F1 Signs off on Silly Season and the Half Term Report!

It was all smiles and handshakes down at Mercedes after a genuine out and out debut win from Lewis Hamilton on the hottest day of the season so far with track temperatures over 50 degrees at the hungaroring come race day. The slightly revised Pirelli rubber held up well and provided good racing despite the extreme temperatures, which was a relief to one man in particular:

If Mercedes have found/stumbled into something with the tyres and the W04 has gone on something of a rubber diet it could be a real problem for Red Bull, as Sebastian Vettel was unable to get in front of Hamilton at the start of the race and got stuck in traffic. While Lewis cruised round the still born McLaren (which was on old tyres) after his bit stop, Seb got stuck behind Jenson for 12 laps ruining his chances of challenging for the victory. Grosjean continued his wild fluctuations in form with a sublime pass on Massa only to be penalised for going outside the limits of the track by the tiny-est of margins. He’s definitely¬† got potential as his 3rd place on the grid showed but any form of contact now gets notched down as a point in the “do not re-hire” column at Lotus. Needs a few clean races alongside podiums to secure his future at Enstone (more in the half term report below)

There is no real reason to post this, just thought you might all enjoy it

The other surprising news to come out of the weekend that the other man in that picture, Fernando Alonso (ha bet you were expecting Nelson Piquet Jr news – or not) after 4 years of being in love with Ferrari may have thrown his hat in the ring for the second Red Bull seat next year. Despite the four year man-team love fest that has seen Massa reduced to serving cocktails in the team lounge it has delivered no championships despite 2 near misses against the young German. Personally I think this Fernando throwing down the gauntlet to Seb for 2015 when all of the drivers (except Alonso) will be out of contract (after Vettel negotiated a new 1 year only deal for 2015) and likely aiming to join the Scuderia to emulate the great German. So will it be Kimi, Ricciardo or Alonso for Red Bull next year? My money is still on Ricciardo and the team trying to prove their young drivers program – after all they already have Seb and Alonso hasn’t had a great reputation for putting up with anything less than subordinate team mates (see picture above – hey maybe there was a reason for it after all)

The Half Term Report

Red Bull – 1st
Sebastian Vettel – 1st
Business as usual for the German after finally breaking his home win duck (and possibly just in time as it appears Germany could be dropped in favour of Austria thanks to his own team), he may be put under some pressure to extend his lead post break before the fly aways to concentrate all the resources on next years car.
Goal: Carry on

Mark Webber – 5th
Mark Webber’s final year in F1 is now very much a swansong he’s out to have fun really.Goal: Race win / try and win a drinking contest with Kimi

Mercedes – 2nd
Lewis Hamilton – 4th
A win before the half term break for Mercedes lead man puts his season properly on track, probably too far away to challenge for drivers title this year but could spice up the second half of the seasonGoal: Beat Rosberg in Quali, Points and Race wins over the season

Nico Rosberg – 6thWhile the individual drivers places for Mercedes may come as a shock given their position in the constructors Nico has won 2 races this year, although neither as out right and convincing as Hamilton last weekend. Lewis has started to get the better of him on a Saturday but needs to keep the Sundays tidier to keep that tally ticking over
Goal: Stop breaking down mostly and try and keep the score board ticking over. 2 wins already in his pocket this year but needs to assert his position if Mercedes challenge from the off next year

Ferrari – 3rd
Fernando Alonso – 3rd
Fernando is having a quiet season this year by his standards, the starts are still electric but the car isn’t quite there but its no 2012 either. Needs something to kick start his season and start hunting down Seb.
Goal: Needs wins, and to start beating Vettel every weekend

Felipe Massa – 7thHe’s back, no he’s not, yes he is, no he’s not! The only real hope for Massa next year is Ferrari banking on stability for the new rule changes. Poor once again. Despite his impending retirement Mark Webber looks 300x more with it than the Brazilian.
Goal: Turn the good Saturdays into good Sundays. Regular podium finishes or even a win really.

Lotus – 4thKimi Raikkonen – 2nd
Another stellar year for the Finn after opening his account with the maximum 25 points the Ice Man has been seen on the steps nearly every race this season. However Saturdays have started to be a concern.
Goal: Needs to claim wins and he knows it, alongside sorting out where he’s driving next year

Romain Grosjean – 8thThe crash kid continues to be pantomime character of the paddock but is slowly settling down. However with Lotus being hard up at the moment he needs to get his act together to push the Enstone team up in the constructors for more cash
Goal: Stop hitting things, more points

Force India – 5th
Paul Di Resta – 10th
A great year for Paul after being looked over for top drives over the winter, however his patience seems to be wearing thin and his Saturdays have been diabolical
Goal: Sort out Saturdays and beat the McLarens

Adrian Sutil – 11th
A solid comeback year for the German who has had some great races this year (notably Monaco), more of the same and less breaking down.
Goal:  Points and beating McLarens

McLaren – 6th
Jenson Button – 9th
An atrocious year for McLaren sees them languishing down in 6th place come the half way mark of the season but Jenson has started to drag the carcass forward and remains team leader
Goal: More points than Force India, keep beating Perez

Sergio Perez – 12th
After a slow start, followed by some fire Perez isn’t looking too hot or too cold come the summer, needs to get back in the points more often and help McLaren get back 5th spot
Goal: More points finishes and a few marquee performances wouldn’t hurt either

Scuderia Toro Rosso – 7th
Jean Eric Vergne – 13th
Its somewhat a surprised that JEV leads the Toro Rosso entry as Ricciardo has been getting all the plaudits. Still needs to sort out Saturdays to capitilise on his fine race craft.
Goal: Its probably too late for the Red Bull drive but beating Ricciardo has to now be the target

Daniel Ricciardo – 14th
His Saturdays have been spectacular and his Sundays steadily improving, he needs to keep it going and get points to land the grand prize
Goal: Beat his team mates points total and keep up the performance

Sauber – 8th
Nico Hulkenberg – 15th

The man with the least amount of luck in F1 continues his streak after being handed a dud of a car, single handedly carrying the team despite now not getting paid. Lets hope that Russian cash translates to performance
Goal: More points? or erm Move again maybe? He never stays for more than a year anyway

Esteban Gutierrez – 18th
Fish out of water, and pointless so far this season, he looks like he’s on his way to the scrap head with Russian money coming to replace him. Unimpressive
Goal: Up his game / Look at sportscars for next year

Williams – 9th
I’ve not really got anything to say about the two Williams drivers, both are doing well with what they have.

Marussia – 10th
Jules Bianchi – 19th

Has done very well and been helped out by a rubbish team mate, impressive all year despite his last minute arrival.
Goal: Keep scalping Max

Max Chilton – 22nd
We didn’t expect much lets be honest and we’ve been dutifully delivered not much. Poor and royally trounced by his team mate. Medicore GP2 drivers (Kamui aside) will never make the grade come F1
Goal: Find out if his brother has any team owner numbers in the BTCC

Caterham – 11th
Ermmmmm, nothing special here. 2 pay drivers, neither particularly special, no benchmark. Pic has been the erm pick of the bunch but another lackluster year here


We need to talk about Felipe

With Moto GP currently in turmoil with about every rider linked to any seat that’s not got a rider welded to it upon pain of death (even contracted seats seem to be being discussed as though the rider doesn’t stand a chance of retaining them) Formula 1 has had a leisurely silly season. Oh and Casey Stoner is doing 4 tests at Motegi on board a full Honda prototype and the new production racer for privateer teams:

Surprise bitches

So back to 4 wheels and Felipe Massa, ever the stalwart of Silly Season post his crash at Hungaroring in 2009 and yet this obvious drop has never happened. The man who was world champion in 2008 for around 38 seconds has fallen a long way from challenging Lewis Hamilton for race wins to his current in-ability to scrap to podiums in a car that Alonso can regularly win in.  If you think Ferrari are loathed to kick out a man who was so nearly world champion, the last 2 drivers that they got rid of (Badoer and Fisi excluded as they were simply subs) were World Champions including one 7 time World Champion.

Felipe’s lack of pace in 2012 could be excused as Ferrari produced a right wrong-un of a car that took most of the season to right and when they did Massa seemed to come on song and the folks at Marenello thought they had their man back. However it appears really that it could only of earned the Brazilian a stay of execution as his performances this year have once again been lacklustre. Ferrari do have the luxury of biding their time as it appears Nico Hulkenberg will be up for grabs alongside most of the back half of the field have clauses that let them accept a drive at a top team (for compensation to said team). They also have their own drivers in Jules Bianchi (who’s currently placed at Marussia and will come with engines next year for the minnow squad) and David Rigon (who completed the young drivers test this year for the Scuderia). Either must be a better choice to spike some interest in the team and I think both would be capable of grabbing more points than Massa.

Red Bull are going all out to replace Webber with shoot-outs and openly courting Kimi and this is for a team that has a young drivers program that starts with karts (or probably pedal karts for all we know!) and Ferrari have only ummed and ahhed about what they are going to do. Its a top seat with the greatest team of them all and its being wasted on a 32 year old driver that hasn’t come close to winning a race in 3 years.

Felipe as much as we love you, the rest of the grid is more deserving than you – do you understand?

Moto GP finishes up for Summer

So Moto GP has completed the first half of its global tour of duty with the Moto GP only race (the paddock is deemed too small to accommodate Moto 2 and 3 bikes) at Laguna Seca. It was a great race with Marquez overtaking Rossi using a Rossi moved ripped straight out of 2008 at the corkscrew. Fans around the world will be left wondering im Marquez has invented some new glue that prevents himself or the bike from falling over. The kid is pure class and now takes a healthy championship lead into the summer break.

The other kid doing well is Stefan Bradl who after taking a first pole position (for any German, EVER) couldn’t quite hold off the speed of Marquez to bring home a first podium and career best finish of 2nd. Rossi rounded out the rostrum 3rd but the Yamaha riders seemed to lack the pace of the Honda round the hills and bends of the short desert raceway.

Elsewhere Baustista picked up a season best of 4th and gave Rossi a good race home while the walking wounded finished Pedrosa, Lorenzo and Crutchlow (who had a quiet weekend further highlighting Yamaha’s issues).

The result gives us plenty to ponder over the break with contracts needing to be signed soon for next year. With no Suzuki ride available till 2015 there is a wealth of talent out there for not many seats. Nicky Hayden has been told he’s not coming back next year for Ducati so the 32 year old 2005 world champion will either find himself in WSB (which Ducati have a competitive bike so having a few years to have a crack at the double might actually be an attractive option) or in one of the Non-MSMA teams.

There have also been rumours that Honda were ready to put pressure on dropping Bradl to a production racer (which Honda release to the old CRT squads next year) to bag Crutchlow however he’s putting together a strong case for staying. He could yet move to Ducati, I think if he’d netted a win this year ink would be drying in Italy with the Britons scrawl on it to try and mount a title challenge with a factory team.

In the soon to be re-named CRT class (Non-MSMA from next year) NGM Forward racing as predicted here on the blog are going to be using leased Yamaha engines but with Yamaha support on designing the chassis! Your move ART!

Sauber’s Russian Rescue Mission

It has emerged over the past week or so that Saubers fiscal problems were very real indeed, after admitting that it currently was unable to pay its main driver Nico Hulkenberg and certain suppliers. This can spin out of control very quickly for a team as suppliers can withdraw parts and developments which makes the car slower in real terms (as F1 is always moving forward at a blistering rate).

It has taken a Russian firm the National Institute of Aviation Technologies to step in with cash and to develop the business outside of Formula 1. Sauber have been slightly left behind after being the BMW works team until 2009 didn’t develop complementary technology businesses alongside its race team in the way that Williams and McLaren have pioneered to great success. It also means that the owners son Sergy Sirotkin will be joining the team to “prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014”. Now at only 17 years old and his first campaign in World Series by Renault going steadily if not brilliantly one would imagine this will not be in a race seat but taking part in testing and simulator work.

It is good news for a team that have really struggled fiscally since the departure of BMW from the sport leaving them to try and find the budget to run a works size team with no other revenue streams. Time will tell if it will be enough with the huge price hike for teams next year with the new expensive “eco” engines and new rules.

Fingers crossed.