Tag Archives: F1 2012

How Alonso or Vettel can win the title this weekend

The 2012 Formula 1 season enters the final round with the title still up for grabs – the 29th time in the sport’s history.

Sebastian Vettel holds a 13-point lead over Fernando Alonso, but an epic title battle from 2010 in Abu Dhabi proved that those leads can be very easily wiped out in a single race. That time, Alonso lost a 15-point gap in the final race, and squandered the championship.

With that in mind, the title is certainly still up for grabs. Let’s have a look at how each driver can win the championship this weekend:

Vettel

It’s a lot easier for Vettel. The easiest way for him to wrap up his third consecutive title on the trot is to finish in the top 4. Even after that, there’s not too many complications:

  • If Alonso only takes 2nd place, Vettel only needs 5th, 6th or 7th.
  • If Alonso takes 3rd place, Vettel needs simple an 8th or 9th-placed finish.
  • If Alonso does not achieve a podium, Vettel only needs to take a single point – assuming that the Ferrari takes 4th instead. Any other situation, and the Red Bull automatically wins.

Alonso

A 13-point gap is sizeable, but not indestructible. After struggling massively all year in a dog of a car, Fernando knows that he will have to jump at the slightest opportunity if he is to claw the 2012 title back into his hands.

However, the odds are against him:

  • If Alonso wins, Vettel would have to finish 5th or lower.
  • If he takes 2nd place, Vettel would have to finish 8th or lower.
  • If he finishes on the podium, Vettel would have to score just a single point (or less) to lose the title.

Flashback to 2010

Over 2 years ago, I wrote a similar article on the 2010 title battle. There, I said that Vettel winning the title was improbable, but certainly within reach.

The maths behind this article are certainly much less complicated, but that doesn’t make this title battle any less interesting!

Variables on track

Remember, this is the Brazilian Grand Prix we’re talking about. The Interlagos track is extremely unpredictable, and occasionally throws up some insane races. See 2003 and 2008 for more information.

  • Rain is always a factor here – there is  a 60% chance of rain on race day. This may push the race in Alonso’s favour, as typically Vettel has not driven well in the wet here before.
  • First-lap incidents – The paving over of turns 1 and 2 has not gone down well with fans or drivers, but the treacherous Senna S sequence may still catch one of the frontrunners out. One of the title contenders being taken out here would end the championship showdown before it even began.
  • Red Bull’s alternator – Several incidents so far this year with the Red Bull alternator could turn the championship on its head. The team are opting to bring a newer-spec model to this Grand Prix, and it is unclear how much testing this model has seen.
  • Felipe Massa – A recent surge in form has resulted in Massa’s contract with Ferrari being extended, and Felipe may be keen to stay on friendly terms with the team by assisting Fernando. Massa typically drives very well at this track, so it mightn’t be out of the question to see him surrender the lead to his teammate.

As to what will actually happen… we’ll have to wait until Sunday for that!

F1 paddock divided over unpredictable season

The unprecedented start to the 2012 F1 season has put F1 in the spotlight for many different reasons. With 6 different winners from 6 races, we still have absolutely no idea who will be leading the championship by the next race.

However, with such excitement comes plenty of controversy, as F1 followers are used to.

Over the past few weeks, complaints have grown about the “unpredictability” of the season so far. Die-hard purists have been disappointed with the topsy-turvy grid order, and some have speculated that this may turn fans away from the sport.

Mark Webber was one of several drivers to note the “random” nature of this season, saying:

"It's very unusual, normally in seasons gone by you had a clear break of people who 
were going to be favourites for the Championship but it's very difficult to know 
which teams or drivers are going to be in the best position with three or four races 
to go.

I think for the fans it's interesting for them, but I don't know if they will get 
sick of seeing so many different winners.

It's nice to have so many different winners but also it's always good to have 
rivals, people fighting for the Championship and having lots of different people 
always fighting."

Interestingly, this comment was made before his win at the Monaco Grand Prix, and he has not repeated this statement since. However, McLaren driver Jenson Button has not backed down, claiming that numerous different winners will turn fans off from the sport:

"Clearly everyone is excited about so many different winners, which initially was 
great for the fans and great for the sport.

But there will come a time when the fans will say, 'So anyone can win a grand prix, 
everyone can lose a grand prix like that?' (snaps his fingers). I think they're 
finding it a little bit strange now."

Button has of course suffered a drop in form in recent races, and has not competed for a race win since Melbourne.

Former world champion Niki Lauda has been the most vocal of all:

"We have been surprised. But if it continues, we’ll lose spectators as the main 
public wants to see world champions winning.

We need two races with known winners and then the crazy stuff can start again."

It should be noted that when he won the world championship in 1984, there were only 5 race winners in the entire season. Also, I feel the need to add that 4 of the 6 race winners so far this season are “known winners”.

However, it has not been all complaining from the F1 paddock. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh attacked what he called the “180 degree change” of opinion from many people:

"If people now say randomness is unattractive, then that is a 180 [degree change] 
from what people felt a few years ago when it was very predictable.

On balance I am sure that people want a lack of predictability. You want to go to 
each event not knowing who is going to win. You want to go through the course of 
the weekend not sure what is going to happen in each session, and you want to go 
through the race not knowing what is going to happen. Every one of our races this 
year has been tremendously exciting."

Pirelli, who are the cause of much of this unpredictability, were adamant that their tyres provide a well-needed shake-up of the F1 grid. Motorsport director Paul Hembery claimed that this type of racing was exactly what the fans wanted to see:

"The vast majority of feedback we get is that people are enjoying the races. At 
the start of the year, if we had said five different winners and five different 
cars then everyone would have suggested you had been smoking something - but we 
have got it.

And I think the vast majority of fans will be pleased to see exciting races. 
Anyone who begrudges Maldonado's win in Spain with Williams is someone who needs 
to get out a bit more, because the whole paddock was delighted. I think for a 
lot of people's views, that is what they want to see."

Obviously, there will be many different opinions on any debate in F1. However, I feel that the most important quote from this debacle comes from Sebastian Vettel, the driver who effectively flattened the 2011 title race. After a processional battle for the title last year, Vettel came out in full support of the 2012 formula:

"If you look back ten years there was heavy criticism of a boring F1 because 
of Michael Schumacher winning all the time. Now we hear F1 is unpredictable 
and a lottery.

You cannot satisfy all of the people all of the time. But I think we have a 
good show, a lot of overtaking, good action now.There is more tension – for 
people who watch and for us inside the cars. I think I like the way it is 
going. However, we have to be careful not to create something artificially."

Barcelona and Valencia to alternate from 2013

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya and the Valencia Street Circuit are to alternate hosting the Spanish Grand Prix from 2013 onwards.

Both venues have run into financial trouble in recent months. The Spanish government’s financial woes completely rules out any government interference, so an alternating track system was decided to be the best approach.

Bernie Ecclestone broke the news to Spanish radio station Cadana Ser today. He also clarified that both races would continue in 2012 as planned.

Barcelona hosted the Spanish Grand Prix from 1991 onwards, while Valencia is a relatively new addition to the Formula 1 calendar, joining in 2008. Neither circuit has proven popular with fans in recent years, due to frequently dull races and no scope for overtaking. It is not clear which track will be ditched for 2013.

The Spa circuit is also looking at a similar deal, with the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The birthplace of motorsport, France has not hosted a Grand Prix since Magny Cours was dropped after 2008.

Petrov replaces Trulli at Caterham

Vitaly Petrov takes over Jarno Trulli's seat for 2012

Vitaly Petrov takes over Jarno Trulli's seat for 2012

Vitaly Petrov has replaced veteran driver Jarno Trulli at Caterham for the 2012 season.

The move comes as a shock to many, as Trulli – who has been with the team since it was founded in 2010 – had a year left on his contract.

Petrov, who lost his place at Lotus this year, has been known to carry plenty of sponsorship money, and together with two years of F1 experience, toppled the Italian off his seat at Caterham. This leaves the 37-year-old without a drive for this season.

Team principal Tony Fernandes praised Petrov joining the team:

"We are all delighted to welcome Vitaly into our team and are very excited about 
the role he will play in helping us take the next steps forward in 2012 and for 
many years to come.

When we first met it was immediately clear that Vitaly understands and shares our 
vision for how we want our team to grow. As the first Russian to race in F1 he 
carries the hopes of a huge nation with ease and his talents, experience with one 
of our current competitors and insights on and off track will play a huge role in 
our development as we fight to join the established teams ahead."

Lotus post first images of E20

Lotus revealed their E20 car online

Lotus revealed their E20 car online

Lotus are the latest team to have taken the covers off their 2012 race car.

Their challenger is called the E20. The name comes from their factory in Enstone, as this is the 20th Formula 1 car to be produced there.

The car features a stepped nose like its competitors, though not as extreme as Ferrari’s yesterday.

Lotus underwent large changes over the off-season, being taken over by Group Lotus, and switching both its drivers for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

The team were known to be working on a reactive ride height system, though it was banned by the FIA last month.

The E20 was launched online, but the Lotus website has crashed several times under the pressure of thousands of viewers. Pictures are slow to be released, but they will be added as they arrive.

Here is the official video from Lotus:

Giedo can der Garde announced as Caterham’s third driver

Giedo van der Garde will move to Caterham after 3 years in GP2

Giedo van der Garde will move to Caterham after 3 years in GP2

Dutch racing driver Giedo van der Garde has been confirmed as the third/reserve driver for the Caterham team.

The 26-year-old will take part in several Friday practice 1 sessions throughout the year. He finished in 5th place in this year’s GP2 championship, having run as high as second in the closing rounds.

Van der Garde was a prospect for the final HRT seat, before he was beaten to the post by Narain Karthikeyan.

Despite missing out on a race seat, Giedo was full of praise for the Caterham team:

"The team [Caterham] is fresh, with some fantastic people here. Tony Fernandes is 
extremely ambitious and he has brought in a lot of very good people in to help 
grow this team for future success. I’m looking forward to learning and moving 
forward with the team in and out of the car.

It’s great for Holland that we again have a Dutch driver who is connected to 
Formula 1. Being the only Dutch driver now is very good for the sport in Holland, 
as the interest was perhaps on the decline since the [Jos] Verstappen years, 
however I hope to generate the same excitement for my country and really bring 
Formula 1 to them."

 

Karthikeyan to remain with HRT for 2012

Karthikeyan will return to HRT despite being dropped last year

Karthikeyan will return to HRT despite being dropped last year

Narain Karthikeyan is to return to the HRT team for 2012.

He drove 8 races for the team in 2011, before being ousted by Daniel Ricciardo. He made a relatively impressive one-off return at the inaugral Indian Grand Prix.

He will be racing alongside Pedro de la Rosa, forming by far the oldest driver combination on the grid. De la Rosa will be 41 in Melbourne, while Karthikeyan will be 35.

Giedo van der Garde was the other contender for the race seat, but it has since become clear that he failed to bring as much sponsorship money as Narain.

This signing effectively closes the 2012 driver market, as all driver vacancies have now been filled.

Pirelli unveil softer tyre compounds and new colour coding for 2012

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Following the first look at the Caterham CT01, Pirelli have also revealed the rubber that all 12 F1 teams will be running on this season.

The Italian manufacturer has constructed brand-new soft, medium and hard compound tyres, with the super-soft formula being carried on from last year. There is also a new extreme wet tyre to be used.

The new tyres will be of a softer composition compared to last year.

The colour coding for the dry tyres remains roughly the same, except the hard tyre is now a much lighter silver colour, and it is expected to be almost invisible at high speed.

The intermediate tyre is now coloured green, while the new extreme wet compound is blue.

All 6 variants of tyre contain slightly wider contact patch than 2011, to counteract the loss of downforce from the banning of off-throttle diffusers. Pirelli explained that they have incorporated less of a rounded shoulder on the rubber to improve grip.

They also noted that they intend to reduce the performance gap between the options and primes on race weekends, from 1.2-1.8 seconds last year to around 0.6-0.8 in 2012.

Senna name to return to Williams

Bruno Senna will replace Rubens Barrichello at Williams

Bruno Senna will replace Rubens Barrichello at Williams

The Senna name has finally made a return to the historic Williams team, as Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna has been confirmed at the team for the 2012 season.

Bruno’s uncle was killed in his third race for the team, and his name has been carried on the FW series of cars ever since. Today’s confirmation is made all the more memorable seeing as the Williams team are making a return to Renault engines, the same supplier when Ayrton raced for them.

Bruno’s F1 career has been stunted to say the least, being shoved out of his HRT seat to make way for Sakon Yamamoto. He drove for Renault in the second half of 2011, but failed to retain his race seat for 2012.

With this news, it is almost certain that we will not see veteran Rubens Barrichello racing next year.

Senna was full of praise for his new team today:

"I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race 
drivers. The team has a great heritage and I hope I can help write a good 
chapter in their history.

The evaluation process has been intense and methodical but the time I have 
spent in the factory has demonstrated that the team has great people and all 
the resources needed to achieve better things this season."

In his last race for the team in Brazil last year, Barrichello wore a tribute helmet to his late idol.

This means that the only race seat available for this upcoming season is alongside Pedro de la Rosa at HRT.

Kubica suffers return setback after injuring leg

Kubica's return has been delayed again

Kubica's return has been delayed again

Robert Kubica’s already fraught return to the Formula 1 paddock, after the Polish driver broke his leg in a fall today.

Reuters claims that the 27-year-old slipped on a patch of ice in the town of Pietrasanta in Tuscany, Italy. He was taken to the local hospital for a scan on his right leg, which had suffered in his rally crash almost a year ago.

He then requested to be moved to the Pietra Ligure clinic, where he was rehabilitated after his horrific crash in 2010.

Although there has been no official statement from Robert’s manager Daniele Morelli, Autosport claims that the Pole has re-opened a fracture in his right tibia (bone below the knee).

After being ousted from his seat at Renault, and being left with no drive for the 2012 season, I fear that it is improbable that we will see Kubica back in F1 this year.

If he is to return any time soon, it has been rumoured that Ferrari are willing to test him in their 2010 or 2011 F1 car later this year.

Update: BBC reports that Kubica will need a metal screw inserted just above his ankle, and faces another month with his leg in plaster.

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