Silly Season throws up early result.

This evening in a shock announcement Red Bull / Torro Rosso 3rd driver Daniel Ricciardo will be racing in Silverstone next weekend (not a massive shock as the drinks giant owns 4 seats in F1 and has run the man in free practice this year). However the big surprise is he will be racing for HRT in place of Karthikeyan (apart from the Indian GP), so Red Bull has bought a 5th seat in addition to running two teams! The practice has always been a bit mad since Torro Rosso have to build their own car now, it would be significantly cheaper to pay drivers into seats.

One would assume cash strapped HRT have jumped at the change to replace the Indian with the fizzy drinks new super kid thanks to a heathly wad of cash. Karthikeyan has raced for many of Kolles teams but has been massivly out performed by Luizzi this year. Now the team will boast a very exciting line-up as they try to secure 11th place for the second year in a row.

Also rumours are abound this eve that this could signal Mark Webber going to Ferrari and also that Kolles is going to Williams as his choice of driver has been sidelined for cash. Unless the drive was going very cheap its odd that Red Bull would not of replaced either of the two Torro Rosso drivers.

Huh? Sorry I feel asleep

There was some racing on this weekend but I may have been on the sofa after a night of partying and a BBQ for lunch so Valencia did little to keep me awake, I sort of slept on and off throughout the back part of the race. It wasn’t particulary interesting, no one got it wrong, its very hard to overtake and everyone finished. Boring.

The problem with the Valencia track is there is not enough overtaking oppurtunities and its not challenging enough for drivers to be pressured into mistakes (like in monaco say). The McLarens were off the pace in the race due to the heat and their rear downforce level (which they have been running quite high to protect the tires), however with the extreme heat on sunday the downforce level was too much and the car chewed its tires. To be honest thats all there is to say on the matter, the rule change this weekend about engine mapping was never going to change the pace much. In fact its a stupid rule change:

All the teams were expressly permitted to change engine mapping between qualifying and the race, therefore they were ALL doing it. It does mean that some teams have an advantage over others in qualifying which creates a grid thats out of their race pace order, its a silly change (unlike a interpertation of the rules to ban the blown diffuser) that has done nothing and was never going to do anything. As for the blown diffuser it really does remain to be seen how that will effect the order of the teams, it will be interesting to see towards the back of the field if it has much effect. One thing to remember is the McLaren was fast with their patchwork job in Austrailia which had a very poor design so I’d expect them to still be on the pace in Silverstone. The main challenge for all the teams will be the change in balence to the cars and the loss of off throttle downforce, it could make the cars very tricky to drive as you’ll suddenly lose a lot of rear downforce once you lift off the throttle.

I should think that Silverstone will be a very different kettle of fish to Valencia.

In other news Ben Spies (2009 superbike world champion) has won his first Moto GP at Assen on Saturday, which is some feat. The Americian had an astounding rookie year last year with the Tech III team before being moved up to the factory Yamaha squad to partner Lorenzo this year. Simoncelli crashed again on the first lap wiping out Lorenzo, leaving Spies to stride away from the chasing Hondas and win the historic race (which was first run over 80 years ago!)

Trulli signals for a maneuver while engines stall

First up, after all the noise about the “new formula” enginge for 2013 and certain teams dissatisfaction with them they have been delayed to 2014 and will see V6 turbos rather than the V4’s originally mooted. With the exception of Ferrari who rightly said that 4 cylinder engines are not relevant to them, I do think its because of the lack of time for development. Renault were the most keen to introduce the 2013 rules have agreed to this revised format, although a move to 6 cylinders is probably not a massive headache for the French manufacturer. The teams were also keen to appease Cosworth who, if rumours are to be believed still unsure about producing an engine for the new rules. It is believed that french independant P.U.R.E will still be producing engines for F1 and the other manufactuers shall stay.

The new units will feature a much enhanced KERS units.

Secondly Jarno Trulli has made noises about being fustrated at Team Lotus, I beleive he took the pain last year hoping the team would take a much bigger step this year. He is a top class driver who has won races, but it’d be unclear where he’d go. A move to Ferrari for the Italian would work very well in my opinion and is probably his best/only option for fighting for podiums.

McLaren make the first move

As I mentioned yesterday its always hard to spot whether or not driver rumours are genuine interest or used to push a drivers value. McLaren have announced publically that they are trying to secure Jenson on another contract, I have now a sneaky suspision that this was all fabricated to try and get McLaren to move early and pay up for the 2009 world champions services. Ferrari moved to dispell the rumours on the same day.

However a move to Ferrari would of made a lot of sense for both parties, Jenson is a reliable fast driver and also a team player with a lot of experience. It would be a typical Ferrari choice, although it would be usual for the Scuderia to field two world champion drivers, but with so much talent at the top table now (There are 5 world Champions on the grid) it may become more natural.

Massa seems to be safe, for now.

Silly season continues in full swing

Its hard to know whether driver rumours are their own agents trying to bump up their price or teams staking an interest. Planet F1 are claiming that Ferrari are interested in securing Jenson Button to race for the scuderia next year. Its a double edged sword as driving for Ferrari would be another great thing to achieve but at the same time Alonso is number 1 in that team. He has capably taken on Lewis Hamilton at McLaren so far and he has been the only team mate of Alonso to really trouble him.

The point is a bit moot as McLaren have an option on Jenson for another year and recently Ferrari were keen to state that Massa has another year on contract. I think this year will see some driver movement at the top table, after Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Merecedes and Renault have all kept the same drivers (despite Kubica’s injury replacement but we expect him to return to his seat at somepoint). Massa and Webber are the two drivers in top seats under pressure, Schumachers recent upswing in form has resulted in contract extension rumours and Rosberg is doing a sterling job. I think Renault are pretty happy with Petrov, he brings a lot of exposure and money to the team and is maturing. The remaining 4 are genuine title contenders but Ferrari really need a better partner for alonso for the constructors places, which is how the teams make their money.

Further down the field I expect to see less changes than last year, although I reckon someone will sign Nico Hulkenberg. But since the sport has been left by many manufactuers and the end of the Tobbacco era (with the exception of Ferrari continuing their sponsorship with phillip morris until 2014) many teams are having to sign drivers with financial backing, Hulkenberg has bags of talent but is short on cash. Although if Di Resta beats Sutil but doesn’t move to Merecedes (he’s being lined up to replace grandaddy Schumacher at some point) it’d be hard to see how the team could resist fielding that line up next year.

The other shaker is possibly Daniel Riccardo, the man whos been running in FP1 for Torro Rosso this year and could find himself promoted with a strong showing from the Aussie driver.

Let me know about your thoughts about the 2012 driver line-up.

Longest ever race as we enter silly season

Well I hope you’ve all recovered from the 5 hours of F1 last weekend (im late in posting – again!) and Jenson Buttons fantastic win in Canada over the two red bull drivers. Although Seb missed out on equaling Schumi’s record for the start of a season he is walking the title in a similar vein to 2002. With Mark Webber being miles off the pace and (for the moment) relegated out of last years “famous five” (Alonso/Hamilton/Button/Vettel/Webber) no-one is challenging Vettel properly. The other 3 are tripping over each other in tightly matched cars Sebastian is running away with the title which could be all over pretty quickly if someone doesn’t stop him.

The weekend also finally brought out a vintage Schumi performance to bring him level on points with his team-mate Rosberg and firmly establish his comeback, although he so could of used that podium. Strong showings from Torro Rosso, Petrov and Kobayashi rounded out the top 10 with some points for Reubens.

One interesting side note is that “Silly Season” has returned, after last year where so many people stayed put at the top teams. (Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault (until Kucia’s accident) , Mercedes, Torro Rosso and Team Lotus all fielding the same driver line ups this year and last) There has been rumblings that Hamilton has had some preliminary talks about the oppurtunities at Red Bull (informally of course) about a move either next year or 2013. The Brit seems fustrated that Vettel is walking to his second title whereas he hasn’t had a real serious attempt since his title year in 2008.

It all hinges on Mark Webber, if he regains some form and stays at red bull there could be all no change. The same with Massa who has a few races to turn it around.

Ferrari are known to have Webber, Button and Rosberg on their list for the second seat at Ferrari, but it would take a brave man to take on Alonso. Rosberg, who thus far has demolished Schumacher could be tempted away to a winning car and Mercedes have offered him a substansial amount of money to stay on as team leader. I doubt McLaren would lose both drivers, if Hamilton left I would think Jenson would relish the no.1 spot at Mclaren.

Kubica’s return also possibly leaves a seat at Renault, prepare for madness F1 fans!

Bahrain Blood Money and 21 races!

So the world motor sport council met on Friday last week and im sure you’ve heard the mind boggling decision to reinstate Bahrain this year, which is stupid because the sponsors dont want to go and the teams cant at the moment get any insurance so they will not be going. (There’d be all sorts of corperate negligence issues with going without insurance so the UK based teams – Williams, McLaren, Red Bull, Force India, Virgin, Team Lotus, Mercedes – will not at this stage be able to go). Its not going to happen, teams will pull out and we’ll either end up with some hilarious farsical race of Ferrari and HRT against each other while the country continues to melt down. It also now means the season will end of December 4th or 11th in India, the latest finish to a season till 1963!

In better news the calendar will at the moment contain 21 races next year with the addition of the United States Grand Prix and nothing else falling off the calendar, however the Turkish race is subject to confirmation. Also the FIA announced a new world endurance series centered around LeMans and a combined GT world championship, both good steps for fans of those series. Furthermore the Monte Carlo rally will return to World Rally Championship after 3 years in some other minor rally series.

Finally there was some rumblings that the FIA may delay the new 2013 rules, I dont really see why. The manufactuers already in the sport dont want it to change because its extra money but no-one new is going to enter the sport as we’re expecting the engine rules to change. (Theres also the new LIFE engines in development for 2013)