…chance doesn't exist; there's always a cause and a reason for everything – Elahi

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

Mark Webber looks back at Brazil ’11

Mark Webber talks about his victory in Brazil – the start, the middle phase, and those three “purple” laps at the end.

All photographs copyright Sutton Images

Memorial Service for Sheridan Thynne

A Memorial Service for Sheridan Thynne, the former Mini racer, WilliamsF1 Director and hill-climb Team Manager, will take place at St Andrews Church, South Stoke, Oxfordshire, at 2:30pm on Monday, December 5.  Sheridan’s family have asked for no flowers; instead, they suggest that donations could be made to the charity, Help for Heroes.  (Piers Thynne, one of Sheridan’s four children, served two terms in Iraq before joining McLaren F1.)

Looking back at the Macau GP

I thought it a great shame that the Macau Grand Prix – one of the best single-seater events on the international calendar – was not given more space and time on the popular media platforms in Europe and North America.  I was thus delighted to be able to talk to the winner of the 2011 race, Daniel Juncadella, on last Wednesday’s The Flying Lap – and also to one of the key pace-setters – Valtteri Bottas.  Fresh from a scintillating test for AT&T Williams in Abu Dhabi, Valtteri is a Finn with a Future.  A bright future.  Don’t be surprised to see him in a Williams in 2012.

Click on the link below to watch Episode 46 of The Flying Lap.

Springfield’s 50th

I’ve been to a fair few Springfield annual presentation evenings but you never get used to the atmosphere there:  young kids who might otherwise be on the streets are pursuing their dreams, be they in sport, IT or some particular skill.  F1 has supported the Springfield Club since 1961, when Graham Hill decided to do what he could to help – and then persuaded his peers to do likewise.   Last night, Nov 21, the Club’s President (Sir Jackie Stewart), its Chairman (Paul Stewart) and some very special guests (Damon Hill, Bette Hill) paid tribute not only to some of the great motor racing – and non-racing – people who have supported the Springfield Club over the year but also to the members – to the kids who make it what it is.

Sheridan Thynne – he’ll be sadly missed

The contrasts in life are frequently vivid. It was beautiful on Saturday in the English countryside, where we celebrated my Mum’s 90th birthday – but then came Sunday morning, and the sad news that my friend and colleague, Sheridan Thynne, had died suddenly while on vacation in Egypt. Sheridan and I were close friends throughout our time at Williams – from 1985-92 – but I knew Sherry from long before that, for he was an integral part of the Frank Williams/Piers Courage/Charles Lucas group that characterised British motor racing in the early 1960s and he was a Director of Williams at its critical rebirth, in the late 1970s. Sheridan was one of those people who – from my point of view – was always on the correct wavelength. He understood motor racing and he understood motor racing people. He was a gem of a man, quite capable of always leaving you with a throwaway last word in Latin.And he understood Frank Williams. He was “Sir Humphrey” to Frank’s “Prime Minister” – and the combination was dynamite. Ask Honda! Ask Renault! Ask Nigel Mansell – who is pictured here, chatting to Sheridan (with Ann Bradshaw on Nigel’s left).I could write and talk for hours about Sheridan – and probably will with our mutual friends. For now, though, my prayers and thoughts go to Eve, his wife of 46 years, and to Piers and his other children. God bless.

Sheridan, Nigel and Ann pictured at Monza, 1992 – photo courtesy of SuttonImages

At last! Three days of F1 testing!

The F1 teams generally downplay the lap times at the Young Driver tests – partly because they don’t want to reveal too much about the spec of the cars they’re running and partly because they don’t want to be too hard on the driver who happens to be slower.  The typical F1 team report reads “ Although so-and-so is very young, and drove the car for the first time on a proper race track, he gave us mature and useful feedback and we completed everything on the proramme”, etc, etc.


It’s a shame, of course, that the three days of Young Driver tests were not televised because there were some very talented guys having their first look at F1; and, as well, we saw several teams trying 2012-spec exhaust layouts and Pirelli running some new, squarer-shouldered tyres (and some new compounds).   I mention the TV element only because the test was bound by the usual TV rights restrictions…and yet not even the rights holders bothered to film it.  That, in my opinion, is a big opportunity lost.  A 30-minute highlight package at the end of each day’s running would have reached a big audience – particularly with the lack of testing these days.


Conclusions?  I’ve put together the adjoining results list so that we can make some sense of what took place.  Bear in mind that the cars were probably in different specs on all three days and that there were both “long runs” and “short runs” and plenty of different tyres from which to choose.


Nonetheless, Jean-Eric Vergne’s 1min 38.917sec lap on Thursday is a quick lap by any standards – a time that would have put him fifth on the grid only four days before, ahead of both Ferraris and only fractionally slower than Mark Webber (1min 38.858sec.).   Red Bull’s Head of Race Engineering, Ian Morgan, commented dryly: “This was the hottest day so far, with track temperatures around 55deg C” (the track would have been slower than in qualifying, in other words).  “And it was a frustrating day because we had a run of niggling problems in the afternoon that prevented us getting through the tyre programme.  Jean-Eric didn’t put a foot wrong throughout the test and he was able to put in a lap time whenever we needed it…”


That’s very impressive, I’d say – so it will be very interesting to see what Red Bull do with “JEV” from here on in.  He’ll be in the Toro Rosso again for FP1 in Brazil – but his stock would have risen considerably since that last, disappointing WSR race in Barcelona.


Sam Bird also looked good in the Mercedes, lapping within half a second of Jules Bianchi’s Ferrari – or about 50 per cent closer than Michael Schumacher got to Felipe Massa in Abu Dhabi qualifying.  Sam was also very near Michael’s Q1 time, which I think also says quite a lot.  (I’ve selected comparative times based on what the Young Drivers would have been looking at, given the variables of the three day test and the different weather conditions.)


Other points of note:


  • Oliver Turvey was a little quicker than Gary Paffett in the McLaren but VMM as a team didn’t seem interested in going for a quick time;  not too much should be read into that comparison, therefore.


  • Max Chilton, the young Englishman, did an excellent job for Sahara Force India, despite driving for two days only (the first and last days);  and so did Johnny Cecotto Jnr in his single day with the car.


  • Fabio Leimer, winner of the GP2 Feature race on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, was very near Esteban Gutierrez, despite having only one day in the Sauber (Day One).


  • Rob Wickens showed his precocious talent by jumping into the Renault and going very quickly out of the box on Day One;  and Kevin Korjas was impressive, too, in his only day in the Renault (Day Two).


  • AT&T Williams had a dreadful Saturday in Abu Dhabi, but both Valtteri Bottas and 2011 FIA F2 Champion, Mirko Bortolotti, gave the team a new face in the three days of testing.  Excellent job by both drivers.


  • Kevin Ceccon (pronounced “Check-on”) completed three Grand Prix distances for STR – and looked very solid, too.  (I’m tempted to say “given his age of 18-and-a-bit” but we’ll let it ride…).  Stefano Coletti, who returned to GP2 over the weekend, was about a second away, although I suspect he’s still not yet 100 per cent fit after his big accident in the wet at Spa.


  • Luiz Razia (the Brazilian who qualified fourth and finished second in the AD GP2 Feature race) shone at Team Lotus, although you have to give credit to Rodolfo Gonzalez, another Venezuelan, who tested for TL last year but has had a difficult GP2 season.


  • HRT will be pleased that they had two drivers ahead of the quickest Marussia Virgin time (which was set by Rob Wickens on the third day) – and Dani Clos, the talented Spaniard, was very impressive on Day One for HRT.  Nat Berthon, who is less experienced, was not slow on Day Three, either.

Abu Dhabi Young Driver Tests – November 15, 16 and 17

 Red Bull Racing

Jean-Eric Vergne                1min 38.917sec (3 days)

Sebastian Vettel’s pole lap: 1min 38.481sec


Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

Jules Bianchi                        1min 40.279sec (3 days)

Felipe Massa’s Q2 time: 1min 39.623sec


Mercedes Grand Prix

Sam Bird                                  1min 40.897sec (3 days)

Michael Schumacher’s Q3 time: 1min 40.662sec


Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Oliver Turvey                        1min 41.513sec (2 days)

Gary Paffett                                 1min 41.756sec (2 days)

Jenson Button’s Q1 time: 1min 40.227sec


Sahara Force India

Max Chilton                                  1min 41.575sec (2 days)

Johnny Jecotto Jnr                        1min 42.873sec (1 day)

Paul di Resta’s Q1 time: 1min 41.064sec



Esteban Gutierrez                     1min 42.049sec (2 days)

Fabio Leimer                                    1min 42.331sec (1 day)

Kamui Kobayashi’s Q1 time: 1min 41.613sec


Lotus Renault Grand Prix

Rob Wickens                               1min 42.217sec (1 day)

Kevin Korjas                                    1min 43.776sec (1 day)

Jan Charous                                    1min 44.470sec (1 day)

Bruno Senna’s Q1 time: 1min 41.391sec

Romain Grosjean’s FP1 time: 1min 42.685sec


AT&T Williams

Valtteri Bottas                        1min 42.367sec (2 days)

Mirko Bortolotti                          1min 43.277sec (1 day)

Pastor Maldonado’s Q1 time: 1min 42.258sec


Scuderia Toro Rosso

Kevin Ceccon                        1min 43.686sec (2 days)

Stefano Coletti                          1min 44.545sec (2 days)

Sebastien Buemi’s Q1 time: 1min 41.737sec

Jean-Eric Vergne’s FP1 time: 1min 42.633sec


Team Lotus

Luiz Razia                                 1min 43.944sec (1 day)

Rodolfo Gonzalez                       1min 44.022sec (1 day)

Alexander Rossi                        1min 44.283sec (1 day)

Heikki Kovalainen’s Q1 time: 1min 42.979sec


Hispania Racing Team

Dani Clos                                    1min 45.278sec (1 day)

Nathaneal Berthon                     1min 45.839sec (1.1 days)

Jan Charous                                  1min 46.644sec (1 day)

Daniel Ricciardo’s Q1 time: 1min 44.641sec


Marussia Virgin

Rob Wickens                             1min 45.934sec (1 day)

Charles Pic                                     1min 46.348sec (3 days)

Adrian Quaife-Hobbs                  1min 47.292sec (1 day)

Timo Glock’s Q1 time: 1min 44.515sec

Rob Wickens’ FP1 time: 1min 48.551sec











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