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Archive for the tag “GP”

How good is Sebastian Vettel?

In Part Two of this week’s episode of The Racer’s Edge I wanted to chat to a few friends about Sebastian Vettel. Where does he sit amongst the all-time greats? What’s he like as a driver and as a person? How much more does he need to prove? And this provided me, of course, with an excellent opportunity to talk again to one of my heroes – to John Surtees, OBE.  A lovely man and an F1 icon, John (or “Sir John”, as he would be if there was any justice amongst politicians) spoke with all the humility, knowledge and enthusiasm that befits the only man ever to win both motor-cycle and F1 World Championships. I was lucky to catch Sir Jackie Stewart as he was walking his dogs near Lake Geneva; and the phone connection wasn’t bad to Italy, either, where I tracked down one of the wisest of all journalists – Giuseppe “Pino” Allievi.  A Ferrari expert – an F1 expert – Pino did not disappoint.  As well as some intelligent thought about Seb and his place in history, Pino also gives us his view of Ferrari’s driver line-up in the medium-term.

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In a slightly-changed format for The Racer’s Edge, and to give you more immediate access to what we’re filming and saying, we’re beginning this week with segmented, advance-view YouTube posts of the show.  Whilst the full-length iTunes download version, now watched every week by over 60,000 fans around the world, remains unchanged as an on-demand production available late on Thursdays, YouTube viewers can now  enjoy the show as “preview” segments, posted virtually as they happen.  And don’t worry about keeping track with the show as it evolves:  each episode by Thursday night (UK time) will be archived in “playlist” form on our YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/peterwindsor) for easy, follow-on viewing.

In this first part of Episode 35 we have a lot of fun with Remi Taffin, the Head of Trackside Operations for Renault Sport F1.  We caught up with Remi just after he had returned to Viry Chatillon from India and I think the tone of the conversation captures something of what winning a World Championship is all about. In the upcoming segments of the same show, to be posted on Wednesday and then again on Thursday, you’ll also be able to hear from Sir Jackie Stewart, John Surtees (in the studio), the respected Italian journalist, “Pino” Allievi, the GP2 Championship leader, Fabio Leimer and, also, in the F1 Racing studio, from Anthony Rowlinson and Tom Gaymor, the former driver who is now carving a name for himself with Eurosport and as the commentator for F1’s new livesteam, smart-device app.

Here, then, is Part One of Episode 35, The Racer’s Edge.  Enjoy.  Parts Two and Three will follow over the next 48 hours, together with a YouTube-only bonus Abu Dhabi GP preview video.  To stay fully informed about all the new content, remember to subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking the (free) subscription widget on the right.

 

From F3/GP3 straight into F1…

We had a lot of fun with this week’s show, which probably explains why it’s a little bit longer than normal.  So many excellent people with whom to talk!  I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say that we catch up with Scuderia Toro Rosso’s new signing for 2014 (Daniil Kvyat); with the versatile Alex Wurz (after his win for Toyota in last Sunday’s Fuji Six Hours); with the eloquent Karun Chandhok (on the eve of his home Grand Prix, hoping, obviously that the race will be on again in 2015); with the talented Italian, Raffaele Marciello, the new Euro F3 Champion; and, in the studio, keeping me honest, the Editor of F1 Racing, Anthony Rowlinson. In between all of this we also manage to look at some amazing retro F1 colour schemes (as applied to a current F1 car); to see some recent footage shot from a drone over Brands Hatch (it’s amazing, believe me); and to compare start-line reaction times with Pastor Maldonado. But that’s enough of me. Enjoy Episode 34.

 

The beauty of Suzuka’s Esses

2013 Japanese Grand Prix - SaturdayIt’s always a pleasure to watch the uphill Esses section at Suzuka during qualifying – particularly during qualifying because race conditions frequently restrict a driver’s pace and movement to the car he is following. In qualifying, though, when usually the air is free, it is different.  And, for the most part, they’re all trying pretty hard.

I love this section of road not because of one particular corner, although Turn Six is, of course, critical: a perfect exit from T6 sets you up nicely for the straight that leads down to the two Degnas. I love it because it is impossible to be perfect through T6 unless you correctly manipulate the exit of T2, T3, T4 and T5.  The usual errors are to be too quick in these preceding places. We saw Nico Hulkenberg be consistently so on all his runs: he was either a fraction too fast out of T2 or having to use too much road out of T4.  He caught it all, of course;  Nico does that.  In a millisecond, though, he had “asked too much of the car”. Additional energy had poured into the loaded front or rear Pirelli (depending upon steering angle). Momentum, fractionally, had gone.

Romain was similarly slightly-over-the-top. He has this sumptuous way of being able to use the rear of the car to re-set the values but, in doing so, he also creates too much excess energy. He’s got torque and twist going on at the rear in the middle of, say, T4;  the E21 looks perfectly-poised…but in reality it’s not “flat” on the road. It’s a subtle thing, only visible when you see the car on the corner as a whole. You’d never touch it via the on-boards or via close-ups. Kimi?  Kimi on Saturday to my eye looked to be a slightly edgier version of the real one. He never demanded too much from the tyres but his inputs seemed strangely more angular than usual. Perhaps it’s just a Kimi thing these days:  the “real” guy gets out of bed on Sunday.

I’ll talk more about all this on next week’s show. Here, I’d like to say “chapeau” to Mark Webber. He consistently – from Friday onwards – found exactly the right balance between short-term, up-the-hill pace and perfection by T6. This was classic Webber, back where he used to beat Seb on equal terms. No pesky, dumb, chicanes; no boring corners. (The Suzuka Chicane, with it’s downhill, open-space approach, is actually quite an interesting section of road:  the key, after the rush of 130R, is not to brake too early.) Just a lovely section of medium-speed road with blind entries. Lewis similarly threaded the needle – and so, but to a slightly lesser extent, did Seb Vettel, Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas, although Jenson seemed to want a little more from Ts 4 and 5 than they were ever going to give him. Perhaps that’s why he later described his laps as “fun”. I also liked Lewis’ “feel” for the wind change on Saturday at Suzuka. Trust him immediately to use this to his advantage; trust some others to use it as some sort of explanation as to why they were less-than-perfect.

Image of Mark Webber, Suzuka, Saturday, October 12: LAT Photographic

The ups of Sauber, the brilliance of Mike Conway…

…and the tough past few races for Sahara Force India

On this week’s edition of The Racer’s Edge I managed to catch up with the loquacious Tom McCullough of Doncaster, otherwise known as the Head of Track Engineering for the Sauber F1 Team. Tom joined Sauber late last year after several years on the pit wall with Williams and quickly made his mark.  He knew Nico Hulkenberg from his Willliams days, of course, but the rest of the challenge was all new:  new country, new people, new methodologies.  As I hope you will hear in the interview, Tom is one of those engineers who adapts quickly and loves his craft. It’s no surprise, indeed, that he has helped to convert Sauber’s mundane start to the season into one of the big talking-points of the past few weeks. The only question I didn’t ask, to be sure, is why Williams let him go in the first place – but I guess that’s another subject for another day. I also quiz Sahara Force India’s Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, about his team’s corresponding fall from pace. It’s linked to the mid-season change in Pirelli tyre constructions – but Otmar talks, too, about how F1 needs to retain it’s “unique” quality. “It’s done a good job of this in the past,” he says, “but now is the time to develop that further. F1 faces competition from a lot of other sports and entertainments. If we are going to continue to develop sponsorships for teams up and down the grid, we need to ensure that F1 sustains that ‘unique’ feel.”

I was also able to talk on-line with the brilliantly-talented Englishman, Mike Conway. Back in 2006, Mike seemed destined for F1 stardom. He dominated F3 not only during the season but also with wins at Pau and Macau. Think opponents like Romain Grosjean (and Lewis Hamilton in Formula Renault) and you have an idea of the standards about which we’re talking. His GP2 seasons dragged a little…and suddenly the momentum was lost. Mike turned his attention to IndyCar – and in 2010 he was very lucky to escape with recoverable injuries from a huge accident at Indianapolis. Mike, though, is a fighter who loves his craft just as much as Tom McC above. Despite shaking the US racing fraternity by announcing at the end of 2012 that he was no longer prepared to race on ovals, Mike this year has finally achieved the sort of results worthy of his skills. He scored a win and a third in the two Detroit IndyCar races and he’s just won the last two LMP2 races at Interlagos and Austin in an Oreca-Nissan run by Alan Docking. (Oreca is owned by Hughes de Chaunac, who used to run Martini in the days of Rene Arnoux.) Mike’s versatile, he’s quick, he’s now a globally-successful racing driver who is paid to do something he enjoys –  and he’s just bought an old, 1960s VW Beetle, complete with white sidewall tyres and roofrack.  Need I say more.

Episode 32 of The Racer’s Edge.  Enjoy.

On taxi rides and slow chicanes

In this week’s post-Singapore episode of The Racer’s Edge, we talk to Derek Warwick about those reprimands; to GP2 winner and Mercedes F1 Third Driver, Sam Bird, about his success this year and the styles of Nico and Lewis; and Rob Wilson, our favourite driver coach, analyses Sebastian Vettel’s approach to those most boring of corners – the slow chicanes.  Hope you like it.

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