Archive for Lewis Hamilton

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.

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

The 2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10.13.2013 by aclasschris

Today’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit produced the kind of unpredictability and tension that have been lacking from the sport in recent months. Despite another Vettel win, the rest of the field was very much up for grabs.

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Spa-Francorchamps may have the must stunning backdrop and Monza the most interesting heritage, but Suzuka without a doubt, has to be the most exciting circuit in Formula 1. Beloved by the drivers and fans, Suzuka Circuit was originally intended as a test track for Honda (which they still use today). The track was designed in 1962 by John Hugenholtz and features an out and back, figure-8 design. Suzuka is a brilliant mix of high speed straights, flowing S-curves and tight hairpins. Its design can yield high rewards for the most precise drivers, however making a mistake can prove costly, as we all witnessed throughout the weekend.

F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Race

Sebastian Vettel arrived in Japan with the Driver’s Championship all but clinched and would’ve been crowned today, had it not been for a 4th place finish by Fernando Alonso. Red Bull Racing’s prowess experienced a few glitches early in the weekend with a KERS problem on Vettel’s RB9. The absence of KERS may have given Mark Webber the break he needed as he secured his first pole since Korea in 2012.

2013 Japanese Grand Prix - Sunday

The RB9s of Webber and Vettel had lackluster starts from the front row. Amidst the scramble, Vettel made contact with the W04 of Lewis Hamilton past the pit exit. A solid performance from Webber however was not enough and a change in tire strategy saw him pit 3 times and eventually lose P1 to his teammate. Following the race, Webber kept things upbeat but there was little doubt his team let him down. After pitting for the first time in lap 12, Webber was back in on lap 26 which meant a 3rd stop was all but certain. Had the engineers kept the driver out for another 5 laps, Webber likely would’ve taken the car to the end and won his first Grand Prix of the season. A 2nd place finish was the best consolation for Webber, but a disappointing result in contrast to a win that should’ve been his. It was interesting to hear the panic in Vettel’s voice during radio transmissions as he was held up in traffic towards the end. With Romain Grosjean and Webber shrinking the gap, Vettel’s response was a departure from his usually calculated demeanor.

2013 Japanese Grand Prix - Sunday

The day saw another fantastic drive from Romain Grosjean in the Lotus. After an excellent start from P4, he took the lead into turn 1 and proved to be a difficult challenge for Webber throughout the race. It’s been a massive evolution for Grosjean over the last 12 months. In 2012, he was branded a lunatic by his rivals after causing numerous racing incidents. Fast forward to 2013 and Grosjean is beginning to exhibit the level of skill and maturity that Lotus will need in a leader following the departure of Kimi Raikkonen next season.

2013 Japanese Grand Prix - Sunday

The unpredictable nature of racing at Suzuka provided some excellent shuffling across the field. Nico Hulkenberg and his Sauber teammate Esteban Gutierrez were quick all weekend and out drove the likes of McLaren and Scuderia Ferrari for much of the race. Gutierrez achieved a stunning 7th place finish with his teammate Hulkenberg just a head in 6th.

GP Spanien 2013

Hulkenberg has become one of the heroes of Formula 1 and there are rumblings that he’s close to inking a deal with Lotus for 2014. The combination of the German and Romain Grosjean would be fantastic to watch and a great opportunity for Hulkenberg who’s never gotten the big break he so deserves.

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Fernando Alonso’s frustration with Scuderia Ferrari continued throughout the weekend. While it seemed unlikely he would ever leave the team, never say never. The F138 continues to struggle against its rivals from Mercedes and Red Bull Racing and a much deserved 4th place finish was the best Alonso could do at Suzuka.

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His teammate Felipe Massa performed well in qualifying and started from P5. Ultimately he secured the final World Championship point finishing 10th overall.

Penalties and mechanical errors contributed in large part to a disappointing weekend for Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton qualified behind the Red Bull’s on Saturday, just before sharing a stone-soaked handshake with rival Vettel.

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Despite Hamilton’s PR-friendly Twitter feed, his dissatisfaction with Mercedes’ performance is written all over his face. Hamilton suffered another blow today after getting clipped by Vettel at the start of the race. A tire puncture sent him to the pits after lap 1 and the subsequent damage to the W04′s brakes ended his hopes prematurely.

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His teammate Nico Rosberg was handed a drive-through penalty after leaving the pits early and nearly colliding with the incoming Sergio Perez. The penalty contributed to an 8th place finish and not the kind of result Mercedes were looking for.

Jenson in his cockpit

As beloved by the Japanese fans as Jenson Button and McLaren are, their support did little for the team who are in their worst slump in over 20 years. Button spent a majority of today’s race trading places with his teammate Sergio Perez, who was unable to break into Q3 on Saturday.

Sergio in action

McLaren have declined to answer questions about their driver lineup in 2014 but at the moment no one is safe. While it’s likely Button will continue on with the team, Perez’s fate is more uncertain.

F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Race

Overall an entertaining Japanese Grand Prix and one that fans certainly needed. It’s unlikely the rest of the season’s “Tilkedomes” will provide the same brand of racing and Vettel will certainly get his crown by Abu Dhabi. On the other side of things, inconsistent calls from the stewards continue to plague the sport. At some point they forgot it’s called “racing” and an emphasis on safety and over policing the drivers have many up in arms. Today’s controversial penalties provided for some very candid and blunt driver interviews in the media scrum following the race.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Japanese Grand Prix - Practice Day - Suzuka, Japan

There are just 4 races to go in this 2013 season! Formula 1 heads to the Buddh International Circuit in 2 weeks for the Indian Grand Prix.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

Flip-Flopper?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 10.07.2013 by aclasschris

It’s become clear that fans aren’t the only ones frustrated over Sebastian Vettel’s winning streak and the way it’s begun to dilute the sport.

After a difficult Korean Grand Prix on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton was outspoken with his views on Vettel and how Formula 1 has become boring. Hamilton does have point and it’s likely most of the other drivers share his sentiments. His comments yesterday are all well and good, but tonight Hamilton took to Twitter to “clarify” things.

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Something is fishy here…

These seem less like the words of Hamilton and more like the words of a PR agency.

Something tells me the guy who accused the paddock of “hanging their balls in the pool” wouldn’t offer the same scripted kind words to his rival.

The 2013 Korean Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10.06.2013 by aclasschris

Since 2010, the Korean Grand Prix has been something of an enigma on the Formula 1 calendar. Originally intended as the first piece of a large development project near the coastal city of Mokpo, it never gained the same prestige or the audience as other contemporary events in Singapore and Austin. The Korea International Circuit produces a similar brand of racing we’ve become familiar with from other Herman Tilke tracks and its location, 400km south of Seoul, has made it a difficult destination for spectators.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Thursday 3 October 2013.

The decision to hold a Formula 1 Grand Prix in Korea has always been a puzzling one. The country has little to no motor sports pedigree and the event has largely gone under the radar with local fans. In its earlier days, there were reports of year-old food being left to rot in the fridges of hospitality suites and a general lack of upkeep to the multi-million dollar facility. While this year’s turnout was significantly better than in years past, it’s very likely the Korean Grand Prix will suffer a similar fate to Turkey and be bumped from the calendar.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 6 October 2013.

The Formula 1 media at large would have us all believe we’re watching a fantastic style of racing, but that would be a massive oversight. In what has become another season of total domination from Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing, the sport’s recent Grands Prix have been uninspired and for the most part boring exercises of tire management.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 6 October 2013.

If Vettel victories with 30 second gaps are your idea of Formula 1 at its best then maybe you disagree, but until the other teams step their games up significantly or Vettel experiences catastrophic levels of unreliability, we’re all witnessing another uncontested World Championship.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 6 October 2013.

Rounding out the podium with Vettel was a Lotus 2-3 of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The latter has been particularly quick in recent weeks and put on a strong showing today in Korea. While Ferrari didn’t have the best of luck, they were surely pleased to see their future driver (Raikkonen) maintain business as usual with another podium finish.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 6 October 2013.

Grosjean is making a strong case for himself as Lotus’ leader in 2014 and it will be interesting to see who they sign as his teammate.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 6 October 2013.

Mercedes were favored throughout the weekend with Lewis Hamilton starting in P2 and his teammate Nico Rosberg in P5. Unfortunately for Hamilton, the race was an uphill battle after starting from the dirty side of the track and spending most of the day holding off Fernando Alonso and looking at the back end of a very quick Nico Hulkenberg. The Mercedes driver didn’t hide his frustration over the team’s tire strategy which lead to one of the best radio transmissions of the season: “When are you gonna call me in man? These tires are fucked!” While Hamilton’s frustration with the way this season has played out is understandable, consider this is the same driver who was willing to call this season a bust just 12 months ago.

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Meanwhile, Rosberg suffered his own issues while attempting to overtake his teammate. The W04′s nose cone detached and forced an unscheduled pit stop. The time in the pits ruined any chances of Rosberg fighting for a podium.

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The Mercedes drivers finished in P5 and P7 respectively, with Hamilton ahead of his teammate.

After offering his friend a lift in Singapore 2 weeks ago, Fernando Alonso was highly critical of Pirelli’s tires following a difficult qualifying session on Saturday.

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Alonso’s growing frustration with all aspects of the sport could be attributed to yet another season of watching his World Championship hopes slip away. Alonso has given everything he can on Sundays, but the F138 just isn’t on par with the RB9.

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His teammate Felipe Massa went off the track early in lap 1 but managed to keep his car in the points, ultimately finishing in P9 with his teammate ahead in P6.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 6 October 2013.

McLaren’s Sergio Perez suffered his second on track blowout of the season, causing the first safety car of the day. Pirelli received a lot of criticism throughout the weekend for high tire degradation and a lack of rear grip.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Race Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 6 October 2013.

The buildup of tire debris  was exceptionally high compared to other recent Grands Prix. Much of the criticisim has come from Mark Webber who suffered a puncture following Perez’s blow out: “I got a Pirelli puncture from a Pirelli tire so… impressive.”

F1 Grand Prix of Korea - Previews

For the second race in a row, Webber was unable to finish after being t-boned by Force India’s Adrian Sutil. The collision started a fire on the RB9 which Webber presumed was from the KERS. It’s become a frustrating final leg of the season for Webber and not the way he would hope to leave the sport.

On a brighter note, Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg continues to make his case for a drive with a top flight team.

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Hulkenberg was outstanding after starting from P8 and making a charge past the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton into P4. He spent most of the race fending off Hamilton who’s W04 was no match for the Sauber coming out of the turns. Why Hulkenberg has continually been overlooked by the likes of McLaren, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari is one of the sport’s great mysteries. If Martin Whitmarsh has any sense, he’ll highly consider swapping the underperforming Perez for Hulkenberg – the driver McLaren should’ve signed all along. It was a great result for Sauber who are making their way into uncharted territory with the potential signing of Sergey Sirotkin, the 17-year-old son of a Russian billionaire.

Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Thursday 3 October 2013.

Another Korean Grand Prix is in the books. With a positively stacked preliminary schedule for 2014, it may be Formula 1′s final visit to Yeongnam. The last of the sport’s truly great races is just a week away as the teams head to Suzuka Circuit for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

The 2013 Singapore Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 09.22.2013 by aclasschris

With Formula 1′s campaign across Europe in the books, the teams are back in Asia for the season’s final push. Today’s Singapore Grand Prix proved to be a lot of things, but one of the sport’s most exciting events surely isn’t one of them. Before we look back at how the race unfolded, some points of contention…

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As American Formula 1 fans are well aware, the sport just doesn’t have the following in this country the way it does throughout the rest of the world. The blame could be pointed in any number of directions, whether it be FOM’s world feed or the shadow of its former self that NBC Sports has become in less than half a season. To put it simply, this weekend’s broadcast was infuriating to watch. After securing Barclay’s Premier League matches, NBC Sports has completely diverted its attention away from Formula 1 and it’s greatly impacted the way we watch the sport. Saturday’s “live” Qualifying didn’t air until nearly 24 hours later (Sunday 1 AM EDT). For fans who like to get their results by watching the broadcasts, it meant an entire Saturday of avoiding the Internet. Then there was the race itself and the severe under underutilization of NBC Sports’ man on the ground, Will Buxton. Viewers of SPEED will recall Buxton scrambling amongst drivers and team bosses for last minute interviews leading into the race’s start. Now F1 Countdown has become a glorified studio segment with repetitive tire explanations and rumor-fueled cross talk amongst the hosts. Respect to Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, they love what they do and know their sport well, however the issues stem more from a production staff who don’t seem to have a clue. The entire reason for having Buxton at the race is to be our eyes at the track, our window into the event. Lately his role seems that of a 30 second sound bite, than the knowledgeable and frankly excellent reporter he is. Add to this the enormous amounts of commercial breaks, including one that cut right through the middle of the podium ceremony and resumed with Sebastian Vettel in mid sentence. The moment interviewer Martin Brundle finished speaking with Kimi Raikkonen, NBC Sports was eager to fade into yet another commercial break! Today’s broadcast saw no post race interviews from the media scrum or any kinds of final thoughts from the studio before it was off to more Barclay’s coverage, which has completely dominated the network in recent months. Depending on most people’s cable provider, NBC Sports is a premium channel that most are paying upwards of $170 a year to have on their TVs. So again, why must we be treated to such a half heated attempt at Formula 1 coverage? Are you listening Sky Sports?

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore

The Singapore Grand Prix is the longest, most physically demanding race on the Formula 1 calender. The high heat and humidity take their tole on the drivers and most come away looking positively ravaged. This weekend continued with Sebastian Vettel’s total domination of the sport. After securing pole in Saturday’s Qualifying, Vettel led every lap of the race and finished with a massive lead. As the season progresses, it’s becoming abundantly clear just how dominant a driver the German really is.

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore

Despite what people may think of the man himself, one has to begin to think that he really is that good. Most fans aren’t sold however and the booing continued at today’s podium ceremony. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner and other supporters including Niki Lauda have been vocal about their distaste of the new trend. It makes the occurrence that much more awkward when fan favorites Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are met with unanimous praise.

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore

If fans want to boo anyone it should be the FIA and race stewards for their incessant meddling and absurd penalties (more on that later). A fourth consecutive Driver’s Championship is all but clinched by Vettel at this point, much to the dismay of Alonso who seems to give everything he’s got week after week.

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If Vettel is the current winningest driver in Formula 1 then Fernando Alonso is undoubtably the best starter. While the Ferrari driver has struggled with pace in Qualifying, he makes up for it at the start. The way things began in Singapore were no exception. After starting from P7, Alonso secured P3 by the end of turn 1. If Ferrari’s hiring of Raikkonen for 2014 has affected Alonso, he surely didn’t show it on the track as he continued to get the most out of his F138.

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His teammate Felipe Massa also showed good pace this weekend and finished 6th overall. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for the Brazilian since the team’s announcement of his replacement and it become clear that Massa will drive his own races for the remainder of the season.

Despite dealing with back pain throughout the weekend, Kimi Raikkonen showed no signs of faltering today.

Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore. 19th September 2013. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1. Photo: Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1 Team. ref: Digital Image _Q0C4670

After failing to make Q3 on Saturday, the Lotus driver had an exciting bout with McLaren’s Jenson Button, resulting in one of the best passes of the season. It was a rare departure from the usual procession we’ve grown accustomed to on Singapore’s narrow layout. He finished 3rd overall, much to the delight of Ferrari who have signed him for a 2 year contract starting next season. Things didn’t fair so well for Lotus’ other driver, Romain Grosjean.

Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore. 19th September 2013. Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1, talks to the media. Photo: Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1 Team. ref: Digital Image _79P5087

After a fantastic showing in Qualifying, he started in P3, only to experience a pneumatics issue that ended his race on lap 37. Grosjean will be keen to take the reigns as the team’s Number 1 in 2014 and hopefully Lotus will be able to overcome their current financial woes.

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It was a frustrating showing for Mercedes this weekend. Nico Rosberg had the pace on Saturday and started from P2. As the race wore on, fatigue set in and Rosberg found himself in the crosshairs of his teammate, Lewis Hamilton.

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Hamilton spent most of Practice and Qualifying frustrated with the team’s tire strategy and started from P5 behind Red Bull’s Mark Webber. The two Mercedes drivers found themselves in a scrum with McLaren and each other in the later laps of the race. After doing away with the MP4-28s, it was Rosberg who led the team to the finish in 4th, with Hamilton close behind in 5th.

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It seems as though Hamilton’s slump has carried over from Monza as the driver has continued to struggle with the W04. Fighting for World Championship points is a tough pill to swallow as the driver’s main rival continues to win.

The woes of McLaren are far from over. After a brief stint in 3rd, Jenson Button held off the Lotus of Raikkonen for as long as he could.

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The subsequent overtaking by Webber and the Mercedes boys made it abundantly clear that McLaren are no longer in the same league as their rivals. Despite Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh’s best attempts at creating a mood of uncertainty over the future of his drivers, it’s truly the car that’s failed them this season. McLaren have subsequently created a position with absolute job security in the role of Whitmarsh.

Sergio Perez on track.

As the team struggles for points against mid-fielders like Force India, retaining Perez and to some degree Button, comes into question. Major offseason changes will most certainly happen in Woking, but the current management is clearly a major contributor to this lackluster season. Button and Perez finished 7th and 8th respectively.

For all of Red Bull’s success with Vettel, things have unfolded quite differently for Mark Webber. The Australian is competing in his final season with the team and the usual trend of mysterious mechanical failures have plagued any chance of going out on top.

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Previews

Yet again, Webber was unable to finish the race, this time due to a gearbox failure. The breakdown happened on lap 60 after one hell of a push from Webber to P4. In one of the more sporting instances Formula 1 has seen in quite a while, Fernando Alonso pulled off during the cool down lap to give his friend a lift back to pit lane. It was a display of camaraderie and sportsmanship that shows just how much Alonso has matured since his days at McLaren. What could’ve been the shining event of the Singapore Grand Prix, was quickly muddied by a bureaucratic FIA who will stop at nothing to assert a firm hand over the sport.

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Many have argued in favor of the FIA’s ruling which will see Alonso get his first reprimand of the season and Webber a 10 grid spot penalty in Korea, after entering the track without the stewards permission. It’s a good cop, bad cop scenario where the FIA are only thinking in the interest of driver safety, but it’s a decision that does nothing for their stiff, old world public image and one the sport contends with far too often lately.

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The first of a new 5 race deal with Singapore is in the books. Despite the event’s stunning location, it will be nice to see the drivers on proper circuits from here on out. In a scheduling switch, the teams will head to Yeongam for the Korean Grand Prix in 2 weeks.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

The 2013 Italian Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 09.08.2013 by aclasschris

Monza – it just sounds fantastic doesn’t it? One of Formula 1′s last true temples of speed played host to the Italian Grand Prix today and it was a race that says a lot about what we can expect for the remainder of the 2013 season.

F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Race

“We need to be lucky and we need to have some DNFs from Sebastian or something to win the championship.”

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The words of Fernando Alonso following today’s race. It was Ferrari’s home race and all of the team’s top brass were on hand, adding to the tension in the paddock. Felipe Massa’s career as a Ferrari driver is on the line and it was an important weekend for him to prove himself. After a failed drafting strategy by the team in yesterday’s Q3, Massa qualified ahead of his teammate, starting from P4. It’s the quickest we’ve seen Massa all season and begs the question of where his pace has been hiding? Massa has a history of doing some of his best driving under pressure, but why does his job need to be on the line in order for him to perform? Ferrari may be realizing that and his fate could already be determined. Despite Massa’s 4th place finish, there’s plenty of excellent talent vying for one of the top seats in Formula 1.

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Despite his best attempts at a race win, Alonso came up short, unable to match the pace of Vettel’s Red Bull. It was a heroic drive in front of the tifosi and had there been another 5 laps in the race, we may have seen a different outcome. Both Red Bull’s were suffering from gearbox trouble in the final laps of the race and Alonso was closing in on Vettel.  However, time ran out and the day ended with the Ferrari driver finishing 2nd. Say what you will about Alonso, he’s not afraid to get everything he can from the car.

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Today’s race was telling because for the 4th year in a row, the Driver’s Championship may already be in the books. Harking back to Alonso’s comments earlier, it would take a severe turn of events to knock Vettel out of the lead. He’s now won half of all the Grands Prix in 2013 and we’re just over the halfway mark of the season.

F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Race

Granted there’s a long second leg in Asia before the penultimate races in the Americas, but Vettel has such a commanding lead that reliability may be his only competition at this point. While a 4th Driver’s Championship would further cement his legacy, fans have become bored with the predictable nature of Red Bull’s near weekly success.

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For the 7th race in a row, Vettel has been met with raucous boos on the podium. Everyone loves a winner, but win too much and they just might turn on you. It’s something Vettel will have to deal with for as long as he’s a Red Bull driver in an Adrian Newey car. Despite his skill, there are still questions of how much his success can be attributed to the car. If Vettel were to join another team and experience the same levels of success, the questions (and the boos) would cease.

F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Race

Rounding out the podium was Mark Webber. Today was his best result at the track and a fitting end to his final European leg in the sport. Webber is one of the last gentleman racers in Formula 1 and the sport will be lacking in his absence. His retirement brings attention to the “old guard” moving on and the transitional period to come. More seats at the front runners will begin to open up over the next 5 years and it will be interesting to see who will rise to the occasion.

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Nico Hulkenberg could be one such driver. Labeled by many (myself included) as the “best of the rest,” Hulkenberg had a fantastic weekend at Monza and a much needed boost to a woeful season at Sauber. After qualifying P3 yesterday, Hulkenberg did his best to fend off attacks from Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo to finish 5th overall. It’s a massively impressive result, especially considering the lack of pace Sauber have had all season. I argued that McLaren were foolish to pass over Hulkenberg when Lewis Hamilton left the team last year. He’s got all of the qualifications to be a future World Champion, he just needs the right team behind him. One seat that he would be the ideal candidate for is Massa’s at Ferrari. While it’s not certain whether Massa will leave the team, the chance for Hulkenberg to drive alongside Alonso would be his best opportunity for 2014.

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While Monza played to the advantages of Red Bull and Ferrari this weekend, Mercedes, Lotus and McLaren struggled. After winning it last year, many projected Hamilton to be the favorite in Italy. In yesterday’s Q2, he was held up in the Parabolica by Force India’s Adrian Sutil – read into that what you will. Sutil was handed a 3 grid spot penalty and Hamilton was unable to break into Q3. After starting from 12th, the Mercedes driver suffered a slow puncture that forced an early, unscheduled pit stop. Hamilton did his best to fight his way up the grid, including some nice wheel-to-wheel racing with Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, but ultimately the best he could do was a 9th place finish.

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A downbeat Hamilton said after the race that he wasn’t happy to fight for bad positions, this coming from a driver who came into the season happy to write the whole thing off in favor of 2014. Hamilton has certainly experienced great success (relatively speaking) with his new team but the funk he was in during his final seasons with McLaren seems to have carried over somewhat into 2013. More than any other driver currently in the sport, Hamilton’s private life plays an immense role in his on track performance. It raises questions that he may be his biggest enemy, when it comes to winning Championships in the future.

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McLaren have publicly written off 2013 in favor of putting all of their efforts into next season. It’s an unusual sight for a McLaren team to be pleased just scoring points, rather than fighting for podiums and this will go down as one of the team’s worst seasons ever. The hope is that a renewed alliance with Honda and the massive change in technical regulations will play to McLaren’s favor in the coming seasons.

Jenson Button on track

Button has made it known that he’d like to finish his career with the team, as he goes into contract negotiations at the end of this season. While he’ll likely stay, questions surround his teammate’s fate. One of the primary reason’s in McLaren’s split second hiring of Sergio Perez was for the benefit of potential funding from the World’s richest man, Carlos Slim, who has ties to the driver.

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With Vodafone ending their partnership with McLaren, the presence of Perez invites Mexican business interest in the team moving forward. The pay driver argument comes into play, given Perez’s performance this season and should Slim opt out of funding the team, there’s little reason for McLaren to stay loyal to the Mexican after 2014. That story line will be an interesting one as it plays out next season.

GP MONZA F1/2013

The 2013 Italian Grand Prix was hardly the most exciting Formula 1 race of the season, but the passionate tifosi and historic venue made it the usual spectacle we’ve come to love.

For those of us watching the race in the United State, NBC Sports’s coverage seems to be resembling that of SPEED’s more and more each race weekend. A smaller studio set and the network’s acquisition of Barclay’s Premier League telecasts, hints at less of NBC’s attention being put into Formula 1. While they have upped their game on extended coverage throughout the race weekend, the sheer volume of commercial breaks during live coverage has become infuriating. While the network has no control over FOM’s World feed, the cutaways to “Wish You Were Here” spotlights of the venues and promos for the network’s other featured sports during the race, is unfortunate. 2 weeks ago, many of the Spa’s best moments were overlooked during commercial breaks and unnecessary replays. While I commend the work of Will Buxton and the insight of Steve Matchett (two of the best in the business), surely NBC Sports – a premium pay channel – could be offering so much more, including commercial free coverage during qualifying and races.

F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Race

The European leg of Formula 1′s 2013 season is officially in the books. The teams now head back to Asia for the second time this season. The Singapore Grand Prix in 2 weeks!

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

McLaren 50

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 09.03.2013 by aclasschris

McLaren have been celebrating their 50th anniversary all season long, but today is the day all that celebrating has been for. Employees and drivers gathered at the MTC for a celebration of one of the most storied teams in motor sports history.

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Similar to the MP4-28 release event, everyone gathered in the MTC’s lobby for the parade to roll in.

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All the major players were in attendance including the MK 8D, M23 and MP4/4.

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Jenson Button and Sergio Perez were also on hand. I imagine there was a lot of talk about next season.

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The spirits of seasons past.

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Button made an entrance in this midnight purple P1.

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2013′s Formula 1 campaign hasn’t been good to McLaren. They took a gamble with the MP4-28, which is more of a redesign than an evolution car. Had they done what most of their competitors did and ran an updated version of the MP4-27, we could be having a very different conversation now.

The team has made it abundantly clear that they are focusing all of their current efforts on 2014. While this season will likely be a wash, McLaren won’t stay midfield for long.

Until then, a happy 50th to McLaren.

Photos courtesy of McLaren.

The 2013 Belgian Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08.25.2013 by aclasschris

Was it Sebastian Vettel or Greenpeace who had the last laugh at today’s Belgian Grand Prix?

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

Spa-Francorchamps has always been a bright spot on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar. Set amongst the hills of the Ardennes Forest, Spa’s beautiful landscape, unpredictable weather conditions and challenging layout have made it a longtime favorite amongst the drivers and fans.  After the exceedingly long August break, Spa is the perfect place to get back to racing.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Practice Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

With the Silly Season in full swing, there’s been a lot of talk about where certain drivers will end up in 2014.

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The most hotly discussed topic has been over who will fill Mark Webber’s seat at Red Bull Racing. It’s long been assumed that Kimi Raikkonen would be Webber’s successor, however earlier this week reports surfaced that Toro Rosso driver and fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo would be Red Bull’s new driver. That development has everyone wondering where Raikkonen will end up next season. It’s very likely that he will stay at Lotus, as the only other alternative would be Felipe Massa’s seat at Scuderia Ferrari and we all know how that ended the first time around. Despite all the rumors and talk of next season, we’re still only half way through 2013 so let’s get to it.

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Spa has produced some of the sport’s most memorable racing over the years, but today’s Belgian Grand Prix was particularly underwhelming. For all of the hype leading into the race, the weather held off and we saw yet another Sunday where Sebastian Vettel maintained a massive lead from the first lap onwards.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

The RB9 was massively quick, as demonstrated by Vettel on pole sitter Lewis Hamilton through Eau Rouge. The Silver Arrows are tough to beat in qualifying but have continued to struggle on race days.

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Hamilton was able to do little in the way of fending off Fernando Alonso, who after a fantastic start from 9th, managed a 2nd place finish. Perhaps Alonso had an extra bit of motivation after a very public row with team boss Luca di Montezemolo, following the Hungarian Grand Prix. A stint of wheel-to-wheel racing and Alonso’s subsequent out-braking of Hamilton to take 2nd was Formula 1 at its best.

GP BELGIO F1/2013

Further back, Jenson Button managed to get his McLaren MP4-28 into 1st briefly, before a poorly managed tire strategy had him finishing 6th. McLaren have stated that they will no longer be developing this season’s car and focusing all of their efforts on 2014.

Jenson Button on track

It’s been one of the worst seasons in the team’s history and the signing of Sergio Perez hasn’t helped matters. While Perez has exhibited moments of brilliance, he was and is the wrong man for the job. Nico Hulkenberg is the best of the rest and should’ve been the man alongside Button.  A dismal season at Sauber will surely see him looking for greener pastures and a potential move to Ferrari in 2014.

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Felipe Massa has been warned by the team that he needs to prove himself over the next couple of races. These last few season’s have felt like deja vu for Massa. He’s never quite been able to come back from the injury he suffered in Hungary. While there’s no doubt Massa could’ve been a Formula 1 World Champion, he’s hardly qualified to continue holding a seat at one of the biggest teams in the sport. A 7th place finish today at Spa probably isn’t what the Scuderia were looking for and I suspect 2013 will be the last we see of Massa in a Ferrari.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

Red Bull continues to dominate the sport and it seems as though everything Adrian Newey touches turns to gold. Vettel now has a commanding lead in the World Championship points and it would take a hellacious second half of the season to keep him from taking his 4th consecutive WDC.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

The new technical regulations could impact Red Bull’s success moving forward, but that would probably have less to do with Newey’s designs and more to do with Renault’s new V6 twin-turbo engines. There are still 8 Grands Prix remaining this season but it’s hard not to anticipate next season, as it will see so many big changes to the sport.

Today’s race was capped off with yet another cringeworthy podium interview conducted by David Coulthard. FOM’s love affair with this fan-friendly format needs to be squashed. Any sort of genuine feedback or critique from the drivers will surely be left off the podium and we’ve all seen enough of Coulthard being embarrassed by the drivers  - I’m surprised he keeps signing up for more.

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Race

Get ready for the Tifosi, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza is in 2 weeks!

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

McLaren – 50 Years Of Branding

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08.06.2013 by aclasschris

2014 has been a tough year for Formula 1′s most successful team (and their fans). The loss of Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes started a chain reaction of setbacks that has the team currently sitting 6th in the World Championship standings. Those of you that follow me on Twitter will know that my unbridled support of McLaren often gets the better of me, following a Grand Prix weekend. 2013 marks McLaren’s 50th Anniversary so I thought it would be fun to have a look back at the evolution of their branding.

As with so much these days, newer isn’t always better and the same can be said for design. Once upon a time a company’s identity was heavily dependent upon its logo – an image that needed to engrain itself into the minds of everyone. These days brand recognition is slightly more complex. With social media and greater consumer access, a company’s identity is composed of so much more than an image alone.  Consider Nike’s iconic “Swoosh”, but then consider Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and the Air Max 1 silouette. In today’s day in age any one of these other entities are equally as important in brand recognition as the “Swoosh” itself.

This brings me back to McLaren an automotive manufacturer and Formula 1 dynasty that has seen quite an evolution in its identity over the last 50 years.

1963 – 1966

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The original logo for McLaren, founded in 1963. As a piece of design, it’s wonderfully vintage. The coat of arms layout, bathed in the same shade of red they still use in their branding today. British Racing Green alludes to the team’s English ties, while a kiwi honors the New Zealand roots of the team’s founder Bruce McLaren.

1967 – 1980

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McLaren’s logo was refreshed in 1967 and takes on a much more simplified aesthetic. During this era, the team would go on to become one of the more prominent in Grand Prix racing. A keen eye will see that the kiwi is still represented, but it would the the last time McLaren used this imagery as Formula 1 moved into the corporate era.

1981 – 1990

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With Bernie Ecclestone at the helm of Formula 1, the corporate era brought the sport greater exposure on a global scale and a slew of big name sponsors like Philip Morris. McLaren’s Formula 1 cars heavily featured Marlboro branding and it could be argued that its likeness also found its way into the team’s own logo. This was also when McLaren’s unique typography began to represent the brand.

1991 – 1997

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The logo’s design was further simplified in the 90s and would set the template for what we still see today. McLaren’s new branding also found its way onto the company’s first production car, the iconic F1.

1998 – 2002

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For the new millennium, the red geometric graphic was reworked into a more organic shape. 2 World Driver’s Championships for Mika Hakkinen contributed to McLaren’s standing as a Formula 1 dynasty.

2003 – Present

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McLaren’s current branding and what has become synonymous with the team’s success in professional motor sports and a return to production car manufacturing. For the newly finished P1, McLaren took their graphic a step further by using it for the shape of the car’s headlamps.

Design trends would tell you the typography is king when it comes to graphic design. With hashtags and keywords being crucial to a brand’s online presence, designers are faced with the challenge of not only engraving images into our minds, but letters as well.

There’s no denying just how iconic the McLaren logo has become and what an interesting evolution it’s seen throughout the years. However there’s still something very special about that original shield design. I wish it still adorned their cars today.

Photos courtesy of McLaren.

The 2013 Monaco Grand Prix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05.27.2013 by aclasschris

It’s difficult not to become all nostalgic when talking about the Monaco Grand Prix. It is of course the most famous event on Formula 1′s expanding calendar. But strip away the glamor and the stunning location and what you have quite a difficult race for the drivers. Things really get underway on Saturday’s qualifying where grid spot positions hold a greater importance than at other venues. To get pole at Monaco will vastly increase your chances of winning the race and that’s precisely what Mercedes and Nico Rosberg accomplished.

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Hats off to Rosberg and his first victory at Monaco – 30 years to the day his father Keke won there. It was an error free drive and despite the numerous safety cars and a restart, Rosberg kept his composure and got the job done. Things didn’t fare so well for his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who spent the early part of the race playing body guard to Rosberg’s car – possibly payback for Malaysia? Hamilton has struggled with tire wear all season long and admits that he hasn’t felt confident behind the wheel at times.

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The Brit isn’t used to playing second fiddle to his teammates and the frustration will continue to grow if things don’t start clicking. Despite a successful campaign in Monaco, Mercedes didn’t escape controversy over the weekend. It had been revealed that the team took part in a “safety” test with Pirelli following the Spanish Grand Prix. A Mercedes Silver Arrow did 1000km on Pirelli’s current tire compounds. Pirelli maintains that it’s their decision which teams to work with for testing, however in the past older cars have always been used.

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It’s presumed that following the testing, Mercedes made modifications to theirs cars, giving them the advantage at Monaco. Following complaints from Ferrari and Red Bull, the FIA (who were unaware of the testing) have gotten involved. There are rumblings that Mercedes could be suspended for the Canadian Grand Prix, following an investigation by the FIA.

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The situation has definitely muddied what was an otherwise excellent weekend for Rosberg and the team.

Following a brilliant showing in Spain, Ferrari’s success didn’t last the weekend in Monaco.

GP MONACO F1/2013

After missing qualifying following a crash Sainte Devote Felipe Massa started at the back of the grid on Sunday. In lap 28 of the Grand Prix déjà vu – Massa crashed again at Sainte Devote, ending his race prematurely. His teammate Fernando Alonso spent most of the race struggling to move up the grid while fending off an overly ambitious Sergio Perez.

GP MONACO F1/2013

It wasn’t the showing Ferrari had hoped for in Monaco. Alonso finished  7th overall.

Red Bull had a mostly quiet race on Sunday. Sebastian Vettel qualified 3rd on Saturday and appeared upset in the press conference that followed – no doubt the frustration was tire related. After the start of the race, Vettel was held up by Hamilton and was never able to catch back up to Rosberg to contend for 1st.

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He drove an error free race and finished 2nd overall. His teammate Mark Webber did the same, finishing 3rd. Webber did his best to downplay rumors that he’s leaving Formula 1 after the 2013 season.

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There’s been talk amongst the paddack that Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne would likely be Webber’s replacement at Red Bull next season.

Force India’s Adrian Sutil had a good drive on Sunday. After breaking into Q3 on Saturday, Sutil started in 8th. Some aggressive, but smart driving during the Grand Prix saw the German finish 5th. It’s been an interesting season for Force India – a team who have attracted controversy financially, but have still managed to produce an excellent car.

2013 Monaco Grand Prix - Sunday

Things started well for Lotus, but sloppy driving from Romain Grosjean and a late pit stop for Kimi Raikkonen, extinguished hopes of a podium finish. Raikkonen made contact with Sergio Perez heading into the Nouvelle Chicane. The incident ultimately ended Perez’s race and forced Raikkonen to make the untimely pit stop for a puncture. When asked about Perez following the race, he responded with “maybe someone should punch him in the face”.

Monaco was another weekend of peaks and (mostly) valleys for McLaren. The Woking team have been in a slump all season long. Gentleman Jenson Button has been candid about his frustrations in the media – including his teammate Sergio Perez. Button’s race was nearly ruined multiple times by the Mexican who’s made it his personal mission to irritate as many drivers on the track as possible.

Sergio Perez in action

Perez is eager to prove himself which is understandable, but his style of driving in Monaco was bordering idiotic. His race eventually came to an end after suffering damage, following the shunt with Kimi Raikkonen – that wasn’t before he nearly took out his teammate  heading out of La Rascasse. Button is clearly frustrated this season and is suffering with a car that won’t perform.

Jenson Button

There’s been a lot of upheaval behind the scenes at McLaren, including the official departure of technical director Paddy Lowe – who like Hamilton has headed to Mercedes. After a clean pass on Alonso, Button was able to secure his 6th place finish on Sunday.

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Overall it wasn’t the most exciting Monaco Grand Prix ever, but it certainly kept things interesting. The European season proper will be in full swing following a brief stop in Montreal. The Canadian Grand Prix is in 2 weeks.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

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