber. He was tipped to be Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement at Lotus after a brilliant 2013 performance, but the cash strapped team chose money over talent and signed pay driver Pastor Maldonado. In the right car, Hulkenberg can fight with the best in the sport.

Force India are definitely one of the teams to watch in 2014.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Caterham CT05

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 01.28.2014 by aclasschris

Formula 1 testing at Jerez began today and with it most of the remaining teams introduced their 2014 cars. While some of today’s reveals were much more promising in the looks department, Caterham’s CT05 wasn’t one of them.

caterham_ct05_01

Rather than make any attempts at designing a new nose, it appears they’ve chopped the end off of last year’s design and added one of those ridiculous falices as an afterthought.

caterham_ct05_02

Not all of the car’s angles are bad I suppose.

On a much more positive note, Kamui Koybayashi will make his F1 return with the team. He unfortunately had to sit out last season due to a lack of funds. In a world of pay drivers like Pastor Maldonado, it’s become a worrying trend that far more capable talents have missed out on opportunities to snag very precious drives. The grid will certainly be a better place with Kobayashi back in the sport.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Toro Rosso STR9

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01.27.2014 by aclasschris

Testing at Jerez begins this week and Toro Rosso was there to debut the 2014 STR9.

toro_rosso_str9_01

Some have suggested this is a prelude to what we’ll be seeing from Red Bull later this week. I hope not.

toro_rosso_str9_02

Yeah… Welcome to Formula 1 2014.

Elitists who are above the kind of humor these new cars have spawned are quick to point out that the designs are all in the name of safety. Don’t get me wrong, having lower noses as a precaution to any t-bone related head injuries is crucial, but there must be a better way.

Don’t think for a second that the jokes aren’t flooding throughout the paddock either. It’s tough to escape, especially with the STR9. Something tells me that Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat were looking to get this launch over with quickly.

toro_rosso_str9_03

Things get a little more sane towards the rear of the car.

toro_rosso_str9_04

At the back, STR begins their new engine partnership with Renault after parting ways with Ferrari. The new single exhausts on the 2014 cars should give us a nice light show come Bahrain and Singapore.

toro_rosso_str9_05

More from Jerez in the coming days.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

2014 Sauber C33

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 01.26.2014 by aclasschris

Have Sauber become the first team to design an attractive solution to Formula 1′s nose problem?

Sauber F1 Team C33 Press

The team have released just 2 images of the 2014 C33, so it’s tough to be sure. However based on what we can see, they may have cracked it.

Sauber F1 Team C33 Press

A lack of ugly sponsorship logos make the C33 stand out with one of the best liveries on the grid. However those missing sponsors also play a role in the team’s financial woes, but at least the car looks good!

I suspect more images of the C33 will be rolling out in the coming days, but for now a very promising start.

Photos courtesy of Sauber & F1 Fantaic.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers