Chequered Flag Girl

Welcome to my F1 blog. This blog began as a journalism assignment, but i have now decided to continue it in the hope it'll help me in the future. Bethany For bikes see http://behindthevisor.tumblr.com/

Why ‘The Inside Track’ is worth a read

I have to admit that when the BBC announced that Jake Humphrey was about to take over the lead anchor role of F1’s comeback to the network I was confused and of course as ignorant as most others, ‘but he’s just a children’s presenter’.

My mum likes to frequently remind me of this.

How wrong could we have been? Unbeknownst to most Humphrey was a petrol head from a young age loving most minute details of F1. How do I know this now? Well I’ve read his book ‘The Inside Track’.

The book itself is the right balance between detail and humour, any less humour and F1 books can often become like wading through mud. I’m all for the history of the sport but there’s nothing worse than a book that sounds as if the author’s going through the motions. Anecdotes like Eddie Jordan’s gigs around the world and the reaction of Jenson Button when ‘victim’ to Humphrey’s driving skills make it worth a read.

However, there is one IF, if you don’t like Lewis Hamilton it might not be for you. It is clear from the book that Hamilton swiftly became one of Humphrey’s favourite people to do segments with.

Since 2009 I’ve always thought that Humphrey was great friends with Jenson Button (others say Lewis), that doesn’t mean he wasn’t friendly with Lewis but JB and Jake seem to have a more comical relationship. This has been argued countless times by one of my Twitter friends, obviously now I can understand his point.

Needless to say if you are a fan of Hamilton the anecdotes and stories involved are guaranteed to make you smile.

This book allows fans to have a true insight into the stresses of spending whole weekends with Eddie Jordan, what can happen when championships are won and lost in a heartbeat and also why Britain really is the home of Motorsport (it involves a sheep).

For a man that was meant to be ‘just a children’s TV presenter’ he did a great job alongside Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, who else would’ve managed to maintain their sanity next to Eddie’s shirts?

It’s a shame Jake has left the BBC for next season, but with a baby on the way in the New Year completely understandable, besides I think the BBC has picked someone more than suited to the job.

F1’s first ban since 1994.

Formula One was hit with fresh controversy today as for the first time since 1994 a driver faces a one race ban for ‘dangerous driving’. Most fans agree that whilst the ban is harsh in some ways it is fair in that it will hopefully teach the driver to alter his previous style towards F1.

The driver in question is of course Romain Grosjean the reigning GP2 champion. Having collected Lewis Hamilton, himself, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi (who escaped) before the first corner the FIA saw fit to slap a ban on the French driver.

Whilst I agree with the punishment for the accident in which the drivers were lucky to walk away unhurt, especially current championship leader Fernando Alonso, the fact that the FIA release states ‘it eliminated leading championship drivers from the race’ makes it seem that the ban was only given because Grosjean wiped out the big names. If he had taken Heikki Kovalainen or Timo Glock out of the race would he be facing a lesser punishment?

Another confusing factor is the fact the Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado acquired another two penalties in this race taking his tally of the season to 12 penalties over nine races. Comparing this with Grosjean being involved in seven incidents off the line it is clear to see that if one deserves a ban then surely so does the other.

Both drivers come from, and are champions of, the lower formula of GP2 and had you been watching this weekend you would understand that those drivers appear to have no fear when it comes to squeezing each other and taking advantage of track limits. Ultimately that sort of driving has no place in Formula One, if you’re going to squeeze people off the track you are going to be punished. It can be said, and I’ve seen many saying on Twitter that all formula’s should have a standardised system of penalties, thus if you do something in GP3, GP2 or F1 the penalty is consistent.

The incident has left me asking whether drivers are now starting to take their safety for granted, as the pundits discussed on the BBC, had you had the move in the 1950’s it would have almost definitely lead to a fatality. Drivers push the absolute limits of the cars and themselves I just hope that they don’t think that in their cars they are completely safe. Safety is great in F1 providing the drivers don’t put themselves in unnecessary and unusual situations.

Romain Grosjean is not a malicious driver but with a little bit more awareness of who is around him he could be brilliant, he has of course had three podiums this season already proving that he is talented beyond his now five DNF’s.

I look forward to seeing you back at Singapore Grosjean!

An Interview with F1Follow

If you’re an F1 fan and on Twitter then there is a good chance you have been part of or at least seen the trend ‘F1Follow’. The trend/event is the brain child of super fan Peter Kerr with help from his friend Andrea Eyre. Since then the pair have gone on to create ‘BTCCFOLLOW’ also with great success.

 

When asked where the idea originated Peter said “The idea came from another tweet I seen for businesses to follow each other and thought I can turn that into a great tool for F1 fans”. The plan is for F1 fans to use the hashtag to promote other fans or even teams they enjoy speaking to, this is great if you are struggling to find new people to speak to or don’t know who is the best driver tweeter.

 

Peter goes on to say that the aim is for a monthly event so that the initiative does not ‘crash and burn’.

 

It is thought that he will hold the next ‘F1Follow’ in August but that is yet to be confirmed, yet it will certainly be welcomed during the F1 break.

 

F1 teams/celebrity/pundit supporters include Sky commentator David ‘Crofty’ Croft, SkyF1’s Natalie Pinkham, Team Lotus F1, Sky Sports F1, and BBC presenter Jake Humphrey. Radio show supporters include @f1_fans_updates, FatStig and Flash and the renowned Radio Silverstone.

 

The success of ‘F1Follow’ can be openly seen by looking at the worldwide/British trend list (before they were tailored) during one of the participation evenings. Peter says “It has trended worldwide to 2nd, which to me is awesome as loads of F1 fans are joining in and making one massive community which was my whole aim to get everyone around the world joining in”. Ultimately this tool has created an even greater worldwide community for F1 fans to participate in, we may not all share the same opinions but it is a great society to be involved with.

 

As mentioned before Peter and Andrea have gone on to create ‘BTCCFOLLOW’ and this has attracted the likes of Tom Onslow-Cole and various other drivers/teams to participate in Q&A sessions.

 

Peter goes on to express that he could have only dreamed of this being possible. The BTCCFollow account gained 100 followers on the last session, and whilst some of you may see this as just a number Peter will see it as 100 more happy tweeters that get a chance to interact with those they respect and support.

 

I would like to say thank you to Peter for both the interview and everything he has done to help the motorsport Twitter community (and of course Andrea Eyre), with his help I am hoping to look into a motorcycling equivalent.

Slowly, Slowly, catching Ferrari

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, supposedly.

Mark Webber is seemingly climbing the championship ladder to look within his best shot ever of being World Champion at the end of the 2012 season. Not many have noticed the quiet Red Bull driver slowly sneaking up the order as he collects points after points capitalising on the fates of others. Last weekend he became only the second double winner of the season at Silverstone.

Webber’s best championship result has been third for two years in a row; he is currently sat second with only 17 points separating himself and Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. For me Webber is easily one of the most underrated F1 drivers in the current class, although he has the current World Champion as his teammate, he has grown in strengths to be seemingly better this season.

Whilst the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and even Romain Grosjean have had some bad luck whilst leading or in podium positions Webber’s overall consistency could be the right tact to take in winning the battle. I have said since the winter break that I believe Fernando Alonso is in his best form ever, albeit not in the best car, to win the championship. But, now with the next race marking half distance it is getting ever more likely Webber has an excellent chance.

I am sure I am not the only one in thinking that Webber’s outspoken yet kind and relaxed nature makes him one of the most popular guys in the paddock and thus many would be pleased to see him finally grasp the World Drivers’ Championship trophy.

With 187 races (185 starts) under his belt to date Webber and Alonso are my pick of the men to beat. Although with the way the season has progressed so far, do not expect it to be a walk in the park for any of the top ten drivers.

Respect: it should be given

As usual before a huge race weekend the respect of fans for drivers and riders has been called into question, and rightly so.

This weekend sees MotoGP, F1 and BSB. Three massive events in one day for Motorsport.

Yet this evening I learnt so called Hamilton ‘fans’ had started plotting a way to target Maldonado such a booing from the grandstands. It may not be a massive deal but I’m sure Hamilton would be embarrassed to hear his fans displaying such a show of sheer disrespect. I am no fan of the man but when I can drive an F1 car only then will I have a right to comment in such a manner.

Not only this but I have been told by observant fans that others on Twitter had wished for Casey Stoner to crash at Valencia 2011… The circuit staging the tribute for Marco Simoncelli. Do not wish harm on riders or drivers if the past year has proven, these sports are dangerous, some people shouldn’t need a daily reminder.

I’ve come to describe the ‘personality’ fans see on tv as a ‘persona’ we don’t know these sports stars personally and thus if they need to be harsh, blunt, outspoken or even quiet then that’s the way they’ll be. Just because you may not like their persona does not mean they should be treated badly. Only last year Casey Stoner was effectively chased off stage at the Silverstone Day of Champions, as someone present there this year I can honestly say I missed the opportunity and it was disappointing.

Please remember that these people, although they love it, are risking their lives and deserve respect.

Don’t boo them pantomime or not you’ll be the only ones looking stupid.

Anthony Hamilton: Manager or Taskmaster

I’ve always been one to admit that I really admire the Hamilton family. Lewis is the one that got me into motorsport in 2007 with the way he drove his first season of F1, since reading his book I’ve had a new admiration for Nic and have begun to follow his racing career and of course there is Anthony- the taskmaster.

Watching Lewis as he progressed through his first year of F1 with his father by his side was endearing and when you read Lewis’ book you will find that the first person he looked for when he won the championship in 2008 was his father, you can see that their relationship was as strong as the father and son bond comes. But we cannot forget that Anthony was also Lewis’ manager, the man who had mentored his son into the man he had become, that is why it came as a shock in 2010 when Lewis sacked his manager.

It is likely that the shock is more that Lewis had seemingly fired his father; people forgot that at face value you had to take Anthony as the manager. I can only assume that Antony is currently managing Nic in the Renault Clio Cup. If you’ve watched Nic’s documentary you will see further that Antony is a tough manager, a task master, he doesn’t mince his words and will set goals… albeit ones that may seem unlikely.

When the news broke on Wednesday that Scot Paul di Resta had also split from Hamilton it was sudden but not necessarily a shock. Is it maybe that Anthony is the tough man they need for a kick in the right direction to get them into F1 or their respective careers but when they get there they need someone more in the way of branding? Possibly.

I won’t be surprised to see Paul di Resta with someone from F1’s historical past managing him later in the season, if he chooses to have a manager that is. It remains to be seen whether their relationship has been effected in the same way that his previous managerial role broke down, although of course the severity won’t have quite the same media impact.

You will never know the feeling of a driver when winning a race. The helmet hides feelings that cannot be understood.
Ayrton Senna

To celebrate an occasion, to mark a sign of support, to say goodbye to a friend or to show off personality the helmet of a rider or driver is one of their only opportunities to do so.

They might not be the most interesting item of the kit to the most ‘diehard’ of fans who are only there for the racing but to someone like me I adore studying the detail, seeing whether certain riders carry certain images and whether ultimately the sponsors have got their markings all over.

For F1 fans they witness a constant, or what feels like constant, changing of Sebastian Vettel’s helmet designs. Whilst some elements stay the same for the man sponsored by Red Bull he has admitted after winning the inaugural Indian GP “I need a new one urgently because I don’t wear them again after a win.” I for one cannot wait for him to win another race just purely on the fact I’m not keen on his current helmet, one of his best this year has been the above Monaco version. This helmet goes some way to show the detail with competition winner Lucy Bloor managing to guess somewhere around the 1,577 sequins stuck to Vettel’s head.

The Monaco F1 is a great event for special helmets, the Iceman Kimi Raikkonen had a tribute to British hero James Hunt and another shiny special was from none other the championship leader Fernando Alonso. Alonso chose to have the helmet covered in emblems that were relevant to him and his career, around the circuit the gold looked truly beautiful and expressed the extravagance of the principality.

Of course if you’re a motorbike fan you will be familiar with Valentino Rossi’s penchant for telling a story via his ‘lid’. Whether it’s the Donkey from Shrek to illustrate a stupid move, his eyeball to say he’s watching his rivals or a merger to say goodbye to a dear friend Rossi’s career story can no doubt be told through his helmets.

However, the colour, the sponsors and the story are not favoured by everyone. Two riders stick in mind for me when I think of ‘white’ and that is 2011 125 rider Harry Stafford and current Moto3 rider and winner Romano Fenati. When Fenati was on stage at Silverstone he was asked why he wore a white helmet, his reply was simple: “I don’t know, but it’s beautiful no?” In a business so dominated by sponsors it is refreshing to see something clean rattling round the circuit. It may change but he seems to have no intention of bowing to the sponsors… just yet.

As mentioned the detail is incredible and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t give my favourite helmet painter a shout out, I truly admire his work and when I learn to ride I hope to own one of his creations, @richartconcepts.

Of course the helmet is not just for show and the likes of AGV, Arai, Shark, Shoei and so on have been credited with saving the brains of even us ‘ordinary’ people. Taking bumps and scratches over a race weekend it’s a great chance for the general public to see how their very own helmets are put to the test.

The Senna name

"If you think I’m fast, just wait until you see my nephew Bruno." Everyone knows the quote, but is it really fair to use it to judge poor Bruno Senna? Is he really just about to become ‘victim’ of his own name within F1?

I do not mean the Senna is a bad name to have, but when you have the reputation of the name hanging above your head, the symbol on the car, and you even choose to have a similar helmet, the pressure must be immense. Not to mention your famous uncle who is regarded as one of the best to ever race has sung your praises, only Bruno must know of the enormity of the task.

When Bruno entered F1 I was incredibly excited as I had missed out of Ayrton racing due to my age, this was the young lad who looks so much like his uncle, yet he walked into a seat at Hispania Racing. Now as most F1 fans will know, Hispania are the back markers of the grands prix and it’s not too often they finish races. Bruno was later replaced and that was the end of the Senna name in Formula One… or was it?

Senna made eight appearances for Lotus Renault replacing Nick Heidfeld in 2011 but even that was not to be a permanent drive and when it came to 2012 it looked like the young driver was to be left without a drive. Along came Williams. I never considered Ayrton’s death whilst driving for the Williams team when I heard of Bruno’s signing. I was just excited that finally he had got what appeared to be a decent drive and finally what I hope to be a proper chance to showcase the talent he has. It is incredible to see the Senna helmet in a Williams’s car but with that will come pressure and fans must remember he is not his uncle and I can only assume that Bruno does not attempt to be. It is easy to admire someone, but each person is unique especially in their strengths.

He has three top ten finishes this season but also three ‘did not finish’, he may not have had a pole like his teammate but he tends to stay out of trouble with other drivers, unless you are someone who blames him for the Schumacher incident.

I am sure Bruno has the talent to remain in F1 if he is given a chance, but the more people judge him for his name the less convinced I am that he will remain next season. Only time will tell. 

Project @PadChatF1

For the past few weeks I have been tweeting on the odd occasion for @PaddockChatter on twitter. It is the motorbike racing version of the new @PadChatF1.

This weekend for the first time I will be taking the reins of PadChatF1 and bringing you all the news from the Formula One weekend (fitting it round revision for my university work of course). After boycotting the last race weekend due to not agreeing with the race going ahead, personal preference, I am looking forward to fully indulging in a Formula One weekend and hopefully finding my passion once more.

The idea behind PaddockChatter is twinterviews, twitter interviews with personnel and rider/drivers, and basically anyone within the motor sporting industry,a Sunday poll/debate question and frequent starting of debates when anything useful comes to mind. I aim to continue this trend whilst bringing you my own personal form of commentary that is usually on my own twitter.

It is of course possible that I will go into Twitter Jail this weekend, but maybe I will try and break in the account gently…

We shall see I guess. I hope you will all join me in F1 discussions, banter, jokes, followers and of course when we get there, the interviews.

Thank you once more for @TheRealTimTeale for giving me this opportunity.                     

Many thanks @PadChatF1… please get following and recommending!!!          

Alonso U Turn

As promised I said I would write a blog today after being a complete lazy cow the past few months with motorsport on winter break and then university work so here it is…

For those who I would consider ‘followers’ of my blog they will know already that I am a Lewis Hamilton supporter, not something I will reference too often, but he is the reason to which I got into motorsport. As such this has meant that from the 2007 season I developed somewhat of a distaste for Alonso, the way he acted seemed dreadful at the time but is now something I reflect on as probably drastic measures.

I admit I am not the greatest of fans of Felipe Massa over the past couple of seasons but when it comes to his teammate I have done a complete U turn starting at Silverstone in 2011. Alonso to me has been the arrogant driver for a long time, one that can rile up the fans of the opposition and couldn’t care less. How wrong I seem to have been (baring in mind us fans will never know the drivers).

At Silverstone his win came with such grace and content that he celebrated in a way that made me warm to him but it wasn’t until October that season that I began to truly like the guy. For those of you that don’t know I am also a bike fan, specifically Marco Simoncelli and it was Alonso’s pride in his 58 sticker that made me smile that weekend, as well as Jarno Trulli’s replica.

Overall, I’ve ended up tipping Alonso for the 2012 Champion, not because I now like him but because he seems to be the most settled driver on the grid when he is not frustrated behind a certain Russian. I said this during the winter break and therefore before I knew the strength/weaknesses of Ferrari but low and behold at the track Simoncelli died Alonso took his first win of the season and the Italian national anthem burst through the crowds. I’d like to think the crazy Italian was watching proceedings smiling at his anthem playing proudly.

Alonso has the grace, the talent and the pure raw passion to become a triple world champion this year, I don’t know about you guys but I think that’s a rather exciting idea.