That was the verdict of Valtteri Bottas as he looked back at Suzuka, venue of last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix. Williams didn’t have a great weekend (again) but that did nothing to dim Valtteri’s enthusiasm for the circuit and for the F1 disciplines in general. We tasted a flavour of that at another great circuit last week when Valtteri chauffeured friends and Williams team partners around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in a hot little Renault Clio. Mundane the car may be (by F1 standards); perfunctory his lap was not – and I hope we captured a little of its flavour in a short clip within this week’s edition of The Racer’s Edge. In the Teddington TRE studio I was very pleased to welcome back our friend and regular technical expert, Craig Scarborough. There have been plenty of rumours recently about Red Bull possibly running some form of KERS-related traction control; Scarbs tackles this theory head-on as well as providing his own, inimitable, detailed analyses all of the teams’ latest developments. And I’ve always wanted to chat to Alex Lynn, the very fast young Englishman who won prolifically in Formula Renault before graduating to F3. Alex has now won three rounds of the ultra-competitive 2013 Euro F3 Championship and I think you’ll find him refreshing in his approach: he chose to drive for the front-running Italian team, Prema Powersport, (a) because it would leave him with no excuses and (b) because it would take him out of his British comfort zone. He’s risen to the challenge. On top of all that, Alex also finds time to race his father’s ex-Bob Jane 1965 Lotus-Cortina, so there’s no doubt that his heart’s in the right place. It’s been a sad week but I hope you enjoy Episode 33. It’s about people who love our sport and the passion that they engender.
For those of you who haven’t yet watched our free, weekly, in-depth, on-line F1 chat show, remember that you can enjoy The Racer’s Edge every week on YouTube (Thursday, 7:00pm and thereafter on-demand) or you can download it from iTunes, where we have a high-speed facility for both the audio and video files. Just enter “The Racer’s Edge” in the iTunes search engine and you’ll see a list of all the episodes. (Although we also process the show for iTunes on the Thursday of each week we have no precise control of the actual release date. Usually it is within 24 hours of posting.) Please “subscribe” to our YouTube Channel (as per the widget on the right). This costs nothing but it allows you to receive regular email updates of all the new content we’re producing – and there will be more and more as the year develops. Remember, too, that we often produce video not featured on The Racer’s Edge, ranging from interviews with wonderful racing people from the past (for example Mike Beckwith) to young up-and-comers on the way to Formula One (like Stoffel Vandoorne). I also invite you to leave comments on our YouTube page. We will read them, reply to them where appropriate – and your thoughts will also help to guide the way we move forwards.
If you are a regular viewer – thanks for watching. We had just over 121,000 hits in the month of June – and over 80 per cent of you were watching the 60/65min show for 80 per cent of its length or longer. We were also consistently in the top ten urls on iTunes in all aspects – hits, visits and downloads. Interestingly, I think, about 50 per cent of you were watching from the USA, which just goes to show what I’ve always suspected: the American F1 fan is amongst the best-informed in the business!
This week’s show is bursting with interesting people and comment: as well as chatting away with Rob Wilson in the studio, we talk to Daniel Ricciardo, Sam Bird, Derek Daly and Craig Scarborough. A lot of fun, a lot of laughs – and lots of detail about the sport we love.
In the meantime – again, in case you haven’t seen it – have a look at the episode below. We filmed it on the Wednesday before Silverstone at LotusF1’s headquarters in Oxfordshire with the support of Avanade, the IT systems company. This is a good example, I think, of an F1 partner company using digital media to tell a story that you wouldn’t necessarily see or hear on the conventional platforms. I enjoyed, too, the chat with Alan Permayne. Which reminds me: if you haven’t yet joined the F1 Racing magazine Global Fan Community, then you should do so now. GFC members will be given exclusive opportunities to ask questions of our featured guests – and to be in the running for some great prizes. The winner from this interview was Mr Colin Bowett, from the UK. His question to Alan: “Do you think it’s odd that Kimi doesn’t do a track walk on Thursdays?” Some excellent LotusF1 merchandise will now be coming Colin’s way. You can join the GFC by going to the appropriate link published in the latest edition of F1 Racing.
OK. Enough. Enjoy.
I guess, after the flak they have received in recent weeks, that it is no surprise to see Pirelli making a compound change at this point of the season and at this point in the build-up to the Spanish GP. I’m surprised, though, that the change involved their orange (hard) tyre and not the much-maligned (yellow) (“one-lap”) soft tyre that will next be seen in Monaco.
Pirellis’ official statement says that “this latest version of the hard compound is much closer to the 2012 tyre, with the aim of giving the teams more opportunity to run a wider range of strategies in combination with the other compounds, which remain unchanged”.
As far as I understand it, the main change from 2012-13 was not actually to the stickiness of the hard tyre but to its operational range – ie, the working range was “lower” last year – “lower” as in a lower temperature window of operation. The 2013 hard tyre, with a “higher” working range, has been more prone to graining and wear “below” the window – and it is this problem that Pirelli are endeavoring to fix.
On the basis of Bahrain, one could conclude that this change isn’t necessarily good for LotusF1 (which found its way nicely into the hard tyre’s high working range without any graining issues) and also for Force India. For Mercedes and Ferrari, meanwhile, this latest change might be an improvement. There’s now more chance, in summary, for more teams to find some sort of sweet spot on the hard tyre (which is being used in conjunction with the medium in Spain) than was the case in Bahrain. (In both races, the compound selection was/is hard-medium).
The soft tyre, meanwhile, remains unchanged – which, as I say, is a surprise. That tyre will be used at Monaco (in conjunction with the supersoft) so the outcome there is anyone’s guess. One presumes that the soft around the streets of Monaco will assume the role of at least the medium, if not the hard – and that the supersoft could be the equivalent of the soft in China. All of which means that there should be plenty of pit stops in the over-crowded Monaco pit lane (if that is what you want) and that qualifying at Monaco – already knife-edgy because of the nature of the circuit and the problems posed by traffic – will have the added element of one-lap tyre perfection. Don’t be surprised, therefore, to see several drivers using the prime tyre in Q3 at Monaco – as Sebastian Vettel did in 2012.