Monday, January 9, 2012

Return of Ice Baby | Kimi Raikkonen

The most (only) speculative news in Formula One last year was the comeback of World Champion Kimi Raikkonen in 2012.After a two year break, he is back with experiences in rallying and Nascar ,most of all-he is motivated (That's dangerous). Let us explore the opportunities that lays ahead.

But first, a glance at the opportunities he had before,
His gifted driving skill was showcased to the world when he finished first in the Formula Renault championships. It earned him his formula one seat in 2001 and after a one year stint with Sauber he moved to McLaren-Mercedes.

Not one, or two or three but five unfortunate years at McLaren frustrated him. His amazing drives and performance were shunted by the car’s reliability. Retirements and accidents ruined all his chances.

His next move brought the change he wanted. He won the 2007 World Championship with the Maranello based outfit.But that was also the end of his fortunes. Ferrari fell to the strengths of McLaren and Brawn GP.
His F1 career is similar to a wave comprising of alternate Good and Bad seasons. Unsatisfied with his payments and agreements, he quit F1 to start Rallying.

He can win championships, but only in a reliable and fast car. But none of the two words ‘reliable’ and ‘fast’ describes Lotus at the moment.

The Renault powered Lotus has been facing challenges. New team managements, bad strategies and In- experienced drivers have pulled the team down the order. It is facing increased competitions from teams like Force India.

What Lotus needs is a driver who can use his experience to give feedbacks of the Cars performance and build a foundation, the team requires.

But F1 is different from where Kimi left. New rules, different tires, improved technology and most of all, significant presence of World Champions in the grid ready to challenge Lotus and Kimi.

Currently, Kimi is Lotus’s only hope. If their bond fails, they will be devastated. His progress in F1 will be slow, slower than what Schumi is facing.

It will take a year or two before Lotus builds the foundation and start fighting for their podium finishes. Kimi might not even be patient for that!! He has to build his patience and confidence as he will be fighting against Di Riesta or Hulkenberg this season.

Only a steady, planned and combined effort by Lotus and its Drivers will build the team. If anyone gives up in between, it may be the end of Lotus in Formula One.

But his comeback has brought cheers to all his fans. After a disappointing boring season last year, his return will also prove beneficial for F1, bringing back the spirit what the sport had lost last year.

Is it a start of his journey to victory or is it just another disappointing comeback? Lets wait and watch!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why India needs Formula One:

On 28th October 2011, India is set to host its first Formula One Grand Prix in Greater Noida, Delhi. As people in international forums and communities are busy discussing about the need of India in F1, there have been very few talks on the importance of Formula one to India. To make my views crystal clear, I have chalked the key points, which I believe will impact the country and its citizens, deeper than imagined.

1.The cutting edge technology of Formula One will interest students to enter the world of racing. This will and has already lead to start of new courses in the field of Racing by various universities.

2.Driver Training Academies, which have also opened up will ensure that India will not only produce technicians and engineers, but also motorsport drivers in the future.

3.The appeal of the wide spectrum of existing motorsport events in the country will improve and will provide the necessary experience to enter epitome of Racing, F1. A new series known as i1 Super Series has already been established along similar lines of IPL in cricket, where celebrities bid for racing teams and drivers. The event spread over different countries and approved by FIA is sure to grab eyeballs. Hence the beginning of F1 era in India has ushered the inception of racing championships in the country.

4.The Automotive Industry has realised the potential of Formula One and various firms are trying to bond and associate themselves with Formula One. Few examples include supply of support vehicles to Buddh International Circuit by Mahindra and backing of HRT Team by Hero Corp.

5.When F1 comes to India, it doesn’t just bring the teams, it also brings all the sponsors associated with them.

6.When the delegates meet up during the event in Delhi, it will open doors to sign new deals and collaborations. Hence new investments will take place and technology transfer will happen. Maybe within a few years, we might see our country manufacturing indigenous sports cars and competing with the foreign counterparts.

7.Being the World’s most watched sport with an audience of around 500 million people, Formula One provides the perfect platform to promote your brand. Hereinafter we can notice a huge rush among several Indian companies to advertise their brands in the shiny carbon fibre bodies of F1 cars.

8.The race will serve as a good reason for many foreign tourists to visit our country. They can visit and adore the rich culture of the country and enjoy the thrill of the race as well.

9.Even though a F1 grand prix lasts only for 3-4 days, it is a massive event. The preparation involved is colossal. Conducting it successfully will not only boost the image of the country to the world, but will also persuade other international bodies to conduct their events in India. In the future year’s, India may play host to lot of international events.

10.F1 is best known for its speed, performance and team work. The cars complete their pit stops even before we can finish a sip of our coffee. The Indian masses will be dumbstruck by observing the cars and the sport. The sound, speed and thrill involved will hypnotize the audience.

11.It has already gathered a lot of momentum and in a few years, Indians might be the largest follower and contributor of F1 .

In our goal towards being a developed country, hosting the F1 race is highly significant and lets hope the race is a grand success.

Best of Luck to the organizers of Indian Grand Prix.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Flipping back, when drivers like Vettel and Mark Webber raced wheel to wheel or the all time famous battles between Alonso and Schumi or Senna vs. Prost happened; the entire crowd watching it are on their feet. The TV audiences clap and cheer harder. It pushes people out of their seats or sofa and makes them wave their hands. That is the spirit of Racing. That is Formula One. What is happening now is something different. I don’t care to react or smile when overtaking manoeuvres happen between famous drivers. The Fun is OVER.

Earlier, over takings were rare and tough and those whose managed to pull it received great applause and honours. People remember the races by the famous over takings that happened, not by the year or date. Nowadays, the race is filled with boring overtaking which the drivers would themselves not remember after the races end.

There are primarily Three reasons [apart from domination of Red Bull] which has Degraded and Spoiled the fun and excitement in F1:
1. DRS
2. Pirelli tires
3. Re-fuelling

The DRS:
Controlled by a button in the steering wheel or a pedal, a mechanical or hydraulic motor lifts a flap of the rear wing up which enables the car to go faster by almost 20kmph reducing the down force in long straights.
It is not the system that is under question. It is the rules surrounding it, which is under consideration. Since only the following driver can use it, he easily gains speed and in 1-2 laps he overtakes the leading driver. Even though the leading driver who is now behind can use it in his favour, the over takings which happen here are only due to DRS.[involves min. Driver skill ]
If u have seen the races, the car in back closes in slowly and overtakes with a press of a button and moves ahead within a blink of an eye. Where is the racing in this?? The rules have to be modified to ensure higher quality of overtaking manoeuvres.
One suitable solution is to allow the following or the second driver to use the DRS when he is within 1 sec ond and 2 second of the leading driver or 0.5 sec to 1.5 sec instead of the current “within 1 sec “.
This rule will not only reduce the gap between cars but also engages them in a wheel-wheel battle to overtake each other.
Few months back, FIA asked the opinions and views of the audience and the viewers expressed the changes they wished to see .The results were as expected .Viewers wanted to see more overtaking.

So the rules were tweaked to increase chances of overtaking. But they failed to recognize that there is difference between just overtaking and racing. Seeing cars that just pass each other isn’t special. I can see that in the movies or video games. What the audience wishes to see is The Bravery, Confidence and Guts of the driver to overtake. They want to see the rivals fighting a war in the fortress rather than silly fights between kids.

The Pirelli tires:
They dominate the race more than the cars do. Their performance changes every race and for every weather conditions. They degrade in the best condition and perform better in the most unpredictable situations. Even the top constructors are clueless to select the right tire compound during the race. Some say Bernie wanted this and ordered Pirelli to make tires that wear out fast. Whatever!!

It is impossible for the teams to make strategies. It is just luck that plays the decisive role here. The tires create a mess and leaves audience surprised.

Compared to the previous years, even though overtaking has increased four fold, the number of accidents and safety cars has reduced by the same. Most of the races have seen more than 22 finishers. Why don’t we see accidents and safety cars??

When do accidents happen??Only when the driver feels that the only way to get ahead is to overtake, he pushes himself and attempts overtaking and might make a mistake. But now, he knows there are more options than just overtaking. The race isn’t over until it’s over. The tire changes might push few to the top or plummet some down, so the drivers are becoming more patient and drives more carefully, particularly at the start. This restricts their driving skills to come to play. So the new tire not only spoils the fun, but also hides the driver’s capability.

I love those days when pit crews gush gallons of fuel in the cars within 4 seconds. It gives a new perspective and role to pit stops. Currently since only tire changes take place, the difference in timings between teams is hardly a second but when fuelling happens it makes the difference.

Refuelling has to be brought back and this is the best time because there are around 3-4 pit stops in each race and refuelling can happen one or two times and moreover different teams will refuel at different times and tires will perform differently to different fuel loads. That creates the difference and brings the importance of strategy. The Teams would have to decide during which stops we refuel.

The new Engine rules are just making matters worse. More importance is being given to aerodynamics than mechanics. Probably the teams hire more aerospace engineers than the Boeing/Airbus.

What happened to the V10s or V12 engines that roared in the tracks? What happened to famous overtaking and team strategies??What happened to Formula One?

Decisions have to be made, rules have to be changed, and excitement has to be brought in.