Kimi – Victory in Victoria – 2013 Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix race winner!

Sweet.
The only talk that counts.
That’s two race wins in the past five races, isn’t it?
Celebrating the victory of who I believe is the best driver is fun, but what is going on, in the championship?
Are there already any discernible trends?
As stated, repeatedly, in previous posts, “Tire management will determine this race outcome.” (see most recent, at: 2013 March 14, below).
Lotus has the best tire management, at least for the conditions in Melbourne, on 2013 March 17.
It looks like the trend is, Lotus have continued, as aggressively as any other team, to develop their tire management capability from a base of having the best tire management, overall, in 2012.
The Red Bull has continued the trend of being the fastest car.
Ferrari have a much faster car which has improved upon its tire management capability relative to most teams.
Mercedes has improved all areas of their car, relative to most teams, including tire management; at least considering a two-stop strategy suggests to me that they have much, much more confidence in their tire management capabilities, compared to last year. But they are still chowing their tires.
But Red Bull? Probably made a sound strategic decision to get the speed first, and push on tire management through the season; maybe they have a game-changing concept that is easy to copy, say, in three or four races; maybe they don’t want to show it before the summer break is over. How could they (AD) not have foreseen the priority of tire management capability? I don’t think it is a viable supposition.
It is good to see Massa look strong; I don’t know if I buy the Alonso get-by so?!?
Speaking on the object of adoration of the Alonso Media Corporation, he looks strong.
Woe to the team that decides to work the revolution rather than evolve last years fastest car on the grid. Cursed, however, are they that then bemoan it on and on to the Brit-o-centric F1 media circus.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll write it again, Jenson, shut up! Maybe you’re not such a wus, but if you are not, then you sure are presenting the world with your best wus side. Just drive, and do your best. Put your head down, and keep working, even if it doesn’t do too much.

Speaking of working and driving, and shutting up, you got to love that Kimi.

Here is an interesting pattern, from my post on the James Allen site:

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, 58 laps, Dry throughout
1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1h30m03.225s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari + 12.451s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull + 22.346s
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 33.577s
5. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 45.561s
6. Mark Webber Red Bull + 46.800s
7. Adrian Sutil Force India + 1m05.068s
8. Paul di Resta Force India + 1m08.449s
9. Jenson Button McLaren + 1m21.630s
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus + 1m22.759s

Look at the pattern of time between the cars:
12, 10, 11, 12, (then anomally) 1, 20 (then similar cars) 3, 12.
10-12 seconds between positions in the top nine!
I don’t know what this means, but it seems significant.
I’ll be tracking.

Last year the Lotus was comparatively weakest on cold circuits. Mercedes’ weakness in tire management was minimized in the cold, like Shanghai, last year. Lotus had its greatest comparative advantage in the hot and dry.

Sepang will be hot and wet. I expect that we’ll see if Red Bull have really fallen back on their tire management against the likes of Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari.
Will Ferrari be able to be the second fastest qualifying, and the fastest in the race?
How will the hotter conditions affect the apparent Mercedes advancement?

Or can Lotus, again, use one less set of tires, come from behind on the grid, and also get the fastest lap of the race on tires that they’ve driven further than any other team would dare?

Somebody will be working their program, paying attention, and driving better than anybody else.
I hope that guy wins… again.

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Vettel World Champion – 2012 Brasil Formula One GP Interlagos – Button 1st, Alonso 2nd, Massa 3rd

Vettel collects 6th; since Alonso got only 2nd, Vettel takes the championship!

Vettel recovers from a mugging on the first lap, by Bruno Senna, with a damaged car, steams through the field, makes a mistaken tire change, survives several additional intertwinings, gets a break from the marshals, in my opinion, for both a yellow flag pass, and squeezing another car with inadequate room left on the track, I think it was Kobayashi, for the pass, but in the end, he deserves the title, and there is no foreseeable end to the potential streak of victories for the Vettel-Red Bull package!

The race did in fact end up being the most exciting race of all time, including the Kimi 2007 win!

Incredible.

Perfect timing after picking up all of those American fans after the fantastic inaugural Circuit of the Americas American F1 Grand Prix.

2012 November 13 before the American Grand Prix

Just a few tidbits that have crossed my mind.

Oh yeah, back to the U.S.A!  “Eh, right on”, as we say here.  Yeah, they are next door, but it is all the way on the other side of the country, for us, and it’s a big country.  Plus… the other stuff.

It could be interesting.

My early call: The McLaren should still be good on every circuit, including this one.  I do also think Red Bull will continue to be strong.  If Ferrari are going to challenge, they have to at least start, for this, as they so fondly like to say, on the British Formula One television coverage, the ‘penultimate’ race of the championship. We call that, ‘the second last race’, or, in a race, ‘the second last lap’; it’s easier to say, and at least as descriptive.  I also think Lotus will be strong, perhaps yet a little bit stronger than in Abu Dhabi.

So, it could be interesting.

I haven’t really been too down on Martin Whitmarsh, but he’s really, REALLY losing the plot, here:  in the same week as he is getting headlines, that read, “Lewis doubting move to Mercedes”, or something like that, it SHOULD DEFINITELY BE, IN THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE, “Whitmarsh says Lewis doubting…”, he says something like, “… oh yeah, I’m doubting my decision on my driver next year, oh yeah, that’s how confident I am… …about MY driver selection for next year… Oh yeah… I did that, didn’t I?”  Trouble at McLaren; say it ain’t so!?!  That’s pretty bad.  Pull it together, man!  When confused, just keep quiet and see if you can’t find a bit focus again, before opening it, and subsequently, losing it.  Poor Lewy, damned if he do, and damned if he don’t.  Stick to your guns, man; you made the decision, and now go and do it, (after your car breaks down for two more races you are leading – oh well, you’re going.)

By the way, Perez is still looking great, as far as I’m concerned.  What’s happening now, at Sauber, is everybody getting their money’s worth.  Perez is pushing the boundaries, learning everything he can, especially since he is leading the charge in a constructor’s battle for Sauber, and they are willing to support alternative strategies, to just maybe get one of their guys further up the pecking order by the flag.  It’s been a bit rough over there, and this strategy may not always work, but maybe their due, either one of them; I’m still a big Kobyashi fan, and I’d love to see him at Williams with one of them Finns; they seem to make good race car drivers, there.  I think it’s a bit like Canada there; they have great hockey players; they’re doing something right; I hear they have a good education system, short hours, and much of it spent outside, even in the winter.  That makes healthy people, not just physically.  We should have shorter hours in grade school, and mostly teaching outside, here, too.  Then maybe we’d get a few more race car drivers who could win in formula one; you never know.

The “warned over language…” thing is a bit much.  I admit that it did seem a little bit like Sebastian was, kind of, sort of, emulating Kimi!?!  Now that is a bit weird!  Let’s just think about this for a second, the reigning champion, a two-time-in-a-row, double world champion, likely, shortly to be, three-time-in-a-row, world champion, is out of character, a bit anyways, sort of… kind of… being like Kimi?!?  Well, I don’t blame him; there’s no doubt about who the coolest driver.  The one who likes to drive, and doesn’t like the corporate types; who could blame him on that one?  But being… something… that you are not?  That’s just not cool; it’s the opposite of cool.  Anyways, he sure a great race car driver, though.  What a bunk of uptight gunk!  The language police!  If Vettel hadn’t made such a mess of it, it probably would have just cruised under the radar, with Kimi’s quite appropriate usage.  Oh well, it was it is.  NBD.

Slightly off, but really not that much: I am happy that Lorenzo, already having won this year’s MotoGP championship, the approximate equivalent in the motorcycle racing world, is seemingly in good health following his BIG HIGHSIDE, (WAY!)  at the last race in Valencia, won by Dani Pedrosa, who is runner-up in this year’s championship.  VERY SAD, that Casey Stoner, the best motorcycle racer of all time, is retired.  He’s a young guy.  I think he should get a Formula One test with the smartest team, why not straight to Ferrari.  He could win a world championship in F1; he might as well go right to the top; or maybe… Williams!?!  (So far, I must have about ten people driving for Williams next year!)

BACK TO THE RACE…

Yeah, I think it’s going to be good; I got at least six guys who I think could win this one; and I still think (and like the idea of) a Sauber victory, in the last two races, either one of them; so really, I’m looking at eight guys who I think can win this one; unknown to everybody.  How often do we get that, unknown to everyone, therefore everyone of similar experience, still a hot fight in the drivers’ championship, and potentially, closely matched machinery, for FOUR TEAMS!  I hope the machinery is evenly matched, and I think it’s going to be interesting.

First thing I’m looking at:

Tire wear, and tire wear across varying conditions, warmer and cooler.

Kimi! Victory! Yes! 2012 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

Kimi Raikkonen back on the top step, winning the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix 2012!

Webber’s slightly off-kilter start, in front of Kimi, Kimi not hesitating, got him into position to fight for victory.

Not much needs to be said about Lewis’ machinery failure, yet again in 2012.  Lewis, having a great, and dominant weekend, leads from pole, looks comfortable, after a minor cold-tire lockup, and edges a comfortable gap over the fast and steady Kimi, only to have his McLaren whoof, and lose power.  Race over!

Kimi establishes dominance on the soft tires, takes a good cushion and winds out fastest laps, edging forward.  He stays out a bit longer on the Lotus-favoured softer tires, returning from the pit stop in good position to continue to the flag.  Alonso charging hard in the last five laps, but Kimi responded trading fastest laps to the flag to take his first victory: this season, since his return, and for Lotus since Aryton Senna.

A morose Alonso takes second.

Vettel: I suggested the potential for an amazing drive, before the race, and yet was surprised as it was even more interesting than I had warned.  Starting from the pit, Vettel shortly gets wing damage advancing through the field, then during the safety car, for the Rosberg/Karthikeyan, Vettel gets squeeze by a brake-warming Ricciardo, as he is accelerating to take out a brake-zone market and effectively finish off his front wing!  So he pits and takes on new tires, possibly planning to run the remaining 42 laps on the soft tires!  With new wing and new tires, he carves his way through the field, and advances as other teams begin to change tires for this one-stop race.  Then the Di Resta, Perez, Grosjean, and Webber (more on him in a moment) coming together safetycar launch, lap 39/55; Vettel takes his chance and dives in for a new set of softs, again lunching upwards through the ranks.  In the final few laps Vettel fights Button, in a slower car, but defending valiantly.  Button deserves driver of the race, for what he didn’t do, that is, take Vettel out on a gutsy passing move, Button drove with the utmost respect and integrity, giving the minimum, but enough room for Vettel to make the move stick and up into third, which he held until the flag.  Astonishing race from Vettel.  Unfortunately for the race winner, by gaining third, Vettel mathematically eliminates Kimi from the 2012 World Championship.

Webber drove a feral race, but was always behind the eight ball from his  (slightly) compromised start off the line.  Webber drove like a man possessed, or as the say down under, ‘totally feral, mate.’  He mixed it up with Maldonado around turn eleven, spinning out and losing places.  he then fought his way back after a seemingly ill-timed for him, (but not Vettel who was immediately behind him), pit stop, through dense and competitive traffic, to mix it up again at turn eleven, this time wiping out Fillipe, who spun his Ferrari after an awkward bounce off a curb.  Finally, Webber was in the wrong place, at the wrong time to get clipped by Grosjean (also not at fault), getting popped by Perez rejoining the track in an ill-advised manner after swinging wide following very aggressive double overtaking attempt.  Webber provided about 50% of the excitement and spectacle of the race!

Kudos to the stewards who did not give Webber a penalty for either his Maldonado nor Massa contacts; the Maldonado contact being the more grievous of the two.

Maldonado 5th, his first top six, aside from his Barcelona win, this season, and Bruno Senna 8th means a good day fro Williams.

Kobayashi 6th, a good drive from him.

But the man of the hour, a crowd-pleaser with his no-nonsense approach (especially to the strained contrivances of the media interviewers), wins (FINALLY!) this season, and many of us could only be happier if he was still in contention for the 2012 World Drivers’ championship.

2012 Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Friday Analysis

There is not much changed, from a week ago, except the track, and some updates.

Red Bull are still there, especially with the Vettel package.  Apparently, according to James Allen, Webber has never done well at the Yas Marina circuit, perhaps that is why he is dropped back compared to Vettel in single lap practice times.

McLaren are back, at least with the Hamilton package, and he sits a meagre  0.168 back, still almost 2 tenths, but the next fastest, Jenson Button is another 4 tenths back, a whopping 0.661 off Vettel’s pace.

Hmm….

But from Button, in 3rd (0.661 back) to Alonso in 7th (0.836) is a mere 0.175, similar but less than the difference between the top two!  Anything may happen in this bunch, and as the famous Murray Walker refrain would say, “… and it usually does.”

So while in single lap pace, one might think it a bit gloomy for Alonso, he is closer to third than Hamilton is to pole.

If I were Alonso, I wouldn’t mind being third, with Vettel on the front row against Hamilton, who has nothing to lose in going all out for the win, and on this track, of at least average difficulty to pass, a tussle between the top two, into the first corner could work extremely well for Alonso, as long as he is on the third row of better.

But things are gloomy in race pace for the Alonso-Ferrari championship drive, where according to Vettel, McLaren are on top in Abu Dhabi.  He has reportedly called on Red Bull to up their game, to get onto better race pace terms with McLaren.

Lotus was quiet except for Grosjean’s ability to make the soft tires work better.  Kimi was again sporting the ‘device’ intake scoops on the air dam; but there has been a distinct ‘talking-down’ of ‘the device’ of late, and it may well go the way of the dodo.

I have a feeling about Grosjean, and there has been a icy restraint from Eric Bouiller since Kimi’s surge and self-styled media stunts, and Grosjean’s ongoing crash habit, concerning Grosjean’s standing with the team.  All season long Grosjean was the darling of Boullier, now there are headlines, like, “Lotus still evaluating Grosjean before finalizing new contract” (www.autosport.com), and “Boullier in no rush for Grosjean” (www.planetF1.com); and the Lotus F1 web site, now plastered with images of Kimi?!?

Still, Grosjean has already shown flashes of brilliance, out-qualifying Kimi regularly before his latest and twitter-inducing first lap wipe-outs.

I have a feeling that he could go large on qualifying at Abu Dhabi; we shall see; it’s just a feeling.

But the straight money is on Vettel and Hamilton for the first row, and the rest of Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari to scrap it out behind.

2012 Indian F1 Grand Prix Practice Analysis – not much changed

Sebastian Vettel leads, followed closely by team mate Mark Webber, and then… the rest brawl over the scraps.

It was actually Jenson who got closest to Vettel in the first practice, at only, 0.310 seconds back.  But by the end of the fast laps in the second session, Webber was 0.118 back in second, and the next fastest driver was Alonso, at a whopping 0.599 off Vettel’s pace!

Good news, some anyhow, for those duking it out behind the Bulls, race pace is similar for all of Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, and even Mercedes.  Also, Alonso hung on to end up with the fastest time on the hard tire compound, though probably because of late runs, during which the track adhesion had increased.

The track evolved continuously over the session, with drivers reporting increasing adhesion as the practice sessions went on.  There is no reason to believe that this will not continue, right up until the final qualifying run; therefore the later the run, the better the comparative timing, favouring the brave.

The prognosis:

It’s looking good if you are a blockheaded munchkin in a race car sponsored by a metabolism-increasing fizzy drink company, and designed by the greatest design guru who ever worked in the business.

Vettel is far and away the favourite here.  That being said, he has not won four races in a row (one web site states), and all the conditions are evolving, yet, and in this sport, in the words of a famous play-by-play man, “anything can happen, and usually does.

Focus on the sharp end – what to look for at the 2012 India F1 Grand Prix

Red Bull are ruling the ring, now.

Can McLaren ‘hit back’ and get back on top?

They’ll need their matadors armed with new sharpened swords to do it

Can Ferrari find the 0.2 second per lap that Stefano Domenicali says is all they need?

Even with that, they’ll have to use their two butteri more strategically than they did in Korea.

Can Lotus get a similar performance improvement that Red Bull have achieved with their new front wing and refined ‘conanda’ effect exhaust?

They’ll need to and get both drivers in divine position and unattachment (especially Romaine) past the first lap to keep Kimi’s remote championship drive alive.  It would be fitting if Lotus had a divine weekend and achieve the sublime to win their first Grand Prix, in India.

The track:

Buddh International Circuit is an interesting mix of a couple of drag strips, an apex, good for passing, generally a few passing opportunities, and a bit of trixiness to boot.

The two long straights means power will be a factor, slightly favouring the more powerful engined cars, however, the mix of bends means that there will definitely be a trade-off for downforce settings on the cars.  The temperature is expected to be 31 degrees, so tire management could be decisive also.

For the top cars, so many antagonistic factors, combined with the unpredictability of the development race means it is difficult to predict a pecking order.

What to look for:

If McLaren or Ferrari have caught up, then it should show in Friday qualifying.  However, even if they head the pack in practice, both Red Bull and Lotus usually make substantial jumps up overnight Friday.

Any loss of power for Lotus, due to their installation of ‘coanda effect’ exhaust could hurt them in the power straights; James Allison talked up refining the system to recoup the power cost, but the Lotus just cannot afford any addition loss of grunt compared to the other teams.

Look for Red Bull’s straight line grunt; it’s been looking VERY good for the past two races; what have they got going that nobody else can figure out?  If they’ve got the grunt, then they’ll be hard to beat, and likely to gore their competitors with a possible 1-2.

And don’t count Red Bull out of the development race; other teams might bring two tenths, three tenths, maybe even half a second, but if Red Bull brings a few tenths, then they will still be ahead!

Vettel is on fire, and it’s turning into a firestorm.  I would not mind them falling behind a bit on machinery pace, just to see how Vettel might up his game, yet again this season.  He has been the best package since the summer break, by a mile.

Look also for preliminary tire degradation on Friday.  Even if this turns out to be decisive, I don’t think it is clear who has the advantage in tire wear management at this point in the campaign; while Lotus was the master class in the first half of the campaign, there have been so much development, who knows if this has been lost and clawed back by the other teams.

Further on down the road, the Taj Mahal?:

Force India is on the ascendance just in time for the India Grand Prix; they were threatening Lotus for the past couple of circuits, and with the power likely a factor, could surprise and land higher up the grid, a podium is not out of the question for either driver.

We’ll have to see if Sauber is back on the ups, though at this point in the season, I just cannot predict how their car will perform at any particular circuit.

 

This weekend should be good.