The first race of the Formula 1 season is always a strange one, not least because for European viewers it happens ridiculously early on a Sunday morning. F1′s opening night tends to showcase who has potential for the year ahead and, more importantly, who has more work to do back at the factory. 2013′s edition was no exception, although the unexpected weather and split qualifying sessions meant Australia was possibly not the truest representation of where things currently lie.
The EngageSportMode team made a concerted effort to stay up and watch the rescheduled late-night qualifying session and the race itself live. Getting up at 6am is tough on the best of days, but a Sunday just seems to make it several times harder. Senna, ESM’s F1 canine correspondent, was dragged from her bed and made to watch also. Afterwards she spent the day chewing sticks, sleeping, and rolling in badger crap. But in between all that we managed to get her opinion on who performed best and worst Down Under.
Qualifying: Vettel – 1st, Webber – 2nd
Race: Vettel – 3rd, Webber – 6th
A front-row lock out should have yielded better results than this. Another awful start by Webber ruined his chances in the race. Vettel tried hard, but the car seemed to be struggling with tyres in the colder than expected condition. Sebastian still looks to be the man to beat, and you can guarantee he’ll be fired up for Malaysia.
Senna’s view: I could get an F1 car off the line better than Webber, and I don’t even have hands to hold the clutch paddle!
Qualifying: Alonso – 5th, Massa – 4th
Race: Alonso – 2nd, Massa – 4th
After the surprise of Felipe Massa outqualifying Fernando Alonso, the sardonic Spaniard looked deeply unimpressed at the end of Q3. Predictably it was Alonso who outshone Massa in the race, but the Brazilian’s form looks impressive even if he did fade later on. Fernando leapfrogged Vettel during the second round of pit stops and was able to build an effective barrier between himself and the Red Bull, securing second place.
Senna’s view: Still don’t like Alonso, or his eyebrows, but that Ferrari looks to be a contender already.
Qualifying: Button – 10th, Perez – 15th
Race: Button – 9th, Perez – 11th
Oh dear. Despite having the strongest car at the end of the 2012 season, McLaren seems to have entered 2013 by completely forgetting everything they learnt in the closing stages of last year. Both drivers consistently struggled for pace in both qualifying and the race. The team made a colossal error to send Button and Perez out on slicks in Q2, and then furthered it by keeping the Mexican on them, thus destroying his qualifying. In the actual race things failed to improve, with Button scraping into the points and both cars not hugely far off being lapped.
Senna’s view: Somebody needs to be fired, probably Martin Whitmarsh.
Qualifying: Raikkonen – 7th, Grosjean – 8th
Race: Raikkonen – 1st, Grosjean – 10th
I don’t think anyone really saw this result coming. An average qualifying session transpired into an epic victory for the Iceman, thanks to some superb strategy from the Enstone team. Only needing to stop twice, compared to other’s three stop strategies gave Kimi a compounding advantage, and the first win of 2013. Grosjean had a quiet race which, let’s be honest, is a good thing by his standards.
Senna’s view: Kimi is the only driver I’ve ever seen drink the champagne before spraying it! (more…)
After part one of the 2012 EngageSportMode awards, here is the imaginatively titled “part two” with a distinctly motorsport flavour:
Man of the Year
I realise there will be some screaming “fix” when I reveal that Sebastian Vettel is EngageSportMode’s Man of the Year for 2012. But putting aside my Red Bull bias for a few minutes, who else could I realistically have picked from the automotive/motorsport world?
Red Bull did not have the quickest car this season. As a result Vettel had to fight for this year’s title much harder than in 2011, when it became a veritable stroll to the finish line. By comparison, 2012 asked Vettel to use every ounce of his race-craft, and put in efforts like those in Abu Dhabi and Brazil that needed him to fight through the pack.
Almost as important as the title itself was the fact Sebastian was able to silence those who said he wasn’t a “real racer” and only won by virtue of having the fastest car. 2012 proved those who doubted him wrong.
Away from the circuit, Vettel also impressed ESM with his highly amusing performance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, ripping up Lord March’s front lawn in the eponymous Vettel Edition Infiniti FX. Whereas drivers like Hamilton were getting engaged in Twitter “drama”, the young German had his fun by left his talking to the track.
A worthy triple-champion, and a very worth ESM Man of the Year.
Twitterer of the Year
If you’re reading this and not following ESM on Twitter, then shame on you! Add @EngageSportMode straight away, then come back and read the rest of this.
There were a number of contenders that I could have picked from to take this award. Many of them are other bloggers, such as Mr Keith Jones (@keithwrjones), Rich Gooding (@polodrivercom), or Amber Maren Johnson (@AmberMaren). All of them purveying excellent automotive writing to the internet.
Whilst he’ll admit himself to not being a particularly great F1 driver, as a twitter pundit he is in a league of his own. With insight, knowledge, and a devil-may-care attitude to what he says (just ask Kamui Kobayashi about the greasy stick), Taki brings some great entertainment to the often serious world of Formula 1.
Senna’s Favourite Grand Prix of 2012
If you read ESM’s canine F1 correspondent’s review of the Hungarian Grand Prix, you should know that the Eastern European round has a “cat in our back garden’s” chance of winning this award. Quite frankly, there was no competition. It had to be Brazil that the whippet picked as the greatest Grand Prix of this season, if not many more seasons past.
Not only was there the hype of a championship-decider at the final round, the weather and the lacklustre qualifying, but Vettel’s incident on the first lap changed the entire dynamic of the race. I cannot remember a Grand Prix producing so many emotional highs and lows as Brazil did for the ESM team members that watched it together.
That opening lap, with Vettel’s damaged RB8 rolling backwards, was a true heart-in-mouth moment. Right there, in that instance, it looked like the title was Alonso’s. But SV’s epic recovery drive meant the Spaniard would not be the one taking a third World Championship.
Aside from the drama of the title decider, action and more action unfolded on every lap of the race. With the Hamilton/Hülkenberg battle at the front, cars sliding and spinning everywhere and the contest for 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship going to the wire, it was a truly epic race.
Looking back, 2012 was an excellent year to be involved in watching and writing about motorsport. ESM strongly hopes 2013 will prove to be just as exciting, and the team will be looking to bring you news and opinion throughout.
Yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was possibly the most intense and terrifying motor race I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Never before have I felt the need to actually start drinking beer during a race; such was the sheer drama that occurred at Interlagos.
As I had set out before the race, EngageSportMode was firmly rooting for Sebastian Vettel to take his third World Driver’s Championship, and surpass Ayrton Senna by becoming the youngest winner to do so. Therefore watching the first lap chaos, with Vettel’s RB8 pointing the wrong way with damage, left ESM speechless. The title looked like it had already gone to Alonso before 1/71st of the race was done.
Vettel has come in for criticism from current and past F1 drivers for not being a “true racer” and not being able to overtake or battle for position. Yesterday, as with Abu Dhabi, proved he is more than capable of fighting his way through traffic, to challenge and pass other drivers. With the damage he suffered in turn 4, Sebastian did not have the best car on track at Interlagos. But the rain is a great equaliser, as it was in Monza back in 2008 when he scored his first win, and he was able to use his skills to come back through the field. That is the mark of a true champion and a driver deserved of legendary status, regardless as to what Jackie Stewart might think. Ironically, Vettel has now matched Stewart’s three World Championship titles; somehow I can see him adding more to that, unlike a certain tartan-hatted Scot.
However, more important things were proved by Vettel’s triumph. Namely, you should not listen to this, or the punditry of this:
Instead, you should heed the learned wisdom of this…
…when it comes to who you should put your money on. So there you have it; don’t listen to the foolish words of the 1997 Formula 1 World Champion, but instead listen to a whippet wearing a baseball cap. She is, after all, named after the greatest F1 driver ever.
This year’s F1 season has been the most difficult to predict for a long, long time. Be it the seven different winners of the first seven races, Romain Grosjean’s first corner madness, to the crazy tweets of Taki Inoue and Lewis Hamilton; 2012 has not been short of action. Pirelli tyres, DRS and KERS have produced actual overtaking action, though how real it is open to interpretation. This season never failed to be entertaining, something I’m sure Mr Ecclestone’s bank balance will welcome.
EngageSportMode will bring you a few more post-season features before the year is out, including a final review of Sky Sports F1 and probably an article ascribing factitious trophies to certain people (probably Taki Inoue).
In less than an hour, the lights will go out on the final race of the 2012 Formula One World Championship. After an epic season, two drivers still remain in contention for the Driver’s title; Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Both are vying to become triple World Champions, but only one will emerge from Interlagos today as the victor.
EngageSportMode makes no attempt to deny that its allegiances are firmly in the Red Bull camp. But in case you haven’t quite made up your mind whether to back blue or red this afternoon, here are a few reasons to sway you to ESM’s way of thinking.
1. Vettel wants the Championship more
This is purely opinion; obviously I cannot really measure the motivation of each driver. But from the interviews, body language and on-track attitude I would hedge that Vettel is more bothered about taking the title today. He cares about records, achievements and statistics. It will have galled him to not win his 100th Grand Prix in Austin last weekend. In addition, I would imagine that winning three titles in a row would mean more to Sebastian than them spread out over a number of years.
2. That performance at Abu Dhabi
Pundits and drivers alike have criticised Vettel for not being a true racer and only being able to perform from the front of the grid. The 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix blew that argument out of the water, and proved he could overtake and battle through the field. No, it wasn’t perfect; contact with Bruno Senna and the bizarre Ricciardo/polystyrene sign incident certainly slowed his progress. But he still drove from starting in the pit lane, to finish on the podium in third place.
3. The Red Bull has not been the best car
Unlike 2011, the Red Bull RB8 has not been an all-conquering behemoth this year. The loss of the double-diffuser setup hurt Red Bull, and it has taken all of Adrian Newey’s skills to get the RB8 back to the front of the pack. It still isn’t perfect; look at the straight line speed differentials between the car from Milton Keynes and Hamilton’s Mclaren last weekend.
On top of the difficulties with performance, Vettel has twice suffered at the cruel hands of unreliability this year. Whilst leading in Valencia, an alternator failure dumped him out of the race, and washed an almost guaranteed 25 points into the sea. A second alternator problem compounded a difficult weekend at Monza for Vettel by forcing him to retire and again taking away valuable points. If you’re a conspiracy theorist, the alternators used in the Red Bull’s Renault engine are supplied by Magnetti Marelli. An Italian company which also happens to be a subsidiary of Fiat…
4. Mark Webber is not Felipe Massa
Massa is very much the number two driver at Ferrari, and knows it. Like the “Fernando is faster than you” message of a few years ago, this season has also seen the Brazilian driver take the bullet to assist Alonso. The cutting of the gearbox seals in Austin last weekend to give Massa a grid penalty and move Alonso to the cleaner side of the grid was a pure Ferrari move. There is no way Mark Webber would ever agree to something like that to help Vettel; the German is very much on his own out on track.
5. Jacques Villeneuve is backing Alonso
In a recent article, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve revealed he is supporting Alonso to win this years title, as whilst Vettel is quick he believes he “reacts like a child” when under pressure. If you need any assistance as to why you should ignore the views of the French-Canadian, try listening to this.
6. Vettel doesn’t look like a puppet from the Dolmio advert.
It’s true, he doesn’t.
7. Senna is backing Vettel.
No, not Bruno Senna but EngageSportMode’s own F1 Pundit whippet. In her opinion, Sebastian is the one to win today, so much so that she’s even taken to wearing a Red Bull Racing cap:
So there you have it, seven very convincing reasons to back a certain German this afternoon. Enjoy.
Now that my hearing has started to recover, the sunburn has begun to fade and the numerous pictures and videos have been uploaded, I can now begin to make sense of the previous four days.
For the uninitiated, the Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS) is an annual event which first began back in 1993. The idea is simple; legendary and iconic cars and bikes from the world of motorsport are invited to be hammered up the Earl of March’s drive, at his house in West Sussex, by the greatest riders and drivers from history. In addition, between runs up the hill the cars/bikes are displayed in simple awning-style paddocks with spectators able to get right up alongside them. The additional Moving Motor Show event has in recent years fundamentally replaced the traditional British motor show, with stands from leading manufacturers and new cars being unveiled. Have a look at this if you still happen to be in any doubt as to what the long weekend entails.
The event felt bigger than ever this year, with a sprawling exhibitor’s area, numerous special paddocks, off-road displays and the more recent rally-stage taking up huge acres of the Goodwood estate. Trying to fit all this into even four days is a challenge, given the vast array of distractions both on and off the track. As a result, and for this week’s first FoS themed post, I’ve picked out my top five moments from the weekend.
ESM’s FoS Top Five
5. Ayrton Senna’s Lotus 98T
Every year Goodwood chooses to celebrate a certain manufacturer, with a giant and extravagant display outside the main house and a range of vehicles intended to showcase the marque’s successes. For 2012 the FoS picked Lotus as the company to be revered. As many will know, the brand has taken a battering lately with the optimistic strategy of Dany Bahar, and his subsequent removal. However, the FoS allowed fans to remember the Norfolk firm’s finer moments, including it’s Formula 1 back catalogue. Of particular interest was this one:
Driven by Ayrton Senna and Johnny Dumfries during the 1986 Formula 1 season, the 98T took Team Lotus to 3rd in the constructor’s championship and gave Senna 2 wins and 6 additional podiums. The Renault EF15bis engine gave up to 1,300 turbocharged-bhp, produced from only a 1.5 litre V6. Anything with the name “Senna” on the side always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, so to be only a couple of feet away from an iconic car was a special moment.
4. The Mazda MX-5 GT Concept
What, amongst all the exotica on display a Mazda MX-5 makes it this high up the ranking? Yes, because this is no ordinary MX-5; the standard (normally aspirated) 2.0 litre engine has been taken to 205 bhp, carbon fibre bits added, weight reduced and suspension tightened. Amongst the countless supercars, the little MX-5 managed to sound ridiculously raucous.
This was probably in part due to the enthusiastic driving style of those responsible for flinging it up the hill. 19-year-old kart/sports car racer Jade Paveley was the most fired-up of all, and she really made the GT fly. The fact it is bright orange also swung ESM towards liking the dinky convertible, and seriously made one want to be on its drive. Mazda certainly needs to build it.
3. Nissan GT-R GT1
Given that the regular Nissan GT-R sounded relatively tame whilst speeding past, ESM assumed the race car would not be that much louder. Wrong, oh so very wrong indeed. This thing made the earth shake like an original Dodge Viper GTS-R. Piloted by last year’s FIA GT1 world champion Michael Krumm, the GT-R set some of the quickest times across the weekend. Too quick, in fact, for ESM to manage any video of the damn thing! You’ll just have to imagine instead.
2. Renault Alpine A110-50
Built by Renault to celebrate 50 years since the launch of the original Alpine A110, this concept car is based on a Megane Trophy racer tubular chassis, using a mid-mounted 3.5 litre V6 to offer up 400 bhp. Whereas the GTR above sounded scary, the A110-50 just sounded as enchanting as it looked. Another fan favourite, and ripe for at least some sort of production offering surely?
1. Sebastian Vettel
Along with celebrating a specific manufacturer, the FoS also has a theme to the selection of cars on offer. For the 2012 event, the subject was “Young Guns, Born to Win” and to be honest, it’s a title that could have been handwritten for Vettel. The German, who turns 25 this week, already has two F1 world championships and a host of other achievements under his belt. I remember watching him take his first win, and become the youngest driver to do so, in the wet at Monza with Toro Rosso. It was obvious then what a star he was going to be.
Making his first appearance at the FoS, Vettel enjoyed himself as much as he possibly could. Whether it was ripping up the lawn outside the house in his Infiniti FX (Vettel edition), or doing possibly the longest ever display of show-boating in his 2011 F1 car, Seb seemingly had a wail of a time. You get the impression that, whilst many drivers would be there under the forced hand of corporate media pressure, Vettel was there simply for the fun of it. I apologise for the poor video quality, but I think you can get the idea:
The rest of the Red Bull team present made sure they got involved in the fun also:
If those were the highlights, then what were the lowlights?
Well, the Lamborghini Aventador managed to sound muter than a mute swan. The Infiniti emerg-e electric concept failed twice causing the track to be red-flagged. And a Gumpert Apollo had a nasty incident at Molecombe corner cutting short Saturday’s running. But as I’m sure you can gather, these were only small issues compared to the enjoyment shown above.
Check back later in the week for more photos and videos, followed by an editorial post on what Goodwood actually offers to the average petrolhead.