Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Belgian Grand Prix - 28 August 2011

Yesterday saw a highly eventful race take place at the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

Unusually for Spa, the race was dry from beginning to end, but this does not mean that the race was any less exciting!

Several collisions between drivers occured during the Grand Prix, eliminating both Toro Rossos and Championship contender Lewis Hamilton, and lots of overtaking saw several different drivers leading the race.

The dominant Red Bull's managed another one - two finish, despite safety concerns regarding the wear rate of their tyres.

Several drivers who qualified lowly managed to improve considerably in the race, with Jenson Button failing to make it out of Q2 on Saturday, and Michael Schumacher - celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first Grand Prix - making up lots of ground from last on the grid after a crash in qualifying.

Our Guest Predictor for this race actually watched the race from the trackside in Belgium, and made a few famous friends whilst at the Grand Prix.
Chris from F1Cartoonz met BBC F1 Presenter Jake Humphrey at the track, who agreed to take part in a special cartoon!
See the cartoon here.

Provisional Race Results:

1. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull Racing - Chris' (CZ) Prediction 5th - F1RP Prediction 2nd
2. Mark Webber - Red Bull Racing - CZ 4th - F1RP 1st
3. Jenson Button - McLaren - CZ 3rd - F1RP 7th
4. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - CZ 2nd - F1RP 10th
5. Michael Schumacher - Mercedes - CZ 10th - F1RP 9th
6. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - CZ 6th - F1RP 5th
7. Adrian Sutil - Force India - CZ 9th - F1RP 14th
8. Felipe Massa - Ferrari - CZ 7th - F1RP 4th
9. Vitaly Petrov - Renault - CZ 8th - F1RP 8th
10. Pastor Maldonado - Williams - CZ 17th - F1RP 20th
11. Paul di Resta - Force India - CZ 11th - F1RP 17th
12. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber - CZ 15th - F1RP 6th
13. Bruno Senna - Renault - CZ 14th - F1RP 11th
14. Jarno Trulli - Team Lotus - CZ 20th - F1RP 21st
15. Heikki Kovalainen - Team Lotus - CZ 16th - F1RP 18th
16. Rubens Barrichello - Williams - CZ 23rd - F1RP 16th
17. Jerome D'Ambrosio - Virgin - CZ 21st - F1RP 24th
18. Timo Glock - Virgin - CZ 18th - F1RP 19th
19. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania - CZ 19th - F1RP 22nd
DNF Sergio Perez - Sauber - CZ 24th - F1RP 12th
DNF Daniel Ricciardo - Hispania - CZ 22nd - F1RP 23rd
DNF Lewis Hamilton - McLaren - CZ 1st - F1RP 3rd
DNF Sebastien Buemi - Toro Rosso - CZ 13th - F1RP 13th
DNF Jaime Alguersuari - Toro Rosso - CZ 12th - F1RP 15th

Thank you to Chris for participating this weekend!
Chris managed a very impressive five correct predictions, and seemed to be closer overall to the correct results than the Formula 1 Results Predictor, which managed just a singular correct prediction.

There are a couple of weeks now before the next Grand Prix, so the F1RP should have time to carefully consider it's next set of predictions!

The Top Driver for Spa based on our predictions was the controversial Pastor Maldonando.

For more information on the race, visit www.formula1.com

Visit F1Cartoonz Twitpic page here, and follow them on Twitter @F1Cartoonz

Monday, 22 August 2011

Heidfeld Dropped

Rumours are starting to emerge that Renault's most experienced driver, Nick Heidfeld, is to be replaced by the team's test driver, Bruno Senna, for the remainder of the season.

The German's recent poor form has led to speculation that his position at the may be under review, with the Group Lotus sponsored Renault team having two respected reserve drivers - Senna, and former Renault F1 driver Romain Grosjean. The latter is currently participating in the 'World Series by Renault' Championship, so is likely to want to continue with this until the end of the season.

This change does mean that our Predictions for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix will now need to be updated!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

2011 Predictions - Round 12, Belgium

It has been a long time since the last Grand Prix, but this coming weekend will see the Formula 1 teams and drivers arrive at the historic circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

The Formula 1 Results Predictor managed two correct predictions last time in Hungary. To see the results, click here.

For the Belgian Grand Prix, we are pleased to announce as this weekend's Guest Predictor, Chris from F1Cartoonz.

F1Cartoonz, as the name suggests, make funny cartoons using Formula 1 drivers, people and events.

You can view all of F1Cartoonz cartoons on Twitpic.

Also, follow them on Twitter @F1Cartoonz

- - -

Guest Predictions - Round 12, Belgium

1. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren
2. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari
3. Jenson Button - McLaren
4. Mark Webber - Red Bull
5. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull
6. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes
7. Felipe Massa - Ferrari
8. Vitaly Petrov - Renault
9. Adrian Sutil - Force India
10. Michael Schumacher - Mercedes
11. Paul di Resta - Force India
12. Nick Heidfeld - Renault
13. Jaime Alguersuari - Toro Rosso
14. Sebastien Buemi - Toro Rosso
15. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber
16. Heikki Kovalainen - Team Lotus
17. Pastor Maldonado - Williams
18. Timo Glock - Virgin
19. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania
20. Jarno Trulli - Team Lotus
21. Jerome D'Ambrosio - Virgin
22. Daniel Ricciardo - Hispania
23. Rubens Barrichello - Williams
24. Sergio Perez - Sauber

Chris has suggested that Red Bull may continue to struggle in Spa, with McLaren and Ferrari waiting to pounce on any mistakes made by the reigning Champions.

- - -

F1RP Prediction - Round 12, Belgium

1. Mark Webber - Red Bull Racing
2. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull Racing
3. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren
4. Felipe Massa - Ferrari
5. Nick Heidfeld - Renault
6. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes
7. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber
8. Jenson Button - McLaren
9. Vitaly Petrov - Renault
10. Michael Schumacher - Mercedes
11. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari
12. Sergio Perez - Sauber
13. Sebastien Buemi - Toro Rosso
14. Adrian Sutil - Force India
15. Jaime Alguersuari - Toro Rosso
16. Rubens Barrichello - Williams
17. Paul di Resta - Force India
18. Heikki Kovalainen - Team Lotus
19. Timo Glock - Virgin
20. Pastor Maldonado - Williams
21. Jarno Trulli - Team Lotus
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania
23. Daniel Ricciardo - Hispania
24. Jerome D'Ambrosio - Virgin

Unlike Chris, the Formula 1 Results Predictor thinks the Red Bull team will return to winning ways! The F1RP is expecting strong performances from the Renault team and from Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi.
It is suggested that Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso may struggle though.

Funnily, both Chris and the F1RP agree on the predicted finishing results for both Mercedes drivers, Nico Rosberg (6th) and Michael Schumacher (10th).

Feel free to make your own suggestions by commenting below!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Tony Fernandes Linked To Premier League

According to the Financial Times Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes is set to purchase the majority of Bernie Ecclestone's shares in Queens Park Rangers football club.

Ecclestone bought his shares in 2007 along with (at the time) Renault boss, Flavio Briatore, who has since surrendered most of his stake in the team to Ecclestone.

Fernandes is expected to purchase 51% of the team, with a further 11% being sold to Steel billionaire Lakshmi Vittal, who already owns 33%.

QPR were promoted to the Premier League for the 2011-2012 campaign, after winning the Championship the previous season. However, their first match saw them lose 0-4 at home to Bolton Wanderers.

For more on this story, visit www.en.espnf1.com

So, should Tony Fernandes purchase a stake in Queens Park Rangers?

> Fernandes is a big fan of football, and follows the Premier League closely.
> Purchasing shares from Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone (who apparently is keen to sell his stake in the club quickly) would be a good way to get in the F1 supremo's good books.

> Fernandes is a West Ham United fan, and is not shy to admit it. Although not being direct rivals (it's not like he's looking to purchase Millwall), they are still both London clubs.
> A cynical observer might suggest that if there was much more money to be obtained from the club, Ecclestone would probably stay involved.
> After a poor start to the season (albeit only after one game) QPR sit joint bottom. If they can't find their feet in the league quickly, they may find themselves heading back to the Championship - a league notoriously difficult to get out of!

Alternatives 1
> Tony Fernandes could look to invest in his favourite club, West Ham. Admittedly the Hammers already have a pair of millionaire owners, but after getting relegated to the Championship last season, they may be looking for an easy way out.

Alternative 2
> Fernandes runs the green and yellow Team Lotus Formula 1 team from their base on the outskirts of Norwich, Norfolk, UK. If only there was a green and yellow football team in the region, he could keep all of his sporting enterprises in one location.
Oh well, never mind eh?

Jenson To Drive F1 Car Through Manchester

On bank holiday Monday 29 August 2011, the 2009 World Champion Jenson Button is to drive a McLaren Formula 1 car through the streets of Manchester as part of a Vodafone sponsorship event in the city.

"Driving an F1 car through Manchester is going to be a unique experience for me" the Briton told the official Formula 1 website. "There's a chance for the public to win some great prizes so I hope Manchester is going to be out in force and are looking forward to the bank holiday as much as I am."

Button is expected to take his car along Deansgate, turning on to John Dalton Street and then into Albert Square. As well as the demonstration, there will be an F1 fan zone, a go-kart track, an F1 simulator and a working pit garage for visitors to enjoy.

The city of Manchester is currently recovering from the wake of mass rioting which gripped many cities in England, so security at the event is understandably expected to be high.

For more on this story, visit www.formula1.com

If you wanted to bring Jenson a present to say thank you for making an appearance, but weren't sure what to get him, perhaps this video will help:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Pirelli Considering Qualifying Tyres

Pirelli have offered teams the opportunity to reintroduce qualifying spec tyres for future seasons.

Qualifying tyres feature a super soft compound rubber, which provide exceptional grip, but just for a single flying lap.

The tyres last featured in the sport 20 years ago, when Pirelli were previously a tyre supplier.

The Italian company stress that this is only a suggestion. If the teams don't want them, or don't think they will work, then they will not be introduced.

- - -

Qualifying has become less vital this season, due primarily to the introduction of the faster wearing Pirelli tyres. Several drivers so far this year have opted to save a set of tyres, rather than try and improve their qualifying time. As a result, qualifying isn't always as exciting as it could be.

The introduction of qualifying tyres would meant that drivers would give 100% in every time on the Saturday sessions (as saving a set of tyres would not be an option).

The disadvantage of qualifying tyres, is that the best car / driver combination may be able to produce an even bigger gap to the field than they would otherwise have with standard tyres.

Additionally, at a time when Formula 1 is trying to show it's environmentally friendly credentials, the idea of a set of tyres which only last one lap may not go down well with the sport's stakeholders.

For more on this news story, visit www.autosport.com

Monday, 8 August 2011

Ecclestone Concerned By Electric Cars

Bernie Ecclestone has expressed concerns over the newly published 2014 technical regulations (see separate story here)

It has been proposed that as well as KERS playing a larger role and being available for a longer period per lap, cars would be powered only by an electric motor when in the pitlane.

Ecclestone, however, believes that this could be dangerous: "people could be killed because they won't hear the cars coming."

This seems a slightly extreme view. Surely no one would cross the pitlane without looking - regardless of how much noise the cars made?

The full story is at www.planet-f1.com

Pirelli To Drop Hard Compound

Pirelli have confirmed that they are unlikely to use their hard compound tyre again this season.

The company make two compounds available for each race, which are usually announced a few weeks in advance of the race.

Pirelli produce four compounds of dry weather tyre (hard, medium, soft and super soft), but as the medium tyre has proved more durable than originally expected. Pirelli's boss Paul Hembrey confirmed that "the medium is proving sufficiently robust for the aggressive circuits we've still got to come. So don't think we'll be going the hard route."

Some critics have suggested that Italian Pirelli have made this decision to assist Maranello based Ferrari, who's car seems better suited to the softer compounds, something which Pirelli have fervently denied.

The removal of the hard tyres means that the coloured markings may now be more distinguishable, as the white marked tyres will be dropped, leaving silver, yellow and red.

For more on this story, visit www.autosport.com

Friday, 5 August 2011

2012 Driver Market

Many involved with Formula 1 refer to the 'silly season' - the time when rumours are flying about daily, linking different drivers with different race seats.
However, this 'season' seems to be most of the year, rather than just a month or two.

So, F1Predict takes a look at the current driver market as it stands for next season.

Red Bull Racing
> Driver 1 - Sebastian Vettel - recently signed a contract extension. Will be at the team in 2012.
> Driver 2 - Mark Webber - lots of suggestions about where he may be next year. Now looks highly likely to remain at Red Bull.

> Driver 1 - Lewis Hamilton - despite suggestions he's looking to move to either a red car or a 'Red' car, looks set to remain at McLaren, certainly for 2012.
> Driver 2 - Jenson Button - a few rumours that he may move to Ferrari, but most likely to stay put for next year.

> Driver 1 - Fernando Alonso - a new contract extension sees him remaining at Ferrari for the long term.
> Driver 2 - Felipe Massa - suggestions that he may be dropped for 2012 seem highly unlikely, as the Italian marque have publicly backed the Brazilian for next year.

> Driver 1 - Nico Rosberg - isn't realistically going to find a more competitive drive for next year, and as a consistent performer, his team would be wrong to try and disinterest him.
> Driver 2 - Michael Schumacher - still hasn't found the success he wanted, but is still improving. Likely to return for a third year with the German team.
> Alternative 1 - Paul di Resta - driving a Mercedes-powered car in his debut season, the Scot has impressed Mercedes so far.
> Alternative 2 - Nico Hulkenberg - Mercedes may want to continue their theme of German drivers. If so, Hulkenberg would be the obvious choice as only currently a third driver.


> Driver 1 - Robert Kubica - missed all of the 2011 season (so far). If he makes a full recovery he will certainly make it straight back into the team.
> Driver 2 - Vitaly Petrov - his performances have improved race on race. Likely to be retained for next year.
> Alternative 1 - Romain Grosjean - ready for a second chance at the top level. Recently backed by team bosses.
> Alternative 2 - Nick Heidfeld - probably won't be given another chance after a disappointing season, but stranger things have happened!

> Driver 1 - Kamui Kobayashi - confirmed for 2012 after a good couple of seasons.
> Driver 2 - Sergio Perez - confirmed for 2012 after a strong debut season.

Force India-Mercedes
> Driver 1 - Adrian Sutil - has been with the team since they began. Should continue provided his court case doesn't come to anything.
> Driver 2 - Paul di Resta - making a good argument for 'best rookie', should be retained.
> Alternative 1 - Nico Hulkenberg - if either driver leaves, or the team fancy a change, the Hulk will be available. They may lose him to another sport if he doesn't get a drive in 2012 though.

Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
> Driver 1 - Sebastien Buemi - has had some strong results, but not always consistent.
> Driver 2 - Jaime Alguersuari - has improved as the season has progressed. Often outperforming his team mate.
> Alternative 1 - Daniel Ricciardo - on the Red Bull books. Will get a full time drive with one of the Red Bull teams sooner rather than later.

> Driver 1 - Rubens Barrichello - should continue next season, but Williams do historically make unusual driver selections...
> Driver 2 - Pastor Maldonado - has shown some potential this season. Still more to learn though, but has a good team mate.
> Alternative 1 - Valtteri Bottas - the GP3 driver is probably too inexperienced for F1 currently, but is an option for the team.

Team Lotus-Renault
> Driver 1 - Heikki Kovalainen - has clearly become the team's number one driver this season.
> Driver 2 - Jarno Trulli - was looking set to be dropped for next year, but the Italian's performance improved once his power-steering was sorted for Hungary.
> Alternative 1 - Karun Chandhok - seems likely that Chandhok will get a regular drive with the team in the near future, but after a fairly poor performance in Germany, this may not happen as early as 2012.

> Driver 1 - Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania have never kept a driver for a whole season, let alone resign one for a second. Could Liuzzi be the first? Surely he's as good as any the team will get?
> Driver 2 - Daniel Ricciardo - if Red Bull decide they want their prodigy to continue in a race environment, they may loan him out again until a Red Bull seat is available.
> Alternative 1 - ?? - the team will probably have at least one pay driver on their team next year. Therefore, any driver could realistically end up in a Hispania seat next year!

Marussia Virgin-Cosworth
> Driver 1 - Timo Glock - recently signed a new deal with the team, keeping the German in the team for 2012 and beyond.
> Driver 2 - Jerome D'Ambrosio - has driven well so far this season, should be rewarded with a new contract for next year.
> Alternative 1 - Could possibly pick up the unrequired Renault driver (either Petrov or Grosjean) for a season.

To summarise - there are not many Formula 1 driver vacancies for 2012. A lot seems to hinge on whether Robert Kubica will return and whether Michael Schumacher will continue on his comeback with Mercedes.

Any more suggestions? Use the comments field below!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Heidfeld's Hot Lap

One of the more dramatic scenes of the Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday was the sight of Nick Heidfeld's black and gold Renault emerging from the pits, flames pouring from the side of the car.

This is not the first time the German has had to escape from a fiery car this season, his machine also caught fire during a Free Practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Heidfeld pitted for a planned pit stop, but a wheel-nut issue meant he was stationary for longer than usual, with his engine running at high revs. As a result of this, his car apparently overheated. However, due to the unique front-exiting exhaust system the Renault team run, the heat and flames appeared at the front of the sidepods rather than at the back of the car which would be the case for any other team.
The bodywork around the sidepods ignited, and Heidfeld had to make a quick exit from cockpit, clearly aware of the vast heat being produced.

The marshalls were quickly on the scene, armed with fire extinguishers, but the flaming sidepod unexpectedly exploded, appearing to slightly injure a marshall.

Although the exact cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, technical expert Craig 'Scarbs' Scarborough explains possible causes:

"Sidepods contain a multitude of systems; many items being solely in the left or right hand sidepods, rarely are any internals symmetrical left to right.
Typical components in this area are.
• Water radiator (LHS)
• Oil radiator (RHS)
• Hydraulic reservoir (varies)
• Nitrogen cylinder for the engine Pneumatic valve return system (varies)
• KERS battery water radiator (RHS)
• SECU, PCU, Battery, Lap time beacon (typically RHS)

It's important to note, sidepods do not contain the KERS batteries or the MGU. Also the gearbox oil and hydraulic fluid coolers are mounted atop the gearbox. There is very in the of little hydraulic systems being in the front of the sidepods, only the lines for the power steering passes this far forward in the car."

This is a spectator's impressive video of the events which unfolded on track:

To read Scarb's article in full, visit scarbsf1.wordpress.com

Monday, 1 August 2011

Hungarian Grand Prix - 31 July 2011

Yesterday saw another typically exciting Grand Prix, this time in Hungary - the last race before the sport's summer break.

The weather once again played a key part in the race today, as did some stewards decisions, with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton penalised for forcing the Force India of Paul di Resta off the track whilst attempting to recover from a spin.

A strong performance from di Resta saw him acheive his best ever Formula 1 result, and Sebastien Buemi drove an impressive race considering he started from the back row of the grid!

Ewan Marshall of GPFocus.com had the task of being this weekend's Guest Predictor. How would he manage in a race which was Jenson Button's 200th, Nico Rosberg's 100th, Toro Rosso's 100th and the 100th race since V8 engines were introduced?!

Provisional Race Results:

1. Jenson Button - McLaren - Ewan's (EM) Prediction 5th - F1RP Prediction 4th
2. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull Racing - EM 1st - F1RP 2nd
3. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - EM 2nd - F1RP 5th
4. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren - EM 3rd - F1RP 6th
5. Mark Webber - Red Bull Racing - EM 4th - F1RP 1st
6. Felipe Massa - Ferrari - EM 6th - F1RP 3rd
7. Paul di Resta - Force India - EM 14th - F1RP 18th
8. Sebastien Buemi - Toro Rosso - EM 17th - F1RP 14th
9. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - EM 8th - F1RP 10th
10. Jaime Alguersuari - Toro Rosso - EM 15th - F1RP 15th
11. Kamui Kobayashi - Sauber - EM 12th - F1RP 8th
12. Vitaly Petrov - Renault - EM 7th - F1RP 7th
13. Rubens Barrichello - Williams - EM 16th - F1RP 13th
14. Adrian Sutil - Force India - EM 13th - F1RP 16th
15. Sergio Perez - Sauber - EM 9th - F1RP 11th
16. Pastor Maldonado - Williams - EM 18th - F1RP 17th
17. Timo Glock - Virgin - EM 21st - F1RP 20th
18. Daniel Ricciardo - Hispania - EM 24th - F1RP 23rd
19. Jerome D'Ambrosio - Virgin - EM 22nd - F1RP 24th
20. Vitantonio Liuzzi - Hispania - EM 23rd - F1RP 22nd
DNF Heikki Kovalainen - Team Lotus - EM 20th - F1RP 19th
DNF Michael Schumacher - Mercedes - EM 11th - F1RP 12th
DNF Nick Heidfeld - Renault - EM 10th - F1RP 9th
DNF Jarno Trulli - Team Lotus - EM 19th - F1RP 21st

Thank you to Ewan for participating this week. If Jenson Button hadn't finished the race, Ewan would have managed to get the top four correct!
However, as Button drove impressively to win, this was not to be.
Ewan managed one correct prediction, whereas the Formula 1 Results Predictor managed a double. Overall though, it looks like Ewan was closer!

A few weeks now until the next Grand Prix, with a compulsory two week closure for all team's factories, and of course for the F1RP.

The Top Driver in Hungary, based on our predictions, was Paul di Resta.

For more information on the race, visit www.formula1.com

Don't forget to visit GPFocus.com, and follow Ewan on Twitter @EwanMarshall