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/

Is Robert Kubica the unluckiest F1 driver ever?

This may sound harsh given today’s events after the news broke that ex Lotus Renault driver Robert Kubica had broken his leg but I do not believe the Pole will ever return to Formula One in a driving capacity.

This is not a theory that I’ve just plucked out the air because he is suffering the re-break of a previously damaged leg but something that I have thought since he almost severed his hand last year in a rally accident.

As fans we have already witnessed the rehabilitation process that Brazilian Ferrari driver Felipe Massa went through following a spring from his compatriot’s car piercing his helmet. Although many won’t like to admit it he has not been the same driver he once was ever since this terrible accident. Massa was the man that missed out on the world championship in 2008 by one point yet this year he was almost constantly beaten by his teammate Fernando Alonso.

As it remains Kubica has been out of Formula One for almost a year trying to get back the function and strength in his damaged hand and will face longer without a seat as he tries to further his rehab. He no longer has a race seat with his previous team Renault and he’s just broken his leg for a second time in 12 months an unfortunate accident on a patch of ice.

It’s hardly going to surprise anyone if I say he’s one of the unluckiest men I’ve come across and could possibly end up being one of the best F1 drivers in history never to get a chance to win a world championship.

Whatever Kubica ends up doing in his future whether it is F1 (we can hope), rallying or even something entirely different I sincerely hope he stays safe and healthy because whilst we will be missing a great talent I just can’t imagine him returning.

Why I forgot Paul di Resta…

For those who read F1 Racing magazine they will know you can sign up to be a member of their reader’s panel which means on the odd occasion you get an email asking for a question relevant to an interviewee. I am one of those people, though I have not had a question published yet it is one driver that stuck in my head when asked to submit a question- Sergio Perez.

However, as I’m about to explain this piece will be about Paul di Resta, the Scottish driver who my sister thought was a team member. Without thinking when asked to submit a question to Sergio Perez I mentioned his likelihood of him getting Autosport Rookie of the Year as his teammate had the year before, a statement that was incorrect of course. This isn’t because I don’t believe in di Resta it is because I forgot about him.

By now many people are probably quite confused about how you can forget one of the best rookie’s we’ve seen in recent years, quite simply, I forgot he was a rookie. Di Resta’s talent has been proven time and time again this season and though he may have had his struggles in my opinion he far outshone his teammate.

The reason my sister was startled to find out he was a driver is because during one of the various grid walks this year he stood speaking to Martin Brundle looking casual and calm. He spoke with a natural talent as if what he was about to do would be nothing special, like Lewis Hamilton when he first started his career, he’s peaceful. I guess we can link that to what I believe is a superb management style in the form of Antony Hamilton.

2012 will in my eyes be a great year for di Resta, with a fresh teammate like Nico Hulkenberg who succeeded in getting a pole position (shockingly) in his rookie season I expect Sahara Force India to be a strength to be reckoned with. 

Grazie Jarno

Thinking about Jarno Trulli, an F1 veteran, out-qualified and performed by teammate Heikki Kovalainen, Team Lotus driver for next year also and an avid wine maker. What we may not have known was Trulli was a friend of Marco Simoncelli.
As many will know Marco died last Sunday during the Sepang MotoGP race at the young age of 24. Marco was as mad as a hatter but didn’t have a bad bone in his body, it’s what made him endearing to others.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who beamed when they saw Jarno’s helmet at the start of FP1- a F1 spec version of Simoncelli’s. The best tribute a Formula One driver and friend could have given him and his family.
Not forgetting the others who have honoured him I am pleased to see the link over between cars and bikes. May it continue.
One small request though Team Lotus and Jarno, please keep it until the end of the season?
Ciao Marco. Grazie Jarno.

Congratulations Double World Champion Sebastian Vettel!

When I began watching Formula One properly in 2008 (my first full season) Sebastian Vettel made a move on Lewis Hamilton that I didn’t particularly like, and whilst it was a fair move, Vettel nearly cost Hamilton the championship. Or so I blamed him for at the time.

I am the first person to admit that at that point Lewis Hamilton could do no wrong, he was the only driver I supported, when he won I was ecstatic but when he lost I blamed it on other drivers. Quite frankly I went from having no interest in the sport to having only eyes for one driver and his talent. That is until the end of 2009.

Jenson Button was another driver I had an ill informed opinion of, and thought, as did many, good car average driver Jenson Button wins the 2009 World Championship. I suppose I began to change this warped opinions in the winter of 2009, Jenson Button moved to Mclaren, the team I’ve supported since the beginning and Sebastian Vettel began a spectacular journey.

Since then I may not have supported Vettel, and I may have even been excited at his reliability issues in 2010 to make the competition closer, but I have always said that the young German has a huge amount of talent and speed. Something nobody seems to be able to take away from him, especially not the three world champions he is in nearly constant battle with, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

I wrote this blog to say two things. One is that at the beginning of my own journey into F1 my opinions were somewhat stunted and narrow minded, a trait I hope I have managed to transition out of and secondly that no matter what, Sebastian Vettel is a force to be reckoned with. Whether you like him or not he is the youngest double world champion in history, and as far as I am now concerned, nobody deserved it more than him. Congratulations to both him and Red Bull Racing.

Hamilton VS Massa

The feud between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa has been ongoing since the pair fought down to the championship wire in 2008. However, this season it has come to a head in ways in which nobody would have imagined.

Hamilton has had admittedly a season to forget, with his first clash with Massa coming at the Monaco grand prix. It was here also that Hamilton managed to ruin Massa’s race, it was their impact that caused the Brazilian to retire from the race following a crash.

Next would be Silverstone where all Brit’s were groaning at the two rubbing alongside each other, knowing that only to quickly it could all go pear shaped again, and to an extent it did. Although on the last lap, so not leaving heavy race impacting damage, Hamilton closed the gap to Massa and broke his front wing in the attempt to keep his position. Albeit he did, but that was strike two on the 2011 Hamilton vs. Massa competition.

The reason I write this is because last weekend at the Singapore grand prix they clashed again. Once more Hamilton came out as the villain. There is no denying he has had a bad season but I do not see how the incident was a drive through penalty. I will not defend Hamilton as he has acted with his adrenaline again and not his head.

It was Massa’s actions at the post race press paddock that gave me cause to criticise him, whilst Hamilton acted like an idiot during the race at points, Massa’s physical display of anger was not the cleverest move to make.

Understandably Massa was greatly irritated but slapping Hamilton on the arm and sarcastically congratulating him is not a sensible direction to go in as the fans and media will now on the feud. We can only begin to imagine what will happen in Japan. Play nicely lads. 

Kimi comeback?

Kimi Raikkonen to me is a driver that never cared much for the lifestyle of Formula One. An example of this is my favourite clip of him leaving his Ferrari in the rain sodden 2009 Malaysian grand prix, and getting a drink and an ice cream, showing no intention of racing any further.

This by no means says that Raikkonen was a driver that did not want to participate in the racing at all, it just meant that the fans were given some of the best quotes and interviews known to motor sporting media worldwide. Although Raikkonen became known as a half bothered and relatively grumpy personality.

However, this has not stopped the furore around his comeback since he quit in 2009, and this year is no exception. Prior to Mark Webber re-signing for Red Bull Racing rumour had it Raikkonen would be going into his seat, quite clearly quashed now. Yet in the past week another rumour, and a much stronger rumour has begun, Raikkonen will be taking the seat of Rubens Barichello at Williams.

Personally, I want to see the Formula One veteran start and finish his 20th season, I do not care with whom, I just want him to amount another landmark achievement. At the same time I would love to see Raikkonen back in the sport, but I fear the visit to the Williams factory was just that, a visit, not a career move.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button formed the Great British dream team in 2010 when Button decided to move from Brawn GP (later to be Mercedes GP) to Vodafone Mclaren to form the ultimate British fantasy.
Except no one believed that to be true at the beginning, pundits galore said that the two would fight for position in the team, they would bash each other off the track and just quite frankly hate each other. Not for one second do I think that has ever been true, even when Hamilton made the costly mistake of trying to overtake Button at Canada this year.
The reason I have written this blog is to show you all a picture I’ve seen this weekend which I think is the epitome of their relationship, they seem happy and carefree during a practice session. They remain one of the only teams that truly appear to get on with business and our happy to share each other successes.
I commend the pair because they make watching Formula One that little bit better.

 Photo credit to Dave Morecambe, Official member of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Media Centre.  See his photo collection at http://www.flickr.com/photos/saabay/6132981571/in/photostream

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button formed the Great British dream team in 2010 when Button decided to move from Brawn GP (later to be Mercedes GP) to Vodafone Mclaren to form the ultimate British fantasy.

Except no one believed that to be true at the beginning, pundits galore said that the two would fight for position in the team, they would bash each other off the track and just quite frankly hate each other. Not for one second do I think that has ever been true, even when Hamilton made the costly mistake of trying to overtake Button at Canada this year.

The reason I have written this blog is to show you all a picture I’ve seen this weekend which I think is the epitome of their relationship, they seem happy and carefree during a practice session. They remain one of the only teams that truly appear to get on with business and our happy to share each other successes.

I commend the pair because they make watching Formula One that little bit better.

 Photo credit to Dave Morecambe, Official member of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Media Centre.  See his photo collection at http://www.flickr.com/photos/saabay/6132981571/in/photostream

Team Lotus tour lacks information

To me the elitism of Formula One is not something I have greatly considered before, sure I know the sport is expensive, but having never attended an event it was out of sight and out of mind for me. That is until today.

Last week I applied for a factory tour at Team Lotus F1 for 1st Decemeber, two days before my 20th birthday, and in a fit of excitement started making plans around my successful application. I phoned my nan and granddad who live only an hour away and asked if I could stay with them for the weekend as I’d travel from my university. Not only this but a few of my twitter followers and friends began making plans to meet up that day, with one of them even being on the same tour.

Unfortunately the excitement did not last too long as today I was told that the team expected us to pay a sum of £80 to attend the tour, something they do not seem to have mentioned on their website. Although it may not seem like a lot of money as a student I cannot afford the tour, train, taxi and train again.

Whilst I understand that unlike the likes of Mclaren, Team Lotus may need to open their factory to fans to make money it is their lack of information and the expense that throws me off. Had I known the information from the beginning I wouldn’t have applied for the tour. I attended the Mclaren Headquarters this year and I understand what a privilege it was to do so, as I did when I found out I could go to Lotus. However, now I face the decision of whether to pull out of my place or not.

This is by no means a slating of the team but I felt it necessary to air my feelings of the situation.

UPDATE: I have since spoken to the team and they ensure me that they are going through a system of changes to aid fans in their understanding. I’d like to thank the team for their help and supplying me with the means of speaking to someone. 

Am i a fan or am i a fake?

So today I had a so called Formula One fan accuse me of not being a true supporter of Lewis Hamilton and whilst I try and keep my writing as unbiased as possible I felt it the time to tell you why I watch F1. Why I am the fan that I am today.

I had the opportunity to watch F1 sporadically from a very young age as my dad used to watch it on the weekends he was home from work, except that then, I quite frankly hated F1. I couldn’t see the fascination with cars going round a track.

Having missed Ayrton Senna’s stunning period of F1 due to my age I also subjected myself to missing Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. In fact, I started watching F1 the year after Schumacher retired from the sport he had dominated. By now I expect those who talk to me are thinking “I don’t understand” and those who don’t will believe that like said person also thought I am not a true F1 fan.

Here is where you’re wrong. I went to my dad’s house one weekend, and had no choice but to watch this funny sport. So I was sat watching this boring sport, and along came a shiny silver and red bullet with a yellow helmet rocking around, you guessed it, Lewis Hamilton. From then on I was hooked. I have never in my life watched a sport and enjoyed it, I loathe sport. Saying that, from the start of 2008 I rarely missed a race, even if I had to record it/iPlayer it… any means necessary.

Watching Hamilton nearly lose the championship in 2008 I literally screamed in my dad’s house as Sebastian Vettel passed him, never did I believe I’d be this involved, then to my relief Hamilton won and it was so ridiculously hard not to cry. Okay so now I sound like a typical girl.

I have asked my nan to reschedule a family dinner for a race. I own countless books to catch up on the history. I badger my family senseless with facts they aren’t interested in. I visited the Mclaren Technology Centre this year on my own, through London (never done before), from two and a half hours away. I plan to go to the British Grand Prix next year. I own countless dvd’s, the game which I more than suck at and merchandise with Lewis’ name on it. Last but not least, I am pursuing a career in journalism (and English) to be in F1 to stand and interview the drivers as this blog represents.

But yes dear person who judged me, you’re right, I’m not a proper fan. But I’m getting there, yet regardless of what you say, I will always be a TRUE fan as I respect the sport, the drivers and admit that on the odd (fairly common at the moment) occasion, Lewis Hamilton, F1 driver and Human Being,  makes mistakes.

Thank you for listening, a fully fledged petrol head.

Superb Spa

For the past two days Spa has failed to deliver some of the excitement of previous years, well today it cleared its slate and went for another big impact race.

Before we could even blink on the start Mark Webber had dropped from his third place start another poor example of his skill. The drivers only just managed to get to turn one when Bruno Senna shunted the side of Jaime Alguersuari’s Torro Rosso causing the first retirement of the day in the shape of the young Spaniard. This incident ruined the chances of points for both, a great shame as Alguersuari looked on form to take his best result or at least finish in the top ten, and Senna who later received a drive through penalty finished a respectable thirteenth.

A bad day for Scuderia Torro Rosso continued as Sebastien Buemi was the next retirement. He was hit by Sauber F1 driver Sergio Perez, who was also later penalised, and rear wing damage meant he had to box the car.

Continuing the drama on from yesterday was none other than Brit Lewis Hamilton, who collided with Perez’s teammate, Kamui Kobayashi. Who was to blame is a subject of great debate but Hamilton paid the highest price with a DNF whilst Kobayashi was able to finish his race penalty free.

Following Hamilton’s crash the safety car was deployed as the debris on the track was extreme due to destroyed advertisement boards, during this period HRT driver Daniel Ricciardo was seen to stop. Post race it was announced it was a problem with the rear that made Ricciardo stop abruptly.

 Sergio Perez was the last driver of the race to retire with axle damage after his crash with Buemi. A bad day in some ways for Sauber F1.

Disappointment came to another driver despite his best efforts; Fernando Alonso had tyre issues so severe that he missed out on the last spot on the podium.

Arguably the best drivers of the day were Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher who both came from poor qualifying positions 13th and 24th to finish 3rd and 5th respectively with Schumacher even cleanly overtaking his teammate, a good end to a celebratory weekend.

Finally we can’t forget the controversial man of the weekend Pastor Maldonado who achieved his first points of the season, congratulations.