Red Bull Racing

Opinion – Why contemporary F1 is boring, statistically

The Hungarian Grand Prix is often regarded as being a processional affair, with limited overtaking opportunities. This weekend’s event is therefore unlikely to liven up a Formula 1 era that is the most one-sided in a generation. ESM’s editor has donned his anorak and crunched the numbers from 1998 to present.2016 Mercedes AMG F1 HamiltonCast your mind back to the year 2000 and you might recall the Millennium Dome, fears of the ‘Millennium Bug’ or even just the Willenium. Yeah, the latter really did happen. If you’re a Formula 1 fan you might remember it as the year Ferrari and Michael Schumacher started out on a five-year long display of hegemony over the World Championship.

But, after watching Lewis Hamilton take another victory at the British Grand Prix, it got us wondering as to whether the current Mercedes AMG streak out ranks even the 2000-2004 Ferrari era for dominance. Surprisingly it does, and by a fairly significant margin!

Let’s break it down to the most basic numbers in terms of wins during those title-claiming periods. For Ferrari this is from the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, to the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix. That covers some 85 races in total, of which Ferrari won 57 of them. In percentage terms that’s 67%, so just over two-thirds were won by the Scuderia in that seemingly endless period of Ferrari success.Ferrari F1 Dominance StatsSince the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, which saw the introduction of the new engine regulations, there has been 48 races. That’s counting the 2016 British Grand Prix – won by Lewis Hamilton, of course. In that period Mercedes AMG have taken 41 victories! Yes, seriously, in two and a half years, only seven races have been won by non-Mercedes drivers. That gives Mercedes AMG a win percentage of a staggering 85%!

Even more considerable is that they’ve claimed 94% of pole positions (45/48) in that time frame. For comparison, Ferrari only managed 59% of poles during their era of dominance. Taking over two-thirds of all fastest laps since the beginning of 2014, must also make Mercedes feel pretty smug about just how far ahead of the game they are.Mercedes AMG F1 DominanceEven in comparison to Red Bull, who many claimed to have made F1 dull during the period of Vettel domination, Mercedes-AMG still stands far ahead. With four back-to-back titles, Red Bull took wins in just over half (53%) of the 77 races entered. Pole positions percentages are also lower (66%) compared to Mercedes, with fastest laps at less than half  (45%) in total. Those who bemoaned the seemingly constant chain of Red Bull wins might be a little surprised, although Vettel’s nine-race winning streak at the end of 2013 is perhaps what people remember.
Red Bull Racing F1 Dominance Stats

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Sebastian Vettel – 2013 Formula 1 World Champion

Victory in Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix meant Sebastian Vettel secured his fourth straight Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship. Love him, or hate him, there is no denying that Vettel has stamped his place in F1 history as one of the greats.

Sebastian Vettel F1 2013 WDC 001

It has been well documented that statistics and records matter a great deal to Vettel who, at only 26, now sits alongside Alain Prost in terms of total F1 titles won. Only Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher have taken more championships, but given his youth it would be a brave person who bets against Vettel surpassing Schumi’s seven wins.

Vettel described himself as ‘speechless’ after winning at the Buddh International Circuit, almost 30 seconds ahead of second-placed Nico Rosberg. Having to pit on only the second lap to replace his rapidly degrading ‘soft’ Pirelli tyres. Rejoining in 17th, Vettel gave another demonstration to those who claim the young German is not a ‘real racer’ by slicing his way through the pack, to sit in 3rd place by lap 13. Such dominance secured him a vital advantage over Mark Webber, running a different strategy to Sebastian. In the end, it didn’t matter, as another Renault alternator failure put paid to Webber’s race.

Sebastian Vettel F1 2013 WDC 002

Taking the title in such a way will matter to Vettel, as much as not claiming the fastest lap – Kimi Räikkönen sneaked it on the last lap with fresh tyres – will irritate him. It’s less likely that the €25,000 fine and reprimand for his dramatic doughnut celebration will bother him though. It was a rare glint of showmanship from Vettel and, in many ways, a fitting tribute to a circuit and its fans which has given him great success in the past three seasons. The rest of the F1 paddock may breathe slightly easier knowing there will be no Indian Grand Prix in 2014, removing at least one guaranteed win for Red Bull. (more…)

Top Gear Review – Series 20, Episode 6

Although it seems like it has only just begun, series 20 of Top Gear concluded with the 6th episode on Sunday night. Like all five reviews previous, contains spoilers below.

Top Gear Series 20, Episode 6 – UK Air Date 4th August 2013 

After just six short weeks, Top Gear pulled out something quite dramatic for the final show of the series. Range Rover Sport 001

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Renaultsport Mégane RB8 Limited Edition on sale now

With the raft of new hot hatches currently dominating motoring headlines (Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTI, Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG) it’s perhaps easy to forget that the Mégane Renaultsport is still out there after three years of being on sale.

Perhaps to remind us, or more probably to plug Renaultsport’s F1 engine supply successes, Renault are offering just 30 of the Mégane Renaultsport RB8s for the UK market. Based on the 265 Cup version of the Mégane, the RB8 sports a variety of Red Bull branding to distinguish if from regular RS, including Red Bull decals on the sides and boot, along with numbered aluminium kick plates, unique carpets and the Red Bull Racing branding on the Recaro bucket seat’s headrests. (more…)

F1 2013 – Senna’s Mid-season Review

After nine rounds of the 2013 Formula 1 World Championship, EngageSportMode’s canine correspondent reviews how things stand so far.

Formula 1 2013 – State of Play So Far

SenniSausage

Tyres. Seriously, if I hear any more jokes about Pirelli and their lack of durability I’m going to go leave a “present” on somebody’s front lawn. It’s true to say black round things have dominated the 2013 so far, either by degrading too quickly or just downright exploding into little bits. I’ve got chew toys made of better quality rubber than these tyres; perhaps that’s a new job opening for me next year.

But anyway, here’s a run down of how the teams and drivers are performing. Who’s a good boy, and who gets sent to the doghouse?

Red Bull Racing

RedBull

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2013 Australian Grand Prix – The Review (featuring Senna)

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.

Red Bull
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!

Ferrari
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.

McLaren
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.

Lotus
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…)

2012 EngageSportMode Awards (Part Two)

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?

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia.com)

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia.com)

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.

But then, there is Taki Inoue (@takiinoue).  If you need any explanation as to why his tweets have been the best in 2012, try taking a look at this ESM post for a start.

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.

Brazilian Grand Prix: The Aftermath

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:

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7 Reasons to Back Vettel Today

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. (more…)

Japanese Grand Prix Weekend Round Up #1

#1 That Whole Hamilton Twitter Drama

Twitter has a lot to answer for. Along with making people fixate on constantly checking their phones during major television events, it also opens up the doors of self-humiliation on a truly epic scale.

For a prime example of this, see Lewis Hamilton’s outburst from last night:

When I first saw this retweeted, I actually though it was some kind of joke. But then he followed it up with this:

Which quite quickly confirmed he was serious. Let’s just recap things a little bit here. This a multi-millionaire sports personality, who races in the top-level of international motorsport, and is considered (by some at least) to be an iconic role model. Yet he’s tweeting rubbish about his, still current, teammate like he was back in primary school. Lewis is only three months or so younger than me, but with actions like last night’s he sounds about 13 years my junior. The internet has probably softened my palate towards shocking or distasteful content. But these two tweets made me genuinely cringe and feel awkward for having read them. Although, perhaps, not as awkward as Hamilton felt when he had to point this out:

Ouch. That Button has never followed him asks more questions that it answers. But that is very much beside the point; the fact is Hamilton made ridiculous, childish accusations which turned out to be completely untrue in the first place. You have to wonder what his management team, Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, tell him with regards to social media. He has already tweeted Mclaren telemetry data from the Belgian GP whilst whingeing that Button had a better setup than he did. (more…)