Niki Lauda

2015 Italian Grand Prix

The notion that rules are meant to be broken holds especially true in Formula 1. The sport wouldn’t have evolved to the point it has, had teams not constantly teetered on the fringes of legality. However, Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza presents a different conundrum because the rules are no longer being enforced by the FIA.



The 2015 F1 campaign has been a dull one. There have been moments at Silverstone and the Hungaroring, but for the most part it’s been a one horse race. Mercedes’s dominance has them leading races by nearly 30 seconds and for everyone that isn’t a fan of the Silver Arrows, it’s been a continually difficult procession to watch. Within Mercedes, it’s Lewis Hamilton’s championship to lose. Whatever challenge Nico Rosberg hoped to bring in the latter half of the season seems to be slipping further and further away. It’s not just the mental battle that Rosberg has been at odds with, but the team aren’t even arming him with the same equipment on race day. At Monza, Rosberg ran an older power unit heading into its 6th race. The inevitable happened just 3 laps from the finish when Rosberg’s engine failed and Mercedes endured their first mechanical retirement of the season.


Hamilton on the other hand has been showing unbelievable pace and poise all season. Seemly gone are the emotional outbursts and competitive lulls Hamilton’s been known to have in the past. The now self-managed Hamilton is older, more confident in himself and his abilities on track – winning also helps. Sporting blonde locks at Monza, he drove to a commanding win, his second Italian Grand Prix victory. However, it was discovered during the proceedings that his tire pressure was not within the legal limits of the sporting regulations. The development was followed by a message from Hamilton’s engineers to crank up the pace for the remainder of the race. Watching it unfold, it seemed an odd call for such a comfortable lead, but it soon became clear that Mercedes wanted to finish with as big a gap as possible, bracing for a potential time penalty to follow the race. During the post-race press conference it was revealed to Hamilton by James Allen that Mercedes were being investigated by the FIA for not meeting the tire pressure regulations and that his left-rear tire was 0.3 PSI below the minimum starting pressure issued by Pirelli. The investigation to follow was swift and resulted in no punishment for Mercedes who retained all of their points from the day.


What will now follow is a debate that will have everyone divided when they really shouldn’t be. A ruling open to interpretation should have been one that costed Mercedes and made an example for the rest of the teams which have been increasingly getting away with infringements that would not have been tolerated in the past. Just 2 weeks ago, nearly every driver on the grid carved their own course through Spa-Francorchamps when the white lines of multiple corners were violated with (in many cases) all 4 wheels off track. No penalties were given at the Belgian Grand Prix and Sunday saw yet another violation of the sporting regulations met without penalty.


Whether you blame the ruling on Hamilton’s popularity, Mercedes’s overwhelming contribution to the sport or any other theory is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is if the rules are in place they must be followed. Would the FIA have had such a passive response towards a team running a higher fuel flow setting or a wing adjustment beyond the rules? It’s yet another debacle for a sport that can’t afford any more bad PR.


Much of the talk heading into Singapore will be about rules and it’s very likely the governing body will be much stricter as the season plays out. What should really be considered more is the much larger issue of the sport’s reliance on technology and how that’s impacting the role of driver skill. F1 has reached a point where the penalties, retirements and pitstops are the only things that impact the results. Combine that with an FIA unable to govern the sport and you’re left with the 2015 season we’re in.


Elsewhere, valiant efforts from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams’s Felipe Massa. The current and former Scuderia were the best of the rest and earned well-deserved second and third place finishes respectively. The rest of the top 10 saw standard performances. Kimi Raikkonen did his best to regain as many places as possible after a horrendous start from the front row. He finished 5th behind the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.


McLaren’s woes continued with Fernando Alonso enduring another retirement and Jenson Button nursing the car to a meager 14th. Reports say the McLaren-Honda relationship is beginning to crumble. Honda’s Chief Motorsport Officer Yasuhisa Arai was heavily questioned by the media at Monza and asked if he had apologized to the team’s drivers for the engine’s performance. Apparently McLaren are asking for Arai to be removed from the operation. At this point the team is almost unrecognizable and with next season’s preparations already beginning, things aren’t looking optimistic.




There is no sight quite like the Tifosi swarming around the podium at Monza. It’s the kind of scene we should be seeing at more venues but as F1 moves into new, uncharted territories for higher financial gains, the question of Monza remaining on the calendar beyond 2016 is a controversial issue.


Bernie Ecclestone wants more money from the race organizers and is threatening to pull it from the World Championship. It’s absurd that Monza getting dropped is even a consideration. Nowhere is the sport better represented by the fans than in Italy and it’s the kind of value that Bernie cannot put a price tag on. The heritage races of F1 must be preserved.


The teams are headed back to Asia for the Singapore Grand Prix in 2 weeks.

Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.

McLaren 50

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.



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


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



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



The spirits of seasons past.


Button made an entrance in this midnight purple P1.


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 Mercedes W04

It has been an interesting offseason for Mercedes who have seen massive power shifts in both the front office and in the driver’s seat. In what was easily the biggest off track story of 2012, Lewis Hamilton announced that he would leave McLaren and head to Mercedes, to take spot of a retiring Michael Schumacher. Many are still questioning if Lewis’ decision was the right one.

In his first public appearance since joining the team, Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg were out to unveil Mercedes’ 2013 contender, the W04.


It’s tough to see any difference between the W03 and it’s successor apart from a slight nose job. Like all of the other teams, the W04 is an “evolution” car and will certainly look different come race day.


According to Mercedes, the W04 is the result of “many thousands of hours of work”.



The W04 may have more of a burden than any other car on the starting grid in 2013. Mercedes have made big claims since acquiring Hamilton. Their 2012 season fell flat after the first few races and much of the responsibility will be on the shoulders of Ross Brawn if this car follows a similar path.

Granted no racing has been done, but I still don’t understand the move from Hamilton’s perspective, apart from having more free time due to less sponsorship constraints. There’s also the strange hiring of Niki Lauda as Mercedes’ special informant. Between Brawn, Lauda and Toto Wolff, this team has way too many captains and I think it’s only a matter of time before this ticking time bomb goes off. There have already been rumblings of a Brawn departure from the team. None of this is good news for Hamilton who left McLaren to get away from the “drama”. I expect 2013 to be a very interesting season for Mercedes and we’ll all be following them closely.

Photos courtesy of Mercedes.


Formula 1 fans will be well aware of Ron Howard’s upcoming film Rush. It chronicles the 1976 Formula 1 season, one of the most tumultuous ever, with a focus on the drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

It’s not often that Hollywood ventures into racing territory and when they have, it’s not usually gone well (think Driven).

Rush on the other hand, looks fantastic. Ron Howard is taking it seriously and Formula 1 fans are the ones he’s looking to please. Ron has been spotted at a number of races over the last year, including yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix. I’m a big fan of the Hunt-Lauda rivalry and I think it’ll provide the perfect storyline for American audiences, to become more interested in the sport.

With Rush coming out in 2013 and the potential for 2 US Grand Prix, things are looking good for Formula 1 in the states.