apexhead

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  1. Malaysian Grand Prix

    Malaysian GP Results Listen to/Download the podcast here. If we learned anything from the Malaysian Grand Prix last Sunday, it's that it's never too early for high-stakes drama. One might even say that the podium interviews were just as exciting as the race itself. After all, it's not often we see a podium ceremony so full of tension to the point where body language alone would tell an unawares observer that they were watching three men who just had the worst drives of their lives. Look no further than Mark Webber, who finished in 2nd place, which would seem normally fantastic. Yet he was barely able to contain his anger as Sebastian Vettel stood in the middle of the podium -- granted, sheepishly -- and accepted the 27th winner's trophy of his career. But this race will not be remembered as the one where Vettel tied Jackie Stewart for the all-time career wins; no, this race will be remembered for Vettel's complete defiance of team orders to remain in P2 behind his teammate. Vettel opted instead to engage Webber in a risky duel, though he was able to overtake the lead on lap 44, eventually winning his first race of the season. No matter how you cut it, it's hard to imagine this problem between Mark and Seb going away. While it will be a difficult season to bear out under the current status quo, it's fair to wonder if Webber will remain with the team beyond this season. Curiously though, this was not the only case of team orders for the front runners, as Mercedes faced the same dilemma with both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. As the race went on, Nico repeatedly pleaded with team principal Ross Brawn to allow him to pass a slower Lewis Hamilton, only to be denied. Nico was of course disappointed, but the key difference between Mercedes and Red Bull is that Hamilton acknowledged Nico was correct. The discrepancy between Ross Brawn and Christian Horner could not have been any starker. While Brawn demonstrated complete authority, Horner demonstrated silence, which could not have helped Webber's view. Now the leading constructor will have to spend the next three weeks trying to patch up things between Mark and Seb, as well as earn back the trust of Mark. This could get uglier before it improves. The other big story of the race was the sheer volume of problems many teams had in the pit lanes. Toro Rosso, Caterham, Force India & McLaren were all victims of failures, poor judgment and circumstance. Force India had wheel problems, and Toro Rosso was fined for an early release that caused a collision with Charles Pic in the Caterham. Jenson Button's drive was compromised by pit blunders, more on that in a moment. Biggest Winners Malaysian GP Driver Productivity Felipe Massa - Another strong drive from the recently-maligned Brazilian, salvaging 6th after Alonso was out after one lap. He also out-qualified Alonso for the second race in a row, so it's quite clear Felipe appears to be back in form to his pre-Hungary 2009 days. While true Felipe did fail to secure a podium despite his P2 grid start, the spotty weather and pace of the Red Bulls doesn't make this surprising. He also made a strong push late in the race to assure his finish, which also speaks well for the tire wear for the F138. Ferrari is hoping this continues, as they appear to be the only team in the early running to give Red Bull any hassle. Jean-Eric Vergne - Despite starting 17th, Vergne was able to score a point finishing 10th. The jockeying of drivers and teams around that bubble spot is going to be ongoing for the 2013 campaign, but Vergne appears as a more consistent driver than Daniel Ricciardo. If Toro Rosso can sort out its mistakes, their car could be in the running for points any given race. Romain Grojean - Another finish without incident for the 2nd year Lotus driver, a good sign that he has developed patience over the winter. Grojean was able to finish 6th after starting 11th, one spot ahead of Kimi. Lotus must be happy to see him finishing races and are learning to trust him more. Valtteri Bottas & Esteban Gutierrez - Both rookies were impressive again, though neither were able to secure a point. Bottas climbed a remarkable seven spots to finish 11th, and has been particularly eye-catching. This is helped by the contrast between him and his teammate Pastor Maldonado. The Williams car is an early mystery, but Pastor needs to improve quickly or he could be facing replacement sooner than later. Meanwhile Gutierrez finished 12th and for the second race in a row, was able to finish higher than he started. Both of these guys are racing with cool heads and avoiding rookie mistakes. Honorable mention to Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who managed 13th thanks to retirements from some of the faster cars. Biggest Losers Fernando Alonso - Missing out on points is bad enough, but Malaysia was unique because Alonso made uncharacteristic errors. His tap with Vettel coming around Turn 3 was very slight, but as we know it was enough to damage the front wing. But the decision to not pit at the end of Lap 1 ended up being all too costly when his wing broke coming down the start/finish straight and thus ended his day after one lap. Ferrari assumed responsibility for the decision, but I can't rule out the possibility of the team taking bullet for Alonso's judgment. Given Massa's pace, it's safe to wonder if Alonso could have secured a podium without the incident. His swift exit was just as swift in a kick to the groin for Ferrari fans. Force India - A bigtime winner in the season opener, Vijay Mallya's crew saw their second race disintegrate into ashes thanks to an insurmountable wheel nut problem. Watching Sutil stranded for minutes in the pit lane was absolutely brutal. Paul di Resta retired on his last pit stop. The three week gap between races couldn't have come at a better time, as the team will need that gap to fix the problem. Jenson Button - He was on his way to a potentially impressive result, but was let down by his team failing to secure his right-front wheel and he was forced to be wheeled back for an almost 2 minute delay. He would later retire from severe vibration. His teammate Sergio Perez was not able to finish than his grid start of P9, but it was evident McLaren had made decent strides in the short week. Christian Horner - Despite Red Bull's success, few would envy the position of Horner after this one. Not only must he sort out the issues between Seb and Mark, but also the team's relationship with Mark. Furthermore, his backbone is being tested by Vettel's arrogant disregard of team orders. Christian will need to decide who runs the team - he or Vettel. Biggest Surprise Because the season is so young, it's hard to be surprised by any pace or performance discrepancies between Australia and Malaysia. However, the broad spectrum of pitstop problems and mistakes were glaring, almost to the point where it seemed historical. Teams will really need to dial in their hardware and protocols, as pit blunders are the difference between a good result and a forgettable one. Not So Surprising... The pace of the Red Bull and additionally, the cutthroat nature of Vettel. We always knew Seb does not handle losing well but he exposed himself here as a poor sport. It would be a long time before he could convince anyone he is a team player. What to Look for in Round 3 China could be an interesting benchmark for Mercedes. Nico Rosberg won his first (and thus far only) career race at China last year. His 2011 teammate Michael Schumacher had also been running well until a pit error ruined his result. Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton has won in China twice. This could be setting up for a strong finish for Brawn's team. The behavior of Webber and Vettel on track, starting with practice, qualifying sessions and of course the race. All eyes will be on Red Bull, its drivers and how it handles the strain of its drivers. Will Bottas continue to outshine Maldonado so thoroughly? 2013 F1 Driver Power Rankings after Round 02 2013 F1 Driver Power Rankings
  2. Melbourne Practice, Qualy And Stuff Like That

    Hope you chaps don't mind adding my GP Review...There's also a podcast available here. 2013 F1 Australian Grand Prix Review This is what a new season is all about it, isn't it? We never know what to expect and the season opener, Round 1 at Melbourne was a sterling example as to why, as Kimi Raikonnen won for the 2nd time in his career at Albert Park, marking his 20th career win overall. Many question lingered coming into the season - would Lewis Hamilton get on with his new team at Mercedes? What about Sergio Perez with McLaren? Would Sebastian Vettel continue his dominance for a forth season in a row? How would the new rookies shake out with their new teams? It's far too early to answer any of them with certainty, but at least we have an idea. Lost on those aformentioned prominent musings though was the question was how Adrian Sutil, returning to Force India after a one year hiatus, would handle his action in a car since the end of 2011. Remember, he was not added to the team until about four weeks ago, as rumors of who would fill Force India's second seat lingered all offseason. The result of course was Sutil finishing a solid 7th but for a considerable stretch of the race, he looked to have a legitimate shot to win, given the team's gutsy 2-stop strategy. Biggest Winners Kimi Raikkonnen - Not just because he won the race but because let's face it, no one saw Kimi getting this kind of result in Round 1. Lotus' 2-stopping tire strategy paid off and it's clear the E21 is performing closer to what it seemed to flirting with last year. Remember, the 2012 E20 car seemed to have more struggles in cold weather, so such a strong start in more cool conditions bodes well for the car's performance. Meanwhile Kimi's teammate Romain Grojean finished a more predictable s 10th after qualifying 8th. But to have Grojean finish the race and stay out of trouble was a positive for the team and Lotus have something to build on. Felipe Massa/Ferrari - A 2nd place finish for Alonso, even from starting 5th, is to be expected from the 2 time world champion. But where Ferrari really surprised was the pace and performance from Felipe Massa, who not only out-qualified his teammate, but finished a strong 4th. If this is the pace to expect from Ferrari moving forward, then the gauntlet has been thrown down for Red Bull for the Constructors title. Force India - Despite Sutil leading a portion of the race and competing for a podium spot, it's surprising he only finished one position ahead of his teammate Paul Di Resta, who finished 8th. Double points is nothing to sneeze at , so Force India could play the same role of the 2012 Sauber team, which routinely finished in the lower top 10. Still, the team has to be concerned with how far the performance fell off when running on the super-soft tire compounds. Malaysia should shed more honest light on the subject. Honorable mention: Lewis Hamilton. Granted, 5th was perhaps less than what Lewis would have wanted, but it was certainly a decent result for Mercedes who struggled to finish that high most of last year. Given how poorly McLaren showed, there is no question Lewis is not second-guessing his decision to join Mercedes. Also, Sauber rookie driver Esteban Gutierrez has to be happy. He lead all rookies in finishing 13th, which helped salvage an otherwise tough weekend for Sauber, who saw their 11th spot start by Nico Hulkenburg go to waste due to a fuel problem that kept him from participating As long as Sauber doesn't have reliability problems, they should continue to compete in the 2nd tier market Marussia. Not only did the rookie duo do well for the team, they finished an impressive 15th (Jules Bianchi) and 17th (Max Chilton), moving up 3-5 spots each from their starting spots. It's much too early to tell, but Marussia could have the making of a team to be flirting with the mid-teens race in and race out. Biggest Losers McLaren - When a team mentions the possibility of going back the prior year's car design, you know there are problems. Qualifying told us that the turnover at McClaren - not just with the Lewis/Perez switch, but also within the team - has caught up with them, contrasting what has been strong results for the last 4-5 years. Jenson Button was only to climb one spot from this starting 10th and ending 9th, while newcomer Sergio Perez was able to make better of his atrocious P15 start and finish 11th. Still, it's clear McLaren has massive work to do to compete with the other big boys and the UK outfit could be setting up for a long campaign. Jenson Button's concerns about how long it will take to get competitive are quite valid indeed. Mark Webber - Another fantastic qualifying performance from Webber squandered by yet another horrific start. Until Webber is able to eliminate this deficiency is his race results, a good grid spot will amount to little. Fortunately for Mark, he was able to finish 6th after it appeared he might only manage 8th or worse. Pastor Maldonado - Williams made good strides last year with Pastor able to get his first career win, as well as run high on a number of occasions. The results may have been even better if Pastor had been able to finish a couple races without incident, most namely Melbourne and Valencia. However, Pastor's miserable weekend came to an appropriate halt when his wheels came off the tarmac heading into Turn 1 and off into the grass he went. Pastor described the car as "undriveable" after a poor qualifying session, but this error feel squarely on his shoulders. What made things worse for Pastor was the fact that his rookie teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was able to finish a decent 14th after starting 16th. Maldonado needs to show that his flashes of brilliance last year were not just in fact, flashes in the pan. Honorable mention: Romain Grojean. Yes, he finished the race and got a point. But ultimately, he fell two spots from his starting grid position. The E21 is clearly very good on the harder tires, so hopefully the young Frenchman will find his pace heading into Round 2. Biggest Surprise It has to be Sutil and frankly, the pace of the Force India car as a whole. Paul di Resta is a good young driver and combined with Sutil, the team has to be very excited heading into Malaysia. Not So Surprising... The unreliability of the Mercedes. Last year Michael Schumacher saw plenty of good drives go to waste from problems with the car and Nico's exit at Melbourne tells us that it's possibly still a problem. Mercedes is lucky that this happened with Nico and not Lewis, as it could have posed as a rocky start for the new tandem. What to Look for in Round 2 What is the true pace of both Sauber and Force India? Both teams will be trying to claw over one another all the way to the end. Is Lotus really here to play, or did they simply exploit the unknowns of a new season? Will Red Bull get its tire wear woes sorted out before Malaysia? Will McLaren be able to make any improvements at all in just a week's time? Are Ferrari as prepared to battle for the Contructor's title as they appear?
  3. All Aboot The Canadian Grand Prix, Okay

    Thanks man. And sorry I didn't clarify, yes, the write-up is mine.
  4. All Aboot The Canadian Grand Prix, Okay

    We sit on the verge of Round 7 and the season makes its first trip to North America for the popular Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. As many recall, last year's race was one of the most dramatic of the year, with Jenson Button stealing a win from Sebastian Vettel after a rare leading-the-field mistake very late. This year could prove to be even more dramatic; it stands entirely possible we could see an unprecedented 7th winner in as many races. Lewis Hamilton stands out the most as a non-winner, and Lotus continues to nip at the heels of victory. Meanwhile, Mercedes has shown decent pace almost every race, but reliability, clean pit stops and error-free mistakes will be necessary, especially for Michael Schumacher. A few thoughts and questions as we head into the weekend: 1. Red Bull should not be considered a favorite Though leading the Constructors Standings and despite being the only team to have both drivers with a victory, the FIA recently ruled that their car's floor is illegal and had to be changed. The good news for the team is that their victories will not be negated and be allowed to stand. The bad news is that this will surely set the team back as they scramble to comply with the ruling prior to Montreal, coupled with the fact the Red Bull is not the fastest car on the straights -- a key factor for the very fast Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Qualifying, as usual, will be critical. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 2. Is this a make or break race for McLaren's season? Probably not. But one has to wonder if the UK team has what it takes to climb back after a strong start that has quietly faded into near desperation. Lewis Hamilton has yet to win a race, and Jenson Button suddenly seems unable to find the car's pace. Meanwhile, several teams continue to improve and even previous mid-tier cars like Sauber and Williams have a chance to keep chipping away at McLaren's hopes. Both Button AND Hamilton needs strong results, otherwise the scrutiny will continue to mount, not helped by swirling rumors that Hamilton intends to leave McLaren at season's end. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 3. If Michael Schumacher were going to win, this would be the time Schumacher has won in Montreal seven times over this long and storied career, but not since 2004 with Ferrari. He has shown great promise through qualifying and strong race starts, but luck has not been on his side and he has virtually nothing to show for it. However, both he and Nico Rosberg have a chance to take advantage of Mercedes' fast chassis and if Mercedes wants to be considered a Constructors title threat, they have to take advantage of the circuit and leave with some points. Time is running out for Michael. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 4. Will weather continue to be a factor for the Lotus E20 pace? Lotus has been quite the Jekyll and Hyde through six rounds. It's not just the fact that Romain Grojean has only finished 3/6 races (though granted, his pace is excellent when he is able to finish), but also the curious problem with the car's pace being sensitive to weather. It tends to perform well in warmer weather, but struggle when cooler. Team boss Eric Boullierhas openly admitted his concerns over this, specifically when it comes to tires. Kimi Raikkonen is also seeking his first season win of the season, but again, much could rest in the hands of track and weather conditions and what the team has been able to do since Monaco. Note: As of this post, there is a reported 20% chance of rain on race day. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 5. Given Felipe Massa's strong Monaco result, is it too late to salvage his 2013 seat with Ferrari? Felipe mustered his best result of the season so far, finishing 6th at Monaco. It would be folly to rest too much hope on that result alone given the nature of Monaco. But moving forward, is it too late to stay Ferrari's hand for his replacement? While there is a small hope for Massa to keep his ride, it would take an extraordinary turnaround to see to it. Teammate Fernando Alonso continues to exceed expectations and thanks to a podium in Monte Carlo, he currently leads the Drivers Standings. That's a big shadow for Felipe by itself, coupled with his marginal results since his 2009 accident at Hungary. Monaco's result may ease symptoms, but the cause still remains until proven otherwise. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 6. Who will win? As it's been true for the entire 2012 season, it's anybody's guess. However, the unbiased fan in me hopes it is in fact a 7th winner, just to keep the guessing game lively. All eyes on Hamilton, Schumacher and Raikkonen. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Odds & Ends Pastor Maldonado looks to bounce back after a horrific weekend in Monaco, while Bruno Senna hopes to build on his 10th place finish. This will be Pastor's second career F1 race at Montreal, with 2011 resulting in a DNF. Only 3 points separate Williams and Sauber in the Constructor Standings, competing for the 6th spot. It will be interesting to see if either team can get the measure of the other in Montreal. I'm curious to see if there is any ground gained for Force India, Toro Rosso, Caterham and Marussia. Caterham and Marussia both had their best results of the year at Monaco, but again, we'll need more evidence of improvement to feel confidence.
  5. A mid-season move makes little sense to me, short of the reasons you mention...but I do really wonder if he really to leave at the end of 2012. Another interesting note: F1Zone.net had a similar story posted, but now it's been removed.
  6. Replacing Massa

    Well his name has been linked to Ferrari for months, but the bigger question is if he'll ever race in F1 again. As of now, that sounds like a pretty big "if".
  7. Replacing Massa

    IMO, Webber or Kubica would be perfect for pairing with Alonso. Lewis is obviously out of the question and I just can't see Red Bull letting Vettel go.
  8. Monaco

    Sure thing. I have been posting them all year on my site, but will start posting them on this forum I like the discussions a lot, this is a great board.
  9. Monaco

    A historic start to the season has just taken place -- while Red Bull is the first team to get two victories from its drivers, we saw a record-setting 6th winner as many races to start a Formula One season. Mark Webber was able to hold to win the fabled race for the second time in three years and Red Bull looks to take control of the Constructor race, but we still have a long way to go to decides the season's outcomes. Thanks to handful of 4th place finishes leading up to the race, Webber's victory leaves him tied with teammate Sebastian Vettel with 73 points, a respective 2nd and 3rd place rankings in the Driver standings. The lack of overtaking at Monaco is offset by virtue of the track's grand history, as well as opportunity for error given its narrow and unforgiving turns. But that also means that we can't always put a lot of stock into the field's pace at Monaco -- the entire GP basically boils down to some well-earned points for a handful of drivers, and then it's onto the next race where we may see true pace starting to take shape. That being said, here are a few thoughts I had following the Monaco Grand Prix: Biggest Winners Red Bull - While their pace has been good but not dominant, Red Bull's clever pit stop strategies played a huge role in their 1st and 4th finishes. With the threat of rain looming the majority of the race, Red Bull staggered their stops with Webber and Sebastian Vettel to almost ensure that one of their drivers would win, depending on the weather. Despite the rain making things a bit slippery at the end, intermediates were never necessary and Webber was able to hang onto the win. Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Ferrari as a whole - Who would have guessed in winter testing that Fernando Alonso would be leading the Standings after 6 rounds, given how poor the pace of the F2012 was to start? But improvements to the car coupled with Alonso's abilities have made it a reality. Felipe Massa was able to pull out his best result of the year and unquestionably, the Brazilian hope it's the start of a rebound after a miserable start to 2012. Nico Rosberg - A great result for Nico (2nd), who has been clawing since his surprise first career victory in China earlier this year. Because of the nature of Monaco, it's hard to know if this is as legitimate of a result as it would appear, but Mercedes certainly hopes so. For now, Nico adds to the notion he is finally elevating his game. Bruno Senna - Given Pastor Maldonado's miserbale weekend coming off his first career F1 victory and a late retirement by Michael Schumacher, Bruno was able to sneak into the points. He is the first Senna to finish in the points since his late uncle Ayrton. Solid drive from Bruno and one he'll hope to capitalize on. Biggest Losers McLaren - What is going on here? Jenson Button was stuck behind Heikki Kovalainen for the majority of the race and for one reason or another, Lewis Hamilton finished 5th -- even though early on, his pace suggested a podium finish. While pit problems have been to blame from time to time, McLaren's strong start has gotten increasingly degraded as the season has gone on. They need to use Montreal as a springboard to close the gap to Red Bull and fend off Ferrari and Lotus. Pastor Maldonado, Romain Grojean and Michael Schumacher - To many, Pastor had been a favorite to win his first race at Monaco given his victory at Catalunya, as well as success in Monte Carlo in the GP2 ranks. But his weekend could not have been more miserable -- he collided into Sergio Perez in practice, earning a 10-spot grid penalty and ensuring he started 24th on the starting grid; to cap off the horror, Pastor was out of the race before the end of lap 1 due to an accident at Turn 1. Speaking of that accident, chalk up Romain Grojean as another unlucky Monaco victim. He qualified an impressive 4th, but that was squandered when he was competing for space within seconds of the race start. Before turn 1, he was clipped by Michael Schumacher, taking off his left-rear wheel and leaving him awkwardly stranded on the track. It was the third time Romain was not able to finish the race, all incidents coming before completing 4 laps. If luck can get back on side, I see no reason he can't win his first race sometime this year. What can be said for 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher? His pace gave him pole at Monaco, but a 5-place grid penalty negated that position at race start. Despite his early collision with Grojean, Michael was holding up well until his car failed him very late in the race due to a fuel-pressure problem. Another bitter retirement for the F1 legend and after six races, he only has 2 points to show for it. Jean-Eric Vergne - One might think finishing 12th is a good result for the French rookie in the Toro Rosso, but it could have been as high at 8th ... A team decision to put him on inters very late in the race cost him key positions and it was a gamble that did not pay off. Still, he continues to show decent consistency and I would still qualify his season thus far as exceeding expectations. That's all for now, let's see how thing progress as we head to North America for the first time for the Montreal Grand Prix, which proved to be one of, if not the most, memorable race in 2011.
  10. Monaco

    Thanks mate! Last time I "just did it", I got my hand slapped! Haha. OK, posting now...
  11. Monaco

    Anyone know (mod?) if it's OK for me to post my Monaco review here? It doesn't include links or anything, just text copy. Wanted to ask because I am a new member. Thanks!
  12. All Aboot The Canadian Grand Prix, Okay

    Last year's Montreal race may have been the most memorable race of the 2011 season. Curious to see how Maldonado, McLaren and Lotus respond to disappointing Monaco races.
  13. Can Schumacher Beat Nico?

    Schumi should out-do Nico from time to time, but I doubt over the course of the season. Sad to think what China could have brought if not for the Merc pit crew.