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/

Hamilton Breaks Silence

Lewis Hamilton’s dad has finally stood up for his son this week. After parting ways in March 2010, Anthony Hamilton has been applying a quiet approach to his business, only seeming to be present in the company of Paul Di Resta, who he manages.

However, this week Hamilton saw fit to break his silence and defend his son’s driving style, something I was pleased to see. After reading Lewis’ book you can understand how involved in his career Anthony was, and it was saddening to see them part ways last year, even if it was for the best.

Hamilton said that “he just has to remain how he is, carry on driving how he is driving” something that all of his fans were pleased to hear. Lewis has time and time again been compared to Ayrton Senna, who also had an aggressive driving style, and whilst his fellow drivers may not always appreciate his style, the crowds certainly do.

It may seem like I’m doing a lot of Hamilton related blogs at the moment but that is only because the 2008 champion is the ‘hot topic’ of debate at the moment, and though some are arguing he is ruthless, reckless and just sometimes stupid, it remains to be said that he is one of the best there is.

NASCAR meets Formula One

The long awaited NASCAR and Formula One seat swap happened this week following the Canadian GP. The swap came between NASCAR’s Tony Stewart and Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton.

The pair were like a comedy double act, with a video released before the show depicting Hamilton laughing at Stewart’s attempts to get into, what he described as, a child’s car, to which Hamilton retorted that “you can’t be eating burgers and stuff”.

Held at Watkins Glen circuit, the pair took to the track in their respective cars before swapping, with Hamilton beating Stewart’s times. However, Stewart was fasted over all, which was taken with a pinch of salt, as the day began sodden but started to dry out as they took part in their runs.

At the end of the day Stewart admitted that he had one of the best days of his life and would “be honoured to have him [Lewis] as my team mate,” with Hamilton saying that Tony had been “fantastic”.

The idea of the event was great and the fact that it was free entrance ensured that an audience were there to watch two greats run each other’s cars. I hope that we will experience something similar at some point in the future as I know that the stands would be packed out.

Canada: it came and it conquered

Finally I have watched the Canadian Grand Prix, what with moving out of university and attending the Silverstone Moto GP I have been unable to watch a full grand prix for a while, and what a show Canada gave us.

With Hamilton’s performance at Monaco it came as no great surprise to hear that he was out of the race having crashed and bumped into a few drivers, and I’ll admit, I judged before I saw. Hamilton’s crash was a racing incident, it is easy to say it was Lewis’ or Jenson’s fault but at the end of the day none of us know the visibility impact out there. What I will say, is had Hamilton continued I think he would’ve been looking at a solid podium given Mclaren’s form.

In the same way that people can say that Lewis’ style let him down they can say similar about reigning champion Sebastian Vettel - in the pre race show the pundits were seen debating whether Vettel was in fact human. Well the scream during the race of “Vettel made a mistake, he IS human” from Martin Brundle only goes to prove that even the best make mistakes.

Another German who shone on his way through the field, which has been heavily anticipated, was veteran Michael Schumacher, so much so that I was sad to see Webber pass him for the last podium space. I believe it is safe to say that Schumacher is back for the long haul, and I cannot wait to see him on the podium before the end of the season.

One man that many might forget is Nick Heidfeld who managed to successfully park his car out of harm’s way after becoming a F1 toboggan. To me his ‘crash’ was one of the best pieces of driving Sunday afternoon. I hope he keeps pushing the Renault to its limits.

Let’s not forget Jenson Button, the eventual race winner. Not many could go from 21st to 1st,  steal the win on the last lap and also achieve the fastest lap of the entire race. Button managed to silence most of his critics this weekend with a mad win, one that he later admitted was probably the best of his career. Driving through penalties, team mate drama, a crash, nudges and bumps, Button deserved the bit of luck he got in Vettel going off, and it certainly entertained the sodden crowd.

The unsung heroes of the whole debacle was the BBC pundits and commentators, and I have to say Martin Brundle and David Coultard had me smiling through the four hour show with their discussion of birds and  whether they had shoulders. I am starting to warm to the new duo and their funny ways.

Williams Welcome

Mike Coughlan is a name I’m not that familiar with - he is the man that became the centre of the 2007 McLaren/Ferrari ‘Spygate’ scandal. Only last month his name was thrown back into the media eye as he was re-employed in Formula One, choosing to join the veteran team of Williams.

Under the spotlight once again, Coughlan has chosen to apologise for his involvement in the scandal at McLaren in what can only be seen as him trying to start with a clean slate.

Coughlan was banned for two years following his role in ‘Spygate’ and has been given a second chance by one of the best known teams in Formula One. I, as do many, feel that Coughlan has taken the right route in apologising to the Formula One world, showing his ability to put the past behind him.

In this I hope that the once considered ‘senior engineer’ will be able to give Williams the boost they need to return to their former greatness. With Pastor Maldonado failing to score any points as of yet, and Rubens Barrichello only receiving four himself, Williams have had their worst start to a season since 1979.

Whilst Coughlan contributed to a scandal so big it could well have ruined McLaren’s reputation (Stripping them of all constructors points for that year) and financial stature ($100 million fine), I hope that he proves himself worthy of this second chance.

Keep going Kubica!

Yesterday the first picture of an injured Robert Kubica circulated on Twitter. Since February this year fans have only had a few interviews from the man himself, as well as pundit’s or professional’s opinions, to rely on.

A big voice in this story is Kubica’s manager, Daniele Morelli, who has maintained, almost permanently, that Kubica will return for the 2011 season. However, looking at the picture I was surprised at the difference in the driver’s overall appearance. In my opinion, he looks to have aged a great deal and still looks sickly with the use of a crutch to support him.

Yet, I shouldn’t be that surprised, and nor should anyone else, remembering Felipe Massa’s changed form following his bang on the head caused by a piece of suspension from Rubens Barichello’s Brawn GP car and the change in Richard Hammond after his Vampire Dragster 288mph crash.

Each of the men mentioned were risking their lives for their jobs, and all of them ended up in critical condition. Massa and Hammond were fairly quick to return to their jobs but Kubica’s injury has forced him to sit the season out.

The question remains: when will Kubica return? If his manager is correct, then Brazil, to me, he’d be better off spending the season out and returning as good as possible in 2012, with testing hopefully granted, as it was with Massa.

Keep going Kubica, we want to see what you’re capable of!

Is Red Bull Racing the right move?

Speculation has already begun over Lewis Hamilton’s contract expiration in 2012 with the main team under the spotlight alongside him being Red Bull Racing- Sebastian Vettel’s championship winning team.

However, I find it hard to believe that Hamilton will choose to make that move, unless the team can promise him that he will not play second fiddle to Vettel. Hamilton has experienced this once already with Mclaren, and as many will know, it did not work out for the other party.

Another issue for Red Bull is their other driver Mark Webber; the media have also been reporting that they wish to extend his contract for another year. Yet, Webber seems to be less interested - not a great surprise after his “not bad for a number two driver” comment at Silverstone last year.

With two men in contention for one position, I believe they will have to make the contract a truly astounding one to pull in the 2008 champion, and even then it could proceed to be absolute carnage.

Green Light

The return of Formula One was much anticipated in the world of motorsport following the delay due to unrest in Bahrain. The race was to be the start of a season dominated by Red Bull once again and a catch up for the rest, especially Mclaren - or was it?

Mclaren’s Lewis Hamilton put the car second and carried it through to the very end of the race, with Sebastian Vettel pulling another stunner; flying away in his Adrian Newey designed Red Bull.

The surprise of the race was Vitaly Petrov, who couldn’t help but allow Fernando Alonso another look at his exhaust system as he drove his car into third and a podium. To go from a reckless rookie to a third place made the Russian clearly ecstatic as he was later interviewed clutching his trophy for dear life and even saying he was taking it to bed.

All I can say is, this is Red Bull’s and Mclaren’s to lose for the foreseeable future.

HR who?

Although testing is missed in Formula One it gives fans an almost false sense of who is top and who may struggle at the start of the season. For example, recently Mclaren have seemed troubled and Red Bull topping the tables, with guest appearances from a select few.

However, one team missed the majority of the testing sessions, Hispania Racing Team. Whilst they were meant to test today, albeit in horrendous weather conditions, the parts to their recently unveiled car were held up at customs, making them the only team not to have tested their new car before the season start.

I do not think this will make a great deal of difference. HRT were the team that you expected not to finish the race, and 9 times out of 10 you would expect that the yellow flag causing a safety car was Bruno Senna or Sakon Yamamoto. Chances are this year will be a similar story.

Bet on Button and Hamilton

I once bet my dad a pound that Hamilton would overtake Button in the first corner and as he didn’t believe me, thinking the impossible, he took me up on it. Needless to say, I was right. Despite Hamilton then conceding said position, I legitimately won the pound.

It is this that makes me believe, regardless of Button’s anxiety over the car, that the Mclaren boys will be in the top five. Although the nerves are entirely reasonable, the guys have developed such a strong team that they tend to carry each other to success.

Last season they were accused of ‘smoke and mirrors’ yet they were the only big team to carry off a successful overtaking manoeuvre that did not damage the cars or the team’s reputation, and they had some of the funniest viral adverts I have ever seen.

Rain rain go away, come back everyday (or race)

Yesterday, I read an article saying that Bernie Ecclestone wanted to ‘spice up’ Formula One by adding artificial rain onto the track. Although I enjoy watching the drivers falling off the track in natural rain – as long as they aren’t injured – I feel that Ecclestone’s idea is just another one that will be rejected by the FIA and many health and safety officers around the world.

Whilst health and safety may have gone mad in Britain, I do not think that adding artificial rain will make any difference to the excitement of the sport. With each track being different, weather and various strains on the separate teams/drivers keeps F1 as unpredictable as it has always been, with Pirelli tyres also coming into the equation this season.

Whatever the circumstances, I truly hope that Ecclestone’s idea stays just that, and does not add another ridiculous element that will only be removed at the mid, or end, of the season.